Tag Archives: low self-esteem

Bully

credit: morguefile

Don’t tell me that you’re doing it for me! Stop being a wimp! Be a man! You haven’t amounted to anything during the eleven years that we’ve been married!

I dream of you walking across the stage to get your diploma. Your Ph.D. I imagine you in your gown, throwing your hat up in the air while you’re on stage.

Yes, you made it to the final interview phase for this teaching position that pays double your current salary. But you’ll be stuck there, just like you’re stuck at this community college! You’re lazy! You’re unmotivated. You’re pathetic!

Just look at you sitting there! In the twelve years that I’ve known you, you’ve done nothing at all to better yourself! After this job is over, you’ll end up back at the #$@& community college! This job opportunity isn’t a stepping stone! You’ll waste even more of your life jumping from stone to stone without going higher!

Yes, you’ll be a private tutor for a filthy-rich family, but you’re too lazy and unmotivated to take classes and get your second Master’s degree! It’ll never happen! You won’t do it!

Yes, you’ve changed and become a better father, but you are a loser professionally! You think I want to hear you whining?! ‘Oh, but I’m doing it for you. Oh, I want to make more money for you and make you happy.’ Just shut up! Take action!

Yes, I’ve wanted you to make more money, but in a career that you can settle in! You’re a loser and you won’t get this job! You’ll be stuck forever in your current situation and nothing will ever change!

I don’t care that things are happening now!

Then why didn’t you take action five, six, ten years ago! All you did was complain!

Oh, yes, you are lazy and have no drive! Wasting your time at church and going to all those #%@& Knights meetings! It’s time to start thinking of your family!

No, you haven’t been! This job opportunity isn’t going to help us.

Nope. It won’t. You’ll never see my point because you’re too stupid. You’re not gonna get the job anyway because you’re a loser! You’re lazy and all you do is sit around and expect things to happen.

But they aren’t happening!

No, this doesn’t count! What will you do after all four of their kids graduate? You won’t have a job and you’ll end up back at a community college.

I don’t care that you’ll have mornings available to take Ph.D. classes. It won’t happen.

Then why hasn’t it happened?! Huh?! Why didn’t you start five years ago? You never follow through! You’ll end up divorced, fat, lazy, and mad at the world just like your dad.

Being just like my mother has nothing to do with it! We’re talking about you! The man in the family! Stop wearing the #$@& skirt and wear the pants.

It doesn’t matter that you’re the only breadwinner in this family. Don’t drag the kids and me down into your miserable life. Do it for the kids! You’re not doing it for me!! Stop saying that!

No, you are not!

Yes, it’s great money, but it’s a dead end! Who cares that it’s in the field of education!

You’ll never amount to anything. I’m going to bed.

~t


Growing Up with Verbal and Physical Abuse, part 2: A True Story

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Credit: K. Alexanderson via flickr.com

“I told you to stop hounding us about &#%$ trick or treating, didn’t I? DIDN’T I?!”

The side of my head slammed onto the musty floor of my bedroom, a jolt of pain ripping through my skull. I didn’t have a chance to see if my thin vinyl skeleton costume had torn after my dad shoved me; luckily my plastic mask with the elastic band was safely on my bed.

I looked up at him, glimpsing the Jack-o’-lantern decoration behind him that my mom had put on my door. A smiling black cat, part of the combo pack that she bought last month, looked out over us from the wall above my top bunk. I loved waking up to the sight of it each morning, one day closer to the big night.

I nodded quickly. “Yes.”

“Speak up, &$#%! Act like a man for once in your pathetic life!”

But I wasn’t a man. I was a 7-year-old who lived in terror of when my dad’s next tantrum would come. It was like being in the middle of the calm sea in a row boat, not knowing when the next big storm would come and capsize my world.

Dad, I love you, I wanted to say. We all do. Mom, Michael, Kay. But I didn’t dare. It would have made things so much worse to speak out like that.

He picked up my plastic orange trick-or-treat bag with the cut-out handles that we had gotten for free at the mall. A grinning Jack-o’-lantern sat on top of the block letters that spelled out Safety First.

“You think you’re going trick-or-treating tonight? Huh?!” He tore the bag apart like it was tissue paper.

Tears trickled down my face. Through my blurred vision, I watched my dad throw the pieces of my bag at me. I wiped my eyes with my costume sleeve, the smell of vinyl filling my nostrils.

“Get up, you piece of *&#$!” My dad kicked me in my thigh, the nerves screaming out and shooting straight to my brain. I yelped like a defenseless dog.

“Bruce! You’re hurting him!” It was my mom’s high, pleading voice. Knowing that she would be my dad’s new target for a while, I cried harder.

My mom’s intrusion made him even angrier, but instead of hitting her, my dad grabbed a clump of my light brown hair and pulled upward with ease; compared to his 240-pound flabby frame, I was a rag doll. With my head and leg throbbing, I leaped up to stop the excruciating pain that pulsed through my scalp.

