People Do Grow Up and Change

by admin on January 16, 2014

My cousin is marrying my most hated adversary from elementary/middle school. They want to me forgive & forget and come to the wedding. I can’t. I absolutely will not stand in the same room with this woman and pretend to be happy while she marries my cousin.

This woman, “Lisa”, made me miserable from grades 5-8. It all started over a poster. She was a big fan of a particular singer. My female cousin got to go to his show when his tour went through our state and she brought me a poster. I told Lisa she could have it since my favorite singer was someone else. Somewhere between home and school, I lost the poster. I rode the bus and I think someone helped themselves to it or I just simply lost it. When I told Lisa, she started screaming that I was a liar, I was keeping the poster for myself, I was being mean because I knew she loved this singer so much and I was the most awful person in the world. Um, not true. I had really lost the thing but, of course, 5th grade girls can be dramatic.

So it started with a poster and just kept morphing into other things for her to harass me about- my clothes, my shoes, my hair, my friends, etc. My parents could not really help because they were divorced, mom lived in another state and dad owned & operated a farm and was too busy to notice I was miserable.

Once we moved on to high school, things changed a bit. Lisa was no longer the big fish in a small pond and we hardly ever saw each other. The only class we had together, she actually had the nerve to ask me to copy my homework! (I said no) After that, she would occasionally take a swipe at me but I had made really good friends who had my back and Lisa was no longer able to get under my skin as much.

When I turned 16, I moved to live with my mom. Twelve years have rolled by. High school graduation, college, starting careers. Last year (2012) around Thanksgiving, my mom said that my Aunt had told her that cousin Brady had reconnected with a girlfriend from college, Lisa, and had been dating for about 6 months. Aunt Edie said it was quite serious and Brady was talking marriage. Never in a million years did I think it was same Lisa- it never crossed my mind. Brady has gone to college a state over from our home state and really, what are the odds?

Four weeks ago, the invitation arrived in the mail. Honestly, I was surprised to be invited. Brady and I got along well when we were kids, we would see each other at family events during the year but he went to a different school than I did as he lived a county over, and I wouldn’t say we were super close. I have not even seen that side of the family in about 3 years. The last time I visited home state Brady was not there, so it has probably has been over 5 years since I have seen him.

I opened the invitation, saw the last name and thought “no way” but when I turned the invite over- there she was- smiling and all hugged up on my cousin. I called Aunt Edie and she confirmed my worst fears- it was indeed that Lisa and she had told them she had gone to school with me but didn’t really know me. Like hell she didn’t know me. She did not know the real me, the person I had become but she knew who I was. How do you forget the person you tortured for 4 years because of a poster!?!

After talking to my friends about this, I decided to just decline the invitation. He obvious loves her, I will practically never see them and maybe she had honestly forgotten how awful she had been to me or maybe, just maybe, she has changed.

Brady & Lisa called a few nights ago and wanted to know why I wasn’t coming to their wedding. They really wanted all the family to come and be with them. I said I just couldn’t make it. They kept pressing and pressing. They even went so far as to say that they would pay for me to come if money was the problem (it’s not- I just do not like her), so I finally decided to tell them and remind Lisa exactly what she had done to me.

First, she completely denied it. Then she said maybe, but she really doesn’t remember. Next, it was, “Oh, we were just kids and kids do those things to each other.”  Finally, it was why can’t I just forgive and forget. Yes, kids do those things to each other but she really made me miserable and lowered my self-esteem with all her remarks.  Four years of remarks. So, no, I can’t just forgive and forget. Brady did not say much but I think he was surprised. She has obviously not shown him or the rest of the family her true colors.

Since then, Lisa has had my Aunt Edie, my Aunt Edna (mom’s sisters who still live in home state) and even my own Grandmother, call me and tell me I should forget about the past and move on. I don’t think she has told them the real story or how long it went on. Since I unfortunately opened my mouth, I am just trying to let it all die down. I wish, wish, wish I had continued to bean dip when Brady & Lisa called. I don’t understand WHY it is so important to Lisa that I am there. I think she just wants to torture me some more.

I thought this was the kind of thing that happened to people you see on talk shows. I’m just a small town girl from a small town. How did I get to be in the middle of this craziness? 1218-13

When I was 13,  there was a girl who bullied and harassed me to the point that I became an emotional wreck and had to be removed from school and taught by a tutor for several months.   As the years went by we bumped accidentally into each other in high school, in stores and other community related events and my tension level would be off the scale.   But something amazing happened.   We both grew up and became adults.  I discovered that her family life during those earlier years was horrendous and she was a very unhappy person who took her pain out on others.  She became a born again Christian and had a complete turn around of her life.  She is now one of the nicest people I know and we are friends on Facebook.   The moral of this is that people do grow up and stop behaving like children and people can and do change.   If we are to be adults, we need to give people the benefit of the doubt that they have indeed changed and matured.

