Sometimes I think it’s strange that I live in two worlds at the same time. There is the one world where I am a normal dude going to work, riding the bus, wearing sensible but sometimes stylish clothing and engaging in small talk about sports, culture and light politics. Then there is this second world full of violence, fear and death.
I’ll never be a fully normal guy, and not that I want to, but I know enough to walk through your world undetected. I come from a normal family who I love very much. Sometimes it takes a lot to relate to normal people, but I can do it. Sometimes I even enjoy engaging in meaningless conversations and debates.
I want to not be the other guy. I don’t want to be the kid who walked out of the scorched earth covered in soot from the world he burned for no other reason then it seemed like a good idea. I feel like I do a good job walking away from that other world, but the ghosts of my past have their clutches on my ankles making for slow progress.
I go to a support group for guys with PTSD. I’m the only non-combat member there. I’m not going to get into what got me in there, but I can tell you I belong. A fellow group member there shot himself in the head this last weekend. He survived. He won’t be the same, but it sounds like he’ll make it.
This is the kind of situation that reminds me that I’ll never fully belong in your world. These are the people I know. Some of my friends don’t even try to fit in. They just walk around with huge chips on their shoulders wondering why the world shuns them while I hide out in the world hoping you won’t notice that I’m a complete weirdo.
It’s not like I want your judgment of me based on what I was 21 years ago, or the struggles I’ve had since then. I want you to see the person now, who I think is pretty cool most of the time. I want to be judged for who I am right now.
I don’t want my past forgotten or overlooked. All of it made me the person I am today. Some of those experiences make me way better than if I didn’t have those experiences. Surviving life threatening experiences helped me get through cancer.
I’ve been on a couple of dates with this woman. She already knows me pretty well since we come from the same group of friends, but sometimes I wonder if I’m not too fucked up. I get that fear that I’m not good enough, that I’m too broken or sick, or that I do not belong in the land of the light. I know these are all unfounded fears, but the head just won’t shut up.
I like her and when you like someone you want him or her to like you. And when someone likes you, you hope that he or she can like all of you – even the dark stuff. All I can do is let her in and see what happens. Letting fear make my decisions leaves me lonely.
The shining light on everything is thinking about how far I have come since being a little 17 year old snot nosed asshole who did not – could not – give a fuck. I’m not the person that 17 year old thought I would be, which is great because that 17 year old thought I was going to be dead before I was 21.
I saw a guy work that I went to middle school with. He thought I was dead. I told him that I wasn’t. He believed me.