Sometimes the easiest thing to do is the hardest. For me, it's letting go of the past. I tend to hold grudges for years. My anger doesn't disappear easily. I have let most of my grudges go, but some linger on. There is one that has stayed in the forefront of my mind for more than 10 years. It stems back to a person who took pleasure in terrorizing me during sixth grade. To protect the (not so) innocent, she will only be referred to as "Ella Mentry."
I hated my life at Highlands Middle School because of her. Apparently having coke bottle glasses, wearing penny loafers and being smart made me a prime target for bullying. Ella Mentry frequently led her crew in called me "Nerd Girl" and taunting everything about me. She often snatched my homework, copied it and threw it away. Once in gym class she demanded a spare t-shirt from me. Being a kind, naïve soul, I let her borrow one. Do you think she gave it back? When I asked about my shirt, Ella Mentry acted a fool and said she didn't have it. I left in tears because once again I had been bullied (and lost my official gym class shirt). I later found it thrown in the trash. Ella Mentry was that kind of person: rude, crude and with an attitude. Most of the students, and probably some teachers, were scared of her. The first time I tried to stand up to her, she came at me with a warning to back down and pushed my head.
Eventually, I gained courage. Ella Mentry skipped me in line in art class one day. I politely tried to get my spot back, but she pushed me. I snapped and pushed her back. It was on like Donkey Kong, and we started fighting. Surprisingly it wasn't that bad. Highland's Unholy Terror did not beat up Nerd Girl, and we both received in-school suspension. Ella Mentry tried to be nice to me after the fight, but it was too late. The grudge was born.
I transferred schools the next year, but often wondered what happened to Ella Mentry. I saw glimpses of her twice over the years. It was my hope that she would end up on crack, in prison or worse. It didn't happen. Instead, who should I see singing in my grandma's church choir when they came to my daddy's church last month? Yes, Ella Mentry is a new member at my old church home. I was so upset, which is kind of sad considering I'm holding on to a childhood grudge.
The problem is this ruined a longstanding dream of mine. I wanted to one day appear on the Oprah Show for a segment on childhood bullying. I – a successful, award-winning writer – would share my own tale of horror. Then Oprah would bring out Ella Mentry and her minions. Their lives would be in shambles, of course. Ella Mentry would lead them in apologizing to me. I wouldn't gloat in their lives' failures and would simply respond, "You tried to break me, but you didn't. Despite your evil ways, I forgive you."
All my grudges boil down to one thing: an apology. If everyone I held a grudge against would just say "I'm sorry," I could let it go. All I want is a nationally televised apology from Ella Mentry, and then all will be forgiven. That's not too much to ask for right? But in the words of The Rolling Stones, "You can't always get what you want." And my mother says I can't expect God to forgive me if I can't do the same.
I have to accept the fact I probably will never get a grandiose apology, or any type for that matter, from Ella Mentry. I'm still a little – maybe a lot – bitter about being bullied. But after 13 years, it's past time to move on. So Ella Mentry, I forgive you. Besides releasing a grudge from middle school should be elementary, my dear readers.