“Hannah is a 20 something year old blogger from Essex, England, who lives by the sea with her partner and Giant African Millipede. Her blog Pages, Places, & Plates focuses on reviews of a few of her different passions – books, eateries, British experiences, and international travel.”
As a child I was aware of how prevalent bullying is within school, which was one reason why I chose to go to the secondary school that I did, which is a girls-only grammar school in Essex. You have to pass a test to get in and I did – I was ecstatic as I knew I was going to enjoy school and it was going to be safe from the boys in my class that had mocked me previously. No more being laughed at because I wanted to do well in school; no more cruel words because my grades were more important than getting in trouble. As much as I loved school it turned out I wasn’t as safe as I thought.
Let’s go back to 2013 – I’d just started Year 9 (so I was around 13-14)
and things seemed to be going pretty well.
I had a tight-knit group of friends, I was doing well in my subjects, and my family was loving and supportive.
I was hurting inside though, struggling to come to grips with who I really was as a person. I was different because I was bisexual, and it was killing me.
I’d told my closest friends about it and they’d been so supportive (apart from one finding it a bit gross but hey, she was 13 – I forgive her as she still looked out for me), but the thought of everyone else knowing was all too much.
I thought I’d be a disappointment to my family, and that I’d be shunned by my class
considering it only consisted of girls.
Self-harm had become the norm for me and my thoughts could turn quite dark at times, but I did whatever I could to deal with it on my own.
One of my friends was going through the exact same thing but it still didn’t ease me – she was a tomboy in a mixed sex school who was much better at dealing with things than I was – I was fragile and I doubt anyone would have been able to guess. I’d been keeping it well-guarded though, and my plan was pretty much to completely ignore my sexuality and hope that I’d continue to be accepted.
One friend had been particularly supportive
But after a while started to seem a bit odd. I couldn’t put my finger on it until I suddenly received a message from her on MSN one evening. To this day I don’t think my heart has ever stopped so suddenly. I remember the noise of the TV in the background fade out and everything seemed to blur except for that message flashing on my screen:
“I’m going to tell everyone you’re bi tonight”.
As I processed it my heart began to beat so fast I couldn’t control it, and I was doing everything I could to hide my emotional distress from my parents, sat just behind me on the other side of the living room.
I started to sweat, I wanted to throw up, and my fingers shook so violently I could barely type.
I asked her why she was doing it and she said something along the lines of
“I can’t keep it a secret anymore… I have to tell everyone to release it from myself.”
And she did, that very night. She messaged everyone in the class on MSN and revealed to them the secret so huge for me that I’d hidden it deep inside me, praying that no one would ever find out. Such an overbearing and consequential concept for me was trivial to her; she spread it casually over instant message like she would a simple greeting.
Not only did she release my deepest fears to the world but also sent out a poll with it, asking whether those in recipient of the message would now still want to be friends with me.
My best friend did everything she could to support me once the message had gone out but it was still a lot to process.
I didn’t get much sleep that night, and my arms suffered for my worry.
The next morning was the worst of my life… I remember walking to the bus stop so slowly, feeling like I was heading towards my fate. A fate I didn’t want. In my head everything was ruined – there was no way school would be the same, and my family would most likely hate me. I might as well not bother living at all… What’s the point when it’s all ending anyway?
My friend at the bus stop didn’t acknowledge the messages and was nice to me as usual
Albeit slightly quieter. I was feeling nauseous and dizzy on the bus, but there was no one else from my class there so I didn’t have to worry about their judgement. All I could think about was walking into that door and facing my classmates, ready to disregard me. Would they be angry at me? Disgusted? Or would they simply pretend I wasn’t there?
I nearly didn’t find out, as I was so close to just running away.
But I couldn’t, because I knew then I’d have to explain to my parents why I’d failed to turn up to school. I walked in behind my friend, sat down in my usual seat with as little fuss as usual… And no one jumped on me.
No one shouted at me. And no one looked at me like I was a freak.
Instead, I got words of comfort from my class.
Their anger and disgust wasn’t directed towards me but to my ‘friend’ – they couldn’t believe she’d betrayed me like that.
Classmates I’d barely even spoken to before due to their class and popularity difference were acknowledging me as a person and I was lost for words – I just couldn’t understand why they were supporting me, the one with the filthy secret.
Even those that I knew 100% would be uncomfortable with my sexuality due to their religion and other reasons condemned her, and I was thankful for that.
Interestingly, the ‘friend’ took a couple of days off school ill as she’d realised her mistake once the results of her poll came back. She faced her mistake later with me, but our friendship was never the same and it took her a long time to be accepted properly within the class again. The incident was without a doubt the worst I faced during my teenage years and I’d been so close to doing something stupid to avoid what happened next.
I think back to the harm I’d inflicted on myself and the suicidal thoughts I’d had that night, and how there could have been such a loss if I hadn’t listened to my friends and faced my fears…
My journey could have ended due to something that turned out much smaller than I thought it was.
I’m not the bravest person on the planet (far from it, in fact) but I’m glad I was brave that day as it taught me two things – support is always out there, even if it’s not in the way you’d expected, and facing the hurdles in life will eventually make you stronger as a person.
This is only one instance of bullying and most likely widely different from some other stories out there as each experience is individual, but for those experiencing bullying I want them to know one thing in particular.
Even though you don’t feel like you can get through it you can – you just have to move forward and accept the support that’s there.
It may take time and there may be pain and misery involved but just know that once it’s over (which it will be) you’ll be so glad you saw it through to the end.
What wise words at the end! Thank so much, Hannah for you’re bravery in sharing your story with us today. And it goes to show that even those you assume or judge to be… well judge-y, can turn out to be you’re greatest supporters and those who seem like friend, could just be a jealous enemy in disguise.
This is truly an inspiring story and I feel this can help a lot of others who are feeling the same or experiencing similar problems with facing who they are, as a person and sexually. There is nothing wrong with who you are and who you like and it should be something that everyone can openly tell people around them without it being a problem. Our sexuality should be as common as buying something online, you shouldn’t feel fear and it shouldn’t be a constant dreaded though should someone find out. And I hope one day soon that is where we will be at but until then we will continue to share our stories and help one another through the only way we know how, by experience, words and positive vibes.
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