Today I am grateful I have become reacquainted with the schoolyard bully in my adult life.
Back in primary school, Natalie was my friend. We hung out at each others houses, had sleepovers, and shared secrets. She had an above-ground pool in her backyard so we spent a summer swimming in it, and we would take turns jumping on her pogo stick when we weren’t allowed in the water.
Then something happened.
To this day I still don’t know what went on, but it seemed like overnight she became one of the ‘popular’ girls. They really were just the mean girls of the school. They travelled in a pack wearing their Smile Jeans with their bags slung over one shoulder making fun of everyone in their path. They would push in front of others in the line at the tuck shop, backchat the teachers, and laugh at people; not with them, at them.
It’s funny – that’s what I remember hurting the most was being laughed at. Being called names and made fun of for the most inane things. The sniggering, and the looks passed between the members of the ‘in’ club, and Natalie quickly became their ringleader. Thankfully 12mths later we all moved on to high school, and I moved on from our friendship.
Fast forward almost 30years and I find myself professionally acquainted with a beautiful woman named Natalie who inspires me on a daily basis and who’s soul is magnetic. I feel drawn and I have no understanding why, but I indulge the feeling and get to know her better. She and her husband are guests at my recent 40th birthday party and we have so much fun.
The very next day after my party I am randomly reading Facebook comments when a stranger asks her if she is that Natalie, and she says she is. OMG! – the dots all connect and I can’t believe what I’m reading so I text her and asked her myself.
She replied, “Uh huh! I knew you were familiar…lol! Yep that was me and I was a real bully back then, I was awful. I had a really nasty childhood at the hands of my GrandFather and I took it out on everybody else. I hope that I was not too mean to you in Primary School and if I was, I apologise with all of my heart now. I love ya babe and you guys rock We had an absolute ball last night, thank you xo”
And I responded, “Oh hon – no apologies please. You of all people should know we are not defined by our past; it’s who we are now that matters 🙂 I’m so glad you guys had a great time because so did we. Love you both!! We really look forward to see you guys again. xoxo”
It’s been a few days since then and I’ve thought about her apology a lot. Even when you think you know someone as I did all those years ago, you never really know what’s going on for them inside unless they choose to share it. I had no idea about her grandfather. I know that apologising couldn’t have been an easy thing to do, but she did it, and for that I’m really proud of her. It took me only a moment to walk a mile in her shoes; my forgiveness was an easy gift to give, and it was given with an open heart, allowing her past to stay in the past.