Get to Know Me More — Benjamin Sledge
Insight into the man behind the writing and an introduction to new followers
The story goes that I was so shy, I refused to look anyone in the eyes. I’d stare at the ground when introduced to new people, and my mother would have none of that. “Head up. Look them in the eye. Smile. Introduce yourself!”
But a shy, artistic kid who loved comic books (before they were cool), metal music (during a time when everyone thought it meant devil worship), and singing in choir will attract the bullies and vultures. So I spent much of middle school getting shoved into lockers and hanging out with the skater/goth kids. My dad had been bullied too, growing up, and was a quiet man. He once told me a story about how his bully rubbed dog crap into the window screens at his home. Like me, he loved the arts. Some days, I’d hear him in front of the family piano playing the march he and my mom walked down the aisle to when they got married. Other times, he’d draw me pictures, like when I got obsessed with Zorro and asked for a portrait of the man in black.
At the family table, you could find me drawing comic and video game characters, dressed in JNCO jeans and sporting hair down to my shoulders. But I also grew tired of being called a “faggot” or ”freak” and being shoved into lockers. So I told myself I had to change.
I think everyone carries core wounds from childhood, whether from family of origin or friends. Mine developed during this time in life. I desperately wanted to be accepted and was willing to do anything, so I decided I would take drastic measures.
When I returned home from school one afternoon, I told my mom I wanted to chop off my hair. My terms for the haircut, however, were that she had to let me get blond tips like singer Mark McGrath from Sugar Ray. She obliged, and I went from shoulder-length hair to spiky frosted tips. I also phased out my metal-band clothes for popular brands like Abercrombie & Fitch, that I saw other students wearing.
The day I showed up back at high school, people didn’t recognize me. I started…