I’m sitting on the plane to Los Angeles and my hands obsessively keep reaching for the pouch around my neck.  Good, it’s still there. But then I begin to panic.  What if the pouch is there, but the contents fell out the last time I checked it?  I’d better check.  So I open it up and check again.  Close it up, and repeat the cycle.  For the entire flight.

Why was I so worried about this pouch?  Because it contained my boarding pass.  The last time that I passed through LAX was the beginning of the worst year of my life.  And it all started with a missing plane ticket.

I was in a marching band, and we flew to Japan and Hawaii on a tour.  The flight from Japan to Hawaii was a long one, and I remember sleeping on the flight.  I was 15, and on a trip of a lifetime with my best friends.  How many teenagers can say they get to experience that?  Not many.  I was excited.

What I didn’t know was that my friends were going to turn their backs on me and make me a target of over 2 years of bullying.  I would lose all of my friends at once, not make any more for a year, and be in constant fear at school, in public and even at home.  I would cross the street to school each day silently hoping that I wouldn’t make it to the other side.

The plane ticket was the first attack.  I got off the plane in Hawaii, prepared to go through customs, and couldn’t find my ticket.  I looked in every pouch and pocket of my bag, certain that I was just missing it.  The flight attendants searched the area around my seat, and tore the plane apart looking for it.  We retraced my steps.  It was gone.

I had to phone my parents, sobbing, to tell them that I needed $1,200 to pay for a new ticket home from Hawaii.  I berated myself for being so careless.  It was before I knew what my friends were capable of.  It was before they checked out library books in my name from the public library and never returned them.  Before they stole my textbooks from my locker.  Before they put rubber cement all over my lock several times and wrote nasty, embarrassing messages on my locker.  Before they surrounded me in a parking lot threatening to beat me up.  Before they threw garbage at my house.  Before they crank called me constantly.

If it had been after all of those things, then I would have known that it wasn’t my disorganization.  It was not my fault.

Explaining to the airline that my ticket was gone was the first conversation of what would be many in which I had to swallow my pride and ask for help.  Most of the time it was from the caretaker at school.  The office turned a blind eye.  The librarian didn’t believe me, so I had to bring in my parents several times.  I learned not to trust people – even the ones who are supposed to help us.  Maybe especially them.

25 years later, even though I know that it wasn’t my fault, I still carry the scars of what began the day my plane ticket disappeared. It shouldn’t be this way.  I know I’m a good person.  I know I  didn’t deserve to be treated that way.  I know that what the bullies did to me was more about them than it ever was about me.

But still, I look for my ticket.


Tara is gainfully employed by the toughest 3 female bosses she has ever had (well except for that one accounting manager who hated her). The pay sucks, but the cuddles are awesome. She drinks a lot of coffee, uses humour as a defense mechanism, and lives in fear of what lurks in her backyard. Keep Tara company on her unfortunately-named blog Don’t Lick the Deck, where she talks about her husband Nerdguy; her 10 year old and twin 8 year old girls; parenting autism and ADHD; and her inability to shop without creating disaster. She is regular contributor to Parentdish.ca who have not yet filed a restraining order.


  1. I want the names of these so-called “friends” so I can hunt them down!! Tara, this story touches me deeply. I am amazed at your strength and at your ability to be kind and open with others. xo

    • Thank you Louise! Luckily I found my best friends after that who helped me heal, and taught me what real friendship is, and I continue to make amazing friends like you. xo

  2. Nobody should ever face that turmoil. It’s strange how things in our past counters who we are and how we react to things in the future. I’m so sorry you had to go through that

  3. A brave post about about a difficult time. I was bullied from Grade 5-8 and I know how horrific it can be. Luckily I had some close friends that stuck by me, but the daily horror was more than I could handle some days. I pray my boys don’t have to live through what I did.

  4. What an awful story! A real shame that the fear has followed you into adulthood. My kids are that age now, and it gives me a whole different idea of what to watch for.

  5. Pingback: Can a Mean Girl change her ways? That is the question… | Shannon Day's Martinis & Motherhood

  6. Amamakelly Reply

    It’s to your credit that you came out of that time a better person, strong enough to share your pain with the world. Many of us can relate and appreciate your strength.

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