Tag Archives: shatter

The Theatre

“Misery loves company.” – John Ray

I can’t say that I have experienced or seen anything that leads me to disagree.

There are three types of victims: The Innocent Bystander, The Self Fulfilling Prophesier, and The Perpetuator.

The Innocent Bystander is the victim that we are the most familiar with, either from our own experiences or from the experiences of another. Nothing and no one can stop the inevitable, no matter how hard we try, or how much we’d like to think we can. Occasionally some tragedy or unfair circumstance creeps its way into our Fortress’ of Perfection. That’s just it though, nothing is perfect, and life goes on, and usually the Innocent Bystander does too.

The Self Fulfilling Prophesier and The Perpetuator are different. They start as the Innocent Bystander, but something happens, something that makes it impossible to let go of the feelings and thoughts surrounding the moment that they felt themselves shatter. They go on, but that moment replays over and over, and instead of letting it go and making peace, they scrutinize every detail to its most infinitesimal degree. The constant replay of the horrors makes them feel as though they are at fault, that they could have and should have somehow stopped the horrors that came. Because they failed to stop them, they deserve them. You and I both know this is NEVER the case, no person deserves for any horrible thing to happen to them. No one deserves for their dignity to be stripped from them. This doesn’t change the fact that to The Self Fulfilling Prophesier there is always something lurking around every corner, and that they deserve whatever it is that may or may not come, even though IF that something were to ever come, they would be Innocent Bystanders in the matter. It is said that a victim is twice as likely to be victimized again. The Self Fulfilling Prophesier knows that this day is coming, they “feel it,” even though that day may never come.

Then there’s The Perpetuator. They too started as an Innocent Bystander, went through the stages of being The Self Fulfilling Prophesier, and went a step further: deep into the land of self-made Stockholm syndrome. The Perpetuator has taken tragedy to a whole new level. They continually invite it. They know the choices they make are the wrong ones, but somehow manage to convince themselves that “this time” will be different, this time I won’t let them do that to me. If they do that one more time, I’m gone for good.”

Those words sound like the words of someone in control. Someone we want to believe will ride the tides to better days, but there’s a catch. There’s always a catch. With The Perpetuator there is now a system of Unfortunate Neurons that are in control, misfiring like Dick Cheney on a hunting trip. The words are said, the words of change, hope, self-love and that which no one can dispute are of what is right. Sadly they are just that: words. They inevitably lack the courage of their convictions. Is it because the person who utters those words is/are incapable of action? I do not believe so; they have become the victims of their own never-ending prisons. There is perhaps a fleeting moment in time that we have all been here; some of us still are. Maybe we just couldn’t stop ourselves from drinking too fast, knowing full well we’d puke; just like the last time. Maybe we had to have that outfit, knowing it would mean we wouldn’t have the money to pay rent or eat; just like last month. Maybe we said from now on we’d be more responsible and go to bed earlier so that we would actually start showing up to work on time, but we didn’t; just like yesterday and the day/week/month/year(s) before that. Maybe we said just one more hit and then never again; but we’re still pushing the needle and further down the spiral than we have ever been and cannot see ourselves any other way. Just maybe.

Here’s the problem with The Perpetuator that doesn’t de-escalate back down to an Innocent Bystander: they are NOT the only casualties. When this point has been reached there are always victims of war that are Innocent Bystanders. The problem is that more times than not those that are Perpetuators are the ones we love that we want the best for, and because we are bound to this love, we rush to their aid time and time again. We tell ourselves “this time will be different; this time they won’t do this again. They have to have learned a lesson by now; they know not to fall for this again.” Or maybe it’s “this is the last time that I am going to sacrifice everything for them, I am not doing this again if they continue down this path.” But it never works, it never ends, and we too become Perpetuators.

When I think of a Perpetuator the only thing I can relate to is an old time nearly abandoned run down theatre. The kind of theatre that’s on the other side of town, and it’s cold, dark, and damp. It reeks of stale popcorn, sex, and cigarettes, so much that when you leave it’s not just in your clothes, it’s in YOU. You have to dive head first into the purging fires of Mordor to thoroughly cleanse yourself of the stench. A theatre that only plays those old black and white films and they’ve played the films so many times that the reels cannot be spliced back together anymore. During the most pivotal scenes, the film cuts out or the audio screams ahead like a chipmunk burning alive while hopped up on cocaine.

