”There are some things in this world you rely on, like a sure bet. And when they let you down, shifting from where you’ve carefully placed them, it shakes your faith, right where you stand.” – Sarah Dessen
I’m ashamed, embarrassed. I’ve been told by people older and more experienced than I am that I shouldn’t feel this way, but I can’t help it. I’m disappointed.
I’m incredibly, incredibly disappointed.
Disappointment comes when your effort does not give you the expected return. If things don’t go as planned or if you face failure. Failure is extremely difficult to handle, but those that do come out stronger. “What did this failure teach me?” is the question I need to ask. I feel miserable. I want to quit, and I’ve only just gotten started. That is how much failure can hurt you.
But it’s life.
If challenges could always be overcome, they would cease to be a challenge. And remember – if you are failing at something, that means you are at your limit or potential. And that’s where you want to be.
Disappointment’s cousin is frustration, the second storm. It happens when things are stuck. From traffic jams to getting that job you deserve, sometimes things take so long that you don’t know if you chose the right goal. I chose this. I chose this goal for myself. I chose to walk in the shadow of a legend and try to bring light to my own abilities, my own potential. I’m young. I am called extremely lucky, but it took me five years of training to get close to getting this chance.
Loss invites reflection and reformulating and a change of strategies. Loss hurts and bleeds and aches. Loss is always ready to call out your name in the night. Loss follows you home and taunts you at the breakfast table, follows you to work in the morning. You have to make accommodations and broker deals to soften the rabbit punches that loss brings to daily life. You have to take the word “loser” and add it to your resume and walk around with it on your name tag as it hand-feeds you your own shit in dosages far too large for even great beasts to swallow. The word “loser” follows you, bird-dogs you, sniffs you out of whatever fields you hide in because you have to face things clearly and you cannot turn away from what it true.
Frustration saps excitement, and turns your initial energy into something negative, making you a bitter person.
How do I deal with it?
Eliminate distractions. Stop feeling sorry for myself. Remembering this is to be taken seriously, that nothing will be handed to me. This won’t be easy. But one day, I’ll look back at this and laugh at the silly girl I once was, so worried, wringing my hands over my first loss.
When defeat comes, accept it as a signal that your plans are not sound, rebuild those plans, and set sail once more toward your coveted goal.
My father’s life and career have been the defining stories of my life. Stories you read when you’re the right age never quite leave you. You may forget who wrote them or what the story was called. Sometimes you’ll forget precisely what happened, but if a story touches you it will stay with you, haunting the places in your mind that you rarely ever visit.
And now I find myself back in the fire. Two men and one other woman, who don’t give a shit about who I am or where I came from. They all have their goals. But I no longer fear failure. Anyone whose goal is something higher must expect someday to suffer vertigo. What is vertigo? Fear of falling? No, it is something other than fear of falling. It is the voice of the emptiness below us which tempts and lures us. It is the desire to fall, against which, terrified, we defend ourselves.
I’m going to enjoy every second of this, and I’m going to know I’m enjoying it while I’m enjoying it. Most people don’t live; they just race. They are trying to reach some goal far away on the horizon, and in the heat of the going they get so breathless and panting that they lose sight of the beautiful, tranquil country they are passing through; and then the first thing they know, they are old and worn out, and it doesn’t make any difference whether they’ve reached the goal or not.
So I won’t depend on my father anymore. Not for this, because I have to learn some tough lessons now. I have to grow up.
I’m learning persistence and the closing of doors, the way the seasons come and go as I keep walking on these roads, back and forth, to find myself in new time zones, new arms with new phrases, and new goals. And it hurts to become, hurts to find out about the poverty and the gaps, the widow and the leavers. It hurts to accept that it hurts and it hurts to learn how easy it is for people to not need other people. Or how easy it is to need other people but that you can never build a home in someone’s arms because they will let go one day and you must build your own.
I’ve wanted to win at everything, every day since I was a kid. And time doesn’t change a person, it just helps you get a handle on who you are. Even now, I still hate losing, but I need to learn to be more gracious about it. I’m also aware that setbacks have an upside; they fuel new dreams.
