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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

WHAT FRIENDS DO



robert mangold


Coming down from a week of mental agitation, emotional spinning, stress throughout the entire body. Yesterday I came down with a case of intense weariness. Went to bed early, got up late. I was glad to feel the weariness yesterday; it told me the emotional intensity of the last several days is waning. It tells me the wired feeling is subsiding gradually, is on its way out. My neuroses flew to the surface and made a mess of me, reviewing childhood rage, the only recourse I had to keep balance as an individual. My mother's reaction to daddy's madness was to stay in the kitchen and sing hymns to herself while he was berating her from another room, which was so ongoing. By the time I was out of college and visiting parents for a few days, I was ready to confront him, kick his ass and tell him to shut his damn mouth. But by then, I was seeing it was her solution to his bullying personality. She buried herself in church to "make our marriage work," the same as I buried myself in a bonfire of rage to survive. There was nothing I wanted to do to make anything work with him. Their example of marriage was such that I never wanted to go there. Made a mistake and tried it. It didn't work, and I set out to go it alone, against the way of society, but I didn't care. I knew he was in me and I would do what he did. Didn't want to do that, didn't want to subject anybody I cared about to a bullying personality.

robert mangold

 
I have spent my life coming to terms with daddy in myself, avoiding situations where his training would rise to the surface. I have dealt with it until who I am does not have access to that bullying nature anymore. Still, when somebody with perceived authority pisses me off, the rage within overtakes mind and body. I don't like it, primarily for the memories that surface. I tell myself, I can't change the past, but I can be somewhat self-aware and not put my worst thoughts into action. I've not wanted to reproduce and pass that bullying spirit on. I've not wanted to subject anybody to it. I have used the adult part of my life to heal the child within. It has worked well, in my own estimation. The learning and the practicing what I have learned has made a difference. I have no impulse to bully anybody. Though when I see somebody being bullied (a woman by her husband) that rage within pops to the surface instantly. I remember it in the man and never have more to do with him. He's not the kind of people I want in my life. Another blessing of this neurosis I carry is that it keeps people of a berating personality out of my life. It keeps authoritarians out of my life. That's a redundant sentence. Authoritarians tend to be berating personalities, or anyway, in my experience. I've known several women who lived with a berating man. Some were bent by it and some seemed to like it on some level, like it makes them feel secure somehow. It's too particular to the individual to look at in general.
 
robert mangold
 
On the driver's license test, I was asked if I had any psychological problems. The answer was to be yes or no, true or false. I started to say what I would say to anybody, realizing at the same time the way to get through this experience is say and do as little as possible. My impulse was to say, "That's so subjective it's not even a question." I rolled my eyes uncontrollably, which I knew at the moment was not going to go in my favor. It was not my place to question authority. This was not a discussion group. Yes or no. I said no. If I'd said yes, it would have required long explaining that we both need to define what we mean by psychological problems. I realized what he meant was have I ever been institutionalized. He probably doubted me when I said no, but went on with the next question. My entire life has been a psychological problem. I mean everyday life. Every day is a psychological problem for anyone self-aware. It's swirling around in my head right now that a bully authoritarian was the kick-off of my own self-awareness. What can I feel but gratitude? This is where it becomes a psychological problem, being grateful for what I hated by way of understanding. Phew. That's a tough one.
 

robert mangold
 
The clearest example of the subjective good this neurosis has done for me is in my friend Justin. I've known Justin since he was a baby. His mother and dad were my friends. Justin's dad treated Justin the same as I was treated, but worse. I'd have killed my daddy if he'd done to me some of the shit Justin's daddy did to him. I mean it. I was on the verge of killing him anyway. All that stopped me was knowing I would not get away with it and he was not worth however many years I'd be in prison. I'd ride out my time, let him feed me, let him give me a shelter as payment for his mental, emotional and physical mayhem. From that point on it made me laugh inside that he was feeding the enemy. In Justin's childhood I acted as his witness, an adult in his life who saw and knew what he was going through, was sympathetic, empathetic and understood. We couldn't talk about it and I couldn't intervene on his behalf. If I did, we couldn't be friends anymore. Justin and I were bonded by the time he started school. I couldn't change any of his circumstances, but we could talk in code enough that he understood I was pulling for him the way you pull for a NASCAR driver to win the race. I realized early the only thing I could do for Justin's benefit, knowing where his dad's behavior was pushing him, would be to assist him finding his own self-awareness.
 

robert mangold
 
His daddy's behavior was such that the guys who were his dad's friends in Justin's childhood are now Justin's friends and have nothing to do with his dad. Every one of us is grateful Justin is not in prison. Each one of us did our part in whatever ways we saw could help. In my case, I prayed him up. His mother and dad fed and sheltered him and I prayed for him, from the heart, the kind of prayer that is heard. I claim that part of his parenting, which is every bit as necessary as the other. His grandmother and mother prayed him up too. In Justin the man I see our prayers were heard. A few weeks ago, a neighbor who openly hated Justin's dad, and was wary of Justin as just like his dad, said to Justin in my hearing, "Justin, you have become a good man." I had to turn and walk into myself for a moment of solitude. When someone tells him he is by surprise a good daddy with his kids, he answers, "I learned by negative example." A year or more ago a neighbor in Whitehead started bad-mouthing Justin, telling me what was wrong with him and how he's just like his daddy. I was heating up inside and had to stop him. I said, "Before you go too far, I need to tell you Justin is the same as my own." It stopped him. He took back every word he said and I said, "Thank you." I knew when I said it that it would be all over Whitehead next day. That was how I wanted it. I don't know how he took what I said, but my meaning was that in my heart Justin is blood. We're the same as brothers.
 
robert mangold
 
Now Justin's baby is my friend. His fabulous wife Crystal is my friend. His two kids by different mamas are my friends. These are people I value deeply in my heart. I feel like Vada is my grandbaby. A child I would die for without thinking. She makes me aware of the beauty in little kids. Most I love it that I see so much of what Justin was like in that time of his life. At thirty, he is still the very same Justin I have known since early childhood. He has retained himself throughout his ordeal. He's giving his own babies a happy childhood. He doesn't spoil them. He lets them know he means business when it's necessary. He explains to them why they get in trouble. He gives their questions straight answers. Vada clings to her "Dadu," for loving him so much. Justin and I have talked many times over the years about the absurdity of our daddies. When I grew up, mine automatically expected me to be his friend. All I could think was, What? Justin's dad kept at him after he turned 18. Finally, his daddy provoked Justin in front of about thirty witnesses to fight. Justin pleaded with him not to start, saying, "I will hurt you." He had too many years of rage in his fists to hit lightly. Daddy swung and missed, Justin drilled him and gave him a punishing ass-kicking without being hit one time. When the police came, daddy said Justin started it. In chorus, the crowd of witnesses said, "No he didn't." That moment gave Justin healing like ten years of psychotherapy. In his teens when he could drive he would drop in at my house for "the calm down place." Now I go to his house for the calm down place.  

robert mangold
 
 
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