The Life and Times of a Total Loser (Part Three)
So, it's been almost three years since I wrote the first two installments of these memoirs detailing my life. A lot has happened. The main development going on right now is that me and my friends have started a Facebook page to get our ideas out into the ether, and even though the page is in its infancy at the moment, it's been getting a really positive response from the people who find their way there. I'm sure it'll take off if we keep working at it.
"The Life and Times of a Total Loser" was the original beta test for sharing my writing with the world, and it's where I got the name for the page from. I've decided I'm going to make it into an ongoing series that gives the reader a broad overview of my entire life, up until my suicide attempt in June of 2017 when I was 30 years old, and the year immediately following it that represents me making the U-turn I've made in life.
When we left off this little adventure of ours three years ago, I was nine years old. I've covered everything that happened in elementary school that's super important, so if you've read the first two installments of this series you're all caught up until about the 6th or 7th grade. For anyone just joining, don't worry, this is a fine place to start... you can always go back and read the other some other time.
Before I go any further, I need to tell you about my extended family to give you some context.
So, the only extended family I've had any interaction with since I was 8 or 9 has been my mother's side of the family. Everyone one of us is super intelligent. We get it from my Granddaddy Dominic, who was a god d^&! genius. He worked as a top scientist for the Navy his entire adult life, and was given an award for his work on propulsion and electric generators when he died from an aggressive cancer that sprung up out of nowhere well before I was born. The generators powering the ships in our Navy and the motors that run off those generators wouldn't exist if my grandfather hadn't invented them, among other contributions. Like you know that slingshot thing that launches/catches planes on an aircraft carrier? Granddaddy Dominic is on the patent for that.
I have five cousins on Mom's side of the family. There's two doctorates, one medical and one in the field of Chemical Engineering, a CPA, and the other two have their bachelors but don't need to advance any farther in school for their careers. Even amongst my family of geniuses, only the one with the Chemical Engineering doctorate is on my level as far as raw natural potential goes. He's actually 8 years older than me, I modeled myself after him a lot when I was younger because he was the only person in our family who could satisfy my thirst for knowledge as a kid.
I wasn't raised with my family praying I would get into a good college and hopefully succeed like most people are. I was groomed from a very young age to go to only one of the best colleges, get a doctorate, and change the world with the power of my intellect. Anything less than that would've been considered a failure.
I intentionally undershot that mark by as much as I could out of spite, which is why my Facebook profile has my career listed as "Professional Underachiever".
I'm not bragging, these are all just facts you need to put the middle school years that I'm about to write on into context.
So middle school didn't have a lot of the major events like Dad whipping Joe, or the time we picked my brother up from tutoring, or the car accident or anything.
Mostly, what's notable about the three years I was in middle school is that this is when I started intentionally dumbing myself down to fit in with society.
Prior to this, I was sent to school and told that if I did well, got straight A's like I easily could, and then did well on my college entry exams like I easily could, I would have a free ride on easy street the rest of my life. Now, at the time, I didn't fully understand exactly what that meant.
Somewhere in the 6th or 7th grade, my high intelligence started making me a target for bullying. I specifically remember a kid approaching me and saying these exact words:
"Why do you try so hard? Don't you know only nerds get straight A's? You know that's why people keep f&*!ing with you, right?".
I just kinda sat there confused and didn't respond at the time, but what went through my head was, "Wait... People will like me more if I stop doing so good in class? Does that mean girls will actually wanna be my friend and stuff? Why did my whole family lie to me about doing good in class?"
So I started pushing the limits and seeing what I could get away with and what I couldn't. Sure as s%*!, once I started acting up and mouthing off to teachers the other kids fuggin' loved me for it.
That was all I needed.
Eff school, eff homework, eff that whole going to college and being a scientist like Grandaddy Dominic was... people like me now. I just want people to like me, man. I don't really care about curing cancer or anything like that. People come up to me in the halls and tell me they heard a story about some wild thing I'd said or done in class. They were glad I finally stood up to Mrs. So-and-So because they've been wanting to do that all year. Everyone hates Mrs. So-and-So. Girls have crushes on me now. Dudes don't run up and knock my books out of my hands for laughs while we're changing classes anymore.
"This is the life. I shoulda figured this out way sooner" I thought, feeling like I'd discovered the secret to everything..
