Bad to Worse
Despite losing three homes, my entire wardrobe, material possessions, money, a series of friendships and all sense of purpose and direction in life, I still couldn’t believe it was all because of the drugs. Losing my job though was the proverbial ‘straw that broke the camel’s back‘. On the bright side, I didn’t have much more to lose. The heavens shook in warning against any further provocation.
As for my job, I’d been framed for stealing several thousand dollars. No matter how much I pleaded, my boss’s ears were stuck in wanting to hear who did it – not who didn’t! Still, I maintained my innocence devoutly. Sure, I’d worn the hat of thief on occasion and let myself be blamed for things I hadn’t done, but as Captain Picard once said: ‘the line must be drawn here! This far, and no farther! And I will make them pay for what they’ve done!’ So, thanks to Sherlock Holmes and his skills of deductive reasoning, I found the error in the real thief’s plans. It took a lot of determination and courage, but I finally cleared my name and got my past wages. Victory with or without a home was still victory. And yes, it was sweet!
With so many thoughts, feelings and situations demanding immediate attention, I tried dealing with them one at a time (I’d read that in a book), but couldn’t. I tried acceptance (I’d read that in a book too), but with it came crippling embarrassment, guilt and shame. Compensating with feelings of superiority only compounded my sense of worthlessness. I wanted to grow a beard, go into hiding, maybe even leave town, start over and rise from the ashes like a phoenix (I’d read that in a book too), but couldn’t. Reading that changing perception changed everything, I ran and jumped over mental hurdles, climbed and fell from emotional cliffs, yet the wreckage followed me around wherever I went like a ball and chain.
A chasm opened in the pit of my stomach and I dove in headfirst. I knew I’d been living on borrowed time and life would eventually catch up with me, but the worst part was I hadn’t really been living. With a one, two and a right hook I finally realized what my Kinghaven teammates had meant when they said addiction was like getting in the ring with Mike Tyson. It was a fight you knew you were gonna lose!
“You should’ve seen it comin’, Mike.” Bile burned its way up my throat. “No, no, please don’t let this happen. Anything but this,” I cried, facing the humiliating truth of not being able to foresee everything. School had only prepared me intellectually to get a job and make money, not how to deal with the harsh ramifications of failure. Intense hatred arose for a society that shirked its duty to its children. Thanks to the narrow-mindedness of educational institutions, we were left to learn the hard way.
Sick and tired of being bullied by the forces of life, I held on and prayed for change. The Universe showed me how each self-perception, crippling or otherwise, was nothing more than a recorded etching of who I believed myself to be. “Stop it! Just stop it! Stop it, stop it, stop it!” I screamed, terrified of losing control and unleashing the savage animal in me. So I did what was expected of me and put on a fake-it-till-you-make-it smile (I’d read about that too, somewhere).
I was smart; I could make it back; I’d done it before. But that was the problem: surviving wasn’t living. With nothing but a wall of misery separating me from death, I punched the air. Several people eyed me quizzically, but I recomposed myself and sank back into the shadows of obscurity. I’d had so many chances, but never heeded the signs with any level of sincerity. ‘Tomorrow, tomorrow … is only a day away.’ Fuck you Annie. Everything was only a day away if you paid attention. I did the math and saw how twenty years of accumulated tomorrows had led to my one today. I gave up. It was easier that way. If I’d have known I might’ve done things differently, but crying over spilled milk only made things worse.
Cold and clammy, a bitter metallic taste polluted my being. I searched outwards for witnesses to my shameful crimes. With no energy left to piss on my grave, I spat on it instead. Was a coward deserving of anything more? A huge heavy door slammed shut with such force my whole head reverberated. A billion brain cells blew apart in the exchange, but no one would’ve ever known for I’d mastered the art of keeping things locked up inside.
Something frightening and unknown was happening that was way out of my league. I thought of going to the doctor, but the thought of being pawned off on some psychiatrist or some other ‘ist’ didn’t sit well. Like Johnny Rotten sang in my favorite Sex Pistols song Problems: ‘They know a doctor who’s gonna take you away, take you away and throw away the key… the problem is you and whatcha gonna do with your problem, the problem is YOU.‘ Yes, the problem was me, all me, all mine. ‘My beautiful selfish‘.
© Michael J. Varma, The Gong Show, 2011 –
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