Today is the birthday of a young man I know in Mexico. I met him in 2002 (I'm pretty sure that was the year). I haven't seen him since 2003. We had a student/helper relationship for an academic year. This wonderful guy, who came to me confused and homesick, used to tell me how helpful what we did together was for him, how grateful he was to have met me, how much he had learned about himself.
Well .. I want to pay that back. He needs to know that at a time in my "career" when I was in fact being bullied at work, he was a voice that kept coming back to me, kept reminding me why I do what I do, kept cheering me on. Years later we connect on Facebook, I see he is flourishing, I can't tell how happy that makes me. And still he feels free to talk and connect with me, still says how lovely of an experience it was ... and again, I feel strengthened, supported, vindicated which I figure is not a good word to use - but bullying does things to a person - makes them doubt themselves, makes them not believe what they are doing is any good, leads them to give up on themselves.
I remember - that this relationship, my belief and ability to connect authentically, be supportive, and so much more - allowed me to realize that I was in fact in the wrong place, that I did in fact need to go back to school to formalize what I was doing, put myself on the path I am on now. I didn't need to be bullied for that to happen, what I needed was to believe in myself ... and this young Mexican man really helped me do that.
Gratitude is a funny thing. I can't with all good conscience say that I am glad I was bullied - because that was one of the worst experiences of my life - but the work I did as an International Student Advisor certainly woke up the "therapy" bug in me, made me hungry for more, set me on my way. What I am grateful for was to have the hand of my friend to right the ship a wee bit in those dreadfully stormy days. I am not so sure I would be "here" without that hand....
I am eternally grateful for having known you.