Fighting with Bullies

Dieting on Libraries

I was the personification of a 12 year old  junior high school geek, with an IQ of 150 (149.5 us geeks would say) and hosted a group of youngsters in the school at break time, we were reading the entire 1960 edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica to the amusement of onlookers. At lunchtime I always said Grace and eventually was joined by a faithful group of kids, even got a teacher or two prayerfully watching us from a distance, I felt comforted I had confederates in my intellectual and spiritual pursuits. I had routines I strongly adhered to which were the affects of having been a bullied and sexually abused child from 5 – 12, I trusted no one especially myself and only believed in concrete items like books and the power of a spiritual father in heaven, unfortunately I had no father on earth to help me defend myself from being bullied in my neighborhood, at school or church. My siblings and I grew up as “Divorced Kid’s” or as commonly called “Children of Divorce”, which was a real taboo in the 1950’s and 1960’s not as common or accepted as today It was a “hook” to hang on prospective victims of peer to peer abuse; Race, Social Status, Sex, Intellect (minimal or extravagant), Religion, et al, the bullies would find some irrational reason to attack…or seemingly no reason at all. Later in adulthood when I was studying the Japanese phenomenon of bullying in Japan called Ijime (Edgy May), it turned out that the “good” and “studious” children were among the biggest offenders as a mechanism from keeping themselves from harm.

I was trying to stay off the radar of the sexual abusers and my peer attackers, and at age 12 I ensconced myself in my local library and in the summer of 1959 read 150 books, meaning took 3 books home a night to tide me over till I returned the next day with the read books. In actuality I “read the library” and in talking to many geeks later found this practice was common, we skipped the children’s, general interest, and popular fiction sections and veraciously read everything else. We would then seek out other libraries in our locality or beg our parents to accompany us to outline libraries, we needed our parents to come with us because they could check out 10 books at a time to our 3, which was a necessity so we had reading material for our weekend “Fixation”. Literature was our drug of choice which caused euphoria and heightened stimulation, we learned and practiced mnemonics  (Memorizing Techniques) and speed reading (scanning words, pages, articles with precision comprehension), which help us to become disciplined students and for me blocked the sadness and frustration which occurs in battered children.

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Okay Time Out, The big questionWhy Didn’t You Tell Somebody About The Abuse?, I just told you and what  was your response?, and in 1952 through 1960 whom were we victims going to confide in and get a positive result? Books like Beyond Betrayal by Carolyn Koons/Harper & Row where she is the victim of parental abuse and starts acting like a bad kid. We kids were terrified of being placed in some new environment like juvenile detention or foster care, because often when we blew the whistle on our abusers we were penalized and even targeted for worse abuses. I wrote a manual for a 12 year old child to help them cope with family problems, I called it “The Children’s Guild To Dealing With The Hyperactive Adult” and had the following cartoons;

Little boy entering a police station and talking to the desk sergeant;

“I want to report Child Abuse – Again!”, “He broke my arm you referred me to Children Protective Services”, “He broke my ribs you said it was Domestic Violence for Family Court”, the little kid headed toward the direction of the exit – finishing, “ I just broke his jaw, Now That’s Child Abuse!”.

So that’s an unfulfilled fantasy usually, but some of us do make a constructive effort to defend ourselves, and we regard part of our healing process as going on the search to find out why people cause us needless pain.

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Abandoning the Battered Child

I’m coming back from the store three blocks from home, and I’m greeted  by a nasty neighbor and his cousin grinning maniacally, my body tenses up I look around for and escape route and decided to run up this tiny hill on vacant property, instead of dashing for the street and trying to zigzag  the three block to my house. The two jubilant lads pursued me and cut of any escape options,and as they menacingly lurch towards me, I see the shaft of a fiberglass fishing pole before me which I retrieve and brandish at my would be assailants. They laughed mockingly at their quarry showing some futile resistance, until I began stinging them with my weapon, and as they howled and retreated I attacked with greater ferocity and chased them to their door step.  My young neighbor made some vain threat as he and his accomplice dashed into his parents home, I replied by swishing my fishing rod like a menacing rapier, what they and I didn’t know was that we had all left that frightened battered child at the sight of the altercation. If they ever had occasion to confront me again, it would be a new young man with confidence in his ability to stand up to tyranny, and that weapon or no I wouldn’t succumb to them in future without a fight.

