If you haven’t already, Watch this video. (There is a reason I posted this twice!) And if you get the chance, watch the inspiration behind the video (don’t worry, there’s a link embedded at the end of the video to it.)
For many of us, monsters and demons are almost the same thing, if they aren’t already. They’re figments of the imagination, or they’re the devil’s counterparts to angels. They are, for the most part, not real. We’re not going to see any werewolves slashing someone to bits, or any vampires sucking the life out of someone. There’s no Frankenstein breaking any doors down, or a Headless horseman chasing us down. There’s not even a gigantic furry Mike or a short, one-eyed Sully entertaining us anywhere except on the small screen – no chance of a real conversation with them anytime soon.
For others, though, the monsters and demons are real. The monsters are the ones who abuse, whose actions are hurtful, even lethal. The demons are the addictions, the problems we can not run away from, whether they are actions we did to someone or that someone did to us. We hide them in plain sight of everyone, and they come out in many forms, sometimes making us into the monsters we were running away from all along.
I bring this up because I’ve been questioning myself, my actions, wondering how my relationship had failed. Part of it is a desire to learn, to grow, and to be a better man from it. A lot of it is guilt, is pain, and is a realization of what I had become.
I grew up without my father, and while I could not understand it then, I was definitely better off for it. My mom did her best to raise my sister and I for the first part of our lives, and although she had a few hiccups, there wasn’t any reason to say she was bad at it. As we got older, though, the mistakes she made grew, and those mistakes led to the directions my sister and I would take, with me staying with my grandparents for my teenage years and early adulthood.
Those years formed the first two monsters I would face, as well as the first two demons. The first monster was my father, whose lie in the first phone call I had with him, combined with the hurt of my mothers actions, eventually formed many of the opinions and problems I would face in life. The second monster was Joe, my mom’s boyfriend then, whom my mom had hoped would be a suitable father-figure as well as a mate, but whose demons came out on everyone around him.
As for my demons, the first was laziness, a byproduct of being spoiled and getting my way when I shouldn’t have. (Why work for it when I can go to Grandma and Grandpa to get it? Or my uncle or mom?) The other was greed, shown in the forms of my obesity and my actions. All of the mistakes that I have made root back to one or the other, and in many ways one fed right into the other.
There is a third demon, not quite as influential as the first two, but usually tied to one or the other: Fear. Because very few of my mistakes were totally fear-based – there was only three mistakes that fear alone tied into – I don’t hold it in the same vein as the first two.
The rules I set forward in my life were based on one of those three fear-based mistakes, but were influenced by the First two monsters. My dad’s choice not to be in my life and to call my mom – who could have either aborted me or put me up for adoption – a slut influenced my relationship/sexual rules, while Joe’s drinking and drugs, of which he was either drunk or high most of the time, influenced my drugs/alcohol rules.
As I learned more about these men, these fears grew. I was 19 when my half-sister – the first of the family members on my father’s side – found me, and through her I met my two younger brothers. (They are the only relatives on that side of the family I have met, and I have no desire to meet any more of them.) Through them I learned of the abusive and sexual problems my father had, and how his influence affected them, one being a victim, the other two learning the wrong things from him. It made me thankful I was never raised by him, but the hatred for that monster grew stronger with the more info I heard about him.
As for Joe, getting hit twice the way I had was enough for me. There’s a difference between punishing a child for a wrongful action and actual abuse, while I’m not fully against yelling or hitting, there’s a difference between punishing a kid for mouthing off and causing blood or bruises to form. A kid should learn from his mistakes, not be afraid of someone who had no part in bringing him into the world.
Combined with the demons that were growing in me, with my laziness affecting all aspects of my learning and growing, and my greed showing in my obesity and my actions then towards my family, hiding and hoarding things as my own, they were setting me up for the rocky path of adulthood. I was blaming everyone in my life for my problems: My mom for choosing her boyfriend over me, my dad for never choosing me, my grandparents for not helping me learn what my mom was then unable to teach me – it was everybody’s fault except for myself. I told myself I blamed myself equally, and in some ways I did – I knew better than to go up to that buffet line for a second plate of desert, I knew better than to sit around all day doing nothing – but the words that came out of my mouth were not the words on myself, it was the words about them.
