“I hate people who quote Nietzsche, I don’t like pretentious shit” – Charlize Theron
Every now and then I will be browsing my Facebook feed; chin lazily propped up on my left palm, while my right hand scrolls the wheel of the mouse in a lull. Usually this is done expressionless, every few moments letting out a sigh of boredom (admit it, you’re doing it now.) I’ll crack a smile at amusing updates, or release an ‘awww’ at a cute photo. Then…I’ll roll my eyes-
Because I just came across that person(s) who shares way too much information.
“It’s a status update, not a journal” usually comes to mind. The fact that someone can just let out their inner-most issues to hundreds of people at once…baffles me. It seems like a cry for help, and comes off as pathetic, and childish.
Whoa, wait, Steve. Aren’t you doing the exact same thing with this three-part writing?
Yes. Yes I am.
It was for this reason, that I didn’t want to publish this story.
I carefully thought and planned how I would word this, triple and quadruple checking my story structure and bullet-points. I put extensive work and passion into describing this odd, but sad experience of mine, and even though I did all that-
It’s no better than a spoiled, teenage girl filling up your news feed.
Readers aren’t supposed to be therapists, or even journals, and they’re especially not bartenders. Yet, I stumbled into your bar, sat myself, yelled my drink order, and proceeded to dump my story on you. I shed a small amount of dignity and privacy…for a few blog hits.
Spamming your heart strings.
I went door-to-door spreading the word of my apathy.
While being institutionalized, I went through my options on whether or not this should be told. Friends, family, co-workers, strangers, would see everything. It would either be incredibly compelling and honest, or it would be sophomoric and sad.
I like to think I combined all elements above in creating this, and before I go on all I can say is thank you for reading, and for the incredible feedback I have received on it.
Steve Ryan is not, nor will he ever be, Viktor Frankl.
Frankl wrote the book that has been my main image for this whole story. He was a Jewish doctor who decided to stay with his family during Hitler’s genocide, instead of coming to America.
He survived Auschwitz based on one simple belief: He would get through this, he would do it alive, and he would spread his message of strength through all his tribulations.
Cut to 2012, where I am crying in my small room in a state institution. I’m crying because-
- I haven’t seen my son.
- My girlfriend.
- The food tasted like baked cardboard in a urine demi-glaze, dusted with a mixture of bird seed and wood shavings. It was the Jim Belushi of food, & I lost 7lbs in 3 days.
- I haven’t had sex in almost a week.
- I’m missing the Daily Show.
Nothing was available to fill my free time. The more time spent in this horrible asylum, the more crazy I felt myself becoming. I understood why patients would scream, cry, and throw tantrums.
This place makes you crazy, and the crazier you act the longer you stay.
I was determined not to crack because I wanted to be released, and right when I was about to start punching walls and have my meltdown…I read Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor Frankl.
This guy was a true survivor. He had no idea when his suffering would end, and trudged through it with true heart and hope. It made me want to punch myself in the face. Here I am, getting 3 meals a day, shelter, counseling, and medication and I’m naive enough to even compare myself to his ordeal.
I was complaining that the silver spoon in my mouth tasted bland, meanwhile this guy was a Jewish Neo saying, “There is no spoon.”
I am an inconsiderate fuck.
Then it got even worse.
Using the patient phone I decided to call home so I could hear Killian’s voice. Now, for those of you without kids, let me tell you how normal phone calls go with children.
Hey, Killian? It’s your Daddy!
“Uh huh. Love you, um bye!”
Hey! No. Talk to me, buddy. What did you do today?
“I don’t know. Um, gotta go, Pokemon is back on.”
Talk to daddy, you unappreciative little fu-
Kids don’t give a shit about a phone call, and you know what, I don’t blame them. That’s how it should be. However, this was day 5 of me being gone and I needed this interaction. My survival in this place depended on it.
[He was excited?] How are you buddy?
“I’m okay, but um, daddy. I MISS YOU. I um, I just…I miss you. Please come home. Mommy says you’re at the doctor.”
I am, it’s okay, how’s school or Pokemon?
“Daddy…I miss you.”
There was no eagerness for him to get off the phone, he missed me. He was worried.
After hearing this and getting off the phone, I went to my room, turned the lights off…and had the most quiet freak-out in the history of freak-outs.
Sometimes the only way to break, is down.
He genuinely missed me, I didn’t know kids could do that.
Frankl’s book describes his surviving through faith and belief, and that was my speed bump. I don’t have that, I have mentioned this many times and sadly it won’t change.
However, I had my son. I had something outside this place that made it easier to get through. I had hope. I kept a calm composure, I stayed silent, and eventually…
I was released.
That’s right, I was free. I was now ready to make those big life changes, to focus on goals, to tell everyone in my life that I loved them, and to live everyday like it was my last!
Unfortunately, the gigantic life change, and inspiration won’t be concluding this tale. It still hasn’t arrived, and I wish I could lie and say it did.
Sometimes there are no grand lessons taken from instances like mine.
I learned one thing, and one thing only:
I never want to be away from my family again.
I must admit that I am doing things that I didn’t think of before this whole ordeal.
I’m taking Tae Kwon Do with my son. He is amazing at it. I’m a different story, in that I love doing it; despite the fact that taking Tae Kwon Do at 28-years-old feels like a douche promise-ring before taking the jump and getting my mid-life crisis, ‘engagement Corvette.’
I’m writing more.
I’m doing stand up, and I’m good at it. No, really.
This incident was my hiccup. The scratch on my CD. It’ll be overcome:
Sometimes you have to lose to Apollo Creed before discovering your true potential.
Broke down, but not out.