I will never forget you, though I wish I could.
We met when we were five. We were in the same kindergarten class, and you lived five houses down from me.
We made so many fun memories together. I still have all of the pictures. Playdates, sleepovers in abundance, pool parties, mall adventures, and two major concerts.
You were my go-to friend when I wanted someone to hang out with.
We had our differences, arguments and fights, just as any friends would. We always made up just as quickly. When we were good, we were good.
But the good times we had for 8 years don't excuse the hell you put me through for 8 years.
One on one, we had the best friendship a girl could ask for. We were there for each other in difficult times, and I could tell you things I couldn't tell anyone else.
The bad was mixed in with the good. I now realize that I miss the memories we had, but I don't miss the person I shared those memories with.
You used me as a last resort. When there was anyone else around, I was automatically ignored. If I said anything about it, I was deemed "overly sensitive."
You never failed to actively let me know how you thought of me as less-than. When you told me that I was too "fat" to be your friend, my self-esteem was already so low that I almost agreed with you.
When I attempted to drop you as a friend because of that comment, our friend group automatically sided with you because you were the "favorite," and I was nothing but a placeholder until someone better came along.
The hurt you caused me was never acknowledged. I was told by you and the rest of our group to just forgive and get over it.
To this day, I haven't gotten over it.
Thirteen years later, body image is still a huge struggle. I look at myself in the mirror every day, and every day I dislike my image.
As we got older, the bullying grew with the friendship. Playdates turned into hangouts, gossip turned into deep conversations and teasing turned into bullying and abuse.
When we were 13, you handed me a list titled "Things Sarah Needs to Do to Be Prettier." This list included what type of haircut you thought I needed, the clothes you thought I should wear, the way you thought I should do my makeup, etc.
I thought we got rid of our Barbie styling heads when we were nine, but I guess you missed yours so much that you wanted a new one; a human one.
You always stressed the importance of physical appearance to me, and for a while I thought you were right.
I'm glad I now know how wrong you were.
You taught me what a true bully is.
The first time I ever made a true friend was when I was 13, and I followed your example of friendship. Despite how horrible I was, she stuck by me. That's a real friend.
After eight years of friendship and bullying, I'm about to enter my eighth year of distance from you. Here's what I've learned in that time:
Just because you treat someone well doesn't mean they'll do the same for you.
Not everything is forgivable.
When someone hurts you, it's because they themselves are hurting.
The hell you put me through made me truly appreciate the friends I now have. They have been supportive, kind and loving in ways you made me believe I didn't even deserve.
I hope you've learned how to be a kinder person for the sake of your current and future relationships.
Finally, I hope you find peace within yourself as I have.
Remember to love yourself and treat yourself with respect. Everyone deserves happiness.