Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Imagining Positive Outcomes: "Rewiring" My Brain from the Pain of Betrayal and Abandonment

I think it would be wonderful if, like a computer, you could just delete selected files from your memory. Sadly, you can't.

Forgetting something or someone isn't the same as deleting it, or him or her. The "file" is still there. It's just been ... forgotten. It isn't the same thing. Doctors can jam electrical probes into your gray matter and shazam!, there is that thing, that place, or that person you had long ago forgotten.

I'm at the age now--fifty-eight--where forgetting becomes a bit more automatic than it once was. Decades of learning how to filter what's important from what's not has resulted in an unconscious runaway program, if you will (I really don't like equating human brains with computers--they aren't the same thing), that increasingly determines that more and more isn't important, and so is forgotten almost on the instant.

To combat this, I have endeavored each day to be much more conscious in what I choose to filter out and what I keep. The results over the past year or so have been very encouraging.


The story gets messier for me, because there are definitely many "files" I would love nothing more than to delete off the ol' mainframe, and as soon as humanly possible. All of them are people from my past. But try as I might, I can't "delete" them. I really, really want to.

I was born and raised in Colorado, and for nearly forty years, that's where I lived. I have absolutely no intention of ever returning there, except perhaps to visit my mother's grave and piss on the dickhead's who was my father; and maybe I'll do both someday. It's doubtful, but maybe I will.

Forty years in one place doesn't just introduce you to one bad apple, but many. And its those bad apples that, along with my hateful father, whose "files" I'd love nothing more than to delete.

I have difficulty letting go of my rage and anger towards them, for back in the day, I foolishly considered them good apples--friends. But they weren't; and as a result, I suffered pretty nasty consequences.

This isn't anything new. It isn't for you as well. It's the stuff of countless novels and movies and TV series and popular music. Betrayal and abandonment are harsh, especially when they stab deep into your heart. I'm not going on here about anything any one of you haven't experienced, especially if you're in your mid-20s, say, and older.

My circumstances are a bit odder in that I spent nearly four decades in one place, northern Colorado, and so all those betrayals and abandonment left me with, literally, no one to turn to for years afterward. By the time the first pages of Book One of Melody and the Pier to Forever were written clear back in 2004, I had already spent two years in virtual isolation in Imperial Beach, California. I would spend another four there before Kye moved in with me. I have never married; never had children; and both my birth family and adopted families were (and are) godawful: I was disowned by the first and I cut off from the second.

I wasn't interested in dating due to sexual assault I suffered in early 2001 (in Colorado); the PTSD from that has proved permanent.

I reached out to many of those so-called friends after that trauma; every single one of them rejected me in my very darkest hour. I went homeless soon after; the novel trauma of that coupled with the assault coupled with the betrayal and abandonment of so many was the last straw, so I moved away.


It isn't a surprise that Melody is about, at core, friendship. In the writing of it, I have learned more about it and what makes a friend and what being a friend is truly all about than the sum of the four decades I spent in Colorado, where, as it turns out, I had no friends whatsoever. I have learned, and I have learned to observe, and I can see that most people don't have friends, either. They have acquaintances. That includes, especially, their wives, husbands, kids, war buddies, and every other "close" relationship in their lives.

Acquaintanceship is safe. It's suburban. It requires very little from you, and very little from them. It's convenient. It's fun. It's disposable.

True friendship very often isn't safe. It isn't suburban. It requires a great deal from you, and from them. It can be incredibly inconvenient. And while it can be fun, and often is, it's just as true that often it isn't.

Most of all--and pay attention to this, suburbans, because this concerns you the most--it isn't disposable. Do you got that? It isn't disposable.

I never had friends in Colorado. This is plain.


When I legally changed my name in September of last year, I suddenly and quite unexpectedly found that it had become significantly easier to keep from gazing resentfully back, as I do so often, and to look forward and keep oriented in that direction; to walk a path where, while those hateful fucks aren't deleted, nor are they forgotten, that I don't need to do either with them. Somehow in the changing of my name, the often overwhelming weight of their betrayal and abandonment has somehow, almost magically, it seems, been lessened enormously, to the point where, completely unbidden, I said to myself one night just before bed: Imagining Positive Outcomes.

That may sound vague to you, but to me it was crystal clear what it meant. When I'm tempted to look back these days, I say that instead to myself: "Imagining Positive Outcomes." What I do after that is to think of this blog, and my books, and all the stories I've told, and all those still waiting to be told, and the joy of it all, the release, the golden moments, the accomplishment. It isn't perfect--I still screw up--but, like some sort of magic spell, I say those words and refocus, and the heartache almost immediately lessens and then goes away shortly after. That's new. Startlingly new.

It isn't deleting. It isn't forgetting. It's rewiring.

And no, we're still not goddamned computers.