Free To Do Self-Care, Despite Our Bully

Demonstration in London supporting Serbia

Image via Wikipedia

Bullying:  Series Continued.  (I didn’t even realize I was writing a series until now!)

  • #144 Leave Space In Your Beliefs To Grow
  • #163 “He’s Never Hit Me.” Abuse.
  • #251 Just Ordinary Bullying – The Bully and The Bullied
  • #253 How to Be A Friend To Yourself When Thinking About Your Bully

Bit’s and parts of us are unbelieving in what number of options to self-care that we have, when it comes to being bullied.  I don’t say this lightly about terrors.  Terrors change us irrevocably and hurt to the brink of our own abyss.

The question is, are we free to do self-care even when we are bullied?

Yesterday, Carl in his candid way, said,

Empathy and forgiveness? You gotta be kidding. Do you know what it is like for a twelve year-old to face this…  for an entire school term? Probably not? Cope? Isn’t coping with a chronic negative stimulus as debilitating as being unable to cope….  There may be situations where “book smart” stuff is not applicable because we cannot negotiate with the bully.

Go Serbia

Image by SanforaQ8 via Flickr

We cannot negotiate with the bully.  True, to the degree that Carl said, if I understand him.  (Carl you will surely set me straight soon.)

It is true that people who like to fight, fight well.  People who bully generally will bully better than I can ever defend myself.  They have had a lot more practice.  Have you heard this?  You never want to go up against someone who has nothing to lose because the only one that will lose is you.

When someone is agitated, in psychiatry we learn that it is good not to make eye-contact.  Avert the body.  Keep your voice low and don’t engage as much as possible.  It reminds me of letting the mist of early morning dew expire the coals in the camp fire.  Getting attacked is something we want to avoid.

Early on in my training, I was rounding on the inpatient psychiatry ward.  We often have people who are agitated admitted there and this morning, I remember it was about seven AM on a Sunday….  This particular patient hadn’t slept well.  He wasn’t well-groomed and he scowled.  All the nurses where in another room in a nurses meeting and I didn’t notice he and I were alone in the hallway.  I looked him in the eyes directly.  I didn’t concern myself with tempering my interview.  I was still sleepy myself and wanted to get out of there as quickly as possible to start my Sunday stuff at home.  (I know.  Stellar attitude for a resident-physician, right?)  He grabbed me around the waist and I nearly lost my water!  I screamed at him like a she-dog and he let go.  That was all.  No big deal right?  Well I was ticked at him and at the nurses for not being available.  No one was at the nurses station, which is illegal too.

In truth, I was pretty much an idiot on all accounts.  It doesn’t condone the assault but I have since been better about not negotiating with the bully.  

That probably wasn’t exactly what Carl was talking about but it is related.  It is by no means a full year of negative harassment, but when responding to the concept of not being able to negotiate with the bully, I don’t know at what point in degrees of trauma experiences that becomes true for us.  Perhaps it isn’t a matter of qualifying them or quantifying them.  Perhaps more depends on the victim.  I don’t know.  Do you?

What I do know, is that Carl and I are both partly wrong.  We can.  I don’t know about then.  We can now.  We are free even from those molesting monsters because of who we are.  We were created free and those horrors can’t extinguish that bit of us.  We are free not because of the protection or lack of protection we’ve lived in life.  We are free.

We don’t claim to know all the innumerable forms of suffering out there.  That is not what this self-care engages with.

Questions:  How do you find yourself free at this time in your life, despite it all?  How do you describe your freedom, even with your bully?  How have you seen others in this context?    Please tell me your story.

Self-Care Tip #254 – Free yourself from your bully.

Additional Resources:

Sleep Does Not Lose As Gracefully As He Lets Us Think

Cougar sleep

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Self-Care Tip #244 – Sleep when the day is over, and play another time.  Be a friend to yourself.

Sometimes it is hard to let the day end.  Michael told me that he was having trouble sleeping.  I asked him to tell me more and heard him describe fun-filled hours of movies, computer, phone-calls and late-night snacks that were disturbing his sleep-initiation.  Just listening to him, I felt a yearning catch spark in me to have the freedom to be spontaneous again.  You might know what I mean.

