CW: Mentions of bullying, anxiety, depression
Dear younger Me,
Hey you little nerd. I know life is confusing and scary, but I also know you are just a shy little thing trying to find where you belong.
Everyone constantly tells you you are a leader and that you are confident, but you do not feel it. You work hard to prove that behind the braces and bottle cap glasses, you are more than just your blind self. You are more than just your brother’s little sister, who is compared by every teacher in your middle school because you both went there. Most importantly, know that you will not always be heard and not being heard will lead to years of anxiety-ridden dreams that will pull you from sleep screaming and alone. I see you, Nat.
Little me, I need you to know that it is okay to tell people that you are being bullied. It is alright to cry when kids try to make you fall and they mock your slight lisp because of your braces. It is okay to not live up to the assumption that it “doesn’t bother you” because you are supposedly so confident. It is okay to hide in the library, sorting books in alphabetical order instead of going outside to hang out with the popular kids. And it is okay to cry when you come in and see all your hard work tossed onto the floor and a group of kids laughing when you try to stifle your tears.
Little me, I am proud of you, you know. It is not easy coming forward every time you are bullied. It is incredibly hard when you are scrutinized because “you should be the bully, not the other way around.” It has difficult to sit in the hot seat and recount every time you were hurt, or how your fingers were “accidently” stapled by the girl who put on the most perfect innocent act. I am so damn proud of you for telling your mom, despite everything else going on. I am proud that you held your ground, even when going to school every day was your personal hell.
Little me, you are going to have to learn to live with some things, too. You are going to wake up at times crying because of the nightmares that still play when you sleep. You are going to have to exist in a community of other blind folk who all saw that video she posted on YouTube that gave your name, phone number, and email, telling her followers to harass you. You are going to have to live with the fact that not many people will believe you because you are no longer meek and as quiet as some would like. It is hard, little me. It really truly sucks. You will wake up reaching out for comfort after those nightmares, and it will be empty beside you. So, you will turn to your blog, fingers shaking, trying to calm your racing heart from another terrifying nightmare.
You will learn that you can survive being bullied. It assisted in your depression in high school, but you will survive it. You are still a little anxious thing in the future—I am sorry about that, darling. But you have a good support system of people you can lean on when you cannot physically do it yourself. You will learn that not being okay, is okay, that you are not defined by the lies and rumors that people spread. You are not a slut or a whore; you are not a mixed-race mutt or a bully; and most importantly, you deserve to live, despite what people tell you. You will be told to die; you will be pinned down on a Jiu jitsu mat and put in a complicated move until you can’t breathe. You will be pushed, tripped, publicly embarrassed. And it will not stop at it happening in school. It will continue through summer camp. You will be placed in the same cabin as your bully, who will tell everyone that you wanted to have sex with all the boys. Rumors, that will lead to stupid hormonal teens touching you arms and back while you sleep because you are sick, who will pull your bra straps and laugh when the loud snap wakes you up. You will hear boys fighting amongst themselves on who gets to have you, even when you had absolutely no say in it. Little me… it is okay.
It is okay to hurt. It is okay to feel how you do. To cry and feel worthless because people tell you. It is okay to say no, and if you had just shown the marks the push pins made on your hand when they used it on you… they would have believed you. Hopefully. Things are not certain, but you deserve to live, little me. You deserve a chance to show who you are. You deserve to be happy and held when you startle awake from your nightmares with tears in your eyes because memories of your abuse are still so vivid. You deserve so much, little me. Just hold on. You will see, I promise.
You are going to make amazing friends, who while not your age, love every bit about you. You will find love, lose it, only to find it in an unconventional way. You will connect with an old friend and talk to them almost every day. You will get a guide dog, move across the state, and break every restraint that has ever tethered you to the belief that you do not deserve something. I believe in you, little me. It will be hard every day, but you are okay. I would hug you if I could. Be well. Chin up. Do not hide your tears. I love you.