Not only do I have a dark side, but there’s no light switch. #FPQ

Written for Fandango’s Provocative Question #100 : “How do we make peace with ourselves, knowing that, being the basically good people we are, we also have a side to us which we know isn’t the best — our “dark side”? Can we overcome these parts of our lives that we may not be proud of? Or do we simply accept them, learn to live with them, and move on?”

I was the bully in middle school. I made mean girls cry.

At first it was probably second-child behavior run completely amuck. I was always a pest but around age twelve or thirteen, my attitude deteriorated rapidly. Perhaps I was acting out some things that happened to me at the time. Certain things perpetuate themselves. These behaviors are born in a place of pain. When you hate yourself, as a defense mechanism you lash out and make other people hate you, too. Preempt them. Give them a reason to hate you before they come up with one on their own.  

Even though many of these events (but not all, by any means) were nearly twenty years ago, I still feel guilt and have no peace.

One particularly bad incident that stands out was when I bullied a certain girl. I went after her all the time. We were in a running club and we were jogging along a trail. I don’t remember how it started, but somehow we got into it while running and she tried to hit me. I shoved her back and she fell and rolled backwards into some leaves. Later she confronted me, crying, and in her confusion she said something like “at least I wasn’t the one that fell,” and I just laughed at her and said “Uh, yeah, actually you were!” Even more than the shoving, it was my tone of voice and derisive laughter that haunts me.

In high school I calmed down a lot since I was able to start over. I didn’t have too much drama except a few incidents here and there I’m not proud of. No one really picked on me either, although there was one time this guy came up and told me I was ugly. But he was the kid who jacked off during class, so I could hardly shed any tears over that. 

Over time I’ve tried to reform myself but I still struggle with the urge. My efforts have ranged from therapy, affirmations, and a variety of painful Catholic practices.

The Gospel says: “Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” (Mt 5:23-24)

But no amount of religious fervor can change the past. A character flaw or sinful tendency can be worked on but not the commission of past deeds, especially those that hurt other people. Whatever I leave at the altar is worthless. I don’t really believe in God’s forgiveness in my circumstances because there is no possibility of reconciliation with them now. Only their forgiveness matters to me. Penance doesn’t change anything.

I can’t make peace with myself because the issue will always remain unresolved. I often wonder what happened to them, how badly I fucked them up, and hope they found more happiness than I did. Dear victims, remember, not that it’s much comfort, that whatever you have suffered, you have the opportunity to understand it’s not your fault and heal the wounds, whereas bullies must live with what they’ve done forever and can never have any closure and therefore no peace. All we have is a life filled with regret. Being in the position to extend forgiveness, no matter how difficult, is a luxury compared to this.

34 thoughts on “Not only do I have a dark side, but there’s no light switch. #FPQ

    1. Hi Fandango, thanks for stopping by. I think it’s just an ugly trait of mine that I will always have to struggle against. But you know what, the more you see something for what it is–bad–the easier victories become.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Hi Hetty, do you know the irony.

    I was bullied my whole school life. I tired to do something about with teachers, but they were no help in the 1970 and 1980. But, at 16 after failing my o level and resitting them I left school and made up my mind to go to college and university. But being bullied plagued me my whole life into work. But I worked on myself and confidence came slowly. Have I forgiven, forgot, moved on, am I at peace ish, I still feel sometimes. I won’t recognise those who bullied me at school, or even those who where unfair with me at work. Does my heart still hurt – yup. Am I still weary and cautious – yup. What I know people treat us badly in all relationships, not just school, work , but also family, neighbours it just goes on. Some even say being bullied is the our fault we asked for it, your too soft.

    In the spirituality I believe follow, it the soul goes from Satopradhan ( completely pure and good) to tamopradhan ( completely degraded). In heaven we are pure and good with each other then because of rebirth, increased population, and the law of entropy we fall down, our intellect becomes degraded. We loose the filter of doing good karma versus bad karma. But we can reverse that thorough Gods remembrance and meditation. God can clean the junk on the intellect and reduce our repayment of the bad we have done.

    Have I ever hurt someone’s feelings, once I had the courage and was a bit horrible to a bully who had been awful to me for months/ years, and I was made to feel bad. But he stopped.

    I get frustrated and irritated but I have been working on that I have improved a lot. Still more work to do.

    God is goodness and wants the best for us. Sharing to him our errors, he helps us improve. In our spiritual class yesterday it was said, God doesn’t forgive, but sharing reduces the weight on us, allowing us to improve. I don’t believe it Gods job to forgive, just to guide and love us, and inspire to be the best. I believe karma is the law and we have an opportunity to improve every day. I believe gods remembrance meditation reduces past sins, and allows me to see clearly and not repeat negative ways and behaviours. Then if we fail to improve then repentance, or even health issues, or difficulties in life is the payment.

