I guess I’m a little worried about this opportunity in front of me. I know I’m not a perfect person and the idea that I’m being judged on that criteria is weird to me, because no one is, and it’s very easy to go off the rails and screw up, even for a short period of time.

In our current climate, it seems that these things become impossible to forgive, or even see past. A mistake made twenty or thirty years ago is not necessarily representative of who we are now. These days, the tendency is to go straight to demonization, when there’s often much more nuance to a situation than we like to admit. It’s easy to dismiss things out of hand, and go straight to calling people rotten, but there’s often so much more to it.

In some cases, there’s not. (See: Trump, Crime Family)

To me the difference is growth. Have they changed? Have they learned from their mistake? Are they willing to own what they’ve done and take responsibility for their actions?

More importantly, do we feel, given the opportunity, would they do it again? If not, then we need to forgive.

I’m horribly embarrassed and guilt-ridden by the way I behaved in my teens and twenties. Every time I think about it, I’m humbled, because I know, no matter how high and mighty I’d like to be, I’ve behaved poorly at times as well. I try to own that and be better going forward. Reconciling that behaviour is the tricky part for me, because I’m so prone to guilt, and I want to make constant amends. However, it doesn’t serve me to wallow in the guilt of bad behaviour from decades ago, especially when time, being what it is, means it will never change, and I can never go back and let myself in on the greater knowledge I would need to be the better person at that moment in time.

This all sounds like I’ve committed murder or something, but I’m mostly talking about being an idiot, myopic and navel-gazing. Assuming I had rights to things I hadn’t earned, or skills beyond what was actually there. Mostly, it’s reconciling who I pretended to be and told people I was with how and who I actually was. When I think about how they must have seen me, blustering about, trying to be so cool, but being such a dork and such a loser, such a freaking mess, well, it’s mortifying.

And I ask that question a lot now. How do people see me? Are my actions and my beliefs lining up? Do I behave in a manner that allows people to see me for the man I try to be – kind, humble, open-minded, with an eye toward making sure I do things the right way? A person of continuing growth?

It’s intense pressure and I really don’t feel like I live up to that as often as I want. Part of that is the depression, which has plagued me for years, and is at least partly responsible for the delusional and destructive behaviour of my youth. I didn’t realize then what it was, or that I had control over it, to a point. There were things I could do to keep my focus, and I didn’t. I let the depression take over.

Prescription drugs never helped. They only ever made me feel more dead than alive, zoned out and disengaged. Indeed, any of the people I know that suffer from the same type of depression I did that are medicating with various SSRIs and other drugs seem more like they’re contently ignoring their problems, like a child playing with their toys, oblivious to the house burning down around them. They aren’t working on finding solutions to the problems at the root of their depression; they’ve just balanced out enough to do the basics their lives require.

And maybe that’s enough for them, in this moment in time.

But I would like a life of happiness. Of peace and love and connection. Time enjoyed with my family. My wife, my step-kids, my nieces and my granddaughter. My siblings. My parents. Friends. Whatever.

Simply living mostly stress-free, on a day to day basis. I mean, you can’t ever be fully free from the bad times. Things will happen. Some days will be downright rotten.

But this, right now, this every day thrown to the wolves, every day more stressful than the last, as it piles on and piles up?

This is no way to live. No one need suffer like this.

So I hope whoever is judging me is doing so with a kind and open mind, one that sees past words on a paper, to the person behind those words, and the knowledge that this isn’t someone locked into a static pattern of poor behaviour, or sleepwalking through life.

It’s a person, like all people, incomplete and in the process of being built, hoping one day to be something, if not grand, at least something that makes the neighbourhood a little better place to live.

Target: 900 words
Written: 1092 words, novella: The Mungk

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