Last October I was asked to write a guest post for my fellow blogger Carrie Goldman. Carrie, author of "Portrait of an Adoption" has recently released her first book, "Bullied: What Every Parent, Kid and Teacher need to know about ending the cycle of fear", (Available on Amazon.com). It was Carrie who first encouraged me to talk about my experiences as a child when bullying was not the issue it has become today.
Today was a banner day for me as for the first time in over 40 years, I was able to see, speak to and make peace with two of the boys, now men, that were instrumental in bullying me. I feel as though one of the biggest weights I have ever carried on my shoulders has been lifted. To those who have never been a victim of it it may be hard to comprehend the long term affects.
Each year for the past seven there has been a picnic held for people that I either went to high school, grammar school with or lived in my neighborhood as a child. It is always held over Labor Day weekend and despite my being invited every year, I have always declined to attend. The bullies were on the list of attendees and I was not in any way ready to see them. It would hurt too much.
After "purging" my story on Carrie's blog, I felt that there was a possibility I could confront them. I was gaining the strength to hold my head up and face the music. Now, why in the world would I care after all this time? What good would come out of talking to them? Asking them why they did it? A friend who was also there today asked me why I was making an issue out of it after so long. Well, I will tell you my friend, no one can understand the long term affects of bullying unless you have been on the receiving end.
So, I gathered the courage and with my husband for additional backbone, I went to the picnic. As I arrived I heard someone say my name and as I turned around I saw bully number one who I had referred to as the ringleader. His very first words to me were "Can the peace be with us?"
To say I was stunned was putting it mildly. You see, at one time he had apologized but when he read my post he he was upset. He did not feel he was the "ringleader". We talked for awhile. He told me tales of his own experiences with being bullied. Things I had never known. I was shocked and found myself feeling bad for him. I do not believe he revealed this to me for sympathy at all; I believe he told me because he too perhaps needed to help me understand who he is/was.
Number two arrived and I said hello to him. It wasn't until later in the day that the three of us got together and had a good heart to heart about those fragile times.
Number two was disappointed that I had named him in my post. He felt that he was the least harmful of the boys and that he too had been physically bullied. They both named names I had forgotten about; names that I most definitely blocked out and realized why. I told him that when I picture the situation with the trashing of my bicycle I could see him there. But maybe he just stood there. Maybe he was just a bystander. I am going to take his word for it. I felt it in the huge hug I received when he said if he ever hurt me he was sorry. He said he hoped that it was behind us now.
There is only so much emotional baggage a person can carry around through life. Sooner or later you have to let it go but sometimes it takes something monumental for it to happen. Today was a monumental day for me. Maybe people don't understand that or feel I should have let go a long time ago. They weren't bullied. Or, they have a thicker skin.
I suggest for anyone who has been a victim of bullying to try to confront those that hurt them. Verbally or physically. Sometimes you don't even need to ask why, just let them know how they affected you. If they're lucky as I feel I was today, there will be an apology. There will be peace. Closure.
That chapter of my life, long ago as it was, is now closed.
Thank you boys for making that possible.