It was a lifetime ago and yet it also feels like yesterday. Suddenly I am taken back to when I was thirteen years old, dreading going into school because you and your gang of friends decided to pick on me. You’d start talking about me really loudly and laugh hysterically, while I would try with all my might not to cry. My face would go red but most of the time I wouldn’t be able to hold back those fat tears. It was a mixture of humiliation, hurt and anger. Those tears would fall down my face and every drop would feel like defeat. You’d won. You’d got to me, just like you intended.
It still baffles me today that the teachers would never notice a thing. Were they unaware, or was it just so easy to turn a blind eye to it? Now I am a manager and watch over my team all day, I see little hints here and there of bullying…stronger characters making the more placid ones look foolish, just so they can look impressive. Except I see through it. I see what they are doing. I notice it and I can’t turn a blind eye like they did. I can’t let people feel like that way, unsupported and being thrown into the firing line without any notice.
You made me under-confident and insecure. You are the reason I don’t like to sit near teenagers on the bus. Or why it stings when people start laughing like hyenas in public. I think to myself “they can’t be laughing at me”, hoping I’m being paranoid. You sucked the confidence I naturally had within me and created this shy girl who was scared of speaking her mind. It was only when I met my other half, and he reminded me that I need to be proud of myself, that things started to heal. I bet you don’t even think about what effect it had on me, I bet you don’t care. You were the popular girl at school and wanted to look impressive in front of your bitchy gang of girls.
Almost twenty years on, and most days I don’t give it a single thought. As the years rolled by and school ended, I moved on and you faded from my life. I didn’t have to be anxious anymore where I would see you in the street in town. As I write this, I’m angry yet again that after twenty years, this still has the power to upset me. You don’t deserve any of it and we were both existing blissfully unaware that we now live in the same city. But you wanted me to know, so you followed me on Instagram. You ‘like’ all the pictures of my daughter, of our life together. You want me to notice you, but I refuse to let you do that once again.
I wish you hadn’t found me but you did. At first it made me want to quit my blog and never write or post a single picture again. It seems easier that way, to just close off this very public part of my life. I did genuinely think about it but at the same time, I hate that I would throw away something I love because of you. So here we are – in the same city, unknowingly yet inevitably with a few mutual friends already. You may have been able to take my positivity and spirit all those years ago, but not anymore.