Sunday, February 12, 2006

"Remove the Sons of Bitches From Your Life"

Great advice from Steve at Hog On Ice. We all know these people. If you do not excise them from your life as you would a cancerous tumor, they will eventually drag you down and kill you. They are inveterate hypocrites, backbiters and that's their good qualities. By virtue of mental illness or sheer meanness, the only pleasure they derive from life is to stir up shit and laugh while it plays out. They have a fundamental inability to be truly happy for themselves or anyone else and get their only joy in life from lobbing monkeywrenches into other's happiness. I too would rather have a leg lopped off than to relive childhood-all I can say is that I made it out alive, "bloodied and scarred, but alive," and a thousand times wiser for it. From that "experience," I have developed as a defense mechanism a "radar" so finely calibrated that I can detect bullshit, phoniness and those that traffick in misery at a thousand paces. Enjoy Steve's great post-bittersweet, poignant and tinged with hope.


Wedding

Etcetera...

The wedding was very nice, although I was pretty uncomfortable. While it is true that I lost enough weight to get into my tux, I am still somewhat fat, and my chest has ballooned up from the exercise I've been doing, so basically, I was unable to move my arms all night.

I would have danced, just to keep from looking weird, but I couldn't remember anything. I worked at learning salsa for two years, but ninety percent of it has vanished from my memory. I was able to remember a little merengue. Some people thought I had fallen asleep because I was sitting at the table with my eyes closed, trying to remember how to dance.

Some people were not put on this planet to dance. That's how it is. If I'm ever foolish enough to take up with a woman again, and she wants to dance, we'll go to my salsa instructor and figure it out, and then when she needs a fix, I'll take her to a club to shut her up. But I don't see myself keeping the floor hot at any more Cuban weddings. I did it once; I guess that will have to suffice.

Ivette's dad and her younger brother Jose spoke. Jose got all emotional, telling her how much he loved her. I sat there staring, realizing how much I had missed out on because my sister is such a hateful piece of crap.

There has been so much misery in my family. And none of it was necessary. No one was born deformed. No one was severely mentally ill. No one was an invalid. Or poor. In fact, we were all smart and talented. And white. And American. And affluent. My family's misery was caused not by bad luck, but by immaturity, selfishness, cruelty, and shortsightedness. By stupidity.

The funny thing is, I'm not like that. I'm not an angel, but I get along with people. I enjoy doing things for people I love. I like helping people. I like giving. I don't have to have the biggest piece of pie all the time. It doesn't bother me when someone else gets a little attention. We don't have to always watch the TV shows I want to watch. If you do something dumb, I don't feel like God appointed me to hammer it into your head over and over, until you have to leave the house because apologizing won't make me stop. I don't believe in being unfaithful. I won't steal from you if you leave your checkbook lying around. I'm not sadistic. I won't get pleasure from holing up in my room, thinking of ways to make other people dislike you or feel contempt for you.

I just don't cause problems that make people miserable. I am not a son of a bitch. I'm not saying I'm perfect. Just that I never, ever contributed to my family's problems in even the smallest way. I do not understand the inner workings of people who make life miserable. I may inconvenience you with my eccentricities. I may annoy you with my opinions. But no one has ever called me mean or abusive or envious. No one has ever had to walk on eggs around me. No one ever had to say, "Shut up. Here comes Steve."

A lot of people look back fondly on childhood. I wake up every day thrilled to be an adult. I still feel relief, knowing no one can mistreat me now. If you asked me whether I would rather relive my childhood or go to prison, I would have to think very hard before I made a choice. I guess I'd have to go with childhood, but only because prison carries the threat of gang rape and beatings.

If you told me I could relive my childhood or lose a leg, I'd tell you to start cutting, and that is no exaggeration. I could not face it again. For some reason, I started thinking about my childhood last night while I was trying to sleep, and I felt real pain. I listed horrible memories in my mind, and it surprised me how many there were. The pain kept me awake an extra hour and a half. It was the strangest sensation. Like having a broken bone, except that the pain was in my mind.

It's bad when things don't work out for people. It's bad when you and your wife try, but you end up with an unsatisfying marriage. It's bad having a job you don't like. It's bad when you have kids, and you do what you can, and they do what they can, and they still don't turn out the way you wanted. But misfortunes like that don't compare to the ones people inflict on themselves through stupidity. How can you face God at the end of your life, knowing you ruined everything for yourself and everyone around you, and that it was all due to deliberate, proactive measures you took for no good reason?

I'm sitting here now, afraid to try to imagine what our lives could have been. I'm actually afraid. I'm very happy these days; I've mastered happiness as a skill. I've learned where to look for it and how to hold onto it. I don't want to make myself unhappy by imagining a better world that could have been. I know I'll remember imagining it from now on, and I'll be unable to prevent myself from comparing it to what has actually happened.

I don't understand people who are not like me. I know what goes on in the minds of selfish, abusive people, but I don't understand how they can stand to be that way. How can you not know it when you're nothing but a source of needless suffering? How can something which is so obvious to everyone around you be imperceptible to you? Surely you know. You just lack empathy. That has to be the answer. To some degree, you have to be a narcissist or a psychopath.

Anyway, Ivette has a wonderful family. I'm sure they have their problems, but they all seem to be on each other's side. They celebrate each other's successes. They're proud of each other. I can't imagine what that must be like. I'm not saying the members of my family were never good to each other. Just that it was not consistent. It was inadequate. And poisoned by the many harmful things that were done. You can't fertilize a tomato plant once a week and pour bleach on it once a day and expect to get tomatoes.

I take pleasure in the knowledge that there are healthy families like Ivette's. I look at families like that, and I think, "Those people are like me; that's the kind of family I'd have if everyone in my family were like me." I've heard that during the Depression, people loved hearing about wealthy celebrities, because it comforted them to know that while times were hard where they were, somewhere far away, someone else was having a third Martini or being measured for a bespoke suit. I can understand that. I really enjoy seeing nice people do well, and I'm trying to do well, myself. There's still time.

Take my advice. Do your best to remove the sons of bitches from your life. I don't care if they're your brothers, your fathers, your sisters, or what. Remove them. It's like rolling a car off of a piece of sod. Just as the blades that were under the tires will straighten and grow, you'll gradually feel the strength and hope flow back into you. And don't forget to pray. I don't think anything works out in the long run without prayer.

I feel like the catcher in the rye. Trying to save people from lives of misery, by tossing out a few words that aren't likely to be read and understood and applied. Silly idea, I suppose. But every once in a while, someone reads a message in a bottle. Can't hurt to try.

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