Letter to my Middle School Bullies

Hello.

How are you.

I’m good, thank you for asking.

So, here we are. Four years later. Six, from when you started—decided—that it would be fun to tear down the spirits of a twelve year old. I wish six grade me could see me now. Happy. Relatively well liked. Accepted. She dreamed of this day. She hoped that it would happen but each day she walked into Ms. M classroom, she began to believe that it would never come.
She never understood why you treated her the way you did. Why you called her the names you called. What she did to make you… hate her so much. She started the first day in that school a happy-go-lucky child. A—dare I say—confident, chatty person. She was always a social person. She had to be, the constant moving forced her to. She never had trouble making friends. She never had enemies, until you decided to make one out of her.

When looking back at grade 6, all I can remember is sitting in the girl’s washroom, crying. Bearing my soul to the empty tiles of the bathroom floor in the form of sobs.

Staring at the cold mirror, trying to wash the redness out of my eyes so you wouldn’t know just how sad you made me. I think the worst thing was knowing that it wasn’t anything that I had done that made you treat me this way, it was simply who I was. Because I wasn’t pretty enough, cool enough, rich enough…THIN enough, I wasn’t deserving of your… kindness. I wanted to tell someone but I couldn’t because if I did, they would tell my parents and they would pull me out of the school. It was a private school and I knew how much they were struggling to give me the best possible education they could afford, I couldn’t break their hearts by telling them that it was hurting me. So instead, I let my own heart break instead. And crumble it did. Until there was nothing left in me. Until the will to live started to diminish. How bad would I be if I died really? My parents would be relieved the financial burden of raising me. You guys, you would be forced to say nice things about—as is what we do when speaking of the deceased. It would almost be poetic. Somehow, I carried on. I woke up every day and walked into Ms. M class, choked down my lunch in the washroom, rinsed my face and repeat.


Eventually it stopped—you stopped. I wish I could say it was because you matured, but the truth is, it was because you found a new target. I think the worst thing is slowly, I became like you. I was thirteen, scared of you turning back on me so I joined you, but that’s no excuse. It’s one of my biggest regrets. And to the girl we talked about—I’m sorry, I truly am. Even then when you all claimed to be my friend, I knew you weren’t being completely honest. I still heard the unkind nicknames, the mean rumours, snark giggles. The only difference now was that these were done in whispers.


 It hurt more.

It hurt more because this time you were supposed to be my friends, but every time I turned my back to walk away, I saw your knives in my peripheral vision.
Now years have passed and I have moved on. The memories still remain, they always will. They have become a part of who I am and my story. And as I sit this cold February evening, now “officially” and adult, vulnerable, I have just one thing to tell you all:

I forgive you.
Sincerely,
Natalie Stravens
Song of the post: Mean by Taylor Swift

Quote of the Post: Sometimes bullies are your friends and very rarely do bullying prevention tips acknowledge this fact or what to do about it. -Rosalind Wiseman

The Other Kind of Bad Person

I think I truly have lost hope for humanity. 

Yesterday was a perfect example of this. There’s this girl in my school, she a sweet girl but admittedly, a little (ok, quite) weird and can get pretty annoying at times. She always comes up to me and says “hi, how are you” and I usually just say “hi” back, because, that’s what you do- You are nice to people, even when they make you uncomfortable. Continuing with the story of yesterday, she came up to me as I was getting stuff out of my locker and greeted me. We talked for a bit then  I started to walk off while she went and said hi to another boy who was passing us. She tapped his shoulder to gain his attention and how did he react? He exclaimed, “Ew, get away from me,” and ran off. The girl, she maintained her smile and walked away before I could do anything. I can honestly say I admire her though, for keeping her chin up despite everything. The boy? He walked off to his friend and told her what had happened. His exact words were “(girl’s name) just touched me.” I expected the friend to be like, “So, what’s the big deal?” or something along those lines, but she replied, “That’s disgusting, you should put hand sanitizer on that or something.” I was disgusted at their behavior. Yes, I acknowledge the girl makes many people uncomfortable, but that doesn’t make her any less of a human. She is a human being! 

I was so outraged then I realized- I did nothing about it. All I did was tell my friends what happened and we all gasped at the inhumane actions of the people but what good is that? It’s like that scene in Mean Girls when Janis says  “There are two kinds of evil people in this world. Those who do evil stuff and those who see evil stuff being done and don’t try to stop it.”Well, she right (technically the screenwriter who wrote Mean Girls is right but you know what I mean). What good is complaining about how awful our world, our society, and do nothing about it. I tried making excuses for myself to why I didn’t do anything like “She had already left” “I don’t even know those kids” “I had to go, my friend’s were waiting for me” but they are just that, excuses, each one more stupid than the rest. I’ve realized, I was no better than they were.

We all watched those cheesy anti-bulling videos that were probably done in the eighties where there’s the victim, the bully and the bystander. They are usually so boring and terribly done that we all tune it out, but there is some truth to it. I’ve come to believe that the person who holds the most power in these scenarios is the bystander. It’s not the victim, for obvious reasons, and while it may seem like it’s the bully, it’s not. Chances are, the bully’s just another child who’s hurting. The bystander is the one who can turn the situation in two directions, do nothing and let the cycle continue or try and change things. Even if you don’t change the bully’s mind, by simply standing up for them, you’ve already impacted the victim’s life.

I didn’t intend for this post to be an anti-bullying rant. Actually, I was planning for it to be a whole thing about pop culture and why stupid thing get popular, etc. Somehow this happened instead and I think that it did for a reason. Maybe you’re reading this and tomorrow, you’ll have the opportunity to be the bystander and make a difference (ok, I’m sorry for this cliché). As for me? I’m gonna have a talk with a certain two people in my school tomorrow, lucky for me, their locker’s are near mine. 😉 

Song of the Post: Hero by Superchick
Quote[s] of the Post: (all by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.)
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is ‘What are you doing for others?’”


 “In the end we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”