I wrote this on Twitter on September 23, 2015. I thought it would be less ephemeral if I collected the pieces here.
When I started junior high, I switched from public school to the local Catholic school. Parents felt it was a better education + Catholic.
I didn’t know anyone in that school, and I was very scared to switch. I dreaded it every day as summer wound down.
When I started at the school, no one tried to say hi. No one helped me. Teachers or students. I was terrified.
I remember being in a big gymnasium, sitting with all the other students, but by myself. They called people for band.
I played saxophone but was too scared to go. I just sat there. No one told me what to do. I was so afraid of doing the wrong thing.
I remember later following a few kids to class because I didn’t know my way around, & they turned around and told me to stop following them
I still was friends with people at my old public school. I remember inviting 3 or 4 over one night to hang out and stuff. I had lots of fun
It felt really good that they were still my friends. Then a couple weeks later another friend told me they were making fun of me.
They thought I was behaving stupidly when they came over and made fun of me to each other when I wasn’t there.
I don’t think I’ve ever really trusted people since then. I expect to get screwed over. That they’ll betray me behind my back.
In the new school, I had “friends” I guess, but they also turned their backs on me when I became an outcast. No one stood up for me.
No teachers ever intervened. No one did anything. And I didn’t have anyone to talk to about it, ever.
And for the rest of my life I’ve believed that there is something wrong with me. I’ve believed that things will always go bad.
That I am, despite everything to the contrary, alone.
This is what I have to conquer to be happy. I have to not be that 13 year old kid, suffering in silence, dreading each day at school.
If I can’t do that, I won’t ever be free of it. And I am so sick of feeling this way. Of how it suffocates my hope and faith in people.
How it tells me I’m worthless and stupid, and leaves me alone and crying in my car, as a 40 year old man.
I have to like myself. And I haven’t liked myself since I was 12.
I wrote all this for myself, to remember what I’m trying to do, but also so other people can hear about it and know they aren’t alone.
So, on the third day of 7th grade, I decided to try out for football. I had played softball for many years and was pretty good at it.
The athletic requirements of football were quite different, though. I started crying because I couldn’t do the pushups and situps.
Then we had to run laps around a big field, and I tried my best, but I was just defeated. I couldn’t do it. I sat down and cried.
One of the kids was able to get me up and I ran in with him, finally. But that was it. I quit. I was incapable of doing it.
Kids were so cruel. Nothing was worse than quitting at athletics. They’d call me pussy and wimp to my face. No one defended me, ever.
Why was I changing my clothes in a locker room full of strangers? What the hell was going on? It was terrifying.
In 8th grade I went out for basketball, and played one preseason game. Had no idea what I was doing. Eventually I was kicked off the team because I started stealing stuff out of other kids’ lockers. I was acting out, doing destructive shit, to fit in. To have some power.
I tried out for wrestling, god help me, later in 8th grade. Again, no idea what I was doing. I was so not in shape for this stuff.
My mom bought me wrestling shoes, and I remember her saying that I couldn’t quit if she bought them for me.
Eventually I told my mom I was kicked off because my grades were too bad. I told the coach my mom wouldn’t let me be on the team bc grades.
I remember being alone at night in the den, and thinking about dropping a piece of exercise equipment on myself to break my leg.
That way I would have an excuse no one could deny to quit.
There was a kid in our class who, Matt K., who was 16 (in 8th grade). Really troubled. Got in a lot of fights.
He and I would talk, and I thought I was his friend. we all kind of thought he was cool in a scary way because he talked about tough stuff
I was so fucked up by all this stuff that I started paying him to beat up people. I would give him a name & some kind of money of video game
Of course, other kids caught on to this quickly and paid him to beat me up. I remember him beating on me in the corner of the blacktop.
It was out of the view of the supervisory types, so nobody did anything. Eventually because I wouldn’t fight back he stopped.
But I kept hearing he was waiting to beat me up when I got off the bus. I didn’t go back to school the next day. Faked being sick for a week
I would stay up as late as I could, watching TV on the couch in the living room, because I didn’t want the next day to come.
Finally I decided I couldn’t go back. I made a plan to run away. I packed a duffel bag with clothes and stuff and a knife in it.
It was early in the morning and I was about to leave, and I heard my parents getting up. I hid behind a big chair in the living room
I could hear them go to my room to wake me up, and then worry in their voice, because they couldn’t find me.
They were starting to look all over the house, becoming more frantic. Finally I came out. I told them what I’d planned to do.
They decided I shouldn’t go to school and we’d try to figure out what to do. They called my therapist, who I’d been seeing a cpl months
She said she thought I should go into an inpatient clinic. We figured out that the closest one was an hour away in Michigan City.
They dropped me off there at 2am. I was there for two months. I never went back to the school. Teachers agreed to just pass me.
Saw a lot of shit in that hospital. Some stuff was good, some was pretty awful. Lots of things I won’t ever forget.
But one thing I’ll say is that for the first time in a couple years (long time for a kid), someone actually stood up for me there.
This 13yo punk rock kid named Dennis. We would talk late at night, and he’d tell me crazy stories about when he did heroin & shit like that
And one time he said “Ed, you’re cool. I mean, you’re a nerd, but you’re cool.” That was the best thing that happened to me that whole time.
Thing is, I need to be able to tell myself that and believe it. I really haven’t, since I was 13 years old. It’s fucked with me for 27 years
I am not that kid anymore. I’m strong and good and not a failure. If I can’t tell myself that & believe it, doesn’t matter what anyone says
I’ve carried this shit around in my gut my whole life, because I thought it was who I was. But I was wrong, and I need to let it go.
If it takes me saying “I am a good person” out loud a million times, I’m doing it, because I’m not going to let it control me anymore.