I was the fat kid, a little awkward and somewhat shy...a fairly easy target. I backed down from confrontation and insulated myself from social barbs in the ways I knew. There was a lot going on at school and behind the scenes. At times, I wasn't sure things would, or even could, get better.
But they did.
Once I got to college, I found a place where I was just me. I was still fat, but I was me, first. I made lifelong friends, and I found my voice.
Now, most of my high school classmates are all connected on Facebook. Many of us have seen each other socially, and we have all grown into adults of whom we can be proud. There is no animosity (that I can tell) and we are happy to reconnect as adults.
I received a message recently, from a high school acquaintance, who wrote to apologize to me for being a bystander when we were in high school. She said that she saw what was happening to me and she wished she had the courage to stop it. She said she is now raising her own children not to be bystanders. And that she would kick in the teeth of my bullies if it happened today. This message meant more than she will ever know for three reasons.
First, it warmed my heart that she took time to reach out to me in this way. Second, it means so much that, despite what happened then, she noticed me in a time when I felt mostly invisible to everyone, except my bullies. And third, she is raising her own children to be tolerant and empathetic. This can be a lifesaver to someone else in crisis.
Bullies can be relentless and it's scary to put yourself in a physically and socially risky situation to help another. I don't fault her for this. In fact, I let her know that she had no reason to apologize. As I told her in my reply. I am living proof that it gets better. Because it does.
I learned a long time ago that forgiveness is not so much about the person who did you wrong, but more about the peace that comes when you let it go.
This is not to say that you forget what happened. All it means is that when you forgive, you release yourself from the wrongdoing. And you can find peace.
I have long forgiven those who hurt me in school. I have been so richly blessed in my life since then. Going to college where I did saved my life. It gave me hope that I could create the life that I wanted. I made some amazing friends...lifelong friends. And I found the voice I needed to advocate for myself and my dreams.
And it keeps getting better.
I am blessed to have the opportunity to get together with this old new friend later this week. I can't wait to give her a hug and let her know that I think she is an amazing woman and mother and friend. How lucky we are to reconnect.
Have you ever reconnected with long-lost friends? Or reconnected with a friend with whom your relationship was bruised or damaged?
What are your thoughts on forgiveness?