“Never Again:” An Excerpt from Bullying Under Attack
February 14th of my senior year I was bullied for the last time. That day, I hit my breaking point and felt that suicide was my only option. As I ran through the hallway my head swam in depression. My hands were shaking as they reached for my cell phone. I couldn’t even remember how to speed-dial Mom.
I was the girl who got called fat every single day. The girl who camouflaged her pain by laughing really hard and talking too loud, drowning out the demeaning comments. The girl fighting an internal battle to get up, get ready, and go to school every morning. Yes, I was that fat girl waddling to school, getting honked at by the popular kids, and even getting snowballs thrown at her butt in the winter. I was the girl who ate lunch alone on the bench in front of the cafeteria doors. The girl who had one friend, but lost even her when her boyfriend called me names too.
I had a simple, deadly, desperate plan to escape the social torment I’d been facing since the fifth grade: leave school, lie in the street on my stomach, and wait until a speeding car came along. Then it would all be over.
Never before had I come so close to acting on this fatal fantasy, but that day I was feeling adrenaline I never even knew existed in my body. Then, as I passed the counselor’s office, out of nowhere, a voice spoke to me. It said, “You need to change your life. You are going through this so you can help other bullied children.” I dashed straight into the counselor’s office, in desperate need of help.
The counselor was busy, but after taking one look at me a secretary sprinted to get him. I was soon inside his office, heaving, hiccupping, and hysterical. I have never cried like that in my life. Tears streamed down my face as I hugged the trashcan, afraid of vomiting out my feelings.
After my crisis, I refused to go to school. But wallowing in self-pity and depression at home wasn’t helping, and I finally decided not to be a victim any longer. I forced myself to get out of bed and write a letter. A letter to my bully. Three pages in red ink.
Upon returning to school, I went to a prearranged meeting in the dean’s office and read the letter to my bully. Out loud to his face. For the first time in my life I stood up to my tormentor.
Think back to ninth grade. Every day in study hall you would call me “fat ass” and “beached whale.” One day I wore shorts; you looked at your friends and said, “That shouldn’t be allowed.” Those words left your mouth in just one second, but they entered my consciousness and still refuse to leave.
After your comments, I wanted to die. Do you know that I go to bed and cry every night? I have thoughts of killing myself. Sometimes I don’t know how I’ve made it this far. When I hit rock bottom though, I remind myself that if I ended my life, you would win. I’m not going to let you win. No matter what you do, I’ll be here to prove a point. To show that you can’t crush me.
Do you know that all the hell I’ve endured in school is my reason to go on living? I am going to go to college, becoming a counselor, and helping other victims of bullies like you. I understand the pain they live with, and I want to help them survive it. When I want to die, I think about helping those in need, just as many kind souls have helped me to survive.
Do you know that I am okay with how I look? When I look in the mirror I see beauty. What I can’t stand is my inner-self, and you’re the one who trained me to feel this way. When I entered school, I instantly felt like a second-class person. I listened to your comments and didn’t stand up for myself. I accepted all the pain you caused me, and never took action—until now.
Are you aware of how I feel just being near you? I feel like I am not worth anything because you can’t look into my eyes, past my weight, and see a normal girl. Sitting in class near you makes me anxious every day.
I am your equal. I am no less than you, and I never will be! You have no right to point out my “faults” and try to cut me down every day. Sadly, I have learned to expect and passively accept your comments. I live with them and believe them. They are and always will be etched into my heart and mind. You should really think about what you say before you say it, because some people are not as strong as I am, and they really might end up killing themselves.
What you did on February 14th is NOT okay. What gives you the right to touch my personal belongings? Who gives you the power to state who sits at what table? When you threw my purse and books onto the floor, it hurt me more than all of the demeaning comments over the years. It hurt me so much that I wanted to kill myself. Your actions told me just where I fit in here: that I am a piece of shit that belongs on the floor.
What’s even worse is that I almost accepted what you did to me, just like I accepted the names you called me every day. I almost believed you were right, because you are a god in this school. Everyone respects you and looks up to you.
You have violated me with your words and actions, and you should know that what may seem to you like jokes are ruining my life and causing me to miss school.
I am through being your victim. I am done tolerating and accepting it. I am determined to enjoy the last few months of high school. From this day forward, you are going to treat me with the respect I deserve.
He cried. Seriously, my bully cried. Then he apologized sincerely. For the rest of high school, I, the former social reject, was never bullied again.
That was six months ago. Look at me now—I’m a new person. I’ve undergone a transformation. I am a college freshman—a psychology major with plans to become a school counselor. I gave my first public speech on school bullying and got a standing ovation, and I didn’t even cry! Now I don’t have to fake my smile. I stay up late, laughing and talking with my roommate, who is my new best friend. I walk into a crowded cafeteria and feel welcome at numerous tables. I’m not afraid to approach new faces. I’m the student who can’t wait to get to class.
I’m finally happy not only on the outside but on the inside as well. I am new. I am the person who I want to be. Finally.
I treasure my life each and every day. I question why I once wanted to end my life. I realize just how lucky I am. So many people are being bullied every day and don’t realize yet that they can make it through and have a happy life. They don’t know the torture will end.
I am blessed beyond belief. I’ve found joy. I’ve found my meaning, my calling: to become a counselor and help kids struggling with bullying. I have a passion and a purpose, and it becomes clearer each day. I’m so grateful I gave myself a second chance to live and to help other bullied children survive and rise up.
I am finally who I want to be.
Elizabeth Ditty is currently a nineteen-year-old college sophomore, majoring in early childhood education with a concentration in English and a minor in psychology. She plans on going to graduate school for counselor education. For Elizabeth, writing is an outlet: a safe and healthy way to vent without being afraid of judgment, and to reflect on memories that can be uncomfortable to discuss. She dedicates her pieces, “Never Again” and “Kids, Meet the Real World,” to her mother, sister, late father, stepfather, and Momma Taylor.
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Praise for Bullying Under Attack:
“A very powerful collection of submissions . . . though this book contains a lot of pain and confession, there is a unified theme of these stories: inspiration.” – Jill O’Sullivan (blogger)
“Bullying Under Attack is a must-read for teenagers, and adults too.” – Paula Robinson (blogger)
“What an incredibly heart-wrenching book . . . it pretty much has something for everyone.” – Jenny Trimble (Compass Book Ratings)
“I plan to add this to my library collection and hope to use it in a book club or Taking Action Against Bullying club. This truly is a must-read for teens, parents, educators, and more as we seek to change culture.” – Marleen Meckenstock (teacher/librarian)
“I’m really glad to see that this compilation addresses the multidimensional notations and effects that it has–not just on one party, but everyone involved . . . I was sincerely touched by the stories, poems, and artistic talents of the contributors of this work.” – Tykeeta Summers (blogger)
“This book is a vital wake-up call to parents, educators, and school officials, providing an insider’s view of bullying and the issues surrounding this destructive and anti-social behavior . . . I think it should be required reading by school officials, parents and students, and included as an essential part of anti-bullying programs in schools.” – GrrlScientist (blogger for The Guardian)