Despite all efforts to conceal my activities, it was in the unexpected that true merit was revealed. Unexpectedly running into some friends while pushing a shopping cart full of goodies, they did their best to console me: ‘everything was going to be all right; I just needed to get a place to live; I could get a job, I could start all over again…’.
Was that the best they could come up with – the bleeding obvious? As their rants faded into the background, I surprisingly found myself the star of the show, but why were they getting so worked up over me? It was my problem, not theirs. More confusingly, I liked all the attention! With desperation reaching near hysteria, I laughed for not seeing it sooner: attention was attention whether good or bad.
My sudden awareness was interrupted by a chorus of ‘please Mike you gotta, you gotta do this, you gotta do that, you just gotta…’ that hypnotized the senses until my head swam. Under their incantations they believed they were right, that they knew best, that everybody knew better about my life than I did. I should’ve listened to them, to everyone – but I didn’t. Instead I pulled back and the energy between us visibly and audibly snapped. At once I felt freer and lighter as if I’d magically lost some unknown burdensome weight. Vision immediately brightened. Not knowing what I’d done to deserve such a gift from the Universe, I just accepted it – for once.
Why, why did I gotta? Why did I gotta do anything anyone else said? In the search for answers, I became aware of something quite remarkable, namely, I wasn’t feeling guilty or ashamed of myself like before. Puzzled, I unplugged from the tone and emotionality of their words and zoned in on their actual content. Everything around me brightened again as if in a cosmic power surge. I turned to others for help, but the looks on their faces made it clear they were unaware. Then a most stunning revelation: they weren’t really talking to me at all!
I nearly jumped out of my skin. As everything brightened again, my eyes widened beyond the physical constraints of their sockets trying desperately to take in all that I was seeing. Words I normally would’ve responded to now passed through me with little or no effect. Either I was transparent or they hadn’t really been meant for me. They were aimed at me, but why would they think I’d have answers to their questions? If I did I wouldn’t be there in the first place and there wasn’t anyone else around. It didn’t make sense. When our eyes finally met again I saw I was right. Everything being said was about them and them alone – not me. Apart from the subject matter, it hurt to be of incidental concern in their drama of ‘Mike, It Hurts Us To See You Like That, So Do Something About It’. It was their concerns, worries, fears, aches, pains, trials and tribulations and kitchen sink they were throwing at me in some desperate expectation I had the ability to fix. Were they for real? Well I couldn’t, it wasn’t that easy. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to. I just had more than enough on my own plate without them adding to it.
I wanted to scream an unearthly scream – even if it meant causing a scene – that was how violatingly offensive it felt. Their feelings and needs screamed like a hungry baby for its mother’s nipple, but no milk flowed from my dry tit. Blinded by their inability to deal with their own pain they couldn’t see me, let alone begin to understand how I must’ve actually felt. And I’d thought they were there to help me! Emotions roared, fanning flames of anger. They dared steal my energy for their own self-centered concerns when I needed it most for me. I shook my head in disbelief they’d do such a thing. I thought I could trust them. I thought they were my friends. Infinitely saddened, but not stupid, I calmed down enough to see I couldn’t really blame them for something I’d done too. In fact it went further than that. It was something we’d been doing to one other all of our lives.
Sorrow flowed, but now it had a different texture as though it wasn’t mine. Sure I was sorry, but I didn’t really know what I was doing other than being a major disappointment. Then it hit me. It wasn’t my sorrow at all, none of it – it was all theirs. Their sorrow at me for not playing the game by their rules, for seemingly giving up and not living up to their expectations! “Just play the game Mike, it’s easy,” a good friend had once said. But I wasn’t born a cow and didn’t subscribe to the herd mentality. Nor did I have rich parents, but I’d show them how to play games. Oh yes, I wasn’t about to give up. I’d put my life back together right under their very noses – just to spite them – and that time I’d get it right, very right!
Reveling in the emotional ecstasy of my new found raison d’être, I laughed out loud. They shrank back in fear. Everything was so clear now. How I’d shackled myself to the concerns of others at the expense of my own. How I’d sucked their energy, just as they had mine. But if we weren’t really there for each other the way we believed ourselves to be, what were we really doing? What was the point of it all? A dark coldness engulfed the senses. I grimaced a smile. Turning to them for comfort, they seemed even more afraid than me. I hoped they hadn’t seen the fear and felt the dark coldness as well. I didn’t want to be responsible for being the bearer of even more bad news.
