Proust Questionnaire: Bullying is the trait I most deplore in others.

Today, I’m finally moving on to Question 4 of the Proust Questionnaire: What is the trait you most deplore in others?


Working through this Proust Questionnaire is really challenging my brain.

Think! Think! Think! Think! Think!

“For I am a bear of very little brain, and long words bother me.”― A.A. Milne, The World of Winnie-the-Pooh

I can almost hear it ticking and there’s this jarring movement between the question which is ticking very fast and my brain, which is very plod..ding a……

Back leaning over my keyboard late at night, I’m wondering whether this is all too much. Have I done it again and set myself yet another overly ambitious target and perhaps I should slow things down a bit? Perhaps, it’s also yet another procrastinating, delaying tactic distracting me from simply writing the book instead of doing more “research”?

I’m also wondering whether this Proust Questionnaire is relevant to the 21st century and if is it asking the questions I want to ask my character?

However, this is what happens when you embark on any new, intensive project. You have second thoughts, doubts and if you’re anything like me, you also like to put your own stamp on things and have trouble rigidly sticking to the rules.

Well, in this case, I set myself this challenge and the schedule so I could stop of change this at any time but part of this is also starting something and getting it finished. I also see merit in answering someone else’s questions to add depth to my character in ways I wouldn’t have considered. There is merit in not always beating to your own drum.

Meanwhile, it’s late and the dog’s have left the back door open and a cold wind is wrapping around my legs instead of their warm furry coats. I’m still awake because it’s school holidays and the kids are staying at my parents’ place for a few days and I ended up sleeping much of today. I’m pretty much back on deck after recent bronchitis but get fatigued easily. Besides, it was a cold, windy day and it felt so good sleeping with my electric blanket switched on and the world outside switched completely off!!

I’m not going to mention yesterday’s train trip with the kids to Sydney either but suffice to say that I was relieved to drop them off and meet up with Geoff and have a quiet dinner out.

This brings me to question 4: What is the trait you most deplore in others?

Humph. This is quite a hard one.

After throwing a few ideas around, I’ve found it…bullying.

Bullying doesn’t need any introductions or definitions  because it’s all over the web.

The reason I’ve nominated bullying as the trait I most deplore in others is that involves the misuse of power to intimidate others or to get what you want no matter who or what stands in your way. While this might be perceived as determination, it can also be a form of bullying and should be treated as such.

I was brutally bullied when I was at school. I wasn’t punched, kicked, scratched or even stabbed with a knife but for 6 years I was brutally bullied with words, ostracism and just plain cruelty, largely for being different.Being different, as most of us appreciate, is a serious crime at school and even though the world might open up like a flower once we leave, it’s like being stuck in a lift for six years and for some it becomes too much.

What none of us knew at the time was that I had a serious medical condition, which accounted for these weird and wonderful symptoms. Mum had a very difficult birth with me and that was probably how I ended up with hydrocephalus or fluid on the brain, which wasn’t diagnosed until my mid-20s.

The shadow of bullying can haunt people for years.

The shadow of bullying can haunt people for years.

Despite the troubles, I had at school, I attended my 10 year school reunion only weeks after brain surgery and half my hair had been shaved off but no one could tell because they’d left a layer a “curtain” of hair over the top. The reunion went really well and I even made new friends and connections. We’d all grown up a lot, which was really reassuring and there was none of that trademark bitchiness we’d had at school.

Most of the time, I don’t think about my experiences of being bullied at all these days. I found my peace and moved on…right on. However, my daughter recently talked to me about being bullied and said: “You don’t know what it’s like”.

Well, that was time to share a bit of my personal history only I can’t remember very much. No doubt I shut the door on all of that and don’t want to go back. The only reason I’d go back there at all would be to help my kids. Show them that you can go through being bullied and come out the other end being strong, a survivor. I ultimately found my niche at university where I had plenty of friends and was even ran for election for the student newspaper.

The other thing, too, about when I was being bullied was that while it was obviously going on, as I mentioned before, there wasn’t a lot that stood out that you could actually mention. No physical scars or proof and just words. We didn’t use the term bullying at our school. I guess a bully was stereotyped as some kind of thug of a boy and I was at an all-girls’ school. If you were picked on or bullied at our school, you were just a “loser”, “reject” or “Nigel No Friends”. There was no way of pointing the mirror back at the bully, so they could see their own ugly reflection. There was no “portrait of Dorien Gray” either. I don’t think there was any kind of of punishment or action taken by staff. You were just crushed…and your parents paid a fortune for the privilege.

These days I still see bullying and I’m not talking about kids. Parents slaughtering a teacher’s reputation without any evidence or a second thought. Parents judging children, judging other parents and just speaking their mind without any kind of filter whatsoever. I’ve heard these parents described as “gaters”. Not just because they hang out at the school gate but because they’re as brutal as a pack of alligators and show no mercy.

It seems to me that bullies grow up.

While I’m not always good at minding my tongue either, my grandmother, who was a very wise woman, used to tell me: “If you can’t say something nice about someone, say nothing at all”! That is very sound advice, which would prevent a lot of heartache and worse.

Would any of you like to share the trait you most deplore in others?

Just to get you thinking, a few of the other traits I considered were: anger, superficiality and arrogance. I obviously couldn’t mention running late, staying up too late or eating too much chocolate without pointing fingers back at me.

xx Rowena

23 thoughts on “Proust Questionnaire: Bullying is the trait I most deplore in others.

