COMIC BOOK COUNSELLING

LIES I TELL OTHERS

Deadpool has always struck a chord with me. I found this slightly psychotic antihero to be a breath of fresh air amongst the Marvel Universes usual band of heros and villians. For someone who’s alway blurred the lines a bit and considered rules to be speculative I had a natural affection for the Merc with a mouth. Oh sure, his whole “funny money” method has forced other franchises to change the way they market but that makes me relate to him all the more. I also use humor as a coping strategy.

Or is life just too short to be taken seriously? I always get that part confused.

Moving forward, who doesn’t appreciate a person who’s willing to take matters into their own hands when things get rough? I certainly painted myself in that same light any time someone questioned my motives. I could even feed you 1,001 excuses for why I chose to be an outlaw. As they say “reasons are an invention of the mind to justify the wishes of the heart.”

Spiritually speaking intention has always been more important than action. Clearly the person who only does good expecting to be rewarded is no better off than the person who slapped around a bully picking on a special needs kid. Why we do what we do plays a huge part in shaping our lives. It’s that whole freedom of choice thing the world religions harp about so much.

What about those of us who choose to believe our own lies? The outlaw who plays up the whole Robin Hood bit because he donated to the Humane Society after smoking 6 blunts. “Snow blindness in cats is serious business y’all. I really do care.” We have a tendency to paint ourselves in the most favorable light possible when it comes to others but when we start believing the hype ourselves we get lost.

LIES I TELL MYSELF

Quentin Tarantino did a fantastic job of explaining the uniqueness of Superman and his alter ego Clark Kent. See, Clark Kent was the disguise. Superman was actually Superman. Kal- El was sent to earth by his parents as his home planet was destroyed wearing the costume we all recognize as Supermans. So the mask he wore came in the form of glasses and a tie as he droned away at the Daily Planet crushing on Lois Lane.

I wore a mask as well. I wanted to be an outlaw because it felt good to rebel and lash out at a society I felt had wronged me. Like a typical entitled brat I went out of my way to form a bad boy persona to mask my pain and throw a decade long temper tantrum. I assumed the world would pity me and disregard my behavior as I was undoubtedly a victim of circumstances.

Eventually I became lost in this character I portrayed and descended so far into darkness that I didn’t even recognize myself anymore. I had became the outlaw and no longer belonged in conventional society. I was crass, rough around the edges, and absolutely delusional about who was to blame for it.

Society owes us nothing and we are the sum of our actions. Every choice, every step has consequences we have to accept. The State of Texas decided for me because I choose to react time and time again. I failed to admit my flaws time and time again. Even now, in the throws of a drug court program with an entire team of therapists at my disposal I’m still tempted to throw on my mask and cape. Dealing in extremes has always worked for me.

“You are not Superman.” My counsellor fed me that line on repeat through countless sessions as I recanted my life ‘story’ for him. “Dude, you’re Clark Kent,” he’d say over and over as I grew more and more frustrated.

It helped though. I’ve come to accept who I am at my core and not be ashamed of it no matter where I’m at. I no longer play up my ghetto roots around one group while using my intelligence to mesh with another. I’m simply me. I struggle, I grow, I adapt and I always look for the lesson no matter how painful it may be. In this instance it was simple. No one will ever trust a man who plays a role 24/7. No one will ever accept me for me if I am constantly pretending to be the person I think they want me to be.

How does one go about understanding who they are anyways?

ACCEPTING MYSELF

Some of you are familiar with my struggle to reintegrate with the rest of society. After spending years and years of my life behind bars I have been diagnosed with PTSD and a form of social anxiety that’s common amongst my peers. Our alertness comes from years of watching hands and staying ready so we don’t have to get ready. Soldiers go through a similar experience from what I understand but the Texan in me still struggles to categorize them amongst us. Duty verses dirty and what not.

Anyways, in Watch My Head Explode I shared a few of the strategies I’ve learned to help cope with different stressors in my life. Sometimes it’s a struggle not to completely snap off on incredibly rude people out in public. While I’m sure it would seem a small feat to most we ex-cons aren’t exactly your typical shoppers. Many of us are all too aware of just how dangerous we can be if we don’t stay on top of rage. Oftentimes that involves us reminding ourselves that this isn’t that kind of party. Rude people aren’t typically testing for weakness and scouring for victims. They’re just rude.

Well, how did Bruce Banner manage to control the Hulks outbursts of rage? He didn’t. He accepted that the Hulk is a part of who he is. He accepted the anger. He accepted there is a time to be the brilliant scientific mind he is and a time to smash things to pieces. By understanding anger would consume him if he simply avoided it he learned discipline. As King Solomon would say “everything in season.”

To apply this lesson to my own life I had to accept I have PTSD. I had to accept that I have anxiety. My mental faculties have served me well in life so that was a difficult pill to swallow; my mind is the problem. Essentially, I had to get out of my head to get into my head and learn to be fluid in spite of how I felt.

IN CLOSING

I’m a huge fan of people learning compassion through personal experience. The woman whose son committed suicide moving forward by teaching a grief class. The therapist who works with incarcerated addicts because their brother overdosed. The ex-convict who volunteers at the juvenile center hoping to reach the forgotten. This sort of compassion is birthed in awakening to an ancient truth. Every human being, on planet earth, has the best of the best and the worst of the worst within them. The saint is only the sinner who dusted themselves off and tried again.

Remember when Banner said “avoiding stress isn’t the secret?” What was his solution? By accepting his anger was a part of him he was able to not be consumed by it. It was his acceptance that gave him his power back.

Think about it.

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