I saw you yesterday, you were in town with your kids. You looked tired, the kids were acting up, you wore no wedding ring and you didn’t smile once.

I had no desire to say hello, or for you to see me. Maybe you did, I’m not sure. If you did, did you think to yourself, ‘there’s that girl whose life I made miserable’ or ‘there’s that girl who used to annoy me’. Maybe you even thought ‘there’s that girl I’ve always wanted to apologise to’, and argued with yourself for a few minutes before backing out and regretting it for the rest of the day. Maybe you just thought my face was familiar, but couldn’t think where from.

I think about you all the time. I wonder why you treated me the way you did. Was your life so sad, unfulfilled, lonely and loveless that you were so deeply frustrated that the only way you could deal with your anger was to project it onto someone else? I know now that I did nothing wrong. Maybe you saw that I was happy and doing well and it made you angry because you didn’t have what I did. Maybe you saw your own reflection in my eyes and didn’t like how it made you feel.

When you relentlessly called me names, when you told all the boys I was a slut, when you threatened to pull my hair out, when you spat at me, when you laughed at me in front of the whole class and made me want to die inside; how did it make you feel? You had power over me, because I allowed you to. Was I the only thing you could control? Did it make you feel good? Did it take your mind off your own problems?

You won. You achieved what you wanted. I lost everything, for a while. I gave up trying. I wanted to become invisible. I lost all trust in girls. I had no friends for a long time. I was an asshole. I treated other people badly. Maybe those, in turn, bullied others. Maybe that cycle still continues.

For years after you left me alone and disappeared from my life, you controlled me. I was fearful of attention, avoided conflict. I went with the flow, even when the flow was not good for me.

Slowly, over time, I realised that I deserved to be happy, and that I needed to save myself. I have friends now who love me. I trust them. I tell them I love them. We laugh, we dance, we fight, we gossip, we cry and we hold each other up when we are falling.

I’m sorry you never had that. I see it now. I handed you the power because I wasn’t strong enough. I’m stronger now.

I see that you were hurting, and for the split second our eyes met yesterday, I saw no joy. If you did see me, and you felt guilt that may have haunted you for years. It’s okay. I forgive you.

I hope you forgive yourself for your past the same way I did. I hope you make sure that your children don’t grow up with the same unhappiness you did. And that you teach them kindness so they experience the type of fulfilment that only comes from helping others.

I will never send you love, but I want you to know that I’m okay, and you should be too.

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