Bullying is one of those words that gets associated with childhood a lot.
Like play or nap.
We tend to gloss over the wounds that this sort of torment can cause.
Well, what happens when a previous bully needs help and you aren’t necessarily willing to give it?
That was the issue facing Redditor and Original Poster (OP) throwaway0711202212 when he came to the “Am I the A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for judgment.
“AITA for refusing to help my HS bully with his medical bills?”
First, a bit of background.
“When I (33m) was younger, I was not the most popular kid in class. I did the musicals and academic subjects.”
“I wasn’t much of a sportsperson and not really very social.”
“Toward the end of HS, I made quite a few friends, and it got easier.”
“But one of the ‘popular kids’ – let’s call him Jake – constantly taunted me – for my ethnicity, my body, my ‘nerdiness’ and what have you. I have never forgotten it and constantly resented him for it.”
Then, to the problem at hand.
“Fast forward 15 years.”
“Jake has done something very stupid and immature, and as a result, he has been in a coma for several years.”
“I left my country when I graduated Uni, and now live in a major city abroad earning a pretty significant sum.”
“I’m known in my field, and everyone I went to school with is aware of this. Quite frankly, the fat musical kid ended up the most successful graduate of his class.”
“For many years, the parents and friends of Jake paid his medical bills to keep him on a ventilator.”
“I never really sympathized, to be honest, and kind of thought he had it coming.”
“Anyway, an old friend messages me the other day telling me that the gofundme is finished and that the parents are almost bankrupt, and ‘everyone’ would appreciate it if maybe I could kick 20-30k toward his medical bills.”
“I laughed and said, ‘absolutely not, I work for my money, and the last thing I want to do with it is give it to the person who made my last year at school a misery.'”
“Now I am being told I’m a selfish a**hole for not helping because ‘clearly I can afford it.'”
“This is despite the person asking knowing that I was mercilessly bullied by Jake. I kinda see it as Karma.”
“I’ve made it in life and don’t want to share the spoils with people who tried to belittle me.”
OP was left to wonder,
“So Reddit, AITA?”
Having explained the issue, OP turned to Reddit for judgment.
Redditors weighed in by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
Redditors decided: NTA
Some mentioned responsibility.
“You have no obligation to donate, and that doesn’t make you a ‘selfish AH’. Nobody else should dictate how you spend your money or guilt you for it.”
“For all they know, you’ve already donated a large amount of money to some other worthy cause, so I think the name-calling and assumptions make them TA.” ~ Stranger0nReddit
“What’s the 20k going to do besides pay bills? Will he ever recover?”
“Why would you help someone who made you miserable? Glad to read your edit that life is great 👍” ~ Slight-Bar-534
“People tend to forget how much bullying can affect a person’s mental health.”
“I’m glad you’re doing so well in life and haven’t let the harassment drag you down and have left it in the past.”
“You have quite literally ZERO obligation to donate any money to your former bully.”
“And hearing that you paid for someone else’s knee replacement just goes to show your character.”
“Enjoy your success and accept your karma, OP. You deserve it. NTA.” ~ No_Suspect_599
Some were just shocked at the entitlement.
“Twenty to thirty thousand is a significant sum of money just to expect someone to contribute to a stranger’s medical fund, even if they can afford it.”
“These people are ballsy for asking you to donate at all, let alone such a weighty amount.”
“And it wouldn’t stop with one donation. They’d probably expect you to give a lot every year.”
“NTA, OP. Go and live your good life without any guilt whatsoever.” ~ AllButACrazyCatLady
“This was already a NTA situation for me, but when I got to the amount, I was shocked. Even if OP said no to donating $1, he would still not be ta, but $20-30k is ridiculous.” ~ Hello_JustSayin
There were personal stories as well.
“As a doctor who works with comatose patients, just popping in to add that 99% of the time, we are begging the family to pull the plug and end suffering. We don’t want to have a higher bill etc.”
“Obviously, OP is NTA.” ~ Far_Conclusion_4303
“My parents were respiratory therapists and saw it far too often in their careers, watching families drag out the deaths of their loved ones for months or years.”
“They’ve made it very clear over the years that my siblings and I are not to do that to them under any circumstances.”
“They don’t want to be 93, ready to go, then have us keep them in a ventilator for months while their bodies slowly deteriorate more and more every day.” ~ scarletnightingale
“I am an ICU RN, and I wish more people would do this.”
“It’s cruel to watch what they are doing to Jake, and way too many people never learned how to process grief or let go. So sad.” ~ MamaGhee229
“An ICU nurse like you hugged me and told me I was making the right decision when I had to make the hospice choice for someone who could no longer make for himself, years ago.”
“I wasn’t in the right place to say a real thank you back then, and I lost her info on a broken phone soon after.”
“So instead, I will say thank you to you. It’s a hard thing, and having someone there with certainty in the compassion of letting go can be such great comfort.” ~ Dingodoglife
Other Redditors had a firmer response.
“You don’t have to give $1 to that guy, let alone $30k.”
“He did it to himself, don’t need to force people he used to know to pay for it, especially if he was an a**hole to you.”
“I bet if it were you in the coma and had problems paying for it, he wouldn’t have given you a cent. Probably would have made fun of you for being in a coma.”
“F*ck him.” ~ halfeb
“Honestly, I secretly wish my bullies, whom there are many throughout my life, suffer a fate like that.”
“In my case, they haven’t. What you have here is truly divine karma at work. I would not help that person.”
“Those who truly experienced bullying know that it is evil from the depths of hell (I’m not religious, btw just describing the level of evil bullying is).”
“It can totally ruin a person, and in some cases, it can ruin the entire life of a person. I have no sympathy for bullies. They all have it coming.”
“I have personally “helped” a bully before, and it’s not like the movies, I can guarantee you.”
“They won’t turn to you and hug you and ask for forgiveness, expect to get a snide remark even after you helped, no kidding.”
“I learned the hard way that it’s not worth helping someone who is evil with you.”
“Don’t give him a cent; you don’t owe anyone anything other than yourself and those who love you and cared for you in your darkest time.” ~ HiThere2077
OP did return with some final thoughts.
“For all of you wonderful people suggesting therapy, I appreciate you.”
“But I’m not that kid anymore. I’m a successful professional, married to an amazing woman, with a beautiful daughter.”
“I haven’t thought about ‘Jake’ for many years – not since I saw the articles in the newspaper about his calamity.”
“I am certain I needed therapy back then – but I’ve matured and come into my own since that time.”
“I’m happy, healthy, and satisfied.”
“I love my life, I love my family, but most importantly, I love myself too. I don’t dwell on the past, but when somebody calls you for 20-30 grand, memories can come back to you very quickly.”
“WOW! Thank you to all the amazing people who have helped me feel a little less sh*tty this evening.”
“I am trying to reply to everyone, and I’m sorry I have not published exactly why ‘Jake’ is in a coma, but I am trying to reply to DMs that ask.”
“This community is amazing, I felt really sh*tty today, and all of you have done so much to make me feel better about it all.”
“THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU. xxx”
People react in different ways to bullying, just as they react differently to all sorts of pain.
Some people use it to fuel their own personal growth, others shrink away from the pain, and still others just ignore it completely, hoping to simply block out the trauma of it.
However we react to this sort of torment, we are under no obligation to help our past tormentor.