Friday, October 22, 2010

"It'll be the best years of your life," my mother told me.

My brother, my sister, we are at war until you are Free.
I have gone over the events in my head for over a dozen years, and I long ago decided that I would never be able to make sense of it all. I will never understand it, completely, and no attempts at rationality or logic will help. Emotional logic does help, though, and it is the only thing I've ever known to turn to that gives any respite.

In the fall of 1998, V. hung herself with a shoestring. In all likelihood, she'd wrapped the thing about her neck while in the shower so that the marks would draw attention to her. Maybe she slipped and her own weight ended her life, or maybe she cut off a bit too much blood and passed out too rapidly to remove the thing. But weighing under a buck – as many fourteen year old girls do – she was consigned to death by it.

She was the first, that year. (That year, suicide also spiked to become the most common killer of youth in California and lingered afterward for a time.) It was my freshman year, and I adored her more than I'll ever have words. I have to fight hard to keep from mentioning her, and sometimes it feels as if the memories are very, very far away. Other times they're still fresh. I think two more kids followed her that year. At least one more did, ending the “cluster” that occurred that year.

Everyone asked “why,” the way everyone always does. But if you were a teenager attending a Clovis Unified school in the fall of 1998, just before another event I'll briefly describe, you knew exactly why the suicides were occurring. They were not baffling.

At my high school, hazing was still a norm. Freshmen could look forward to being shoved into lockers, trashcans, called names, and any other harassment that the older kids felt like they were obligated to hand out. A particular favorite was throwing milk and orange juice cartons at Freshman that gathered into easy-to-harass groups. The orange juice was often still half-frozen inside the carton; being struck by the lobbed grenade-like object would cause your face or skin to swell. One kid had their glasses broken.

The administration didn't much care; kids wearing black clothing getting harassed? Well, why were they dressing so that they “stood out”? After all, if they really wanted to be left alone, wouldn't they just... stop doing things that made them stand out?

In April of 1999, two dipshits walked into a school near Littleton, Colorado and made it expressly clear that as a matter of fact, suicide was not the only option in response to continual harassment. They decided to instead murder as many of their peers as they could before turning the guns on themselves. This is, obviously, not an action I endorse. It's funny: I chatted on the same website that they did. I wore the same clothes. I saw the same things, felt the same harassment. But I never, ever desired to physically hurt most of my peers.

Nonetheless, the question of “why”? It's a stupid fucking question. What are you, fucking idiots? I watched a young girl end up exploited and treated like shit – humiliated and told she was worthless daily – and after she was gone, those that did it expressed no regret. One went so far as to say that she deserved it. Why is perfectly understandable: no one wants to live in Hell. No one.

After Harris and Clebold shot up their school, triggering a series of copy-cat crimes and attempted copy-cats, adults and administrators all over the country became concerned about “the kids” and turned the American school system into a series of fucking prisons, no only making the situation worse, but effectively saying that because “the kids” who had opted to pick up guns had done so, harassing them was essentially “o.k.”

In Fresno, where the suicides had predated the shooting, Marilyn Manson was blamed by inept Yuppy mothers. Marilyn fucking Manson. He was told not to visit for his up-coming concert. No one brought up the assholes who'd driven people to consider murdering themselves, or others. No one talked about the policy of harassment that led to people taking their lives, or others. Instead, scape-goats were found, the population was pacified, tons of schools installed metal detectors.

I didn't decide to live through that year – when I managed to also get myself kicked out of the church I'd been sent to as a kid – because I necessarily cared about anyone. I didn't think of my mother, or my sister, and think: “I don't want to hurt them.”

I'd feel better if I could claim that. I ended up alive because in the end, I decided that someone had to bring the war back to those who'd started the bullshit in the first place. My teens were, in all honesty, dedicated to a policy of harassment and intellectual terrorism aimed at the school administration and my peers. I was so enraged, so utterly pissed, that the only reason I could see to stay alive was that so the dead were not forgotten. It's why I started practicing magick, and why I'm alive today.

