East of Eli

April

Written by Jenny Sobiella in response to Create Change CCO Chyler Leigh’s article ‘Bullied and the Beast’. We are sharing this submission because this author is actively, positively and proudly battling her bully.

Because even though you know that I still break down at the things you say to me, I won't give up.

Starting this was hard. I knew I wanted to write something, and I sure have enough words for it.
But writing this meant me digging in deep and feeling all the horrendous feelings I have been trying to shove down my whole life.

My dear friend, whom my therapist and I decided to call April, has been with me ever since I can remember. The reason we gave her a name was because I never thought, and still don’t think, I will ever get her out of my life. She has made herself at home in my life.

I always describe April as a friend that is trying to kill me. Someone who is always there, always listening, always offering a shoulder to cry on, always providing help and great tips for every situation. Just overall something I was always missing.

Little did I know, listening to her tips was the one thing that nearly killed me.

But I have something to tell, a little storytime of mine. I know I’m not alone in this, and I know how much I missed this information when I was young. So, here I am, trying my best:

My whole life, I felt alone.
No friends, no loving family, no one to run to, to turn to.
And that’s where you jumped in.
You saw an opportunity and took it. Disguised as the one thing I was longing for the most.
A loving friend.
You took me in, with open arms.
Promised me I would never feel alone again, promised me you would make me perfect.
A life I would love.

The first time I told someone about you, they wanted me to work against you.
Wanted me to kick you out of my life.
I was offended.
Why would someone probably rob me of the one thing that made my life worth living?
The one thing that made me happy.
That they have been right all along only occurred to me last year.

I couldn’t believe something that made me feel so good could be so harmful.
Something so familiar could hurt me.
Out of all the people in my life, you were the biggest bully.
And everything someone else said to me, you just added to your list of how to make me suffer even more.
You fed yourself with the negativity that was around me.
Making yourself stronger each and every day.
Most of the things you kept telling me were words that people closest to me threw in my direction.
But the difference was, you made it sound admirable.
“Big girls don’t cry. Only certain measurements make you worth loving. Only the best is good enough. Everyone loves the perfect, and I’ll help you get it.“

You were no better than anyone else, but you always made yourself sound like you were.
You cleaned up every mess you made. Making me trust you more and more.
At one point in life, someone came and exposed you.
Told me the truth, showed me how you were hurting me, killing me more and more each day.
At first you fought.
Screamed at me for daring to trust someone, daring to raise my voice against you.
But then, you just left, or at least I thought you did, leaving me with,
“Everyone will leave a monster like you. Sooner or later you’ll be alone again.“
And that was it.
I didn’t care at the time, but the silence in my head was ruining me.
That was the point I knew I was in too deep.
I knew I was in danger.
I knew I needed help.

Years later, I sit and I write this piece.
You’re still here.
Still with me every day of the year.
But things have changed.

You’ve clearly left your mark.
I see you when I look at my arms or legs, when I see my body in the mirror.
I feel you whenever I eat or drink.
I feel you when I move.
You’re the reason for every doctor appointment I made.
You scarred my body, inside and out.
But you know what? I’m not even mad.

Yes, I’ll always wear you visible for everyone to see, but the only thing I see is a fighter.
I see a young woman that was stronger than the one thing that was trying to kill her.
That outran all the negativity you threw at her.

Would I change what happened? Probably not.
Would I leave you if I could? Probably not.
Yes, I might have had to endure things in my short stay on this planet that some people won’t ever have to face in their lifetime.
I might’ve lost a lot, felt a lot of pain and probably could fill oceans with the tears I cried.
But because of you I have learnt so many things in only 20 years.
You made me stronger.
Made me wiser from the mess you made.
You made me the person I am today and even though I can’t believe it myself when I say it, hey, I’m pretty great.

I’m not a monster.
I’m a loving friend.
I’m a reliable daughter.
I’m a good student.
I’m a grateful patient.
I’m a fighter.
I’m not a monster – and I never will be.

You’re still with me, every second of every day.
But things have changed.
I grew.

I now know how to help myself.
I know not to listen to the words you say.
I know how to take care of myself.
I’ve come a long way, but I made it this far.
There’s no way you’ll get me to give up. Not again.

There are days where I can shrug off the words you tell me.
Where my smile is as bright as the sun, my heart and mind open for all the beautiful things around me.
Days where I wake up ready to start my day and fill it with good memories.
Where I can truly be myself.

But of course, every up has its down.
And I have days where I let you take the lead.
Sometimes even weeks or months.
And it hurts. A lot.
And even though I know you’re only capable of telling lies, I believe every word you say.
And…that is okay.

Me feeling like this is okay.

Because even though you know that I still break down at the things you say to me, I won’t give up.
I won’t give up.
I will keep fighting.
I will keep waking up.
I will keep starting my day, trying to make the most out of it.

I will not give up.

You have no power over me.
Not anymore.

Thank you for the lessons you taught me, for it only revealed a fierce heart.
We’ll probably meet again.
You probably won’t leave me any time soon.
But that also is okay.
It’s okay for me because deep down I know I’m stronger than you’ll ever be.

So, see you soon, April.
To many more years.

Cheers!

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