When I was in the fifth grade we volunteered with the kindergarten class in a "big buddy" program. I was SO proud to be a mentor to my little buddy and I eagerly began trying to be a good role model. I remember feeling incredibly proud (of both of us!) one day when he struggled to read a word in a book and I helped him sound it out. His face beemed with pride and my 10 year old self felt like a hero. It was the same day that one of his classmates told his own big buddy that I was too fat to sit in the kindergarten chairs and I was going to break it. That day it wasn't just my peers laughing but an entire herd of kindergarten children too. I think that's the day that the insults finally penetrated my armor. That's the day I started to break.
Middle school was worse. People took my yearbook and passed it around to write awful things about how they didn't like me and hoped not to see me next year. One girl even took it upon herself to offer a suggestion "don't stick your chest out when you walk". She didn't realize (or didn't care, probably both) that the reason I was sticking my chest out when I walked was because I was trying my hardest to suck my stomach in. Chest up, shoulders back, stand tall and proud and they won't recognize how fat you really are.
Every day people took a swing at my spirit trying hard to break me and I'll admit I broke. There was a LONG stretch of time that I allowed them to win and I seriously considered their advice. I'd hear their words echo in my head "go kill yourself" I'd think to myself that they would REALLY learn their lesson if I did that. Wouldn't they feel terrible. They'd go on living their lives every day knowing they made me do it. They'd have to live with the guilt and the regret. My blood would be on their hands. Wouldn't it really teach them?
But would it really teach them? Even if I had left them notes or tapes (like in 13 Reasons) explaining just how they had wronged me, would they even know who I was? Would they care? Would they feel remorse or even realize that their stupid immature behavior had affected me so deeply? I'm pretty sure they wouldn't. I'm pretty sure they would justify their behavior.
"I was kidding."
"She was to sensitive."
"She can't take a joke."
"I didn't mean it like that."
"I never said that."
Or maybe they would hear my message loud and clear and they'd think to themselves
"I was kidding."
"I didn't realize she was so sensitive."
"I thought she could take a joke."
"I didn't mean it like that."
"I don't remember saying that."
"...why didn't she give me a chance to apologize?"
I have to admit that I have spent some time fantasizing about about breaking the bullies who hurt me the way they broke me. I would love to unleash the venom that has bottled up inside of me after years of torture. I'd love to spew it all over them and watch them melt like the wicked witch. Just drowning in their own melting skin as I poured the acid that was their words all over them. Just a little taste of their own medicine would kill them or at least bring them writhing in pain to their knees. As they begged me to just stop I'd ask them with a shit eating grin "how's it feel?" and then I'd throw my head back laughing while they continued to shrivel beneath me. How satisfying would it be to break their spirit the way they broke mine? To get revenge. To scratch that deep primal itch to eliminate them from my lives entirely.
I would love that.
Believe it or not I'm actually a very kind, compassionate person. I care deeply about people. I care deeply about helping my neighbor, being kind and giving not to get something back, just to do something nice because that is fulfilling. These violent thoughts I have about the bullies who tortured me all those years ago are more fleeting now but once in a while something stirs that anger up.
13 Reasons Why stirred that anger up. It reignited my resentment but it also reminded me of how freakin amazing I am and how much I am capable of if I want to be. When I want to be. The way the story was told made me feel like suicide is a good way to hurt someone who has hurt you. It felt like an eye for an eye. You hurt me so now I'm going to hurt you by hurting me even more and you'll have to live with the regret forever! But isn't hurting yourself to hurt someone else missing the point? I did this. For YEARS I beat myself down I crawled into myself and I hoped someone would realize it and say "Oh my god! We broke her we have to fix this!" but NO ONE DID. No one cared.
No one cared because I didn't care.
It's hard to respect someone who doesn't respect themselves. I'm ANGRY that people were so mean and I can't understand why. I try to tell myself they were unhappy with themselves and I was an easy target because I was fat and to nice to say something mean back. I try to tell myself they were miserable and lonely and the only way they could feel better was to step all over me. I try to tell myself that their batteries were nearly dead so they took some of my juice because I'm BLESSED to be full and overflowing with LOVE. They needed to suck some of the love out of me to survive.
I try to tell myself that everyday so that I can find compassion and forgiveness not because they deserve it, because I deserve it.
I try to let go of the words they wrote in my yearbook. When the stupid chanting about how hated I am starts I try to drown it out by singing one of my MANY fight songs. I have a whole bunch of strategies that I've developed to fight it and every time I make the decision to fight I get stronger.
It's true that I'm thankful for the bullies who tortured me because without them I wouldn't be here now but it's also true that it totally sucks that people think it's OK to walk all over other people. But I can't control them and I can't change what happened. I can control me and I can change what happens next.
Sometimes I hear the awful words they said. Sometimes I hurl those word grenades at myself. Sometimes I think about how easy it would be just to admit defeat and give up and then I remind myself that the best revenge is happiness.
They don't know who I am and they don't care about me. Giving up will do NOTHING to phase them. But giving up will hurt me tremendously. I've worked really hard to overcome that torture. I've worked really hard to come to peace with who I am and I think I'm pretty great these days. When I want to quit I wonder why I want to quit. Who am I trying to appease? Who am I hurting? Why should I give up on someone as awesome as me?
I'm done with that. I started this blog thinking at the end I was going to share how the best revenge is taking care of myself and being a better person today than I was yesterday and as I wrote and my anger died I realized I don't want revenge. I just want peace.
So I'm giving myself the gift of peace by eating well, moving more, forgiving the bullies and most importantly forgiving myself for believing them and bullying myself. I had so many wonderful qualities then, I have even more now.
As much as the bullying hurt, it helped shape who I am today and who I am today isn't so bad...
Here are 13 Reasons I'm awesome
1. I'm strong
2. I'm wise
3. I'm compassionate
4. I'm creative
5. I'm talented
6. I'm fun
7. I'm funny
8. I'm a good friend
9. I'm kind
10. I'm a good mom to my fur-babies
11. I'm a good listener
12. I'm honest
13. I'm humble (which I know is hard to believe! haha!)