The Fall of Man

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They found him. Gunshot wound to the chest on his birthday. Although, it makes sense, his heart was what hurt the most. His wife passed away four years ago in a car accident. He was the one driving the car… He had sold his house two weeks before he took his life. He wanted to move out of the city and on with his life. But, with no job prospects and no real friends anywhere else, he must have lost all hope. Deep down, we all knew this day would come; we just thought it would have happened shortly after she died, not now.

My uncle Steve is was an introverted, angry man. He didn’t like the outside world. When he met and married my aunt, his second wife, new life was pumped into his veins. He turned himself around, started going to parties, meeting people, and he even thought about having children! He said and did things he, and we, never thought he would do. But, when he accidently hit the other car that caused her death; he also died. The spark she implanted in him was gone; he went back to his old ways, hating the world and everyone in it. Each year that he remained alive, we considered ourselves lucky.

The last time I saw him was the day before his birthday. We were at a family gathering at my grandmothers. It was to celebrate her birthday, as well as his. He retreated to the living room for most of his time there, and when he was in the kitchen, he wouldn’t talk to anyone. All he wanted to do was play with his smart phone. When my grandmother talked to him, he answered her with a strong tongue and boiling anger in his eyes. No one could say or do anything to please him at this point.

I didn’t even bother trying to talk to him for fear that he would lash out at me. In fact, in all the years that we’ve been family, I’ve never said more than a few sentences to him. He wasn’t the type of uncle to show up at your high school play, take you out for ice cream, or make small talk. He was a man who just wanted to be left alone.

Sure, I could cry my heart out, take off of work for a few weeks, and preach to everyone about how you need to, “hold you loved ones close.” But, I can’t. I’ve never loved this man. To me, this isn’t a heartbreaking loss.

In fact, this isn’t a loss at all. My uncle did not die; he’s very much alive. Today he turns another year older…and colder, that is true. And, as I sat near him the other day, not speaking a word, I was reminded of how awful of a person I truly am. I realized in that moment that the man sitting near me is a man I’ve known my whole life; but he’s been nothing but a stranger. I realized that if he died tomorrow, even from suicide, it would not have a major impact on me. Sure, I would feel awful. No one deserves to die, no matter what the cause! And, no one deserves to feel alone. But, to me, it wouldn’t feel like a major loss. I can honestly say that it would hurt more if my dog died than if he passed away.

Four years ago, this was where my family found themselves; on suicide watch for my uncle. It’s awful to admit that someone who is supposed to be such a huge part of your life doesn’t matter to you. Writing those words, “It would hurt more if my dog died than if he passed away” makes me feel like a terrible person, but I know deep down that I’m being true to myself. Although, sometimes, we have to admit that even those people in our lives who are supposed to be family and the closest humans to us, mean zilch. That is why we all must create our own “families.” “Families” that are made up of blood relations, friends, acquaintances, dogs, cats, etc. “Plant your own seeds and grown your own garden because you have the power to choose who you become and who is allowed to influence you along the way.”

Granny Smith – over and out

The Dreaded Ex

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Ah, yes, the ex. Most of us have at least one or more, and one of mine walked down the aisle last weekend. As I watched the pictures of his lovely day pop up on my Facebook page, I couldn’t help but think, what the hell did I ever see in that guy?  By the looks of the pictures, he’s gotten fatter and more obnoxious. All of this got me thinking about our relationship, and what a disaster it was!

As some of you may know, I’m writing a book about my past relationships and some specific situations I’ve been in where the outcomes were NOTHING like what I thought they were going to be. And, I would love nothing more than to share the story of myself and…(we’ll call him) John with you. Enjoy, and please comment with your own experiences!

 

Uck, John. Do I have to talk about him? Fine; here goes nothing…

 I met John in history class my freshman year of high school, and coincidently, we had three other classes together that year. I thought he was cool because he had on some dumb shirt about AC/DC and farts…I don’t remember how they were related, so I’m not even going to try and explain…Anyway, the two of us became close because I loved his charm and sense of humor and he loved my hair and how polite I was. But, not even a month had passed in the start of my new adventure called “high school” and I found out that not only did John not see me as a sex object, but he preferred my dork ass neighbor, Becky. Becky is probably one of the nicest girls you will ever meet, but she’s really into stupid shit like reality TV, snorting while she laughs, and wearing crocs and a tube top…not real cute.

Needless to say, their relationship didn’t last long, and after they broke up, I was looking forward to pouncing on that man meat! And, while John was taking his sweet time healing his broken heart, I was making sure that I was constantly on his mind, or at least in his line of vision. Like I said, we had half of our classes together that year, and our lockers were fairly close, so we were almost always in the same vicinity. Many months were spent comprised of constant flirtation and “buddy buddy” jokes. This period in my life was probably nauseating for some, and I get that, but what else was I supposed to do? I wanted him, so I had to play along!

