You didn’t know me then, but I was bullied in high school.
I was the new girl… and I had bad skin.
Really bad skin.
Pentimento, BP oil nightmare, hills and valley skin.
I would wake up every morning two hours before I needed to catch the bus to try to cover it with concealer and foundation and powder and then MORE concealer and MORE foundation and MORE powder, but I wasn’t fooling anyone.
“Put a bag over her head and maybe I’ll do her.”
“She’s Monet pretty — she looks ok from far away, but if you get too close, she’s so fugly.”
And then this girl who everyone wanted to be wrote poetry about it — and good poetry, too — like, Kerouac good.
The class applauded.
Including the teacher.
And you know what? I never told her to fuck off.
So, hey, Alexei, if you’re reading this, fuck off.
But it wasn’t just the skin.
My shirts were too tight and my breasts were too big, and sometimes boys would grope me in the hall, and this one old guy who worked in the cafeteria spent my entire senior year asking to feel them.
Maybe he was joking.
But it wasn’t funny.
And I never said a word.
I never said a fucking word.
Well, looks like I just did.
Hey, cafeteria guy, if you’re reading this, fuck off.
But still…. it sticks. Oooooh how it sticks – those four years – those four awful years when you want to be invisible, but you also want to be seen for who you want to be. It sticks to you as you move forward, even when your skin clears, even when you find a bra that fits, even when you have friends — good friends — real friends who will have your back.
It’s been nearly 16 years since I graduated and it still sticks.
And since then I’ve been beaten — almost broken. I’ve buried my mom. I’ve birthed babies. I’ve moved countries, had my heart broken, I’ve been homeless… but bullying in high school is the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through…
But the thing is sharing it out loud takes the shame away.
(Hey shame? YOU’RE a bully. Fuck off.)
Because we all have these stories, right? We’ve all been through SOMETHING – and we walk through life dragging it behind us, our sticky shadow wobbling behind us, always there, weighing in behind us.
But when we share these things out loud and with each other we shine a big brave light on it – on all of it – the murky, the ugly, the ache of it all… and then… it just…. goes away.
Like mine did just now.