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Besides the bigger bullies’ ongoing determination to make sure the “fat names” grew harsher and wider-spread, they started in on new bullying tactics like sneaking up and cramming food from the floor into my mouth, knocking my lunch tray to the ground, throwing dangerous objects at me, tripping me with the intent to seriously hurt me, shoving me with the intent to seriously hurt me, and pushing me with the intent to seriously hurt me.

In eighth grade, I stopped crying at night.

I just went to sleep and prayed that God, the devil, anybody would kill those boys. I wanted them gone. I would have given anything for them to be gone.

In ninth grade, the girls started getting involved. The popular, “hot” girls started doing things like asking me out, then laughing in my face before I could answer. They would invite me to come to parties or hang-outs and then laugh some more when they saw that I had hopes that their invitations were sincere. It only took a few of these moments before I believed that any desire, by any girl, to hang out with me would always be a joke. At the end of ninth grade, a “hot” girl approached me in the hallway, and asked me if I wanted to see her breasts. Most teenage boys would be delighted. I just turned and walked away, having been hurt by this girl more times than I could count. She laughed and started yelling down the hall that Dan Pearce was a faggot.

Death. Sweet death. I would have given anything for it to come. To me. To them. It didn’t matter.

On the last day of school that year, some of the bullies on my school bus started pushing me toward the exit and out the doors. I fell backward and landed on my “fat ass”. I remember the laughter that erupted from the school bus windows when I hit the pavement. I remember my peers’ boisterous faces glued to each pane of glass. I remember looking up at the school bus driver as he said, “you guys knock it off and go sit down”. He then looked at me and said, “are you getting on or not?” I shook my head, quickly gathered my things, and ran somewhere. I don’t remember where. Anywhere but there.

I do remember hearing the squeak of the bus doors closing. I do remember the sound of the engine, revving as the bus pulled away. I do remember crying that day.

The school bus driver didn’t help me. In fact, never once did a single person ever help me. Never once did a single kind soul put their arm around me and show me love. Never once did a teacher comfort me when they witnessed it. Never once did a classmate speak up when they heard it. Never once did anybody do anything.

Because that day, the only thing that happened after that was a phone call to my mom to tell her I missed the bus. I’m sure she asked me how my day was. I’m sure I told her “fine”.

And the people who actually did love me, never knew that any of this was going on. Besides that one day in fifth grade when I came home bawling to my mother, I never told my parents. My siblings never knew. My best friend (and only real friend) didn’t even know because when he was around, the bullies left me alone. I wish he could have been around all the time.

Nobody knew that I wanted to die. Nobody knew that I had horrible and constant fantasies of death aimed at others. Nobody knew that I hated every teacher that never did anything. Nobody knew that I hated every classmate who refused to say a kind word to me for fear of becoming targets themselves. Nobody knew any of it.

What people did know was that I was “shy”. What people did know was that I was easily angered. What people did know was that I was constantly mean to my siblings. What people did know was that I was “fine”, and that that was going to be my answer any time they asked. People knew (because I constantly told them) that “I just wanted to be left alone”. And so they left me alone, the way anybody would leave a huffing porcupine alone.

Thank God that life improved for me, and in high school something inside of me changed. Thank God that something in my life triggered a slow path to self-belief. Thank God that something changed. I don’t know what changed. I honestly don’t. What I do know is that I probably wouldn’t have made it through high school if the serious bullying had kept happening.

Sure, John and Mike shoved me against an occasional locker all the way to the end of our Senior year, but because of the change within me, because I suddenly found the courage to make new friends, and because I started to love myself again, the bullying ended, almost completely.

But this post is not about me. I only am using my story to put a face on the problem. I pray that I was sincere enough, and “real” enough, to help you understand what bullied kids go through, and what thoughts bullied kids think. Because it’s those thoughts that lead some kids to drastic ends…