I won’t use your names. I won’t even use your initials. I will not stoop low enough to hand out insults in an attempt to point score. You won a long time ago. But I will say what you did to me with your words, in a way that will not do the emotion justice because I cannot bear to feel it all over again. And I will simply call you “He” and “She” because there is no need to tell the world who you are.
(I will tell you all right now that these guys made me want to do things for which I should provide a trigger warning so… I guess that was the trigger warning)
You told an entire class of people that you hated me before we’d even spoken, before I even knew who you were. You later called it “hate at first sight” and said you had never hated anyone more. Was it because I could answer questions in class that you couldn’t? Was it your ego that hated me? I wasn’t new to the school but I was new to the year group. I’d missed two years of study due to living in a paediatric ward tied to IVs, and as a result I had to go back a year. I knew two people in the room. I was nervous, shy, still carrying physical scars given to me by people who were somewhere onsite as we sat in that biology classroom. I was terrified of people my age. And for reasons I won’t go into here, I already felt like a piece of dirt.
And then you tried to spread your hatred of me. People came to me and said they didn’t agree at all and that I was one of the nicest people they had ever met. But no matter how many times they told me you were pathetic and that I should ignore you, your actions started to get under my skin even before I found out that you’d stooped to a new low.
I never hated you back. Not ever. Not once. I never spread anything about you in return because I knew how awful it felt and I didn’t know what else you might be trying to deal with. You were arrogant and loud and full of your own self importance, but I thought you were an alright guy. Despite everything, I still think you’re an alright guy. I’m like that.
How ironic that you want to be a midwife (you’re at uni training to be one now), that you are training be a health professional when you said such insensitive things about a person’s health. Teachers loved you, but among pupils there was a general consensus that you were two faced. I thought you were lovely. I ignored everyone else and made my own opinion and saw the best in you, which allowed me to see a bubbly, funny person.
You spent 2 hours one day asking me about my health, probing my achilles heel as we played table tennis as part of out A level PE stuff. I refused for a long time, told you no, but then I reluctantly and carefully fed your curiosity. You fired away question after question and when I tried to back out of answering you’d ask again and seem puzzled as to why I didn’t want to open up. I’d already lost every friend in that school I ever had (apart from one) because of my health – it scared them all away. I was scared there would be a stigma. I was scared you would run. I was scared that you would sharpen my own words and use them against me. But you didn’t know that. Eventually, reluctantly, I answered, until I gave up protesting in the end and just told you what you asked to know.
Straight afterwards you went and told everyone that you had “endured” 2 hours of me talking non-stop about my health. You moaned about how much I talked about it (until that point, to you, NOT AT ALL) and that I made a big deal of everything (I played everything down out of fear people would run, but you wanted people to react, I get that). I would learn this later.
Right after I learned what you and “He” said on the school bus (among a bunch of things you’d said everywhere else).
You said I was pathetic, that millions of other people were in my situation and none of them moaned. You said I needed to get a grip and were disgusted by my “weakness” in the face of my health issues.
Before I continue, can I just say that neither of you had any idea. You had no idea what I was up against. You had no idea how serious it was or the stresses it put me under. I don’t know what you judged me on, maybe on how outwardly well I looked? There was more than one thing, more than one health hiccup. My closest friend had died a few months before after getting an infection while immune-supressed (following a transplant) and he’d been waiting to ask me to be his girlfriend. I already hated myself. I already thought I was pathetic and my consultants spent so long trying to tell me that hey, I wasn’t being pathetic, things were rubbish and scary and I should just have a good cry, that most people in my situation saw a psychologist to help them through the emotional hiccups that physical health hiccups caused…
People 4 school years below us came to tell me what you’d said on that bus. I first found out from someone in our year who had been sat a few seats in front of the pair of you. It shouldn’t have mattered so much to me, but here’s the thing: You shredded my achilles heel with your machete words. You created the imagined scenario of my biggest fear. There were not millions of people, by the way. Far, far less. And with my exact combination of hiccups, maybe only a hand full. And I can tell you right now that they are all human, and they will all have cried about it (something which you never saw) and that, like me, they bury it all and get up and go on. I was not abnormal in my attitude or in my struggles. You were abnormal in your behaviour, in your response to that, especially with the whole HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONAL ROUTE that “She” has since gone down! My life was in danger. I had the tightest grip I could have in the situation I was in. I was trying my best, until that point I had been embarrassed but just about ok with how I was doing, finally starting to function. And then I was told what you’d said.
It was a Thursday.
