Dealing with threat

From time to time, I come across people who would deliberately do harm. They are selfish, sure. They are self-involved. They don’t mean well. They are unhappy and they want to share their unhappiness.

One such person has come back into my small circle of family and friends by way of Facebook. Without bias, she is a small-minded individual who copies what she sees on t.v. or in trashy magazines, doing what she thinks is appropriate. She can be very hurtful and she is always very manipulative. Nothing she does is without motive. In some ways, I can kind of understand. She didn’t have the best of childhoods… but then, who among us really did? We may look back on our childhood and see it as a tragic thing, or as a perfect thing, when really it was both.

Bastille, 1980, La Baule.

My mum and I didn’t always see eye to eye. We still don’t. I can be a spendthrift and will spend £400 on a pair of boots. I am loud and assertive and impatient, rude and silly. When I’m with my siblings, I revert to former behaviour, burping, farting, laughing like a drain. But my mum had a mix of the worst and best childhoods, and despite having very little maternal influence herself, she brought us up (and many other kids!) to be honest, proud, confident and fearless. We went from being relatively affluent to being poor beyond belief, with visits from the bailiff from time to time. I never remember being hungry, but I remember being poor. I didn’t have expensive shoes. I got a grant for my uniform and free school meals. Yet my mum always held it together. She was strong for a huge amount of time when lesser people might have fallen apart. With no education, she got GCSEs and then a degree. She teaches now, herself. She wasn’t always wise as she is now, but she has never been venomous or hurtful. She kept my father’s transgressions to herself and took it on the chin time and time again even when we were hung up emotionally on the notion of our missing father. We made the most of what we had. I don’t remember a lot of books, except for presents, but we used the library a lot. I have a vague recollection of days she’d go to bed with ‘a headache’ when no doubt it was all a bit too much, but she did it all. And she did it all by herself.

She never relied on a man to ‘save’ her, and she’s dragged us up, by whatever means necessary, so that we’re all fine members of society. Of all people, she taught me that you don’t need a man and you don’t need to be bitter about the past. You can get over it. You put on your brave face.

My Gramps, on whose knees I sat, decided to go into factory work because it was better paid than the civil service at the point when he needed money, with my nana due to give birth. He hated it, yet you’d never have known. He must have despised working with idiots and numbskulls. I still remember the smell of him, home from Bibby and Baron’s… his overalls smelling of the factory. But he never complained. He knew he had responsibilities and he never shirked them.

We weren’t unbelievably poor, but I don’t think we were far off.

I could, however, look back on this childhood – my absent father, my mother with her ‘headaches’ and say ‘I had a shit childhood.’

But I never do.

I don’t gloss over it. We were happy in simple ways,  like tea round at my nana’s on a Saturday afternoon, with the football on in the background, pickled onions, a huge pork pie, slices of bread and butter, crisps… our version of high tea. We played games. We chatted. No trips out, unless they were free. Easter Monday on the beach, when we stopped going away for Easter. Summer holidays camping in France. Christmas that lasted for days and days.

Yet the threat to walk back into our life cannot see past her poisoned childhood and release herself from it. She lies for attention. She will say anything, including referring to her ‘cancer’ which disappeared, ‘miraculously’. Strangely, another woman I faced threat from with one of my exes claimed the same thing. I don’t know why they would wish something like that upon themselves. Why would you wish for an illness to get attention??! She lies about all kinds of things, mostly her own behaviour.

Not only is her own life poisoned, but she seeks to poison the lives of others.

I don’t get this.

As someone who faced career ruin through the stupid behaviour of others, I know what it’s like to want to blame someone. I want to blame the small-minded jealousy of the woman who caused me to leave the council. She was a small-minded bully who would corner me, dismiss me and do as she damn well pleased at work. She almost lost her family. She is trapped in a loveless marriage and talks to her husband as if he is a child in need of schooling. She was once a profound influence upon me, but then when I got published and was her equal at work, if not better, she refused to see how hard I’d worked for it, doing three jobs, and decided that it was unjust. Jealous? I don’t know. Seething with disgust, definitely. She hated everything I was. But I don’t blame her. If anything, I blame my boss for not being fair, not tackling it and taking the easy way out. It was easier to let me go than keep us and sort it out. But what’s to blame there? That’s human nature. It’s the nature of corporations. It’s why they aren’t loyal. Least resistance is a path taken by many of us.

I could turn around after the robbery and say I hate teens, but I don’t. I even finished by saying to the boy in question that I hoped he would learn from it and I didn’t want him to have a criminal record. I meant it. A criminal record does no-one any good, except maybe those insane people who are a real danger to society…. and they have different guidelines than a conscience.

So… how do I deal with the re-emergence of this woman? As I do with all threats:

Keep a close eye on it.

Know it.

Understand it.

Predict its moves.

Get close to it.

Study it.

Prepare for it.

Be one step in advance.

Then step back and let it burn itself out.

I don’t really believe in confrontation, despite what many believe of me. I always said, when teaching, a loud pair of shoes is the ultimate weapon. Kids know you’re coming. They stop what they’re doing. They disappear. Presence and watchfulness is all. Be about. Be noticeable. Be visible. Be strong. But be cunning. I believe most problems disappear when people realise they’ve been detected. They usually stop doing it. Dealers stop dealing if they’re afraid they’re being watched. Drivers drive better with the police behind them (Sometimes! Although, today, I saw a van dicking about in front of two police cars. Stupidity is always good. The more stupid, the less a threat)

People may move on, but if we’re all vigilant, they have nowhere to go.

Let them move. Few people are capable of keeping their true nature in for that long. I know she’ll slip up and without me doing it, she’ll be blocked from our circle again. People do. They are their own worst enemy. Let them fall. They all do. Stand strong whilst they fall.

I shall keep my eye on her, but people never stray far from their true nature or intentions. She will, I have no doubt, attempt to spread a little poison, attempt to get attention, but I’m on to her.

I’m feeling very ‘renegade’ today. I need a dose of Hed (pe)

Although, unlike Jared, I shan’t be pushing right back. Resistance is futile!

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