    But the biggest thing we can do is the REALISE our errors and make effort to change. And maybe ask forgiveness to them like the letting go exercise, just pen and paper until you feel better.

    There is a chance to find peace when we realise our error and can see it. God will help us because we see what needs to be changed and we are will to change.

    You will get there and peace will find it’s way into your life and you will always be mindful going forward. The fact you realise is the path to peace and harmony. And more charitable acts .

    Just a few humble thoughts.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You make mistakes and you learn from them. I believe that everything that happens to us is an opportunity to grow (hope I’m not sounding too cheesy here), and it seems your self-awareness is a testament that you are indeed growing.

    You can’t change your past, but there’s the constant stream of the present where you can do something about it. To write this post, for example, so that others can be moved or learn from it. Maybe your pain is there for that reason.

    But I’m sure you’ve already done what’s needed to be done, and you’re the one who knows best what you feel, and all I can do is to tell you that an internet stranger is here for you.

    Thanks for sharing, Hetty!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Stuart. Yes, we definitely have to learn from our mistakes and at least try to bring some good from them. Even if we can’t personally enjoy the fruits of our labor, perhaps others can avoid these mistakes. I think sometimes we just have to live with what we have and not be too jaded to try better in the future. Why add to it?


  3. You made yourself sound like a meanie here. I was the bullied one and I still suffer the worthlessness feeling it gave me. I know deep down you never meant to put that on anyone. I’m glad you’re a nice person now too.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Hi Mason, nice to see you here! I’m sorry that that happened to you. It’s the sort of thing I wish I hadn’t done. And honestly I have been on the other end in a certain situation involving an authority figure when I was much younger which affected me deeply and probably in such a way that I continued the cycle. If I knew better I would have stopped it. But thank you for your comment and I hope you have found some piece. You definitely aren’t worthless.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Hetty, I know where you are coming from. I was extremely mean to my brother when we were young. I appogized to him later on and he has forgiven me but it somehow makes no difference to me. I can’t forgive myself because I know both sides of the coin. Have been bullied at school. But maybe that’s the lesson of our life: learning to forgive ouselves. 🙋‍♀️🐝

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Bee, thanks so much for stopping by! I feel like life is one long process of learning the hard way… If only I naturally had the wisdom to heed other people’s experiences and lessons. I know how you feel when you continue not to forgive yourself even the other person has. I’ve learned not to bring things up that people have done to me and apologized for. There’s a lot of that in my family and I’ve come to realize how bad it makes us all feel.


  5. Hetty, I deeply appreciate your honesty. So many true responses to Fandango’s question are kind of amazing — a few, like yours, going deeper in a sense of inner awareness. Some people don’t like this idea, so I hope not to offend you. Your heart touched my heart, and I’m going to pray for you. I have a bit of a Catholic background because of my (dear passed) father, although I wasn’t confirmed in the Catholic Church… not that all that is absolutely essential. Anyway, I get your spiritual concern. May our Maker bless you.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Marleen, thank you for reading my post. I appreciate your words very much, and I most certainly appreciate your offer of prayer for me. You don’t need a special membership for that 😃. Thanks for understanding the spiritual dimension of it. My hope is that if we cannot reconcile here, then perhaps in the hereafter. I send blessings to you as well.


  6. Why do young people bully? Commonly, they learn the behaviors at home. They hear the parental arguments and maybe they watch dad beat mom or the other way round. Maybe they are verbally and sexually abused. That would be a big one. Victimized kids become abusers/bullies, even murderers and perpetrators of torture. Then there is the issue of hardwiring. Our aggression gene and how it finally interacts in our DNA. We have genes for all sorts of characteristics that help cause and support bullying. Always at the end of these sorts of discussions, I always fall upon genetics vs environment. That one can catch just about anything, from abuse to mass murder and back to sainthood and let’s pickup pro sports along the way. I’m a determinist on this one. It is all set in our minds and bodies by about the age of five. As an atheist, I don’t think god has anything to do with it. The key is human evolution. Even when a person forgives another, it is more an act of human decency learned at some point in their lives combined with the “kindness” gene. I love the phrase, “I can’t forgive, but I can forget.” That’s sort of where I’m at. Duke PS, Of course there are somethings I will never forget or forgive. They are simply too horrible and there is no punishment severe enough for those who commit such acts. I’d be a good judge or king, I’m sure.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Duke, thanks for your comment as per usual. Yup the old “nature versus nurture” debate. It’s funny, my father says a similar thing about what we are, except he says you are who you are at age four, not five 😉. You know, the aggressive thing has been on my mind lately. I am overwhelmed by the totality of human cruelty, including my own role in it. I have a much easier time expecting they’ll identify the aggressive gene long before, if they ever, discover the kindness one. I don’t know what the hell is wrong with us. Would you want to be a judge or king? From what I can tell you’ve seen a lot and you know the extents to which people can go, far better than I have ever known…. I appreciate all your words here 100%.


