5. Story

It was around “that time” then that I’d first heard something about it. Though I was scarcely paying attention enough to know that I’d heard anything at all. Things hadn’t become glaringly obviously broken yet (I hadn’t even been fired from that job yet…so I still had that going for me, and I had plans). I wasn’t even open to hearing anything (or was I?). It was May or June, a little over 30 years ago. I don’t recall the first conversation but I recall the last. I was so put off, so outraged, so indignant. Don’t ever call me and talk to me about that again! The F word was used to little or no effect and so finally the phone was slammed down.

There. That will get the point across. I don’t want to hear about it.

What was I so indignant about exactly? That was not a question I had asked myself at the time. I was too busy enjoying my triumphant hangup. Now many years later, as if I’ve been sitting in front of a mirror for all that time reflecting, I see. So many layers of that onion peeled away, so many swipes back and forth to clear away what was concealed, I see. I couldn’t see then.

You don’t care about me. You don’t even love me. I’ll show you.

Odd, yet that was what my life was about. Odd, I say…there was definitely lots of care and love for me. Just another blind spot I guess.

Ted E. Bear
My oldest and most enduring friendship?

You don’t care about me. You don’t even love me. I’ll show you.

This was a sentence I imposed upon myself and a declaration to the world in response to my own sentencing when I was around 4 or 5 years old. Ted was there (As my wife suggested – Ted is my adult name for who was known at the time as Teddy). As friends often do, Ted did not provide a lot of feedback on what had just happened…he just sort of put up with me. He took the brunt of the abuse that day, from what I recall. I’m not sure how he would retell the story but from what I recall…

I had just been sent to my room. For what, I don’t remember. It’s irrelevant. I was 4 or 5. Whatever I’d done couldn’t have been too heinous. I was having a tantrummy, meltdowny kind of response to being scolded. For all I know, I wasn’t even being scolded. In watching my kids today and recalling my world as a 4 or 5 year old I may have just been tired, or hungry and was being “difficult”, hard to be with…a real crabass. Like I said, why I was in my room is irrelevant.

What is relevant is that behind that closed door in my bed sobbing and wailing and screeching, thrashing and throwing (Ted against the wall) and punching (poor Ted – what a friend) and screaming and between quivering lips…until finally I said it. “You don’t care about me. You don’t even love me.”

Who was it referring to? My mother immediately…the imposer of the banishment. But it took on more in my 4 or 5 year old dialogue with my Self. It was obvious to me (it) with all of that thrashing, and screaming and wailing…with nobody coming, nobody listening, nobody caring. It wasn’t just Mom. It was all of them. All of You.

Left with only myself to rely on and too soon a response was declared. “I’ll show you.”

I‘ll SHOW you.

There it was. Done. Something to build a life on. What exactly I was going to show you at the time, again, irrelevant. It was a declaration. It would be there to fall back on. It was hidden. Concealed. Operating in the background. It was using me. To a degree “I” was using it. The degree is important. It was a small degree and I didn’t get to choose when I would use it. So, well, I wasn’t really using it – it was using me.

Ted may have been mad at me for punching him and throwing him against the wall and yelling at him. He didn’t try to talk any sense into me. Didn’t tip me off at all on what had just happened. Friends do that sometimes…they stand by and let you self destruct. Wishing you knew how much they loved and cared about you. Wishing they could say the thing that would make a difference. Sometimes they’re in on it with you…

Either way – Teddy, I want you to know that I’m sorry I treated you so bad that day and for scratching your glass eyes on the wall. I appreciate you standing by all these years and letting me sort things out.

As for the caller I hung up on? I’ve already apologized and thanked them for standing for me…for caring enough to say something. Even if I wasn’t open to hear it…

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