Tag Archive | cyberbullying

Love, attachment, detachment, and letting go

I have been enjoying a day of silence and solitude today, which has not been as silent as I had hoped, but without the distractions of music, or movies, or too much talk, I have succeeded in being able to listen and hear what I have been needing to hear.  I have needed clarity on the topics of love, attachment, detachment, and letting go.  These thoughts began as a tangled ball of hurt feelings and slowly I have been untangling the ball.  As the knots loosened, I saw that the feelings had to be sorted into different piles, and each pile needed to be named and understood before I could make any true progress towards my goal, which was letting go and forgiving and loving fully.

When we think of love, most of us would be quick to agree that in order to love someone there has to be an attachment to that person.  I am very attached to my children, and I love them deeply.  Siblings, friends, spouses–those people closest to us–we generally feel that in order to love them fully we need to have an attachment to them.  I certainly thought that, and yet I have been forced to realize that the notion of attachment and love may be leaving something very important and valuable out of the mix.  This became especially clear to me as I struggled to come to terms with the Biblical command to love everyone.  Most religions and spiritual disciplines teach something similar.  We are all in this together, and love is the goal we strive to reach.

Love and attachment do coexist in many good and healthy relationships, such as the parent-child relationship, ideally anyway.  The same is true with friends, spouses, siblings, and parents.  There has to be balance in the attachment.  If we become overly attached in unhealthy ways we might become clingy, or domineering, or unable to see and appreciate the person separate from ourselves.  There are those darned boundaries again that tell us where we end and another person begins.  Boundaries are unique within each close relationship, and they shift over time.  If the relationship is a healthy one, this adjusting of boundaries happens fairly easily, as we parents adjust and step back as our children grow older.

We learn to let go and trust and have faith that we have taught our children well enough that they will flourish as adults.  The attachment to the child remains secure, but a certain detachment must come into play if we are going to be able to love them for who they are, and allow them to grow into who they are meant to become.  It is not an uncaring detachment at all, and it is not easy at the start, but it is necessary to maintain healthy boundaries and love in the relationship.  It is respect at the very core of it.  Certainly, this form of healthy attachment-detachment adjusting is far easier with those we are close to, or maybe not…

What happens when someone you love hurts you?  What happens when a marriage fails, and the divorce is nasty, and love is replaced with more undesirable emotions like anger, resentment, and even hatred. The base of all of these emotions is hurt.  How do you love a perfect stranger who has repeatedly attacked you, or someone that you love deeply but who does not show you the same respect that you show them without some overlay of hurt or bitterness to muck up each attempt at forgiveness?  How do I love someone who has wounded me in ways I never dreamed imaginable?  How do I love these people fully, like the Bible tells me to, and do it with purity and compassion.  Here is where the tangled ball unravels, and the three separate piles become more clear.  Detachment is the key to loving someone who has betrayed you, abused you, or hurt you in any form.  Detachment is not an easy place to get to, though.

When I was at the height of my cyber-bullying experience I read a lot of articles on the topic so that I could better understand it, and in order to write an article myself.  One of the best things that I read told me that, while documenting everything, to take a giant step back and to become an observer of the person harassing me.  To be an effective observer, I had to detach from my own hurt.  Once I was able to do that, I saw that the woman harassing me treated everyone the same.  She lashed out easily at anyone who had the slightest disagreement with her point of view.  She often perceived that certain comments were “calling me stupid,” when nothing even close was said.  She had a hair-trigger when it came to feeling slighted, and becoming angry and aggressive.  In short, I learned that her behavior towards me truly was nothing personal.  It was just how she viewed and attacked the world.  This information was liberating is a rather smug, “Well, she is just a miserable person…” sort of way.  I stopped observing and documenting, but I had not reached compassion, love, and forgiveness yet.

