I don't have a good long-term memory. Pretty much, under the age of ten I have almost no memories other than a few image flashes. What experiences I do remember that young I can count on one hand.
I've wondered if this had something to do with perhaps an early experience so traumatic, so horrible, that like Dexter, I have blocked it all out. I doubt it though, I'm sure most of my memory has been destroyed because I have hit my head, hard, many times doing stupid things like jumping off the garage and falling out of a sled dragged behind a pickup.
So at around age ten or eleven my memories start to fade into view. The age of twelve is when things get clear and I can still remember details. I'll have to see if that benchmark changes to age thirteen next year... hmmm. Anyway, on to my history.
I am not a very good person by nature. In fact I am certain, (and trust me, I know how terrible this sounds) if I did not have a testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I would be in prison, dead, or doing something, "I-just-threw-up-a-little-in-my-mouth-just-now" worthy like what Jennifer Connelly's character in "Requiem for a Dream" stoops to. Seriously, and I am not ragging on myself here, nor am I seeking pity or a fix. Hopefully when I share this, you can treat it like a good flashback from an episode of LOST.
"What? Sayid tortured people? Oh I like Sayid, he's got depth. Charlie a crack addict? Good thing, he's a stronger person for it. Kate murdered like 4 people, and don't even get me started on Mr. Ecko? Oh how far they have all come (phew) yay ...and now I see how those experiences helped them to traverse this mysterious time traveling, dead raising, polar bear harboring island."
Growing up I was a bully. Not "sort of a bully", either. I was a very mean, very cruel, die a thousand deaths and rot forever in hell bully. When I was in middle school I was one of the shortest kids in my class, but I easily had the biggest mouth. At a young age I was able to easily manipulate others into doing my bidding and I walked around school with bigger, dumber kids carrying out my every whim which translated into all manner of treachery.
I will not share all of the horrible things I had done, or all the peoples lives I destroyed as a bully, because they are numerous, and maybe, just maybe, if I don't bring them up, God will forget some of them and not send me to that special spot in Outer Darkness for savages like me. Nor will I elaborate on reasons I should be forgiven or how many tears I have shed and times I have prayed for forgiveness. The stories are awful, and the atonement will have to be at full strength to deal with my actions. I worry that I cannot be forgiven, but try to have faith in spite of that. I only share these with people I am very close to, but my anonymity offers me a unique opportunity, so, I will share a couple tidbits from my 7th and 8th grade years.
I can't remember exactly what I didn't like about him. He had thick far-sighted glasses, so his eyes always looked huge, and he was the only kid as good at dodgeball as I was, too. We were in gym class together. My bullying of him started with me flushing the toilets while he was in the shower and then running out yelling "Fire in the Hole!" To which he would get burnt and scream running out to the rest of the class pointing and laughing.
One day me and two bigger kids cornered him in the soccer field before school. I don't remember what I was saying, but it was mean. I ordered my thugs to take off his pants. They did so, and we threw them over the fence. A barbed wire fence that, to get to the other side of, required walking a good 300 yards behind about a dozen classroom windows. His underpants were tighty-whiteys, but not the plain white regular Fruit of the Loom type I was used to sporting. Nope, his had little cartoon rockets on them. Perhaps the worst pair of underpants this kid could have worn the day some bullies decided to take off his pants. I pointed out the rockets and made fun of him. I started calling him Rockets.
He sat there on the ground crying and staring at me with his swollen eyes like he wanted to kill me. I hadn't even touched him but we both knew that I was the problem. I wish I could remember how I felt at that moment. From that day forward nobody called Jeremiah "Jeremiah" anymore. They called him "Rockets". I found out later that he had carried that nickname all the way through high school. I'm sure one day I will run into him and he will beat me up for it. That's okay though, I deserve it.
Megan was an odd girl. She was white but had a funny, not-white last name, which made it easier to mock her as a kid. She wore funny clothes too, like feather scarves and glittery sweaters. She was already pretty outcast in our class, but of course the coward I was, I made it worse. Whenever she would walk by I would get everyone to start chanting "thunder" we would start quietly, and then with each each occurrence of the word "thunder" get a little louder, until as she walked by we would yell "thighs." After instigating this for a while, I would be way down the hall and hear off in the distance, "thunder, thunder, thuNDER, THUNDER, THIIIIGHS!"
What's really bad about this is that Megan wasn't even fat... at all. I'm sure that at the Judgment Seat however I'll have to beg Jesus to forgive me for causing her years of self esteem problems. I made it worse by convincing my friends that Megan was so ugly, that we should call all ugly girls "Megan." She wasn't ugly, but she was an easy target. From then on her name embodied all that was ugly. "Dude, do you like Cathy Miller?" "No." "Good, because she is soo, Megan." "Oooohggg (said with a shiver) she is Megan, you're right dude." We would enunciate it in the worst possible way too, (Me-GaN) to try and emphasize how disgusted we were.
Doug was skinny, tall, lanky, and awkward in every way. At 13 he had a deep yet nasally voice that just screamed, 'make fun of me.' So I did. Incessantly. Doug wouldn't just run, though. He periodically would attempt to stand up to me, or make fun of me back. He was like George Costanza with his insults, though, and I was a witty little bastard. I also always had two or three of my grades biggest guys with me so there wasn't much he could do when we splashed chocolate milk on him or pushed him into the lockers when we walked by.
