I am going to be a bit vulnerable today before I introduce today’s guest. Her post inspired me to do some of own internal reflecting.
I am just now getting back into the swing of working out again. I could work out at home, and do on occasion, but I hate it. There is really only one thing I love and that is cardio group exercise.
I took several years off to get my head straight and, dozens of pounds later, I feel like I am finally able to handle it again. One thing that has kept me out of the gym though; my constant fear of judgment. I am afraid of the bullies that aren’t even there. The bullies have ALWAYS been in my head but they get louder when I am in any kind of group setting. I fight VERY hard to not cut and run.
I wasn’t always like that though. Once upon a time I was able to introduce myself to people, to laugh with them and enjoy their company without always second guessing what they were really thinking. Mental illness sucks and you don’t have to be born with it or have something horrible happen to cause it. Sometimes it’s like a cold you can’t get rid of – one day you wake up and you have a whole new world to adjust to.
Now it takes time for me to find a place I feel comfortable, and even then, I have to be careful not to give my mind a reason to freak out. My hip hop teachers are high energy, gorgeous, and you would think I would find them intimidating but they both have smiles that draw you in and automatically make you feel welcome. But then there are the 50 other people who take their class, some of them I know but most I don’t. “I can do this” has become my mental chant every time I drive to the gym.
Slowly, I am finding more reasons to feel comfortable going to class and today one of those reasons wrote a post for me! Lorrie has a killer smile and a kick-ass killer attitude. She doesn’t realize her enthusiasm is contagious and I crave and need that! She didn’t know me when I was thinner so I my mind can’t automatically jump to the conclusion that she is judging me.
Yea… I am definitely my OWN bully.
Here I am very happy to present Lorrie! Thank you Lorrie so much!
AM I THE BULLY, HERE? by Lorrie
I graduated law school in 1995. It’s hard to believe I’ve been practicing law for 20 years. I like how my profession and other professions call it “practicing” – that means we are always learning and trying to perfect it.
I practiced business litigation for many years before putting away the proverbial legal boxing gloves and slowing things down as in-house counsel, focusing primarily on contract law and compliance. In my 20-year legal career, I have represented individuals and business in a myriad of disputes from your basic contractual disagreement to your million dollar war of egos and principles.
There weren’t many female litigators in Oklahoma County during my career. We were a rarity in an otherwise male-dominated faction of Oklahoma litigators.
Being raised one of eleven kids in Lewisville, Texas, I was neither told nor do I ever recall believing I was any less capable than my brothers or anyone else for that matter. I was blessed with the gift of public speaking, though my parents and siblings may have viewed it as a curse, at times. I discovered early on that I had a sharp tongue, quick wit, and the intellect to back it up. I relied on that lethal combination to become the first female in my family to attend and graduate from college and law school, with honors.
I will never forget, early in my career, I had a case before a particular judge who had served on the bench for many, many years. I presented my motion and argument and was successful for my client. Since I won the motion, I then asked the judge for my client’s costs and attorney’s fees incurred as the prevailing party, which was allowed by Oklahoma law. That judge peered down at me, over his glasses, and denied my request. I pressed the issue until he raised his voice and bellowed, “Don’t guild the lily, little lady.”
I wasn’t even sure what that meant, except that I should probably stop talking. He wanted me to stop talking. He didn’t care what the law allowed, he wasn’t giving my client any more than he already had. He was angry at me and was going to use the force at his disposal to make me stop talking.
That was the first time I recall ever feeling bullied into shutting my mouth.
While somewhat dismayed, I didn’t allow that exchange to damper my convictions.
If you walk away from this blog with nothing else – walk away with this: Don’t let the bully damper your convictions. Don’t allow the bully to make you walk away from the right fight.
Bullies in business (and especially lawyers in business litigation, unfortunately) are quite prevalent. I’ve found those legal victories over bullies the most satisfying, and the defeats, the most challenging and sometimes, even demoralizing.
I’ve seen creditors (even false creditors with false claims for debts owed) bully clients, friends and family into paying something that wasn’t even owed. I’ve seen bullies in business lie and manipulate a situation, taking advantage of the trusting and giving hearts of clients and friends. I’ve seen bullies in business threaten clients, friends and family with actions that were absent of both authority and legality.
I am proud of those moments when I was able to use my powers for good and stop the bullying with the help of the iron hand of the law and reason. Many times, the bully in business would back down when the facts, the law, and the clear consequences were staring them in the face. These are the moments I am most proud of what
I can do.
Other moments, I am not so proud of.
In other moments – I was the bully.
One of the most beautiful gifts of life is accepting and knowing that you’re never too old to learn. As a matter of fact, the older you get, you become more open to those learning opportunities instead of seeing those opportunities as a personal attack. You are comfortable with putting your ego aside and asking yourself, “What is my ownership in this situation?”
Several years ago, my best, lifelong friend and I reached an impasse on some life-changing issues. We had reached a point of a complete breakdown in communication with each other. Our friendship was important enough that we agreed to see a professional about our situation and see if the relationship was salvageable.
In meeting with the counselor, I learned that probably the worst thing someone can do to me in a close and meaningful relationship is disconnect from me, dismiss me, and disengage from me. And when that happens, I respond out of anger (or in reality, hurt). I start demanding that connection, that engagement – and I’ll use whatever tools I can to get what I want.
I will never forget what that counselor said to me that day: “Anger will not get you what you want.”
My initial reaction was, “The hell it won’t.” My nickname is “Hellcat”, after all (another blog for another day).
She kept saying it over and over, “Anger will not get you what you want.”
She was right – anger had not and will not get me what I wanted.
Anger is a temporary reaction that obstructs a learning opportunity.
I was being a bully.
My friend and I were able to salvage that relationship. We were both able to step back and reach a new level of connection and understanding. I learned I had gone beyond standing up for what I thought was “right” and was bullying another person to get my way.
I learned – and am still learning (though I am much better at it, with practice) – that you have to channel your reaction to injustice in a practical, yet confident, way. I am learning to use my sharp-tongue and quick-witted powers and intellect for good. I am learning to use my knowledge of the law and individual rights and balance that with legal, available remedies – with persuasion and assertiveness, not anger and aggression.
And like the “practice” of law, I find myself on a life-long journey which includes practicing and learning these skills. I’m learning and practicing how to recognize a bully and how to perfect my reaction to bullies – without becoming one.
It truly is a matter of practice and awareness – striving to use our powers for good and finding balance in our reactions with others and ourselves, with learning and grace.
Lorrie is a lawyer and proud mother of two, living in Deer Creek, Oklahoma, with her husband and two cats. She’s an avid runner and hip-hop dancer. This was her first blog and she’s feeling inspired to do more – especially considering the fact that her children have apparently inherited her sharp-tongued wit. You can reach Lorrie at OKHellcat@yahoo.com.