Personal Story of How I Turned One of My Fiercest of Bullies into The Greatest of Friends

Shelly (not her real name) had been one of my most vicious of bullies during school. Every time we passed one another in the halls, at a ballgame, anywhere and we would not hesitate to exchange nasty sentiments as we passed, “Bitch!”, “Whore!” “Skank!”. Thinking up ways to degrade and slut-shame each other was always a top priority during these little meetings.

Fast-forward twenty years, in late 2007, I went to a karaoke show, which was held in the Moose Lodge club on the outskirts of town to celebrate my recently having the courage to break off what had been a 2 1/2 year-long abusive relationship. I hadn’t known my own strength until this point, and I was ready for a fun girl’s night out.

When I arrived at the Moose Lodge with a few friends in tow, the first word I heard was, “Oh my God! Not that bitch!” Honestly, I thought the verbal assault was directed at someone else until I looked up and saw her. There Shelly stood, pool cue in one hand, the other hand resting on her boyfriend’s back as her eyes and brows narrowed into little slits in her face and bore into me like a sharp object.

I had not seen her in so many years and wondered how it was that she’d managed to drag around so much hate for so many years when I had completely forgotten about her amid juggling bills, a job and family, and other adult priorities. But I also discovered that maybe I too had some unresolved hate as well only it was a case of out of sight, out of mind.

I’d soon learn that that night, Shelly was going through the lowest point in her life. Life hadn’t been kind to her.

It seemed that on her part, even twenty years, marriages and children hadn’t been enough to erase the teenage animosity she still held. We lived in a small Southern town, and in small Southern towns, very few people ever forget the past, and it’s very easy for the reputation you once had in your teens to follow you for the rest of your life. Sadly, this is how it is in a small town.

Having always loved music and had vocal talent, I got up and sang one of my favorite songs, and everyone cheered once I was finished. After I sat down, Shelly sat down beside me and was very impressed with my performance. She told me that she admired my voice and that she’d always known I could sing but didn’t know I was that good. At first, I was flabbergasted. This was the first positive remark I’d heard from her, but nevertheless, I was grateful.

I smiled and gave her a gracious “Thank you. It’s good to see you again after all these years.”

We continued to talk, and she took some pictures out of her purse to show me. Pictures of what was her talent- woodwork and paintings, the most beautiful work I’d ever seen. This lady was very talented, and I couldn’t or wouldn’t deny it. I truly loved her work and could not stop looking at those pictures and complimenting her. She truly was an expert at woodworking and oil painting.

It was at that point that the dynamics of our relationship changed for the better. We exchanged phone numbers and soon began calling each other and texting cute little funnies back and forth. Then we began to invite each other to family outings, cookouts, and meetings in town for lunch.

We soon became the greatest of friends, and I grew to truly love this lady. We often talked about how we missed out on what could have been a wonderful friendship years ago.

“Boy! We were stupid back then, weren’t we?” Shelly laughed.

I laughed and readily agreed. She was right. We were dumb kids with big mouths and bad attitudes.

Knowing the past couldn’t be changed, we were content to go from the present and make our friendship as fun and drama-free as possible.

This story’s moral is this: It is always possible to turn a bully or enemy into a friend. Nothing is impossible. All it takes is to break down that wall and show the other person genuine interest. Everybody loves it when you are interested in them, their likes, and how things are going in their lives—even the coldest and meanest of people.

As humans, we all have a certain degree of selfishness. We all want the same things- to be loved, appreciated, and respected. Everybody has a void waiting to be filled. If we can fill the void- whether it’s by making the person feel loved and respected or giving the person some sense of who they are and where they belong, it can be the difference between gaining a friend or keeping an enemy.

Through our many talks, I found out that this poor lady I thought was so cruel yet totally in control and didn’t need anyone was really a girl who didn’t feel loved by anyone. She was just as sad as I was but had put on a tough exterior. Also, she had suffered incidences of bullying herself; though not as severe as I did, it still hurt her immensely.

positive friends

Sadly, my beautiful friend Shelly passed away two years ago from cancer. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t miss her and think of her. I’ll never forget that night at the karaoke club, the night Shelly and I became close friends. And we remained like sisters until the day she died.

By showing her genuine interest, without fakery, I was able to turn one of my most resistant bullies into one of my best friends. And I’m so thankful that we became like sisters and finally found out that the other was really a great person who had been hiding a lot of past hurts and brokenness! I thoroughly enjoyed the time we got to spend together and I miss her…I miss her so much.

