Chapter 42: Constant Abuse

I was home schooled until 8th grade. My mom taught me math, history and writing while we moved to the multitudes of places that we did. When I walked into Ellenvale middle school I thought I was a normal kid. I was wrong.

Being brought up in a fairly isolated environment, I dealt a lot with my brothers. I have two little brothers, Edwin who is 2 years younger, and Monty who is 6 years younger. When combined, they are quite a team at working to get a rise out of me. The smartest thing that avoided drawn out fights or awkward living situations in our little apartments in Alaska or our houses in the lower 48 was to just roll with the punches. I didn’t think this was weird until I got to Ellenvale. People didn’t roll with it; the insults stuck and caught them at every turn. The first time I heard a serious your mom joke I burst out laughing, even though the person was trying to genuinely insult me (again this was middle school). This general not caring about abuse pattern has followed since.

I heard the other day that they are trying to ban dodge ball in American schools. I shudder to hear this. Abuse is a part of everyday life to me, and you have to learn from it. If I was an only child entering 8th grade from home schooling, I have a feeling I would have gotten really angry much too frequently. The ability to shrug off the arrows of life is a very valuable ability.

Paintball is one of the single most abusive sports I’ve ever played (with the possible exception of padless street hockey). To get a feeling for this I’ll tell of one match that stays in my mind.

It was 4 on 4, the only person I knew was my buddy from high school named Austin, and he was playing on the other team. It was a standard spread of 3 front x 1 back, and I was front and center. Through several lucky shots, my 3 teammates were eliminated, leaving me nearly surrounded by all 4 of them. In the silence after the last one of my men walks out I hear Austin’s lone voice yell, “Let’s bunker him!” To the uninitiated, to bunker someone is to run at their bunker or obstacle they are hiding behind. You run strait at it knowing they probably don’t know you’re there or you are heading towards them, then you lean around the side and shoot them at point blank range until they scream “I’M OUT!” The 4 players who I faced were good, and after I heard Austin yell that comment this big sick feeling crept into me.

I was going to go home with welts all over my body.

This isn’t abuse in the typical sense of the word. I was scared, expecting pain and expecting to lose. Well, if I am going to lose, I might as well do it in style? I got on my knees and made myself comfy. They came from both sides. The BAM BAM BAM BAM rapid fire machine gun sound of paint hitting metal a foot from your head shook my eardrums. Pop out, take a few shots, here the balls in the air coming towards me, pop back in. Repeat. Two men went down. I leaned around the corner as one was running towards me, ready to bunker. It was Austin. One shot clean in the chest, paint splatting on his mask and gun. He’s out. The other guy ran around the side as I spun to catch him. We both shot each other 10 times before the refs whistle caught us. I was dead, I was jittery from being scared shitless, and I was walking on clouds from saving all the respect my team had lost.

Abuse is part of life. I get yelled at at work, bad grades in college, denied jobs, turned down by girls, ignored by friends, and snubbed by my cat. If I took all this personally I would explode. Nietzsche say that which does not kill you makes you stronger. I use abuse not as in child abuse or spousal abuse, which both are wrong, but as the constant conflict you face in any day. Where’s the fun in a day where everything goes your way?

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