Originally posted 1/24/16
Dear Insecure, Painfully Pre-Me Me:
I have just returned from my high school reunion. Our high school reunion. 30 years later, there was finally enough distance to take a hard look and who we were and who we’ve become. As well as those around us.
This much I know: If I was introspective back when I was you, I’m a super-pumped up version of that person now. I live in my head. Some days it’s a cozy bungalow, others a house of horrors. This post-reunion week it’s a house of mirrors. And we both know that mirrors can be scary.
3 days before the reunion, I saw on FB that one of the girls who teased us mercilessly when I was you would be attending the event, and I went totally fetal. I mean I. Lost. My. Shit. Suddenly I was you—an insecure 11 year old being bullied. The world was close and painful. I felt vulnerable in a way that I haven’t for decades. The feeling was so jarring that today, a week later, I’m writing about us as if we were two different people. And I am filled with gratitude that I do not ever have to be that 10 or 11 or 13 year old girl again. To all the young men and women out there who feel left out by their peers and are being bullied: my heart goes out to you. I have lived through some very hard things in my life. The childhood bullying still rates extremely high on the list. What you are doing is harder than the adults around you have the capacity to remember.
Fortunately--and I mean this--I am no longer you. I value myself, and the mirrors I hold up are mostly my own. I have faced some scary shit--might as well add my own demons to the list. I grabbed some strappy, high heeled shoes and went. Because--fuck you. I'm done with that. Good news: that girl is gone.
In the days that have followed, that same childhood bully has liked FB photos of me as a teen, and I have to wonder—what does she remember when she sees those pics? Does she think, “I remember that girl!” or “I remember when we all used to joke around,” or most likely, is there a big blank bubble over her head when she sees my face and name? Does she remember absolutely nothing? Because that is not my experience when I see her name. I see red. A glorious, hateful rage--your rage--still bubbles up. Even though today-me, parent-me, recognizes that she probably hated herself. And likely had pain in her own life. But still.
More recently, I have a FB friend request from this same person. And again, I wonder. But I’ve been working through this for a week now and I’m getting better. I don’t feel frightened any more. Just disappointed that there isn’t a “Fuck off” button, because that’s what I’d send her back today, 30 years later. And now "we" can just be me.