Friday, September 12, 2014


"I have been one acquainted with the night.
I have walked out in rain -- and back in rain.
I have outwalked the furthest city light.

I have looked down the saddest city lane.
I have passed by the watchman on his beat
And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain.

I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet
When far away an interrupted cry
Came over houses from another street,

But not to call me back or say good-bye;
And further still at an unearthly height,
A luminary clock against the sky

Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right.
I have been one acquainted with the night. " - Robert Frost

After posting on the abuse case concerning Ray Rice, and the private abuse many encounter in the world closer to home. I was contacted by someone whose daughter is being bullied in school. Like many teenage girls, her self esteem is sub zero. She thinks she isn’t pretty enough, she feels like she is never going to find a place where she will feel safe.  We want every child  to believe they are beautiful, inside and out. The bullies in this world, who are defined by aggression, seek to rob us of our ability to define our lives. If there was a gift we could give young people, it would be an early realization that we each get to define our own life. No one else.

Bullies of all stripes, prosper by their tacit admission into our core. They succeed by silence. Facing evil, we cannot afford to be bullied into silence.  Sadly we often are. and feel we have to. just to simply get by. 

We die a bit every day, when having to accept a damaging narrative of our life, authored by another.  We may feel as if we have no good choice economically if we wish to keep our jobs. But though we should never internally accept the story of our life, as created by a person with dishonorable agendas, it is easy to be beaten down, willing to do anything simply to buy one moment of peace. For the fortunate, a day finally comes when an exit strategy arrives. For others, the day of liberation  never arrives at all. Except through making a decision of how we shall live in our hearts, and viewing the world as it truly is. 

For those dealing with a destructive dynamic, feedom begins by simply not viewing our lives through the prism of another person's evil agendas and destructive thoughts. Freedom arrives the moment we each take control of our individual journey and realizing that whatever others speak of us or to us, matters far less, than what we think of ourselves.

I went through hard years growing up, that extended years into adulthood. My  self-esteem was eternally low, from being caught in a destructive family with three people who put me down their every waking moment.  My spirit was nearly destroyed, as I believed every mean and hurtful thing said about me and to me.  My entire life was defined by what my family said to me and related to others. I entered into adult relationships, unable to shake those historic voices, and inevitably chose others who repeated the patterns I grew up associating with. And the fear I carried each and everyday until I left in my teens, haunts me on occasion this very day.

It took too many years of pastoral counseling, to believe that the gratuitously cruel words did not define my life or heart. Who we choose to be defines us, how we live our lives defines us. Not another's thoughts or energy. We each possess the agency to decide our path. The challenge occasionally, is simply finding strength for the journey. 

The greatest gift we can give to another is some knowledge needed to leverage hard lessons we have had to learn. The bullies we face at school, at work, and sadly at home do not get to write our stories, unless we let them. We each have the power to decide  to break the patterns, and live as someone that matters . Sadly that is easier said than done. 

Months ago, I wrote about bullies at work. It was the most read post I have done. Reading about adults and their situations at work made my heart troubled. Reading of young people experiencing terror through today's technologies, makes one wonder how many our age would have survived school. Reading of those who have suffered from enemies within their own families, creates zero tolerance for those bullies. Those who win through aggression in any form, are the lowest of the low. 

Those who  suffer from narcissistic personality disorder, get off on pulling others down into misery with them. It is impossible to be a happy, genuinely confident, good person who is a bully. The nature of n
arcissistic personality disorders produce people totally insecure with themselves, who mask self hatred by leveraging the vulnerabilities of others. Wasting time being angry is not an answer.  Feel compassion for those so miserable that they lash out at others, And spend every waking hour not only being grateful you are nothing like them, but being their polar opposite. 


A few days ago, a great and good and wise friend of nearly forty years passed away. In our last conversation we spoke of having seen people that were among my closest friends in college, destroy businesses worth millions, because they were never able to stop being petty bullies. We spoke of the reasons beyond distance and age that caused everyone's paths to diverge. We spoke of karma, and how hubris laid them and many others so very low. In each case we discussed, a common thread emerged. The beginning of the end began, always, when they lost their ability to "shock". 

Our final words were about the value of banishing from our lives those whose narcissism knows no bounds and how we suffer when people we empower in life , derive their self worth at the expense of others, even those who love them. 

In the final analysis, we can go out into the world and be amazing and transcendent people . but we must first define ourselves as one. 


For further reading (see link): Jeffrey Kluger , (co-author of the definitive book on Apollo 13,) has wrritten a great book called The-Narcissist-Next-Door