I was almost a school shooter

I never had many friends, usually there were one or two kids in my neighborhood who were tolerant of me, but I can't recall many kids showing me that same kindness in school. So I spent years without friends, dreading heading off to school, finding any excuse I could to stay home or leave school early, dread over not knowing if today would be a good day. Particularly bad days involved physical abuse. I was told "boys will be boys" and I guess as a girl I didn't understand why there was such a distinction between how girls and boys were, this statement never made any sense but I didn't protest much. That was part of surviving, I learned ways to avoid drawing attention to myself, which often proved detrimental to my understanding of the coursework being taught, but as long as I could understand enough to make the minimum passing grade, I got by unnoticed. At home, my grandmother, my sole caretaker, could hardly handle raising a child, given her failing health etc. I slipped through the cracks in a lot of ways, I think, I might not be using that phrase correctly.

See, I have Asperger's syndrome, but no one knew back then, despite my utter lack of social skills, my inability to communicate effectively under stress, there were a lot of indicators but I was seen as lazy, unmotivated, anti-social, awkward, etc. By the time I was in middle school, my second hand men's clothing was mocked not only by students, but on a few occasions, OPENLY mocked by teachers along with my fellow students. I did a lot to ostracize myself, unwittingly, but the older I got, the worse things seemed to get in terms of being able to go unnoticed.

My freshman year of high school was the worst yet, I didn't have a single credit by the end of the school year, my GPA was literally .14, and what should've been my sophomore year was spent again as a freshman. Sophomore year was a significantly worse, this is when everything went down, this was when my high school career ended and this is really where the story begins in a lot of ways. There were a group of girls that I had a lot of classes in common with, they first mocked me because when asked if I was a Christian, my response went something like "Not really." and further prodding revealed to them I had no religious affiliation or beliefs to speak of, which is not something I realized I might've been better off lying about in a North Texas high school. That's where it started. They began asking if I was a lesbian, if I was a "devil worshiper", if I had sex with animals, et al. Being forced to deny things is a good way to have rumors started about oneself.

It escalated, when one of them would pass me in the hallway they would pull my hair or try to trip me, successfully ripping out enough hair to cause my scalp to bleed on numerous occasions, and being treated this way, falling on my face and dropping my belongings in crowded hallways, those crowds often laughing at me, literally being kicked while down, this all served to further alienate me from my peers. I began being bullied by more than just those girls, once having someone stand over me in the middle of class and threaten to slap me if I dared to speak, the teacher in the classroom simply said "Girls, settle down." and then resumed reading or grading papers or I don't know... the point is, it was all getting worse. I would spend entire class periods hiding in the bathroom to avoid abuse, then serve Saturday school detentions for missing a class.

It may not sound like a nightmare, but to me it was, and when I reached out to my school counselor and described the abuse, I was literally laughed at and told to get over it. She told me to ignore it or learn to stand up for myself, laughing, over and over she was laughing at me and implied that if I had better grades and attendance she might be more willing to help me out. I was so devastated, but not nearly as devastated as I was about to be. After the visit to her office I was sent to see the school's truancy officer and he told me I would be arrested if I missed anymore class. Well, I didn't even go to school the next day, and the truancy officer showed up at my grandmother's house and said he was taking me to school. I couldn't get out of it, and he informed me on the way to school that not only would I be arrested, my legal guardian would be facing fines of "hundreds of dollars" for every day I missed school. This was all too much, I don't come from a well off family, my dad lived nearby but he and his wife didn't have a lot to do with me, I visited his house sometimes but he mostly just got frustrated at how much I would talk anytime we interacted, I could talk endlessly and he was in poor health and had a job that involved arduous physical work and he was tired and wanted to unwind by the time he and I would spend any time together.

One thing he did have though, was a lot of guns. And ammunition. And some of it wasn't locked away in his gun cabinet, and this suddenly became something I thought about a lot. I mean the suicidal ideation had been something I had since I was nine or ten years old, but I knew not to talk about it, I remember my grandmother told me if I did talk about it they could put me away at a hospital. I think she thought I didn't realize the seriousness of what I was saying, and I didn't, but neither did she. So I never tried to talk to anyone about it. And there was a computer at my dad's(this was in 2002) and I eventually found the information I needed and figured out how to load it and operate the safety mechanisms, and this is how I was going to end my life. I carried around a loaded gun for weeks, my dad didn't notice it was missing, my school obviously was unaware that a student was in class with a loaded glock pistol everyday. I felt like I had to keep the gun with me so no one would come across it at my grandmother's house and "put me away" for wanting to end my life.

But I was trapped, if I didn't go to school my family would face fines(might have been a bluff? I didn't know) and I would go to the juvenile detention center. Being forced to be in confined spaces with students who were my tormentors. One day I realized I had this gun in my bag and my choices were limited to different kinds of torment or ending my life, but I could also hurt the people who were hurting me, I could choose someone out of all of the people in my day who were cruel to me, or the counselor, the awful awful counselor who thought it was a joke, who thought my life was a joke, who I assumed would think my death was just me needing to "grow a spine" and failing to do so... I didn't have an exact plan, but I knew I wanted to shoot someone before I shot myself, in the leg maybe, in the arm, I don't know, I obviously was NOT thinking rationally.

When I got home one day and went over to my dad's house I got scared, I put his gun back, and I went back to my grandmother's house that night and took every pill I could find. Within an hour I was puking my guts up and spent most of the night on the floor next to a trash bin full of vomit. I didn't go to school the next day, I hid under the edge of a bed, against the wall, when they looked for me they couldn't find me, and later that night I told my dad what I did with the pills, and he took me to the ER. I spent a week in a psych ward and it was probably the best week of my entire adolescence. I told one other girl there about the gun and she hushed me and said not to tell the counselors or my doctor, not any of the nursing staff and definitely not other patients. There were a handful of kids there that were so supportive and open and I thought I made friends for the first time in my life. Of course the connections fizzled out shortly after leaving the hospital but that week saved my life, and it probably saved a high school counselor's life. When I was released from the hospital my dad showed up and seemed attentive and like he didn't mind listening and maybe even like he was interested in my life and thoughts. I ended up in an "alternative" school where I went for half-days and worked alone on a computer in a quiet environment. My dad let me move into his house for the rest of the last semester of my sophomore year. Eventually his wife asked me to contact my estranged mother and see if I could go live with her and my half-sister. I hadn't seen or spoken to them since I was eight years old but we forged some kind of bond and I moved away to Dallas at the end of the school year. I attended a semester of community college at age sixteen, and life was a lot different after that.

I'm actually still quite afraid to tell anyone about this, I understand the significance of this now, bringing a gun to a public school as a student, that's a pretty serious thing we're dealing with in America. When these stories come out about mass shootings I feel shame and still wonder if I was just like those men and boys who've made national headlines and been nationally despised and seen as incomprehensible monsters. And if I was like them at fifteen years old, is that always going to be part of who I am?

I am also afraid if I tell people about this I will somehow be brought up on criminal charges for confessing to carrying a concealed gun to a school ten years ago. I'm not sure why, I just have this overwhelming fear I'll be reported somehow and be treated like a monster.

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