This is Mimi Thebo’s response to the question ‘Former bullied kids, what did your bullies do when they met you as an adult?’ on Quora.
It was my 30th high school reunion. I’d been out of touch with most people, but had been friended by a few old classmates on Facebook. When they learned I’d be in the area on a book tour, they talked me into coming to my high school reunion.
I was bullied quite a lot in [year seven and eight]. My father had just become the head of juvenile narcotics in the local police department, so I started off poorly. In high school, I was in a car accident that fractured my voice box. I had scars and I whispered and spent most of my time in the hospital. Most of my bullies backed off, but one guy kept making my life hell. Before the accident, I’d been a singer… one of the things he liked to do is sing some of the songs I used to perform at weddings, etc, to me before classes.
He never let up.
I went to university, met an English boy, married him and moved to the UK. I spent quite a few years processing all the things that had happened to me in my teens. At one point, I had nightmares about this guy and the way he tortured me, breaking my things, tearing my books, making fun of my voice, etc.
I woke up one night from a nightmare in a sweat. His image was still in my mind. I could see the clothes he wore and the desk he was sitting at and… and I suddenly realised that he hadn’t been very well off, economically. He used to say that he hated wearing coats and do without one in the very cold weather. He wore construction boots because he worked all summer on building sites. I didn’t exactly excuse his sadistic behaviour because I’d remembered the waffle-knit undershirts he used to wear every day… but I felt differently about him. He was a child and I was now an adult and he didn’t scare me anymore.