The Bullet That Choked Billy Patterson

-A favorite episode of a favorite old radio show of mine-

Oh, Vic- always buying the latest lodge merchandise, and frequently known to “fix” working alarm clocks until they are irretrievably broken.

As opposed to Vic, who is an exceedingly well-written fictional character, this other man…well, actually it turns out he’s not a real man, either. He’s a crooked sham and a total coward- always will be. No matter how smart he is, he’s always going to be a 5-year-old, emotionally. No matter what performance he gives people, that’s all he can give- a performance. He’s a good and convincing actor- because he’s been doing it for probably his whole adult life.

I keep thinking of 2 key concerning incidents I experienced in that house (there’s quite an assortment to choose from). In one instance, I saw his behavior go from inconsiderate to verbally abusive and cutting to his adult daughter in front of his adult son and I, a newly-introduced stranger to her. Judging by the way the 3 of them behaved after he did this, it wasn’t unusual. None of them may have been aware that it was abusive at the time (except perhaps the perpetrator), due to its normality. Just like I was, growing up. In the other instance, I saw an unsettling exchange of behaviors between him and his son. As I sat with them, I saw that while this certain exchange was triggered by something harmless, it was signaling something deeply unhealthy going on. His son exhibited the defensive/coping mechanism of going into what looked like a flat, dissociative state when his father wanted him to submit to an expectation, no matter what his own will may have been. He remained in this state until his father released him from the expectation. I remember witnessing both these moments and feeling empathetically uncomfortable for the kids, knowing what it was like to live with a reactive tyrant adult in the house. I keep thinking of those incidents and the truth they held, glimmering in my mind’s hand. He appears to be an outstanding father, but maybe he’s not, and it’s another role he plays to contribute to the illusion’s gestalt.

One thing is certain: being sick and damaged is no excuse for treating people the way he has, with all the lying, the pretense, manipulation, aggression, and the calculated exploitation of others for his own ease, convenience, and benefit. It’s always there, whether he’s letting it show or not. He seems to usually get away with it. Narcissists, unsurprisingly, function pretty well in our society. There’s a lot of useful and vulnerable marks out there, like I used to be.

He is now as ridiculously gross to me as an 80’s John Hughes teen movie villain- like that repulsive creep in Pretty In Pink that the slippery James Spader played. (He’s always been good at playing the worst, douchiest assholes. That was never my favorite Hughes teen film.)

Guy’s a lizard. Or some other reptilian, scaled, cold blooded thing. He’s a predator…And yet, he can’t admit that he’s also a spineless worm….maybe what we’re really talking about here is your basic Southeastern Five-Lined Skink.

Doubt gave me a warm, loving hug, patting my back and stroking my hair for a long time.

No one was there with me. No one but her- an imaginary doppelgänger. We have to have compassion for ourselves.



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