And then I think about all that has happened to me this year and across my life. I think of the birth father who wished aloud on many a drunken occasion that I'd stayed dead when I was born, and beat me every day for having the audacity to stay alive.
I think of the relatives who thought I was a freak. I think Of the “brother” I had who literally tortured me. I think of the black kids in my first four years of school who kicked my ass literally every single day for being the only white kid in the school besides my sister… Who beats up a kindergartner! Really!
I think of my mother marrying my adopted father and moving us to the suburbs, where the white kids in middle school beat me up for being the only white kid who liked “nigger music.”
I think of the teachers in high school who would rather just send me to the office than deal with me. I think of the kids who made damn sure every day I knew I was worthless because I didn't have the cool shoes… And when I finally mowed enough lawns to get them, stole them out of my locker.
I think of the coworkers at every job I had after I quit college who couldn't relate to an 18 year old freak kid who liked computers and football. I think of the nights spent alone working when everyone else my age was out at parties, and the people I worked with were out at bars. I think of the people at my last corporate job who laughed when I showed them my magazine articles and, when it came out, my first book. “Self published… How cute.”
I think of the people I did projects with over the years who outright fucked me over to get a little bigger slice of the pie. I think of the web personas who told me to “bug off” when I was starting out, who now ask me for favors. I think of my former best friend and wife, and the end of things between us… Stories I won't ever tell, which left me broken and destitute.
I think of every lie and every betrayal and every beating throughout my life. And I realize something: Crawling into a cave and disappearing is exactly what they want.
So fuck them. Fuckers, all of them. I'll be the light in their darkness, and I'll burn so bright they will go blind.
And for every person who has hurt me, there's an equal or greater number on my side. There are people who have stood by me thick and thin. There are people who continually support my efforts. There are too many people on my side for me to give up on them. And they're the ones I shine for, because I can tell you from experience, they've all been just as screwed over and held down and betrayed and lied to as I have. And that's why we all stick together.
So I don't crawl out of my cave and come out of hiding in spite of the fuckers. They don't deserve that honor. They don't deserve the attention. I'm not going to let my successes be based on them, as if they're my muse and my motivation.
No. I come out and I fight the fuckers, because I am capable of fighting them. I have the strength. I have the power. I have the endurance. I have the knowledge. And whatever I lack to fight them, I have the ability to seek it out and acquire it. I fight them because I am able. I fight them because the people who have my back might not be. I fight them because evil only needs one thing to exist: a lack of action by good people to squash it where it stands.
So I'll fight. And when I get weak, you pick me up. When I get beat up, you are in my corner to cheer me on. When I suffer defeats, you're there to tell me it'll be okay, because we all fight this fight. And I'll be there for you to do the same.
Because that's what we do. Because WE ARE NOT THEM. And we never will be.