  7. I am reading this right after talking with a bully who basically trashed six months of my hard work, which she could not even begin to do. Some offhand remark but I was not having it, so she got defensive. (After offending me and badmouthing a client of mine). I wish bullies were introspective. Most often, they behave that way because their brain to mouth connection is wonky. They don’t understand consequences because their memories get overwritten every time they open their mouths. Some people call it cognitive dissonance and brush it off, but I get stuck in a groove when say something ridiculous to. It’s a struggle, day by day, and knowing that they’re not sensible does not make my anxiety any less severe.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey nice to see you. Do you think perhaps her bullying comes from jealousy? That’s another type. On the other hand, the brain to mouth thing reminded me of my boss… She is a bully too. I guess in my case it takes one to know one.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The skills that I acquired she can acquire them too, so it’s not jealousy. Sometimes people overestimate their competence and truly see people who work hard to acquire “skills” and “abilities” as weird. Because, you know, it takes a lot of time away from schmoozing and being popular and stuff. That’s why our society is going down the trash receptacle.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I think there are a number of ways you could break it down. I do think think it can stem from jealousy. Or arrogance, thinking other people are pathetic for having to work so hard to do something we can do easily. I do think it’s sad how getting along in the world is so dependent on who you know, not what you know or can do. I guess it’s always been that way. I think it’s harder now, though, because if you care about ascending the ladder, there’s so much pressure, so much at stake, and so much competition.

          Liked by 1 person

    2. Actually that latter half of your comment DOES describe her very well. The odd thing is she brings out some of my better qualities because I don’t want to treat anyone that way, so I’m much kinder to people at work. We all have a role in life I guess.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. See, there’s two types of people. Some are one-uppers who always get one over on someone. Then there’s the victims. I confess I’m the victim in every real-life story I tell. I dunno, I think I’d be sorta sad to see her defeated.

          Liked by 1 person

  8. Do sociopaths feel guilt?

    There was one episode on a hospital show called New Amsterdam where a young girl, about 11 I’d say, exhibited utter control over her emotional environment, parents, brother, doctors, etc. She was absolutely frightening. She showed zero remorse. When the episode was over I thought how that girl’s character had it made over us, mere mortals. Purely by accident she’d been given the gift of complete detachment.

    To feel guilt, remorse, one must admit one’s submission to our DNA and its power over our sociological selves. “Darkness” is only a thing if one notices the difference in shade. That little girl saw only grey. I wish I saw only grey.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Okay, so that girl’s face needed to spend some time with a nice heavy memory foam pillow while she was sleeping.

      I don’t think detachment in such a degree, though I’m assuming you’re being a little hyperbolic, is a gift. Recognition that we did something wrong to someone else, that we allowed our selfish, base selves to act, is exactly what elevates a person over their DNA. We shouldn’t look at mistakes as reminders we are controlled DNA; rather we should continue to try to develop our rational sides to get power over it. Acting against nature is already an admission we have the potential to be stronger.


  9. In order to face your regrets, go face-to-face with the regret you have. In other words, perhaps talking to the person and finally addressing the issue would help you finally move on and put your mind at ease? For others who live with similar regrets, making peace and closing a chapter of that part of the book is part of the healing process. I did it myself, when I approached my first girlfriend, and told her that she was the woman I let get away…and that I was so happy for her that she is now married with a grown daughter. It was a soothing balm to the regret I had, and I no longer carry that guilt around. It’s not so much as guilt, as it was regret that I let something good slip away, but the feelings are still the same. Also, try not to count how many things you’ve done wrong, but instead, count all the things you did right. You might be surprised. We are, after all, Human.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Joe. Unfortunately, I’ve long lost track of the all people I knew in grammar school as soon as I went to high school. Honestly, I think I’d be so ashamed to see them now. I hope they’ve forgotten me, or I’m just a minor memory, just some obnoxious person you knew a long time ago. But in reality I am probably a very bad memory, if I cross their mind, which I hope I don’t. I always feel like any good things I do don’t really matter because of wrong things that can’t be fixed. I just need to live with this somehow and try to avoid causing more damage in the future. Nice to see you and thanks for commenting. I saw you have a new post and I’ll check it out soon.

      Liked by 1 person

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