“Tiny Hell” represents some of the more introspective work I have done. I think a certain thing happens to a person when they get into their “middle age” and that is that they are able to somewhat more dispassionately reflect back on their experiences in life and begin to piece together who they are and what made them that way.
At least, that what it has been like for me.
My father passed away a few years ago. We were estranged and had not spoken in decades. He had been a solid presence in my childhood and into my teen years before his divorce from my mother. He was both a caring and loving man, passionate and adventurous, and a terror when his temper would get the best of him, which was often enough. Of course, this type of environment left indelible impressions upon my mind that I would not understand until much, much later.
It is said that trauma can occur in the womb. Recent studies have shown that emotional trauma in the very early stages of a child’s life can have profound effects upon their development. I had spent much of my adult life trying to undo the damage that I had visited upon myself. The behavioral issues, drug and alcohol abuse, anger issues, depression, were things that I blamed myself for. I carried the weight of the downside of existence on my shoulders and felt profound guilt that I had done so much damage I had to now undo.
I was wrong.
I was carrying around all this pain. All this hurt and trauma that I did not create. It was imprinted into my physiology at very early time in my life and reinforced throughout my developing years. The drugs and alcohol use at an early age most certainly exacerbated the situation, so it was something of a small miracle that I had not completely succumbed to the combined effects of nature and nurture, as so many who come from similar circumstances do.
The world that I saw through the filter of my life was tainted. My relationships, my goals, by beliefs, all were skewed, like a warped mirror. When I looked at myself, I did not see a true representation of who I was, I saw the world through the eyes of my harrowed and terrified “child self”. I never let go. I never broke free. I just kept on living and perpetuating the same cycles of behavior that I always had, unknowing that the programming was not mine.
These past few years have been interesting to say the least. Coming to terms with ones existence is far from a simple, or pleasurable experience, but it is well worth the progress. I have been able to let go of much of the pain I had carried around, and identify the parts of me that are mine to work on and improve. This has been an immense help and the journey is ongoing.
One of the biggest things that I had to admit to myself is that I was not responsible for all of the trauma in my life. I had to let go. I had to stop using it as an excuse for being who I was and not who I could be. I had built a tower prison around the base of pain and suffering that I knew and I refused to view myself, and therefor the world, in any other way. I had made for myself my own “Tiny Hell.”
Thank you for reading this piece and for indulging me this bit of autobiography. As always it is readers that make a writer worth his salt. I hope your week is going well and you are weathering this long winter in strength.