The 40 year old teenager

 

 

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Ok. Quick disclosure before getting in to this piece. I came up with the title and concept before my birthday and am writing it after so I’m actually 41 now and I know you can never really trust me again.  I’ll just have to live with the shame of it all.

 

So what do I mean when I say 40 year teenager?  Video games and dick jokes?  Giggling when someone says something I can turn in to an innuendo? Nah.  I do that and it doesn’t have to do with my age, I’m just a jackass.

 

It’s not zits either. no it’s not. Stop looking at my selfie.

It’s more this:  I never was a teenager.  I never had those years.  Sure, numerically I had them.  I didn’t go from 12 to 20 on a single birthday.  But I never was a teenager at the right time.

I don’t write this to garner sympathy.  I’m well beyond that.  My friends know my issues, I’m open about my mental health, and I don’t believe in comparative suffering. But this is my story condensed in to less than novel length.

I endured bullying straight from Grade 1.  In the time of my childhood, there wasn’t much oversight on what kids did on the playground. Living in a small town, you don’t escape it when you move on to higher grades.  The same Fuckfaces that made your life miserable on the playground do so in the High school, except at this point they’ve graduated to beatings.* Long story short, I dropped out.  I was flunking everything anyways, as I refused to go to classes where I was picked on.  So, all of them.  I didn’t see the end of my grade 11 year.

yeah, I’m a high school drop out.  surprise! Or not, depending on what you’ve thought of my education level interacting with me.**

 

I started working full-time at a series of incredibly shitty jobs.  This is not a value judgment of the jobs themselves, but they made me miserable.  Retail. Office clerk.  Factory.  Door to door satellite TV salesman.  at 17.  Those huge ugly dishes.  Another reminder of my age.  The pay sucked, the hours sucked, the life sucked.  And then I got my girlfriend pregnant.  So now instead of making ends meet, I was working two jobs, 7 days a week, to feed a baby. Now don’t get me wrong.  I don’t regret my daughter.  She was one of the truly wonderful things in my life.

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she made a gif.

Working every day of the year drains the hell out of you.  It wears you down to the edge of insanity.  It ages you.  And for a while, I was just getting pounded.  Everyone has a story about how their ex is awful.  Let’s just say mine did not work even when our daughter reached school age.

And then she left me.  Thpppt.  Found a new guy to sponge off of.  All good for me, other than less time with my daughter.  Then I dragged myself through various office jobs that sapped the soul out of me.  Until I ended up where I work now.  I’ve been there for 13 years, and in that time have risen to the point where finances are not a key problem any more.  but 12 years of poverty took its toll.

As I approached 30, I met another woman and got married again.  It wasn’t a bad marriage, even though it ended after 10 years. It just wasn’t a fulfilling one.  A wonderful person with whom I shared little in common and that gap increased each year.  During that time, My daughter came to live with me.  Chronically depressed, and struggling, I then had to fight to save her life.  This drained me faster than anything else, other than failing.  No, I don’t blame myself for her taking her own life.  I don’t blame her.  There isn’t blame.  It just is another vampire sucking the life out of you.

I developed PTSD, depression, and anxiety disorders.  This further dragged me down.  I’m successfully fighting it at the moment, but still have real issues, and will for the rest of my life.

And now I am with a truly wonderful partner.  The first intimate relationship that gives back to me, really, instead of sapping me dry.  A true partnership of equals with empathy and compassion for each other.

 

So wait, you might ask, what does this have to do with being a 40-year-old teenager  (fine, 41)

I never was one.  And some of my mentality kind of fits that of a teenager.  I have a real struggle with confidence.  I often feel like “nobody gets me.”  I can be moody and pouty.  Although given the way the world is today, that may not mean teenager at all.

I’m fighting to regain some joy in my life.  Some spontaneity. reckless abandon on some things.  occasional shirking of responsibility just to fuck off and do what I want.  I adult, and adult well.  I just don’t really want to most of the time.  I’ve been working full time since I was 14 years old, with almost a decade being multiple jobs at once. 27 years so far. and I have 25 to 30 to go.  I’m tired.

It’s like a regressive midlife crises where your lost youth just needs to be indulged.  I cope with humour.  If you’ve read my twitter timeline, you can tell that I have this mistaken impression that I’m really funny.*** I sometimes write angsty tweets, or, reading this, angsty blog posts.

Truth is, I am not ready to grow up any more.  Not that I don’t want to progress in my life.  I just want to savour my dying  youth, and somehow,  maybe buy back a few of those teenage years that were stolen by circumstance and situation.  I can’t stop time.  I can’t reverse the clock or erase the laugh (ok, frown) lines.  I just want to try.****

*Plus side, I can now run my head in to things and feel a minimum of pain.

