(Cont’d from Survivors of Cruelty Pt. 1)
From early childhood through my mid-teens, everything about me was up for scrutiny; my skin color, my name, my voice, my clothing, my quiet demeanor… Little did my bullies know or even care, their antics was just one circle of hell I’ve had to navigate in my youth. And so, I was picked apart nearly daily, something that seemed to worsen as my grades improved and I gained favorable attention from some of my teachers. I wasn’t the target of just my classmates, but also the peers in my neighborhood.
Over time, I unwittingly sided with my bullies by internally ridiculing myself for not being perfect enough, pretty enough or outgoing enough. In addition, I was manipulated and taught to lie by some impressionable people in my life. Though it was a skill used to benefit the persons in question, it came in handy when burying some particularly traumatic incidents that led me to build a wall around myself.
During my regression, writing and drawing became my outlets to release some of the pain, but I knew I couldn’t remain within the fortress of my imaginary world forever. As a result I grew resentful and developed quite a temper by the time I reached junior high school. My mother always made it clear that I could speak to her about anything, but being that she was coping with a number of hellish problems at the time, I didn’t want to burden her with my troubles. Ironically, it’s this evasion that eventually led me to do just that.
As for my step-father (who I consider my true father), the disciplinarian of the family, I didn’t quite understand him at the time. He always encouraged his children to strive for nothing but the very best. Got an A on the test? Why not an A+? With age, I’ve come to understand the reason behind his outlook and that he always had the best of intentions. His stern methods were reflective of the era he grew up in. Even so, in my hormonal pre-teen/teen years, he often seemed like an intolerable drill sergeant (sorry Dad, I gotta be honest).
A person can bottle up their emotions for only so long and outlets can only do so much. For years I endured emotional and occasionally physical assaults via bullies (and sometimes strangers) to a point where I no longer felt like a person. I felt as though I didn’t belong; in my school, my environment, or my life. Even so, I put on a brave face, pretended things were okay even though my spirit was screaming for peace and acceptance.
The rage and depression mixed like vinegar and baking soda. It was only a matter of time before I, and the people around me, would see the explosive results. I was in either the 7th or 8th grade when I decided I would make an example of at least one of my tormentors. I was never a violent person, but like a cat, when it’s backed into a corner and tortured long enough, they’ll eventually lash out. Still, it’s not something I’m proud of. Luckily, my mother, who was—and still is—even sharper than my intended weapon, caught wind of my intentions and put an end to it. Understandably, she was growing increasingly concerned at my uncharacteristic behavior and did her best to set me straight.
I eventually grew to understand that hurting my bullies wouldn’t ease my suffering. In my life, bullies passed the invisible torch from one to the other. Some would move out of my life while others made their cruel introductions. It was a life sentence. At least that’s what I thought at the time. Sure, hurting others was wrong and would make me no better than my tormentors, but I figured I had the right to hurt myself. So, I decided to end it all. Thankfully, my suicide attempt was fruitless. Even so, I regret the strain that was put on my mother as a result. Strangely enough, it wasn’t until shortly thereafter, when I was nearly shot in a random crossfire, that I realized I still had much to live for.