The life of the Lost
As he lay in the final moments of his life he reflected on a life of moral discretions and emotional hardships he could only focus on one thought, what if this was his fault? What if every bad thing that happens in life is a result of not luck but, his choices? Are the good choices he had made in life enough to redeem the bad, is there redemption for the wicked? Could it be possible that his life could have turned a completely different direction if he had lead an honest life, a respectful life?
His name is jack, when one thinks about a dishonest and regrettable life it tends to be synonymous with illegal and heinous acts but in this instance this is not true. Jack’s life was not filled with anything as such but filled with regrets of lying and deceit.
It started at a young age, his teenage years were plagued by lies, deceptions and mistrust. His first relationship with a woman was reminiscent of a fairy tale in the beginning as most young love stories are but slowly he began to devolve into his true self and become the stubborn, callused manipulator that he is. It began with a simple white lie, “I’m busy” he would say as she beckoned him to visit and spend time with her. “I’m having family time” he quoted over and over again as he drank and did drugs with his friends instead of spending his time with her. As this behavior began to become more habitual and commonplace in their relationship he began to get more comfortable and continually pushed the limits of his lies all while she verbalized nothing that would lead him to believe that she was any the wiser. One day, after years of deceit he gets a call, she says it’s over and he is devastated. Not because she found out but more so because he could no longer play the games that he so enjoyed. He had no desire to change the way he lived his life, he was enjoying it far too much for that. He went a year mourning the loss of a love that he thought he had but knew, deep in his heart, never existed. As this realization occurred he was oddly not phased nor did he find anything inside himself that would suggest that he truly cared about this love affair at all besides the appearance it had in his life that covered how truly disturbed he was deep inside his own mind.
Many years go by and he finds another, this one is different, it is real. It goes on for a couple years and, as many do in their mid-twenties, they get married. After a year of planning, the day is here and much to the dismay of her family, they are wed. From this point the dark side of himself that Jack had not seen in so long rears its ugly head and though he sees it, he does nothing to confront this monster that is within him. Instead he lets it loose to destroy whatever hope he ever had of being happy. The lies begin again, this time it’s working late or helping a friend with a house project but it’s always just a ruse to spend time with others over her. Jack knows that this is wrong, that this is not how life should be, not how a normal functional marriage should be but yet he seems oblivious because, to him, dysfunction is normal. He thrives on chaos and confusion, he thrives on the control it brings him. Controlling another person’s happiness is what he lives for because, after all, isn’t happiness the most important emotion in life? He doesn’t mean to be this controlling monster but he couldn’t change it even if he wanted to.
As months go by, she becomes miserable, slowly getting more distant. It starts with arguments and turns into fights. As Jack struggles with the battle inside him between the true nature of his mind and who he truly desires to be he wonders if he was meant to be here, in this place. Was he designed for a life in partnership with another or was he mean to live in solitude, with people at arms-length, just close enough to know him but far enough away so that they couldn’t see who he truly was. This thought that has crossed his mind so many times that it even frightens him. What if the latter were true and he had made a grave mistake and was now destined to live a life that wasn’t designed for him, a life for somebody else. He is fearful of this not because he is afraid of being miserable but because he is afraid that she will spend her life in misery. It now seems odd to him that he would care about such a thing but he also contemplates if this fear is for her or for himself and his self-image; a divorce would reflect badly upon him and cause discourse in the family. He reflects and slowly also begins to draw further away from real life and slips, ever so slowly, into the fantasy world that he imagines himself in, a world where he is not only contempt but also happy to be in.
This problem is not only in relationships for Jack but is a constant in every aspect of his life, he works a job that he doesn’t mind, that he is willing to do but is far from what he had imagined as a child. As he does in so many other aspects of life, he settles for it and believes that it is the best he will get. It hasn’t always been like this; once he had dreams and goals but lately he has let them fade and put them so deep within his own mind that he scarcely knows that they still exists; until one rainy august afternoon, sitting alone listening to the sound of rain hitting the pavement and a garbage truck roll by his home. He reflects on his relationship with God, the God he had been so close with just a year ago has now faded into a shell of what it once was. This turn had no specific prompting but as he reflects he cannot even recall the last time he prayed or made any significant effort to connect at all. He’s not sure where to go from the point that he is currently stuck at in what seems to be every aspect of his life.
Deep inside him, in a place deep within his mind that nobody has ever seen, he yearns for misery; he yearns to be depressed, to be heartbroken with no end in sight. This side of himself shall never see the light of day because, of all of his flaws, Jack finds this one both the most miserable and also his favorite defect. He causes strife in his own life, his personal relationships and every other scope of everyday life just to experience some kind of misery that he can keep all to himself so that he can live inside of his own hell because some small part of him believes he deserves to be in constant pain.