“Bruce, stop it! You’re acting like a crazy man!” she screamed, pulling at my dad’s thick arm.

I dropped to my knees, too frightened to stand up. The pieces of my trick-or-treat bag littered the floor near me; part of the Jack-o’-lantern’s stretched-out face covered a section of my Hot Wheels race track. I wanted to disappear into the cardboard grandstands among all the tiny spectators.

Did he really just slap my mom’s glasses off and grab her around the neck? The scene before me had a dreamy, yellowish tint to it, like the dreadful calm outside the window just before the twister passed over our neighborhood last summer.

I didn’t know why my mom purposely stepped in the path of the beast that lived inside my dad. She always ended up getting hurt worse than I did.

My younger sister and brother were hiding somewhere, probably in my sister’s room behind her dresser. I didn’t blame them; I hid on my top bunk whenever my sister got in trouble, which wasn’t as often. I guess I was a worse child than she was.

I should have let my mom eat dinner in peace instead of asking her twice about trick-or-treating tonight. It was Halloween, though, and my classroom party today made me even more anxious about going around the neighborhood with my mom and sister, complete with our costumes, flashlights, and bags.

My dad grabbed my arm and yanked me to my feet. I felt his powerful fingers dig into my skin. With his other hand, he pinned me to the upper sideboard of the bunk bed by my throat. I suddenly felt embarrassed wearing my costume at that moment, like the sissy that my dad always called me.

“Why are you such a $#@&*? Huh?!”

I got a whiff of my clean, crisp bed sheets as my dad’s grip tightened. I tried to say I don’t know. I’m sorry, but no matter how hard I tried, the words did not come out of my mouth.

“Answer me, &%@$#!”

“Bruce, you’re going to kill him!”

The grip on my neck loosened, and I collapsed on the floor, gasping and clutching my neck. I heard repeated slaps and then my mom let out an eerie whining sound. If I ever found myself inside a real haunted house, I bet the ghosts would sound just like that because it was the most chilling sound that I had ever heard in person.

The flat ding of the doorbell echoed from the cheap speaker in the hallway. Some kid was probably standing on our porch with a smile beneath his mask, maybe holding his mom’s hand – or his dad’s.

I wouldn’t know because I stayed in my room the rest of the night until my mom sneaked in later to tuck me in, sobbing the whole time. She let me wear my costume to bed with my grinning skeleton mask beside me on my pillow.

The periodic sound of the doorbell and the fear of my dad bursting into my room again kept me awake for a while. I clutched my mask and waited for sleep to come.

~t

(I was urged by a friend to enter this in the WordPress Weekly Writing Challenge.)


I Have No (Online) Friends

Well, I completed the deactivation of my final two social media accounts yesterday.  After much internal deliberation and feedback from my wife, I deleted my personal Facebook account.  Gosh, I had had it for ages.  I also got rid of my Untappd account.  For those of you who don’t know, Untappd is like Facebook for beer drinkers/connoisseurs.

Facebook was hard for me to purge.  I had collected tons of photos from various places that I had traveled to.  All of my sons’ photos from when they were born were displayed on my page.  For the most part, I don’t miss a lot of my “friends” on there; however, there were a few contacts from my past whom I will miss.  At least I can keep in touch with my family through email and texting.

I had been considering starting anew for the longest time.  This Independence Day weekend clinched it for me.  It really hurt when I would find out the hard way that someone whom I considered close to me had “unfriended” me on Facebook.

You know, I have enough drama and difficulties in real life; I don’t need double the amount (the real world plus my cyber world).  Individuals from the younger generation will probably read this and assume that I’m an idiot.

I disagree.

I benefit from not having grown up with all this technology.  I never even became interested in LinkedIn although all of my older colleagues use it for networking.  To me it just seems like another juvenile way to show off and incite jealousy and unnecessary stressful competition.

Man, Topaz, you are one messed-up dude.  I don’t think that at all.  

Yeah, yeah, yeah.  Well, that’s because you’re not struggling with a head full of crap.

Untappd required lots of money, and I risked continued brushes with the law.  See, last summer I was charged with a DWI after my suicide attempt.  The police found no trace of alcohol in me (because I had been passed out in my car for ten hours prior to operating my vehicle); only a crapload of Xanax in my system.

Yeah, I know: You could have killed someone, you piece of ****!  That’s what the paramedic kept screaming at me, too, as I lay semi-conscious in the back of the ambulance, babbling in my stupor, on that fateful morning late last August.  For what it’s worth, I never expected to wake up from my deadly cocktail of tequila and benzos, nor do I even remember operating my vehicle or intending to.

Untappd was just like the other social media distractions: Trying to keep up with the Joneses.  

I couldn’t keep up with IT computer geeks and web developers who were making at least double of what I make per year as a college teacher.  I just couldn’t keep up financially.  Drinking gourmet Belgian brew every other day is rather expensive.

