When writing about bullies in an autobiographical book it’s best to find that golden blend of human character. Very few people are pure evil or without hope. When writing about an abusive or alcoholic parent one might share the history of this person to give some context or perspective.
Then there are the exceptions.
Some people are villains made flesh and may not reveal or have access to any redeeming humanity. Some may be bullies through and through. When this is the case, we must be brave. I recommend a strong determination to name a bully a bully, to name their cruelty and abuses whether that person be an abusive brother, priest or a president of the United States.
The context of such real-life dark characters may simply be how that person got to be so cruel. An example of this kind of read is Mary L. Trump’s book: Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man.
In response to the bullies on and off the page, a fearless compassion is required. Fearless in writing whatever we choose. Compassion toward ourselves and our readers when exposing the tyrants among us.
Shame breeds in secrecy and so does the power of the bullies and tyrants. They want us to shut down and to shut up. Our stories may cause discomfort and even grief in ourselves and our readers, but our shared stories will help us and future generations navigate such dark terrain.
Our written word is that light through dark times, especially when our personal stories includes our own encounters with this darkness. And, how this darkness affected us.
As I’ve expressed before, the written word is a superpower. Bullies want us to shrink, to hold back, to not speak up or share our stories. They certainly don’t want us to bring light into the dark corners of our life and experiences. They hope our embarrassment, shame or fear will stop us from coming out into the open.
(Sweet little girls don't write about such things.)
Bullies invade and occupy space. They interrupt, physically intimidate, control the timing, puff themselves up, ridicule, threaten, blame and do so relentlessly. Nothing we do or say will necessarily stop them or heal them. But your shared story can generate in yourself and your readers the resolve, determination and courage to live our lives in full and in the open.
We can stop shrinking and disappearing from the conversation. We can hold our ground. We can take up space on the page and off.
My oldest brother was a bully, a cruel con man, and now he is a sad, old alcoholic who still bullies his way through the scenes and people in his life. I have written about him in articles and books. His name is Rob. I shake a little bit as I share his name. Not because I’m afraid he will come after me. I shake because I feel the energy of breaking that culturally endorsed silent agreement to never speak the name of our abusers.
How have you been bullied or abused? Write about that.
Who bullied or is bullying you? Write down their names.
Where have you felt yourself shrink? Write about that.
What have you left out of your story? Write about that.