Part 21 of 30
My Fragile Self-Esteem
That’s an interesting summary of a life poorly lived in terms of self-esteem, “That was a lie then, it’s a lie now.” When you're old, you may as well be honest. Frames it in one nasty little package, in perfect focus. Like Veni Vidi Vici, “I came, I saw, I itched.” And itching's good if it’s incidental, but bad if it’s constant since it only breaks the skin and makes you bleed, leading to infection.
Either one of those would be fitting for my final words, with the itching being not as bad in the fall when it’s easier to stay dry. So itching’s one problem, and fragile self-esteem’s another. And for self-esteem it doesn’t matter if it's summer, winter, whatever, it gets you down and keeps you down, whether you’re 3 or 303. The downside for me being, I haven’t even cracked 100 yet, so if I go through two more centuries of this crap, I'm not sure I'll make it.
Yet, as much as I admit the problem -- unlike some people, I didn’t ask to be born -- I refuse to do anything else about it. I wake up and if it’s there I go back to sleep. Which has an interesting side effect, the passing of time of course, but additionally the things that accrue, it’s mad. I didn’t open my birthday presents from my teen years till I woke up sometime around 24. Which meant I had a lot of catching up to do on model airplanes and cars. I still have some in unopened condition but their value's lower because of minor scuffing on the cellophane.
Then self-esteem also got mixed in with too much grieving. You wake from a coma and half your family’s dead; it affects you. I woke up in time for Christmas one year and was surprised how much room there was around the table. I can only say now, Don’t make that same mistake. On the bright side there was a lot more room around the table, elbow room, yes. But a downer was the food was reduced proportionately so the portions were the same or even less.
Then I had to catch up with emotional stuff, which was painful. “Did Grandpa have any last words for me?” I hung on their reply, figuring it’d be something tender, some last piece of advice for me, a lesson I’d never forget. His last words were indistinct gurgling, plus a cry for his childhood coon-hunting dog Jedekiah to come, “Yip, Jed!” I remember the old story from years before, how Jed got in with a skunk and got the skunk's spray. So Grandpa put out a coat and bar of soap for him and left. And Jed -- faithful Jed -- was there the next day waiting, good as new, having meticulously bathed overnight in a nearby creek.
O the things I missed! And part of me wishes it’d never happened. But once again there’s the bright side. My self-esteem was so fragile -- with the consistency of a fried cracker, easy to break and crumbling everywhere -- I couldn’t have stood it. If you have self-esteem like that, the absolute pits, sleeping or a coma's the best thing for you.