“One’s dignity may be assaulted, vandalized and cruelly mocked, but it can never be taken away unless it is surrendered.”
― Michael J. Fox
Dear Past Bully,
First of all, hello. It’s been awhile. And I am being completely sincere when I say, I hope life is treating you well. I hope you are at peace, and I hope you are chasing your dreams. I hope you’ve found the path you are looking for in life, and I hope you have a support system to get you there. I want you to know that I am not writing this letter out of spite, or hate, or even out of anger.
That being said, I would like to thank you. You have taught me more than you know, and those lessons have helped me become the person I am (and the person I am proud to be) today.
Thank you for showing me that in the real world, not everyone is who they seem. They say that first impressions are everything, but in my experience I’ve found that to be false. For awhile, I thought you were sweet. I gave you my trust and my friendship. I opened up to you. This put me in a very vulnerable position, which came back to bite me when I found out that you were not who I thought you were. It was so long ago, I do not remember the day you changed, but somewhere along the line you went from being my “friend,” to the person that made me go home crying every day. And it wasn’t just me you did this to. I watched you pretend to be friends with several people, only to turn around and stab them in the back as soon as you earned their trust. You taught me that you cannot trust everyone, no matter how sincere they first appear to be. This is important to keep in mind for any real world relationship, whether it is with your peers, professors, or coworkers. You taught me to keep my eyes open, and to stay on my guard until I get to know someone. And I thank you for that.
Thank you for showing me that I am not perfect. Although you did it harshly, you made sure I realized that I have flaws. You pointed out my imperfections over and over and over again, making my life miserable for awhile. Not only did you point it out to me, but to others, so that they could see my flaws too. For awhile, you made me hate myself. And I am still recovering. I still have self-esteem issues and can be very self-conscious. But slowly, I am realizing that nobody is perfect, and that I am allowed to love who I am even though I am flawed. You made me realize that I am not perfect, that I am human, and I have weaknesses and imperfections and that is okay. What you couldn’t do, is admit the same about yourself. I hope you’ve gotten to a point today, where you are at peace with who you are, even though you are not perfect either. Thank you for showing me that I have flaws because, in the end, it has led me to learning to love myself despite them.
Thank you for teaching me to forgive. Yes, I forgive you. I forgive you for every single tear I cried over things you said to me. I forgive you for every rumor spread, every lie told, every horrible joke made about me. I forgive you for making me look at myself in the most negative, hateful way, a way no one should ever have to look at themselves. I forgive you for making me try to change who I am, thinking that if I did that you would stop hurting me. I forgive you for all of these things because they have made me a stronger person. It took awhile for me to use those negatives to better myself because I did not understand how to do that when I was younger and weaker; but eventually, I was able to turn around and use those miserable moments to make myself a better person. One day I looked at myself and instead of hating myself, or hating you, or hating the situation I was in, I decided to take control. I decided to stop trying to be your friend, going out of my way to be nice to you, and being there for you at your convenience because you did not deserve my efforts. Once I was able to get my life back, my happiness, and my dignity, I could look back at the situation I was in from the outside and figure out how I could never let it happen again. And once I realized that I was a stronger person then than you would ever be, I knew I could find it in my heart to forgive you.
Now don’t take that forgiveness the wrong way. What you did to other people was wrong. I am not saying all those things you said did not hurt. I am not saying that a few of them don’t still play in my mind over and over again. I am not saying that I am fully healed from how much you tore me to shreds and broke me down. You did hurt me, and I can forgive you for it, but I will never forget.
Lastly, thank you for showing me the person I never want to be. I will never understand what made you say or do those things to me. I will never know what made you so hateful or jealous or God knows whatever else you were feeling at the time. All I know for sure is that I never want to bring anyone down like you did to me. I never want to bring tears to someone’s eyes unless they are tears of joy, or from laughing so hard they cry. I never want to hurt or humiliate or insult someone for being who they are, or for a feature that is out of their control, or for any other reason at all. I have never, and I will never make someone as miserable as you made me, and that makes me feel good. I will never have to carry around that guilt with me, or that knowledge that I broke another human being in such an inhumane way. That is not something I will have to live with, and that is something you’ll have to live with for the rest of your life; I feel sorry for you because of that. But, if you have not already, I hope you can find a way to turn yourself around and learn from your mistakes, in order to never be that person again.
So thank you for making me stronger, and for making me a better individual. You have helped me become the person I am today, and I am learning to love that person. I have found true friends who support me in everything I do. Friends who make me see myself in a positive way, and who make me proud of who I am–something I never felt from you. My goal in life is to make other people happy, and that is what I try to do every single day. Although it will not be in the same way, I hope that you can learn from me to be a better person, just like I learned from you. I hope you are past your old ways, and that you have found true friendship that you cherish and will try to maintain. You deserve happiness just the same as everyone else, no matter the mistakes you’ve made in the past.
After all, you are only human.