  1. roweeee Post author

    That’s very well put, Derrick. I am also very trusting and tend to see the good in people. A lack of loyalty is something that would be closely allied to this. We’ve had 5 Prime Ministers in 5 years in Australia and it has really turned me off politics and politicians. They just seem to have no loyalty whatsoever and they’re even knifing their own in the back.

  2. annabellefranklinauthor

    The human trait I most deplore is cruelty to animals, because they are completely in our power and many of them depend on us for their wellbeing. Any abuse of power – whether by schoolchildren, big business or governments – is unacceptable.

  3. Adrien Richards

    first of all I was bullied with a handfull of children in the sixth grade, and you would believe who the bully was the teacher–that was not recent so there was absolutely no talk about this, it was being beating with fist. This had never happened again guess it was something that was meant to happen –so that I would be fierce against people who abuse by exploitation the most, and then exploitation of animals, bullying has been greatly helped by the media, and education is the best thing there is forever, that is why I prefer WordPress, very open minded people!

  4. New Journey

    You make me smile until it hurts my face…LOl you sound just like my daughter, you writers with your analytical minds…should I , could I, would I, won’t I, shouldn’t I, can’t I, or I won’t, oh maybe I should, shouldn’t I…..I love it….that’s what makes you such a good writer….taking the time to question the question to death…LOL I keep telling my daughter stop asking and do it…then it will be done and you will be all the happier for it…this of course is in regards to Proust Questioner your doing…I sent my daughter your blog address, hers is she recently finished blogging everyday for a year and is in the process of rethinking what she wants her blog to be….I am so enjoying your journey through the Proust…..and love your blog…enjoy your kids free holiday…they are few and far in-between….and we all know they are having a blast with grandma and grandpa….XXXkat

  5. merrildsmith

    Bullying is awful, but I suppose it’s often a symptom of something else going on in that person’s head? I remember being bullied a couple times in school, and my mom hearing about it and getting the school to take me out of the situation. I don’t think bullying was really talked about then, as it is now. Of course, bullying can be severe–even fatal, as in the case of Matthew Shepard and others who have been the victims of hate crimes.
    So now I’m rambling. Haha. But your grandmother gave wise advice!
    Enjoy your child-free break. 🙂

  6. roweeee Post author

    My grandmother was a very wise woman. She was one of those rare people who actively listen to others and people really felt she got them. She also had a bit of a sixth sense about things which runs a bit in the family. You couldn’t pull the wool over her eyes either.
    We enjoyed much of our child free break but we also had serious business today as it was my quarterly visit to the lung specialist. Before I see him, I have lung function tests, which basically say how I’m going. I didn’t have super high expectations after being so sick recently but as you would appreciate, these appointments are rather confronting. I am doing reasonably well and so it was good news overall and we also have further information to help us better manage lung infections in future. WE get on well with him so despite the heaviness of our chats, we laugh etc. The next step in dropping my prednisone which is a very scary thing for me because the disease could flare up again but there are also risks with taking too much prednisone so done we go…1 mg per month. This feel like driving off the edge of a cliff and the angst I have about making mistakes with my cooking is multiplied a thousand fold but I trust my doctors and they think it will work. So I am now going into heavy motivation mode.
    After that, we went out for lunch on Sydney Harbour and it was beautiful. Winter has struck back with a vengeance it its been freezing today but the harbour still looked beautiful and I enjoyed watching the ferries scud across and the planes coming in to land. I’ll post some photos.
    I took my violin round to my parents place when we picked up the kids and Mum and I played together. I made a zillion mistakes but it meant the world to us. She’s put me onto two songs from Les Mis: “I Dreamed A Dream” and `”Castle On A Cloud”. There’s “potential”! Anyway, I’ve written quite a letter here. Hope you are having a great week and getting through your work load xx Rowena

  7. roweeee Post author

    Hi Kat. You should write a story about us writers. You describe us so well. How do you manage to complicate things so much. We need to take on the nike slogan: “Just do it” but what would we have to write about if there wasn’t such a journey towards taking that first step?!!!
    I’ll be updating about today on the blog shortly. I am feeling a read need to de-brief and while some wiser mortals would go and write in a journal, I’ll spat it all over my blog. Why not?!! I’llo also check out and follow your daughter’s blog xx Ro

  8. roweeee Post author

    Ironically, I haven’t read any of Proust’s works and obviously I’ll have to rectify that and thanks for the encouragement. A friend and fellow blogger is sending me his two novels and I am reading them as soon as they arrive and then perhaps Proust will have to jump the queue. xx Rowena

  9. roweeee Post author

    I have met some beautiful people through WordPress. I belong to a group of bloggers who write about Compassion on the 20th of each month. It’s called 1000 Voices for Compassion and here’s a link to their webpage. Adrien, it seems like you’d enjoy it and the people there :
    I apologise if I mentioned it to you before. I have a memory like a sieve! xx Rowena

  10. roweeee Post author

    I agree with you about cruelty to animals, especially pets who trust us so completely…and the abuse of power. I really admire the whistle blowers who expose this sort of thing, usually at an incredibly high personal cost.

  11. merrildsmith

    I’m glad all seems well with you medically. Lunch at Sydney Harbor sounds great. How lovely then to play duets with your mom!

    I don’t seem to be getting too much work done this week. 🙂

  12. Pingback: #Weekend Coffee Share | beyondtheflow

  13. Minuscule Moments

    Rowena I was not bullied at school but my husband knew what it felt like and now we see it with our son. Trying to build high self esteem when others take it from him is hard. We will never give up. We are lucky he has a quirky sense of humour.

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