Guilt and shame won't save you. But I agree with a comment I saw Veles make recently: anger can save you. It's going to be a long haul, but remember... You are allowed to be righteously angered by unjustice that directly affects you; that strips from you those you love, and that seeks to wear you down until you feel like nothing.

Sometimes the only rational choice – even if it isn't very logical – is to start waging a war for survival and to refuse to quit until you reach adulthood.

Fuck this abstract, “bullying is bad” bullshit. If someone is harassing you to the point that you no longer want to live?

Bring the war home. You don't need a gun, and you don't need a bomb. All you need is your mind, and the desire to completely fuck shit up on the front lines that people refuse to realize are frontlines.

But you aren't alone, and you never will be. Don't give up. It's just not worth it.

Sorry, Gordon. I typed too much for just a comment, so I put it here. I'm still not sure if suicide is an illness, honestly. But I do know that it's a serious subject, worthy of serious consideration. Intimately.

P.S. I did, however, come up with a plan during my teens for revenge that I have kept. In the years since I was 14, I have had three friends swear that upon my death, the individual who I loathed the most will be located. My ashes will then be thrown through their window while they eat breakfast one morning.

I don't want to hurt anyone. But I swear to god, when I die? I will have the last fucking laugh. I mean, who wants to be buried, anyway? Bodily resurrection is lame.


Gordon said...


No, no. It's gold.

As is the ashes idea.

soror said...

Total gold.

And as a victim -- ha -- survivor of bullying, I relate, deeply.

I love the ashes idea.

Frater A.I.T. said...

This is heavy, and right on. The reaction to the Columbine event was pure stupidity. I remember some of the terrible things done to students when I was young...adults rarely have to deal with that kind of upfront hatred and disgust from their peers. I'm amazed we don't have more lost life.

I have memories of being harassed when I was young and small, and of being cold and cruel when I was larger and bright (if not wise.) It's rarely a one way street. The first lesson I learned about this was in the fourth grade. 3 kids came up too me--two White fellows and one Asian--and called me a "Nigger" and one punched me in the ear, and then ran off. I went to the adult school teacher who supervises the yard during recess, and when I told her, she just smiled at me. Didn't do shit. She enjoyed it. Lesson learned.

I was un-trusting and aggressively anti-authority as a result.

I didn't stay small and soft, and was very, very cruel to these children later. It is strange how these things affect you. Cruely breeds cruelty, and kindness breeds kindness too. It's just way too easy to come by the former in youth.

petoskystone said...

revenge is good. the shouts of blame after columbine is typically encouraged by lawyers attempting to lesson the financial judgment set against their clients in a civil suit. set the group-think & taint potential jurors/judges early on....irritating how many refuse to look at thier actions.

Jow said...

Ahh, so we are the same generation good sir. When columbine happened I was just out of high school, so I didn't get any flack, but my friends who were left behind, yeah, they got a lot of mandatory meetings, councilling, and thier lives picked through. Then came the cameras and the elctronic locks. Not sure if the school has a metal detector, but it's possible.

When it happened I was both sad for everyone involved, and honestly a little pleased. I was glad someone stood up. As an adult, I only feel sadness and empathy about the whole mess. Because the whole mess was avoidable.

Rose Weaver said...

Thank you for sharing this.

And bullying in many forms happens to adults as well as teens, but as it shifts into adulthood, it becomes more covert, subtle, manipulative.

You're right on target about using the anger to fight the injustice on the front lines, and if you're patient enough, you'll see the fruits of my form of "vengeance" as it resurfaces. Channeling the pain to inspire is something those cruel towards me in my life, teens and adulthood, will not expect. They're perceptions don't operate that way. And I can't wait to... *ahem*... correct them.

Perfect use of your ashes! An absolutely beautiful idea.