Thursday, October 29, 2009

Jennifer and the Wicked Bitch

Once upon a time, long ago, in a land far away…. I was an extremely odd, socially backwards little girl, and then a pre-teen and then a teenager. I was called Jennifer, in those days. In that same distant place and time also lived another little girl who also became a pre-teen and then a teenager. Let us call her the Wicked Bitch, shall we? We will call her that because she went out of her way to make my life miserable. School, summer camp…you name it, the Wicked Bitch was there with taunts and cruel nicknames.

Yesterday, the Wicked Bitch sent me a friend request on Facebook.

To say that this came as a shock is an understatement.

I knew she was on Facebook. My 20 year high-school reunion was this year, and the organizers set up a Facebook page. I saw her picture (and those of her associate Wicked Bitches) and thought to myself "Oh my, it is the Wicked Bitch! Man, but I do hope she is having a terrible life!"

Mature reaction? No. Understandable? Yes.

I considered contacting her. Not to be her friend, of course. I wanted to tell her off. To tell her that she is evil. To remind her how mean she was to me. To make her acknowledge the pain she caused me. To make damn sure that if the day ever comes that one of her children runs home crying because someone was mean to him or her…that she will remember that back in the day, she was the one causing pain. I thought about giving back some of the pain she caused me. Let it eat at her a bit.

In the end, I refrained. There were several reasons for this. First and foremost—it would have been stupid and immature. I did have a disorder and I was weird and I did have major social issues. Had the roles been reversed, would I have been nicer? Perhaps…but probably not by much. Children are children and teens are teens. What, if I had been normal I would have been the Mother Theresa type? I doubt it. "Gila" I told myself "be honest here. Okay, maybe you would not have tormented you, but you would not have been friends with you either".

But no less important is that for all that her name is the same, and her face is the same, the Wicked Bitch I knew and loathed simply does not exist anymore. The Wicked Bitch was a child and then a pre-teen and then a teenager. An entirely different person, an adult who has spent the last 20 years growing and learning and living and maturing, now occupies the corporeal space that the Wicked Bitch used to occupy. This new person may be just as cruel as the Wicked Bitch was…but she may also be a wonderful person. A good person. A tolerant person. A person I would be happy to have as a friend...if only I could bear the contact.

I have changed. I took, and still do take, great pride in having transformed myself so thoroughly. It would be a devastating experience to find people relating to me as the person I was then. And other people change, too and other people are happy to keep the past in the past. I keep on telling myself this. "Grow up, Gila. That statute of limitations ran out years ago. Whether or not she has used it, she is entitled to her second chance, her fresh start. Even from you. And besides, you do not think it is just a little bit ridiculous to tell off a 39 year-old woman for shit she did when she was 12?"

Sometimes I talk back to myself. Because this is not fair. How could it possibly be right, and just, that she could do wrong and never pay for it? My arguments never go far. Mah la'asot? What are you going to do? In my heart and in my mind I know that life is not fair and justice is not always right. In this case silence is correct. I cannot say anything to the Wicked Bitch because she is no longer there to tell.

My pain is mine. There is no giving it away. Eventually I will learn to forget and I will learn to let it go. And eventually I will forget who and what I was, and everything I went through and everything I missed out on because of who and what I was not. Or, if I do not forget, at least I will let that go. The pain, the regrets, the "what if's" and the "if only's" will all be silenced.

In the meantime, the friend request sits, unanswered, in my inbox. I will continue to ignore it. Eventually, it too will disappear.


Safranit (Safra-knit) said...

I think most of us have a Wicked Bitch in our lives (or hanging out on the fringes) I accepted the friend request (although this was a college WB) but I have her as limited profile, and I also don't see her stuff in my newsfeed.

Why don't I delete her? I still don't know....but I'm sure my motives aren't pure.

Anonymous said...

Great post about growing up - and thanks for the non-sentimental ending.

Maayan said...

My own middle school Wicked Bitch sent me a Facebook friend request a few months ago, and I was similarly astonished. I almost accepted just so I could ask her, "How does it look in *your* memory?" I mean, maybe she remembers it as friendly teasing, or harmless pranks.

I remember her and her friends calling my parents in the middle of the night, telling the "Jews to move back to Israel". I remember her pinching me every time she passed me in the hallway. I remember feeling terribly terribly alone.

But maybe in her mind, we were pals the whole time? I just don't get it.

Mia said...

Facebook is strange in that in bridges over distance and time. You meet people you didn't think you would ever see again and need to deal with things you thought you had put behind you. I've had to deal with the witches (which I refer to as Bnot Z-----) as well as getting requests from people I was to shy to ever talk to in school. I guess the good goes with the bad. You are who you are now. You have plenty to be proud of. Maybe your WW admires you now. (BTW I don't friend W witches – you do what's right for you)

e.e. said...

Ignoring is best, IMHO.
Being a bit of a misanthropist myself, I'm not even on Facebook so I'm saved that kind of dilemma. I'm in contact with those few whom I think are worth it.
Last year, a high-school pal invited me to a reunion. I told her to forget it and didn't pitch up.
I'm still friends with *her* though.
I'm all in favor of closing doors (especially on anti-Semites).
I think you did right.

