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Old 08-26-2013, 11:09 AM   #1
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Question What would you do?

I am close friends with a girl named Jennifer that I have known since kindergarten. We attended a private Catholic school in a small town. Most of the students in the school were from upper middle class families. I was one of the few kids who was poor and came from a single-parent household. (This is the 1970s and there weren't a lot of single-parent families at the time.)

Anyway, my experience at the school was mixed. The rigorous schooling laid a strong foundation for future academic success, which I eventually took advantage of. On the other hand, stressful school social dynamics affected that success. I was picked on quite a bit from second through sixth grades. It was never quite clear what started it (too big, too poor?), but I knew early on I wasn't accepted by the majority of kids there. It eventually came down to me being teased about a particular embarrassing incident for many years (by kids on the schoolbus of all ages), spending many recesses alone, and having to be assigned a partner in gym class because nobody wanted to be mine.

Seventh and eighth grade weren't too bad, and then by ninth we all scattered to either the private Catholic school or the much larger public school. I went to the public school, and thankfully the social dynamics changed for almost all of us. I was happy to be anonymous, and chuckled when a popular kid wasn't getting the kind of attention he was used to. During this time, Jennifer became pretty good friends and remain that way today. We've never talked about the teasing. She was part of the private-school popular group, but never was one to tease others.

The other day, she let me know she found one of our classmates, Kimmie, on facebook. She was very excited, and probably expecting me to be thrilled. Kimmie was one of the kids who brings back bad memories for me. I pretended like I didn't quite remember her, confusing her with another girl who had a similar name. Jennifer pointed out her awesome blog and photos because she now lives in Paris. Normally, I would be all over that, but I glanced at her page and made a comment that I didn't recognize her, but she's pretty and looks like a cousin of Jennifer's.

I basically figure those people are not worth remembering, so if prompted I pretend to struggle to remember who they are. I haven't forgotten them and I don't like to lie, but I don't feel like saying "yeah, she insulted me every day for a time." I'm surprised that this incident brought me right back to those days and the awful feeling of not belonging and wondering when you're going to be picked on next. That was a daily feeling for me for several of my childhood years. Ick! I am so glad that reality was temporary and feel like I have moved on. I am also sure it was one of several factors contributing to my 20 years of adulthood obesity.

Anybody else have experiences like this? How have you handled when someone prompts you to reconnect with someone who previously shunned you?
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Old 08-26-2013, 12:00 PM   #2
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Old 08-26-2013, 12:36 PM   #3
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I'm not sure... but what I really want to say is how much I admire your response to this whole situation for how mature and strong it is. I'm also sorry to hear you were bullied. I understand completely how this still brings up memories for you, and I hope your friend shows you understanding if you do decide to share your feelings with her. Either way, I wish you well and I hope these feelings find resolution and peace. Feel good.
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Old 08-26-2013, 02:15 PM   #4
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I haven't had the opportunity to choose to be reconnected with the mean girls from childhood....if I had the chance and wasn't comfortable doing so I would probably say nicely that "you were pretty mean when we were growing up and I'm just not comfortable with (insert idea - lunch, facebook friends, whatever)"....

on the other hand there was a boy in high school who was horribly mean to me...at least I thought so at the time....he would sit by me on the school bus, share a seat with me, lean real close to me, ruffle my hair and generally make me extremely uncomfortable....now that I think back, he never called me names or made fun of my weight...I reconnected with him over the internet a few years back and it turns out that he had a huge crush on me all through high school....and I thought he only went to all my sports games to bother me at the time lol
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Old 08-26-2013, 03:30 PM   #5
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I've had that happen recently. I'm 43 so high school was some time ago, yet all these people from high school started wanting to friend me. It was a very small school, so of course I knew them all...but...

...99% of them ignored me or worse. I ended up defriending them all. Why on earth should I care now for people i haven't seen in 30 years that didn't care for me then? Are people that petty that they just HAVE to know how you turned out? Are they really still comparing lives so long after high school? I'm afraid the answer is yes.

Just because you know someone or recognize their name doesn't mean you have to fb friend them.
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Old 08-26-2013, 06:37 PM   #6
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I was horribly bullied as a kid by classmates and family. It had such a very bad effect on me. I had the chance to reconnect with family from the past, and chose to move on.

The events that I went through were not one time incidents. These were things that happened over years. The people who did this to me were old enough to know better. In fact, some of them were adults.

I decided that the very best thing for me to do was to let go and move on. I put my energy into people I value and who value me.
I doubt that I will ever forgive, but I have tried to accept what happened and move on. Now I have terrific people in my life.

I won't go backwards.

I think people underestimate how destructive bullying really is. I am very sorry that you went through that.

Sending you hugs.
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Old 08-26-2013, 07:01 PM   #7
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I actually think this was a "good" lie. Trust me if you bring up the bad stuff most likely Jennifer will be a good friend but will nicely tell you to get over it. But not in a mean way but people who weren't really teased just don't get it.
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Old 08-26-2013, 08:35 PM   #8
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I actually think this was a "good" lie. Trust me if you bring up the bad stuff most likely Jennifer will be a good friend but will nicely tell you to get over it. But not in a mean way but people who weren't really teased just don't get it.
I agree with this remark. You're showing a lot of emotional strength in how you're handling this. I'm sorry that the feelings come right back - I know they do - but you're strong, and you don't have to let it affect you, now.

