What Must Be Laid Bare

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When we are young, do we really know who our heroes are? Our innocence shields us from the truth of sin; we don’t yet fathom the subterfuge of what is today commonly called “adulting”. So much of what we learn as kids turns out to be hollow promises and flat out lies. I often lay awake at night haunted by memories of the life I lived that was a lie, how I took responsibility for all the things people said were wrong with me. In all, I was guilty of nothing but giving in to bullies who were set on making sure I failed, so that I would need their help to survive.

The phantom of the rock opera that was my stage life is still there inside my mind. Yet, it was also somehow my own life. My sole vocation was to be the black sheep and the one that let all the hopes and dreams from her childhood get away from her. She dared not chase them down for fear of being judged harshly by her lord, a guy in the sky she didn’t really know well enough at all. Then, she finally discovered she was put on this Earth to do exactly what she always intended to do, which was to be starkly different and show up the bully brigade just how bright she could shine and just how brutal a bitch she could really be.

Bullies are like vacuums; not only do they suck, but they seek a path of least resistance. That’s because there’s always someone they can target who’s somehow in a more vulnerable position than themselves. I was blessed with all these opportunities to allow these blood seeking bully sharks to constantly bite ever deeper into my soul. These were valuable lessons for me to build my resolve and develop a thick enough skin to make my taste no longer palatable.

Still, I feel at odds with myself. I ask myself constantly what should remain in the shadows and what must be laid bare in the brightest possible light. Feeding your demons only brings you one step further into your private hell. To deny one’s own emotional state leads to creating protective bubbles around the things that you’d prefer others not to know. But, maintaining these soap bubbles around those unclean parts of yourself isn’t just usually a lost cause, but can even become self-destructive.

For many years, others had convinced me that my senses were just a little bit off. As I grew older, things I’d enjoyed as comfort foods began to have strange aftertaste. The very air I breathed began to make me cough and choke more than ever, and I began to hear noises and the echoes of voices others believed were unspoken. It turned out that I was truly haunted, and the world around me was in fact decaying. So, my senses were, in fact, not lying to me at all. It wasn’t that I was out of phase with the world around me; the world itself was losing touch with itself.

Continuing to set goals for the sake of consistency alone made me feel increasingly hollow, without a drive or ambition behind it to actually “be somebody”. Little victories became my spoonful of sugar to make the bitter taste of my daily life somewhat tolerable. After years of paying my dues building skill sets that would inevitably be horribly undervalued, I felt little more than a beggar, picking up forgotten pennies and nickels off the ground, but only if they had landed on heads. I figured who needed more bad luck than me when I was one of the most generous recipients of it myself.

In my dreams, I’m often on the run from something while driving in a vehicle that keeps wanting to give out. My dreams are often allegories of my deep seated fears of failure and forever being lost to the ravages of settling for mediocrity. I constantly feel a hunger to turn one’s trash into my greatest treasures. It’s not so much in the way of a hoarder of physical objects, but picking through the discard piles to see what others collectively undervalue, just so that I can call them out for their lack of vision and creativity and scold them. Perhaps that’s because I feel that my greatest accomplishments in life were always overlooked or cast aside in favor of someone who was willing to put their lips on private places. I always felt that kissing up was well enough beneath me, even if it meant I would have to pound the pavement for my so-called insolence and self-righteousness.

For someone with supposedly underwhelming social skill sets and a motor mouth, I never seemed to be at a loss for gaining connections with others. But, I would lose them almost as quickly because I would somehow say the wrong thing. It took me many years to realize that I wasn’t the one in the wrong. Rather, I was only useful to most of those I had called friends as long as my presence was convenient or necessary to get at something others wanted.

I felt like the temp worker everyone wanted, but never wanted to keep around past the trial date, just so I could easily be hired out again. This meant I could never move up in the world and seemed doomed to entry level status for an eternity that would never end. I even felt were I to strip myself of my mortal coil, my demons would’ve followed me into the inferno of my diesel-based sorrows.

Too long, I kept giving people what they wanted from me, as if that was my only way to survive, completely neglecting my true self. I became a fictional character who took on new roles like I was a desperate role player hoping to make it big in show-business, even if it came down to being debased and demeaned on a mean-spirited sitcom where I was the punching bag. I felt my best chance at fame was to become a household name for catch phrases and being the butt of punchlines.

In the end, I tortured myself for others’ gain. Years of struggling with my own failure at adult life, I realized how far from alone I was in being stuck in this cycle for too long. The idea of being able to set my own direction was foreign to me for most of my life. This was despite everyone telling me I was actually in control, when my actual freedom of choice was limited to insignificant choices like what to have for breakfast. I let others influence my own self image and always in negative ways. Individuality is really treated more like a disease than a desirable state of being. So, why does it appear to be so revered? Idealism becomes more like idolatry. It’s all just part of a grand illusion designed by the media to make us conform to what makes them the most profit.

So long I was branded a quitter, but in the end, it turned out I’d known full well when it was my time to walk away. As painful as it has been to neglect or even outright reject parts of my life that served as my buffer from sadness and anger, it was necessary mental, emotional, and spiritual surgery to save the best parts of myself that still had a chance to persevere. In some ways, I continue to write and strive for a more perfect union between my most difficult thoughts and the vocabulary provided to me by the English language. At first, I did so to spite those who saw me as little more than a peon. But, then realized I was much better than them, and should prove that my intelligence will be what wins out in the long run.

No longer would I be the victim of sweet-mouthed narcissists, and sometimes even sociopaths, who saw it fit to attempt to mold me into their tireless gofer. No longer would I let others ever have power over me again, not an employer, not a client, not even a close friend or family member. I took back my power by turning to my old friend, the darkness. It was long past the right time letting the facades I’d built around myself crumble to dust. From the ashes would arise a Phoenix no longer afraid to shoot high in the sky and burn hard and bright for everyone to see.

Were this reborn spirit to last only a short time, it would’ve been well worth it. Yet, that Phoenix continues to survive, her mission not yet complete. Still, the final goal for her ascendancy is yet unclear. So, I will just keep writing, bleeding fiery justice onto the page to illuminate the darkest recesses of humanity for all to see.

Writing words, spreading love, Amelia Desertsong primarily writes creative nonfiction articles, as well as dabbling in baseball, Pokemon, Magic the Gathering, and whatever else tickles her fancy.
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