If you live in Atlanta, you’ve probably listened to The Bert Show on Q100. The format of the show is unique because the entire staff takes part in the morning program and the stories that are shared could easily come out of any popular sitcom. But sometimes, life gets in the way and the show has a way of taking us back to our own memories and challenges. It was just that kind of program last week that took me back to being 10 again. Some memories of people stay with you. The Bert Show’s assistant producer Davi wrote an open letter to her brother’s one time girlfriend named Kelly and it made me pause. Kelly had no idea what her actions would lead to in the fragile mind of a 10 year old. I’ll let you experience it for yourself.
Hi, Kelly. Thank you for taking the time to read this. You have only shown me respect in the short time we once knew each other and I want to do the same for you. I completely understand your wishes and am so grateful to have the opportunity to write you.
It was nearly 20 years ago when our paths crossed. I was somewhere around the age of ten. Perhaps you don’t remember me at all! Maybe you hate thinking back on this time in your life. I doubt you look back on the relationship you were in fondly. I get it. (Seriously. I’ve met the guy.) If that is the case, I truly apologize for stirring up any negative emotions. Personally, I have many bad memories of that time but I remember you. And I remember your kindness.
I also remember that you were strong. You walked proudly with your shoulders back. You seemed like the type to not put up with any B.S. – hence why you got rid of my brother. You were nice. And so cool! A twenty-something body builder putting herself through college. Just inspiring!
I need to explain myself a little bit more just to adequately express how much your presence in our home was needed at that time in my life.
When you’re a kid you don’t know that you’re flawed. That’s the best part of being a kid! Kids don’t see the stress-inducing magazines of supermodels in the grocery. They only see the comic books. Kids don’t know that things about them are weird or disproportionate. They just want to play!
“As long as my sneakers light up- I’m happy.” Right? Kids don’t think “I’m odd” or “I’m ugly” until someone else plants that seed in their head. Then a few more people say it. I happened to hear it again and again and again.
Before long that’s all I saw in the mirror – a monster. I was put together all wrong. I was subject to that kind of abuse at school from other children. Boys and girls. Young kids that don’t really know any better. However, the cut downs were worse within the walls of my home.
We weren’t an affectionate family. The only acceptable emotions to display are anger or disappointment. And instead of board games everyone collectively got their kicks from picking on each other. And when the abuse is happening, no one speaks up to defend for fear of becoming the target. And if I was present, I was always the target.
I heard horrible names, everyday –
– just to name a few.
So many insects and rodents, right? Those creatures you don’t want in your home. Why would family say these types of things to each other? I was always so sad and confused. I cried. A lot. My diaries are filled with pages of monstrous self-portraits and wishes. But not your average childhood wish;
“I wish I could hide my face.” or “I wish I didn’t exist.”
One day, we were all gathered in our living room to watch television. My father started the name calling and then my brother, your boyfriend at the time, joined in. You stood up. You said that they should be ashamed. You STOOD UP for me. You made me feel good about myself at a time when I never did. Yours was a strong female voice that I desperately needed to hear at that time. As an adult, I find we concentrate so hard on the negative comments that we don’t ever hear compliments. But long ago, you told me I was
“beautiful” and that has always stuck with me.
You made me realize that the ugliest thing in that room was not me, but the people firing shots. It always had been. Those words and that atmosphere was ugly. That attitude is ugly. I didn’t deserve it and I didn’t have to put up with it forever.
After that, I stood up for myself. A lot. My parents even threatened to send me to Maury for juvenile boot camp a few times. I got teased more – but I fought back. I’m not weird. I’m an individual! After awhile, I would see myself in pictures and not be totally repulsed. Because I valued myself. I studied hard. I worked even harder. I grew up. I got out of there.
This all sounds quite trivial as adults, right? Because we know now that being “pretty” is not the point. We’re not on this earth to look nice. We’re on this earth to BE NICE. Stick up for one another. Stand up for what is right. And ultimately, that is why I want to write you so many years later. You may not remember this moment as well as I do – but you taught me a wonderful lesson that day. I have always wanted to thank you for that lesson in humanity. From the bottom of my heart – Thank you.