Don’t Look Too Hard

I got to thinking about this family I used to know when I was a kid. They lived really close to us and were a really nice family. The kids were a good bit younger than me, but the older one was in my brother’s grade. She was a really nice kid and very athletic. Her brother was about three years younger than her. She was 4 years younger than me, but her mom let us all play together and I guess I was almost like a babysitter. We played with another kid down the street who was the same age as this girl and my brother. It was pretty fun. We played a lot of baseball and Nintendo.

Down the other side of the street from my house were a bunch of other families. The house to our right had a boy one year older than me and a girl one year younger than me. She invited me over once and we had fun but then two girls from other families down the street came over and turned mean girl on me, forcing me to leave and go home. One of these girls told me every time I saw her that she hated me and I needed to go home. She was 3 years younger than me but she would get all these other kids to be mean to me so I would leave. I never understood why..

Most of the boys in those families were mean to my brother too, but my father intervened once and everything changed. He could play with them without the drama I had to endure. I hated even walking down that part of the street because this girl Lisa was so vicious. I will never understand why some people are nasty like that. I never even did anything to her and I tried to be friendly to her too.

Today I randomly remembered the first family I was talking about and I wanted to see if I could find them on social media. I actually did. And then as I weaved through their friend lists, I found all of the other families that lived near us. They were all friends with each other, despite going to different colleges, and living adult lives of their own. Most of them still live in that dumpy city where they grew up.

I wish I hadn’t looked any of them up. I wish I could learn that these memories are better left undisturbed and dusting them off and actually remembering hurts me more than actively forgetting these painful parts of my past. I wish I hadn’t had to live in that stupid city for four years. It was so bad that we moved 45 minutes away and my dad had to commute to work. My mom wasn’t able to get a job there because every single interview she had, they would ask her where she was born or if she was born in that city. She’d say no and they would abruptly end the interview. This happened repeatedly.

My parents always thought I had a great time those 4 years we lived there. I didn’t. I was bullied in the neighborhood, on the bus, at school, and pretty much at every activity I tried in the city. It was sucky. I had a couple of good friends that made it decent enough that I didn’t actually kill myself, but I was close several times because these people were just so mean.

I feel that sometimes here, and I definitely felt it in the military. Like people get so set in their ways, with their friends, and their coworkers that anyone new is a threat to their happiness. Instead of trying to make new friends, they chase off any new person who could’ve actually been the exact friend they needed in their life at that moment.

I just feel like crying now. Those days back then were the worst. I hate how much it hurts to remember that rejection. What was just a quick search to check on some old friends turned into pulling in too much pain and sadness. Remembering a time when all I heard from most of the people around me was how ugly I was, how I had nothing good to offer, how I should just move back to where I came from, and how everyone would be happier if I just killed myself because I was too ugly to even look at. I never wanted to move away from the city I was born in. And I never wanted to treat anyone the way I was treated for most of my life.

I never fit in anywhere. I was never good enough for anyone. I was just a non-human, someone meant to be abused and mistreated. Someone disposable and worthy of nothing more than being a punching bag. It really surprises me that I actually made it. Everything was against me for so long that I don’t even know how or why I kept pushing forward. Bullies suck. And if I ever found out my kids were treating anyone the way I was treated, I would make sure they knew how close I was to ending it all as a teenager because words do hurt, so much more than actual physical violence.

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