The Loss of Self-Esteem (A Personal Story)

What does it truly take to break a person? If the bullying never happened to us, would we be more attractive, more outgoing and friendly, more caring about ourselves and others? When I read Mariah’s story I couldn’t stop thinking about her experiences that she so dramatically shares and about who she would see herself as if it didn’t happen to her. Through her words and each story, I can literally hear her self-esteem be ripped from her soul. She is brave to share and her honesty is both brutal and truthful. I hope that you will share with her some positive words in your comments to let her know that she is both not alone and that it can get better.  ~Alan Eisenberg

For me I worry that the experience is far from over. I’ve never been a “popular”, or “pretty” girl. I’m unattractive being that I’m overweight and short.

Throw in my lack of money, glasses, joy of goth fashion, my high iq, and an awkward personality I might as well been born with a bullseye on my forehead. It started off simple. Guys in kindergarten whispering about me, yeah that early. Then it painfully increased.

I never had many friends. I was the girl who got a few good friends and no more. Rumors saying I didn’t bathe and ate all day spread. The two most signifigant moments were when a girl in my 8th grade class had been dating my older brother and they split up would follow me down the halls of the school asking me when the last time I bathed was. In gym she told the Teacher Something stunk. The teacher just joking told her maybe she should bathe. To this she loudly yelled It’s not me it’s Mariah.

I broke down crying. I normally would have shrugged it off but after weeks of her making sure she harassed me I just broke. The teacher just told me if she did it again let him know, but what about doing something then! All he did was make her walk laps all class her making sure to hold her breathe and nose every time she walked pass me. Then the day after the 14th birthday I was regretting it, the teaches always sing to you and the math teacher being my mom’s close friend I was really worried I thought I avoided it by skipping on my birthday. I knew someone would say something. Then the math teacher made sure the class sung and a girl, who was immediately mean to me for no reason said she would have to get me some soap.

Then I got to highschool. My social circle had decreased significgantly. I only hung out with one person. But I was possesive because I was scared otherwise I wouldn’t have that. The beggining was terrible. I had gotten rid of the main agressor who was my brothers ex, she got pregnant and left school. I was put in a class with all the mean kids. Who would pick on a kid for sitting down. All druggies, sluts, and jerks. Including one who had attacked my brother the year before and wasn’t suppose to be near me or my brother.

I told my mom because I was so scared of him I ditched first period the first day! I wanted to be transferred, but she had him transferred leaving me with his buddies. But first period wasn’t the worse aside from some paper airplanes because they talked to each other. The worse was when in one class I was sat next to one. I had never talked to him but he talked crap about me.

Then when a new kid came I quickly allowed him my seat to sit alone. The boy promptly informed the new kid that he had safed him from sitting next to me. I heard some people talk shit about me when they thought I wasn’t listening. Then my locker was set on fire. I had some papers sticking out and someone set them on fire. The principal swore t was probably nothing against me, just a coincidence. My locker stunk like ashes for a week. Then things got worse between me and my friend. She began lying to me and avoiding hanging out with me.

Due to the bullying I was so paranoid that I would constantly think that she was talking about me or something. The fact she admitted that most people ask her why she hangs out with me didn’t help. Eventually she said, If you don’t believe me than why are we friends. So I stopped being her friend. But after that things with my other peers got better some how. Kids stopped at least letting me hear them talk about me. the kid who sat next to me got nicer after realizing we listen to the same music.

I still don’t have any friends among my peers but I do conversate with them more. The thing is I wanna say this had a happy ending but it doesn’t. I will never be the same after all they did. I am still paranoid after hearing even friends talk about me behind my back, after hearing people lie to me. I just now finished my freshman year of High school. I know their still 3 years I got. I contemplated suicide at 8! No child should even have to fathom ending it. I would come home crying and tell my mom. She just told me to beat them up. But I couldn’t. I’m not that person. I can only be aggressive towards people I’m close with. I help people who hurt me. You threaten me and I’ll help you with your homework. That’s me.

Teachers told me let me know if it happens again, never thinking what about now? Because of the long term damage I will probably never have a fully healthy relationship. I’m so paranoid I can hear total strangers talk and worry it’s about me. I worry people are reading my mind, knowing it’s crazy but I’m so damn paranoid that it haunts me. I can’t stand to be criticized because I’m so desperate to feel like I matter.