The Bully Being Schooled

So I didn’t have any problems with my neighbor or his cousin for two whole days, the cousin was considered one of the toughest kids in junior high school, very few people would challenge this formidable  young man. The two of us had a social studies class together and he sat pretty close to me, during class the cousin began talking to people next to in a voice loud enough for me and surrounding student to hear, he was disrespecting my sister by making filthy innuendos and talking bad about my entire family. I started to report him to the teacher but I flamed up with indignation, got up and walked up to him challenged, “ I dare you to say that again!”, he smiled at me and said it again, where upon I lifted my hand above my head and in a golf swing motion slapped him with all my might. He jumped up shocked and dared me to do that again, I accommodated him by extending my outstretched behind my head, and delivered a baseball style slap to the exact same spot as before.  The teacher was shouting  and girls screaming as  the two of us began to grab each other and tussle, the teacher commanded a child to open the class door, then he pushed the two of us into the hallway and tried to referee the malay. Our lovable janitor heard the commotion and tried to break up the fight, the janitor was behind me rushing to subdue me, unfortunately when I  ducked my  opponent’s  punch it with and knocked out the janitor.

That took the wind out of my opponent’s sails and he stopped fighting, our teacher was perplexed on how to proceed, a young tough and one of the school prodigies in a battle royal in his class. We were both reprimanded but he more severely not because of his reputation, but because I was gifted smart T.K. (Teacher’s Kid) who obviously must have been provoked. Other students were looking at me with a mixture of amusement and admiration, my four friends were shocked and beaming about my triumph, one of my friends started asking questions and I snapped at him adrenalin flowing; he let me know in no uncertain terms, that my little bout was fine but never disrespect him with that kind of response again. It was the hot season before school’s end, tomorrow being Saturday we’d all be heading to the beach, his people would be there spoiling for a fight, and my were willing to go to the adjacent beach to avoid a needless confrontation. My buddies liked literature and the arts, we were into athletics and physical exercise, our parents pushed us to be better in areas that had been denied them, and my friends were there for me for the next twenty years.

No Day At The Beach

We took the shortcut that went between to houses and through a wooded area, and three city blocks from the beach my nemeses’ appeared, the cousin picking up a six foot plus tree branch and started toward us. That inner fire that I’d felt  when I fought them before overtook me, I quickly moved toward the cousin, did a certain Karate move that is a vertical double punch to his chest and stomach, after deflecting  the branch and  that I later picked up. The attacker turned around and ran as my friends rushed towards me shouting “No!, seeing  I was about to throw the limb at my nemesis’  head. “Duck!”, I reluctantly yelled realizing I was about to seriously injure another child of my same age, he dodged the missile and kept running.  We decided to keep heading to the beach but we would go to the area frequented by the families and adults, we had a great time and no problems until we were leaving the beach, then the bad boys and their entourage blocked our exit. I was going to have to fight this kid again and this time we were entertainment for this hormonal rabble, I removed my rubber Japanese sandals call “Zoris” so I wouldn’t stumble on the grass, the young spectators surrounded us and cheered my opponent on. We circled each other and tested our weaknesses, and I grabbed him and use a spinning shoulder throw (Makikomi) that landed him on his back, once on top of him ignoring the din of the crowd I simply said,” I’m done”. I got up turning my back to him and walked back up the trail with my buddies.The mob jeered and cajoled my opponent to engage me again in battle, the rabble made my opponents follow behind us try to ignite another useless confrontation. Finally after about ten blocks by opponent was badgered in halfheartedly fighting me, twenty-five screaming youngster on a side street, in the1960’s when that kind of behavior wasn’t tolerated by the community. We started fighting in the street and my feet were being torn up by the rough concrete, so I moved to the grass  but it was too late for my injured feet to help me, I couldn’t move properly and shortly he was laying on top of me with the crowd moving in for the kill.  This young kid whom I’d been fighting for three days, looked down at me and said, “I’m done”, dismounted to the jeers and cat calls of my detractors, and silently left the throng in the company of his cousins.

The police arrived and dispersed the crowd and a nice lady came out of her home and asked if she could be of help, I had torn a few  toenails on both feet, we thanked her and my friends assured her we’d make the eight blocks to home. My mother was upset and didn’t seem to buy my rough housing explanation, just packed me into  the car and rush me up to the emergency room. I didn’t know what I was feeling about the combat, but I believed my childhood was officially over.

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Subtext: From the time I was very little I was told that my sins would be forgiven by God until age 12 when I became a man, then I became responsible for all my transgression. My twelfth year I started; martial arts, began playing music, join in partnership with lifelong friends, started my healing from a poor beginning, and planted the seeds of Recovery that would nurture me when I became abstinent in 1976.