We Are Not What Happened To Us — We Are Who We Choose To Become

Photo: Serge Bielanko
breakup divorce
Heartbreak, Self

"We've been sh*t on so many times we've turned into motherf*cking dandelions."

What has gone down so far — all of the heartbreak and trauma, the landslides of disappointment, the smashing of dreams right out in the street like bottles dropped out of the sky — it would seem enough to knock any person to their knees

Me. You. The guy next to you on the subway. The lady looking at you across the mini mart counter with bored eyes. All of us. We each have every right in the world to have laid down on the train tracks by now, an ass pocket of whiskey in our fist, one last train coming 'round the bend.

But we've played it differently. Maybe out of fear, maybe out of our insatiable need to spit in the face of fear, maybe just because we've got nothing better to do than take everything that has happened to us and smoke it like a J. Our lives, no matter who you are or what you've been through, have been a monumental f*cking mess more often than we ever imagined possible.

I wonder about that stuff. Where do we find the resilience to keep peeling ourselves up off that pissy bathroom floor? How do we manage to keep on keeping on? 

Sometimes I think about death and how easy it is to die. So quickly, you know? So simple. A car runs a light. A cancer sits down on the stoop of your spine. You were right there twenty days ago. Now? Boom: you are gone, gone, gone.

Then, other times, I just don't know. It seems almost impossible to kill us. How can life not just kill us like a bullet in our ear?  We've all suffered through way too much. And we ain't done yet. We live on.

We keep getting excited about dumb sh*t. We keep reading about "What's new to Netflix in July." We take everything that has happened to us and we fling it up into the wind. Like kids flinging sand down at the beach. That's how badass we are.

We're shapeshifters. We're interstellar gladiators. I don't understand any of it. I really don't.


There are at least two or three moments in every day when I'm overcome by something. Sometimes it's just that I'm hungry as f*ck and feel like eating one of my kids because they're pissing me off. Sometimes it's medium-rare road rage, me getting all pissed at some elderly lady blocking my way on her 31mph "I'm-taking-the-Lincoln-out" trip to the pharmacy. Sometimes it's a flashback to her telling me she doesn't love me anymore, and that she means it, and that I need to go go go.

I stand in the kitchen doing the dishes and an old girlfriend's breast cancer bangs me in the side of the face from behind.

I lie in bed with the kids, they're sleeping already, and my dad shows up. He never shows up for real. He never did and he never does. But here he comes, his face hovering a few inches above mine. His breath is vodka. His words are slurs. He blames me, he blames my mom. I throw up in my mouth. I cry. F*ck you/I love you so much/why did this happen?

I tear a piece of meat from the rotisserie chicken in my fridge. What a sad bird. No burial, no proper send off. Just death and this clear plastic coffin from Walmart and me, alive as alive can be, staring at it with absolute indifference.

And suddenly I'm so overcome by the facts, by this live long dream of so-called facts I've been labeling "My Life."

I cannot fathom not being alive. I cannot even begin to wrap my head around my world without me in it. My three kids. My brother. My couple of friends. My flowers on the porch, and the ones out in the yard. Of course I need to be here. Of course I can't let the eight tons of blues from my past avalanche down all over me at once. I need to stay alive.

So I do. And so do you. And it's all because we have been sh*t on so many times that we have turned into a motherf*cking dandelion. Life has, ostensibly, made us sh*t-eaters. We eat crap and we grow. We swallow gross pain and we bloom

I get my face smashed in by a sack of busted hearts and I Hulk out; I lift cars off of people under cars. 

OK, maybe not that last thing but what I'm saying is: I can't believe how good we all are at surviving. We never drink to that. We need to drink to that tonight.


The trick is to remember that isolation is the opposite of what it seems. Our shattered nerves and loneliness, our deep buried sadness and our self-loathing hatred and regrets, they're all the most common unifiers we will ever know. They sure as sh*t don't ever seem like it, though.

By design, I guess, our worst experiences and our roughest rides are supposed to kick us back until we can't take it anymore. Nature is pure evil when she ain't spitting autumn leaves. And so, our past and all of it's struggles and challenges are meant to simply weed us out from the strongest in the bunch. 

It's Survival of the Fittest 101 stuff. It's Darwin. It's simple as summer peach pie. You get your proverbial guts handed to you on a silver platter and you've got two choices:

1) You drop dead on the spot. From melancholia, from disbelief.

2) You shove them all back up into your ribcage as quickly as you can and stroll down the street acting like everything's cool, even though your guts are hanging out because you've been here before, and you know that if you can just get through today and tomorrow and maybe the next 2,000 days, then you're gonna be OK eventually.

And happiness will be yours again. If only for a little while, if only until the next dynamite hole is blown through your neck.

"Whatever," you smile to yourself. Look at you, all strutting like Travolta eating two slices at once in Saturday Night Fever. Life has been so cruel and yet there you go, using it to your advantage, turning bad into good. Eating sh*t and flowering out. 

No wonder I follow you around. No wonder we follow each other down the same damn street without ever knowing we were both made out of magic. 



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