You probably don’t know I have been hosting the Men’s Mental Health Social Interest Group ConvoCast (think live podcast where you can actively participate) at 9 P.M. Eastern on Thursday nights for The Good Men Project. During our last two weeks’ calls, we discussed bullying. Last Thursday night’s call was a particularly interesting one for me, as I had experienced bullying earlier in the day.
Long story short, a year ago this week I moved from California to the Ozarks. Being autistic, I keep to myself a lot. The first friend I made, I thought was a good one, though he referred to himself as a dictator on several occasions. I laughed it off, but now realize he wasn’t making a joke.
Back in May, we had a falling out and for the life of me, I can’t figure out why. He said something in front of a group of about twenty writers at a writers’ group and misspoke. Being autistic, I didn’t realize he misspoke and asked a question for clarification.
This guy verbally tore my head off in front of everyone for making him look like a fool on purpose. Again, I didn’t even realize I was making him look bad (and according to others, I didn’t). During our next break, I apologized and explained that I simply was asking an autistic question for clarification. He told me we were good, but the fact is that we weren’t good. Far from it.
A few weeks after the incident, we got together to have a conversation, only we didn’t have a conversation. I sat and listened to him berate me, tell me lies about myself and make fun of me for being autistic. Every time I opened my mouth he rolled his eyes at me. This is a guy in his forties (maybe late thirties) and he’s rolling his eyes?
Today I sent him a Facebook message asking if we could get together and talk and try to put this behind us. This was his reply.
Do not pursue this issue again. You will force me to make a public statement and publish every aspect of our dialogue. You do not want me to do this.
During our friendship, we met almost weekly and I shared some very personal things about my autism, depression, anxiety and a number of other things.
This person is a writer and should have known that his statement amounted to threatening me with slander and/or libel depending on how he planned on putting out the information.
His response put me in a terrible funk and depression this afternoon and evening because I tried to heal a wound and, in turn, was threatened. If he were to read this—and he won’t—he would probably be thrilled that he made me feel that way. Why? Because, based on my experience, that’s the type of person he is.
Why do I let things like this get to me? The only answer I have is autism and that it’s hard to let things go. As much as I want to forget this person exists, I can’t. I try, but his pettiness, his mocking of my autism and mocking of me as a person stuck in my brain and won’t go away.
I have panic attacks because this is a well-known person in my community of 15,000 and there are places that I want to go and enjoy myself, but I won’t for fear of running into this bully.
So instead of going out and enjoying my life, I sit at home where it’s safe and I won’t have to run into an egotistical bully who will most likely make my life miserable if I run into him.
The sad thing is that this guy holds some influence in this community and, as the new guy in town with the purple goatee, I’m the one who will get ostracized when he starts running his mouth about me.
He’s not ignorant about autism and what it entails; in fact, he knows quite a bit about it, which is what makes the bullying all the worse.
I used to think that kids who were bullies were the worst but now I realize that adults who bully people, especially people with mental health issues are the worst people of all.
I would love to hear your adult bullying stories. We all have them and hopefully, we can one day find a way to put our bullies in their place and go about our lives in peace.
What’s your take on what you just read? Comment below or write a response and submit to us your own point of view or reaction here at the red box, below, which links to our submissions portal.
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