Warning: I'm off again. I've debated posting this one, but I think I have to!
My last appreciation post spoke of my deep-rooted feelings of inadequacy and dare I use a newer term, feelings of not being "good enough!"
I had been bullied for as far back as I could remember. Even when I wasn't actually being bullied, I got so used to that specific feeling, that I felt I was ALWAYS being bullied. I had become a "victim" to others but also to myself.
My friend Ben Chai hits the nail on the head in his TED Talk, "Bullies will seek you out as they know you could be their victim too." I'm paraphrasing here but this was certainly true in my case.
It left me somewhat on the outside, until one day in the Third Year of Mandeville (it was the second year we had been there but was called the Third Year back then - your parents can explain).
An old classmate of mine invited me to walk to school with him and his popular friends. Me? I mean these guys were extremely popular and if I walked with them then maybe I'd be popular too!
My paranoia was again strong but I went for it. For the first time in a long time I felt I was cool and that I fit in and I was one of the popular kids. It was all in my head of course, but it felt great. It was a big win for me.
My confidence soared. But it was left unchecked and it turned into arrogance!
One day an older kid, let's call him David; as that was his name; was being teased by another friend of mine. David was tall and a little over weight but then so was I and that's all I really knew about him.
I ended up joining in, in fact I took over. I didn't stop there either. I got worse.
I started to circle him and kept insulting him. I taunted him. I even kicked him.
Kids started to form a circle around us and some were laughing. Some were egging me on!
The buzz I felt on that playground just kept me going. No one stopped me, and I couldn't stop myself. But in that moment, it wasn't me being bullied.
Yep. My arrogance turned me into the thing I hated most. A bully!
And in that moment, I don't think I even cared.
David stood there and said nothing.
The bell rang and we all went to our lessons. I felt special for that very fleeting moment and then it kind of just passed and I'd forgotten all about it. I wonder if that's what happens with regular bullies?
School finished at 3pm and we all made our way home. Everyone was excited because it was the end of term and we had a week off.
I walked home with a friend. In fact it was the friend who was teasing David in the first place. I think I was so in my head with my own arrogance that I didn't really pay attention to my surroundings.
All of a sudden everything went black. I felt immense pain in my back. I think I passed out for a split second and woke up on the floor face down. I'd been hit by a car!
That was the only explanation I could come up with for the fact that I hurt so much and that I was lying face down on the floor.
Someone picked me up from behind, turned me around and promptly smashed me back on to the ground.
It was David!
His face was red and he had a very determined look in his eyes.
Everything slowed down in that moment and I felt - EVERY - SINGLE - PUNCH! None of it on my face though! A small crowd gathered round.
I got up and we stared at eachother for a few moments. Me with my aching and painful body and one ripped trouser leg, and him - without so much as a scratch! We both held a "ready" position.
I looked around and everyone was staring. I felt humiliated and then burst into tears. David's posture relaxed. He picked up his bag and walked away.
He never said a word!
Of course I blamed my friend as he must have set that up. And then I blamed David as he was completely out of order. Deep down I knew who was really to blame.
I was too scared to go out that Half Term just in case I bumped into David and he'd beat me to a pulp. I ended up doing a lot of thinking though.
I can't remember if we ever spoke about it again, but we did speak, and were always polite and respected one another. We even started to walk to work together when we first left school and got jobs. That was only for a short time though.
David you know who you are and I want to apologise here. I'm so sorry for what I did. I got caught up and lost myself. And I'm sorry it has taken me so long to say it! I don't expect forgiveness for that, but just needed you to know.
I also want to thank you! Thanks for one of the best things to ever happen to me! That was one of my life's biggest lessons!
I want to say that I learned from that moment and never got caught up again. I can't. I did. Many times. Only now, I try to call myself out on it, and if that fails, there are plenty around me who would hold me accountable. Something I am grateful for.
I'm setting the challenge for you all to lean into your vulnerability and give appreciation to someone else, if this is something you feel you cannot do but want to!
Have a great day and I'll be back with another name soon x