“To be at peace is a test of resilience.” JSM
Before I dive into the details of the second week at my new home, I pause. I now present some non-linear rambling. Yeah!!
My friends and family know my tendencies to ramble on sometimes under the right circumstances, but the moments are few and far between. Once provided an opportunity to let it gush forth, I take full advantage.
Not long ago I was trapped in traffic at a four way intersection. My daughter sat beside me in the passenger seat and we chatted away about our day. I hit the green light parallel to the driver beside me and was brought to a halt at the center. All traffic stopped while I was gradually cutting the wheel into my turn.
The light changes from green to red and the lane behind me, to the left, starts their procession up the street. I’m still locked in the middle. Moving traffic scooted along a mere foot from my back bumper.
We laughed it off. I checked to my right letting oncoming drivers know I’m there, with a smile and a wave, and my lane creeps forward. I’m almost in the place I need to be.
The moment the green light activated, the driver in the opposite lane slams on the gas, rolls up beside my car and cuts us off from our spot.
My breaks locked up inches from the bumper. The tires squealed to a halt and my fingers gripped the wheel with white knuckle panic. Instead of laying on the horn, flipping the bird or yelling obscenities, I kept quiet, and let the bastard carry on.
I’ve mentioned in previous installments my ever changing views of Earth and the people on it. Seeing things a bit differently now. Observing with a new lens in a new light. It’s both a blessing and a curse.
In the old life, I had positive expectations of humanity. I was blind to the potential of the human spirit going bad or rotten. Oblivious to the selfish actions of people as a whole.
People I’ve known for half my life switching over to the dark side and hurting others out of nothing but pure selfishness. Reading about members of my community, trusted folks known since childhood becoming something no one saw coming. One afternoon happening across an article about the retired janitor killing the neighbors dog for barking too much. Close friends transforming into enemies. Finding out you’ve been used or a relationship was a facade.
People you never once thought in a gazillion years would get divorced, “They seemed so happy.”
I see the angry faces in the supermarket(s) now. I see hurting souls, frowns, eye rolls, people on the brink of losing control or breaking into tears. Parents wearing fake smiles for the benefit of an infant in a car seat who’s riding front and center atop a grocery cart.
Then the parent looks away, frowns and whispers, “What the F___.” The early stages of a transformation into something they really, really don’t want to become. But the pressure builds and builds and one day… it’s channeled.
It’s not a pretty sight. Families are ruined during the channeling. Friendships are splintered and lives are changed. Wedges are driven into the fabric of reality and normalcy. Trust issues arise and growing hate is the end result. Tears of sadness, confusion and anger. Looking to the sky and asking, “WHY?! Why did this happen? How could this happen?”
A spouse coming home and witnessing an affair. A drunk uncle beating someone half to death in a bar fight, now spending years in prison. A teenage son hitting someone intentionally with a car; an act of pure jealousy. Stumbling across information, gossip or rumors that hit too close to home. Or whatever the case may be. Pick the poison. The horrible things that occur when you never thought it was EVER possible.
That’s my expectation now (while as horrible and callous as that sounds, my guess is, I’m not alone). My expectations of humanity have morphed into something different. I expect a rude customer or twelve when I go shopping. I expect to be bumped into without a sorry or a ‘pardon me’. I don’t expect people to hold a door open for me to enter a building. I expect people to cut me off or neglect basic manners and human decency. I don’t plan on hearing a please or thank you from people anymore. I expect to be treated like a nobody by a cashier. I expect to see eye rolls when an adult is asked by another adult to “do something”. I expect to see arguments among others in passing vehicles. I expect folks to say one thing, then do the opposite.
I was cashing out at a store last week, purchasing a few simple items for my day, and the young lady (guessing early twenties) bagged up my supplies and once completed with her mandatory tasks she turned her head to look out the window.
I stood at the counter for a moment. A bewildered stare frozen on my face, and I then proceeded to snatch up my bag and smile at her, “You’re welcome, and you as well.”
(I’m grinning and shaking my head as I compose this) She turned back to me and actually stated out loud, “I never said anything.”
“Oh… I know.”
I haven’t been back since.
My expectations have unfortunately lowered. I know it’s sad. Possibly judgmental, demeaning and out right rude, “How can you only see the bad, or troubled? Why can’t you see the good?” I never said I couldn’t see the good in people, or I don’t have that ability, I do see the good in many individuals as individuals, and those are the good folks I associate with, however, when one is bombarded with the negative for long periods of time, the good is increasingly difficult to see.
When trust issues interfere, the light in others is faded. I know this because I was once one of the faded. My light vanished. Blinked out into oblivion. I remember well being that person behind the counter, ignoring my basic human decency.
Nearing the middle of the second week, when outward sincerity towards the world ultimately failed, I became cold and heartless. The inner demons found their voice. I spoke from Hell’s heart and aimed to cut, break and burn. I wanted others to feel pain. I wanted to fight and win even if it meant twisting the rules and cheating. I desired to go for the throat. Work. Family. Friends. Strangers. Social Media trolling. Didn’t matter. If you weren’t with me, you were against me. I said the things I said, purely for shock value.
