Posted: February 23, 2011 in Life
Tags: , , , , ,

Imagine a thin little boy. Maybe he’s 60 pounds or so. And, as he hasn’t yet reached adolescence, he is still short.

Now, imagine a large black-haired man, who is roughly six feet tall. He usually walks around without a shirt on, so that you could see his massive belly stretched out over the belt of his pants. This mans weighs in at around 350 pounds.

Now…what if the little boy (being little) is naturally timid? It’s not that he’s fearful of life, exactly. It’s just that he hasn’t quite figured it all out yet. He still thinks that he is relatively safe and that life owes him a roof over his head and food. Most children think this way. It’s normal. It’s the way it should be.

And what if the big thick-waisted man happens to have a problem with anger? And what if this anger problem is augmented by a massive drinking problem?


The little boy (being little) has no where else to go, when the big guy loses his temper. Worse, the little boy (being little) has no idea what conditions need to be in place for the man to blow up. It could be a little thing: like a toy that wasn’t put away, that the man stepped on. It could be a glance that the little boy gave his father.

“Maybe” thinks the little boy “I’m just not good enough. Maybe I just need to try harder.”

At what, he has no idea. Still though – the nest is in an uproar, and it’s the responsibility of this little guy to take care of things. Make things right.

So he tries. He picks up his toys. He works hard at his schoolwork and brings home As and Bs.

Each weekend though, his father still drinks. And the boy watches, now in fear, as the ambience of the household grows dark with the imminent storm. Eventually, every weekend, the man lashes out in rage. Usually the boy finds a place to hide, while his mother, sometimes his grandmother, intervenes. Often, one or the other of them will be hit. Occasionally, the police are called. But they don’t take the man away. They just talk to him. Tell him to settle down.

The boy fails. He has no one to tell him that it’s impossible to win. There’s no counsellor who can point out that it doesn’t matter what he does, or doesn’t do – the man will get drunk and he will get angry. The boy is certain he has a part to play, and that if he just acts differently, maybe dad won’t bellow with rage.

The years go by. The weekend rage turns into daily storms. The man is drinking more.

The boy has grown into his teens. So he’s learned to stay away from home as much as possible. He hides out in the library, reading books.

Such wonderful books! It starts out with the Narnia series, and then moves to some of Mark Twain’s works. Then he discovers the worlds of J.R.R. Tolkien. Lord of the Rings.

The boy, now a teenager, is hooked. Fantasy and Science Fiction have wrapped their arms around him. For those few moments when he can enter those worlds, he can leave this one behind. The one with the anger, and chaos and the drinking. He doesn’t have to think about his behaviour and what’s going to set his father off.

He also discovers religion. Or it discovers him. He’s not sure. He only knows that once again, another world has opened up. One he wasn’t aware of, before. One that accepts him as he is; forgives him for his faults, unlike his dad. One that offers a Father who actually cares about him.

It’s all so wonderful. He has no inkling that any of it can be termed: “escape”.

Eventually the man stops drinking. He has to. His job was forfeit, otherwise.

The anger remains though. One of the things the man is angry about is why his oldest son doesn’t want to be around him. There comes a day when number one son cuts through his rage to tell him why he avoided him. “You were never a father to me”

It’s the one time when alcohol could not trump reality. That statement cuts through the man; stops him cold in his tracks. His rage seems to dwindle away as he stupidly stares at his son. Quizzical. Disappointed, perhaps with himself. The boy doesn’t know what his father thinks about what he said. He stands there, eyes wide, fully expecting to be beaten up for being so mouthy. He is surprised when his father looks down, turns away.

The years went by, and the father remains sober. There’s an awkwardness between them that remains, never to diminish.

The boy, now a man, continues with his escapism, not realizing that life is now better. He enjoys his books, and his religion, and adds to them, movies and TV. Anything that will give him a world different from the one he is in.

Eventually he adds prescription drugs. And wine. And other things.

It takes a while for him to realize some important things that the little boy was never told.

It wasn’t his fault that his dad was angry.

He could make his own decisions, and create his own reality. As much of it as he wanted.

Eventually, he sees what he is doing with the drugs, and the wine. And he stops. He stops drinking to escape, and now drinks for enjoyment only. He never gets drunk.

