March 10, 2010

the resonance of my bully, part 1

I had a bully, and from the day she decided she wanted my neighbour friend exclusively to herself, she was all mine. She arrived in grade 5 and zoned her sights in on me, nailing me relentlessly until she lost interest in around grade 9.  It seemed we were doomed to be together in every activity, from baseball to brownies, despite living in a large suburb.

My bully went for the position I played in ball and in grass hockey, and coveted and won over the kids I had hung out with since kindergarten.  I'm sure I wasn't the best fit with my group anyway, and most of the friendships weren't destined to last, but it still stung.

One of the worst things she did was to draw attention to the colour of my clothes, ridiculing each and every item I wore.  A creamy peach trouser became ORANGE.  A pair of lilac lace up shoes, matched perfectly to a deeper purple trouser was loudly obsessed upon until I couldn't stand to slip my feet into them again.  She was merciless, and when she couldn't best me (and often, looking back, she couldn't), she publicly ridiculed me, grabbed and crushed stupid prize ribbons, challenging me to after-school fist fights that became instant cat-scratch fests.

The only thing she couldn't do was to spread rumours about how easy I was because, well, she bested me in that one ... she was the class slut and proud of it.  I, on the other hand, was pure as the driven snow.  (Actually I was scared of my shadow, never mind boys.)

Okay, so after all these years, seriously, shouldn't I be over it?

The funny thing is that I'm not.  Not really.  In fact, not at all.

To this day, I wear black.  I have since I turned 16.  There is rarely a splash of colour in my clothes collection.  A winter scarf, maybe.  In the early 90s, at the persistence of my boyfriend, now husband, I went for it and banished most black from my wardrobe, but it didn't last.

Truth be told, I don't wear black for the coolness factor, nor do I think it is slimming.  I care little about either subject.  But when I wear colour, I feel like I am climbing right out of my own skin.

When asked, this is what I tell people:  I have a larger-than-life presence already -- a loud voice and big opinions, and wearing colour makes me feel like I am more obvious than ever.  Besides, I insist, I can't match colours to save my life.  Black is just easier.

My reality is much less entertaining.  I can't stand to wear colour.  It really does make me climb out of my skin.  The fact of it is that each time I slip into something with colour, the ghost of my bully is with me.

I know.  Get over it already, right?

Seriously?  I know I "should" get past this, to put it behind me.  But I really like wearing black, and I'd far rather look cool in the darkness than feel sick and small inside in living colour.


Fluevog makes some fantastic black shoes.

A Postscript:

Five months after writing this post, I attended my 25 year Grad Reunion.  I felt more at peace about my childhood and my "role" as one of the bullied, mostly thanks to some hard personal work on my part (including writing this piece).  I also no longer felt like the above-mentioned person was my "bully".  I wore a burgundy skirt and my favourite Fluevogs.

Please read the comments below for a response from Christine, who came across my blog a couple of weeks after the reunion, and also visit a newer post for the ongoing conversation.


  1. Thank you so much for signing up for Blog Against Bullying!

    Thank you for sharing your story. I'm so sorry that you had to go through this. I think, though, one of the best ways to stop it from happening is to share what it does to the victims. It's so amazing when someone is strong enough to stand up and share their story :)

  2. Hi! Just came over from Yummy Mummy. I'm glad you posted. Yummy is right.. the best thing to do is talk about it, whether it be to family, friends, or faceless blogger buddies.

    I am sorry it happend to you, and had such a an affect on how you saw yourself. I can relate to much of what you said. I'd like you to meet my daughter who is a little larger than life, but doesn't care. She loves life, and wants to be a major part of it. I don't know where she got that, but I'm glad she has it.

    I work at a middle school where bullying is taken very seriously. I'm hoping that more schools will join in the battle against this very cruel behavior.

    Thanks for posting!

  3. I am this bully.

    Now... those who read may think "how cool is it that someone can see, and possibly better, herself in the description of a bully". If you thought this... you are wrong. I am the girl. I am the one who was insanely jealous of a girl who marched to her own drummer. At 10 I had already had the unique experience of having been abused, which is one of the reasons I moved to a new place in fifth grade.

    In no way is this an excuse or, in any way, an attempt to justify myself.

    When no one 'heard' me, I found someone just unique enough, to hurt. I did all the things, and worse, that this blogger writes of. I was mean-spirited, cruel and truly horrid. I am sad to say that I hardly remember the little things.. I don't remember the lilac lace-ups... but I know now that it had nothing to do with my opinion of these shoes.

