Personal Story of How I Turned One of My Fiercest of Bullies into The Greatest of Friends

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Shelly (not her real name) had been one of my most vicious of bullies during school. Every time we passed one another in the halls, at a ballgame, anywhere and we would not hesitate to exchange nasty sentiments as we passed, “Bitch!”, “Whore!” “Skank!”. Thinking up ways to degrade and slut-shame each other was always a top priority during these little meetings.

Fast-forward twenty years, in late 2007, I went to a karaoke show, which was held in the Moose Lodge club on the outskirts of town to celebrate my recently having the courage to break off what had been a 2 1/2 year-long abusive relationship. I hadn’t known my own strength until this point, and I was ready for a fun girl’s night out.

When I arrived at the Moose Lodge with a few friends in tow, the first word I heard was, “Oh my God! Not that bitch!” Honestly, I thought the verbal assault was directed at someone else until I looked up and saw her. There Shelly stood, pool cue in one hand, the other hand resting on her boyfriend’s back as her eyes and brows narrowed into little slits in her face and bore into me like a sharp object.

I had not seen her in so many years and wondered how it was that she’d managed to drag around so much hate for so many years when I had completely forgotten about her amid juggling bills, a job and family, and other adult priorities. But I also discovered that maybe I too had some unresolved hate as well only it was a case of out of sight, out of mind.

I’d soon learn that that night, Shelly was going through the lowest point in her life. Life hadn’t been kind to her.

It seemed that on her part, even twenty years, marriages and children hadn’t been enough to erase the teenage animosity she still held. We lived in a small Southern town, and in small Southern towns, very few people ever forget the past, and it’s very easy for the reputation you once had in your teens to follow you for the rest of your life. Sadly, this is how it is in a small town.

Having always loved music and had vocal talent, I got up and sang one of my favorite songs, and everyone cheered once I was finished. After I sat down, Shelly sat down beside me and was very impressed with my performance. She told me that she admired my voice and that she’d always known I could sing but didn’t know I was that good. At first, I was flabbergasted. This was the first positive remark I’d heard from her, but nevertheless, I was grateful.

I smiled and gave her a gracious “Thank you. It’s good to see you again after all these years.”

We continued to talk, and she took some pictures out of her purse to show me. Pictures of what was her talent- woodwork and paintings, the most beautiful work I’d ever seen. This lady was very talented, and I couldn’t or wouldn’t deny it. I truly loved her work and could not stop looking at those pictures and complimenting her. She truly was an expert at woodworking and oil painting.

It was at that point that the dynamics of our relationship changed for the better. We exchanged phone numbers and soon began calling each other and texting cute little funnies back and forth. Then we began to invite each other to family outings, cookouts, and meetings in town for lunch.

We soon became the greatest of friends, and I grew to truly love this lady. We often talked about how we missed out on what could have been a wonderful friendship years ago.

“Boy! We were stupid back then, weren’t we?” Shelly laughed.

I laughed and readily agreed. She was right. We were dumb kids with big mouths and bad attitudes.

Knowing the past couldn’t be changed, we were content to go from the present and make our friendship as fun and drama-free as possible.

This story’s moral is this: It is always possible to turn a bully or enemy into a friend. Nothing is impossible. All it takes is to break down that wall and show the other person genuine interest. Everybody loves it when you are interested in them, their likes, and how things are going in their lives—even the coldest and meanest of people.

As humans, we all have a certain degree of selfishness. We all want the same things- to be loved, appreciated, and respected. Everybody has a void waiting to be filled. If we can fill the void- whether it’s by making the person feel loved and respected or giving the person some sense of who they are and where they belong, it can be the difference between gaining a friend or keeping an enemy.

Through our many talks, I found out that this poor lady I thought was so cruel yet totally in control and didn’t need anyone was really a girl who didn’t feel loved by anyone. She was just as sad as I was but had put on a tough exterior. Also, she had suffered incidences of bullying herself; though not as severe as I did, it still hurt her immensely.

positive friends

Sadly, my beautiful friend Shelly passed away two years ago from cancer. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t miss her and think of her. I’ll never forget that night at the karaoke club, the night Shelly and I became close friends. And we remained like sisters until the day she died.

By showing her genuine interest, without fakery, I was able to turn one of my most resistant bullies into one of my best friends. And I’m so thankful that we became like sisters and finally found out that the other was really a great person who had been hiding a lot of past hurts and brokenness! I thoroughly enjoyed the time we got to spend together and I miss her…I miss her so much.

Fly high, Shelly! Until we meet again on those golden streets!

