Why did I bully my friend?

A letter writer taunted her friend when she was a teenager. Now she can’t forgive herself

Can our elder convince her to stop dwelling on it and move on with her life?

Dear EWC

There is something that happened in my past that I am feeling very bad about. I had a group of female friends while I was in high school. I was around 15 years old. I don’t know why now and I can’t explain why we did it but we started making fun of one of our friends because of her weight. She was a bit overweight and we would sit and make jokes and laugh during our lunch break. As it was 11 years ago now I can’t remember what triggered me to do this or if anything even did. Either way it is no excuse to ever treat anyone in that way. To make someone feel bad about themselves is a terrible thing to do. It’s very painful to think of myself like that as I could never be like that now. I remember apologising to her a few years later on a night out but we were drinking so it wasn’t clear all what was said. Not so long ago I wrote an apology to her explaining that I was really sorry about how I treated her. She said we were different people then and that it was okay but I can’t seem to forget it. Bullying is such an awful thing and the fact that I was one cripples me. I feel like I don’t deserve to get on with my life and be happy.

Terry-Anne replies

Thank you for writing to Elder Wisdom Circle. I know you have let this situation continue to hurt you and it really has to stop. The way to make it stop is to forgive yourself. The girl you hurt in high school has graciously and generously forgiven you. Reliving the occurrence over and over is not going to change what you did. Doing that is like picking at a scab. It will never heal. 

When you were a teenager you acted like a teenager and thought like a teenager. Now you are an adult and have matured. Now it’s up to you to set an example of living with graciousness and kindness; it starts with you. You can’t change the past. You accept it, forgive yourself and move on. 

We all make mistakes and we all have regrets. It’s part of growing up and part of life. You are human and I can tell you from experience that you will do and say things you may regret. We all do. The secret to life is to learn to forgive yourself or you will be living in a constant state of turmoil over your actions. No one is perfect. Remember also if someone hurts you, forgive them.

Often the things we say or do are totally unintentional. I know you said hurtful things in high school and I think you were the victim of the other girls behavior. You joined in when you were together. I’m sure “one on one” you would never have said those hurtful things. This is why peer pressure is disturbing. It’s just easier to go along with everyone else. 

It seems to me that since you are carrying such a burden it may be helpful for you to see a counselor or therapist. A few visits could help you to understand your past behavior and put you on the path to learning to forgive yourself. Your doctor will be able to refer you to someone who can help. You may also consider visiting a priest, rabbi, or minister if you have a religious affiliation. Either way, I think talking to a professional would be very helpful. 

You are a kind and sensitive person. Turn the page on this unfortunate incident and embrace a happy future. You have my permission to do just that. 

I hope my advice is helpful and that you will contact Elder Wisdom Circle again if you need us. We are always here. 

Best Regards,

Elder Terry-Anne

Reference: #424318

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