I don't want to write this. I don't want to live this anymore. I don't live it. It's behind me. It's my past. I've passed this past.
But I'm going to write it.
You know Facebook ruined the high school reunion. Why return to the scene of the crimes? Facebook posts and posted pictures answered all the questions. I know who's fat. I know who's divorced. I know who's happy, sad, gay, straight, and licentious. I know who's been to prison and I know who's avoided prosecution.
Prosecution? Oh hell yes. We all committed classless & social classic classroom crimes in school.
I was bullied in high school; I was a bully in high school.
Let's do the math: I was a sensitive, an innocent, and a hope-filled boy who revolved into an overweight sarcastic cruel liar. Eventually I evolved into a sensitive, a sensible, and a hope-filled man.
Yes. I'm going to tell the truth.
This isn't about bruised egos. This is about battered dignity. I know about each.
Now, I'm not hurt when someone doesn't like me. I have a strong personality. I'm polarizing. And I'm used to being unjustly treated.
I used to be hurt.
October 20, 2010 was anti-bullying day. Everyone was asked to don purple attire in a show of support for the mistreated and as a symbol of intolerance of the cruelty. Well, anyone who remembers me in school knows that I was bullied. Hell, I was verbally and physically abused at school. My dignity was bruised pummeled purple and battered blue. And yet all I remember are blackened days.
For 6 years I didn't use a public men's room.
For 4 years I quaked before walking into a locker room for gym class.
For 6 years I felt physically ill as I awaited the school bus.
For 6 years I had steel-like intestinal fortitude. It sounds amusing now - but overfill an emotionally volatile gut and then avoid a public restroom.
School was horrific for me. From the time I entered middle school until my graduation from high school, I contemplated suicide on nearly a daily basis.
I was labeled gay. I wasn't gay. Think of the 70s. If you think being gay isn't tolerated now .... So, how does a boy prove to the student body that he isn't gay? Does he fuck a woman in the hall in front of the class to prove it? How does one prove an accusation is false?
I've extensively written about my past. And I'll offer snips from previous posts:
"When I was a young child, I saw the sin of competitive athletics. I watched as the weak were slaughtered in the name of sport. And so I took a step out of the ring, I walked off the field, and I abandoned the shared activity that dominated my age and my sex. I refused to participate; I didn’t observe. I took a moral stand and in response my perceived masculinity was decimated. I was judged less a boy, less a man, and less desirable as a companion. Now, as a man I have no knowledge of sports. I can’t quote scores or tout triumphs. I can’t claim allegiance or delineate the line between a fan and fanaticism."
The majority of men wouldn't befriend me. The majority of women wouldn't date me.
School was horrific for me.
What did I do? How did I cope?
I ate. I entertained. I clowned. I took drugs. I belittled. I insulted. I whored my soul. I lied.
Words from my past:
"When I was younger, I was a prick. I was ruthless and selfish and egotistical and vain. I used my intelligence as a weapon to whip the weak and to tether the tenderhearted. And I did it without reflection and with power as my compensation. I had a personality that was attractive. My strength attracted the shied and my fortitude attracted the fickle. And like moths to a flame, I gathered until I felt crowded. And then I burnt those who came too close and I blistered those who were blinded by my barbarous boundaries. I was cold; I was cruel; I was cagey."
“I've spent 25 years of my life wearing the crown of bullshit king. I can chat and chuckle on a championship level. I was the classic clown in a class by myself with a wit that whipped and a pun that punished and only the wounded weren't amused."
"Insults. I should take the time to research the etymology of the word insult. But I think I’ll create my own etymology. Insult - in salt. Salt in the wounds. Do the math. I used to insult people. I used to associate with people who found humor in hurting others. When I was younger and hate-filled, I used my wit as I sought inclusion. I had been excluded and chose to join the antagonistic and the caustic to soften their blows. And my humor often went straight to the heart of their matters. I bellowed my punch lines and punched my associates with my puns. I sought solace - as do all sarcastic smartasses - in the security of my intelligence. Smartass / smart ass / an asshole who is smart."
"I was cowardly in my interactions with people. I evaded confrontations whether they were competitive or contradictory. So consequently, I lied. I avoided. I appeased. I mislead. I became passive in my principles but aggressive in my artifice. I'd like to salvage a bit of my pride by saying I maneuvered and manipulated with a masterful artistry. I didn't. I sucked at being a liar."