    Grade 9 found me in my first abusive boy-girl relationship. It was all I could do to hide this. Later on I married another very abusive person and it was all I could do to stay alive - and I often thought I wouldn't. I lived in a world of bruises and black-eyes, cuts and concussions, stitches and scars. I feared I would die and leave my children with a monster. Somewhere, somehow, someway, I thought I deserved it. I really did.

    Perhaps I attracted this... is it possible that subconscious guilt over the miserable human I was(am?) drove me to seek out punishment? There has been therapist or two who've tried to talk me out of this assumption and I'm not sure I bought what they were selling.

    I just found this today. Maybe I was looking for it; I'm not sure. The incredible mention of Fluevog pretty much took my breath away. (You know exactly what I mean... ) I really only saw this today.

    It is with every ounce of sincerity I have... everything I am today that I apologize. I am no longer that girl and it sickens me that anything I did has any negative impact on you, or anyone, today. I will carry this with me forever.

    Let me be perfectly clear that YOU have risen above abuse to become this incredibly successful human being, woman, mother, blogger, writer. I don't know your inside (my loss, I'm sure) but I can, with ease, say that your outside is beautiful - truly feminine and bright. Today I see none of these traits in myself.

    I look up to you. You are a better woman than I.

    I'm sorry isn't enough. It just isn't.

    P.S. you look stunningly beautiful in shiny burgundy.

  4. Actually, I'm sorry is enough. It really is.


  5. Tears. Happy, sad, surprised and proud..tears. I'm sad for the little girl who was bullied. I'm sad for the little girl who was abused. I'm proud of the courage it took to write this post. I'm surprised that the "bully" found the post. I'm happy and surprised that said bully admitted to the bullying, and heartfelt apologies were given. I'm sad at the circumstances the bully went through in the span of her life. I'm happy that the bully is alive, and growing as a person. Most of all I'm proud of both of you. This could be the beginning of healing, and possibly a great relationship that would benefit the both of you tremendously. You are both strong and brilliant, this post and comment prove that. Congratulations, you made me cry!

  6. Thanks for dredging up the memories and putting them out there. This kind of looking backward isn't ever fun but it can be cathartic for you as well as healing and educational for your readers. So thank you! If you haven't already read Jodee Blanco's Please Stop Laughing at Me and the sequel Please Stop Laughing at Us, I'd highly recommend you have a look. Jodee, like you, is an adult survivor of childhood bullying and she's got some profound insights about letting go and moving on.

    Also, I invite you to check out our anti-bullying forum: Cruel's Not Cool!

  7. Wow. This made me cry. Not only for your lasting memories of what it felt like to be bullied but for this abused girl who bullied you.

    I truly hope you both are finding some healing now. I really admire Christine for speaking up and apologizing to you. Wow. Just speechless. I hope a part of both your hearts were mended today.

    Seriously, hugs for both of you.

  8. Wow, Karen. I hope you find it in you to bring color back into your life, because it just GOES with your bright and beautiful personality. Big (((((hugs))))) and lots of love!

  9. This post has me in tears. It's amazing. I've found healing from traumatic and bullied school years on the internet, too. Christine's honesty takes my breath away, and my hat goes off to both of you.

  10. This post has moved me as well. I was fortunate enough that my school was fairly small and not much bullying really went on, well not that I witnessed at least, but I have seen how bullying has affected some of my friends who attended different schools. It kills me how mean people can be at times. I get my fair share of gawks and glances in my adulthood, but thats mostly because of over use of color in my life. Color is where I find my comfort. It is who I am. It is the word I use the most to describe myself to other people, and they may not understand it until they see me. But I am happy to read that you got the well deserved apology and am glad that you feel better about the whole situation. :)

    1. I'm glad you visited. I love that you love and enjoy colour. I really enjoy seeing it on others, especially those who really rock it!

      Sadly (mostly for Christine) things did not turn out all that well. In the interest of allowing sleeping dogs lie and giving her well-deserved privacy, I've decided to not revisit this nor discuss it further.

      I have sorted through my younger years and the patterns of bullying that reoccurred in my life and I'm okay. I know how to raise my children to be free of bullying, basically I would remove us from a situation if it were not dealt with and the bully not assisted appropriately. I feel that my life has come full circle in this way.

      Thank you for your comment. I think the more we share stories about bullying and its effects on all parties, the more we can move toward a more harmonious society.