Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Dear Bullies...

After last week's Sunday Social, I’ve thought a lot about the time back in high school. I know that many people have fondest memories about that time, having fun with their friends and living the care-free life of teenagers. My high school years were plain hell. Sometimes I’m almost surprised that I have actually made it through those years alive, and this is not an allegory. And all that pain because of a few popular kids, who couldn’t stick to the simple rule “live and let live”, I will call them The Bullies.

It all started back in 3rd or 4th grade, when my mom, for many still an “outsider” because she had not been born and raised in this little town, had an argument with a mom from my town’s “high society” (yes, it is as pathetic as it sounds, being the “high society” of a town of about 5,000 people). Her daughter went to school with me, and from then on, she and her clique were against me. I thought that switching over to high school would change things, because a lot of new people would be joining, and I’d make friends and be left alone. But while I hoped that things would change, with a whole bunch of new people in our class, she took her opportunity and made sure that things would change… for the worse. Back then I was probably even more so a shy kid, not really one who approaches people, more the introvert; she, on the other hand, was the polar opposite and before I knew it, she had a huge circle of new friends around her, who hadn’t barely spoken a word to me but thought they’d knew all about me.

I went through all the stages of a bully victim, from trying to shrug it off, trying to talk to them, trying to talk to teachers, showing them that I am stronger, to eventually publicly crumble to pieces.

I still remember this afternoon. I was sitting in class after lunch break, eating a chocolate ice cream bar, and minding my own business. At some point, a piece of the chocolate mantle of my ice cream bar broke off and fell to the ground. I had planned to finish my ice cream and clean it up then; this was not to happen, as just seconds later, the crowd jumped at me. The demanded that I pick the chocolate up at once, which I refused. They started coming at me, pushing me off my chair, trying to force me to lick the chocolate off the floor. I don’t know how I got away, but I did, locking myself into one of the toilet stalls. I broke down, sobbing violently; in this moment, I did not want to go on. At that point, I never wanted to leave the school bathroom to face my tormentors again. Some of the “neutral” people came in to talk to me and see how I was doing. I said that I couldn’t go on like that, that I simply couldn’t any more, and that I wanted to kill myself. Once the words have come out, I heard movement outside the door, and one of the bullies ran back to the crowd for a status report; I heard him yelling “she’s finally going to kill herself”. I felt even more humiliated than before, but also the realization set in that by no means I can let them win. I cannot let them get the better of me and destroy my future. I won’t give them their ultimate victory.

Don't ask me how I managed to get out that day, and return to class, but I did. And I returned the next day, and the one after. I got back into my routine. I showed up for class, did what I needed to do there, and besides that withdrew even more. I spent my days, summer like winter, at home reading, finding solace in the world of books. I appreciated the few friends I had even more, and I started to build myself a life outside school, with friends who went to different schools, and enjoyed the activities I did. Even during the last 2 years of high school, when there were a lot of fundraisers going on to finance the prom, the yearbook, etc., I stayed away. By then, the bullies had basically lost their interest, especially since their leader was no longer in our grade due to mal-performance, but the damage had been done years ago. I took part in the yearbook club because I enjoyed writing. I delivered my pieces and left while the others enjoyed themselves, drinking until late at night. The few times I actually hung out with them (there was honestly still a piece inside me left that WANTED to fit in), I drank myself into oblivion early on, just to not feel or remember.

And then graduation and prom days came and went, and I was free. I moved forward from then on, and hardly ever looked back. I’m still in contact with my best friend, of course, and with a few others who had remained neutral. In 2008 I received an invitation for our 5-year reunion; of course, I didn’t go, living half a world away and just having had a baby. This year was our 10-year reunion, and again I received an invitation. I planned on going at first, with hubby and the girls as support, but then decided against it. My friend and the other people I still talk to all didn’t go, and why put even the least effort forward to impress someone who isn’t worth it. Sure, I’ve made it. I have a wonderful family, great education, and a job that many only dream of. Some have never finished college or a job training and now work in a factory somewhere, or are simply unemployed. Some of the girls’ best bet is hoping for a good marriage. So they have spent the best years of their life feeling superior by making me feel the worst I ever did, but that skills didn’t help them in any way. Today, they are on the loser-end of the equation, while I have risen above them. I still bear my scars; I still suffer from depression and a feeling of worthlessness. But I know that I am lovable and my life is worth living when I am with my family, who loves me for who I am, unconditionally.

