My brain is fucked this morning. Figured I’d share. I hope what follows is something like coherent.
First, a little background:
I did not have, what is now commonly referred to as, a stable childhood. I’m old enough that when my parents divorced, I still got strange, sideways glances from people in school – students and teachers. This is back when they still used the phrase “broken home.”
I was raised, mostly, by a parent from a highly dysfunctional family. And these things get passed down the generations. So, beyond being a child of divorce, the environment I was raised in was also highly dysfunctional. Add to that an undiagnosed thyroid condition that never let me sleep, and an adult dose of anxiety and depression, and the picture of my childhood and adolescent life becomes more like a late night horror show than a Lifetime movie.
To tell the truth, looking back on those times with the benefit of hindsight, medication, and therapy, I hove no clue how I managed to maintain. It was probably a combination of dumb luck, animal cunning, and sheer bloody-mindedness. There are certain drives wired into us that help the organism survive. And it’s impressive what you can get used to and see as normal – especially if you don’t know any other way of being.
I tell you this, not to solicit sympathy, but to set the scene.
This was the water I was swimming in – the underlying structures that existed when I was 15, and a sophomore in high school.
With that in mind, let me tell you a little about the worst year of my life.
A whole bunch of things happened, within the space of about two months, give or take:
I lost the girlfriend I consider my high school sweetheart. (My first real heartbreak. That’s like virginity; you don’t forget the first time.) She left me for one of the guys in my circle of friends. For whatever reason, (teenagers have lots of reasons, and they’re all teenage bullshit), that friend group ostracized me. I suppose this was before the idea of “Bros before Hoes,” but so be it. Around the same time, my mother announced to me that she was getting remarried and we would be moving out of state to live with her new husband, in New York – state not city. So, to sum up: My girl dumped me, my friends dumped me, and I had just found out, about 3 months into the school year, that this would be my last year at that school.
If you can hear the support structures crumbling like God-sized dominoes, it wouldn’t surprise me. Some days I still hear the echoes.
That year, and series of events, ruined my life. But, I’ll get back to that point a little later.
It’s now 23 years later. I’m happily married, reasonably successful, and marginally sane.
You think you make peace with a thing.
(You kind of do make peace with it, in that you stop allowing it to fuck up your day. You stop obsessing over the thing, and you rarely think about it, and not with the same energy you did in years past. But that thing still pisses you off. And it should. For a human life to have value, someone should be angry when it is damaged, even if that someone is a N of 1).
So, why is this thing rearing it’s hydra-headed presence to disturb my relative peace of mind at this moment in time?
This is why my brain is fucked, this morning.
The guy who stole my girl, (couldn’t resist the phrasing, sorry) those so many years ago. The same guy who worked to not only ostracize me from that friend group, but also to generally give my name a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. That guy, sent me a Facebook message the other day.
(My Facebook account is set to private. So, this message had to be accepted by me. Because of something weird with the notifications, I didn’t read it until a week after it was sent.)
Apparently, he’d been thinking a lot about the past, lately.
And he wanted to, in his scattered and inarticulate way, apologize. At least that’s kind of the gist I gleaned from the message. I mean, the word apologize was used. I think it was even directed at me. But have you ever had someone apologize without really and sincerely accepting fault?
(If you’re wondering, “I was kind of a dick,” is not really accepting fault. It doesn’t admit hurting the other person and it doesn’t admit that it was wrong.)
I got this message yesterday. And a whole Jehovah-decides-to kill-off-the-nephilim flood of memories and emotions broke through and started scouring the countryside of my emotional landscape.
And that’s why my brain is fucked this morning.
I’m still processing.
(I’m definitely taking my wife’s advice – which strangely wasn’t, “set him on fire,” this time – and I’m not going to engage with him. What the hell could I say anyway? And why would it matter? Nothing will change. Well, he might feel a little better about his past mistakes, but I sure as hell won’t. And I’ll be damned if I’m making him feel better. )
Really, this post isn’t about him.
But his message brought back the memories of that year.
The memories of what was, of what I had worked and planned for – such as I could plan. And those old, razor-edged thoughts about what could have been.
Those thoughts kill you, in ways little and large.
I wish I could tell you how to deal with those thoughts, how to stop having them, or stop letting them hurt you. If I could, then I would know how to handle it myself. Maybe I’ll try denial next time?
It’s funny, people who have the capacity, or ability, or whatever, to “let things go” will tell you to just let things go. But when I question them, they never seem to be able to tell me how. I’m not stupid, but letting things go is way outside of my framework of understanding. If I’m going to attempt it, I’m going to need some instruction.
(I have been trying to teach myself, by the way. Through reason, and therapy, and meditation I’ve learned a lot about myself and how my brain works. I’ve learned a lot about how to cope. But letting go is a skill I still struggle with, sometimes daily.)
Oh, I told you I’d come back to the thing about my life being ruined. So, here’s that bit:
I had an argument with my older sister – she had much the same sort of upheaval at the same time – about that statement, that my life had been ruined. This was many years ago.
She was vehemently of the opinion that my life couldn’t have been ruined, because, you know, there I was. I was a living, breathing adult operating, if not within normative parameters close enough to avoid detection.
I’ve thought about that argument, and her point, a lot since then. I still disagree.
Because the life that I knew had been ruined. For all intents and purposes, (there were other circumstances I’ll not go into here), the life that I knew ceased to exist. More than that, it was taken from me, bit by bit.
That I have a life now, that I am happily married, reasonably successful, and marginally sane does not alter that fact.
But it does prove one thing:
You can rebuild over old ruins.
What you build may be better or worse, grander or meaner, but it will never be that thing that came before. Nothing can be.
This is, as near as I can tell, an incontrovertible fact of existence.
Nothing, once destroyed, can ever be remade. You can make something with a remarkable semblance, a veritable copy, but the glass can never be unbroken. Even if all the pieces fit back together, you will still see the fracture lines. There will always be chips, missing.
So, that’s what I went to bed and woke up with: dealing with that.
And I’ll continue to deal with that. My brain will gnaw on it like a rawhide dog chew covered in peanut butter.
It might be a minute before I get it sorted.
I’d like to end this with some note of hope, some moral or heuristic or advice for the future.
But I don’t have anything like that.
All I can do is chew on it.
And, maybe, thank you for walking this leg of the journey with me.
I don’t know what it means, but it means something, and for that: