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A Tale of Middle School Bullying

It’s never too late to say you’re sorry.

On Wednesday night, I had dinner with an old friend from middle school. We hadn’t seen or talked to each other since I moved away after 7th grade — over 15 years! Through a random friend in common showing her my blog, she saw I was back in the area and emailed a couple weeks ago asking if I’d like to meet up for dinner. It was fun seeing her — one of those “So… what the hell have you been up to for the past 15 years?” sort of dinners. We had a blast reminiscing about old memories, gossiping about what our other friends were up to now, and catching up on each other’s current lives.

And then, just as we were finishing dinner and drinks, she turned to me. “There’s actually another reason I wanted to meet up with you tonight,” she said. I waited, confused. “Do you remember…” she paused, looking uncomfortable. “That note in your locker?”

Did I remember? How could I forget.

My family moved around a lot when I was growing up. In 2nd and 3rd grade, I lived here in the D.C. area. I made an amazing group of friends, including the girl I met for dinner on Wednesday. I was devastated when my parents told me we were moving again at the end of the year, and I would have to leave all my best friends behind.

Flash forward to 7th grade — we moved back to D.C. and I could not have been more thrilled. My friends threw a surprise welcome back/birthday party for me, and I felt like I was finally home again.

But things had changed, as they often do at that age for groups of girls. There were a couple new girls in the group that I didn’t know. You wouldn’t know it meeting me now, but back then I was actually really shy. A few months into the school year, the new girls decided that for whatever reason they didn’t like me. And if they didn’t like me, that meant no one else could, not even all my former best friends. I’m sure some of you can relate to what happened then. I remember everyone avoiding me. I remember sitting down at lunch tables only to have everyone get up and leave.

And then there was the note.

One day during school, I opened my locker to find a note lying on the floor. Passing notes was very popular back then (I assume replaced by text messages nowadays), so I was excited, assuming it was some gossipy tidbit from a friend. I opened it. And I was paralyzed by what I read. The note was hastily scribbled and said something along the lines of:

Die. Nobody likes you.

I know this might seem silly now, but to a 7th grade girl, getting a note like this was the end of the world. I vividly remember just standing there, staring at the note, reading it over and over again. My heart started beating faster and I felt the blood rushing to my face. I had no idea what to do. Was anyone watching? Were they waiting for my reaction? Should I just close the locker and leave? The note wasn’t signed. I had no idea who had written it, but I figured the new girls were behind it. I don’t remember if it was the end of the day, and I was able to go to home and cry in peace. I don’t remember if it was just before first period, and I had to sit in class all day with my head down, wondering who else knew about this ultimate shame. But I do remember how I felt. And I felt horrible. And betrayed. And sure that nothing would ever be good again.

And then, on Wednesday night, my friend told me that she was the one who wrote that note so many years ago. She had asked me to dinner because she wanted to say she was sorry.

She said she has thought about that note often over the years and cringed at the fact that she had done something so horrible. She said she regrets writing it, and that she didn’t even really know why she did it. It wasn’t that she didn’t like me. She did. We were friends. It was probably just that she was trying to look cool.

This post is not meant to make my friend (and yes, I still call her a friend) feel bad. On the contrary — I’m impressed that she had the courage to apologize, so many years later, for something that I didn’t even know she was behind. It’s clearly water under the bridge now, and as I told her last night, I know that peer pressure and wanting to be cool makes girls do and say stupid, mean things. I don’t blame her for wanting to fit in. I know now that she didn’t really mean what she wrote.

But I didn’t know that then.

It’s sad how common it is for girls to put other girls down to make themselves feel better or look cool. I’m certainly not immune to the pressure — I’m sure I’ve snubbed others (thought not nearly this harshly, I’d hope) in the past, too, in an effort to impress others. But that doesn’t mean it’s okay.

I’m hoping that by writing this post and sharing my story, it will encourage others, especially those that might still be going through those hard middle school and junior high years, to really THINK about how your actions will affect others. Looking cool is not worth making others feel badly. Obviously I’m very happy now, and made a great new group of friends in high school, but it doesn’t mean I’ll ever forget about that note or how it made me feel.

And to those of you that are the current victims of bullying — know that you are NOT alone. It will get better. I promise.

I decided that the perfect way to end all of this was with another note, left on the bathroom mirror at school yesterday and inspired by my friend Caitlin’s wonderful Operation Beautiful movement. In fact, I wrote two notes. But this time — they were happy.

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Please feel free to share your own stories in the comments. Have you ever been the victim of or the instigator of any bullying? I’d love to hear your stories, too. It’s never too late to come clean, after all.

