Shoulder punchers: an interview with Smerkle Grumpy

 

  • Mr. Grumpy, it’s a pleasure to sit down with –
  • Smerkle.
  • Pardon?
  • Smerkle, call me Smerkle.
  • Well then, it’s a pleasure sit down with you.
  • Thank you. You as well.
  • It’s been awhile.
  • Been watching my man, Peter, from afar, as the saying goes. Watching him trying to get himself moved. Proud of him. Still patient with people, more than most, more than me. Known him since he was a boy – he’s got a real kind streak.
  • You think he is too kind?
  • Oh no, don’t misunderstand me. Not too kind at all. Glad he’s in a world that’s been short on kindness for a long time. So no, not too kind.
  • Too patient?
  • He’s more patient than I’d be, but no, not too patient. People deserve patience, some need and deserve a lot of it. Some deeply wounded folk in the world.
  • Can he run out of patience?
  • We all can. I remember a time my boy did when he was in reform school back when.
  • Can you tell us about it? Would he mind?
  • He might mind, but I’ll tell you. There was this kid, same age as Peter, in the same hall, the wards where the boys lived. Anyway, this kid, will call him Johnny, liked to punch Peter in the shoulder, doing it light at first, then a little harder, saying sorry later, then punching Pete’s shoulder next time Peter’d walk by. After a while, Peter called him out.
  • Called him out?
  • In this reform school if two of the boys were getting close to a fight, they’d let the boys fight, surrounded by their mates, the male staff watching to make sure no one really got badly hurt, and usually the two combatants became friendly after the fight. Some kind of release I suppose. Calling out was when one kid challenged another, quietly or openly.
  • How’d Peter do it?
  • Wide open. They were in the gym sitting on bleachers, about 30 boys, half a dozen staff or so, taking a break. Peter walks by, Johnny punches him in the shoulder and that was it.
  • What was it?
  • Peter ripped into him. You really want to fight with me that badly? Seriously? Just can’t help yourself, wish it that bad do you? If you’re feeling froggish, then leap, cause your wish has come true.
  • What happened?
  • One smack upside Johnny’s head and down he went. Then Peter did his thing, helped Johnny up, telling him all the time being friends was a lot easier on the both of’m than fighting. Even when he knew he had no choice and had to act, like with Johnny, or protecting someone, he always felt badly about hurting someone.
  • He felt guilty.
  • No-no, not guilty. Badly. Sad. Definitely not guilty.
  • It’s good to be talking with you again, Smerkle.
  • Good to be talking with you too.

 

When someone loves you

When someone really loves you they may in fact be a direct challenge to anyone or any thing in life that has given you the message — or may still be giving you the message — that you not worth loving. Whether that message is delivered by the punishing voice or hand of a parent or another family member or stranger, or someone alleged to be a trusted member of society, the message is pulverizing, and horribly wrong.

 
You are well worth loving and you always have been well worth loving. Whether you truly know this to be true or not, it is true.

 
If a child lives in a environment in which he or she is told, every day of their life, that they are bad, not worth loving, ugly, stupid, fat, and so on, what else would one expect a child to believe? Children have no reference point they can draw from to understand what they are being told about themselves is completely false.

 
So, when someone loves you, that person, that love, is a direct contradiction of the myth the wounded child has come to believe, and therein lies the challange. Breaking free of the myth, getting free of your history.

 
This is not easy, I know. But it is, I promise you, possible. I know this too.

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Trapped in the marble of your history

I would like to write words that lift a reader’s day, perhaps help a heart heal, a body heal, the soul too. Let’s not leave the soul out. Absent that and you’ve removed oxygen from the air.

If you’ve lost sight of, or never knew, the extraordinary value of the life that is you, I can promise you, it’s there.  Michelangelo (1474-1564), the Italian sculptor, painter and architect,  believed the masterpiece was already in the block of marble. His task was to keep carving so we could see it.  He once said: “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.”

I believe each life is a masterpiece in its own right, right from the beginning. The thing is, life can be brutal and many of us have received some cruel and untrue! messages about who we are. Start the wounding early enough and the child has no reason to disbelieve what they are all too often told, they are the problem, and if only…. then they wouldn’t be. Rubbish. It’s not true.

