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An Open Letter To My Bullies: Thank You For Making Me Strong

“The heart is like a garden: it can grow compassion or fear, resentment or love. What seeds will you plant there?” ~Jack Kornfield

Dear Bullies,

To be honest, I didn’t think I would ever write you a letter. As far as I was concerned, the amount of suffering I went through during my school years was enough to make me bitter.

I didn’t forgive you, and I most certainly wasn’t about to forget.

I remember those years like it was yesterday—the cruel name calling; the scrutinizing of how I looked, what I said, and what I did; the public humiliation and cornering on the bus rides home.

Wrong face. Wrong size. Wrong skin color. Wrong personality.

No matter how hard I tried to understand it all, it felt like the world was telling me that I didn’t belong, and I never would.

I remember the hours spent locked in my room crying after school, while my mother paced around the house anxiously. Back then I didn’t know how to communicate to her how I was feeling, and she felt at a loss how to help. I felt paralyzed and confused.

In the schoolyard I was the good girl who never spoke badly of anyone, the quiet student who worked hard and who hated getting into trouble.

I remember the laughter, my cheeks burning as I walked from class to class, wishing that the earth would just swallow me up.

Dear bullies, I really remember that laughter.

I remember the times you refused to sit next to me, “that thing” in the class photos, deeming me too ugly to sit next to, unworthy of sharing your personal space.

I felt crushed that day.

Or the times you used pens and sharp objects to write cruel nicknames over all of my school books and stationery while I was home sick.

And yet every time my family moved to a new city to follow my father’s job, I always held hope that somehow this next new school would be different, I would be different.

I would be finally accepted.

But that day never seemed to come, and it wasn’t long before flip top cell phones without color, instant messenger, and social media websites arrived, sending messages that made my insides squirm.

You were my so called “friends.” You were strangers who found an easy target in a girl who was too afraid to use her voice.

I remember it all.

When I finally escaped school in my teenage years, I thought I was free. Instead, a suffocating depression and crippling anxiety knocked heavily on my door, as I withdrew from the world, convinced that “you” would be everywhere.

I hastily took your critical voices and directed it inward. You became my internal radio station, one that I couldn’t quite figure out how to change or even switch off.

But this is not where my story ends.

By being forced to go within, I began to slowly gather puzzle pieces out of a dark and challenging place.

I explored every nook and corner, searching for long lost parts of me, parts that hadn’t been seen in quite some time.

I learned how to face myself without fear, but rather with a growing sense of maturity that helped me to look beyond my pain and start to become aware of yours.

You see, we humans are merely a reflection of one another.

For you to project words so broken and so laced with anger, you had to have been battling your very own storms within.

Genuinely happy people don’t pull others down, and for that, you have taught me the art of compassion.

You have taught me how to connect fully with others from all walks of life; I look around me, and I see beyond the superficial, the carefully put up walls, and I see something else:

I see that behind every face, behind every pair of eyes filled with experiences, there is a story to be told, if we just took more time to stop and listen.

And even though some of your stories are now forever linked with mine, they’re now the gritty, rough drafts that add to the chapters rather than take away from it.

Because, you see, despite the hurt, you truly did contribute to the biggest gift of all:

The gift of learning to genuinely love and accept the child that I was and the woman I am becoming.

And for that, I only have a few words for you:

Thank you for making me strong.

Kind regards,

Rachel

About Rachel Renée

Rachel Renée is a storyteller over at her website thewildflowerdiaries.com. Here she shares her experiences in the form of diary entries, her musings, and her heart. She is a lover of all things related to the mind, body and soul and is happy to call New Zealand home.

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  • Btsy Taylor

    Beautiful thoughts and words, thank you.

  • Nora1119

    like Jeffrey responded I’m startled that some one can make $8466 in a few weeks on the internet . go to this website CLCK.RU/9uupv

  • Amazing what you can learn from adversity and how, if you’ll let it, it can make you stronger.

  • Shawn Cockrill

    Rachel it is like you told my exact story but in your very own words. I too went through extreme and brutal bullying as a child and into my teen years. It still can affect me to this very day. But like you I choose to now see it as a gift. It has made me more compassionate and understanding to those who are also struggling. I am sorry you had to go through all you did. It does make us stronger and more beautiful people in the long run. Thank you so much for sharing your story! You were always enough and you are still enough 🙂

  • Katie

    Such as great piece- you have told a story that resonates with so many. You’re brave and beautiful to write and to share this in such an articulate way. Just wonderful xx

  • LaTrice Dowe

    I remember being bullied growing up. It wasn’t pleasant, nor was it fun. I was fighting for acceptance, until I realized that I shouldn’t have to change squat about my overall appearance, due to someone else’s insecurities. Besides, I could careless if I’m not the most likeable person.

    What you went through growing up, Rachel was unfortunate. I do appreciate you sharing your story.

  • Bullyinglte

    You did it, Rachel! You fought the long and hard battle of C-PTSD and the long-term effects of bullying. I did too and wrote a whole memoir about it and now make it my life mission to help others. Welcome to the club of doing the same. It took me 30 years to get over and past the youth bullying damage I dealt with. But I did and am stronger for it. I sense you are too. Thank you so much for keeping this in the forefront of our tough battle around bullying issues. Just like the picture, you are an example of the word HERO!

  • purna

    Hi Rachel,
    What happened to you was awful and hurtful and I am sorry that you had to go through that in your teenage years. I can imagine the fears that it caused you. I can relate to your experiences. I was bullied too and I even told my mother how I wanted to end my life because of it. They are unhappy people. Hurt people hurt people. Hugs for you from Bali.