And if you need a little pick me up, please check out (and participate in) Operation Beautiful. It will make you smile :)

Comments

  1. 1

    Oh wow, I relate to this post so much. I was always being told my core group of girl friends were mad at me that week, then the next week they liked me again, there was another group of girls who would write “slut” every Friday on someone’s locker. I dreaded Fridays for that reason. I would pray I wouldn’t find slut on my locker, the day I did, I cried and went home sick.
    That was amazing that she apologized to you. It was obviously eating her up inside all those years. It’s funny how mean we can be just to be cool. I don’t ever want to go back to middle school or even high school for that matter. Such a hard time!

  2. 2

    What a post! Thank you for sharing :o)

  3. 3

    That note is awful :( You couldn’t pay me to go back to middle school. I lived in a very small town so the middle school consisted of one small hallway attached to the high school… you can imagined this caused all sorts of problems for young girls. Kids pretty much terrorized each other.

    Thanks for sharing such a personal post.

  4. 4

    I’m speechless…what a post, girl!

    Kudos to YOU for your reaction, then and now.

    And, may I say, kudos to your friend. It seems like she’s been carrying around the baggage as long as you have and it took a lot of courage to let you know.

  5. 5

    Wow. Anne….

    I’m so glad you shared this story. I experienced a few upsetting situations in middle/high school, and I remember how absolutely *sick to my stomach* they made me feel. But they were not nearly as horrible as that note, and I cannot imagine how devastating it must’ve been for you. I’m so glad that you’ve been able to share this and use it as a means so speak out against bullying while maintaining integrity by forgiving your friend…and still *calling* her a friend.

    It’s so easy to say one little thing about/to someone else and not think anything of it, but the truth is that there is SO much weight in the words we say. I think you’ve inspired me to share a story of my own about a high school experience. One of these days, maybe…

    On an unrelated note…(literally)…you’re handwriting looks almost exactly like mine. Weird!

  6. 6

    I think that was very courageous of your friend to apologize and confess all these years later. It was obviously weighing on her mind and she knew she would feel better by telling you face-to-face. Middle school is the hardest time, especially for girls. So many changes, attitudes, trying to be cool and fit in.

    I was awkward in middle school. My body was changing, acne, didn’t have a cool hair style, didn’t know how to dress, etc. I look back and cringe at those pictures. But…I know those years make me who I am today.

    Great post, I enjoyed reading :)

  7. 7

    WOW – it seems your friend has grown into a very mature and kind hearted individual to be able to admit and apologize to you over something like that . . . this post is a little drop in the “humans are still good people” bucket

  8. 8

    Lovely post. Nice of your friend to want to reconnect and be honest. And admirable of you to turn something bad into something good by writing the notes like paying it forward.

  9. 9

    I was bullied pretty badly in middle school, too, and some things still haunt me – though others definitely made me stronger. I have a great fear that my daughter will be bullied and react in some terrible way, like those teens who have killed themselves to make the teasing stop. It was great of your friend to say she’s sorry after all these years; I wish more people would take time to think about their actions, even if it’s years later.

  10. 10

    I’ve definitely been on both side of these kind of things when I was younger. In elementary school, I wasn’t cool, at all, so when I started high school I did whatever I could to be accepted. This meant bullying people.

    But this definitely turned on me, because that’s how it goes. People grow tired of picking on one person and when you’re a teen, in search of self-esteem, the best way to feel “cooler” is to elevate yourself from the other.

    I went from having parties at my house and being THE girl, to eating lunch by myself, and crying before going to school.

    When I switched school in the middle of my high school years, I clearly did not learn my lesson and did the whole thing over again.

    High school is cruel. Teens are cruel. But thje good news is that most of them grow up, turns into respectable adult and do stuff like your friend did.

    I don’t know how I’ll react when my kids will go through that. I guess it’s something we need to go through?

    Wow, it really touched home, didn’t it.

    Thanks for this really amazing post.

  11. 11

    Anne, this was brave of you to post and brave of your friend to reconnect after all these years to apologize.
    I was bullied too and although I don’t expect anyone to ever apologize for it, I think I might stop holding a wee bit of a grudge towards those people after all these years.
    Thanks for the great post.

  12. 12

    AWESOME.

  13. 13

    Wow- I can relate to this. I think bullying is a major part of grade school. There were a group of guys who used to make fun of me in middle school and thinking about it still makes me cringe. That’s why I’m thankful for Operation Beautiful and the blogging community. It’s helped improve my self-esteem and confidence so much!

    Thanks for sharing your story! I’d be too embarrassed to share mine!

