I’m writing this post for a few reasons.
One is that I’ve seen an increase in younger people reading my blog. And I remember what it was like to be in my teens and how uncertain you feel in yourself.
I know how it feels to stay in unhealthy friendships because you’re scared, or look up to people that are a terrible influence because they seem popular, confident and unreachable.
Another reason is when I write posts like this, about things I’ve struggled through or lessons I’ve learnt the hard way, I get people of all ages, from all different backgrounds, saying how they went through something similar when growing up.
It’s nice to know you’re not the only one. Especially when at the time you felt isolated, confused and unable to really describe or pin point what’s going on.
So this is the story of how I let one girl, who I’ve not spoken to in around 14 years, get so far into my head that I almost have a complete mental breakdown.
And how after months of emotional manipulation, I found the courage to break free.
This post is long. But it needs to be.
When I was around 14 years old, I found myself in a strange friendship group.
I had a few different groups of friends at school and seemed to float between friendship groups not really ever having a particular best friend. Then, when I was in year 9, I had somehow became part of a group.
We met up at break time, dinner time and walked home together. We started to go into the town centre on a Saturday to shop, spent time together over the summer holidays and would sometimes go to each others houses.
There were 5 of us all together, and the group dynamics were very different to anything I had every found myself in before.
You see, there was a clear leader of the group. We’re going to call her Sophie in this post, though that’s not her real name.
Sophie was a strong character. She had big brown hair, was tall, clever and confident. To me, she had that aura about her that I wish I had. I looked up to her it admiration.
She was in the top sets at school, she wanted to be a lawyer, she didn’t hold back on anything.
But you know what? Sophie, was a massive, manipulative bitch.
There are many times in my life where I want to go back and talk to my younger self and tell myself to not waste time on certain people, or to stand up to myself more and this is one of the ones that stands out the most.
I don’t know why Sophie was the way she was, but she loved to control us, she loved to manipulate, she loved to upset us.
What Sophie Did.
There are a few things that she would do, say, or even make us do. And because the rest of us were 4 unconfident girls with very different, but very real personal struggles, we let her get inside our heads and manipulate our thoughts.
Here are just a few of they key things that stand out:
The Circle Of Doom.
Every so often, at a time Sophie felt appropriate, she would make the 5 of us stand in a circle.
We then had to go around the circle and say one thing about each other that annoyed us.
Yeah, that’s right. I was forced to stand in front of four people that were supposed to be my friends, tell them things I hated about each of them and then listen to them say things they hated about me.
Sophie said this would make us stronger as everything would be out in the open. It meant we could stop doing annoying things and like each other better.
The things that Sophie hated about us were always very similar. Things like:
- Corinne, you’re up my arse.
- Corinne, you try and copy me.
- Corinne, you want to be just like me and it’s annoying.
- Corinne, you always follow me around.
What she portrayed as some sort of therapy session turned out to be a way for her to make us feel bad about ourselves, highlight our floors and feed her ego.
Four Against One.
Another thing Sophie would do, was target one of us at a time and turn us all against one member of the group.
She would do this by bullying them openly and talking about them to us behind their back.
One of the occasions that stands out the most is what happened with Hazel.
Hazel went on holiday, brought us back those clown dolls that have a porcelain face and their bodies are like bean bags. She gave us one each, but Sophie’s was a slightly different colour to the rest of ours.
Shortly after this, Sophie’s Mum and dog got sick. She told us that it was because of the clown doll that Hazel gave her. It was different to everyone else’s because it was cursed. She told me in confidence that she cut the doll up and tore out its insides to make the curse go away.
I know 14 year olds are a little nuts, but this was CRAZY.
My turn to get bullied.
Following on from the doll story, another time we were at another of the girls house. Hazel said something about someone being bad on the inside, I muttered so only the two of us could hear ‘like Hazels clown doll’.
Well, Sophie FLIPPED.
Hazel wasn’t there. So she then took this opportunity to tell the rest of the group about cutting up the doll and then then tell me I was a bad friend for not keeping it a secret.
