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My boss laughed at me yesterday.

Let me rewind. My boss has been saying he’s leaving for months. He’s now saying that his plan is to cut out sometime in May. This means there is going to be an opening at my job for a promotion. I’ve been at my job for going on about four years. I swore I never wanted his job, because I saw the shit he had to put up with, and it didn’t seem worth it. But, at twenty-five years old, facing the end of my dad’s health insurance coverage, a now permanent case of having kidney stones for the rest of my life, the fact that I need to pay my own way in life, the fact there just doesn’t seem to be any jobs, I can’t for the life of me figure out what I want to do, and the fact that I am tired of being perpetually broke has made me desperate and willing to accept options that six months ago I wouldn’t have.

My boss, as a rule, is a nice guy. Probably one of the best people I’ve ever worked for. We get along fairly well, and he’s put up with a fair bit. But we were talking yesterday about my applying for his job and he said they’ll interview everyone, but honestly he didn’t think I had much of a shot, because while I’m always on time, do my best not to cause trouble (I still swear there was nothing I could do about the Muslim lady calling me a racist because I followed company policy about handing out coffee packets when we only had three left), and am largely dependable…I suck at “everything else.” For whatever reason, he couldn’t really tell me what everything else was, except that it was small things I didn’t do (which is only because I have no idea I’m supposed to do them, I do pretty much everything he tells me to do that I can remember, often enough leaving a dozen ‘sticky notes’ on the pc so I can), and that I wasn’t friendly and personable.

I will admit, I am probably what some people, if they were being nice, would call a stoic. Those who are not so nice, well. I’ve been called a lot of things. Dead fish is one of them.

Guess why he never smiles?

The funny thing is, as a kid, I used to be really friendly and personable. I could talk to anyone. No fear. Once, in the small town I was living, we had a concert pianist come to play. Mom took me and my sister. It was before the show and I ended up going to to play with the piano. Not knowing who the guy was, he ended up walking out and played a duet with me on that piano before his own show. People were scandalized. I didn’t know, didn’t care, I just got to play the piano with someone. I used to do all the talking for my sister (annoying, and now she’s the one who can talk to anyone and I’m the guy who’s painfully shy).

So, what happened? Well, in a word, my mom. See, I didn’t realize this until just a few years ago, but my mom is an abuser. And she abused me. It took me too long to realize what was happening. She only really started the last few years I was living with her, after everyone else had been cut out of her life or driven away. But even before that, years before that, I was subject to her machinations you could call them.

I’ve written before about the reality shovel she used.

And maybe it’s the eye infection I’ve had since Saturday. Maybe it’s the massive allergy attack that ran all yesterday afternoon and woke me up at 6 this morning after three hours of sleep. Maybe it’s years of exhaustion and emotional pain, but it all hit me in a nice little package that won’t let me get back to sleep.

My boss laughed at me, and told me I didn’t have a shot.

For years, my mom told me I didn’t have a shot. That I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. That I was going to screw it up. That I’d fail.

A little over a year ago, I ran away from home. I waited for her to go to work, called a couple I knew the night before when my “best friend” refused to help me. Got a truck that morning, we loaded up my possessions and I ran. I didn’t tell my mom I was going. I was literally scared for my life. She’d grown more and more unstable, and I didn’t trust that in her depression she wouldn’t try to murder-suicide me because I was literally the last person in her life that she had (or that she could abuse, at least).

I got very good at not showing emotions. I still have them, a lot. But I’m good at hiding them, and my default unless I’m really comfortable is to hide them, especially in tense situations of if I don’t know the other person. Why? That’s easy. Show the wrong emotion around my mom at the wrong time and you’d get screamed and cried at for the rest of the night, and get the silent weepy treatment for days (mixed with occasional bouts of showers and proclamations that you didn’t give a damn about what she was suffering). If you were lucky. That, of course, was before it got really bad. And despite her words, I’m pretty damn sure I was the unfavorite.

His dad named the dog “Only Son.” Is it any wonder he turned to evil?

So, I hid my emotions. It wasn’t easy, I was a pretty emotional kid. Who wouldn’t be, after having a psychological breakdown upon realizing that everything he knew and believed was a lie? And then being conned into believing his father was the worst person in the world and his mother the innocent victim. A hero’s heart for justice turned into a villain’s heart for revenge, then evil, and the burning passion of a thousand suns held nothing to my blackest rage.

But, my illusions of my mother were shattered. Her abuses grew. I had no friends, no outlets. I stayed home a lot, rarely hung out with people. A few semesters I had friends at community college, but by the time I hit university I was alone again except for my best friend, who knew my troubles and the abuse (the same one who bailed on me when I needed him most).

So I schooled my face to never show emotions. I schooled my body to close in on itself, and if it showed anything it was only to be a defensive threat that said “Stay away.” And I thanked my Heathen gods that my glasses made my eyes light sensitive so I always had to wear my shades when I was around her, because my eyes were the things I couldn’t keep the hurt and anger and other emotions from showing in. And just the slightest hint of the wrong emotion and she’d explode.

Sometimes I think now, running away was a mistake. It betrayed everything I believe about power, and about myself. I should have done what I did to every other foe that crossed my path. Crushed them ruthlessly, destroyed their power, sundered their soul, left them broken and bleeding at my feet as I roared in triumph. But I didn’t. I suppose it was a moment of weakness, fear, and compassion. And in failing to crush her, I failed to crush the power her words had over me.

It’s been over a year now. I’ve managed to live on my own. I’ve even managed not to screw up too much. I’ve learned to keep a close eye on the money in my accounts. I still haven’t figured out housekeeping, but I’ve never been good at that. I can clean my own bathroom though. And cook my own food, and despite the jokes (or not so jokes) I’ve managed not to burn the place down while doing it.

But still…there’s always that feeling. The feeling beaten into me with words and emotions. “You’re a failure and a screw up. You don’t know how to do it. You can’t do it. Oh, you’re smarter than 95% of the people out there, but you can’t do it. You don’t know how. So don’t bother trying.”

I think that’s why I can’t figure out what to do. Why am constantly stuck. Why I feel lost.

My boss laughed at me yesterday. I laughed with him.

Now I just wanna cry. But I can’t. Because I’m too fucking damn stoic.