A distance maker called bullying

It takes no strength to be a bully. That said, to call those who bully, villains or bad people, misses the mark entirely. Hold people accountable, certainly. But accountability does not mean compassion has no role.  When possible, it does. Very much so. 

Bullying itself is a distance maker as far as I’m concerned. A way of keeping people backed off. Distance makers, as I’ve been bold enough to name them, consist of some behavior, attribute, environmental reality, that keeps people at a distance. Distance makers come in many forms. A former colleague of mine who dealt with a weight challenge told me that some folks put on weight as a way of keeping people away. 

It was pondering that observation that led me to recognize the presence of distance makers and the sizable repertoire of distance makers alive and well in the human family. In short, distance makers, healthy or not in form, are meant to protect us, keep us safe.

Distance makers are everywhere. Yelling, nastiness, sarcasm, name calling, threats, all forms of violence. I can attest to the fact some perfumes and colognes are distance makers. The first time I smelled musk I thought the end of the world had come.

I had a spectacular dance teacher at the Joffrey School of Ballet named Perry Brunson. He taught, Men’s Class. In all my time as a dancer I never met anyone who could teach Men’s Class as brilliantly as Mr. Brunson. On top of that, he was a nice man. A nice man who, before each class, dipped himself into a vat of English Leather, a cologne capable of repulsing anyone who got within a yard of the man.  That said, Mr. Brunson was no bully. He was, in truth, a lovely man, and a teacher I remember with gratitude and great fondness.

Back to bullying. Bullying does not take strength, in my view. I’ve heard some theorize that some bullies are, underneath, cowards. I don’t agree. To call a bully a coward is to inflict judgement, and judgement, when applied in the arena of understanding human beings, distorts reality. 

It may very well be true that many bullies live with fear, a primary antecedent to the bullying in some cases, I would think. But to engage in bullying behavior, while managing fear, is anything but an act of cowardice. In truth, it takes strength to manage both at the same time. And, of course, when you bully, you run the very real risk of someone striking back. Such moments can result in some tough emotional quagmires that can often be worked through, with therapy. 

I’ll tell you now, the therapist who guided me through the end of my first marriage, getting shot, the suicide of my mother and my daughter’s suicide attempt is a New York-based certified social worker.

Bullying is a distance maker. As long as it is present, no human-to-human connection can be a healthy one.

Anti-Sobriety Myths

At this writing, I’ve been sober 16 years.

Getting sober  takes time.

I’ve seen a few myths derail more than one person’s chance at getting sober.

One myth says: “I am sober when I stop drinking.”

Wrong. Not, somewhat wrong, or a little wrong. Wrong. Dead wrong. You’re clean, as it were, when you stop drinking, not sober.

Here’s the reality (fact) that replaces the myth. You have to stop drinking in order to get sober. Getting sober takes time. Trust me.  If you’re fortunate enough to be in your early strides of the experience, you don’t yet realize how unwell you are.

Another myth says: “I can do it alone” and yet another is some family member or loved one thinking that they can save the alcoholic-addict.

Reality says: “Not only are you wrong, but don’t you think it’s nice to find out there is at least one massive life challenge you don’t have to face alone?”

I do.

There is another unflinching fact. Being an active alcoholic results in one of three endings: jails, institutions, or death. This is fact.

One other thing, another expression I learned. You’re not allowed to kill yourself in your first three years of sobriety because you’ll be killing the wrong person.



Fighting for Our Lives

None of us have been in the same room as perfection and none of us ever will be. But I would like to think each of us has the capacity to fight for our lives. The question is, will we? Will I? Will you?

We all know people who, for reasons that can be hard to understand, won’t fight for their lives. People who leave their medical conditions unaddressed, or live with medical conditions they don’t know about because they don’t go to the doctor. I am one who is guilty of not going to the doctor enough. Remember, in this blog, I promise you honesty, not perfection.  Many of us know people who battle with substance-abuse addictions; sometimes they wear the face of booze, sometimes drugs, oftentimes both.

I have known and know people who are stopped by something or someone when it comes to declaring war against the forces that are intent on ending their lives. And if these forces can’t end life right away, they’ll damage the hell out of it in the meantime. These forces are relentless. They possess evil tenacity and zero conscience. They don’t give a rat’s ass if you are a nice person. They’re not going to leave you alone because you have a good job or nice car or because your family and friends love you.

But what stops so many of us from issuing this declaration of war against an addiction or the possibility or presence of deadly disease?

I think the answer is found in this observation. Somewhere along the line we lost sight of our value.

If we were raised in abusive households, we may never have experienced our value in the first place. If you are a member of a minority, it is not unlikely that you’ve been given the message that you are worth less than others. The reason I would urge all of you to declare war, not just against any force designed to end your life, but against influence of your history, your society or your present that stops you from seeing your value is because your value is really there. It has always been there.

Just because you can’t  experience yourself as being a worthwhile human being yet, doesn’t mean you are not a worthwhile human being. It means something or someone is stopping you from experiencing yourself accurately.

Who do you think deserves control over your experience of you? You or your history? You are something or someone in your present who gives you the message that you are worthless? I vote for you. After all, if I am right, and I am, that you truly are a valuable and extraordinary person, don’t you think you have a right to find out? I do.