I’m 24 years old. Technically, I’m an adult and wa-ay past the days of high school drama and even college cliques. Well, I’d like to think I am. But those years of being bullied as a teenager still sting and I’ve realized that these wounds have been open for far too long. So, in an effort to let the past go, I decided to write an open letter to my bullies.
You have a lot of names and even though I haven’t seen some of your faces in a while, I still remember you clearly.
For a long time I thought there was something wrong with me. The sideways glances, the gossip and the never failing ‘un-invite’ to the sleepovers and parties- they all made me think I wasn’t good enough to be friends with you. I thought I was strange, lacking in social skills and weird.
But I’m not.
It’s taken a long time, quite a few sleepless nights and two years out of college, but I finally see that you had the problem. I never wanted to threaten you; I only wanted to be your friend. I wish you knew that. Because of what you have done, I’ve struggled to make real friends. I’ve had trouble figuring out that authentic relationships actually allow us to be genuine. I tried so hard to be friends with you, but I see now you never even wanted that. You just wanted me to be a part of your collection, and when I refused you made sure than I didn’t belong. The sad part is that I started to believe you.
I’ve been angry at you for a long time. In truth, the behavior of many people like yourself has torn me up inside. There is a lot of my childhood and teen years I despised because of you. I hope you know what you did to me, that it wasn’t right. But I want you to know that I forgive you. We all make mistakes and I know only too well the hurt we are capable of when we don’t love ourselves.
So even though what you did to me was wrong and I can’t comprehend how you did it, I forgive you. I don’t want to be your friend, in fact I would much rather cut your many faces out of my memory. But I know that if I did this I would still be bitter and angry, and I know how sad if feels to be this way. So I am writing this letter to you so you don’t have to live with these feelings anymore either.
I hope you are happy, that you are living a full life with authentic friendships. If there is one thing I have learned, it is that genuine relationships begin with a mutual acceptance of each other. I hope you have begun to accept yourself now, that you no longer feel the need to hurt others to feel beautiful.
Bully, despite my feelings towards you, I know that you are a human being just like me. So I hope you know that you are valuable, that you are beautiful and gifted in ways you perhaps do not believe. The light of other people does not diminish this, in fact it enhances the amazing things we can all do together.
It would be nice to end this calling you a friend, but let’s be real, that’s never going to happen. So instead I will address you as someone who has walked with the same brokenness as me. You are beloved by your family, by your real friends, by God. Don’t be afraid to live authentically, vulnerably and with integrity. True friends will always stay even when they see your true colors.
Dear bully, I hope you are able to love yourself the way I have been learning to since the first day we met.