Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Goodbye to the Bully

So I have this mean friend, one I've known my whole life. Every time she visits, I feel the hot shame of my mistakes, the burning fear that she'll tell someone.

The cold truth that she's going to.

When we were both in third grade, I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. Leading up to that, I was thirsty all the time and could've drunk the water fountain dry. 
Photo source
My friend never lets me forget the day I went to the bathroom too many times, and finally our kind, experienced teacher told me to wait a little longer. And I waited too long, if you get my drift. I waited too long, and it was third grade, and I was at school.


Back in the classroom, my friend snickered at the lie I told: "Um, the sink splashed me, and it exploded everywhere, and my pants are wet." I was desperate.

But my friend still grins about it. She says it's our little secret.

A few years later, I decided to find new friends. I was a good kid - the girl with her homework done and her pencil really sharp and the straight A's on her report cards. (Once in the fifth grade I got a D, but it was in handwriting, and we all know that's not a real thing.)
Photo source
For my new friends, I chose three girls with the biggest spiral perms and the coolest pastel jackets. It was elementary school, and they were caking on the mascara. I gave them my math homework, and they finally passed a class, and it was good. My mean friend left me alone.  

And then the Friday before Christmas break, they wrote me a note. It was folded neatly and marked, "Private," in colorful ink with big, loopy cursive. It was a friend breakup note, and it ended like this:

The Three Musketeers (not four)

It was my first real heartbreak, and in the end it was so what I needed before middle school, but you know what? My mean friend came back with a vengeance. And she loves that story.

She laughs that I'm failing, and I'm not enough, and I'm just going to embarrass myself again. But it's not true. I'm not failing, and I am enough. I'm definitely going to embarrass myself again, but don't we all?* That's not even the point.

The point is this: The person who's closest to me in life, who's been there the longest, who has the most power to bully or to bless me -
is me.

I'm the perfectionistic mean kid with the taunting memories. And I'm the vulnerable nice girl with something to lose.
I'm both.  
Photo source
And so are you. No one knows your mistakes like you do, and know one knows how you want to make a difference, how you love so deeply and get injured so easily.

You're your biggest fan and your worst critic. Join the club. 

It's David's club. And Peter's. It's a club for people with a rough track record and a bright future. A club for people who've lived with the bully for too long.

Maybe she says you're not worth it, or you can't do it. Maybe she tells you you're stupid or poor or lame. Maybe she says no one listens to you. Maybe she says no one loves you.

But she's wrong, guys. And we have something to say to her, too:

Shut. Up.

This club has room for more than three, and we never listen to liars who say otherwise. (We're exclusive like that.)

Saying goodbye to the mean girl,

*A little proof: Last year I tried to give my single male neighbor a Women's Fitness magazine, an issue with a bikini-clad athletic goddess on the cover. I insisted he take it because I thought it was his girlfriend's, who didn't even live there. He blushed when he saw the cover and mumbled that it wasn't his or his girlfriend's. And then I blushed. So yes, I'll embarrass myself.

No comments:

Post a Comment