What’s the hardest thing to do after a loss? Trust, again. Hear the phone ring and know it’s not a crisis siren, hear the love in someone’s voice and know he’s not going to die. Fracking getting up in the morning, with all it entails; you’d like to stay mired in your fear and your anger and your very special alone-ness for all of time, but contact is inevitable, leading to information bleed. We have to start over. We have to keep moving. We have to meet each other and change and push and love each other. We don’t know any other way to do this. We don’t have any other choices. And so she steps forward, into his arms.
He probably found solace in being good at something and eventually realizing that being able to throw a ball for a high school team wasn’t the end all and be all of life. He left high school, left college and began to find himself in a world where different was embraced. He was chosen for a show that celebrates that in its own way and allowed him to create his own power.
The first chance he got to take his skill and his power and give some hope to someone else, he turned into a bully.
I went to my 10th high school reunion a few years ago. I wasn’t the most picked-on kid in school, but I certainly wasn’t the least, either. I was awkward and over-eager and didn’t quite understand how social cues (or fashion) worked for a long time. I always said the wrong thing, too loudly. I always hung around too long. And I had frizzy hair and buck teeth that could open a soda bottle, and kids are assholes, really.
And even after I had friends, and was making professional progress, and had a life, I still felt a little bit like an underdog all the time, and pushed too hard all the time, and was afraid of failure all the time, and figured it was just a matter of time until the people who liked me realized I was a loser and dumped me for somebody cooler or more fun. These aren’t THE WORST PROBLEMS EVAR, like I was born white in America so let’s all calm down, but they were things I noticed I was doing as a result of what had happened to me.
So I went to my 10th reunion intending to be all IMMA SHOW YOU PEOPLE, with my kickass husband and my stories about how I was doing exactly what I said I was gonna do when I lit out of town like my ass was on fire. And I looked around the room, and realized that everybody in that room had been trying to do the best they ever could, and some of us really screwed it up. Some of us had been bullies and some of us had been bullied and some of us had been weak and looked the other way, and absolutely nobody gave a shit about any of our excuses or reasons but us.
The most pernicious thing about bullying is that the minute you think about it, you’re alone with it, with something that happened to you that didn’t have to happen, and you have to take that in. As long as you’re passing it on, it’s just how kids are and it’s necessary for their emotional growth and blah blah blah all the shit we throw out there to perpetuate the cycle.
You have to stop and let it hit you: something happened to you that you couldn’t control, that wasn’t right, that wasn’t your fault. And that you have to be okay with now, in order to get up out of the crash position, and know that when someone offers a hand to you they’re not going to turn around and slap you with it a second later. That’s the hardest thing in the world to do, because it’s the easiest, because it’s up to you.