With all of the anti-bullying campaigns that Dom and I have run across lately, we've had some interesting conversations this week regarding our own childhood experiences. Neither of us divulged many details, per se, but in the near decade we've been together it's been easy to piece together a decent picture of what each other have been through. I'll spare you a verbose explanation and just say this--being bullied from elementary school and even up into high school had a majorly negative impact on both of us.
Goes without saying, right? Then why is there still bullying and the need for such dramatic efforts to stop it? There is an exercise for coping with the intense feelings that has recently come to my attention--an open letter to all past bullies. I've decided to publish mine, here on the blog, in an attempt that is twofold. First, that anyone who has ever shared these feelings or is currently being bullied might find solace in my sharing such personal thoughts, and even find courage to stand up and make a difference for themselves and others. And secondly, that persons reading this post will understand just how serious bullying should be taken and help provide a zero tolerance atmosphere.
I spent 6 years of my childhood and adolescence praying for cancer because I was too scared to take my own life. Perhaps it was worth the consequences--physical pain, an eternity in hell, or worst yet...the repercussions if I survived a suicide attempt. It could be misinterpreted as a "cry for help," labeling me weak and cowardly, and surely dozens of other terms to go alongside a few I already had: weird, ugly, pale, poor, fat, etc. A childhood friend of mine succeeded at taking her own life when we were teenagers, but the brief time she spent in the hospital, struggling in her last moments, were enough to turn the rumor mill...and I heard how truly awful my peers could be.
But it most certainly would not have been the truth. I just wanted relief. And at the time, it felt like death was my best option. I wanted to die, and it was 95% your fault. Yes, depression runs in my family. But I'll never know if I would have felt the same crushing feelings if they hadn't been provoked by my environment.
Now, I'm old enough to realize that most of what you bullies did was out of ignorance. Many of you didn't understand how to process social behavior and have since gone on to become upstanding citizens. Others of you, I believe might have just been sociopaths and have since grown up to become serial killers. I know some of you let jealousy convince you that I was a threat to your friendships. Some couldn't make friends easily and used manipulation as the only accessible tool. But most of you just didn't accept that, for many reasons, I was different.
No matter the reason or intention, I grew up believing what you told me about myself was true. As a result, I had low self-esteem, little confidence, and a poor understanding of social relationships. It's only now, 9 years out of high school, that I feel like I've gotten a grip on my own life. You may read this one day and still perceive me as strange, and it might still be true. I am different, and sometimes differences make the difference.
Bullies, I am still angry. I believe you stole part of me that never got a chance to grow with my body. Sometimes I still daydream of a parallel universe where those things were never said, and I got to be the person I should have been. And sometimes I'm grateful for these experiences, for molding my personality into what it is now. For letting me bond with husband over common events, and for allowing us to know the right way to raise our children. We will never forget you. And by some inexplicable need, I forgive you. But please, please, do what is in your power to NEVER let this happen to another child again.
Today's subject line quote is from The Dark Knight (2008).
2 years ago