“Restriction in the heart creates constriction of the mind.” JSM

The Second Month

Have you ever felt broken? Torn between what you want to do, and what needs to be done? Trapped in a place between places?

Before I continue the tale, something was shared with me last week that really caught me off guard. On the opposite side of the fence though, I’m not surprised a bit by what I heard. The words spoken made me stop and think and I couldn’t help but agree. After the conversations were over, I smiled inside.

I was approached by two different people and I was told by both, that what I post on TotC is really sad. Sad… as in depressing. It can be depressing to read this stuff.

I nodded my head in agreement. “Yeah. It can be sad. But… that’s OK and here’s why.”

In public reply, I need to disclose something to the readers and casual browsers. Ready? Dropping a truth bomb here.

It took thirty five years to find true happiness.

This November I’ll be forty one and five years into the new life. Had to iron out some rough spots here and there and smooth out some rocky roads, but all in all, complete happiness. Almost Zen-like.

I still have my stress and the things that set me off. Money, work, responsibility, balance, schedules, unforeseen changes and doing what I’m supposed to do. To say I’m completely stress free is a lie. However, I wake each morning with a smile on my face, prepared to tackle the day, and ready to sip some coffee.

Unless I’m ill. If I’m sick with anything, I’m a colossal wimp. Ask anyone.

I don’t dread the day anymore. I wake rested and anticipate my “me” time. In the past few years, I haven’t raised my voice in anger once. I don’t have conflict or arguments. I feel as though I’m living the life I’ve always desired to live. I do what I like to do, go where I like to go, focus on the future, follow my passions, engage in my hobbies, answer to myself and co-exist with the people in my universe symbiotically.

Have I gone through moments of hate, anger, vengeance, adopting a superiority complex, lashing out and screaming to the sky, self loathing, impostor syndrome, despair and personal Hell? Absolutely.

But not for many years.

And I have the old life to thank for that. Everyone I’ve encountered. All my experiences good and bad, and knowledge gained. All the people who’ve hurt me, made me feel small, lifted me up, stolen from me, stood by my side, lied about me, created scars and demonized me over my life, I say thank you. Thank you! From the bottom of my heart. Without all of you, I wouldn’t be the person I am today, and I like who I am. I didn’t see that until it was almost too late.


For the longest time though, I felt trapped. Over time, little clues started popping up and conversations branched into others and my restricted mind opened a bit. Things started to fall into place and the foggy areas lifted once entering the second month. Incrementally.

It didn’t happen all at once and overnight.

While multiple tales may be sad, not all of TotC is depressing and tragic. It stopped being that when Nancy barged into my world like a bull in a china shop and wrecked everything I had come to understand.

She was a force of nature, but more on the gentler side. A warm and steady spring breeze, after a frigid and brutal winter.

When she made her presence known for the first time, she was a light filled whirlwind and still is today.

I lived with blinders on. Everything outside my small tunnel of vision didn’t exist. When speaking with someone, all I saw was that person. The folks around me in the periphery were shadows and static; white noise. Only what I wanted to see and hear, would I allow myself to see and hear.

As a result of my upbringing, I was forced into a schism of the mind. Having been raised in a religious home and adopting specific mentalities over time, some spiritual components always resonated and stuck around. Things as easy as the standard commandments: Not stealing, being nice to others, not coveting what others have.

Then the other, bigger, more looming ones made themselves known. Such as, divorce. Big no-no.


I have always made strides to be sin free.

I was married in a church with a ceremony performed by a local pastor, and I vowed to abide by my vows. Therefore (at the time) in my spiritual frame of mind, engaging in divorce was going to bite me on the ass in the afterlife, and be frowned upon (it’s OK to snicker at this time. I get it). Since the divorce was mandatory, all I could do, is continue to believe that it was the right thing for myself and the people I care about and move forward with my head held high.

However, during the days of separation and even beyond the divorce, I maintained my vows. Never once steered from them, even when I thought I wanted to. I was determined to be better than that.

