When I was in fifth grade, I was bullied. Not only in school, but outside of it as well. I moved on a long time ago, and even though I haven’t forgotten the teasing, it stopped defining who I am.
Yet, there is still — all these years later — one 5th grader that I haven’t been able to forgive no matter how hard I try. I know I have to, but even to this day, complete forgiveness eludes me.
I was able to forgive the boy who lifted my skirt at a party so everyone could see my underwear.
I was able to forgive the girl — formerly one of my best friends — who insisted on calling me a baby, excluding and ignoring me at every opportunity.
I also forgave the girl who invited me to her birthday party … only to realize I was the only one who was told to come in costume.
However, there is this girl that no matter how much time has elapsed, still makes me angry.
She stood paralyzed when exposed to cruelty. She kept silent when hurtful words were carelessly, yet intentionally, spoken.
All she wanted to do was run away.
All she did was cry.
That girl is me, when I was just nine years old.
That girl is the 5th grader I haven’t forgiven. I hope I one day will. It still fills me with rage to relive certain moments in my brain and question myself for not realizing the schemes that were planned to embarrass me, not coming up with a brilliant yet brutal reply that could have silenced the bullies, or even worse, for not even defending myself when I came to expect the cruelty of others. At other times, I was so scared, that I am embarrassed to admit I did not stand up for another classmate who was also bullied.
I know that I handled things the best way I could at that time. I overcame what happened and, much later, learned to trust again. I made amazing and loyal friends. And though I may still feel like an impostor at times, I have embraced who I am.
I look forward to one day reconciling with my 5th-grade self. Because somewhere deep down I know that what happened all those years ago wasn’t her fault.More On