I found out yesterday that my childhood nemesis recently had a baby.
I’ll call this guy “Wasshole,” because he may not be an asshole now, but he sure the hell was one to me growing up. He was bigger and older than me, better at sports, and much more socially adept. And he used all those advantages to torment me in elementary school.
Wasshole was pretty good soccer, and, according to my mom, my younger brothers and other members of the neighborhood mom community, AYSO soccer was a “big deal.” Wasshole wasn’t the “typical bully,” he was pretty smart and socially adept. And he was one of those kids who was really good at charming parents so he could get away with being an asshole. All the moms thought he was such a nice, charming boy, and I began to realize women can be really fucking lousy judges of character. But this guy even had the dads snowed. As much as I hated his guts for pulling it off, I have to admit, he was smooth.
When I was young, to the shame of my mom and younger brother, I was skinny, awkward, and lacking in “street smarts.” I was good at school, and that was about it. I was the skinny, dorky, nerdy little kid, and Wasshole used my lack of athleticism and overall geekiness as an excuse to torture me. He used his physical intimidation and social savvy to humiliate me, until I’d be in that awful spot where I was frozen – I couldn’t think of anything to say, and then I’d either cry or run away. Oh, that sucky, emasculating feeling was the fucking worst feeling.
Oh, and Wasshole made sure to bring a few of his friends with him, for an audience and extra physical intimidation. No way I’m going to take on the bigger kid if there are three or four other bigger kids standing with him. I remember telling my dad about what happened and his solution was to “fight back.” Really, Dad? And what about the other guys? And my not fighting back meant I was a wimp.
What sucked the worst about these experiences was the reaction from my family. My younger brother was embarrassed for me and thought I was responsible for my torment. My mom was also ashamed of me, because kids who get teased like that aren’t “cool,” and to her, being “cool” wasn’t the most important thing, it was the ONLY thing. So I had to deal with the sucky experience and then the reinforcement from my family that there was something wrong with me.
One memory really sticks out – I was in the fourth grade and Wasshole and one of his buddies called me at home and said “can you suck my dick? I can’t reach.” (As I write this, I’m thinking at this point this whole experience is probably a lot more embarrassing for him than me, he obviously had some issues of his own.) My initial reaction was “what’s wrong with this guy?” But before I could do anything, Mom runs in with this look of pain on her face, snatches the phone from my hand and hangs up. And in that instant, my feeling of mild confusion transformed to painful emasculation, and I identified with that for a long time.
I didn’t have the resources to deal with this at the time, so I did the only thing little me could think of doing at the time – I withdrew socially. I learned to be afraid of people, because people could be scary, they could beat me up, they could humiliate me and make me feel like dirt, and my dorkiness and social ineptitude (you know, from being a little kid) was an embarrassment to my family. So I withdrew, hung out with people who seemed “dorky” like me, and nursed a deep hatred for Wasshole.
Even through high school, Wasshole was the embodiment of all the ways I hated myself. As long as I could fantasize about him dying a horrible, painful death, as long as I could focus on hating him, I didn’t have to deal with these feelings of being a loser, of being less than a man. But I held onto those feelings, too, for a long time.
And of course, Wasshole had a great high school experience. He was an athlete, the girls loved him, he had a good teenage life, from what I could see. I had a miserable high school experience – shy, withdrawn, pretty much dateless, and really angry in my core. I hated the school and everyone in it, I hated the girls who chased after Wasshole (which served to confirm in my mind that women are crappy judges of character), and I basically avoided life.
It’s interesting, because Wasshole certainly wasn’t the only guy who teased me. He wasn’t even the one who called me “the biggest nerd in school.” That guy ended up being an Olympic athlete and even invited me to rush his fraternity my freshman year in college. (I had “high-quality” bullies growing up.) So I learned to let go of a lot of the childhood bullshit and make peace with guys who teased me, but with Wasshole I held onto that ball of anger, resentment and self-loathing for a long time.
Well, time goes on and eventually I let that shit, and a lot of other shit, go, and start living a good life – far later than I needed to, but I found my release and found amazing growth (thus this website). And Wasshole has also apparently been living a good life. He’s got some rock band, he’s got a beautiful wife, and now a baby. So Karma didn’t kick his ass like it happens in the movies. I didn’t get my “take on the bully” moment, like the movies. Instead, we all grew up.
And the process of letting go of that ball of shit that festered inside me for years has led to a phenomenal life. I’m not sure if any of this would have happened if that ball of shit hadn’t been there to keep me searching until I found inspiration. I didn’t know at the time why all this happened, but it served me. That experience gave me deep life skills that helped me survive some pretty intense things that have happened in my life. And it’s kept me committed to expanding my life, to living big. If life had been easy for me from the beginning, I would have missed out on this growth.
So it was an interesting feeling looking at that picture of Wasshole and his new baby. It hardly looked like him, and there was no charge. In fact, I laughed at the realization that he ‘d living a good life and all of my prayers for his misery were never answered. And I realized how I had made him the embodiment of so many really toxic feelings I had about myself, and that I could let whatever lingering negativity go.
And I can put even more energy into my own amazing life, make it even bigger. Wasshole was. He’s still around, living his life, but for me, he was, I am, and, even though I never got revenge, I can look back and laugh.
Oh, and congratulations on your new baby, Wasshole. I hope your child is cooler to other kids than you were. Seriously.