All throughout my childhood, I was told that I was crazy, nuts, labelled a freak, told I need to see a psychiatrist and all sorts of things. The main purpose behind all of this was to bully me but as I grew in years, I sometimes wondered if I could have done with some help. That brings me to the first obstacle as to why I didn’t. Growing up in the 1960s and 70s, mental health was seen as a taboo subject and anyone who was undergoing any sort of therapy was looked upon almost as if they were a mass murderer. I’m not making this up!
Unfortunately, this attitude was reflected on my mother. When I finally had a huge meltdown right before my 16th birthday, I yelled that “I needed to see a shrink!” My mother didn’t send me to one, instead I went to a minister who had some training in psychology. I came from a religious background which I’ll get to in a minute. Anyway, when I first reflected back on this a few years later, I assumed it was my white middle class American upbringing which made my mother shun the psychiatrist idea on account of she worried about what the neighbours were going to think. That thought may still have had something to do with it but I think it was more down to her seeing it as a negative reflection on her parenting. So that’s my first shout to parents who have children who might have difficulty. Getting your child the help he or she might need is in no way any indication you are a bad parent! In fact, it is very much the opposite because you care enough about your child to get them the help they need.
Onto the subject of religion. I was a Born Again Christian throughout my teenage years. I don’t know about other religions but in the case of Christianity, there is a negative view of the mental health field. “Bring them to the Lord!” they will shout. Well, I did go to the Lord first and that only messed my head up more. However, I didn’t seek mental health because I believed those in the church who said that once a psychiatrist find out a patient has religious beliefs, they immediately blame all the problems on the patient being a ‘religious freak.’ There are some mental health professionals who have this view about religious followers but most will not brand you a freak and many will work around those beliefs. So, ignore those religious zealots who think mental health problems are the work of Satan.
I served in the US Marine Corps as a young adult. While serving, I had those who branded me crazy among other things. One platoon sergeant said he was going to send me to a psychiatrist. He never did and the reason I think why is that the military looks suspiciously at those who purport to have mental problems. Many in higher ranks would have seen my call for help merely as an attempt to get a discharge from the Corps. It didn’t help that some of my fellow marines did try to get themselves discharged and a tiny few succeeded, like the guy who pretended to ride a motorcycle everywhere he went. I might tell that story another time. Anyhow, if the Marine Corps wasn’t so paranoid of people trying to get out any way they could, they could have possibly provided me with the help I needed.
When I came to Great Britain a few years after leaving the service, my mental problems didn’t go away. When I talked about getting help, my then wife responded that going to a psychiatrist or a counsellor was something ‘Americans did’ and you just didn’t do that in Great Britain. Her view in my mind was aided by a few ignorant British people who went around thinking that Americans are so weak-minded, that they have to talk to their therapist because they can’t cope with their pet hamster dying. Let me tell you, don’t let this stereotype prevent you from getting the help you need. I was wrong for letting that and all the other mentioned excuses prevent me from getting the help I needed much sooner.
Fortunately, I did get help. At the tender age of 42, I put myself into counselling. With the help of the counsellor, I was able to peel back the pages of my life and while it didn’t solve my problems, it gave me insight as to how they came about and how to deal with them. In fact, the counsellor gave me the confidence I needed to write “He Was Weird” and my first book “Rock and Roll Children.” I put the counsellor in my ‘Special Thanks’ page in the first book.
Needless to say but I will say it, if you think you need help, get it. Whether it’s through your doctor or elsewhere, get the help you need. It doesn’t make you weak or a heathen or a shirker and if you are a parent, getting help for your child doesn’t mean you are a failure, quite the opposite!
If anyone went to Margate, New Jersey, the town where I was horrendously bullied for three years and told them about the bullying hell I experienced, provided they remembered me and I’m sure someone there would, they would try to justify their bullying on account that I was a liar. That I told fake stories and lies. However, many of my supposed lies, although exaggerated in some cases, were just instances miscommunication because I couldn’t properly explain them due to my DAMP. Although, in many of those cases, they misinterpreted, sometimes intentionally, what I said so they could use it against me. So, I will now list those supposed lies and explain them.
