A wise person once said that “Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die”. What would happen if despite some of your best efforts there are times where you can’t help but continue to take sips of that poison because long after the fact you’ve been hurt, the memory can sometimes drive you mad, it stares you in your face like a nasty scar. The wound maybe closed but the memories will always remain. You continue to sip that poison because some days the memory hurts so badly that you feel as if the crime justifies the hate.Now bullying has been a common motif of my growth on the Autism Spectrum. Not many people understood me and thought I was weird and annoying. Lacking understanding of social pragmatics caused me to make more enemies than friends. I drove a lot of people away through what amounted the really bitter trial and error process known as life, A trial and error process that as I’ve mentioned before felt a lot like a game of Russian Roulette where every chamber seems to have a bullet. Some bullets however hurt way more than others and some of those wounds still feel fresh.
Though there were people who eventually looked past the mistakes I made, I met a few people that were merciless and would slash open wounds so deep that they’d feel fresh for years. Mentioning the names of these people would be rather classless and would get me sued so I won’t be saying names, I however hope that if you ever see this by some bizarre twist of fate and realize that you hurt me more than you realize. Though we were all young and though we didn’t all understand each other, your response to my flaws still hurt a bit to this day.
To a girl I harassed on in fifth grade,
Yeah I was pretty annoying, I constantly said I liked you even though you didn’t like me back and even wrote you a note that said “kiss me love girl”. You constantly told me I was retarded and one day a you and a two other people took my game boy and started passing it around. I ask why you were doing it and your response once again was “because you’re retarded”. I never truly understood just how sharp that word was until I finally understood who I was and realized how different I was. There was however one defining moment that would rattle me to my core, it was something you said that still haunts me to this very day. After everything, you looked at me and told me that “no girl would ever love you”. I didn’t think much about it in that moment, I thought you were bluffing but yet with every rejection and every moment I failed to court a girl those words seem to magically have a way in echoing in my head on repeat. I realize that this is product of me not always loving myself but it doesn’t help that it was said. Those moments can never be taken back and the past can’t be re-written but it does hurt at times. If I could go back in time as the person I am now I would explain myself and most importantly tell you that you needed some serious help. We were all young but some days it feels as if you knew exactly what you were doing yet you never acknowledged the consequences of your actions. I don’t think you ever realized that those words would stay with me in the worse way possible. I can only hope that you’ve grown up and that you’ve learn to treat others better and not to judge and remember that everyone has a story. Maybe one day when it doesn’t hurt as bad we can start over and I’ll be able to explain myself better. Maybe one day we can actually be good friends and all of this will be water under a bridge.
To my fifth grade teacher,
You told my mother on the day of my elementary school graduation that I wan’t going to get very far and that it would be good for me to repeat six grade. It would appear that you lacked even an ounce of faith and severely underestimated me. You probably thought that you were being honest and that maybe telling my mother what you thought the truth would force her to lower her expectations. What you didn’t realize however was that sometime a long the line I took those very words as a challenge. What you didn’t realize was that while you felt really comfortable writing me off, my mother and several other teachers I’d meet down the road saw a really intelligent person who clearly lacked the accommodations necessary to succeed and the room to make the mistakes needed to grow. I’ll admit I fell pretty hard and even came pretty close to actually repeating sixth grade. I even met another impatient teacher who reminded me of you. I just want to tell you that the kid you didn’t see getting very far graduated college two years ago on the Deans List with a 3.4 GPA and even came close to receiving Cum Laude. I doubted myself quite a bit and your words also haunted me. If it weren’t for my mother and several other teachers who saw potential in me, I doubt I would be able to push myself the way I do now. You’ve probably retired but I hope that you’ve learned never to judge a book by it’s cover. You’d be surprised what people can accomplish when you give them the right accommodations. I would hope that you’ve changed your ways and stopped slapping labels on people before they’ve had a chance to prove themselves. Maybe sometime along the line if I ever see you again I can explain to you where you went wrong as a teacher and help you realize that every student learns differently and that your cookie cutter methods leave more room for error than they do success.
