Can I forgive?

Forgive and forget, right? Isn’t that what we were taught as children?

As a child, I was relentlessly bullied. I never learned how to carry myself back then. I never learned how to talk to others. I would try to make friends, but I tried too hard and ended up annoying them. Eventually, their annoyance of me turned into antipathy and plain bullying, instead of telling me why they were annoyed and teaching me how to combat this. Back in elementary school, someone would take my backpack and throw it off the second floor where my classroom was for me to find afterwards. People would chew up their food and spit it on my backpack. I would be excluded from virtually anything my peers would be engaged in, including group projects.

When I transitioned to seventh grade, I created a Facebook account to stay connected to school events. However, that was a mistake in many aspects. People would spam my notifications with double-edged statements. People would tell me to leave my school because it would make it a better place. A couple told me to kill myself to make the world a better place. I would simply post a picture of me at a festival, and a myriad of irrelevant, negative comments would flood my comments section. I can still remember who tormented me as of this day.

Once I got to high school, I have grown a thicker skin and began to have a better sense of self-confidence. I found true friends, and we still confide in each other since 2013. I couldn’t ask for any more than that. However, THOSE people. Those who have made my childhood life a living hell at school; they followed me into high school. However there was one major difference — they’re nice to me. We have grown up. We’re now civil. Did something happen to them? If an outside influence changed them, I want to know what, because it saved me.

However throughout high school, whenever I have a conversation with these people, I still wonder if it’s a facade. Are they like this because they truly want to be nice to me? Are they like this because they see that I’ve only made only a few, but very close, friends? Is it pity? Are they like this because they’re trying to sweep past events under the rug?

Some of them have come up to me and made an apology for the things they have done. Some have done that out of nowhere, but others apologized only in the moments after their new high school friends have found such antagonistic statuses and posts about me, seeing how horrible they were. Regardless of how some apologized to me, can I forgive them?

It was such emotional stress back then. I’ve cried so much at home because of it. Eventually, I became so numb to it, which probably made them think that they could continue to hurt me. Can I really try to forget?

In a simple answer, I can’t do that for them. As much as I want to forgive and forget, the pain of all of this is just too much for me to forgive. But what I can do is to stay civil with them. I can work and cooperate with them. I won’t air out dirty laundry by naming names; that’s just stooping down to how they were back then.

“But Anthony, why share this stuff?”

I know that someone out there is probably going through this right now, maybe in the past as well. To those people, I want to let them know that they are not alone at all. It really gets better, because people will grow up. It happened for me, it will happen to others.