I’m at a party my sister and her partner are hosting because they just finally got a pool after all those years wishing they had one. Well, now they do! Hurray. A handful of their motley crew are in attendance, including a new friend who has a 7-8 year-old kid.
My sister’s partner encourages me to play with the kid and try the pool out, and I transform into a teenager, much as I was when living with them. She throws a couple of strange water toys into the pool after me, hitting me on the head with one of them (my sister laughs from a nearby recliner at this slapstick comedy along with a couple of friends around her). I rub my head and grab the strange watergun while rubbing my head, now distinctly irritated.
The gun reminds me of a shark, but not because it is intentionally designed to look like one. It just has a certain menace to its stark-grey, plastic, industrial make. In fact, it looked more like it belonged inside some sort of machinery, a water pump or a large aquarium piece, but it seemed to take water into an inner valve efficiently enough.
I take aim at the kid, and he protests saying to leave him alone. My sister, still reclining with her friends, gives a raised eyebrowed smile while mouthing the words, “Get him!” This is all the encouragement an already irritated teenager needs with a gun in his hands. I pull back the chamber letting loose an extremely fine and surprisingly high pressured stream of water from the tip of the device hitting the kids left cheek. With a roar of triumph from the peanut gallery recliners, and a feeling of validation I had hit the mark.
Then everything went from daylight to twilight, and I was suddenly alone with the kid in the pool, still holding the gun up. All feeling of triumph had disappeared as I heard the kid crying. He held a bloodied hand up to his cheek, covering apparent damage caused by the too-highly-pressured jet of water. This was not a water toy, it was a water weapon. I wasn’t just playing, I had hurt someone!
I rushed over to the kid, apologizing and endeavored to check the damage. It was far more severe than I expected, not just a simple scratch, but a deeper puncture with a small flap of skin hanging loose. I jumped out of the pool in a flash and pulled the injured child up into my arms. “It will be okay, I’m going to help you. Hang in there,” I said as he continued to whimper. I ran into the house.
As I do so, the child turns into my very own current day pet, and I grow into my current-day adult self. Running into the bathroom, I find some peroxide and spread some liberally onto my dog’s gashed cheek, causing a squeak of pain from her. I sooth her and whisper how brave she is. Once the wound seems clean enough, I find some gauze and wrap it around her entire snout to ensure she doesn’t rip it open, allowing it time to heal. I think in that moment how I’m going to have to find some way to feed her with a straw or a syringe of some sort. Suppose I will have to go to the vet. Suppose I will have to sell my piano. That’s okay. She’ll be okay.
I take her out of the bathroom, now shivering in my arms but calmer and no longer whimpering in pain, and walk into the entertainment room my sister and her ensemble had retired to in the strange time lapse from daylight to twilight, pleasure to pain, heaven to hell, that had just occurred. With smoldering eyes, I take in the image of each one of the laughing faces which had encouraged this debacle as they now sit sedated in a smoke of marijuana and the light of a feminist sitcom making non-stop jokes at the expense of men, mothers, children, and casual sex. My disgust could not be overstated in that moment.
“That watergun you gave me was not a toy. That child was hurt. I just had to gauze up my dog’s cheek and now have to take her to the vet thanks to that thing,” I said.
“Oh, that’s too bad. Found it lying around and thought you could make some fun of it,” said her partner.
“I thought it was just a toy, are you sure you didn’t pull it too hard?” said my sister.
“Yeah maybe you pulled it too hard,” said one of their friends while various others nodded in agreement.
“Or maybe you gave a weapon to a child and then encouraged him to shoot another child because you think it’s funny,” I retorted. Someone changed the channel on the TV to a live news report of a school shooting showing the grisly scene of a teenager holding what looked like a watergun up to a younger kid’s head and shooting them point blank, leaving a corpse in their wake as they continued to shoot more. Nearby adults gawked in horror with smart phones, reporters continued to film remarking on how such a horrid monster could be created, how evil truly does exist, and not a one of them stepped in to restrain the manic teenager.
“Some boys are just born evil,” said one of their friends.
“Should have been put away and not allowed in the school,” said my sister’s partner.
“Who gave him that gun, and why does it look like a toy? They should be ashamed” said my sister.
I stood, gawking at them, and the TV, in utter horror. Realizing they had no actual awareness, no actual consciousness of their own place in this, I turn around, no longer able to look at them. I felt such shame for not seeing them for the zombified monsters they had become before anyone had been hurt. “May God have mercy on you all,” I said as I slowly walk away.
“There is no God, you silly man,” said my sister’s partner.
“You’d better hope there is,” I whisper to myself. “Good-bye.”
Of course, in this house of insanity, I am quickly able to locate a box of grenades they had kept as a souvenir of the Great War, two full tanks of propane, and an actual loaded gun in the few steps it took me to get to their front door. I throwthe box of grenades letting them spread across the floor, open the valve and tip each propane tank, grab the gun and flick the safety off, and step outside of the house letting the double doors swing open behind me. I turn around and consider the glow of smoke and TV from the room at the corner of the scene and the people I once loved sitting within.
“Meet your monster, you imbeciles.” I shoot the gun and watch as explosion after explosion rips through the house. I step back, avoiding the heat of the flames, and walk calmly down to my car, and endeavor to take my hurt dog to the vet to get taken care of. Hearing screams of pain behind me, I can’t help but smile in pleasure as a tear stings my cheek.
I drive away.
This was an intense dream… To some degree, I think it speaks for itself. But the main lesson I believe I learned is that it is the lesser negligence of people like my sister, my parents, and other senseless people who refuse to see their own place in creating the devastation all around them, because they have locked themselves into being “good people” no matter what. They find a way to justify their negligence and project any fault onto someone else. There is a fundamental failure of this personality to take any responsibility for themselves, instead criticizing and demoralizing everyone around them.