To get to that place, I had to detach even further.  I had to step so far back that I was in her shoes.  I had to look at what her life must be like, and feel like.  I had to look at who she was in a relationship with, and what she was going through with her children, and grandchild.  When I looked at her life from inside her shoes my heart hurt.  I am a mother, and I know what it feels like when there are serious issues with a child.  It is scary and it hurts like hell and you blame yourself in some way or another.  I had to look at the grandchild and his behavior that so troubles my son—such anger and aggressiveness at a very young age.  Grandma has to cope with that, and that sort of behavior doesn’t happen in a vacuum.  I felt sad for her in a profound way and I finally reached a place of compassion for her, and the entire household.  With compassion comes the ability to love–the kind of love that the Bible teaches.  It does not mean I want to play in the same sandbox with her, but I no longer harbor any ill will towards her.  I love her for the hurting person that she is and that feels a lot better than anger and lack of forgiveness.

Unfortunately, I have had to use the same process recently with someone infinitely closer to me–someone who I love dearly and always will.  I had to step back and observe a lifetime of behavior on both of our parts.  I had to step back even further to get into her shoes, and feel the anger she feels, and the fear, and the sadness.  I know why she hurts, whether intentional, or not, and I know that her pain is deeper than the wounds she inflicts on me.  I have great compassion for her, and I have forgiven her.  At the same time, I have compassion for myself in a new way, and suddenly a fourth pile comes out of the mix, and into that pile goes expectations.

I would, and have, moved mountains out of love for this person.  Because I would, and have done that, I expected the same from her.  Not everyone loves like I do.  Not everyone is willing to move mountains, or feels that they even can.  I had to release my expectations–detach from them–in order to let go of the hurt and love her fully.  She can only love as well as she is doing, like my mother could only love as well as she did.  I cannot expect more.  I can expect respect, and if that is absent, I will let go with love.

Throughout this process of detaching, and observing, and stepping into another person’s shoes, I was certain that what I was doing was detaching from each individual.  To be sure, there is some truth to that.  However, today I realized that what I had really had to do in order to get to the place of love, compassion, forgiveness, and letting go was to detach myself from my own ego and pride.  I had to tie each piece from each one of the four piles together, roll the ball up neatly, and name it what it truly was–pride and ego.  If I had not detached myself from my own hurt ego, I never would have been able to step into their shoes, find compassion for them, and finally love and forgive them for who they are.

My pride and my mouth have been two of my biggest defense mechanisms when hurt.  I have been chipping away at both bit by bit, but these experiences have taken me forward with a huge leap.  I can step away from my ego and my pride and I can love and forgive as God wants me to do.  I have not given up myself in the process.  Quite the opposite, like the Grinch, I feel as if my heart has grown three sizes today.  It is a wonderful, peaceful, gentle feeling.  The silence has truly been golden. The sun will be setting soon, and I will be lighting my candles.  I am full of homemade bread and soup.  I have nothing to defend tonight.  I am free to love fully from whatever distance I choose.  I thank God for that freedom.

Advertisements

They say that one person cannot make a difference…

I have never believed that–that one person cannot make a difference–and I am glad that people like Albert Einstein, and Mother Teresa, and Steve Jobs didn’t believe it either, for they were extraordinary people who truly changed the world.   They had ideas and imagination and vision and courage and they took those gifts and used them to the highest extent that they possibly could.  I wonder what would happen in the world if we all did that?

A few weeks back I had an idea.  I have a lot of ideas, but unfortunately, I do not act on most of them.  In the past few months I have had to look at cyberbullying and harassment in the face from a very personal view.  I didn’t much like it, but I learned a lot about myself from the experience.  It has been an experience that has opened my eyes, and with my eyes open I began noticing things that I probably would have missed before.

I have an inspirational page on Facebook.  I was coerced into starting it by my friend, El Phoenix Farris, who writes Running From Hell with El.  She also has an inspirational page on Facebook by the same name.  One day I noticed that she has put up a poster about cyberbullying, and I had just heard that my brother-in-law was being cyberbullied by an adult and I had also come to the realization that my daughter had been viciously cyberbullied by adults late last summer.  When I saw El’s poster, I got an idea. Normally when I get an idea such as the one I got that day, which I feel is “inspired,” I think to myself, “Well, that will never work.”

However, this time was different.  I dismissed that “it won’t work” notion and I messaged El with my idea.  I said, “El, what do you think if we page owners all got together and had an anti-cyberbullying day?  A show of force of sorts.  I am new at this page thing and I don’t know a lot of page owners, but you do.”  I sent the message and waited for her response telling me why it wouldn’t work.  Instead, she was thrilled with the idea, but was about to take a mini vacation, so we agreed to discuss it upon her return.