He still reads books, but now recognizes the difference between reality and the world of the book. He reads for enjoyment.

The hardest part was dropping religion. He still believes in God. He just doesn’t believe in the construct that religion put around Him. He holds his faith close to his heart, and doesn’t promote it to anyone. He believes in a Father who loves him. To believe anything less would be hurtful to himself. He knows this.

He wonders though.

How many other people are living lives of pure escape?

  1. wolfshades says:

    Yeah. Pretty dark, huh? I’m thinking about taking it down….


  2. Ronda says:

    Every soul has a little darkness in it–and often it was put there by others. Don’t be ashamed of shining the light of day on it sometimes. You never know when that might help others who are unable to even acknowledge their darkness.


    • wolfshades says:

      I’m always a little leery of posting stuff like this, Ronda – because it’s so dark and because it’s such a core part of me. I actually wrote a much more descriptive blog once that didn’t look at a theme, as this one does. Instead of publishing it publicly, I kept it as private. It was too too dark. And too real. Felt like Superman getting exposed to a piece of his home planet. :)

      Still, you’re right. One of the worst things people who come from such backgrounds believe is that they’re alone. That their experience is unique. And so they cover up and keep silent, not realizing there are a host of others all keeping quiet too, in shame (unearned) and in depression.


  3. I met, in passing, a guy very like the one you describe here. He was smart, edgy, unconventionally spiritual, wonderfully irreverent, and so very interesting. I got his address, knocked on his door, and told him I wanted to know him. It was entirely out of character for me but there was something compelling about him, more than his authenticity and, yes, his anger. We became friends and I discovered a kindred spirit, someone with whom I feel a great deal of resonance.

    I asked him about the anger and darkness one day and was surprised that he told me. I suggested that he write about it publicly, because he’s a writer, the guy I’m talking about, and he did but he didn’t make it public. I had the privilege of reading it and I told him it was the best thing I’d read from him. Honest. Real. Powerful.

    Every now and then he blows me away with his transparency. This coming from a guy who often hides – or so it seems to me – behind love letters to electronics and odes to ADD. :)) It’s not that those things aren’t a part of him, of course they are. It’s just that they’re peripheral. It’s the core of him that grabs me and that’s where his talent as a writer lives, if you ask me. (No one did.) ;)

    Enough about me and my friend. Back to your blog, it is. I’m glad you wrote this and I hope you don’t take it down. It speaks truth to me. I’ve walked an at least partly parallel path and I am prone to escapism in many forms. It’s something I may always struggle with. I live my life with intention, to avoid falling into that pit but every now and then I get distracted and find myself back down in it. It helps me to know that I’m in good company. Very good company, indeed.

    *insert “L” word*, Kate


    • wolfshades says:

      Ahhh. I wondered if you might stop by – and I’m so glad you did. :)

      I often wonder about writing; and whether, like exercise, you kind of need to virtually “stretch” before starting the run. And about whether it’s really important to keep writing, even when it seems you have nothing to say, if only to keep your skills humming. I don’t know. Maybe there is always something to say.

      Stuff like this is kind of like putting a piece of your soul on the net, which is why it’s a little scary (and is certainly not the norm). I don’t know of any other kind of story that puts one in such a vulnerable spot. “Here’s the bruised apple everyone. Whaddya think?”

      I think it’s because I have friends like you – people who have proven to me that in some respects there is no such thing as “alone” when it comes to things like this – that I feel OK about writing this. People who not only understand, but empathize. People who’ve gone through their own hell, and yet have managed to bring life and light to their lives, to their loves ones. People who, strangely, after suffering such hatred, can bring nothing but love to the world, even going so far as to seek to bring it to other people, and lands.

      Still, it feels….indulgent.

      Maybe being the chameleon for so long makes being transparent a little horrifying by comparison. I’ll certainly let you know when I figure it out. :)

      Oh. And “L-word” back.


      • I have never quoted Stephen King before, I’m not a fan of his genre, but this quote speaks so clearly to what you mentioned about offering a piece of your soul in writing. That feeling is something I wrestle with constantly when I’m writing, which I’m not lately. Anyway, Stephen King said,

        “…you may make revelations that cost you dearly only to have people look at you in a funny way, not understanding what you said at all, or why you thought it was so important that you almost cried while you were saying it. That’s the worst, I think. When the secret stays locked within, not for want of a teller but for the want of an understanding ear.”