The first time I smoked pot was definitely in the sixth grade with my buddy Johnny. Not really all that eventful, but I enjoyed it. We got stoned and laughed about stupid stuff for a few hours like stoned people tend to do. Kids loved it when I talked about smoking pot in class though, so I started making up stories in that vein to impress people. Some people saw through the BS, some people believed it. Some of it wasn't BS and other people vouching that they were there for some of the stories lent credibility to the ones I'd made up.
Yes... in case you haven't figured it out yet, I'm a very unreliable narrator. But doesn't me telling you that make me a reliable narrator? Discuss in the comments below.
Something else you need to understand is that I'm also a literal diagnosed sociopath. Like, I was diagnosed with Antisocial Personality Disorder by a psychologist during a trip to the psyche ward for my bipolar disorder in 2015 when I finally started to get honest with the doctors for the first time in my life. There's a very good reason for why I was so dishonest and distrustful of mental health professionals up until that point. You'll see in a second what I mean.
Anyway, I'm as batstuff crazy as they come.
Don't worry, I ain't about to go on a shooting spree or anything. I'm actually extremely active in my mental health care. This whole "Thoughts and Musings" thing started from a suggestion made by one of my counselors that I write about my trauma to help cope with my PTSD.
I'm reforming from my sociopathy these days, and all this is a part of that.
There's already two memoirs up on the subject of my ASPD: One on how I lived pre-reform, and one on reform itself. Get that s&*! vetted by a mental health professional.
They'll tell you I'm the real deal and I'm on the right track in a way they've never seen from someone with this disorder.
The sociopathy started to develop here in middle school. I remember I manipulated my mom into buying me a carton of cigarettes every two weeks. She isn't weak-minded or stupid at all either. I weaseled my way into her letting me have one of her cigarettes at night and we'd sit and talk and it became a bonding ritual, and then slowly I pushed that into she gives me one in the morning to help me wake up, which I pushed into she gives me 5 a day, so on and so forth. I'd take them and sell them in school for 50 cents a pop, then use that money to go buy pot. The reasons I gave you for all the other acting out I told you about were a part of my ASPD developing as well.
So anyway, I go into the 9th grade... The social pressure of being a freshman in high school was a lot for me to deal with. Deep down, I was just some nerd pretending to be a bad boy because it was my defense against getting picked on. I wasn't actually bad. I still wanted to follow the rules and go to college like my family expected.
The thing was, my act was getting dull. It just wasn't pulling in the people like it used to. I had to act out more and more to shock people, teachers were more used to my rebel without a cause routine. The fake bad boy archetype was well known, and people were calling me on it constantly. I actually had to put my a^% on the line legally to impress people; Just dropping an f-bomb in class didn't cut it anymore. Smoking pot was also just a thing everyone did now, it wasn't edgy or impressive in the slightest anymore.
The event that 100% pushed me from "experimenting with acting out to get attention" to "full on rejection of society, the snake-in-the-grass people forming it, and all the BS social constructs you've come up with via groupthink" happened here in the 9th grade.
I went to a friends after school, and by random circumstance the opportunity to try ecstasy(what kids these days call molly) came up. I had the 20 bucks I needed from my various schemes combined with my actual allowance. A friend of mine had a friend who stopped by and had em for sale. I was like "Hell ya now's my shot... I've been wanting to do this for a while. This is a chance to do something other kids don't have the balls to do! Motherf^&!in' hard drugs lets do this!".
At first, everything was pretty chill. The problem arose when the kid who's house I was at started arguing with his parents (probably over a bunch of dudes rolling in his room). We all got the boot and had to go home. I figured it would be fine, I got dropped off at home. No big deal. Mom won't know. Ezpz.
So, at first its cool, me and Mom are talking having our night time cigarette like usual "How was your day" blah blah stuff. She eventually notices I'm not acting like I usually do. She presses the issue, I pretend I don't know what she's talking about at first... She obviously doesn't believe me and lying about it is making her more suspicious.
Eventually this thought crosses my brain:
"Dave... Think about it. Its mom. She knows you smoke pot. She straight buys you cigs. She loves you more than anything in the world. You're just making more trouble for yourself by lying. Just fess up. She'll go to sleep. We'll talk about it tomorrow, she'll lay down some ground rules. It'll be fine. She loves you and cares about you."
