“My wrath is derived from eyes so sharp they see through the idiocy being passed off as sophistication. Under the cloak of universal themes and terms such as freedom, change, and acceptance, madness ensues, being readily welcomed by those whose mind’s eye questions nothing.” – Justin K. McFarlane Beau
In people with a dissociative disorder, certain parts are compelled to focus on the perception of danger. Living in trauma, these dissociative parts immediately perceive the present as being “just like” the past, and “emergency” emotions such as fear, rage, or terror are immediately evoked, which compel impulsive decisions to engage in defensive behaviors, freeze, flight, flight or collapse. When parts of you are triggered, more rational and grounded parts may be overwhelmed and unable to make effective decisions.
Does any of this sound familiar Steven?
A medical doctor said that word for word, during my trial. But she didn’t understand as well as she thought she did.
I’m sympathetic to your plight. I may be one of the few people within your general vicinity who understand what you’re going through. You’re no tedious garden variety manic depressive, no….. no. You have always been tormented by the image of the multiplicity of selves. Some days you call it richness, and other days you see it as a disease, a proliferation as dangerous as cancer. Your first concept about people around you was that all of them were coordinated into a whole, whereas you were made of a multitude of selves, of fragments.
Before this burst from within you to the surface I’m sure you avoided dealing with it at all costs. The horror within you is to open yourself to people who do not understand. People look at you now and they boil you down to only the most tedious of details. Post-traumatic stress, a serious thing to be sure. But all they want to know is how many personalities you have. The truth is you don’t know. “You”, in fact, are barely aware of them at all save the effect they have on others. The truth is much more complicated.
You hold a beast, a celestial being, and a maniac inside you. It’s up to me which one I meet.
But I want to meet them all, my dear Steven. Let’s all sit and have a chat. If one of you is a violent sociopath, perhaps we can compare notes. My trophies have lately turned from flesh to gold — gold on a shiny new belt to wear. Look at me, ever the fashion plate. Maybe I’ll get a nice clean suit and walk into the Staples Center as a professional vision of a champion. It would go very nicely with my tattoos and scars.
I’m adept at both enduring and creating scars. They remind me that I survived my deepest wounds. That in itself is an accomplishment. And they bring to mind something else, too. They remind me that the damage life has inflicted on me has, in many places, left me stronger and more resilient. What hurt me in the past has actually made me better equipped to face the present.
My favorite was a man over in Bradenton about seven years ago. He was damaged, mentally, and very much like you, a veteran of overseas combat. But he had been beaten down by the war. He seemed strong on the outside, but he was weak and easily manipulated. In fact, I hardly broke a sweat. I felt oddly patriotic that day. They never did find what was left of him. I wonder where I left that.
You are not him though, are you? You are different, much stronger, much more of a challenge. And, I prefer it this way. I prefer you this way, not as the simpering old man in his black tank top picking fights with women. How absolutely boring and inane. What you are now is beautiful, Steven. I think perfection is ugly. Somewhere in the things humans make, I want to see scars, failure, disorder, distortion. They are evidence of life, evidence of choices to be learned from, evidence of wounds inflicted of mistakes, wounds we choose to allow the healing of. We likewise choose to see them, that we may not make the same mistakes again.
Others may laugh, but it’s easy for someone to joke about scars if they’ve never been cut.
If I had not channeled my wrath into something more productive, I might be as you are today, consigned to a room losing large chunks of time in my day, instead of where I am, consigned to a room striking terror into the hearts of anyone who comes close enough. I get to have my fun, but this is torture for you, isn’t it? No matter. Wrath is a powerful energy that, with diligent practice, can be transformed into fierce precision.
I am where I am because it could only have ever been this way. Forces within me led me to this point and there’s nothing that could have been done to stop it. You have to understand that only the very worst end up where I am, the ones whose wrath made them kill, and who felt no sorrow or guilt after the act; those so obsessed with themselves that they turned their backs on the sufferings of others, and left them in pain; those whose greed meant that others starved and died. Such souls belong here because they would find no peace elsewhere. In this place, they are understood. In this place, their faults have meaning. In this place, they belong. God turned his head from me a long time ago. But, I believe that if I piss him off one more time, I’ll be eligible to win a free Bible.
One by one they’ve been sent to me, these other “sins”. I rest here like a spider guarding his web, watching and waiting as my prey wanders innocently into the strands. But there is a nobility in what I do. No common street criminal, no. I am neither predator nor killer. I simply hunt like a king; because I am a king. You probably don’t understand that, but that would not surprise me one bit. You will underestimate me, and that’s how I prefer it. Despite my lack of conscience and lack of empathy for others, I am inevitably better at fooling people than any other type of offender. I suppose conscience just slows you down. I once made friends with a correctional officer before my crimes became public knowledge, in jail for much less serious juvenile infractions, who invited me to live in his home after I was released – despite the fact the officer had a nine-year-old daughter. The officer and his wife were so taken with me that, after I lived with them for a few months, they initiated adoption proceedings – the adoption of a man almost their age. Of course, I was a fledgling murderer living in the same house with a helpless child. Not surprisingly, I snapped her neck as calmly as if I were preparing dinner. What this experience taught me is that even when people are warned of a previously founded case of even a conviction, they still routinely underestimate the pathology with which they are dealing.
Hold on to what you are, Steven. Hold tight. This is the only perfection there is — the perfection of the self. This is the only thing you can do that has any lasting meaning. This is why we’re here, you and I, to make each other feel safe.
