To my childhood bullies,
Yes, you who told me my eyes are too close together. You who told me my eyes are too far apart.
The girl in choir who told me I sucked at singing.
The boy who, when I was only eight years old, told me that my legs were too hairy.
The girls on the playground who deliberately excluded me when I didn’t have any friends.
The boys who grabbed me, pushed me, dragged me, chased me down, and spit paper balls at me during class.
The girl who put dog poop in an envelope with my name on it and delivered it to my family’s house.
The boy in high school who told me that nobody likes me.
The boy who told me to milk him as he held an inflated rubber glove over his groin.
The “friends” who watched and did absolutely nothing.
The teachers who punished me when I stood up for myself.
The principal who told me that I just needed to be more resilient.
To everyone who bullied me, to everyone who sat back and watched it happen, I have a message.
I have a voice now.
I’m the girl you called weak. I am the girl who sat in the corner alone during lunch. I’m the girl who walked home from school early so no one would hurt me anymore. You ridiculed my shoes. You laughed just because I was different. I’m the girl who stayed awake all night dressed in my school uniform, wishing the next day would end. I am the girl who became so numb from the hurt that I just didn’t care anymore. I’m the girl who became depressed and anxious and didn’t even know it.
I am the girl you feared. I’m the girl who stood up for myself when nobody else would. I refused to apologize because I knew I did nothing wrong. I’m the girl who spoke my mind. I’m the girl who called you out and backed you into a corner. I showed you what being resilient looks like. You wanted to be me because you were too insecure to embrace yourselves.
I am grateful that my experiences have helped shape the person I’ve become, but I am not OK with anything you’ve done to me. I am not thankful for you, and I never will be.
You taught me that some people don’t want others to hold them accountable for their actions. You taught me that some people will try to blame the victim.
You told me to be more resilient.
You told me that bullying wasn’t the issue. You called me weak. You told me that I wasn’t powerful enough to stand up for myself.
As a victim, I may have believed that I was less powerful, but that was never true. You, my bullies were never more powerful than I was; you were just insecure. Every time you hurt me, you may have felt powerful, but your words never took away my strength. And to everyone who watched my bullies hurt me, blaming their actions on my disempowerment was never OK.
I have grown so much because of you.
Now, I am so much stronger than I’ve ever been before. You can no longer tear me down. Despite everything you said, I am happy. Despite everything you did, I don’t hate you.
Maybe, you were miserable. Maybe, you were having tough times at home. Maybe, you were trying to drag me down with you. Does that excuse your behavior? No.
My childhood bullies, I pity you. Maybe, your actions will haunt you some day, or maybe they won’t. I can only hope that you have grown from this experience just as much as I have.