Bully’s Remorse

by Bill Brenner on August 19, 2010

There was a kid in high school everyone used to pick on. He had a monotone voice and was frail. Kids were terrible to him, including me.

Mood music:

[spotify:track:5Qy0zLjQy3czoj0yZ7DFkk]

For you to understand what I’m about to get into, a review of the 12 Steps of Recovery are in order, with special emphasis on 8 and 9:

1. We admitted we were powerless over [insert addiction. Here’s mine]—that our lives had become unmanageable.

2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. [Here’s what I’ve come to believe]

3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

So I’ve been thinking about my former classmate a lot these days. I haven’t seen or heard from him since the day we graduated 23 years ago. I often wonder where he is, what he’s doing and if he’s ok.

He was the kid everyone made fun of — brutally. And I was probably one of the biggest offenders for the first two and a half years of high school. On the surface he took our taunts with an expressionless face. How he reacted out of view I can only imagine.

There were a lot of bullies at Northeast Metro Tech (it used to be “Vocational School” and we all called it the Voke) and I was made fun of a lot. I was picked on for being fat, for my lack of skill in sports and other things real or imagined.

So what did I do after being picked on? I turned around, found the kids who were weaker than me and attacked them verbally and physically. Mostly verbal, but I remember throwing punches on occasion. Some of it was the reaction to getting picked on. Most of it was from the growing chip on my shoulder over my brother’s death and other unpleasantness at 22 Lynnway in Revere.

By junior year, I had lost a lot of weight and grown my hair long. I was deeply into metal music by then and I started to make friends among some of the so-called metalheads. He had also latched onto metal as a refuge from his pain (he was also pretty religious), and we started to relate over music.

Junior and senior year I made a big effort to be nicer to him, and in the mornings before classes began I would hang out with him. Or, I should say, I let him follow me around. I was still a jerk but was trying to be nice because I was under the influence of another brother, Sean Marley.

So why have I been thinking about him? Because I don’t feel like I did enough back then to set things right. It’s one of my big regrets.

At our 20-year high school reunion in 2009, someone mentioned seeing him at a bus stop going to work.

Sometime soon I’m going to track him down. I have a couple leads on his current whereabouts.

I simply want to say I’m sorry. Someone once suggested I want to make amends to make myself feel better; that I want everyone to see how cool I am doing things like this and writing about it. Maybe there’s some truth to that — the first part anyway. But it’s about more than that. I want to get to know the dude again, if he’s up for it.

If I get to make my amends, you won’t be reading about it here. Righting a wrong will be good enough for me.

bullies

 

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Ignatius' friend August 19, 2010 at 7:13 am

Good one Bill, thanks!

Sandy August 19, 2010 at 4:28 pm

Wow, you’ve come a long way…though I don’t remember you being a bully. I didn’t know him, too caught up in my own little world. I have read some of your other posts and I just had to say that I think it’s great what you’ve done in service to others and for writing this blog.

Laura Coy August 24, 2011 at 10:07 am

Sometimes I leave remarks on your blogs, but don’t necessarily know if they are even posted…I guess I don’t know if I am doing it right. As you mentioned above: I remember being picked on from as early on as 2nd grade all the way through Senior year of high school (alternative school, you know “short bus”, “the troubled kids”)…I got there by trying to kill myself. I still remember what one of the intake workers said about my overdose: “hey, you know that could get ya killed…hahaha”… trying to relate to the poor depressed girl. I replied, “yeah, that’s the point.”
Being tormented by my peers in one of the hardest things I have tried to let go of in my life. There is a pile of abuse material, neglect, alcohol and drug addiction (of my family), homelessness, being a foster child, being locked up in psyche…etc., that I could talk about…but, somehow being alienated by the people ( your peers), perhaps even those that could of helped you in that situation, hurt, and still does. If you remember me from “around the neighborhood”, Bill, its probably because I was the scapegoat for a lot of other kids nastiness, including my own sister. So, am I crying in my tea (sorry, I don’t drink), here? I hope not. I’m doing the best to let you know how your “friend” probably felt: useless, self-hating, desperate, and alone. I hope he was stronger than I was, I hope for you that he is doing well, and can laugh it all off. My personal opinion is that you are making amends to make yourself feel better. If you want this person to know how you feel, that you are sorry, that you wish you had not done the things you did…..don’t write a blog about it, don’t say: ” hey if you happen to see so and so let him know I wrote a blog about him, cuz I’m so fucking coo”l….hire your own private detective, find the guy, meet him face to face, and make your amends. That’s being a man. Abuse creates monsters, and what children do to each other while growing up is abuse, sometimes with fatal consequences. I wonder if Columbine would of even happened if adults had a “no tolerance” reaction to any abuse, because they know, and they let it happen all the time.

One story I know of, is of a young man who was overweight, and was made fun of all the time by his peers. Later in life he moved away, got totally jacked (monster quality muscles), and came back to the neighborhood he grew up in, and was tormented in. Needless to say, he beat every person who ever made fun of him….they weren’t laughing anymore. Tell me you never dreamed of that?

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