As you probably know, I’m very anti-bullying and very pro-empathy. Sometimes I’m a little too empathetic.

Given what we know about the Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin situation with the Miami Dolphins, it proves that bullying never stops, and people don’t grow out of bullying. It’s not just a meanness thing, it’s an insecurity thing.

It’s a power thing, too  – a person is so certain of his or her own self-importance, yet has no self worth, or are threatened, and gain a false sense of entitlement by belittling someone else.

A colleague of mine groaned and made a comment about the “wussification” of America, and I thought, well, how would you feel if someone belittled you every day?

Heck, at my last workplace, I had a bully, and I was hesitant to stand up to the bully for fear of “upsetting the apple cart.” Finally, a male coworker recently told me, “I’d never have let it get to that point.” And at that point, I felt as if I’d been granted permission to stand up to workplace bullies. Not that I haven’t stood up to people before, but I finally had a coworker put himself in my shoes.

Among the things I’ve taken from the Incognito-Martin feud: Male bullying is overt, while female bullying is covert.

Girls wouldn’t tell another girl that they’d shit in their mouth. They’d tell them their lipstick made them look too pale. Or they wouldn’t invite them out, when they’d invited everyone else out. Or that the story they worked on wasn’t worthy of being run on A1, despite all the hard work that was put into it. That’s something the bully at my last workplace did.

I’ve forgiven her for being such a horrible coworker and for behaving horribly towards me, and I know I didn’t do anything to provoke her. Sometimes I wish I would have just cornered her and asked her what her problem was with me. But there’s one thing I think of when someone brings her up to me. (I won’t name the woman who bullied me in the workplace. She knows who she is. That’s on her conscience.)

Charlie Batch, a former NFL quarterback, recently posted this on his Facebook page. There’s truth in this statement from Maya Angelou:

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

And that’s the problem with bullies. They likely never consider how someone else feels. Their only concern is for their own feelings.

 

Annapolis

I’m not sure where I call home anymore, as I’ve lived in six states over the past 15 years.

But for the first 17 years and 10 months of my life I lived in Annapolis, Maryland. Being stuck that long in one place, seeing the same people day after day and driving the same roads year after year only contributed to my desire to leave, to get out and see the world.

I didn’t understand the intrigue of living in Annapolis until I went to college in Pittsburgh and told my classmates – many of whom had never been outside of the West Virginia-Ohio-Pennsylvania region – where I was from. They oohed and aahed and said they’d seen the exits for Annapolis on their trips to … Ocean City. Had I ever been there?

“Real Marylanders go to Nags Head,” I explained. Geez, all I needed to do was lace up my topsiders and fling my lacrosse stick over my shoulders, and I was set.

The truth was, I hadn’t gotten out much more than they had. But because I was different, and from a different place, I knew I had a different perpective.

The truth is, I fondly look back at the time I spent in Annapolis, time I didn’t appreciate until I had left the East Coast and had actually gone out and seen the world. My first trip back home, I spent a day driving around the town, taking pictures to show my friends in Texas. There’s such charm in the town, especially when you think of the role that Maryland played in the early years of the United States – heck, there are taverns in Annapolis where some of our founding fathers drank beer and caroused. And the tavern owners will brag to you about that.

I miss Mike Riordan’s bar across from Market Square. I miss Dahlgren Hall, the ice rink on the Naval Academy campus. I miss driving over the Eastport Bridge. I miss cruising up Main Street with my friends, many of whom have also left.

I’m somewhat torn about going back to Annapolis next summer, because I have little left there besides a few friends. My parents have moved away and reunion won’t be in Annapolis proper; instead it will be in one off the neighboring communities, in a barn. And really, there’s no one left to impress from my high school. We have Facebook to take care of that, don’t we? (ha ha)

But it is definitely a part of me.

***

Speaking of my history, I was thinking of my high school boyfriend from the Annapolis days, and thought of a story a mutual friend of ours told me.

“You know his mom got into a lot of trouble about a year before he met you?”

“Excuse me?”

Something about stealing money from the social security administration, and paying restitution and that the reason he worked all the time was to help pay his mom’s bills. I looked it up in the courts records, and there was the case against her.

For years I thought his reticence to get serious came from the fact that he had been ceremoniously dumped a year earlier by a classmate whom he thought was “the one.” (She wasn’t. They were in the ninth grade. What did they know?) And I remember his mom being very chilly, very distant. And they went to Washington every weekend – later on I found out she was working in the city to make money under the table. It was all very un-Annapolis.

He never mentioned it to me, which tells me that the relationship wasn’t as serious as I thought it would be, and I wonder if that came out of shame, embarrassment or the mere wisdom that he, at 18, had as a way to not get me involved in any of the mess. I’m leaning towards the previous two thoughts.

I told my mom about it, and even she knew, all those years ago!

“Mom, why didn’t you tell me!?!”

“Because you were 16 and you were in love. And besides, you would have told everybody about it.”

He broke up with me, and when I was 16, I probably would have told all of Annapolis had I known.

I never brought up the issue with him, all these years later. But I get where he came from.