**I actually completed two college degrees and completed my GED after all of this.  I just don’t have a classic education.

***I am.  If you can’t see it, it’s you. not me.

****so expect more dick jokes.

 

With love to all my readers,

 

Smartassicus out.

 

 

 

The making and breaking of a bigot

im20not20racist20poster20300x300I’ve had a lot of difficulty writing of late.  I have a number of stories I want to share, but delve pretty deep in to who I am, what I am, and what happened in my life.  Some of it is extremely painful.  Disturbing and off-putting. Some of it would bore you to tears, and some of it would make you cringe.

Lest I come off as a self-martyr bemoaning his existence like an emo muppet, I’m sure we all have the same.  But one of the things that bothers me the most about myself is my history of ideology.  Most of it is not who, now, I would ever want to be.  I’m going to skip the old chestnut of “everyone changes over time” and ask that you do the same.  I am not looking to exculpate myself nor am I looking to claim that I have moved beyond it.  I just want to tell my story about this one aspect of my life.

I am a bigot.  was a bigot? Am on a bigot spectrum in decline?  I don’t know how to express it, in that I don’t think someone as myself can ever be completely free of prejudices.  Nor can I, as a cisgender mostly heterosexual man begin to claim to understand what other people go through.

Enough of the navel gazing to try to determine the RIGHT way to identify my bigotry level at present.  Let me delve in.

I grew up as a white boy in a white family in a white town.  I grew up Christian.  I grew up privileged. I went to sunday school and sang Jesus loves me and thought nothing more of it because Mom and Dad told me this is the way things are.  (this is not really going to be a deconversion story.)  I was a complete WASP.

And I never knew I was a bigot.  Now I was never taught to hate people with different skin, but it was just assumed that white people were the norm.  There weren’t any black people in our church, that’s for sure.  And there was one Black kid in my primary school (and probably 3 in my High School.)  Casual racism was just normal.  Nobody was running around throwing out the N-word, but we didn’t think much of other slurs, nor sayings that meant the same thing.  And we felt like very good people, of course.  Add on top of this that yes, my church was one of those homosexuals are terrible sinners churches.  It basically was a Noah’s Ark believing turn or burn church.

So I was taught that gay people were not right. And that’s just the way it was.  God said so, so it is.  I didn’t even know about Transgender people or gender fluidity of course.  The only thing as a teenager that we ever saw was “drag queens” and they were something to be sneered at as obscene.

Then came my assaults.  I will not discuss them at length here, as it’s perhaps a story for another time.  Suffice it to say that in my mid teens I was twice sexually assaulted by male friends.  This of course could not be told to anyone.  The shame of it alone would be unbearable, and I had obviously sinned, so I had to take some of the blame.  But it made me grow even more bitter and hateful.

By 17 I was working full-time, not going anywhere, and pretty disillusioned with everyone and everything.  Then I met my first wife.  Now when people say their ex is awful, it’s standard procedure to nod and know that being an ex makes the other person horrible.  But my first wife really was horrible.  This is not about her.  It’s about the child we had together.  That is the only thing of note or value that came of that marriage, and the rest I choose to ignore as an irrelevant grain of sand.

I Married at 19, as we ended up with a baby on the way.  We married not long after she was born.  And I went about my life.  Worked. Paid bills.  Watched sports.  Got divorced.  Paid more bills.  All along never thinking for a second that there was anything the matter with me.

But the truth is, I hated gay men.  Some may point to my assaults and say “well, yeah, sure.” but I don’t even know if they were gay or just curious or just being an asshole.  I had been steeped in hate for homosexuals from the beginning of my life.  I don’t want to say I was overtly racist, but I certainly didn’t think much about the social injustices to minorities nor the reasons why things were the way they were.  And yes, I shied away from groups of black men.  I bought in to the stereotyping.  Just never as a proud white supremacist.  Just regular whiteness.

 

It wasn’t until my 30’s that I began to change, really.  It coincided, not surprisingly, with the beginning of the faltering of my religious beliefs.  I had married again, this time to a Chinese Canadian (no, that didn’t clear me of racism.)  But I had begun to realize that there were things in the world that just weren’t right.  That people were still being treated badly because they were black, or brown, or any shade other than washed pig.

I began to realize, of my own accord, that I wasn’t right about my attitude.  That I was casually racist.  That I bought in to stereotypes.  Thus began a learning process that continues today.

But the homosexual angle was still a problem. I still didn’t like gay men.  They annoyed me.  Just keep it to yourself.  Go be disgusting somewhere else.  Why do you need a fucking parade.

