A couple of days ago I wrote about the sadness caused by friends who keep silent. The post was inspired by my friend, Cameron’s Facebook status in which he quoted Martin Luther King, Jr. Today I’ve been inspired once again by a Facebook status, and the power of words.
From a friend: The day just keeps getting weirder and weirder. Random encounter at a gas station. Went in to fill up, a bully from my days in junior high comes up to me. At first did not recognize him, till he called me by my name I used then. Instantly my guard went up. He came over and apologized for the way he treated me back then. WOW! So long ago, but I appreciated that so much.
The bully could have stayed silent. My friend hadn’t even noticed or recognized the tormenter from his past. But the man didn’t keep his mouth zipped; rather he shook off any hint of embarrassment and humbly faced his ugly former self.
There’s a lot of talk these days about bullies. Look, we’ve all got our stories. My maiden name was “Santori” and since I’m six feet tall I was often called, “Two-story Santori”. I went to a Christian high school and never really felt like I fit in. I was too poor, too tall, too unattractive, too whatever.
As an adult I’ve been bullied - mostly by other women. No matter the age of the antagonizer, there are some truths to remember. They need to put other people down to make them feel better about who they are. They’re jealous, insecure, scared, envious, or just plain mean. It’s rarely about the victim.
Of course, when you’re the one getting tormented, gossiped about, or the one about whom people are telling lies; it’s almost impossible to not take it personally.
Several people responded to my friend’s Facebook post, and he himself wrote a follow-up comment. Still in shock. For someone to do that. I can't tell you how much time, and therapy, I have gone through dealing with a lot of that "junk" from my past. Nice to scratch off a name from my "list" of people who caused me so much grief back then.
He went on. You know the old saying, "sticks and stones...yada, yada, yada, but names will never harm me." SO not true. Words are extremely hurtful and CAN stick with you for years. They have and they did. Hopefully by this man’s action, maybe karma has been unkind to him. Karma is a powerful thing. I forgave him, and wished him well.
I couldn’t have said it better myself. Like my friend, I’ve been through tons of therapy because of WORDS. Stupid, hateful, and dumb words! Crazy! And, as I wrote the other day, silence can also hurt and tear friendships apart. We’ve all faced the opportunity to stand up to a bully, but how many of us have done it? Not enough, I’m sure.
Notice my friend’s last sentence, “I forgave him and wished him well.” I forgave him. Wow! That is what grace looks like. Awesome!
To those of you who used to be the schoolyard bully, listen up—it’s not too late to do the right thing. Words hurt. The pain caused by ugly words lessons over time, but never disappears altogether. It’s never too late to say, “I’m sorry”.