So, this middle-grade memory is one I’d love to forget. And yet, it haunts me, time and time again. It’s probably a good thing, that it does. In a way, it helps remind me of human nature, of how easily it is to be swept up in feeling good instead of doing right, of the quick ability to hurt instead of heal. Bullying. It sucks. I can’t even imagine what kids face today, what with social media being as prevalent as it is.
Back in my day, all we had was the art of the slam book. Where girls spilled gossipy thoughts all over spiraled notebooks. Each thought, each comment targeting one particular victim. Then, once the ink dried, these notebooks would be strategically and cruelly placed for that victim to find. And read. And cry. And suffer.
I was a victim.
And I was a bully.
It started in sixth grade. A group of friends decided I wasn’t a friend anymore. Jealous maybe? Of my friendships with boys they liked? Who knows. But the cruel comments and notes began arriving, until it finally culminated on the hot asphalt–someone delivered a slam book, brimming with nasty notes about me, into my hands. For me to read.
And read I did. It was cruel. It was mind-blowing. Why me? Why them? What happened? Last year, I was best friends with one; this year, enemies.
But before sympathy is felt for me, let me explain what happened. Time went by; apologies were made; and I was accepted back by the very same girls who kicked me out. Now, they had a new target. One who played a big role in my demise. I should have turned the other cheek. I should have stood up for her, remembering the pain I felt from it all. I should have done everything else except what I did. Went along with it.
It felt. So. Good. To watch someone suffer the way I suffered. To feel embarrassed like I had felt. But it went too far. Girls can be so cruel–and I am one of them. It’s awful what we’re capable of. To our own friends. What is it about jealousy and junior high that create such a cocktail of awfulness?
It all ended well. Apologies were said again. Pain was brushed aside. And friendships were reformed. But there was always a slight edge in my mind. Something was tarnished that couldn’t ever be polished clean. Even to this day, I shake my head at myself for pulling such cruelty.
Bullying. It sucks. And can happen anytime, anywhere, to anyone. Ever since, I’ve been determined to stick by people who may not be the most liked. Or understood. Because I was one.
How about you, readers?