The Bully, -
my life as a victim
Chicago 1969 – nice cool mid spring morning. Walking to school, (3/4 mile), yep we did that back then, crossing Archer and Kedzie – busy intersection, no slow school zones, just traffic lights and a crossing guard. Guess people had enough common sense where they taught their kids how and when to cross a street and drivers were responsible enough and didn’t need so many special visual aids.
But enough of that for now – that is another page unto itself. It was the day of my first real encounter with what is referred to as a bully, a thief/robber in the early stages of life. Yep, pushed me around, poked me in the face, knocked me onto the ground, took my lunch and milk money. Said if I tell he would kill me. I was relatively small and weak. I was an easy target; afraid of everything … got smacked around at home a lot by a drunk … so when this big kid came up … I was terrified.
Word got around fast, so I became a test for not just one bully … but several. Became their personal punching and kicking and pushing dummy. And the verbal abuse was endless. I had a couple of friends but they were too scared also … so no help there.
I became angry … angry at the whole world … asking myself why … what did I do … ?? I am just a little kid.
I became rebellious, argumentative, and even more angry. But not just where the bullies were concerned, that was only the catalyst of what was to come. Learning that I was in a foster home, that my real parents abandoned me, abused me as a baby and then getting smacked and punched by a man that stood six feet two inches and a drunk at home – I didn’t understand, I couldn’t. Then I started fighting back and losing horribly. You can’t win when you have three bullies towering over you at the same time.
I went into a “shell” … drawing, writing, thinking, watching the sky and stars when I could – my social life was minimal. Always afraid, then one day while I was getting pounded on … something snapped … I came back fighting … this other kid had to stop me … I wasn’t stopping, my knuckles were bloody, it wasn’t mine. Roy came from a not so nice part of the neighborhood … he and his two older brothers were different from everyone else … but they weren’t bullies … they taught me. Not what your normal kid learns … or supposed to learn. How to fight mean … how to drink, how to swing a baseball bat, how to take a knife from someone … and the list goes on. Reform school, boys home, jail, courtrooms seemed to be a semi-annual event. And tie-ins with cops was a weekly thing.
As the years went by, I learned to fight – not to win – but to survive. New friends were made, got into a lot of trouble. It’s what happens when you grow up in pain and anger. I was no longer afraid – of anything, this was a very bad and dangerous turning point, I was now a part of the street. Cold, dark, eyes and ears sharp as a razor. But I stood out … I wasn’t a bully … I went after the bullies. Inflicting pain and fear … like they did to those that were weak and small. But I didn’t threaten to kill them … I threaten to cause them much more pain.
In China Town I met some nice people, one being an old man, he turned out to be a Shaolin Priest from Northern China, he escaped from there due to uprisings and persecution from the Mao Dynasty if I remember correctly. He took me in … and taught me a lot … more about people, peace, respect, hope. From there with his martial arts teachings and philosophical lessons of nearly five years, I managed to get “cleaned up” … went into the military for a while … but still had some trust and anger issues.
Today I reflect back on those times, what it taught me … being bullied was horrible, painful, physically and emotionally and mentally. But I survived. I grew to have a better understanding, compassion, tolerance and some patience. I am not perfect – not even close. Still have some anger and trust issues. And I even ask God to help me with those things … but my problem is me … I don’t fully let God do it. The good news is that I don’t go out hurting anyone … I am not that kind of person. Damn even the street gangs back in Chicago didn’t want anything to do with me. They never challenged me … and they wouldn’t accept me. Just left me alone, pretty pathetic.
I went to church – tried that for a while … learned a lot … but it just wasn’t working for me then. Held a few jobs – working on the truck docks (most open air) that means you froze your ass off in the winter most of the time. Worked in construction and then got a (no kidding) a desk job. Learned about skip tracing in a collection agency. There I learned about filing, phone etiquette, (go figure that). But that put me in another place … picked up work in a security firm doing surveillance and part of a security team. From there it was working bars/night clubs – bar-tending and security. I have worn many hats – been to many “rodeo’s” because of those bullies and the choices I made out of hate, anger, fear, pain and loneliness. But because of my awareness and willingness to survive it made me a better person. Or so I would like to think …
I would love to call those bullies out by name here … I truly believe some of them never really learned and still to this day behave as such. And if by some chance they had learned to read and are reading this, then they should know who they are … and with some self-respect and age … that they can learn something and become better people.
I got lucky … and blessed by God … I should have died many times in my life … but it didn’t happen. It is said we all have a purpose in life from God … many try to figure it out or ask “what is my purpose?”. I am one of those that do that, but if I would just shut up, listen and put my trust in God … I think he might tell me. Maybe He already has and I just hadn’t figured it out yet … guess that’s what happens when you get hit in the head too many times. But now I have pretty much stopped asking and just follow my heart, instincts, morals. And try to do what is right for the right reasons. Not for praise or recognition or reward … but because Christ wants me to, I had to humble myself again and reached deep – I forgave those that had hurt me, and am sorry to those I had hurt. This helped me to move on to a better place in life. I still struggle today with anger and trust, but it is getting better.
If you are victim of a bully – past or present. It’s ok – you can fight back … find a friend … talk about it … get help … but don’t follow my steps, it’s a very hard and lonely road and don’t follow those that have given up – that is when the bully wins.
Today – fifty-three years later and 900 + miles away – I have a wonderful wife, a nice home in a nice town and neighborhood. I have few nice friends that are good people, honest and hardworking. I have started my own business. Stopped smoking ten years ago and stopped drinking twenty-seven years ago. Go to church and listen to a preacher that doesn’t give a hell fire brimstone sermon but will certainly humble you if you have a heart and are honest with yourself. There is hope.