  14. 14

    I think that was so brave of the other person to admit she’d made a mistake so many years later. I remember now being punched in the stomach hard when I was in 5th or 6th grade by a friend. I ended up knowing him for the next 2 years and even though we don’t keep in touch I’d still call him a friend because of everything that happened after that incident. I guess it all goes to show you can’t change the past but you can mend it.

  15. 15

    This is really nice, Anne. Awesome, in fact, as the previous comment stated. How nice that your friend said she was sorry. And how nice that you reacted so generously and kindly. Again, this is a lovely post… Thanks for sharing this story!

  16. 16

    Awesome post, Anne! It was very brave of your friend to come forward and apologize after all those years, and very brave of you to share the story with us.

    It’s amazing how things that almost seem silly now devastate you as a teenager. I was definitely NOT cool growing up, and was picked on a lot in middle school. I wish I could go back and tell younger me that things change when you get older…that you eventually find your true self and your true friends and all that BS in middle and high school won’t matter at all. But we’re so vulnerable at that age. It’s sad, really.

  17. 17

    Great post. I remember when I was 11 years old, the ‘popular girls’ called my house and said: “we’re going to read you a list of the things we don’t like about you and then hang up…after you think about it, you can call us back”

    Gosh, I still remember that clearly…and my mom keeping me from calling them back. ha!

  18. 19
    Katy(The Balanced Foodie) says:

    Aw Anne, I can totally relate. I think most girls can totally relate. That was really big of your friend and you after all this time to lay that to rest. She must have been so nervous. In 7th grade, I too had a friend turn on me just because of other girls all because I decided to wear Abercrombie pants one day. She IMed me and told me that just because I wore those didn’t mean I was cool and that I shouldn’t wear them because essentially, I wasn’t good enough to wear them and only the popular girls could. This was someone who, months earlier, was my good friend. It truly does feel like the end of the world at the time. I so wish I could back and tell myself not to worry, things will definitely get better because they will! What a great, inspiring and positive message. I hope girls of all ages will read this and be encouraged!

    I love your heart and I’m really proud to call you my friend and EFF. ;)

  19. 20

    I honestly think Jr High is one of the *worst* few years – hormones flying and girls go crazy. I can remember many times when my group of friends bullied each other, decided they didn’t like someone (temporarily, of course) and/or boys could make/break friendships. While those are usually the ages you form friendships that end up lasting years, it’s also the age where you question everything about who you might be becoming.

    I’m glad this Friend apologized – I’m sure it’s a weight off of Both shoulders! The OB Sticky notes are perfect :)

  20. 21

    Anne – thank you so much for sharing this! I had my fair share of similar experiences in middle school, and I’m sure I was on the giving end of just as many of them. It’s great that your friend had the courage to apologize to you, and now both of you can finally put this to rest.

  21. 22

    ugh, its funny that you write this because just yesterday i was having a similar discussion and recalling that horrible 7th grade year when girls turn into wretched wretched beings. the action that sticks out in my head was on month everyone just decided that each day everyone would ignore a different person. you KNEW it was coming, and then it came and it was like there was no warning (even though there clearly was) and suddenly you were nobody for a day and it was AWEFUL. i remember wondering what freaking switch was flipped that caused this to happen? and then wondering how it kept happening day after day. i was one of the first and i definitely kept my distance after that, but some girls went right back into the game after their ‘turn.’ total insanity. jr high is the most ridiculous place on earth.

  22. 23

    What a great post Anne.. Makes me think about some things I should say sorry to so many years later

  23. 24

    this is a beautiful story, and i’m so glad you shared. i did the same thing in high school…apologized for being a giant b**** basically. and it sucked at the time and it was a massive blow to my ego, but i’ve never been more thankful for it :) i’m proud of your friend for apologizing…i think there are a lot of people who would turn and run from that conflict, and it’s awesome that she didn’t :)

  24. 25

    One year in Jr. High, they assigned lunch tables that would last the semester, if not the whole year. On the first day, I tried to join my friends. The limit was four or five people. Whatever it was, we had one too many. I was unanimously voted off. Or maybe it wasn’t unanimous, but the ‘leader’ was quick to banish me, and was most definitely not nice about it.

    Being a smallish school, I had the same friends through high school. I often felt like I was on the outskirts, even with my closest friends. I became very guarded; I didn’t really express opinions for fear of not fitting in. They started calling me code names to my face, which I later learned meant I had no personality. (When really, I was just being shy and going along with the crowd.)

    I didn’t really come out of my shell until college when I got to start fresh, but those teenage years affected me so much. I slip back to that mindset sometimes.

