I should be asleep, because it's the middle of the night, but this just came to me, and I wanted to write it down.
Before I start, I know this is an OCD/mental health-y blog, but I don't blame other people for my OCD or for my eating disorder. I think that everything in my life has contributed equally but I don't think any single factor is solely responsible.
The Secondary school my parents chose for me wasn't the one that all my friends went to. I had a very, very best friend at Primary school, to whom I'm still very close nearly ten years after we left, and then I had two other close friends. As a class, we all got on well together and, after seven years of spending time together, we were quite tight-knit.
When I first started the school, I knew one girl vaguely, and my Mum suggested that I might sit with her for the first couple of days. I knew immediately that this wasn't going to work. She was in a group of four, and they were very close, and they were also going to show me that. On the first day, I knew that we weren't going to be 'best' friends because they would form a circle and leave me slightly outside it. It made me cry, but I didn't really mind because I thought that there would be other girls in my class who I would get along with.
After a week or so, they had made friends with another two girls in the group. I was still trying to sit with them, because I didn't have anyone else to be with, although it was really very clear at this point that they didn't really want me there. They would wait until I was trying to tie my shoelace to run away and leave me behind, and they also had a group 'chant' which they used to show me that I was most definitely not welcome.
Anyway, after that spectacularly long preamble, the specific incident I want to talk about happened in an Art lesson in about the third week of term. It was a Monday afternoon. I was sitting on a table with the six girls. I can't remember what we were doing particularly clearly, but I remember that, about halfway through the lesson, I asked to go to the toilet.
When I arrived back in the classroom, I was fortunate enough to see the huge globs of Pritt Stick glue on my chair. I was perplexed at first: I asked why there was glue on my chair, and whether they had put it there, but they all denied it. I could tell from their smirking faces that they had, and I knew exactly what had happened, but I was powerless to do anything about it, apart from feel quite glad that I hadn't sat in it (although, perversely, I can remember wishing that I had, because maybe, I thought, then they would have been slightly less frosty towards me.). At the age of eleven, telling the teacher that someone had put glue on your chair - especially when the culprits are going to vehemently deny that they've done any such thing - is going to get you nowhere apart from ticked off for fussing and wasting the teacher's time.
The bullying continued to get worse. The pinnacle, I remember, was sitting in a Food Technology lesson and being asked to hand out some workbooks. When I gave them theirs, they then wiped them on their shirts, insinuating that I was dirty, or that I was passing on some horrific germ. I can't write any more about that because I don't have the words to describe how upset or embarrassed I was by that. By this point, I had stopped trying to spend any time with them, or speak to them. I, naturally, didn't want anything to do with them.
The third incident that I remember is standing in front of one of them in the dinner queue. She was showing her sister something inside a notebook, at which the sister gave a sharp intake of breath and asked who the subject of the notebook content was about. Yes, you've guessed it. 'It's her.', she said, and I knew that that meant me. I never saw the notebook, and I can only imagine what was inside it.
I did, at one point, try and tell my form teacher. Somehow, and I'm not sure how, the girls found out what I was doing, and told me that I shouldn't tell anyone, 'Because we'll get into lots of trouble and it's mean to make things up.'. And so I told my teacher that I'd made it up.
Even now, at twenty, I want to run away and hide when I think of any of that period of my life. And, even now, at twenty, I don't understand it. I don't understand how a group of girls can be so vitriolic and plain nasty to one person. I wasn't hurting them. Why would they hurt me?
And so, Amy, Becky, Lizzie, Dulcie, Melissa, Sophie, if you ever read this, I hope that you realise what you did. I hope that if you ever have children, you teach them how wrong it is to bully. Nearly ten years later, I still feel the effects of your 'game'. I still walk into a room and wonder which of the people there will bully me. I still worry about being visible to other people, and I still wonder whether it was my fault that you felt the need to be so horrible.