It would be ignorant of me to say that I am a product of bullying. There were many factors at play that shaped me into the person I am today. Bullying was just one of them and I will discuss these other factors at a later time but for now, this is a post dedicated to my first bully in an ongoing blog series. Please consider supporting me by commenting, sharing your stories in the comments, liking and sharing this entry if you feel you should.
Do you remember your first bully? I do. I remember being genuinely surprised at his behavior and to this day I still have no idea what spurred the encounter on. I was either five or six-years-old, still in nursery school so that would be 1991 or 1992. I’m a short guy, not a person of short stature or anything but just shorter than the average guy. (I definitely take after my Mom) So just imagine a little pipsqueak compared to the other boys in my school.
I was a happy kid I guess or at least I remember being happy, sensitive, friendly and always willing to help.
One day, I was walking towards the playground, where this awesome wooden castle was built. My friends and I used to love going up there, even Kevin the drama queen. From my perspective, this bully just appeared one day. While walking towards the castle, this boy just came out of nowhere and punched me in the stomach. It was a solid punch and it took the wind out of me. I started to cry and got really confused. I didn’t know who he was, what the punch was for and I remember thinking “What did I do wrong?” Afterward, I remember telling the teacher what had happened. She always used to call me Shorty and me being the sensitive little boy I was, started to develop a bit of a complex over my height. Whether or not that bully got into trouble I can’t really remember.
The next incident, quite possibly the same year happened on my birthday. Like other kids, that was my age at the time, I was a big fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I had a Michaelangelo suit and everything! It was customary for the parents to bring a cake to school if it was your birthday and my mom delivered. I remember her coming into the school. I was watching her from the castle and I got excited. I had asked for a Turtles cake a few days earlier and was super keen to see what it looked like. Admittedly, I was disappointed as the cake was pretty much bare bones with a bunch of icing on top and a Raphael mask placed in the middle. I was young and didn’t realize how broke we probably were at that point in time but kudos to Mom for coming through with a cake!
(For context, what would happen on these birthdays is that the birthday person would be in the middle of a circle, surrounded by his classmates. The birthday person would pick one child out of the circle so that they could share a piece of cake with you. It’s actually a pretty sweet sentiment now that I think about it.)
The next thing I remember is saying goodbye to my Mom and then the bully showed up again. He pulled me aside then shoved me into the wall. He held me by the throat and told me that when the teacher asked me to choose a friend that I must choose him. At that moment, I was fearful and confused. I was just so intimated by this boy who was much bigger than me and I didn’t like to fight because I was afraid of getting hurt. I simply agreed, not knowing what else I could possibly do. When the moment of the truth came, and I was asked to choose, I made a bee-line straight for the bully and selected him. Everyone was surprised but only because everyone, including the teachers, knew that this bully-boy that I picked was no friend of mine personally and told me to choose my best friend.
That was the first time I remember feeling grateful that somebody was looking out for me and in a position of power who allowed me to reconsider my selection. At the same time, I felt guilty. I had betrayed my friend, not that he seemed to mind, it was never spoken about but I did feel shame and remember being ashamed of feeling scared.
Fasincating, going so far back down memory lane and starting to use the knowledge I have now and identifying personality traits, moral choices, negative thinking that has led me to where I am now. I guess you don’t really know someone until you know their past, their experiences and everything in between.
I have no idea who I am and I feel that me going back and looking through these old memories that I haven’t thought about in years might give me some insight into who I am now and what experiences molded me into the person I am today.
This is going to be a long road and honestly, it’s emotionally exhausting. Just this one encounter has taken a lot out of me, emotionally and spiritually. So this will be an ongoing thing. The more I remember and think about, the more I can form a cohesive identity.
I hope you’ll join me for it.