On one particular day, I went to school and I was SURE that he was going to ask me out. We had been flirting for a long time and friends for what felt like eternity! As I was gathering my books for the beginning of the day, I noticed him standing in the hallway near my locker. As I looked up to make eye contact, I witnessed him cross the isle and lock lips with another girl from our class! THE FUCK! Really? Again? I’d been that bastard’s best friend! I responded to his cues correctly every time without missing a beat! Who is this bitch and how do I get him to realize that she is NOT the one for him? She’s not even PRETTY!….So much anger and confusion was all I felt for the next few days. I later learned that her name was Bethany and they had been in a class together all year. But, he’d never mentioned this “Bethany” girl to me before! I felt played, used, and once again, like I wasted my precious time and energy. I was done!…or so I thought.

Bethany and John dated for about 9 months, which in high school time is about 3 years. And, needless to say, their relationship came crashing down all because of me. One weekend right before school started, my family and I went to the high school to catch one of the first football games of the season. That summer, even though John was still with Bethany, I had tried to get his attention multiple times by visiting the park near his house and waiting for him to come outside…creepy, I know, but these we pre-Facebook days!! As my family stumbled into the stadium I kept thinking that the summer had been a complete loss because I never got his attention, and now we would probably have to start back at square one when we entered the upcoming school year. But, to my surprise, as I looked up into the stands I saw John and his best friend Chris enjoying the start of the game. I tried to pretend like I didn’t notice him, but he caught on and came to visit me and my family.

As we started talking, John became extremely overbearing when discussing his plans for the upcoming school year. He talked about how he was going to play a lot of sports, take multiple AP classes, oh yeah, and he was going to take me to homecoming. I was in complete shock! “You’re still with Bethany,” I said. “Yeah, I’ve been thinking about dumping her,” he said with no shame. “I’ll have to think about it,” I replied…and just like that, there was my cue. The game was over and my parents summoned me to the car. “THINK ABOUT IT!” he called after me, and I began running towards the exit.

About a week later, a new school year started and on one of the first days, John and Bethany broke up. When I asked him how everything went down, he told me bluntly, “I just told her that I was into you so I couldn’t date her anymore.” “YOU SAID WHAT?!” I shot back. And then, literally, every day for the remaining semester, Bethany would give me the stink eye every time I passed her in the hallway. To think that I had been the cause of someone’s breakup NEVER would have crossed my mind in a million years. Sure, I’d seen shit like this on TV, but I never thought that it would happen in MY life!

The next obstacle to tackle was homecoming. John would not let up! He asked me to go with him every day. “I don’t know,” I said. “Bethany is like REALLLLLYYYYYY pissed at me.” I feel like, if I go with you, she might attack me during the dance.” “Don’t worry about her,” he calmly mentioned, “I’ll deal with it.” Whatever the hell that was supposed to mean.

Eventually, since it had been my dream in the first place, and because I heard through the grape vine that he was going to take my best friend, Stacey if I said “NO” one more time, (in his words, “you have to keep your options open”) I went with John to the dance. The night started out great, and I made sure the steer clear from Bethany. Then, while hanging out in the back of the dance floor, John planted a kiss right on my lips. It was my first kiss, but I had no idea it was coming. I felt like I had lost that one moment that every girl dreams about because it was so quick and I had no idea what was happening. I finished the night a little pissed, but happy that we’d made an awesome memory in our relationship. I didn’t realize it then, but I was about to become even more pissed as time went on…

Every day since we started dating, John and I would eat lunch together with a bunch of our band friends. One day, a friend of a friend named Matt asked to eat lunch with us. Matt sat across from me, and we quickly hit it off. I met Matt a year earlier, but we never had gotten the chance to REALLY know each other. Every day at lunch, I would look forward to our conversations. Matt was hilarious and had a wonderfully positive perspective on life. Unfortunately, all of my conversing with Matt made John extremely jealous. “You’re supposed to be talking to me at lunch,” he said, “I’M your boyfriend.” “Jesus, sorry that I’m polite,” I yelled back, “I’m just trying to make peace with a stranger.” From that day forward, I tried to talk to John more and ignore Matt, but it was just so hard, Matt wasn’t “in” on “the plan” and you could tell that he didn’t understand why I chose to ignore him. So, eventually, I gave up and thought Tough shit, John will just have to deal with the fact that I have male friends.

Throughout the month that John and I were “together” we went through a lot of ups and downs (more ups and downs than I’ve had with friends that I’ve known for 15 plus years). The day before our high school band’s big trip, I decided that I was going to break up with John. I had never broken up with anyone before, but I knew it had to end. He was such a cocky asshole. The morning of my planned break up, I couldn’t find him at his locker, so I walked into the band room. “Ah, there you are,” he said, “I need to talk to you.” “Good, because I need to talk to you too,” I shot right back. We moseyed out into the hallway where he stated, “ladies first,” and gave me the floor. And, there it was, my shot to claim the end of our relationship, and I blew it. “No, you first,” I said. “Ok,” he exclaimed with a confused look. “I think we were better off as friends, and I think we need to break up,” he said. “I completely agree!!” I said…with almost too much enthusiasm. “Well…” he said. “Well, ok, see yeah,” I said, and walked back to my locker. The funny part was, I wasn’t even sad. I felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders and I could finally go back to living my life. John had sawed the bars off of my jail cell and told me to “run like the wind.” I remember running into John’s friend Chris in the hallway after it all happened. “How you doin’,” he said. “Fine, why?” I shot back. “Well, I know that John broke up with you,” he stated. “What? How did you know that? It LITERALLY JUST HAPPENED!” “John told me on the way to school this morning that he was going to do it,” Chris said.

