Sjoerd was just about to go to work when he saw a message on his phone from someone he knew from a distant past, when he still lived in a village in the Achterhoek. “I thought: huh, he?”, He tells RTL News.
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In recent years I have regularly thought back to primary school, now that my children are also on the … Now your profile came along on Linkedin.
And I realized that I have bullied you a lot in elementary school. So much so that you went to a different school. This period must have been terrible for you. Sorry for causing this with my behavior then.
Now years later, older and wiser and now a father, I feel the need to offer my sincere apologies about this. Inside is a huge regret that the bullying all happened at the time.
And I feel like a huge jerk about this!
I do realize that time cannot be turned back.
I hope you are doing well.
And I wish you the best for the future.
When Sjoerd read this he had to swallow. “I had to read it five times before the message had completely arrived. I was overwhelmed and actually immediately contacted my wife and parents. It also triggered emotions in them. Of course they experienced it up close at the time.”
The first years of primary school were still fine, Sjoerd says. “From grade 5 it all became less friendly. I lived on the farm, away from the village. My classmates saw each other almost every day after school and went to school together. That’s why the differences arose.”
He became an outsider, an easy target for bullies. “I never belonged. Whether this was with children’s parties, or playing in the schoolyard. Choosing a team at the gym. Stealing marbles. During the break I was called names and belittled. And in class, at the gym. moments when there was no teacher, the bullying continued. “
It frightened and insecure him. “I didn’t want to go to school anymore. You become very private and start to think that everything is up to you.”
In group 7 it was no longer possible. Sjoerd went to another school. Luckily he had a good time there. But the period in which he was bullied like this left deep wounds for a long time. “I was constantly looking for ‘the ideal Sjoerd’, who is considered tough by everyone and who is loved. I was looking for ways to never end up in the situation of the past, but through this behavior you achieve it. opposite. “
‘I was happy’
In the end Sjoerd started from scratch. “Believe in myself and be proud of the things I have achieved in my life. I was good at horse riding, had a nice and safe haven (my family) and during my high school years I found a lot of challenge in my part-time job at a large holiday park. Here I met a lot of people and made friends. In addition, I was soon allowed to replace the work of the simple chores with the big work behind the reception. People appreciated me and I was happy again. “
This strengthened him in the sense that everyone in the world matters. “Me too. And that became my further motivation. I am now an entrepreneur and co-owner of a successful and wonderful company. And I am also involved as main sponsor of De Graafschap, because my second passion is football.”
He has given a place to the bullying. “But I couldn’t shut it down permanently. It remains a scar.” He therefore greatly appreciates that one of the bullies has now reached out to him.
“In the morning and on the way to work, I let his message sink in. I sent him a message at the office. This best reflects my feeling.”
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That is a long time ago!
First of all, I think your message is brave and I appreciate it enormously.
But this message did bring back some painful memories.
A chapter that I have tried to close several times.
The impact on my childhood has been enormous and it also influenced who I became as a person. It has made me stronger and a fighter. But at the same time it made me feel very sad and insecure.
As a father you want the best for your children and you want them to have a beautiful and happy school time. And being bullied should never be a part of this, let’s pass this message on to our children.
We all become happier with the baggage we carry with us during our lives.
We cannot turn back time, but this message from you does give the opportunity to close something definitively.
If you are open to it, I would like to drink a cup of coffee together.
Sjoerd decided to share his bully’s message on Twitter. Why? “I wanted to make it clear that it is never too late to say sorry. We all make mistakes, all have scars. But daring to admit mistakes brings us people closer together.”
His tweet was massively shared and liked. Sjoerd hopes that other former bullies will follow suit. “I saw in the responses to my tweet that several bullies find it difficult to confront after so many years. Actually quite special, because it shows that they themselves are insecure about their actions and walk around with a feeling of shame. And that’s okay, that’s just human. “
Sjoerd would like to say to them: “Take your responsibility and apologize. It can mean a lot to the other person. And at the same time it is not a weakness, but it radiates enormous strength if you have the courage to do this.”
He also has a message for the people who have been bullied themselves: “Be proud of who you are and of those who are dear to you. Know that you cannot be blamed yourself and do not actively look for the bully. But continue the conversation. Don’t shy away from when he or she contacts you. You might want to give it a place for yourself when you know the other person has shown regret. Even though we can’t turn back time. “
Psychologist encourages apologies, but …
Psychologist Heinz Freese treats many bullied people. He says that apologizing is very good and certainly encourages it. “It means an acknowledgment to the one who has been bullied. He can then close something.”
Still, he warns bullies who contact their former victims not to do so too rigorously. It would be good to first gauge in their environment whether they really need it.
Otherwise it can also backfire. “It is precisely the confrontation that can bring back the bad memories.” The psychologist advises bullied people who like it to go into therapy. “You have to process that trauma and it is possible,” he says.
The effects of bullying can be enormous, Freese knows. “Low self esteem, fears, anger and loneliness. Feeling like you are not worth it.” He adds that bullies often come from the same background. “They act out of uncertainty and feel they have to prove something.”