A few weeks ago, I got a very pleasant surprise.
My kabarkada from high school whom I haven’t talked to since graduation suddenly dropped me a line through the contact page of my blog.. this blog.
In the letter, she was very tentative. She simply asked permission to link my blog to hers. I recognized her name though and I eagerly responded back, calling her by name. Since she hasn’t been in touch for years, I wasn’t sure if she would write back.
I’m very glad that she did.
Since she sent her first message to me, we have emailed back and forth a couple of times and now, she has actually reached out to the rest of our barkada and organized a get together. Everyone responded in the way I expected them to — with excitement at getting back in touch with a long-lost friend.
I admit I never expected her to ever come back into our little circle. We made a lot of speculations through the years why she wasn’t responding to our efforts to keep in touch with her. The most likely theory we came up with explains it the best. As of now, it really remains as speculation as she claims she is unsure why she pulled away. However, if the theory is true, I really can’t blame her for wanting to cut that part of her life out of her memory… even if it meant losing touch with some friends along the way.
She wasn’t treated very well during high school.
As a victim of bullying myself for most of my childhood, I am ashamed to say that I recognized it for what it was. It was under the guise of humor and my friend did her best to laugh along with it. There was no physical violence. I believe that the people doing it weren’t intentionally trying to make her feel bad… they just thought it was funny. However, it doesn’t cover the fact though that it was name-calling at its worst. So in my opinion, was still a form of bullying… pure and simple.
What I am even more ashamed about is I never built up the courage to stop it. I had just gotten free of my own personal bullying experience at that time. Although that isn’t a justification for my cowardice, it does explain why I didn’t try to stop it even though I recognized the behaviour. Deep inside I knew why I didn’t do anything about it. I was scared that if I did something, the unwanted attention would turn towards me.
Others who might not have experienced bullying themselves may not have recognized it as bullying since the whole class was doing it and was getting a huge laugh out of it.
I, however, have no excuse.
I went through it. I knew how much it could hurt. I knew how it was to pretend not to be affected because showing emotion will only increase the attention.
I recognized the fake laughter bubbling from her. After all, the same fake laughter had just come out from my own lips a few short years before.
I have always looked back on those years with regret that I wasn’t just a little more brave and standing up for my friend.
So whether or not our “theory” about her sudden disappearance years ago is correct or not, I have always been hoping for a chance to talk to her and let her know I was sorry I wasn’t strong enough for her.
Now that she’s back, at least I have a chance to.