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Four years of bullying, a lifetime of suffering, battling against myself to survive

I don’t know where to begin, but I guess it all can be summed up to the fact that I’m living a lie. When I look at my life right now, I see a tower made of lies and deceit, sitting on a foundation that’s becoming unstable and placed in a world I created to protect the people I love. It’s fake but it’s also true.

I started in school a year later than most my age. My parents didn’t think I was ready, so I retook what we call 0th grade. We moved from a small community where I had many friends, to one where I would never make any. My first day, my new school was also the first in the nightmare my life would become. Sure, I made friends but they didn’t see me as theirs. They faked their pretty girly smiles and made me do all the hard work, such as holding their bags, picking up their books, giving out birthday invitations but never making one for me. I was the errand girl. And it only got worse. The boys had picked me out to be their play-thing. Whenever they got bored they’d pick on me, push me into puddles, make me scrape my knees and ruin my new clothes. They’d drop my bag into mud, steal my lunch and throw it in the bin and toss stones at me. The torture intensified with the arrival of their leader. An obese girl who was in foster care. Henceforth will be mentioned as “C”. It didn’t even take a day for the girls to join her side and the boys assembled behind her. She took control of everyone and everything. And she had her eyes on me.

I must say, I made it easy because it took a few years for me to fight back. Third grade was the worst. I hadn’t been invited to any parties except for the ones the two quiet birds hosted. But, I was ignored and they were afraid to overstep, causing ‘C’ to set them straight. They told me not to sit with them, not to talk to them. They kept to themselves and therefore wasn’t a threat. But I was. Because I showed courage whenever the boys occasionally would terrorise them. And ‘C’ didn’t like that. I had to be taken out of the game, restrained, pushed into the ground. I was her nemesis and she was mine.

My parents tried everything they could. They called for meetings with the other parents, but nothing happened. No one took responsibility for the actions of their children. My parents admitted defeat and I was moved at the second half year of third grade. It didn’t change much, because I too was defeated. But things got better at the new school. I met my best friend on day one and we became so close nothing could separate us. Or so we thought. I did things during my stay at that school. Things that changed who we were and who we would have become had they not happened. In truth, I believe I did her a favour and kept her from a lot of drama and hurt. But I lost her as well. And that’s something I regret. I made my bed and I slept in it. I still do today. I left that school when I realised there was nothing left for me there. This was in sixth grade and in my wounded state I said I’d go back to my old school. It was the second worst choice I ever made.

Not even a week after coming back, the torture resumed and hit be with full force. The A and B class had been joined to one big class. I was in the B class, the worst. It didn’t take me long to find a way to avoid the horror of showing up every day. I simply skipped school, started lying. It didn’t last more than 6 months and I was once again moved. This time upon request of the principal.

Once again, I found myself in the seat of a roller-coaster, going up and down and left and right. At this new school things were different. Instead of being picked on and bullied, I was ignored completely, aside from one girl who was not good at all. She was the outlaw of the class but at the same time incredibly popular. Her reputation was built upon fear and respect. Her dad was a criminal and she herself was headed in the same direction. Girl gangs and stealing. She wasn’t someone you’d want to mess with and I was scared of her. She saw me as a lost puppy and decided I was to become her new project. So I stayed by her side for a while until I told her the story of me and my former best friend. The story was that my friend had hooked up with a very popular boy who ran the night-life of the city. We were all in our 13-14 and so going out and acting rebellious was the thing we did. Anyway, the day she and this guy were to meet, she told me to tag along and I did. I stayed a few feet away while they talked and laughed. However, he kept looking at me and when it was time for her to leave, he started talking to me and asked for my number. I gave it. And this was the beginning of how I betrayed my best friend by stealing her boyfriend. In the end, I lost my best friend, the respect and love of my friends and I became the most hated person of the year. I literally crushed my best friend. And for what? A guy who a few weeks later dumped me for another girl. It was a mess and I just had to disappear. But me telling this story to the girl who pretty much knew everyone, well the outcome was as expected. She told everyone at the school that I had hooked up with this guy and the rumors spread. I had to disappear once again and said I’d go to school when I really just took the bus around the city and back to the station. I’d wait for hours until it was safe to pop up at home with a lie about how we were let off early. I said I had made friends, when I really was sitting at my table, not eating until everyone had left the classroom. I started to believe my own lies to smile as if I meant it. I had to. As this was in seventh grade, it was the year of my confirmation. A Christian religious ritual and a part of tradition where I live. I did the church thing, but Blue Monday, where you’re supposed to go out with the class, I skipped that part. After the year I started in yet another new school and stayed there until I finished ninth grade. I didn’t make any friends, I was invisible to everyone and no one cared either. The last day of school is a festive day, where you toss out candy to the lower grades and prank the teachers. You dress up and go out in the evening. But I? I stayed at the principals office until I could go home with my diploma. School had become a thing that I just had to survive by being invisible.

My relationship with my parents had become strained. It was hard and we didn’t get along. We fought and argued and hurt each other almost every day. I didn’t know what to do but I decided the best thing was to just continue faking that everything was alright. I took tenth grade on a boarding school and I actually made friends there but not even that lasted as we grew apart after I had an argument with one of my friends. The others took her side and I was once again left on my own. I skipped the “end of school” stuff and I’m no longer in contact with anyone from that year. This was in 2010 and this was also the year I started talking to a guy online. He and I had a turbulent relationship but we’re still together to this day.

My school-life was just as turbulent. I tried several schools but the damage my past school-life and experiences in general had caused, it was too much for me to deal with. I started hurting myself. I hated who I was and I was so ready to be done with it all. But I didn’t tell anyone and I still don’t. My parents were stressed and frustrated. They didn’t understand when I tried to explain. They didn’t want to hear it. I was the unruly child who acted up according to them. Around 2013, I decided enough was enough. If I was to make it through, I had to lie better. So I said I was starting in school again and faked leaving in the morning. I’d keep my window open so I could get in without activating the sensors of the front door. I stayed in, set an alarm for when it would be okay to “get home” and unlocked and opened the door to trigger the sensor. I used Photoshop to create homework assignments and letters to the parents along with grade cards. And it all worked out. My parents fully believe I finished a higher education course (HF) and they were proud when I handed them a fake diploma. Was it worth it? Do I feel bad? No, because it changed so much for us all. I was finally becoming the child they wanted me to be and I was finally getting somewhere in their eyes. So yes, it was worth it.

I continued this for the next 2 years when I faked finishing social and health-work school and faked getting a job. I haven’t finished anything but they believe I have. I secretly signed up for welfare, kept the letters hidden, all to get money. I sold things of mine to get more and I’ve done worse than that, just to pretend having income. But I don’t regret it. The things I’ve done. I don’t regret any of them. Because it has kept my family from falling apart. There’s so much more I’d tell, but I don’t have the heart to. I don’t care about how I feel anymore, I don’t care what I have to do to survive all this.

I just have to.

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