Kate once commented to me that if I took legal action against her bullying that Joplin's sibling would vouch for her legal defense. The abuse—never physical, but deeply humiliating—lasted all the way to graduation.
Thankfully, none of the trio has attempted to contact me since then. But despite the years separating college and the present, I still think I‘m afraid of them. My field requires networking and re-meeting old/new acquaintances, and there’s a possibility that we’ll cross paths again in a convention or expo setting. Any thoughts on how I can overcome my fear?
Scarred by Bullies
I’m so sorry for your awful experience. For grown women (and men) to get their kicks terrorizing a person living with such a challenging disability as you have—you say you have no hands, and I’m assuming that you don’t mean this metaphorically—is really inexcusable and speaks of an utter lack of humanity on the part of the perpetrators. What a waste of a life this Kate person sounds like. And her co-conspirators (Joplin and Irene) sound almost as bad. Please believe me when I say that, without knowing any more about you, I can tell that you’re worth 10 of these people. I only wish you’d realized this back in college—before they played with your head and nearly convinced you otherwise.
As for your fear of future contact, the world is a big place. I doubt you’ll see them again. But the very fact that you’re thinking (and writing to me) about it makes me think you might be suffering from some kind of post-traumatic stress condition and would benefit from talking to a professional counselor. He or she might help you realize that a) that time in your life is over and b) your fears are irrational. You might also want to do a little reading about bullies. I think you’ll find that most are self-loathing individuals who can only feel good about themselves when they’re subjugating others. Jesus said to love your enemies. I’ve never agreed with that statement, but I think there’s something to be said for pitying them. Imagine if you could only be happy when you were being cruel!
Oh, and if you ever run into any of these three, you have my permission to tell them they’re pathetic losers.
Friend or Foe
Dear Friend or Foe,
My good girlfriend—“Lenore”—is going through a rough separation with her husband. Under normal circumstances, I’d include her on my bachelorette party list, but now I don't want to upset her or seem callous to her marital situation. However, she lives in a different city, and I don't think I'd get to see her before the wedding otherwise. This bachelorette party is more of a girls’ get together than a toilet-paper veil/penis-paraphernalia party. So maybe it won't be too hard on her. Should I invite her, and if so, should I call or email before the invitation is sent out?
Sensitive Bride To Be
If you don’t invite Lenore and she finds out, you’re only going to succeed in making her feel worse about her life. First her husband disses her—now her old friends? Besides, if she’s too down to “get up” for a girly night, she can always decline. Though I’m not sure she will. Just because her own marriage failed doesn’t mean she no longer believes in the institution. But even if she is feeling cynical about the concept of True Love Forever, that doesn’t mean she’s feeling cynical about you. As for warning her by phone or email before the invitation goes out, I don’t think either is necessary. Let her open the envelope like everyone else. And now for the important stuff: what exactly happens at a “penis-paraphernalia party”? (I need to know what I’ve been missing all these years.) Readers?
Friend or Foe
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