A story that's not quite so magical.

I am a young man currently attending college. I've found a great group of friends, brothers, and loved ones. But this happy ending is far too often, not the case. I've witnessed bullying destroy lives of those I called friends. It changes people. Sometimes it makes them stronger. But that sometimes is a mere fraction.

I was bullied even in elementary school because I had to wear braces at a very young age. I was in touch with my feelings and thought of the arts like writing, magic and poetry instead of what boys were "supposed" to like (ie. violence, nudity, and sports). For this I was referred to by several hurtful slurs and names. I was lucky that I had never been physically attacked. But sometimes, a single word will pierce deeper, bludgeon harder, and slice longer on the soul than a fist that damages a physical form.

Words are a weapon devised to strike not at the body but at the soul. At the inner self. I felt every arrow. Every bullet. Every knife. My soul was bleeding. But I tried my best to fight on. At first I thought that this was something I had to do for my own. That was a mistake. The pain became mind numbing. I started to search for an escape from a pain I could not explain. I looked at physical knives. Ropes. Guns. Water. Anything to extinguish the fire burning at my soul and relieve my pain.

Soon I made some friends. But I tried to hide my pain from them. Just like I had from my family. I didn't want to burden the ones I cared for. The wounds continued to sink deeper with every lie I told. "I'm ok." "Don't worry. I'm a tough guy." "I didn't cry!" Every lie was me trying to put on a piece of armor. But this armor was made of weak glass and shattered at the next attack. I had to rebuild my walls and my armor every night in bed, motionless, telling myself lies. "I'm ok." "Don't worry. I'm a tough guy." "I didn't cry!"

These lies became a part of me as a defense mechanism. But as the wall of Troy once fell, so must every wall. Even in college, I am insulted either in class for a foolish remark or at work. I finally decided that it was time to release my inner self.  To be free from the pain I felt. I had everything set. A gun was the quickest way. No pain I thought. But a week before I was ready I finally let someone in. Someone I love dearly. She listened to me and gave me strength. I got rid of everything. Washed my hands clean and for the first time in 15 years... I smiled.

I look at my past now and recognize not weakness, but desperation. I was desperate for assurance. For compassion. For love. I finally found it. But it doesn't have to be from a girlfriend or a boyfriend. It can be from a friend, a teacher, a family member. Listen to my story and know that opening up, just once, will heal you. I will not advise to turn to a god. I advise turning to a physical being that can understand your pain and give audible advise. Please listen and know that out there is at least one person that will be your angel. That's all it will ever take. Just One.

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