I’d thought that one of the prizes for surviving adolescence was never to be bullied again. I figured that the next time I had to deal with a bully would be when I was protecting my kid. But I was wrong. A bully showed up in my adult life recently and it wasn’t pretty. This fully grown man took the indecent liberty of sending me vicious personal attacks via text message and insinuated that people dear to me agreed with him.

In my last blog, where I talked about compassion, I was dealing with the emotional toll of his attack but I wasn’t yet ready to speak to it directly. Compassion for myself as well as for the darkness in this man helped me immensely in the immediate aftermath.

Although he is no longer in my life—a choice I made to love and protect myself—I’m grateful for the lesson he taught me. He reminded me that the only bully that can truly hurt me is in my own mind. When I have mastery over my thoughts and beliefs about myself, I’ll be truly able to own that old saying that sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me. And until I have that mastery, words will continue to have the power to hurt me. Words that sting only because they point to the doubts and aggressions that exist in my own mind.

Before this event took place, I’d been chewing on a big new idea for loving myself through all my choices and especially through my mistakes.

My big idea is that I ‘have my back.’ ‘Having my back’ means that I don’t second guess my decisions and I don’t shame myself when outcomes disappoint me. I learn from my mistakes and look forward instead of backward. Most of all, ‘having my back’ means that I trust myself to make the best decision I can with the information I have. And while other people’s opinions can certainly provide me with valuable information, their approval or disapproval isn’t critical to my decision making process.

When my horse Sky was recovering from a serious laceration and experts disagreed about the course of his recovery, I took in all the information, and made my decisions about whose advice to follow. When new information came to light and more opinions were offered, I changed course as needed, without looking backward. When I’ve needed to make investments in my business, I have done so in complete trust that the investments are sound. I have my back. And if hopes are dashed and dreams delayed, I will still have my back. Because I know that I’m doing my best moment-to-moment-to-moment.

When this bully targeted me with his vicious words, I wasn’t sure who had my back. I wasn’t sure who was on my side and who might be on his. And it sent me into a tailspin. Until I remembered that I had my own back. And then I knew I’d be A-OK.

Onward and upward!