So, half indecisive as to whether I should actually post this, my urge to bare it all got the better of me. Sure, I could’ve used a pen and paper, but I guess like many others, I wanted to be heard.
Whilst watching Burlesque for the first time, I thought ‘wow’ what an amazing movie! I sat on the edge of the couch, cold, but I didn’t want to miss anything. The singing and dancing sent shivers down my spine. For more reasons than the obvious.
It took me back to a time when I was only 12-years-old. I had high hopes and dreams of performing on stages worldwide back then. Now 20 years later, I am haunted by the ‘what ifs’ of the past. I was attending a local primary school, I was happy, enjoying life and was content with who I was and where I came from, yet I knew where I was going. One afternoon that all changed. I changed.
A few boys in my class decided that on this day they would pull the rug out from under me, burst my bubble and cut me down to size. They threw a piece of paper on my desk, eagerly gesturing for me to read it alone. Curiously I read their note, stunned at the content; my heart skipped a beat… “Dear xoxo, I like you very much and think we should sit together at break time. Would you please be my partner at the upcoming ‘sokkie‘? That’s what the note read which was signed “hugs and kisses”.
At first, I laughed convinced they were joking, but as I looked up they were smiling, holding up thumbs and making all sorts of gestures. I never liked any of them in that way but felt flattered and replied with a simple ‘sure’. Skillfully I returned the note to them and watched in anticipation as a second note made its way to me. Nervously I read. To this day I still remember everything about their letter. Edged in my mind, my soul and ripping through every part of me.
Written in Afrikaans: “Jou lelike, lelike… (I’d rather not repeat the word they called me.) Wat laat jou dink dat ons ooit in jou sal belangstel? Have you looked at yourself in the mirror lately? Jy is di lelikste ding op aarde!!! In the centre they drew this spider-like thingy with arrows pointing towards the text that and the words “this is you!”
Numb and in utter disbelieve I looked up. I was confused and tried to make sense of what had happened. Was it perhaps a dream? But no, this was real; they were pointing at me and laughing, laughing and pointing at me. I looked down at the letter shaking in my hands as big teardrops filled the empty spaces. Every phrase embedded in my mind, the words piercing through every fibre and my being. I stood up and walked out of the classroom (still wonder why I didn’t run) while their laughter followed me.
I stood in the bathroom in front of the mirror and cried, I cried like someone who had just lost a loved one. Time stood still. It was just me, those boys and their letter. Through my tears, I no longer recognised the young girl in the bathroom mirror looking back at me. I could only see what they saw, this thing. I could only hear their laughter and it consumed me. I lost the person I was when I went to school that day. On off days, I mourn her. I saw myself through their eyes and it hurt.
I never told anyone what had happened. Not a teacher nor my parents, and I never confronted them. I went back to school four days later a different person. They changed me and the course of my life. I went to high school, which was pure torture. I had not realised that their laughter had followed me to the corridors of high school. There were more kids, gorgeous popular girls, and then there was me.
I was in hell, a nightmare created by those boys on a lazy afternoon. Each time a group of kids would walk past me, not even looking in my direction, they would laugh. I had convinced myself that they were laughing at me. I couldn’t take it anymore, so I quit school. I dropped out and decided to leave them all behind.
Sometimes I still mourn the child I was, I still mourn the dreams I had. I regret not finishing my matric, not attending my matric ball but, most of all I regret not telling anyone what they had done to me. Maybe things would be different now if I had. Who knows?
I’m only sharing my story to make people realise that there is a lot going on beyond what you see in a person. We can all try to do things differently, think differently and strive to be better people. Your actions may just change the course of someone’s life.
Teach kids to embrace the difference they see in others.
Tell us what you think: What is your opinion on bullying and you’ve experienced it what effects it had on you?