I’m almost in tears typing this. I’m hoping that maybe this next three years will be good enough to mend some scars but I doubt it. Heck, I’m worried to put my real name in fear someone from school will see it but oh well.


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About Alan Eisenberg

Alan Eisenberg is a Certified Life Coach, Bullying Recovery activist and author of "A Ladder In The Dark: My journey from bullying to self-acceptance" and "Crossing the Line". He has been writing and speaking to various audiences about the issue of C-PTSD and Bullying Recovery. Mr. Eisenberg has been featured on several print, radio shows and podcasts on this issue, including NPR and in the Boston Globe. He is currently working toward his Master's Degree in Mental Health Counseling.
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  1. Dear Mariah,
    I am so sorry for the pain you have endured. You are fearfully and wonderfully made and don’t let anyone ever tell you any different. I can tell you care and have a heart of compassion. I believe we go through what we go through to help others go through what we went through. Thank you for having the courage to share your story and perhaps in time you will be the one who befriends others who are being bullied and makes a difference. You’re not alone….I’ve had my share of tough experiences too and I will be praying for you as you step forward. 🙂

    • I thank you greaty for your kind words and still find it amazing I have enough guts to repy to all these comments but kind people like you all deserve to be answered. I hope this for me as well. I know I will probably never fully heal but I know I can get stronger and grow. I apologize for your struggles no matter the extent. You are a truly kind person and it always pains me to know someone who should be treated with kindness and respected was or is being hurt. I hope that maybe I can help others one day as well. I infact recently learned of the movie MTV is doing on these issues and will be attempting to contact them in hopes of reaching more people. I thank you for your prayers and wish you the best as well as you deal with whatever experiences you have had that have hurt you.

  2. Mariah, I was bullied incessantly, too. I had the worst paranoia for years after high school. Any time I heard people laughing as I walked past, I assumed it was about me. I used to walk with my shoulders hunched up to my ears, my whole body just coiled to jump out of the way or turn around. But I am here to tell you that it *does* get better. I graduated high school. I went to college and nobody there knew me. Even better, people stopped judging me. It took years to get over it, but I don’t walk like that anymore and I barely notice when people I don’t know giggle or laugh in my presence. I have a huge circle of friends, all of them nerds like me, most of them weirdos in some respect, and many of them having had difficult childhoods like myself. Not one of them — not one — judges me. All of them embrace me. You will find that, too, one day.

    • @Jennifer – We have all been there and even many we label as “popular” felt excluded at some time. Remember, if we were all “normal” what fun would the world be. Whenever I get down, I just pop in the movie “Revenge of the Nerds” again and recall what it means to walk the other path.

      • yea at first i hung around this rlly popular gurl named gabby n i spend da nite at her house almost every nite n 1 day a new guy came his name was todd n she completly forgot about me and left me and i had 1 friend but she was usually jumpropeing cuz i neva wear shoes to pe but anyways her n todd kept doin this n i wuld continue to act ok wit it then one day todd told me to cum n sit wit them n gabby was like y her i mean vivian can come i was so embarressed so i ran out she calld me after skool n told me y was i mad i dnt text back so the next day she spreded a rumor i had a nasty infection and it was caughable and noone hung around me i told her that was not true n she new it and she 2 weeks later admited to it an sayd she was sry now were friends is that good

    • I am sincerly happy that you have become stronger and have found a place that people accept you and I hope that I soon find a place like that as well and I have actually opted to go into a post-secondary program that allows me to do college classes in place of my last two years of highschool. So hopefully things will become better as well. I find it great to hear someone also having dealt with the paranoia issues of it. I hear so little people dealing with this when for me it has been the major aftermath of the entire thing and I thank you for your kindness because I truly believe that if more people just extended a few kind words every now and then it could do anything save lives in fact.

  3. hi, you just have to remember who you are and the good things about yourself and nobody can take it away from you however hard they try. Just believe in yourself and just pretend they’re jealous and their only saying horrible things because of that

    • I thank you sincerey and understand your advice but for me at least it’s not quite that simple, I could say Oh their just jealous, but I know the truth their mean and I’m an easy target. I coud say that to myself but it would just be a defense, a shield, a shell and inside I would still be hurting the same. I sincerely hope you don’t take offense to my honesty but I feel I need to be honest or else I won’t truly let people in to know. I still thank you though for the kindness to tell me to grasp who I am and I try to, I avoid acting as if I’m different like I used to as a child. I do feel I have grown and feel like this is part of the process of continuing to grow as a person a victim of bullying.

