The Backbone

I have a plastic backbone on my desk. It is there to remind me to have one. It is rather pathetic that I would need such a thing, but I do. I look at it often. Most of the time, it serves as nothing but a reminder to me that I’ve spent much of my life not having one. And not having a backbone, can’t lead to good things. For anybody.

I’ve put up with a lot of shit out of a lot of people in my lifetime. A lot of shit that I shouldn’t have. I’ve been forgiving at times, when forgiveness was not deserved. I’ve gone without, to make sure other people did not. I’ve set aside my own plans, just to avoid being alone. I’ve set aside friends, to avoid the same. I’ve absorbed responsibilities that were not mine, in order to do what was right. What was moral. What was good.

Some of that stuff I have no regrets about.

Some of it gives me pause. The shit that accompanied some of that stuff. The things, I’ve needed to grow a spine for. The hard, heartbreaking decisions that I’ve never been able to manage. Even when I knew what needed to be done.  Letting situations drag out for months, even years, because I just couldn’t bring myself to do what I needed to do.

Introspection requires a lot of backbone. It requires a strength not many of us possess. Self-reflection can be painful. Ego crushing even. When your ego is already fragile, the slightest introspection can destroy it, taking your pride down in the rubble.

I looked at that plastic spine this morning and it hurt. Because as well as I’ve done for the past four years, there is so much that I should have done differently. I’ve just been spinning around, not making choices that need to be made.

A lot of personal tragedy has only lead to a lot of procrastination on my part. For years, I was too busy drinking to be very productive at all. I was skimming along, doing just enough to get by. Once I was sober, there were the Ds: divorce, death, dismissal, destruction.

So, I sit. Spinning. Glancing at the plastic vertebrae.

Knowing they aren’t going to help one bit without my participation.

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