(What follows is a slightly “creative retelling” of life events that have shaped my Life. I wrote it as a public catharsis for a Creative Writing course in college. I don’t know if any of the classmates could guess the motive behind it, but the story is “true enough”. Personally, I wouldn’t be surprised if some guessed it, but no one said anything back then).
“Swing a little more. A little more, the merrier, swing a little more. On the Devil’s dance floor…,” I continued, poorly reciting the lyrics to “Devil’s Dance Floor” by Flogging Molly while making myself ready.
The next time the phrase, “swing a little more,” left my lips. The belt was well on its way. Making a whooshing sound as it flew by, and establishing a loud report of a crack. It struck my back, and in my demented state it felt good. My arm recoiled, and with it the next swing began across the opposing shoulder. As the improvised whip landed upon my bare flesh for a second time. I started to stagger around in a circle. Dancing around the couch in the living room where I practiced this art. Not from pain, but from a personal desire to keep in motion. By this time the lyrics to the song were forgotten, but the lashing motive was not.
I was rectifying the external world with the internal. An act of hate some might say while others would recognize a punishment for guilt. My initial motives were unclean. I reflected while swinging; seduce and manipulate a relationship to my advantage, for all I felt for her was desire. Love some might say, but these feelings were new and raw for me. I couldn’t discern them, so I continued on with the scheming, and plying of the “game” at the time. Courtship is what it is generally referred to as. The subtle dance, and play of thoughts and words hinting at a culmination of passion.
Regardless, of what courtship is described as. We played this game of intrigue for nearly half a year before the flogging in the night. The reason the verbal dance lasted for so long was because she was in a position of power over me. A class TA, and action on my part couldn’t be taken to stymie or goad progress. It was mostly flirting on her behalf because remarks such as, “I like watching your eyes while you read.” Probably don’t qualify as simply being nice. After an entire semester of hearing remarks in that vein. I’m sure anyone’s resolve against such behavior would surely be broken down, and so I had fallen in “love”.
As it turned out, she already had a boyfriend, and I stumbled and choked upon the information while trying to swallow it. My gag reflex kicked in, and I rejected such notions. False ideals began plaguing my thoughts. Gallanting notions mostly about “saving” her, and other stupid nonsense I now realize. Anyways at the time the dreams I held seemed so perfect, and I set about the motive of plotting how to subvert their relationship. The first act in my plan involved kicking it up a notch into friendship instead of being mere acquaintances, and she was highly receptive to such an action.
Her response was more receptive than I was ready for. She had a glimmer in her eyes when I asked about being friends, and she responded with, “I hoped you would do something like this.” It turned out she had sought me out on Facebook prior to my move of enacting a friendship, and she mentioned how she knew I didn’t have one. This struck a nerve of paranoia because of what I was planning. Regardless, we exchanged contact information, and eventually I joined Facebook. I don’t know how I should have reacted to the information I gleaned off of the site, but it made me realize that she wasn’t worth pursuing. Mostly because of her legion of “friends” which numbered in the thousand at the time, and pictures of her lap dancing guys with a bottle of alcohol in her hands.
Upon being faced with the harsh light of realization. My malignant thoughts dissipated into the void from whence they came. I plummeted, and absconded from friendship with her through cowardly means. Through employing an email sent to goad her into rejecting me the means were concocted to reduce any form of the relationship to rubble. It worked, but it was just another blow to any sort of personal integrity I held.
Hence further provocation for the lashings which had kept going while I had retreated inward from the current external pain through use of my reflections. Pain, something that was never foreign to me, but gentleness was. I couldn’t understand what had made her seem so soft and empathetic, but it didn’t matter anymore. I had turned on her, but at the time I portrayed it as more of retribution for an injustice of perceived deception. That of who she was, and confusion about what had made her so.
The confusion about her had spread to other aspects of my life, for this is the age at which our personalities are molded. Freedom from the yoke of parental, and school control had granted total responsibility for one’s own life. I knew this, but couldn’t grasp what it fully meant until now. There would be no more punishment for infractions unless they be severe. It didn’t feel right. What kept a person in line? No crucifixes adorned my walls, and with such notions, the idle promise of rewards in an afterlife held no sway. The power of the law held some control, but it also seemed so distant from everyday life. It just didn’t seem right somehow. A person could be a complete ass to another, and there would be no guaranteed repercussions. Other than the falling out with the person with whom you were an ass to.
I’m not sure what led me to this stage other than guilt because it didn’t feel right to have acted towards her in the manner that I did, or had at least planned on enacting. As a result I tried making amends by apologizing for my actions, and explaining what I had intended. It didn’t work out, so in a fit of desperation or by some other impaired thinking. My leather belt had slunk into my dominant hand, and within moments I had started swinging away while reciting a song that seemed to somehow fit. About thirty lashes had passed before I stopped, and not from roommate intervention. For they were sound asleep in their own room. I had just requited because I heard a voice whisper out to me, “A kiss from God.”
Delusions now, auditory hallucinations mostly, but they began plying my ears every so often. I was broken. Was it through her actions? No, for she had done very little since we had departed ways. It was mostly through my own deeds, and performances. I thought back to an expression I had heard a long time ago, about how only an insane person hurts themselves in some form or another. I had just done so, and yet it seemed well within reason. Scourging the wickedness from my body with my belt.