  4. I typed ‘bullying stories’ in Google, intending to get some material for a chapter of the book that I’m writing; however, I stumbled upon this blog and read several posts. Now I find myself in tears, in front of the computer. I find it hard to understand how kids can be this evil, and how bullying can influence this much someone’s personality.
    I’ve never been the popular girl in school, I’m more of an introvert person; during my schooldays I transferred from class and changed classmates for five times (because of my father’s job) and never faced bullying in none of the new places. Moreover, I didn’t hear of any cases of real bullying in the schools that I’ve been to, or at least, not to that extent. Of course there were mild conflicts, like in every group, but things never got out of control like I read in your stories.
    I saw how most of the authors have English names and I’m guessing they’re from US. I live in Romania and I’ve never heard of this kind of things in my neighborhood, but I’m familiar with them from American movies!same goes for cliques, mean girls, cheerleaders, etc. I remember that when I was in 6th grade at the English class we had in our textbook a text about bullying and we were all surprised when the teacher explained us what the word meant and when we found out that it was supposed to be a major problem.
    I’m really sorry to hear about what you people are going/have gone through.. I wish I could do something to make these things disappear.

    • I just had to reply to you for sure. The reason I say this is because the entire reason I stumbled across this site was for a story myself. Then after reading a few it made me dwell on my experiences and I felt a need to share. Infact I almost completely forgot about it once the weight was lifted and just restumbled across it in an attempt to find ideas for another story. Then recalled how I had sent a story in and never thinking I would, found my story. I’m happy for you that you live in an area without this issue. But yeah it gets rough over here and I think we all wish we could make it disapear(I know I do.) but it is sadly apart a life and all we can do is try and help others when we can and get through it and though it will always leave it’s scars we have to learn to live the aftermath not live in the past and hope we get a little stronger.

  5. Oh honey…I am in tears as I read your story. No one should ever have to go through what you are going through. I have been bullied myself. I am now 34 years old, but went through a time in my life, when I was twelve, where I was bullied on a daily basis because my parents were poor. Kids would tease me about my clothes, and like you, ask about my bathing habits. i was ashamed of who I was, ashamed of who my parents were. I don’t know how good my advise is, but here is my suggestion to you: get ahold of the local authorities and ask them what laws are in place to prevent bullying in your community. Then, talk to your teachers, your school counsilor and your principal and ask what policies are in place at your school to prevent bullying. If there are none, pull all the strength you have together and start an anti-bullying campaign at your school. It will be tough, and you will get a harrassed for a minute, but I promise you, there are others in your school going through something similar, and they are too afraid to speak up. It only takes one person to make a difference. You might be that person, and not only will you be helping out someone else who is going through what you are going through, but you will also be working on increasing your confidence, your self esteem and your strength. There are lots of resources online and at your local library to help you, and lots of support to help you get started. If you need any assistance, or just need a friend, please contact me at I would be happy to help you out as much as I can. I am currently attempting to put together my own anti-bullying campaign at my daughters school, perhaps together, we can make a difference in our communities. You are a beautiful person just the way God made you, and you will come out of this stronger than ever!!! Good luck sweetheart, and I hope to hear from you.

    • I apologize for and appreciate the tears at the same time. I apologize because I never mean to make anyone cry but I appreciate them because it shows you feel my pain which was at least partially my intention in hopes that if people could at least in someway feel my pain they would understand, maybe even act a little nicer to anyone who is bullied at their school. I am sorry for your troubles with bullies and I’m happy to hear you striving through the aftermath of it. I appreciate your advice though I feel it may be a mute point in my area. No one really seems to take bullying serious except for me and my parents to an extent though I do feel they don’t know the worst of it. My school seems not to even care about the student body anytime anyone brings up a change they dismiss it. I am happy to hear you striving for a better enviroment at your daughters school and hope she never has to suffer through what me and you have delt with. I’m sure she’ll become a wonderful woman with a wonderful mother like you. You truly are a beautiful person to put your email address out to me. I fear I may not be quite ready for that though. I feel as though my wounds are too raw and that may be too personal for me. I do thank you though.

