The problem: I was invited via e-mail to a gathering of former high school classmates. It’s not a reunion — just a golf game followed by lunch. The host assured me that I’d know “everyone in the room.” He also wrote, “Hope things are good for you.” I am stunned. It’s been 43 years since graduation, but I still can’t shake the fact that I was bullied — a lot by many people — throughout my time there. I am wondering if this is a setup for hazing. Or is this an opportunity to accept how much time has passed? We had a small class and a number of students have passed away. My husband says to just delete the invite.
Low road: Respond with an “Are you kidding me?” e-mail. Tell the host that you can’t believe he had the audacity to include you after the hell that high school was for you.
High road: The problem with a vengeance strategy is that it puts you right back in that ugly place you escaped more than four decades ago. I’m guessing there is a part of you that wants, instead, to make this right as the grown-up, gracious, competent woman you are now. But what would “right” look like?
You are proof that the scars of childhood bullying are dismally slow to heal. Still, life has surely also taught you that time is the great equalizer. Power, fame, money? None of it protects any of us from heartache or loss. The high road here is to decide what 60-year-old you wants to do.
Want to play a round of golf? Then go, and feel confident that no one is out to hurt you. You will either be delighted by your swing, and the new/old friends with whom you’ll reconnect, or you won’t ever need to see any of these people again. But you’ll have finally closed this long high school chapter on your own confident terms.
And if you don’t want to go? Also fine. E-mail the host and tell him what is true. That you were surprised to hear from him. That you cannot believe how much time has passed and how many classmates are gone. That things are very good for you, thank you. And that, while you won’t be attending, you hope that things are good for him, too.
Send questions about life’s little quandaries to firstname.lastname@example.org.