It sounds to me that Lisa has moved on to being an adult and her efforts to reach out to you is an olive branch, of sorts.   She may never give you the apology you seek but how she treats you from here on out is the more important criteria proving that she is not the same stupid teenager you knew years ago.   You, however, are emotionally stuck at age 12 and as your family has noted, you have not moved forward into being a whole adult.   You are the one still suffering and living with baggage and to be honest,  you are not hurting Lisa and Brady as much as you are hurting yourself.   There must come a time in your life when you resolve to not let people live in your brain rent free and allow them to dictate your emotions and actions.   This would be a good time to start making that transition to evicting the memory of Lisa’s behavior, wiping the slate clean and giving her another chance.   That doesn’t mean you have to become buddy-buddy pals with her but it does mean you develop the adult life skill of being civil and gracious to other adults.

 

{ 162 comments… read them below or add one }

Lo January 17, 2014 at 12:59 pm

I agree with those who say an apology would be best from the OP’s former bully (and it should be offered!) but I strongly disagree that an apology is required for forgiveness and moving past something.

One of the most helpful things anyone ever said to me about something another person had done that affected my life for the worse was, “You’re never going to get an apology. If you want to forgive this person you need to do it with the understanding that they’ll never acknowledge your pain.”

How could any child earn forgiveness as an adult for the torment inflicted in childhood? My bullies could appear on my doorstep and grovel and I’d be momentarily gratified, sure, but it wouldn’t lessen the scars on my psyche. The choice to forgive is personal. If a heartfelt apology doesn’t obligate forgiveness of behalf of the one abused, then neither is it required for forgiveness to be offered.

You apologize because you did a bad thing. You don’t earn forgiveness, you’re offered it. No one owes it to anyone else, it can’t be bought with an apology.

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Shh its me January 17, 2014 at 1:15 pm

Had OP stuck with “IT’s not possible” or the actual only polite answer “I have a prior commitment” most of this wouldn’t have happened.

AS far as the rest of the family applying pressure now , of course they are out of the blue one grandchild just stated they can never be in the room with the other’s spouse. *I don’t think its leap and wouldn’t blame OP family if they understood “I wont come to her wedding because she bullied me” as “I wont come to any event she is at”* Grandma better forget about that 80th birthday party now , maybe they can still have Christmas if Brad and Lisa go visit her parents while OP visits the rest of the family etc. I would guess this is part of their reaction. OP didn’t just decline the wedding in effect she just declined every family event Lisa will be at, for all time. “I cant come to the wedding because bride victimized me” no way that wont cause family drama. OP may be able to diffuse this a little by assuring Grandma and Auntie she’ll still attend other events , as it seems is OP intention.

A poster mentioned they were surprised how many people felt they were bullied. My thoughts on that most of us will say we were bullied because Lisa was right “that’s something kids do.” I’m not excusing bulling but I’m saying the vast of majority of kids took teasing and arguments too far a few times in their young lives. Me and Bobbie teased Michelle , then Michelle and Bobbie teased me then we both teased Bobbie , Bobbie teased Elana and Elana Teased Michelle and one girl teased us but 2 or 3 older girls teased her. Except for the “one girl” I was best friends and mortal enemies several time with each of them over the course of years. I remember “one girl” as bully and Michelle as a friend but I did make Michelle cry a few times; I wonder if Michelle remembers me as a bully and if “One girl” remembers me as a friend. I recall I time a fell while walking up to the front of the class and everyone joked and laughed. Every time I had to walk to the front of the class I remember the jokes and laughing and turned bright red and got so nervous. So in effect they didn’t just laugh that one time , I feel the anxiety and humiliation every time I had to get in front of the class. We can magnify the effect of teasing in our heads a little…… no one joked the next times I walked up I had no reason to be humiliated or feel picked on but that’s how I felt.. I also remember someone else fell a few month later and guess what people laughed and joked. There are some genuine bullies but a lot of times its a 10- 13 year saying something stupid without considering it how hurtful it is. Not completely grasping laughing with and laughing at are 2 different things . Not having empathy for people being so self conscious that one joke about “oatmeal smelling of poverty” could cause someone to skip breakfast from that moment on. So I can understand why Lisa doesn’t remember. I can understand why OP’s family don’t understand her point of view , OP father didn’t notice her unhappiness and it doesn’t seem like she told anyone else in her family”Lisa” is bulling me all the time.

