The Turning

I’ve been meaning to do this for a while but got caught out dithering, aside from dealing with the time pressures of looking for another job without compromising my health. Now that the conversation is moving in the right direction with regard to mental health and ALL historical abuses that were once overlooked, there is now another pressure, that of wanting to be ahead of the curve instead of behind it.

I will keep the details here as vague as possible to protect the identities of others involved – this is a confession, not an exposé. Suffice to say that the events in question took place sometime between 1968 and 1995.

From an early age, like many kids of my generation and today, I was bullied. However, during the time I am about to describe it was far worse than the kind of bullying I had been accustomed to. It was more subtle, more insidious and manipulative. In that context, there was another person within the peer group who I became friendly with and who experienced it possibly far worse than me. All that time I tried to stay true to myself and my personal values of kindness and honesty. They knew exactly which buttons to press – I was too sensitive but when I found the balls to say no, was branded selfish. Anyway, there came a point where it got too much and I buckled under the strain. I thought about suicide several times but was much too squeamish to get beyond just feeling so very very helpless and alone.

Now, here’s the part I had completely forgotten, having only rediscovered it fairly recently on rummaging around in other areas of my life. In an attempt to alleviate my own suffering, I made a conscious choice to turn on my friend. I don’t think I was even asked to do it, it was just a conclusion I came to on my own. For about a week I sidelined her, ignored her and put her down whenever I had the opportunity to demonstrate to my other peers that I was just like them. I basked in the power of my new-found approval rating, while another part of me screamed “No, no, this is wrong. Why are you doing this?” Who was worse, me or them?

After about a week, I couldn’t take any more of that either, despite the fact that it seemed to be working. An unexpected change in the group dynamic around the same time made it easier for me to reverse the process and take my soul back.

Sadly, as yet, I have no memory of ever managing to put things right with my friend. Through a combination of shame on my part and an understandable lack of trust on hers, I have a feeling we ever spoke again. But having lived with the after-effects of abuse through various stages of my life, it fills me with horror that I will almost certainly have contributed to the long-term effects of trauma on another human being. I have no idea how to find her and apologise, hence to a degree this post.

The other reason is I am sick to death of blame culture. Can’t we move towards a culture of responsibility where instead of people fighting tooth and nail to avoid being called out on their atrocities, they fess up, the pay-off being that over time it becomes socially acceptable and we really do start to become kinder to one another in the realisation that the real ‘enemy’ is within each of us? Regardless of whether you are an abus-ER or an abus-EE, or both, can we at least all agree on one thing – that we ALL deserve to be healed?

BTW, I am less concerned here with shares, likes or comments. I am more than happy to delude myself that others might just feel inclined to follow suit, bearing in mind that these conversations – in the first instance at least – are best held privately, away from the public domain.

Copyright (c) M K MacInnes 2021


  1. V.J. Knutson says:

    The first read left me thinking about my own past. Abusers abuse. Especially when we have no other outlet. I abused my younger sister something awful. My oldest sister abused me. When we are children, what options do we have if not guided. It was a matter of survival.


    1. mkmacinnes says:

      I’m not sure I entirely agree that people whoare abused automatically become abusers, although I suppose a lot depends on when it first occurs. For example, my internal guidance system was already well developed by the time I was first abused, so I never accepted it as ‘normal’ behaviour. Ultimately, I believe we are still responsible for our actions and the psyche always knows exactly what it’s doing, whether we are conscious of it or not. I guess in this instance my behaviour was nipped in the bud before it got a chance to become habitual and since then I’ve made a point of never crossing that line, though I have to say the anger issues are very much still present …

      Liked by 1 person

      1. V.J. Knutson says:

        We could write so much on this topic, couldn’t we? Thought provoking.


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