Monday, 26 September 2016

An Open Letter To My High School Bully

NOTE TO READERS: ****As I've written about previously, I am currently in regular therapy sessions for anxiety and panic disorder...during my last session my therapist diagnosed me with OCD (which I was well aware of) and Post Traumatic Stress a result of bullying at school. 

I had no idea that post traumatic stress disorder could be caused by something like this, and it made me quite angry at myself...after all, so many people are bullied at school and are able to leave it behind could I possibly have allowed it to leave me with post traumatic stress disorder!? 

After coming home and spending the day feeling angry and upset, I decided to pen this letter to one particular girl who bullied me. I found it very upsetting to write, but the following day I felt like a weight had been lifted from me...and I already feel so much better, I can now talk about my experiences without crying which is something I was never able to do before.

I thought twice about sharing this letter publicly, but I feel that it's part of the healing process...and I no longer feel the need to protect this person, I no longer feel that I am the one who should be embarrassed by what happened...and I am sharing this not for sympathy but because I want to encourage anyone out there who was bullied too to write a letter to your own bully...I can't begin to tell you how much it has helped****

Dear Carla,

You probably don't remember me.

I don't think you and I ever had an actual conversation for the entire 5 years that we spent at school together.

You spoke plenty of words in my general direction - nasty ones usually, most of them swear words - you told me constantly how ugly I am, poked fun at my goofy and accident-damaged teeth, laughed about my lack of interest in name brand trainers and sports clothes, belittled me for not being good at volleyball or net ball, had digs at me for being a "swot", and singled me out for being a loser without any friends...but we never actually talked.

I don't think you knew anything about me other than my name and what area I lived in - you didn't know what my hobbies or interests were, you didn't know what my favourite song was, you didn't know what kind of clothes I wore outside of school or what TV shows I liked to watch.

You didn't know me as a person at all.

But you knew I was quiet and nervous - you seemed to pick up on that fact pretty early on, when I started at your high school a few months after everyone else.

At first some friends of yours had taken me into your little clique, as the new girl I was exciting I suppose - but it soon became apparent that I wasn't suited to your group.

You were the bad girls - the ones who huddled behind the science building to smoke at break times, the ones who got excited when there was a fight in the yard and gathered around to try and get involved, the ones who liked to shout out obscenities during lessons and throw things at the teachers, the ones whose names were written up on the blackboard almost every lesson for referral.

I was the polar opposite to you - always quiet, always shy, keen to learn, always respectful to the teachers,  I don't think I had one single referral in my entire time at that school - maybe that's why you targeted me.

Is that why, Carla? Is that why you hated me so much that you felt the need to make my entire school life a living hell?

Is that why you felt the need to make me feel completely terrified every single day? 

Is that why, every single day for 5 whole years, I woke up cold with fear of what you might do or say to me that day? 

Why you felt you had to constantly belittle me and embarrass me in front of everyone at every given opportunity?

Because there must have been a reason why it was me that you targeted.

And I'd love to know what it was.

What exactly was it about me that warranted your treatment of me for all of those years?

Did I do something that made you think I deserved it?

That I deserved to feel that awful, stomach churning dread I felt every day as I walked up to that school building - knowing that you were in there, knowing that I'd have to face you yet again.

Did you think that I deserved to feel stupid and small and worthless every single day?

That I deserved to feel hopeless and weak and pathetic for never having the nerve to stand up to you?

You never physically attacked me but I had to live with the threat of it every day and part of me wonders if that was worse - that constant fear of what might happen, the nervous knot in my tummy as I turned every single corner on those school corridors incase you were waiting there.

You often threatened to "jump" me, and I was always certain it would happen any day often shouted about how you were going to "kick my head in"

You never came through on that threat, but you might like to know that although you didn't manage to do it physically - you certainly achieved it mentally.

Because I live everyday with the emotional and mental scars that you inflicted on me.

To this day I feel ugly, and stupid, and worthless - and I know where those feelings started out - they started in French class that day.

That day when Mrs Molde asked you to sit next to me for an assignment, and you refused - shouting your unwillingness to sit with me loudly for all to hear, acting as though having to sit next to me was the most offensive and disgusting suggestion you'd ever heard.

The rest of the minions in the class laughed at your display, cheered you on...which of course made you stronger.