He lives his life confidently, to the average person he seems almost cocky while on the inside, he is like a burning house, destructive from the inside. Every moment of the day he knows about the figurative battle going on between his own well being and his own psychological nature.
Jack sits this evening contemplating only one thing. Should he reach for his wife or the bottle? He has cut down on the drinking that one time nearly controlled him but tonight he isn’t sure he wants to feel anything at all. Whiskey has always been his favorite, his one weakness and in this moment, he gives into his weakness and reaches for the whiskey for no reason besides his own selfish wants. He thinks poorly of himself but soon these thoughts of guilt and self-disdain will have been washed away by the taste of Irish whiskey. flowing over his tongue.
Weeks later the time finally comes, the time he always knew would come, the day that she left. After just one year, the love of his life, the woman he planned eternity with; his wife, has walked out of his life. He realizes that this misery is more than he can bear; more than his shoulders, that have always been so strong, can hold up and he leaves. They talk all night and in the end he remembers one thing he had said, one line that resonates with him in every hour of the day. In their last moments together, through flowing tears he admits to not only her but, for the first time, to himself that he could love her with everything he has but he can never be the man she needs. His selfish side wants her to come back, wants to beg her to stay, but the realist that has always been Jack knows that his words are true and that he can never be the man she deserves and he finds just a small bit of solace in the fact that, for once, he has put her first.
In all of this he finds the memories of who they were, who she is, too much to take. He drives from their modest two story home in Maine until he sees to ocean in California. He hasn’t slept in days because, though he is haunted in every moment of every day, for the first time in years he dreams but these dreams only result in waking in the realization that the happy life with her that he dreams about can only be possible while he is asleep and of all the things that go through his head, this is by far the most painful.
On his drive he begins to reminisce on their life together; he recalls their first date, if one could even call it a date. She had to sneak out of her parent’s house just to see him for the first time and they drove all night, to every small town he knew until they made it to a town just a few miles from where they were raised and it was there that they shared their first kiss, the moment that he fell in love with her and knew with the most certainty that he has ever had about anything that she was the one who he wanted to spend the rest of his life with. After this first date many dates similar to this would follow, the most magical and romantic drives, filled with the most interesting conversations about nothing that he could imagine occurred late at night in an ’88 Chevrolet that barely ran and had more rust than solid metal. He begins to think of the times they shared with family and friends, being closer to her siblings than he had ever been with his own. He remembers the cold winter night at the bus stop that he had proposed to her at and somehow, in his mind, he thinks that maybe, if he had just done something more that night things would have turned out different. The logical side of him knows that this isn’t true but his emotions are grasping for anything they can just to justify why he is going through this pain. He feels like a man falling from a cliff to his death frantically reaching for any branch or vine he can find to hold onto but alas, unlike the cartoons he watched as a child, he cannot find that branch and slowly devolves into knowing that this truly is over and there is nothing left to hold onto. The thought of this is enough to drive him into a tailspin, a tailspin that he cannot come back from and if by chance he does he knows that he can never be the same person again.
This kind of heartbreak does something to a man, it scars him and transforms him either for the better or worse and tonight he feels as though it will inevitably turn him for the worse just as every traumatizing experience has thus far. He circles his own mind in hopes of forgetting her, in search of a way to turn off his emotions or at least find a way to hate her because, after all, the easiest way to forget somebody is to grow such a disdain that it makes you angry to even hear their name uttered in a conversation. The only problem he sees is this, how do you learn to hate somebody that you have loved for so many years, that you have been so dependent on even when you didn’t know you were dependent, a person that was your whole world for so long that you forget what your world is about and let them down.
Jack reasons with himself, trying to find some way to blame this on her, trying desperately to find a way to make himself into the good person who got fucked but in this moment his traditionally brutal and objective honesty catches up with him and the finger that points the blame is staring him in the face, looking deep into his soul and revealing the sins that he has never faced. In this moment his only comfort comes from the bottle beside him that, even if just for a moment, helps him forget the pain and misery that lives deep within his heart and mind; his true nature that he can never escape.
His problem isn’t that he can’t get over her, he surely could forget her name, her face, and move on with his life but what stands in his way is his resilience, the burning need to keep fighting. He has never given up on anything completely and he won’t allow himself to give up on this; even if she has given up on him. It tortures him to know that she has given up on him but yet, though most would hate, he loves even more than ever. He wishes that someday he could love her again if, by some miracle, she would call and tell him to come back to her but in the back of his mind he knows that he cannot ever love her the way she needs to be loved. Yet, the selfish side of him, which has always prevailed wants her to say just those words so that he can come back, just to complicate things again because Jack knows, no matter how he tries, he will do just that no matter how much time passes.