We all have that friend that just can’t seem to get enough of those theatres, those films and the nostalgia, the costuming, and the scripts. Normally that would be ok, but the problem is that they are only interested in ONE movie. The same movie over and over and over. They’ve seen that movie a thousand times, they know every word, every pause, every tear, the subtleties of the character progressions, what the writer really meant as they were attempting their fifteen minutes on sociopolitical commentary. Everything. They’ve seen it so many times that they have abandoned reality and go through every waking moment as their favorite character of the film. Everything they do and say is another line from the movie. Someone will sweep them off of their feet and everything will be “perfect.”

They asked us once to come and see the film, and we agreed, because it was so important to them. We sat there and watched. It was a painful thing to endure, but we kept our mouths shut and did it: out of love, respect, and devotion. But that wasn’t enough. It never is. “Just one more time,” they cried. “It will be the last time, and I will never ask you to do this again. It’s just that I hate experiencing this alone.” And we cave. We always cave: love, respect, and devotion.

Some of us are still going to that theatre and watching that horrible film. We know how it ends: yet we keep going. Others of us are at the point that we tell ourselves that if we see the film one more time, it will be the end of this so-called friendship. Then there are those of us that have stopped going all together and when that friend calls and cries for us, we simply turn away. We no longer return the calls. It’s not because we don’t care, in fact it’s quite the opposite. We do. We care about them and we care about us. We care enough to no longer feed into the cycle of abuse, hoping that one day they will realize that they are sitting in that cold, dark, damp theatre alone.

I’ve become that person. I cannot and will not let those that say they love me continue to drag me to the theatre. To appropriate and paraphrase the words of Bernie Taupin and voiced so eloquently voiced by Sir Elton John:

“I’ve seen that movie too… The one where the players are acting surprised… Well their actions become so absurd … So keep your auditions for somebody Who hasn’t got so much to lose… I’m not the blue print for all of your B films… Because I’ve seen that movie too.”

The pill that I really can’t swallow when it comes to The Perpetuator is when what we have given is not enough, when we have given all we can and have over and over, and what we hear and get in return is “if you really loved me you would…” That’s when I draw the line. When all we can and are, are cast aside with last week’s garbage, I am through. Who are you to deign what is and isn’t our best? We loved you unconditionally, sacrificed ourselves every time you cried wolf, and claimed it was another emergency. We dropped everything; we put our lives on hold, missed our deadlines and let down everyone else that was counting on us, including ourselves FOR YOU. Just so you could cast us aside and tell us that “we don’t love you,” “we don’t care about you,” “we don’t know what it’s like.”

To that all I can muster has already been said by Maynard James Keenan, and once again I will appropriate and paraphrase:

“Threw you the obvious and you flew with it on your back, a name in your recollection, thrown down among a million same. Difficult not to feel a little bit disappointed and passed over when I’ve looked right through to see you naked and oblivious and you don’t see me… but I threw you the obvious to see what occurs behind the eyes of a fallen angel, the eyes of a tragedy. Here I am expecting just a little bit too much from the wounded. But I see through it all and see you… You don’t, you don’t see me, you don’t see me at all… apparently nothing. Apparently nothing at all… oh well.”

For those that want to say it and can’t: “Guess what? FUCK YOU. We’re through. More importantly we are through with you. I AM THROUGH WITH YOU.”

Surprisingly this isn’t about me. This is about watching someone else that I love and care about that sits in that theatre time and time again, for the sake of love, respect, and devotion. I wish them well. I stopped entering that theatre a long time ago. However I can no longer sit idly by, and haven’t. I have witnessed the abuse for longer than I care to remember, sadly when it happens the most placid thing I can and have mustered is: “I would rather suffer childhood again and be raped every day, and physically beaten until I can’t stand, then deal with that.”

I know that is not an appropriate response, but it’s honestly the best that I can give. I want to give more. I want to stop them from entering that theatre. I would rather take the abuse; I am willing to deal with it again, I am used to it from ones that claim it’s out of love.

Watching you suffer is killing me, it’s killing us. I just want to see you smile again. I would give anything to see you be happy. Out of love I am willing to be your whipping boy.



shat·ter  [shat-er]

–verb (used with object)


to break (something) into pieces, as by a blow.


to damage, as by breaking or crushing: ships shattered by storms.


to impair or destroy (health, nerves, etc.): The incident shattered his composure.


to weaken, destroy, or refute (ideas, opinions, etc.): He wanted to shatter her illusions

For several years I have had this recurring almost paranoid delusion, although it only happens while I am awake.

