Man on Fire!

It’s a bit cliché for anyone to reference “a fire within” or “burning in my soul” or any quasi proverb related to a deep yearning to achieve something or the like. I am well beyond burning, I am more like reactor 5 in Fukushima post tidal wave. Virtually impossible to control the toxic radiation I burn stronger trying to stave of the inevitability of my future. Last weekend our church hosted their annual Valentines dinner where the congregation gets together and the adults enjoy a meal prepared and served by our collective children.

Now I’ve basically avoided church for at least the last six months. It is probably a combination of mad at God and not wanting to be looked upon with pity or answer a barrage of questions. Nonetheless my wife was looking forward to going to the dinner so I obliged.

Hobbling up the steps to the hall that was hosting the dinner, an elderly church member cane out to welcome us and insisted on helping me up the 4 or 5 steps I was slowly ascending. It started civil enough “hello’s” were reciprocated. And then came his insistence on helping me, not once but each step. Each time I politely declined and he responded by moving closer and thrusting his arm into my bubble for me to grab because it was supposed to be more helpful than the steel hand rail somehow.

Maybe it’s because of my physical insecurities or because, as mentioned in a previous post or two, no one seems to hear my words anymore as though my existence no longer counts, but I retorted to his final advance with a threat to “punch [him] in the face”. No sane person would threaten and elderly Vietnam veteran offering assistance by threatening to punch them. As I cleared the final step and continued my absurd looking walk to the door I hear “I pray for you every day”. My response was a subtly caustic “yep” as I continued inside.

My wife has remarked that this unfiltered verbal behavior has increased since I have ceased working. I think this is largely due to being 40, newly disabled, and the mind fuck it does to you when your plans become irrelevant and your ability to support your family vanishes like a fart in the wind. Back to the old guy; no more words were spoken between us that evening and it wasn’t until many hours later that I realized how much of an asshole I must have been. Then guilt sets in for the caustic interaction then dwelling on the past and diminished self esteem some how becomes infinitesimally less than before. These are the unseen effects of becoming disabled… of becoming irrelevant… of losing the chance at the life you have worked toward.

–The Twisted Cripple

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