That’s on the wall at the top of our stairs, a reminder that today is today and yesterday, for better or worse, is behind us.
It’s not easy to leave any severe ugliness you’ve experienced in the past, and even when you’ve managed it that ugliness is going to forever be a part of you — you have no choice but to be a mix of the nature and potential you were born with and the sum of your experiences. The trick is to rejigger that balance so that you’re true to your nature rather than your second nature, and so able to work with that potential. Trick? Did I say trick? It’s a helluva lot more than a trick. It’s a fucking miracle. But so is being alive in the first place. The odds were always against each and every one of us, billions to one against everything aligning just as it did to produce precisely the individual who’s out breathing the air. But here we are anyway.
Myself, I’m a collection of rough edges, foibles, faults, and fuckups with some good qualities that are certainly insufficient in magnitude and quantity to be considered redeeming. But that’s okay, because I took it upon myself to unilaterally decide some years back that I am quite good enough just as I am and I don’t have to strive to become any better. I am not going to get any better and I don’t have to prove myself to anyone. Not even myself. I’m going to get worse. I am going to continue the decline that comes with aging, and become even more set in my ways. Then I’m going to smell really terribly after I’m dead, shit all over myself and start rotting from the inside out. Guaranfuckingteed.
My past does not define me. It affects me, surely, but it stopped defining me right about five years ago. Five years and twelve days, to be precise. That it took until I was 47 years old is unfortunate and might reflect poorly upon me, but so be it. On the up side, I’ve known quite a number of folks who lived long lives and never got past their experiences of the first couple of decades — I’m the offspring of two of them. My sister is 50 years old and so uptight that you couldn’t pull that stick out of her ass with a team of draft horses. She retreated back to first grade, years ago, only now she’s in front of the class rather than a member of it. She likes the first graders as they’ve been indoctrinated by Kindergarten and haven’t yet formed their own opinions so they’re malleable and easily manipulated by her psychological ploys. She tried fourth grade but didn’t like it because the kids were not so easily manipulated.
Speaking of The Princess: The word list for her class last week was eat, heat, treat, teacher, see, sweet, green and sleep. I don’t suppose for a moment that she’s considered that that’s a perfect stoner word list: See sweet green treat, heat, eat, and sleep. Maybe even learn a little something along the way because it can be a great teacher. 😀
Digression behind me now, back to the topic at hand. I know and have known many whose personal histories are more horror than fantasy. I spent a few years as a participant and moderator in an online support forum for survivors of families like the one I was cursed with, and while being a part of the recovery of others was deeply rewarding and a vital part of my own recovery the unfortunate reality was that the majority were “stuck”. Some were stuck because they’d become disordered themselves so recovery was beyond them. Others were stuck because they lacked the wherewithal to turn and walk (or run) away and start new lives for themselves, and others were stuck because they’d incorporated the abuse into their identities. It’s a real danger in our current culture which celebrates “survivors”. Surviving is good, surely, but it’s not supposed to be the end of the journey. You’re not done until you peel off that god damned bumper sticker, remove the badge from your chest, stop overpaying your dues, and claim your place in the sun as your entitlement. It’s your birthright, just as surely as it’s the birthright of every other diurnal being. The cat in the windowsill is no more deserving of its place in the sun than you are and there’s no reason to behave as if it is.
Yes, it is very much easier said than done. I’m not faulting anyone for not being there yet. How could I? I wasn’t there until relatively recently myself. My life was an unending parade of assholes right up until I decided that I wasn’t going to live that way any more. The price of happiness is sometimes great, but the cost of not pursuing it is even greater. I’ve had my toxic familial relationships, horrid soul destroying marriages, shitty bosses, malignant acquaintances too generously referred to as friends, the whole lot of it. I’ve had persistent nightmares, “trust issues”, and long stretches of pretending to have self esteem and confidence when everything about my life was proof that I didn’t value my own life at all. My relationships were all with people who didn’t value my life, either, except as a useful commodity — I could do things for them, give things to them, or look good hanging off of their arms. I worked shitloads of overtime, usually without sufficient compensation, worked my ass off at home doing the bulk of the cooking, cleaning, yard work, vehicle and household maintenance, and so on, and handed over my earnings to whoever was in the most powerful position to make my life miserable if I didn’t.
It’s really very easy to hate your life if you don’t have balls enough to love it instead.