Two girls called Holly and Charlotte constantly dangled the carrot of friendship in my face before harshly whipping it away. They would belittle me, poke fun at me and occasionally even physically hurt me. I’ll never forgot the time they pushed me into a rose bush, forcing me to endure the embarrassment of having the school nurse pull thorns from my butt cheeks. Sadly that happened more than once. I still can’t look at a rose bush without winching at the memory.
It was a challenging time, but even though I knew they weren’t particularly nice girls something within me longed to be liked by them. I longed to be accepted. The rational idea of leaving them to their pathetic mind-games and getting some real friends never entered my head. In fact, the more they were spiteful to me the more I worshipped them. Something about them made me needy and desperate. I found their rejection increasingly difficult to deal with.
In the end we moved house. It wasn’t entirely because of me being bullied, but I know it played a part in my parent’s decision. Being somewhere new really brought out new aspects of my personality – teachers found I could sing. I developed a love of acting and storytelling. I become increasingly more confident and outgoing . . .
Now, you’d think that moving away and unleashing these new skills would have eradicated those feelings of not being good enough or my desire to be accepted, but they didn’t. Making friends and feeling secure within those friendships was still a struggle. In fact, my previous experiences had developed an insecurity that’s followed me all the way into adulthood. I think I’ve only really started to shrug it off recently, maybe since having children. I’ve suddenly realised that I don’t need people in my life who make me feel inferior or worthless. I only want and need to surround myself with good people. Good friends who make me feel fulfilled and loved.
I can’t believe it took me almost thirty years to learn that lesson.
The things that happen in our childhoods stick with us and affect our behaviour in adulthood. They play a huge part in the people we become. I know it’s happened to me and that is why it’s a prominent theme in a couple of my books.
I had a happy childhood. I know I did. But it was also the toughest and loneliest chapter of my life.
If you’re reading this and can relate in any way, I encourage you to believe you deserve more from the people you let close to your heart. It’s the most fragile, delicate and important thing you’ll ever own – don’t give it away so freely.