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posted Feb 25, 2012, 11:15 PM by Mr. M   [ updated Feb 25, 2012, 11:15 PM ]

Bullied by Mr.m

A reflection on how being bullied influenced my personal development.

This was written very stream-of-consciousness, and I hope folk will forgive the disorganized thoughts.


I hate the idea that I was bullied. I don’t like thinking of myself as a victim. Whenever I think about my childhood I tend to retreat to my childhood decision that I was a hero triumphing over the odds. I was a Prevailer, not a target. But I was. I realized in the middle of high school that I had somehow accidentally created in myself the ultimate bully-target. Bullying, as any school teacher will tell you, is not about hurting someone. Like rape, it is about power. Power over another person, and social status gained by achieving that power. Given enough time it is a rape, the rape of a child’s mind.


I have Aspergers, but when I was a child we didn’t have that word. I wouldn’t be diagnosed until college. So when I was young I was simply socially awkward, bad with people, lacking in whatever that “it” is that enables people to make friends. I was jealous of the losers in movies and books, they always had one or two friends that they were “losers” with. I never did. My first taste of friendship came in high school. My first real lasting friendships wouldn’t occur until years after that. Until then though, I was the perfect target for power-seekers. For those who don’t know starting at 8 years old I was a competitive figure skater. When my knees were ruined at 18 I was training with gold medalists heading for the competition that is two steps before nationals. I’ve also always been a big person. So there I was; socially isolated, tall and broad, and physically capable. What this meant in the world of bullying is that starting a fight with me had two possible results: 1. You lose, but that’s ok, he’s a big guy. At least you probably hurt him. Nobody likes him anyways. That means no social repercussions except for that one big guy who never starts fights not liking you. That’s actually a plus, it puts you on the side of everyone else who doesn’t like him. Well done. 2. You win. Sweet, you beat up that kid no one likes. Everyone likes you better. And you get reputation points for taking on the big guy and winning. Awesome.  


I never lost a fight. I took pride in that, foolishly. You’d think this would have helped. But it only made it fair in the minds of middle-schoolers to use ambush tactics and to attack with more people. If you could take me down, your reputation would be made.  


The point is, there was never a down side to fighting me. By doing so you either gained, or gained a lot.


What I didn’t understand until recently was how this was shaping me. I never gave the bullies credit for it. I blamed the Aspergers, or a close affinity with nature, or my preferred reading material. But if I want to be honest, it was this constant state of siege that created who I am today in such a significant way. Under siege. That’s what I was. When my attackers learned that a face to face fight wouldn’t work they tried other ways. Football players heading to their seats behind me in English would leap into the air to drive elbows into my neck when the teacher was looking away. T’d hallways and empty classrooms were ideal for throwing pepper into my eyes to blind me before attacks. In 7th grade the PE teacher needed to check something in the locker room, this was taken advantage of as a chance for all the boys to converge on me at once…the girls cheered. My life was under the Sword of Damocles…and this taught me.


A couple years ago I taught a situational awareness class alongside a friend. He made an offhand remark “…he has a personal space bubble, it’s just 20’ in diameter.”


I have one of the most highly developed fight or flight mechanisms of all the people I know. It is constant and finely wound. The lasting lesson from my formative years came in the form of perceived intent. It’s not that everyone is going to hurt you, but rather than everyone wants to. The predominant desire of my world was that people wished me pain. Therefore my default stance had to be defensive. It was the only way to survive.


Now comes the time to remind people of my Aspergers once again. I am incapable of reading non-verbal cues. Through constant exposure I generally see when violence is coming, but understanding affection and good regard is vastly more difficult for me. 80% of human communication is non-verbal. 80% of our language, I do not speak. I don’t know how to do those unconscious little maneuvers that tell people I like them, that I’m joking, that I’m upset. I therefore resort to the plain spoken or the over dramatic, often coming across in some way as offensive, as I struggle to understand and be understood. A large portion of my social development was retarded because of these things. In many ways I am far behind where I should be in my reactions to relationships. Between my lack of understanding how, due to the Aspergers; and the lack of opportunity, due to my social status in groups; I recognize that in terms of certain skills I remain years behind where I should be.


I am only now starting to see through the haze of mistrust. It’s not fear, it’s more primal than that. It’s a gut understanding of kill or be killed as applied to “civilized” humanity. I am writing this as a hopefully step towards overcoming it. That does not mean I am at all close to doing so. Due to the origins of such things my hackles are significantly higher among men than women. It has nothing to do with their capacity, it has to do with history. My mind perceives men as likely enemies, women probably neutral.


Insults are declarations of war. Playful slaps are shots fired. I am in a Rocky Horror cast and I have an understanding that unlike everyone else I don’t get birthday spankings, because I truly fear that before thinking I might let fly. I have never in my life started a fight; I have never committed violence beyond what was offered me; I have never lost my self-control; I have never raised my hand to a woman in violence (there’s a difference between play and violence); and yet I fear it.


When something is that instinctual, it becomes personal. Insults lobbed my way do not skim across the service but are lodged deep in the seat of my conscious mind, because they might well be the precursors to attack. Any insult, at any time. They are taken personally, because they might be the only warning I have of upcoming pain to my person.


I want to end this with a discussion of the silver lining. The hidden gift that this world gave me in exchange for the blood spilled.


Being bullied made me a better Dom.  


I have a full understanding of how intent can shape reaction more than any physical demand. I understand pain in all its forms; mental, physical, emotional, spiritual; on a level impossible to know without the experience that comes with adversity. I know how words can hurt, and how touch can heal. I know the desire for acceptance and love that all of us carry within us, and I know how much it can survive. I know what it is to look for something you think is beyond finding. I know the joy of acceptance, and the fear of rejection. For over 20 years I have been the brutalized student of human behavior. Being bullied helped make me all that I am; the monster and the medicine man, boy and man, the hurt with head held high.