Have you ever had a nemesis? Someone who was there to remind you that life isn’t fair. Someone who you wished awful things would happen to? I had one. I saw him last night after many, many years.
I was catching up with Joel, an old friend from grade school, and, who walks in but Billy Baumbach. Picture Woody Harrelson only with a much tougher life.
Billy was a great athlete, one of the best our town ever had. Unfortunately using and selling drugs, followed by the inevitable jailtime, made his story a lot different than mine. I have been thinking of this guy for years, wondering how karma had treated him.
You might think that was unfortunate, but in retrospect, I was gifted the opportunity to evolve from humble beginnings to where I am today – only mildly stunted! I know there were some kids scarred for life and never quite recovered, and that is a shame.
It wasn’t EASY, but the biggest reason I overcame it all was through my accepting me as me. I worked on the things I could, and dealt with what I couldn’t by being the clown. No pain can be given if you beat them to the punch. I’m sure growing up would have been much different if my life was without difficulties.
When I was really young, I would ride my bike for hours on end. I was the winner of every race. I would play football in the backyard by myself (how in the heck did I do that and NOT get committed???) I scored the winning touchdown every time. In my mind I was everything I was not. A jock, the big man on campus, anyone but me.
Slowly but surely, I gained enough self-esteem to function as a human being in a cruel world. This not only made me tougher, but it gave me compassion for anyone that may view themselves as less than they are. It seems like good training for this adventure called life.
And life in school was sometimes very, very tough. I can remember times when the depression hit so hard that I could not imagine ever being happy again. I would stay in my room for weeks on end, losing myself in music and dreams. I hated that I was ugly. I hated I wore coke-bottle glasses. I hated no one seemed to care about me. I was a mess. I’m sure there are medications perscribed for this condition today, but back then, I had to persevere using my own devices.
Joel knew Billy and they shook hands and exchanged how-you-beens. I was smiling when Joel asked Billy if he remembered me. He vaguely did. I finally got to admit, to my nemesis, those awful thoughts about him. I asked if he remembered a few of the most significant events in my younger years – hitting a triple off him in Little League. Nope. Didn’t remember. Getting pummeled daily by our school’s basketball team, that he was on. Nope. Any of the torture I endured? Nothing.
I stated that, for many years, he was the only person on earth I truly hated. He laughed it off as I bought him a drink. I realized years ago, he placed no importance on any of the things that were brutal to me. That made it easier to accept, for some reason. I’m sure there’s a deep-rooted psychological manifestation involved…. I just moved on.
I hope to see Billy again and listen to his exciting stories. He has quite a few. I’m happy I finally understand and appreciate the role he had in making me, me.
I’m doing OK.
Originally written at TomsMiscRamblings
Photo credits: (top) Irfe (middle) Pimkie – via CC licenses