My name is Ariel and I am a 23 years old female. I have been bullied my entire life. I have had only a handful of friends, but I was hurt so much that it's so hard for me to trust people enough to make friends. It started when I went to Elementary School.
I am going to admit that I was an odd child. I read an entire set of encyclopedias, from A to XYZ, because I had finished reading everything in the classroom's library. I made very few friends. I used to pick up and collect bugs to catalog their lengths and habits in a journal in elementary school. Yeah, I was a weird kid.
I remember the event that made me a definite target. In first grade, I remember the children had knocked a hard of hearing classmate to the ground and were kicking him over and over again. I told them to stop and that if they kept doing it, I was going to get a yard duty (an adult that supervised the playground). They left the kid alone for that day, but came back with a vengeance. Eventually, that kid moved to a different school. I stayed.
In second grade, my teacher inadvertently partnered me with my bullies in a group project. I remember that they pushed me and told me to sit by myself in the corner. The teacher gave me an N on my report card despite how many times I told him that my group told me to sit alone or they would beat me up. He didn’t believe me. The N on my report card caused me to go to the troubled children class the next year—which was probably the last place I should have been.
The teacher was kind, but many of the children were either slower in learning or unnecessarily cruel. I remember when the children surrounded me on the playground and threw basketballs as hard as they could at me. I remember when they pinned me down and stuffed earthworms in my clothes. I remember when they would force me into the bathroom and keep me from escaping the stall, laughing while I struggled and cried for help.
Once, I brought my pet caterpillar to show and tell because he had made a cocoon and would soon emerge as a moth. My bullies took him from me after show and tell in recess and ripped his cocoon open and tore it up and threw him in my face.
They called me names all the time. They blamed me for 9/11 when it happened. They called me terrorist. They called me ugly and stupid.
When I would tell anybody, the adults would do nothing. Nobody believed me. They said that nobody is that cruel and that I must be making it up. My mother told me that if I wanted to stop being bullied, I should stop being so ugly and weird. Then I’d have friends. I would pretend to be sick so that I wouldn’t have to go to school. I remember hiding a black eye from my mom because I was afraid of what she might say.
When my mother and father divorced and my daddy flew across the country to our new home, I thought it would be a new start. I was wrong. I was incredibly depressed after the divorce and had never really felt happy for so long. I guess that was why I was still targeted.
In middle school, the girls who I thought were my friends hurt me greatly. I invited my friends over for my birthday. They said they would come and then nobody did. I never got invited to anybody’s parties and I never got invited to anybody’s sleepovers. I remember feeling like I must have done something wrong. That it must be true: That I was stupid, and ugly.
I was even bullied by my peers in church. I remember that they were having an event where you spend the night in the cabin. I was so excited because I thought that they were nice girls. I was the first one there and set up my things in the largest room with the bunkbeds for the girls. Instead of joining me, they all squeezed into a room with one bunkbed in case there was an extra girl. The chaperone said that I would have to move in the room with them. I picked up my sleeping bag and when I went in, their eyes were full of hate. They went from noisy in conversation to hushed and scooted away from me so they wouldn’t be too close to me. They refused to allow me to play with them. And I went to sit by myself and cry in the corner. Eventually, a chaperone found me and asked what was wrong. I wouldn’t say, but she guessed that I was lonely. I asked to call my granny and pick me up. She was angry when she picked me up and said that she wished I at least stayed the night and that I didn’t try it long enough to know if I’d like it or not.
In church camp, I got a bully. She was actually my bully from high school. And she kicked my shins and I remember coming home with bruises all over my legs.
In high school, they started rumors that I must have been a lesbian because I had no boyfriend. By that time, I had zero trust in people. I was constantly being reminded that I was an inadequate human being. Because nobody ever did anything when I told them, I told nobody. I was afraid that they would blame me again. That they would say that I should just stop being weird and ugly. I grew very afraid of people at that time.
I moved high schools to another one and I still had no friends. My class liaison dumped me halfway through the school day to hang out with her friends when she realized I wasn’t preppy. By high school, I had zero confidence in myself. I wore baggy clothes because I wasn’t confident in my beauty. I always curled in on myself and walked with my head bowed and I remember feeling my heart always racing when I was walking through the halls. I was afraid that someone was going to hurt me.
When I went to college, I was afraid it was going to be more of the same. I stuttered when I talked because I was afraid I’d say something that would make them hate me. I remember not leaving my dorm room very much for the first two years. I remember being so scared that sometimes I wouldn’t leave to eat lunch or supper.
I got bullied at my job, too, but college was definitely better times for me. Even though I was getting bullied, I was also making friends. And people just as weird and smart and silly as me were celebrated here. I was getting a reputation that I gave very kick-ass presentations. For some reason, when I was giving presentations, I knew I would give a kick-ass one and it was like I could shed that scared little girl and be this knowledgeable woman with 100% confidence.
I made a good friend in my roommate. I remember the girls saying that they wished they had my hair. And asking me what product or tool I used to get it the way it was (that’s how it is all the time!). I remember coming home, with more confidence than I ever had in my life. Soon, I had many boys trying to vie for my attention!
One of them took advantage of me. It was like everything shattered again. I felt broken and hurt and alone. Only the people who really loved me noticed this difference. My brother was the first person I told. He brought his best friend into it. I didn’t know why at the time, but it was because his best friend had a huge crush on me. They both said that it wasn’t my fault. And he and his best friend helped me through it. Nobody else said it wasn’t my fault. There was always a little bit of blaming me when they thought of me being taken advantage of. It was because I was too beautiful, apparently. I didn’t believe it. I believed it was because I was weak. And naïve. And stupid. It brought back a lot of bad memories I was trying to forget.
My brother’s best friend took that as a reason to finally ask me out. It was a hard relationship, especially in the beginning, because I was so wary to trust his touch, his words, and his love. But he was patient with me. And eventually, I opened up to him. I gave him story after story of how I was bullied and of how often I thought of myself as trash and undeserving of him because he is too handsome. I didn’t finish and he asked me to stop, that he hated to hear how many people had hurt me. He said that he was going to call me beautiful every day until I believed it. That he was going to make sure nobody would ever hurt me again. That I wasn’t going to feel like a piece of dirt again in my life. I cried so much. I’m crying right now remembering him saying that.
So, every day, he told me how beautiful I was and how much I was worth to him. He said I was the most important person in his life because I was his future and we were going to get married. And soon, I believed him. And soon, I hugged him and kissed him. And soon, I trusted him so much that I knew he and I were going to be together forever.
It took a long time, but I grew confident again. And I became like a beam of bright sunshine. People tell me that they wish they were as happy and friendly as I am. I give people compliments, as much as I can, because so many times, people don’t hear compliments enough.
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