There are quirky things I’ve done that I can look back at and laugh. Those are easy to share now that I know we all do silly things. What I have a hard time with, are the cruel things I have done to other people, things I can never take back.
When you are hurt or humiliated by someone, most people react with anger. Some control it better than others, but the majority are going to respond with some version of anger. It is in this regard I have committed my most regrettable actions.
I do want to make sure I am clear on something before I dive into one of my more unforgivable transgressions: Just because I attempt explanations into why I did things, I am not trying to justify or excuse it. I merely want to understand, to learn.
Entry 1: Hope
Unfortunately, my response to being bullied was to keep passing that pain right along. From 1st-6th grade I had to stay in daycare after school until a parent came.
From 1st-5th grade, I was one of the younger kids. I was as unpopular there as with my own classmates. A teacher who felt sorry for me tried to help. This resulted in being called a teacher’s pet so I became snotty to the teacher.
Obviously she left me alone at that point. I’m sure she understood what happened. If it had been a normal teacher I wouldn’t feel bad about it, but she was not normal.
I’ll call her Ms. Crystal since she talks to crystals. She was in her 40’s at the time, still living with her mother and 15 cats. To this day she’s never had a significant other, and gets life advice from her crystals. Draw your own conclusions.
** I’m not dissing crazy cat ladies. I have been one my entire life. **
I won’t go into the things I did to her. It was typical mean kid stuff, and she started handling bratty kids long before I was born. I don’t think she lost any sleep over it.
The problem I want to talk about started the next year. When I went into daycare after my first day of 6th grade, I was suddenly the biggest kid there. My tormentors were too old for daycare. I ruled with an iron fist.
More accurately, I ruled with my lackey’s kicking legs. Two girls a grade below me decided it was better to be the devil’s right hand than in her path. I thought we were really friends, but that’s a different topic.
If we wanted a game, we took it. If someone wanted to play with us, I decided if they got to play. When the building was being remodeled that summer, we had to spend 6 hours on the 102 degree playground everyday. We took a huge thermos full of ice water and sold it for a quarter a sip. Looking back, it was more cruel of the teachers not to take us for water breaks.
I guess I have to talk about the little girl now. I’ll call her Hope, I deserve the sadness of it. Hope is 3 or 4 years younger than I am.
She was new to the school and didn’t have any friends. She also had a lazy eye and spoke too softly. Did I feel any sympathy considering all the years I had been made fun of for my appearance and nervous tics? Hell no. I was a little psychopath.
I was so cruel to her, she always walked away crying. She couldn’t make friends, every other week the poor kid tried again. She kept coming back, and I got worse each time. Eventually, it would go beyond mere name calling.
One day we were outside for snack break. She approached us again. I previously told her, next time she would get hurt. As soon as I saw her I didn’t even give her a chance to speak, I just told Lackey 1, “Kick her good.”
Lackey 1 didn’t hesitate. She stood up and kicked Hope right in the shin. She tried so hard not to cry, but her face was slowly contorting into an expression I don’t want to remember. She took a few steps away and used a wall to slide to the ground. She sat, crying silently, holding her hurt leg until we had to go back inside.
Did we leave her alone and go back to our snacks? No, we stayed right there, laughing and making sure she heard us when we said this was all her fault.
I remember I was happy about it. My pain from earlier in the day was so fresh I was glad someone else was feeling it. I wanted everyone to know how tough I was here. I hoped my classmates would become afraid of me too.
You know how when you’re a kid, and get a sunburn, you can’t tell anyone because as soon as you did some jerk was going to come over and slap it? I never learned not to talk about my sunburn. It’s common knowledge I’m claustrophobic. There’s reasons for it but again, I’m avoiding tangents.
In class, we go to the bathroom by rows. Our bathroom had extra lockers in them. Two girls I desperately wanted to be friends with waited for me to come out of a stall, and said no one could fit inside a locker. I thought this was a chance to make friends.
“I could! I can fit!”
“Nu-uhhhh you’re way too big.” They teased.
“Can too! Just watch!” Easy peasy I crawled right into the oven.
“That doesn’t count, you can’t even close the door now.” These bitches were never satisfied.
“Of course I can, see!” I closed the trap with my own hands. “I have plenty of room in here!”
When I realized I was in a small dark space, I tried to open the door. It didn’t open from the inside. They wouldn’t let me out if I was desperate. Very calmly I said, “Alright, you can open it now, we should get back.”
No answer, they were gone. Time to panic. I began throwing myself against the door screaming for help. I almost passed out when my panic attack wouldn’t let my breathe.
Finally the next row came in. As the door opened someone called out, “Teacher said if you don’t get back right now you’re in trouble.”
I called for help again. A few more girls gathered to laugh. “Hey I know, let’s leave her and tell teacher we couldn’t find her!” The first girl said.
“But teacher will be mad when she tells on us.” Another girl said when they stopped giggling.
I tried to stifle the sounds of my hysterics while they decided my fate. If they smelled fear they were more likely to leave me behind. I could barely breathe, I was suffocating. Please listen to that girl, yes I’ll tell on you! I’ll sing like a canary! Get me out.
