My mother was a model volunteer at E.S. Elementary. She was at the school so often, that all of the faculty knew exactly who me and my sisters were. It was nice getting special attention, but there was a downside to that as well. Luckily, I was well behaved and very smart. But if I stepped even a baby toe out of line, the hammer came down fast and hard by anyone who knew my mother, which was damn near everyone in the school. For example, I eventually developed a conflictual relationship with the bad boy I mentioned before. My class was lined up on the playground at the end of recess along with some other classes and I saw him, Damon, messing with my friend Ira, tapping her and getting on her nerves. I walked up to him and told him to stop. Things got heated and he and I stomped out of the line and stood facing each other in between my class and the class lined up next to us. We started to fight. I distinctly remember my shoe connecting solidly with his legs a few good times. I kicked him because I heard my older sister Nicole yelling out over everyone else ‘Kick him! Kick him!” Everyone else was yelling “Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight!” Soon, my sister’s teacher, Ms. Nant came and broke us up. The next thing I remember is hanging out in the library with a woman named Ms. Billy. She was pretty and had plump red lips. Damon and I were both in there, but what annoyed me was that she kept looking at me with this incredulous look on her face, repeating, I can’t believe you fought! I can’t believe you did that! Her focus was all on me. I was irritated and mentioned that I wasn’t the only one fighting. Apparently that kind of behavior was expected from him, but not me. I understood why this was so, however, I didn’t appreciate how shocked she looked. It felt like she was staring at me and making it such a big deal. I was a child who may get into a fight, same as anyone else.
I was already under a microscope at home, but my mother extended her influence so that I felt I was always being watched. She continued to volunteer at my schools up until and all throughout high school. The scrutiny never seemed to end.
We wore uniforms at this school. You know the ugly white, tan, and navy blue ones with no style? I got into the habit of always wearing an oversized jacket everywhere I went, even outside and when it was hot. I did this because the crotch area of my khakis would bulge up and it made me feel gross. Maybe my pants were too big, I’m not sure, but I didn’t have any other pants that did that. I felt that if I took off the jacket, it would be too noticeable and embarrassing. It was so bad that one day when I was wearing something different and felt comfortable enough to take the jacket off, one of the teachers said they barely recognized me because I wasn’t wearing it.
In the second grade I was victim to blackmail for the entire school year. It was at this age that I discovered and acted on my attraction to girls. I had a few girl friends that shared the same feelings. Sometimes during recess we would go to the girl’s bathroom and kiss, and if we were feeling adventurous, there was some brief touching of each other’s butts. At that time, and as I got older, I felt guilty and shameful about these interactions. I thought that I was some sort of pervert and that I was a bad, disgusting human being. Something was wrong with me. It wasn’t until I was in graduate school that I learned that this sort of exploration with children is normal and common. But I carried it around with me and it negatively colored my self perception until last year. Another layer to this is that my parents and godparents caught me kissing other girl friends I would be playing with and yelled and scolded me. Because I clashed with my mother so much during my adolescence, I made my own connection that because she knew I did these things with my friends, she thought that I was a bad person, therefore, treated me worse than my other siblings. I was convinced that I was always judged and looked down upon by my parents because of these earlier experiences. Shame and guilt are heavy burdens, and they crushed me the majority of my short life.
Back to being blackmailed. I had a best friend Porscha. She was sassy, energetic, secular, and a bad girl. She knew about my exploration with some of my other friends and had even participated herself. She enjoyed playing with me like we were a couple. I was always the boy and I preferred it that way. I was tall and felt more masculine back then. Porscha knew that my mother was always at the school and she knew which faculty members would get me in the most trouble. The one she always threatened me with was Ms. Billy. If I didn’t do exactly what Porscha told me to do, she would say two words, Ms. Billy, and dread would course through my bloodstream. She got her way every single time. I could not risk my mother knowing of my bad behavior. I knew she would whoop me. Quite often, Porscha would use this tactic to get me to act out with her in class. She liked to talk a lot, call out in inappropriately, and not follow instructions. I was the exact opposite. I was a goody two shoes according to her. I had to be. I did not have the luxury of goofing off because my ass was literally on the line. So I was forced to “be bad” with her when she requested it. Porscha manipulating me this way caused me overwhelming anxiety and fear. I was afraid my secret would be revealed, and I was afraid that I would get into trouble with my mother for acting up. It was so bad that I acted my ass off several mornings like I was sick so that I wouldn’t have to go to school. I only remember it working one time. I was being terrorized, and there was nothing I could do to escape Porscha’s grip.
After that school year, summer break was so welcome. The next school year there was a new jungle gym on the playground. I was checking it out when I saw Porscha at the top of the slide. We both screamed in excitement. She slid down and we jumped into a hug. Immediately after that hug, all the memories came flooding back and I felt a wave of regret and fear. I had forgotten I was supposed to avoid her. How could I be so stupid? Once again I was scared, but that year I didn’t see her very often because we were in different classes. I was very grateful for that.
These experiences were part of why I started feeling uncomfortable in my own body. Growing up, I was hyper aware of my genitals and it felt disgusting. Perhaps this was shame. I had sexual feelings but felt it was wrong. Eventually it felt wrong to even exist. When I was old enough, wearing a thong in the house felt wrong and gross. I’d have to go and change into underwear that I couldn’t feel in order to be comfortable being around my family. I felt physically vulnerable, exposed, and uncomfortable.