October 7th, 2011by skizziks
One summer night when I was sixteen I was walking home from my job at a pizza place a couple blocks from my house. It was real late, probably around one or two in the morning, and there was no one around. As I was crossing the street I heard this car coming toward me. It was a good four or five blocks away, but it mustâ€™ve been doing 100 because it was closing the distance between me and it pretty rapidly. It was so quiet out all I could hear was the carâ€™s engine, getting louder and louder. I kept walking, thinking: â€œSurely they see someoneâ€™s crossing the street here. Theyâ€™re gonna slow down.â€
But they didnâ€™t. They mightâ€™ve even accelerated. It was the damndest thing. So at the last instant I stopped and the car shot past me, couldnâ€™t have missed by more than five feet.Â I watched it go, flying down the street as fast as it had come, and thought to myself: â€œHoly shit, I just had a fucking near-death experience.â€ I was shaken. If Iâ€™d taken just taken two or three steps more I wouldâ€™ve been knocked into the next zip code, dead before my body hit the ground. It was crazy, that car didnâ€™t slow down one bit, even at that very last instant when I mightâ€™ve walked directly into its path. What kind of maniac was behind that wheel? My heart was still pounding after I got home. I guess I felt lucky to be alive.
That was a long time ago. I turned 40 in January. But I think about that incident a lot these days. I think about how, if Iâ€™d had a premonition on that long ago summer night of what the future held in store, I wouldâ€™ve kept walking. At least I like to think I wouldâ€™ve. Because I canâ€™t think of a whole lot I wouldâ€™ve missed out on. If Iâ€™d even been able to see into the immediate future: A few months after that night my father would abandon me, never to return, leaving me in the sole care of my alcoholic, neurotic, and quite likely psychotic mother. A year later I would get into a sexual relationship with a middle-aged chicken hawk that lived down the street from me, a real smoothie who knew how to play a confused kid with abandonment issues. A year and a half later I would lose (or give away, really) the best friend I had ever had or would have. And before I knew it, intense feelings of rage and regret and despair and loneliness would become the norm.
I would try everything: Therapy, drugs (both prescription and illicit), meditation, positive self-affirmation, exercise, health food, vitamins, you name it. Nothing would work. Maybe it would be because Iâ€™d never have good health insurance and would never be able to get the kind of intense, comprehensive treatment Iâ€™d need. Or maybe I just wouldnâ€™t try hard enoughâ€”maybe Iâ€™d just be so broken inside that I wouldnâ€™t be able to summon the will to commit to any course of treatment. Probably it would be a combination of the two.
I was reading a post on this site from a 19 year-old kid whoâ€™d lost his two best friends and was feeling terribly isolated and alone, and from the sound of it sliding into a long, grueling bout of mental illness. An optimistic commenter promised the kid that things WILL GET BETTER!!! and that this was only a temporary bump in the road. Now, I donâ€™t know this kid, and maybe Little Miss Sunshine is right. Sounds like a nice kid, I hope he does get better. But Iâ€™m living proof that sometimes you donâ€™t. Sorry to piss on anyoneâ€™s parade, but Iâ€™ve been listening for years to people telling me how much I have going for me, and how with the right this and the right that Iâ€™ll be right as rain. Iâ€™m sure they meant well, but they obviously didnâ€™t know what the fuck they were talking about. And now I wish I hadnâ€™t listened to them. I couldâ€™ve saved myself a lot of hassle.
I donâ€™t subscribe to the notion of the big bad world beating up on poor little me. My childhood was a nightmare to be sure, but once I turned 18 my choices were my own, and I own every bad decision I made. Not that I can justify them very well, except to say that Iâ€™ve been committing passive-aggressive suicide for most of my life, bleeding myself out with a million tiny (metaphorical) cuts. Maybe this is what I wanted all along, to make things so bad for myself that Iâ€™d eventually have no choice but to take decisive action. I always was a procrastinator. And I could still keep putting it off, but I have no doubt that things will get worse. Iâ€™ll see to it.
So is there a moral to all this? Letâ€™s seeâ€¦how â€˜bout: â€œKnow thyselfâ€? Or: â€œDonâ€™t put off till tomorrow what you can do todayâ€? Better yet, Iâ€™ll just quote another, particularly apt post I found on this site: â€œThey Shoot Horses, Donâ€™t They?â€