I broke the world’s running record. My first two days of school, I ran home from the school. I was still in pretty good shape from playing football so I was able to run about a mile without stopping. At the time, I didn’t know that athletes ran much further so in my mind, I broke the world’s running record. When I told of my feat in school, it was immediately misinterpreted. Kids took it that I was saying I was a really fast runner when I wasn’t saying that at all. I was just happy I ran such a distance. Unfortunately, my attempts to explain this fell upon deaf ears.
2. Jim Lefebvre was my cousin. Throughout my childhood in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Jim Lefebvre played second and third base for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Often times, I was asked if I was related to him because we have similar sounding surnames. At first, I would be truthful and say no. However, one day, someone suggested that I should say that he was as a joke. So, when someone asked me the question when I first moved to Margate, I said yes. Unfortunately, people there didn’t see the joke and I was made out to be a liar and as was the case, got blown totally out of proportion. In fact, a few years later, someone said that I was telling lies like the time I said my cousin was on the Mets. Jim Lefebvre never played for the Mets but my supposed lie evolved into me saying that. This brings me to another point. As is the case of bullies, they claim to only be joking but a target makes a similar joke, it’s conveniently not seen as such.
3. I was in a movie. Before I moved to Margate, a friend and I had this great plan of producing our own sci-fi movie and sending it to a local TV personality who presided over showing horror and sci-fi films on a local TV station in the early 1970s. This was just an outlandish fantasy of two nine year old boys. Now, we did have a home movie camera in our attic so we could have used it if allowed. My friend asked his father to be the director, which he declined. So, I was sort of telling the truth when I said the movie director turned me down. Once again, this got totally blown out of proportion, although it didn’t help that due to my Asperger’s Syndrome, I couldn’t properly explain it like I am now. Then again, even if I had explained it eloquently, those listening would have intentionally misinterpreted it so it could have been used against me.
4. My grandfather was a world champion miniature golfer. Okay, this was an untruth. Well sort of, he did win a local senior citizens tournament and I totally embellished it. By this time, my mind was so twisted by my DAMP and the intentional ignorance of people that I wasn’t sure what I was saying anymore.
5. I played ice hockey for the junior Philadelphia Flyers. This was a lie but I will still explain. First, my bullying had become so bad, that I coped by creating a fantasy world where I was the star hockey player. It helped me cope with all of the crap I was going through. Secondly, no one was believing my truths or totally misinterpreting them that this sinister part of my brain thought that why not tell a big whopper. What I should have found sad at the time was that some people seemed to want to go out of their way to prove my lie. These days I find it amusing.
Of course, should anyone from the town read this post and realize who is writing it and remember me, I am sure that they will say that this is me trying to explain my lies away. No, if I was able to explain things better back then and people weren’t so quick to want to twist things around, then there would have been no need for me to write this post. On the other hand, did any of my lies or fake stories really effect anyone? I didn’t bare false witness against anyone, everything was about me. Some might respond with “We don’t like liars.” Well nobody does but the things I said which were perceived as lies was not an excuse for bullying and abuse.
Since then, I have met others who have told taller tales than I ever did. While they may be talking bullshit, their bullshit doesn’t effect me and if someone wants to build themselves up by creating myths about them, then it’s not going to effect my life in any way. So, I simply say, “Leave them to it.”
I knew there would be another excuse my bullies would use if confronted over the way they treated me back then. It only took less than 24 hours after my previous post to realize it. The funny thing is that this particular excuse is commonly used by adults who were bullies when they were children.
We were kids, we didn’t know any better. True, but you know better now. That excuse might hold a tiny bit of water if it is accompanied by a genuine heartfelt apology. Often times it isn’t but used by former bullies as a justification to why they bullied and have no remorse for doing so. Even so, it is no excuse for bullies not to apologize to their former targets. Another thought, it could be used as a tool to teach children that bullying isn’t cool and shouldn’t be allowed to happen.
Here’s my strange Aspergian mind going to places no so-called normal mind would boldly go. Then again, they might if they had suffered a severe amount of bullying when they were younger and came out a survivor. Odds are I will never see those who bullied me during those three years of hell again. I don’t even live in the same country as them and though I manage to get to the US every few years and have driven through the town and even went to the beach there, I haven’t seen any of those who bullied me so bad and I probably never will. Still, with my weird mind constantly running scenarios through it, I sometimes imagine one where I did meet those bullies and wonder what they would say today. Therefore, I will attempt to get into their heads and head off the excuses and justifications for the way they bullied me way back then.
