Bullies, Boundaries and Being Nice or Being Strong


I’ve had a sobering experience that’s reminded me how much work I still have to do on not rescuing other people at my expense.  I started riding lessons before Easter.  I loved my first lesson, loved the school, loved my horse, my teacher.  But in my second lesson the teacher yanked my foot out of the stirrup and pushed my leg up at a horrible angle to adjust the stirrup.  It hurt like hell, but then it seemed fine.

Until later.  Obviously I’d pulled something.  She’d pulled something.  It went from sore to agony.  I had to stop riding.  5 weeks and R1500 later, with more costs to come, I’m finally just beginning to mend.  Still lots of pain, still feeling like death from the anti-inflammatories which I’ve had to cut down on anyway because they’ve been giving me seizures.  so I’ve just got to suck it up and take the pain.  Can’t stand, can’t sit.  It’s been bloody scary.  Nightmare city.

You’d think my teacher and the admin would have done everything in their power to apologize, and try to help me feel better.  Well, they tried to make me feel guilty.  I paid for 14 lessons upfront and have had 2.  But when I first asked – nicely – for credit, I was reminded I signed an indemnity form saying that if I injured myself I absolved them of responsibility.  Don’t remember a clause saying if the teacher injures me it’s my fault.

When I explained that the teacher’s actions had injured me, I still tried to be nice about it.  Big mistake.  I got more of “it’s not our fault”.   Okaay.  Here’s the sobering part.  I doubted myself, and upped the “be nice” mode.  Why do I do that?   It’s old stuff.  I’m afraid to say to somebody you hurt me.  Every time I’ve tried it significantly in my life I’ve been as significantly nailed, or criticized for being aggressive.  Something in me sees that as a fate worse than death.

There’s still a part of me that so wants people to love me and like me and is so scared of being punished that I want to let it ride when I’m hurt.  I just couldn’t say this is bullshit. The teacher hurt me so please take responsibility.  Instead I made a trillion excuses for them.  It didn’t make them be nicer to me, of course.  In fact the teacher said the injury wasn’t her fault because I came to the lesson with a sore back anyway.  Which I didn’t.  But I got confused.  Were the drugs in my system messing with my head?  Was I trying to make them pay for something that was really my responsibility?

But how long can you be nice to somebody who doesn’t give a damn that they’ve hurt you?  Fortunately, sanity returned.  So I called up and said, the teacher is responsible and I’d like credit for 12 lessons.  End of story.   I got the credit, but begrudgingly, almost spitefully, and only when I got aggressive.  It was godawful.  The prophecy fulfilled.  Stand up for yourself and you get punished.  It’s hard to explain why it was so painful.  A really vulnerable part of me got exposed there.

But all is not lost.  My muscles will recover and my life will get back on track.  And I’ve learned a good lesson.  The people who don’t like me to stand up for myself when they hurt me – I don’t need them to like me.  I don’t like them, and I don’t want them in my world.  So if I start standing up for myself all the time, in big things and small things, I’ll whittle those people right out of my life.   As for being nice?  Gag.  It’s enough now.  Time to step out of this piece of history.

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7 thoughts on “Bullies, Boundaries and Being Nice or Being Strong

  1. Don’t be too hard on yourself Jennifer. We all find this hard, standing up for ourselves. I really believe a lot of it is gender related. We are not brought up to believe we are important and it is very hard to teach ourselves this as an adult I think. I know I have struggled with it and still do, maybe not so much but it still is a struggle. Well done for getting there in the end with the credit for your lessons. I don’t really believe though that if you stand up for yourself you get punished – I think it just feels like this because we aren’t used to it and we analyse every response. With practice you get to the stage were you don’t notice how others react (their problem!) and then you start to feel better about yourself because you have stood up for yourself and THEN, people start to respect you! Lord but I can preach – sorry!! Madeline Albright famously said that you knew you had made it as a woman or as anything really when you got up from a table at a meeting and knew that they all disliked you but, wait for it , YOU DIDN’T CARE! lol i think this is so true. I’m shutting up now!

  2. Hey Jennifer, I thought I had left a comment here a few days ago but seems to have disappeared – did you see any sign of it at all? I was having a bit of trouble with my internet connection though, I think 😦 wouldn’t like to repeat myself!! I’ll be back to check…

    • Hi Penny, sorry I didn’t reply to your lovely comment – I just looked at it today, and thanks, it gave me heart and courage!! And I totally agree with what you say. I’ve been stuck in bed on my back since I posted this, can’t take pain killers or anti inflammatories as they react with the medication I take for epilepsy and were giving me convulsions! What a bloody 😦 nightmare – haven’t been able to stand or sit (so no computer work) or drive to the physio. Today I had to take something to go and have x-rays but don’t have slipped disc or anything thank God or the Universe or both. Painkiller’s just wearing off now, so I can at least reply to you! Thanks for checking back 🙂

  3. It’s hard to start standing up for yourself, but the world is the way it is and if you don’t, it’s unlikely you’ll find someone else to stand up for you.. well done for sticking to your guns – I’m proud of you for what it’s worth 🙂
    Hope you get better soon

  4. Aw poor you Jennifer. I do sympathise – back pain is just so debilitating. I hope you feel better soon. Take care – and I was told to drink plenty of water when I had really bad sciatic pain 🙂

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