Life in the Slow Lane

Life in the Slow Lane

Friday, July 22, 2005

Kick Me

I always say that I am not athletic but I don’t know for sure. The fact is that I just never try. I avoid physical activity like the plague and as a result am completely out of shape. Actually that implies I was once in shape to get out of so let me rephrase that; I am NOT fit at all. I don’t think I am a natural athlete for a couple reasons. First of all I am really blind so my depth perception is not great. Secondly I have mild asthma so I get really puffed quite quickly. Thirdly I am just not that competitive. Don’t have that killer instinct. I know I have always been a really slow runner but over the years I, frankly, have avoided anything to do with sports or exercise. I am unable to objectively judge myself. This is because of my past.

When I went to a new school in fourth grade I had up until that time always had a fairly fun time in PE class. My new school had a PE teacher who was your typical guy jock. He was loud, obnoxious and very competitive. And he took one look at me and pegged me for a looser. Unfortunately he didn’t keep his opinions to himself and I was renamed ‘Useless’ for the next 3 ½ years of his PE classes.

When a person of authority, especially a bully, openly mocks somebody it creates an atmosphere where bullying this person is totally acceptable. Even encouraged. This is what happened to me. Where this teacher stopped my classmates took over. Group mentality and all. Better me than them. It was so bad that it trickled down to my younger brother who was eventually identified as ‘Useless’s Brother” by this same teacher. My brother avoided any contact with me at school and even went to a different high school to avoid the association.

The bullying continued on in high school as many of my classmates graduated to the same school location. Finally in about in the middle of tenth grade I confessed these issues to my sympathetic doctor and he kindly wrote me a permanent medical excuse. I never had to take PE again. All those years of taunts and teasing were over. No more beatings in the locker room. No more crude sexual innuendo from the boys. No more being picked last for a team or even argued over as to who would have to take me. “No! You take her.” “ NO! YOU take her!” I thought things would get better but they really didn’t because by that time the bullying was well ensconced in the classroom. My normal A average slipped into Ds. Finally in the middle of eleventh grade I quit school and transferred to a less athletic and more artistic curriculum in a different district. I had to commute almost 3 hours a day to get there but things were definitely better.

By this time I was a snotty little punk rocker who found great solace in making people hate me through my looks and attitude rather than being hated for being myself.

What is the result of this? I didn’t go to university, as I would have liked to, as I couldn’t face any more school after graduation. I still think I am useless athletically and fear trying any sport. I did try a soft ball team in grade school but overheard the coach say to his assistant that he thought we were ahead enough to put me up to bat. I knew then that adults were lying when they said it wasn’t whether you won or lost but how you played the game. Unfortunately this has stayed with me. It was all about winning after all and I didn’t contribute to this. It was a good lesson to learn. Now, even though I know intellectually it isn’t true, when I walk into a room full of people I still think for a minute that they are going to all hate me. I avoid large social gatherings because of this. I am really shy in groups.

The funny thing is that if you met me you would probably think I was pretty self-assured, as I have been told that I come off this way. Generally speaking I am. I have worked hard on my self-esteem over the years. But often I still revert back to the kid who was called ‘useless’ and over compensate. Like many people who were bullied as kids and many who even were not I tend to be perfectionistic and hard on myself. I am getting better but I have my ups and downs.

Back in the 70’s and 80’s people didn’t really think about bullying in school. It is a big buzzword now and that is great. No kid should go through what I went through. But many still do and I know many did back in the day. It is amazing how these things stay with you and even when you think you have the old tapes that played in your head beat something will trigger them and you are back at square one.

Nothing has triggered me lately but recently I have been thinking a lot about those days. I think because I have a lot of time on my hands. I am also listening to positive visualization tapes specifically for people who are dealing with cancer. These tapes state that people who get cancer often have long time festering resentments that over the long term suppress their immune system. Part of these tapes is accepting responsibility for your own cancer and dealing with past wrongs. Forgiving those who wronged you and moving on. I am all for that and while I have a hard time with the word forgiveness I certainly believe those past shitheads should not hold any power over you as an adult. But the question remains, can you ever fully get over a painful past? I mean totally? I am going to try.