        When I write something that’s close to my heart, invariably people “get it” but there are always some or at least one who completely miss the point. Often, it runs in the direction of mistaking what I’ve said for the sake of provoking thought or meaningful discussion as some sort of plea for help. I hate that! Still, I think it’s worth it. Not that I don’t pull stuff back, I do. But I try to push past the reluctance and trust myself.

        Anyway, I’m glad you said it and it WAS NOT indulgent, you boob. (Capitol totally necessary, by the way.) It was thoughtful and meaningful. It wasn’t you talking about you. It was you talking about the human condition. If someone mistakes it for indulgence, well, they’ve completely missed the point which leads us back to the discussion about soul and all of that. :)

        We are all chameleons in different ways and to different degrees. I accept that as the truth of all of us and it’s in that light that I see transparency as such a courageous and beautiful thing. I wrote a poem called “Armored Transparency” – that’s how my own moments of transparency feel to me. I am wary, uneasy. Still, I take the risk every now and then and I’m glad I have that courage.

        What else? Writing. We’ve talked about this in the past and I haven’t changed my point of view. I think we absolutely DO need to write, even when we feel like we have nothing worth saying. Even when words feel awkward and alien and far away. I’m in that space right now and several people have done their best to help push me past it, urging me to say something, anything, offering me challenges even. I appreciate the effort. I do. I just can’t seem to find a way to do it. Maybe I needed a blog like this to engage my mind. These blog comments are the longest bits of anything I’ve written in a good, long while.


        • wolfshades says:

          I think I may have seen one or two of King’s translucent writings, which offer a peek into some of the trials he’s going through. Translucent yet not entirely transparent, as his narratives were hidden in the foliage of his fictional stories. Funny how you can pick up on some of that stuff. As you clearly did with me after we first met on MySpace.

          I think something pinged true for me about you on a subconscious level too – which is likely why I felt safe in sharing such details with you. No hesitation at all. So when you shared some stuff, it wasn’t as surprising to me as it normally might have been.

          I like how that works. God’s little way of “tree, meet bird”. (Or vice versa. I’m not going to go to milk the metaphor to death here. You know what I mean.) Anyway, on the other side of the veil of mystery, it’s the most natural thing in the world. It’s not like anyone has to explicitly say “you can trust her/him” It’s an understood fact, evident long before we think about it. Yet, we draw back in amazement, wondering “how the hell did THAT happen?” :)

          I’ve been where you are lately too, BG: entering thoughtful comments on others’ blogs. So I think you might be right: maybe the fruit of your gift has ripened enough to get back at it, and these conversations are evidence.

          You know what? My new job at work involves blogging as well. To an audience of about 2200 I think. Most won’t read them, of course, but the profile is high, nevertheless. Should be fun.

          In other news: I’ve been all over the map lately. The swings have been wild and troublesome. I’m really enjoying the fun stuff. The other stuff: well, it just is, isn’t it?

          I’ll say one thing though: I really *really* enjoy these blogging conversations. Invigorating, like a shot of vitamin B. :)


  4. wolfshades says:

    P.S. Kate: guess what Apple is announcing next week, and what I’m buying as soon as it’s out? ;)


  5. Abe's Blog says:

    Wolf. This is powerful stuff.

    I know you don’t like writing about this stuff, but I really think it is powerful when you do. There are so many people out there who have experienced a childhood like this (or worse) and do not think about the destructive effect it has on their lives. Calling it out and talking about it helps us to reflect on our past, examine its effect on our present, and continue looking at how we can make the future better.


    • wolfshades says:

      I’m really grateful for your comment, Abe. You’re right – I’m really ambivalent about writing this stuff. It’s raw and real and it frankly makes me feel vulnerable when I do. Still….I know there are so many others in this world who go through life thinking they’re the only ones who’ve gone through this kind of stuff. Maybe they’ll read blogs like this and maybe they won’t. But if they do, at least it provides maybe a little bit of light. I don’t know. I certainly hope so – which of course is one of the more compelling reasons for my wanting to write it.


  6. Chickee says:

    I just want to say I get it. I’ve lived it. It hurts. Moving past it is hard. LOVE LOVE LOVE.


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