They called my father a murderer. He didn’t kill anyone. He was just that fucking good. It’s time I forge my own path, and part of that is accepting what we are.
We are killers.
Aunt Lindz was right. There’s only so much she could teach me because while she’s a technical master, and as tough as anyone I’ve ever seen, she’s no killer. But I am.
It’s time I perform my first kill, for I know how I will feel afterward. Take life and the theft goes unpunished. God doesn’t strike me down. The sky doesn’t fall. The morning after, I turn on the faucet and water still comes out. It’s still good when I raise my arm for a cab and one comes towards me out of the flow like magic. I do things that were supposed to end me and find they were only things that changed me. It is a disappointment and a revelation and a bereavement and a new thrilling nudity. It is the basic prosaic obscenity: I kept going.
PRIME is a palace for murderers, after all, aren’t they?
You have to understand that only the very worst end up here: the ones whose anger made them kill, and who felt no sorrow or guilt after the act; those so obsessed with themselves that they turned their backs on the sufferings of others, and left them in pain; those whose greed meant that others starved and died. Such souls belong here because they would find no peace elsewhere. In this place, they are understood. In this place, their faults have meaning. In this place, they belong.
So do I have to do murder?
Do I have to do murder? Sure I have to do murder. There are only two subjects – a woman’s chastity, and murder. Nobody’s interested in chastity anymore.
Murder’s all we got to tell stories about.
”Seniority and superiority are not the same thing.” – Donna Goddard
So since I’ve resolved myself to this, let’s talk about my poor innocent opponents this week. I guess we’re all a little alike. We’re all out of the tournament a lot sooner than we’d hoped. We all have something to prove, something to convince people of.
People say you’re born innocent, but it’s not true. You inherit all kinds of things that you can do nothing about. You inherit your identity, your history, like a birthmark that you can’t wash off. We are born with our heads turned back, but my mother says we have to turn our faces into the future now. You have to earn your own innocence, she says. You have to grow up and become innocent.
Life is made of moments and choices. Not all of them matter or have any lasting impact. Skipping class in favor of a taste of freedom, picking a prom dress because of the way it transforms you into a princess in the mirror. Even the nights you steal away from an open window, tiptoe silent to the end of the driveway, where darkened headlights and the pull of something unknown beckon. These are all small choices, really. Insignificant as soon as they’re made.
Then there’s a different kind of moment. One when things are irrevocably changed by a choice we make. A moment we will play endlessly in our minds on lonely nights and empty days. One we’ll search repeatedly for some indication that what we chose was right, some small sign that tells us the truth isn’t nearly as awful as it feels. Or as awful as anyone would think if they knew.
So we explain it to ourselves, justify it enough to sleep. And then we bury it deep, so deep we can almost pretend it never happened. But as much as we wish it were different, the truth is, our worlds are sometimes balanced on the choices we make and the secrets we keep.
And we are likewise judged by the stories we tell.
How about you, Ria Nightshade?
What is your story, other than the obvious? I know you were a man once, or so I’m told. I affirm and respect your identity…
…is what my agent has told me is the proper thing to say.
I understand though. Men are so dreadfully tedious. Why would someone ever want to be one if they had the choice to be something different. And the fashion is so, so much better.
But let’s not dwell on who you used to be and talk about who you are. And who is Ria Nightshade? Is there some mysterious depth in there just begging to be brought to the surface? Do we have weeks, perhaps months of introspective bullshit to listen to, until the day you finally break the secret at just the right time, the most impactful moment to launch you even further?
Do we instead have surface nattering to look forward to? A nattering child who read too many comic books, fell in love with the characters inside, and so decided to become one? Here to pass off mental illness as a personality trait, trivializing someone’s actual struggle in a weak attempt to suggest depth?
“Honey, can you get me some tea?”
“GODDAMMIT, WHY DID YOU GIVE ME TEA!?!”