I kept my head down, trying my hardest to choke down the tears...because crying would be the very worst thing I could do at that moment, but as you continued to shout at Mrs Molde and she continued to shout back at you insisting that you sat next to me, I couldn't stop myself.

I shouted, for the first and only time in my life at a teacher, and begged her to please leave it PLEASE, for gods sake, just let me do the assignment by myself.

And once I spoke, I couldn't control the tears anymore ... so I sat there, sobbing, in front of everyone.

Some people still laughed.

Your friend Christina, who until then had egged you on, seemed to have a sudden attack of guilt...she called you "shady" and said you should leave me alone now.

So you did...but you carried on glaring at me for the rest of that excrutiatingly long lesson - I remember keeping my head down, I remember the words on my page blurring as I kept blinking away the tears, and trying hard to control my breathing - trying not to hyperventilate....terrified of what might happen when the bell rang and I had to face you outside.

As it turned out, nothing happened - you flounced off and got on with your day.

But I feel like I'm still sitting at that desk in that classroom. As dramatic as it sounds, I feel like part of me died that confidence certainly did, my self esteem, my self worth...I never felt the same again after that experience.

But you didn't notice. You just carried right on, every day, mocking me, tripping me up, spitting at me, laughing at me.

So I want to know...Why?

Why me?

What were you hoping would happen?

Did it make you feel big to keep knocking someone like me down? You could see I had no could see I wasn't a confident person...why did you feel the need to make things worse than they already were?

I wonder if you even realise now what an impact you had on my life.

You should have been someone that I never thought of again after school.  In all honesty, you don't deserve to be someone that anybody remembers.

You weren't special, you were just another one of the mean girl clique - you weren't particularly bright but you weren't stupid, you weren't particularly pretty but you weren't ugly, you were just a normal girl who should have been forgettable.

But even now, 20 years after the last time I saw you in person, I still have nightmares about you sometimes. I dream that I'm back in that classroom with you, that you're attacking me again and I can't find the voice to stand up to you and tell you to SHUT THE FUCK UP like I so wish I had done that day.

Instead, today, a therapist diagnosed me with post traumatic stress disorder.

As a result of my experiences with you.

Can you believe that?!

I certainly can't.

And actually, it just really pisses me off - I thought post traumatic stress disorder was something that soldiers get after seeing wars or something victims of crime get after being attacked.

I had no idea that it was something a nasty little cow of a schoolgirl could cause, that could last for so many years.

And it upsets me because I have already wasted my teenaged years living in fear of you and giving you more power than you ever deserved to have....and now it seems that you've taken up even more of my life and my happiness without me realising it. 

I bet you don't even remember me.

But you ruined many, many years of my life.

So excuse me for declining that Facebook friend request you sent me a while ago -  I don't think the relationship you and I had could ever be described as "friends".

And I couldn't help but notice from your profile photo that you're a mother now too - there's a nasty, horrible part of me that wants to wish that someone treats your children the way you treated me all of those years so that maybe you might begin to understand how it feels and what sort of impact those things can have on a person.

But I know that's wrong of me...and that your children don't deserve that.

I hope that you managed to mature into a better person who is raising them to be different, and not to treat people in the way that you did.

And I hope for their sake that they never have to meet someone like you throughout their school days.

And to that 14 year old version of me still sitting at that desk in French class, sobbing and fearful and embarrassed -  it's time to get up now, walk out of that school and leave it and her behind you.

She can't hurt you anymore.

It's over.

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  1. What a powerful and moving end to that letter. I am so glad that this exercise has helped you. You've actually moved me to tears, I was bullied at school too, fortunately only for 6 months as my parents then took me out of that school and I moved elsewhere. However, the memories of the bullying stay with me, it is a truly horrid thing to experience and so hard to move on from.
    Much love to you

  2. Oh Hayley, I'm so pleased that writing this helped you. I can completely understand the long lasting impact of school bullying. I was ostracised from my friendship group (the 'popular' crowd) when I was 12, headed up by one girl in particular who seemed to have taken against me when I stood up to her for bullying someone else. I was lucky to find another group of friends who were far nicer people, despite not being in any way cool (but really, neither am I!). My experience was far less 'severe' than yours, and I know it affected me all throughout school, and left me paranoid for years that people didn't like me. It's a horrible thing, and I really hope that I can raise my children to understand that being kind and compassionate is the most important thing in life. #MarvMondays

  3. Oh gosh, this brought me to tears. Such a powerful post, and so much of what you said stirred feelings in me that I'd felt at school. I'm so happy that you're doing well and able to write so openly about it - you're very strong lady!


