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"A letter to my bullies..."

To my bullies*:

Childhood is difficult to navigate for anyone — kids are learning things at every turn. One of the greatest things I’ve learned, unfortunately, is how cruel people can be.

My home life as a child wasn’t healthy. Whenever I left my house, I longed to be met with kindness — instead was plummeted into an abyss of meanness. I had no safe place and every day I cried. It is wonderful that people are now engaging in anti-bullying conversations, but for many, it’s a bit late.

To Priscilla: When you glued the lock of our doorknob, did you know what kind of house you were keeping me from? 

Do you know that I now live in a beautiful home full of love, with caring neighbours who carry an extra set of keys to my house?

To Angela: You made me step in dog poop to be a member of your club with Suzanne — the club you cleverly dubbed the SA Club (since it stood for both Save Animals and Suzanne and Angela.) You laughed at my soiled white moccasins and said you’d never let me in your club anyway. 

In high school, I joined the gymnastics team. The Spanish club. The Spanish Honor Society. In college, I joined a sorority and am a better woman because of it. I joined a writing group, and continue to be inspired by it.

mean girls resized
“You laughed and said you’d never let me in your club anyway.” Image via Mean Girls/Paramount Pictures.

Today, I am wearing a lovely pair of Marc Jacobs heels. They are worn, but because they have seen many weddings and dance floors. 

Turns out I didn’t need your club anyway.

To David: In your juvenile, ignoramus way, you called me a dirty Jew.

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Do you have any Jewish friends? Do you toss epithets their way regularly? Do you even know what the word “epithet” means?

You’ll be glad to hear I work in the Jewish community and think it is critical to educating people, regardless of religious affiliation (or lack thereof). 

To Patrick: You held a cap gun to my head on the bus ride home from school, threatening to shoot me, day after day. I know you couldn’t have known that I had something similar happening at home. 

When the gun in your hand was real, that other time, I bet you didn’t expect that shootings would become as commonplace in America as they are now.

I wonder if aggression and violence still excite you. Do you have children now? Do you fear for their safety from bullies?

Kids tell us what ‘bullying’ is to them. Post continues after video:

To Melanie: After I garnered my first kiss on the steps of the outdoor theater at summer camp, you told me no boy would ever be interested in me.

You were wrong. I am married to the most fantastic man; we have a daughter. I am happier than I’ve ever been. (And by the way, he is a great kisser.)

To Cara: One day, you cornered 11-year-old me in my bottom bunk, told me that I smelled, and sprayed deodorant in my face. 

You’ll be glad to know that I have since gotten the hygiene thing down. 

But what about you — do you worry about your 9-year-old who already wants to shave? 

To Amanda: You slammed my head into my locker throughout the first few weeks of high school — but your head-bashing wouldn’t be enough to prevent me from attending a top university four years later.

yong schoolgirl leaning against locker sad
“To Amanda: You slammed my head into my locker throughout the first few weeks of high school.” Image via iStock.
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To Mindy: You bullied me at summer camp when I was working for you as a counselor. A camper who didn’t like my leadership style went to you to complain. You laughed at me and told me that now I knew how it felt not to be liked.​

You ignored the good things about me, like my friendliness, my kindness, and my honesty, just because you didn’t like me. Well, what you don’t know is that many of your employees called you two-faced behind your back. I have people who care about me and will help me out when I’m in need — can you say the same?

To my father: I was under the table one time by myself, curled into a ball, listening to Whitney Houston on my Walkman. You said it is no wonder I didn’t have friends. 

Maybe I didn’t have many friends then. But today, I do. And more importantly, they are amazing people, to me and to the world. 

I am a mother now, a good one. And she has a good father, my husband.

Another thing I learned from my long history of bullying is empathy. Because you used to make fun of my mother’s unstable gait, I now look to see who I can help down the stairs. Because of the isolation, I try to be as inclusive as I can.

I am keenly aware of what it feels like to be hurt, what it feels like to have injuries that don’t show up as scrapes or bruises.

mother holding hands
” I now look to see who I can help down the stairs. ” Image via iStock.
To my bullies:
I don’t know what your motivations were when you cornered me, hissed at me, frightened me. But I do know that, I am incredibly grateful for the life I lead now, years later. My happy life.
8-year-old me, 12-year-old me, 15-year-old me might have thought you bullies would win.
Well, you didn’t.

*Names of bullies have not been changed.

 

This story by Jennifer Fliss originally appeared on Ravishly.com, a feminist news+culture website.

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