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My Best Friend Was My Bully

Let's talk about bullying for just a minute, can we?

When we think of bullies, most of us picture the classic tough guy stealing lunch money and giving wedgies. Sometimes we picture that girl we knew who smoked before class and harassed people in the locker room after gym.

We rarely picture our best friends.

I was surprised to learn recently just how common it is for people to be bullied by someone they consider a close friend; I thought I was the only one.

I don't know if Jenny and Melissa* tried to make eye contact as they slid into the seat in front of me on the school bus that day; I was too afraid to look up.

I sat nervously, trying not to fidget, trying to fold into myself until I disappeared. I wondered why they'd sit near me after so many months, but a few minutes later I got my answer in the form of a note dropped over the back of the seat into my lap.

Scrawled in Jenny's familiar, bubbly script it said, "If we apologized right now, would you forgive us?"

The three of us had grown up in the same neighborhood and were inseparable as far back as any of us could remember. We shared rides to the mall, swam in Jenny's above-ground pool, snuck into abandoned barns in search of adventure and trick-or-treated together on Halloween long after we were probably a few years too old.

We were best friends.

Until we weren't.

One day they simply decided I wasn't one of them anymore. I started finding cruel notes in my locker, heard whispered threats over the phone at 3 a.m. There was ugly name-calling in school hallways, gruff shoving at the bus stop. There was the knowledge that all the secrets I'd ever told my closest friends could be made public in the lunchroom at any moment.

Looking at their note, I wanted to be angry. I wanted to be strong. I wanted to finally stand up for myself, to echo the words my mom had used in her attempts to comfort me—that I didn't need them, that people who treated me this way were never really my friends to begin with. I wanted to laugh or cry or run away or tell them to f*** off.

But mostly I just wanted it to be over.

Can you guess how I responded to the note? What would YOU have done? Please let me know on momdotme, where I'm talking about what happens when your best friend is your bully.

article on bullying by Robyn Welling @RobynHTV

*Not their real names.

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