Second letter

Dear Rachel,

I don’t like you. I didn’t like you much when you were actually my friend, and as the years have gone on, although the rationales have changed, I still don’t like you.

I want to tell you that I am grateful for the lessons that you taught me. If the only thing that you ever taught me was how not to treat people, then that is nowhere near enough for the damage that you caused me, as most people already know that being kind should be a natural state. I have often wondered if there was some sort of abuse happening in your life and that it could possibly account for your behaviour, but irrespective, am going to start with the nice things that you gave me.

Thank you for introducing me to the Beatles, they are an amazing band, and I love the poetry contained within. I also thought that the films, especially Help! was really funny. Thank you for letting me copy your science homework on changing energy states. You don’t know that I did this, but when you gave me the work to copy because I had been off sick, your answers were already there, and time is somewhat short, sometimes. Thank you for the lifts your dad gave me; it was nice to have sometime access to a vehicle. Thank you also for the mutual development of the ‘perfect day’ (one swim, one cinema) or the ‘doubly perfect day’ (one swim, two cinema).

Looking back, I realise that you copied a lot of what I did, or had. Getting a vinyl player when previously you had only had tapes after seeing all my vinyl, playing the guitar, learning sections of poetry, stealing poems from books for English assignments, going to church, going to the same dance classes, befriending my outside school friends and I know that there were other things too. It seems petty thinking about this, but it was relentless. Maybe you felt that you needed to assimilate bits of me to erode me, or maybe you idolised me, I have no idea.

Maybe that is why I have naturally sought out strange people and places.. places that you wouldn’t want to go.

Now for the things I didn’t like about you. You smelled strange, like really old sweat, you laughed at me when I sang, you openly mocked me in front of others, frequently. When Megan started teasing me, every single day from the beginning of secondary, you joined in and I felt as if I had no one. When Megan socially excluded me and no one else spoke to me when she was around, you did this too. If I had a friend over for tea who wasn’t you, you would ignore me or get cross with me, usually both.

I don’t think that I have ever met anyone else in my life who was that possessive and as jealous.

Nothing is worth the cost of harm. I did not learn this when I was with you, but continued to allow harm as a trade off, until one day I stopped; I was 40. Settling for less than I am worth is something that I will no longer tolerate.

You also mocked how flat-chested I was, the clothes that I wore, if I wore makeup, my lack of knowledge on world issues or when I mispronounced words. You were impressively clever, so I don’t understand why you felt this compulsion to berate me so much. I heard that you cried, apparently, when I scored one mark higher than you on a test. I know that you seemed to perceive me as thick, as scatty, as useless. How could Sally dare to be better than anyone else in anything? I know that you got your masses of ‘A’ grades and likely have done exceptionally well in your life. And that is an amazing thing, and me getting a couple of ‘A’s does not detract from yours in the slightest.

I don’t need your judgement or superiority in my life, and carrying you with me is a weight I am saying goodbye to. Thank you for what you have taught me and through my reflections of the time we spent together, I continue to learn.

  1. I don’t need to be superior to be intelligent. Humility is a good thing
  2. Fun shouldn’t come with a trade off in harm
  3. Change is possible and starts with challenging yourself, this can be harsh
  4. I am incredible. Knowing you taught me the framework for compassion, I am a better friend to others now, because of what I experienced.

There is likely more I could say, there always is.




Map Point. Who do I need to say goodbye to?



Map Points

Map Points. I like the idea of thinking about life as a journey, never staying in one place for too long. This doesn’t necessarily relate to physical places, it could do, but I was thinking more about the spiritual and emotional paths that we follow. People often joke about how life doesn’t come with a map, but I think that it does if you can learn to look for the waypoints.

Every situation that we find ourselves in, we can learn from. Even the really harsh ones. Sad things happen to everyone, but having a questioning outlook, and having growth as the prominent mindset can make the difference between moving on and being stuck in the past.

A few sad things happened to me during my teenage years, the predominant one was being bullied. This never took a physical form, but instead took on a verbal one, of teasing, sarcasm and social exclusion. I felt isolated and wanted to be anywhere but school. The stress levels that this produced I guess contributed to the amount of respiratory infections and poorly stomachs that I experienced. I remember vividly one morning of getting ready for school, uniform on, lunch made, bag packed, all was well and then suddenly it wasn’t. I had got to my hallway, shoes were on, and I found myself uncontrollably sobbing, clinging onto the bannister, unable to let go. Even after my mum, who clearly must have been distressed at the sight of her daughter so distraught said I didn’t have to go to school, I still cried and couldn’t let go. It was all that was connecting me to the rest of the world.

I always enjoyed the learning bit of school, and as an adult, I relish learning new things, but my experience of school was quite terrible in many ways. I was always a quiet child, but that didn’t bother me as I was always happy in my own company. I had good friends, but being bullied was a mass invasion into my head space. It was unprovoked, unkind and deeply unfair.

However whilst recognising that it was a horrible thing, I am deeply grateful for these experiences, and for the knowledge that they gave me. Much of my time as an adult has been spent working with children in varying circumstances of hardship. I connect easily and readily to young people, I am not dismissive nor judgemental. I also help to increase their aspirations through my love of education. My passion facilitates others.

I think it would be easy to think about all the negatives only, but unless I can take the positives too, it will always be a resentment, always a burden. For me, understanding this has been critical to my growth. There is so much possibility ahead. And that is exciting.

Map Point. What events from the past do I still think about?