I went back to Marlow at the weekend for a family party.
You know how much I love the beach and living in Devon but this was a great opportunity to celebrate a 40th birthday, see family and friends.
We had the most brilliant time.
A splash-tactic afternoon with dear friends who offered us solace from the sun in the pool. Between ice creams and soggy towels, we shared hugs and news and it felt as if I hadn’t been away for two weeks, let alone two years – other than the fact that our children are growing from tots to tweens and you don’t realise how much they change when you don’t see them at the school gates or a judo classes.
As the heavens opened, more conversations were had under the safety of an umbrella but as my friends and I sheltered from the rain, cradling lattes and making sure our bags were sitting in puddles, the boys dashed around the park, squealing in delight at not only seeing their buddies but also being able to cool off in the rain that ran down their tanned bodies which the sun had been beating down on for weeks.
As we walked the familiar path back along the High Street I shopped on as a child, passing the pub where I had my first drink and the shop where I earned my first money as I stacked shelves, I wondered if we had done the right thing by. moving to Devon.
That thought didn’t last for long.
The next morning, on the same High Street I revisited times from my youth that weren’t seen through rose-tinted glasses but instead thought the tears and emotional scars that have stayed with for decades.
It has never been a secret that I was bullied at my first secondary school.
If it wasn’t bad enough that I felt like an immense failure for not passing my 12 plus, I was made to feel like an immense lump by the girls, who decided on that first day of senior, that the didn’t like me.
They hated everything about me from my weight, to my height, my tendency to be shy, my big teeth, my nose that stuck up that not only made me look like a pig but made me a snob too. The fact I could read and write didn’t work in my favour neither did my ability to do the work that was set with ease, and so I could go on and on and on.
Fast forward 32 years and across from me in Office were two of the worst perpetrators.
They might have been older but their glare was the same and rather than laughter lines, etched on their bitter faces were wrinkles steeped in nastiness and blemishes that only the saddest of people show.
The looks they gave me sent me back to the cloakroom where I would be pushed and shoved, told I was fat, ugly, boring, put into bins, spat at, hit and more by those two and many more.
With my stomach churning, I started to look at the shoes, but something inside me snapped.
I wasn’t 12 anymore.
I am not fat but then again, the bullying got so bad by the time I was 15 there was nothing but skin and bones left of me but they were too busy flushing my books down the loos and ripping up my coursework to notice that.
I am not ugly, but then again beauty is of course in the eye of the beholder and not a currency for 21st living.
I am far from stupid and my CV proves, whereas you two – well, that hasn’t changed for you, has it?
And at 44, I will no longer be bullied or belittled or sneered at.
In hindsight, I wish I had taken each shoe from the rack in front of me and thrown them in their direction.
Instead, I went back stood in front of them (my heart working overtime) and simply started at two pathetic creatures who felt that in their forties the only way they could validate their existence was to bully someone else.
The stopped their bitching, went a little red, and after shaking my head I turned around and walked away.
Not only was that the closure I needed on the four-year reign of terror at the hands of many girls at a time when bullying was under the radar and you had no one to turn to, but to any doubts I had about moving away.
For some living in the small town where you are born is great, for me it is was torture because of people like them. I no longer have to see any of those classmates in the library, the supermarket or even worse at the school gates where their children would sit alongside mine and I would hope that history wouldn’t repeat itself.
Those two women lowered their gaze as they walked past me minutes later whereas I looked right at them and secretly did an air punch and wished that I had stood up to them long ago.
We enjoyed the rest of our time with family and friends.
We had an amazing time celebrating my sister in law’s special birthday.
I saw one of my oldest friends, my sister, and my grandma.
I also saw that for some people, being cowards and bullies is simply the way they live their lives and ladies, while you bullied me at school, you made me 110% that moving to the sea and living the life I wanted for me and my boys (all three of them) was the best thing I ever did.
My advice to you bullies out there is to look in the mirror and ask yourself why you feel the need to do that to others and I would suggest that you make those changes and don’t live your entire life being a bitch – or maybe you are and just don’t have a choice.
ps – karma is after you bullies out there, so don’t hang around in the shoe shop for too long x