You brought it on yourself. They would try to victim blame, something which has been going on from the beginning of time. They would point out that I was a liar, that I acted weird and was a showoff. They might even use it to say I was lying about the bullying. The truth is that I was bullied, there’s no lie about that. Even so, my so-called lies were fantasies about myself and many of them were misinterpreted by the bullies, I think intentionally. I didn’t slander or spread lies about anyone nor said anything malicious about them. So, while I admit I had a very overactive imagination which my young Asperger’s mind couldn’t control, it in no way justified the bullying I received at the time. Actually, this gives me an idea for my next post.
It wasn’t that bad. Bullying is never that bad if you’re not on the receiving end of it. However, if you are, then bullying can become horrific. My bullying was that bad! In seventh grade especially when walking through the school hall, I never knew when someone was going to come up from behind and punch me in the back, or in the front or in the case of one bully, body-check me into the wall. So yes, the bullying was that bad.
It was because you were such a wimp. Here we go victim blaming again. Bullies always go for people who can’t fight back. Of course, some of them would make sure they had a posse of friends to back them up just in case. Back then, I was blamed for my own bullying because I didn’t fight back. Of course, when I did, it was twisted around to make it out that I had started it all or that I had overreacted and that I was some maniac. This is not a justification for bullying.
You annoyed people. I annoyed people because those people were intolerant. Most of my ‘weird’ behaviour shouldn’t have really effected people but bullies chose to let it effect them. They just used any of my eccentric behaviours as an excuse to bully me. I didn’t annoy them as much as they simply wanted an excuse to become annoyed.
Like I said, I will probably never meet those bullies again and I don’t want to. I left that town nearly half a century ago and have no desire to relive old times with them. Besides, I am very confident that if I was to meet them again, they would use the above excuses to downplay the bullying hell I went through when I was living in the town. Now I can counter their excuses.
FFI- you can read my book “He Was Weird” which is available on this link: mazon.co.uk/Was-Weird-Publisher-Generation-Publishing/dp/B00SLVHRFG/ref=sr_1_1?crid=36I8I1G32U0R4&keywords=he+was+weird&qid=1641844207&s=books&sprefix=he+was+%2Cstripbooks%2C148&sr=1-1
Or you can email me direct at: email@example.com
Turning 60 last June made me think about the ultimate future. I mean when my body gives up the ghost and I am no longer on the Earth. Another contributing factor to this state of mind was that a month before my birthday, my stepson Teal’s biological father died. He was four years younger than me, although he was a chain smoker. Anyway, as a result of both occurrences in 2021, I got off my backside and made my will.
Don’t worry, I’m not going to talk about that. However, I did put how I want my funeral to go. I don’t want anything super heavy, just a simple send off with the highlights of my life talked about. Who knows? Maybe everyone will buy copies of “He Was Weird” and then they could add what a great author I was. It’s nice to dream.
Here’s where the title of the post comes in. I have stipulated that in any talk about my life, the period between October 1971 and October 1974 is to be omitted. Furthermore, there is to be no mention or photos of the City of Margate, New Jersey. Reason being it was when I was living in said town during those dates mentioned when I was the target of horrendous bullying. Therefore, the town should have no mention in any talk about my life.
I can hear people out there saying that I am being petty, that I shouldn’t be so harsh in not having them mentioned at my funeral. That I should forgive the town and its bullies on my death bed. Actually, I have forgiven those bullies in order for me to move own and build the life for me that I have. However, as the recently departed Desmond Tutu once said, “You can have forgiveness with accountability.”
In reality, I doubt very much that the people of Margate, New Jersey will ever know that their beloved town is being left out of my funeral service. If they do, most likely, they won’t care. In fact, I can hear some of them saying, “We don’t want you mentioning that you lived here.” So, the feeling is mutual. As much as possible, I want my funeral to be a happy occasion and I have many happy memories and accomplishments outside of living in that town. So, why dampen the mood with mention of the brief period when I wasn’t happy?
To buy He Was Weird, go to: mazon.co.uk/Was-Weird-Publisher-Generation-Publishing/dp/B00SLVHRFG/ref=sr_1_1?crid=36I8I1G32U0R4&keywords=he+was+weird&qid=1641237170&s=books&sprefix=he+was+%2Cstripbooks%2C148&sr=1-1
Or you can buy direct from me by emailing me at: firstname.lastname@example.org