This is Ria Nightshade.
Fortunately, I’m not one of those ‘good people’ you despise so much. Lucky for me, I suppose? I guess I dodged a nasty bullet there, by being a violent, vicious, badass bitch with a bad fucking attitude. I guess maybe despite it all, we could end up friends. Maybe.
But I’m afraid where we lose the plot is in the fact that I just can’t bring myself to respect a blabbering simpleton who has a shrine to Mrs. Buttersworth in her garage. I can’t do it. And you know, fucking around with interviewers is fun, believe me, I know. But save your whole single-woman good cop bad cop routine for someone who gives a fuck. Do us all fucking favor and shut the fuck up. How about you just get in the ring and fight?
Yes, we could have been friends, if only you were smarter. But you have the intellectual capacity of a grain of rice. I’m not sure you’re actually cut out for this. I don’t think you’ve been through the wringer enough to survive.
The thing about learning how to fight is that – some of us are not born with that desire. They say some are born fighters, but they don’t usually point out that others just aren’t. Some are forced by life to take up arms and fight. Many are. That, my dear, is you.
The art lies in knowing when to wield those arms and when to put them down. I don’t think it’s a matter of pretending to be ideally unharmed by life and untouched by darkness; because that is hypocrisy. Rather, I think it is a matter of being true to your truth and learning when to fight, and learning when to be soft. Hopefully, our fighting moments in life will largely outweigh, outrank, and outrun our soft ones.
Solomon Richards, for example, was the son of a preacher man. Yes he was. He was. Oh yes he was. The only thing that could ever reach him was professional wrestling. The only place that could ever teach him was Las Vegas.
I really like the idea of a poor itinerant son of a preacher leaving a life of religious indoctrination behind and hopping the rails to live like a hobo, a hobo who enjoys the big lights of the big city, who wants to prove to his father that he can be all he can be by becoming a professional wrestler. You don’t really look like livin’ the hobo life had much of an effect on you though. I dare say you haven’t missed too many meals in your life. Did you leave your family or eat your family?
I’m from the South, so I understand your struggles. My father didn’t try to make me into a disciple of the Lord, but he did try to make me wash the dishes like a common servant person. Aren’t parents just the WORST??
Speaking of parents, my father told me all about you Alexander Redding. You apparently shared some time together in another promotion. Basically, he said you were the disappointing half of the Red and Ted tag team. Something about your mouth is bigger than your actual skill? It’s as if the promise of your ability in the ring was nothing but a red herring. Hey, is that where you got the “Redding” from? That’s actually pretty clever, if not a little self-deprecating. But I admire your honesty. That’s the sort of thing that will ultimately get you in the good graces of my aunt, who really enjoys a good pun and a person who knows when they suck.
The other thing I wanted to bring up, OBVS, is your background of being a choreographer. This is another very impressive note about you, and I’m surprised you don’t speak about it more. But look here, Paula Abdul. Being a choreographer isn’t gonna help you this week. Straight up? I’m gonna kick your fucking teeth in and then probably break your arm. I’m not gonna Rush, Rush. I’m gonna take my time and enjoy it. I guess it’s true what they say where you and Teddy Palmer are concerned. Opposites Attract. And as far as kicking your ugly Canadian ass goes? I’m Forever Your Girl.
I do not think that any of you have any right to look down on me, merely because you are older than I am, or because you have seen more of the world than I have; your claims to superiority depends on the use you have made of your time and experience.
You are all so artless and optimistic and clueless, and I don’t care that you smell bad or are fat or wear clothes unlike anyone else’s. You have a weird disconnect with life that keeps you constantly bubbling, and I know that you will go blithely through your long, horribly boring lives thinking everything was just swell.
But I understand.
Mediocrity naturally feels threatened in the presence of merit.
Bask in your ignorance. You all look like perfectly delightful rungs on my ladder.
After all, only God can judge. And I’m not here to judge you.
I’m just here to set up the appointment.
”You want a revolution, start murdering innocents.” – M.F. Moonzajer