    On the flip side, once this unpopular boy asked me to a high school dance. I knew he was going to do it through the rumor mill, and I was not happy about it. Let’s just say I did not let him down easy. I was mean. I still feel bad about it!

  25. 26

    Great post!!! I think everyone’s experienced similar feelings at some point in their lives. Thank you so much for sharing your experience! :)

  26. 27

    How awesome that you friend brought this up and apologized to you. Thank you for sharing your story.

    I was teased endlessly in middle school. Admittedly, I was a DORK. Frizzy hair, crooked teeth, thick glasses, unstylish clothes. Didn’t fit in at all. And the “cool” kids never ever let me forget that. Can’t even tell you how many times my chair was pulled out from under me in the library and lunchroom. How many times I was told “you’re ugly” “you’re such a nerd” “you’re stupid” and “you’re never going to amount to anything”. (Nevermind the fact that I really was smart and got great grades…). I dreaded going to school every day.

    I moved in 8th grade and never saw most of these kids again. I still remember their names, each and every one of them. I did see one boy “Mark” after college – he had no idea who I was and even hit on me. He was BEAUTIFUL (tall, blond, tan and buff) and I was single. But I gave him a fake name and phone number and walked away…my friends thought I was NUTS because he was so cute. But as soon as I saw him all of those moments in school came flooding back. I wish I had the nerve to tell him who I was and just how miserable he made me.

    I can only hope that my children (and everyone else’s children) don’t have to endure what we did in school.

    Again, thanks for the great post. And sorry for the LONG comment!

    • 28

      That’s CRAZY. Something similar happened to me a few years ago – I was at the mall shopping and one of the salesgirls at the store I was in was this girl who was HORRIBLE to me in middle school. I didn’t even know her at all but she used to pull my hair, scream at me, etc. when I went by, for no reason other than I was shy and little and she could.

      When I saw her in the store, she didn’t recognize me and was SUPER nice. I kind of wish I’d said something to her or asked if she remembered me, but I figured it wasn’t worth bothering. I doubt she would have remembered! She was just plain evil I think, ha, unlike this girl I saw on Wednesday!

  27. 29

    Wow, i had flashbacks of 5th grade when I read this! I recieved a note in my desk, written in red ink “I hate you I hate you I want you to die” with a large heart drawn on it. I felt so alone and scared when i got it, and still to this day do not knwo who wrote it. They believe that it was a boy, and even looked at a bunch of people’s handwriting… but never found out who it was. I am glad you found a solution to your mystery! I am glad to know i am not the only one who has something lake this happen to them. :)

  28. 30
    kathleen says:

    My junior year of college I had a great group of friends or so I thought. I was going through a rough time personally and I was definitely not myself. I truly believed that my friends would be there for me, but instead my 6 best friends decided to sign me off our lease for the upcoming school year. This left me with no place to leave and I felt completely crushed. About a year and a half ago one of the girls who I had been friends with since high school wrote me a really long email apologizing. Since then we have met up when I have been back in our hometown. It turns out she was going through the same kind of personal problems and finally understood why I had changed a bit. Her apology meant so much to me and I am glad that at least 1 of the 6 girls was mature enough to admit she had been wrong.

  29. 31

    Oh this was such a lovely post. I’ve been a victim of bullying in the past (& maybe even in my current situation although it’s a bit different) so this post was so refreshing to read.

  30. 32

    I love how this horrible, world stopping experience of your 7th grade self has shaped you to become a kinder, more sensitive and aware adult today. Leaving the Operation Beautiful note truly brings you full circle. And I agree, your friend has such courage to admit to what she did back then, I believe that most people wouldn’t be able to confront such a cruel act. She obviously has grown to be a far better person.

  31. 33

    Mean Girls and
    Mean Girls Grown Up by Hayley DiMarco are a great read concern this topic. The information helped with healing the hurts and how to deal with mean-spirited females, even in the workplace. Forgiveness is always the higher road.

  32. 34

    this is a really great post- thank you for sharing this story that so many people can relate to. i think the fact that what she did affected your friend so deeply shows what a good person she really is.

  33. 35

    Thank you for sharing the situation and experience, Anne. There are girls in middle school that can be so horrible. Like a few commenters said, you could not pay me enough to go back to middle school. There was a girl I grew up with, who was horrible – just evil in some ways. SHe was “the leader” and some weeks she would want to be your friend and other weeks she would want to terrorize you. I was terrorized by her one week and the next week she wanted to be friends. I told her to essentially “go f##K yourself”. I knew that I would prefer to have no friends than associate with such a horrible girl and group of girls, who followed her influence.

