This is an open letter to Jonah, and others in a similar situation, who is about to enter 8th grade and is emotionally tormented by bullies. His heart-wrenching video had this writer in tears, and I want to address him in a way I can't on YouTube. I urge you to watch the video and let Jonah know he's not alone.
I watched your video today and it broke my heart. I remember how hard it was at your age, but clearly you are having a worse time of it.
I know that what you expressed is very real, I could see it in your eyes. You have been hurt, you feel alone, and you are afraid.
It is so hard to know what to say, but there are things I do know. It's not you, Jonah. It's them.
Too often, individuals, even adults, who are victimized by others, conclude that they have to be responsible. You are not responsible. They are. You did not do this. They did.
I remember a conversation I had with a very loved friend who was telling me of the hardships he endured because of his father. After hearing what he said I asked him to do one thing, even if he didn't believe it. I asked him to say: "It's not my fault. It's his fault."
He said it and the emotional dam broke. He wept for a long time that night but acknowledged, out loud, that he was not responsible for the actions of others. I hope you will say, out loud, to yourself: "It's not my fault. It's their fault. I am not responsible for this. I am not to blame." If you don't believe, keep reminding yourself and saying it out loud until you do.
I want you to say it because you are not to blame. Anyone who watches you knows you have been victimized. I cannot see how anyone with the courage to express himself, as you did, could possible be responsible.
As I read your notes and saw what your bullies were saying, it is clear they are the ones with problems. They are insecure, scared, perhaps a victim of other bullies themselves. The problems they have are their own and they try to make them your problems. Don't let them.
I don't know what your situation at home is like. If you can talk to your parents about this, do so. Show them the video. They need to know this is serious.
If you can't do this with them, for whatever reason, don't go through it alone. You need people to support you.
If there are teachers or counselors at the school who you think are good people, then show them the video, enlist their support.
I know you said you are strong, and I don't doubt you are a strong person. Simply making that video shows me that you are, but, even strong people sometimes reach a breaking point. That is why you need to share this, not just with anonymous people on the Internet, but also with people who can be right there with you; with people who can hold you and tell you that you are someone valuable and who can battle on your behalf when you need them.
Without that kind of backup, even the strongest person can cave in.
There is a scene in the film, About a Boy that says it well. The boy, Marcus, is having a tough life with bullies and a mother who needs help. Marcus goes out looking for people to be supportive, mainly for his mother, but also for himself. By the end of the film, he finds that support and Marcus tells the audience: "We have to look after each other. The two of us. Suddenly I realized two people isn't enough. You need a backup."
Jonah, you need backup.
In your message you said you have one friend left.
NO, JONAH. YOU HAVE THOUSANDS OF FRIENDS. You just haven't met them yet. They are there. We are there.
We want you to become the miracle that you are.
Read your thousands of messages. I suspect there will be tens of thousands soon. There are some jerks, but they are tiny, unimportant minority. Read what Hollywood scriptwriter Dustin Lance Black said to you here. The novelist Anne Rice has urged you to contact her; so have hundreds of other people.
Contact someone. You need backup. The greatest strength you can have is knowing when you need support. I know you don't want to go through this alone. If you did, you wouldn't have made the video.
As hard as it is to tell strangers through YouTube, it is harder to tell people who know you. Try. If you can't, then reach out to others. The Trevor Project can help. Give them a call at 866-488-7386.
You have thousands and thousands of friends who want the chance to meet you someday. You are not alone.
P.S. Jonah has posted a thank you video for the support he has received so far. Note to Jonah: If you already haven't done so, make sure you that adults you trust have been told of the situation. Stay strong. We need you.