Tough Enough

I don’t know how the rest of you aren’t toughened up. Why haven’t you been hardened? Maybe you haven’t been fucked over as thoroughly and often as I have been in this life. Maybe you’ve never met a hardship that wasn’t elementary at best. Perhaps although you have felt beset at times, the truth is that you have very little experience to draw from, insofar as you’ve come.

You’re so bright eyed and bushy tailed and freaking optimistic. How can you hope for so much all of the time and actually expect it to deliver? How is it you haven’t given up on trying to get what you need from this life or the people around you? Aren’t you tired of being the one to invest all your efforts just to be punished rather than rewarded?

Why don’t the years of disappointment, broken promises and stress wear on you? How come all this stuff weighs so heavy on my heart and my conscience? Why doesn’t this stuff stick in your craw, eat at you or turn you sour? How can you be so laissez-faire and easy going when another set of circumstances you can’t stop is around the corner?

On an existential level, it’s easy enough to know that it’s not personal. But in the grand scheme of things it’s hard not to believe at some times that I’m getting disproportionately shat on. Of course Bob Marley is right, every man think his burden is the heaviest. And I know mine is not, because I know I don’t need a tump line to carry it. I get that my problems are still 1st world at that. I do compare my struggles to the deeply oppressed. I know my problems aren’t that bad, but that’s not really what I was getting at.

Being hurt over and over again is one thing, and it really sucks. But that stuff coming from supposedly caring and committed loved ones is what really takes it to the next level. I can forgive the universe its whims in timing and delivery, but there’s a difference between happenstance and someone else’s failings causing my misery.

Considering the inconsistent nature of how things play out, I can forgive the random haphazardness of reality. But that very fact doesn’t allow me to continue to set my sights on happiness. Countless times I thought I had it made only to have the rug pulled out from under me. How many times does Lucy have to snatch the ball away at the last second before realizing I’ve become Charlie Brown, once again falling for it?

Wouldn’t I be the fool to set myself up again, waiting for so much failure? Wouldn’t it be silly for me to open up and be vulnerable just to be trampled again? What good does it do me to wish and hope that things will go in my favor? The likelihood of that in light of statistics is really quite dim to begin with. Why are so many people so intensely insistent that we set ourselves up for a let down?

If I already expect that it’s going to go wrong, turn sideways and shift in mid-air, it’s so much easier to prepare. I would rather hunker down, cover up with multiple layers, than sit out in the open waiting for some unknown terror. I’m not shutting down and retreating to my lair, but I certainly have no interest in bringing my heart out and laying it on the table.

I’ll protect myself as I see fit, especially when it comes to other people. They can’t screw you over unless they can get close enough to you first. After so many times of people overstepping my boundaries, they haven’t been white picket fences in years. I wish that was all I needed to keep people kind, but they just see those little guys as mere suggestions. I had to build 30 foot high walls of steel, with barbed wires and snipers on rooftops. People wonder why and they think it’s excessive, but they haven’t met the users I have. I’ve let people inside only to find that they were here to rape and pillage.

I get that not everyone’s needy or a user, yet the problem is they’re unmarked and in circulation. It’s really difficult to weed out the nonsense, so I have to be upfront about my defenses. They see right away it’s not a good day to fuck with me, and tomorrow’s not really good either. I get that it frightens and intimidates the weak, but they should learn from my example. I don’t have to be hurt over and over again by family, friends or strangers. I can prevent untold amounts of damage by being proactive and managing my strategies.

They can tell me I’m missing out on some fun I might have had, but I know how to get mine, I’m not waiting for that handout. I’m perfectly content to miss out on feelings-bent benders if it means I don’t end up holding the bag. It’s funny because it never fails… the fun-loving, care-free, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants types call me over prepared. Yet it’s also never failed that they come running to me when everything falls apart. The truth is their intimations that I’m not open enough are hilarious, because my mind is as open as my heart is shut. I’m open to new ideas and ways of doing things, what I’m not open to is being asked for emotional commitment just to suffer for it.

So if you’re ready to take out all your feelings and examine them rationally let’s do it, but don’t tell me I need tie my feelings to the forces of fate or inevitability.



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