As I was writing an article about teaching kids how to deal with bullies recently, one thought led to another and I looked up my middle school bully on Facebook. I must admit that I also looked up a high school bully. These were two girls who had literally made me sick. I remember the stomachaches that used to accompany me to school during the times that these two girls tormented me. Two very separate years, but two very similar experiences. You see, I always loved school, but these two relentless girls introduced anxiety, stress, and nausea into an equation that had formerly consisted of learning, eagerness, and excitement about going to school.
Bully #1 entered my seventh grade year with loud concerns about whether or not I needed to be wearing a bra. While we stood on line waiting to exit the classroom she “whispered” her concerns to the other girls. And all this while I stood there shaken up but pretending to be calm and collected. I looked up W. on Facebook and there she was. How ironic. She is in her adulthood a teacher and one who certainly looks like she should not leave her house without wearing her bra. Maybe I learned something from her. Perhaps it’s partly because of her that I now know how to appear calm even in the most stressful situations.
Bully #2 entered my life in high school. She was very interested in my hair — in pulling it, that is. She followed me around school and took every opportunity to yank my long hair. I found N. on Facebook with a very retro Farrah Fawcett hairdo and a deep leathery tan. I don’t know what she does, but with all due respect to cosmetologists and hairdressers, I would guess that she is somehow involved in that industry. Maybe she just didn’t like the way my hair looked. Couldn’t she simply have suggested a different style rather than offering up daily tugs and doses of misery?
Here I was faced with photos of both of these women and all that I could think about was why didn’t they look guilty? Did they remember how mean they were? Do they teach the children in their lives how to behave kindly toward others? Or did they grow up to become mean adults?
Their Facebook information was public. Even now, they let it all out — private info and all. In case you are wondering I have NOT friended either of these two women.
Do I sound angry? If so, it’s because after all these years my eyes still burn when I think of these two. There are some things that one just doesn’t forget.
Have you spied on any of your former bullies? What would you do if you found them?
About Barbara Greenberg, PhD
Barbara is a Ph.D. clinical psychologist who specializes in the treatment of adolescents and their well-intentioned but exhausted parents. She is the co-author of Teenage as a Second Language-A Parents Guide to Becoming Bilingual with Jennifer Powell-Lunder PsyD and the co-creator of the website http://www.talkingteenage.com.