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Dear Mrs. J
By Novni Community Member
As a second grader, I was one year younger than 98% of my classmates. I don't regret a second of being younger, but I do regret the fact that school was always a million times harder for me. Something that could make it a million times harder is having a teacher that firmly believes you are stupid. And she nailed that notion in my head every moment she had.
Yes, my second grade teacher called me stupid. We will call her Mrs. J. to protect her.
In the third week of school, I was called back with a few other children to practice our reading skills. After our time was done with the teacher, she dismissed all of the other children to go back to their desks, but she kept me back. I remember the words, the thoughts I had, how her face looked, and the sadness I felt as she said to me:
"No one else has the guts to tell you this, but someone has to, so I will tell you. You are stupid. Everyone knows it, and no one wants to be your friend or talk to you."
I kept those words locked up in my heart, and as the year went on my mom noticed more and more that friends were not something I strived to have. I often stayed in our backyard with my imaginary friend Stacy and played. Stacy, my best friend accepted me for 100% me, and she was perfect in every way. She was everything I wanted to be. But of course I know that she is not real. She once pushed my dad and her to go into my teacher and ask her if she had noticed anything, but my teacher played dumb and said she did not notice anything except that I was really quiet and kept to myself.
Later on, 9 years down the road, my mom had passed away a few years before, and dad and I where on a drive to home from my senior year parent teacher conferences. My dad kept begging the question, on why I preferred to be a straight D student, and how come I didn't strive to succeed in school, or strive to hang out with the friends that I did have.
As the yelling match continued, my walls finally broke down, as I curled up into a ball by the wall, and poured out to him what the teacher had said. After this, I felt like I was evolving into a more confident person, growing stronger, and better. I even started dated my future husband, and he went on the crazy roller coaster ride with me called life, but sadly the false confidence that I did have did not last long.
4 more years down the road, to the year of 2015 I sat in a work lunch in a church. I had been praying for months that God would help me improve myself so I could be better at work. I had felt at work, as if I was a big failure and that no one wanted me there, and they were only keeping me because they felt bad for me. At the lunch in, three of my co-workers got onto the topic of depression and anxiety, which is something I knew I had been fighting since before my senior year of high school, and I thought I could fight it off all by myself. I didn't want anyone to know about my depression and anxiety. I didn't want anyone to say it was my fault, and I didn't want my husband to leave me.
As I sat there I heard them talk about their symptoms, and not wanting to strive to do anything. I just about broke down crying as I admitted to them that I was suffering from all of those symptoms. My co-workers encouraged me to go into the doctor"s office, and after I went in, I admitted to my boss, my husband, and the rest of my family what I had been dealing with. I have started counseling and I can feel myself strive more to live, and to care less of what people think of me, and wonder if they will leave me if I don't do things the way they want. So today as I write this story about what had happened to me as a child, I have a few words to say to Mrs. J, if she should ever read this.
Dear Mrs. J,
I hope this letter finds you well. You know who you are, and as I see you walk around our local mall with your child, I wonder if you treat them well. If you boost their confidence, and fill them up with love, and hope of friendships.
I wonder if you ever regret what you said to me. I wonder if you ever thought about how your words would impact me. You made sure that those words would soak so deep into my heart, and create a lifetime of doubt, and anxiety.
Did you want to lose your job? Because I am pretty sure if I had told my parents what you had said, you would have been fired with a firm hand. I wonder what everyone would have done to reassure me that I'm not stupid, and that people do want to be my friend. I wonder often times if it would have worked, and if I would have been able to go in a completely different direction in life. I wonder if I would have been a straight A student.
Would you have said sorry or would you have backed up your words?
All I have to say back to you is look at the mess that you started in my life. Look at the ugly life you created. What low confidence you must have had to tear down an innocent child who had barely made a scratch in the world. A child who had just began to grow emotionally, and spiritually.
I decided I can no longer be mad at you. Instead I feel sorry for you. I often wonder now, how your morning went, and how your night before you talked to me went. I often wonder if you hated your job. Every time I hear of a teacher that treats a student badly you are the first person I think of. And I think why did you become a teacher? Why did you go to school for 4 years, to be a teacher, when it was obvious that you did not have patience for students?
I wonder if you were in a rut in your life that you couldn't dig yourself out of, and if you just needed an outlet. I wonder if you felt all the emotions that I feel now as an adult, and it was just all too much for you.
You left me with so many wonders, but in my process of wandering in life, I have discovered that I am thankful for you. Because see a year later I made some lifelong friends, and I met my sister in-law another year later, thanks to the friend I had met the year before. They all accepted me for my inwardness, and my inability to be social. I was quickly able to identify my true friends, thanks to you. The ones who were heroic enough to stick with me in life, through all the rough and smooth patches.
Thanks to you and other life experiences I have learned to laugh through the pain, and keep my head held high, even though sometimes I just want to die. Thanks to you I am who I am, scars and all, and I have grown into a beautiful person who still has a lot of growing to do, but I am off to an amazing start.
Thank you for the harsh experiences you gave me. It wasn't okay of you to say what you said, but I have learned I cannot control what you think of me. I can't control what anyone else thinks of me, and it doesn't matter what anyone thinks of me. It truly only matters what I and God think of me. Thank you for giving me the tools to realize that.
Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly.