Sunday, December 19, 2010

Bullies in Disguise

Layers and layers of discovery. I move. I rest. I pause. The layers shift and morph. Refining my way toward freedom. Awhile back I had a memory arise and while I’m not sure it’s an actual event, I don’t know why I would have made it up – unless, of course, I needed it to help me with something else.

The scene is pretty precise. I’m 6 years old and in the first grade. I’m in the narrow cloak closet at school and we’ve just come in from recess. I can smell the damp coats and feel someone behind me pressing my face into them. It’s another child, I’m certain. I can’t breathe. A vise-like grip deepens on the sides of my throat – pudgy fingers, I think. My fear tightens as a knee or elbow presses into my spine, stuffing my face further into the darkness of the fabric. The bully tells me to “Stay quiet, or else.” My nostrils fill with the acrid smell of wet wool. I want to scream, but my mouth is buried and the words won’t come. Suddenly, there’s a flurry of activity and the grip releases, the pressure comes out of my back. I’m alone and disheveled in the closet. No real harm, right?

The metaphor to my life is immense. The internal struggles over voice, aloneness and importance are core. They are battles I’ve been peeling the layers off for years. They move and shift and morph. Recently, I’ve had a grown-up bully attempting to put the vise-like grip on my authentic self. (S)he came disguised as someone who wanted my help (which is very seductive for a caregiver.) How long would I allow the knee to press into my back and stifle the scream rising in my chest? It wasn’t until I invited this person to leave that clarity came and I felt the relief of speaking up for what I wanted and needed. The pressure released and I was not alone.

This week in my Advent retreat, we are pondering what it means to say, “Yes.” What is the risk? Will you say yes to your longings? For a moment just ponder the danger of continually saying, “No” to your heart’s desire.

Risk

What does it mean to ask for what I want?

I asked and I received.

Writing. Reading. Creating.

Say Yes!

I asked and I received.

Don’t limit.

Say Yes!

The shadow is the bully.

Don’t limit

My writing, reading, creating.

The shadow is the bully.

What does it mean to ask for what I want?

11 comments:

claire said...

Interesting that you have a bully in your early childhood, lucy.
As I read your post, I realize I must spend some time with my journal and talk of my fear, of my challenge, of this thing that I may have to live with all throughout my life: this panic fear to be left... I cannot single out that moment when it all began.

Blessings, lucy. Thank you.

tinkerbell the bipolar faerie said...

Could it be, that I am my own, most feared bully?

Karen said...

I was thinking along the same lines as tinkerbell--I've certainly had bullies in my past, but now, right now, I'm my own bully.

What a powerful and disturbing memory...it's so vivid that it must be real...

Good for you, standing up for yourself, standing up to the bully...

lucy said...

claire - for me, i'm not sure there is a "singling out moment" which can make it so much more difficult to define. i know as i continue to sit with my journal (& myself), little doors and windows of clarity open up and lead to more freedom. this "bully" awareness was definitely one of those moments!

lucy said...

tinkerbell - great question! it's one i've asked myself and am pretty sure i know the answer, since there's obviously not a 6 year old kid walking around today telling me to "be quiet or else."

lucy said...

thanks, karen - as you can see, i'm right in there with you and tinkerbell.

it's so interesting about the current "bully" that it wasn't until i finally decided i'd take a stand that i realized what i was standing up against. i seem to keep needing to learn that sometimes we have to just "do" before we can understand why ;)

SUNRISE SISTER said...

Asking ourselves what we're afraid of, and what if, what if, what if? There are so many wonderful answers to the what if questions - I'm glad I discovered that little phrase. Thanks for speaking from your heart:)

xo

The Pollinatrix said...

Even though I don't have exactly the same memory, there was a strong sense of familiarity for me in reading about yours, because I have other similar ones, and the power of those memories/fantasies/whatever they are from early childhood is just incredible.

"The shadow is the bully" really speaks to me. I've been learning to expose and walk away from that inner bully lately.

Gabrielle said...

Lucy, you speak of layers, and I find myself always trying to connect the tissues, so to speak. Reading about your childhood bullying memory in conjunction with your Advent Prayer of December 12th is very interesting; your face is predominant in both, and you don't want your vision to be clouded, etc. When you say you asked this current adult bully to leave, I picture her getting her coat out of the cloak closet... Just wondering, are you doing any work with your throat chakra (communication); do you have any thyroid problems? They often seem to go hand in hand from what I've seen.

lucy said...

polli - i love the idea of exposing and walking away from our own inner bullies - not turning on them (us) in more retaliation! i'm doing the same work. thanks for chiming in! i've missed my blogging buddies lately!!

lucy said...

gabrielle - thank you for the astute observations and comments. i love the image of the bully taking their coat out of the closet and walking away.

as far as my throat chakra goes, yes, it's been a predominant focus for awhile now. i've noticed in yoga how i used to get choked in doing backbends and now as other things begin to loosen, my throat is staying more open. practice practice!!

as far as i know, my thyroid is in good shape. thanks for asking :)