I maintained my visual blinders so I could focus on myself and the kids and not see others around me. I had to ignore the world in order to navigate it’s dangerous terrain.

Unfortunately, I was convinced something was wrong with me. I was broken. Maybe at the time I was. I had conversations with myself about avoiding relationships. No one will want to share this baggage.

Instead, I was going to fight against the single father statistics, stereotypes and numbers, and prove a point or two. Show everyone I can do it solo. No dating profiles. No casual encounters. No bars or clubs. No singles nights or parties. No online social groups or chats. I refused to put myself in a position I would possibly regret the next day. Always trying to think it through and ignore impulse. Focused intently on trying to do the right thing.

I never believed I was robbed of time and had to make up for it. I didn’t have any wild oats to sow, or inclinations to pursue anyone. At that moment in my life, all I wanted, was to get through the day and find my place in this world. It was tough enough looking people in the eye, let alone initiating conversation. Dating? HAHAHA!

Screw that. I had a new life to build. No plan to introduce anyone to the shambles of my broken world. People don’t deserve to walk beside me. Why would I wish to subject anyone to my way of life? I’d be introducing them to the other, darker side of living. An unfair idea.


Too busy for that. I was in a life competition miles away from a finish line, and felt as though I was fighting to stand upright. I’d score some points in the game now and then, but the experience was always three points ahead, then lose three points, and the finish line was moved from sight. Always a personal stalemate. I learned through a trial by fire that some games and some competitions need not be played. Trying to win will make you go crazy and the schism widens.

I didn’t want to play games anymore, get embroiled, or become involved in one-upmanship with the world. Even though it was me against everyone, I was sick and tired of playing the game. I quit the life competition and decided “keeping up with the Jones’s” and wishing my life was different and better, was a lost cause. I stopped guessing why. I eventually made peace with all of life’s scenarios.

As an avid lover of Chess, I’ve always known when to knock my king down in defeat and surrender. There was no way on this green Earth I had the ability to compete with the world in my current state. Too many hurdles to jump and miles to run to find success. Isn’t that what we’re supposed to do? Strive at all costs for success? That’s where happiness hides in quiet patience waiting to be found. I wanted to be happy with life and I couldn’t find it’s hiding place.

I quit searching for success and decided instead, to stop looking. I don’t compete with life anymore. My only competition today is an online game, Super Mario fighting against the turtles, my kid and I battling it out in a virtual arena, or a table top game with friends.

Once everything started clicking and I returned from La-La-Land and the abyss’ edge, I came to a conclusion. Don’t compete with others in life. Compete with self. When you compete against yourself, the finish line is easier to locate and push for. The hurdles are as high as you want them to be and you can stop and take a break at any time.

If success equals happiness I’ve already won. Game over.

The journey to find game’s end, however, was madness.

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“Of my friend, I can only say this. Of all the souls I have encountered in my travels, his was the most… human.”   Captain James T. Kirk—Spock’s funeral.

Ode to a Friend

“We’ve been through much, you and I, two peas in a pod.

If Heaven awaits with it’s pearly gates, you’ll see the smile of God.

Angels take on many forms, for myself, I know it’s you.

With you at my side, our final ride, under that sky of blue.

I waited for you to tell me, the clues were abundantly clear.

I saw your pain, through my wracking brain, and I knew the end was near.

I was prepared to fight the good fight, no matter what the cost.

But the look on your face, death’s quickening pace, a cause that’s all but lost.

Today I grieve, but I cannot cry, your picture sits on my desk.

I’ll continue to see you every day and wish for you the best.

There’s an emptiness within my home, a void that can’t be filled.

A hole in my heart since we had to depart, though your destiny fulfilled.

You made this house a happy place and guarded it with your life.

Barking at leaves and the wind through the trees, cutting silence like a knife.

My dog had personality, more than most humans I’ve known.

From the days of a puppy, happy go lucky, each day I watched you grow.


Today I say goodbye and I still refuse to cry.