The opportunities to be spontaneous have shrunken up as our choices have brought us expanding fillers for time, attention, money, energy, emotion, personal resources and magic.  It is no wonder that letting the day end meets reluctance.  Those last few hours that sleep called shot-gun for are ours with less fist than big brother used to stage.  Sleep doesn’t put up much fight …at first.  At first, it concedes to us.  It lifts it’s chin casually until given turn.  However, much like the loan shark, sleep will never go unpaid.  It will take it’s due.  Maybe just not tonight.  Maybe you won’t hear about it until later.  And there are no promises that it won’t take by force, from one part or another of our body, our brain, our beauty, our emotions – debts are not forgotten here.

Michael says, as if he were the victim here,

It takes most people about thirty minutes to fall asleep.  But me!  It takes me hours to.  

We started talking about sleep hygiene and Michael just wasn’t interested.  I asked him to simply read about it and just see what he thought he might be able to start with.  One change maybe that he thought was tolerable.

These negotiations are sometimes best when the patient feels like they came up with the idea.  Michael is going to read about this and hopefully become his own advocate.  He will hopefully “sell” it to himself with the information both from facts but also from experience.  It’s no accident that Costco sets up samples at ever turn of their superstore.  Nor that we can never seem to leave without spending at least $100 in cash – not credit!  Cash!  (Argh.)  Maybe Michael will sample and decide to sleep rather than play at night.  He might have to “taste it” to believe and choose for himself.

Spontaneity will always lure us, dangle her jangly jewelry, give her side-ways glance and make us long for those midnight hours to open up in playful company.  However, sleep is not as gracious as it seems.  Don’t be fooled.

Question:  Do you consider sleep hygiene important to self-care and why?  How do you see it related to you being a friend to yourself?  Please tell me your story.

Get Out Of The Company Of Comparisons. Forget About Fairness.

Tail lights, lights, rain on my windshield, co...

Image by Wonderlane via Flickr

Self-Care #186 – Forget about fairness.

It’s raining here; herding us.  I don’t like driving at night, but driving in the rain at night is worse.  Driving in the rain at night, with a rabid sheepdog tailgating me is still worse.  However, I do love slowing way down when I’m tailgated.  That was nice.  And seeing some family, including my folks, made it all worth it.

My kids were in on it too.  They were doling out banana smoothie and repeating a favorite theme called, “Make it fair!”  In Parenting, the frequent reminder that life will never be fair for my kids, and wondering if they’ll ever get it, gives me almost as much pleasure as being tailgated at night in the rain.

“Make it fair,” isn’t far from any of our hearts desires.  It’s easy for me to forget humility and judge my kids, but when people aren’t looking, I’m also checking to see how much I got.

I met a girl in clinic, Britt, who was also working this out for herself.  She was holding it in her hands and turning it over; a foreign object.  Britt said,

It doesn’t matter what has happened to me, I’m still responsible for taking care of myself…

She said it many ways, and the tail of her pauses kept flipping up into question marks without actually asking,

With my abuse…?  No one else will…?

I could see her with all the rest of us suffering folk, checking the fluid line in our glasses, saying

With all the hurt I’ve received…

I was poor my whole life…

I just can’t seem to get a break!

For Britt, coming to a point of owning her self-care felt like losing social support.  She had for so long sipped on her succor as a victim in the company of her received wrongs, that she felt awkward.  Britt needed to find a new group of friends.  She stood there toeing the floor,

I have to take care of myself.

Britt will be alright.  She will be emotionally healthier and in better company very soon.  She will move past where so many of us are still gripping our goblets asking about why we didn’t get more.  She will say, without that question, self-care begins and ends with “Me.”

Britt hasn’t been able to do this without medical help.  For her, part of seeing herself as a victim to what life gave her was symptomatic of her major depressive disorder.  She was personalizing what wasn’t personal.  Not everyone will need medication.  Some of us will do well just recognizing that, “Life is not fair,” and will be able to move on.

Question:  How have you gotten out of the company of comparisons?  How has putting fairness aside been a form of self-care for you?  Please tell me your story.