The following week I saw another anit-bullying poster, this time put up by The Bridge Post.  Them I do know and have written for, so I went to Charlene and Tammy with an idea for an article on adults and cyberbullying.  They were excited by the idea and I began writing.  I also went back to El and told her about the article.  The next day we spoke by phone, and she’d brought in a friend of hers who runs an anti-bullying page on Facebook, Bullying is for Losers.  She also invited me into a group of inspirational page owners on Facebook and after I had been introduced, and had said my hello’s, and after waiting a respectable amount of time for them to get to know me a bit, (roughly an hour or two) with El’s nudge, I launched my anti-cyberbullying campaign idea into the group and was met with excitement and a ton of enthusiasm.

I had stopped being “just one person” the second I shared my idea with El.  When the idea was released into the group it took on a life of its own and a number of very talented, very dedicated, and extremely loving individuals made magic.  After having worked tirelessly all weekend long creating posters and content for their own pages, and for all of us to share, this group of magnificent page owners, myself among them now, held an all day anti-cyberbullying day yesterday that spread like wildfire on Facebook.  At the same time, The Bridge Post released my article, and the day was a day of overwhelming emotion as we all worked together to spread a very important message, each from our own unique point of view.  I simply cannot find words to adequately describe the impact that the day has on each one of us as page owners, and on those people who we are blessed enough to have visit our pages.

Some posters were shared many hundreds of times over, each a unique creation, and they are still being shared and commented on today.  Here is just a tiny sampling of some of the many, many posters that were created and released and shared all over Facebook yesterday:

Know My Worth

Running From Hell With El

Image: Photos & Designs by Piera
Words One Hot Mess(age)  Designed by Piera Paci.

Nothing but Respect

Read, Love and Learn

 

Art the Speaks by Alison Pearce

And my little contribution, poster-wise.  I am lucky I have a forehead left after all the banging! 😉

One Hot Mess(age)

I wish I could share all of the posters.  There were so many and a gallery is being planned.  The creativity, talent, and dedication by all of these people, each “just one person,” has me in complete awe.  Their spirit of love, kindness, collaboration, and light had me in tears more than once yesterday, and the outpouring of support from people on Facebook still has me reeling.  Last I heard, a radio station local to The Bridge Post was having an anti-bullying day today and they were in contact.  Who knows how far this can go!

Of course, there is no way to measure the effect of yesterday on the people who saw what we all worked to do, but I do know people talked, and shared, and were touched, and they thought, not just about not bullying themselves, but what needs to be done when we see bullying happening in any form, anywhere.  Seeds have been planted and who knows what will grow.

Each one of you is “just one person” chock full of ideas, passion, and light.  How many times do you have an idea and stop yourself from going forward because you think that it won’t work, or no one will listen, or that it won’t make a difference?  My idea ceased to be mine once I shared it and I give all of the glory for all of it to God, but had I never shared that simple idea what would have happened?  Nothing.  And yet because I chose to share it, to give it away, it became something astonishing because of the vision and hard work by so many people, all of them “just one person.”  We all have the spark within us that is capable of igniting a fire of goodness and love.   Take that idea you have—the spark that you have–and go start your own fire!  It is right there waiting within you!

Many thanks to Running From Hell With El, Bullying is for Losers, The Bridge Post, Living Happy, Happiness in Your Life, Always Leave ‘Em Laughing, Our Mind’s Meadow, Bedeempled Brain, Art The Speaks by Alison Pearce. A Victim No More, You ARE Enough, Know My Worth, Photos & Designs by Piera, What Makes My Heart Sing, Nothing But Respect, A Cowboy’s Hope for a Cure,Poopsie, What Makes My Heart Sing, Rebel Thriver, and Read, Love and Learn.  If I forgot anyone, let me know and you will be added!!

Cyberbullying and Adults

Bullying and cyberbullying are hot topics both in the media and in schools across the country.  Many states are enacting stiff laws that address bullying and harassment, and those laws usually include cyberbullying.  In some states, cyberbullying can result in jail or prison time, and may be a felony.  But, the reality of cyberbullying is that it is not confined to teenagers.  Adults are victims of cyberbullying, and more and more adults are becoming cyberbullies.  What is the fastest growing population among those who cyberbully?  It is adult women.

