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Bye-Bye, Bully MAG
“Are you kidding me? You're wearing that? You're ridiculous! I can't believe you thought you could be popular!”
You told me this in the locker room after gym class. I just kept my head down. You chose me out of the group of girls wanting to fit in. For some reason I stood out to you. I deserved to be punished.
Now, years later, you seem to have forgotten that you bullied me. You see me in the hallways and I'm just another person. Sometimes you ask to borrow a pencil. You'll never know what it's like to see a person you used to be terrified of five days a week.
I started middle school thinking that finally I'd be free of the cumbersome task of dealing with bullies. I held my head high and was happy to have a fresh start. You see, I was bullied in elementary school, too. Not by you, of course. Those people had finally left me alone. But you dashed my hope that day.
I thought you would disappear after a few days, but you remained, buzzing around like a fruit fly that you can't quite kill.
“You're ugly and fat and I hate you. You know that, right?” you said to me one day. Back then I only had one class with you. Unfortunately, it was gym, the class with the least teacher supervision, especially in the locker room. And because I had hardly any friends in school, gym meant I was lonely and vulnerable. So I kept my head down and waited for the bell to ring, trying hard to salvage what self-esteem I had left.
This happened almost every day for a month and a half.
“Could you be more of an unpopular freak?” you taunted one day. Your words were your bait, and I was the fish. But I didn't want to bite. “Can't you just go die in a hole and make everyone's life better? I might kill myself if I have to see your ugly face again.”
“Can you stop, please?” I said, quietly. I was hoping you wouldn't hear, but you did.
“Excuse me? What did you say, loser?” Your eyes became huge and angry.
“Please. Stop making fun of me. Please …” I trailed off. I still didn't have the courage to face you, even after the constant taunting.
You stepped closer, looking me in the eyes. “Listen, you dork, I'm never going to stop. Not until you're worn out. You're fat and ugly and a nerd, and you deserve it.”
That night, I didn't eat dinner and stayed in my room. I cried and cried but kept telling my parents I was fine. I had no one to go to. No relief. In my search for a break from the pain you caused, I tried to find my own pain. After all these years, I still have scars on my wrist that remind me of you on a daily basis. Sad, right? Even after you stopped, I'm still not rid of you.
A few days later, I still hadn't eaten much, and I was really weak. My few friends started to notice. I was talking to one of them outside during lunch when you approached with your friends and a death glare in your eyes. Not now, I thought. I'm not strong enough.
“I want you to stop bothering her,” one of your friends said to me, pointing to you.
My friend noticed my distress and jumped in. “She hasn't done anything. You” – she looked straight into your eyes because she wasn't afraid – “need to stop bothering Michaela. She doesn't deserve the things you say to her. I don't think you would like it if Guidance got involved. New Jersey has a new law against bullying. I don't think you'll be the tough girl in juvie.”
Your eyes got wide in astonishment. I had friends to defend me. There was silence for a moment until you snapped out of your shock.
“Fine. But don't think I regret anything I said about you. I was right – you're never going to be popular. You're not pretty and you're fat. Go die in a hole,” you said.
And you left. It was that easy. Why didn't I know it could be that easy?
After you were out of sight, I broke down in my friend's arms. I started crying, letting everything spill out, everything that happened in those two months. Is that it? I thought. Is it over now?
My crying had attracted attention. Friends from elementary school, people who I didn't think cared, came over to comfort me. Apparently they, too, knew what had been going on.
I didn't look up to see your face. I had people who cared, so I didn't need your approval.
It took me a while to get out of the bad place you put me in. I would like to thank you, though. You made me realize that I don't need to change myself to fit in, to find people who love me. I am beautiful, I don't have to be skinny, and my life isn't your document to edit.
But thanks anyway for your comments. Please put them in the shredder on your way out of my life.