I was given somewhere nicer to stay this week by my benefactor. I have a window to look through where before only white or gray concrete walls stood. A reward you see, for doing what I am told. I’ve managed to find a path to my own happiness, my friend, no matter how twisted it may seem to some. We are all alone after all, born alone, die alone, and in spite of romance novels, we will all someday look back on our lives and see that, in spite of our company, we were alone the whole way. I do not say lonely, at least not all the time, but essentially, and finally, alone. This is what makes your self-respect so important, and I don’t see how you can respect yourself if you must look in the hearts and minds of others for your happiness.
Welcome to the Hotel California, Steven. We are all prisoners here of our own devices.
You’re in prison, and of course, everyone in prison is an innocent man. Oh, they read the scripture the way those holy rollers on TV read the Book of Revelations. They were victims of judges with hearts of stone and balls to match, or incompetent lawyers, or police frame-ups, or bad luck. They read the scripture, but you can see a different scripture in their faces. Most cons are a low sort, no good to themselves or anyone else, and your worst luck was that your mother carried you to term.
We can spend some extra special quality time, the four or five of us, in the prison yard. But alas, death comes for us all, whether man or woman, short or tall, rich or poor, bold or meek. It is no respecter of persons, and it cares not how you feel about it. After all…
It is indiscriminate and final, and someone has to be its instrument. It might as well be me. Maybe this will be a sweet relief to you. Yes, it might be best to put you out of your misery. But not this week. Not yet. That isn’t the plan. However, it sits there on the horizon and you don’t have to squint much to see it. Still, I can promise you it will be quick.
Even death has a heart.
”No book can ever be finished. While working on it we learn just enough to find it immature the moment we turn away from it.” – Karl Popper
November 20, 2015.
United States Penitentiary, Coleman I.
Jeffrey James Roberts is sitting on a metal folding chair, standard prison issue. In his right hand is a small tape recorder. His head is leaned back, a slight smile on his face. There is a hint of blood spatter on his face. He closes his eyes and presses play on the recorder. After a few seconds, a voice begins speaking in a mild Southern accent. Roberts is listening to himself.
“Isn’t it funny how we make rational excuses for being out of alignment?
We say, ‘Well this, and that happened, so it makes perfect sense for me to be feeling like this and wanting to do that.’
Yet, to this day, I have never met a happy person who adheres to those excuses. In fact, each time I – or anyone else – decide to give in to ‘rational excuses’ that justify feeling bad – it’s interesting that only further suffering is the result.”
Roberts opens his eyes and picks up the hardback book on his lap. More blood is on the book, but Roberts licks a finger and turns to the middle, mouthing along to the words being played on the tape for about a sentence, then smiling, satisfied, and closing his eyes again.
“There is never a good enough reason for us to be out of alignment with peace. Sure, we can go there and make choices that dim our lights, and that is fine; there certainly is purpose for it and the contrast gives us lessons to learn, yet if we’re aware of what we are doing and we’re ready to let go of the suffering, then why go there at all? It’s like beating a dead horse. Been there, done that, so why do we keep repeating it?
Pain is going to happen; it’s inevitable in this human experience, yet it is often so brief. When we make those excuses, what happens is, we pick up that pain and begin to carry it with us into the next day, and the next day, into next week, maybe next month, and some of us even carry it for years or to our graves.
Forgive, let it go. It is not worth it. It is never worth it. There is never a good enough reason for us to pick up that pain and carry it with us. Unforgiveness hurts you, it hurts others, so why even go there? Why even promote pain? Why say painful things to yourself or others? Why think pain? Just let it go.
Whenever you look back on painful things or feel pain now, know that it is your ego that drives you to ‘go there’. The ego likes to have the last word, it likes to feel superior, it likes to make others feel less than in hopes that it will make itself feel better about your insecurities. Maybe if you hurt them enough, they will feel the pain you felt over what they did to you. It’s only fair. It’s never your fault; it’s always someone else’s. There is a twisted sense of pleasure you get from feeling this way, and your ego eats it right up. Yet, with an awareness that continues to grow and expand each day, choose to not feed your pain or ever go there. You will still feel it at times, of course, so simply acknowledge it and then release it.
You have power and choice over your speech and actions. You do not need to ‘go there’ again. It’s my choice, it’s your choice. So it’s about damn time we start realizing this. We are not victims of our impulses or emotions; we have the power to control them, and so it’s time to stop acting like we don’t. It’s time to relinquish the excuses.”
Roberts smiles broadly, opening his eyes and pressing stop on the player. He looks down at the floor in front of him, and his eyes open just a bit, a wild, turbulent expression in his eyes, though we can’t see what he’s looking at just yet.
“How does that sound, doc? I did my best to capture the essence of your message with my reading, but this is my first time orating someone else’s work into an audiobook. Quite the experience I must say.”
At this point, we begin to see the floor in front of him. A middle-aged man with salt and pepper hair and a full gray suit is lying face down there, a pool of blood forming beneath him. Robert furrows his brow and looks back at the book.
“It’s all sentimental crap, of course. But I’m not above lending my voice to a marketing opportunity. It’s nice and all that you have tried to lend yours to help out people like me. I’m sure that when you were in school developing these theories and insights, you thought that one day you might have the good fortune to examine someone like me. But nothing can really prepare you for the reality of it, can it? And that’s why you are lying there in your own blood and… vomit I suppose. I imagine you’ll need a change of underwear as well. But you’re still alive, so live and learn. But the next time someone suggests to you that I might be an interesting case to study, please, do yourself a favor and remember…”
Roberts kneels down next to him, lightly tapping him on his back, leans forward, and whispers…
“I DON’T NEED YOUR HELP.”
”To die hating them, that was freedom.” – George Orwell, 1984