Friday, April 27, 2012

Bullied

I grew up on a culdesac.  In countless ways, I loved it, and it was a rather idyllic childhood.  I have a lot of really happy memories of playing in the street, tearing it up on my Big Wheel or roller skates.  If I sat down long enough, I could write a pretty interesting novel about all the characters who lived on my street, too.  I have been thinking about one in particular lately.  She was my next door neighbor, and she was a bully.

Somehow, I almost always thought of her as a friend.  I wanted to think the best about her, and I wanted to believe that she could change, and would want to... change.  I thought that maybe she didn't know any better.

But month after month, and then year after year, she teased and demeaned me.

When I was in grammar school, she made up nonsensical nicknames for me like Linda Pinda.  She stole things out of my room and claimed they were hers.  She teased me about my belly button for years, because she'd seen it while I was swinging from the bars, and she apparently didn't like the shape of it.  She said things like, "You are such a baby, your mom has to wipe your butt," and made sure the whole neighborhood could simultaneously antagonize me.  Her brother and a couple neighbor boys also joined in one day as she asked me the meanings of certain slang terms, and then ridiculed me for being so clueless.  

One day, she decided to pick up a handful of moist dirt and rubbed it in both of my eyes.  Then she claimed I had done it to myself.  As if.  My mom literally couldn't see the whites of my eyes, and I had to lie on the kitchen counter with my head in the sink, as she restored my vision with a water rinse.  Another day, I awakened to a note taped on the brick wall outside my window that said, "I HATE YOU."  It was ironic that she signed it with love.

As we got older her tactics changed a bit, as she found other ways to try and make me feel inferior.  It began with clothes.  She made sure that I knew that she had designer Guess, Jordache, and Sergio Valente jeans, but that mine were generic.  Her family had a posh motorhome with a safe, but mine didn't.  Her brother was cooler than mine because he drove a hot red Corvette, and her dad's reserve police rank supposedly outranked my dad.  She got more Christmas presents. It was always something.  I really didn't care about appearances or statuses or stuff, but it hurt nonetheless, because she was trying so hard to make me feel like such a zero.

During part of junior high and high school, we walked and rode to school together.  She allowed me to be some type of "secret" friend.  She would happily talk with me on the way, but on campus I was dead to her.  When I tried to say hi in the hallways, she would pretend I didn't exist.  She would have me meet her in certain locations after school so that she wouldn't be seen with me.  If I did happen to see her with a friend, she'd make sure that they knew I was her uncool neighbor, and that she had to walk home with me.

Toward the end of high school she invited me over to her house.  I assumed she wanted to show me her custom made desk, and I remember being very wary of her intentions, whatever they were.  I don't think I'd been in her room in years.  She asked me to sit down next to her desk.  And then she did something astonishing.  She told me that she knew she had been very mean to me for years, and that she was very sorry.  Would I forgive her?

It was so surreal.  I felt as though I was watching myself in an after-school special on ABC.  Shortly after the initial shock wore off, I assumed it was some sort of joke.  Maybe someone was hiding in the closet, or maybe she was recording me so that I would somehow sound stupid.  But it wasn't a joke, she was actually sincere.

I forgave her.  She thanked me.  I went home, more than a little confused.

It all made sense a bit later.  She had started going to youth group at a local church.  Jesus had invaded her life.  I went one night and saw her leading worship, and I was really happy for her.  There was joy on her face and praise on her lips.  She was exalting her Savior and was humbled in His sight.  Her new beliefs were backed up by sincere actions.  Jesus had made all the difference.

I haven't thought about my neighbor in a long time.  As I was processing through some things during the past weekend, I began to think about our relationship.  I got really angry.  I don't think I ever fully felt that as a kid.  It had just been my "normal."  It was good to express how angry and demeaned I felt.  And it is good to forgive her once again as my adult self.  I thank God that she was part of my life, and that she is a part of who I am.

