I was 9 then, the year of grade four. I had a best friend who lived up the street until a new girl moved into the neighborhood. She was vivacious and outgoing, full of fun and mischief, all the things I was not. And for whatever reason causes nine year olds to set their sights on things, she wanted to be best friends with my best friend. So I lost. But I didn’t just lose. I was thenceforth reminded how much I lost. I was given notes in class about how much they hated me. How ugly I was. How dumb. Friends who previously asked me to hang out at recess wanted nothing to do with me. I was humiliated on the bus by their friends who enjoyed taunting little girls. And on one particularly ugly day, I was followed off the bus by a mob of elementary schoolers who wanted to pummel me to the ground. My older brother, who didn’t much like me himself, came to my rescue that day. Flattening the new girl with one swift push, landing her butt on the pavement. I don’t think I ever loved him more.
Bullies. That’s what she was. What they all were. Mean, awful children who didn’t care about anyone but themselves. Unable to see the trauma their actions caused another person. Many years later, I could see them for what they were, but at the time, all I felt was shame. Humiliation. And deep sadness for being disliked for nothing more than for being me.