Rant of Light: March of the Bull(ie)s

This past week, the theme of integrity and speaking truth keeps creeping into my conversations and practices.  Unfortunate circumstances in the yoga world, work environment and personal relationships, have led many, I know, to stop taking a back seat to injustices and stand up for what is right.  I believe, with all my being, that living and speaking loving-truth is the only way to live.  Although, I realize in our world, today, that is much easier said than done.  We live amongst the “Bulls” and the “Ball-less” and sometimes it feels like they are running this show.
I’m speaking, of course, of Bullies and the people who stand by and watch it all happen without doing a thing, (I would call these people spineless, but that may be misjudging their motives).  Over the last few years, there has been a large movement in the internet community to inform the world of the ever-present bullying problem and the effects that bullying has on the bullied.  Though this project has its main focus on the GLBTQ community, I know, first hand, that bullying can happen to anyone for anything.  The project, which was long coming and well overdue, is called ” It Gets Better.”
I wanted to share my views on this subject with you for two reasons: First, because I used to mentor to the most amazing group of youth and I want them to know how it was when I was a youth and that, in fact, it does get better (but maybe not always in the way that you think).  And second, because for the last few years, one circle of people, I find myself being around, fit the definition of the Bulls and the Ball-less.  Adult-versions of bullies and cowards that go around ridiculing and betraying anyone (at times, even their own friends) and I believe it is time to stand with integrity and speak my truth about their actions.
So, to start a youthful recap:  I am a talker.  I was speaking in full sentences at an age when most babies were still gurgling and making cooing noises.  I came into this world having something to say and that only got stronger as I got older.  To some, I talk to much and in times, I would agree.  Most people look at a talkative person and think they are attention hungry and the last thing from shy, but this is far from true.  Talkers will chat nonsense in cases of extreme nervousness. It’s an illogical way of distracting the ones you perceive as making you nervous (ie…look at the birdy! Over here, look at the birdy!).  It is illogical, because it can inevitably cause you to be the target of much ridicule.
I was not raised wealthy, nor did I come from your “conventional,” 1980’s, American house-hold.  I have no memories of my parents ever being married or living together.  I was the third of three daughters, brought up by a single-mother, who was forced, full time, back into the workplace, while bringing up a two and six-year-old.  Needless to say, I know a ton about daycare.  In daycare, there were kids like me! Not all of us, but enough. We were the Children of Divorce, but we didn’t care, until school started, and then you were sort of an oddity. This came worse to me, because I was poor, from a “broken home,” being raised by a woman (who, God forbid, worked outside of the home,) I wore glasses, had short hair and loved to talk!
Today, most people would say, “Fuck yeah! Go Mom!  Bringin’ up the fam on her own!”.  And she did and she encouraged us to speak our minds, and find our own truth.  But in the mid to late 80’s society would have rather I been raised by Ike Turner or a pack of wild dogs, than the situation I was in.  I got bullied at school by many kids my age, but what was worse, were the authority figures that did it.  The ones who were there to protect us and stand up for us, (teachers, other parents, principals) looked down on my situation and believed my thoughts and words held no merit, due to my lack of normality.  It taught the ones who bullied that it was OK and it showed the ones who stood by and watched, quietly, to stay put or suffer the consequences (most of the ones who fell silent, were the kids I called friends, at that time.  And that, by far, was the worst betrayal of all).
On one particularly severe occasion of my being bullied, my  mother (being the lioness she is) would roar into the school demanding to talk to the principal, again, because the same teacher was bullying “poor” children.  She felt it necessary to separate the students by their parent’s marital and financial status.  Needless to say I was screwed.  It was well-known that my mother was the one complaining and this made me Undesirable #1!   Though my mother continued to complain, nothing was done for months.  I remember, clearly, wishing she would stop calling, because I, in my child-like-wanting-to-just-fit-in-way, thought it was making my life worse and maybe this teacher was right, maybe there was something wrong with me. This would not be the first or last time, I would pray to not be different, anymore.  In the end, even the cowardly parents grew a pair and started making anonymous calls.  The second it became a group effort, she was terminated.
