Life Lessons From Adults To Children Today’s Guest – Tim Hutchinson
My name is Tim Hutchinson, and I was bullied as a teen. It got to the point where I decided to gain revenge, and ultimately was stopped just blocks from my high school with an assault rifle and explosives. Had I made it that last block and a half, I would have become the biggest mass murderer in U.S. history. My life lesson is this; If I could go back in time I would have found a mentor much sooner than I did – someone who I could trust enough share my story with, and seek their advice.
It wasn’t until my late 20′s that I found a mentor, named Lustig, who fit those qualifications. (Interestingly enough, it turned out to be an older man who at one time lived with Adolph Hitler, and was put into a concentration camp for speaking out against Hitler.) He survived and moved to America to rebuild his life where he mentored one person; myself.
Lustig’s early lessons taught me that, in order to change my life, there had to come a time when changing myself was less painful than remaining in the life I had. At that time in my life, I was buried in an emotional hell. He said that simply telling myself to hold on was useless self-talk. Hold on to what? Hold on for what? These were all meaningless phrases that offered no real hope or help. When a person is in the darkest corners of hell, typically they just want to die. What was there to hold onto? Nothing. The same goes for the phrase hang in there. I told Lustig that the only hanging I wanted to do was at the end of a rope with a noose tied tightly around my neck. Those types of phrases would do nothing for me, and whoever came up with that garbage obviously had never personally been emotionally bankrupt. I, like most who experience troubled times, desperately wanted to escape the bondage of an emotional prison.
Lustig then introduced me to the concept of what he called the tunnel. During the darkest of times, it’s like being in a dark tunnel, cut off from everyone and everything in the world. It feels as though no one else could ever possibly know what it’s like to be trapped inside like that-like being in hell itself. What keeps someone going is to remind themselves that they won’t be in the tunnel forever. Every passing minute was one less minute they had to spend there. Every moment was one moment closer to a better, more peaceful, less stressful, and stable life-if they believe that it awaited them and they prepared for it. I listened intently to Lustig’s words and took it all in. I was in that tunnel, trapped and alone. To get out, I had to focus on the changes needed to ensure I never had to go through the tunnel again. I had to prepare myself to live the life I truly wanted to live. I had to believe it was possible and take the steps necessary to make it a reality. The first step to emotional freedom was forgiving those who had wronged me. This ultimately proved to be more of an ongoing journey than a single event and overall was no easy task. But nonetheless it was a critical step in recovering from the emotional scars of the hurt and resentment I had carried with me for decades. Letting go of the pain caused by all my negative experiences was probably the hardest thing that I had ever done in my life. I was made to feel like a worthless outsider in society, an unredeemable soul who didn’t deserve better than he got. I was the eternal outcast. Lustig made me see that carrying around all that pain did nothing to help me. It offered no benefit in my life whatsoever and was actually destroying me.
For example, every fiber of my being hated that bastard who horribly violated me. But I learned from my mentor that harboring unforgiveness in my heart didn’t hurt that person, it only prevented my healing process from beginning. The moment I was so violated could never be erased or forgotten. The perpetrator would never be held accountable. Holding onto hatred for that man only affected one person. Me. While I was physically in the present, my emotions were trapped in the past. Forgiving him would sever the tether that had firmly strapped me to the moment I was abused.
Lustig continued his teaching by saying that forgiveness also meant that I had to live with the consequences of that man’s actions. To let go of all of the pain in my past, I had to walk away knowing that not every injustice in the world would be punished, at least not in this lifetime. Sometimes when a person is forgiven, the greatest benefit goes to the one who is doing the forgiving. Lustig said I must forgive my attacker, not for his sake, but for my own. After harboring my feelings of hatred and revenge for all these years, forgiveness seemed unfathomable. Yet, Lustig’s words rang true. I was hurting no one but myself by carrying around such anger for my rapist and all of those who I felt had wronged me. They weren’t ruining my life, I was. They weren’t shaping my future, I was. I chose to forgive-and it was liberating. Through his mentoring I became a good citizen who now believes that evil triumphs when good men do nothing. I did not want to be among those who do nothing. I started speaking with teens at high schools about bullying, violence, and making better choices.
It’s that important. Who better to hear it from than someone who had been in their shoes and knows what it feels like to be hurt and want to hurt back? In 2004 I started a writing campaign about bullying and the need to help our kids rise above the pain they suffer in their lives. I hand wrote and mailed three letters a day, seven days a week for six years. I sent them to anyone and everyone who would listen and had influence-from politicians to teachers to educational organization leaders and city officials. I once thought that attacking my high school would have been the greatest day in my life, however, I now realize how wrong I was. It would have only destroyed many lives and prevented me from realizing a truly wonderful life; one filled with real hope, peace and joy that I now share with others.