I heard that she walked away from her faith years ago.  I don't know what is going on in her life now, but I pray that she would return to Jesus.  It was amazing to see Him in her.  I pray that He would invade her life once again and make all the difference.


7 comments:

CoachZ said...

“A wound that goes unacknowledged and unwept is a wound that cannot heal.” ― John Eldredge

These are amazing words and it's awesome to watch go through all this, not because of the pain obviously, but because of the immense healing that comes as Jesus speaks and heals through the pain!!

Love you baby-girl! No more crazy for you!!!

Susan Liberatore said...

Can we stalk her on facebook? I kid.
I was bullied for years myself. My mom finally just pulled me out of public school and put me into a catholic one. Best thing that ever happened to me.
Those were some of the scariest years of my life. I remember being just terrified to go to school. I can't imagine what you must have gone through.
And to forgive her? You are amazing. I don't know that I could.

Andee Eve@ bearing fruit said...

Amazing story. Wow. Reminds me of something I went through. A girl I knew in middle school contacted me a few years back on Facebook. I really didn't recognize her name or photo. But we Facebook e mailed. Then she told me that I was really mean to her on the bus as kids. The horrible thing is (besides the fact that I even did ths) was that I still didn't remember. Well, right there & then on Facebook email i apologized. I too know what it's like to be teased & taunted. Horrible. She forgave me. But then asked me to meet her for coffee. I agreed to go but had no idea what she wanted to meet about. I was nervous.

I prayed in the car, fervently, that God would use this for His glory. And He did! Conversation wavered into her life with her two boys & family. I asked if they were involved in a youth group at church- something to counter the bad influences from school. Then she said they didn't go to church but she'd like to visit mine.

She did and although it wasn't a good fit, about 3 months later I got a call from her telling me that she was getting baptized at her new church.

Yay God!

All things work together for good for those who love Him.

Long winded- I know. But I just had to share.
Love you girl!

hannah singer said...

oh yes. the novels we could write for the characters in our lives. OH.
But praise jesus for restoration and healed hurts.
my sister and i both had a similarly awful girl in our lives. my "friend" hasn't spoken to me since we "broke up" in 1997. truly, i might need to blog about her. i only recently got over our sad psycho bff story. praise jesus that HE heals.
anyway, the girl who tormented my sister...she recently started working at a bank where my brother works. she recognized his last name and asked if he knew our sister...she said she wanted to contact her to ask forgiveness for her cruelty in middle through highschool! crazy cool.

anyway, god is good. and i love how he teaches us how to love correctly through our NOT being so. ya know?

enjoy your weekend! may it refresh you, body and soul. xo

Denise said...

we must have lived on the same street and gone to the same jr. high!

it is true that we must forgive again as a adults, from our new perspective. i have to relive so many painful things. but God walks me through them allowing me to see them with new eyes. HIS eyes. i pray your "friend" comes back Home. finds the Love that knows her and wants her.

Sandy said...

I've just re-read this post for about the fifth time. It hurts so much to know how you suffered. I knew a lot of the things she did and said in the neighborhood, but not all of it. I wish I'd been a wiser mother. I did agonize over the way she treated you, but also was concerned that if I intervened, she would make things worse for you and I didn't want that to happen.

I do remember the way she goaded you about not having Guess jeans. Then one day we bought some jeans that were EXACTLY like Guess, but for the tag. She exclaimed that, "your mother finally broke down and bought you Guess," to which you replied, "no, she didn't".... I don't think she knew how to react to that one. :o)

Well, I LOVE the way YOU turned out. ♥

I feel like Auntie Em in The Wizard of Oz when she commented something to the effect that......for years she had wanted to tell Almira Gulch what she really thinks of her, but being a Christian woman, she can't.

Love you.
Me

Sandy said...

Oh, my goodness! After posting my rant, I just re-read it and am red-faced...I sounded so mean. Guess I'm the bully now. I don't see anything in my words about forgiveness and redemption, etc. Nor do I sound like a Christ follower. Wowzer! I'm going to have a lot of splainin' to do when I talk to the Lord. :o(

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