I can’t completely understand OP perspective “that Lisa just wants her to come so she can torturer me some more” Having that anxiety for a moment sure but it being part of her actual logic and thinking that a 26 year olds “true colors ” were actions she committed at 10-13 , would concern me if I was OP relations.

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just4kicks January 17, 2014 at 2:09 pm

My beautiful ten year old daughter has a boy in her class who is a bully, not just to my daughter, but pretty much everyone. My little girl usually just ignores him, hoping he’ll go away. One day, she came home very upset because this boy had very loudly in the middle of class singled out a project she had worked very hard on for weeks, all by herself. She refused any help on it from myself, her dad, and her brothers. She was very proud of it, and got a good grade on it. She was filled with pride that her efforts produced a good grade and praise from her teacher. This bully held it up and made fun of it and said “how stupid and ugly it was…just like (my daughter)”! She was crushed and of course embarrassed. It just so happens we live in a very small town, and this boy and his dad frequent the store I work in. They came in about a week or so after the incident, and this kid per usual, made a mess out of the store and whined until his dad caved and bought him every sweet he wanted. When they came to the counter to pay, I said with a big smile, “Hey… aren’t you X? From XYZ school?” He said yes. I said, “Well! It’s wonderful to see you! (My daughter) told me how much you LOVED the project she did, that you held it up for everyone to see how AMAZING you thought it was! It really meant alot to her, she worked VERY hard on it….all by herself.” This kid turned beet red and refused to make contact with me while his dad payed for their purchases. His dad said to him, “well….X….that was….Uh, nice of you.” Leading me to believe dear old dad knows just what a so-and-so junior really is.

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admin January 17, 2014 at 5:39 pm

But isn’t it sad that your daughter weighed the bully’s criticism as far more important than the good opinions of her parents, her brothers, peers and teacher and even her own pride of ownership? Help her hear the good stuff and see the bully criticisms for what they really are…jealousy, anger, evidence of a tiny heart.

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just4kicks January 17, 2014 at 10:29 pm

Yes, Ma’am…I surely do agree with your response. The good praise did by far mean alot to her, and we did explain that this kids opinion doesn’t amount to a hill of beans. And we said if she made herself happy that is all that matters. I think the fact this bully called attention to it in front of her whole class is what upset her, and caused her to second guess her efforts.

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admin January 18, 2014 at 9:47 pm

I’m reminded of the scene from “Hook” where Peter Banning’s daughter Maggie tells the bully Captain Hook, “You need a mother very, very badly! ” She so “gets it”. She stands firm in her convictions that mommy and daddy love them and she actually has pity on Hook in the end because she sees him for exactly what he is…a bully who is unloved, “Daddy, let’s go home, please? He’s just a mean old man without a mommy.” Jack: “Yeah, dad, let’s go. He can’t hurt us anymore.”

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Mer January 18, 2014 at 3:00 pm

Ah, this is the age old trouble. 1000 positive feedback does not match one evil. I suspect it is mainly, because most people feel that positive feedback is not genuine, it is something you “have to” say because otherwise you would be impolite. I think I’m not too far over the line if i claim that anyone of us has some point of our lives said that “Oh, that is nice.” even when we did not mean that from the bottom of our hearts. After all, what are you to say? “That is the ugliest drawing I’ve ever seen”? It is hard to find words that do not come out as insulting if you want to disagree about some personal work or aspect of another one. Sometimes it is possible to avoid the trouble by singling out some nice thing (“I like the shade of the sky very much!”), or to find some constructive criticism and pass the personal opinion liking or not liking.

If you have read of “impostor syndrome”, I think this feeling might be very closely linked with it.

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Huh January 17, 2014 at 2:28 pm

Honestly, what upsets me about this letter is that the OP tried to set a boundary, said no to an invitation (for whatever reason) and no one has respected it. Not the bride, not the groom, not the OP’s family. Before the complete breakdown into “Lisa was cruel in the past, well I don’t remember that, family says you should forgive and forget” if the OP had stuck to “Sorry, I’m unable to attend” or the popular “I am unable to accommodate your request” then you STILL have a bride, a groom, and a family unable to take no for an answer and unable to respect the OP’s boundaries.

I’m a second-, third-, and fourth-chance giver (honestly to my determent, and that’s something I’m working on, healthy boundaries) but the unable to take no for an answer, yes BADGERING until I cave in, is something I have dealt with in the past with certain people. And this has lead to me keeping my interactions with those people extremely limited because they will push and push and PUSH until they get you to do what they want. And that is what it sounds like is going on here.

