I spent a vast majority of my day today reading about what is commonly referred to now as “bullycide,” or the act of a child taking his or her own life as a result of constant bullying and general torture. It is incredibly depressing, browsing through these stories, and it is also incredibly thought-provoking. Of course, in true self-absorbed fashion, this has made me reflect a bit on my own childhood.
I have stated in a previous post here that upon looking back I realized I had it easy. That comment, while true, is only applicable in comparison to those less fortunate (i.e., the people I’ve been reading about). I too had a difficult time in school, though not to such a degree as some of these poor souls. I was often picked on, referred to as an outcast or a freak, almost solely due to two things: first, that I dressed like an idiot and wore giant pants covered in chains and zippers (those pants were really comfortable though), and second because I actively choose not to meet new people. The first is rather self-explanatory. The second, I think, requires some elaboration.
To me, the average person is not worth knowing. People have a tendency to be untrustworthy, deceitful, and easily swayed by the masses, trends, and various environmental factors, the most dominant of which is peer pressure. I never conformed to most forms of peer pressure, but rather actively stood up against them. I became somewhat of a hero in high school, typically surrounded by many of the so-called “losers” as I went about my day. Why? Because I was big for my age and didn’t take any shit. I was in countless fights, often instigating them upon hearing of someone doing something to the unfortunately branded losers. This did not bother me in the slightest. The “losers” were always the kids I liked and had the most in common with, though I can’t be sure why. Maybe because we shared a sense of dread, fear, and rejection, and could find some semblance of security in each other’s company.
When it comes to the topic of bullycide (for the record, I think that’s a really stupid term), it upsets me greatly that more couldn’t be done for each of these victims. The deaths are all different, but still the same. Most are hangings or overdoses, but some still are children getting hit by a car in a desperate attempt to flee their bullies, or being forced into extremely dangerous situations against their will. I wish they could’ve been in school with me, or with someone like me. I can relate to these kids more than I care to admit, and I feel I would have been able to help them through the worst of it. Maybe.
Granted, that’s not to say I possess some extraordinary strength that they did not. No, I was incredibly fragile, and I still am quite sensitive to this day, despite how much I try to hide or deny it. My strength, my will to go on, was only solidified by my chosen set of friends. Out of the four thousand kids in my high school, I had maybe four friends. There were a lot of others I talked to, sure, but they were all simply acquaintances, those who seemed nice enough to say hi to me as we crossed paths but were far superior to me in every way, and thus would never actually want to hang out or be seen with me. I realize now that wasn’t true at all; I simply failed to make the effort to get to know them better. More than that, I failed to let them get to know me.
High school was very difficult, as I’m sure it was for most people. I often thought of suicide. An instant of regret, a flash of pain, and then eternal peace. I planned out scenario after scenario, devising ways to go through with it, scheming what the best way would be, thinking about the mess I would potentially leave behind and who would have to clean it up. It seemed a small price to pay. But soon I would reach the phase that always made me change my mind: the suicide note.
I opted to leave each person their own individual note, full of the things I’d never gotten the chance or the courage to say. One for my mother (who I’m sure is absolutely LOVING this entry – I promise I’m not suicidal, mom), expressing how much I appreciated her, despite how often we may argue about trivialities. One for my father, telling him how much I enjoyed spending time with him and how he motivated me to do whatever I wanted to do. One for my brother, wishing him the best and apologizing for leaving so abruptly. Strangely, the planning for the family notes came easily. It was full of things they already knew but I simply hadn’t spoken aloud. The friends, however, were a different story entirely.
The top two were always set in stone. One for Ian, who has been my best friend for 15 years now. I would try to rationalize and explain, make everything sound okay and hope that he would understand. It was a great fear of mine that he may call me a coward and hate me from that moment on. And the second for Alexis, my other best friend, with whom I spent nearly every waking moment when I wasn’t in school. I will not begin to explain what I wanted to say to her; that would take far too much time.
And that was my saving grace. I had so much to say and I would be depriving myself of any opportunity to say it. It seemed unfair that I should let these bullies take away my voice with their harsh words and actions. They were my feelings, and I have every right to express them. This is my life, and I have every right to live it, no matter what those bastards said or did to me.
I have many regrets, but choosing to live is not one of them. It upsets me to think where these kids would be today if they had just stayed alive and pushed forward. They would be just like me, because they were just like me. And I could have easily been just like them.
Hopefully society as a whole will learn from all the bullshit someday. Then we won’t have any more of these stories like Amanda Todd, Kristina Calco, Ryan Halligan, Phoebe Prince, or the hundreds of others.
I know this isn’t the most pressing matter in the world today, but it’s something we can fix, or at least try to. I know all too well what it’s like to crave acceptance and never get it; it is one of the worst feelings in the world. If we as human beings were less concerned with elevating ourselves and more respectful to those around us, this whole bullycide thing would vanish completely. But I’m surely asking for too much, aren’t I?