I’m ten years old. The words cut to the core and break me down…again. What have I done this time? There isn’t a need to play dirty. I’m ashamed once again at your hand. Your words mean more to me than just about anyone. You know this…and take full advantage. I don’t understand what has occurred. I don’t have the perspective. Sadly, you don’t either and your own pain and self-loathing manifests through your words and actions as a mean to deflect your need to self-examine. As I grow, so does your self-loathing and spiral along with the insults.
“You’re fat….that’s disgusting I don’t want to see that…no woman will ever love you if you are fat…you’re worthless…you’re a fucking failure…you’ve failed as a son…you’re no son of mine…pack your shit and get the hell out of here…”
It’s Halloween Night. It is about 7:00 PM. I’m in the gym – alone, just the way I love it – and I’ve just finished a set of air squats. I’ve finally mastered the technique. All of those back exercises – dead lifts, Romanian dead lifts, and good mornings – really worked wonders. A technique that was so challenging now seems much simpler with a stronger lower back. Trapezius muscles are also on tap tonight – a personal favorite. But first, the result of drinking so much water in the gym…
While in the locker room, I weigh myself. I am back up to 225 lbs. I was sitting at 241 lbs earlier in the year but I look and feel leaner. People are often surprised I weigh that much. I’m not sure what their expectation is but it obviously isn’t what I exhibit.
I stop and briefly look in the mirror. I’m creeping towards my mid-30s and the mirror is still a source of pain. After bottoming out, in just about everything, I’ve completely transformed my body in three and a half years. My shirt is starting to ride up due to my expanding lattissimus dorsi muscles. Women have paid much more attention to me in recent years. The compliments on my figure come often – usually accompanied by a smile. Oh, and the blue eyes. The women always love the blue eyes.
It is flattering but yet still somewhat awkward and makes me feel uncomfortable. The same pain that keeps me from looking in the mirror also makes me shy away from compliments and attention as they have always bothered me. I think the worst thing anyone could do to me is place me in the middle of a room and surround me with people that are clapping. I think I’d try to dig a hole to hide in. And, I’ve figured out why.
I remember your words and I hear them. I haven’t spoken to you in over 10 years but I hear your voice like it was 20 years ago. The words cut and the wounds become fresh.
I step away from the mirror….
I wish you could see me now. I started this journey because of you and all the terrible things you said to me. I wanted them to stop. But, as I’d soon learn, it had nothing to do with me and everything to do with how you viewed yourself. If you were here, you’d say the same things all over again, because though it has been over ten years, I know nothing has changed.
Old photographs reveal how years have gone by. Each wrinkle and ridge tells a story but what the story means is still hidden from me.
The irony of aging is I currently am in the best shape of my life. Perhaps you can’t teach an old dog new tricks but with age comes experience and wisdom and new perspective. Tools and gifts that were always there remained hidden in younger years and uncovered with proper discipline. Younger years allow for deviation and idle hands but with age comes less margin for error.
I should have been further right? The notches on my belt remain a few less than the mean. There’s been a lot of road covered yet so much remains. Shouldn’t I have an education, a good job, a wife, and kids? These are the things you tell me make me successful in the end.
Looking back, I’m left to wonder what I’ve done. I’ve accomplished a lot but with each accomplishment it seems things remain. As the years progress, each one seems to have gone by quicker than the previous and the length of the seasons dwindle as they change. The days turn into night with a quicker frequency than I remember as child. Those endless summer days now end, with me weary and tired ready for bed. The seasons change and each day seems a clone of the next. It has been so long since I was in school that the emergence and disappearance of children waiting for the bus remind me that fall and summer are just around the corner. To be that age, seems to have been light years away.
Friends and family I knew as children always remained locked at that age in my mind. Years of separation and the revelation that they have aged just as me catch me in surprise. The mind plays such subtle tricks on us yet we know better. Why we always see ourselves as young remains a mystery to me. The idea that we are now the same age as our parents once were or a family friend, yet we remain so much younger in reliving the memory from deep inside.
Our bodies clearly age. Do our minds age or do we become locked in a place in our own time?
So last month, the home I grew up in went up for sale. Sadly, the house needs a lot of work as our neighbors who still live in the area have reported that the house was not cared for. This is such a shame because my father always took so much pride in owning a home and keeping it up. The yard always looked amazing. He even spent an entire summer building a cedar fence out of hand. It was incredible!
When my father said he was selling the home a number of years ago, I discovered, subconsciousnessly, that it bothered me. After learning the news, I found the next few nights to be restless as I tossed and turned, dreaming about the house. I don’t recall any of the dreams specifically but they always centered around living in the house and they were always sad in nature. This was odd because at this point, it had been about eight years since I had lived there and I had rarely given the house a thought since moving. I guess my brain was attempting to reconcile the fact that a place where I had spent close to 15 years living would no longer be a place I would visit. The events that had occurred there would now reside only as memories. I would no longer ever have the experience of going back and visiting the old home, my room, or the yard where I spent so much of my time.
It was sobering to realize that something that I had cared so little about, was in fact something I apparently did care greatly about. Reflecting, I can see why. A lot of firsts were achieved in my life while living in that home. I grew from a little boy into a man. That general memory and the specific events that occurred while I lived there helped to build who I am. My hope is that whoever purchases the house will be able to create memories as I did.