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.
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.