Mean Girls?

I ran into a classmate I hadn’t seen in maybe 15 years at the pet store where I was stocking up on cat food prior to an impending snow/ice storm. The last thing you want to do is run out of food and be snowed in with your cats. They love you, but if push comes to shove, they’ll eat you. Don’t let their cute little faces fool you.

That’s hunger in her eyes.

So, anyway, I’ve been planning our 20th Class Reunion for this year and trying to track down current addresses for class members. When I saw her, I was super excited because I didn’t know how to reach her easily since she wasn’t on social media (good for her, BTW).

When I asked her if she had any interest in coming to the reunion, she immediately said, “NO. I don’t do anything with that school. NO…no.”

I laughed a little and with my hands up defensively said, “Ok! Understood.”

I went to turn my cart around and she said, “Nobody liked me then so I don’t have any desire to hang out with them now.”

To which I replied, “Oh, I get it. Definitely. Nobody liked me either. You too, for that matter.” All of this was said with a grin and no attack in my voice. But it was true.

“Oh! That’s not true! I just didn’t really talk to anybody,” she said, laughing.

When we checked out, she teased me for holding up the line fumbling for my debit card and I told her to let me know if she changed her mind about the reunion. That was it.

But as I drove home, I thought about our high school experience and how they had apparently been similar. What was very odd to me was that she wasn’t nice to me in school. While she might not have talked to me much, the only things I ever heard come out of her mouth were snide, snarky and intimidating. I always saw her as one of the many “mean girls” who made my day-to-day struggle through school so nerve racking. It turns out that she might have felt just as I had and her defense was to come off bitchy and mean, while mine was to cower and stay silent. It made me wonder if all the people who were nasty to me in school, and seemingly nasty to this pet-store-shopping classmate, were only that way because they had someone above them making them feel just as terrible. I’d say the answer is probably yes.


Does it make any of it right? No, absolutely not. Is it indicative of the age group we’re talking about? Yeah, unfortunately. But that doesn’t have to be the case either. There were plenty of good people in our class, and plenty that didn’t feel like they had to lash out to keep from getting shoved to the bottom, some of which I chose to ask for help in planning this reunion.

As to why I was able to put aside my memories of torment and my long-lost classmate was not, I feel like that is a personal choice. It takes effort and an unpacking of some yucky baggage. I totally get why she feels the way she does, and why she might have opted to NOT forgive the way she was treated by our peers. I choose to believe that everyone should be given the opportunity to prove that they’ve grown up. As for adults who still behave like they’re in high school, ain’t nobody got time for that.



Should We Forgive or Forget?

Have you ever fooled yourself into thinking that you don’t care? For example, has someone broke your trust by sharing secrets about you or have you caught a group of co-workers gossiping about you and although it hurt you said, “I don’t care”? You knew when the words were muttered that it was just an illusion but for some reason you thought by saying the words the pain would cease. I’ve done it. When things like this happen, I think of what’s next and the old saying “forgive and forget” comes to mind. I want to forgive but forgetting hurt is difficult.

Hurt is an unfortunate part of life. No matter how much we shield our feelings from people, events, and unpredictability, hurt will eventually find us. Since hurt is coming, it may be a good idea to think about how hurt should be handled once it arrives and how we act once we decide to let it go. There is always advice to be found on the subject. In my thirty plus years of life, the quote, “No one can make you feel that way without your permission,” has surfaced multiple times. Maybe I don’t understand these words as I should, but how I feel doesn’t always seem like a controlled emotion. I have been at the receiving end of insults and lies with the sole purpose of hurting me. The culprit knew just what to say and went straight for the kill. If my enemy knew how to cut me where it hurts, wouldn’t I? We know how to hurt each other because we know what would hurt us. There is no internal process with me that can shut off the negative feelings resulting from negative actions. Sometimes I don’t feel like I have a choice about what I permit to hurt me, just who.

So brings us the quote, “Forgive and forget.” It is a lovely sentiment but somewhat foolish. Yes, in a perfect world we could forget all the bad things someone else has done to us but that would be difficult, even for someone like me who has a terrible memory. So, I don’t think we should forget. Why? If we were to forgive someone for continually hurting us and allow that person back into our life, we can predict with some accuracy what will continue to happen. We will get hurt. We have to allow ourselves some recollection of the way other people treat us. If not, we will have to start getting used to fooling ourselves into thinking that we don’t care. I am tired of pretending that I don’t care about how I have been treated. I am tired of feeling like I will never be good enough to earn equal respect with some people. I am a reserved person in many ways and my trust isn’t easily earned. It is hard to gain my trust again once I have been hurt. So I have had to teach myself to back away from some people and keep a protective distance. It is a hard thing to do because I like to give people as many chances as I can to have some sort of relationship with me but that isn’t always possible. The best I can do is to forgive differences but not forget that my trust was broken.

That is just how life is; we can’t get along with everyone and not everyone wants to get along with us. Honestly, there are people who don’t want to get along with anyone else. It is also a great part of the diversity of being human, we are all so unique. With this we must accept that pain will come at the hands of others. The best advice I can give about getting along with others is this: make sure opinions about other people are not based on any opinion other than your own, especially not based on gossip. Also, never judge someone based on outside appearance. I have received some crappy gifts wrapped in pretty packages. Haven’t you? This means we will sometimes be hurt by people before we know what they are made of, but we will have the peace of mind that we know for ourselves.

Upon finishing up this post, I ran across a verse of the Bible. Not everyone is religious but this verse is a good piece of advice that sums up what I want to say very well. Luke 6:31 (NLV) “Do to others as you would like them to do to you.” I have had a hard time wondering why some don’t allow me an opportunity to get to know them. At a recent trip to the grocery store, my husband and I ran into a mutual acquaintance. I have previously shared with my husband that she has been known to avoid me or fails to even acknowledge my presence. On this day, she did it in front him. She spoke to him for a minute and I said “Hi!” She then walked away. She heard me, looked at me, and proved my case. My only question was, “Why?” The times I have spoken to her have been pleasant enough but what about me makes her shut down? I may never know. I can speculate that maybe she formed her opinion of me based on gossip, maybe my shy nature comes off poorly (I get that a lot), or she just chooses not to associate with me. I don’t know but I will continue to try to give her a greeting or smile, even if she doesn’t like it because that is how I would want to be treated. Maybe someday she will return the pleasantries.

I know when I am treated like I don’t have feelings, it hurts. The only thing I can do is try harder to follow a good piece of very old advice and treat others kindly. I know I won’t always make the right choices so I will have to rely on someone else to forgive me but I can’t expect them to forget the way in which I have hurt them. All of us will make mistakes, how we handle our own mistakes and those of others may define who we are and how happy we want to be. When it comes down to it, don’t most of us want to become better people, if not for someone else, at least for ourselves?