The Female Bully And The Codependent Part II: “A Smelly Turd in a Pretty Package”
In Part One, we discussed some characteristics of the serial female family bully, the way she bullies, her targets and her end game. We looked at some interesting characteristics also seen with the codependent; poor self-esteem and inability to speak her truth or express her anger.
In Part Two we are going to give you lots of examples, so you can identify if you are bullying or being bullied.
The female family serial bully (FSB) may try to set people up against her victim. This can be accomplished in many ways.
- The FSB tells you gossip about the victim as it relates to you: “She/the victim said this about you. She thinks you are stupid. She didn’t like the way you chewed your food, drove etc.” And if you don’t check out the truth of those statements, you are going to be angry with the victim. The victim doesn’t know what you have been told and will feel your anger.
- Indirectly, the FSB will turn people against her victim by subtly putting down who the victim is and how the victim lives her life: “You know how she is, she always thinks she is better than us because she went to college (and we didn’t)” — “She exercises (and we don’t)” — “She goes to those stupid dance competitions (and we don’t).” And to you, “Oh here comes smarty pants.” “When you trip and almost fall…” “Is that one of your fancy dance moves?” When you go for a run, she might say “You don’t look any different since you have been doing all that stupid stuff, so why do you bother?” These needling comments are a clear sign of the FSB’s lack of self-esteem and are nothing about you the victim. When people make negative/sarcastic/needling comments about how you are living your life, it is not about you; it is everything about their insecurity.
- When the FSB (Mom in this case) wants to single out one of her children to shame, she may use something that happened in school or on the athletic field that day. At dinner she will make a sarcastic comment about the goal the child missed, or the ball dropped or a bad grade in front of the entire family. When the child, who is already feeling down about his/her mistake, may shed some tears, the FSB will attack like a red-bellied piranha and shame the child for what we would say is an appropriate emotional reaction. Remember, if anything like this has happened to you or is happening to you, it shows the FSB’s insecurity/jealousy. I repeat: it is nothing about you and everything about the FSB.
- The FSB is masterful at manipulating information because integrity is not important. The FSB may lie, withhold information, distort or fabricate information, spread half-truths, make up stories, and generally use information to her advantage with no allegiance to integrity. Everything the FSB knows about you (she will have gained this information while pretending to like you) is fair game in her eyes to use against you. It will be distorted, spread inaccurately to her advantage with the ultimate goal of turning people against you. If the FSB has decided you have had enough success/happiness/passion/confidence, her goal will be to do everything she can to hurt you. You broke the rules or her rules “no one has more success than the FSB”. If she is suffering, you must suffer as well.
“Calling someone ugly won’t make you pretty. Calling someone stupid won’t make you smart. Making someone’s life miserable won’t make yours happy. So why do it?”
The Weapon of Exclusion
Exclusion is a very powerful weapon of the FSB. Let me be clear; families do not have to be attached at the hip at reunions. If someone is feeling excluded, I would check out how the plans have been put into place.
Healthy family reunion would have a design for the reunion, with activities available to all, detailing what is going on when and where. Everyone is included in the master plan. If certain people want time together that all can be addressed together. If some cannot participate in certain activities, they may have the option to watch. The operating principle is inclusion and everyone feeling good about the time together.
Exclusion, is not always easy to recognize. The FSB will come up with a “plausible story” on why all the people (except you) need to be together. The story will make sense, so people will think you are being “paranoid”/” too sensitive”/” self-centered”, if you dare to bring up the injustice. The FSB knows exactly what she is doing and if you follow the common thread, it will always be to exclude the victim. If you are the bully ask yourself, how can I rework this plan to include the victim. If you are the bully, ask yourself why are you so insecure. If you are the victim, note the distinction-her plans are designed to exclude you. Remember excluding you tells us Nothing about you and everything about the FSB’s insecurity. Secure people don’t need to be mean to other people. Secure people follow the Golden Rule. I have seen really mean/manipulative FSB’s take the exclusion one step further and shame/make wrong the victim for not being at the event from which she was excluded.
Family gatherings for special events: graduations, weddings, reunions, showers, birthdays are perfect for the FSB. She can plan ahead creating her stories for getting people together and design the plan to exclude the victim. The FSB knows what and who is important to the victim so that is fair game.
- One client was a relative of the bride and was asked what dates would be impossible for her to attend the wedding. She gave her dates as did everyone who was asked. The bride chose to have her wedding on the exact date her relative told her she couldn’t attend. Of course, that is her right as it is her wedding. However, she then told everyone how horrible this relative was for not attending her wedding. Exclusion and then blaming for being excluded.
- The FSB can plan events and deliberately exclude the victim saying, “well you don’t like to stay out late”, “you don’t like to do what we like to do” etc. Actually, what the victim likes, and dislikes is up to the victim to tell you. The FSB may get an enabler in the family to do her dirty work and tell the victim about the plans from which she has been excluded. The FSB may also plan events which she just never tells her victim about. Exclusion.
- Remember bullies have a dysfunctional relationship with anger. If you have a healthy relationship with anger you go to the person directly and register your complaint and/or your request for new behavior. If you have a dysfunctional relationship with anger you may “vomit” it on people indiscriminately, you may be angry all the time, you may bully, it may come out sideways, but it won’t get resolved because you are not dealing directly with the object of your anger. The FSB may spend a family gathering constantly needling/insulting/criticizing her victim and the enablers will join in not knowing or even having an issue with the victim. The victim is Excluded from a joyful, loving time with his/her family and may only know how horrible family events feel.
“People who repeatedly attack your confidence and self-esteem are quite aware of your potential, even if you are not.”
In Part III we will look deeper into these scenarios. Sit down and ask yourself “Am I a bully or am I a victim”. If 50% of us are being bullied, it is time we recognize, understand, and figure ways to deal with this phenomenon.
This article originally appeared at Recover.org.
© 2019 Dr. Anne Brown; Psychotherapist, Speaker, and Author of Backbone Power The Science of Saying No. Permission needed for any form of reproduction.
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Originally published at https://backbonepower.com on August 30, 2019.