Moving Forward

Rebecca - Knoxville, Tennessee
Entered on November 29, 2013
Age Group: Under 18
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I went into the public school system in second grade, thrown into a world of people who had known each other for years; I was the odd man out. This did not sit well with my classmates. Throughout elementary school I was bullied, leaving me jaded and wary of new friends. To understand what I went through, I use the term “bullied” to describe more than just harmless taunts by kids my age. I went through four years of mental abuse and harassment. Through my years there I made a few connections, but soon began to believe that when someone is kind, it is not out of a blossoming friendship, but pity. I remember vividly feeling sick and nauseous on my first day of sixth grade. Things were supposed to be different than they were in elementary school, maybe it would not be as terrible as my former years had been. My experience with being harassed and bullied in middle school by my former best friend left me with the knowledge that sometimes all I can do is keep moving forward.

I met a girl who had a penchant for talking back to everyone, but we became friends. We were inseparable and she soon labeled me as her best friend. She invited me to her birthday party on a Friday night in October of 2007. I arrived and we had a blast; watching movies, painting our nails, prank calling other girls from school. I did not see her until the following Monday. When I did, she would not talk to me or look at me and I began to worry. We did not speak for a few days, and then the calls started; I was screamed at that I was nothing, a liar, and that no one would be my friend. First it was one unknown number calling. Then two. Then three. I would come home feeling sick each night, trying to figure out why I was being ostracized from everyone. I was no longer happy, friendless once again. It felt like I had been stabbed in the back, the rug pulled out from underneath me, and it left me wondering what I had done. At school, she glared at me in the hallways, but at least she was looking at me again. One day she cornered me and demanded to know if the night of her party I had stolen a necklace belonging to her little sister. My heart beat rapidly and I could feel the heat in my cheeks a blush formed and the embarrassment left me sick. My stomach churned as I choked out no, of course I had not stolen anything. I had never even seen her little sister’s room that night. She insisted that I had; and spread her traitorous rumor around the entire school.

The weeks that followed were some of the worst I have ever experienced; my entire life crumbled, reducing me to a shell. I had no friends in my classes. Students glared, teachers pitied, I cried myself to sleep nearly every single night. My cell phone, which had been mostly unused, blew up with threatening and prank calls. They were all blocked numbers and happened anywhere from four to five times a day. I just stopped answering, but they kept getting worse. Eventually my parents had my number changed and I left school. For seventh grade, I entered back into Homeschooling, something I had previously done in first grade. I had escaped the people who had constantly put me down for years, but they had left emotional scars. The years that followed my last and most significant experience with bullying were filled with emotional instability and self-hate. Being harassed day after day left me unable to see why anyone would be nice to me unless it was out of pity. I believed that I was bullied for a multitude of different reasons. I thought that if I had been abused mentally for that many years, pushed and harassed until I cried, then there probably was something wrong with me. Through this time I believed that nothing could get better, but I was taking the first steps on my road to recovery.

Through being bullied I developed a motto to live by. I believe that no matter how tough things get, if you only take one more step, then you have already begun the healing process and moving forward. I unfortunately cannot pinpoint the moment when I truly felt better, but I believe it was around the same time I began writing. When I wrote I started to realize that it gave me control and that power could carry over to my life. I could be in charge of of my life and the way people affected me. The only reason I had been harassed for so long was because I was afraid to stand up for myself and make it stop. It is almost strange at how fast my mindset changed, from being meek and quiet to someone who spoke what I thought and would not take anything from anyone. Now I realize that being bullied changed me. It has altered the way I look at myself and the world around me. Where I was once filled with anxiety, I now have confidence and the knowledge that the opinions of others do not matter. In the end being bullied has shown me that when terrible things happen they make a person stronger by giving them the strength to move on.