From bullying to friendship on Facebook

I don't believe I was a bully in high school. But if I'm honest, there may have been a few people who might have taken another route to class to avoid an evil stare from me in the hallway. I might have said an unkind thing or two walking past freshmen at their lockers in the afternoon. I may have made one or two obscene gestures in the parking lot after school on occasion. If I'm honest.

I certainly wasn't the type to create a fear of physical harm in the hearts of underclassmen. I was really going for more of a "I'm better than you and I want you to know it" type thing. Even though, of course, I didn't believe I was better than anyone. Rather I was lashing out at others because of my own insecurities, because I didn't know how to handle the chemical roller coaster of adolescence, because it had been done to me when I was a pee-on freshman and I was returning that pain to the black hole of hormones and harassment that is high school.

So you can imagine my surprise when one of these people who I tormented way back when friended me recently on Facebook. Wow. Of course I accepted her request and we bantered back and forth about life, babies, marriage, mutual friends. I threw out some light-hearted apologies for how I treated her back then and she graciously accepted.

It's caused me to think about this whole issue of bullying and now that I'm a mom, the thought of my daughter being mean to someone or - God forbid - someone being mean toher is unbearable. But, if I'm honest, and people need to tell their children this, the real pain over bullying stays with the bully. Clearly, this person is over it and had the grace to even reach out to me. I was the one who remembered and felt the weight of it.

I know that victims of bullying suffer greatly. I don't mean to diminish this at all. I read an article recently about kids committing suicide after being bullied incessantly over the internet and I can't even get my head around it. I do know that homeschooling is looking really good to me right about now.

I just think for someone to reach out - to friend - a long-ago enemy on Facebook is classy, and it just reminds me how I was anything but. We need to tell our kids that the truth about bullying is that it creates a shame that lasts well beyond high school. The truth is the idea that you ever totally forget or feel good about being mean to someone is a lie.

Now, if you'll excuse me, there are a few people who I need to friend on Facebook.


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