Why Do We Torture Ourselves So Much?

Guster - Happier

When my father died at 15, I think it set into motion a set of feelings and behaviors that didn't serve me well. I didn't feel like a part of my friends anymore. I didn't feel like a part of life, at times. It might have been hard to tell, even for me.  Most of the time I feel happy. I strive to be happy, always, but fall short sometimes. And when I fall short, I seem to unravel. I lash out unfairly. Then afterwards, feeling terrible, I withdraw into an unfeeling machine.  Maybe more so in my twenties than thirties and more in my thirties than forties but at 46, I'm still growing up it seems. I used to blame my dad or my parents but as the last decade has progressed I've figured out that I've been my own demon. That the protections I had in place were no good for me. I was only 15. I had to function in an environment that was crumbling around me. My dad was gone and my mother was left lost and heartbroken. I developed a pattern of escape. Sometimes a literal one where I would climb up into the hills of the bluffs that surrounded my house to seek out some quiet. Sometimes I just found that empty place as I sat in my room. Eventually, that hard shell melted and hopefully no one had even noticed and I'd go back to being happier. I felt like I was just doing what I had to. But that was a cop out.

Sometimes, I'd insanely think my method of isolation would've worked if just left alone. It took a long time to see that I had not been as alone as I felt I was. I had a girlfriend back then who just wouldn't let me do that. She comforted me when I felt lost. I felt like an alien at a gathering with my friends. They didn't really know how to deal with a kid who had just lost his father. They had differing opinions on what that meant. I suppose, it depended upon their relationships with their fathers. I didn't get to know mine as well as I'd have liked. I guess we both figured there would be time for that but his time was cut short. Luckily, my girlfriend was there and when I was with her I didn't feel so lonely. But it wouldn't take much to get back there. And then beat myself up for doing it. Unappreciative. I felt tricked by myself. Like in my heart there was a dark black hole trying to pull all of me in. Sometimes it pulls almost all of me in and everytime my girlfriend would pull me out. But there is a place that I can fall into, maybe a lot of people do it? A place where you just feel so lonely. So lonely. You feel all alone. Not understood. You might not feel that way for months and then all of a sudden, you creep closer to the pity well and it just drags you in. Your struggle doesnt matter and you just give in. You resign to it. You yield to it. You despise it and you despise yourself. Hopefully, no one gets in the way because you will just push them away. They wont understand, how could they? They reach out a hand and you reject them. Not because you hate them, and hate is what is in the air at those times... you hate yourself. So lonely.

Jimmy Eat World - The Middle

What I started to do was write. Secretly. For myself. Poems mainly at first. Poems about wanting to be creative and poetic and poems about feeling empty inside. The first two poems I ever wrote were Poetry Man followed by Emotionless Man, found in my 1980 hub. They weren't so bad for first efforts. I felt confident enough to show them to my girlfriend, who was my closest friend. My angel. She knew me before my dad died suddenly in front of my eyes and it didn't daunt her. She stayed with me and talked with me. She read the poems I wrote. She thought they were beautiful as well as sad. It felt good to get them out. I started paying more attention to lyrics. I'd already had a knack for remembering lyrics and I continued to develop that. I didn't have enough confidence to show what I wrote to very many people. And besides my girlfriend, or mother or a few teachers... I just got a few odd looks. So it made me question if I had any talent at all. Or if I was just getting my pains and frustrations out. I guess, I figured it didn't matter. But it did. It took more hits on my confidence and made a part of me withdraw even farther. It was too risky to try and be a writer or be creative. At the time, I felt a bit pushed towards math and science as they came easy and were more quantifiable. My aptitude tests showed I had strength in writing but the bars went right over to the right edge of the sheet for math and science. As I entered college, with my girlfriend still at my side, I felt the pull to do something more sound like a degree in computers. I pushed the writing aside. I continued to write and then throw that sheet of paper in a box. A box that still exists somewhere in the corner of my closet. It seemed more reasonable and safe to exist in a world of correct or incorrect and not be in the grey area artists live in. I guess I've felt pushed in that direction, a nice 8-5 job in the World Of Info Technology but as I look back now I realize it was just my own insecurity to put myself out there. I think I had more support than I thought I had back then. I had, I have... these walls - which I put up. If I put them up, surely I can tear them down.