  4. Hayley my lovely, well done for for not only writing this letter, but sharing it too. I'm so pleased that it has helped you and that it will continue to. I can understand how this has stayed with you, what a horrible experience and one that went on for so long. I have had bad experience with 'friends' before, but no where near like this. But it has affected me and made me struggle in social situations x

  5. Sending love and hugs. I'm glad writing this has helped.
    I was bullied all through school and it affected me but not to the same extent as you have been affected....
    I really hope the person who bullied you reads this and see's what her nasty, thoughtless behaviour has caused.

  6. What a powerful post! Such a good idea to write a letter to your bully - you have inspired me to do the same of my secondary school bully - I'm positive she wouldn't know who I was now but she still features in my memories of being 13. Thanks so much for sharing. #MarvMondays

  7. She sent you a friend request???? There are no words!!! Oh my darling Hayley, I can quite believe the diagnosis- 5 years of bullying certainly is a trauma to have to go through. I was bullied for a year and that has affected me, but 5 years? I've said it before - why do you live so far away?? - I want to give you a huge hug right now. xxxxx

  8. What a powerful written post. I hope she reads this one day soon. I had an awful time in school myself, i got physically beaten up in front of friends and the bully's friend. I really feel for you <3 Well done letting it all out.

  9. Oh my goodness. This is heartbreaking! Why is it that the nice kids are the ones that are picked on and all the popular kids are just so horrible??

    Well, you know, she hasn't won. She hasn't crushed you because you carried on being kind and lovely (I know because you so kindly gave me blogging advice even though I'm a stranger).

    My mum had a similar experience in that her high school bully sent her a fb friends request. That was also declined! Do these people not realise the damage they've done?!

    5yrs of it sounds awful. I am so glad that you are finding a way of unpacking it all now and I hope that this diagnosis can be the start of reclaiming yourself from her. X

  10. Aw Hayley, I'm glad this has helped you to release some of the pain you have been feeling. It must have been very powerful to have had a hold on you for this long and I'm not surprised it feels like a weight has been lifted. Well done for writing it and sharing because there will be plenty of young out there in the same position and this may help them. You are an inspiration and sending you hugs. Tor xx #MarvMondays

  11. This is a very powerful post, thank you so much for sharing it.
    I also found myself the victim of bullying, which I still find myself thinking about sometimes. They were supposed to be my friends but by the end were the ones who I dreaded seeing every day. They used me to put me down and boost themselves up. There were two girls in particular who were the worst. One tried to 'friend' me on FB twice a few years after school, but I ignored and they left it alone. The other tried SEVEN times, I couldn't believe her nerve.
    I have been thinking for a long time about writing a letter like this and have, in fact, begun drafting an ebook along these lines. Thank you so much, you have boosted my confidence and helped me keep moving forwards with this idea.
    I hope you can begin to recover in earnest now, and please know I am being absolutely genuine when I say I think you are beautiful, I especially love your hair. xx #sharingthebloglove

  12. I have to admit I couldn't read all of this because I got too emotional and started crying. I'm so sorry you had to go through that. I really hope you find closure, I follow you on Instagam and would have no idea that pain was inside you. Lots of love xxx #SharingtheBlogLove

  13. Wow, well done for writing this down! I am so glad it made you feel slightly better. I cannot imagine how you must have felt, but I hope you can now start slowly forgetting about this (if that is possible) and regaining control. I was bullied during my time at secondary school but it was nowhere near as horrible as this. What was she thinking sending that friend request? I sometimes wonder whether people understand the hurt they cause? At my husband's school bullying is so strictly dealt with these days and I just wish there had been some vaguely similar level of control back in the day! Thank you so much for sharing this xx #sharingthebloglove

  14. Just stopping by again to say thanks so much for sharing this with us at #SharingtheBlogLove. I think it's such a brave post, and one that will resonate for so many people.

