Mean Girls Memory Lane – Not a Nice Street . . .

It is Sunday night and I am watching Dateline NBC. Tonight’s episode is about bullying, specifically among teenagers.
The show started while I was doing dishes, and I was only half-listening. What caught my ear though is when they focused on what is called, in modern vernacular, “Mean Girls.” I heard how the mean girls, who for the sake of this newscaster’s story, are actors, very slyly pick apart another girl, also an actor, in front of two “innocent bystanders.” The point of the Dateline story is to see who steps in when bullying happens, and the bystanders’ parents are watching this from a hidden room.
And suddenly I am 11 years old again and back at Loveland Junior High School, and feeling all the shame and pain being heaped on me by two of my “friends.”
The one girl had been my best friend in 6th grade. We had both just moved into the school district and lived on the same street and did everything together. Then, in the summer prior to our 7th grade year, another girl moved onto our street and we became a trio of best friends.
Somehow, during the course of our 7th grade year, these two girls became my worst critics and my torturers. “Sixth grade friend” had invited me to go to an amusement park with her family, and on the day we were to go, she called and said they weren’t going. An hour later, I was outside and saw her and her family driving away, with the “newcomer” in the car, on the way to the amusement park.
I was snubbed on the street we lived on, where there were a large number of kids in our age group, although only a few of us going to the public school, while the majority attended St. Columban Catholic School until 9th grade. It was to those kids I turned for friendship when this happened. But at school, it was a nightmare. Pointing and laughing at me in the hallways, running into me, talking about me loud enough so I could hear was the kindest treatment. However, they took it as far as going to the guidance counselor and telling him that I was bothering them, that I was constantly following them, and that they wanted him to talk to me because I was making them so uncomfortable because it was obvious that there was something wrong with me.
The counselor told me everything these two girls had said, and asked for my response. When I denied everything and even admitted that I was trying to avoid them because they were being so mean to me, he said that he had to take their word because there were two of them and only one of me, and majority rules. He warned me to stop “stalking” these two girls or he would have to step in and see that I got some kind of help.
I was devastated. I had so loved both of these friends, and I could not comprehend what made them hate me so much.
Then one day, my “6th grade friend” had an argument with the “newcomer.” She came to me and said she had really missed me and wanted to be best friends again. She didn’t like “newcomer” anymore and it was all her idea to be so mean to me.
I was so happy to have my friend back. Oddly, though, my “6th grade friend” wanted to then do the same thing to “newcomer” that they had done to me. A part of me wanted to get back at “newcomer.” But the thought of inflicting that kind of pain on someone else broke my heart. But my “6th grade friend” stopped “newcomer” on our street and tore her apart, in front of me.
And I did nothing.
“Newcomer” broke down in tears and went home.
I felt horrid. “Sixth grade friend” was elated that she had that effect on her, as she must have been all the times they had had that effect on me.
The next day, I was the outsider again. No explanation. I was just ignored while the two of them went on being, well, them.
Junior High was a nightmare for me. If it had not been for Marty Faith, and Tami Funk, and Jill Baron, and some others, I would have been so absolutely miserable, I don’t know how I would have made it through the days.
High School solved everything. These two girls were no longer so important as freshman in a large school. And I had all my Catholic School friends with me now, as well as a whole new group of kids who had gone to other elementary and junior high schools in the district, and then converged on this, the only high school. I had to deal with these two only at home now, since we still lived on the same street.
We moved my freshman year, though, and the four or five-mile move put me in another school district—Kings High School. There my life was pleasant and school was an exciting adventure every day. I had marvelous friends—Rita Lester, Julia Davis, Donna Forste, Michelle Petry, Lynn Schumacher, Doreen Biehle, Martina Byrd, Cathy Stringer, and come to think of it, more guy friends than girls.
I healed while I was at Kings. All of my dear friends there helped me to feel like I was okay again, that I wasn’t some strange and fetid creature—like my two “old” friends had made me feel.
To this day, I vividly remember that feeling. I wish I had spoken up when “6th grade friend” was tearing down “newcomer.” I am ashamed that I did not. If you are reading this and know that I am speaking of you, then I ask your forgiveness. I am heartily sorry.
And yes, I did forgive these two girls, who are now in their 50s. It took me years, sadly. And apparently, I am still healing . . .
Published in: on June 13, 2011 at 12:25 am  Comments (1)  
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