I bully, you bully, we bully

I reconnected on Facebook this week to two women I knew in junior high. I was in-touch with one of them through early adulthood.

I think I was a pretty nice kid back in middle school, and bullying typically wasn’t my thing. At the same time I was particularly immature and easily influenced by my peers. As we chatted, I had a flash of not being very nice to her and I apologized. Her response was along the lines of, “My gosh, don’t even worry about it. That was almost 40 years ago, and I’ve moved completely past any stuff from middle school.” We went on to talk about other stuff.

After chatting a little while with woman number two, she said something along the lines of, “I’m really sorry. I don’t think I was very nice to you back then.” My response was “Huh? I have no idea what you’re talking about.” She explained and I told her I’d let go of it decades ago.   (And as a tangent, I just realized I should also have apologized to her. People were particularly brutal to her in middle school, and I’m pretty sure I participated in the bullying or didn’t take a stand and told people not to be so horrible. If you’re reading this, I’m really sorry.)

I have two points. First, if you’ve been particularly awful to somebody at any point in your life, make amends and apologize for your behavior. Whether on not they accept your apology is their thing. But at least you’ve done your part.

Now, I’m not naïve enough to think that some acts are reprehensible and beyond forgiveness. But taking responsibility for your behavior could be a start to helping someone else heal.

Point two: It’s easy to get caught-up on how you THINK you were an awful person back then. The reality is that a good part of the time, as with the two experiences I’ve mentioned, people will have let go of what happened and don’t feel the need for an apology. Don’t get me wrong; don’t use this as an excuse for not taking responsibility for your acts. But keeping this in-mind could help give you the courage to own up to what you did.

Until next time…

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