  15. Thank you for sharing this. I am so sorry that you experienced this at school. I was bullied too and then went on to be in an abusive relationship so I know exactly what it's like to live in fear every single day, especially when you don't know why. But you know that you are the better person, and by sharing what you went with will show that bullies are pathetic and need to control other people. That's why she did it, she wanted to prove that she could control you by making you live in fear of her. And it is pathetic, no one should make another person feel like that. #sharingthebloglove

  16. Such a powerful and moving read and it's such a positive thing to do if it's helping your healing process. You deserve to be truly happy, with no anxiety or stress hanging over you. I really hope your journey continues to be a positive one :) #SundayBest

    Helen x

  17. Where my children go to school they talk a lot about bullying and how the bully usually has deep problems and usually feels jealous of the person they bully. Often bullies are deeply troubled and lack confidence and so they pretend to be tough so others don't see their truth. It will never be OK what she did to you NEVER! But know that it was nothing about you personally, she became fixated on you and was most likely jealous of you in many ways. I am glad you have someone helping you through, as a past victim of abuse I know how much we need help to begin to love ourselves after going through such trauma. I too suffered recurring nightmares until I really spoke openly and began to let go of my pain. I wrote a letter too, I never sent it, I shredded it, but I took my power back! Always know that you deserve love and happiness xoxo Sending a huge hug beautiful lady #sundaybest

  18. A great post, having been the shy, quiet one at school who was bullied too it's tough to ever recover from. I still have flash backs of the words and comments and I had a refusal to work too. Bit my lip so hard not to cry. Well done for writing and hugs #sundaybest

  19. Just popping by again to thank you for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove Look at all these lovely comments you've had. It was a brave post x

  20. I think only someone who has been bullied can realise the true impact of your feelings. I hope that your bully reads this and realised how detrimentally she has impacted on your life. I too was bullied at school, to the point that I didn't want to attend and it was a daily struggle. Ironically my bully also tried to Facebook friend me... what?! Maybe I should have been brave enough to confront her then but I wasn't. Thanks for writing this post. It makes me realize I've never really dealt with my deamons from being bullied. It really does have a massive impact #sundaybest

  21. There must have been something seriously wrong with that child. It's disgusting how she treated you. #SundayBest

  22. I'm crying after reading this. What a vile excuse for a human being. I'm so sorry that this is the cause of your ptsd. I really can't wait to see you at Blogfest so I can give you a massive hug xx

  23. Such a moving post. I don't understand how bullies work. How can making someone feel so small and scared make you feel good?

    I hope this has helped with your healing.


  24. It's so awful to be bullied, that was a courageous letter you have written and no doubt therapeutic. Look after yourself sending you lots of love. #sharingtheBlogLove

  25. Carla sounds like a total bitch.
    But on a more mature level, I admire your bravery to be open and candid about your experiences and how they have affected you. I truly hope each step of therapy brings you closer to peace with your past.
    PS I bumped into my old bully on a night out and drunkenly told her I wasn't afraid of her anymore. So grown up of me ;-) xxx

  26. Urgh what a nasty piece of work this girl is. It made me so sad reading your letter, and memories came back from secondary school when I used to get picked on and like you I was very quiet, shy, used to blush if I had to speak out in class, I remember being called horrible names and one day the whole class laughing at me when someone made a nasty remark about my looks. It still grates on me to this day I sat there sobbing embarrassed wishing the ground would just swallow me up.
    Look at how successful you are now Hayley, a big blogger, mother to three amazing little boys and all round great person. Never let anyone dull that sparkle of yours again xxx

  27. I am sorry for your pain. I too have been diagnosed with OCD and PTSD from my childhood. Thank you for being so open and honest. I hope you find a little peace from it all.

  28. I can relate more than you know. However, my bullying incidences didn't end in high school... it continued on. I wish I had the tools and self assurance back then that I have now. I am very glad you wrote this letter and took a positive stance for yourself. Great read! Thank you My Special Life Blog

  29. What a powerful letter. Im so glad writing this has helped you move on Hayley and put things in perspective and then hopefully in the past for good. A very brave and courageous letter indeed.

  30. Powerful letter. Very courageous of you Hayley and brave. And look at you now, a reputed and established writer and mum of three amazing kids. Much respect to you.i hope this letter has helped put things in perspective for you and you're thriving now.


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