  6. I really feel for you Mariah… I was bullied at school too but not as badly as you have endured. Still, I know the feeling of constantly being paranoid and not trusting anyone. It still haunts me 10 yrs after leaving high school and I dont have any close friends because of it.
    Take refuge in your music and other things that you like – they are your identity, not the bullying.
    People are right when they say it gets better after high school. School can be the toughest, most painful experience for a lot of people, but when it’s over there is a whole new world out there full of people who are willing to get to know you for who you are.
    Talking about your experiences will help you to heal, so keep doing that.
    Be strong and hold your head up high, because you’re going to make something of yourself and chances are, your bullies will end up working deadbeat jobs or knocked up at 16. Take comfort in that 🙂

  7. Honey it’s time to stand up you’re beautiful don’t worry about what some snobby people say about you no matter what you’re a wonderful person it’s aleways best to tell an adult you’re just human you don’t deserve to be treated like an animal just know you’re not the only one going through this

  8. Wow.. I thought i had it bad. You miss are a real trouper. I was quite like you in school, surrounded by nothing of evil jerks who hated me for no reason other than to see me suffer. Almost like they were pure evil :S, but i soon fitted in. I go to an all boys school so without any girls to calm there testostorome levels they were like a pack of dogs! An embarassing incident happend in year 7 that still to this day people consantly bring up just to annoy me and bully me. I’m also a bit like you but my problem is i cant gain weight! Good to hear that snobby girl got pregnet, thats a good sign of karma! Stay strong and no matter what anyone says dont stop fighting the good fight.

  9. Mariah, I know it’s hard now, but I can guarantee you it will get better. It may not be perfect. I am still trying to overcome a low self-esteem caused by peers and family members, but you have to keep your head up and know that one day you will look back to high school and it will all be a blur, a thing of the past. As for the next three years, be careful with who you trust, but let people in. Not everyone is laughing at you and the jokes about bathing are absolutely their own problems. Kids and teenagers are cruel to each other because THEY choose to be. Ignoring them will be hard, but do your best to succeed. I dedicated my time to studying and even though being kind of a nerd may not seem like the coolest thing to do, it allowed me to get into a good college and get a scholarship; I am now working on my masters and I cannot believe how much my life changed after I escaped all of the jerks in HS. It will get better, ending it is not the answer because you have so much ahead of you. Leave the jerks in the dust of your success; they will soon learn that being that way will only alienate themselves from others in the future and they will become miserable for the rest of their lives. I can guarantee you, that if you stay true to yourself you will find others like you and who will love you for being you! Just remember you are awesome because there is no one else like who you are and love who you are and forget the haters! 🙂 Hope everything works out for you!

  10. Mariah — hang in there, baby! those fools are just insecure and ill-equipped to handle their insecurities so they have to go after someone they see as an easy target. People who have kind hearts often are taken advantage of by those who have not tapped into the kindness of their own hearts. Not a reflection on you, dear, only them. Stay true to yourself!

  11. I’m sorry you have suffered so, there is nothing worse than feeling so low because of others see an easy target, let me tell you this though, It does and WILL get better, It took me a long time to ignore those people (properly ignore them) I had to start building myself up from the bottom, If I heard people whispering and laughing I had to keep repeating to myself that it wasn’t me they were whispering about (even if it was, I just close my ears and try and believe it) I’m telling you this but you probably won’t feel like you can do that yet or ever, I felt the same way but YOU CAN! Also if you go to your doc now and ask to see a counsellor, they will help you gain some self esteem and confidence back, I had problems at home and school and I wanted to end it too, but I didn’t and I’m glad I didn’t, Im still not super outgoing and I’m still shy and have bouts of low self esteem, but step by step, if you are overweight, try to lose some, bit by bit, I don’t know how overweight you are, I’m 3 stone overweight at the moment but I am losing 1lb by 1lb, and it may take me 3 years but I don’t care, because I will get there and I will stay there, I wish I could lose 3 stone in a two weeks and be super toned but it ain’t gonna happen. I’m telling you this because you can achieve anything as long as you do it in baby steps. I BELIEVE in YOU!! I know I don’t know you but I still BELIEVE in you!! Good luck xxx (sorry about long post)

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  13. Mariah, your story will be a source of encouragement to others who are going through this same situation. God loves you and you are special in his eyes. Don’t give up on life, God sees all and knows all. He will deliver you. I will keep you in my prayers.

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