John Mayer - Something's Missing

Lately, I've been feeling better about my writing. As I progressed through college and into my career, my writing was what seemed to stand out. Sure I was writing those TPS reports or project plans but the feedback was usually complimentary. On the side, I was posting on various forums and seemed to be getting compliments there as well. I was out fishing for them. My girlfriend was now my wife and still my biggest fan. She was supportive of my writing plans for the future or doing something with it... someday. When I was let go from my job in February 2009, and I faced what I thought would be weeks or months (but instead turned into over a year) of seeing my mother finish her life's journey - I thought I'd write a book about her. It wouldn't need to be published. It would just capture her so I could remember. It would let me actually write something complete. I'd started to write a few novels but just never got past the first chapters. I wanted to capture my mom and to have something concrete for me, as a writer. By this time, my mother's advice was to stop following the tech world and go for the dreamworld that had been writing for a living. That I could do it. My wife and my mother are much alike and with that support I hammered away at my book which is finished, rough draft - and maybe as far as it goes but finishing that book gave me some confidence to actually speak the words, "I am a writer." And as I pursued that dream, I found many people seemed to feel I was as well. I had a guy ask me to look at his writing, which was a major compliment to me. I had a woman who said my story made her feel closer to her daughter. I had a writer I greatly admired say he admired my work. My "work".

But, something seemed to be missing. My mother was dead. But that isn't what it is. I still felt alone. It was maddening. It was stupid. It was ridiculous. It was still there.

The Police - King Of Pain

So things seemed to be going well for me, as a "writer". The writing was coming along. My feedback was good. I actually picked up a gig with someone other than my self produced blogs where I had to fill out a W9. My wife was proud of me and calls herself my biggest fan, feeling she'd seen all along what other people seemed to be seeing now. But that black spot must still be there. There's a flagpole rag and the wind wont stop. And somehow, a few days ago, over something stupid I lashed out at my wife, my biggest fan. With words and ridicule and nonsense and then realizing what an ass I had been, I reverted to the shutdown game. It's the same ole thing as yesterday. It's just me holding me down. Holding us down. It's like a baby tantrum with a man doing it.  I'm doing it. It's as if I'm testing her.  It is just inexcusable.  I feel like I'm a victim but who is the culprit?  Me. How much farther do I need look? It's me feeling not a part of the groups I'm a part of. I'm sure that my friends would be surprised and maybe feel a little annoyed that I feel that way. I'm stuck in 1978 in some ways. All of this pain, is me. It's me. Don't I get that? I'm just done with it. I will not be the king of pain. Not anymore. I renounce the thrown. I never wanted to be the king of pain, yet I did. I held it in my dark place like a badge of honour. Of remembrance to and in memory of my loss and struggles. My dad's death has haunted me for over 30 years and my mother's death squashed that pain like it was an ant. I can't do another 30 years of even harder time. I can't do that to the people around me anymore. No one in my life dead or alive would want that. Maybe if it is self inflicted it is self restricted? If I can't eliminate it maybe I can put a fence around it and lock it up and throw away the key? But that's no good. It needs to just be jettisoned. Get the hell out of my heart. I can do that. I know I can. I'm just casting it aside. Simple as that. Because it is too important to not cast aside. I'm too caring and have too much left to live for to keep doing that. I have been happy most of my life but that cloud is always about, Where I question things that need not be questioned. It's time to just be me and trust my instincts and listen to my wife more as well. I'm just over wallowing, at least down to the point where all of a sudden life seems harder than I can bare. Because it just isn't. It is a game your mind plays on you. I'm moving on. It is just as simple as that. I'm not going to do it anymore. My family deserves that. I deserve that.

Nora Jones - Chasing Pirates

So sure, sure... the doubts will come back. I'm not going to entertain them. Pirates of the mind come for my demons and heartaches, to release them. I've had too much of that. I'll be looking for the pirates. When I see their ships coming over the horizon, I'll ward them off. They will not board my ship and unlock my demons. My demons have had too much reign over me. If I am the King Of Pain then I banish them all elsewhere. They don't even get to exist in the deep recesses of my heart anymore. Even if I hid them well from most, I knew they were there. They don't get to be a part of who I am any longer. When the pirates come I'll tell them it is just too late. The demons are gone. If they would like they can join me and enjoy another beautiful day. It doesn't matter if it is cold and crappy out. Enjoyment of life never had anything to do with the weather or what was lacking, it was about how I see it. I think I knew that once but forgot somehow. I won't make that mistake again. It is the only way to make right a great wrong I did to my biggest fan a few days ago. Maybe, it is true that the demon only made up a small part of me before. But even the small piece is too big. We've parted company. For good.

U2 - Beautiful Day

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Comments 3 comments

Winsome profile image

Winsome 6 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas

Well J, formerly known as the King of Pain, you have written a very, very fine love story. Your biggest fan should be blushing as she reads it. I don't know how many will recognize it for what it is, but I do and I guarantee she does too. I think you are out of the dog house...but it might help to do a few more dishes so long as you avoid the damn physics of it all. :)

Rasta 6 years ago

Wish I could write like that...

Ben Zoltak profile image

Ben Zoltak 5 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

Cool hub and great foray into the world of your demons and the wrestling that ensues....


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