Sympathy for the Devil | Teen Ink

Sympathy for the Devil MAG

May 25, 2012
By Jack Bentele BRONZE, Houston, Texas
Jack Bentele BRONZE, Houston, Texas
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

It might be a cliché: I entered middle school doe-eyed and doughy, ready to face the exciting prospects of almost high school. Alas, I was cut down by a bully during the horror known as gym class. Little things, like pushes and shoves into locker doors, slowly broke down my resolve. Every day, sixth period ruined my life.

Here, though, is where I learned the rules: toughen up, don't tattle, know your place in the pecking order. I ­wasn't one of the “cool” kids, one of the athletes, or even one of the respected nerds.

The bullying didn't happen because I was being singled out, and that's the most damaging part about it. I was interchangeable with all the other invisible kids. Thrown into this environment where parents and teachers no longer rule, kids build their own hierarchy, and if your role is to get pushed around and ignored, you might as well not exist at all.

In this purgatory, I wandered from hall to hall, class to class, arranging my life around sixth period—gym class—and the dominating figure of my bully. Looking back now, he seems a lot smaller. Many years have passed, and I have toughened up. I'm bothered by other problems now, but they are more existential and pretentious these days. With the help of the people who love me, I made it through middle school. Yet when I think back, I still feel the dents in my armor. What that bully did lasted.

Then I discovered through Facebook that the all-powerful bully of my past recently took his own life. How am I supposed to feel about that? It's not like I knew him well; after sixth grade, it was almost as if nothing had ever happened between us. Even though he affected my life in so many ways, I wonder if I had any impact on his. It's strange to think that I, who feared him every day, was probably a very minuscule part of his life. To him I truly was invisible.

Yet it seems like I was the lucky one after all. The small ways he abused me in middle school were tiny blips in the larger context of his life, his struggles. I was an outlet, and even though he injured me, it doesn't make him a malicious force. Underneath it all, he was a poor, confused kid like me. For a brief few months, our lives brushed against each other in that locker room and then drifted apart just as easily.

Bullying isn't some great mystery. Middle school can be one of the worst, most heartbreaking times. Naturally, people are going to have problems. Those problems create both the bullies and the bullied. We're all products of our environment, and we all need kindness and hope during that challenging period. I was lucky; I had the support of my parents and friends.

But who did my bully have?

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This article has 9 comments.

Hilton BRONZE said...
on Nov. 28 2013 at 3:06 pm
Hilton BRONZE, Louisville, Kentucky
4 articles 0 photos 20 comments

Favorite Quote:
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”
Lao Tzu

“Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”

“Be not afraid of greatness. Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and som “An obstacle is often a stepping stone.”

I'm touch by this article. Just the title fills my heart and the ending question. Great piece of work.

on Oct. 26 2013 at 6:13 pm
MarieEsther PLATINUM, Miami, Florida
33 articles 0 photos 11 comments
This was an interesting read. You took an over-done prose topic and managed to make it seem very real and insightful. There were some overly-familiar situations here and there in this piece, but the outlook you had on this bully just completely struck me as fresh, human, and heart-breaking. Cheers!

on Sep. 16 2013 at 10:56 pm
absolutley beautiful piece of writing what really got to me was the power the last line had even though it was the shortest line in the story

on Sep. 16 2013 at 8:40 pm
bookmouse BRONZE, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
1 article 90 photos 251 comments
Amazing story. Amazing perspective.

on Sep. 11 2013 at 6:03 pm
blvckcleopatra SILVER, San Jose, California
6 articles 0 photos 2 comments

Favorite Quote:
Poetry is eternal graffiti written in the hearts of everyone

I love it. Well done 

on Sep. 5 2013 at 4:49 pm
ramfthomas4 PLATINUM, South Bend, Indiana
26 articles 1 photo 98 comments

Favorite Quote:
“If the present world go astray, the cause is in you, in you it is to be sought.”
― Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy

excellent writing. i hope this makes it into the mag. best of luck, love your insight.

Mario94 GOLD said...
on Sep. 1 2013 at 7:48 pm
Mario94 GOLD, Secaucus, New Jersey
12 articles 0 photos 6 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I Rather draw than paint, But I rather express than nothing at all"- Mario,“Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain't all sunshine and rainbows. It's a very mean and nasty place and I don't care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain't about how hard ya hit. It's about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That's how winning is done!”
― Sylvester Stallone, Rocky Balboa

Quite inciteful, I loved reading this.

on Sep. 1 2013 at 7:09 pm
Evyfan111 DIAMOND, Castle Pines North, Colorado
64 articles 0 photos 13 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Writing eases my suffering. It's my soul's medicine. I write when I hurt. I write what I fear. Writing is my form of personal freedom. I write to save myself. I write to survive as an individual."
~Amor Magner

I like your take on this issue. Some people are never able to empathsize with their bullies, like we have. I have also beeen bullied, but in one case I was able to confront my bully and actually learn his side of things. He was being bullied and he took it out on me. I told him that I will never forget what he did to me, but I can forgive him. However there are limits to forgiveness and one bully I will never forgive, because his crimes against me were undescribable. Anyways I think this is a very mature and insightful take on bullying. Great job!