As I stated in a previous post here my mom spent a lot of time with me as a toddler reading to me, teaching me the alphabet and teaching me to count so I was able to read, write and do simple math before I got to kindergarten. In kindergarten I was probably the smartest kid in the class and excelled in all subjects. In first grade I finally met my intellectual match in a kid named John.
John’s father was a taxidermist and was very smart himself. Either he or his mother must’ve also spent a lot of time with John teaching him at a young age because right away I recognized that I now had some competition in the classroom. I hated John immediately because of this. I saw John getting recognition and praise from teachers and other students that I had previously enjoyed all to myself. I resented him for this and I now recognize I started to display some of my first signs of narcissistic behavior.
I remember one exact incident in which I downplayed something John did in front of the teachers. John was at the chalkboard and he drew the word “boy”. There is a particular trick you can do to draw a picture of a boy from this word. It’s much easier to show you how this is done, check out this video I knew how to do this trick and yet the teacher was so amazed with John when he drew that boy from the word. How did he beat me with this trick? If only I had shown the teacher that I could do this first. I remember saying something along the lines of “That’s easy, everyone knows how to do that trick” in order to downplay what John had done. I had to somehow wrestle control of the teacher’s admiration back from John, I couldn’t share it with him. I needed to be the sole center of attention.
It was at this time of my life that I started to hone my skills of putting others down in order for my own self-gain. Throughout that year I would belittle John in front of teachers and fellow students. I started to notice that some people would stick up for John and saw my belittlement of him as a sign of weakness. By first grade I had started building up enough confidence because of the praise and admiration I had gotten the first 6 years of my life that I had a small circle of friends, about 2 or 3 kids. John was a lot more shy than I was, rarely saying a word to anyone and was the loner that I once was. Yet other kids would not so easily let me make fun of John in my efforts to beat him down below me.
Looking back throughout my life I have always had the need to put others down when I felt them threaten me in some way. Whether it was at school, at work or in a social setting I would always pick on, berate or belittle those around me that I thought had some quality that surpassed my own or threatened me in a way that would allow that person to steal admiration or affection that should solely be reserved for me and me only. This actually led to a few fist fights in my younger days and unfortunately for me I was not a big kid so I usually lost.
In the winter of my 1st grade year a bunch of kids went to the local hill a few blocks from my house that, when covered in snow, made for the perfect sledding hill. There was a kid there named Adam who had a really cool sled. It was better than mine and I usually had the coolest sled there. I saw the other kids admiring Adam’s sled and I was jealous. Adam also must’ve noticed this because he almost instantly got a sense of entitlement to the hill. He would cut in line in front of people and take his cool sled down the hill, making the other kids scream at him. I saw an opportunity. I waited about halfway down the hill just off to the side until Adam started down the slope on his cool sled. Just as he got to me I lunged at him knocking him off his cool sled and hopefully putting him in his place and being a hero to the other kids. Obviously Adam did not take well to this and wanted to fight me. Immediately I looked around to see who was going to come to my defense and tell Adam he should just go home. Nope, the other kids now wanted to see a fight and I was not a fighter. I was a coward so I ran. I remember thinking how could everyone there betray me when I had done them all a favor.
This incident led me to start developing trust issues. I trusted the other kids on that hill to stand up for me. To look at me as their leader because I took care of the problem with Adam hogging the hill and going down it whenever he wanted to. To trust that when Adam wanted to fight some of the other kids would jump in and help me. Nobody came to my rescue that day. One kid that was at the hill was my neighbor Randy. His mom and my mom would sometimes sit on the front porch together and talk and me and Randy would go in the house and play. He was about 2 years older than me and he was a tough kid. I couldn’t believe that he did not jump in and help me, he of all people could’ve saved me the embarrassment of running away. It was incidents like this that made me start to realize that I was alone in this world. Nobody but me was going to watch out for me. If this sounds like the start of the origin story of a super villain, well that just might be what it is.