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Mer January 18, 2014 at 3:11 pm

I agree with you. Those kind of people are extremely hard to interact with. I’m lucky, the ones I know are not of ill will and are not trying to cause you grief or unhappiness with their actions. But nevertheless, it is sometimes exhausting to try to stand your ground if you by nature are quite non confrontational person. You just start to feel like petulant child yourself, even if you know that you are fully within your reasonable rights to say no. And frankly, I kind of got the feeling, that this exactly the problem OP faced. It requires spine of steel to stay in the “are not – am too!” without trying to offer a reason why you choose to say no. As in this case, the reason often makes it worse, even in best cases it gives the opponent something to grab. But often one is bit of hopeful that maybe this time if I state the reason s/he understands and STOPS BADGERING ME!

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Molly January 17, 2014 at 2:37 pm

Admin, you make many excellent points, but I still disagree with you in areas. Since it seems that the OP’s act of declining a wedding invite is not being viewed as technically impolite, your judgement seems to be related to “life choices” and not etiquette. While I might not agree with your judgement of the OP’s choice, I respect that you have a valid perspective that the OP would do well to consider thoughtfully. However, I disagree that the OP has been uncivil. The comments you make, valid though they are, have not convinced me that the OP has shown a lack of “formal politeness and courtesy in behavior or speech,” which is the definition of civility. Was the OP morally wrong here? Perhaps—opinions seem to vary a lot! Was the OP rude or uncivil? I say no.

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flagal January 17, 2014 at 2:42 pm

I’m on the fence on this one. During grade school and into high school, I was repeatedly bullied by girls and a few guys. Reasons? I was on the swim team (not a popular sport), I liked to read, I had curly hair instead of straight, I was quiet in class and answered questions correctly and respectfully, and I was independent. I wasn’t physically assaulted, but the constant verbal abuse (much like what OP suffered) was wearing.

A girl got mad that I wouldn’t let her copy off my test. Her response was to spread rumors that I was a very “easy” date, and had gotten involved with half the football team. A boy who didn’t like me for whatever reason regularly spit on me as I got off the bus. One girl’s teasing was so bad, I almost attempted suicide.

Looking back, I was hurt by these people, later got angry and hated them, and as I approach my 10 year High school reunion, I pity the kids that they were. From what I understand, the majority of them have substance abuse problems, financial troubles, marital woes, and overall not a great life. When I attend my reunion, while I won’t rub it in their faces that despite their torment, I’ve become a happy, successful individual, I will watch them to see if any react and remember.

Back to the OP- of the various kids who teased me, there was only one who ever apologized. He reached out via Facebook, told me he remembered me, and how ashamed he was of his behavior. He had matured, was enrolled at a Christian college, and realized how horrible his treatment of me was. He did not ask my forgiveness- he said he understood if I never responded and he apologized if his message hurt me, but he apologized all the same. It did hurt, reliving the torment, but I cried not at the pain, but at the fact that someone acknowledged what they had done to me. I did respond to that boy, telling him I could not forget the damage, but I could forgive him. When he asked how he could make up for his atrocious behavior, I gently told him the only thing he could do was to raise any children he might have to be respectful and polite to others, and step in if he saw them tormenting or being tormented like I was, to break the cycle.

OP- it’s time to let go, but I won’t blame you for wishing there was some apology or acknowledgment of the torment you went through.

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OP January 17, 2014 at 3:25 pm

