by Karen Frazier, Managing Editor
Paranormal Underground Magazine
When I was in the sixth grade, I had a girl who had been my friend all through school go rogue on me. Let’s call her Jessica. She became, for no reason that I could ascertain at the time, one of the meanest people I had ever met. She started spreading rumors about me, telling lies behind my back, making prank phone calls to me and trying to get all of my friends to “her side.”
Jessica continued to attempt to torture me throughout the rest of my school time. I always tried to be nice to her, and the nicer I tried to be, the more vicious she became. I tried to ignore her. That made her worse, as well. Jessica was, as best I can tell, my encounter with a bully who wouldn’t quit.
I was bewildered. I didn’t even know why she had a side or what had happened. I couldn’t understand why someone I had always been friends with and had always been nice to suddenly turned on me and became what, for a sixth grade girl, was my worst nightmare.
That’s my side of the story. I am sure that if you talked to Jessica then, and all of these years later, she would have a different one. Looking back from the lofty position of *koff* 30 *koff* years of maturity, I think I can see what happened. The truth was very likely somewhere in between my story and Jessica’s story.
The school system I grew up in is probably like many in the United States. Kids start in small elementary schools, and then filter from several elementary schools into larger middle schools, which filter into even larger high schools. I was always a pretty shy and awkward kid in grade school. I had friends, but I was never what one would call “popular”. When we got into middle school, here was a group of people who had never met me, and didn’t know a thing about me. I could reinvent myself and I did. I hid my shyness and developed a pretty large group of friends pretty quickly. I still considered my friends from grade school my close friends, but all of a sudden my circle expanded. That was when Jessica went on the attack. Now that I’m *koff*43*koff*, I can see why. As my circle of friends expanded and Jessica’s stayed the same, I made her feel invisible. It’s as simple and as complicated as that.
Every story has two sides. My side of the Jessica story has me being a completely innocent party as I was bullied and picked on relentlessly for six years by a serious beyotch. I’m sure Jessica’s story was that I deserved everything she gave me because I got too full of myself when we got into middle school. Fair enough. I probably did.
Why am I recounting horror stories from my youth? Because it seems that, even as adults, we are still those children on the playground. When things don’t go our way, when someone doesn’t see the world as we do, when someone disagrees with us or hurts our feelings, we quite often fail to look at the whole story. Instead we only see our side. And that side is often not entirely true, because we can’t be truthful with ourselves. We don’t want to see our role in things, so we don’t.
It’s natural. We all want to see ourselves as good people. This is why we justify all sorts of behaviors in ourselves that we would find unacceptable in others. As a matter of fact, there is a good deal of scientific evidence that our brains are actually wired this way, and that we do rewrite history in order to see ourselves in a positive light. We aren’t exactly lying. We believe our revisionist history because we have to in order to protect our own self-image.
People often wonder why I choose to take a neutral position in he said/she said type controversies. This is the reason. Because once something blows up and emotion comes into play, we all begin spinning our own stories for ourselves so that we can continue to live with ourselves.
I used to think that, unless you were there, you never really knew. I’ve revised that now. Even if you were there, unless you are relentlessly honest with yourself you never know. Everyone has a story. Everyone has a side. Everyone wants to feel that they are justified in what they do. I’m no exception and neither is anyone else. From the very second that we begin to share our “side” with another, we begin to spin it. Not because we are bad or evil, but because it is what we do to protect ourselves.
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