The road to revolution

The bitter pill of bullying involves a collusion that  takes place between an external bully and an internal one. Let me introduce you to Gary, my psychic thug.

Gary: “So lady, ever thought of pole dancing?”
Me: “nope”
Gary: “Kate Moss and Sadie Frost do it all the time, great cardio”
Me:“I’m not sure….”
Gary: “seriously, 8 year olds do lap dancing these days. If you don’t pep it up girlfriend let’s just say Christmas can be awful lonesome.”
Me:”Sheesh, is it that bad Gary?”
Gary: “Get up that pole”
Squeeeeeeeeeeek,scheppppl, shloddddd
Me: “Gary, is my forehead supposed to be sticking to the floor like this?”
Gary: “Loser”

There was a moment in 2006 when I seriously considered taking up pole dancing. In my defence it was being sold as just another aerobics class for the really insecure. Turns out the one good thing about pole dancing in a room of mirrors is that within seconds it’s absolutely categorically clear that it’s not sexy. After two hours of not laughing anywhere near enough to drown out the sound of flesh scraping down metal, I left bruised but mainly around the ego area because I had put myself into a position of deep sexual humiliation. All my own work.

Understanding my relationship with Gary involves delving into what psychoanalysis calls object relations, the relationships between parts of the self that get developed early on – the policeman, the hippy, the template for future lovers, gods and bullies- who pipe up throughout our lives, sometimes whispering sometimes shouting like a Greek chorus, sending us psychic directions and running commentaries on how to do life. In the face of bullying it’s often our own internal bully that gets stuck in, like a tourette of loathing. This stings something awful  and it’s tempting to try to evict this brutalizing internal voice, projecting it into other people like a paranoid ping pong game, a dump n run strategy that leaves us feeling guilty and insecure

Trouble is,  this collusion is a psychic trap and the real reason why facing up to bullying is so hard. Even when the external bully wonders off to pick on some other poor fool, we’re still left with the internal one that’s all fired up to pull us apart with sadistic precision.  It means that dealing with bullying requires something of a psychic revolution facing our internal thug head on.  As with any revolution, this requires raising our consciousness about reality, and letting go of a belief in two worlds, one for the haves and another for the have nots, bullies and victims. The reality is that they coexist internally and we don’t even get off the starting blocks of self love without really knowing this.

So, how to deal with Gary? The conversation between me and him is in fact  the revolutionary road out of the bullying trap. It is only by interacting with different parts of ourselves that we experience the real bitter and sweet of life. If we can stand to expose our internal bullies to a heated debate it has the effect of bigging up the other parts of ourselves that don’t think we’re losers. Give it enough time and Gary will start to look less like Damian from the Omen and more like some sad sack you can safely avoid  at the work’s Christmas party this year.

Ironically, the strength needed to face up to bullying involves accepting the presence of both bullies and victims, all in the same love bundle that you are. This is what is sometimes called ego-strength, where you’re neither good nor bad, but able to bear the mixed up reality. Try not to sulk at your psychic imperfection and it will go a long way to help you stick up for yourself. It’s precisely this that gives us the bravery to face up to the external bullies with a whole lot more conviction.

Step away from the pole now lady, yes,  you in the mirror.

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