While I am also not sure about all this taking responsibility for my cancer thing I think moving on is always for the best. Beating yourself up over the past it never good and positive reinforcement is always better. So I continue to listen to my tapes and put things into perspective and fight my cancer.


jar said...

I don't know if you can ever get over a painful past but maybe by listening to the tapes and putting things into perspective you will have longer good periods between the times that you want to beat yourself up or it will cause the pain of the memory to not be as harsh, or when bad memory sneaks up on you, you will have better tools to handle it and make it go away faster. Good Luck.

mrtl said...

Jesus, Kranki! Yeah, tell a bullied kid that letting it get to him is going to cause him to grow up and get cancer. That's real nice. Sorry, but the thought just pisses me off.

I'm so sorry to hear that you went through that crap as a kid. Your teacher was an asshole.

L.Bo said...

Screw the shitheads I say! Forgiving them is not to let them off the hook for their despicable behaviour, but for yourself so you can move on. What a great tool to have to help you get there.

Von Krankipantzen said...

Jar-perspective is great. I find that I often think of things from my past within the context of a child opposed to the powerful adult that I am. Rethinking things with new perspective rocks.

mrtl-I am not sure I agree with these tapes position that cancer is emotional. Maybe a little bit but what about babies and kids who get cancer. They have no baggage. But the exercises are great and the visuals are excellent. And these tapes are proven to work.

Lbo-I am finally starting to understand that forgiveness is not about them but freeing myself. Not that it is ok but that it is not going to bug me any more. Cool.

L.Bo said...

That is worth a big Woo Hoo! Once you get it, boy is it liberating. Like having this giant weight lifted off your shoulders. I am doing a little dance of joy for you right now.

Squirl said...

Oh, no wonder you became Kranki. I am athletically retarded. I can feel for you there, but you had to take classes from that asshole teacher for all those years? He wouldn't be teaching anymore in today's culture.

Ichabod's dad used to be a teacher and was a jock. When he taught PE he'd let each side pick a certain number of kids. Then he arbitrarily assigned the rest to keep anyone from ever being last.

I believe that the tapes are correct in that we are responsible for our feelings, and health follows. By your being able to understand that forgiving those monsters is best for you, you are definitely on your way to recovery. Recovery is mental first. The body follows.

You aren't that same little girl anymore who was so tortured. You are strong, vibrant woman who has the courage to take her future into her own hands. And you're doing a great job. :-)

Sherri said...

No, not all cancer is emotional. Anyone who pushes an all or nothing causation is usally selling something (or has bought deeply into something and can't afford to be wrong). I'll through a vote in, though, that mental state and emotional state to show up in the body -- not always as cancers, but in various ways.

I've one particular "guru" I like to recommend to people who are trying to let go of the past. Caroline Myss has been lecturing about the mind/body connection, releading the past, and assorted spiritual matters for many years. She's one tough lady and she pisses me off regularly when I listen to her, and she cracks me up about as often. Her books are kind of mushy, but her tape series are great to listen to. Her catch phrase is "get over it", which turns out to be a complex and multi-layeres process, not some glib smartass insult.

I had a similar PE experience as you did, complicated by a medical condition that had me hauled away in an ambulance a few times from the PE field (or at least walked to the nurse's office). Lukcily I moved to a new area between 6th and 7th grades and had a do-over, which helped upload some of the trouble. However, today, whenever I feel like exersizing, I lay down and wait until the feeling passes...

Sharkey said...

I think you're on the right track, Kranki. Continuing to let the asshole's words affect you only gives him power over your life. I know it's easier said than done, but forgiveness is very liberating.

Candace said...

I wish someone had told you what they told me:

University is a clean slate. If you go far enough away from home, no one knows you, no one knows anyone else, and you start fresh.

That was the best advice I ever got. I found myself at college. I found out I could be aggressive and assertive and still be liked. I found all new friends (except the one from high school who I love like a sister) and I found my place.

I'm so sorry you had to go through it. I'm trying to teach my kids to 1. not be bullies, and 2. let bad things roll off of them like water.

spoonleg said...

good for you, working through that resentment and letting it go. it's so cliche but so true to say that it costs nothing to forgive but anger takes a lot of energy.

if i ever see that gym teacher on the street, i'll kick his ass with my totally non-atheletic BUT NOT USELESS foot. bastard.