My teeth shatter.

There’s usually no warning, I’m not eating anything. In reality nothing major is going on. They just shatter. I’m always awake as the fantasy sets in. I often imagine that I am riding in a car when this happens. Sometimes I hit a pothole or rear end the car in front of me. Other times I imagine that I end up in a catastrophic car wreck and broken teeth is the extent of the damage. The nerve wracking part is the physical manifestations of this delusion. Loss of breath, blurry vision, teeth and body humming and in searing pain. I know at any second it will happen, they will simply shatter. I can feel the millions of tiny shards ripping through my mouth, gums bleeding, and then I begin to choke on the tiny fragments.

I Googled teeth shattering dreams and found that they are actually quite common, well dreams of teeth, tooth loss and breakage are. It seems that the most common interpretations are:

  • Symbol of Powerlessness
  • Fear of Failure or Embarrassment
  • Fear of Death and Growing Old
  • Poor Health and Financial Instability

Okay. Let’s start with the bottom of the list, as I’m not one that’s known for doing things in any natural order other than my own.

Poor Health and Financial Instability:

Well, I’m exhibiting classic symptoms of diabetes, poor circulation, and making the minimum payments on my bills or avoiding random 800 numbers that call my cell phone. Who isn’t on those last two? I’m still enjoying all the fun things this city and any neighboring ones within a four-hour radius has/have to offer around my ridiculous work schedule. As for the health “issues” they aren’t stopping me from enjoying beer, key lime pie, sex or smoking. So all in all I would say these are clearly non issues for me.

Fear of Death and Growing Old:

I want to live forever. I’m sure that’s purely out of spite. I love to pretend I’m a 450 year old Time Lord, The Highlander, a vampire, or a Sin Eater. However these fantasies are not impeding my ability to function in reality, and I’ve got the ultimate death plan lined up and hope to be cremated and have my ashes spread across the globe. Yet again, a non issue.  For posterity’s sake, let’s just combine the last two.

Fear of Failure and Embarrassment/Symbol of Powerlessness:

According to several dream interpretation sites that I have looked at, the gist of these two are that your teeth reflect your anxieties about how others view you and that you may be experiencing feelings of inferiority and a lack self confidence.

Okay. This could get interesting. Given previous posts, I think we can all begin to imagine several ways in which those interpretations could apply, and still not see the iceberg before we crash. Since I seem to be action packed with issues, trying to find the single most earth shattering one is a bit difficult. After looking through a few more interpretations on teeth dreams, I also found them to be symbolism associated with a of a fear of change.

Change has a been a constant in my life. With military parents we moved constantly. Due to horrific circumstances at the age of thirteen, my mother put me on a plane from Hawai’i to Texas to live with folks that I had only known 6 months. The arrangement was to be temporary, I haven’t seen her since. We talked on the phone a few times for the first few months, but due to my inability to fully process and understand the circumstances of the time, we got into an argument that lead to our not speaking again for nearly 14 years.

I spent years despising my mother. I would go from one extreme to another, blaming her, then blaming me. After a while I just stopped thinking about it. Or so I thought. Then one day something happened that shook me down to the very core of my being. Something so small, it could not be seen by the naked eye, nor could it be seen by anyone other than me.

I was sitting at our dining room table, eating a bowl of cereal. At one point I looked down and saw my hand holding the spoon, and that was it. I could feel myself begin to crack. In that moment I was no longer looking at my hand, it was hers. The way my fingers curled around the spoon. The wrinkles in the skin. The muscle structure. All of it was her. I was in shock, completely paralyzed, and then the final blow struck.

I could feel her.

The way the muscles in my hand held the spoon, loosely, but firm. Every time I would try to fully extend my fingers and they couldn’t, and simply return to their natural closed fist position. I could feel her running her course through my muscles, blood, and veins. I could feel her in every heartbeat.

That experience shattered every bit of my reality. I had tried for so long to cut the ties that bound me to my pains thinking they were because of my mother. I spent so long pretending that she wasn’t real. I realized at that moment she had never left me. She couldn’t. There are simply just some ties that can’t unbind.

I’ve recently got back in touch with my mother, turns out Facebook is both a blessing, and as I discovered vicariously through a friend at work, a curse. I can tell she still doesn’t know what to say. She knows about my transitioning, my wife, and that I am as stubborn as ever. She makes attempts to engage in meaningful conversations, even asks me if I remember so and so, or that time we… It’s painfully obvious that she is uncomfortable trying to get to know me and make up for lost time through an electronic box controlled by towers, satellites, and invisible signals. It too is painfully obvious to her that I am guarded, that I trust no one and am always 3 steps ahead watching, waiting, scrutinizing every move and for the other shoe to drop.

