An Open Letter to the High School Girl Who Tried to Ruin My Life
February 24, 2017
Um. Hi. So this is pretty awkward huh? It’s been what? Seven
years since we’ve had to interact with each other. There are some things I always wanted to say to you. But I’ve always been too afraid - too afraid of you, too afraid of the consequences, too afraid of losing even more than what you have already taken from me. But I think I’m finally ready. I’ve had years to reflect. Years to figure out how you actually hurt me. Years to psycho-analyze everything you actually did to me - (un)intentionally. In therapy, we were asked to write dialogues and talking points to the people that have hurt us the most. Your face always popped up in my brain. But I never wrote to you. I never used the coping mechanisms to get out everything I wanted to tell you. Everything that I needed to tell you. I thought it was pointless. I figured I’d never have to see you again. I wanted to just keep moving forward…but you can’t move forward when you keep looking back over your shoulder.
I’m going to take a guess at what you’re thinking. A) Why do I have this Regina George/Janice Ian big lesbian crush on you? Or B) Why am I this pathetic loser who can’t move on from what happened to me in high school? I can see how to some people, probably mostly to you, how immature this seems. Using a blog and an open letter format to address you without actually addressing you. But, I guess I finally don’t care. I need to get these things out. I need to know there’s a possibility of you seeing how you’ve been affecting aspects of my life, years after the fact. Yea. This seems a little sad. Yet I feel like a good number of people have a letter like this fermenting inside of them. Most people have that one person that bullied them and made them feel worthless. More of us need to find closure with that. We need become free from the demon that is you. Because that's what you are to me, not just some bully, but a demon that brought me down to the darkest places of my soul. I want to lead by example. I’m finally ridding you from my life.
I know that the ultimate goal is to forgive the people that hurt us. That we need to pray for them and want the best for them and all that shit. That’s how we let go. That's how we're supposed to let go. But I don’t think I can do that. You made my high school experience completely f****** miserable. I can’t tell you the amount of tears I shed. The number of days I wanted to not go to school. The times I made myself physically ill so I didn’t have to go. The excuses I made to not hang out with people outside of school, just in case you happened to be there. Not trying out for certain sports teams. Not joining certain extracurricular groups. The knots in my stomach when I knew I’d pass you in the halls. Re-routing my travel patterns to class so I wouldn’t have to pass you. The number of people who didn’t know me, that followed in your footsteps, and saw me as some wretched human. The “friends” that felt more loyalty to you and turned against me; who forgot I was actually a decent person, that didn’t care enough and wanted to just not get involved. The stares I’d get. The whispers behind my back. The horrible notes left in my locker. The time someone wrote “SLUT” in black sharpie on my locker. High school sucks as it is. You/the consequences of your actions made my experience way worse than it needed to be. I was still technically the new kid at school. I only had a year in. I was finally finding my footing and my place. I was just trying to get by. I wanted to do my time in that building and get out and go to dance. I wanted to do just enough to get into the University I wanted. I wanted to be invisible. But you made sure that never happened. Whether you realize it or not, I wore a scarlet letter the rest of our high school years. People never treated me the same again. Some people never even gave me a chance, already biased, judging my (apparently, lack of) character. It took until the last month of senior year for a girl I made friends with freshman year to say “I’m really sorry I believed all those lies and didn’t ask you for your side. You’re actually the sweetest person. I’m so sorry.”
I think I could understand and come to terms with everything if I knew I was the one who initiated everything. But I didn’t. I didn't come between you and the “relationship” you thought you had. I put relationship in quotes because we were in tenth grade when all this started. In tenth grade we didn’t know shit. We especially didn’t know anything about love or what a real relationship was. All I did was sit (in my assigned seat) next to him in a social studies class. Hell I didn't even like him at first. I thought he was annoying. He was obnoxious. He was kind of a dick. He got my number from a friend. We found we had a similar sense of sarcastic humor. We began talking. Only a little at first, but eventually it became hours every single day. He was the first person to try and knock down my walls. And he succeeded. We became friends. And that’s all I wanted. A friend. A boyfriend was not on my agenda. I don’t know what he told you, but that’s the honest truth. In the end, he played both of us. He broke both our hearts. If you were going to destroy anyone, it should have been him. He was the one feeding you sweet nothings. He was the one who told you what you wanted to hear. I’m sure he used me as a pawn to keep himself in your good graces. I get it. But what I don’t understand is why you felt the need to take complete vengeance on me. I mean I kind of get it if I reflect back to tenth grade, but you made me enemy number one. I was the worst human of all time, even though it was all him playing with your heart. He brought us both down with him. I know when you “love” someone you don’t want to blame them. And you don’t want to blame yourself either when things go awry. But the way you treated me was completely unnecessary. It was cruel. It broke me. Your words – whether through text or through the grapevine – they still haunt me. I associate the negative voice in my head, the one that tells me I’m not anything, with your face. Any time I fail, I picture you laughing. Finding pure joy in my demise…
Do you remember the night you told me to kill myself? That everyone would be better off if I took a knife to my wrists? You probably don’t. You may deny that even happened. But it did. I had the text - I had it saved on my phone for years. I looked at it so many times. Wondering if you were right. I received that text from you after a party, after I tried to help out a mutual friend. Looking back I guess it was dumb to get involved, but she was hurting because of other decisions you were making. And I felt so responsible for the boyfriend thing that I wanted to help fix any other relationship that was suffering in your life.