  • Thank you for saying so, Btsy. I’m glad you enjoyed the read.

  • I could not agree more with you, Mike. Thank you for your comment.

  • Thank you so much for your support. xxx

  • Anonny

    Amazing story! I went through something similar during middle school years. My home life was worse. So I was always stuck in a bad environment with people who brought me down, put me down, and tried to keep me from going somewhere. It is painful to recount. I told my mom how I was feeling (as I could not tell my father because of other reasons) and she didn’t do anything–no help, no talks, no compassion, just acted like nothing ever happened and ignored the situation even as I visibly became more angry, hostile, depressed, and even having not-so-great thoughts.
    As I am almost 30, I look at the life I have now and the life I had then. It is hard to for me to accept and believe the life I have now–it is great. I have great people in my life, and besides life’s ups and down, I couldn’t be more grateful. It is truly amazing what the universe can offer one person if they fight, persevere, and remain positive and believe that they truly deserve something better. I had some more work to do on myself, but I only see better days ahead.
    I wonder where I would be if I was not bullied. Would I be better off or worse off than I am now.?? I am not spiritual or religious, but I do feel like things happen for a reason.

  • Coach JL

    Hey Rachel,

    Wow, I am so sorry that you had to go through that grinding process, it is odd that we the bullied grow at the expense of others immaturity.

    I had something happen to me just yesterday that had me struggling the rest of the day to forget it, and I am almost 50. The person that said the hurtful words will probably never be challenged to grow until they learn how empty their life has become.

    Thank you for sharing your story and your strength.

  • Hi, Coach JL.

    Thank you for taking the time to write – it means a lot. I greatly believe that any hard experience (whether it be bullying or something else), has the power to be turned into a positive, essentially making our lives greater with a good few scars/stories to collect along the way.

    I am so sorry that you had something that effected your day because another person chose to take out something of theirs and reflect it on to you. It can definitely take you back in time to when bullying occurs, like re-opening a fresh wound or at the very least, bumping it. Unlike the child I was, as a young adult I now would openly and honestly tell someone if I felt like their words were out of line and hurtful – I hope you had the opportunity to do the same.

  • I am so happy that you have found the happiness you deserve despite the events of your earlier life. I don’t think we ever stop ‘working on/learning about’ ourselves. It’s a pretty amazing journey. I, too, think that things happen for a reason, even if it is something as simple as appreciating what we have like you have done.

    Thank you for sharing your story and I am so happy you could relate.

    -R

  • Hi, Purna.

    Thank you so much for your words, they really mean a lot. You are so right – “hurt people, hurt people” and I hope that you are on the way to/are in a happier place now despite your experiences.

    Big hugs back,
    -R

  • Hi, BullyingIte.

    This made me smile so much – thank you. Thank you also for sharing your story in the form of a memoir – I have no doubt that the more people that share their bullying experiences, the less of us that will continue to feel alone and without a voice.

    I am most definitely stronger (and happier!) for it; I feel it has added some wonderful things into my life (such as the deep empathy for others) and for that I am grateful despite the prickly parts.

    Still smiling. Thank you!

  • Hi, LaTrice.

    Thank you for taking the time to comment and for being strong enough to realise the truth about yourself, gaining a great self awareness in the process. It’s admirable, so thank you for sharing.

    -R

  • Hi, Shawn.

    The fact it connects so deeply with someone who has also experienced bullying, makes your comment all the more special, so thank you. Writing this it was my hope that it wouldn’t just be ‘my’ story, but ‘ours’, so I am so happy that it resonates.

    I am so glad that you too, choose to see it as a gift. We are most definitely stronger and more beautiful humans for it!

    Keeping spreading your light,
    -R

  • Bullyinglte

    Your welcome. There are a lot of us survivors around. Thanks for being one of the good people!

  • Sudhakar R

    Dear Author,I agree with you that all this suffering and experience make us stronger. I feel it while I ignore and move on after another bully yelling at me. But I have a problem. I hope you’re the right person to guide me.
    My roommate laughed at me saying ” you dance like girls”. My parents and relatives said ” You will be skinny forever.” But my heart broke when a bunch of guys yelled my name in a squeaky voice in public,college,canteen and even in halls of events in college.
    I felt humiliated and down. I could never raise my voice or fight as I wasn’t strong. I turned to Self help and spirituality. I tried to forgive them all and got success to some point. But I couldn’t forgive myself.
    I lost my one precious year of engineering in just worrying about my high pitched voice and depression. I thought maybe my sexuality is the reason behind my feminism. So I decided to change things.
    I shifted my focus to making my voice deeper and learning manly gestures to fake the world that I’m a straight person. I succeeded. My voice is better now and I no more look like a girly piece.
    But I often curse God for creating me like this and beat myself for faking things. I want to feel myself always. I regret my grades,a lost year. Due to study of self help,I’m in a condition to calm myself but…
    This Depression kills me. And Anxiety doesn’t go away. I don’t want my heart beat fast always. I fear the nothing. Feeling anxious has become a habit now.
    Whenever I talk to others I’m always conscious about my voice. I fear if people spot me as a gay.
    I think I should accept myself as you did. Please guide how…

  • Rachel, it takes great courage to share a personal story like this and I salute you. Thank you so much for sharing, it resonates with me deeply..!
    Sending you warm wishes and love all the way from windy London ;-] xo

  • Hi Lesya, thank you for your words (and your lovely email). Let’s stay in touch and love all the way back from here in New Zealand. 🙂 xxx