I can’t dance, I have two left feet and don’t have the time to learn to Tango. Despite this I’m willing to change. I just want to rip off the band-aid. Whatever it is you may be wondering, just say it. Just ask. I don’t care. I can’t be hurt any more than I already have. I’m not invincible, but I’m not a child. I won’t shatter. Since neither of us are good at talking and expressing things, I’ll start first because I’m still angry, but not over the things you think.

  • I’m angry that you taught me how to ignore things and pretend nothing’s wrong when everything’s falling apart.
  • I’m angry that I’m short. Yeah, go ahead and make jokes, that’s your fault too.
  • I’m angry that I’m smart. So smart it’s almost a disability. I have to analyze, scrutinize and find the least common denominator in everything and I blame you for that. I know no other parent that taught their kids fractions in kindergarten, and made them do their math homework with an abacus. I know no other kid born in the US to an English speaking parent but spoke a foreign language before they learned English. I know no other kid who’s mom let them read The Count of Monte Cristo, A Tale of Two Cities, and Bram Stroker’s Dracula at age 8. I didn’t stand a chance in hell of ever being able to relate to children my own age, we had absolutely nothing in common.
  • I’m angry that I can’t stay in one spot for too long, or I become bored and irritable. That’s all you too. We moved around a lot, even before Ed, yes I remember. I have to rearrange the furniture in the living room every 6 months to pretend I’m somewhere new and it drives my wife and blind ailing dog absolutely crazy.
  • I’m angry that you didn’t tell the truth. You didn’t tell me I wasn’t what you wanted. I imagine after the denial wears off, you will be saying that I was too young to understand. I wasn’t. I knew when you weren’t there anymore. I knew when you bought me all of those books that night, and we sat in the Samurai in the rain. I knew when I said “thanks for the books mom” and you ignored me. I waited for an eternity for a response. Nothing. So I said it again, “thanks for the books mom.” Another eternity passes in each rain drop. The only response you could manage to give is one I still hear loud and clear to this day: “don’t call me mom.”
  • I’m angry that you let Ed teach me about God in all the wrong ways. How could you not know? How could you let your kid have the Holy Snot beat out of them in every way, and not know.
  • I’m angry that all the other kid’s celebrated birthdays and Christmas’ but me. We are Roman Catholic, not Jehovah’s Witnesses, so what the hell was that all about?
  • I’m mad that I look absolutely nothing like you. Other than what I can feel coursing it’s way through my veins, and my hands… there isn’t a single shred of visual evidence that links us. As far as I know I have never met my biological father, and you never made it a point to tell me anything about him, or what he looked like other than to say he was shorter than you. So that leaves me, dumpster baby.
  • I’m angry that you instilled in me an insatiable habit that I really can’t afford. Fashion. While everyone else’s parents dressed them in K-Mart and hand-me-downs, I was the only kid I new with name brand clothes and all the latest fashions. Even as I’m older I still have to look good. I will admit part of this is due to the fact that I am 5’2, 115 lbs, and have a 28″ waist, therefore finding adult clothes that fit and look good require money. None the less the drive to stand apart from those around me, to never fit fit in, and to not look like anyone else was created by you. In a week from now I will tell you this and your response will be: “do you remember the movie Steel Magnolias?” I’ll say, “yeah mom, I love that movie, I’ve seen it a hundred times.” You’ll say “the only thing that separates us from the animals is the ability to accessorize.”  Way to go mom.

I’m sure this list seems absolutely ridiculous to anyone that reads it. I don’t care. There is plenty more that I’ve carried for over 20 years, and no longer wish to.

“To reform means to shatter one form and to create another; but the two sides of this act are not always equally intended nor equally successful.” –  George Santayana

I’m going to shatter this glass house, raze it to the ground with my bare hands if I have to, whatever it takes. I’m letting go. I don’t know what that means just yet. I don’t know to what measure of success this endeavor will turn out to be, but it doesn’t matter. I’m going to give it my all, and maybe, just maybe this will be the one time that my obstinance and fearless nature will serve me well.

I now know for the first time “in my sad little blip of an existence” to shatter one’s self is a necessary means to life. And for the first time ever I am undoubtedly, unequivocally, and unabashedly unafraid to shatter.