When I graduated high school I moved to a town three hours south, bought a leather motorcycle jacket, a pair of fingerless gloves, adopted a bad attitude and tried to forget my past.
I thought “reinventing myself” would erase what had happened to me.
It didn’t work.
I never dealt with all my baggage, and carried it into adulthood. My anger drove people away, and almost caused me to lose my wife and baby girl.
As a freshman playing tackle football, I can still feel their eyes bearing down on me in practice. I didn’t understand how the coaches would let the upper classmen beat the tar out of us every practice. The bullies would tell us to do extra push-ups, squat thrusts, and whatever else occurred to them, trying to wear us out before practice even started.
“Just don’t do it,” right?
If we didn’t do it, they’d make us pay. I specifically recall trying to stand up to one of them in practice, and the next kick-off, a few of them barreled right towards me, as if I had the ball. I didn’t run from them, so I guess that’s something, but when they hit me with all their force, I flew back a few feet and got the wind knocked out of me.
I dreamed of nothing more than taking the whole lot of them out, but was frozen with dread.
Unfortunately, my father never taught me to defend myself, so I felt I had no defense against the bullying. Please note that I’m not blaming my father, I’m just stating the facts. I have no doubt if I’d told him about all this, he’d have jumped into action, taking it as high as the school board, if he had to. But it was a weird, paralyzing feeling and I thought I couldn’t tell anybody.
After all, I was 5’10” and over 200 pounds; who would bully me, right? It was humiliating.
I remember two of them coming up behind me in the locker room once, taking turns kidney punching me until I could barely stand, laughing all the while.
“We’re gonna wear out them kidneys, man,” one said to the other, and chuckled.
Tears began to crawl down my cheeks, but I kept getting dressed, pretending it wasn’t happening. Another freshman whispered, “Don’t take that, man. Fight back.” But I didn’t know how. I didn’t even know where to start. I didn’t have the confidence or the skills, and in the early 80s, nobody talked about bullies. Everyone assumed if you didn’t fight back you were a coward.
So I just swallowed all the pain, all the humiliation, all the terror…
This is embarrassing to write, but I feel I must share this. I don’t know why. Perhaps you’re being bullied right now, or you were at one time, and still carry the baggage. Maybe it’s given you a foul attitude, and it’s finally time to deal with it.
When I was a sophomore, the worst of the bullies had graduated, and his younger brother started in on me. He was still a year older than me, and I was just as terrified. Finally, however, I stood up to him.
“Get to runnin’, Weddle,” he snarled after practice one day, early in the season.
I just said, “I don’t want to, man,” and kept walking.
He laughed and said, “You don’t want to, eh?” I turned and looked at him angrily, and said, “Yeah, that’s right. I don’t want to.”
And that was it. The bullying was over, but the scars remain.
I had dreamed of being a football player since I was a toddler, but the foul attitudes and bullying destroyed any joy the game had ever given me. I went into my freshman year excited, and finished my sophomore year defeated. My back was already starting to give me problems–which continue to this day–and I decided not to play my junior and senior years.
Truth is, I wouldn’t have played anyway, even if I had no back pain.
“Just get over it,” right?
At times I can still feel the frightened boy inside the man, trying to hide from the kidney punches.
So that’s my story. I’m embarrassed to share it. This is humiliating, but I know there are others out there like me.
If you’re still being bullied, please please please TELL SOMEONE. Do NOT let it continue. Life is too short to be attacked by tiny-minded imbeciles who feel bigger by making others feel small.
Or maybe you’re like me; you were bullied, and still carry the residual effects. Well, guess what? We have to let it go.
“Let go and let God,” ya know?
Just pray, “Lord, take this pain away. Take it away, in Jesus’ name. Help me to live in the present, look forward to the future, and NOT waste time living in the shadow of yesterday.”
Our family motto, which my daughter and I both have tattooed on our bodies as a reminder, is the following:
NO FEAR OF THE FUTURE…NO REGRETS OF THE PAST
Time to let it go.
Pray, see a counselor, talk to a local pastor, buy a punching bag, play some kickin’ heavy metal and scream your guts out…
Whatever ya gotta do to let it go.
“Forget what happened long ago! Don’t think about the past. I am creating something new. There it is! Do you see it? I have put roads in deserts, streams in thirsty lands (Isaiah 43:18-19).”
“When someone becomes a Christian, he becomes a brand new person inside. He is not the same anymore. A new life has begun! All these new things are from God who brought us back to himself through what Christ Jesus did. And God has given us the privilege of urging everyone to come into his favor and be reconciled to him (2 Corinthians 5:17-18).”
“When his people pray for help, he listens and rescues them from their troubles. The Lord is there to rescue all who are discouraged and have given up hope. The Lord’s people may suffer a lot, but he will always bring them safely through (Psalm 34:17-19).”
“Give your burdens to the Lord. He will carry them. He will not permit the godly to slip or fall (Psalm 55:22).”
“So don’t be afraid. I am here, with you; don’t be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, help you. I am here with My right hand to make right and to hold you up (Isaiah 41:10).”
“I will escort the blind down roads they do not know, guide them down paths they’ve never seen. I will smooth their passage and light their way. I will indeed do it—they are abandoned no more (Isaiah 42:16).”
“Come to me all of you who are tired from the heavy burden you have been forced to carry. I will give you rest. Accept my teaching. Learn from me. I am gentle and humble in spirit. And you will be able to get some rest. Yes, the teaching that I ask you to accept is easy. The load I give you to carry is light (Matthew 11:218-30).”