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Sticks and Stones

By
To G,

My name is Amanda. You should remember me, but if you don’t I will remind you. I am that girl from your 6th grade class; the one with frizzy hair, glasses, braces, a bit of an acne problem, and one of those “early bloomers.” Yes, the one that you took it upon yourself to destroy the life of. You may have thought it was all in good fun, but you were wrong; you don’t know the half of it. So now I am going to finally give you the chance to know what you really did to me. Sit down and read, for this may be your one and only shot at redemption.

If you think back 3 years to our 6th grade year, you might remember Miss N, our English, reading, religion and social studies teacher. She was one of those teachers that may have seemed like she was going to be a blast, but you can’t always judge a book by its cover. For example, she yelled at us for not having any questions, and when we did, she yelled at us for having them. Miss N wasn’t much of a problem when you think about the girls in that class. I will admit not all of them were a problem, but most of them were. You were catty and insolent, yet I can now tell you were insecure: insecure about yourself and what others around thought of you. You felt you had to be better than everyone else. To satisfy this hunger for inferiority, you gossiped. Oh, how you gossiped. In fact, that was all you ever did. I honestly don’t remember a time when we were allowed to talk freely and you didn’t gossip; not once. This is where it started. This is where you could have corrected yourself and nothing would have ever happened. Gossip is pure evil, and you, since you were “better than everyone else,” should have known just how to avoid it. But gossip made you its spawn, and once you were, you were never able to escape its indissoluble clutches.

To begin a story, one might start with “It all started when…” or “once upon a time…,” but this story has no obvious beginning or end. It started when you and I were born, and it is ongoing today. To make things simple and straightforward, I will start with our 6th grade year.

I had known that I really didn’t fit in at our school. I never really had. My unspoken goal for our 6th grade year was to make friends. I didn’t really expect to become the most popular girl in class (although I won’t deny that I wished it) but I did want to have at least a couple of friends in my class. The only girl I did consider my friend was K, who happened to be in the other class. So I sized up my horizon and set out on that epic foray. I talked to everyone, even the (gasp) boys. I even talked to you. I figured I could become friends with you, because you were friends with K. So we talked. I will tell you now that I was not stupid, however only naive. I could tell that you really didn’t like me that much, but you just tolerated me probably on your mother’s orders. You never looked past the braces and the oily face to see what was within. I branched out to other people, being entirely too optimistic. I received the same reaction that I got from you from all of them. All except for one: S.
How do I even begin to describe her? She was your average queen bee of the ‘in’ group; a Regina George of real life. From the outside she may have seemed like a cute, outgoing, smart and funny girl: the average teacher’s dream. In reality, she was just the opposite. She took advantage of me and befriended me just to go along with that image that she so desperately desired. And me, being my callow self, went along with it perfectly. She was my savior: I felt as if I really belonged, despite the eye rolling of her partners in crime. I never suspected that she could be capable of the complete destruction of a person. On one seemingly normal day, she took it upon herself to inform me that the only reason she was being friends with me was to keep her image of perfection in check, or in her words, “to keep Miss N off my back.” While this completely shattered my definition of the word “friend,” you, I must say, get the gold cupie doll for mutilating it. Besides the fact that you shut me down every time I tried to talk to you, you also (for reasons unknown) turned K against me. When I could actually muster enough courage and energy to go and talk to my one and only friend, you would mutter something (only God knows what) in her ear, and you both would turn away, sometimes laughing, and completely ignore me.

I quickly slipped into a depression. I decided I didn’t care anymore if people liked me or not. I became slightly misanthropic, avoiding people as much as I could. Lunch was a nightmare. Recess was only bearable when I was inside helping a former teacher with grading and other monotonous tasks. When I was forced to go outside, I just sat under a tree staring into space. I had nothing better to do anyway. One would think that the constant sight of my languishing would suffice, but no. You had to degrade me even more to really feel as if you had risen above me, so you struck again. This time it was in a more sneaky, cruel, and I must say, much more creative way. You brought out your creative talents (yeah right) and made up a song. Not just any song, but one about me and my so to speak “early blooming.” Now making up a song is one thing, however spreading it around is something completely different. You did such a good job at that in fact, I didn’t even realize until a week after every single person in the entire 6th grade knew, laughed about it, and was already almost over it.

This was the last straw. If I wasn’t already depressed, there was no mistaking it now. The only sparkles that could be found in my eyes for the next month were tears, and they weren’t strangers. I didn’t ever talk; there was no point. Anytime I ever opened my mouth, people around me laughed. My grades slipped, and I didn’t feel the need to live anymore. On good days, I moped around, and people hardly noticed I was there. On those frequent bad days, I would lock myself in my room, just me and my razor. Somehow, in ways I had yet to understand, the thin red lines that my razor and I produced made me feel better—maybe it was the fact that I could feel this pain, as opposed to the pain that I felt every day that was beginning to make me numb. Later I would find out that what I was doing was a clinical disease, and I was not alone, but at the time, I didn’t understand myself. I walked the halls of school with my head down, trying to ignore the people who were shooting malevolent comments at me. On one particularly unbearable day before my parents got home from work, I went into the medicine supply cabinet and dumped the contents of 3 or 4 different bottles into my hands. I didn’t know what they were really for, but it didn’t matter. Nothing mattered anymore. As I looked down at the assorted different colored pills, I could swear I saw my life flash before my eyes. I realized there had to be more than what I was going through. I had so much yet to live for! Sobbing, I turned my hand over, letting the pills crash to the floor. I wept as I slid down the wall. I could still hear the capsules dance on the clean tile floor over my strident sobs. I vowed to never again let people like you get the best of me.

You may now think that I wrote this letter so that you would feel bad for me, and apologize. Although that wouldn’t hurt, that is not why I wrote it. Believe it or not, I wrote it to thank you. If it weren’t for what happened, I would not be the person I am today. Unknowingly, you brought me closer to my friends and, most of all, myself.

I never told anyone of my problems until after they were virtually gone. I never told my parents, even after, and I never got any counseling, though that is what I tell people so they don’t try to pressure me into it now. The truth is, I never needed any help outside of the help I was born with: me.

After I moved, I was very afraid about coming to a new school. What if the same thing happened again? Fortunately, it didn’t. I relearned the definition of friend as: a person who will always be there for you and someone you enjoy being around, instead of the opposite as I had grown accustomed to. I made many good friends my 7th grade year that I still have today. I have slowly learned to trust again, and I now have complete trust in most of my friends.

Lastly, but most importantly, this situation that you brought upon me has helped me to better know myself. I now know that I am capable of overcoming great barriers, and that nothing can stand in my way. You have made me stronger in many more ways than you will ever know. Now, no words can ever harm me; they just bounce right off. I don’t care what other people think of me; just as long as I am happy with myself, it doesn’t matter.

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” This is the saying I have grown up with. By reading this, I hope you realize just how much words can truly hurt. I hope by reading this, you will never make anyone else go through the same things as you made me go through. I hope you now know that sticks and stones may break bones, but words can break the spirit.
Yours very alive, well, and thriving,
Amanda





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penguins_r_cool said...
May 20, 2009 at 9:19 pm
this story is very touching and brightly written. one of my favorites on this site. it should be published.
 
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