It's Not Gonna Be OK
by Mark Allen
copyright Mark Allen 2003
If you've had something really, really horrible happen in your life... like if your face got mangled in a fiery car wreck and you now look like The Incredible Melting Man, or you are the one survivor of a big plane crash and had to eat people to survive and are now nuts, or you found out you had terminal cancer and are sitting around in a hospital all sick and bald and shakey... or any other kind of apocalyptically traumatic or like life-altering physical or psychological damage stuff like that - then I've got news for you:
The saying "What doesn't kill you only makes you stronger" is a lie.
The truth is this: "What doesn't kill you is going to fuck you up really bad, for a really, really long time... and you'll be lucky if you ever get it back together again."
After things that heavy, your life is gonna take an irreversible turn in another direction. It's going to be worse, perhaps much worse, than what you have been used to up to that point. This is actually a serious double bummer because, rather than being stronger (which would help you in dealing with your newly lame-er life) you are actually going to be weaker and more vulnerable, especially in the beginning, and especially in the head. A lot of the time you'll feel as if the natural order of things wanted you to die. But you didn't for some weird reason, and now you're being made to live out your non-life as a ghost in carbon-blob limbo with no cherubs with harps to look after you... and no lucky breaks for your sad ass. You will spend most of your days confused, frustrated, scared and lost. Most nights will be distorted-wincing-like-orgasm-face-gushing-tears depressing. That's if your face still has muscles or tears after the burn accident. Whatever way you deal with this whole awful, rotten situation (or don't) - that ends up being is what your new life will be.
The sound of a person saying "What doesn't kill you only makes you stronger" is the sound of a mind closing in on itself and retreating to it's battle stations. It's a primal response to a stimuli... like a crab retreating into it's shell and eating poop sand, or a chicken getting feed by pushing a button with it's beak at a side-show attraction. A mind says this repetitive phrase to itself and others because it knows it will get a reward: hope. Humans have to repeat to themselves that if something bad does happen... they are going to get some kind of "reward" afterwards (like Heaven). Duh. However, what's interesting is that they not repeat this mantra to themselves... they "teach" it to others. That's how they get the endorphin-rush of hope flowing through their brains... by "helping" others with advice. And if confronted with someone who has, oh... say... been gang-raped in a park and is now pregnant and has AIDS and is catatonic in the corner of a well padded booby hatch dreaming of razor blades - well they've hit on the opportunity for a mental crutch bonanza. If that person is you, get ready for the mind games olympics.
Your post-trauma state is going to place you in a new mental dimension where phrases like "what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger" are going to loose all meaning. In fact - those kinds of phrases and the people that spout them are going to annoy the fuck out of you. Which is sad because most non-tradgey-happened-to people are going to bombard you with them.
Want to see someone on a calm, desperate, kamikaze mission to have the last word in an argument? Tell a non-damaged person that your Parkinson's disease (or surviving intense torture interrogation, or loosing your arms in a tractor accident, or whatever ordeal you suffered) has left you weaker and more frightened than ever. Tell them that as time goes by, you really don't feel like you are stronger at all... and you don't see any real upswing to your future because of your predicament. Tell them you think that the whole "What doesn't kill you only makes you stronger" mantra is a myth perpetrated by people who have never experienced truly fucked up shit, for some reason having to do with delusion or fear of the unknown or something... that it's basically a lie... and that since your bad thing, your life really sucks in a big-ass ways that, during moments of true clarity, you are beginning to realize are irreversible.
Now if your Parkinson's disease allows you to lift your arms up, or you even have arms at all due to the tractor accident, then hold up a shield - because it's gonna be a light-speed diarrhea monsoon of bullshit coming right at you... garnished with parental smiles and knowing nods. You have just razzed one of the most sacred shields against fear in the collective unconscious, and it's blasphemy in it's purest form. You might as well given a pearl necklace to the fucking Pope. The person you have chosen to share this with will disagree with you. To put themselves... opps I mean you in your place... this person is gonna have to do whatever it takes to get those chemicals flowing back through their brains again. They will basically just keep repeating those phrases... they may find some analogies... it will all be words, words... regardless of how you feel or what you think. Actually, the fact that you have lived through what they are blabbing about, and therefore probably are speaking from real experience, will be a less than nonexistent reality to them. They are gonna be all calm and polite and "me so wise" but ruthless - you are a litmus test for them. They are gonna try to break your handicapped, leg-less, eating-through-a-tube, colostomy-bagged-ass down in their desire to see you fail in your attempt to be honest with yourself. That's what cults do.