I was home alone when it happened. You told me that I ruin everything. That I should do everyone a favor and kill myself. That I was worthless, that people hated me, and the world would be better off if I removed myself from it. That was that night I started regularly self-harming. I had been cutting here and there throughout middle school. A little more frequently in high school because of everything that was happening. But it wasn’t enough that I was actually concerned about it. Yet that night brought me to a new low. I remember reading your texts - reading them over and over. Your words stopped having meaning, not because they didn’t matter, but because I was becoming so numb from them. They were a weird drug that removed all of my essence from me. Like a dementor's kiss. I couldn’t feel anything - physical or emotional. Which is a terrifying feeling in itself when you’ve never felt it so extreme before. It felt like my senses were actually taken from me. I went to take a shower. I curled up in the fetal position in the tub, letting scalding water hit me. I couldn’t even feel it. The only reason I knew it was so hot was because when I looked down, my skin was glowing the brightest of reds…
I remember holding the razor. I was crying so much I could barely see it. In that moment I believed your words like scripture. It was like everything positive that had ever been said to me before never happened. In that moment I believed I was evil. I believed I ruined everything. I believed I deserved to die. As these thoughts were racing through my head, my hands began acting on their own accord. Back and forth, I played the violin on my left wrist. But instead of a bow of soft strings, it was the bow of a blade. It was light at first. Almost a tickle. Nothing that caused any damage. But as I kept on in my vicious thought storm, the pressure became greater and greater. Before I knew it, my legs were no longer red because of the heat. They were red from the trails of blood.
Oh my God there was so much blood. So much blood. At first I didn’t notice. I couldn’t notice. Your words echoing and echoing in my brain. But then I felt a sting. It was the first thing I felt in a few hours. I didn’t care that it was pain. I didn’t care that it was burning. I was so glad to feel anything at all. That I wasn’t completely gone yet. My moment of relief suddenly turned to fear. What the hell was I doing? How deep did I get? Did I cut something important? Was I actually dying? WHY IS THERE SO MUCH BLOOD? When you’re bleeding and in water, your wounds seem much worse than they actually are. I ended up nicking myself pretty badly. But not badly enough to need stitches. Not badly enough I needed to tell anyone my secret. Not badly enough that I didn’t promise myself, then and there, to never do it again…
That’s kind of how I got by the rest of the year. The novelty of our drama wore off. People stopped caring. But I couldn’t stop caring. I couldn't let it all go. I still heard your voice in my head (I realize I don’t even know what your voice sounds like, that’s how little interaction we actually had through all this) but I always pictured your face. Every test I didn’t ace, you were there telling me I was an idiot. Every competition I didn’t place well, you were there laughing at my lack of grace and athleticism. Every time I was alone in my room, I was never actually alone. You were there with me. Telling me to give up. Telling me I wasn’t worth shit. Telling me to die. Making me believe I should just die already. You’re presence continually brought the numbness I wanted so greatly to avoid. You’re words, persuasive, kept the razor coming. It was a cycle of torment. Becoming numb, hating that non-feeling feeling, and hurting myself to feel something. Numbing to get some relief from the pain, cutting to bring myself back to life.
