Hurt people hurt people
It’s not easy to admit you were a bully.
But I was…once.
It happened in grade school. I was in grade 6 and Lori was in grade 4. We lived in the same neighbourhood and went to the same school.
But that was it for what we had in common.
A nice summer afternoon, I was in no hurry to get home after school. The walk was about 20 minutes at a regular pace. But as I said, I was in no hurry so I made it a full 40 minutes by walking obnoxiously slow.
And blocking Lori from walking past me.
When she would try to walk to my left, I would take a step sideways and block her. When she tried to walk to my right, I would do the same.
She had no option but to walk behind me. And walk slow.
I did this for the entire walk. I relished in the power. I loved the control I felt over her. I liked that she had to oblige me or suffer the consequences.
But in my defense, I wonder if the obnoxious behaviour of my grade 6 self toward a grade 4 girl was a learned behaviour?
Two years earlier, I had experienced bullying at the hands of a group of older girls.
It was lunch hour and I was playing with my best friend, Deedee, in the back field. The schoolyard was easily an acre long and it took the teacher a long time to venture into the back 40; if at all.
The grade 6 girls knew this. They spotted me and circled me like a group of ravenous vultures.
They taunted me and wouldn’t let me escape the circle; moving in closer and physically making it impossible for me to retreat.
Now, I should say that I wasn’t completely innocent. You see, the weekend that just passed, me and Deedee made a prank phone call and ordered a pizza to be delivered to Marissa’s home. It was all innocent fun. Or so we hoped.
But the gig was up on Monday and Marissa’s little sister ratted on us. And the grade 6 girls called me on it.
They threatened me that if I ever pulled such a stunt again I wouldn’t live to see grade 5.
I believed them.
After what seemed like tortuous hours, they disbanded when the bell finally rang and I was left shaking and near tears.
The image is seared in my mind’s eye as over 40 years later I can still remember the acid taste of fear in my mouth.
So maybe I felt that I was owed the same luxury of torment as a grade 6er as that group of girls?
Not that I am advocating that anyone has the right to bully anyone else. But it does give me thought to agree with the saying that, Hurt People Hurt People.
But I never bullied again. I broke the cycle.
Well, maybe it wasn’t so much me that broke the cycle, but the influence of my mom.
You see, once Lori finally arrived home she told her mother the sad reason she was late from school.
Her mother called my mom and told her the sordid details.
My mom promptly reprimanded me. But worse, she made me walk to Lori’s home and apologize to her in person.
This is also a memory I will never forget.
Seeing the swollen red eyes of Lori as she tentatively opened the front door to receive me. Seeing her faint smile and nod as I apologized for tormenting her. It made me want to crawl under a rock and hide.
I didn’t like the person that had hurt this little girl. I didn’t ever want to be the person to cause such pain again.
Because my mom made me face the consequences of my actions, I was forever changed.
I resolved to be the hurt person who would never hurt people again.
(first featured on Medium platform April 5, 2021)