If you listen to them too much, their words will start to command the way you think... and instead of making you think realistically... their condescending blabber will make your ordeal a million times worse as you grasp like a trained circus seal (in your weakened state) for something that just isn't there. The last thing you need in your state is dunderheads yapping at you and trying to win you over to their side. My advice: nod and smile at them the way people nod and smile at sock puppets. Deep down, you've made them play peek-a-boo with the specter of death (a specter you are B.F.F. with now because of your predicament)... and they need to block that view. If you stand your ground, and in the end they feel can't prove their advice to themselves, then they will classify you as "nuts" because of your tragedy. It's not that they aren't going to go down without a fight - it's that they aren't gonna go down at all. So if you keep standing your ground, ultimately they may say that you're "sad" or "damaged". And you know what? They're right. You are. There... you've won.
I mean - in a way you've caused their reality check to bounce. You could have some fun with it. It will be one of the unique joys you will get in your new horrible existence... watching people like them squirm. Hey, it's more fun than wearing a pig nose and dancing in the street for crumbs... which is definitely an option in your state.
If you're lucky enough to meet other serious tragedies like yourself who have the luck or wherewithal to think clearly and aren't scared to call it like they see it, and you discover a bond with them... then good for you! Aren't you special! Trust me, this is a really positive thing. It's kind of like you used to be white and you wake up one morning and are black... like that guy in the movie "The Watermelon Man"... and you find you like to hang around other blacks now because they "get" you.
There are other seriously damaged people who will betray this truth and openly lie about it, and actually benefit from it. They are the really smart ones. That wheelchair-bound gimp who's spine was severed by a stray bullet and now has to type out the words "At first I thought my life was over, but I have now realized the true rewards of life... this accident has made me a stronger person. Every day is a gift" with one eyelid on his little speak-and-spell thingy in front of a crying, applauding Oprah audience... he is a total fucking sell out. Plus he's a total fucking genius. His therapy is to repeat the biggest selling lie for the biggest audience and get maybe some fame or money... possibly a book deal... or a really screwed up girlfriend with a nice rack who has such low self esteem that she seeks the approval from sad, troublesome vegetables that can't get in a car without a crane lift because it makes her feel good about herself. People eat that kind of shit up. And damaged people with the balls to pull off that kind of charade and score big may have found a way out.
So anyway... I mean, if people don't have hope, then what do they have? In a way, non-damaged people NEED you, they need your melted-skin, iron lung-wearing ass to nod obediently when they tell you that everything happens for a reason. Their ability to suppress their daily urge to go to work tomorrow and blow everybody away with a .22 caliber rimfire relies on you. So... again, in a way... you control them. Maybe...
After you've realized all this, is there a way out? Are things going to get better? Will this end up being "the best thing that ever happened to you" when you look back on your life? Hell no. If you now have to wipe your ass with your mom's hand and process your vowels through a vocoder because you got hit by a car... your odds of getting your life back the way it was are about the same odds as you getting hit by a plane. You're the last link in the chain of a healthy delusion that helps the human race breed - you have no one left down the line to exploit to obtain your own sense of being "centered"... you've reached the end of the line buddy. If you were an animal, your pack would have coldly abandoned your ass to die a long, long, loooong time ago. You're an evolutionary fuck-up. And a fuck-up that the non-damaged like to subconsciously toy with in order for them to feel like they're "keeping it real".
Who can you post-tradgedy self rely on now? Who can you go to for advice and re-assurance?
Drugs? Alcohol? Dead ends.
Religion? Another dead end.
You have only yourself.
NOTE: The information written in the above rant is based on things I learned
from my long experience with testicular cancer eight years ago.
If you don't like some of the things I wrote or
don't think I know what I'm talking about,
then feel free to drop fucking dead.
ALSO: My friend Larry Massett over at HearingVoices.org (he gave me the Barf detergent) looked at this essay and offered the suggestion to add the word "Unfortunately." at the very end... a great idea! I was unsure whether to add it or not though... I really grappled with it... but I don't like stealing other people's ideas... so I just decided to give him credit here in this strange footnote way.
Copyright Mark Allen 2003
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