This speaks also to my feelings on the political climate, that the polarized left and right are doing this very same thing. It is always the other side’s fault. Pro-gun people are at fault, not the person who left the gun for a teenager to find, or the person who sold it to them. It is the pro-choice people at fault for younger teens and children getting involved in sex and rape, not the parents or authority figures who paid so little attention and gave so little education to their children that they got hurt by their own sex drives. Women can say whatever they want, including the most vile, sexist, and dehumanizing comments toward men, because they’ve been oppressed, thus become the thing they were supposed to be fighting against. Men can do whatever they want, abuse their power in the worst of ways to take advantage of the women around them and then blame it on the women for showing interest to begin with. Everyone sucks and doesn’t want to take responsibility for how they suck so they can actually become better people.
And the end result of all this, is that the ones who realize the zero-sum game being played, and who have been hurt by that game, are going to go one of two ways. Either they will become the enlightened warrior, raising awareness and fighting the battle of social awareness, or they will become the twisted warrior, and demolish all the bastards around them who have clearly lost their senses.
The child in the dream was me. I was hurt by negligence. I also was encouraged to hurt others, like the teenager. I also tried to remedy the issue, like the adult. The dog is a projection of the inner-child I now struggle to nurture back to health. And the adult who thought fit to destroy the entire house was myself playing out the role of a wrathful God akin to the Godom and Gomorrah bible story. Once they had denied the existence of a greater good, and lay basking in their pleasures and their conceit, I played out the role of the creator and destroyed the lot of them, for they would do nothing but corrupt the world around them.
Of course, I don’t encourage anybody to play the role of god in real life, nor would I do so. Nor do I think it is justified for anyone to do so, ever. But it does help one to realize how things like mass-shootings happen. It is not because the person is evil. Much the contrary. It is because they have been so severely hurt, so severely neglected, so severely damaged, that they reached the final stage of reasoning, that all those around them who allowed this damage to occur and fail to take responsibility for it in any way, are a cancer which must be eradicated to prevent further damage. Sometimes that extends to all of humanity, becoming satanic in nature, but what is Satan but the wrathful arm of God?
The most disturbing thing about the dream was the moment I enjoyed the sound of their screams while simultaneously grieving for them. That moment represents the split within me, and us all really. Justified destruction can be satisfying, like the execution of someone who murdered a loved one, but if another side of you doesn’t grieve at the loss of a human life, then you truly have become the very monster who took your loved one away. I’m not for capital punishment for this reason, because I believe it encourages decent people to become monsters. Because all monsters are borne of vengeance. And there is no justice if becoming a monster to destroy a monster, only dark irony.
More personally, the dream helped me feel a little more validated in not speaking with my family, particularly my sister and her group. Clearly the dream portrayed an exaggeration of the type of characters they are, not the reality. But, there was a fundamental truth I had not wanted to acknowledge to myself about who they are and how they behave. They do dodge responsibility.
Reflecting back on some history the dream drummed up, I remember empathetically being there for them as they grieved the loss of one of their dogs. This dog had run haphazardly into a bunch of dead branches and sticks, impaling himself. I never brought up to them how that wouldn’t have happened if they had kept him on a leash and let him run around a safe dog park instead.
I gave my condolences as they grieved the loss of one of their chickens which had been eaten by a rambunctious, young pitbull mix. I didn’t mention how they had left the door open, how they let the chickens wander around their entire backyard rather than fencing them off so the dogs could still be outside unattended, and I didn’t bite back when they passive-aggressively guilted me for not taking the dog weeks before (they kept asking me to adopt the dog even though my lease would not allow a pitbull).
When they lamented how a friend (there were many over the years) stopped showing up or talking to them as often (or ever), I tried to get them to see why or how that might be, but never directly told them it was because they had been too selfish and judgmental for whatever reason. Once it was for judging/criticizing for weeks a kind and beautifully spirited female friend who had elected to get breast implants after spending years being confused for a boy or a drag queen. Another time it was for judging a woman they liked to use as an occasional sex toy for threeways for getting married to man who was conservative and even more when she decided to prioritize spending time with the child she had with him. And yet another time it was for intentionally excluding a friend of decades who enjoyed travel from meeting up with them along their travels because “we just don’t want to have to deal with him every time we travel” when he hadn’t even asked to travel together, simply to meet up somewhere along the way, not the mention this man had bailed them out of multiple financial binds recently. The examples could go on.
And then of course, there is how they responded to my cries to be heard and for some acknowledgment of their responsibility in my situation. When I asked why they only showed up to my apartment one time in 4 years, they said it was because they needed to keep their dog company. When I asked why I can’t get an apology for the outright rudeness and disrespect of her partner for my then husband and I, I was told she was acting as she always had and I must have something wrong with me to take offense. When I suggested this rudeness is why they have issues with making people feel respected, she responded with a list of all the types of professions they have collected in their friend circle over the years (doctors, lawyers, politicians, etc.) even though many of those they no longer speak with and many of which they only see or speak to every other year at best (and why would you list your friends as a list of professions like a collectible card game?).
My sister and her group are selfish and disrespectful. They do have a general tendency toward favoring women over men regardless of character or competence. They do add to the polarization and hatred going around the world, and they add to the pain and death with their negligence. Their version of love is to enable and to neglect. They don’t know how to take responsibility. And my sister was right to decide never to have a child, because if this is the life she wanted to lead, she would have been a horrible mother.
I no longer regret my decision to keep my distance. I no longer see a reason to help a lost cause. They are lost. It is something I grieve over at times, because I hold onto love for them. I can’t stop loving them. But they do not deserve the time of day until they decide to live more conscious and responsible lives. Not everything is art and indulgence, no matter how talented you think you are.