Things were not going exactly how I planned… In high school I had done terrible. It wasn’t that I was stupid, and it wasn’t because I was lazy – I mean, I was, but that wasn’t really the problem. I felt very lost in school. In Elementary, I had started out as what I would have considered fairly popular. I got teased because of my weight, but I wasn’t really “unpopular.” Or if I was, I didn’t really know it, and was pretty happy. Then as fourth grade approached things got a little… Different? In fourth grade a lot of my other friends started to get more serious into sports, which I really wasn’t in to. I played Little League baseball, but I remember them passing out uniforms. I was so excited! I went through all the shirts and all the pants and nothing really fit. I ended up with a shirt 2 sizes too big and the pants were 1 size too small. I looked so awkward. It’s very possible I looked awkward before, but now I was starting to become aware of it. I was ok at baseball, but I never really understood the rules to any other sports. This was the first time I really remember starting to feel awkward. I know most everyone goes through an awkward phase, but for me, this was the beginning to my feelings of lowered self-esteem.
I played soccer before I was in baseball, but I didn’t get the rules so they always put me as a guard for the goalie. I spent most of the time seeing how long I could walk on my hands rather than watching the game. At this time, I look back and others probably thought I was the “weird kid,” but I didn’t know I was weird! I was very happy, and I had fun at soccer, even if I wasn’t really playing.
As the “crowd” I had hung out with ventured more into sports and hunting with their dads, I felt more and more out of touch. My dad took me duck hunting a few times, but again, more than actually hitting a bird, I just wanted to pull the trigger. I shot at everything that moved. This is a little safer when bird hunting than say, with deer hunting because you are aiming up in the air rather than into the woods – but I don’t think the rest of the hunting party appreciated me firing off a shot every 10 minutes. My parents tried to help me find things to be interested in. I don’t know if they could sense my feelings of not fitting in, or if it was just more of them trying to find some general activities for me. My dad got me into cub scouts – I liked it, but around 4th grade, the scouts were all held at the local church. Some of the friends I had in scouts had to introduce me to the scout leaders – I got asked several times why they didn’t know me from church. I let them know I wasn’t Mormon, just a scout! They seemed to kind of… Not notice me much after that.
Now anyone that knows me will tell you I am hard not to notice. I’m not exactly a wallflower. I’m loud and crack stupid jokes and talk incessantly. In fact, half the idea for this project was so I would shut up for at least a few hours a week and talk to my computer rather than bug others with my stories. So as for scout leaders not to “notice me,” could be that they weren’t interested in having as much to do with a non-member, or it could be that I was an ultra-sensitive kid who always expected to be the center of attention and when I wasn’t I was pissed. I don’t really know, but it felt like they were not so interested in having me around. The status of not being LDS started to have a greater effect as I got older, but I had one friend that quickly went from a kid in scouts I knew to being my best friend. Of course, it was generally just in the scouts group or on the playground at school, but Michael was my best friend. One day Michael let me know his mom wanted to meet me and invited me over to his house. I was so excited! A whole afternoon with Michael – the coolest kid I knew.
I went over to his house, his mom smiled as she opened the door for us and said, “So! You must be Jeremy! Michael has told me all about you. Come in!” I walked in – this house looked fun. He had all kinds of He-Man toys and a pair of walkie talkies, they were just right in the living room! My parents did not really allow toys in the living room – at least not to be left there all day! I wasn’t sure what we were going to be doing, but I knew it was going to be awesome. Then came the question that I’d been asked a few times in my life… “So, I have never seen you at church. What ward are you in?” Once when asked this question in 1st grade, my response was, “Ward? What does that mean?” My friend’s parent explained, “Oh, it means what church do you go to?” Of course she meant which LDS building do you attend, but I enthusiastically said, “Oh! Then I go to the Unitarian ward.” I got a good laugh from them – my parents later explained more specifically what that meant – so this time I was so proud I wasn’t going to screw up. “Oh, I’m not Mormon, we go to the Unitarian Church up by the University.” You have never seen a woman’s face fall so quickly. There was no hesitation while she worked this over in her head – there was no frozen smile that slowly faded. It dropped from a pleasant smile to a near snarl so quickly my blood ran cold. “Get out.” “Uhh, what?” “GET OUT OF MY HOUSE!! GET OUT! GET OUT GET OUT!” She was insane, head shaking, hands outstretched and she bolted after me. I turned and ran, she ran after me screaming, “GET OUT AND STAY AWAY FROM MY SON! DON’T YOU EVER TALK TO HIM AGAIN!!!” She chased me across her front lawn and I was just running and screaming. I don’t think she chased me any further than her front yard, but I never turned around to look. The only thing I left behind was the tears streaming down my face – I had never been so scared.
