softness is sweetness not weakness
we’re all zombie creatures born of the wasteland of a ruined childhood. dystopian it may sound but that’s how most children’s futures are. after all adulthood is not child’s play, and the games we play as adults are not for fun. but my childhood actually was less desolate and more destructive.
love is loud
violence and volume have always been cozy companions in my home growing up. nothing overtly damaging physically speaking, and by the time i turn into a teen learned that i can hit back. the shouting matches turned empowering as i realised i could yell louder and longer than anyone else in my house.
my descriptions probably sounds more dramatic and traumatic than it was. for i always seemed to take it in my stride. i realise in hindsight that while i could hold my own against my father, i had sacrificed my soft child like vulnerability for that hollow victory. and i never regained that again. i wore my hardness like a badge with pride. i was invincible. i felt no pain. i delivered pain in fact with my resilience. my own unflinching cruelty. my soul crushing coldness.
the game is lame
getting beat up by bullies in school or at home was no biggie. i learnt quickly that crying is not useful and in fact invites more trouble. so i learnt to play the game and win. every time. i learnt to level up and beat those bigger than me. better than me. stronger than me. smarter than me. older than me. winning was easy if i didn’t care for victory and celebrated defeat with equal elan.
winning is easy when you can lose and smile. bloodied face with a smirking grimace hollows out the proudest of victories. even those who towered over me couldn’t shake off the grin i had as they bloodied and broke their fists on my face. it’s easy to haunt the hurt and torment the tormentor. all you gotta do is smile.
thought i was strong and stubborn, but the soft, tender child in me was frozen cold. hard and brittle instead of soft and malleable. i didn’t want to win the game. the game was lame, i thought. who cares for victory, i thought. but i wouldn’t let anyone crush my spirit. i would persevere and live my louder on my own terms. little did i realise the price i was paying.
type A for arsehole
my deep dive into the world of drugs was the best thing that happened to me. and the worst thing that happened to others. i grew into less of an arsehole since i was too wasted to make a mess. but the mess that i was becoming made everyone around me fear even more. now they feared for me more than they feared for themselves. so while i thought i was hurting others less, i was hurting others more.
of course, i was totally fucking myself up unrepentantly. my personal destruction was a game that i was winning. for a change, i wasn’t winning by losing. i was losing by winning. well, the drug addled dance was teaching me lessons i didn’t remember the next minute. did that mean i wasn’t really learning anything?
but when i was broken enough, a few kind folk took mercy on me and rebuilt me from a fallen fool into a hero onto others. the journey was not a breeze but i do believe there was not much i did but hang on for the ride. and i soon reached the level i was destined for.
type A for alpha
i was now in a position to help others. help them grow. help them flow. help them learn. about themselves. about others. about the world. leading others was never difficult for me. always effortless, i’d only led those who followed me to their own death like the pied piper. it’s not easy to know that most of your friends are dead and you’re still alive only because you got lucky and made it out alive.
yet, i’d overcome that guilt. that shame. that damage caused onto others, onto myself. i was able to forgive myself. first. forgive others who had contributed to my pain and suffering. was able to ask for forgiveness from those i’d harmed. those who were still alive. and those who weren’t. it’s never easy. but it doesn’t seem that hard now that i look back. which is probably because i’ve never been one to hold trauma and nurture it within.
this was a new me, a fresh chance to save myself, save the world and save others. and i crushed it. simply crushed it! if playing the arsehole was easy, then so was playing alpha.
return to innocence
from cruelty to compassion, i’d crossed the impassable chasm. having traveled through most of life with fool hardy bravado, i’d finally uncovered the courage to care. for myself and for others. yet i was hesitant to showcase this in the open. i didn’t want to lose the identity i’d built of a big bully, rough rogue, and all round arsehole. well at least not completely.
on the outside, i’d still pretend to be crude, rough around the edges and of course curse like a sailor cuz i was after all a creature of the streets. my formative years were spent fighting misfortune and fortune alike, so that’s who i was. i was still afraid that if i allowed myself to grow soft, i wouldn’t be able to survive. i would break down and cry. so while i continued to exercise compassion in my actions, it was always with trademark arrogance and aggression that was characteristic of me. or rather the me that was born in self defence all those years ago as a child on the receiving end of tough love. or tough luck. whichever way you wanna see it.
the last year or so has brought a great many changes to my life and i chose a new path; rather a reverse path where i’m on a roadtrip back to my childhood. to rediscover the tenderness i’d left behind. and ran into some heartbreak along the way. which is an excellent sign that i’m on the right path and heading in the right direction. the older me wouldn’t have batted an eyelid but i’ve been crushed.
and today in ansession i found a breakthrough where i was able to let my voice fall into softness and flow there without panic. without the fear that softness is weakness. i’m writing this to you fresh from the realisation. that i’m now free to be soft, not just run on heavy fuel, to express my affection. to love. without masking it, joking about it, or denying it. a part of me still wonders if i’m just growing soft with age and falling testosterone. or it’s true that love is all we need. well if that’s the case, maybe it’s a feature, not a bug.