    I know that middle school is a strange time and is so often about trying to fit “in”. It’s amazing to run into people I grew up with and some of those “mean girls” are lovely invidivuals now, who will freely admit they are still digusted w/ themselves to be associated with such hate and disrespect. Then there are a few, who are still as they were in middle school. Some people change, some people do not.

    I respect people that can confront those whom they have been horrible to, just as your friend did. Learning to say “I am sorry” or “my bad” is a difficult process in life and it would appear your friend is one of those who did change.

  34. 36

    I think we all can relate! I had a very redeeming moment, too.

    In 7th grade, there was a group of BOYS, actually, that picked on me mercilessly. Thinking back, they probably were flirting, but in the meanest of ways because they didn’t know how else to do it. The worst was when during a presentation to the class, one of them raised his hand and asked if I had been to the racetrack recently. When I said, “No, why?” He said, “Because you look like horses#*t.” I don’t know how the teacher didn’t hear it. I gleefully was hit on by 2 of these former bullies during my college years (randomly, at different bars/parties) after not having seem them for a very long time, and was able to say to both of them, “No. I know who you are, and you really were never very nice to me.” And walked away.

    I’m so impressed that your friend was able to own up to it and that you are able to forgive her.

    • 37

      Oh my gosh… that’s crazy he would say that! You’re totally right about him probably thinking it was flirting. So bizarre. So funny you ran into them later and got some payback!

  35. 38

    Wow. It’s like you are talking about me. I had a great group of friends – moved away – moved back a few years later to everybody suddenly hating me. Over the years the friendships started coming back and then as girls will do – they backstabbed me all over again. As much as I have forgiven them it’s still hard for me to trust people and let them be my friends now.

    • 39

      Just remember that there are lots of awesome people in the world, and you are one of them. :) Don’t be scared to open up again – it would be worse to miss out on all the good in the world just because you’re scared of the bad. Hugs.

  36. 40

    Wow, what an amazing thing to have happen to you! I think that girls/women generally don’t want to be mean or spiteful towards each other, but there is some sort of cultural idea that girls are all in competition with one another. Womes need to be more supportive and less jealous towards one another.

  37. 41

    What an awesome thing to happen. I’m sure it took a lot of courage on her part to apologize to you, and you’re so amazing for opening up your heart like that and forgiving her. You are right, those type of things really do make an impact on people and it’s such a hard thing to go through.

    I had horrible things said and done to me in middle school. It was awful, and I wouldn’t go back ever. So glad that life gets so much better after middle school and high school.

  38. 42

    Thanks for this post – I loved it!

    Middle school is such a tough time. I remember how awful it felt when a friend would decide not to be my friend anymore or when someone would say something to make fun of me. I have a three-year-old daughter now and it brings tears to my eyes thinking about that happening to her. Can’t I just always keep her at home with me all of the time so I can keep her from having to experience middle school? :) Like others have said, though….I’m just so glad things (like that at least) get better once you become an adult.

  39. 43

    Thank you so much for sharing this post..for some reason, it made my day better.. I hope more people decide to think about their words and actions and how it can affect not only others but themselves.

  40. 44

    Like your old classmate, I once said something to a friend that was beyond reproach. Worse, I was at the highly culpable age of 24. I essentially told her that she would never succeed in her dream job and I felt absolutely horrible about it. We were travelling through Europe together at the time and while sharing every minute of every day with another individual for 6 weeks can be a challenge, there was no excuse for what I did. A year later I moved across the country, but I never apologized and I never felt right about it. As I was unpacking, I found my journal from our trip where I had written about that day. In great detail I went into what was said, why I said it and refused to apologize (pride), and how much remorse I felt for it. I took those pages out of my journal and mailed them to her along with a letter of apology. Through it all we never stopped being friends and last year she was my Maid of Honor in my wedding. What can I say? Shes a keeper.

  41. 46

    I’ve never commented before, but love your blog and felt compelled to thank you for posting this. It’s such an amazing story, and what a wonderful way to bring it “full circle” by posting your Operation Beautiful notes!

