Like a Slap in the Face

I’ve never written about this experience before, and I’m omitting names & specific circumstances for privacy.

44. Insult: Write about being insulted. How do you feel? Why do you think the other person insulted you?

I have never fit in with a crowd.

From elementary school through university, I could never get into the “in group.” I was not one of the cool, popular kids.

But even in the groups I did fit in with, there was always one person I clashed with.

This was usually another girl, and someone with a strong, forceful personality, rather like me.

Sometimes this led to conflict, but most of the time we instinctively knew to try and avoid each other. In college, though, I ended up living with a group of women that included one such personality.

She and I had been “friends” since our first year, but looking back I realize that my feelings towards her were of apathy, while hers seem to have been true antipathy.

After Graduation

After graduating, I had been surprised to be included in an email group made up of most of the women I had lived with. By the time of our graduation, I had distinctly felt myself to be “out” of the group.

We had all gone different directions, and some of us had ended up back with our parents while we figured out what to do with ourselves. After eight years away from home, it certainly wasn’t easy to move back in with my folks, and I’m sure the others felt the same.

A Mysterious Email

Finally, I did write. I told them about home, work, and adjusting to life after college. I sent it off and thought nothing more of it.

Then, while I was visiting a girlfriend for a weekend, I got a couple of strange emails.

First came a response to my email to the whole group. The email just below that came from the same woman and its subject line said, “Read this first!”

I obeyed, and opening the second email, read that she had forgotten to remove my email address from the previous email, and she asked me not to read it. She gave for a reason the fact that they were planning to surprise me with something when we all returned to university in the fall for Homecoming weekend.

I was in the middle of a visit, about to head out, so I deleted the group email, closed my computer and forgot about it entirely. I didn’t even take time to respond.

Then the Insult Came

By the time I got home after my weekend, the email had completely gone out of my head. I went back to work, and totally forgot that I hadn’t responded to my former housemate.

The following Wednesday, I got another email from her.

This email had me baffled. In it, she was apologizing profusely, giving as an explanation that she was not doing well, had been unhappy since graduation, and she had lashed out.

I was startled and concerned. I went into my deleted messages and found her response to my email to the group.

A Bucket of Ice Water

It was like a bucket of ice water had been poured over my head.

I had never had such language directed at me. The whole email was laced with insults, accusations, and shaming.

My eyes were opened to the extent to which I had been on the outside of this clique, the butt of their inside jokes.

It was humiliating.

But the worst part was that it came from the wrong person.

Not The Source I’d Expected

This email hadn’t come from the woman I’d previously clashed with. It came, in fact, from the one woman in the clique I had still seen as a friend.

It was a blow. Already feeling lonely and adrift, the stab in the back just added to my feeling of isolation. It was like the last string holding me to that part of college life had been cut.

Pretty quickly after my initial hurt, I started thinking. I put myself in her shoes. I realized she was feeling the same way I was: isolated and frightened.

Forgiven and Almost Forgotten

Several months later, when we laid eyes on each other again at Homecoming, we both had the same initial reaction.

Our eyes lit up, we each took a step forward. Then, we remembered.

Her face fell. Our smiles vanished. I said, “It’s okay…”

Her answer made me feel even sadder about the whole thing: “No. No, it really isn’t.”

Though I had forgiven her and wanted to forget the incident, I could tell that she hadn’t forgiven herself.

I still miss her, thirteen years later.


The Brain In Jane works mainly in the rain. It's always raining somewhere. Find me on Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.

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