I ran into an old acquaintance while my son and I were at Khol’s. While I was talking to the cashier attempting to get my son a job (yeah, I know he’s eleven. . . . ), she came through the door and a wide smile came across her face. It had been over six years since I had seen her and I noticed the shiny new rock she had on her hand. We exchanged pleasantries while I sent my son to pick out another t-shirt to buy. Her smile grew brighter as she told me how good it was to see me. She touched my arm as she complemented me on my physique and my beard. I thanked her and immediately asked her about the rock on her hand. She stated that she met her fiance through a coworker two months ago and they just . . . . . clicked. After a month’s courtship, she asked him to move in. After moving in, he proposed to her. She continued painting this fantasy stating that things were great and that she didn’t know if she wanted to be married in the spring or the 4th of July weekend.
When asked how I was doing and who I was dating, I remained modest only elaborating about the weekly blog. When I told her she could follow me on the various media sites, she took a pregnant pause. Immediately I knew what the problem was. “He’s jealous, isn’t he?” She laughed and confirmed that not only was he jealous, he was extremely jealous. I gave her the infamous eyebrow raise and laughed to myself. In typical fashion, I immediately started to close the conversation and find my son. Before she would let me walk away, she told me how she missed talking to me during the day. I told her that she could call or text me if she needed to discuss something. And then she said it. “I can only text you while I’m at work. He normally checks my phone . . . . . . . but I check his too!” I shook my head and I wished her well with her fairy tale.
So, how many red flags did you catch? The fact that baby girl was happy about buddy being extremely jealous gave me pause. I wasn’t about to entertain her subtle advances because I wasn’t going to have old boy’s insecurities present at my door step. I wasn’t going to place myself in a situation where I would end up going to jail for crushing old boy. The entire conversation reminded me of Ike and Tina. Although it may have been exaggerated in the movie, Ike was a physically abusive bully. And there are others like him that believe in inflicting pain and fear as a means of control. Then there are those that are not physically abusive but emotionally abusive. You know, the ones that will not let you get a word in during a disagreement. The ones that are quick to anger when they do not get their way and refuse to do anything for you when it happens. The ones that belittle you in public when you refuse to buy them the new Gucci purse. The ones that withhold sex in an effort to manipulate you . . . . .
So what makes a bully? When you think of the ultimate bully, you think of Deebo from the Friday movie right? And the question still remains why in the hell was Deebo always angry? I mean he was snaking Felicia right? People in the neighborhood were donating money, bikes, and chains to his go fund right? The brother was always starched down. So why the anger? I’m sure like most of us, Deebo had some insecurities that plagued him which caused him to create the world that he lived in. Inside, Deebo was probably a very troubled man who was barely holding on so he overcompensated by tightening his grip on everything and everyone. Deebo pushed others around to feel better about himself. Does that sound like someone you know?
Emotional bullies (whom I will refer to as EBs) don’t use their hands to push others around; they use their words. Most of the time these words are accompanied with increased volume. Instead of taking the gold chain that your mother gave you, these tyrants rob relationships of kindness, respect, maturity, and most importantly, trust. Now most EBs don’t know that they are relationship oppressors. EBs blame others for their behaviors as a means to continue their strong-arm tactics.
When I was an EB, I didn’t know that I was. Honestly. I didn’t know how I was handling the woman in my life until she left. It was after her departure that she felt safe enough to call me and discuss my actions. Ever since that day, I’ve made a conscious effort not to return to that state.
So how did I stop being a bully you ask? Like many issues we face in life, I had to acknowledge the issue. (Couldn’t keep going to church without changing right?) I had to confront the issues of my past and bring light to them instead of burying them in the dark. Second, I had to stop being consumed with being right all the damn time (even though I am. . . ). I learned this lesson with my son. I seldom gave him the chance to explain the process by which he answered a problem. Because I only cared about being right, he grew afraid to even read in front of me! He was terrified to make a mistake. After he told me about his fear, I apologized to him. I began to care more about him understanding and less about being right. Now this doesn’t mean that disagreements don’t occur but my son has more respect for me because I give him a voice.
It is a day by day process to stop being a bully. Even as I write, I’m trying to cool my inner Deebo against my staff that continue to find ways to violate my private time. In relationships, I feel it’s essential that the woman I’m with be comfortable with me. I want that lady of my life to know that she has a partner that will respect and care for her although we may not always agree. I continue to mature each day so that I don’t become what others have . . . . alone and lonely.