I smile for a moment when I think on the torment she’ll give the mailman in the sky.”  JSM

The Island


“Your spirit animal… must be a slug.” JSM

Week Three

The power of stress. I’m amazed how debilitating and life altering it can be. Anxiety. Depression. Physical pain. Panic attacks. Loss of sleep. Loss of appetite. Loss of fun.

Stress is a serial killer. It cares not for it’s victims and is wholly indiscriminate. It can attack any time, any place, to anyone under the right circumstance, can make the sane go crazy and can be crippling when encountered. At my worst, I’ve feared stress and it’s unholy powers.

Sometimes my levels were so high and out of control, my hands shook all the time. My jaw trembled. My knees felt weak. My body quivered and twitched as though I was loaded up on caffeine. I shivered and shuddered in the summer heat. My sleeping patterns were broken, food tasted like dirt and all I could do was think. I remember being so lost in thought, my eyes would dart and move around the room, watching the Overlay appear across every wall.

Clips of full motion movies would materialize around me and my mind allowed each one to play out. I’d rewind the movie back a few frames and change a line of dialogue to witness how different the scene would be.

If I said “this”, how would my co-worker react? 

Cause and effect scenarios.

I was out of my mind. No denying that.

To make matters worse, people from the old life found it necessary to send me messages, emails, and phone calls to ask questions, and keep me informed of what’s happening in the world. Shit I cared not to hear. Shit that had nothing to do with me. I don’t blame others for dragging me into the world. Everyone does what they feel is best for them.

I memorized every inch of the safe-house. I tip toed the halls, rooms and found every creak and groan in the floorboards and stairs. I walked with my eyes closed, hands out to either side to navigate the house in the dark if ever needed. I made mental notations of chipped paint and bubbling wallpaper, and nails hammered flat into the interior framework. I made the safe-house a home.

The safe-house needed a new name. I called it the island. Anything beyond the island’s outer beach was an ocean of potential danger.

Some came to visit the island now and again, but never stayed long. I was OK with that. I made folks uncomfortable and I don’t blame anyone for not wanting to sit and socialize. I couldn’t talk about my problems. I couldn’t emote. I had difficulties looking people in the eye. I’d start to speak and shut down, “Never mind,” and my thoughts wandered elsewhere forcing uncomfortable silence.

If someone dragged me to a therapist at that moment in life, I’d probably have been diagnosed with depression, and more than likely something that resembles a split personality disorder of some kind. I’m certain of it. Oh yeah… and I had paranoid delusions.

I was paranoid. To be frank, delusional as well. I was terrified of more “bad” happening to me when I least expected it. Someone, or something else, or some happenstance I didn’t see coming. I tried to prepare for every negative thing, but came to the conclusion it was impossible. No one can feasibly prepare for EVERYTHING…

… let’s try anyway.

I left a digital fingerprint wherever I went. I logged into my work computer, proved I was there by time stamping my documents, and when I left for lunch breaks or local errands I’d make a withdrawal from an ATM along the way or visit a store even if I didn’t need anything. Allowing a trail of breadcrumbs to be scattered around me so no one could ever question my whereabouts. I’d have a concrete alibi for everything. I kept my wanderings and travels covered in some way to ensure my safety. I remained within close proximity to the island and guaranteed I couldn’t be wrongfully accused of anything.

Each time I parted company with a co-worker, or after a meeting, I’d look to the clock on the wall and say, “OK. See you in fifteen minutes. Leaving the building at 1:20.” In the event they were ever questioned, they had a point of time reference.


“No, sir. He was here at 1:15. Standing right here beside me.”

Absolute insanity.

I parked under dome cameras attached to the sides of buildings, supermarkets and banks, to ensure nothing happened to my car, or myself, and only left the island when needed.

Seems like a million years ago.

Each time I’d open the door to “home” I had to look around the property to make sure I didn’t have anyone running up on me. Watching over my shoulder as I turned the key for entry. I closed every open blind, pulled all the curtains shut and separated them now and again to give the property another once over from the inside, before committing to sitting down.

