“It all started back in grade school. I was in speech therapy from three years old through eighth grade. I couldn’t say my ‘Rs,’ and even to this day I still struggle with it, but it’s way better than it was. Kids in my grade would make fun of me all the time, because not only I was in speech therapy, but I also had a learning disability, so every time we took tests I was brought into another room to concentrate. When it came to testing, my anxiety would always kick in, even though I would study the night before. Being a kid that age and having to leave the room to take a test brought my anxiety up more and made me embarrassed, because kids always made fun of me, saying I went to the ‘retard class.’ Then, on top of everything else, I have a identical twin sister, so we both were getting made fun of all the time. Also, mind you, my teachers growing up all knew my family, because my grandpa was a teacher in the town I grew up in, and these teachers grew up with my dad or his brothers and they knew my older siblings, too. So really, we never had our own identities.
When it came to middle school, we were still getting treated like how we were in elementary school. I hated every second of it, I didn’t even want to go to school anymore because of how we were treated. We were treated unfairly from the teachers, when technically school is supposed to be our safe place, but I never felt safe. There were teachers I trusted, however, and I told them what was going on, but the bullying never stopped. In middle school, telling on someone makes you coward, and so it was hard to tell anyone. I always stuck up for myself to the bullies, but I was would be ganged up on with five or more people, when I was either by myself or with my twin. My parents knew about this, but always told us, ‘Don’t let it bother you, just laugh at them or smile at them, because they don’t like it. If they see it bothers you, they will keep doing it.’ So, that’s what we always did, and of course we were still getting bullied.
High school was the toughest year—especially my freshmen year. When you go to high school, you think it’s fun because you are going to a different environment with so many other students, and then meeting new people on top of that. You’re also going to different classes with different grades mixed in, and, depending on who you meet, having friends with benefits, or even boyfriends/girlfriends, going to parties, etc. It’s suppose to be a fun experience, but once again it wasn’t for me. My twin sister and I were meeting so many people in all grades, and one time we got invited to a house party. There was a guy my sister liked, and for some reason I couldn’t find her anywhere at this house. Well, I found out she was with this guy in his car and he was super drunk, but they never had sex or anything. Anyway, this guy spread a rumor around about my sister, saying he had sex with her—which she never did—so then all the seniors were calling both my sister and I names, like sluts, whores, skanky. We got all those hurtful names.
After that situation, my sister sent a photo to this guy. Well, as some of you may know, guys are manipulative, and they say they won’t show it to other people, but he did. It got sent around the whole school, in all grades. Yeah, it was a stupid decision on her behalf, but it is what it is, and we obviously couldn’t stop it. If you have seen the TV show called ’13 Reasons Why,’ that was our high school experience to a T. We were getting ganged up by five to ten people, and again we were either by ourselves or it was just the two of us versus them. It wasn’t just the girls—there were boys, too. We were getting bullied from the seniors all the way to our grade—four long years of being bullied. I hated it, I hated them, I wanted it to stop but it kept on going on, and each year never got any better. My parents even got involved because they got a call from the principal’s office about the photo being sent around the school. They weren’t mad, just disappointed. They already knew about before going to the principal’s, office but nothing changed.
These girls and boys weren’t getting in trouble for how they were treating us. Our mother knew all about the bullying, because we would tell her about it every day when we came home from school. Our mother always told us to be open and tell her the truth about anything and everything, and when something was going on to talk to her about it. She knew when we were lying and when we weren’t—a mother knows when something is going on, and she knew. Every day when we came home from school, our mother would ask us, ‘How was school? Did anything happen today? Tell me what happened,’ and every time we told her about how we were being treated at school. It got so bad, to the point our parents got involved—mainly our mother, though. She would call the principal’s office or even the dean’s office, and they again weren’t doing anything about it. We were in the dean’s office multiple times, left and right, telling them about us being bullied. We even got death threats on social media from these bullies, but no one was stopping them. When I was getting ganged up on, I was always sent to the dean’s office for sticking up for myself—but none of them were getting in trouble, and we weren’t sure why.
Our mother got involved so many times, and again nothing was changing. It was getting so frustrating and draining, and my mental health was ready to explode. I was prescribed antidepressants because of how it was affecting my life. I had suicidal thoughts, but I never made an attempt, nor did I really want to die, but it was taking a big toll on me. I always had a backbone and would stick up for myself every time, or just laugh at them, or wave hi to piss them off. I tried to hide what I was actually feeling inside, which was hurt and angry. I wanted to hurt them like they hurt me, but I didn’t do anything because it isn’t who I am. Nobody was putting an end to it—not the teachers, principal, not even other kids who witnessed the bullying. Every year my house would get tee-peed from grades older than us, and I would say they were probably the worst. They would always write on our driveway—hurtful names. They would egg our house, too. It was bad. One night we finally caught them, and my little brother was chasing after them. He was in 9th grade and we were juniors. There were several girls jumping into one small car, some were on the roof trying to kick my brother, and they were trying to run him over, too.
My brother fractured his right hand, so instead he had to use his left hand and hit the girl in the face, which was a very small hit, but it was also self-defense. If it wasn’t for my parents getting involved, I’m not sure what would have happened to us. My boyfriend at the time, who is now my husband, was seeing how it was affecting me and how I didn’t feel like me anymore, and he supported me and was a shoulder to cry on. I would cry and cry to my mom, begging her to make it go away. She was doing everything in her power to make it stop. I’m so, so blessed my parents got involved and they knew about the bullying, because we were openly talking to them about it all the time. They were there to listen, to support us, to tell us it will end. But no one else was listening. It was like we were muted, and the bullies were untouchable or had special connections with the dean and principal. School is suppose to be a safe place, but it wasn’t whatsoever.
What this has taught me throughout my years is you have to talk to someone. You have to tell them what’s going on, because keeping this stuff in will take a really big toll on your mental health. You’ll have so many different thoughts going on in your head, and you might think what the bullies are saying is true. My mom always told us the reason why they were bullying us is because we are beautiful girls and they were jealous of us, or maybe something bad is going on in their homes, or that’s how they were raised, to be mean people, or that’s who they are. We will never know why they treated us like this, and it just makes me wonder: why us? ‘Why me?’ would always go through my mind, and even now I think about it. But, to be quite honest, it made me stronger. It made me the woman I am today: strong, courageous, resourceful, blunt, loyal, honest, very open/open-minded, able to let things go when something is bugging me, trustworthy—the list can go on.
It took me years and years to finally let it go and not let it get to me, but having to defend myself all those years has made me become defensive quickly and quick to protect myself, because it’s what I was used to all my life, and it takes me back to those memories all over again. I think about it all the time, and of course it still hurts me—especially talking about it, because these memories will always be with me. I was vulnerable, and the only people who were there for me was my family, and at the end of the day, they saved my life. The advice I would give is to tell someone when you are getting bullied. Yes, you might think it is being a ‘coward,’ or the bullies would think this, but realistically, you aren’t being a coward—you are being strong; you are defending yourself; you are saving your mental health before you decide to do something you will regret.
Your parents are there to support you, to give you love and stand up for you no matter what, so talk to them. If you can’t talk to your parents, tell a trusted teacher who would be willing to stand up for you. Talking about your feeling and letting it out feels good. Don’t hold in your emotions, scream if you have to, or listen to happy songs—dance if that makes you feel better, punch a punching bag or work out. You gotta let it out, and man does it feel great when you do it.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Jessi Meriah. You can follow her journey on Instagram. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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