A Letter to Lauren

Your arms were skinny,
That kind of skinny where a person’s elbows
Are like burls on a branch
And the there are bumps on their wrists
Where the bones poke out.

That was okay, though, because you were a pretty girl
Even though you cried in the bathroom on water day
Because the toilet paper in your bra
Got wet.

My elbows blend into my arms
Instead of sticking out,
But my wrists are a little bony.
I didn’t use them to push people, though,
Because pushing is wrong.

I don’t think your mom told you
Not to push people,
Because you pushed me a lot
And my friends laughed when you laughed
Like a bunch of sheep
Herded by a pretty girl with skinny arms.

Those friends
Aren’t my friends anymore, which is okay
Because sheep and people
Don’t get along so great.

I think that maybe
You were mad at someone else,
And you pushed me because I was there instead of them.
That’s okay too, because
I would rather you push me
Than an innocent sheep.

Even when you left me alone,
The sheep pushed me instead.
They used spiny words
That plucked at my skin like hooks
And they did it with those
Instead of skinny arms.

I think the hooks
Hurt worse.

I moved schools,
And there were more sheep,
But these ones had anchors
Instead of hooks.
They called me lots of names
And pushed me again.

I was different than them
So they pushed me like you did,
But none of them used their skinny arms
Or their fat arms,
Only their thick, hating words.

The anchors held me underwater
And I thought that maybe I was going to drown,
But I didn’t.
That was good,
Even though the sheep kept pushing,
And that wasn’t so good.

It’s okay.
Everything will be okay.
Even if you did push me down
And the bones in your wrists poked out a little,
I like you,
Because you taught me
That I’m different.

Now I’m in a place where a lot of people are different,
And there are still sheep
And girls with skinny arms,
But pricking words can’t get through my skin anymore
Since it is thick
And there are people
Who make the words go away.

I am a little sad for you,
Because I learned something
And you didn’t.
That’s okay too,
Because your skinny arms
Can’t touch me now.
I forgive you.

~A Letter to Lauren, by Emily R
“This is a piece called “A Letter to Lauren” or “Arms” originally written a few months ago in an effort to move on. I was bullied and mostly friendless from fourth grade through senior year of high school—nine years of my life—but my experience in college has been incredible; I’ve found this new home to be welcoming, inclusive, and kind, and this was an effort to let go of the doubts I had in my new friends from past experiences. Out of all my demons, Lauren was the first to put me down and the last to leave my mind. I feel like forgiveness and acceptance is the best way to move forward, and to move forward is the best way to live as a whole. All I can tell anyone who has suffered from bullying, either in the past or currently, is that as hard as it is, it is possible to continue past these experiences, maybe not as the same person, but as someone strong and brave.”

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