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.