Ho boy those were the days, my friends, those were the days.

The new phone issued from work would ring, and my stomach would drop to the floor. Nausea and dizziness trapped me in my seat. A heavy weight paralyzing me in one spot. Bill collector? Another problem? Who needs me now? What do you want? Just leave me be, damn it!

I allowed Shelby to filter through all the unwanted, unexpected visitors.

Salesmen. The good folk of the neighborhood distributing fliers promoting their faith or alternate energy opportunities and campaigners for upcoming elections. The dog took care of them. One thing can be said for a Mastiff. They can be scary.

Towards the end of the fourth week, the stress of life made my nose bleed. All self inflicted. I couldn’t release my burden. I wasn’t able. I wanted to carry it as far as I could go before breaking.

Self induced torture.

The nose bleed was a wake up call indicating drastic measures were in order. Despite my state of mind, I never wanted to die. However, I felt as though I needed to suffer.

Two things happened shortly into the second month. An old friend reconnected with me and a singular stitch was sewn through the flesh of my open wounds.

And I met, Nancy.

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“To be at peace is a test of resilience.” JSM


Before I dive into the details of the second week at my new home, I pause. I now present some non-linear rambling. Yeah!!

My friends and family know my tendencies to ramble on sometimes under the right circumstances, but the moments are few and far between. Once provided an opportunity to let it gush forth, I take full advantage.

Not long ago I was trapped in traffic at a four way intersection. My daughter sat beside me in the passenger seat and we chatted away about our day. I hit the green light parallel to the driver beside me and was brought to a halt at the center. All traffic stopped while I was gradually cutting the wheel into my turn.

Dead center.

The light changes from green to red and the lane behind me, to the left, starts their procession up the street. I’m still locked in the middle. Moving traffic scooted along a mere foot from my back bumper.

We laughed it off. I checked to my right letting oncoming drivers know I’m there, with a smile and a wave, and my lane creeps forward. I’m almost in the place I need to be.

The moment the green light activated, the driver in the opposite lane slams on the gas, rolls up beside my car and cuts us off from our spot.

My breaks locked up inches from the bumper. The tires squealed to a halt and my fingers gripped the wheel with white knuckle panic. Instead of laying on the horn, flipping the bird or yelling obscenities, I kept quiet, and let the bastard carry on.

I’ve mentioned in previous installments my ever changing views of Earth and the people on it. Seeing things a bit differently now. Observing with a new lens in a new light. It’s both a blessing and a curse.

In the old life, I had positive expectations of humanity. I was blind to the potential of the human spirit going bad or rotten. Oblivious to the selfish actions of people as a whole.

People I’ve known for half my life switching over to the dark side and hurting others out of nothing but pure selfishness. Reading about members of my community, trusted folks known since childhood becoming something no one saw coming. One afternoon happening across an article about the retired janitor killing the neighbors dog for barking too much. Close friends transforming into enemies. Finding out you’ve been used or a relationship was a facade.

People you never once thought in a gazillion years would get divorced, “They seemed so happy.”

I see the angry faces in the supermarket(s) now. I see hurting souls, frowns, eye rolls, people on the brink of losing control or breaking into tears. Parents wearing fake smiles for the benefit of an infant in a car seat who’s riding front and center atop a grocery cart.

Then the parent looks away, frowns and whispers, “What the F___.” The early stages of a transformation into something they really, really don’t want to become. But the pressure builds and builds and one day… it’s channeled.

It’s not a pretty sight. Families are ruined during the channeling. Friendships are splintered and lives are changed. Wedges are driven into the fabric of reality and normalcy. Trust issues arise and growing hate is the end result. Tears of sadness, confusion and anger. Looking to the sky and asking, “WHY?! Why did this happen? How could this happen?”

A spouse coming home and witnessing an affair. A drunk uncle beating someone half to death in a bar fight, now spending years in prison. A teenage son hitting someone intentionally with a car; an act of pure jealousy. Stumbling across information, gossip or rumors that hit too close to home. Or whatever the case may be. Pick the poison. The horrible things that occur when you never thought it was EVER possible.