Fly high, Shelly! Until we meet again on those golden streets!

Turning the Fiercest Bully into The Greatest of Friends

Shelly (not her real name) had been one of my most vicious of bullies during school. Every time we passed one another in the halls, at a ballgame, anywhere and we would not hesitate to exchange nasty sentiments as we passed, “Bitch!”, “Whore!” “Skank!”. Thinking up ways to degrade and slut-shame each other was always a top priority during these little meetings.

Fast-forward twenty years, in late 2007, I went to a karaoke show, which was held in the Moose Lodge club on the outskirts of town to celebrate my recently having the courage to break off what had been a 2 1/2 year-long abusive relationship. I hadn’t known my own strength until this point, and I was ready for a fun girl’s night out.

When I arrived at the Moose Lodge with a few friends in tow, the first word I heard was, “Oh my God! Not that bitch!” Honestly, I thought the verbal assault was directed at someone else until I looked up and saw her. There Shelly stood, pool cue in one hand, the other hand resting on her boyfriend’s back as her eyes and brows narrowed into little slits in her face and bore into me like a sharp object.

I had not seen her in so many years and wondered how it was that she’d managed to drag around so much hate for so many years when I had completely forgotten about her amid juggling bills, a job and family, and other adult priorities. But I also discovered that maybe I too had some unresolved hate as well only it was a case of out of sight, out of mind.

I’d soon learn that that night, Shelly was going through the lowest point in her life. Life hadn’t been kind to her.

It seemed that on her part, even twenty years, marriages and children hadn’t been enough to erase the teenage animosity she still held. We lived in a small Southern town, and in small Southern towns, very few people ever forget the past, and it’s very easy for the reputation you once had in your teens to follow you for the rest of your life. Sadly, this is how it is in a small town.

Having always loved music and had vocal talent, I got up and sang one of my favorite songs, and everyone cheered once I was finished. After I sat down, Shelly sat down beside me and was very impressed with my performance. She told me that she admired my voice and that she’d always known I could sing but didn’t know I was that good. At first, I was flabbergasted. This was the first positive remark I’d heard from her, but nevertheless, I was grateful.

I smiled and gave her a gracious “Thank you. It’s good to see you again after all these years.”

We continued to talk, and she took some pictures out of her purse to show me. Pictures of what was her talent- woodwork and paintings, the most beautiful work I’d ever seen. This lady was very talented, and I couldn’t or wouldn’t deny it. I truly loved her work and could not stop looking at those pictures and complimenting her. She truly was an expert at woodworking and oil painting.

It was at that point that the dynamics of our relationship changed for the better. We exchanged phone numbers and soon began calling each other and texting cute little funnies back and forth. Then we began to invite each other to family outings, cookouts, and meetings in town for lunch.

We soon became the greatest of friends, and I grew to truly love this lady. We often talked about how we missed out on what could have been a wonderful friendship years ago.

“Boy! We were stupid back then, weren’t we?” Shelly laughed.

I laughed and readily agreed. She was right. We were dumb kids with big mouths and bad attitudes.

Knowing the past couldn’t be changed, we were content to go from the present and make our friendship as fun and drama-free as possible.

This story’s moral is this: It is always possible to turn a bully or enemy into a friend. Nothing is impossible. All it takes is to break down that wall and show the other person genuine interest. Everybody loves it when you are interested in them, their likes, and how things are going in their lives—even the coldest and meanest of people.

As humans, we all have a certain degree of selfishness. We all want the same things- to be loved, appreciated, and respected. Everybody has a void waiting to be filled. If we can fill the void- whether it’s by making the person feel loved and respected or giving the person some sense of who they are and where they belong, it can be the difference between gaining a friend or keeping an enemy.

Through our many talks, I found out that this poor lady I thought was so cruel yet totally in control and didn’t need anyone was really a girl who didn’t feel loved by anyone. She was just as sad as I was but had put on a tough exterior. Also, she had suffered incidences of bullying herself; though not as severe as I did, it still hurt her immensely.

positive friends

Sadly, my beautiful friend Shelly passed away two years ago from cancer. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t miss her and think of her. I’ll never forget that night at the karaoke club, the night Shelly and I became close friends. And we remained like sisters until the day she died.

By showing her genuine interest, without fakery, I was able to turn one of my most resistant bullies into one of my best friends.

Fly high, Shelly! Until we meet again on those golden streets!