The masterpiece that is you may be trapped in the marble of your history, but its there. Because you are not in touch with it doesn’t mean it’s not there. Promise.

The challenge is not one of becoming a valuable human being; it’s discovering you always have been a valuable human being.

 

Just ‘Round the Bend

It’s been many years since I’ve had a good relationship with August. We just don’t get along. I never wronged August, least I can’t remember if I did, but I must’ve. After all, August contains some of the biggest wounds of this man’s life. Shot on August 24th, mother commits suicide on August 12, and the biggest wound of all, my father dies on August 16 when he is 55 and I’m 15.

Now don’t be whipping out any sympathy violins for me, that’s not the point here. I am alive and well and happy and testimony that things can be survived and grown from and while wounds leave their marks and shapes, they don’t mean to stop your life, ‘less you hand’m more control then they deserve. Life happens to us whether we like it our not, it’s how we manage it that makes the difference, our living breathing relationship with it – that’s the point.

Suicide’s anything but fuckin’ painless and the same goes for getting shot and your father dyin’ when you’re fifteen’ll fuck your world up too. But you know what? Sunsets are beautiful and the same goes for sunrises. Friendships and family are precious and Springsteen songs make my heart soar and the sound of children laughing will lighten the heaviest heart and have you seen the flowers blooming lately?

Old wounds don’t stop life. Old pains don’t slam doors. Old scars don’t close your eyes or shut your ears. Open wide your soul and breathe. Lift your hearts up by the fuckin’ bootstraps if you have to. Open your eyes and ears, love people, love life. There’s life gifts in front of you and there’s life gifts ‘round the bend. You might not see’m now, but they’re just ‘round the bend. I know it’s scary, but don’t let it frighten you.

We all got our Augusts. You got yours and I got mine. You keep living now – and I’ll be seein’ you ‘round the bend.

FEAR OF INTIMACY

Fear of intimacy is an epidemic in my culture. This fear, this unkind barrier to people fully loving each other, robs so many people of the relationships they deserve – and want.

To my mind, there are three primary forms of intimacy: physical, emotional, and spiritual.

There are numerous essays and articles on the net talking about communal relationships as opposed to exchange relationships, or, as one article I ran across calls the latter, strategic exchange relationships. This latter form of relationship is highly problematic if your goal is to be in a loving intimate relationship with someone and not simply use someone for sexual or material gain.

While it seems to me the strategic exchange relationship is by far the most common relationship we see, I believe most people honestly and honorably want the communal relationship.

As I understand it, the strategic exchange relationship is a relationship where one person is seeking to get something or give something to the other in part by convincing them that the relationship is based on true intimacy. To my mind, this pattern of manipulative behavior can be driven by the subconscious as well as the conscious. According to more than one source, strategic exchange relationships are rather brittle and likely to break apart and come to an end when disagreements and differences arise.

Communal relationships, the truly emotionally, physically, and spiritually intimate relationships, are the durable ones. These relationships are far more likely to weather the storms. Their foundations are not so apt to be fractured and damaged by disagreements, differing views, and the traumas life dishes out to us all. Why? Because there is trust. There is a belief that each is their with the other person’s best interest at heart. There is a belief that neither would knowingly do nor say anything to wound or damage the other. This type of bond does not exist in the exchange relationships.

But why the exchange relationships in the first place? Why the fear of intimacy? Why the fear to trust? These fears arrive in our lives for real reasons: past wounds, betrayals, abuse of all kinds endured as children, or adults for that matter.

In other words, it’s our histories. Components of our histories provide the biggest obstacles to our ever realizing the kind of communal relationships so many deeply and sincerely long for.

So, here’s a thought to take with you. Who deserves to be in charge of your ability to be in the kind of communal relationship your heart desires? You or your history? I say, you.

The thing is, when the fear arrives, when your history raises its hideous head in an attempt to derail you, talk to the person you are with about your fears. If they listen, you are in good stead. One other thing, let them talk, and when they do, listen to them. Listen to each other; don’t judge each other.

And for god sakes, don’t forget to hold each other.

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