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My Bullies

Posted May 05 2013 3:04am
I was six years old when I got punched in the face by a girl in my class. She and a boy were following me home, spitting on me and calling me names. When I turned to face my bullies, I was sent to the ground with my first ever black eye.

In Middle School a girl shoved me into a wall and told me to get my fat ass out of her way. Then at lunch, I accidentally made eye contact with her and was confronted by a group of her friends who all informed me in great detail exactly how they would kick my ass, but not before reporting to me every single imperfection in my body they saw. From my freckled face, my pale skin, the early developments of curves in my hips, to the color of my hair. I remember feeling so scared that I wouldn't ride the bus even though none of the girls lived near me. I remember feeling so scared that I often acted out in school in hopes of getting expelled.

When I moved to New Mexico I was sad to leave behind friends, but eager to make a new start. Until I was chased off my school bus and down the road while rocks were thrown at my head . . . because I was white, which was the minority in the small city I had moved to.

In High School I didn't have to worry about bullies. I had awesome friends who looked out for me all the time. But my friends were all skinnier than I was, and it became a "fun" thing to call me fat. But they were my friends . . . and friends aren't bullies, right? So even though they laughed, a part of it had to be true. I was fat. And since it was the punch line of a joke, "fat" clearly meant "wrong".

In 2010, about six months after my breakdown I logged into the computer one morning, eager to start my day with reading blogs, checking Facebook and catching up with my online friends (ie: you all) who were helping me through my depression and growing agoraphobia. My inbox said I had over three-hundred unread emails, and I immediately began fantasizing that perhaps *The Bloggess mentioned me or something equally amazing had happened over night! Not so...

Most emails were comments left on my nearly unused YouTube channel. Confused seeing that the only videos I had up were of me talking about Twilight or my current vitamin regimen. And then when I opened the email, I saw it . . .

"OMG if I were you I'd cut myself for every time I'd have to look in the mirror and see that fat ugly face. Kill yourself, bitch."

To be fair, I'm probably paraphrasing a bit (with properly spelled words), but in essence that was the message. I deleted it immediately, horrified and partly amused that my first troll had found me. Until I opened the second email and saw something very similar. And the next. And the next.

Fat. Ugly. Fat. Whale. Puke. Bitch. Fat. Whore. Pig. Die.
Kill yourself. Kill yourself. Kill yourself. Kill yourself.

I didn't understand, but quickly became overwhelmed. I'd never felt hate like that before. Not in the mass quantities like that. Not from so many non-anonymous sources. For seemingly no reason. I didn't know why they'd targeted me. I didn't know where they came from. All I knew was that three-hundred people (and counting, as the emails continued to pour in) actively wanted me to kill myself, and they had no problems telling me so.

Finally a comment added more details letting me know what fueled this train of rage. She spoke of another YouTube user by name, telling me that I needed to shut my mouth and that this other person was having their personal army come at me. After some searching, I found a video this person put out, and midway through it a caption bubble popped up linking to my YouTube account with the message: "Untypically Jia thinks all gay people should get AIDs and die. Go tell this bitch to kill herself."


It took less than five minutes to find the source. There, in the comments of the same video (that had clearly been edited later to add a personal note to me) was a comment next to my name and picture saying horrible things about gay people. My account had been hacked. I quickly found several other comments left by "me" on random videos and accounts. I immediately changed my password and then sent a massive letter of apology to the YouTube accounts that were trolled by my hacker. Thankfully the link and letter of attack on my person was removed within the day, but the damage was done. Emails continued coming in, this time accusing me of lying about my account being hacked into. Telling me that I was not only fat and worthless but clearly afraid of the people commenting.

And I was.

I was afraid my name would forever be tarnished with this horrible situation. That people would assume I carried that type of hatred inside of me. But most of all, I was afraid that everything they said was true. I'd made progress with my depression, and I remembered thinking, "If this had happened a month ago . . . how would I have reacted?" Would I have been strong enough to avoid suicide as it was commanded of me by hundreds of YouTube followers? Could I have just deleted the emails and moved on? Then I worried . . . what if this happens again? What if I have another breakdown and find myself at the bottom of a depressive episode and suddenly there are masses of people telling me the world is better off?

And that's when I started Self Esteem Saturdays. Where people could come to my blog, write about their experiences with their own self esteem, and be lifted up by the masses of people who would tell them how wonderful, beautiful and amazing they are. I felt compelled to save others. I needed them to save me.

And they did.

I survived that dark year and came out scarred - but safe - on the other side.

Unfortunately words, once spoken, never really go away. I'll always remember the day I got punched in the face when I was six years old. I'll remember the girls who attacked me in California and the ones who threw rocks at me in New Mexico. I'll remember my "joking" friends and I'll forever remember the day the internet told me to go die.

But to fight back we have to surround ourselves with more supporters than bullies.

And we have to BE those supporters for others.

And speaking of supporting others, I know my readers. I know by now you're sitting there with your mouth open, shocked at what I've written. And you instinctively want to say, "OMG Jia I can't believe that happened! I'm so sorry!" And then you'll be awesome (like always) and tell me how great I am and how everyone else is an asshole.

BUT! Here's what I want you to do instead. I want you to tell someone else how awesome they are. Maybe it's someone who really obviously needs it. Maybe it's someone who you think hears it everyday, but they might not, and they might really need a word of love from you. One person makes all the difference, and I've already got you - so go and be that difference to someone else today!

* The Bloggess once did mention me in a tweet , linking people to my Traveling Red Dress post. It was one of the best days I'd had in a long time, and it proved to me that one person really can make you feel special.
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