I have been bullied most of my life. It started around age 5 when I lived with my Italian grandmother.

Grandma was old school. And I mean old school. But she meant well. I know she loved me dearly. She just didn’t know any better.

So, I spent several years being told I was stupid. After a time, you start to believe it.

I got along OK with the neighborhood kids but I never truly fit in. I remember one day, when I was about 7 or 8 one of the kids spitting at me just because he didn’t really like me.

When I was 11, I moved in with my Dad and stepmom. At first things were great. But then I became a headstrong teenager. I began to feel like I couldn’t do anything right. I remember waking up one Sunday morning and she and my little brother had gone to town to meet Dad for breakfast. Instead of waking me up, she left me with a list of chores to do.

But nothing compares to what the worst bully has done to me. I have spent years hearing how fat I am. How worthless I am. She attacks me on a daily basis and I can’t escape her.

I’m a lousy housekeeper. I’m a terrible mother. I’m a loser.

The things I hear daily, I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.

“God! Why can’t you just put the damn fork down? You’re already so fat…keep it up and you’ll be on My 600lb Life in no time.”

“Look at how you’ve run your business into the ground chasing dreams.”

“You can’t even provide for your family. You’re worthless.”

The insults are constant. I’ve tried blocking her. She can get through it somehow. I’ve tried begging and pleading for her to stop. She just scoffs.

I try to counteract her with positive messages. She sneers at me in disgust and amusement.

I can’t win. And I can’t escape.

Because that bully…the worst bully I have ever met in my life…is me.

I have been my own worst bully for so long, I don’t know how to stop. It’s almost comforting to hear her in my head. She affects every aspect of my life. She nitpicks and pulls apart everything I do.

Nothing is ever good enough.

I am never good enough.

The things she says to me, I could not imagine ever speaking to another human being. I can’t fathom telling someone every day how useless they are. That they are meaningless. Nothing they do is right. They’ll always be fat. They’ll always be broke.

She loves to tell me I’m just like my mother. In my world, that’s not a good thing. My mom and I stopped getting along when I was about 10. I loved her because she was my mother. But I never liked her as a person.

My bully is there the second I wake up. She’s there continuously during the day. The only reprieve I get is when I sleep.

I have to escape her. I know that I will never be truly successful in life unless she’s gone. But she’s been there for so long, I don’t know how to purge myself from her. Or how to fill the void that she would leave if I did.

I feel trapped. I feel scared.

Mostly, I’m just tired.

“You’re such a hypocrite,” she says.

She’s right. How can I possibly defend others against their bullies when I can’t defend myself against mine? How can I help others stand up for themselves when I cower in the corner the moment my bully starts an attack?

I have to find a way to liberate myself from her. To free myself from her mental torture.

It is absolutely crucial to my well-being and for me to be able to live my passion and help others.

If I can escape my worst nightmare, the one who’s tormented me for as long as I can remember, then I can help others do the same.

Destroy her.

Originally published at www.daringwomanmagazine.com