Sunday, December 4, 2011

It Gets Better... (a story about bullying)

This may be the hardest blog entry for me to write, but I want to share my story in hopes that it may help people get through hard times... such as this kid:


He inspired me to get my story out, because maybe if I do, I can potentially save a person's life that gets bullied everyday (like I used to...). He was so brave for posting that.

So here it goes.

I've gotten bullied many times in my life -- I think it has to do with my unique nature and gutsy-ness... because I've never been afraid to try new hair-dos and crazy outfits. Which to me, is a good thing -- but I didn't know that then.

In middle school I cut my hair really short. I wanted it short and spiky, like I saw on some TV shows. I was the only person in 7th grade with that haircut, so it's safe to say I was different. Within days my new nickname became "Man-ica" because people claimed I looked like a man. I spend days crying at lunch because it seemed like everyone was calling me that. To this day, even though I still like having short hair, I get worried about whether or not my hair or clothes make me look like a boy. Which is stupid because I know they don't.

Also around 6th or 7th grade a group of girls decided they didn't like me. I got an e-mail sent to me from one of the "popular girls" I never talked to before, telling me everyone hates me and I should just die. People would create fake nicknames on AIM and IM me saying the meanest things. One day I ran up to my room and my dad saw the e-mail and told me I can't let those girls bother me. Everyone who has ever been bullied knows it's not that easy.

But that's nothing compared to what happened in high school.

In high school I thought I had it all. I had nice clothes, something to do every Friday night, and I was dating someone "popular." I've always had insecurity with the "popular" people because I never thought they liked me (like I said, they had bullied me before...) but what I really should have been thinking about is the fact that I didn't like them. But nobody thinks that way in high school.

It all started senior year... My boyfriend and I broke up. I was devastated. I loved him and I thought he was my life -- but that's just the beginning. For some reason, instead of a normal break-up where you get upset and eventually move on, his friends ate up every chance to make me feel worse. I'm guessing my insecurity over them not liking me had merit after all.

My ex-boyfriend started dating a new girl within days of us breaking up -- making my heartbreak worse. Everyday I'd get to school and a different one of his friends would come up to me and say "Hey, did you see Tom & Jackie* (names are changed) together today?" "Oh Monica, it must be terrible to see them together (sarcastically)" or in most cases, just "Jackie" in this drawn out, malicious way.

Even some teacher chimed in, laughing, "Monica, I heard since you and Tom broke up all you've done is sit home and cry every night." (This incident resulted in a visit from my mom to the principal since she worked at the school.)

Things got worse.

One class, one of Tom's friends knocked my books on the floor and said, "Monica, you dropped something." Everything I said in class that day he'd turn around, ask me pointed questions and make random comments. My teacher seemed to notice, but nothing was done.

I cried to my mom after class, but I begged her not to do anything -- it would only make things worse. Out of the goodness of her heart (who likes to see their daughter in pain?) she paid another visit to the principal. I even went so far as to go to my principal and beg her not to say anything to the boys -- but as she watched me cry frantically, she said no. She also gave me the kind advice that there would be plenty of other guys better than Tom in my life and I had to realize how great of a person I was. That stuck with me forever.

Anywho, the boy in my class got called down to the office along with my ex-boyfriend. They both were threatened with getting kicked off of their extracurricular activities if they bothered me again.

For the next few weeks I was taunted with lines such as, "Hey Monica... oh wait, I better not talk to you or I'll get kicked off the team." Only, it wasn't just from that kid, it was from what seemed like EVERYONE. Even people that never played a sport in their life.

One by one, I started to lose friends. Close girlfriends were calling me a b**** behind my back. One boy  took me to a basketball game, where we were both taunted throughout the whole thing. When he dropped me off that night, he told me how he didn't know how I dealt with it every day, but he just wasn't strong enough to deal with it, too. We didn't hang out after that.

One day, I wore a sweater Tom gave me. He said it was lying around his house and I could have it since they didn't know whose it was. I'd worn it many times because I liked it. But that day, Tom decided to tell the school I stole clothes from his house and told everyone it was his brother's friends sweater. It probably was, but I didn't know that and I didn't steal it. I decided to get even and wear the sweater every day for the rest of the week.

By the end of the week, people were mad. One kid got up in front of the whole cafeteria and started talking about how much of a scumbag I was for stealing clothes and wearing the same clothes everyday. By the end of his speech, the cafeteria filled with loud "OOHHHHs" from many, and almost everyone was looking at me. I turned around to see the popular girls flipping me off. I wanted to cry, die, sink into the earth and never return. But I just waved and like Princess Di would. Because when you're in that situation, what do you do?

The rest of the year was filled with similar events, but I won't continue on... you got the gist. It's hard for me to write this now -- four years later. Many people know my story and many people don't.

For a while, I wanted to die. I thought that if I did die, it would teach those kids a lesson. I bitterly thought that they'd have to live with that for the rest of their lives, and at the time I thought that was important. More important than my life. I called friends crying hysterically at night. I had panic attacks.

I've struggled with the incident for a while. I went into college thinking there was something wrong with me and no one would like me. I developed extreme anxiety. I hated myself.

But as time goes on, I've learned to cope with things. Nothing is wrong with me, something was wrong with them. It's still painful to think about, but it DOES GET BETTER. This is something I want people to know -- especially teens going through this right now. It is not worth taking your life over. Everyone is beautiful, perfect, and has awesome qualities to contribute to the world. Bullies are bullies. But they can't take away the great things you have to offer.

I have a great life now. I have great friends, my college years were successful, and overall I finally understand that nothing is -- or ever was -- wrong with me. I'm happy with who I am and the bullying at first made me weak, then made me stronger.

If you are getting bullied, please know that things will get better. I promise. Reach out to talk to me anytime @ mnoelle89@gmail.com

**If you know someone going through this, please share my story with them. I want my experience with bullying to help another person through theirs. By doing this, it makes me feel like the hard time I went through was worth something.

P.S. Since there's been speculation of the facts of my story, I want to say that everything I write is true. I have people to attest to it. But if you don't believe me, that's okay...because I wrote this to help others, and to help the fight against bullying.