That’s my expectation now (while as horrible and callous as that sounds, my guess is, I’m not alone). My expectations of humanity have morphed into something different. I expect a rude customer or twelve when I go shopping. I expect to be bumped into without a sorry or a ‘pardon me’. I don’t expect people to hold a door open for me to enter a building. I expect people to cut me off or neglect basic manners and human decency. I don’t plan on hearing a please or thank you from people anymore. I expect to be treated like a nobody by a cashier. I expect to see eye rolls when an adult is asked by another adult to “do something”. I expect to see arguments among others in passing vehicles. I expect folks to say one thing, then do the opposite.

I was cashing out at a store last week, purchasing a few simple items for my day, and the young lady (guessing early twenties) bagged up my supplies and once completed with her mandatory tasks she turned her head to look out the window.

I stood at the counter for a moment. A bewildered stare frozen on my face, and I then proceeded to snatch up my bag and smile at her, “You’re welcome, and you as well.”

(I’m grinning and shaking my head as I compose this) She turned back to me and actually stated out loud, “I never said anything.”

“Oh… I know.”

I haven’t been back since.

My expectations have unfortunately lowered. I know it’s sad. Possibly judgmental, demeaning and out right rude, “How can you only see the bad, or troubled?  Why can’t you see the good?” I never said I couldn’t see the good in people, or I don’t have that ability, I do see the good in many individuals as individuals, and those are the good folks I associate with, however, when one is bombarded with the negative for long periods of time, the good is increasingly difficult to see.

When trust issues interfere, the light in others is faded. I know this because I was once one of the faded. My light vanished. Blinked out into oblivion. I remember well being that person behind the counter, ignoring my basic human decency.

Nearing the middle of the second week, when outward sincerity towards the world ultimately failed, I became cold and heartless. The inner demons found their voice. I spoke from Hell’s heart and aimed to cut, break and burn. I wanted others to feel pain. I wanted to fight and win even if it meant twisting the rules and cheating. I desired to go for the throat. Work. Family. Friends. Strangers. Social Media trolling. Didn’t matter. If you weren’t with me, you were against me. I said the things I said, purely for shock value.

Horrible, huh? Yeah. I had my moment.

I wished for nothing more than for my situation to be different. I blamed everyone and everything around me for what I was enduring. The seeds of subtle discord I once planted, never sprouted. Reaching out to others, failed. My plan of killing the planet with sincerity and happiness (as fake as it was) didn’t work to my advantage. People either saw right through it, or didn’t care. My fight to gain allies was a struggle to the point of defeat.

Thinking, for half a moment, someone will join you in the suffrage and help guide you through it. You’re hanging by one trembling hand on the cliff’s edge, dangling helpless, and instead of aiding you over the top they pry your fingers from the rock one by one and smile as you plummet to the ground.

Either way, I battled the world to no avail. My tactics were faulty and my strategy was flawed. Each morning I’d adorn my dented and bloodied armor, sheath my sword, and begin my day oblivious to it’s potential end result.

Becoming a bad guy was exhausting.

I spoke words to others I can never take back. Phrases uttered I’ll never forget. I played the me, me, me, selfish card whenever possible. I stopped thinking about others and only focused on myself.

I’ve sliced to the center of a heart and watched it bleed dry. Once upon a short time ago I was absolutely devoid of an inner light. I spoke purely from emotion. I said things if only to watch people cry. I needed to be in control of all dialogue and dictate it’s direction. I was snide, condescending, rude, arrogant and didn’t care what happened as a result.

“How can it get any worse? Might as well go for broke.”

I do have personal regret in areas where I intentionally dolled out pain towards others. If you were ever caught in that crossfire, again, I apologize. Even today, I think about how words can hurt. Those are my own demons. I deal with them accordingly.

When my new mentality disintegrated and crumbled, and my evil little lair rumbled, shifted and forced an evacuation, I had to face some hard truths.

