Life doesn’t present you with many opportunities to make amends to people in your distant past, but yesterday I had just such an opportunity.
A woman I knew back in the 1970s when we were in 7th and 8th grades contacted me on Facebook. At first I didn’t understand why this woman was sending me a friend request and I didn’t recognize her name so I asked her where she knew me from. It turned out this was the girl I bullied at the Catholic school we both attended.
I wasn’t normally the kind of kid who was a bully. Usually, I was the one getting bullied. However, there were 2 exceptions–this woman, and another girl I attended a class at the Y with when I was 9 years old. In both situations, I perceived that these two girls were even more vulnerable than I was, and I liked the approval I got from the “cooler” kids for my behavior toward them. At the time, it proved that I wasn’t at the very bottom of the pecking order, even though I was close to it. Kids that age are incredibly mean.
I always felt badly about the way I treated her. The strange thing is, this isn’t the way this woman remembers things. She told me she’s sorry for bullying me! I don’t remember her bullying me, but maybe we bullied each other and she doesn’t remember. Memory is a funny thing, especially when so many years have elapsed, but the important thing is that her contacting me provided me with the opportunity to exorcise that particular demon and move on from the guilt I’ve held all these years.