One day, the halls were pretty empty for some reason. I had watched Doug very carefully put a miniature building he had made out of toothpicks and glue in his back pack. I told the big guys to get it. They tried taking his backpack off of him, there was a tussle and he got away, and ran. A chase ensued. I was the fastest kid of the four, and caught up to Doug as he reached the hallway doors to go outside. He took a step back to pull the door open and I collided into him. I could feel the tooth picks crumble under my weight. I grabbed the top of his backpack and yelled, "Give me the backpack, Birdo!" He screamed no, and kept running. The zipper on his backpack tore and tooth picks and papers went everywhere.
My enforcers were too far behind us to help and in the moment that I realized he was going to get away something happened. I got angry. Really angry. I clenched my fists, yelled, "Dammit Doug!" and punched him right in the middle of his back as hard as I possibly could. It was the first time I had ever punched anyone. Before that I was always able to get someone else to do my dirty work. Doug fell forward out of the door, and then fell down the four cement stairs outside. He ran off.
Doug, broke his pinky finger in that fall. Which of course he had to bring to the attention of his parents. Who brought it to the attention of my principle. I was expelled from school less than a week later. I'm so glad that happened. Because I didn't have big friends in my next school and the Lord, or Karma, or whatever you believe in, heaped a whole bunch of humble pie on me (that I will expound on in Part 5 of my history later) that lead me to change from the person I was.
I bring these up, because if I didn't relay these stories I don't think you would believe me when I say that I am a bad person by nature. Given any choice, it seems that I am always inclined to make the wrong one. My first instinct, even at a young age, is almost always the easy way out, or the self-serving-screw-everyone-else route. Sometime around the age of 18 I actually gained my testimony. Or at least I started. I've been lucky to have very good parents who have always been capable in handling me in the best way for what ever trouble I was in. My testimony grew as I practiced, and then while on my mission, I was blessed with several, but one very profound experience which changed my life forever.
Still, if I am being honest I am always first inclined towards evil. I constantly fight thoughts of, 'How I can lie, cheat, and steal to get ahead?' 'How will I best be served?' 'It feels good, I can do it, because I deserve it?' I do not propose that all guys are like me. That all Mormons are like me, or that all Mormon guys are like me. This is me. I can see very clearly the influence that my testimony of Jesus has in my life. More specifically how that has impacted my weaknesses of which I am very aware.
For example. Lisa came by last night... she's here till after the weekend, which is longer than her usual stay. I think she is hoping to patch the hole I left on our last encounter. She explained to me how devastated she was by my confession. We will see how this shakes out... anyway, we hung out last night, and ended up at Calvin's parents house watching a movie. Afterwards, Calvin and his date went upstairs to talk to his parents. Lisa and I started making out.
We moved from the couch to the floor, and I was on top of her... kissing her. I find that when I am on top she is less likely to initiate dry humping. During our make out, right there in Calvin's basement she reached her hand down the front of my pants.
[The thoughts described in this, and the following paragraph spanned less than a second of real time.] This is the first time that a member of the opposite sex has touched me there, skin to skin. It was shocking and exciting... and I wanted so badly to act on what I was feeling. However, I instantly thought about the Sermon on the Mount. No particular teaching from it, just it. I knew that what I wanted to do was wrong. I thought about justifying it. Lisa had been married. She had had sex. Surely it must have been difficult for her to restrain, more so than for me. I doubted in that instant that I would be excommunicated if I gave in, that one time.
Thirteen year old Jake-the-bully was screaming at me, egging me on. The world wouldn't end if I gave in, the Church would still be true, my mom would still love me... I probably wouldn't have even felt guilty, and told myself I could easily justify it even being wrong. There are millions of people who engage in pre-marital sex! Many of which repent and accept the Gospel and get temple recommends and stuff. Why should I be any different? Why should I miss out on sex? Sex that other people who will probably still make it to the Celestial Kingdom are having and repenting of? I liked my argument. However, my Savior has asked me not to. So despite my first horny inclination, I simply focused on how much I knew Jesus Christ loved me. I knew it enough so, that I couldn't in good conscience do that with Lisa no matter how badly I wanted to.
I tried to act unaffected by her touch, even though, in retrospect a shocked "How dare you!" might have been a more appropriate response. I didn't even stop kissing her. I just firmly grabbed her arm and pulled it out of my pants. She grinned and said, "Sorry." I smiled and kept kissing her. After a few minutes she whispered, "Thank you." I replied, "Don't get me wrong, I so totally want to have sex with you."
We kissed for a bit longer. Then she paused and said, "I hope you want more from me than to just have sex." She looked at me and the longer that I didn't say anything the more concerned her face got. "Of course." I finally said. The mood was killed... dead. We stopped kissing and joined Calvin and co upstairs.
If I didn't have faith in Christ I would have no scruples, I would have no morals, and I would only care about myself. I envy the day when I would do the right thing simply because it was the "right thing". I am not implying that one needs faith to be a good person. I know many people who don't even believe there is a God who are good and decent people, honest and upright in all that they do. I am simply admitting that that is not how it is for me, unfortunately. I know, if I hadn't been blessed with the Gospel of Jesus Christ in my life that I would be in a very bad place. I would have definitely had sex or something close to it with Sanders last night.
Thank you Heavenly Father. Thank you for giving me something tangible to counteract my unrighteous first impulse, my testimony.
PS I was able to track down Doug Bird just before the mish and apologize to him. I told him he could punch me in the face, but he opted to just kick me in the shin. He kicked me really hard. We are now Facebook friends... I have never been able to find the other two.