"There was a time in my life when I averted every glance, avoided every reflection, and absconded from every stare. There was a time in my life when I deflected every question and deferred every request. There was a time in my life when a declarative "yes" or "no" was as truant from my tongue as the truth was from my mouth. I’ve spent my lifetime avoiding contradiction, conflict, confrontation, and combat."
And then one day I changed.
"... I saw into the eyes of my walloped and I saw the sin of my stunts. I saw the carnage I created from my caustic comedy. I saw the wounds from my wit. And I heard the lamentations of those who were lamed by my limber tongue. I knew I had to stop."
I know that day. I'm not writing about that day. I can't completely open the vein. Take my word for it. I offer my words. So take them at face value because you see ... writing them makes me lose face. On that day, August 23, 1985 - I saw the extent of my sins. I saw my cowardice.
More words from my past:
"So one day I quit. One day I decided I wasn't going to be a coward anymore. I decided that I was going to share what I felt, speak what I thought, divulge what I knew, and affirm what I believed. If I'm asked a question, I answer it. If I'm asked an opinion, I offer it. If I'm asked a principle, I state it. And I try to achieve that completely, entirely, and without omission. Now I have inner peace. And now I sleep without tossing. Well, I do toss. But I toss because I'm getting as old as my mattress. And I speak without hesitation. And I live without guilt. Although that is not to suggest I live without remorse or contrition, but those should be posted another time."
So. Why didn't I commit suicide? Two reasons:
I'm a Roman Catholic. I believe in the tenets of The Church.
I have a wonderfully amazing and kind family. My home life was perfect. My parents provided a loving and caring cocoon for me to grow. School sucked. My life didn't.
I moved on. Gradually I tucked my tears behind my pupils and I became a pupil of human behavior. And I forgot the hurt. I'm passed feeling hurt by all of it, but I remember my life then. Currently my feelings get hurt because of the injustice of mistreatment. Yet I'm equally as hurt when I see someone being cruel to another human being as I felt when I was mistreated.
"Now I resist the urge to be barbaric. I try to be the friend and not the façade. I try to offer an open hand and not a hidden fist. I try to offer friendship from my lips and not flagellations in the feign of fraternal fun. I try to create an atmosphere of agape among my acquaintances and my associates. Sometimes I’m too earnest. Sometimes I’m too honest. Often I find myself scourged by those I’ve scarred or belittled by those who feel that decency is a descent into obsequiousness. And often I find that it’s easier for them to let me slip through their fingers than for them to grasp the concept that true love is sharing the truth regardless of the consequence and offering kindness regardless of the circumstance."
I am a good friend. I am. I became the friend I should have been to others. I stop others from being abused. I stand up and I confront. And I don't back down. Ever. I make people treat each other with kindness in my presence. And yet I'm still bullied. My activism is the impetus for the abuse. Because, people suck. They suck dignity and pride and self-worth and self-confidence from the marrow of mankind. Humanity enjoys abusing others. They like gang mentality. They're all lonely so they don't want to be alone. And they don't want to be stopped. So, they eliminate opposition from their lives. It's easier to remove the mirror than to face their sins. Yet it doesn't hurt me when I'm excised. It's easier for me too. I don't have to see and I don't have to be responsible.
Yet I understand that if I don't exclude myself from participating in the abuse then I include myself amongst the cruel and the taunting. And I understand that I'll be excluded and ridiculed for my stance. Yet I rise to my feet and I raise my voice. Because I see it. And I am held responsible.
So did I wear purple on October 20, 2010?
I wore black and blue. My heart's been bruised by the inhumanity of mankind. I didn't decorate myself as a statement for the sake of inclusion in a societal rant. Yet I do make a statement. I make verbal statements. I prevent the abuse of others for the sake of their inclusion each time I see exclusion occur. And I write my faults and my failings and my hurts and my heartaches. And I'm humiliated by the exposition. So why do I do it? I offer an echo.
Does it get better?
It depends on you. You be better. You be kinder. You include. Bullying happens everywhere. Start seeing it. Start stopping it in your home.
Don't you understand? It's not about you. It's about us. About us ... Abuse.
Now make no mistake: I knew better. I was taught to be better. I chose to be what I was. I've chosen to be what I'm attempting to become.
And to amend my life, Amen.