I don’t remember the exact moment I realized I didn’t fit in. It might have been when my third grade teacher flipped my desk in the middle of the class and ridiculed me. It might have been fourth grade as I sat silently at a table reading my comic books while the school bully mocked me and threatened to beat my ass. By the time I reached 8th grade I knew. It was ingrained in me. Etched into every pore of my body. A part of my DNA that I could not embrace. I wanted to fit in. I didn’t want to be teased by the “popular” kids. I didn’t want to bullied because I admitted to liking a girl who I apparently had no business liking.
I didn’t know how to handle being different, thinking different. I had no mentor to show me how to embrace my uniqueness. It wasn’t long before all that pain was turned into anger. Boiled over into hate. I hated everything, my parents, my world, my peers. There was nothing I hated more than myself. I hated my fear and my weakness. I hated not standing up for myself. I hated being a victim. I took my hatred out on the world. I became a dark and angry person. Always on the edge of violence. Waiting to explode on people. Waiting to hit and scream. Waiting to deliver pain. Waiting to receive it.
There were nights I would sit in my room and think about ending it all. Just silently letting go and releasing myself. I wanted it to end but I didn’t know how to make it happen. My rage and sadness consumed me. It burned me up inside. Swallowing everything I thought I could be. The one tether that held me together. The tiny little string was words. I consumed them ferociously. Everything I could get my hands on. I lived in the library. I imagined a world that was better than the one I lived in. The wordsmiths were like magicians. Weaving a spell. Giving me moments of relief. Moments of escape.
I began writing poetry. It wasn’t pretty. My poetry was like a cauldron of blackness. I poured my hate onto blank pages. I let go of wanting to fit in. I wrote to find myself. I wrote to let go of the hatred. It leaked out of every pore. I knew if I was ever going to find love I had to find away to love myself. There was no sudden epiphany here. I didn’t wake up one morning and understand what had turned me into this creature. I suffered through the death of my sister, my best friend, the father who abandoned me. I waded through the torrent and somehow found myself.
I want to hate the Tsarnaev brothers but my well has run dry. I have no more hate to give. I don’t pity them, I don’t forgive them, I don’t understand them. They are nothing to me. I want justice to be served. I want it to be served in our courts. I want their victims to be showered with love and kindness.
There was a time I was capable of violence. A time when my heart was black as coal. I hated like a champion but I did not let it beat me. It will not beat me now. I will shout love into the world. I will bring love into the world. I will write love into the world.
Art by Peter Max