Kimmie is just the flavor of the week for your friend.... this too shall pass and you can go back to concentrating on people you really like.
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Old 08-26-2013, 08:56 PM   #9
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Thanks for your responses. It's actually kind of hard to talk about, because I don't want pity and it feels somewhat shameful.

Vex, I am in my early 40s too, which is why I was surprised to have felt so strongly against someone I haven't thought about since middle school!

I also am discovering that part of my overeating is caused by social anxiety, and social anxiety came from somewhere, like maybe elementary school teasing.

Previously, Jennifer and I had a similar experience where Jennifer reconnected with Lisa. Lisa had been slightly snotty to me, but for a long time prior to that was friendly. I did mention not having positive memories of Lisa to Jennifer, and Jennifer rationalized that we are all different than how we were when we were tweens and did urge me to get over it. In that case, I was OK reconnecting with Lisa. I don't have that same level of comfort with Kimmie, which is why I don't regret saying I didn't really remember her. Jennifer was a little puzzled and pushed it, saying I must remember, and going on about summer of sixth grade. I tried to keep it positive and change the subject. I think she sensed something was up, because my usual openness wasn't there.

Patlib, I agree, she is not likely to understand how crippling being stigmatized can be.

I absolutely agree with being stingy about accepting facebook friend requests, and about having a strong BS detector and not having a problem eradicating jerks from my life! So, go me. Ha ha.

Thanks again for listening!
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Old 08-26-2013, 08:58 PM   #10
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I was teased/bullied all though grade and HS by various people. I don't feel I should waste my time trying to reconnect with people I didn't like then. Odds are I won't like them now, either.

I think you are making the right choice for yourself. No sense in dragging up the past, especially to someone you feel won't understand your side.
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Old 08-26-2013, 09:21 PM   #11
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What would I do? I would start by not lying to my friend.

I am not a psychologist but I think you need to see one because it sounds to me like your emotional growth as a human is being stunted. I'm not kidding or trying to be a jerk. There is no reason to live another day with this kind of thinking. Get some help.

You can't be honest with your friend Jennifer. You're lying to your friend by prentending to not remember someone you harbour resentment towards.

You don't need to be friends with anyone on Facebook you don't want to be but if Jennifer is actually your friend you should be able to be honest with her. You clearly have not moved past this childhood trama so at minimum you should read some self help books and try to get beyond it.
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Old 08-26-2013, 09:39 PM   #12
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What would I do? I would start by not lying to my friend.

I am not a psychologist but I think you need to see one because it sounds to me like your emotional growth as a human is being stunted. I'm not kidding or trying to be a jerk. There is no reason to live another day with this kind of thinking. Get some help.

You can't be honest with your friend Jennifer. You're lying to your friend by prentending to not remember someone you harbour resentment towards.

You don't need to be friends with anyone on Facebook you don't want to be but if Jennifer is actually your friend you should be able to be honest with her. You clearly have not moved past this childhood trama so at minimum you should read some self help books and try to get beyond it.


The idea of complete honesty is is actually very counterproductive in most relationships. Sometimes withholding for the sake of someones feelings or to keep the peace typically makes for stronger relationship than the ones where you fight to be "right."

Also, the poster told us that she hasn't thought of this situation in years, being human sometimes you have no idea something is bothering you until it smacks you in the face. Regrettably, the poster is getting smack and I think she did the right thing by first telling a white lie and then venting here. Not every issue needs therapy just venting and a little support.
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Old 08-26-2013, 09:58 PM   #13
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Quote:
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The idea of complete honesty is is actually very counterproductive in most relationships. Sometimes withholding for the sake of someones feelings or to keep the peace typically makes for stronger relationship than the ones where you fight to be "right."
Of course I agree with these statements but we're not talking about a topic that is controversial or based on faith. I have no idea how these statements fits into the context of this particular situation. We're talking about a grown woman who has to lie to her friend because she can't admit she has no interest in reuniting with someone from 30 years prior.

I agree that therapy may be over kill but from the sound of the OP ... it seems like a little self help could go a long way to improving all the realtionships she has.
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Old 08-27-2013, 08:04 PM   #14
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I'm pretty direct and would just say it and have done just that. I also realize that for the sake of the person from the past that I am not hurtful in my comments either as I realize time can change people and situations (even though I am not talking directly to them the comments can get back to them). I tend to leave the past in the past and give the benefit of the doubt and actually have reconnected with people that may not have been the best to me in the past.
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Old 08-27-2013, 10:20 PM   #15
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It's hard to say what to do in such a situation. I would probably respond with something like "oh, that's nice" and change the topic to something else. You're under no obligation to friend her.

I have a bit of a similar situation....my high school bully found my fb awhile back, and when I got the friend request, my stomach dropped. He was a former friend who suddenly decided to bully me nonstop because of my weight. One of my friends once said "maybe he did it because he liked you, and his friends gave him a hard time about it." I doubt it, but to this day the request is still sitting in my inbox because I have no idea what to do. I checked his list and he doesn't have many people from school friended. I don't understand why he added me and I'm afraid to find out.

Sorry to ramble, it just brought back a lot of memories and I feel stuck.
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