This is part of a collection of short stories depicting and detailing true events and personal experiences in my life, with a few tweaks for the privacy of all involved.
If you or anyone you know is struggling with bullying or depression or mental health in general, please seek the help of your GP or healthcare professional or a friend/family member.
I should begin by saying, for the most part, I didn’t have bullies who went out of their way to target me. That happened on a few occasions, usually very short lived though. My bullying took place in the corridors, on the school bus, out in the yard… the places where it was basically unavoidable in a school environment.
It began in primary school, and I remember feeling hurt. I remember the feeling of sadness and loneliness, I remember questioning myself with “why me” probably the first time in my life and worst of all, I remember trying to be friends with you. We couldn’t have been more than 8 and I was new to your school. The nerves were there, I didn’t know anybody and I was the chubby little girl of a young single mum. I already felt different but you cemented that for me right from the start. Our teacher assigned you and your friends to show me around, hang out with me and basically just be a friend to me. Instead, as I tried to play along with you and your friends, you said “don’t touch me” and looked at me with disgust. I remember that moment so clearly and it was 22 years ago. I remember the burning sensation as my face turned bright red, the tears welling up in my eyes as I tried not to blink and create a waterfall down my cheeks… That was the first time I felt sadness, real sadness.
In the years that followed, I have many memories of feeling left out and eating lunch alone, having nobody to partner up with for activities, cruel words being said to me on the playground… I was never mean to you, to any of you. I was quiet, I was harmless. You made me quiet, actually. Before I changed schools, I wasn’t this quiet and isolated. I wanted to be a Vet, I wanted to get married and have lots of kids. I could have been school captain one day or the lead in the school production. I had friends at my first school that I didn’t want to leave, it wasn’t my choice though. And after that nerve racking summer when I finally stepped foot into your school, you lived up to my expectations of what changing to a new school would be like. All of my 8 year old anxieties were verified when you would all stare at me and whisper, calling me fat just loud enough so I’d hear you but not so loud the teacher would notice. 8 year olds don’t treat people this way without reason, without learning the behaviour and actions from someone else…
It was after school in the courtyard when you and your friend ran up to me and stood in my way as I walked down to meet my mum at her car. “Is that your sister that picks you up?” You knew damn well who it was but politely, I reminded you that it was, in fact, my mum. You giggled and ran back your mum, to report your findings. I remember her looking at me… judging a child for the age of her mother. Catholic school parents… And that’s the first time I heard the word bastard.
You had to end up at the same high school as me, as if I hadn’t endured enough of your negativity. I never had much to do with the popular girls in high school but I’m sure you told them all about me. What you didn’t tell them is that I used to be bright, I was happy and I had potential. I wonder if you let them know about the time you bellowed at me in front of the whole grade 5 class for something I wore on free dress day… probably not.
I hate that I still think about you. I hate that you still occupy space in my head. I am sure you haven’t thought of me since the last time you saw me. I was nothing to you. I was just something you used to kick when you’d walk past, an object to flick stones at when you were bored… I didn’t take up an inch of space in your mind. And I still don’t. So why am I left with your shadow burned into my memory? It doesn’t seem fair that you earned a place in my head forever by destroying my self esteem. I was a nice girl who you teased and isolated until I basically gave up on myself.
I labelled this article “An Open Letter To My First Bully” because you were the one who started it all. You were the Regina George of primary school, if you were mean to me… so was everyone else. And then that followed me through high school, as well. I failed high school because I was too afraid to ask for help, too afraid to join in during class, too afraid to even remotely stand out. After I left school, with zero self esteem, I searched for somewhere to belong. I didn’t find a job but I found drugs. Due to drugs, I ended up in abusive relationships and now I am sitting up writing a blog about you because when I try to pin point how it all went wrong, I keep coming back to you.
I guess I just wanted you to know that…
I had potential before I met you.