I don’t think I can actually ever forgive you for what happened. I want to. I’ve tried. But you’ve taken so much away from me that I can’t just get over it. And I think that’s okay. Looking back, I know you were just having raw reactions. You were mad. You were angry. I’m validating that. You had every single right to be so upset. You had every single right based on what he told you, to hate me and want to watch me burn. What you didn’t have the right to do, however, was actively try and make me burn. You turned me into the whore of the school (which fun story, nothing more than a kiss happened until a year after we were officially dating...) You made me constantly think I shouldn’t be alive. You made me want to kill myself. And not kill myself because I was so unhappy. I mean. I was unhappy. But I was unhappy because of you (and again because of the consequences of what you were telling others). You made my school life and parts of my personally life complete hell. You made me think I wasn't worthy of anyone's love. I was depressed and I had my moments of complete self-loathing and hatred. But I still had dance. I still had the boy who claimed he loved me more than anything, who was sticking by my side through all this. I had some real friends. Some happy moments. I didn’t want to die because my life sucked. I wanted to die because you wanted me to die. I wanted to die because you convinced me I only brought evil and destruction to those around me. You made me believe you when you said everyone else would be better off if I were gone. But just know that if I would have gone through with it, a good portion my blood would have been on your hands. Not all of it, I would blame myself for it too. But you also played a part in this messy game. You need to know that.
I saw you in Whole Foods a few weeks ago. It was weird. Normally, I only see your face when I get really low, you’ve still been the one telling me I can’t do this. That I can’t do anything really. But this time, even though I had all the knots in my stomach, I was able to walk past you. I was able to walk down the aisle with my head held high. Yes I wanted to throw up everywhere, but I kept moving my feet. One foot in front of the other. And the funny thing is, I don’t think you even recognized me. Which actually made me feel really stupid. Because here I’ve been, seven years later, still tormenting myself over the things you said when we were 16. And you’ve probably forgotten. I don’t want to make any assumptions, but I’m guessing you’re over what happened. Good for you. I’m genuinely glad you’ve forgotten about me and let me be in your past. I’m trying to do the same. I think I actually am doing the same now (writing this is weirdly therapeutic).
Through social media and friends, I heard you got really sick recently. And I want to say I’m really sorry. I actually never wanted you to burn the same way you wanted me to. Some of my friends say it’s karma, what happened to you. But I don’t think of it that way. More importantly, I don’twant to think of it that way. I know we were young. We were both full of emotions we didn’t understand. We were just trying to navigate being teenagers. I don’t blame you anymore. But that doesn’t mean I forgive you either. Your words and actions really did hurt me, your words pushed me down the spiral of depression and mental illness. But I’m vowing to never let them hurt me again. I’m freeing myself from your chains. And I sincerely hope you’re living the freest and happiest life you possibly can. I believe you deserve that. I don’t see you as some evil being who was out to get me. In high school maybe I thought that, or something along the lines of that. But now, I understand you were just hurt. You wanted someone to pay. I was the someone you tied to the stake.
[To everyone reading this, being hurt does not give you the right to try and hurt someone else. I think about the butterfly effect a lot. That our words and actions affect others more than we can imagine. Unfortunately, it’s the negatives that stick with us more than the positives. Unless someone is an actual threat to you or your family’s well-being, don’t do everything you can to get back at them. We are all fighting battles. You don’t know what someone else is going through. You don’t know their side. You don’t know. You just don’t. And you won’t. Think twice before dragging someone through the mud. Hold your tongue or your fist when you want to hurt someone. Take 5 seconds and think about the consequences of your actions before you lash out with emotion. There’s a trick I learned in therapy called the 24-hour rule. If someone says or does something that causes you an intensely negative reaction, take 24 hours. If you can successfully cope and deal with it by the next day don’t do anything. But if it’s still eating away at you, if you still aren’t okay, you may say something. They say take 24 hours so you can let your emotions wear off. So that you can sleep. So you can rationally think. So that you’re in a more peaceful state of mind. So that you don’t say or do something you’re going to regret. You have no idea how powerful you are. How powerful words are. How much a text at 12:07 am could make another person want to make the ultimate sacrifice.]
I do want to weirdly thank you. Obviously I wish none of this ever happened. No one should go through what we went through. No one should yearn to see blood trickle down their wrist in order to feel again. But because of you, because of all that I went through because of you, I’m becoming this amazingly strong woman. I’ve learned to lead with love (or at least, I'm really trying to live that way). To be open. To take in all sides of a situation. You’ve helped mold my life. In therapy, all I wanted was to prove you wrong, to prove myself wrong. That I belong on this earth. That I’ve earned my right to live. That I don’t ruin everything. That I deserve love. That I matter to people. That I bring a positivity to the lives around me. That I too have shaped the lives around me for the better. That I am worth it. That this world would burn a little less bright without my light in it…
I do wish you all the best. I’m finally over us. I only wish you the same liberation.