Tonight we start off with a very powerful and moving video.
But before you watch it, please read this.
SEVERE TRIGGER WARNING for all of of us who were bullied as children. Caine talks about his experience and it might just be a lot like your own, so fair warning, make sure you are ready before you watch this.
I can tell you that it’s worth it, but I must warn you that it is rough.
That duty discharged, please watch the following video.
Caine is a very brave young man. I am not sure I would have had the courage to do what he did when I was his age. I was only able to understand and articulate my problems that well when I was much older than him.
When I was 11, I was just trying to survive. both physically and emotionally. The idea that what was happening to me every school day was deeply wrong would not have occurred to me, let alone the notion that I could do anything to protect myself by talking to adults.
All the adults in my life had failed me. When I was 11 years old, I was at least three years into giving up all hope that there was anyone, anywhere, who in any way cared enough about me to go to the trouble of protecting me from the violent abuse I faced every day.
I tried to tell my parents. They shut me down immediately. I tried to tell teachers. They said various unhelpful things that were supposed to placate me but really just gave me the message that they really did not feel like actually doing anything about it. Same with the principal’s office.
Never thought of escalating it to the school board level. I doubt I would have been able to summon the courage anyhow. I was a crushingly shy and timid child in many ways.
But the real point is that saving myself was not my job. I was just a kid. My job was to go to school, get good marks, stay out of trouble, and be part of a family.
It was not my job to protect myself from the vicious assaults and humiliation of my peers. Every day of my elementary school life, I was exposed to things which would be easily recognized as serious crimes if it happened between adults.
But somehow, between kids, it was considered “normal”.
I will never forget one day when I tried to tell one of the teachers who oversaw the playground during lunch and recess about the horrible beating I had just suffered not ten feet directly in front of her.
I don’t know who she was. These ladies were often not the regular teachers at all. For all I know, they were parent volunteers, or just people the teachers hired so they would have some peace while the kids went out and played.
Kids in a playground. What could be more wholesome than that, right? The sound of it still takes me instantly to a very bad place. Trigger city, big time.
Anyhow, so I tried to tell this playground monitor what happened, but I had not gotten two words out before she just glared at me and jabbed a finger back at the playground.
It would have hurt less if she had jabbed her finger directly into my heart. And that would have healed a long time ago. Not this.
I guess that told me where I stood. She was mad at me for even trying to talk to her. I find it hard to believe that she did not see the crowd all gathered around where a bunch of bullies where having loads of fun kicking me and stomping on my head as I lay helpless on the ground.
I suppose that if she had let me talk to her, she might have had to face the fact that she just let me get brutalized right in front of her and did nothing about it, and then she might have had to ask herself why, when I am entirely sure that if I had attacked one of the popular kids, she would have been on me like a flash of lightning and I would have been in the principal’s office before the dust settled.
Things like that, and like young Caine’s video, make me really wonder just what kind of effect that kind of abuse has on a child. The damage is impossible to calculate.
All the feeling of security that a child should have and internalize is gone, destroyed. All faith in others is gone too. In my childhood world, there were savage peers and apathetic adults and that was it.
What choice did I have but to withdraw deep, deep into myself? Where else could I go? What else could I do? It was my only means of escape.
So in a way, it is amazing that I grew up to be as sane as I did. Somehow I held it all together enough to get through school and not end up killing myself or anyone else in high school.
Again, thank you so much, Doctor Klein. Having someone to talk to in those times probably saved my life, even if I could only see you every three weeks and you were not, objectively, that great of a therapist.
But people dying of thirst are not going to notice or care if the water is a tad brackish.
Looking back, I realize that I did not just have one or two childhood traumas. I had hundreds. Thousands. Every school day was a fresh hell.
And like with poor Caine, a good day for me when I was a student at Parkside Elementary in Summerside was one in which everybody leaved me the hell alone.
There is something seriously wrong with a child’s life when their greatest wish is to go one day without anyone noticing them.
That’s usually reserved for children in war zones, isn’t it?
Or at least it should be.