Very off topic: Why I won’t be at my high school reunion: This was a hard post to read, because I identified so closely with it. This guy is faced with his 25th high school reunion. High school was not easy for him.
I’m can’t even pretend that I wasn’t an easy target, or that I didn’t respond in a way that encouraged my tormentors. I was a hyperactive geek. My social skills were awful. I don’t think that I deserved the way that I was treated; but at the same time, I do think that my hyperactivity and my lack of social skills both helped make me such a good target, and discouraged anyone from intervening on my behalf.
But I don’t think that that excuses anyone who abused me. It doesn’t excuse the bastards who made up stories about me. It doesn’t justify the people who threw me against walls. It doesn’t explain the guy who broke my fingers, because he wanted to know what it would sound like. And it doesn’t absolve the people who watched, and laughed while that happened.
I didn’t get it as bad as this guy, for sure, but I got it bad. Junior high was worse for me. My freshman and sophomore years were no picnic either. But, thank goodness, I grew quite a bit from then on, and was big enough by my junior year to dissuade most abuse.
But I can tell stories. I remember a guy named Freddie Andrews who would urinate on my gym clothes every day after class after I put them in my locker. Everyone though it was hilarious. I knew it was happening, but had internalized enough learned helplessness that it was easier to just play it off.
I wrote suicide notes. I even wrote a hit list – the people I was going to take with me on my way out. We moved from California to South Dakota just before ninth grade. I was excited about a chance to start over, but the same things just kept happening. There didn’t seem to be much escape from it.
Thankfully, high school ended on an okay note. I was in a decent place by the time I left. But I still identify a bit with this guy when he writes this:
What the fuck is wrong with you people? Why would you think that I would want to have anything to do with you? How do you have the chutzpah to act as if we’re old friends? How dare you? I see the RSVP list that one of you sent me, and I literally feel nauseous just remembering your names.
[…] Stay the fuck away from me. I don’t want to hear about your lives. I don’t want to know how you’ve changed since high school. I don’t want to hear about your jobs, your spouses, your children. I’ve got a good life now, and I cannot imagine a reason in the world why I would pollute that world with contact with any of you.
Let me reiterate that high school wasn’t so bad for me, so, with my 20th reunion next weekend, I’m not in the same place (don’t worry everyone…). But had my experiences in junior high continued unabated until I graduated, then I just might be.