I had lunch with my father today. It was the first time I had seen him in almost three months. It was a voluntary separation on my part. I needed my distance to heal. I intended to hug him today. I didn't have the courage.
But in thinking of that missed opportunity today, I have retrieved a fond memory of the one time, as a child, that I did receive a hug. This hug wasn't from either of my parents, oddly enough. Plus, it came at the most unsuspecting of times.
I was in a lot of trouble in elementary school. I made at least a weekly visit to the principal's office. These were obviously my acting out days, and it kind of bothers me that my teachers didn't realize that something was going on at home. Well, I think there was one person in that school that suspected that something was wrong, but in those days, I don't think he could have done much about it especially since I would have denied any prying questions into my home life.
There was that one fateful day in sixth grade where everything just kind of came toppling down. It was winter 1987, and my parents were in the midst of a brutal divorse. My mothers false accusations of rape and spousal abuse had just come to the forefront. Needless to say, things had just gotten very ugly. I wasn't functioning at all in school. The covert sexual abuse and emotional abuse from my mother was about to get really bad. I was less than five months away from my first emotional breakdown, something I endured in the privacy of my own bedroom, and I had incurred the wrath of my teacher for laughing maniacally during the very explicit part of my first actual lesson in the physiology sex education. All these years later, I realize that I had been triggered. How was my teacher to know that? I was sent to the principal's office for the third time that day, and I honestly did not know what I was doing wrong.
I had been in a fight the day before. I didn't start it, but I was the one who was seen throwing a punch. They never did catch the other kid. Just that morning, I had slipped while trying to take off my moon boots before class. I grabbed a hold of one of the jackets on the coat rack, and the whole dang thing came tumbling down on me. Another trips to the principal's office. That day at lunch, I was trading my pumpkin custard for a banana, and when I tried to slide the custard down to the other kid, he picked up his hand at the last second. Yep, it slid off the end of the table, and the custodian saw it. Another trip to the principal's office.
Needless to say, I did not have the courage to face my principal after that. I went to the bathroom instead, and I fully intended to spend the rest of the day there. One kid came in. I thought I was quiet enough so that he wouldn't hear me, but he ran into the principal on the way out. The principal was obviously looking for me.
"Have you seen Bryan?"
"No, not since he left class." I guess I owe this kid for trying to stick up for me, but the principal was too good.
"He's in the bathroom isn't he?"
The kid didn't respond, but I knew he had nodded his head. A few moments later, long enough for that kid to be around the corner, the principal called out in a stern voice, "Bryan? I have all day, you know."
Yep. It was time for me to face my punishment. Three times to the principal's office in one day, four times in two days...I was sure I was about to get suspended. I got up, off the toilet seat, and went out to face the wrath of this man I feared.
I tried to walk by him, hoping he would follow me to his office. It was a path I knew all too well, but he didn't let me pass. He grabbed me. I didn't like being touched, so I took a swign. I took a fucking swing at an adult authority figure. I caught him in the stomach, but he didn't flinch. He pulled me close. It was an embrace of understanding. I cried.
I don't know how long he held me. It might have been all afternoon. I was never allowed to cry at home. I let it all out right then and there. I was losing my father, a man with whom I would not reconcile for over a decade. It hurt, and I didn't even realize it until that moment.
We went to his office, and I cried some more. He let me sit in there for the rest of the afternoon. He told me I could sit in there the next day as well. I sat the rest of the week in his office until I had the courage to return to class.
I'm crying as I write this post. This man was important to me. That one fateful day in January 1987, he changed my life. One hug, one show of compassion, might have saved me from myself. In the terrible years that were to come, I thought of this hug often. It kept me going at times of trouble. This man believed in me. It took me twenty years to live up to his expectations, but I'm finally doing it, Mr. Kercher.
Revenge is nothing more than another way of perpetuating abuse.
What the world needs now
Is some new words of wisdom
Like la la la la la la la la la.
Having a friend who will keep a secret for you is worthless compared to a friend who won't keep a secret from you.