I shouldn’t have been drinking so much anyway.  Luckily my wife cared enough to make sure that I only drank at home. For my DWI, we spent thousands of dollars just on the attorney alone.  Plus, I’d rather not do any jail time; I’ve seen too many scary episodes of Locked Up.

And it hurt to give up those social media accounts.  Oh man, did it hurt.  Talk about a blow to my already low self-esteem.  (My virtual self is way cooler than my real self.)

I got rid of my personal Twitter account and Instagram (I loved my photos) a few days ago.  The funny thing is, I don’t really miss any of it.  I feel lighter.  Happier.  (I think.)

Last.fm helped me stay connected with other outcasts (and web developers who “work” from home), sharing new black metal and death metal bands that we had stumbled across, trying to find the most evil Scandinavian misanthropic noise creators.

I don’t regret deleting all of those things:  Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Untappd, Last.fm, Rdio, Spotify.  I’m pretty sure it was God’s will.  All of these things were hindering me from getting closer to Him and carrying out His will for my life.

At least that’s what I tell myself.

Whatever helps you sleep at night, dude.

~topaz


St. Jude, Pray for Me

“It’s 10:00. Time to get off the computer,” my wife calls to me as she heads to the spare bedroom. It’s become her own bedroom recently. Not because we’ve been fighting. Actually, I’m not really sure why.

Ayako comes from a land far across the sea. It’s a land where I used to live. Seven years of my life, to be exact. One reason we moved back to the States after our two sons were born in Japan was because I was slowly going insane. I couldn’t handle life in such a tiny, crowded land anymore. I was fed up with everyone gawking at me like a caged zoo animal. Japan didn’t make me crazy, though. I already was.

“Yes, dear,” I reply, the sarcasm dripping from my lips like the cheap, sugary syrup we buy at Walmart. Asako knows that I can’t sleep at night, that I have nightmares; nightmares that cause me to awaken in the middle of the night, body and hair drenched in sweat, screaming in terror at the demons inside my mind. That’s one of the reasons she took over the spare bedroom and made it into her own little studio apartment.

I slam the magnetic cover of the iPad and toss it down beside me on the sofa. Well, now I have no excuse not to spend time with God before bed. That’s what I wanted, right? I barely succeed in convincing myself.

I grab my Bible and a small stack of holy cards, all of which were blessed by my parish priest, and head to my private chapel. It’s not as elegant as it sounds. It’s actually my, our, walk-in closet. I keep my plastic bottle of holy water on the top shelf, out of sight of my wife, and my gorgeous redwood crucifix with the silver corpus hangs above the doorway.

Ayako doesn’t mind. In fact, I always let her know that I’m going in to pray (meditate, as I call it) so that she knows not to bother me. Even though she’s lived in the U.S. for five years now, Ayako can’t quite grasp the concept of spontaneous prayer. I use meditate because she can at least use it as a reference point to her Buddhist upbringing.

I close the closet/chapel door and fall to my knees. Looking up at the crucifix, I quickly turn away, not worthy to gaze at the sterling silver body of Christ.

I’m such a failure. I’m such a screw-up.

I don’t attempt to utter anything to God. This is a time that I need the Holy Spirit to commune with my soul. In complete silence, I gaze down at the tan carpet, St. Jude staring at me from the pile of holy cards. He is the one I want, need, to talk to. Yes, Jesus can help me instead, but I feel a closeness to certain saints, especially Jude, the patron saint of hopeless cases.

Like me.

Eventually, as my legs become numb after sitting in Japanese seiza position for too long, I stretch out my legs and recite the prayer on the back of the card to St. Jude. I speak each word carefully, each syllable coming from deep within the well of my soul.

I had given up black metal and death metal the day before. My Internet cyber-buddies and our metal club were still around, but I was long gone, a cyber-ghost in the virtual clubhouse of my former Order. Music by bands such as Watain, Djevel, Cannibal Corpse, and Serial Butcher was still pounding through my buddies’ elaborate computer speakers. I didn’t hear any of it, though. The Holy Spirit was the only thing coursing through my mind and soul at the moment.

You did it.

I gave up Satanic music. No, I’m not talking about the Rolling Stones or Metallica; if you Google “satanic black metal bands,” you’ll see that I’m not just another religious right-wing nutjob. There really is Satanic music out there. And it appeals especially to lone introverts. Like me.

Satan didn’t unleash the wolves of Hell after me; he is much too sly for that. Instead, Satan gouged a hole in my heart, one reserved for loved ones who pass away too quickly or for sweethearts who leave too suddenly.

I never even met these people, I try to tell myself. In time I’ll get over it. That’s what Ayako tells me, too.

Feeling a little better, I look up the list of Apostles in the New Testament to see St. Jude’s name. It gives me comfort.

I go to the kitchen and pop two Xanax. I’m sure that the demons will visit me at some point tonight. The Xanax will help.

But Satan is smart: He will send the demons in the early hours of the morning, after the Xanax wears off.

~topaz