Every single day of junior high, I wished Mike Burns* would fall off the face of the earth.
Because every single day for two school years, Mike mercilessly picked on me.
And most of those days, he made me cry.
I swear my tears powered that boy’s black heart and kept it pumping.
He was a bully. And I was his target.
The bullying happened on the bus. At my Catholic school. During after-school activities. Everywhere.
I couldn’t escape it.
And I couldn’t understand it.
I hadn’t done anything to him. I was a regular tween girl. Nothing stood out about me. Why me? It made no sense.
But I was Mike’s target for three long years.
At times when Mike was cutting me down, I could see his cruel words were even making his gang of buddies uncomfortable.
But no one stepped in to help.
My friends were sympathetic but powerless. The adults were clueless – or ignoring it.
My parents’ advice? Just ignore him. He’ll stop. Thanks, mom and dad.
So I kept on keeping on. Ignored Mike as much as I could. And prayed for the years to fly by and for high school to start.
Then the summer before eighth grade I ditched the glasses, got contact lenses, and sported a new hairstyle. I went to summer camp and had my first boyfriend. I had discovered a new confidence. And I started the new school year feeling empowered.
On that first day of school, everyone was complimenting me on how great I looked. Even Brody, my secret crush. I was reveling in the glory until Mike Burns took notice. He came up to the group of us, took one look at me, and said loudly,
“You can change your hair and get rid of the glasses. But whatever you do, you’ll always be a loser.”
This was usually my cue to cry.
But instead, the pent-up, frustrated words I had been dying to say flew out of my mouth:
“Shut up, Mike.”
He stared at me.
I held my ground.
Then Mike looked away, huffed something I can’t remember, and skulked away with his friends.
And that was it. The moment was over. And math class began.
Mike still was cruel to me during eighth grade.
And he still made me cry.
But not as often after that.
A few months ago, Mike Burns’ name came up when my mom and I were talking about kids I went to school with. I asked her whatever happened to him.
She said that he was the only one of his five brothers who never married. He was, from what she heard, a lonely, unhappy bachelor.
I smiled a little to myself when I heard that.
*Name changed to protect the not-so-innocent. And me.
I wrote this post to join forces with Suzanne of Toulouse and Tonic and her Bully Shaming project. We’re all writing about our experiences with bullying to free ourselves from the torment we endured and remember that we aren’t alone. We want to hear your stories, too.
Were you bullied in school? How did you handle it? What would you say to your bully now if you had the chance?
If you’re a blogger, I encourage you to write about your experience with bullying and link up with Suzanne – read how to do it at the end of her post.
If you’re not a blogger, tell us about your experiences in the comments below…