Child's Play:

Who I Am Hates Who I've Been

By Justine Manzano

            Today, something really aggravating happened to a very close friend.  Anybody who has known me for more than a couple of years would have expected an explosion, as it used to be my general way of reacting to everything.  Instead, I took a deep breath, asked the person PERMISSION to contact the responsible party and yell at them, which was naturally denied, made a few jokes about their supposedly impending murder at my hands, and then moved on.  I looked in the mirror when I hung up the phone and I didnít recognize myself.  What the hell just happened?  Since when did I ask permission to do something like that?  Where was my impulsive side, my angry side?  And did I want it gone?

            Sometimes, I miss the me that thought she was invincible.  If someone I loved was in trouble I would throw myself right into the situation, whether it was someone being yelled at at work, or someone about to get their ass kicked by a couple of gang members.  Yes, I was crazy.  But I figured I was charming enough, cute enough, arrogant enough or crazy enough to solve every problem.  Sometimes when I look at some of the things I have done and said, I marvel at my alive-ness.  People get killed for a lot worse.  And yet, at the time, my mind didnít question it.  I was ready to go.  And I certainly would never ask for permission.

            At some point, it occurred to me that this behavior was a tad insane.  I know it is wrong, it is dangerous, and often times, it is a frivolous indulgence in my own need to LOOK tough.  But other times I mourn the loss of this person.  She was a super hero.  People would call her and ask her for help in solving their problems and she would gladly jump in, valiantly protecting those she loved with very little concern for her own well being.  I have to admit, there was a certain amount of courage to the way I would behave, although at this point I am unsure of whether or not it was outweighed by stupidity.

            I would like to say that having my son changed things, but I guess this started happening a little earlier than this.  Certain battles slowly lost their worth in fighting.  I just got so tired of fighting for myself and everybody else.  I had ambition, and that was a fight that was important for me and my family.  I had the need to rise above the mistakes and tragedies of my past, and that was another fight worth fighting.  But yelling at my friendís girlfriend cuz she said something annoying to him, or wrapping myself up in the drama of my family and friends became downright exhausting Ė no offense to them, most especially because most times they just called me to listen and I came over to their home 10 minutes later with boxing gloves on.

            There are still times where I feel a cause needs my special attention, but I donít go looking for it, especially because my son needs his mother and my husband needs his wife and dividing my attention in a million other pieces just isnít worth the loss.  My superhero complex certainly takes a back seat to that.  And then thereís just the simple fact that at the end of the day, Iím just too exhausted to fight everyone elseís battles for them.  Itís just too much work because eventually everybody elseís problems become yours too Ė then you end up getting attacked even when the monkey-in-the-middle that brought you into the situation isnít.  And nobody wants that.

            There are also some times when itís just plain nosy to get involved, as much as you may not care.

            So, Iím calling myself a grown up and attempting to quell the embarrassment of the overwhelmingly angry busy-body I once was.  I still enjoy being a superhero, but Iím learning to pick my battles in the hopes of creating a smarter, less angry and safer me.

            Today, I am officially turning in my cape to spend some time as my non-super alter ego, and to hopefully learn to like the me thatís not rushing to the rescue a little more.  But the good thing about willfully retiring my super hero status is that it will always be there in the backgroundÖjust in case I still need it one day.

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