You may not remember me. But I remember you.
I found one of you on Facebook the other day. I looked through your profile, because you were the only one whose name I could remember. Part of me is glad for that.
You seemed happy in all of your pictures. You were smiling with your friends, laughing on a mountaintop somewhere. I want you to know that I'm happy for you. If I could sit down with you, and the other boy who used to sit beside you in our 6th grade math class while you mocked me until I had to pretend I wasn't crying in the hallway, I would want you to know this:
I want you to know what your actions did to me. It struck me while I scrolled through your Facebook, that the only reason I was doing this, checking in on your life almost 10 years since that 6th grade math class, was because of what you did. Even if I can't remember your friend's name, I will always remember both of your faces, as they sneered from the seats behind me and whispered the worst names your young minds could think of. Sometimes you roped other students in the class into your little attacks, but you two were the ringmasters. So here I was, so many years later, still invested in your memory enough to find you on Facebook and see how your life was going. But deep down, I know I didn't do that because I wanted to make sure that you were happy. Honestly, I'm not quite sure what I hoped to get out of that venture. But I know there was a small part of me, a part that I am ashamed of, that secretly hoped to see you unhappy. That part of me hoped to see you suffering like you made me suffer. But I know that was wrong, and I'm sorry. I don't want the pain you caused me to come back around to you. And I don't want to let what you did to me turn my heart to stone.
But I want you to know that, whether you wish you could take it back or not, you changed me. I am still trying to separate the memory of you from what you did to me. But I haven't been able to do that yet. Just like I can't forget how, when we were in high school, my best friend almost dated you. And I still remember how unsafe that made me feel. Because how could I tell her that the boy who treated her so kindly, the boy she told me about often, was the one who made my life a living hell for a year in middle school.
Even as I write this, I am struck by how petty I sound. It was 10 years ago--why am I still hung up on this? But I know the answer to that question.
I still remember you and what you did to me, because words have power. The cruel things you did and said to me all those years ago were not meaningless. Once you say something, you cannot take it back. Your actions have consequences. I am proof of this.
I don't want to blame you for what became of me the years that followed that math class. But I know that even into high school, even still now, as a college student, I am confronted often by the sentiments you and others like you instilled in me all those years ago--that I'm worthless, that the people around me would do anything to be free of the burden of my presence, and that there is something wrong with me. These thoughts have followed me for my entire life, and I battle them daily.
I can't say I know why you did it. I know we are all broken people in a broken world, but I still cannot comprehend what exactly it was about me that made me your target. Sometimes I think it might just have been the fact that I was the new girl in town, the weird girl, the quiet girl who was bad at math. I don't know. But it doesn't matter.
Sometimes I wonder what you would do if you had a young daughter, and one day she came to you crying (unlike how I never told my parents of what you did to me until years later) about what the boys in her class were saying to her. I wonder how you would react. I wonder if you would remember me then. But I don't wish that on you, or anyone you may care about, or anyone at all.
I want you to know how much you hurt me. But I also want you to know, more than anything else, that I forgive you.
I forgive you, and your friend whose name I can't remember, and anyone else who joined you in your endeavors. I forgive you, because I don't want to have to think of the hateful things you said to me anymore. I want to be free of any spite that you might have planted in my heart all those years ago. I want to see your smiling picture on Facebook and truly be happy for you, without any lingering fog of malice floating in the back of my mind from that 6th grade math class. I want you to be happy. Not because you deserve it, but because I know that forgiveness is the key to healing. I want you to be free of the bitterness that first caused you to abuse me. And I want any young girl who may be suffering in silence like I did to know that it will not last forever, and that they lose no value based on the words of callous young boys.
But to those callous young boys, who are not young anymore, I want to say this: you are not what you did to me. Just like I am not what you made me feel. We are both better than who we were then.
I know you may never read this. And you may not ever remember me, but I remember you. And I hope that you're doing well.