It all went to Hell in a hand basket at the end of the third month at the safe-house. My demons controlled me for what seemed like an eternity, and it appeared as though the powers that be didn’t agree with the way I was living my life. I needed a good hard slap across the side of my head.

The path again warped and maneuvered into the Twilight Zone under my feet, mindnumbingly dragging me along with it into another alternate dimension. However, that’s a tale for later.

All I can say about the end of the third month, for now, was speaking the words out loud on the side of the road, inches from the guardrail, forehead pressing into the steering wheel,”The only thing that can happen to make shit worse: is if I lose my kids, my job, or my dog gets hit by a car.”

One of those three occurred shortly into the fourth month.

Anyway, as I enter the second week of safe-house existence, my chest now an emptying vault and my heart calcifying within, I watched myself become something I’m not. Slow at first, but once I found my stride, nothing was getting in between me and my mission. I found the buttons within others that when pressed, inflicted pain. I absorbed that pain and it generated a smile.

I sat in the dark and became a hermit. I remained alone and ignored everything that didn’t pertain to me directly. I scoured and trolled the internet. Day in and out I made people miserable. My whole second week was a blur of mindless attacks, social media outbursts, vaguebooking, retail therapy, and looking the fool. My opinions were all that mattered. I lashed out to those I believed deserved it. Even if I was wrong, I was right. I burned bridges and built walls. Always maintaining that fake smile for the children.

I collected some credits card, exclusive to me with only my name and purchased exactly what I wanted and everything was black. Black towels, hand-cloths, TV and entertainment center. My game system was sleek and black. My tee shirts mostly black with dark pictures. My bedding. Even my dress attire for meetings and work were black silk button ups, and dark sunglasses to hide my eyes. My laptop bag was black, my baseball hat… I wanted everything to match the color of my futon.

I purchased some housewarming gifts for the kids, started small, and worked my way to a comfortable living situation. Plunging myself into crippling debt.

Only comfortable in the material sense though. I was still living a life not suitable to who I am.

As long as the kids are safe, that’s all that matters. Focus on the kids… but, this is your life now. Do with it as you please.

As the soul darkened, so did everything around me. For the moment it felt wonderful. I was satisfied with my new identity. Having sparkly new items, accessories, gadgets, technology and toys gave me something else to focus on as I entered week three. I snatched up discounted Sci-fi TV box sets, and comedies, and binge watched each one over and over.

I contained my consciousness in a little 3D box. I surrounded myself with my interests so my focus never swayed from self. I worked at night and slept the day. I fixed a corner for a condensed work space and eventually inherited a bed. I continued to utilize only a corner of the home, and the kids each had their own room at the back of the house.

I ignored invitations and gatherings from people in the old life. Weddings, social events, movie nights, bonfires. I said I’d attend… then back out at the last minute with a ridiculous excuse and said bullshit like, “You probably wouldn’t want me there. I’m not the best company.”

I pushed everyone away.

Nearing the end of the first month, it was time for me to reach out. I had to battle the demons back, kicking and screaming, and seek help. It shouldn’t have surprised me when no one connected, picked up the phone, or came running to my beck and call. People’s expectations of me were now nonexistent.

Considering what I transformed into, I should have expected it.

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“Upon your tombstone it shall be carved,

‘Here lies, Jere. Good father, good partner, good friend. Died happy’.” JSM

Day Seven

Worry not, fellow travelers. I won’t continue the tale on a day-by-day basis. Day eight, nine, ten, eleven and so on. Perhaps here and there. It’s unnecessary to drag out daily details.

Day seven was important to me because it was the first time in what felt like months in seclusion, where the sensation of butterflies moving around my gut, disappeared. The new “feeling” overpowered the old nerves.

Butterflies are tender creatures. When trapped in the stomach, then triggered into motion by a thought or a feeling, they become flapping demons. Sleeping made my demons vanish, despite the night terrors and dark nightmares. My nerves were in full control of my entire being during the waking hours. I couldn’t shut my mind off.

