The Man Who Fought Life

There is a man whom life has destroyed. He is fighting with destroying life in return. Blow for blow they fight with the same consequences. Life looms over him, takes him to the canvas. He picks himself up and in great fury, punches himself in the face, again and again. It knocks the thought out of him. It pummels the consciousness of the horror of the fight into sweet submission, and finally down he falls, almost for the count, almost destroyed, but not quite, not wholly. He fails: time for another round. He stands punch-drunk, staggering, squaring up his jaw, setting his hands in front of him to ward off blows, and the punishment starts again. Left hook. Jab to the kidneys. A few parried blows to the solar plexus. You cannot win when you are fighting yourself. You cannot win when Life struggles to compete with the damage you do to yourself. You cannot win.

This man has blue eyes, they sparkle as he talks. He offers much of himself and the energy he has left between battles with Life and Himself. Sparring matches turned into prize fights. Prize fights turned into ideological wars. He fought against The Man, he fought against The System. He fought against The Media. He fought against telephone companies, and schools, electricity providers and cops. He fought bikers in rival gangs. He fought dealers. He fought wars that old men sent him to, and he never stopped fighting once he returned home again. He wanted to be the scum, the dirt, the one in the gutter. He wanted people to hate him, yet reserved a sense of righteousness. He ate out of trashcans because the Bible told him not to waste food, and then became sick when he lived off corruption and filth. Yet this sense of innate superiority, moral elevation and Biblical commendation ran through him, like words through a stick of rock candy. I use the past tense. He has drunk and drugged himself into defeat. He is no longer himself.

He doesn’t sound like himself. He doesn’t talk like himself. He cannot think. Cannot reason. Cannot take care of himself. He has developed a whiny nasally drip to his voice. A reedy high pitched descent into something weaselly and grotesque. He used to have such a beautiful voice, he used to sound like Jim Morrison with a touch of Minnesota. Now he sounds like a clown with smeared make up. He is prone to fits of dominating pouting and sneering, these are invariably followed by a pathetic bout of apologetic whining and appealing to past times. I am one of his oldest friends, and it sickens me to talk to him. So quite simply, I have put myself first, and don’t. I warned him to talk to me politely or else not talk to me. He failed to do so, so, that is that. I blocked him.

I miss who he was, not who he is. The kind man I used to know has gone. He finally defeated himself. His body survived his mind. He was always so very strong. Too strong for his own good. I remember the first time he took his shirt off with me there. I pointed to a knotty scar in his shoulder, and poked at it. My fingers felt the opposite scar on his back, I asked him what had happened, he said he didn’t know. I found that unlikely. It was one heck of a pair of scars. Like I said, sometimes life and circumstance attacked him, and sometimes he attacked himself. What I didn’t realize back then was that Life had started the fight, he merely finished it. Man, did he finish it!


  1. Ruth

    Your writing is so moving and your understanding quite profound TPS. Must be hard for you to handle, knowing who he was and seeing who he is. There was a choice not to do this, albeit not an easy one. I’m sorry for both of you that he wasn’t able to make that choice. Sending love xxx

    1. The Paltry Sum

      Much love back, Ruth. I can’t watch any more of it. I did give him very gentle warnings about how he was addressing me, and what I was prepared to tolerate, and since he told me he no longer wanted to talk to me, I will just have to ignore the subsequent whining. Some times words have consequences. Words mean something. I am just at my limit. Much love back, darling xx

  2. leendadll

    Reminds me a lot of my beginning and end with the SO from my past.

    It’s hard when they save you but you can’t figure out how to save them.

    My SO passed, more than a decade ago, without feeling how much he was truly loved.

    1. The Paltry Sum

      I am so very sorry, Leenda. That is very very sad. You are such a lovely person, that if he was ever going to be able to feel loved, I am sure you were the one to offer him that comfort. BIG HUGS xxx

      1. leendadll

        Thank you. It was long ago and I am past the sadness now. He completely changed my life for the better, and permanently. He knew great love from, my mother, and others before addiction took over.

      1. The Paltry Sum

        Unfortunately so, darling. Very unfortunately so. I simply cannot take any more. It was distressing me too much, and besides he is so drunk and high he cannot be reasonable or decent, or speak to me on the phone nicely. I just ran out of steam. I don’t feel like I am being very nice, but I have to look after me and the kiddo.

      2. rebecca s revels

        When someone is unable to be respectful and reasonable, nice goes out the window. You have to take care of yourself and your son. That is the highest level of importance.

      3. The Paltry Sum

        I have only spoken to him on the phone for the last 8 months or so, and was not planning to see him in person again, but I really can’t manage even phone calls any longer.

      4. The Paltry Sum

        Its not so much that I am about to lose my mind, more like it is an added pressure that brings nothing but stress, so that was that. I am not helping him, I am just a soundboard for his drunken high talk and don’t want to be!

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