Nothing gets my blood boiling like hearing a story of bullying. The protector in me rises up when I see someone being mistreated. My heart won’t rest until I see justice. I have been known in the past to throw my petite 5 foot nothing body in between the large bully and the victim. I knew there wasn’t much I would be able to do, but I didn’t care. If throwing myself in the line of fire was what it took to give the victim just enough time to scramble away, then so be it. My love for the person was greater then my fear of being hurt.

Interestingly enough, as fearless as I was to stand up for someone else, I really struggled with standing up for myself. Needless to say, I had my fair share of bullies over the years. I know what it’s like to look around in dread waiting for the bully to come your way. I distinctly remember what it feels like to watch yourself go dead inside while cruel words were thrown your way like fiery arrows. Stick and stones did break my bones, but careless words destroyed me.

This pattern of hiding bruises followed me all the way up through adulthood. This time however, the bruises weren’t physical, they were mental and emotional. The worst part of all of the years of bullying was the lie I began to believe about my value. I always felt like a victim. The problem with this victim mentallity was that bullies can smell it a mile away. They could sense my insecurity and came flocking around me.

Soon after I got married, I started a job at this small retail store. I had this boss who we will call “Keith.” To say Keith was a micro manager was an understatement. He was the kind of boss who managed to find something wrong with everything. You were either on his good side and could do no wrong or you were on his bad side. Guess which side I fell on.

There was no logical reason as to why I would be on his bad side. I was always on time, a good worker and good with the customers. It just seemed that whatever good I did he refused to acknowledge it. I remember one day, I had a customer come in who I helped for over 45 minutes. He was very happy with my customer service and when Keith came over to see how things were going this customer told him so. “This young lady did such an amazing job answering my questions and helping me! She was so patient and friendly. You sure hired a good one!” I’ll never forget how Keith looked at me, shrugged and muttered out “Meh. She’s alright.” Needless to say the customer felt awkward and I felt extremely underappreciated and embarrassed.

Stuff like this happened all of the time. It was almost like the harder I worked the worse he treated me. Then one day, he asked me to come in the next morning on my day off. Normally I would have, but this day my husband and I had an appointment with a realtor since we were looking into houses at the time. I told him that this time I wouldn’t be able to. He immediately got angry.

“Well why not!??!” He glared at me. I explained to him that my husband and I had an appointment. “Well what kind of appointment!??!” he pushed. I was stunned. “We have an appointment to talk to a realtor. “A realtor!!!?” He laughed. “You can’t afford a house!! You are going to buy a house with what money??” Now it was bad enough he said this to me, but did I mention that he was talking to me like this in front of the customers. Before I could say anything back, he stormed off. It was extremely embarrassing.

Later on, he called me to his office and continued to question “my commitment to the job.” I respectfully explained to him that I always come in when he needed me to, but this one time I couldn’t because we had already made plans. I also mentioned that he was letting me know the night before, for the next morning and it wasn’t much notice. I even told him I could see about coming in after the meeting if they were really that desperate for people. “Forget it. Just go home” he barked out at me.

As I walked to the car that night, I began to really ask myself what I was doing. Why did I continue to work for a guy who treated me poorly and didn’t appreciate anything I did? My husband had told me several times before to quit because of his intrusive and rude ways, but I didn’t. I went home that day day and wrote out my two weeks notice.

After I put my notice in, he panicked. He immediately began to ask me why I was leaving. “Honestly?” I stated. “I feel like you have zero appreciation for what I do here.” I began to give examples of where he publicly humiliated me in front off customers and my co workers. “I do a lot here, which I am happy to do. However when you are constantly treating my like I bring no value to the team when I know I do, then I have a problem. I want to work for someone who will enjoy having me around rather then making me feel they are doing me a favor.” He kind of smirked and said “Well I think you are going to regret leaving here. You don’t know how good you have had it with you working here!” I smiled and said “Nor do you.” Then I walked out. For the next two weeks, I continued to do my job well, and left that place without looking back.

A couple of months later, I got a phone call. I was asked if I would please consider coming back. “We miss you! You were such a good worker and we would love to have you back!” I politely turned down the offer and told them that I was not interested in coming back. The phone call fell silent for a minute and then finally I heard “Ok then. Goodbye”, then they hung up.

I have a point to telling you all of this. You see, I have this theory. I believe that Fear is a bully.

Fear has a way of making you feel incapable and small. He never acknowledges what you are good at. He only points out your weaknesses and shortcomings. He laughs when you dare to dream and smirks at your ambitions. Fear is a bully that demands more then your lunch money. He steals your life. He paralizes you with dread of what is to come if you don’t obey him.

Can I let you in on a little secret?¬†Fear is actually afraid of you. He secretly knows your worth and despises you for it. He lives in constant panic. He is dreading the day you realize you don’t have to listen to him. He counts on the fact that you’ll be too busy being intimidated to see your priceless value.

Maybe fear has been tricking you and you are sick of it! The reality is, Fear may have kept you from some dreams and desires in the past, but you are on to him now. You come out from the wall you were hiding behind and you stand tall. Slowly you walk up to Fear and you look him in the eye. That’s when you realize what a spineless liar he is. You stick your hands up and shove Fear in the chest. “Move!” you spit out. Begrudgingly, fears moves.

And that’s when you see it..

Freedom. The thing Fear has been trying so desperately to keep you from noticing.

Perhaps you have always been a defender of the defenseless, but now its time to stand up for yourself. Fear is a bully that demands more then your lunch money. He steals your life. It’s time to stand up, look Fear in the face and tell it to move. You have a life of freedom waiting for you.