Posts tagged ‘bullying’

May 23, 2012

My ‘Dr Phil’ moment

My high school years were lonely and difficult. I was horribly ostracized when I stole a $100 from a teacher in Year 8. I was caught and those that had ‘helped’ me spend the money (who had no idea it was thieved) were also punished. I was labelled a ‘dobber’ and my peers let me have it.  I had no friends for a while and I remember once when we had to pair up in science to do an experiment the teacher let me do it alone because no one would partner with me. I was a social leper and when someone broke the rules and was nice to me they were also inflicted with social leprosy. Others picked up the offence of those that had been unwittingly implicated in my crime and I was teased, bullied and tormented from the minute I got to the train station in the morning till the minute I got off the bus on the way home. It was relentless.

At the start of every new term we had school assembly and during the announcements one term the Vice Principal, who was a cruel woman, got up and as the room grew quiet she seemed to shout out my name, demanding I come to the office immediately following the assembly. I was shaking in my boots. It was the first day of term, what could I have done already? It was the custom of the teachers at our school to wear long black graduating cloaks over their civilian clothes. The Vice Principal was a short woman and her most distinguishing feature was that she walked like a chicken. Her little head would stick up out of the black cloak and bobble back and forward as she walked. She had a sharp tongue and I remember her ruling French class with an iron fist. Most students were terrified of her, including me. I got to her office and I was paralysed with fear as I waited outside.

I was finally summoned into her office. She started peppering me with questions about my whereabouts the previous Saturday night. I had been at home with my parents watching Magnum PI. She started asking me questions about where the phones were in my house and what time I went to bed and where was my parent’s bedroom in relation to mine and so on. I had no idea what she was on about. Finally she told me the story. On Saturday night someone had prank called her but instead of getting her they had called her parents and at the end of the call they said that they were me. I secretly smiled to myself. I suddenly changed tact. Up until now I had been acting innocently but now I began to act guilty. I started being evasive, looking down at the floor and nervously fumbling with a tissue. I played her hard. The more guilty I acted the more power my ‘pretend fear’ seemed to give her. She was after blood and she was going to get it.

She was so fully convinced of my guilt that she called my parents. I begged her not to call them and eluded to not knowing where they were when I knew all along my mum was at home. I knew if she talked to my mum or dad they could and would easily be able to defend me. The nearest phone to my room was either in their bedroom or downstairs in the kitchen. The stairs in my house were ‘haunted house’ creaky and located right next to my parents room. There was no way I could’ve snuck by their room and gone downstairs to make a prank call. (Mobile phones didn’t exist yet, pause for shock horror). When she got a hold of my mum and began to explain the situation my face lit up with a massive Cheshire cat smile and I sat up straight crossing my arms in a victory – like stance. I watched her intently enjoying every minute of her smug face becoming undone. Once she hung up, I took my moment of victory. I stood up and in a loud, proud voice said this ‘Miss Smith* if I was ever going  to prank call you, I’d do two things –  firstly I would get the right number and secondly I WOULDN’T LEAVE MY NAME!’ and at that I walked triumphantly out of her office. I half expected for her to call me back in but she was so utterly defeated I never had another run in with her again my whole time at that school.

The most unfortunate thing was I was so unpopular I didn’t have anyone to share my victory with. No matter, I held the moment precious but I would often wonder who did make that phone call. It was a least a decade or more later that I found out. It ended up being one of the friends that I had implicated into spending the ‘stolen money’. She and I had reconciled in Year 11 and we’re still friends to this day. In fact we’re close friends. She’d always assumed that I knew it was her that had done it and one day I was re-telling the story in front of her and she confessed to being the caller.  We had a massive laugh and marvelled at how things had come full circle for us.

During my fourth pregnancy in 2006, the only one to result in a live child, I spent four months on bed rest in the hospital. I watched Dr Phil everyday. I haven’t been able to watch another episode since. I often say that ‘I had my fill of Dr Phil’. The following year, 2007, I had my 20 year high school reunion. I was part of a group of four that attended together.

There were a couple of girls that I wanted to have a ‘Dr Phil’ moment with.  I spied one of the girls that made my life hell during those years. I made sure that when we got to the restaurant after the reunion that I sat opposite her. She took the centre chair on one side of the table and me on the other. I waited patiently for my moment and finally it came. The people on either side of her and me were talking to others. She almost jumped when I leaned in across the table to talk quietly with her. Nothing had changed, she gave me a leprous look like who was I to be even talking to her. I forged on. I said ‘I have a question for you. In high school you made my life miserable. You bullied me for years. You hated me and you incited others to do the same. Tell me Karen* – what did I ever do to you?’ She was dumbstruck. I was not her victim anymore and I was not afraid of her. She replied ‘nothing, you did nothing to me.’ I said ‘why Karen….why did you treat me so badly then?’ and at that she broke down – she told me she was sorry for what she did to me and that years later when her sister suffered a similar experience that she understood what it felt like. She said she was trying to teach her two daughters a better way of treating people. I got more than I bargained for that day and I probably hadn’t really, truly been able to forgive her till that moment.

Many of us would like to have a “Dr Phil’ moment with some of our primary or high school tormenters. Or maybe you were the bully or the mean girl. I certainly was in primary school – which is a whole other Blog post. Either way it is a lose/lose situation. There are no winners. The only winner is forgiveness. One of Dr Phil’s key saying’s was ‘Somebody needs to stand up and be the hero’. You may never have the luxury of confronting the person that hurt you but be the hero in your heart.

Have your Dr Phil moment – have it right now. Don’t let this opportunity go by. Just do it. Become the winner, it’s not about them anymore. Just stand up in your own heart and forgive them for what they did to you. Let it go – it’s a ‘lose’ for you. Break the chains that have bound you to the offence and the offender by forgiving them. If you were the perpetrator and not the victim then just put it out there. Say aloud, ‘I do now ask blah blah to forgive me for what I did to them. I’m sorry that I hurt them by doing or saying blah blah. It may seem stupid to do this but our words hold the power of life and death in them and I guarantee you something will change in your heart because of it. You’ll break free from the prison of resentment and fear or guilt that has encased you. The pain that you have carried all these years will finally begin to heal. Time, on its own heals nothing but forgiveness can heal the deepest of wounds. Be the hero today. There is no better time then right now.

If you need help doing this or you just need to talk it through. You can privately email me on:

blogsidebyside@gmail.com.

Over and Out,

Catherine xo

All names with an asterik * have been changed

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