Hi, everyone! Thank you all for your advice, opinions and sharing your stories. A couple of things I would like to clarify and then an update.
First, I believe I have moved on. I do not sit around and dwell on Lisa or what she did to me. I had not even had a thought about her in years before the invite came. When I saw her picture though, it was like a shock to my system.
Second, I have to be civil and polite to people I don’t particularly like all the time- at work, the cranky neighbor, the rude people in the grocery store and even some family members. I was invited to a wedding and I chose to RSVP no. If the phone calls had not started, no one would know about the incidents with Lisa.
Also, it was not just Brady who called. Lisa was on the phone at the same time. I guess a cordless handset or extension. She was the one who initially raised the topic of finances and Brady said “I guess we could do that”.
Both of my aunts and my grandmother said Lisa had asked them to talk to me. If she has that great of a relationship with them, I think that’s wonderful. She will soon be their family, they will be living close by, spending a lot of time together and maybe even be the mother of their grandchildren & great-grandchildren.
I also find it very strange that my two younger brothers did not receive invites to this wedding as well as several other cousins who live in our home state. Since I made the mistake of opening my mouth, phone calls and emails have been flying around the Southeast for a few weeks. An email from a cousin in my former home state and phones calls from my brothers is how I found out about the non-invitees.
I do not begrudge Brady & Lisa happiness. If they truly love each other, then I wish them a long and happy marriage. Maybe Lisa really has changed and is a wonderful, thoughtful person. Maybe this is her way of apologizing for the things she did but I’m not a mind-reader and she hasn’t said. If she had said she was sorry, even if she didn’t mean it, I might have had a change of heart.
I know I made a mistake when I told them why I wasn’t coming. I admit it and I own it. The only reason I visit my former home state is to see my father and my grandmother. When I was 16 and moved away, it was because my father and I were not getting along. We have since had several long discussions, including him apologizing for the incident that caused me to leave home. When he and my grandmother pass away, I doubt I will ever visit again.
Now, for the update: I spoke to Brady on Jan. 2nd. He was in his car. First time I have spoken to him without Lisa on another line since I got the invite. He said he understands why I don’t want to come but he loves Lisa and wants to make her happy. I told him what I mentioned earlier- I hope he and Lisa are happy and have a long, wonderful marriage. I also told him he should absolutely try to make her happy but I am not going to be a part of their wedding day.
If anyone calls or emails about the wedding, I don’t discuss it anymore. Just last week I told a cousin that I was tired of going over & over it and I was done with it.
If choosing not to go and fake being happy for a person who tried to make me feel bad about myself makes me selfish & immature, I guess I will just have to be selfish and immature. However, I think that fact that Lisa refused to admit she was awful to me and involved family members to try to guilt me into coming shows that she is selfish, immature and manipulative. The things Lisa did to me hurt me. I learned to let it go and be happy. Why should I “suck it up”, put myself directly in the path of a person who intentionally did things to hurt me, spend a good deal of money and vacation time to travel 700 miles to be prop for her wedding? I shouldn’t and I’m not.

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crebj January 17, 2014 at 8:19 pm

It doesn’t look like you’ve moved on, really.

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Tara January 18, 2014 at 10:15 pm

Because she was a child when she did these things, and now is (presumably) an adult. That means it’s a different person getting married to your cousin. The only way this makes sense to me is if you’re still in your early 20s, which means these events happened very recently. I know that when I was in my early 20s, things that happened in 8th grade still felt like yesterday, and I still felt like the same person.

In my early 30s now, I look back at all the people who bullied me, many of whom I’ve friended on facebook, and compare them to the lives they have now, and realize they were different people. A child does childish things, and once people grow up, throwing things they did as a child back at them is really… strange… to say the least. It’s like assuming someone is going to pee their pants because they did that one time when they were 4. I used to throw temper tantrums as a child and I don’t now. Assuming she’s mean now because she was mean then is odd.

If you don’t want to travel a long way to attend your cousin’s wedding, that’s one thing. I didn’t attend most of my cousins’ weddings because I wasn’t close to them. But saying the reason you don’t want to is because she was a mean child just means that you haven’t gotten over it.

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Charliesmum January 20, 2014 at 9:45 am

Hi, OP. Not sure if you’ll see this with the numerous posts here, but I wanted to say I totally understand where you are coming from.

I actually became friends in high school with a girl who’d picked on me during grade school, and I was very happy about that. She even came to my Sweet 16. On the other hand, there were other people who were extremely cruel to me, and even though I’m a grown up, and over it, and whatever, I have no desire to have any kind of relationship with them. I don’t care if they grew up, I don’t care what their situation was that made them bully me – I can be sympathetic, yes, I can understand the psychology now, but do I want those people in my life? No.

Yes, it would be nice if you could re-discover this woman, and maybe the two of you could learn to be friends and have a lovely Hallmark moment, but you are under no obligation to do so. There is no rule that says you have to like everyone in the world. And you’re not even close to your cousin, so I don’t honestly see any reason for you to go to a wedding you have no interest in attending.

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Linz January 20, 2014 at 10:11 am

Good for you, it sounds like you’ve got the situation handled pretty well. I don’t think any of this makes you selfish or immature, quite the opposite in fact. Good luck.

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alex January 17, 2014 at 3:51 pm

I really do think you should move on and suck it up for your cousin. I doubt she wants you there so she can torment you as I am sure she has much more important things to think about during her wedding. Since your family is going I really do think you should suck it up, be an adult and go. You may not want to but adults have to do things they don’t want to do. By not going you are showing everyone that it still bothers you, something that happened over 12 years ago.

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Daphne January 17, 2014 at 4:23 pm

OP if Lisa is still a bully, her true nature will show itself in time to your other family members. If she has changed, then as a newly gracious and empathetic person she will forgive you for not attending. Your real problem now is whether or not to attend the wedding in order to appease your other relatives. I don’t think you have to go, but if you feel you must you should give yourself an out by going alone. Plan on attending just the ceremony, making sure people see you there, and then skip the reception if you are feeling too nervous or whatever. Send a nice gift.
The lesson here is to never feel pressured to explain why you can’t attend a purely social event. A polite “no thanks” is all that is ever needed, regardless of the reason. And if you are questioned later for ditching just tell them you weren’t feeling well. Because it’s the truth.

