Letter to My Biggest Bully

This letter has been a long time coming—forgiveness has been a long time coming. And it’s not like I haven’t tried to forgive; I have.

I’ve forgiven others.

I’ve forgiven my rapists for what they did to me, for the years of pain and anguish they caused me, for changing the trajectory of my life.

I’ve forgiven God for the injustices I perceived He let happen to me, even though He did absolutely nothing wrong. But when you’re hurting, you need someone to blame.

I’ve forgiven the friends who walked away when I needed them the most, even though they had every right to, because when you’re depressed, you tend to sabotage relationships.

I’ve forgiven those who bullied me throughout Middle School and High School because someone has to. And in order to move forward, I have to step out of the past, even if that means never going to a High school reunion.

I’ve forgiven those who have caused me harm, who have hurt me mentally and physically. But I haven’t been able to forgive you, yet.

Until now.

I had forgiven everybody else, but I hadn’t been able to forgive my biggest bully: me.

I forgive you—I mean, me. And I’m sorry.

I’m sorry for allowing the opinions of others to become the way I defined you. I’m sorry for the way my voice began to echo and mirror what other’s said about you. It’s hard enough to ignore being called ugly, fat, unworthy if it’s someone else’s voice doing the calling, but when it’s your own voice that suddenly becomes your biggest nightmare, it’s next to impossible.

I’m sorry for silencing you. I’m sorry for making you feel like you couldn’t say anything, you couldn’t speak up about what you were going through and struggling with because every time you looked in the mirror, you said something mean about yourself. It’s hard to speak up when every though that sprints (and then trips and hangs around for a while) in your mind is harsh and cruel. You believe in Thumper’s mantra: if you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all. And you couldn’t, so you didn’t, even if speaking up could’ve saved your life.

I’m sorry for making you hate your reflection. I’m sorry for making you feel unloved and unworthy and how all of that unworthiness translated into not eating. Now you’re stuck learning how to do all of that again, because once upon a time you ate too little, then too much, and now you have to learn how to find the perfect middle. Learning how to love yourself again is so hard, but I promise it will be so worth it.

I’m sorry for making you believe that your whole identity and lovability was definied by your attractiveness.

I’m sorry for allowing you to become some numb and full of hate that the only relief was found in a knife (or a razor, or scissors. Whatever was convenient).

I’m sorry for making you believe that you weren’t beautiful the way you were, and are, and will continue to be.

I’m sorry for becoming your worst enemy when you needed me to be your biggest advocate. I’m sorry for abandoning you, for causing you to lose yourself when you really needed to be found.

I’m sorry for the tears cried, the blood shed, the scars gained, the pounds lost. I’m sorry for trying to die.

I’m sorry for all of it.

But mostly I’m sorry for taking so long to realize how much I hurt you. I’m sorry for taking so long to apologize. I’m sorry for taking so long to forgive you.

It’s hard to forgive others, and it’s even harder to forgive yourself.

But I’m ready now. I’m ready to say: I forgive you. (I forgive myself.)

Most of all, I’m ready to accept your apology. (I’m ready to accept my own apology.)

I’m ready to step into the future together: past me and present me. I’m ready to combine the two to prepare for future me. I’m ready to learn from my past mistakes and apply them to what I will encounter down the road on the journey ahead.

Because I don’t know where this future leads, but I am ready to take that journey—together.

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Ice Breaker

The first day of class is always my least favorite day of, well, ever. And it’s not because I have to be around people and have to change out of my pajamas. It’s because of the stupid “Ice-breaker” games that teachers like to play.

“Let’s play a game,” they say. “Tell us something about yourself.”

Let’s not play a game, and say that we did. Because I’m sitting here wondering, where do I begin? Where’s the line between too much and not enough? And where’s the point of suspense that’ll keep you wanting more? Because there’s a lot I could say, and I never know how to start.

So, I get the ice breaking by saying,

“My name is Kaleigh. I’m 19 years old. I’m an English Major. I play piano, and unlike some of my favorite books, I don’t have an appendix. Oh yeah, I also make stupid jokes, punintentionally mostly.”

And that usually gets a laugh or two, but I’m sitting there thinking, you still want to get to know me? Are you sure? Because there are so many things you don’t know…

Like, did you know that when you ask me how I’m doing, I usually lie and say I’m doing fine, because lies are easier to handle than the truth.

You shouldn’t love me because I’m broken. You should love me because I’ve found beauty despite the brokenness.

I’m not afraid of dying, because I was once afraid of living. But I am afraid of trying to die, which is why I’m afraid of heights.

The last time I cried was two weeks ago in a Walmart bathroom, because I saw three of the guys who made me this way. Or maybe it was last Thursday when my head hurt so bad I couldn’t do anything, not even think. I cried tears of pain and joy, because it took a debilitating headache to stop the thoughts of self-destruction, which is ironic. I guess.

And irony is one one of my favorite things in the world.

Did you know that my name means “Beautiful,” or “laurel crown,” which is funny because most days I don’t feel beautiful, or even remotely like a Princess. You gotta love irony.

I believe in the power of words, which is why I’m a writer. And I also know that words are in fact capable of hurting you, despite what the popular phrase says.

Did you know that despite the healing I’m experiencing there are days all I want to do is lie on the floor and cry, because the only thing that makes sense is brokenness? The Healing Process sure does take a long time.

When I laugh, I laugh hard and for a long time, and it usually ends in an asthma attack. I’ve found joy, because I’ve experienced pain. And I think everybody should experience both, because you can’t have a rainbow without any rain.

Did you know that these scars on my body are from a time when I was so full of self-hate, I became numb and couldn’t feel anything? I needed to feel something, so I cut myself open.

I’ve learned that people will tell you lies as they steal your innocence, but repeating them over and over again does not make them true. And losing yourself is the only way to find yourself.

Did you know that when we discussed eating disorders in Health, I sat there tapping my foot trying to burn more calories? Or that anytime we discuss the topic of rape in class, I feel like walking out, because five years later the memory is still painful, and I still feel the shame and guilt even though it wasn’t my fault.

If you call me beautiful, I won’t believe you. But if you call me ugly, I’ll sit there and agree with you. But that’s beginning to change, as long as I don’t look in the mirror for too long.

Did you know that I sit and write the same thing over and over again because I’m still trying to figure all this out?

Some days I use up all my faith getting out of bed in the morning. I pray to God that the floor will stand firm under my feet. This is how I know what true strength is.

But, most of all, did you know that all I want in this world is for people to know they’re not alone? I want to know I’m not alone, and that I’m lovable despite the brokenness.

 

But, I don’t say any of these things. Because this is an Ice Breaker, and not an Ice Already Broken.