I’m reading a novel about revenge.
It’s a young adult novel about a ghost girl. She killed herself after being bullied, and now she is out to destroy the life of the boy who bullied her.
It’s a stressful story for a couple of reasons.
On the one hand, I can truly empathize with the ghost girl. I remember crying myself to sleep at night and hiding in the middle school bathroom during entire recess periods. I remember trying to figure out how many sleeping pills it would take to end the torture.I remember trying to figure out how many sleeping pills it would take to end the torture.Click To Tweet
I don’t want to dwell on that though. Suffice it to say, I have been there.
On the other hand, I didn’t kill myself. I grew up. I survived by the grace of God, and now I am here to think about it from a distance. From this distance, I see every reason for not seeking revenge on the boys and girls who once tormented me. Because I can see the bigger picture, I am stressed out by the actions of the ghost girl in the story.
I still know some of the kids who teased me for being flat-chested and pale, pasty white and skinny as a rail. I had greasy hair and the wrong clothes and Walmart shoes. I was a walking target for middle school torture. And now I’m a grown-up and they are all grown-ups, and I know they aren’t the horrible people I thought they were back then.I was a walking target for middle school torture.Click To Tweet
They learned better.
Or many of them did. Maybe some of them are still stepping all over the little guy. Maybe some of them still get off by cutting people down.
But I can scroll through Facebook and see their photos. They are moms and dads. They go to work and support their families and help their friends through divorces and deaths and traumas of all kinds.
Some of them are my friends. At least one of them has outright apologized for how they treated me in school.
What they did to me will never be okay. I still feel nausea walking into a middle school. My oldest son has dealt with some of the same stuff, and I may have dropped an expletive or two in a principal’s office, trying to get it handled.
I also remember, back in middle school, I did some mean things too. I took out my own anger and fear on those who were worse off than I was. I remember walking the other way when an even-more-outcast-than-me girl tried to greet me. I remember it with shame in the pit of my stomach and I wonder … how many of the kids being mean to me were doing the same?
Middle school is a lifeboat on a shallow pond, but no one in the boat knows it’s shallow. They all think if they fall out, they drown, so everyone is trying to cling to their place. Sometimes, that means shoving someone else toward the edge, throwing them overboard to save your own life.Middle school is a lifeboat on a shallow pond, but no one in the boat knows it’s shallow.Click To Tweet
I used to dream about revenge too. I used to dream about walking up to those kids looking like a knockout, my life perfect and theirs a steaming pile of poo. I thought it would make me feel good, but it never would have.
So it stresses me out, this fictional girl, desperate to make the bully-boy feel as horrible as she did the day she died. It stresses me out because his character has grown up, and he has changed, and he never got over what he did to her. He never forgave himself, so she is playing on his shame.
I don’t ever want to be that person.
I want to offer an open letter of forgiveness to the classmates that once sang “Bobos” on the sidewalk by my seventh grade math class. I pretended to keep reading, but I heard your song, and I cried, and it made me ungrateful for my “Bobo” shoes. But my mom worked hard to provide for me, to make sure I had shoes on my feet, and I hate that you took her love for me and made it something that shamed me. But you didn’t even understand what you were doing, not all the way to the bone of it.
You were all kids.
We were all kids.
And now we have grown. We have grown, and I forgive you.
I wish you all the best.We have grown, and I forgive you.Click To Tweet