Bully

High school.  Senior year.  Everything was set.  Friend groups, cliques, who was cool, who was not.  The order of things was already in place.

I trusted you.  With my friendship, with my secrets, with my heart.  That must have made it so easy.

No warning; complete blindside.  One morning: silence.  From all three of you, simultaneously.  I was invisible.  I was not even worthy of an explanation.  I was now outside the circle.  I had no idea why.

I had to cover; save face.  I couldn’t react, not in public.  I cried in private instead.  I kept my head up.  Came to school every day.  Pretended I could cope.  Eventually, found a new order of things to exist in.

Little did I know you weren’t done yet; the silence was only the beginning.  Then came the side glances followed by whispers and laughter.  The prank calls.  The crude writing on the side of my car — at my work.  Eventually, it stopped.  But not until you’d left your mark.

It was one of the worst things that’s ever happened to me.  Damaged me then, damaged me later.

To this day, I still don’t know the reason why you did it.  I do know that I don’t trust women easily, even now.  I can count on one hand the number of female friends I have actually let in.  I am cautious with my heart, with my secrets, with my friendship.  I learned.

I learned to protect myself.  I learned to keep my head up.  I learned to rely solely on my own power of will that I could make it through the next hour.  The next day.  The next week.  I learned to be strong.

You did not break me.  You did not win.