Fractured Souls

There’s a phrase I used to hear a lot during my churchgoing days: Life is hot water, and everybody is a carrot, an egg, or coffee. When put in hot water, the carrot becomes flimsy and weak, and the egg hardens, but the coffee uses the hot water to create something new and good.

Of course, I saw no reason at first to disagree with this analogy. I used to think I was both the carrot and the egg, though I strived to be the coffee. But I’ve come to realize that this analogy is just like how they teach you there are only 3 states of matter in school (solid, liquid, gas). This, too, sounds true at surface level. But like most things in life, when you think about it, you realize it’s not so simple. What is fire? What is lightning? And then you learn that plasma is a 4th state of matter, and that plasma is actually the most common state of matter in the universe. Same with the analogy of the carrot, egg, and coffee: There is a 4th option that is actually the most common. I think the 4th option is what applies to myself…

Sometimes, people don’t become weak, hard, or transformative. Sometimes, pieces of one’s self simply chip off and are gone forever. It’s still you – absolutely you – but you aren’t whole anymore. You can, for example, chop pieces off a carrot, and it’s still a carrot, it’s just not a whole carrot anymore. It’s not that the carrot turned into something else when it lost a piece of itself.

I still love Ace Ventura, just as I did as a kid. My best friend and I have always seized every opportunity to act as cartoonish as Ace Ventura, up to this day. We impersonate Arnold Schwarzenegger a lot too. It’s fun. We enjoy it, and we don’t care who judges us for it. For anyone who knows me, and is at least familiar with Ace Ventura, that may seem like a contradiction. Aren’t I known for my overly-serious personality? I never smile, right? I never act weird, right? I can’t possibly be so serious and yet (openly) have a wacky side, right?

I’ve always had both. There is a time for everything. But to a degree, yes, I am serious virtually all the time. That was not the case when I was younger, but it certainly is now. So, to those who think I completely changed when I grew up, you’re wrong. Pieces of myself have simply died, like chips of rock from a boulder. I am still me, but I am not complete anymore. Not after years in foster care, not after the endless verbal abuse by my siblings, not after the tumultuous relationship I had with my adoptive parents, not after all the dark things I’ve learned about my mother and a certain older brother, not after choosing the worst kinds of girls to be in relationships with… Not after many things.

I don’t lose sleep over these things, nor ever cry about them. Some things are just simply gone. Like how weird and how often I act weird, there is much less of now. The number of things that bring that side out of me are far fewer now. Now, it’s pretty much just my daughter and my best friend that are able to bring that side of me out. It used to be nearly everyone and everything, because I used to be that way all the time.

My generous side is another example. I used to be overly generous as a kid. I used to give things away that didn’t even belong to me, because I just simply wanted to give, all the time. In middle school, I remember collecting coins wherever they appeared, and then I’d freely give those away as well. I didn’t need money for anything, so why keep coins? My church youth group had a little store where we could buy candy and soda, for only a quarter for each item, and I’d offer to buy my friends things from that store all the time, just because. But what changed was … well, I could give hundreds of examples of things I’ve learned since that time of my life that trained me not to be so generous. I learned that if you give too much away, soon you’ll have nothing left to give, so therefore it’s wiser to not be overly generous. I also learned that many people … just simply don’t deserve it. I learned that a lot of beggars on the side of the road are, statistically, not always even homeless, but they beg because it’s easy money, so that made me less inclined to give to the needy. When I was 21, I learned firsthand that a lot of people who are actually in need actively choose to stay that way because it’s easier than working for what they have. I could give many more examples, I could tell many stories, but point is … I don’t have much of a generous side anymore, for all these reasons.

But I’m just giving examples of things that are damaged, right? Things that have faded a lot, but not things that are completely gone, right? Like, I still have a wacky side, and I still have a generous side, just not as much anymore, right?

Well, let me give an example of part of myself that truly, completely, died. A piece of my soul that chipped off is no longer there at all, and will never come back.

Relationships. I don’t want to be in one again. This is not based in fear of suffering what has happened to me previously – cheating partners, psychotic partners, exes who try to take as much as they can from me… No, I simply don’t want to be in another relationship. Being more honest with myself about the things women do, because our society allows and almost even encourages them to do those things, is certainly part of the reason, but not all of it. I simply came to realize that relationships just don’t fulfill me as much as I had hoped they would.

I also finally admitted a very harsh truth: I’m never attracted to good people. A fact I’ve always known, but only very recently finally swallowed. Take my best friend’s relationships for example. All of his girlfriends were physically attractive. They were also good people. But even before my best friend started dating these girls, I wasn’t interested in them. There was even a girl that neither I nor he was ever with, but we both knew her, and we both knew she was a good person. She was also fairly attractive, physically. I still wasn’t interested. Back in 2012, I told my best friend for the first time (which I remember vividly), “How come I’m never attracted to the good ones?” Honestly if I were one of those guys who only went for girls based on their looks, I would have gotten with at least one of these girls. Yes, in the past it would have benefited me to value appearances more highly than personality. But looks were never the most important thing to me. There always had to be something else. I never quite knew what that was, but I knew it was something. And I’ve come to realize: I’m only drawn to girls who need some kind of fixing. My first girlfriend had no emotional damage, nor was she crazy, but her character was kind of wretched. She treated me horribly the whole time. All the girls after her had serious emotional and/or mental problems.

What I’m saying is: The only relationships I’ve ever wanted were the ones I shouldn’t have. I’ve known plenty of morally-centered, intelligent, sane girls who were also very physically attractive … and yet I never wanted to be with them. Now that I’m finally in my late 20s, I understand I’m only drawn to the worst kind. Understanding that, I know I can’t be in another relationship again. I don’t want to. I don’t want all the shit that comes with the type of character I’m attracted to. I’d much rather be alone. Again, it’s not that there aren’t good women out there – without any doubt, there are – but I’ve never desired to be with any of them. Not as a teenager, and not as an adult.

Also importantly, I had an epiphany this year that I’ve never found a whole lot of fulfillment in being with anyone anyway. Even if any girl was perfect, I doubt I’d be more fulfilled as a person by being with her. I’d appreciate her, I’d be thankful to have her, just like all the rest, but honestly, I’ve never thought to myself that I need to be with anyone at all. I can handle being alone no problem. What fulfills me in life is being needed. I can’t deal with not being needed. It’s friendships I value, and above all, it’s being a father that I value … but not so much having a partner. So, I won’t be in another relationship again. That part of me is gone. I’m more built to instruct, to protect, to provide, and to be dependable. The necessary traits of a father and a loyal friend, but not so much a partner. Of course, you can be those things with your partner, but I’m someone who always believed partners should be your equal in everything. I’ve always expected my significant others to be my equal. I never wanted anything less. So, I believe partners should be equals, but I also only ever wanted partners who needed me and depended on me. Basically, relationships have always been contradictory to the things I believe and the person I am. Children need you, partners shouldn’t. That’s how I see it, anyway. Disagree all you want, it’s just my opinion.

So, just like how plasma is not only another state of matter but is actually the most common state of matter in the universe, same goes with souls and the damage they sustain. It’s not that people become weaker, or harder, or manage to turn the bad into good, it’s that most people are complicated and sometimes things that were part of us vanish completely and eternally. Yes, some people are simple, and simply do one of those first three things, but I’d say not most. Pieces of our souls get concealed, or damaged, and/or die entirely. Like I explained, I still have a weird side, but only the right circumstances bring it out, and as for relationships, the desire for those is completely gone now. I am still who I am and always have been … just not completely anymore.

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