The emotion that hit me wasn’t shame, shame does not do it justice. Tears welled in my eyes (and at that point I NEVER cried). I couldn’t speak. I looked at the head of sixth form’s office as my world crumbled around me, and suddenly I felt so lost and alone and everything felt so pointless. I got an overwhelming urge to kill myself. I didn’t care how much it hurt, it was the only way to cope. I couldn’t cope any more. It was all gone.
There was stuff at home that you knew nothing about. I’d often get picked up by sixth form friend late at night just to get away after the latest round of fireworks. There were frequent hospital admissions and PTSD and septicaemia which almost killed me and made being alive feel weird and undeserved (especially as I had it multiple times within a few months, and my friend got it one time and died). The grim reaper was breathing round my neck and every now and then he tripped me up and tried to drag me off. I was struggling to produce any school work at all – I was killing myself to attend classes, going home and sleeping right round until the next morning, eventually giving in to the school’s suggestion that I just do half days. School was my little haven. I had so much support there from all of the staff. I felt valued and wanted and sometimes I didn’t even have to fake the smile I wore. I started to feel comfortable there, for the first time in my school life I wasn’t being bullied. I was starting to get a tiny bit of self confidence. It felt like home. I always had something to show for my day, and after spending so much time ill in hospital that was all I wanted. I just wanted to be at school. I loved finally being able to go to the place I had dreamed of going for the whole time I was in hospital (I did initially want to start fresh at another school, but I knew a few lovely teachers that I didn’t want to leave). I’d taken all of those issues in my stride and made it to the path I had strayed from because of my health and… You took that all away. School became a place I dreaded. It meant nothing. I didn’t deserve it. I was pathetic.
The details of that conversation (where you told everyone not only my first name, but my second name, so there could be no doubt…) instantly made me want to die – an urge so intense it was almost a physical aching, so uncontrollable that it scared me, even though I was too beaten to act on it. And it was the only thing I was capable of feeling for months afterwards. Months. For months I battled suicidal urges every time your words swam round in my head (which was very often, because they cut very, very deep). People said I should say something to you, but I didn’t want to hurt your feelings. Plus you were so arrogant and loud I didn’t think you would care and I couldn’t stand the thought of that outcome either.
You didn’t stop there. On you went.
I won’t mention the rest of the conversation or the other innumerable other things you said for my own sake. They got more hurtful. You didn’t care.
I was bullied all the way through secondary school – first because I was consistently top of the class, played a lot of sport, and didn’t swear (all of which, as an 11 year old girl, seemed to make me seriously uncool) and later I was physically beaten and slung racial slurs at because I am mixed race. The school refused to accept that any of its pupils would bully (bullying is EVERYWHERE, all ages, all environments. Fact), even when they had to call an ambulance because my head had been cracked open and the cartilage behind my right knee had been crushed and had huge gaps in it allowing bone to grind against bone (I was on crutches with my leg completely straight for 3 months. All of this was because I was going to talk to some teachers about what was going on). My crutches would be kicked out from underneath me. My school books would be taken from my bag and returned after or just before the lesson ripped in half with rude or threatening drawings on every page (people being hung… I was obsessively neat about my notes and my work was multicoloured and took ages, so this bothered me the most. I stopped bothering to do homework when it kept getting torn in half. Teachers would have to keep my books in their classrooms for me so that they wouldn’t get taken).
One time, after being hit extremely hard in the kidney region, I peed blood for a day. The school turned on the wrong people and told me it couldn’t possibly have happened, and nobody would speak up against the bullies, so I sat in the head of upper school’s office at lunchtimes when I hadn’t been hit yet and was scared, and he would have to walk me to my form room. But I was left to get beaten and cut with scissors and compasses (one was once stuck in my hand to the announcement “this is for being a (N word)” then dragged through my skin for a few centimetres to the announcement “and this is for being a grass”) and in sixth form one teacher and a few people from my old form apologised for standing back and watching. But I trusted no adults at all then. None. I told one of my consultants everything one time and got so worked up that I passed out. He was horrified. He was even more horrified when I explained that people can’t be so horrible for no reason and that I clearly deserved it. He turned out to be as unreliable and untrustworthy as anybody else, multiplied by a million.
And you guys got to me more than that. With words you got to me in ways that fists never could. You broke me. You threw fuel on the fire of my worst fear and the flames razed me to the ground. I’d say it felt like the end of the world, butI’d be lying. It felt so much worse than that. It made me long for the end of the world, just to make everything stop.
There was no way