So I fessed up. MDMA makes you more trusting and you feel love stronger than normal. I already loved and trusted her a whole metric f&*!ton because, duh, she's my mom.
I didn't get the reaction I expected from her at all. What happened is actually the most completely f$%@ed betrayal I've ever experienced, and it came from the person I loved the most. Everything she does from here on out is a massive overreaction.
If you're a parent, and your child trusts you enough to open up about having used drugs, here's a textbook example of what you don't do:
She immediately panics and calls my dad. He tells her get me a cup of water, this an emergency, he's on his way over ASAP. This is all a massive overreaction on both their parts. We have a dialogue somewhere along these lines:
"DAVE WHAT ARE YOU THINKING YOUR LIFE IS IN DANGER RIGHT NOW WHY ARE YOU SO CALM"
"My life is not in danger. You have no clue what you're talking about if you think that. I took a relatively small dose. My friends all know what they're doing and have done this before. They assured me I'm fine, and they have no reason to lie about it. I've researched all this online. I'm not stupid. I know how to take care of myself. I'll be fine just relax and talk to me. I love you guys so much, you mean the world to me. I'm glad I've finally decided to open up."
"NO THAT'S JUST THE DRUGS MAKING YOU FEEL SAFER. THAT STUFF WILL KILL YOU. DIDN'T YOU HEAR THE STORY 6 YEARS AGO ABOUT A GIRL WHO DIED WHILE TAKING THAT STUFF?!?!?!?"
"Ya I actually did read about that while I was researching online. I made sure to seek out the negative stuff first. I checked enough sources to know what's reliable and what's not. Did you know she actually didn't die from the drug, but from water poisoning because she was told to drink lots of water?"(This was true)
"STOP MAKING THINGS UP. THE INTERNET HAS A LOT OF MISINFORMATION AND YOU CAN'T TELL THE DIFFERENCE. NOBODY HAS EVER DIED FROM DRINKING WATER. YOU'RE JUST MAKING THAT UP SO WE DON'T MAKE YOU DRINK ANYMORE WATER. DRINK THIS WATER."
"Look, you guys. You're overreacting. I feel great. Lets just talk, I wanna do better. All this acting out... I don't think its for me. I wanna go back to school and do good. All this fighting we've been doing over the last year and stuff... It's too much. Just sit and talk with me. The drug is already in my system anyway, we might as well let it run its course."
"OMG YOU DON'T SEEM TO UNDERSTAND... YOU... ARE... DYINGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG... THAT'S IT, WE'RE CALLING 911, THEY'RE THE ONLY ONES WHO CAN SAVE YOU."
"Please omg no don't do that you're gonna ruin my life there's no need for that please stop please stop please stop."
"SEE LOOK YOU'RE PANICKING JUST FROM US TRYING TO CALL FOR HELP. WE'RE JUST TRYING TO HELP YOU BECAUSE WE LOVE YOU AND YOU'RE AFRAID OF BEING HELPED. WHY DON'T YOU WANT HELP? WE KNOW WHAT'S BEST WE'RE YOUR PARENTS. YOU'RE NOT ABLE TO THINK FOR YOURSELF. DON'T WORRY, WE'LL SAVE YOU."
To this day, my butthole puckers whenever someone says they're just worried about my well-being and they're trying to help. Generally speaking, someone saying that means they're going to bring disaster into my life.
Anyway, an ambulance comes, checks me out. "Ya he definitely took X. See how he's actin right now? That's how people act after they take X. If he took the amount he said he took, which it seems to us he has, there's no emergency here".
Ambulance rolls out, cops stay to question me about where I got the drugs. I said "My old friend made-up-name down the street had a cousin who sold em to me. I'll give you his made up phone number, officer."
Cop goes to my mom and says "Well he's being cooperative, he told me what I wanted to know. He certainly seems peaceful. Unless he's threatened to hurt himself or someone else, my hands are tied."
The last part of that statement gave my mom the greatest idea she's ever had... It's possibly the greatest idea any parent has had in the history of parenting.
"Oh... Well... now that you mention it, when we first went to call you he said he'd kill me if I called 911"
"That's all I needed to hear, ma'am"
Annnnndddd that's how I got my first ride to a psyche ward.
I'd tell the doctors my mom was lying and I never said that s&*!. They said I was the liar and I needed to stop lying cause they could tell when someone was lying. Obviously, I knew they we're full of s&*!, cause I was telling the truth. My behavior in school to get attention became evidence that I was troubled. It was a mess.
