Monday, April 23, 2012

Urgh part II

So on the faceplace there were many kind comments about my last post. Lots of thoughtful compliments about how Miss A handled herself, and how our discussion about body image and bullying language played out. And I appreciated each and every piece of positive feedback.

And then my friend from high school said that Miss A's story took her back to a time in her life when she wasn't so strong. And that she's tried to *be* strong and do the right thing ever since that period in her life.

And I read her comment and thought "YES. This."

Because in fact: I was a mean girl. I absolutely said hurtful things about girls who were my friends, behind their backs. I did worse. I participated in the exclusion of members of our group. I participated in elaborate "jokes" that would end in the humiliation of a friend.

When I think back on some of the things my group of friends and I did it makes me sick.

I can vividly remember specific incidents, usually involving the same friend, where my group crossed the line. I wish I could tell you that there was a reason for our behavior. That each of us harbored some secret that would explain away our cruelty. That we saw this behavior being modeled for us by parents/older kids/the media.


I can never take back what we did. It was wrong and hurtful and NOT how I want to be remembered. 

In the moment, when we were actively being mean to a friend, I remember feeling badly about what we were doing. But it always seemed that things were too far gone to stop it--that surely if what we were doing was actually mean someone else in the group would say something. If it was really really mean surely the friend being targeted would stop hanging out with us. Right? I kept waiting for someone else to speak up and put an end to it.

I was a coward. A giant coward.

And I am so sorry. If you knew me then, and I was mean, I am so very sorry. I own that behavior and I sit with it and all the discomfort it causes me. I hope you can forgive me, forgive all of us.

I want you to know that I am doing everything I can to make the playground a safe place for your kids and my kids. I am remembering how easy it is to slip into an unhealthy pattern of "friendship" and I am arming my children, and their friends, with the knowledge of how to speak up when they see similar behaviors. I am extending a listening ear to the bullied and the bullies--compassion for both.

Both sides hurt--I know this.

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