Logging into my email the other day, among the Linked-In Board notifications and job search related emails was a request from a member of my graduating class who wanted me to follow her on Schoolfeed.
This surprised me. We were not friends. We were not even friendly.
In fact she had made 7th grade a living hell for me. She was a Queen Bee, and I sadly was not even a Wannabe. Slightly chubby, with my bad haircut, thick glasses and complete lack of knowledge for trendy fashions for 12-year-old girls, I might as well have had a bullseye on my back. However, it was usually a kick me sign.
I was a friendly girl, and really naive and this was used against me. I had my home ec projects mocked, and was pushed off the stool in art class. I was shoved into lockers, tripped, pushed, and my backpack was tossed into dumpsters.
Now she never laid a french manicured finger on me. She did not have to. She had her friends and the people who wanted to either curry favor or more likely, avoid being her next target do her dirty work for her.
Sometimes I was lucky and she and her friends would ignore me. And more often I was not. This girl would explain to me in detail how I was a loser, I was ugly, my friends were losers and that my social standing was so off the chart, that I wasn’t even on the chart.
The worst was when the time they pretended to be nice to me, and grateful for the friendship and the break in the teasing, I returned the friendship, only to have the things I told them used against me.
And this went on for a whole year. I thought I would get a reprieve, after one of my friends told her mother how I was invited to a slumber party for a friend of mine and how my friend blindfolded me and the girl and her friends fed me dog food. And then the following Monday in English class, she had written about it in her journal and read it aloud to the class.
My mom tried to help. My parents offered to take me out and buy me the right clothes and get me the right haircut, but I knew that a pair of Guess Jeans from Lonny’s and a Bennetton rugby were not going to save me, (and I couldn’t imagine spending so much money on a pair of jeans) so I bought a Sweet Valley High Book and desperately imagined myself as a Wakefield Twin, even though I knew that I was really Enid Rollins, just without the substance abuse issue.
I don’t blame my teachers for not stopping things, since the kids were good at hiding their tracks, and there was not the hypersensitivity about bullying that there is now.
I just told my parents I was fine, and went about my business and never, ever complained. I knew that however bad they treated me, it would be worse if I said another word. I immersed myself in drama club and stayed in my room, listened to records and read.
And now I am mostly grateful that the internet and Social Media did not exist back then. I hate to think what cruelty and technology would have produced.
However 7th grade ended, and I was never in a class with that girl again. Once I got to 8th grade, tormenting me seemed to have lost its fun, and I was left alone to hanging out with my friends at Hot Skates and listening to Madonna and Duran Duran.
I went through High School, and though I was never elected Class President or Homecoming Queen, I had a great time in the drama club, plenty of good friends to hang out with at lunch and on the weekends and usually had a boyfriend. I went to college, met a wonderful man who after 20 years, two kids and more than one failed attempt at Weight Watchers, still grabs my ass every time it goes past him, got a master’s degree and even achieved a decent level of success in my field.
I have friends and family who love me, and by any objective standard, I have a pretty good life.
It did get better and it does get better, but does it ever get better enough that you really, truly forget?
Yet when I see that name, I am transported back to the sad 12-year-old who couldn’t understand why people were so mean to her, when she never did anything mean to anyone else.
Her follow request sits unanswered in my mailbox, and while we had been friends on Facebook, I unfriended her, since I did not want to see her name on my wall. This might have been partially due to the fact that she did not end up as a lonely, bitter person with a miserable life, as I had been told by several well-meaning adults.
I debated writing this, because really what could come of it. If I told her how mean she was to me, what was she going to do? Apologize for something that happened nearly 30 years ago that she probably has no memory of? Possibly tell me the compelling reasons she had for her cruelty?
Which also leads me to wonder, did she know what she was doing was wrong? Did her parents know what kind of things she did? Did they care? So many questions, I do and don’t want the answers to.
To be honest, I’m still actually kind of embarrassed that she still has any kind of power or influence over me.
I can her saying, “Poor widdle Maryrose, with her hurt feelings from things that happened back when Madonna was still relevant.”
After all, what happens in our middle school years is something we are supposed to get over. I mean, we were kids and being cruel was just something we outgrew like neon socks and spiral perms.
I should just tell myself what I tell my son, when he complains about teasing, which is; “Sometimes people are just assholes and there is nothing you can do about it. Just ignore them as best you can, and eventually they will move on.”
And that is what I should do. I should just delete the request. Or I could block her, but I feel that I have given her enough attention already.
Although I know she has children in or close to middle school, and I can’t help but wonder if the little bees did not fly far from the hive, and I should tell her how her actions affected me, so if her children are treating others the way she treated me, she might understand better what they are doing.
Or perhaps, she wouldn’t care.
Either way I have probably given the matter way more thought than it deserved, until I saw a post from a middle school friend of mine on Facebook complaining how people who made her life miserable are trying to friend her, and she wants nothing to do with them, and I remember that I was not alone then and I am not alone now.
So, to my fellow dorkarinas who spend their Friday nights in Middle School devouring Anne of Green Gables, what do you do now when a former tormenter tries to friend you. Do you:
A. Friend them back, but feel kind of bad about doing it?
B. Ignore them
C. Block them
D. Block them, but tell them why 1st
E. Friend them, but only if they have miserable lives