To all these bullies: you have tried to break me, to bring me down, to elevate yourselves. You may have won battles along the way, but not the war. I have risen above it, and even though it still hurts thinking about it sometime, not having many fond memories of this time in my life that should have been one of the best times of my life. But to be honest, it doesn't matter now, because the best time of MY life is right now; I am surrounded by so much love that your hate does not affect me any more. I don't wish you anything bad; I know that some of you have gone through horrible pain throughout the years. I don't expect you ever to think back about this awkward girl you tortured so casually. I will remember you for the rest of my life, but I am beyond your grasp now. I wish you the best for your life, but never care to see any of you again.

If you or someone you know are a victim of bullies and you would like to share experiences or need support from a survivor, please feel free to contact me.


  1. Stephanie, you are incredible.

    What an amazing but heartbreaking post to share. I'm so sorry you had to go through this.

    I never had the physical bullying (that I can remember) but had absolutely no friends through the whole of secondary school (and really, for some time before that). I had no chance, because being victimised at home from age 7 left me a clear target for everyone else to use as leverage on their way up to their chosen status in the social circle.

    It was brought home to me very strongly one day when I tried to offer some words of comfort to one kid I'd seen being repeatedly targetted by these same kids. He was the loser of the whole yeargroup, and yet even he shunned me.

    Then I knew.

    Going to college at 16, was the first time I had friends, and it was the most INCREDIBLE thing.

    I met my best friend there, and here we are, 14 years later, still bezzies.

    Life can suck, but it can also change. And with hard work, we can change ourselves and make an effort to Do Good, in spite of our circumstances.

    I still struggle with feelings of worthlessness, but am getting there with fighting them back. I hope you make good progress with yours, because those feelings are all lies. You are highly and intrinsically valuable.

    1. Thanks a lot, Lizzi. I am sorry you had to go through something similar as well. It must have been heartbreaking being even shunned by people who are put down as well; one might think they know better. I'm glad you could escape that early. In Germany, graduating early and going to college would not have been possible, except one is a true genius, which I am not.

      I'm happy you found your friend with whom you are still best friends. It's the same as my friend. We've been best friends since 8th grade, and she's been a great support, even though she's never stood up and faced the bullies, which I could totally understand. She was never hesitant to be my friend, though.

      I'm so glad you found your place, Lizzi, where you have made relative peace with it, and even fight back the negative feelings. Keep it up, you're awesome!! Hugs, my friend!!

  2. I can't believe they were thrilled to hear you say you wanted to kill yourself. What horrible little people their parents raised. And what a horrible woman who argued with your mom, and then clearly passed that on to her daughter possibly in an effort to punish your mom through you.
    It is never okay to use a child as a weapon - I'm so sorry you were the target.

    1. Thank you so much for stopping by! Those people were just so horrible, I cannot even start to find words for them.

      I don't think that this person tried to get back to my mom through the kids, they just wanted to show us our place, that we were not wanted and definitely not accepted in that town. I hate going back, I feel uncomfortable. I couldn't wait to get out. The town we live in now is so different. I knew, my kids would go through the same, being not only not born in this town but also the daughters of a foreigner. Our town now is so open-minded; they are accepted and happy, and so are we.

  3. Stephanie. I know your pain. I am so sorry you had to endure such horrible torture. I was bullied as a child and my daughter was bullied to the point she hurt herself and ended up in the hospital.

    The pain followed me for many years. It affect many of my decisions; most not so good. I am thankful that my daughter is starting to heal. She is learning from my mistakes and she realizes that if no one else in the world accepts her, it's good enough that she belongs to us.

    I am thankful for you. Keep telling your story. Much love and blessings to you and your family.


    1. Thank you so much, Sophia. Your comments actually were my inspiration to write that. Thinking about school and all the memories just seemed to trigger something that needed to come out.

      The pain is definitely still there sometimes, even though it doesn't come to the surface too much. The bullying never got me into the hospital, but got me years and years of therapy, medications, cutting, and other ways of hurting my body to dull the pain inside.

      I am at a better place now, but the healing process continues, the scars will ever be there. And I know that I will do everything in this world to prevent our daughters to become victims as well!

      Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing, Sophia!