For many years I hated Mormons – I thought this was who they were. I found out years later, this is not who they are. This was one crazy lady who did not really understand her own religion. I’ve met awful Mormons – I met wonderful Mormons – I’ve known some pretty hateful Unitarians, and found in all faiths, some are awesome, and some will always be afraid of their own shadow. But in 4th grade, this was pretty traumatic for me… There are other people in the neighborhood that had an issue with me being a friend to their kids – but this was the scariest.
As the 4th grade rolled on, I became more and more withdrawn. I felt so self-conscious of who I was. Everything started to become only something for me to want after. I had curly hair, I wanted it straight. I had a larger body, I wanted to be lean so you could see my rib cage when I sucked in my stomach. I wanted to enjoy sports, but other kids seemed to think it was more fun to make fun of me for not knowing the rules rather than teach me.
I started off being really happy with life, but as I progressed through the grades, I started feeling more and more… Stupid? I still had a few friends, but they weren’t really people I hung out with. They were people I played with at recess, but I didn’t do anything after school. Then there was Shawn. He was the bad-ass of the play-yard. He would torment me every day at recess. He would follow me around and yell “FATSO! FATSO! FATSO!” I would try and ignore him and walk away, but he wouldn’t leave me alone. One day I turned around and shoved him and said, “SKINNYO! What’s the matter? Your mom can’t afford to feed you?” He stood there in shock. “Oh! OH! That’s it fatboy…” I thought I was going to piss myself. I had never stood up for myself. I hadn’t been in a lot of situations where I’d have to – but I’d always ran away… But I felt like I had crossed a line – this was it. If he turned this on me, I would forever be in fear. I shoved him again and he tripped backwards over his feet and I pounced. I sat on his chest and pinned his arms with my knees. “Hey Skinnyo! Why don’t you leave me alone? My fatass will smash you if you don’t.” I got up and walked back into the school shaking. I was sure I’d just signed my death warrant. But other people came up to me after and said, “That was funny!” I liked it. So every day at recess from then on for about a week, when I saw him I’d scream “HEY SKINNYO! SKIIIIIINNYO! SKIIIIIIIIINNYO!!” Once he ran after me, but I ran for a minute than turned back on him, and he turned and took off the other way. One day he came up hands in his pockets and head turned down. “Hey… Can I talk to you?” I wanted to play tough so I put a slight edge in my voice and said, “Yeah, what?” “Please don’t call me skinnyo anymore. I’ll leave you alone if you leave me alone…” I said, “Fine.” It was the last time we ever interacted. Now, you may think “Wow, and this is where he learned to stand up for himself.” No… I mean, kind of? But really, what I learned was that people didn’t tease me when I made them laugh! So I kind of decided to be the class clown. Maybe I could have more friends if I was really, really funny.
I would talk out in class and make smartass remarks. I was so busy making fun of everything I often forgot to listen to what was going on. If I just stayed funny enough, people would be my friends. Now, I still went through a ton of bullying, but I also always had a few friends where I at least didn’t feel so alone. I finished school, but just barely and found out in school that even better than being funny was to have drugs, know where to get drugs, and try and be the life of the party for as long as possible… But no – things were not going as I’d planned…
My friend Eric in high school had laid out this plan for us. We were going to finish school, then be homeless for 1 year. After that we’d go to college or something, but first we were going to spend 1 year just doing whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted. I lost touch with Eric before our plan had started, but I decided I was going to do this anyway. It would be fun! It’s an adventure! I had been on the streets for about 3 months when my dad found me sleeping on the lawn of the library and asked if he could take me home. His eyes were filled with tears and I just couldn’t see my dad cry. No – I could – but I didn’t want to be the one to make him cry. So I went home with him but I would stay out for days (sometimes weeks) at a time, running around the streets high still trying to be the life of the party. But a lot of the friends I had started to go away. A lot of them were getting their lives straight, or moving off to new places… I started to look at my life and I was falling apart. I was so sad. I wasn’t having fun anymore. I was miserable… I felt like I just wanted to die.
