We weren’t friends. I knew her since elementary school because we rode the bus together. I distinctly remember her bullying me a time or two.
In high school, she left me alone. I don’t think we ever had a real conversation.
She friended me on Facebook, and I accepted. Since then, she’s been open about her struggle with depression, which makes sense in light of my memories of her and what I know now about the link between depression and anger in kids.
A few years ago, I posted pictures of a Halloween party I had when I was 10 on Facebook. Recently, this girl commented on the photo that she remembered the party and that she had such a good time.
I am positive that she was not there.
I have no doubt that she remembers being there. It’s clear to me that she wants to belong, is seeking out positive memories to help her get through the day. My first thought was to argue with her and let her know that she wasn’t there; I like to be “right” sometimes too.
But then I thought about it and wondered why I should spoil a good memory she has, even if she’s not correct. She’s not a bully anymore. She’s a person struggling to live her life as best as she can. So, why should it matter to me if she has good memories of a party she wasn’t invited to?
I wasn’t a popular kid. I was a weird kid, who was usually too buried in books or my own imagination to notice how not popular I was. The only time I gave it much thought was when people picked on me.
It makes me wonder, if in some way, this girl wanted to be my friend. Because honestly, I wouldn’t have noticed that either. But whether she was someone who picked on me because she was unhappy, or someone who picked on me because she wanted me to notice her, it doesn’t much matter to me. It’s all long since forgiven.
As a side note, I’ve had a few people who bullied me as a kid end up friending me on Facebook. And I find it interesting that all of them struggle with depression. They all talk about not wanting to be judged for their struggles.
Keep that in mind next time you hear about a kid who’s bullying someone else. I know that most of us react that we want to slap that bully down and put them in their place. But is that really the best approach for everyone involved?
I’m not scarred from the bullying that happened to me. It also wasn’t that bad, overall. Not compared to what you hear about nowadays. And I didn’t have to deal with cyberbullying because it didn’t exist back then. So I’m not saying that bullying can’t be quite bad and scarring. But in my case, I believe that it made me stronger, less reactive. I have thick skin, but I also try to be understanding of people who don’t. Because I’ve been there.
Have you ever been bullied? Have you reconnected with any of your bullies? Did it change your thoughts about them in any way?