punkwalrus (punkwalrus) wrote,

Here's some advice, kid...

Sometimes, when I think about how bad things were as a kid, if any advice I have now would have made a damn bit of difference. Like, if someone else had told me, "School is a game; beat them by their own rules." I was told that in my senior year of high school (by my AP English teacher), and it seemed like the biggest revelation in my life up to that point. I recall, after thinking about that statement, how clear it all seemed. I remember wishing someone had told me that back in grammar school. But would I have listened?

People did try and give me advice. But a lot of adults missed the point entirely. Some of the worst advice adults gave me were among the following:

- These are the best years of your life
- The real world is a cruel and horrible place
- Things at home are not as bad as you make them out to be
- Your father loves you

The first one was by far the most damaging. It was the type of advice that pretty much said, "You think it's bad now? It gets worse." The second piece followed the first in most cases, but even back then, I was smart enough to realize that the adults who gave that to me were pretty messed up to start with. Like my dad had a variation on this that "Everyone is out to get you," and I think he meant the plural you, like everyone is on their own, and should treat others like enemies. Sometimes, when I am depressed and feel really bad like the world is crushing around me, it helps put things in perspective that someone like my dad went crazy because he couldn't tell the difference. I can't imagine living a life where I thought this was true. I'd be terrified beyond my current comprehension. The third one I got from adults who couldn't fathom how bad things were. Even today, people who have never met my dad find this hard to accept. "Oh, he loves you in some deep, hidden way." No. He doesn't. This is what was my last hurdle into letting him go.

But that last hurdle would have never worked when I was a kid. I desperately wanted him to love me. No matter what anyone could have said, even if I found a time machine and went back and told a younger me, I probably wouldn't listen. I may have agreed. I knew, by about 8 or 9, that he didn't love me, but I didn't believe it. I didn't want to. I couldn't accept it, and so the anger, hurt, and resentment at his treating me meant that, deep down, I thought I could change it.

But sometime this year, after he didn't bother to show up to his own mother' funeral or even acknowledge the presence of his family, some part of me finally accepted that he could not love me, and never would. I don't even want to call it a "cold hard fact" because that implies that it is somehow against what "should be." It simply is. It is not my fault, I cave him many chances, but he did not love me. And I think, for the first time ever, I made peace with this. I knew there was nothing I could have done, and buddy, I tried everything. I gave 120% and it still didn't work. He's gone. It's over. I have to give him up to the drifting winds of his own fate.

This is the final path to forgiving him. I have crossed over the hump, and the downhill journey to the end will sever the last remaining strands. All the cruelty he has done to me, the senseless random abuse compiled with neglect, the comments, snide remarks, lies, violence...all have started to become abstract and impersonal. Sure he may have pushed me down a flight of stairs, but he was crazy. Yes, he took all my mother's heirlooms and threw them out, had her cremated, and tossed the ashes, and erased her. He isn't human the way we know human to be, and for reasons that are no one's fault but his own, he became a sociopath. He is an autonomous force, like a tornado. You can't spent all of your life wishing a tornado spared your mobile home, and maybe if you had known ahead of time, you could have moved your home. It's over. The tornado didn't know you, it wasn't out to get you; it just happened. Take what lessons you can from the wreckage and move forward.

Many times, I have fantasized about going back in time, knowing what I know now. Sometimes it would be fun to think how different Junior High might have been if I stopped being such a wimp and really whaled on a bully. I wonder if I could have faked "discovering advanced math" in 1st grade, like, "I realized that if you take a square, and it has perfect L-shapes for corners, that the length of the diagonal line from opposing corners is equal to the square root of the sum of the squares of adjacent sides. I tried doing that with a circle, but I am doing something wrong because the number I keep coming up with won't end, like 3.1415926535... and it won't repeat. I never had a decimal do that before, can you check my math? I can't find the error..." I bet I'd blow away that smartass in GT. Oh, wait, that was me. Never mind.

But when I seriously think about it, I mean really analyze what reality would be like, it always ends in disaster. My life, despite momentary disasters like this year, is pretty good. Many of the good things that happened to me can be traced back to a single decision or stroke of luck that would not have occurred if a single tiny thing changed.

So this is why giving advice is hard. I mean, you may be right, but will it matter? To a kid? What do you think, if you gave advice to your younger self, would you have listened? And while we're at it, if you could go back in time, what would you do to "right some wrong" or make yourself obnoxiously powerful with knowledge from the future?

This entry was originally posted at http://www.punkwalrus.com/blog/archives/00000682.html
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