'Hanging' while hanging out

As is common with other kids, I went through an “acting-out” period. In addition to harassing my brother at home, I also played practical jokes on my mother. I would beat my brother home from school during the days when I knew my mother was there already. I once told her that he had been hit by a car, and she needed to come help. When she flew out the door, I started laughing and told her I was just kidding. She broke down crying, and I felt awful.

Around this time, I also tried to hang a “mean girl” in my neighborhood—literally. I realize that makes me sound like a psychopath, but let me explain. I attended a very small private school with a bunch of rich kids in spite of my mom being low income and living in a small, starter-home type of neighborhood. Most of the girls knew each other from school. My closest “friend” was my next-door neighbor, who was a few years older than me.

Due to my independence at a young age, I always came across older than I was. This mean girl would purposely try to steal this older friend away from me and would then tell me that I wasn’t allowed to play with them. She also called me fat. (I was packing on the pounds; food was the one consistent friend that I could control.) She would also order the other girls to hide from me, and it was hurtful. Those memories are still with me.

One day I was looking for my next-door neighbor/friend, and a group of them were in the mean girl’s front yard. (This was an unusual circumstance because they usually hung out in the backyard where I couldn’t have ready access to them.) I walked up and asked what they were doing. The mean girl said they were putting on a play about Robin Hood. She was Maid Mariam, of course. A boy who lived next to her was playing Robin Hood. The others had various parts.

She said, “You can join us if you want.” I was floored. Was I just asked to play with them? Was she being nice? I agreed and she said, “OK, you get to be Friar Tuck because you are fat and ugly.” Darts to my heart. I remember my eyes welling up with tears and that instinct to either run home or punch her. They had a variety of props they were going to use, one of which was a white corded rope. They had tied it to look like a noose. It wasn’t a slit knot, just a circle tied to the end. When we reached the part where Robin Hood would be hung by Friar Tuck, she barked directions for every scene and instructed me and the person playing Robin Hood.

She handed me the end of a rope to hold onto and told me the rope would be placed on a low branch on the tree in front of her house. Then she slipped the loop over her head and explained how I should pull it just tight enough to look like it’s hanging the person while they are on their tippy toes. I couldn’t believe that she was giving me an opportunity like this, even after how mean she’d been to me. Without thinking any further, I impulsively gave the rope a strong yank and held down, her toes scraping the ground.

I remember feeling an “Oh shit” moment like, “What do I do now? I can’t believe I just did that. How do I get out of this?” I knew I wasn’t going to kill her, but I definitely wanted my “fuck you” moment. Right as I was starting to let go of my grip, her mother came rushing out of the house, screaming, “What are you doing?” I dropped the rope and ran home as fast I could. I went straight to my bedroom. Within moments, the phone rang. My stomach dropped, and I knew I was going to be in so much trouble.

This was just another incident to pile onto plenty of others, including bad grades, lying, smoking and hanging with some bad kids. I also became “super sexual” during this period. I’ll spare you the details for both of our sakes, but when I say “super sexual” I don’t mean having sex. (I didn’t have sex until I was in college.) I just became overly interested and curious about my body. This theme continued throughout my life until my total hysterectomy in 2016. I haven’t completely untangled the reasons behind that yet.

Writer’s note: In hindsight, I think during this period I was trying to garner control wherever I could find it—while simultaneously releasing my frustrations in super unhealthy ways. I have come to terms with all of these confessions. Although I feel guilty and saddened by some things I’ve done in the past, I try not to connect emotions to all of it. This tactic has made it easier to share my story. That said, I have shared this full accounting of my past with maybe three people in my lifetime. So, writing this down for the public is a big jump.


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