Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Former Tormenter Reaches out to Well-Off Reader

DEAR HARRIETTE: When I was in primary school, I had a hard time getting along with other kids. My family was less fortunate, and people saw me as the poor girl and seemed to not want to play or even work on group projects with me. This brought me down several times, but it also encouraged me to continue working hard to become the successful woman I am today.

One of the kids who used to torment me constantly recently reached out to me to congratulate me on my company’s success. I simply replied “Thank you” and exited the conversation. He went on to tell me about his current situation and how he is in need of a couple of bucks. He hasn’t directly asked me for money, but I’m sure that it was implied. I know that I can provide him with some money, but I’m still hurt from his mean words in school. What should I do? -- Still Hurting, Baltimore

DEAR STILL HURTING: Congratulations on creating a successful life for yourself. The amazing reality for many people who were tormented as children is that they figure out how to rise above the fray and design dynamic lives for themselves. You do not have to bail out whoever asks you to just because you're doing well now. You can be generous with whomever you choose.

What you may want to do with this person is to take time to have a chat with him. Get together and listen to his story. If you can give him advice on how he can climb out of his hole, do so. Before you leave, tell him how hurtful his words and actions were when you were kids. Make sure he knows how isolating and humiliating it was for you when he and other kids judged you based on your lack of resources. Then wish him well. You have the capacity to forgive this man and hope for the best for him -- without giving him money.