This and many other times, taught me to keep being who I am and speaking truth.  I was lucky that I have a mother and older sister who have more balls than an all-guys-bowling-league.  But it still sucked.  They could not always be there to protect me and just because we won that time didn’t mean the bullying or the betrayal stopped for me.  Bullies and cowards are everywhere. On top of that there were some, pretty bad, repercussions to the bullying and backstabbing: massive trust issues, bad relationships (with friends and partners,) problems with my body image and sex, and worse, the times in my youth and young adulthood, when I felt suicide was my only source of freedom.  Though they were mostly thoughts and very few attempts, I obviously, never did.  I survived and instead, set out determined to change myself and our society, but, unfortunately, I cannot speak for the friends that I have lost to drugs or suicide.  You learn very quickly, in situations like these, that it is too late to stand up for someone, after they are gone.
But like I said, I kept on.  I spoke my mind and stood up for injustices, even when it meant getting beaten down (emotionally and physically).  And in time things did change, I don’t remember when, but I know it did.  I found a group of people who loved me for me, that helped, immensely . They stood up for me, like my family did and today, I still call them my friends.  They saved my life and they taught me to have faith in many things, but mostly myself.  It would take years for all of this to be worked out, for the things that happened to be forgiven and heal.  Sometimes those ghosts still try to haunt me, but this is where I, too, can say, “It gets better.”
Today, I have few friends, but they are full of integrity and ready to stand for me, with me (and at times, up to me) at any moment.  I, of course, have my family and I have myself.  But there have been instances, when I have stumbled into circles (be it employment, intimate relationships, or even group hobbies) where the Bulls and the Ball-less never grew passed their days of cowering or terrorizing.  These people may not fight with physical force, anymore, they use lies and slander to get their way.  They stand by and watch others take the fall for things, without standing for what is right and true.  They will cheat, lie, and betray or conform, agree, and bow down.  Anything that will make them feel like they have some sort of control or safety net.  Again, the worse of these are the ones in positions of power (managers, officers, teachers) and more so the ones who claim to be your family, friend or lover.
I’m sure you are wondering, so, how did it get better? This is how it got better and gets better, every moment:  You finally see them for what they are;  sad, scared, hurt, angry children, who were never shown proper love or a sense of integrity.  Then, something miraculous happens, you begin to pity them. These people you feared or wanted to except you, you just feel bad for them.  Inevitably, this may cause you to look for a new job (which is a blessing, if you are in that kind of environment) or end an intimate relationship or friendship.  Again, you are better off and for once you know it!  And that’s how it changes! You realize you are wonderful the way you are and there will be people there to show you that and stand for you.
So, my message to those who still choose to bully and cower, late in their years. I know you.  You think you are being funny, but you are just sad and hurtful. And unless you choose to make your life positive your heart will always be scared and alone.  Some of you have families and children that I know you’re raising.  Currently, you are only showing them the way to be just as broken as you.  You are creating brutalizers and cowards that stand for nothing, but themselves and will, in the end, feel just as scared and alone as you feel now.  It takes a much braver person to admit their weakness and face change, then use force or cower to oppression.  A friend of mine recently said to me, during a conversation on leaving one’s mark on the world, “It takes more to make something, than to destroy it.” I think that applies perfectly here.  It takes a better person to stand with or up to friend, than ask them to change to fit your or the group’s needs or worse to stand by and watch their self destruction.  If you expect someone to be anyone than who they are, you don’t love them.  You are only willing to love what you think they should be for you and that is not love, nor is it friendship.  So, I challenge you.  I challenge you to change. To communicate your fear and begin to be a brave person and in time….It gets better… for you, too.
And lastly to everyone, You are never alone, someone always loves you.  I promise.  If you are reading this, I love you.  I mean that, even if you are one of the Bulls or you haven’t grown your spine, yet.  I love you for reading this entire blog (you read it for a reason).  Believe me, when I say, there is never an instance when life is not worth living, but anytime is always a good time for change, for living with integrity and speaking in loving truth.
Live your practice and love to all,