image by Simon Pemberton
I remember you so much better than I imagine that you remember me. I wonder if you ever knew how your casual aggression and petty meanness were indecipherable languages to me.
I remember when you locked me in a school locker. You thought you were so funny and clever, while the entire time I remained calm, knowing that you had to let me out, knowing that there was no point to your exercise…but unable to conceive of why you found the act entertaining.
I remember the time you had kicked a ball up onto the school roof. I offered to climb up and get it for you because I was small and knew I could get up the drain without breaking it. I climbed up and threw the ball to you. As I climbed back down you grabbed me by my trousers and paraded me around in front of your friends, laughing as you gave me a wedgie. That moment was when I knew we had an entirely different way of approaching reality. That you could humiliate someone who had offered to assist you was completely alien to my understanding of the world.
I remember the time you wanted so much to irritate me. My papa always said to ignore you, so I did. I ignored you until you spat in my ear. You were so desperate for my attention that you would resort to any means necessary. I know now that you must have been so trapped in your own wounds, hurting from the lack of love, or the abuse, or whatever hurts were being perpetrated against you by those who had power over you. I know that now and I am sorry for you.
I remember the time I almost punched you. You said you wanted to see which of us was taller, so we stood back to back. You pulled my trousers down in front of a bus full of people and I snapped. I snapped because I had trusted you, I had thought you were being kind, that you wanted to play with me, wanted to be my friend. I snapped because you had broken something sacred. I chased you across the bus and leapt onto you as you cowered in your seat. I raised my fist…and then I paused. Looking down at your scared face staring up at me, I knew I couldn’t hit you. I realised then that I will never physically attack someone for my own sake.
I remember the time I did punch you…when you held my little brother against a wall. I told you to leave him alone and you punched him. There was no moment of pause between your action and mine; I pummelled you into the ground until your friends arrived and you all kicked me to the earth which moments before I had thrown you onto. I am still proud of my reaction in that moment.
And so Bullies, I want to thank you for everything you taught me and showed me about myself:
Thank you for showing me that I will never intentionally harm another, for my own entertainment or for any other reason.
Thank you for showing me that I will always honour those who assist me when I am in need.
Thank you for teaching me to be careful that my own life wounds do not prompt me to wound others.
Thank you for teaching me that it is in my nature to always choose peace over violence.
Thank you for teaching me that when push comes to shove I will defend the things I love with every ounce of life within me.
Dear Bullies, I hope that you found what you were looking for, and that your own wounds have become the fires that guided you into your adulthood.
the man you helped to mould