No, no, not being bullied. It is a crying shame people can’t seem to make the distinction much these days, but I can.
I have hardly ever been bullied in my lifetime, but I have been teased a whole big bunch. I’m super grateful I have been too because, without having been teased, I would be completely intolerable (insert more teasing here for those of you who think maybe I still am).
Why did I NEED this teasing? Because I have a tendency to take myself REALLY seriously sometimes.
Teasing is an important spiritual practice whereby you go after someone who has come to take themselves too seriously and you pinch them, taunt them, pull their hair, tickle or sit on them until they either laugh or cry or, optimally, BOTH. With deep love in your heart, you go in determined to take the object of your love down a few notches (for their own good, and perhaps also for your entertainment).
I was blessed in my early years to have an older brother and uncles and a very playful daddy who would help to keep my rather robust ego in check with plenty of teasing. I was really really fun to tease because while I was little and easy to toss about, I would also put up one hell of a fight. I would verbally spar forever. I would trade punches. I would kick and wiggle and scream and bite. But these boys and men were very good at their jobs. They knew, intuitively I presume, if they were ever to relent to me and let me off before the tears or laughter, their intentions to subdue my monstrous little ego would’ve only served to strengthen it. So they were exactly what good teasers MUST be- relentless.
They were exactly as relentless in their teasing as they were in their love. They hoisted me on their shoulders, brought me kittens and puppies, took me for motorcycle and four-wheeler rides and protected me fiercely against any outside predators. Because you must never, ever tease someone you do not love. This, in my mind, is the distinction between bullying and teasing. Bullies don’t love you. What might look very similar to teasing, bullying is not meant to help you with your ego gone wild. In bullying, someone attempts to crush your ego in order to serve theirs. They want to crush your ego, not merely to discipline it. Of course people can scarcely discern between what is discipline and abuse these days either, so it’s only natural bullying and teasing would be confused.
One of the main problems I have encountered in my adult life is inadequate teasing. When I spend time around my uncles, brother and daddy, they still do their jobs since I never really did get much bigger and I’m still pretty fun to tease. However, I don’t get challenged often enough in areas I probably really need to be. I’ve been bullied more as an adult, but I’ve been teased less.
I still need those people who will come at me when I’ve gotten too full of myself. I need people who will relentlessly challenge and push me until I laugh or cry (or optimally both). This is usually only a problem for big kids and rich kids. Their egos run amok and they can turn into bullies because no one is teasing them (apply this however you might to corporate America, special interest groups, government and what have you). But though I am neither big nor rich, I’ve run into this problem too. I’ve gotten stronger, and somehow more intimidating, and it takes a really determined teaser who loves me A LOT to be willing to take me on. My arguments are tougher to break. I’ve spent years practicing how to wiggle out of certain holds. As an adult, when I find someone who loves me who can also hold me down and bring my ego into check, I don’t run from them. I run toward them.
Come to think of it, even as I child, I only ran from my teasers if I was SURE they’d chase. And if they didn’t, I’d go sit in their laps and make myself a nuisance until they were forced to tease me. Some things just never change I guess.