0 thoughts on “Personal Story of How I Turned One of My Fiercest of Bullies into The Greatest of Friends

  1. bernard25 says:

    Mon ami amie

    Malgré la distance tu es celle ou celui qui me comprends quand je suis triste
    Tu es celle ou celui qui me réconforte dans ces moments là
    Toi seule ou seul sait me redonner le sourire qu’il se doit
    Comme si tu étais à mes cotés à ces instants précis
    Je vous souhaite une belle semaine et une mention particulière pour la fête des mères aux mamans

    Bonne fêtes des mères pour ce 29 mai à venir
    Bise Amitié Bernard A tous mes amis Amies Soyez Heureux

  2. aparna12 says:

    It’s really very interesting and a heart touching story. You are amazing and I respect you even more for turning a former bully into a great friend. Sad to know about Shelly’s Passing. May her soul rest in peace.

  3. Celt Peadar says:

    What a great story! I never got the forge a bond like that ith my own bullies…

    I am Polish. Born and raised here. But I’ve been to the U.S. a couple of time for surgery and rehab. During one of stays there, I spent two years at Hanson Park Elementary School in Chicago. I was bullied by the whole class there. When I asked our teacher for help, all she did was send them to the principal. Over there, the kids turned the situation to their advantage.

    Especially one kid named Anthony (after all these years I still remember his name) loved to pick on me… Everyone in the States was always helpful and accepting, especially at the hospital where I was treated. But that school… Aside from a few fun things, that school was the worst.

    In time I returned to Poland and began going to school here. Over here I was never ever bullied again, always treated like an important part of the class and everything.

    • cheriewhite says:

      My heart goes out to you, Celt. I can only imagine that added to the fact that you were away from home and having health issues, the bullying only made it a thousand times worse. It’s sad and pathetic that bullies like to kick someone when they’re already down and having a difficult time. 💔 Know that none of it was your fault and that there was never anything wrong with you. Their treatment of you only proves that they were the ones with the problem and that they were the scumbags. Know that you are enough and you matter!

      • Celt Peadar says:

        Those two years at that school were tough, but I pulled through. It took me years to realise all the things you said here. And even now, at 36, I still struggle with a low self-esteem. Though realistically, I shoudn’t have any reason to.

        • cheriewhite says:

          Sadly, that’s what bullying does- wrecks your self-esteem. And it can take years, even decades, to repair it. I’m so glad you survived and moved back hone to a better school.

  4. Kym Gordon Moore says:

    You know Cherie, the beautiful part about your story is, not just the formation of a late-blooming friendship that could have happened when you were in school, but this resolution happened at the right time, before she passed away, taking all of that weight with her to her grave. What a wonderful way to turn the tables, and to inspire others in the same type of predicament to do the same! How awesome girlfriend! 👏🏼🥰🙌🏼

    • cheriewhite says:

      Thank you so much, Kym. She will be gone 5 years this December and, although I’ll always miss her, I have some beautiful memories of our time together that I can cherish until my dying day. I also take comfort in knowing that she isn’t suffering anymore. 💖🌺🌻🦋 And you’re so right, sweetie! Everything happened at just the right time! We became friends 10 years before she died and during those last ten years, we had so much fun together! I’ll forever be grateful to God for allowing us to reconcile when He did! 💖🕊

  5. Simone E says:

    Beautiful! I’m amazed how you had the grace to be open to forming a relationship with one of the people who have hurt you so deeply. I commend you for that!
    It’s truly a beautiful story with a bittersweet ending… it’s amazing to see what years can do to a person and it certainly seems like Shelly has changed for the better!
    Some great lessons for me to learn. Be open. Be receptive. Be kind. We never know how a person has changed and we always need to give them another chance.

  6. Writeflow says:

    🥺this is such a beautiful relationship . I hope you could meet her again . You’re right we all have some voids to be filled and i need part 2. May her soul rest in peace

    • cheriewhite says:

      Thank you so much! 💖 You don’t know how much this means! Although I miss her, I take comfort in knowing that she’s at peace and is no longer suffering.

  7. Janice Reid says:

    Wow, we never know what’s going on in someone’s head to make them believe a certain way. Glad you two had a chance to get to understand and like each other even if for a short time.

  8. Ellie Thompson says:

    What a wonderful story, Cherie. I’m so glad you were able to become such close friends before she passed away. It’s such an inspirational account of what could have always been a difficult and unpleasant relationship becoming something so special. I’m so glad that it worked out so positively for you both. I’m sorry that you lost such a dear friend too. Rest in Peace, Shelley. Xx 💟❣💟

  9. Adelheid says:

    This is a wonderful story of friendship. You have such a good heart to welcome her and be very good friends with her. I’m sure she’s in a good place now treasuring her friendship with you. Bless your heart, Cherie! 🥰

    • cheriewhite says:

      Awww! Thank you so much, Adelheid! 💖 It gives me comfort that she’s in a good place now. We were friends for ten years and if I could, I’d relive those ten years! 💐🌹🦋

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