    I had something similar happen to me, although it didn’t involve a note. When I was in seventh grade, one of my best friends – since kindergarten – randomly decided one day that she hated me. (What a unique experience, I know…) The rest of the group didn’t exactly shun me over it, but it made things difficult because this girl could never be in the same group with me on class trips, and we were often at parties or other things together. Ah, the active social life of seventh graders… I was basically miserable for the entire eight months or so that she hated me. I felt that I had to walk on eggshells around our whole group of friends. I’ll never forget one day, our whole grade took a school trip to an amusement park and were divided into groups for the day (to make it easier on the chaperones, I expect). Of course, I couldn’t be in a group with my friends, because this girl was in the group and that just wouldn’t be allowed. I remember panicking, thinking I had no group for the day. A group of the “popular girls” asked me to join them and were ridiculously sweet to me the entire day – telling me how horrible this girl was being, how I didn’t deserve it, I was such a nice person, and they couldn’t imagine treating anyone like I was being treated. I was so grateful to them, and I’ll admit that there was a little part of me that felt pretty darn smug at walking off with the group of “cool” girls in front of my supposed friends. Not to make a long story even longer, but over the summer I received a letter in the mail from the girl who had been tormenting me. She was at summer camp, and I was leaving for the same camp – and the same program – in a week. I had been freaking out, thinking, what would it be like to be around her nonstop for two weeks?

    Then I got this letter, which completely shocked me… because she apologized. Profusely. She basically said she had been going through a hard time and was trying to make herself feel better, but that there was no excuse for the way she had treated me, and she wanted nothing more than to take it all back. She said she didn’t know if I would ever be able to forgive her, but she was asking me to. She said other stuff too, all along those lines. I felt like a massive weight had been lifted off my shoulders. When I saw her at the camp bus, I hugged her, accepted her apology, and we stayed friends for many years after that. To this day I don’t know what motivated her to apologize and ask me to still be her friend and I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been for her to do that. Oops – this is a long comment, but this post really spoke to me. Thanks for what you do on this blog!

    • 47

      Thank you so much for sharing this – and I’m so happy to hear your friend not only discovered the error of her ways, but also acted on it!

  42. 48

    That was awesome :)

  43. 49

    Love the post!
    I got teased for being interested in a different sport than the “popular” sport. How stupid is that? I´m just glad that at the time I was strong enough to not care and kept doing the thing that made me happy. :)

  44. 50

    Anne, thanks for sharing your story. So awesome that your friend apologized after all those years AND that you in turn made it even more positive by posting those positive notes in the bathroom. Way to go!

    I definitely dealt with some bullying in both middle school and college (believe it or not). Those are memories you never forget, but slowly try to forgive the person who did that crap to us.

  45. 51

    Thanks for telling us this story. Unfortunately, like many others, I can relate. I’m now in my mid-30s but I still remember the prank calls, the kids saying things like “you’re ugly and no one will ever want to date you, ” and standing alone by myself on the playground because if anyone talked to me, it would be to taunt me, and I’d rather not have anyone talk to me than to relentlessly tease me. Sadly, I remember a couple of others who even had it worse than me, and I remember a few “grown-ups” who would blame the most defenseless kids for it. I’m glad you received an apology. I never have, and while I have forgiven some of it, I have never forgotten it.

    Though I don’t agree that some of that behavior is “silly.” It was devastating to me, and at an age you already feel so insecure yourself, relentless teasing and harassment really does take a toll on your self-esteem. I think it ultimately makes you stronger, but I look back at those years very bittersweetly, because I don’t have that group of friends or the funny stories from that time that I carry with me today. Having met some of my husband’s friends from junior high, a few of whom he’s still close to, does give me hope that not all kids are like that, and that if we have children, they will have a far different experience than I did.

  46. 52

    omg middle school was awful! I remember coming home from school crying because of kids picking on me! So glad (most) people grow up at some point! :) It really is never too late to say you’re sorry!

  47. 53

    Thank you for writing about this. I don’t know why it makes me feel better that I wasn’t alone in getting bullied a lot in school. To tell you the truth, I’m still a little bitter about it even though it has been 9 years since I graduated. Being called “Big Nose,” “Pinocchio,” “Flood Girl” (I had really long legs, and my mom couldn’t afford the more expensive jeans that came in longs), etc. sucked. I was laughed at when I fell down the stairs once and all my books flew out all over the ground. No one helped me get up. H.S. was not the best time of my life, and I want to teach my kids to respect and help people when they can.

    Things had somewhat changed my senior year when I got my braces off, and I started dating an All State football player. All of the sudden people wanted to talk to me. It was quite peculiar, and I wasn’t interested in talking to artificial people. I stood up for the underdog like I wished other people would have done for me. Years later in Germany (of all places), I ran into a guy I went to H.S. with in NM. We ended up going out to lunch, and he thanked me for sticking up for him in a few instances. I had completely forgotten about it until he brought it up. It was crazy that he remembered after all these years, and it meant that much to him. That just goes to show that someone’s kind or negative actions can have a lasting impact. ;)

    • 54

      You are so right about both negative AND positive actions having a big effect — I’m proud of you for sticking to your guns and standing up for the underdog, even when you were “cool” :)

  48. 55

    *wipes a tear* This reminds me of some experiences I had in middle school too. So sad, the things kids are capable of. Kudos to you to be able to forgive her and still consider her a friend. It’s a testament to your strength.