Courtney said...

I remember being in PE, and kids would go, "aw, crap!" when they found out I was the last kid picked for their team. Then I stomped their butts! Athletic? Non-Athletic? Who cares? Best thing about high school PE is that it's over. I'm an athletic hiker, I live and breathe for the stuff. It won't win me any letters, but who know, maybe I'll climb Everest someday? Maybe not. But I live for it, but that's not the only thing I live for.

kalki said...

Re: the PE teacher - that shit ain't right. Shithead indeed. Sounds like he had some serious self-esteeem issues going on himself to need to pick on a kid.

I think the visualization thing is really interesting. While I certainly don't think negative emotions can cause cancer, I do think there's a connection between emotions and physical health.

And I know you know this, but for the record you are anything but useless. I think you're fabulous.

LadyBug said...

I'm so pissed at your old coach right now. What an asshole.

I'm sorry you had to go through such shit growing up, Kranki.

Love and hugs to you.

east village idiot said...

First of all, I would like to get into a time machine and kick the shit out of your mofo PE teacher.

I grew up being athletic even though I have no athletic ability and an ass that could eclipse the sun! There are all different types of sports for all different types of people. Don't let those pricks stop you from enjoying your body or the feeling of fitness.

Always remember that your body is the temple of your soul. You have a beautiful heart, a beautiful face and a beautiful blog. It seems to me that you are on the road to shutting those inner tapes off.

It might be cool to start off with a stretching class, yoga or biking.

I also understand your difficulty with the concept of forgiveness - I was a victim of a different kind of downer growing up and couldn't understand how or why I should forgive someone who hurt me. I finally realized that forgiving isn't forgetting or saying it's okay, it's just saying I'm releasing this experience because it's taking up space and energy I need to other things (fun, joyful stuff).

I must confess, I've never understood what people mean by being responsible for your cancer -whatever those people are trying to say - they need to reword it a bit.

Stay strong! We're sending you good vibes from east village - even though it's stinkin' hot over here!

Vanessa said...

You should find out if your jerk, asswipe, jerk, shithead PE teacher has an e-mail address and send this website to him. You can forgive, but you can't always forget, especially when it has affected your entire life.

Sounds like you are coping quite well with your life considering what you've been through and what you are experiencing right now.

Is it okay to say that I'm proud of you, even if I don't know you? I think you are a great woman!

Von Krankipantzen said...

lbo-I can just picture you doing that dance!

squirl-thanks so much squirl! It is a good feeling to look back and not feel like that little kid again. Not all of us are athletic after all-but don't write us off!

sherri-I have heard of Myss and I will check her out. I do the exact same thing-lay down until the need to exercise passes. I am sorry you had a similar situation. I wasn't the only kid who was picked on in my class either.

sharkey-viva le liberation! It hasn't really bothered me in a while but these damned tapes make me forgive somebody every time.

misfit-I wish somebdoy had told me that too. I am so glad that you teach your kids empathy etc. I don't think the bullying would be tolerated now. Yipee for clean slates and being a strong chick.

spoonie-it surprised me that I still had lingering resentment about that. I hope after you kick his ass there will still be room for my foot too.

requiscat-I am so happy that you have found ways to be athletic as an adult. I am still trying to find something that I like to keep me active. So far walking to the store for chocolate is the only thing that works.

kalki-I used to feel sorry for his daughter. He would tell horrible stories about stuff he would say to her. Big therapy bill. I think I agree with you about the cancer and negative thoughts. What about kids with cancer? They are not carrying around baggage!

ladybug-thanks so much for the support. He was a right old turd.

east village idiot-thanks for the hot and positive vibes. I agree with you totally on your whole comment. I have done yoga off and on in the past and really like it a lot. But I get bored easily and need some other stuff to round out my routine. Maybe time machine ass kicking.

Vanessa-thanks for the nice words. I hope he hasn't affected my life too much but stuff still pops up now and then. I can say I am a different person now that when I was that shy kid. I am waaaay more outspoken now. I had thought about approaching him as he retired a few years ago. Explain everything to him and then kick hi old retired ass.

Closet Metro said...

I want to go kick your PE teacher in the jimmy.

Von Krankipantzen said...

closet metro-That is so funny. I laughed out loud.