An Open Letter to Those Who Contributed to me Leaving High School at Sixteen.

For a long time I looked back on my teenage years and those who influenced it and said “Screw you.” But today, I want to say: Thank you. Thank you for my struggles, because they turned into strength.

I have wanted to write this blog for such a long time, years in fact. But, I never had the courage to post about such a vulnerable time in my life until recently. I have found this blog to be cathartic to my own well being, but I have also recently received an outpouring of comments by people thanking me for helping them. This really shook me to my core; my struggle’s have made a difference. And that is such a beautiful thing; to rise from something so dark to help others. So, even though this topic is not an easy one, I feel sharing it may open up some peoples eyes to their actions and also show those who are struggling that you will get through this.

It started in 8th grade, with a bad haircut, glasses and headgear. People who were once my friends were circulating embarrassing photos of me at sleep overs on Myspace. My parents never let me have a social media account, so I suppose this was the first real time I lied to them. But everyday people would come up to me and ask me if I saw what people were saying and posting, so I made one to see it for myself. I was devastated. You can only read “ugly” and “hideous” so many times before you believe it.

The bullying when you’re thought to be “ugly” and “strange” proved to be nothing compared to being bullied when you’re seen as “pretty.” I grew up that summer of 8th grade, got my braces off and grew out my hair. I entered High School with a hope for a new beginning filled with friends, dances and boys. And for a while that’s what it was.

And even though I had good friends, crushes and was Vice President of my class, I struggled. I had previous demons from childhood, and I was the “girl with daddy issues.” the girl with the biological father who never called, never showed and chose addiction over. I have always struggled with not feeling like I was enough. This led to the beginning of a spiral. I felt so much pent up anger and emotion, over seemingly nothing, but no one understood. And that’s when the self harm began.

It started small, getting so anxious that I was subconsciously digging my nails into the palms of my hands until they bled. But when this happened, I felt better, relieved of my emotion. I could cope with physical ailments but not my own mind. Then it grew from there.

When you’re 14 all you care about are your peers. And unfortunately sometimes you share information with the wrong people. Soon the whole school knew, they whispered about me and would get quiet when I entered a room. I started to feel isolated and paranoid. Then they started to say I should just kill myself, other’s stopped talking to me because I was “crazy.” I started journaling my loneliness and struggles. Idealizations of suicide started to become real thoughts and plans.  I would rummage through my parents medicine cabinets and google doses it would take to over dose.

By the time I told my parents I had hundreds of cuts and scars on my thighs, some of which I still bare today. I consider myself so lucky to have the family that I do. Never once did I doubt they loved me, that they cared. It was probably the hardest moment of my life to show them my pain and wounds but they rose to the occasion and got me the help I needed.

When I came back from treatment I felt fragile and easily upset. So when I got the attention from an older High Schooler I felt like I was worth something. Someone noticed me. It wasn’t until a few months into this relationship that I realized my friendships had dissolved, and my relationship with my parents was rocky. I was so isolated from everyone, except him. Call it being a teenager or being naive, but I call it stupidity. I stayed with this boy who yelled at me, grabbed me and obsessively controlled me. I was convinced he was the only one who cared about me. He would tell me how no one would love me, just him. I was “too difficult” for anyone else to care about. And you know what? I believed him. I was scared.

By the time I realized I needed to get out, it was too late. I had burned all my bridges with my friends and felt like my family hated me (And I honestly don’t blame them if they did.) I spent 2 years of my life in a relationship but I never felt more alone. My anxiety and depression reared it’s ugly head, I wasn’t eating and would vomit if I did. I passed out in school multiple times from not eating, which always added to the daily gossip.

The day I walked in on him shooting up heroin was the day I finally left. But ending it was the easy part. He chased me and slammed me into my car as I tried to leave. I received threatening texts for weeks switching between angry then to threatening to kill himself if I didn’t answer. I felt such guilt and would answer, just to start the cycle again. After a few months the texts and threats died out and I finally felt free.

With him graduated I felt safe at school, reconnected with my friends and attempted to rebuild trust with my family. But what became my safe place at school became my hell when his friends started bullying me, one in particular. She would corner me in the halls calling me a “whore” or “cunt.” She spat in my face when I left the bathroom and pushed me down the stairs. When she got a hold of my cell phone number the the physical threats started pouring in and I feared going to school. When I had to go to the police with my parents to get a No Contact Order, I was done.

A human can only endure so much before feeling so beaten down that there appears to be no way out. I needed to escape, I deserved better. And so I started night classes and online classes between my part time job. I skipped Junior year of High School and started College at age 17.

Multiple people and events contributed to my struggles, but at some point you have to say enough is enough. As humans we deserve kindness, respect and decency from others. If you find you’re not receiving it DO something. Never stay quiet. No one deserves to be bullied, attacked or feel unsafe; but if you do nothing about it, nothing will change. I owe so much to my High School Guidance counselor and my parents, because when I got the courage to say “I’m not okay” I received all the support in the world, which sometimes is all you need.

Now, at age 25 I have my Bachelors Degree in Nursing, am an ER nurse in Boston and am a volunteer First Responder/Firefighter. I have lived in Hawaii, gotten married to the kindest human and have the best relationship with my family that I have ever had. All I can encourage you to do is SPEAK UP. No one can help you if they don’t know you’re hurting.

With that I say Good Evening and may you have a wonderful day filled with Coffee, Cats and Cusswords

Instagram: coffeecatsandcusswords


If you or someone you know is struggling please call 1-800-273-8255 or visit




7 comments on “An Open Letter to Those Who Contributed to me Leaving High School at Sixteen.”
  1. eshep492 says:

    This was really courageous of you, Shelby and will help more people than you know. It’s crazy how many times people tell this very same story, yet everyone feels so alone in their struggle. Happy to see you thriving, girl! It must feel so sweet after going through hell to get there. Keep shining!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Erica! It was so scary to write this but I often wonder if I read something like this back then, if I would’ve felt less alone. The struggle just makes us stronger

      Liked by 1 person

      1. eshep492 says:

        Once I heard someone say “the wound is where the light enters”.. and I’ve never heard anything ring more true. Everything happens for a reason.. even if we don’t understand it.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Michele Pagan says:

    Thank you so much for sharing. So many people have similar stories and we need to band together. Through sharing our struggles we can help others and heal. I feel like this helps me understand you better also. Always know how much your extended family loves you also. Shelly xo

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Stone Nox says:

    Even though you’ve been able to overcome and grow stronger, I’m sorry you had to go through all of this. I know you have had to go through tough times, but it’s also easy from someone who doesn’t know you wonder how difficult your life could possibly be. You’re smart, funny and simply a beautiful person. It would be easy to assume that life comes simple for you. Thank you for sharing something so personal and letting us get to know your story. Your strength is an inspiration.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Colette says:

    Wow.. Reading this took the wind out of my lungs and crushed my heart. Shelby… I am so so so sorry this happened to you. You were always such a kind girl when we were little. I Remember hanging out at the fire station with you and helping the emt’s and fire fighter help train by letting them practise on us, it was so much fun and while I was reading this sobbing all I could picture was that little girl again…Im so sorry you had all that pain, it absolutely breaks my heart. I am so proud of you are absolutely killing it!!! Thanks for sharing xoxo -colette (greenfield girls forever)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Rosalie Bosworth says:

    Shelby I didn’t know any of this. My heart is so sad for the torment you experienced. I wish I had known. I would have been there for you. I hope I in no way contributed to this saddness you felt. I was too in a horrific relationship with someone which depressed me almost the same. People already rumors about me and called me things behind my back. I can’t say I know exactly how you feel, but I can imagine.


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