I hope you have a minute. I want to share my open letter to my bully with you.
I know I am different. I always have been.
I have different morals and standards. I have different views on many different topics. I have different financial status. I have a different home life. I am different. I embraced it and I have taken it in my stride.
I have realised that my happiness is my very own. I control it and I embrace it and I accept it. Although, I can’t say that about myself 18 months ago.
I started being bullied when I was young. At first, it was because my mother and father were divorced and 98% of the kids in my class at the time had both parents married and under the same roof.
It progressed to me being bullied because I was a tomboy. You see, when my parents got divorced, we moved to Port Elizabeth to start fresh. We didn’t know anyone there and my brother and my mother were my only relatives and friends and confidants.
So growing up with an older brother in a place that feels so far away from the world you knew, I began to look up to him in a way that I needed. I wrestled and played Playstation games with him. Ran up and down and got dirty. I was a tomboy – something I am proud of.
I started playing instruments and doing well in school. I loved school and I wanted to do well. My mom always says that she wants more for my brother and I than she had growing up. She wants us to study and become successful because she was never given the opportunity to study.
I was bullied for that too.
I was called the pretty standard names like “Nerd” and “Know-it-all” and “Teachers Pet”. My education is something I pride myself on. I want to do well and be able to support myself and family. Surely that justifies you being a ‘know-it-all’?
I was then diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis and Fibromyalgia. This was when the bullying became even worse. I understand that most children at the age of 11 and 12 don’t really know what those big words mean but the difference was that no one asked and wanted to know.
In a social circle where I already felt isolated and alone, it became more prominent that I was horribly different. You begin feeling such a sadness that makes it difficult to feel okay.
The words like “Depression” and “Anxiety” get used loosely and you justify your sadness by the fact that you are different, a factory fault.
You get older and so do your bullies. They learn harsher and harsher words, words that make you feel ill to your stomach but no one asks and no one cares. They just want you to feel embarrassed and ashamed of being different.
I was ashamed. I was embarrassed. I was depressed.
The one thing I knew I excelled at was the topic of animals. I threw myself into documentaries and books and learning facts. I had a raging fire inside of me that I now know as passion.
What you feel when you experience this kind of passion at an incredibly low point is astoundingly indescribable.
I tried to ignore the bully that had plagued me daily for years and years on end but eventually every bottle gets filled up and you start to believe the words they say.
You feel embarrassed for being intelligent and you feel ashamed of being different. You believe them when they say that you are fat and disgusting.
So you develop an eating disorder and you lose weight and still think you are a vile piece of meat. Then you overcome that and you feel better. You try to be confident but more and more words are thrown at you.
Your first love emigrates and you feel lost without that relationship and comfort. You have corrective knee surgery and start the long road to recovery. You go back to school and get pushed over by boys as a joke and land on the knee you had surgery on so off you go, back home and back in bed.
You become ill with German Measles and miss two consecutive months of school and you gain weight because you become sad. Then you and your boyfriend break up and there is a whole new level of pain you didn’t think you would ever experience so you find some comfort in what you can control – your eating.
Combine eating and no exercise and suddenly you weigh 25kgs more than you did a few months ago and then you slip further and further into this hell-hole called Depression. It has a violent grip on you and you try so hard to fight it but you just cry yourself to sleep over and over and over.
You eventually manage to go back to school and then you get bullied for your weight all over again – when I was so thin, I was still fat but the terms became more and more true every time I looked in the mirror.
Your mother starts looking at home schooling to get you out of that environment because you are always ill and always unhappy. So you leave public school and start home school, thinking that this will help the problem.
You lose every single one of the people you held close to your heart as friends and support. You try to make amends but they ignore you and refuse to listen to what you have to say so you stop trying.
You slip back into being depressed and alone. No one cares, why should they care about the factory fault?
You go for counselling to try and get over the hurt and the damage caused by other people because damage never goes away. Open wounds leave scars as reminders and lessons.
You start to find your footing again, stop crying yourself to sleep every night that you actually find sleep. You start to look up when you walk and try to feign some form of confidence.
You get a new job, in the field that you love and in a field that you have years and years of knowledge in and you start feeling happy. You start to volunteer and you adopt and you become genuinely happy.
You find your tribe and you find your people.
You find yourself and you are saved by a soul that you saved and adopted. You find that your happiness returns as a slow burn and builds up until it is a raging fire.
Looking back over the last 10 years of being bullied, not only by peers but by family too, you realise that without them harming you the way they did and them doing and saying what they did, you would not have had the many holes that you needed to fill with the right things and the right people and the right passions.
I know that my bullies were living beings but they were also hate and shame and envy and ignorance. Not only from myself but the people I thought were my friends.
If I had not lost the group of friends that I did, I would not have found the few people to replace that void in my heart and soul. People that actually want to know you and love you and listen to you and vice versa.
If I had not been bullied for my differences, I would not have become an introvert and turned to books and fact and documentaries on the one thing in the world I love almost as much as my four-legged kids.
If I was never bullied, I would not know how to defend myself the way I do.
If I was never bullied for having severe health problems, I would never have found my way to volunteering where I do now and in return, being saved by lost and broken souls themselves. I would not have found MY TRIBE.
SO to my bullies, the people and the emotions, I need to thank you. As much as you tried to make my life hell, and for a time it was hell, I would not be here today happy and content and complete and strong.
What you thought was my weakness, gave me strength – strength to take my life by the bootstraps and pick it up. Dust it off and move on. Move on from hate and hurt and sadness to bigger and better things.
Things that make me happy. Things that give me a solid purpose.
Thank you for trying to ruin me but I am like a Phoenix. I rose from the ashes that you left in your wake.
I am Megan and I am happy. Genuinely happy.