Horrible, huh? Yeah. I had my moment.
I wished for nothing more than for my situation to be different. I blamed everyone and everything around me for what I was enduring. The seeds of subtle discord I once planted, never sprouted. Reaching out to others, failed. My plan of killing the planet with sincerity and happiness (as fake as it was) didn’t work to my advantage. People either saw right through it, or didn’t care. My fight to gain allies was a struggle to the point of defeat.
Thinking, for half a moment, someone will join you in the suffrage and help guide you through it. You’re hanging by one trembling hand on the cliff’s edge, dangling helpless, and instead of aiding you over the top they pry your fingers from the rock one by one and smile as you plummet to the ground.
Either way, I battled the world to no avail. My tactics were faulty and my strategy was flawed. Each morning I’d adorn my dented and bloodied armor, sheath my sword, and begin my day oblivious to it’s potential end result.
Becoming a bad guy was exhausting.
I spoke words to others I can never take back. Phrases uttered I’ll never forget. I played the me, me, me, selfish card whenever possible. I stopped thinking about others and only focused on myself.
I’ve sliced to the center of a heart and watched it bleed dry. Once upon a short time ago I was absolutely devoid of an inner light. I spoke purely from emotion. I said things if only to watch people cry. I needed to be in control of all dialogue and dictate it’s direction. I was snide, condescending, rude, arrogant and didn’t care what happened as a result.
“How can it get any worse? Might as well go for broke.”
I do have personal regret in areas where I intentionally dolled out pain towards others. If you were ever caught in that crossfire, again, I apologize. Even today, I think about how words can hurt. Those are my own demons. I deal with them accordingly.
When my new mentality disintegrated and crumbled, and my evil little lair rumbled, shifted and forced an evacuation, I had to face some hard truths.
It all went to Hell in a hand basket at the end of the third month at the safe-house. My demons controlled me for what seemed like an eternity, and it appeared as though the powers that be didn’t agree with the way I was living my life. I needed a good hard slap across the side of my head.
The path again warped and maneuvered into the Twilight Zone under my feet, mindnumbingly dragging me along with it into another alternate dimension. However, that’s a tale for later.
All I can say about the end of the third month, for now, was speaking the words out loud on the side of the road, inches from the guardrail, forehead pressing into the steering wheel,”The only thing that can happen to make shit worse: is if I lose my kids, my job, or my dog gets hit by a car.”
One of those three occurred shortly into the fourth month.
Anyway, as I enter the second week of safe-house existence, my chest now an emptying vault and my heart calcifying within, I watched myself become something I’m not. Slow at first, but once I found my stride, nothing was getting in between me and my mission. I found the buttons within others that when pressed, inflicted pain. I absorbed that pain and it generated a smile.
I sat in the dark and became a hermit. I remained alone and ignored everything that didn’t pertain to me directly. I scoured and trolled the internet. Day in and out I made people miserable. My whole second week was a blur of mindless attacks, social media outbursts, vaguebooking, retail therapy, and looking the fool. My opinions were all that mattered. I lashed out to those I believed deserved it. Even if I was wrong, I was right. I burned bridges and built walls. Always maintaining that fake smile for the children.
I collected some credits card, exclusive to me with only my name and purchased exactly what I wanted and everything was black. Black towels, hand-cloths, TV and entertainment center. My game system was sleek and black. My tee shirts mostly black with dark pictures. My bedding. Even my dress attire for meetings and work were black silk button ups, and dark sunglasses to hide my eyes. My laptop bag was black, my baseball hat… I wanted everything to match the color of my futon.
I purchased some housewarming gifts for the kids, started small, and worked my way to a comfortable living situation. Plunging myself into crippling debt.
Only comfortable in the material sense though. I was still living a life not suitable to who I am.
As long as the kids are safe, that’s all that matters. Focus on the kids… but, this is your life now. Do with it as you please.
As the soul darkened, so did everything around me. For the moment it felt wonderful. I was satisfied with my new identity. Having sparkly new items, accessories, gadgets, technology and toys gave me something else to focus on as I entered week three. I snatched up discounted Sci-fi TV box sets, and comedies, and binge watched each one over and over.
I contained my consciousness in a little 3D box. I surrounded myself with my interests so my focus never swayed from self. I worked at night and slept the day. I fixed a corner for a condensed work space and eventually inherited a bed. I continued to utilize only a corner of the home, and the kids each had their own room at the back of the house.
I ignored invitations and gatherings from people in the old life. Weddings, social events, movie nights, bonfires. I said I’d attend… then back out at the last minute with a ridiculous excuse and said bullshit like, “You probably wouldn’t want me there. I’m not the best company.”
I pushed everyone away.
Nearing the end of the first month, it was time for me to reach out. I had to battle the demons back, kicking and screaming, and seek help. It shouldn’t have surprised me when no one connected, picked up the phone, or came running to my beck and call. People’s expectations of me were now nonexistent.
Considering what I transformed into, I should have expected it.
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