So, what is cyberbullying?  It is bullying and harassment but instead of being done in a real life setting, it is done over the computer, in chat rooms, social networking sites, or via text message, or emails.  In short, it is bullying done using  a piece of electronic equipment.  Now, in real life, we can walk away from a bully, disconnect ourselves from that person, at least in the best case scenarios.  But because the internet is everywhere, providing endless forums for the bully to use to perpetrate their crime, cyberbullying can be far harder to stop, and can exact an even higher emotional toll on the person being cyberbullied.  We are well aware that cyberbullying has lead to suicides among teens, and while most adults have more resources and life experience to withstand the cyberbully, there is still a toll for the adult being bullied, be it emotional, physical, or spiritual, or the attempted ruination of a reputation.

Insults, name calling, attacks on race, religious beliefs, physical or emotional disabilities, gender, sexual orientation, or ANY OTHER PERSONAL CHARACTERISTIC are all considered bullying, and when done via the internet, or cell phone, comprise cyberbullying.  Generally, there is also some form of cyberstalking involved in the cyberbullying, as well.

What can you do if you are being cyberbullied?  First off, do not respond in kind–do not cyberbully back.  That rather goes without saying, but in the heat of the moment, when feelings are hurt, and emotions are raw, it is easier said than done.  Gather evidence, including saving text messages, taking screen shots of cyberbullying comments and posts, and keep all bullying emails.  Contact the site on which you are being harassed and bullied.  Most have very strong anti-harassment policies.  Some are quicker than others to respond.  Tell someone you trust, and if you have an attorney, forward all of the evidence to him.  Contact law enforcement if you are threatened.  If the bully does not stop, you can seek a harassment order.  Check out your local state laws to see if cyberbullying is addressed, and what legal measures can put a stop to it.

Why do adult people cyberbully?  Usually, the bullying comes from anger, jealousy, and a need for revenge.  Many adult bullies do it for entertainment purposes.  They enjoy bullying.  It makes them feel better about themselves somehow.  Often, these people have too much time on their hands, and not a real, meaningful, life to speak of, so instead or reading a good book, or knitting, or just loving on the people in their lives, they use their free time, and often work time, to engage in cyberbullying.  These are truly sad people who have yet to reach an emotional stage of development that dictates a life of kindness, integrity, and compassion.  They are unhappy people.

Yes, I am being cyberbullied right now, and while I’d love to think that I am six feet tall and bullet proof, it hurts.  That the person who is doing the cyberbullying does not know me at all baffles me.  It would seem that she is so weak in her own personal character that she is easily swayed by information provided to her by people who are not trustworthy sources of information about me, or are they even close to honest and objective.  And yet, she allows herself to be their puppet, or she is just unhappy enough to need no encouragement.  I don’t know.  I don’t care.  In any world, and for whatever reason, it’s wrong.

That this same woman claims that she was bullied as a teen, writes articles and blog posts about the experience, and is using a site to raise money to have anti-bullying pamphlets printed, so that she can go into the schools to talk to children about bullying is the ultimate irony.  This woman has wished me dead, and openly expressed her desire to be able to hasten my death.  I think that somehow goes far and beyond bullying.  What is she modeling to her own children with her bad behavior?

I have seen adults bully other adults. Prison was a great place for that.  When I saw it happening, even if I shared a dislike for the person being bullied, I always confronted the bully, if it was safe to do, and it usually was.  There is no excuse for bullying or cyberbullying.  What you have to say about others speaks far more to your own character than to the person that you are insulting, degrading, and trying to tear down.

I don’t play with bullies, or cyberbullies, but I do take appropriate actions, and those actions may soon have to reach an even higher level if I want this to stop, and I do want it to stop.   If you are being cyberbullied, do not sit back in silence.  Tell some.  Speak out.  Get help.  Below are some links to organizations with information on cyberbullying.

Each day, I just keep praying for this woman, and the family endorsing her cyberbullying.  I pray that someday they will open themselves to the concepts of love, kindness, forgiveness, honesty, integrity, and compassion.  That’s a tall order to fill, but with God, anything is possible!  In the meantime, I will continue to live my own life fully using those concepts.