Many impossibly difficult.
My mental illness, my drug addiction.
My wife’s savage alcoholism.
My son’s dealing with it all.
But for me, what follows was the worst.
Goes back over 50 years…
As a 7th grade student, I was an overweight, awkward kid who was constantly reaching out for friendship.
But friendship did not happen. A nickname did. The most repulsive, embarrassing, humiliating nickname imaginable. And it stuck. And 99 percent of the kids called me the name, in the most derisive fashion. And every calling of the name drove a blade in my heart. And if matters could be worse, the name calling evolved into a kind of ‘poetry contest’ that would use the name in a lewd rhyming passage yelled out across the classroom.
Since this was 7th grade, I had 6 years till graduation. So hell lasted six years. As did intense depression and thoughts of suicide.
Friends?-who would consider it?
Girlfriends?-who would even walk down the hallway with a guy with that name.
Got the FUCK out of town. College. No nickname. Lots of friends. Tons of girls. Incredible happiness.
But always, ALWAYS the fear that a person from my high school would contact a college friend and tell him about the nickname. And then it would start all over.
Years passed, life went on. The guy who gave me the nickname died 10 years ago, and I toasted his passage to hell with a Manhattan, straight up.
Got married, worried about her learning the name. Had a son, insanely worried about him learning the name.
But things quieted down. Everything was OK.
But it wasn’t.
A couple of months back, I reconnected with a female high school classmate through Facebook. I had no other high school friends, for obvious reasons, and I was hesitant to move ahead with this one.
But I did.
We had a good time. Texted often. Spoke on the phone. Dined out. Laughed a lot.
I was always asking her to preview stories. And she did.
Then it happened. She became enraged over a playful text message I sent, and she fired back with a text message addressed to ‘the nickname’.
All the shit, and I do mean ALL, stirred up again. My fucking head was exploding. Fifty years of horror came back.
I waited 24 hours to respond. (Isn’t that the universal cooling period?)
I informed her that our friendship was now over, and would be forever.
And it is.
Now, with all my years of mental health confinement, I never told a soul about this issue-neither inside or outside the walls.
This week that changed. Today I told my therapist the entire story.
But honestly, for the first time, today, I felt ‘a change was gonna come’. The fifty year old box of crap has been opened and exposed to the light.
And maybe that will turn out to be a very good thing.