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Stacey Frith-Smith January 17, 2014 at 5:37 pm

Everyone has a unique story and we all tend to see ourselves in the stories of others. So- when offering advice, it’s good to remember the difference between “I” and “other”. No one has to attend a social event and the family isn’t going to fall apart over the absence of a single (and let’s be honest, moderately distant) familial connection. There is no sense in all hell breaking loose in terms of “ought, should, and must”. OP, nobody asked me- but I’d stay home, myself, and raise a glass of wine to the fact that freedom of association, freedom of conscience and freedom period don’t require your attendance. If your family falls apart over this- maybe it wasn’t glued too tightly to begin with. You may consider yourself fully absolved, resolved, dissolved or whatever will “solve” the problem for you.

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OP January 20, 2014 at 3:15 pm

Thank you so much for this. I don’t think my family is going to fall to pieces over me not being there.

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Hanna January 17, 2014 at 11:25 pm

Wow. Wow wow wow wow wow. That’s all I can think to say. Really? How old are you, OP and why do I want to guess that you have not graduated high school yet?? GET OVER YOURSELF. I had two of my best friends harass and bully me in the 7th grade – they did and said some horrible things that changed me as a person. But then I grew up a little. If I saw one of them today, 10 years later, what they did to me in 7th grade would pop into my head (as that is my last association with them) but I wouldn’t have such a passionate hate towards them. WE WERE CHILDREN.

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MichelleP January 18, 2014 at 10:01 pm

I was of two minds on this one, until I read OP’s update. I agree with admin on everything she said, but also agree with OP that she has every right to decline an invitation. She and the cousin are not close. I’m not close to any of my cousins, and have never attended their weddings. Lisa had no right to call other relatives and get them involved.

I was bullied mercilessly at the age the OP describes, right through high school. I don’t give the bullies a second thought, until recently when a few of them friended me on FB. We exchange polite conversation, no more.

The OP has every right to decline an invitation to an event she doesn’t want to attend, regardless of the reason, especially after the nagging for a reason and stirring up drama from the bride and groom.

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Karl January 19, 2014 at 5:05 pm

I was bullied about as bad as any person can be back in middle school, but I’ll give you this advice. Move on. Leave the past in the past. You can never move forward in life if you still have one foot lodged firmly in the regret or bitterness of the past. I refused to carry bad experiences of one day into the day following. To do so, would have meant living in fear all the time and living without hope.

One thing I learned about bullies is that they generally had a pretty messed up home life. Whatever torture they may have been to me, I knew their life at home was usually much worse. I figured that out when the kid who bullied me came to school with the imprint of a belt buckle bruised into his chin, courtesy of his drunken father.

Move forward. Shake off the chains with which you are bound and live.

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LonelyHound January 19, 2014 at 7:58 pm

EHell Maven, I can see both sides of this. I was severely bullied in middle school and the beginning of high school. I moved on from those people because I found a core group of friends who made me strong and helped me to see that those people had the problems not me. Also, as high school progressed people I did not know, I found out, knew who I was because I got a reputation for being someone people could depend on for help, both in school and in their lives. I was recognized for being me, not by what the bullies had tried to pigeon hole me. The bullies went away and I healed. At least on the school front. I was also bullied quite a lot where I could not get away from the bully and it did not matter if I changed or was myself. Yes, I am able to function in situations with this person the interaction is tense and as short as I can make it. I do all I can to avoid social situations with this person. Yes, it limits me. Yes, I need to grow up. No, this person has not changed nor do they think they ever did anything wrong. However, there are phases people have to move through to be able to interact even on a limited level with their bully or people that have hurt them deeply. Some of the way I interpreted the OP’s story was that she has never really come to terms with her bullying years. Until she can really come to terms with it she will be stuck in the “mad phase”. I believe I am able to interact with my life long bully because I have come to terms with it and tried to move on. True I avoid social situations when I can but if I want to go and my bully is there I can make a civil show of it.