  49. 56

    A boy who liked me in high school “bullied” me, so to say. One day he would be really nice and the next day he would be abusive. We were in the band together, and sat next to each other. On good days I loved him, on bad days I asked the teacher why I couldn’t move my seat (we were 1st and 2nd chair- so we couldn’t move).

    Sometimes he would call me fat or ugly or say that my chicken pox scar was nasty. He would make up a few rumors about me here and there, and it really sucked. Years later he told me it was because he really liked me and didn’t know how to react to that.

    Anyway, somehow even during that time I felt strong and did not let it bother me. Of course it bothered me to some aspect- I still remember it all so vividly- but I remember standing up for myself to him and not believing him when he said mean things about me.

  50. 57

    P.S. The weirdest thing just happened. I just went to my Facebook profile and was looking at photos and a photo of this same guy popped up. RANDOM.

  51. 59

    Thanks for sharing your story with everyone! It’s so great that your friend had the courage to apologize after so many years when most people would have said nothing because it would have been “easier”. I have been lucky so far in high school and have never experienced being bullied, but I think we can all relate to how it feels on some level. Thanks again!

  52. 60

    So many sad bullying stories on here… solidarity, but to think of how much these things affected us when we were young is sad.

    In middle school I had a “friend” who (apparently, I only heard from her in threats) got caught with drugs in her locker. She was convinced she had told me she had drugs in her locker, and that I was the one who had told on her. Because of that she threatened me verbally (in person and in notes) about how the people who sold her the drugs were going to find me in the hallway at school sometime and beat me up and kill me. I was terrified! I remember coming home from school, telling my mom and sobbing, begging her to let me transfer schools because I was so frightened. She was a bit more rational, telling me that the girl wouldn’t be able to back it up. I was convinced she was wrong, but I did have to go back to school. I never was beat up (or killed, obviously) but I remember being paranoid for weeks.

    Wow, I had forgotten all about that for a long time. Makes me pray that my future kids aren’t part of the problem or the victims.

  53. 61

    I had a similar thing happen but it was in 6th grade. My group of friends all decided for some reason that I can’t remember decided to have a “Sally Haters Club”. My best friend was the only one who would talk to me after that and she would only talk when they weren’t around. I doubt if any of them remembers what happened or even who it happened to but it changed the whole course of my life from that moment on. I became a loner, which I am to this day.

  54. 64

    Dear Anne, I was very touched by this post and loved the way you gave this incident in your life some closure…the notes to yourself (and others) are wonderful.

  55. 65
    Irene (Renie) Penn says:

    I guess it is just part of growing up. I am the eldest of 10 children. My dad was a great provider, we didn’t have the best or name brand clothes like they do today, but we were ok with it. We never did without. My mother couldn’t drive at the time and when I was in the 7th grade she order me a god-awful dark green dress from Sears and it was so big on me. I never let my mother know how embarressed I was about wearing it to school. Thank GOD me and my entire family have a since of humor because I really got ribbed that day. The kids all laughed at me and made fun of me but being from a large family, you learn quickly to stand up for yourself. I remember at that young age, even though it really hurt inside, I would never ever admit it to the kids, so I just joined in with their laughter and to this day when my family gets together, the case of the dark green dress always comes up. I did learn to always treat others as you would like to be treated.
    Love Ya,
    Renie

  56. 67

    What an amazing story Anne! :) This just made my night.

  57. 68

    This is such an awesomer post :) And I couldnt agree with the ‘moral’ of the story more. It REALLLY IS NEVER too late to say you are sorry! Great post!

  58. 69

    I did something similar….I had to take home these books and her assignments to a girl that lived near me who was at home sick for a few days. Well I let this one guy write all this mean stuff on the book cover (we had to put brown paper book covers around all the books to protect them). Then I pretended like I had nothing to do with it but I had encouraged him to write some of the meanest things and was laughing along with everyone else.

  59. 70

    What a fantastic story — it’s very admirable when people do unexpected things like that, especially ones that take so much courage and uncover a truth that you may never have known. Props to her! And to you for overcoming an awful spot in life. Remembering middle school is so awkward, isn’t it great to be grown up?!