Sophie never just said what she wanted to say and then leave it, she would go on and on and on and on and on and on and on.
At one point, she pointed to the door and said ‘GET OUT’.
It wasn’t even her house!
I started crying in front of them all and she kept asking why I was crying. What was wrong. Why was I so sad?
My Mum is better than yours.
Sophie loved her Mum. She thought her Mum was better than everyone else’s.
To emphasise this, she would say things about our parents to us.
My Mum used to save the family allowance that we got, which was about £20 a week. She would let me have this to buy clothes with. When I was 14, she would give me the money every couple of weeks and on Saturday, when we went into town, I would buy some new clothes with it.
Thinking back now, my Mum must have really trusted me to do this! But I guess she saw what I came back with so knew I was spending it on clothes I actually wore and not just rubbish. I guess it sounds like a lot, but I never got anything else, apart from on birthday’s, Christmas and school uniform – so it was a way of me being responsible and knowing if I wanted a new coat from Topshop that was £50, I would have to save up for it.
Anyway, because of this, Sophie would insult my Mum by saying that she didn’t love me and would just give me money to shut me up rather than giving me time and attention. Of course I knew this wasn’t true, I’ve always felt loved my parents, but it hurt to think that she thought that and was making the others think the same.
The Escape Plan
In year 10, me and one of the other girls, Samantha became close. We were in a lot of the same classes together and after a while, we started to talk.
It was a massive relief that we both felt the same. Over time, we had both gone from adoring Sophie to disliking her after realising she wasn’t actually this amazing, confident, smart girl. She was just a bully.
We started to pull away from her and the other remaining girl (Hazel had seen sense and left our group a few months before).
We did this in a bit of a cowardly way, you could say, but we were young and didn’t know how else to escape it.
Samantha and I were both doing GSCE textiles, so we started working during breaks and lunch. They would go to the shop, get lunch and come and sit with us. The teacher started locking the door, but you could get in by going through another classroom that had another door leading into the our class. They didn’t know. The first time it happened, we hid under the tables until they went away.
Samantha had two younger sisters who she picked up from school. Because the group of us would walk slow and the long way around, Samantha and I started walking home on our own saying we had to go pick up her sisters. We would rush out of school really quickly to avoid Sophie and her only remaining friend.
I don’t even remember what happened in the end, but after a while we stopped talking to them all together and I became good friends with Samantha for years later, even when we left school and I went to university and she started a family. I even met up with Hazel a few times after school.
Sophie often pops up in my ‘people you may know’ section on Facebook and luckily she hasn’t tried to add me as a friend.
I wouldn’t accept her anyway.
People like that don’t deserve to know me.
They don’t deserve to know you either.
Don’t let anyone treat you like shit.
If you’re being treated like shit, being manipulated or controlled by anyone, just cut that person out of your life.
Sophie brought me so much misery. She made me cry in front of her, she made me anxious and worry because I was so scared she was going to say something bad to me or hate me. I even stopped eating and lost two stone because I thought if I was thin, fragile and helpless, she wouldn’t be horrible to me because she would be able to see how weak I was already. I thought she might be nice to me out of pity. And that was better than going on at me until I cried.
This lead me to YEARS of problems with food, self-esteem, confidence and weight. Triggered by this one bully who isn’t even in my life anymore.
If you’re in a similar situation right now, it’s probably going to feel like you can’t get out because you won’t have any friends at all, or you might be scared of what they’ll say to you. Whether you’re able to remove yourself from the people or not, just remember the situation won’t be permanent and in 1 year, 5 years, 10 years, this person or this people probably won’t even be in your life anymore.
What feels like a massive deal right now, won’t matter in weeks, months or years.
We all have magic inside of us and we have the power to chose who we give that magic to. We need to give it to people who uplift us, inspire us and love us.
Not to people who use it to make us feel terrible about ourselves.
People like that don’t deserve to know me.
They don’t deserve to know you either.