To the former classmate who Took My Camera at a High School Graduation Party we attended and Yelled “Ha, (Name of Learning Specialist) can’t help you now,
I could write a book on how much I hated you and all the days I sometimes wished you were dead. Bet you thought you were real funny when you said those words. “Oh hey! we’ve all graduated so I guess this means I can be a colossal asshole and you can’t do shit about it” were probably the words going through your head. You don’t realize it but I felt rather insecure about myself and all the accommodations I received through out high school. I earned all my grades on my own yet when you said those words it gave me the impression that people assumed that my learning specialist did everything for me and that I practically hid behind her. I know that not everyone thinks the same way but when those words came out I didn’t know who from my graduating class I could trust. That fact that you said those words made me ponder on what everyone else may have thought of me. I’ll admit I kind of distanced myself from the people I graduated high school with because when I finally understood how truly different I was it was pretty hard to truly gauge how every single person felt about me. I tried really hard to convince myself that I was no different from people and that I was society’s definition of normal but when you said those words it totally shattered my perception of myself. Funny how you had the balls to save those words for when there was no longer anything I could do about it, made me wonder what else you had to say about me and I knew for a fact that there was so much more. I’ve come to realize however that over the years I knew you, you’ve had a lot of disgusting and messed up things to say about people. I just wanted to take the time to say that you are a coward. You waited until the last possible minute to say what you said because you knew there was not much I could do. You thought you were clever and probably got a few cheap thrills. Let me tell you a few things,
1. Karma is a cold hearted bitch and in this world, what goes around comes around. You will one day learn to regret every thing you have ever said to those you thought couldn’t hear you.
2. I earned my grades on my own, my learning specialist is simply there to make sure that the accommodations that I have the right to under federal law are being honored. I’m not sorry that I had the drive and dedication to get higher grades than you. I’m not sorry that your pride was probably crushed because me, Autistic kid graduated with a better GPA than you. I’m not sorry that your pride was also crushed when you realized I got a $500 scholarship from my school for graduation for earning the respect of every teacher in the school for pushing myself despite the challenges that lay before me. I am however sorry that you are insecure and I’m sorry that you’re coward. I hope you’ve grown a bit and understand that everyone is unique and that there is nothing wrong with being different. I hope you’ve realized that your words have consequences. Maybe sometime along the line when the wounds no longer hurt we can be grown men, get a few drinks and live life.
To my ninth grade physics teacher,
Remember that one day when you were helping me with an assignment and I just didn’t get it. Remember after explaining it to me several times and I didn’t get you kind of lost your cool and expressed in a really frustrated tone “What’s so difficult about this”? They say autistic people can’t read emotions nor can they understand when someone is frustrated but I did. I knew damn well you were fed up trying to explain the concept. I admit it, I didn’t get, no matter how many times you tried to explain it I just didn’t get it. You don’t realize it but when you let out that frustration I spent quite a bit of time feeling inadequate and broken. I though I was stupid and that I wasn’t capable of excelling in my work. Your frustration played in perfect tandem with my fifth grade teacher’s inability to have a single ounce of faith in me. We all lose our cool but it shouldn’t be lost when trying to manage with a student who simply struggled to get concepts. If I could go back I’d tell you that maybe you should try to explain thing differently and figure out what teaching method works for me and me only. I almost lost my faith in teachers because of you and if it weren’t for my 10th/11th grade math teacher’s kindness and patience, I’d still live my life underestimating myself and feeling broken. If you’re still a teacher I hope you’ve learned to adapt your learning styles to constantly changing groups of students the same way a Quarterback adapts to ever changing strategies from rival teams. I know you loved going on tangents about football and maybe this analogy will help you get it.
To the teenagers in that library who mocked my voice and threw things at me,
You laugh and giggled as you mocked the way I talked and threw things at me thinking you were so awesome. It’s kind of sick that you got cheap thrills off of trying to ruin my day. If I could go back in time I’d tell you all that an attempt to ruin someone’s day could ruin someone’s life. You were all only a few of many who thought it was funny to ruin my day but all of you never realized is that you almost ruined my life. It is people like you and everyone else that I’ve met and mentioned in this blog that almost made me lose trust in all humans. You didn’t even try to know me and already you attempted to write me off like I was a no one, a retard as people like you love to put it. I can only hope that you grew up and aren’t the ignorant assholes you once were. I doubt I’ll ever see you again but I can only hope that the next time you see someone different, you’ll accept them with open arms.
I’ll admit that I still have a ways to go when it comes to learning to love myself. I normally hate going in detail about a lot of these incidents but I feel like I needed to let them out. I repressed these and several other incidents of bullying for quite some time. There is way more than what I mentioned but I can’t recall all of them off of the top of my head. The ones I listed are the most vivid and are the incidents that left the larger scars that I walk with. I carried all of that hatred for a really long time but it seemed that the only person I hurting was myself. The hatred always ate away at me and yet these people lived their lives like nothing ever happened. I can’t say I forgive you yet but know that I try and that trying is better than nothing. Maybe one day when the wounds aren’t as fresh I can truly say “I forgive you”. Stay classy people and remember, hatred is a poison.