Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Just Cause

I am a person who hates an injustice.

Recently I have discovered that it has been a theme in my life. I always fight for justice. Justice in myself and justice for others, I tend to stand up for the injustice of it all. So it was recently that I remembered that I was not always just in my life.

The memory came to me upon reflection. I was in 6th grade and I remembered bullying a young red headed girl in my school. I'm not proud nor am I exactly sure why it happened, but I definitely singled her out for whatever reason. She probably pushed some of my buttons, so I decided to make her a target of my anger.

I called her ugly. Daily.
I preyed on her because I considered her to be weak.
I intimidated her with physical threats like my brother had intimidated me, and I was good at it because he was a pro at terrorizing me.

As I reflected on this memory, I remembered her face. Scared and red from crying, she tried her best to let me know she wasn't going to take it lying down. But I knew she was and I wanted it that way. And I used it against her. It didn't go on for very long, as our parents were called and discussions took place between me and my parents and it was swiftly put to an end. And again, I'm not sure why I had chosen this innocent girl to unleash my special kind of terror.

Maybe I knew I was stronger.
Maybe I decided that she would be my target because I was sick of being his.
Yet I can't get the image of her frightened face out of my mind today.

So I want to say to you, Michelle, I am deeply sorry for any pain I caused you back in 6th grade, on the play grounds of the Sheehan school. I'm sure I was sorry then, but I am certain I am very sorry now. My hope is that you have forgiven me for my adolescent angst against you and that it may bring you some perspective to share with your own children.Maybe even a nugget of wisdom.

Because there must be some justice in that...


MarkD60 said...

I remember bullying this kid named Kevin Roberts. He was way bigger than me, and one day he just turned around and punched me. I just stood there. I told myself that I didn't fight back because we were on stairs.
I remember a girl in first grade everybody teased because she was skinny, sad, and came from a poor family. I never picked on her, but I remember her face, just like you describe.
We owe a debt of kindness that can never be fully re-paid.

Anonymous said...

Just think..if you ever embark on something like Flatliners you're covered!

the walking man said...

In 4th grade a nun stood me up beside my desk every single day and pointed out all my deficiencies.

Not as smart as my older siblings
Belly wouldn't let my always food stained shirt stay tucked in
Lack of attention
on and on and on
and always ending with me submitting to her wooden ruler across my knuckles.

It taught the kids I went to school with it was OK to target their venom on me. which in their group think they had no problem doing because they knew, as well, I was too scared to fight back.

Then I committed the ultimate sin, on confirmation day my "sponsor" was the only black face in a standing room only church.

I took it, I spent an hour a day trying to figure out which would be the "safest" way home so I didn't eat snow or dirt or get drooled on while two older boys sat on me.

My parents either never cared, knew, or were pacifists. WTF they really didn't like me that much either--4th out of five and really not a good student coming from parents with 5 degrees between them. My father used to actually set my older brother on me.

Then I discovered mescaline, LSD, weed and how to isolate. At the same time I shot up 6 inches which made my 240lbs a better match, and my current size today, 50 years later. I figured that I knew what it was like to get hit and abused, but I didn't know what it was like to actually fight back.

The first time was pure emotional reaction, I wasn't even being the one picked on that day, but I went frog and jumped anyway and beat one of the "cool kids." That was 10th grade. If I had only known earlier I could have saved a few years of bullshit.

By 12th grade I beat a bigger kid than me, a jock and school prince, badly enough to beak his jaw, and concuss him with a few other minor injuries. The school's reaction was to simply graduate me 6 months early and ask me to not return.

I haven't used my fists in about 30 years now, but I will still never stand down, I sleep better at night knowing I stood up.

The thing is i cut off all contact with the people I went to school with for almost 35 years and when i finally did go to one of those reunions and saw all those fat old men and women they were all gracious, kind and had heard of the books, wanted to buy them. A writer in their midst with nothing to say beyond platitudes, as we had absolutely nothing in common. I wasn't VP or CEO of anywhere, never left the city, didn't own a mansion or have beautiful children with perfect teeth or any debt.

I am glad I went though, no one seemed to remember or want to have a go again at that never forgotten period of my life.

I had learned as TWM that it was that nun, who gave them permission to target the weak. Just as your brother gave you permission. Adolescence is all about using learned knowledge to navigate that small world.

I am certain that your "target" remembers but my belief is she has also come full circle and forgave you years ago. The only other option is a lost life, most people I found out will do whatever it takes to not lose their life to a past they had no control over.

Asking her forgiveness is good, you may or may not ever hear from those lips one way or the other---if you have been carrying this baggage all these years it becomes more of a question of have you forgiven yourself? Personally I say let it go.