That son of a bitch.

As always, another failed relationship in my book means another life lesson, and with John, I learned multiple. First off, if someone is pressuring you to date them, there’s your first red flag. Obviously this person doesn’t fully care about your wants and needs (or you in general) if they’re applying any form of emotional pressure. And, for the love of all that is holy, don’t date the jealous type. John made me feel awful for being friends with other guys and not devoting all of my attention to him when we were out and about…and seriously, that’s just bullshit, and it probably means that the person who is the “jealous type” is self conscious. And I’d have to say the biggest lesson of them all, be friends with the person before dating them. Yes, John and I were friends for a year before deciding to date, but we weren’t really friends. I mean, I hung out with him during the school day sometimes, and we had a lot of the same classes, but I never hung out with him outside of school or even during the summer. I never found out who he truly was…and that probably would’ve saved me a lot of time.

Update: Shortly after John and I broke up, I found out that not only was he a huge cocky asshole, but he was also a psychopathic liar. He ended up telling one of my guy friends that while he was dating Bethany, “I used to call him all the time and we would talk on the phone for hours.” He told my friend that it was like he was dating two women at once. Unfortunately, no matter how big John’s dreams get, that one was, nor will ever be, true.

John went on to date one of my worst enemies shortly after we broke up, and I’m happy to report that they’re newlyweds. John also went on to school to become a firefighter, and he currently lives with his (beautiful) bride far, far away from me.

As always, I wish them the best….sort of.

Autism Awareness

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If you don’t know already, the month of April is Autism Awareness Month here in the United States. And seeing how the month is almost over, I thought I’d dedicated this post to those individuals with Autism, my brother, specifically.

My brother was three years old when he was diagnosed, and my family’s life hasn’t been the same since. I can’t tell you how many countless hours my brother has spent with therapists working on his speech and cognitive ability and how many days he was in the Special Education room at our high school only for us to realize that he isn’t so different after all. He’s still a typical boy who has his own likes and dislikes, he just can’t express himself in the same way we can.

For years, my family has gotten stares and weird looks in public places when my brother has cried out, hummed, or even danced near complete strangers. Even tonight, we went to our local YMCA for a swim and a young boy (probably only about 10 or 12) told my brother to hand over the ball he was holding because he was supposed to use it to shoot hoops not hold it! Of course, I glared at the boy and flipped him the bird…in my mind. But, we carried on, business as usual.

When I was younger, I would get so embarrassed half the time because my brother would have to use the ladies room with my mom if my dad wasn’t around so that someone could help him in the bathroom. We even stopped going to church because my brother loves to laugh, hum, and cry out during inappropriate times. Whenever someone looks at him, all they can see is his age, so they’re completely confused as to why he’s behaving “in that way.” Nowadays, I don’t give as many shits. If he cries out, he cries out. If he decides to dance in the middle of the grocery isle, let him have at it (as long as he’s not in anyone’s way)!

I’m not saying that I’m completely fine with his outbursts and that they never embarrass me. Of course, I still get agitated with him every once in awhile. But he’s my brother, and that’s what siblings do. If anything, he’s made me more of a tolerant person. Yes, people mess up once, twice, three times even! But, because I live with a boy who constantly needs to be reminded to wash his hands after he uses the bathroom, or to take his shoes off before climbing into bed, I’ve never gotten into a heated/screaming match with anyone. No one has ever pissed me off that much…because, it takes A LOT for me to REALLY show my frustration.

Like my dad says, “everyone should have at least one disabled child so that they know what it’s really like.” And, I completely agree. There’s too many government officials trying to cut funding for those with disabilities and it brings me to near tears when I think about how much those with disabilities have already been shafted in life, how many limitations they have when it comes to things to do, places to go, or people who will take care of them, and now this? My father actually has a friend who works for the government and has a disabled daughter, and because of that, he makes sure that he knows every law and is able to fight that much harder for her rights. He’s actually helped a lot of families (mine included) knowledgeably advocate for their disabled child. And, never would he have become so involved if he didn’t have a daughter with a disability.

My brother and other individuals with disabilities that I have spent time with over the course of my life thus far have helped me get a better perspective on what really matters in life. Not only that, but they’ve also taught me how it’s important to treat individuals with the utmost respect, say what you feel, and do what makes you happy.

If you’ve never had the chance to spend time with an individual or individuals with a disability, I encourage you to volunteer for the Special Olympics, or for a disabled group home. Even if it’s just for an hour and only one time! Make some sort of interaction with these uniquely talented and special individuals, and I guarantee your life will change for the better.

Granny Smith – over and out