I have to disagree that any sort of olive branch is being extended. First, when confronted about the years she bullied the OP Lisa denied it, then it was maybe and then it was “oh, kids will be kids”. Regardless of who it was, we got the extended family involved when it was obvious OP was still dealing with the bullying she had in the past at the hands of Lisa. Secondly, people have been telling her to “grow up”. Not one person is saying “It is important to me that you are there. Can you please do this for me?”. They are responding with their own childish responses. So, for those that think the OP is being childish you have to extend that thinking to the family as well. Lastly, why is it so important that she be at a wedding for a cousin she has not seen in a few years and was not super close to said cousin. I am not going to guess at any motives; but Lisa could have responded in a way that did not apologize or accept blame for something she may not honestly remember. A simple, “I honestly do not remember but I can see those years hurt you. Would it be possible for you to put aside you feelings for one weekend and celebrate with Brady?” Lisa accepts no blame and leaves the ball in OP’s court. Even that might have given the OP a bit of closure.

I fully agree that the OP needs to come to terms with her bullying years to grow and move on, but it is hard. Telling someone to just “get over” it is not the answer. These are emotional scars and they can run very deep. We do not tell people verbally abused by a spouse or a parent to just move on. We know they have to go through stages. Do I think she is a bit stunted? Yes. She has buried the past not comes to terms with it. I think this experience should trigger her coming to terms with it, especially since she will now be seeing Lisa a family functions. OP, my best advice is to use this experience to start your healing process.

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Joy January 20, 2014 at 11:57 am

What a wonderful way of putting it. “There must come a time in your life when you resolve to not let people live in your brain rent free and allow them to dictate your emotions and actions.” I will try to remember this for myself, and for others who find themselves trapped by such feelings as well.

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Shutterbug January 20, 2014 at 5:29 pm

I’m not a big fan of telling anyone they ought to move on or forget the past. Each person is entitled to their own feelings and those feelings don’t necessarily have an expiration date.

In this case, I think OP should ask herself: Would she go to the time and expense of attending this wedding if cousin was not marrying her former bully? It doesn’t sound as if she and cousin were all that close to begin with to incur the expense and time to attend his wedding.

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Sarah January 20, 2014 at 5:55 pm

While I disagree with the admin regarding “letting it go”, I think we are all missing a big etiquette point. “An invitation is not a summons.”

If we strip this to the bare bones.
OP was invited to a cousins wedding. She had not seen this cousin in 5 years and was in no way close to him, the bride is some one with whom she is known too from her younger years but has no relationship in the present day and who she dose not care for. She RSVP’ed no.

She is now being hounded to attend.

What is wrong with not wanting to go to a wedding, regardless of the motives. the Bride and Groom are wrong wrong wrong.

OP I would tell them that since you already RSVP’ed no (for your stated reasons) you made plans for that day (hay sitting at home eating take out and watching a film is still plans) so have a nice day and see you on the 2nd of never.

good luck.

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Emily January 25, 2014 at 9:48 pm

Honestly, if I was Brady and Lisa, I wouldn’t want this woman at my wedding. “She’s obviously not shown him her true colors.” What kind of statement is that? We all grow and change. I am certainly not the same person I was at age 10-13 now. And I seriously doubt Lisa is either. The OP sought out the groom’s mother and then bashed the groom’s fiance. Was she bullied? I’m sure. But it’s time to move on. Harboring that resentment over a decade later seems ridiculous. Her answer should have been “I have a prior commitment” NOT “Your future wife is an awful person and I downright refuse to believe she’s changed OR be happy for you at all.”

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Dear! January 31, 2014 at 11:09 am

Wow.

In a way I can sympathize with with OP, but on another hand I really, really, want to say, “It’s time to let this go!”

I was a very awkward children. Overweight. Glasses. Nerdy. But, smart. And I was picked on as a kid. Some kids were downright cruel, but as I got older, my sense of humor tuned my life around, and the more I came out of my shell, the more my bullies and I, came to a common ground, and Im actually friends or happy acquaintances with most. People change. I did. I also came out of that awkward stage, the weight melted off, and a lot of those boys who were not so kind in the past try to hit on me. But, I get the last laugh.

People grow up, and I find it hard to hold a grudge from elementary school. in my mind, it’s kind of petty. But, also I don’t know how Lisa made the OP feel.

I feel for the OP, because some people really don’t grow up. There was this girl in elementary school. Real bully jealous type who picked on me. I was not too fond of her, but we were always cordial as we got older. Fast forward to our early twenties, just after I graduated college. We both ended up moving to a new country, and struck up a casual friendship. She seemed to be a new person, and we had a few fun times. But, I quickly learned she would talk about me behind my back and was very jealous. On the outside she seemed to have everything going for her, but she was really a wreck! She was also stuck in the past. I always got good grades, graduated Valedictorian, and moved to another country for college. I also did a national pageant as part of my bucket list. (It was for fun and not taken seriously.) Turns out this had her burning inside. (This was not known to me, until later on.) She had graduated highschool, tried a college, flunked out, worked an entry level job, and always had grand plans but did nothing to go after her dreams. And everything that those around her did and wanted, she suddenly wanted. Including men. Turns out she was a very miserable jealous girl who tried to poison the lives of those around her, and to try to help her would mean she would do her best to drag you down to. However, she is a special case. My reluctance to socialize with her is not about who she was, but who she is. I got burned by her, but the majority of people are good. Give then a chance to prove that.

