Nothing ever made sense. It all depended on his mood at that very moment. There was no logic, no rationale, no routine. As I walk through my journey, I come across situations that trigger memories of these types of moments.
Yesterday, I picked up some trash that had flown out of my neighbor’s trashcan and landed in my front lawn. And for a second, I was hit with a flashback from about 7 years ago.
It was a sunny, bright, beautiful, Southern California day. We were getting ready to leave our tiny apartment to run some errands. We had some trash to take out. I grabbed the grocery bag full of trash and walked across the parking lot to throw it out in the dumpster. We got in the car and left. A few hours later, we returned home and I noticed a burrito wrapper on the grass in the walkway as we were walking inside. It was a familiar wrapper. He ate one of those frozen burritos daily. Being a conscientious neighbor, I picked it up to throw away inside. I was 100% certain it had flown out of the trash bag I carried out earlier. His reaction was astounding. He probably yelled and screamed for about 45 minutes about how I was a peasant, a nobody, a scoundrel for picking up the piece of trash. His reasoning (which in reality is no reasoning at all) was that there was no way to prove that the piece of trash belonged to us and so I should have let it sit there. He also accused me of picking up the trash so that I would bend over and show my butt off to the neighbors. This is hilarious, especially since , I have one of the flattest butts God ever created. After about a 45 minute rant and rave and an uncomfortable, tension-filled evening, I made a mental note to never pick up trash I saw when I was with him.
Fast-forward about 2 years when we lived in our apartment in Downtown L.A. We took a walk around the hallway of the building. We were on the 7th floor and trash was thrown down a long trash chute. Someone else’s trash had fallen near the trash chute. But I knew better than to pick it up. However, this time, HE picked up the trash and threw it down the chute. He muttered some obscenities at the person who left their trash behind. But to my surprise, I was now a lazy, no-good, filthy person for not even attempting to pick up this trash. How could I call this place my home and be ok with it being dirty? Another tantrum about someone else’s trash. I never even brought up the incident from the earlier years. I just made a mental note and laughed at the incongruence of his moral compass. I know he thought he had won that day. I let him think he did. But in reality, I felt victorious. It was that moment and others like it when I knew he would never win at life.
You can’t go through life with no foundation of your true self. He thought he had a foundation. But in reality it was made out of quick sand. And with every random outburst, he just sank himself deeper.
I, on the other hand, never actually swayed from what I knew was right. It just took me a while to gather the strength to fight against what wasn’t for me. It was that sturdy foundation upon which I am building the empire of me. And it will remain intact because I now carefully choose what and how to build.