Even now, some 20 years later, I remember the razor cutting through my arm. It hurt at first, but eventually the pain would subside and I could continue with the cut. Out with the bad blood, in with the new - it made it easier sometimes.
I first cut myself when I was in fourth grade. It was more a curiosity thing; I wanted to know what it felt like. It soon grew in to something more; I’d have a bad day, I cut myself; my parents were being hard on me, I cut myself; kids picking on me; I cut myself. My arms quickly filled with cuts.
I knew if my parents ever found out I would be in trouble, therefore I would try to keep the cuts above the cuff of a t-shirt and I would only cut my upper arm. The scars are there still, just not as prevalent as they once were.
In seventh grade a show aired on primetime television, Jake and the Fat Man. Me being a fat kid caught the jokes all day long at school.
“Hey Fat man, where’s Jake?!”
The bus ride home was better; at least there I had friends, but sometimes the taunts would follow.
As I entered high school Saturday Night Live came out with the It’s Pat routine. Me being a heavy kid with long hair and having the misfortune of being named Patrick… well, I think you can see what happened. Jake and the Fat Man stuck by the way.
It never ended, all through school they kept coming at me. I took it, telling myself one day they would get theirs. Karma is a bitch sometimes. Some of them did, get there’s that is, others, I don’t think they could suffer enough.
I often thought about what it would be like to hurt them, make them suffer, making them feel some of the degrading pain that I felt. I have no clue if they did or not.
I still see their faces; leering, throwing their slanderous remarks at me. They kept it pretty quiet, afraid to be overheard I suppose. Didn’t make it any better.
I remember nights lying in my bed wishing I could die. I tried a couple of times. I took a half bottle of Tylenol at All-State choir one year (I ended up throwing it all up involuntarily) another time I tried to cut myself a little deeper than I should but someone walked in and I quickly hid what I was doing.
It sucks, being bullied. It sucks feeling worse about yourself, hating yourself, and feeling like nothing is worth a flying fuck in the world. Been there, done that, wrote the last three chapters of that shit novel. Don’t want to go back.
But you deal with it. Or you think you do. My oldest son, Vincent, came home from school in tears because he was being bullied at school. We worked out the problem and now the kids leave him alone, but I’ll be damned if all those feelings didn’t come rushing back. Suppression only works for so long.
But I don’t cut myself anymore, I quit that soon after high school; I’m still fat, but I am working on that, and I definitely not a loser. No, I’d say I have done pretty well for myself.
I have hosted radio shows, performed live with a band, been published in many newspapers and web sites, married a beautiful woman and have two amazing boys. I graduated from college and worked my way up to the top level of a publishing company. I taught myself how to play the guitar and I am a second degree black belt in Kung Fu.
I know I am better than the names they used to call me, I know I am better than many of them ever were or will be. Still, sometimes it hits you. You just have to remain strong.