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  1. Mick Mouse
    Pain.

    For some of us, just the mention of the word makes us pause and maybe run a quick self-diagnostic to check our systems. For some of us, it a part of the very fabric of our lives, a companion that stays closer to us than even our shadow does. For some of us, it is a complaint that we address countless times a day, as patients come in and out of our offices or operating rooms. For some of us (the lucky ones!), it is just a word. For some of us, it is a condition that comes and goes as we work our way through this process called Life-occurring, being treated, resolved, and eventually occurring again. For some (many!) of us, it was the precursor event which has led to a life of addiction and (hopefully!) recovery.

    But pain comes in many flavors, and not always just the physical. You have mental pain, which is then broken down into sub-catagories such as emotional, stress-related, etc. These are often more hurtful than any mere physical pain could ever be, and they leave deeper and uglier scars, as well. This is the type of pain that I would like to explore in this post. It is called pain for a reason, and I expect to hurt quite a bit before this is all said and done. Those of you who decide to stick around for this entire journey will learn a few things about pain and how a person deals with it. You will learn (probably) more than you ever wanted to know about this fool who calls himself toxin, because I will probably end up revealing things about myself which have not seen the light of day in a long, long time.

    But that is how it works, right? The pain that hurts the worst is the pain you cause to yourself. But it is a catharsis, or at least it is supposed to be. You are supposed to feel better after you are done.

    I guess we will see.

    I look at the different kinds of mental pain with a very simple method-Am I suffering from it right now, and will I suffer from it in the future? They both have uniquely different flavors that, with repeated tastings, become seared into one's memory, long after the actual event has passed.

    I suffer from chronic depression, which is brought on by chronic pain. On top of that, I have a fairly severe case of PTSD, with SAD and GAD sharing equal billing with hyper-vigilance and a general paranoia about authority. All of these issues contribute, but they are not really what I am talking about, so I will try to explain further.

    Lets look at future mental pain. Now, most people would not consider these things to be worth thinking about on a consistent basis, much less truly important, but I think about this kind of shit constantly. Here are a few examples.

    Death. Never my death, because I never worry about that, but the deaths of others. The death of The Dog. It's coming, and I know it. She is 14 years old and her hips are shot, she don't hear very good anymore, and she is waaay overweight (we are working on this last one, though). Her clock is starting to run down, and I am not ready for that!

    But it is just a dog, right? Yeah, just a dog.

    I got her when she was just five weeks old, I had just gotten out of prison and really needed a friend, so I went to the local pet store and the guy told me that someone had just dumped these puppies on him, he didn't know anything about them, and I could have one for $20.00. So I went over to the cage and stuck my hand in, and said that the first one who wasn't scared had a home. They all ran to the other side except for one, who bravely advanced with snarls and growls until she got into range, and then she pounced! She could barely get my finger into her mouth, but she was NOT going to let go! Little did she know that she had just captured much more than my finger.

    Fast forward a bit. Now she has just turned two, and she went out and got knocked up. I had planned on letting her have one litter before I got her fixed, but she jumped the gun on me and did it herself, and I had no idea of what had gotten her. Come to find out it was the neighbors wolf/shepard mix, and they were absolutely beautiful pups! My boy still has one, too. It is the beginning of a long life of being a momma dog, not only to other dogs, but to kittens, miniature fainting goats, baby pigs, and my kids.

    There was the ages between three and six, when she would not let anyone mess with "her" human kids, and she would go straight after your ass if you so much as acted like you were going to hit one of them, even in fun. It was around this time that I had her trained as my service dog, too. Then, when she turned seven, I had to go to prison, where I spent the next 4 1/2 years. I sat down with her and explained that I was going away but that I would be back, and her job was to look after the rest of the family for me until I came home. My wife said that she laid out in the drive-way for four days, waiting for me to come back, until finally they had to literally drag her into the house and make her eat.

    Now I have been home for the last couple of years, and she has not left my side in all of that time. She goes everywhere with me, and quite often is the only thing that keeps me from having a full-blown attack when I have to go out in public.

    Just a dog. She is my best friend and my constant companion, and has been for the past 14 years, and when she goes, it is going to leave an enormous hole where my heart used to be.

    Then there is the wife. What can I say about her? She took a master manipulator, a world-class ass-hole and con-man, a career criminal, a person whose personal life had just been shredded and who literally wanted nothing more than to be left alone in his pain, and done the worst thing possible to such a man-she brought innocence and purity and....perkiness into his life. I hate perkiness! She forced happiness at him and then dug her heels in and absolutely refused to allow him to disappear back into the darkness. She willingly followed him into hell and never gave up on him, even when he was at his worst. She never gave up on me. I shudder to think of what will happen if she should die before me. Not for me, my friends, but for you. I have been, in addition to all the other things, a sociopath for a long time now. It's one of the many benefits that extended military service in hot situations over a period of 12 years will give you, and one they don't really tell you about. After a while, human life means nothing and killing no longer bothers you. Especially after you have done it countless times. Well, not really countless, there were 42 that I am absolutely sure of. I see most of them every night when I sleep. Of course, I haven't really slept for more than an couple of hours at a time for years now, but they are there. All of them.

    So, she took this piece of crap, this trained killer who saw no usefulness or purpose in others lives, this person who had one philosophy, which was to make sure that he was on top no matter who got hurt or what it cost, and she made him lock the monster away and let the man out instead. And it has been that way for close to 20 years now. But why would I feel sorry for you if she was to die? Well, she is the door that keeps the real me away from you. She is really all that keeps you safe. And dying of natural causes would be bad enough, but I hate to think of how I would react if she was taken from me because of someones stupidity or carelessness. Lets just say that I would react badly, and that there would be no place one could hide. I would burn the world, that the smoke would carry her away, and that she should be proceeded by an honor guard unmatched in the history of Man. I would find a way to storm the very gates of heaven itself and I would carry my fight to the foot of Gods throne, where I would demand an answer. Why? Why did you take her from me?