I Struggle to Find the Words of Comfort for Family/Friends Affected by Bullycide

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Bullying and life – pictured as a word Bullying and a wreck ball to symbolize that Bullying can have bad effect and can destroy life, 3d illustration

Since I’ve been advocating for the bullied, I’ve met and talked to so many families- parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, spouses, children, cousins and friends who have lost a loved one to suicide. I’ve read, heard about, and listened to their heartbreaking stories. I’ve watched them cry, and I’ve often struggled to find the words to tell them how my heart breaks for them. What are the right words to say to someone who has suffered so significant a loss?

I’ve listened to stories from grieving parents who have lost a child to bullying and suicide. While they told me the story of the events which led up to their child’s death, I could hear the anguish in their voices. I could sense the many questions which continue to flood their minds that may never be answered! I could feel the injustice of it all, and let me tell you; it shook me to my core!

I can’t help but feel a wide range of overwhelming emotions- heartbreak and empathy for the surviving parents and family, intense anger toward the bullies who pushed that child over the edge and disgust at the school and school district, who did nothing to help, or worse, only intensified the child’s suffering. I feel nothing but rage and contempt for a system that failed this young person and their family and at the people in power who were in a position to help the poor young man or lady but didn’t!

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Although I have lost a spouse to suicide and know what it is to experience the loss from it, I realize this: The loss of a spouse is terrible and heart-wrenching. Yes. But it isn’t quite the same as losing a child.

I try to put myself in the parent’s shoes, but it’s unbearable. I cannot imagine what a parent goes through. The unanswered questions, having dreams of their child’s future, disappear! Not long ago, I looked into the eyes of one grieving mother, and I wanted to cry but managed not to. I wanted to be strong for her because she needed me to be!

My oldest son went through a period of bullying, so I know this could just as easily have been him years ago. And I honestly don’t know if I could have held up as well as this mother has!

Try to imagine having that baby you once carried for nine months- the baby you felt move and kick inside your belly- ripped from your life forever! Imagine losing that precious, tiny creature, you once held for the first time in the hospital, whose sweet little face you gazed lovingly on, and were unable to take your eyes off of!

Rebecca Sedwick

FILE – In this Monday, Sept. 16, 2013 file photo, pallbearers wearing anti-bullying T-shirts carry the casket of Rebecca Sedwick,12, to a waiting hearse as they exit the Whidden-McLean Funeral Home in Bartow, Fla. One of two teenage girls charged with stalking Rebecca Sedwick, a Florida classmate who complained of being bullied before her suicide no longer faces any criminal counts, her attorney said Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Brian Blanco, File)

I cannot fathom the despair of having to bury the child I was sure would someday bury me! Understand that this goes against the natural order of things! I cannot imagine the total shock and disbelief- that feeling of being kicked in the gut that goes with such a loss! And I struggle to find the words to comfort any parent who has lost a child to bullycide!

What are the right words? How do you communicate to a grieving family member how much you hurt with them and how much you long to ease their suffering and wish you could? And how you wish that there was some way- SOME way you could bring that loved one back to them.

If you have a heart as I do, you want to reach out and hug that person! You want to hold them. You want to console them. You want to take away their pain. But anything short of doing the impossible, you know, will never be enough to ease their suffering.

Like me, you try to imagine how you’d feel if it were your child, but you can’t. You can’t bear the mere thought crossing your mind. But these families have lived it, and they continue to live it every day. Understand that this is a massive loss that this mother, this father, this sibling, this grandparent will carry for the rest of their lives!

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Nothing will ever be the same from them again. Realize that this is a new normal (if that’s what you want to call it) that they will never be able to adjust to. Every day from here on will be another day of struggle- another day of fighting to keep it together- another day to act like you’re okay because you’re afraid of overwhelming the people around you. How long can these broken parents keep up the charade?

Again, words can never say how my heart breaks for them. All I can do is be there for them and listen as I struggle to find the words of support and compassion they so need to hear.

Maybe the reason I struggle for the right thing to say is that there are no words! There are no words that could ever quell the grief of a loss so heavy and so devastating! No words can ever provide complete consolation or comfort. And no words can ever bring justice to the loved ones left behind.

To all, who have lost a family member- a spouse, a parent, a sibling, a grandparent, especially a child, to suicide or bullycide, know that I’m here for you. It doesn’t matter if we know each other or are total strangers. And even though I struggle to find the words to tell you, rest assured that I care. My heart cries with you, and I have the utmost love, sympathy, and compassion for you!

You are always in my thoughts and prayers!