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  • No one knows what it’s like to be the Bad Man
    To be the Sad Man, behind blue eyes
    No one knows what it’s like to be hated
    To be fated to telling only lies
    But my dreams they aren’t as empty as my conscience seems to be
    I have hours only lonely, My love is vengeance that’s never free…

    No one knows what it’s like to feel these feelings
    Like I do - and I blame you!
    No one fights back as hard on their anger
    None of my pain and woe can show through
    But my dreams they aren’t as empty as my conscience seems to be
    I have hours only lonely, My love is vengeance that’s never free…

    When my fist clenches crack it open, before I use it to lose my cool
    When I smile tell me some bad news before I laugh and act like fool
    And if I swallow anything evil put your finger down my throat
    And if I shiver please give me a blanket keep me warm let me wear your coat

    When I first heard this song, it immediately became my theme song. All through school, I had been a loner. Even when I was supposedly part of a group, I was the scapegoat of that group, not really one of the insiders. That was when I hung around with Chuck and his friends. I didn’t like that group at all. They were mean and, at times, brutally vicious, physically. Individually, I liked some of them, but collectively, they were downright mean and hurtful.

    I, unfortunately, was a sensitive kid, so I felt the hurts especially deeply, but I dared never show them. The fact that, when one on one with any of those guys, most of them actually seemed to like me, and we would develop what I thought were friendships, anytime two or more of them were together, I would always be the odd man out. I would be the scapegoat. They just poured the abuse, verbally and physically, on me.

    I suppose a casual observer would have said, “Oh, boys will be boys, that’s just adolescent behavior”. They didn’t see the level of viciousness and bullying that was leveled against me. But, I always hung in there, year after year, as the behavior increased and the abuse intensified. It was almost a grim determination to see how much pain and abuse I could endure. It was a matter of personal pride – “go ahead – pile it on – I can take that, and I can take more. Keep piling – I’ll keep taking it.” And, I did. I really didn’t know why. I never complained about it. I quietly took it all. I didn’t fight back when it became brutally physical. I just stayed within my own little “moral superiority” mind-set that said, only to myself, “And you guys call yourself Christians? Is this how Christians would treat their fellows? If that’s the case, I want no parts of your Christianity.” That is around the time that I began to develop my own ideas about God and religion. These were all supposed to be good Catholic boys, and everyone seemed to see them that way, but I knew better. They did not walk the talk, like I always tried to do. I eventually determined that Christianity was not for me. I embraced the concept of treating your fellows with dignity and respect, and being kind to all, but I saw very little evidence of that behavior among most of the Christians I knew. They could talk a good game, but not a whole lot of walking going on.

    One day, it all just became too much, and I walked away. I suppose part of what had kept me there so long was that grim determination that I would not give them the satisfaction of having driven me away, but part of it was this desire to try to change them. To try to get them to walk the talk, by my own demonstration of decent behavior. That never worked. They remained cruel and vicious. By that time, after more than 4 years of being a part of their group, it was so uncharacteristic of me to just not be there, they didn’t know what to make of it.

    I had found people who treated me much differently, not in school but in the restaurants where I now worked. They were older – more mature – they accepted me for who I was, didn’t play silly, violent games, jokes with me as the butt. So, I walked away. Chuck had to get his last shot in, and I took it without retaliation. He caught up to me on Pioneer Avenue one day, months after I’d walked away from his crowd, and confronted me. “So, I hear you are drinking now. And smoking. Is that true?” I said sure it is, it’s fun, you should try it sometime. He let loose a flurry of blows to my head, then tackled me and continued beating me to a pulp. I resisted his blows as best I could, but I never returned one. I just had this thing in me that I would not strike another human being, no matter what they were doing to me. When he was done, I just looked at him, picked up my broken glasses, and said, “It’s too bad that that’s all you know, Chuck. I always thought there was more to you.”, and I walked away, feeling strong in my own personal convictions.

    (I did find it ironic, though not satisfying in the least, to learn recently that Chuck now suffers from a bad drinking problem, and his life never amounted to much, he never made it out of his parents’ home, even, and probably just never grew up. Ironic, but not surprising).

    Granted, I was walking away from chronic, group bullying and right into active addiction, myself, but that’s another story. For the first two years of it, at least, addiction welcomed me with open arms, and we had a beautiful relationship, before it turned on me and abused me even worse than those guys had.

    The other lesson I suppose I learned from that group was, I never wanted to be part of a “group” again. For the rest of my high school career, I was a “floater”. I didn’t care to be defined by any group. I liked it outside the pale, I liked to float among groups, I liked my independence. I don’t think I’ve ever lost that sense of independence.

    Fortunately, I also never lost that sense of decency to my fellow human beings that I felt deeply. It was already a part of my DNA before those guys, but I felt like it was forged into a deeply held belief by my demonstration of decency, no matter what they threw at me. I kind of proved to myself that you could be decent, no matter what others threw your way. Maybe I’m who I was trying to prove that to all along, anyway.

    Fortunately, I got it. I never lost that. It is my greatest power, I believe._________________________________________________________________________________
    (Song – Behind Blue Eyes, Pete Townsend, the Who)
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