While it may seem like it was a lifetime ago, this all starts back in middle school of all places, the time and place where locker notes became a thing.
I don’t remember why I left my friend a note in her locker, I think it was some sort of apology, but there was only ever one note from me.
For me, a note in a locker was a good plan. I am social akward and have always had horrible trouble reading social queues. I was, in all honesty, painfully shy and put up a front wearing a mask in order to find friendship. So when words failed, it felt right to pour out my heart in a note and leave it.
For a few days things were better. I still believe I did the right thing. But for my friend, because one person left a note in her locker, I guess kids being kids, they decided to leave notes in her locker.
I don’t know who or why they targeted my friend, but before long, she wasn’t my friend anymore. Even during math class she moved to sit away from me in class and said that there were just some things that her mother didn’t allow her to do. Yup, I remember that. I still don’t know why. All I know was that she was angry and said I was the only one who ever put notes in her locker. Part of me wonders if what was left in her locker was anything like what would be coming in my future.
This story isn’t about my friend, who I honestly do pray has all of the happiness in the world.
This story is about what happened after I got my feet back under me and began to heal in high school. I moved on, accepted that I had lost an amazing friend, and started growing up.
I had my first real boyfriend and I was actually pretty happy. While my friends were upperclassman and I was for the most part getting along as best I could with everyone around me.
I won’t say I didn’t struggle and I won’t say that it was easy, but I got by. I talked with my mom a few times about the teasing, but what I learned from my mom was that I shouldn’t let other people know how much it hurt.
In my head, that eventually turned into ‘it isn’t important what other people think, so it’s stupid to hurt over it.’
When the notes started appearing, I ignored them. I was happy as I could be at that age. People telling me via a note left in my locker that I was a loser because I had a boyfriend and was happy didn’t bother me. They didn’t even phase me and were simply ignored and tossed aside.
Those notes changed. And this is where writing, even thinking about the past begins to get hard for me even though it was in the past.
Soon, the notes told me how worthless I was.
How horrible it was that my family had a kid like me.
That my boyfriend actually hated me and was with me as part of a dare.
That I didn’t deserve to have friends.
I was ruining my boyfriends life.
And slowly, those horrible things got worse.
That is when I changed. I started to withdraw and began to wonder and question. My mysterious note writer took a turn toward viciousness, not that the previous notes had not been.
Who did I have to turn to at this point? My mother would have told me to grow a tougher skin and who would believe me that I was getting things like this left for me.
Call me gullible, I started to believe them.
And then it happened.
It was folded like a football with the spiral bound fringe left on it.
Taking it with me to read on my walk home, what was inside was the same scrambled hand writing detailing how I should kill myself. Where I should kill myself, and that if I did it in the right place, how I wouldn’t be found and that no one would miss me.
They told me how worthless I was and how I should do everyone a favor and just end it.
With my parents working late every day and trying to keep my schedule filled with activities even though the people around me weren’t fond of me, I trudged on.
The notes told me he would be better off without me. And after weeks of being told how to end my life, I finally ended my relationship with my boyfriend. A note slipped in his pocket after a friend of mine and I (for different reasons and her not knowing the entire story) had agreed it was the best thing for me and him.
I chose a note. A hated note. That was my gutless way out.
The note the next day told me that they were surprised I had the guts to break my boyfriends heart. I was applauded for my courage and then told that I was still a coward because I was alive.
I’d like to say that I told someone about the locker notes.
I’d like to look back with rose colored glasses and pretend that I had the courage to stand up for myself.
Instead, I continued to pretend everything was okay.
I would read a note on the walk home almost daily and while I didn’t end my life, my sense of self worth and identity was destroyed. I had no faith, no one to turn to.
I can’t even pretend it didn’t for all four years. I can’t even imagine what it would have been like if I told someone. Maybe things would have gotten better. Maybe I could have leaned on best friend Nick, or my other best friend, at least, who I thought was my friend.
But I didn’t. I became a people pleaser instead.
Part I: Anxiety and Me
Part III: The Friend That Really Wasn’t