I dreamed I walked out double doors of a school into a side courtyard area. Michael, my high school bully, and his companion Steven were there. The sight of them caused me to withdraw socially. Where I was ready to engage in social interaction before, I quickly wished I were invisible. The two began repeating a taunt aimed at me. It was in the pattern of language I’ve experienced in previous dreams: Repeated phrase, second phrase, repeated phrase, first deviation of second phrase, repeated phrase, second deviation of second phrase, repeated phrase, third deviation of second phrase… I faced downward, turned around, and slowly retreated back in through the doors out which I had just come.
In this world of wakefulness, Michael had tormented me a bit during my first year of high school. We shared a class and ended up sitting right next to each other the entire year. I believe I initially saw him as a potential friend and voluntarily sat next to him that first class period. After he began repeatedly slapping the back of my head, I quickly realized the error in my perception of him. I did nothing other than attempt to use my words to try to stop him. Then the teacher announced these would be our seats for the remainder of the year. I figured I could deal with it. I had learned, from a young age, to be passive. It seemed that passivity was the best way to keep the peace. My father once told me I should not be a martyr. By this point, I had already learned I was better off temporarily sacrificing my happiness for the greater good. I recall, sitting in my seat, waiting for Michael’s slaps to stop so I could continue to attempt to fit in. Social acceptance was so important to me at this time. I tried to befriend Steven. Although he was somewhat cordial toward me, he continued to keep me at arm’s length. I felt fortunate that I had no other potential friends in this class. It was better for me to take this punishment than have my potential friends see me as this weakling.
I dealt with symptoms of depression throughout most of this school year. I constantly tried on new hats, attempting to find a way to better fit into this social group I had chosen. Michael and Steven rode the same school bus as I did and only lived a few blocks away from my house. Once, on the ride home, I asked them if they wanted to buy some pot. I had no pot to offer them and told myself I just fucking with them. The next day, after school, Dad wanted to throw the football. I knew this meant I was in trouble for something. Apparently Michael and his mother had confronted my father at his work, demanding my father do something about his son, the drug dealer.
If I remember correctly, shortly after this, during class, as Michael slapped the back of my head, I sprang from my chair, choking him for a moment, before returning to my seat. I was a volcano of rage. The teacher, who had watched the abuse all year, paused from his speaking only for a moment before returning to his discussion. I believe Michael’s slapping me stopped after this. I remember feeling regret for the fact that I’d let it go on so long.
A friend of mine recently expressed to me the opinion that love is means to passivity. It certainly was anger that inspired me to end Michael’s abuse. But I suspect it was a lack of love for myself that let the abuse go on for as long as it did. If I were not so incredibly insecure, I might’ve stood up for myself a long time before I let the anger boil over. If I were confident in myself, I could’ve asked the teacher to be moved. I’ve since learned that I don’t have to bottle up my feelings. I deserve to feel whatever I feel I should. At the same time, I try to see all sides before becoming angry. In my experience, anger comes from a personal sense of entitlement and not empathy. Looking back at my experience with Michael, I think he was probably being abused at home.