AN UNNERVING SETBACK.

I felt that the reunion I attended was an opportunity to make peace with some aspects of the past, but what has proven a setback was something that happened the other night.

I was looking on Facebook for messages and what should I see but a message request from a person with the same name and profile picture of a former bully who I hadn’t seen for 35 years. Initially, I felt shocked, but then I started to see three possibilities. One, he had been hacked, two, he had set up a new profile, or three, somebody from the reunion had tipped him off, or, possibly, if he set up a new profile, for some weird reason, I came up as a potential person he may know.

All I received in the message from him was “Hello”. I know I can rationalise something he said to me when I said that I looked forward to the day when I’d never have to see him again with, “We were children when he said it (he threatened that he’d come looking for me in adulthood and kill me) and you couldn’t realistically expect someone to wait 36 years to carry out such a threat. And typically, if someone hasn’t seen someone for 18 years and an old grudge is settled with physical violence, it’s not that the person says, “I’ll wait 18 years,” (I remember a case where two teenage boys had been inseparable until one of them developed feelings for a girl, and started seeing her, but after some time, she left him and ended up with the other guy and their friendship ended over it. Some 18 years later, the second guy, who by now had had two kids with the girl, now a woman, was at a club and the first guy happened to walk into there and he heard the other guy’s name or saw him, and went up to him and an incident occurred. The first guy was asked to leave, and he went home and changed and hid behind the bins in the carpark and waited for the second guy to emerge and he stabbed him (he didn’t kill him). I’d say the initial meeting was spontaneous, but the second part was premeditated, and it was complicated by the fact that the second guy seemed to have it together while the first guy didn’t. What it did reveal was the toxicity and immaturity of the first guy and what he needed to learn was, “If your relationship was threatened, remember, your relationship with the girl didn’t work out. If she just left you because he seemed to offer more, neither of them were worth ruining your life over.”

The possibilities as to why the guy who used to bully me would message me seem complex. On the one hand, I thought, was he looking to renew his bullying list? Had he been diagnosed with a terminal illness and developed a conscience and didn’t want to die with bullying memories on his conscience? Or what? If it was the first, I’d say, “Sorry, you’ve lucked out.” If it was the second, I would say, “Well, okay, you’ve apologized. And I accept it. But that’s it.”

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Diagnosed with autism at 35. Explained a lifetime of difference.

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Peter Wynn

Diagnosed with autism at 35. Explained a lifetime of difference.