I have always been a bully. I ain’t particularly pleased about it. Not now I’m all grown up and trying to believe my own story of myself as an all-round wonderful guy. We all do that, conceding a few of lesser weaknesses to make our self-image more believable but most often ignoring the biggest flaws to an extent that can flabbergast those with a third person perspective.
And since I am not much of a bully these days I guess this is one of my own empty confessions. Although, it’s not completely meaningless because the same characteristic is manifest in more subtle and complicated ways.
As the oldest child, I have always had a little sister and later a little brother to tease. It wasn’t a constant thing but like a scabby knee, teasing them was a guilty pleasure where I could never resist the pick, pick, pick..
It is a gross over-simplification of childhood morality tales that bullying is physical. To some extent it relies on physical advantage but most bullying is utterly psychological. It is about making the victim break, getting them wound up to the point of snapping, knowing that whatever happened next, you had won, because by losing control they had lost. I always enjoyed seeing that and I was very good at making it happen. ( I was never bullied myself. Only a couple of people ever tried and they quickly got bored of my detachment and lack of reaction. )
I guess I owe a few apologies. My sister and brother certainly, several people at several schools over the years, and almost all my ex-girlfriends. I am geniunely sorry. And I can apologise as much as anyone would like me too. Personally, I feel that apologies are something of a devalued currency, you may disagree but I’m sure Tony Blair will offer an empty apology on my behalf sooner or later. And in another sense, I am unreformed and unrepentant. I may have been the one pushing the buttons, hurling the words but they are only words and in my literal minded way, i’ve always believed the rhyme. People shouldn’t take it to heart so. That people do is something that it has taken me a long time to learn, because it has never been obvious to my ‘extreme male brain’. I sort of get it now, but it still an acquired behaviour not an ingrained trait, so at times of stress or intensity, I have been I liable to forget.
Even at present there are occasions when I can turn ugly. One of the motivations for my experimental abstinence from alcohol was the memory of how unpleasant I can get when very drunk and the pleasure I get from the arguments I have had with loved ones in those situations. Even if alcohol isn’t involved, if things get heated I can rarely resist the old habit of pushing in just the wrong direction at just the right time.
A certain time in a certain pub I wasn’t drunk but my laughing at someone-else’s helplessness in the face of my uncaring lack of connection resulted in a glass in my face. I didn’t deserve it but I certainly provoked it. And that pretty much closes volume one of my bulliography. (There may be a second volume in time for I fear an old age of hurtful irascibility. I hope I won’t come to that. )