I’ve been fighting for respect for as long as I’ve been old enough to understand what it meant.
As I’ve never been able to fully process why I was a bullied kid from 9 years old to 18, it left scars and a huge chip on my shoulder, one I’ve carried around for 12 years with minimal regard to the feelings of anyone who didn’t know me or wanted to at least understand me better. All I knew was/know is that I was sick of being disrespected.
Disrespect. The word just irks me as I type it. I felt that as a kid I was always the one getting picked on because of my weight, my manner of speech and the fact that my head was always in a book. But at some point, I just withdrew and became a total loner in junior high. By the time I got to high school, things were no better. And there was a new factor in the equation – girls.
Every boy at the time wanted to impress the girls, even if that meant at the expense of other guys. And believe me, I was the dude getting laughed at by guys and girls who were impressed by the jokester’s quick wit. It became doubly embarrassing because I wanted to impress girls, but I was busy trying to keep a straight face through tears I’d shed when I got home.
College really sucked because I was still a loner, the teasing stopped, but I fell into the trap of groupthink. Attending college (an HBCU, no less) meant that everybody was going to have their fun, and I don’t think I need to elaborate any further. That fun was absent in my experience and I came to resent it – and the women I felt were just dogging me out and me alone. I felt they were disrespecting me.
I calmed down after college and had to worry about real things like a career, bills, dealing with bosses who didn’t respect me. Those things took precedent over a social (and I guess love) life and though I was able to hide it fairly well as a kid, as an adult, loneliness was the elephant in the room trumpeting loud as hell and I couldn’t shut it up for anything.
Also, my lack of social graces and reliance on the internet for conversation and friendship totally left me clueless in terms of dealing with people. The scars from my first 25 years of life had me trusting no one even though I converse with some folks on a regular basis. I still felt disrespected because I believed I wasn’t being afforded the same luxuries as other men.
Fast forward to last night. A conversation I thought was about me really wasn’t. I was blinded by fury. I was tired of being disrespected. I went off on any and everyone who I felt was taking shots at me. In the process, I alienated people who were in my corner. I had a hard time sleeping last night, which is rare for me, even after arguments because I usually have been able to convince myself that I wasn’t in the wrong.
No such luck last night.
So where are we now? Well, a kind word from a wise woman got the wheels turning and as I walked around my neighborhood this morning, I thought about it, and the worst offender of the crime of disrespect has been me. As much as I’ve railed against being disrespected, I look at the scores and remnants of burned bridges I left behind and I had to admit for the first time that the common denominator theory is pretty much fact.
And I have to address something that had always been suggested but I never sought because of stigmas and perception.
I’m not a doctor, so I can’t come up with a diagnosis for what is going on, but I know if I don’t get this solved, the next 30 years are going to be just as empty as the first, and I’m ready to admit that I don’t want to run anyone else off. I don’t want to hurt people anymore because of my problems and insecurities. But I know that’s going to come with time. This particular thing isn’t a sprint, it’s marathon as I understand it.
So I guess this is me trying to get started.
Hi, I’m Chris, and I have low self esteem.
Hi, I’m Chris and I have problems with women.
Hi, I’m Chris and I need help.