“There’s 3 of us, we can say she’s a liar liar pants on fire!” Problem solved. They left me.
A few minutes after they left the teacher came looking for me. I was crying so hard, I blurted the truth and she believed me. She let me clean my face up before we went back, I appreciated that. When we got there she told the girls who were involved they could lie, but she knew the truth and it better not happen again. The class was laughing so hard it made my ears hurt.
I was miserable, all I could think about was pushing that pain onto someone else. I wanted to be rid of it. I did the only thing I knew how. I did something worse to Hope. I watched with smugness as Hope cradled her leg.
Later that day when I saw Mom pull into the parking lot, I went inside to get my bag. My stomach did a flip when I returned to see Hope speaking to Mom. I knew the look on her face meant she was aware of the other kids and teachers listening around her. It also meant she would murder me as soon as she got me alone.
While Hope was still ratting me out, I ran to Lackey 1 and told her to unleash hell as soon as we drove off.
As soon as the car doors and radio were safely containing the sounds of her voice, she started in on me. I intended to go to my happy place and return when it was over, but she said something wrong. She thought I kicked Hope, but I corrected her because I’ll be damned if I’m going to sit through a single word more than I must.
She doesn’t believe me at first, but I had witnesses and I was still fully riled up. I told her she can either believe me now or I can get my lackeys to tell her what happened. Mom actually turned the car around to go back. I was thrilled. She hates being wrong so much, I knew as soon as they told her I didn’t do the physical kicking, she would pretend this incident never happened.
Mom didn’t go to the teacher or my lackeys, but to Hope. She bent down to speak to her at eye level, and in a loving, motherly voice I rarely heard asked, “Sweetie, didn’t you say my kid kicked you?”
And Hope, whose victory smile faded to confusion replied “No, but she..”
Mom’s sweet nurturing face turned to the cold, icy glare one would expect to see if they were about to be eaten by a dragon. She cut Hope’s words off mid-sentence. “But you told me my kid kicked you!”
Hope tried to speak, but all she could do was stutter. She had no idea what to think of Mom now. Mom walked away so fast I had to run to keep up. I was smart enough to keep my mouth shut so she took me to McDonalds on the way home.
When I got to daycare the next day, Hope had bruises all over both legs. Lackey 1 had taken my orders to heart. It should have been more than enough revenge. Especially since I not only got away with it, I was rewarded with my favorite food. Instead of leaving her alone, I felt I needed to be sure she wouldn’t try something like that again.
Later that day on the playground, my lackeys and I approached her. I put on the nicest act I could and apologized for everything. We told her we felt terrible and wanted to play with her now. Would she play tag with us?
She was so happy she started to cry again. None of us hesitated to go through with what we planned. If anything, we were more excited it was working so well. I had taken something done to me that was so cruel I thought it would kill me, yet I was gleefully planning to inflict the same fate on Hope.
To set the scene and make it even more believable, Lackey 2 was it first. We chased each other around the teachers so they could see how chummy we were being. After a few minutes we tagged Hope and it was her turn to be it.
As planned, I lead her on a chase off the grass and through a patch of gravel. I let her get just close enough to make sure she followed me between the trees rather than going around. I pass through with no problem, but as she tries to pass, Lackey 1 sticks a leg out to trip her.
She was running full speed. She didn’t just fall down like we pictured, she flew. She went sprawling into the gravel and slid a good distance once she landed. She started crying again. From the angle she was tripped, the teachers could only see tree.
When they came to check on her, they believed they saw the whole thing. It didn’t matter we were telling them she tripped while we were playing because that’s exactly what they saw.
Hope tried to tell them what really happened, but Ms. Crystal told her, “You only think that’s what they did because you aren’t use to them being nice. I’m sure you just tripped on one of these tree roots.”
They took her to the office to clean her scrapes. This incident was the last straw for Hope. She endured through so many hardships, but now she knew we couldn’t be trusted even if we did let her play with us.
I wish this was the worst I have done to someone, but sadly it was just the easiest to talk about. Several years after high school I couldn’t even remember her real name anymore. I found her in an old yearbook so I could look her up on Facebook but still couldn’t find her.
I wanted to apologize for everything. I wanted to tell her I was sorry and didn’t know any better, but that was no excuse. I wanted to tell her I had also suffered in case it would make her feel better.
Then I thought about all of my bullies. So many kids made me wish I were dead. So many made me cry every morning I woke up knowing I had to go back to that place. I hid in bathrooms to cry. I wore long sleeves in summer so people wouldn’t see the cuts and say I was trying to get attention like that girl who was stupid enough to cut herself wrist to elbows on both arms and wear short sleeves the next day.
I never want an apology from any of those people. I struggled through every single day I attended school for 12 years. I wouldn’t go to college because of these people. I just wanted to never see or hear from them again. Their apologies would mean less than nothing to me. I would be upset they had sought me out and made contact with me after all these years of trying to forget them.
For that reason, I never looked for Hope again. Maybe the coward inside me plays a part too. I wouldn’t know how to begin to apologize for such heinous acts, and nothing I ever say could excuse it. Either way, the end result is the same. Hope, if you are out there somewhere, I really am sorry. You deserved so much better.