Slowly I began to realize that I must’ve done something right. If I felt enough guilt to whip myself, for thinking about stealing her away and how I acted towards her. Just how would I have felt if I had actually followed through with my plans? Further thoughts began pouring forth which mostly revolved around what sort of girl would I be worthy of? After all if the only girl that seemed to be interested in more than a cursory manner turned out to be a girl like her…just what would I warrant? Bittersweet notions for sure, and they sat heavily upon my consciousness.
Twin notions began raging in my head. One being pride, which spawned with the idea of “shouldn’t I deserve the best?” because I’ve always reached, or exceeded the bar that was set for me. I considered it a feat that I’ve made it so far, and that I would be transferring to a prestigious college in the coming year. Especially after taking into account the berating I’ve always received from my elders, and peers. It mattered not if they were kin or kine, for they always had a sharp remark on the tip of their tongues for me about some perceived slight.
The other idea came about through the prior notion. It’s hard to describe it in a simple word, but I understood it as despair about being worthy enough of a quality relationship. I had developed a thick skin in my life, and it caused coarseness in my actions. It was only matched by a slight misanthropic hatred towards the human species I currently held. One trait that would soon be leaving me.
However, my mind became overwhelmed from the pain, thoughts, and emotions I had endured in the past few moments. I crumbled to the floor, and laid the misbegotten belt upon my lap where I gazed at it. Serenity, or at least something that felt like it entered my awareness. My mind quieted, the pain in the back subsided to a dull throb, and my emotions cooled. A period of calm before the proverbial storm, and then I was sundered with tears.
My roommate entered the room at this point. Taking stock of the image I presented. I realized that the redness in my eyes was only matched by the crimson upon my back, and they were only left to wonder why my belt was curled in my lap. A questioning look dawned upon their face to which I countered, “Is it better to hurt yourself, or hurt another? Assuming someone is going to get hurt regardless?”
Flummoxed, they just stared, so I gathered myself and brushed past them to my bedroom. I needed a rest. I glanced at my bookshelf on my way into my room. To see the Arthurian classics lying upon their sides along with numerous other books. Most of them regarding ethics, morals, and other flights of fancy.
“All my perceived knowledge and wisdom, yet I don’t know how to act,” I whispered, “I’m much like Don Quixote, I guess. Errant on my path, and seeking lofty romantic ideals. Treading through Hell in some form like Dante too, yet I have no Virgil to guide me.”
A sigh escapes my lips because another realization buried itself into my consciousness. I’m no fictional character, and I’ll have no heroic ordeal. My mettle will not be tested, and I am not a “chosen” one. I glimpsed at these notions before, yet they were never familiar as they were now. Just who I was anymore I couldn’t define. Thoughts about my self-identity began forming. Do I take up the mantle of my future job, and current studies? Enshroud myself in my hobbies like I’ve done in years past? Conform to whatever clique that I so desire which is something I’ve never done?
A shudder of revelation courses through my body, and I utter, “I’m just me.”
One night of lashing is all it took to realize who I felt I should be. I couldn’t live with myself if I followed a path of deception which was illustrated by how I reacted to my intentions towards her. Skewed they probably were, but if it didn’t feel right to abide by the social constrictions of complimenting and praising someone you simply sought to “experience”. That wouldn’t be the path to follow, but the right route is often hidden. It is too hard finding the positives in some situations, but it is often easier to weed out the negatives.
In a moment of absentmindedness. I naturally reclined onto my bed back first, and suddenly winced at the pain that exploded throughout my body. Jolted upright, I reached back to inspect the damage. No blood, and not a cut. Just some welts.
“Luck I guess,” I murmured.
Apparently my roommate had recovered his senses, and had knocked upon the door frame leading into my room. Glancing in he asks, “are you okay?”
As my eyes wander down to his wrists to confirm the age healed scars. I respond, “yeah.”
Unhindered he continues, “do you want to talk?”
“Not right now,” I reply, “maybe later tonight.” Knowing that he had been through similar events in his life, and was destined to bear his wounds until death. I was comforted by knowing that I was not alone in the troubles that plagued me. Reassuring him I say, “I just don’t want to pick at fresh wounds right now.”
“I understand, and boy isn’t life twisted,” he quips.
“Stranger than fiction,” I answer.
At that we both chuckle.
“Well, I’ve got to get to work, but we’ll talk tonight for sure,” he says.
“Okay,” I respond.
Lying upon my back, and gritting through the pain. I try to fall asleep, but it doesn’t come readily. I roll over onto my side to reduce the pain, but it did not further my cause of seeking sleep. Resigning myself to spending a few more hours awake I get out of bed, and make my way towards my computer. Opening up Winamp, I start playing some music. Flicking through the songs by hitting the next button. I skim through “Love Hurts” by Nazareth, “Piece of My Heart” by Janis Joplin, and others like them not wanting to really listen to songs about heartbreak, relationships, sex, or anything that relates in some way. I pause momentarily to listen some of “Play With Fire” by the Rolling Stones, and “Behind Blue Eyes” by The Who. Songs about vengeance, being dangerous, or some such bullshit. Getting tired of them I jump to Ozzie’s “No More Tears”, and follow it with Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man”.
The beginning of a new personal breakup routine. Just spending time, listening to music, and emphasizing with it. Breaking up, something I’ve never had to deal with before, but listening to music seemed to be so much better than eating a bucket of ice cream. It also came across as infinitely better than feeling guilty about personal actions, and flogging oneself over them.
The Door’s song “The End” starts playing as I drift to sleep in my chair at my computer.