Fear became anger became blunt remarks and raised voices aimed at me, but I was no longer the person they had once known. A fire burned within with a renewed sense of passion. I stood before them a human being, an equal and not the weakling that by all expectations I should’ve been. I felt good, strong and powerful, not in my usual arrogant way, but because I did. I knew they thought I’d rejected them, but I hadn’t. No, it was all becoming clearer now. I simply hadn’t reacted to their concerns in my usual sympathetic manner. I’d seen their concerns and sympathy for what they actually were: vampiristic. They, we, were human vampires sucking energy from each other in order to avoid the pain and suffering we didn’t know how to deal with ourselves. Before even attending to my needs, they needed me to answer their questions to satiate their own hunger. It was all so self-servingly draining, but I couldn’t tell them that. They’d never understand. They were too hurt and, besides, they’d only been trying to help.
Energy radiated like solar flares, encircling and pervading our bodies. I surrendered; I had no choice. Wisps of emotive energy made me audition for roles in universal plays of existence. Wrestling free from their grip others such as pity, joy and even love itself came and went with its own unique performance. Only I seemed to be aware of my role in it all. I felt like a director, a puppet master, tossing bananas to the monkeys and watching them dance in predictably amusing fashion.
A dark shadow eclipsed my vision and I recoiled as though life itself had been withdrawn. What was I doing? They were my friends. I didn’t want them to be puppets, mine or anyone else’s. It just didn’t feel right. It wasn’t right. A sudden, uncontrollable flash of feeling revealed the depth of my love for them for who they simply were. I mentally cut the strings of attachment and willingly relinquished my role as puppet master, but they still looked hurt. Through my guilty sadness I searched for something – anything – to remedy their hurt. Then I had an idea. What if I could make their rejection go away by finding a counterbalancing feeling? What if I could use that power for good?
Excited, I instinctively reached deep inside myself to find anything that could ease the mounting tension. Funny, how the tables had turned, but I didn’t have time to wallow in regret. Then it became crystal clear: I could tell them the truth! At first the idea was so simple that I nearly dismissed it outright. It was, after all, so beneath a complicated person like me, but I had nothing better to offer. So I looked them straight in the eyes, soul to soul, to acknowledge they’d been seen and heard. Their eyes lit up at the recognition, but I could feel more was needed. Not really knowing what I was doing, I reached even deeper within myself until I became the vehicle for the expression of my soul:
“Thank you for your concern, but it really is my life and I need to fix whatever’s wrong with me if I’m never gonna be like this in front of you again. I don’t want your sympathy; I don’t deserve it. Yes, I need your help, but you can only help me with the knowledge you have. I’m somewhere else right now. I don’t know where. It’s a place where, well, things are different and I need a different kind of knowledge to put myself back together again. Knowledge you simply don’t have – yet. Save your help for when I can really use it and put it to better use for myself. Right now I would only misuse it like I’ve always done before unconsciously and under the influence of course. Yes, I’m concerned about what I’m doing, but have faith in me – and I may not know – no I don’t know what I’m doing, but I have to learn. It’s the only way. Yes, I need a place to live and yes I want a place to live, but I need to rebuild myself from the inside out first. You know rebuild my foundations. Then I can think about building the outside stuff. I can’t be burdened with decisions, responsibilities, bills, duties, you know, the shoulds and shouldn’t haves of what other people think life should be like, not right now. I need to know for myself what went wrong and what I can do about it so it can never happen again. I really do. If you want to do something for me then pray, yes, pray for me. That’ll help. I’m not gonna lose it all again, I can’t afford to. I’m worth more than that and you’re certainly worth more than that to me. Thank you.” I bowed my head in respect. They remained silent; eyes wide open; stunned into silence.
A brilliant white light shone within; white rays dazzled the senses. Warm, familiar memories of being intimately connected to something loving, almost divine breezed the senses. I felt safe, clean and unspoiled, as though years, if not lifetimes, of abuse hadn’t left a stain, nor ever could. Indescribable feelings of bliss, contentment, happiness and an overwhelming sense of joy in being ‘home’ blossomed naturally like petals of a flower – but they were far too ‘alive’ to be defined by mere symbolism. I wanted to tell them, to shout at the top of my lungs, but I didn’t know where to begin to express something so lovely. Outside, my world lay in ruins, but on the inside I felt … well … as if in Heaven. In that moment, I made a promise to myself that when I knew what was going on and I had the proper words I would tell them. Oh yes, I would. It was that beautiful.
© Michael J. Varma, The Gong Show, 2011 –
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