  60. 71

    I’m 18 now and could really say I have grown so much from my experiences is the past. It almost seems like bullying these days is contagious and has become popular. I have definetly been in a similar situation as you, but wouldn’t know where to start. But I’ll just say that I had a best friend that I had know from kindergarten that turned my world upside down. I like to believe that things happen for a reason and we become better and stronger people because of it. I know a girl who is just about to go into 10th grade who has lost over 30 pounds from the stress of girls who bully her. She is doing so much better now though, but it is just crazy to think of just how powerful words can be. We can only pray for change in people and how they treat others :)

  61. 72
    Adventurer says:

    This is really poignant, engrossing, and, ultimately, uplifting. Thanks for sharing it and for the ending, in particular. What an experience… My heart goes out to the young Anne — and my commendation goes out to the current Anne!

  62. 73

    Reading your post and all of the comments that followed brought tears to my eyes as I can easily relate to tumultuous and traumatizing middle and high school friendships. I have very few friends (practically none) from high school. Thank god for college, where I met people that treated me kindly and are still my best friends today. Thank you, Anne, for opening up and sharing this story!

  63. 74

    That’s an intense story. And it’s a lesson that doing something nasty to someone, even if it’s seemingly small, will eat at your conscience for years if you’re a halfway decent person. Too bad each person has to learn this lesson on their own.

    And then, in my high school there was this one clique who was at the center of all of the pettiness and cattiness. Fast forward to my high school reunion ten years later. Everyone has grown and changed, and by and large everyone had become better people. Except for that same little clique, who were still being snarky to everyone — except now they looked sad and pathetic, rather than the cool crowd. Some people don’t change, unfortunately.

    • 75

      That is sad. :( I hope someday they’ll figure out that being cool and fun doesn’t equal thinking you’re better than everyone else.

  64. 76

    Its mostly common sense, but kid who do poorly in school are more likely to become bullies.

  65. 77

    What a wonderful thing to share with everyone, Thanks Anne. I’m really impressed that your friend apologized so many years later, that was the right thing to do.

  66. 78

    This was a great post to read about healing and moving on. I was bullied in exactly the same way in middle school and I can’t tell you how much I’d appreciate such a simple apology.

  67. 79

    Your post and your response, especially your response, made me cry. I was picked on all through middle school and somewhat throughout high school, especially at sleepaway camp. I remember summers when I would sob for nights on end, girls pullng my hair and talking behind my back – but really in front of me. If I have a daughter, I will do everything I can to make sure she is confident enough not to have to put others down.

    From an ugly duckling – who is now lucky enough to be and FEEL beautiful – thank you for writing those notes, and I may do the same tomorrow.

  68. 80

    So, I just discovered your blog. This is maybe the fifth post I’ve read of yours, which means I already knew four posts ago that I was going to be a fan.

    This is, hands down, THE BEST post I have ever read. It gave me goosebumps and brought tears to my eyes. It was both inspirational and eye-opening. I’m going to link to it on my blog because I want all of my readers to read it.

    Thank you.

  69. 82

    I would love to use your story and some of these others to work on a play written by 6th and 7th grades in my middle school drama class. If you are okay will this please send me an email!

    I think this is still relevant of course and bullying will not stop but we CAN change the way we deal with it and teach the victims how not to retaliate and how to accept and forgive and for the bullies to learn from their mistakes as well.

  70. 84

    Anne, I just discovered this post while browsing your site and this brought tears to my eyes. I think we all at times wish we could rewind and change some of the interactions we’ve had when we were younger. I have to tell you that when I think about you, I remember the very first day I moved next door to your family on Adams Street. You came over with your mom and brought ginger snap cookies. I appreciated the welcoming feeling at the time and even more so now when I reflect back on all the teenage angst I had and how much of a kind person you’ve always been. I wish you nothing but the best and am a HUGE fan!

  71. 85

    Anne, that is such an uplifting story. I found over the years that those things that bothered me can be resolved so easily by a simple recognition and a simple, “I’m sorry”. There are things I’ve done over the years that are cringe-worthy, and I regret them. I feel like a huge weight has been lifted when I say I’m sorry. It’s interesting, because the few times I’ve done that, my “victim” has no memory of the event, or they brush it off. But, who knows what they are really thinking?

  72. 87

    That note sounds traumatizing… it’s a good example that it meant more to the writer than to the recipient – negative acts are rarely beneficial!!

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  1. [...] kindness. Last week’s challenge was inspired by Operation Beautiful, which I discovered via this moving post by Anne at Fannetastic Food, and was pretty simple: write a kind or inspiring note and hang it up in a public place. I hung up [...]

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