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Netty January 31, 2014 at 2:29 pm

What better revenge on the bully than going to the wedding as the adult you are, holding your head up high and allowing the bride no more power over you.

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gb January 31, 2014 at 8:34 pm

She rsvp’ed “no.” Others losing her to go, even if she isn’t close to her cousin, seem like Lisa does know what she did and wants to brush it under the rug. I agree it would have been easier on OP had she just said, “I have a prior commitment,” and send a card. She was shocked and probably angry that a childhood bully could follow you into adulthood, and even into your own family and probably wanted it known that she wasn’t a fan of Lisa so at future gatherings they can consider this. I understand her feelings and no desire to be around Lisa, and it is her right. However, I don’t think that the feelings here are about etiquette. Her rsvp was disrespected, even if it was a non traditional excuse. That’s the etiquette issue here.

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gb January 31, 2014 at 8:35 pm

Losing should be *bugging. Sorry!

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Joy February 1, 2014 at 11:11 am

It is a fact that most bullies are suffering behind closed doors. Having said that, it does not change what they choose to do to someone. Yes, they were kids, but emotional scars run deep. If “Lisa” wouldn’t have given 5 different responses initially, I think the outcome here would have been totally different. I def think the OP should forgive (we don’t forget), but I also don’t think she owes it to anyone to be “bullied” into going to a wedding she has no desire to attend.

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Shelley February 6, 2014 at 7:32 pm

Chiming in a bit late but considering that you aren’t close to your cousin and rarely even see that side of the family, I’m thinking that the invitation is nothing more than a gift grab.

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Claire February 13, 2014 at 4:47 am

As someone who recently gave an apology more than 10 years late to an ex-boyfriend and former best friend who civilly and graciously told me the truth that my behavior was abusive, I would say that not giving an apology is part of how one treats another person. Not giving an apology is a decision made every day whether you are conscious of it or not. Deleting, forgetting about, and denial are also decisions made every day on how you treat people. Apologizing is part of growing up and changing the very thing that needs to be changed. Not being able to apologize means that that person is still stuck emotionally at age 12. It might be true that the victim is also stuck emotionally at age 12 but so is the bully. I have seen both sides of abuse and would like to say from experience that validating that what the bully or former bully did was wrong and is still wrong for not apologizing can be very helpful for the victim to start healing and get unstuck. The victim has the potential power to heal and move forward without such validation but I don’t think it’s necessary to withhold it.

I don’t think being civil and gracious requires one to go to someone’s wedding and I think being civil and gracious includes being truthful. My ex-boyfriend was civil and gracious when he told me the truth about my abusive behavior. I credit him with triggering my change. It’s the best thing that anyone ever did for me. Although he was not “trying” to change me. Instead of either not talking about an ugly and difficult subject or putting up with it graciously which is actually not very gracious.

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Cecilia February 14, 2014 at 11:35 am

I understand what the admin and other posters are saying, but it seems to me that Lisa is trying to bully OP into coming to her wedding. Lisa did not accept her no RSVP and even enlisted family members to try to sway the OP. Admin stated in one response that Lisa must have influence on the family if she can get them to badger OP. Of course, we must admit that maybe the family is so sick of Lisa harping on it that the family did it just to shut Lisa up.

OP may eventually be able to forgive Lisa, but Lisa should be a grown-up, too, and admit what she did instead of tap-dancing around it. It seems that many want OP to pretend it did not happen, but that is *so* much easier said than done. It’s apparent OP did not get the support she needed to be able to really move past this and although I know many mean well, telling someone to “get over it” really isn’t helpful and does not work. It seems like people who suggest that are saying OP’s feelings do not count. She was hurt, deeply, and Lisa was a part of that. I think the fact that she did not think about Lisa until Brady became engaged, was a tiny victory for her.

I see another scenario: OP shows up. For whatever reason, there is a scene with the bride. OP gets blamed for “ruining Lisa’s day”. Lisa get to be the martyr/victim. Then OP is told she should not have attended if she could not play nice. It seems like a no-win situation for OP and I think she made the right decision.

Lisa is rude to have called and questioned the no. If she was gracious, had grown up and changed, as has been suggested, she would have accepted the no and “let it go”.

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