After nearly two decades I finally get this letter out. Over the years many lines of dialogue float through my head intended for you. This includes “daydreams” about the confrontation my lack of backbone denied me. It may surprise you to find out, that confrontation never involves beating you up, nor even humiliating you as you and your cronies constantly chased me for.
No, I want to tell you first, you were sorta right. I never directly called you a bitch. I never admitted what I said, exactly, because I knew (or at least thought) the focus on my choice of words would get me in trouble while you continued your poor behavior that earned you, yes EARNED you those words. So, nearly two decades later, the truth: I grew irritated with you early. I watched you bully every person on our bus and at our stop that you even mildly disapproved of. I felt many were very nice kids. The ones I didn’t know…they never deserved your acid behavior.
You were the first habitual bully I ever encountered. Until that point so long ago in middle school, I honestly considered bullies like you (right down to trailing lackeys) a Hollywood creation. Didn’t you know bullies never win? Who possibly wants to lead a life as the miserable person the hero beats in a coming of age climax? I handled it wrong. You alone? Possible. You and your followers? Yeah, extremely intimidating alone, with predictable results. I really only wanted to discuss it with you directly, maybe help you see your actions through the eyes of your innocent victims. However, the lackeys always stuck by your side, never offering a private moment for such discussion.
Scared, I decided instead that I should find allies. Unfortunately I chose the EXACT wrong person for testing the waters, along with choosing the wrong opening. I regret my choice of words. I leaned over and said in Donna’s ear, “She really needs to stop acting like such a…bitch before she finds out she has no real friends, only people too scared not to be. Don’t you think?” I never used that word before, I never cursed before that. My very first curse word, reserved for your actions.
Donna made a non-committal sound, and since I doubt we were overheard, I’ve thought of her as the mole. She remained friendly and remaining polite in turn proved quite difficult after your torments. Tell me honestly, if instead, I told Donna I wished I could talk to you because the way you’re treating others upsets me, would the story be any different? Probably not. I only wished I used those words to deny you an excuse for your actions. Also, without that curse word, when we found ourselves in the school office, finally without your lackeys, you would have found out exactly what I said.
As stupid as it may sound, I like believing we could have been friends in that case, I never wanted to hate you. I still really do not, though I dislike you, I pity you more. I wonder if your lackeys still trail you? Are you alone now? Did you ever learn how to treat people? I hope so, honestly. I soaked up all the bullying from then on, the bullying usually reserved for people who now kept their distance from your new favourite target. Knowing you learned important lessons as well makes it more worthwhile. I feel guilty thinking I failed what I wanted for you, as much as your victims back then.
I don’t blame them, how long did they suffer before I moved in and opened my mouth? How long did you call Rachel, sweet, quiet Rachel, “Roach girl” and make fun of her home crawling with insects? I wonder how often John heard you call him fag and laugh? I suppose I can honestly say, getting you off their backs, even though they remained quiet, was worth being chased and threatened near-daily. Maybe your life sucked behind closed doors.
Maybe theirs did too. Maybe Rachel was also neglected and abused? She gets on the bus after living another day in the home you gleefully called filthy and infested, a recent fight with her father who gave her a large ugly bruise conveniently covered with long sleeves. She gets on that bus and rather than human compassion, perhaps even a compatriot, she hears more insults from you, undeserving. In that, I gladly accept the memory of every stress and torment you inflicted on me. I called you a bitch (sorta), bring your sword over here and fight someone your own size (even though I wasn’t). I weathered it, it sucked but I knew I could…despite also being molested during middle school as well.
I find myself divided. Part of me wants karma for you and I want you knowing why your life sucks, why you always find roaches in your kitchen at night and no one likes calling you friend. A better part of me, a stronger part, sincerely hopes you learned. That small voice of revenge aside, I honestly want you knowing that I hope you matured into a better person. I want that far more than karma. If not for your sake, then for those that endure your presence now. It’s all I really wanted from the moment I opened my mouth twenty years ago.
I’m here, you caught me now. I’m done running and I want you to stop chasing me in the woods. Face me. Face what I represent and become a better person, a person I can hug and forgive, knowing you forgive me for not expressing myself better then.
Laura Kent (hometown: Danville, Il.)
Were you bullied? Did the bullying? Something to say? Talk to me in comments!