Mongrel said...

I never understand why people who do have the same last name like me want to be friendz.

Mikey Lee said...

Gila, my W.B. is a songwriter. Just about the time I was coming to grips with the fact that I am smaller than most men, and will always be. This jackass puts a song on the radio saying "I've got no reason to live", and "I go around telling lies" just because I'm short. I took enough from my peers, and that's fine, but I hope there's a special place in hell for Randy Newman. I'll forgive when I've broken his nose, but I'll never forget. He can't undo what's been done.

Mikey Lee said...

Part II. You can try to smooth it over with statements like, "it was a long time ago", and "you should get over it". But, the hurt was felt, and pretending it wasn't only makes it worse. The only positive I can attach to my experiences, is this; I promise myself I'll never knowingly subject someone else to what I've felt, and that makes me a better person.

Anonymous said...

I think you made a good decision. High school was also not a fun time for me....and I suddenly found my self friended by some of those ppl.....which led to me discovering what was going on in the lives of more of "those ppl"...the more i looked, the worse I felt. I have no idea who these ppl are today...and you know what? i don't care. I am a completely differnt person.....and so are you. I don't believe in the concept of reconnecting will give you closure. You have "closure" so to speak, b/c you moved on and made a new and different life for youself. Keep on going sister!

faith/emuna said...

thought provoking post.
am not on facebook.
there should be a website where people can ask forgiveness of others. (there are 2 people i would like to ask forgiveness from, it would do me good, but im not sure it would do them good)
ive forgiven my wbs, although they were really just garden variety popular snobs with nothing particular against me personaly so it wasnt particularly difficult to put things in proportion in retrospect)
have you considered sending wb your post?

Tzipporah said...

facebook is a weird, surreal place, where the fascinating smart cute guy from high school is now fascinating, smart, funny, and fat and balding. Where friends who are old enough to know better go trekking around Nepal and brag about petting baby tigers, while you're home trying to get a 3-year-old to eat his vegetables.

Who knows? Maybe WB has had a frontal lobotomy and is simply trying to remember who you were...

Unknown said...

Gila. Wow. I am the "Wicked Bitch" and I tried to friend you because I saw you years ago in Israel and couldn't muster up the courage to apologize to you at the time like R.C. did for all of those terrible things we did to you. I have regretted that these past 20 years on more days than I can count. I tried to "friend" you, not because I ever thought we'd remember each other fondly, but rather simply to apologize. I was a cruel girl, trying to impress those with more power than I, those who might turn on me if they figured out that I was "weird" or "weak" as well. I do not excuse myself from being so mean, but you need to know that I did not act alone. I take responsibility for my own pathetic actions against you. Period. But I think it's easier to blame one person for one's misery than it is to remember that an entire class was involved. I blocked out those memories until I bumped into you in Israel, but as an adult who would never treat another human being as I treated you, I can only say that I am sorry for the pain I caused. I do not need you to be my friend. That would never work, but I do need you to know that I truly regret my actions. Best to you, Dana

Gila said...

Thank you for your apology. While I cannot really apologize for being the person I was-mental disorders are hardly within one's control-I am very aware that I would not have liked me either.

As I pointed out in the post, I am aware that the person you are now and the person you were 20 or 30 years ago are likely to be quite different. (Same can be said for most of us). As for the whole class, I think I remember you and a two others (AS and JC) more than the general class simply because you three were the most popular girls in the class--the ones I most wanted to be-- and were either in fact or in my perception, the ringleaders. Not to mention I don't necessarly remember everything.

Just to clarify--while painful memories still cause pain, my life is not miserable. At around age 27, I picked up social skills and clues...that helped. :) I will never forget going to a Hadassah women's seder in DC, looking around the room, and realizing "I am popular. All my life I wanted to be popular, and now I am". It still amazes me at times, that people like me. Time has also worked in my favor. Weirdness is not tolerated by children, but eccentricity, so long as it does not go too far, IS appreciated by adults.

Furthermore, what may not have been clear in my post (mostly because I did not write it down, because I have been mulling over this for some days now) is that I accept that there is a statute of limitations. That is, if my life today were miserable because of stuff that happened in my childhood, this would be my responsibility and not yours. At a certain point, if the past bothers me, that is my problem. I am causing myself pain, for refusing to let stuff go.

Now am really curious as to when you saw me in Israel..... And if you ever are in Israel again, don't be a stranger. You are officially and warmly invited to be in touch.

Mongrel said...

Gila, you are still into cycling?

Batya said...

Amazing, I'm glad I spied this post just now, after the apology.

Gila, you're a lucky girl!

Mo-ha-med said...

Same as Batya. I wanted to write that pushing the "Ignore" button never fails to make me feel good when it's a WB (Wicked Bastard) asking to friend me - but reading Dana's comment I'm almost ashamed thinking that.

aliyah06 said...

Wow......kudos to Dana for the heartfelt apology and kudos to you for moving on.

I wonder if I'd have the musar to do I am impressed. Truly.