I sat in my room one night and decided this was it. I was done with life. I hated this so much! I wasn’t just crying – I was hysterical. I was in my bedroom in my parents basement, and I had just started crying… It started off light, but I it grew… The crying became sobbing. Then the fangs came out and were biting at me – the sobbing became hysterics. I had backed myself into the corner of the room and I couldn’t breath. Oh my god, I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe! I can’t live! I can’t do this, I just can’t! PLEASE! OH MY GOD PLEASE MAKE IT STOP! My mouth had wedged itself open with sorrow and I had drool pooling off my teeth as I just screamed alone in my room. Sometimes It was a whimper, sometimes it was a scream, but I couldn’t keep breathing I just was in so much pain I thought I was going to split. My head was on fire, and I was a mess. I had snot running down my nose, and I just couldn’t seem to get a hold of myself! This was not the first of these episodes, but it was certainly the worst.
I calmed myself down a little and did one thing you just should never do. Ok, you should never do drugs anyway – but if you are going to do drugs, especially acid, you have to be in a GOOD frame of mind – not where I was at. It can intensify your emotions, so if you are where I was at, this would be a bad time… But it is actually how I calmed myself down. I started to calm down because I had found the answer. It was time to leave. I couldn’t stand it here anymore. It was time to go – but I was going to leave in a swirl of LSD induced patterned mindfuck. I took 5 hits, and knew that people would blame the drugs. Part of me wanted to leave a note to explain everything and another part of me didn’t want to bother… Let them believe what they wanted. If they wanted a warning story for others, fine – I don’t have time to explain that this is SO MUCH MORE than drugs…
I turned on some music and waited for the doses to seep into my brain – as it started, I started to feel light. I danced with a box cutter in my hand in my room. I would soon be free. I would never have to deal with anything again. I don’t care if there is an afterlife – if there is, it had to be better than here. If there wasn’t it was definitely better than here. I swam around in a thick haze of breathing walls and bending music, and moved the way the music told me to. It was time. I had nothing else to say. I had nothing else to be.
I crouched down on the floor with my box cutter and the music was still pulling my mind in all directions. I would soon feel the warmth run out of my body and be in the most pleasurable cold that I could imagine. I pushed on the back of the boxcutter to say hello to the thin strip of metal that would finally give me what I’ve wanted. I pushed it against my wrist and pushed through a few layers of skin. I slowly started to drag it up, but I had maybe a centimeter, when I stopped. Something shifted in the room. I stopped to see what it was. I looked around, it was nothing. There was nothing that had really shifted – it was just a shadow shifting in the corner of my eye that was caused by the acid I dropped. I started laughing! I couldn’t stop laughing! How stupid am I!? I had stopped what I was doing to look at something that didn’t even exist! Wait… I stopped – stopped what? I stopped killing myself to see what this little twitch was in the corner of my eye. Why? I had stopped because it caught my attention. For one second, there was something that existed in my world that was worth living a few more seconds for. And what was it? NOTHING! I continued laughing! I just couldn’t stop! This was so stupid! But it’s true! The thing that existed that was important enough to experience living for a few more moments, didn’t even exist! What an ass I am! If there is something that doesn’t even exist that is worth living for, for even a few moments – might there be a lot that does exist that would REALLY be worth living for!?
I don’t know if this little tripped out calculation on life will really be anything that anyone else can understand. I hope so – I really do. But what I know is – this saved my life. Was it my angel? Was it my brain hitting the depths of it’s survival mode to dig through anything to help me realize what I was doing? I don’t know – I don’t care. I’m alive today because of this. I made a lot of other mistakes, and probably came close to death several other times before I got clean – but one thing is for sure – it was not by my hand. This was me. I started working to find the things in life that were even better than the little shifting shadow in my eye. And those stupid people in school said drugs were bad! Forget that me being on drugs was half the reason I felt so lost – without them I might have killed myself! I know, you’re thinking, “But if you had done something with your life, maybe you wouldn’t have felt so lost and hopeless.” Well – that’s just stupid. I hate it when people try and make sense using logic. The point is – my depression was not my fault! All the asshats that caused me to feel stupid drove me to use to help cure my depression – and while it nearly drove me to my grave, it was a drug trip that saved me! It’s like every time I turned around there was just more proof that my problems were other people’s fault, and that my choices were the right ones.