You know how you have those things in your past that stay buried and fester like an old splinter or something? I have many and I'm sure most people do -- else we wouldn't have sayings like, "Most people lead lives of quiet desperation." Toxic people, situations and events run through our lives like water through the Grand Canyon, chiseling a channel too deep to fill up and too wide to bridge.
One toxic person, situation and event (yes, all three knotted together like that twine ball) that I've been chewing over, something I've always privately thought of as the entry gate to my thankfully brief descent into Hell is when I was shoved from the comforting nest of my junior college speech/theatre department into the pit of vipers theatre department at university.
I had developed a relationship with the svengalian JSB when he was recommended by one of my forensic coaches as a tutor in algebra. At 24 years old, I'd experienced far more than my share of adult content, yet surprisingly had remained truly naive to so much of the complex network of experiences which make up the social web. Or to the point, I was still, miraculously, a Christian and a virgin. I'd never experienced a person such as JSB in my entire life -- someone so charismatic, so mesmerizing, so spell-binding! He'd look deep into my eyes, and seemingly imply... things... I was sure I was in love to the deepest core of my being. We'd sit late into the night in various coffee shops writing poetry together; mine stilted and rhymey... his open and free and flowing. He taught me how to express myself through poems and affected my creative writing so much ...that to this day I won't even attempt a poem unless it's practically bursting out of my chest like an Alien.
He'd make my birthday special...and then not speak to me for several days, only to resurface in my field of vision with a girlfriend on his arm. He'd ignore me passionately for several weeks -- while in the new relationship -- and then somehow just ...materialize in my life again, staring deep into my eyes and burrowing even further under my skin. He'd tell me I was priceless and special to him...and then disappear into another woman's life, only coming up for air long enough to pointedly ignore me. The old manchurian... To say that he scarred my soul sounds dramatic...but comes pretty close to the truth. Even today, 20 years later, writing about him makes my stomach slightly nervous.
As much an effect he had on me, he worked doubly on my two female speech coaches. When they talked of him, their language was couched in terms nearly religious... For a time, I truly thought he was some kind of magi or mind-bender, so wide-spread was his effect on everyone.
They pushed me from the nest of the junior college speech/theatre department into the speeth/theatre department at university before I was ready... I remained convinced for a long time they did so to shield JSB from my poisonous influence. I suspected he wanted me gone...so they gave the appropriate shove. From there, my life -- in my carefully culled together Life Narrative -- took a downturn that would last for the next seven years. My personal 'desert' or Dark Night of the Soul. I always blamed those seven years of wandering on the two speech coaches who shoved me away from the bosom of their prodigious care at the behest of the Enigmatic JSB...
Until yesterday, that is. My Personal Life Narrative took a big hit when I had a sort of epiphanal moment in realizing that perhaps he was/is weaker than I and needed protection from me! Even though I was wandering, I had never stopped believing in God, in Christ...never stopped praying -- although my prayers were more disgruntled thoughts than actual prayers. I had my God watching over me... JSB only had his "angels" -- two women, mired in new age philosophy and hamstrung by their own personal disappointments and impediments.
Hey, I know this sounds arrogant, but it's actually the exact opposite. I went through Hell during the three years I attended Ole Miss. I was NOT a good fit at that university. I had a chip on my shoulder a MILE wide. I was surly and uncooperative with the faculty and sometimes outright rude to my fellow classmates. I was a B*tch, full-stop. But, as the old saying goes, "just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean they ain't out to get ya!"
My core problem began with the speech program's graduate advisor, JC and trickled like an oily, rancid river through his (now) wife, V and her toxicly deranged friend P. It spread like a virus to others because I simply didn't have the tools -- emotional or psychologic or (perhaps most importantly,) spiritual to fight back so I spread it. I spread it like Jif in an otherwise empty pantry. I was so full of putrid, impotent rage at the attack by that Triumverate that I projected it onto just about everyone else in the vicinity. I became a Victim, and I had NEVER been a Victim. I thrashed like I was on fire against what I perceived as Public Opinion against me. I bristled at what I thought were slights and sneers at my mental state. I boiled over the reputation as "easy" that I knew they spread. I became very, very paranoid. I seriously contemplated suicide, and started a very futile, very frustrating period of counseling... because I just. couldn't. get. over it.
God, but this hurts to even revisit. Seriously. There's a part -- a very minute part of me, mind -- that wishes some of those people -- the innocent bystanders -- could read this and realize I was so, so miserable. That the person I was for those three years (and the recovering individual I was for the next four) was/is NOT who I AM. That pressure and force, and perceived persecution shaped and molded me into a person I had never been, nor, God willing, will never be again. I am mortified when I think back to who I was during that time... a person I don't even recognize as living in me -- like I'd been ...possessed.
But hey, I survived. I've got the emotional scars -- all keloid bloated and gnarly -- to prove it. The thing that hit me yesterday is, perhaps, JSB didn't. I think he may have been very needy emotionally, only I didn't recognize the need beneath his mesmerizing qualities. Maybe I asked too much, pushed too far, needed too much from someone who, ironically, had nothing to give. Maybe my two new-agey beloved speech coach advisors recognized that fact and made the decision to cut me off because they knew, ultimately, I could take it and JSB couldn't.
I dunno. Alls I know is I'm still standing. I'm not particularly proud of who I've been at times...but I'm proud -- without reservation -- of what I've become. And I owe all the good to God, and take full responsibility for all the bad.
So...I guess what I'm saying is, I forgive JSB for confusing me so, my mentors for abandoning me, and myself for not looking to Jesus through that time. Had I put my faith and trust in the Rock That Shall Not Be Removed, I might have had a different experience at Ole Miss.
8 years ago