This is Life, Based on a True Story  

Even bullies feel regret

On the heels of my last column about bullying and how it affected me as an adult, I wanted to share with you the other side of the story – that of the bully.

My previous column struck a chord with a lot of people, and generated the second-highest number of emails and Facebook messages I’ve ever received in response to my columns.

It surprised me because I was just telling my story. But when I learn how it helps or affects others, it’s a reminder of why I push myself to share parts of me with you.

Among the messages I received were people from my past asking if they had bullied me. Wondering and worrying that this could be about them. In every case, the answer was no.

And despite their not falling in the “bully” category, they all apologized for being the way they were – stating they were different back in the days when we were kids and teens.

I totally agree. I look back at some of my actions and cringe. But you do what you at the time because it’s all you know. Experience will eventually help us see more than what’s in front of us — and most of us don’t grow into that until we’re decades older.

Every one of them thanked me for bringing this to light. A couple of people said they now know they need to reach out to those people whom they knew they hurt, to make amends.

The other “group” of people who contacted me were those who wanted to share their story and how being bullied affected them.

What that told me more than anything is how so many people share that experience, but never speak about it. One person actually likened it to being ashamed for not being cool enough to fit in. I found that sad.

I received a lot of messages from people who said they were bullies. And they knew they were at the time. Their stories are the reason I’m writing this column today.

The theme of their messages was regret. These people feel regret as adults, knowing they went out of their way to bully others when they were younger.

One person said the regret feels like their karma as their kid is now being horribly bullied. They said it pains them to see what their child is going through because they now understand the pain they consciously put another person and their family through.

Another person said they can see the same bullying tendencies in their own kids, but don’t know how to stop the process, despite their and others’ intervention.

Every single person said over and over how sorry they were for doing that to another human and putting someone through that, despite knowing better.

One person seemed to paraphrase everyone’s thoughts best. They stated that being able to say sorry to someone for a past action like bullying, is a gift.

“It’s humbling and oh so difficult.”

They went on to say that in most cases, the person who was a bully probably didn’t even deserve to be given the chance to apologize – let alone forgiven.

But if the person accepts their apology — truly accepts it — that’s even more of a gift. To the offender, it’s hopeful indication that person has moved on and has forgiven; even before the apology came.

For no one ever knows or expects the admittance and subsequent apology.

What I took out of all of this was the reminder that there are two sides — sometimes more — to every story. That we are all capable of and likely to change as we become more aware. That even the meanest bully realizes it one day. And that almost all of them wish for a do-over. To make things right, seek forgiveness and change the perception of who they were.

My favourite part of writing in general, is the platform it can give me to possibly help others. That’s my goal when I get down to the heart of it. I don’t hit the mark as often as I’d like, but when I do, it’s rejuvenating.

Thanks for reading — and inspiring.


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About the Author

Tanya Gunderson has been writing for the heck of it for many years. Her inspiration comes from her kids, their friends and the craziness of life. She takes great pleasure in exposing life for what it really is and has an open-book approach to her writing.

Her formal education and background include a blink-and-you miss-it stint in the radio and television industry, but it gave her an opportunity to write professionally on a few different occasions.

Email: [email protected]



The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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