killing you kindly

I tried to be nice to the other kids in highschool. 

I was trying to show Jesus’ love and be an example.  But, I did not realize how hurtful my surface niceness could be.

There were people that I was friendish with, but never got too close to, because they could ‘lead me astray’.  We were told to befriend non-Christians, but to make sure our best friends were all Christians.

Like the goth boy who lived in the library – the place I spent all noon hours too cold to go outside.

He had no friends except for the girl that everyone thought was a boy.

I didn’t make fun of him like the other kids, but I didn’t get to know him either.  Once I found out he played Dungeons & Dragons, I had to protect myself from Satan’s influence.  I had an opportunity to treat him like another person, but all I saw was ‘devil worshipper’.   I thought not tormenting him was enough of a good christian example. 

I did talk to the girl-who-everyone-thought-was-a-boy.  But not about anything real.  Just her fear of the colour orange and her hatred of French class.  I don’t even know if she had siblings but I knew she wasn’t a Christian.

The kid who everyone labelled as ‘special’ I was friends with, but only in the library when my Christian friends weren’t around.  We talked about Einstein’s theory of relativity.   I think I was the only person in my grade who knew he could actually talk, let alone do math our calculus teacher couldn’t.  But, I never asked how he was doing or invited him to spend time with my friends.  He wasn’t Christian enough to hang out with after school.

I did have some good elementary school friends.  When we reached highschool, they became boy crazy.  I still was in love with horses and Jesus, or at least trying to be.  They would giggle about things I knew nothing about, like vibrators and vodka.  I knew I couldn’t stay close to them and remain ignorant.  So, we drifted apart. 

When one of them started hallucinating that spiders were crawling over her, I didn’t call 911 or even just hold her until it passed.  I told her about praying to Jesus to take away her fears.  Don’t know why- I still had my fears, but I thought it was supposed to help.  Looking back, it was probably drug induced or a psychotic break.  Telling her about a man who died violently prolly wasn’t the best thing to do…

There was the popular girl who sat beside me in art class.  She always talked about her amazing weekends in which she got so sloshed she couldn’t remember anything.  I listened, but I didn’t.  It never occurred to me that she was reaching out for someone. 

 I had her labelled as partier, and so I could smile and say hi, but never go deeper – mostly out of fear that she’d think I was boring, partly out of judging her.  After we graduated, she sat right beside me in the one class we shared in university.  I didn’t know why, but I’m guessing that she was scared and I was familiar. 

Again, not that I was mean, but I wasn’t real.  I protected myself against their imagined evils.  While I felt inferior and insecure, my views of their choices could have made them feel looked down on.

Goth boy wasn’t Satan, if I’d ever taken the time to get to know him. 

The friends that I did have were great.  But we banded together in part by feeling rejected from the other kids and in part by rejecting them ourselves. 

Just because I wasn’t overtly mean doesn’t mean I was truly kind.  No one remembers the person in the mob who was silent, they remember the one who steps out and holds your hand.

Sorry for the highschool trip.  I’m not actually wallowing in guilt and should-haves.  (Yay, I’m just human, not a worthless sinner!)

This is more a reminder to myself not to label people and ignore them.  Now I’m not afraid of gamers or queers, but rather of right-wing advocates and fundy church leaders.    I can’t just assume I know their motives either. 


10 thoughts on “killing you kindly

  1. Macha says:

    Ugh, I was so judgmental and self-righteous in high school. I wish I’d woken up earlier. I could have made some real friends in a time when I felt I had no one.

  2. D'Ma says:

    I was pretty much a loner in high school too. Never really getting to know anyone. The friends I’d had since first grade did what a lot of high schoolers do. They either got into extra curricular activities at school or extra curricular activities outside of school. Either way that kind of left me out. I’m embarrassed now by the way I thought about and treated the “weird” kids. But in honesty, until recently, I still hadn’t learned my lesson.

  3. Ahab says:

    (Guuuuh. Take 2.)

    Your post highlights the difference between the superficial love of a proselytizer and the true love that accepts people for who they are. I used to feel the former when I was a believer, and it’s much more meaninful to experience the latter.

  4. This post almost makes me want to go back and do a lot of things over again… maybe just long enough to eliminate my self-righteous behavior and religiously created lack of insight.

    It is interesting that many Christian-touting communities are so divisively ethnocentric and thus exclusive … while the man they claim to believe in and follow wasn’t.

    Isn’t it?

  5. Lorena says:

    The Christian memories are sad, aren’t they? They’re not memories, they’re remorse. In my case, they’ve started to fade, thankfully. I’ve given myself compassion and understanding. I know now that it was the brainwashing, not me, being a bitch–not always, anyway.

  6. Liam says:

    I love memories of growing up and memories of high school, I can see your point about not really getting to know people, but for me it was not because I avoided getting to know them on purpose it was more because I was occupied with my own friends that I didn’t have time to find out the inner workings of my classmates lives. However, I was for some reason un-be-knownst to me, popular. I never tried to be but I could hang out with pretty much any group at any time and be very comfortable with it, and everyone knew my beliefs so they didn’t talk about things that might have made me uncomfortable, if they did I didn’t notice.

  7. Jen says:

    In high school, I was very accepting. Shy. Scared of being rejected, which made it so I wasn’t as good of a friend as I would have liked to have been, but…

    My super judgmental phase came later in life. NO compassion for anyone who wasn’t living up to my standards. I thought that was being a good friend… Loving them enough to not accept them as they are. (Can you say messed up?!?) And strangely, that kind of “love” also connected me with very abusive people.

    Being loving and accepting of others has actually helped me to have better boundaries. (Better meaning healthier for me.) I’ve never seen that connection until THIS moment. Interesting.

    • prairienymph says:

      You middle paragraph sounds so much like how us church kids were told to “love the sinners”. I agree- messed up!

      Is part of the equation that you are more loving and accepting of yourself now?

  8. Jen says:

    A BIG part of the equation is accepting myself. My lack of compassion to others was a direct result of having no compassion for myself.

    If I let it be okay that “they” didn’t do what they were supposed to, then I might get lax with myself…

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