Dear Childhood Bully,
Hey. Remember me? My guess is that you probably do, even if it takes a little reminder. I, however, remember you quite clearly. Unfortunately I think of you often— because honestly, you ruined my life.
It started with excluding me from little things, making me feel like I didn’t belong. It progressed to snide comments and remarks, and eventually, outright insults and rumors. You criticized my appearance, my social tendencies, my athletic abilities, my interests. Not one aspect of my life went untouched. You were determined to tear me down, and in some ways you were successful.
I think what bothered me the most about you is that you weren’t content with your own dislike. You weren’t content with being the only one abusing me. You tried to influence others to join you. Like gathering troops for a battle that I wasn’t fighting. And sometimes, it worked. People that I thought were my friends joined you. Or possibly worse than joining you, they simply looked the other way. Their choice to ignore what you did to me hurt me even worse: maybe I was really worthless.
If this gives you some kind of sick satisfaction, then fine. That only serves as a testament to the kind of person you are. (Hint: It’s not a great one.) But despite all of your efforts, guess what? I’m still here. And I’m not one to boast, but I must say that I’m thriving. How does that make you feel? My guess is that you’re probably disappointed. Maybe a little confused. After all, I did say that you ruined my life.
Ok, so maybe “ruined my life” was a bit of an exaggeration. You’ve “impacted” my life more than you’ve “ruined” it. I do suffer from confidence issues, but most people do. But despite my instinct to insult myself—an instinct that you created—I continue living my life. I smile in the morning because I love my friends, I love my family, I love my job, I love my life. I love where I am right now, and a lot of things are going right. I remind myself that I am perfect just the way I am, and the people who actually matter will realize that. Oops, I guess you were never one of them.
I’m not expecting some type of grand apology. We haven’t had direct contact for several years: let’s keep it that way. And no matter what apology you could come up with, I will never forget how you hurt me. How you conditioned me to believe those things. How you made me believe I was “less than,” and made me think that was all I could ever be.
Unfortunately, little bullies often turn into big bullies. Then they raise little bullies of their own. They get stuck in this cycle of hatred and malice, and this malice honestly becomes a part of who they are. I hope that isn’t you, but it wouldn’t really surprise me. So I don’t want an apology. I just want you to be aware of what you did, and I hope you don’t repeat what you did to me to someone else. I’m strong enough to take it—but maybe they aren’t.
So have a nice life. I hope that when you think of me, you don’t think of some sad little kid that you had so much power over. Instead, think of me as that damn kid who withstood everything you threw at them, no matter how hard you tried to destroy them.
The Kid You Couldn’t Take Down