Yeah. That was me.  Less than a decade ago.  I had become atheist in the meantime, but still clung to that hatred.  Then my daughter came out to me.  Now here is the thing about gay women when it comes to fundamentalist churches.  They don’t get mentioned.  They are like unicorns, don’t really exist.  All talk about gay was about gay MEN.  So although I wasn’t entirely sure what to make of it, I didn’t connect the dots.  And I accepted and loved my daughter for what she was.  I found out that someone so good and wonderful couldn’t have something terribly wrong with them, realized that I had held on to beliefs that were shoved in to my head, and it suddenly became crystal clear that there was absolutely nothing wrong with people being gay.

I wish I could say it was something more noble.  Something more tangible than “well, my daughter is gay, so that changes things.”  But it mostly wasn’t.  It was the catalyst for change.

I will say after that point I actively sought to learn and understand more.  I learned to let go of old assumptions.  Tear down my walls I had put up.  I kept doing that after I lost my daughter 5 years ago.  And now, When bigots interact with me on Twitter they see me as a left-wing loon.

I listened.  Read.  Learned. Still am.  And now I’d LIKE to say that I’m an advocate and an ally to both People of colour and LGBTQIA. I don’t say it though, because that’s for them to decide.

 

These stories are supposed to have a watershed moment, aren’t they?  a death-blow that leaves the old self bleeding out. But other than my daughter, it really was just a matter of raising my head out of the slop that I had been fed all my life and breathing clear air.

I don’t begin to pretend to understand everything.  I can’t.  I don’t have enough lifetime left to even come close.  All I know is that I continue to try.

I am ashamed of what I was, and have learned enough not to be proud of what I am now. Just like the way people are supposed to be, not being an asshole to them.  I know that I can never atone for any harm I did in my life for what I believed.  I can’t even say that I know when I did.

All I know is that I am proud to know people across all spectrums of gender, sexuality, skin colour, and not one seems wrong any more.  I managed to pull the demon out of my head.

Forgive whatever traces he left behind.

With love,

 

Smartassicus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The forgetting

Yesterday was a day of remembering for me.  A day of thinking about what is gone from my life, and how it has impacted and shaped me over these last 5 years.

To me, my daughter will always be an ever-present memory in my mind.  Unchanging and indelible.

 

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A crisp white rose without blemish or fault. Lest you think I romanticized what my daughter was, I speak only of my memory, untarnished by the time that has passed.

 

 

I received a great deal of support from my dear friends at twitter.  My partner was by my side.  My parents called.  My daughter was their first grandchild and in some ways my mother is more desperately hurt than I am, she has to balance the death of her granddaughter with her supposed loving god, where I do not.

 

But oh, the ache, the disappointment, and even the anger at those who should remember but don’t.  Family members that once made calls or sent messages on that, the day of days for me, remembering her.  Just including her in their thoughts as they go about their lives.

Family members that no longer do so.

 

Rose flower 5 weeks after the stem was cut and put into water.

 

They haven’t forgotten her, they’ve forgotten me.  About what this does to me.  Now, I haven’t had the closest of relationships with my family outside of my parents.  I’m the cliché black sheep.  The only (identified) atheist in the family.  My extended family wasted little time in simply not being in contact with me.  Forgotten invitations,  Sudden stop to Christmas cards from an Aunt who was like clockwork.  None of that concerns me that much, because if they cannot accept what I am, it’s their issue, not mine.

All it takes though, is deviation from their world and you are on the outside though.  And all the things that go with it.  That includes forgetting the death of their Niece/cousin whatever connection they have.  Not through spite, but just ignorance.

But that isn’t what burns the most.  My family is what it is.  Relatively decent people (oh, who am I kidding, on side of my family is a bunch of awful bigots) for the most part.

 

what makes my eyes burn and my jaw set is the friends who know, the ones who were by side for years, and I by theirs, through thick and thin, who since a falling out have “forgotten” entirely.

 

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The thing is, they don’t forget.  They know. They sent me messages and tributes to my daughter every year.  I stood with them at their weddings,  Was there for them through thick and thin.  But a falling out with them has allowed them to toss aside any need to remember, actively or passively. They have let it wither and die.   There was some overtures of trying to resurrect our friendship from the ashes of the conflict, but it was soon forgotten, and never more keenly noticed than when this day went by, and I heard nothing from any of them.

 

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t expect everyone to know, nor do I expect flowers or gifts or anything.  But even when you are not in a good place with someone you care about, if you don’t reach out on their darkest days, there is something wrong with you, and the relationship is well and truly dead.

 

We all die, and eventually we become memories.  Given enough time, most of us won’t be remembered at all, and that is OK.

 

But to forget her so quickly, to walk away from the commemoration, or at least acknowledgement, is an abandonment.  when my parents die, I will be the only one left to remember her.  And then when I go, there will be nobody.

 

I simply did not expect her to be forgotten this quickly.