I hate Halloween.
I’ll tell you why. Starting sometime in September and now in July, the Halloween costumes and decorations and candy go up in stores all over the country, and as the orange factor increases, so does my fear level, thoughts about suicide and worthlessness, and general, overall nasty internal state. I also usually get the flu.
This is a good year. All I’ve come down with is one of those snotty, itchy rhinoviruses that will have me looking like Rudolph by morning.
In Choice, I describe the reasons I feel this way. That day in the garage with my dad was Halloween, and it’s not that the whole thing replays itself in my mind every year. Bits of it do.
Fear does. What I thought. And that overwhelming, horrific confrontation with evil.
Because the thing about people like my dad–who has a marked sense of grandiosity–is that they require others to support their delusions about themselves and the world. Reinforcing for them whatever warped ideas they might have can be a matter of life and death.
Sometimes, if a madman like that is your captor, the pull to mirror the beliefs and emotions of someone upon whom you are entirely dependent is simply too strong. We are, after all, social beings, wired to think to at least to some extent what other people think.
But there is also this other element. The insertion of reality into the grandiose fantasy of a narcissist or sociopath is a dangerous undertaking. Survival is important.
So if my dad thought I had brought a mock execution upon myself, so be it. If he thought I had no worth and no value, that was okay too. If he had thought I was a potato, I’m pretty sure the nightmares I used to have at this time of year would involve being dug up from underground, baked, and served with butter and sour cream.
Thoughts are a part of what happened.
I’ll tell you what what conclusions I have come to about all of this now that this is all out in the open for me and I can start to make sense of it for myself.
I think I’m a person. My therapist says from time to time I’m a good person. I’m not so sure about that. It also really isn’t the point for me.
I’m a person, which means that I have choices–at times very narrow ones, and now much less constricted. I have the freedom to make either good or bad choices, to behave like either a good or bad human being, and maybe often like a little of both.
I have the freedom to fail and to make mistakes, to do the best I can at life which may at times mean falling short of the mark. No one will hang me for it.
You have no idea how long it has taken or how difficult it has been to get to this place.