I remember a time in my life where everything I did was to either please friends, family or anyone who would pay attention. My behaviours, the way I dressed, how I acted all depended on how others viewed me and how they would accept me. If treating someone like crap or gossiping about another person would benefit me or garner me acceptance, I did not have a problem doing either. There were moments when I caught myself bullying others in order to avoid being bullied myself. Why should I be in the line of fire when I was able to put someone else there?
In high school, I clearly remember inflicting cruel words on another student. Her name was Marla and she wasn’t very popular. She was what many considered ‘a nerd’. She didn’t wear clothing that most of us wore, she wasn’t very social and didn’t have many friends. She also wore a headgear which really made her stand out. I don’t quite remember what I said but, it was cruel and unjust. I remember regretting what I said immediately after I said it but I didn’t let the ‘cool’ kids see my regret besides, they were too busy laughing at what I said to Marla. I visibly upset Marla, who quickly scurried and disappeared down the hall.
Did my words have a lasting impact on Marla? Could what I have said be the words that pushed Marla over the edge? Did what I say further encompass Marla with despair, depression and loneliness? I think of Marla quite often and imagine myself apologizing to her whether she remembers that moment or not. My heart aches at the cruelty I inflicted towards Marla.
I think about the times I used many derogatory words to describe others – probably to deflect the hurtful words that I was being called. My cruelty towards others was a way to mask my pain and a way to escape in not dealing with my sexuality and authenticity. In addition to treating others with cruelty in order to be accepted, I managed to find another means of escape and acceptance in alcohol.
I escaped the woes of being a teenager, my sexuality, my father’s abuse and reality with alcohol. Wanting to be accepted creates strange bedfellows. Alcohol was a great escape, so much so that there were moments in my life that I can’t even recall or remember. It is quite embarrassing when people from the past recall stories of things I did that I don’t even remember.
I had such a huge craving and desire to be accepted that I not only treated others like garbage but, I also treated myself like garbage. I had no respect for others so why would I have any self-worth or self-respect? I can’t pinpoint the exact moment in my life when this changed but, I am glad that it did.
Am I still seeking acceptance from others? I am seeking acceptance but in a completely different way. I want acceptance in the positivity I want to create in the world. I want acceptance in the LOVE that I want to spread into the world. I don’t want to inflict any emotional or physical pain on anyone. Today, I imagine how it would feel like to be treated without respect, without love, without compassion and with only with judgments – I remember the moments in my life when I lived without love, without compassion and only judgments, it was very lonely. I never want to be responsible for someone’s withdrawal from life and from a social connection.
If I had the opportunity to see Marla today – I would take it with open arms and apologize. If this opportunity never comes, then my apology comes in form of the goodness and the love I will continue to spread. I will be kind, considerate and compassionate and I will always remember that we are all Marla in one way or another.
Live with love, kindness and without judgment and you will truly be accepted.