Do you remember me? No? I didn’t think so. My name is Annie. I am that girl you brutally tortured all those years ago in art class. Don’t you remember? I sure do!
You said, because I had a short haircut, I was a dyke.
Thanks to your kind words I have never had a meaningful relationship of more than three months. Any time I even think I want to get close to someone, I put up walls and run away; it is just so much easier to do.
I often wore a long sweater. It was the early 90s and that is how we wore them. You said it made me look fat and mannish. You also said other cruel things to horrible to publish but you and I both know what they were.
Thanks to your kind words I dressed in bulky clothes, stopped playing basketball, volleyball and other sports I used to enjoy doing. Who cared? I was fat, right?
I wore glasses. You said it made me look like a geek and a nerd.
Never mind I graduated high school, college and grad school with a 3.9 GPA. Never mind I had half my bachelor’s and my entire master’s paid for with merit scholarships. Thanks to your kind words, I’m still the geeky 15-year-old girl with classes no matter what the accomplishments.
You threw spit wads at me, grabbed my hair or arms—if I was lucky. Unfortunately you grabbed in worse places.
Thanks to your kind gestures I don’t like to be touched. I don’t like being hugged by my students or when my “personal space” zone is invaded at parties or out in public. It’s about the walls I’ve built. It’s so comfortable back behind them but so awfully sad and lonely.
When I tried to stand up for myself and told a teacher who cared, for the months of abuse I endured, you only got one detention. When you found out I told, you slammed my head into a locker. I can’t remember if it was a bloody nose or a bloody forehead I got.
Thanks to your kind gestures, I kept my mouth shut for years about what you did to me. When I started talking to another teacher who cared my senior year, she gave me the courage to go to the superintendent to talk about it. Our school district had no sexual harassment policy and it was time someone called it out. But your family was rich, had given loads of money to our private school. Sitting in the superintendent’s office, with that wonderful teacher there to lend me her support, I detailed everything you did to me. When, where and how. That was one of the hardest things I’d done in my life until then. All the superintendent said after I laid it all out was, “I’m sorry that happened to you. But there’s nothing I can do about it because I wasn’t working here when it did happen. Plus, no one else has complained about that type of harassment, so I don’t see any need to change our policy.
I worked up the guts to go straight to the top with my abuse. And it got me nowhere. Our school has since incorporated a policy, but no one had my back in the mid-90s.
Thanks for all your kind words and gestures over the years. In addition to the self-esteem problems and demons you planted in my soul—not just in my head, I mean in my soul—19 years ago, I have had a hard time loving who I am. I have the scars on my wrists to prove it. I’ve got the multiple bottles of pills I swallowed to prove it (OK, not literally but you get the picture). I know I prayed for death every night straight for 4 ½ months. What 15-year-old girl with brains, talent and family and friends who love her should have to pray for death over 100 straight days?
That’s what you did to me. And for 19 years, you had the upper hand.
Maybe one day, some day, you will be put in a situation where you only have to suffer a fraction of what I had to at your hands. I can promise you, you wouldn’t survive. I almost didn’t…but I’m still here.
Now it’s time to take care of that 15-year-old girl. Because my greatest revenge will be to pick her up, dust her off, and help her move on.