I got an email recently that legit moved me to tears. It was so surprising and filled a space I didn’t even know needed filling. Here it is:
Hi, David. my name is Michael V. You may remember me from high school.
First I would like to congratulate you on your success as a designer and TV personality.
But that is not the reason i’ve contacted you today. I feel that I owe you something that is long over due. i really want to tell you that I am very sorry for how i treated you in back in school. I remember teasing and calling you names and i have regretted that ever since. It was wrong and I am ashamed of myself for the things i said. Even more so since i had dealt with bullies over the years growing up, but then I did the same to you instead of standing by your side and being your friend. I may have apologized of my own accord ( i don’t really remember), but remember the gym teacher making me do so. That never set well with me as it felt like I got off too easy. I was sorry at the time but it still felt like a cop-out.
Over the years i have thought about you from time to time. I have always wished that I would one day have the opportunity to tell you how sorry I really am. So when i saw you on TV recently i realized that there was still something i could do about it.
This has been very personal over the last few years as i have a 12 year old son who has been bullied at school. I have talked with my son about my behavior toward you in high school. And one day we saw you on TV together. I am grateful to You for your courage and success. It has allowed me to use you as an example for my son of someone who didn’t let others have power over them. But rather used your talents and individuality to bring joy to others while not conforming to anyone’s ideas of the person you should be. Thank you for being a role model in this fashion.
Once again, i am truly very sorry for the way I treated you and any pain i may have caused.
DID YOU GUYS CRY?
Get it together!
Now look, I HATE it when famous people talk about being bullied in a self-pitying, I’m the only one, victim-y way because like, literally EVERYONE was bullied at some point in there life, and they don’t have the fortune of repeating the story on Conan for all their former bullies to watch and RUE THE DAY. Some of us only have a blog or a Facebook or something to do that. How basic of us, sorry. Bullying your former bullies is definitely NOT the message I am sending – I’m just saying it’s funny and ironic to me that that’s what so many celebrities seem to do.
What I really want to talk about is how deep and lasting the effects of bullying are. I’m a really well-adjusted (my therapist might disagree but this isn’t her blog honey, it’s mine!) human being person. I have found success and passion in my life. I am fortunate enough to have friends and family surrounding me who are generous and kind and love me for me. Considering all the good I have going on (I truly am #blessed) I still have these scars that run DEEP. Deeper than anyone would think for something that happened so long ago. Those years are formative and difficult and feel eternal – because nothing matters to anyone as much as it matters to a teenager. The feelings you have at that age are so real and raw and intense. Everything that goes on at that time somewhat stays with you forever. Can you really ever move on from it all? I don’t think you can, no. I think you move on in a sense – it doesn’t hurt you so much anymore, it doesn’t consume your every thought, it doesn’t make you scared anymore – but really there’s a huge part of it that sticks. And thank g-d something does stick because it makes you compassionate and thoughtful and empathetic. It makes you A HUMAN.
That Red Hot Chili Peppers song came on the radio this morning that’s all “scar tissue that I wish you sawwwwww” and now I’m writing this and it all feels like it came back full circle, you know?
Anyways, compassion and love is what everyone deserves, because everyone has struggle in their life at some point. Something that they’re going through now or have gone through in the past that you just can’t see. Everyone has a whole story that you’ll never even know. How trippy is that? You just walk around every day past people who have whole lives, families, friends, heartbreak, happiness, anger, EVERYTHING. And you just don’t notice. You think you’re like the CENTER of the world and everyone is just an extra in your life? No, bb, that’s not even true! Hard to believe I know!
One time Lady Gaga said…wait before I tell you what she said does it take away from the legitimacy of this post if I quote Gaga? I don’t mean to be a cliche, I just think she said something really real, and I’d pretend I made it up, but that cutie country kid used it in his Grammy’s performance and I don’t want some Shia shit on my hands right now – so I refuse to plagiarize. Anyway, she said: “there really is no difference between the bully and the victim” & I love that she said that. People are people are people. And at some point it’s all gone and come back around. No one gets through life scott free – if they do then they’re not really living, are they, ARE THEY? It’s important to realize that even those who have bullied someone deserve compassion, because something went wrong for them too. You’re not born hating. You’re taught hating. Or you experience hatred yourself and it changes you and makes you act in aways that isn’t really who you are. Especially in middle school and high school. People just want to fit in so badly because they’re so deeply insecure like everyone else. And they’re scared that if it’s not you being bullied then in might be them. Oh my! I just like, cracked teenage life! YOU’RE ALL WELCOME!
It’s interesting too because when I think back at being bullied it saddens me obviously, but I also weirdly appreciate it because it made me who I am and gave me strength and courage and compassion for people. I think about it and I’m sometimes grateful it happened for what it taught me. But then I stop and think about something else – this entirely new generation of people going through it and it breaks my heart all over again. It breaks my heart to see, as a grown up, how small and innocent and susceptible teenagers really are. When you’re 15 you think you’re GROWN. You think you know everything and that you know better than adults because “they just don’t get it”, or “it’s different now then it was then”, and you’ve got it figured out. But when you’re an adult and you look back at that age, you really realize how little and young you were, and how little and young 15 really is. It’s like pre-natal young you guys. And once you realize that, there is not a single part of you that doesn’t crumble when you think of a kid that age in pain. It’s literally too much to wrap your head around and sometimes I don’t believe that kids that age go through that and that kids that age can handle that.
Do you know what I mean? Sometimes I look at relatives who I’ve known since they were born and I’m like, surprised they can talk when they’re 11, because I always envision them as babies, even though I know they’re not. Like, whoa you have your own thoughts and feelings but you’re just a child!
Gaga (I’m making her a theme now, it’s really intellectual of me) also said this once and it’s THE TRUEST thing ever.
PREACH GAGA! Don’t. Take a moment, take a beat, take a breath, and really think about what you’re about to do. And then don’t fucking do it.