“So, who is your bully?
I could imagine Yasmin beside me, asking the question. I couldn’t fathom how she had asked an acquaintance such a question – an unanticipated, confronting and frankly, unsettling question.
I tried getting it out of my head, but the question was like Mentos to carbonated memories of them.
In an attempt to forget, I headed to the roof.
I lay on the terrace of my building and looked at the unusually starry night. Petite yet countless stars lit the night in a way the moon couldn’t. A gentle breeze caressed my face, which was rare on a mid-December night.
Alas, a beautiful night couldn’t beat them.
Reminiscent voices and faces filled my head. It wasn’t long before I had succumbed to their perception of me.
The more I thought of them, the more I could feel them around me.
I could visualize standing amongst them; my head felt light and my heart, heavy.
And, in midst of reliving my nightmare, did the truth strike me.
It’d been an year since it happened, and I wasn’t in contact with any of them.
Yet the taunts, the faces, the presence felt more than foggy, distant memories of them.
They felt real.
The kind of real where I knew they were not around, but the goosebumps against my skin, the tears welled up my eyes and my clammy hands indicated otherwise.
The kind of real where fear-induced vulnerability was the only thing I could feel.
I looked around, and all I saw were glimmering stars.
Everything I’d sensed, it was all but real.
It was nothing but yarn spun by my mind.
Slowly, it’d begun to make sense.
Every piece seemed to fit; the time I had tried to climb a mountain, hold my breath longer in the pool, study for the calculus test, or walk past a door with a lizard on it – they had one thing in common, I couldn’t do them.
Every time I strove to push myself, there’d be a voice at the back of my head that’d scream, ‘You cannot do it’, ‘Nah-uh, impossible’.
That’s when I realized,
my mind was the bully.
It was my mind that let their words get to me.
It was my mind that accepted their mockery as the truth.
It was my mind that didn’t let go of them.
Replaying melancholic scenes, recreating my fears, oppressing me from putting myself out there, limiting me by setting boundaries – my mind was truly my bully.
That serene night had brought something priceless into my life. It was the eternal strength to fight my bully.
If there’s something I know for sure, it’s that I’ll be at a constant battle with my bully and this time, I’m not backing out the brawl.
Although, whenever I’d met a friend or acquaintance after that night, it made me wonder,
‘Who is your bully?’