I was able to forgive some of my past. My grandparents, having already raised my two uncles and my mom, should never had been held responsible for me in the first place, and it could easily be understood how they were probably already stressed out without me – with having to raise my sister and I, while watching my mom and Joe’s relationship problems, and watching how one of my uncles, who also had a kid, was blaming them for his problems while constantly borrowing money from them – and how that could cause both annoyance and the desire not to help me when I wanted it. It was similar for my mom, who had to hear everything I did in acting out from my grandparents, and who missed out on the many events of my life, while taking the blame for herself and the abusive man in her life. Even Joe, whose drinking and partying came back to haunt him shortly after my grandmother’s death in the form of cancer, could be forgiven, for when he was sober, he really was the halfway-decent guy my mother saw in him.
I can fast-forward a bit at this point: although there were other demons to enter my life, in the form of neighbors and friends who had their own problems, the big three would come back to shape the eventual rises and falls in my life, and the monsters would continue to chase me, even after I believed to have forgiven them.
The worst of it played out, ironically, in my last relationship. Like every relationship, we had our ups and downs, tried new things, fought and argued. many of the demons and monsters I had played out in the relationship – thankfully not all of them, but enough to show that I was no better than the people I judged, and enough to prove that I had not, in fact, conquered my problems. Although I won’t get into specific details online – I respect her still, even today – and although I can be thankful not to have done certain actions to her, I will admit that my actions are what killed our relationship. It took her standing firm in her decision, once and for all, to dump me, and the months of solitude and reflection to finally see the monster I myself have become.
What that kid said – what he wrote, he spoke, he recorded – rings very true: had my ex and I had a solid foundation, had we built on our friendship before turning to love, and more importantly, had I conquered my demons, I might have been able to avoid becoming a monster. Had we built a solid foundation of friendship first before running headlong into our sins and obsessions, we might be still together today.
Most of our monsters, and most of our demons, are created by man. We blame the Devil and name them after his servants, but the reality is that we create our own monsters, we create our own misdeeds and judgments. All of us, at some point or another in our lives, have felt horrible for something we did to someone else – very few people can really claim no regrets without having to go through that trial and understanding. Some people are lucky: They get it out of them in childhood, grow up adults long before reaching adulthood. They may have hurt a friend or a relative – a sibling or cousin, for example – but they learned from it and grew up better for it.
Some people will never be that lucky: They die before ever reaching that point, never understanding the hurt and pain they cause in the world. They are considered by many to be real-life monsters because of this.
Some of us, though, fit into the middle: We don’t learn it before adulthood, we learn it after we are fully grown. For some of us, we have to learn by becoming the example, we have to learn to forgive by doing the things we swore never to do, or never to do again. We’re not monsters, in spite of the monsterous deeds we might have done.
Speaking from experience now, I know I can be better. I know I can learn from this, and that I can be a better person to the next woman in my life, or if my ex decides to open the doors again, to be the best man I could possibly be for her. I don’t have to be the monsters I was afraid of, and I don’t have to let my demons control me anymore.
If I don’t have to hurt another person the way I hurt her, then this experience was worth it.
I posted a couple of days ago about my father, and you might find it hard to believe I had forgiven him when I called out the very crimes he committed. I will explain it in simple terms: What I forgave him for were the crimes he has done against me. It is not my place to judge a person for the crimes they did against someone else, and as such I can not forgive him for what he has done to my half-siblings on my father’s side, to my mother, or to the state or federal governments. I can’t even make my judgement for God – only He has that power or authority.
What I can do, though, is warn others of the danger he poses. I can make sure others are not hurt by him, and I can make sure, if he chooses to remain a monster to others, that people are warned of the potential dangers the pose towards themselves and others around them. This doesn’t require judgement by myself, and it doesn’t require violence against him. It does require action, and that action I have taken.
I hope, someday, he looks back and realizes what I have come to realize. I hope he asks, as I will eventually have to ask, for the forgiveness of those he has hurt. I also hope, when that point comes, that he can be forgiven, though given what I’ve heard, I can not guarantee that anymore than I can guarantee forgiveness for myself from my ex, my family and my friends. I believe he will have a much tougher road than I have before me, since he’s done and built up a lot more sins and crimes than I have. That choice, of course, is up to him.