Sometimes I do like scrolling through anonymous advice articles. The writers you can relate to in their situation at times. I think this is the first time I feel like I had to do a double take to the author who responded to the letter. The “TL;DR” version – The first quote is a person who bullied people early in their life. Amy (the columnist) responds with a fairly neutral response in the second quote.
Dear Amy: I was a very unhappy person up until my 20s. I’ll spare you the melodrama, but I didn’t grow up in the best home and had very poor social skills. After learning to manage some real anxiety and depression issues and a lot of therapy, I’ve been in a much better place for a long time. I’m now in my late 40s.
After a recent class reunion and re-engaging with some old acquaintances, I have heard about a number of ways I acted back in the day that range from insensitive to downright terrible.
It pains me to realize that I was apparently an insufferable jerk. I don’t think I’m that way anymore (at least I hope not). But what do I do with these revelations?
I’ve tried apologizing, and some will listen, whereas others just apparently want the satisfaction of telling me off.
With one man who says I bullied and harassed him (I don’t remember it that way), I even tried saying, “I wasn’t a happy person then,” on top of apologizing.
I am left not feeling very good about myself, which is not a good path for me.
It’s like I’m never going to be able to redeem myself in the eyes of a large swath of people I grew up around.
I’ve thought about a universal, wide-ranging apology on social media saying, “Look, I know I wasn’t a great person to be around, but I’m not that way anymore.”
Dear Amy, Local Sun
— Formerly Terrible
You can almost feel the desperation of the writer. After I read this, I was fuelled up to see how Amy could bring this person around. Some articles I read really put an “in your face” approach to people with problems. Usually they have a small hopeful positive, but it’s always something realistic in the end to put people in the now. I like articles that make people want to accept the situation they’re in and to move on.
At the same time, Amy responded.
Dear Formerly: I don’t suggest a wide-ranging apology on social media, mainly because it might lead to a piling-on, as people recall episodes and incidents from over two decades ago.
Mainly, I want to offer you a high-five. You have changed. You have tackled your behavioral problems and are now quite appropriately trying to acknowledge, as well as somehow manage the fallout. It’s a reckoning.
Acknowledging your behavior is huge. Apologizing to the people you have wronged is appropriate — and also huge.
There is an additional step, however, that you may have missed — and that is asking for forgiveness.
You say, “I did this to you. I know I hurt you. I am ashamed, and so sorry.”
Then you let the person vent, respond or recount the consequences of your behavior.
And then you say, “I’ve worked very hard to change. I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me.”
Dear Amy, Local Sun
Some people will forgive you immediately. Some will ponder your sincere effort at making amends, and will forgive you later. Some may never get there. And some will be inspired by your honesty and authenticity.
So Amy does show some sympathy. Offering some sound advice by telling the writing (I’ll call them FT), don’t go public for something that happened in your private life. There are stipulations, in my opinion, on going public.
Acknowledgement and acceptance to the offending behaviour is a major step. To understand why people see it as offensive and the consequences that can lead to a bunch of closed doors.
Asking for forgiveness after bullying everyone around you is futile. The relief is the one that were bullied to submission will forgive you but it was you that bullied them to that position. They still see you as a bully but not a sincere person. You have not earned that apology as a person, you are still the child that demands attention from others.
I feel Amy was never really bullied as a child. I hope Amy or whoever respond to FT take it from someone who was bullied for over a decade with no support from anyone.
Amy, being harassed as a child is a heavily scarring thing that only we are beginning to realize. Those that say things that dismiss less than this, were the problems in our lives. They never aided anyone positively to fix the problem. Consoling in the victim does fix the problem alone. We are social animals, meaning we have the ability to grow and heal as a group but have the capacity of aggression like any other animal. When you realize these people exist in the world as your grow up, something riles up in you. There is a reason by violence and suicide in teens was highly publicized in the late 90’s to 2000’s, these kids snapped. Those kids who were bullied and without nothing to hold on to, they broke. I’ve had ideation to shoot up an institution. I’ve had ideation of suicide. I’ve had both, murder-suicide style. These are symptoms to bullying and much like a mental illness, these are symptoms to a bigger problem. Healing symptoms does not solve the main issue.
As an advice column, this answer is a very 90’s approach to bullying which is why we still have kids who are as messed up as they were. Little to nothing to really help FT in this situation. So my response:
As a personal who has been bullied by people like you, I don’t forgive. Your actions are irreversible to your victims as a consequence, you must live with that guilt and you must live with it as a sobering reminder. This reminder: always weigh your personal actions.
I hate people like you because people like you kept my life a living hell for years. My life is the way it is because of you turned me into the person as I am. That is something I can’t have back and if that disturbs you soul, then it is you that disturb it.
At the time, you did not think about because of your predisposition of whatever happened to you as a younger self. You have grown up, hopefully more self-aware than before. This is the path you chose and no amount of grovelling can take you back.
Your peers may not forgive you for your past, but now you know better you can lead the change to end the same problem for someone else. With age should come wisdom and knowledge of the world. Our ability for hindsight is what helps society change, if we don’t understand that hindsight then we are to repeat our mistakes.
Go on in your life knowing this is where it ends, no one can forgive you. However this is where you will begin to make amends to those mistakes. nawkcire, Personal Blogger