In my childhood I was the problem. I believed I was the bully, although I was always responding to the incessant teasing of others which inevitably led to me becoming the target. But this isn't a pity party, and I accept that in every instance there was a better way to defuse or respond to the situation. I was immature, lonely, and clearly different in ways I couldn't dare to explain but that my peers sensed like sharks smelling blood in the water. I have no excuse. "No one will sympathize. No one really tries... Sad to say, I don't think I'm the only one" excerpt from "I Am the Ride" by Chris Smither as are all subsequent quotations.
My history followed me and sealed the fate of my future. I seemed locked into a never ending cycle, although I was able to slowly increase the time between falls, I had not discovered how to get off of this ride. Bullying isn't always as obvious as it is portrayed on television. The classic bully prays on the weaker, supposedly in search of control of their lives or some twisted form of affirmation. While I don't doubt such bullies exist, I think more often than not bullying is a result of trying to join in on the joke. It's almost like a mass hysteria with the victims stripped of their membership in humanity as something other. It helps the crowd forget their own pains and humiliations and feel the relief that they are not the target. Looking back, it is easy to see.
To them, I was the aberration. I was the one to be mocked. If ever I began to appear to be an object of compassion, the crowd was quick to swirl and jab, pushing until I revealed the scarlet letters of my banishment. Perhaps it was a test. Perhaps if I could have held out longer, they would have relented and granted me a visa to rejoin the midst. But instead "They'll waltz me till I die. They'll never tell me why. I never stop to ask them where we're going. Yes, but the holy, the profane are all helplessly insane, wishful, hopeful, never even knowing."
Did I ever get off of this endless cycle? Yes and no. I finally sought within. I accepted my truth, my identity and decided to be who I am. In my case, I am a woman who is transgender, or who was assigned male at birth. But I learned to realize that my perceived shame and guilt in my identity was not my own. It was the tripe and rotten fruit that society threw at me in an effort to make me become something else. I had to accept myself, my worth, and my truth. I had to let go of the chains of sin that had been unceremoniously tied to myself. I had to be.
My childhood pain is not unique. It is not even specific to being transgender. It is specific to being on the outside. If you are the odd one out; the target of mockery and hate, then you know your own parallels to my story.
It's OK. You are OK. Stop trying to break the cycle and get off of the track. Don't give up, just realize that you are not the passenger. "The problem is more with my sense of pride, because it keeps me thinking "me" instead of what it is to be. I'm not a passenger, I am the ride."
For the curious, I am including the full song lyrics below. The song is much deeper and multi-layered than my meager offering above. I encourage you to read it and listen to it as well.
Forms are loosely fitting
Jury still are sitting
Sense of duty keeps us all in motion
Prison sirens wailing
That security is failing
Do not inspire a lifetime of devotion
No one will sympathize
No one really tries
They need a faith that leads them like a drum
And I can hear it pounding down among the ruins
Sad to say, I don't think I'm the only one.
I awoke and someone spoke
They asked me in a whisper
If all my dreams and visions had been answered
And I don't know what to say
I never even pray
I just feel the pulse of universal dancers
They'll waltz me till I die
They'll never tell me why
I never stop to ask them where we're going
Yes, but the holy, the profane
Are all helplessly insane
Wishful, hopeful, never even knowing.
And they asked if I believe
And do the angels really grieve
Or is it all a comforting invention?
It's just like gravity, I said
It's not a product of my head
It doesn't speak, but nonetheless commands attention
And I don't care what it means
Or who decorates the scenes
The problem is more with my sense of pride
Because it keeps me thinking "me"
Instead of what it is to be
I'm not a passenger, I am the ride
I'm not a passenger
I am the ride