They had this... like... "school" six hours a day, where all they did was give us four 5th grade level worksheets: One on Math, one on English, one on Science, one on Social Studies. I easily completed college level material at this time. How quick do you think I knocked out this elementary school level work? Ya... pretty fast. So then I'd sit and try and talk with the other kids.
"Mr. Barletta, you need to be quiet and do your work."
"But I finished it..."
"It's all correct, trust me. See for yourself."
"Well sit there in silence then, you're distracting everyone else"
"You expect me to stare at a wall in silence for the next five and half hours? Can I at least have a book to read or something?"
"No. That's against policy. Sit there. Be quiet. Leave the other students alone. You're being disruptive."
Most of the other kids also finished pretty quick because it was elementary school level work. We'd all start talking. The staff would tell us be quiet. I'd tell em take all the d!*ks they could find, put em in a bowl, and eat em one by one. A bag woulda worked if they couldn't find a bowl. As long as they ate those d&!ks one at a time, slowly.
Asking us to sit in total silence staring blankly, not interacting with the world around us for 6 hours straight every day was not school. I liked school. I loved using my mind. If they had given me an option that counted as educational, I woulda jumped on it. If anything, this was detrimental to our minds.This was a lesson in obedience, not anything academic.
I refused to put up with it. This was unfair. I wasn't even supposed to be there. I'm a certified genius. You're giving me work meant for a child 5 years younger than me. My mom lied to get me in here. I know you think I'm the liar, that's because you're naive as all hell. I don't care if you believe me, I know she lied. She admits it when none of you are around to hear it.
These situations would escalate until I got dragged from the room by security, strapped to a table, and had a shot of some sleepy time medicine blasted into my thigh to knock me out. Wake up the next morning. Go to "school". Rinse and repeat for a couple months.
If I bucked the system too hard, I was going on suicide watch. If I didn't say what they told me to say and do what they told me to do, I was getting another shot in the butt. They were going to break me of my lies and get me to apologize to my mother for threatening to kill her. I was never going to take the blame and apologize for what she was putting me through. I got a lot of those shots they liked to threaten me with. It got to the point where security just knew if I was out on the ward talking to staff, it meant s&*! was goin down.
I only got out cause my insurance stopped covering me and the doctors had no evidence that I had actually made the threats my mom claimed, so they had nothing to give to a judge for a court order.
My thinking went like this:
"She can't be allowed to get away with this. This is legitimate psychological torture. I can't believe she actually tricked me into believing she loved me all this time. How dare she insult my intelligence by claiming she's doing this to help me? So this is what people are. Everybody is evil. All of it has been a lie. Love is a lie people use to manipulate you. Manners and morality... It's all made up to abuse suckers who are weak-minded enough to believe in it. Love and friendship don't really exist. Glad I finally figured it out. Two can play that game. If two-faced and evil is what the world is, I'll show the world two-faced and evil. I have to do this, cause there's no way I'm gonna survive this snake pit if I don't. Even Mom and Pops are in on the lies. At least they had enough mercy to teach me by showing me. I guess that's the most love you can expect from someone. Nobody can be trusted, especially not people who say they love you and want to be your friend."
I struggled with this a lot for a very long time. I love my Mom immensely, and always have. These days, I see she did what she did because of how all of my behaviors fit a pattern that she saw as dangerous to my life and future livelihood. She thought if she got me in front of professionals, they would be able to sort me out and get me back on track. Everything she's ever done, she's done out of an incredible love she feels for me and a desire to see me truly happy.
At the time though, I saw her as the world's worst evil, even though I also loved her at the same time. That made my mind begin loving what I perceived as the evil parts of her, and absorbing that darkness into myself. All of that was a false perception of a thing that wasn't there, but it would take me an entire lifetime before I began to see the world for what it really was. That's all a story for another time, parts of it are out there on the page already. Once I've got the entire thing pieced together in my mind you guys will be the first to know.
So at this point, I'm 14 and about 3 or 4 months into my freshman year of high school.
I actually wanted to cover from where part two left off up until I dropped out of high school and started attending the University of Akron at 16, but I feel like this is a good place to stop for now.
Thanks for reading, and stay tuned to read Part Four, coming at an indefinite point in the future.(Hopefully sooner than three years from now though)