Careful With That Spine, Eugene

NOTE: What follows is not a direct transcription of the video, so all my readers out there would benefit from watching the speech as well.

I hope there are some Pink Floyd fans reading this. Otherwise the cleverness of this title is lost.

For the longest time, I was a spineless bastard. Bullies had a field day with me. Not only did I not get physical with them, but I wouldn’t even stand up to them verbally. Women also got their shots in, keeping me on an emotional yo-yo until THEY decided to cut ties. (One week they’d say they might want to be with me, keeping me on edge, and then they’d say “okay, let’s do this.” I’d get reeled in, only to have them give me the boot a few days later. A few of them would keep this pattern up for months, getting a thrill out of the fact that, for them, I was attached to puppet strings.) And who can forget the mothers of my twins and oldest son. They had a REAL field day jerking me around with the kids, which is sad because some women only WISH the father of their kids wanted to be as involved as I do…but that’s a topic for another blog.

Then in the mid-2000’s something changed. Shortly after I got into fitness (P90X, Insanity, etc.), I realized I was taking less shit from people. Not only did I stand up to these attacks, but I jumped into defense mode without any hesitation. It was a thrilling discovery. All those years of cowering were OVER. I won some standoffs, and I lost some, but at least I COULD stand now.

However, this newfound spine did not come with an owner’s manual. As it turned out, I had a lesson to learn.

Occasionally people would say things to me that I thought were insults or an attempt to bully me. My new pride would instantly swell up, and I’d fly off the handle. I’m talking a brutal, vicious attack…like wing chun with words. It wasn’t until later that I realized the person was NOT trying to insult me or, if they were, I could have handled things a lot more gently…and yes, civilly.

When you have been bullied your whole life and then finally have the courage to stand up for yourself, this is the danger you face. You want to exercise this courage every chance you get for fear that, like a muscle, it will atrophy if you don’t use it. So you read insults into the slightest off-center remark, and you POUNCE like a rabid wolverine.

Clearly, this is not an acceptable way to act.

What’s the answer then? How do you stop yourself from exploding? I have come up with only one suggestion so far: take a deep breath, pause before you speak, and say to yourself, “You don’t KNOW it was their intention to insult you. Talk to them and find out for sure before you flip out.”

Finding your spine can be a blessing and a curse. What you have to remember is what our man Stan Lee wrote at the end of Spider-man’s origin story: “With great power comes great responsibility.”

Use that spine wisely.


About Steve Grogan

I am 40 years old, divorced, and a father of four kids. I am a practitioner of a self-defense system called wing chun kung fu. My other hobbies include writing, playing guitar, reading, watching movies, and listening to music. Recently I have gotten back into fitness, and this time I am DETERMINED to get the washboard abs...whether my metabolism will cooperate with me or not! The purpose of this blog is to write not only about my hobbies, but also about whatever crosses my mind, whether it is something I don't understand or something that aggravates me. So join me as I indulge my tendency to think too much about topics that don't usually cross anyone else's mind!
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