Sometimes Pain is Progress

…but I have worked at it.

Almost a month to the day after I turned 50, They Came in Peace will be launched; a story about a young man growing up after the world ended, after the aliens made themselves Custodians of the Earth, and the treachery and truth he uncovers.  And even then, it’s not what you think it is.

But since finishing the review of the Galley on my fucking Birthday, since realizing how much of my blood was in the book and realizing I had too much red in my own ledger, I started on another project.

Not a creative one; a personal one.  Triggered, ironically, by the unsolicited email from a former “friend,” who, shall we say, had been nothing but a hanger-on, a condescending manipulator who could only drag me down with him, since 1984.  He emailed me to tell me he still cared, and still followed me, online; I told him with no lack of colorful language just what I thought of him, and the fact that if he’d cared and followed me online, he’d have contacted me after my mother died last year, the day after my eldest turned 10.

But I realized that the past was full of loose ends…and after working up the courage, I decided it was time that I did what my former bestie could not: reach out to anyone, everyone I can find, who I may have hurt, or otherwise been a bastard to, and try to apologize for the asshole that I was…

Other than one person, I’ve been met with nothing but kindness.  Oh, one or two people never did more than read my messages asking for forgiveness, but I can understand why they may not have wished-or been able to-answer me back.

But everyone – almost – else, were sympathetic, and remembered me more fondly than I did, myself.  A couple even told me not to be so hard on myself.

…annnd then I was made privy to the commentary another former friend who DID follow me online about my Birthday Blogging Binge at the end of May.

Backstory is, I’d apologized to someone who was a mutual friend of me and the Other One, who passed me a copy of their (the Other One’s) commentary on my posts.

I can honestly say, even my ex-wife – who had actual reason to be – was not nearly as haughty, arrogant, judgmental and self-aggrandizing as the Other One was.  In fact, of all the people from my past who treat me with more kindness than I deserve, my ex wife is probably the kindest.

Now, getting back to the Other One, I’ve seen a lot of people whitewash and romanticize themselves or their past – or our shared past, if we have one – but up until the Other One, I’ve never seen someone redact the past until nothing but their own self-put-upon marble plinth remained beneath their feet, everything and everyone else just disdainful in their eyes..

Now, to all the people who insist I’m good, that I’m kind, that I’m not the villain of my own piece, let me just say I used every cruel word and bit of knowledge I had about the Other One to absolutely shred them for what they had to say about me.  Like, I made cole slaw out of their ass.

And I regret nothing.

But, as I’ve said elsewhen: I’ve lived 50 years, not all of them good.  I’ve made a lot of mistakes, and now is the time to put them right.

I’m still trying to atone for my past, with as many people as I can.  There are some people I won’t reach out to, because I think it would do more harm than good if I did.  There are others that, if I don’t at least TRY to talk to them, I’d never forgive myself.

I’ve been forgiven and told I was better than I thought by a handful of people who should remember me far less fondly; a precious few pebbles from the past – including a family member I never expected to answer me – and long-gone friends I thought would rebuke me, are bittersweet solace, as I remind myself that not everything can be tied off in a pretty bow.

Sometimes, the thread must be cut, completely.

I’m going to try and keep moving forwards; the former family and friends who have forgiven me and remember me more kindly than I do myself remind me I can try to be a better person, maybe even less of a bastard.

But the truth is, when you’ve made as many mistakes as I have, sometimes being a bastard is the only way to push through, to make that progress.

Sorry, loves; I’m not as good as you all imagine.

And if I am cruel to you…well, think of how much I hate myself, and think of how much I must therefore hate you.

Auf wiedersehen, meine schatzie.