When alone with nothing but darkening thoughts and re-reading fantasy books over and over again (surfing the internet to change things up) the mind instructs you on how to feel. Those burned images, now a permanent fixture within the “Overlay” creep into vision and force you to feel it all, all over again. Experiences that can’t be erased. I understand the phrase, “Trigger Warning” now more than ever.

The laughter of a child outside, knowing yours is not in vicinity. Watching a funny clip on YouTube and remembering what that feeling was like, so long ago. Recalling the belly aching delight of uncontrollable laughter, which then becomes a stream of tears. The taste of food and drink changes. The concept and perception of time is different. Proper management of the body which provides the mind with nutrients, all of it, changes.

I stopped caring. Couldn’t give a damn.

Allowing that gate to open, transformed me. No matter how I try to reconcile it, and beat myself up for engaging and dabbling in affairs which had nothing to do with me, I know it was needed. I desired to embrace something out of my comfort zone. Like… way out of my comfort zone.

I kept a bottle of liquor in a cabinet above the fridge. I still close my eyes and smile when I think on it. In all the time I was in the safe-house, to present day, I haven’t raised alcohol to my lips; save one time. A singular, fun (Ghostbusters theme) celebratory drink with a group of close friends at Comic Con in Rhode Island. In fact if memory serves, the name of the drink was, Ecto Plasm, and it was neon green. A VIP lounge where celebrities from our youth surrounded us, taking pictures and making small talk. Our favorite characters and actors throughout history sitting at a nearby table, icons of childhood, and it was a moment where a toast was in order. The only time I’ve had a drink in more than five years.

I snicker to this day thinking it took a personal catastrophe to keep me from hitting the bottle. I’d lean against the wall, computer silent, arms crossed, alone in an empty house staring at the cupboard.

Just one drink will make you feel better.

Yeah… and the bottle will make all the problems disappear… until you wake up from wherever you fall down.

During the early inception of the new dark feelings, first introducing myself to the deceptive side of the mind, it started with fake smiles. I helped my daughter prepare her overnight bag, asking her simple questions about the house, and her sister, and smeared a forced smile across my face.

“Everything’s alright, sweetie. Daddy’ll see you soon.” Pats on the back, kisses on the forehead and a wide stupid grin on my pale, unshaven face. Over-exaggerated waves of my hand as she leaves the driveway. I adopted a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde mentality. I became two different people.

The first phase of the darker side was denying the world’s access to my pain.

Once the kiddo was out of view, I snapped my attention to the laptop and it was time to begin my diabolical plan.

There I sat on my futon typing away like a madman. I compiled everything I needed to say, read it a couple of times, and froze in my seat.

I stared at the monitor. Both hands hovered and twitched above the keyboard. Are you really gonna go through with this? Waitwaitwait. STOP! Think this through for a second. How will this effect YOU?

How will this effect ME? … Good question.

Will it solve anything?

It might make you feel better.

Will it be worth it?

If it makes me feel better, then yes.

What’s the worst that can happen?

Prison or death. Pick one. Out of the two worst possible options.

I looked to the dog and shook my head, “Prison ain’t happening. What do you think, Shelbs… who’d take care of the mutt?” She chewed her bone and kept the ears perked up with each sound of my voice.

“Yeah, I can’t think of anyone either. OK, how about option B then?”

Often times, our emotions override our intelligence and we react to situations irrationally. I sighed, switched over to a different program, typed a few words and placed the laptop on the couch beside me. Knowing ahead of time there was a chance I’d talk myself out of Option A, I generated a contingency plan just in case. The lesser of two evils.

My only mission in life, was to prove a point. Ultimately it was a point to prove to myself and I didn’t know it at the time. My point was subtle and hidden under a guise of outward sincerity. Instead of formulating a method of attack against the old life, out of spite and anger, I planted random seeds, remained in the Jekyll/Hyde role, and believed I was doing the right thing. I became patient. I waited quietly for a short time for karma to interject and make everything better.

Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Killing the world with kindness will only get you so far.

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