An old shame

A word to the wise: Going into the therapist’s with a black eye is a good way to immediately start a number of awkward conversations. She insists that I have to start standing up for myself, but I can’t. I’ve never told her why, but I always make sure she knows that I can’t.

I’ve only fought back in a confrontation once before. It was last year, between Rose breaking up with me and my parents pulling me out of that particular school. The teasing was reaching its absolute peak. I’d lost all my friends since no one wanted to have my particular bad reputation rub off on them. I couldn’t walk down the halls without someone throwing an insult my way. Every day, I had to avoid three different bullies or else I’d go home bruised. It was not a good time.

It was in early April when Thomas cornered me alone in the bathroom. I remember that sick grin crossing his face when he knew he had fresh meat cornered and helpless. He hit me in the gut, calling me a number of homophobic insults. He slapped my face a few times, joking about how much I wished it was something other than his hand hitting me. He kicked out my leg, sprawling me out on the ground. I looked up and I saw the bottom of a shoe coming for my head. I have no idea what Thomas was thinking. He could have killed me if he’d hit me hard enough. I was lucky enough to roll out of the way and after that, adrenaline kicked in.

I was so sick of being beat on. I was so sick of all the insults and the degradation and the bigotry. I was being treated like less than a person. I’d taken it for too long.

Actually doing something other than just taking his blows stunned Thomas gave me the opportunity to get to my feet. I threw a punch at his face and connected. It didn’t do much, but it was a start. I gave him a shot to the stomach, just like he had earlier. It doubled him over, so I grabbed the back of his head and brought my knee up into his face. I still recall clearly the terrifyingly pathetic mewl Thomas made as his nose started bleeding.  Even more clear is how I felt as I brought my knee again into his face, and again, and again. It felt so good to finally return the favor for all the violence inflicted on me.

At some point I stopped, letting Thomas fall to the ground in a heap. I panted, feeling like I could take on the world. Then I heard him whimpering. I heard my bully crying. I looked at him and saw a broken child. The feeling of power slipped out of me I immediately ran out and called for help.

Thomas’s nose was seriously broken, and it was going to be an expensive fix. The only reason his parents didn’t sue my own was because they went to the same church at the time. Instead, my parents simply offered to pay for the medical bills. I was grounded for months. I was pulled out of that school before the week was over.

This is why I can’t let myself fight back. I enjoy it when I hurt people. I have to continue passive resistance, because I’m dangerous otherwise. I prefer to be Martin Luther King over Malcolm X, because I’d like being the latter far too much and I’d start hurting people for pleasure. I can’t become like that, so I take it.

I just keep taking it.

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