Saturday, June 7, 2014

How Being Bullied Affected My Life

Here's something many people dont know about me: i struggle to be happy.  Every single day that i wake up i get pumped.  I intentionally pump myself up in an effort to become the most positive person around me.  I live by the words "itll all work out"  and "give it time, itll make sense" but every day i have to remind myself that i am happy.  I have a beautiful wife and 2 beautiful kids.  I  am blessed with a great job, and some great opportunities.  So why do I feel this way?

To answer this I find myself in a time machine in my mind.  Im going back to my earliest memories... way back to what i had early in life. 
For those of you who didnt know me, i was always very small for my age.  I was almost always picked last on sports teams and i constantly found myself digging in and taking verbal abuse from the other kids.

I was very sensitive.  I would cry if the right person taunted me enough because i couldnt figure out what i was feeling. 
You see, most of my life i was told that I could do anything.  I was told that all i had to do was focus on school and it would all work out... i was never truly taught how to handle conflict.  "Go get the teacher"  "if you have to defend yourself, make sure you do it with honor"  well thats great and all, but i didnt even know what honor was and telling the teacher either got me picked on by the other kids or worse: i sometimes got in trouble for tattling.  I struggled to make friends, and often found myself being pushed around on the playground for being a loser. 

Sometimes these "bullies" were my "friends". 
I just had to stop typing for a few minutes to deal with some memories i had surpressed i guess... the more i type the harder this gets.

I was constantly rejected by groups of boys from kindedgarten til 2nd grade.  There i began to realize that i got along better with girls than boys.  I clung to my friends, the girls, who would sometimes even tell a teacher for me if i was getting picked on too hard.  At least they did something when all i did was sit there and cry "joel the mole who cries in his hole."  "Wheres your "nunu" crybaby?(thats a reference to what i called my grandmother)  "Look everyone, I made him cry again"(his name was james... i remember him well.  I wont post his last name in case he is a decent person now.) 
I grew up eventually.  I remember being in 7th grade sitting in front of a kid who was held behind a year.  He always messed with me.  One day  When the teached stepped out for a minute he started hitting me in the back.  The first 4 i ignored, but on the fifth i stood up and turned around and yelled  "you know what "m"(for anonymity again),  im really tired of your shit."  The teacher came back in and looked at me shaking mad, and looked out at a stunned class.  He told me not to curse and reprimanded "m" for messing with me.  This is the first time i remember sadness turning to anger, and the first time i remember using anger as a weapon. 

Over the years i started using anger as a defense mechanism even before i was attacked.  I got so used to being attacked that i stayed angry... almost all of the time.  I never got into a fight at school, but i was taunted so many times.  I would just fire back a snarky remark and walk away.  Hoping that i could hurt them by keeping them from seeing me cry.  Over the years i stopped crying all together.  I stopped listening.  I became disengaged. 

I was so very distant from what was around me until my sophmore year.  Johnny Lala told me about these "HALO" parties that him and his friends had.  Then he invited me.  Because i had become so fantastic at video games, i was quickly accepted.  This introduced me to the joy of friendship, and what i sometimes call "pack mentality." 
Over those three years of high school i found myself being more and more accepted.  I finally found a clique.  I finally found a group that accepted me.  I clung to Halo as my lifeline to society.  I also began trash talking for the first time... and that led to bullying.  I took all of my hate and anger and used it as fuel to make other people feel bad.  I threw out words like daggers to people below my social rank.  I would take abuse daily and dish it out at every opportunity.

I later used my ability in halo to make friends after high school.  I clung to the series throughout college and beyond as it was my coping mechanism.  It allowed me to belong to something that i was good at.  Many other things were involved in making me who i am but none so much can explain my emotional state as my relationship with those games.

This is the result of everything ive explained: i couldnt feel certain emotions without working at them, Barring a selct few variances.  Instead of what i think is happiness, i felt the same way i do when a dissonant chord resolves.  Its a sense of complete.  I didnt felt sadness like i used to either.  I felt anger and hurt.  I didnt get dissappointed.  I got angry.  I didnt often feel helpless.  I got angry.  Really this all went on until i realized that i had another option. 

I stopped.  I stopped blaming others for my problems.  It isnt their fault that i didnt stand up to my attackers earlier in life.  It isnt anyone elses fault that i was too weak to help myself.  I was so weak that i took my weakness out on others.  That wasnt anyones fault but my own. 

I do still find it hard to be happy.  Im find im constantly thinking that i must be missing something.  I find it hard to cry because ive been so strong for so long.   Crying in front of someone is vulnerability.   I cant bring myself to let the tears fall.  I cant let go of some things in the past, no matter how small, because of the potential.  I find myself obsessed with the potential more than the actual.  That goes for people i meet in every aspect of ny life too not just opportubities in my own life.  I have a tendency to see the best in people that they cant see themselves. 

  I cant sleep now...
I might not finish this post.

Who am I?  What do I feel?  Why am i where i am?

Everyday i answer these questions on the drive to work, or in the shower, or some other opportunity to be alone. 
"Im Joel Vogt.  Im happy because i should be and I am damn good at my job.  No person in this world is more confident than i am.  Noone.  Not a single one.  They reject me? Forget em, I dont need em.  Laugh at me?  Doesnt matter because it isnt my fault that they aspire to be like me.  Im a winner and im good at everything i put my energy into.  Not everyone can say that.  Put that confidence to work and please try to be more humble" 

The only thing i generally feel is confidence.
Ive replaced all of that negativity with it due to my chanting over and over in my head.  Im good at so many things. Im strong willed... and i owe it to being bullied. 
Sometimes Im vulnerable, paranoid, scared, hateful, doubtful, untrusting, lonely, angry, and many many other negative emotions.  These i owe to myself being human. 

Sometimes replacing all of those positive emotions with confidence is a strength.  Sometimes it is a weakness.  Lately  i cant seem to figure which is which...  its been weird lately.  Like the whole world is shifting.... ill pick that up in another blog soon.