    Of course, we can't forget the kids either! They are my reason for living, my hope for the future, and the very light of my life! Their deaths would put me over the edge as well, in a very bad way. I look at them and I see what I could have been, had things been just a little bit different, so I make sure that they are protected and will never have to go through the same shit I did.

    So.....Death. Like I said, these thoughts, along with others that are just as irrational, often occupy my waking hours. But never my own death. Is that odd, or is it "normal" for someone who is in such mental pain? Why do I worry myself sick about others, but never a thought for myself?

    Then there is emotional pain. Or perhaps I should say scarring. Hell, it's probably both! I have been hurt by others, to an extent in which I have little or no trust in anyone other than my family. I have willingly offered my heart to someone, to several someones, only to have it thrown back in my face. My track record with the female sex was not stellar, prior to my meeting up with this woman who has me now. Oh, the sex was constant and varied, but relationships were a different story. I never understood how a woman could be in an abusive situation and would continuously and willingly return to that situation time and time again. Of course, I know all about co-dependency now, but it does me little good. The damage was done long ago, and the scars go deep. Too deep to ever truly heal, I think.

    See, with me there was never a middle. It was always one end or another-I hated and had no problem with killing, or I was offering my heart blindly and without thinking. As a result, I always got burned. And I never learned, either! I would go from one disasterous relationship to another, each time withdrawing a little bit more, until I hated everyone, and myself most of all. I would try and bury the pain, first with adrenaline rushes from dangerous situations (think major crimes involving guns and lots of money) and finally with drugs. But there was never enough, no matter how much I had, because the problem wasn't (and isn't!) outside. It is inside. It was me.

    Most of this crap I have come to terms with or have learned ways of dealing with it that no longer involve such stupidity. I have learned to act normal so as to not scare society too much. But there is still one....situation, I guess you could call it, that I have not had much success in resolving. All of this other crap that I have been talking about has just been window dressing.

    You see, I was married once before, when I was very young. Essentially, I fell in love with the first girl I ever screwed, and my dumb ass ended up marrying her! Needless to say, it didn't work out so well. In addition to this, I had just went into the military, so I was never home and always in different countries, doing exciting special forces shit like sneaking up on idiots and killing them in countless interesting ways. Not conducive to a stable relationship, to say the least! But, she got pregnant, so I did the right thing. It took almost two years for me to find out that she had been banging the entire neighborhood while I was away, but that was after the fact. We had a son.....I had a son, and I thought that life was going nowhere but up!

    Well, we all know that it usually only happens like that in fairy tales. I got to spend the first two years with him, and then I was served with divorce papers while I was doing this thing in Panama. I came back and was told that it would be better if I just stayed away from now on, that she had found someone else who was "normal". I managed to stay in his life for about another year, but finally his mother put an end to that for good.

    But I didn't give up, at least not for years and years. Every holiday and birthday, I tried. I wrote letters and sent cards and gifts. I made special trips to their home, just to see him, only to be told that something had come up and it had to be canceled. My only contact with him was through my mother, which for some reason, my ex-wife continued to have regular contact with. You see, it was just me that was hated and despised. I watched him grow up through pictures and stories told by my mom, and there were any times when I wanted to quit trying, only to be talked back into "giving it just one more try" by either my mother or my wife. You see, they never learned how to recognize a lost cause, while I had spent years looking at one in the mirror. For years, I deluded myself into thinking that when he grew up and got out from under his mothers thumb, he would want to get to know me. So I hung in there year after year. Finally came the day when my mom told me that he graduated from high school and was going to college at the University of New Mexico, which was right down the road (practically speaking!) from where I and my new family were living. I sent out invitation after invitation, and never even got a reply.

    I knew then that it was over. Oh, I still sent birthday and Christmas cards every year, but I knew that I was never going to see him again. I was a stranger that he didn't remember and had never heard anything good about, except from my mom. I might have technically been his father, but I had never been his dad, and I certainly was not part of his life!

    I understand why my ex did all of this, and I don't even hold it against her anymore. It is what it is, and I have let it go a long time ago. Eventually, even hate fades away. While it left an empty spot in my life, it left one in theirs as well. Neither of us cares anymore, it was just an unpleasant chapter in our lives that we have moved on from.

    Here is the really crazy thing though. He has a kid of his own now, a little girl who is absolutely beautiful. My mom has been after me to "keep the lines of communication open", in case "something ever happens". Really? Like what? Like this man is going to have an attack of conscious and let his daughter know that she has a grandfather that he has never wanted to bother with? Get real!

    But it is my mom asking, just as she has asked me for the past 30 years, so I send this grandchild that I have never met cards and letters, in the hope that "something will happen". I let her know that I am here, if she ever wants to know me.

    Each time I get refused, I die a little more inside.

    I'm not a monster anymore, at least I don't think I am. I'm not normal, but I'm not as crazy as I used to be, either. I have kept the darkness locked away for so long that I am fairly certain it has died now. But I still would be careful about opening that door, just to be on the safe side. It is probably gone by now. But then again, it might be just on the other side. Smiling.

    Smiling and waiting for its chance to be set free again.

    Crazy story, huh? It is just a small glimpse into the world of my pain. But it is just a story, right?

    Pray that you never find out.

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