• An Open Letter to My Childhood Bullies

    by  • February 27, 2016 • * Safe for Work *, Self-Esteem • 1 Comment

    There is one reason why my childhood memories are forever grey and painful. I cannot look back upon those young years with a reminiscent smile for every happy innocent moment is overshadowed by your acts. Your mocking voices discussing my clothes. I hear you calling me weird, a baby, ugly, lesbian. I hear you badmouthing me to every guy I ever liked and every guy who ever liked me. The way you would look at me as I walked, laughed as I stumbled.

    Because of you I abandoned that school. I watched so many teen movies where this girl beats the mean girls and wondered why that wasn’t me. When will I get to shine? When will I get to prove them wrong? The truth is I never got to. I never faced any of you down. I never confronted you. And year by year in that dreadful school you tore down my self-esteem, my joys and left me barren and with nothing.
    Will it please you to know how I cried myself to sleep so many times? How I agonized for endless hours over if cutting myself would’ve taken the pain away? How I felt so anxious every time I stepped out of my mom’s van and walked to school? I was always quiet as a child. Meek. Timid. And you all thrived on that. You saw easy picking and inflicted your torture relentlessly. And what did I do? I stood there and took it, I thought I must’ve done something to deserve this. I had to. Why else would you do this? But what did I do? Why was I such a horrible thing? Why did I have to be ostracized?

    How did you feel when I switched schools? Did you ever guess it had something to do with you? I mean, the world does, after all revolve around you. And yes it did. I pleaded my mom for two years to get me out. I begged her to let me switch. I wanted out. I wanted to leave all of you behind.

    And yet I found myself visiting every other Friday. My brother, after all, never switched schools. And what did you do with this? You thrived on this knowledge. I heard all of the rumors that spread around at that time: how I was there cause I was obsessively in love with a guy from our class. How I was basically stalking him. I saw the hateful posts on Facebook and heard the comments from the few friends I left behind.

    And what did I do? I cried myself to sleep at night. I agonized over why this was all happening. I looked at the razor I used to shave my legs with growing temptation. And I ran even further away from you. I hid from you like the coward that you had designed. I stopped visiting the old school. I stopped talking to my old friends and I blocked it all out. But the pain didn’t go away.

    Many of us ended up going to the same college but I was a year ahead thanks to my unabashed running from my problems. We don’t take classes together and the few times I see one of you, you turn your heads away with something in your eyes. Guilt? Contempt? I don’t know, my eyes are glued to the sidewalk as soon as I see one of you somewhere. The fear engulfing me immediately once again.

    And why does this matter now? It’s been four years since high school and five since I last had an encounter with you. I’m close, so close to finishing college. And I’m miles and miles away for this one semester. And yet, whenever I’m walking by myself I hear your mocking voices. I hear the jeers. Whenever I’m in my room, my mind goes over every conversation and social interaction in painstaking detail and focuses on what I did wrong. It warps and twists everything around me to make me look weird, creepy, obsessive, an outcast. And that voice in the back of my mind tells me that if I even mention this to one of my new friends they will walk away because no one wants to deal with this crap. Every wait for a text back, every message marked as seen, every action done by others to me is constructed in my mind as further proof that I’m nothing. An outcast. Worthless. Alone.

    So tell me, are you happy now? Are you happy that after such a long time you’re still here? You are the monster under my bed, whispering to me as I sleep. You perch on my shoulder tell me what others really think of me. You grab my ankles and try to pull me under so that I drown. And I try to stay afloat. I try to tell myself that you’re wrong. And sometimes I win. But sometimes, most times, I look at the razor or the scissors or my hands and wonder if pain will make it all go away. And then I crawl into bed and cry. Because I would rather sleep in a tear soaked bed than let you win. If I hurt myself you win. I will not let you win, no matter how deep you pull me down.
    I just want to know: Did making me as broken and empty as you felt fix that gaping void in your soul?

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    One Response to An Open Letter to My Childhood Bullies

    1. Peter C
      February 29, 2016 at 4:07 pm

      This is terrible; this should never happen to a child. Nor should you as an adult have to continue to suffer for what these bullies did to you. Bullying is abuse, plain & simple. And it affects your self-respect, can make you feel powerless, sad, angry, despairing. It is unfair that this happened to you, and unfair that you are still suffering.

      So then – what can you do? How do you reclaim your life as an adult, and move past this crap? There are at least two ways. The first is a four step exercise. The second is to train in what’s called cognitive behavior therapy. Both of these approaches can free you in a pretty short period of time from these crippling feelings and emotions.

      Here are the four steps. It’s important to actually do these, not just read about them. They will work!

      1. Figure out what you are feeling. You may already be super clear, but – is it sorrow? Anger? Despair? Find a quiet place and become an explorer of yourself. Remember – you’re trying to name the feelings. Don’t rush

      2. Express your feelings. Whatever they are, find a safe place and let your body do what it wants to do. Punch pillows, throw stones really hard, shout as loud as you can, sob and kick. The physical nature of this will help the feelings fully come out. Be prepared and ready, this can be emotionally powerful.

      3. Tell yourself once you’ve fully expressed a feeling that you can let go of it. We all have inside us a Witness – something wiser and more hidden than we are, which bears silent witness to the events in our lives. The witness watches when we are sad, watches when we are happy, the witness watched when you were bullied. It is there to care for you and to care about you; let your witness comfort you, as you let the feeling go. Imagine yourself as an adult witness, comforting the you who is crying. If you find you are holding onto the feeling, not letting it go, ask “what more do I need to learn here? What is holding me back from letting go?” Repeat step 3 multiple times over several days, it is something you can learn and improve. You will find that you are able to let go of the intense feelings, bit by bit.

      4. Every time that you’ve done a step 3, do something fun. Call someone you like, have an ice cream, see a good movie. And know that you are doing it as a reward for letting go of some of the pain. Really important!

      That’s it. The alternative is CBT – if you want to understand this, the best book in the world is Feeling Good by David Burns (there is a workbook too). It can really help to counter the automatic, subconscious things we all say to ourselves unhelpfully each day.

      Sorry for the length of this! If you want to talk more, you can reply to this note here. You’re also welcome to ask the admin@lettersillneversend.com for my email address – petercprivate@… I wish you strength –

      Peter




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