Sticks and Stones

Whoever coined the phrase sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me clearly was never insulted, was delusional, or had superhuman thick skin. While I remember that kidney stones were the most physically painful experience of my life — I seriously thought I was dying — I can’t recollect the exact pain. But the times when someone has said something mean to me? That’s etched in my memory forever.

That Cynking Feeling’s recent post about being ridiculed for her hair got me thinking about the times I’ve been made fun of or insulted. There is one gem in particular that stands out.

Freshman year of high school, I didn’t know anyone. My parents sent me to a small Catholic school while all of my grammar school friends went to the more expensive, more popular schools that came with built-in social circles because half of our eighth grade class went to one, and half went to the other. I, on the other hand, had to start from scratch, which is beyond difficult for someone as socially anxious as myself. Luckily a nice girl named Sabrina latched onto me the first day and we became fast friends.

One day we were sitting in the gym for an assembly and we were chatting on the bleachers before it really started. Some of the “popular” girls (I use the term loosely as there were less than 100 kids in our entire class, so everyone was popular if you think about it) were sitting to my right. I felt a tap on my shoulder, so I turned around and one of the girls was smiling at me. She said to me, “My friend wants to sit here, and since you’re alone, can you move?”

I was shocked. I mean, I had been in the middle of a conversation with someone when she interrupted me, not to mention the empty seats right below us. Confused, I gave her a weird look and told her that no, I could not move because I was sitting with my friend. Her mouth fell open for a second and then, without taking her eyes off of mine, her mouth turned into a wicked smile and she said to her friend, “Just sit here and squish her. She doesn’t matter anyway.”

Now, I knew then and I know now that this girl’s opinion was the only thing that didn’t matter, but I’d be lying if I said her words didn’t hurt. This incident happened FIFTEEN years ago and I still remember it clearly — not just what she said, but how it made me feel. I felt like garbage. Dirty, stinky garbage. I couldn’t understand how someone could possibly be SO cold and awful. It was straight out of Mean Girls (despite the fact that the movie hadn’t even come out yet). I came from a close-knit class of 22 kids who were all friends with each other, and the fact that someone could say something like this, not just to me but to anyone, blew my mind.

It doesn’t help that this person is friends with my brother-in-law and his wife. That means that any time there is a kid’s party on that side of the family, guess who’s there? Her, her husband, and their little minions. I’d love to say that I’m a mature adult and that the past is in the past, but that would be a bold-faced lie. I ignore her entire family and pretend they don’t exist because the 14-year-old in my head reminds me that she doesn’t matter anyway.

21 thoughts on “Sticks and Stones

  1. Wow, how brutal that you still have to see her. I’m sorry that happened to you and that you have to live with the constant reminder. I hate mean people.

  2. great post. You’re right -words do hurt. My 9yo daughter is already experiencing a lot of the mean girl syndrome and as a mom it kills me.

    I also had a bully in high school. She was just snarky and rude and was always chomping gum. One day, she picked on me and I started to walk away. She chased me and I quickened my walk…right into the girls’ bathroom. She literally chased me into a stall and put her face right in front of mine. She basically told me I was a loser and that no one liked me, blah, blah, blah. I’m sure she said more, but honestly, she terrified me and everything was sort of a blur.

    If you can believe it, I just had my 25 year high school reunion in November. I received a DM from her on Facebook (we aren’t friends on FB, but we commented on a mutual friend’s post). She said she hoped I would be at the upcoming reunion because she knew she owed me an apology for what happened 25 years ago. I was floored. I saw her at the reunion, and true to her word, she apologized. It was a good moment. I accepted her apology and we hugged a friendly hug. And then we went on with our evening with our own group of friends.

    I’m sorry you had to go through that. Honestly, girls are so much meaner than boys, aren’t they? I mean, boys will beat each other up and then it’s over. But girls? Ouch. They will tear into your soul and rip out all the good parts with their words. I’m trying to help my daughter realize this and not let things get to her, but it’s tough.

    And for the record – I’ve given birth three times and I can say unequivocally that the pain of a kidney stone far outweighs the pain of childbirth – holy hell it was horrible.


    • Girls really are just nasty to each other. It’s horrible.

      That’s what the nurse told me in the ER – that if I could survive kidney stones, I’d do just fine with childbirth!

  3. I hate that saying. My mother used to tell me that saying every time someone said something really mean to me. Her other advice was to ignore them. Really? I stopped telling my mother when I was being bullied.

    I’m sorry that you still have to see this mean girl and she hasn’t even thought to approach you with an apology. It seems she has grown or changed one bit.

    What a great last line. It ends the story perfectly!

  4. I just don’t even know what to say that could be inspired or new… everyone up there has said it so eloquently already… Mean people… huh….nuff said I guess.

    • Thanks! My school was co-ed, but SUPER small – which was nice at times, but not if you didn’t want every single person in the building to know your business.

  5. Oh wow. How is she with you now? I was surprised at my 10yr reunion how some people who were awful to me acted so nice, and like nothing had ever happened. I would think “umm, do you and I remember the same HS? Because you HATED me.”

  6. That is something of paramount importance to me when trying to prepare my kids for the world. If nothing else they would treat everyone with respect because they are above no one and no one should be above them. My children have had some issues with this, but they do not make others feel inferior. I tell them they have no idea who may be there friends in a decade, so they should treat everyone as they wish to be treated. I know how hard it is to forget mistreatment. there is one guy from high school that I cannot forgive and when i see him even now it reminds me of my weakness in forgiveness.

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