There are a few things you need to know before we start. I looked at my NA sponsor and said that I am not gay but my boyfriend is. He looked at me and said John can’t you take anything seriously with a bit of a chuckle. We were sitting in the Tattered Cover bookstore on Colfax and we were going to go over a part of my fourth step that I had just completed (We made a fearless and searching moral inventory of ourselves). On todays agenda we were to talk about my time in special education and how it was still affecting me over twenty years later. I was not at all thrilled about this being I did such a good job at erasing all of those painful memories with dope or so I thought anyway. He then asked me to just start where I can remember from so I did.
I looked at him with a little desperation in my eyes and said it all started when the Special Education Act was passed in 1976 and my mother was duped into believing that this is what I needed to succeed in school. Josh my burly old sponsor looked at me and said lets not try to place blame here; I objected and said it was all their fault I was an innocent little kid that was bored all the time in school. He raised his voice this time to a low yell and told me stop placing blame you played a part in this and now we need to find out where. I just sighed and said fine!
I had been working with Josh for the better part of fifteen years now and he knew all my excuses, outs and the other things I did not to accept responsibility for my actions but I was five when I was placed in special education or as I call it SPED so how was I to be blamed for this? I guess I was going to find out as we went through all this shit once and for all.
I then started to recall how kindergarten was boring but nice but half way through the year I was placed in a class with six other students and life went from boring to painful. I was always a heavy set child or in other words I was fat so I got abuse from my classmates over that but now I was also a retard in the retard classes. I am sure this isn’t what they were but this is exactly how I felt is what I told Josh who just nodded and told me to continue. Over the next few years I would get bullied and taunted all the time while I sat in classes that to me at least were totally void of challenge and seemed rather vapid in nature.
Things did not get really bad until high school always having to compete with an older brother that was in all the college prep classes. I was the stupid one in the family as I felt treated as I grew up. Josh asked me what my teachers would say on my report cards and I told him disruptive in class yet all I did was read a book and ignore them. I guess this was disruptive because I could have cared less what they were talking about yet I always got Cee’s in class and never did homework. I guess even though I was reading I was able to listen at the same time but this was after I got what is called “Main-streamed” into normal classes. What this meant for me was I took some regular classes the rest where in the resource room or as everyone called it the retard room.
I know that I resented that name and after I said that to Josh he asked me why I did. I looked at him with a bit of disdain in my heart and said because I never felt like I was fucking stupid why do you think? He looked at me and chuckled yeah that was always one of your hot buttons to be treated like you are stupid but maybe your not as smart as you think you are. I felt pure loathing for him at this point but I said yeah maybe having a 148 IQ means I am a total dumb ass what do I know. Josh then told me to chill the fuck out this is not an inquirery it is a fourth step. I just smirked and said OK I will try to it’s just that this shit makes my piss boil. Josh said and that is why we need to do this now please continue the story.
I remember so well what it was like to live in Jacks shadow my whole childhood and it still irritates me today because I still am in a way. I guess I have no reason to feel this way being we are both adults living out separate lives but at times I feel like I am nothing but one big failure in life due to his raging success. Josh looked at me with this wicked temper he has at times and told me to stop comparing my insides to others outside’s already. I said yeah I know but sometimes its just really hard to do that. He barked at me to try harder I said OK fine leave me alone about it already jeeze.
I then told him about my yearbook that I wound up burning a number of years after i graduated and how most people were just glad that the would not have to deal with me anymore for the most part. I told Josh that I really wanted to have something to savor from all those years in what I called a torture chamber but in the end there was not one good memory so I destroyed the yearbook once and for all when I was twenty after reading all my school records. This is when I found out I had an above genius IQ and my anger just boiled over to the point of unbridled rage. Josh asked me what I was so full of ire and I told him because my whole life I was treated like a retard and the fact was I am the exact opposite of that.
After I said this everything just seemed to click in my mind as if these huge cogs that refused to mesh finally slammed into place with a bone rattling crunch. I looked up at Josh after staring at my lap for what seemed like a lifetime and said I guess I understand this now. I always knew I was smart but I was always treated like I was stupid so I lived in this perpetual state of rage that really had nothing to do with me. The question is how do I stop letting this shit affect me so much?
Josh cleared his throat and said you just do is how. I looked at him with a very puzzled expression but then I understood. The trick was the only persons opinion of me that matters is my own so therefore no one else’s really matters. I told this to Josh and he smiled and said now you got it and now I am going to go catch ya on the flop and with that he left me to my thoughts. I got up got some espresso and walked around my favorite bookstore with a new lease on life. For the first time in my life no one else’s judgment of me mattered; I was finally my own man, I was finally free from the chains that kept me bound my whole life, I was finally liberated…