The clouds are rolling in … and I’m feeling a little bummed out.
All this talk about bullying in the news lately has got me thinking. I was bullied relentlessly in elementary school – and it escalated to epic proportions after my Mum died.
They made fun of my crazy jew hair, my clothes, my freckles, my height. I was told I was ugly and that’s why my Mum died … They threw rocks at me. I was punched and spit at. It was relentless and there was even a point when I was about 12-13 when I thought about ending my life.
I don’t think I understood the gravity of that thought … all I knew is that I wanted the taunting to end and thankfully I went to talk to my Dad about it and he was there for me 100%.
When I told him about the kids making fun of me he said two things:
#1. “Who cares what they think; they are assholes.” My Dad has a way with words.
#2. “Tell them to fuck off.” See. I told you he has a way with words. 🙂
It actually helped a lot. It gave me strength to know that my family had my back and I learned that I didn’t have to be friends with everyone (especially when they treated me poorly) and that a few choice words can cut a bully off at the pass.
But recently I’ve been struggling with a bully and I feel like I can’t tell them to “fuck off” because they are part of my family. I love this person very much … but I have had to take a step back from them for my sanity.
Not everyone in my family is vegetarian – in fact I am very much in the minority but I have been really lucky that they have never made me feel like I was a weirdo, burden or a freak for my veganism. I’ve always felt supported and loved by my family and I try to mirror that back to them despite our differences.
This person has suddenly decided that it’s funny to make fun of my veganism. Comments about how “yummy animals taste” etc, etc. You know the jokes (if you can call them that) they are combative and almost never funny. 🙁
Being a life-long vegetarian and a vegan for over 20 years – Iâ€™ve become pretty good at deflecting those kind of negative comments (that we as vegans have to deal with from non-vegans) but when it comes from a family member … it hurts the heart a little more.
Actually … it’s incredibly disappointing.
I did my best not to judge this person when they stopped being vegetarian (because of social pressures) and started eating/hunting/glorifying the dead animals they were murdering … but I did notice that’s when the snarky comments directed at me started.
Guilt can eat someone alive if they let it … and I guess directing hurtful comments at me is that persons way of expressing their guilt for all the blood they now have on their hands.
Even when I said to them point blank “PLEASE STOP. You are hurting my feelings.” they kept going with the ridicule instead of offering an apology… and it’s a big fucking drag.Â 🙁
I believe that the people in your life should LIFT YOU UP and never tear you down.
So I’ve decided to back away and give myself some space from them. I will ignore the negative and only focus on the positive. So let’s turn this frown upside down – shall we?
All I have to do is remind myself of all the love I have in my life. I have so many incredible friends/family/fans who support me, love me and never try to hurt me. These are the people I will put my energy into and the rest can “fuck off“.Â 🙂
OUT WITH THE NEGATIVE! In with the love.
It’s sad when you realise there’s a bully in your family… my therapist gave me some great advice. I always felt like I had to respond, but she told me that sometimes the best way to deflect crap like this is just to give a half smile and let it go. If you don’t keep picking up the ball and throwing it back at them, maybe they’ll give up.
I think you dad had great advice too 🙂
Great advice. 🙂
I like Tony’s approach: a half-smile and silence. I also like naming the behaviour: “That’s a hurtful comment. Why do you choose to say that?” It’s the “why” that gets them. But all the great insight and advice in the world doesn’t change the fact that it hurts. And that they’re assholes.
Sending a comforting hug.
P.S. Does your bully have almost 3000 Facebook fans? :-b
Sorry to hear that Sarah, family should never treat you that way 🙁 You’re lucky enough to be so strong and know that it’s okay to distance yourself from them. Not to mention what a wonderful husband you have and your cute little furbaby Fergus. That’s what makes the hard days worth it to me, furbabies and the man I love! I hope you have a better day tomorrow and all the rest to follow <3
You hit the nail on the head – this person feels guilty. They need to try to make themselves feel better about their new lifestyle, and you’re the most obvious target. Hopefully it’s a sign that they’ll eventually come to their senses – about the meat eating and the bullying!
Have you tried asking them why they feel so guilty about their choices..?
Talking to this person is like talking to a brick wall…
Such a shame some people have to be ignorant in this way. I think you’re right, that the comments are caused by their guilt about eating meat again. Since they obviously won’t listen then you’re doing the right thing in rising above it.
With your indulgence I’d like to add this link. The man speaking is talking about being gay, but the message when it comes to being bullied remains the same.
Glad to see you have picked up your father’s way with words – way to go!
Thanks for this post Sarah I related to your experience alot. Unfortunately my folks weren’t able to be as supportive but that’s all cool now. I have an Uncle and a vego friend who antagonize me and it sure is frustrating. More my vego friend who has struggled with my veganism. I really do see that bullying behavior as acted out guilt. My uncle is an asshole and have as little to do with him as possible. I agree with the quiet detachment approach it’s really worked for me. That’s not to say that it’s not hurtful and annoying. Thanks for posting in such an honest way xx
Thanks for the post Sarah. I was bullied alot in elementary school as well, because of my size, and because of the fact that we included many natives in our family, these days it’s not such a big deal but 40 years ago it was a huge deal. I left school for awhile and did government corresspondence, when I went back to school I hoped that enough time had gone by that things would be better, but it started again the moment I stepped into the classroom.
As for my wish to become vegan, and my many attempts to make the switch(sofar, so good this time!), I also have a couple family members who make a point of making fun of me. My brother being the worst, telling me about hunting, and laughing because it bothers me. He also makes fun of the fact that the smell of meat cooking makes me sick to my stomach. There is more but it would take too much space to write.
take care, xox
Hopefully the distance you create will help make this person realize how great you are and what an asshole they have been.
Not appologizing after you explained they were hurting you is unbelieveable. Sometimes Family can be a lot more cruel than friends.
I guess you can pick your friends though. (Just not their noses)
Hang in there Sandra!! 🙂
You have changed many lives, and by choosing a vegan lifestyle you have saved many lives and you have inspired others to do the same. ANYONE who puts you down or makes you feel sad or makes you turn your positve energy into anything else need not a second of your life. If we all lived to be a hundred we would only have lived for 36,500 days, not a lot of time to waste on people who just havent reached a place of compassion. So sorry for your hurt feelings. Just pull away, and let them simmer in their horrible stew.
reading that made me want to cry, ive been bullied (for many reasons) in my life! Hang in there, we vegan chicks are tougher than anybody! *chest bump* lol \(^_^)/
I can totally relate to this as being a vegan girl in Engineering, all the boys in my faculty like to do the “Mmmm meat is so delicious” and wave beef in front of my face kind of ordeal. They do it in a joking way but sometimes it gets really mean. I’ve never had a family member torment me about my vegan diet, I was lucky my family is so supportive of me eating what I want and eating right. Of course my mom is always worried that I’ll never get protein and she always begs me to eat meat and dairy products but I know I’m better off without it. In the end I always think to myself that I’m definitely doing better than them anyways since I’m treating my body better and will not get diseases and kill the environment.
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