The other night we had a wind storm. At 3 a.m. it ripped open my screen door. Bang! This, naturally, caused my dog to go ballistic, and his hysterical tirade prevented me from going back to sleep right away.

It also woke me up right in the middle of REM sleep, which caused me to remember what I was dreaming about. It was a name that I hadn’t thought of in years. To be frank, it was a name I thought I’d forgotten, but apparently it had been living in my subconscious all this time like an undetected festering sore.

T.M. was my supervisor when I worked at a county health department. He was a despicable human being. He had no management skills whatsoever. The morale in that department was at toxic levels.

His distrust of his subordinates was so absolute that when someone did make the effort to do something outstanding (which happened less and less over time) he never acknowledged that effort. Praise was not something that one could expect from T.M. Credit was long overdue.

One time, after I spent 6 months creating, coordinating and implementing a conference that was to be attended by hundreds of people (and was a big success, if I do say so myself), T.M. told me that if I wished to attend, I’d need to take leave time and pay the requisite fees. When I protested, he shouted, “You should be fired!”

In that interrupted dream of mine, I had been listing all of the bullies I’ve crossed paths with in my life, and he was right at the top of the list. I wonder how many times I’ve recited that list in my sleep? I spent the day in a foul mood. I’m sick of being bullied.

Then I thought, “I ought to confront this man. I’m not the shrinking violet I once was.” (Especially now that he doesn’t have the ability to fire me.) “Someone needs to put this jerk in his place. Yeah!”

So I Googled him. Yay, me! Standing up for myself! Takin’ back my power!

And I found out that he’s been dead for a decade. Well, now. Perspective.

So, to recap: I spent the day in a blue funk because of a bully that I hadn’t seen since 1998. I allowed this man, whom I thought I’d forgotten, to waste my precious time. And now that I have the courage to confront him, he deprives me of this opportunity by preemptively kicking the bucket. Selfish to the bitter end. What a waste of a perfectly good day.

Clearly, I have unresolved issues. I need to purge these toxins from my body and move on. I’m working on it. But I tell you what: Heaven help the next bully who crosses my path.

No more internalizing bitterness for me. Stand up. Speak out. Nip that stuff in the freakin’ bud and let it go.


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