I do not keep it a secret. As an early teen I was bullied. I was skinny, had oily hair and skin and the worst case of acne in the form. And a total nerd to boot. All was fine until I hit thirteen, when this new girl turned up at school and made it her mission to make sure I was as miserable as possible. The worst part is, she managed. And she managed to turn a whole lot of girls against me. 

To be absolutely honest, to this day I ponder how this came about. This girl was not particularly bright. I remember we once had to write a composition for English class entitled ‘The Earthquake’ and she copied hers from an encyclopaedia…there were numbers and probabilities and everything. Neither was she particularly good looking. Her acne was maybe a little less awful than mine and the girl had thunder thighs. And dandruff. 

Actually, now thinking about it, she was pretty goddam miserable. And the only way she could feel better about herself was by tormenting me. Because believe it or not, despite the grease, the spots, the nerdiness and having a bust akin to a surf board, I was not miserable until she made me so. And she had the gall to call me out on my physical ‘attributes’ but I did not hers.

She really was more miserable than I.

Well, time went by and we all kind of grew out of making a mockery of each other, I went to junior college, which was huge so it was very difficult to target anyone, same with university and all was hunky dory.

Until I turned 26 and I met…….

The Adult Bully.

At first I did not think much of this person. Just someone else I encountered. Until I began to see the tell-tale signs.

How to spot the adult bully:

1) they lie. All the time. Proposterous lies to make themselves look good or interesting. And to make others look bad. Because they will know that they are not particularly smart so they fake it ’til they make it.

2) they are perfectly syrupy sweet and helpful to others in front of their target, to be sure that the target knows that they are precisely that. 

3) they are very cunning- they will be helpful to others in non-committal ways which are niceties but do not actually affect them personally, like making an extra sandwich for lunch and giving it away. And they will be extra nice to people who are not very bright and will be sold with an extra sandwich the bully would not want anyway. If the bully had only one sandwich, there is no way in hell they would give it away, because that would require self sacrifice. (And this is a food blog.)

4) me me me me me. Everything is about them. If you have a problem, they have a bigger one. And instead of being empathic about your issue, they make you be sympathetic towards their issue, making you feel small and bad for being upset in the first place. You see the power shift here?

5) they stop at nothing. No holds barred. They will step on and kill every pawn in their chess game they call life, where there are no other pieces but the queen and all the rest are pawns. And we’re adults, so the stakes are high.

6) adult bullies are all a little psycho. To be that determined to make somebody feel bad, there is seriously something wrong. And unlike in the teenage world, the adult bully deals with adults who have life experience so their tactics often back fire. And when that happens, beware as there will be tantrums, crying and a malicious fire in their belly to get even and to assign blame, when it is painstakingly obvious that the only one to blame is the bully him/herself.

I must say, I’m this savvy about bullies now, as when I encountered one in adulthood, I must admit, I was floored. My bully radar went off with an audible clang in my head and it shocked me. I could not believe this was happening again. Nothing quite prepares you for an adult bully. You honestly believe you are past it, until it hits you, that same feeling you had as a teen, that quickening of the heart, the sense of foreboding and unease.

I wish I could say I dealt with it beautifully, but I did not. I think I became that frightened little 13 year-old all over again. And the only reason why it stopped is because circumstance removed me from the situation.

But at least, I can honestly say I have learnt from the situation and I am far better equipped to deal now. 

It is said that people come in to your life for a reason, a season or a life time. With bullies it is a case of all three, as it rarely lasts too long as one of you will move on, yet the scar on how you view humanity does last a lifetime. But the most important part is the reason: it is tough, but you can learn a lot from bullies because they make you aware of exactly who you don’t want to be.

They help you find the crouton of truth in this salad we call life.