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Growing up I never felt safe. It developed into severe anxiety that still impacts my life to this day. I have had to navigate around it, and for the longest time, I didn’t even know what it was.

I was certain that I was just gunshy. Scared. I had gone to a party with my brothers when I was in high school, and we were all drinking, and this guy started fighting with another guy and one of their friends began firing. I ducked down and tried to avoid the shots from behind us. I remember my brother Matt beside me. He didn’t flinch at all. He just kept on walking like nothing was wrong. He even teased me about being scared of the gunfire later on.

“Fucking Adam out there, Dodging like a Viper.”

It made me irritated because it was such a weird flex. If anything, you would want to teach people how to avoid gunfire by crouching low and staying near the ground. But, my brothers and family in general were more occupied with the perception that was held of us more than anything. I don’t know if this is prevalent with Matt and Jeremy, my other brothers besides BJ, but image is a huge thing with BJ and his issues. 

I think everyone goes through some issues with their own self. I know I did. You have to decide what parts of your life you want to cultivate and what parts you want to discard. The issue we boys had was that our father, Steve, was really poor when it came to the decisions he had to make about what we would be keeping. I know for myself, most of the deep-rooted issues I have seem to come from waves that my father made that had a butterfly effect on the rest of the family.

My dad’s needs went above all, and the perception of putting comfort over your own health or well-being became the norm for us.

It’s the same thing with smear campaigns. Rather than have someone around who makes them uncomfortable, it’s much easier to just push people out. It sucked when it happened to me because my brothers seemed to permeate every corner of my life, and it made it easy to push me out of amazing friendships. I can’t state that there weren’t things that I did that were awful, but the protection of other sibling relationships just wasn’t there. Perception trumped all. That’s the main reason I haven’t talked to my brothers. They have wanted to keep the perception of me being imperfect, and because of that, I am not worthy.

Cisco just turned six this past September, and even though I never really wanted to have his uncles involved in his life, they have never even made an attempt. Not once. I think that’s for the best. I don’t want to force Cisco into relationships where the perception of him would outweigh his merits. But at the same time, I wonder sometimes why that is. It could be perception. It could be something else. 

I know why Jeremy won’t talk to me. I think it’s over $600? But even that amount could be wrong. Definitely, too little to burn a bridge with your brother over. I have never found out why Matt had cut me off. He had told my mom it was because I had missed a mutual friend’s funeral, Martin Lugo. There are two problems with that logic: 1) Matt had cut me off long before that moment, and 2) I had seen Matt after that moment. We had seen one another at a wrestling show I was working at. Matt came to the back and was friendly and went off with our friend Ryan, and I never saw him again after that.

This past winter, when the insanity that was my father’s death drove us all mad, Matt suddenly lashed out at me over money I owed him. It made me so mad that I was going in circles. I never borrowed money from Matt. He also wanted to negotiate terms over my father’s estate, stating that he could take me to court and withhold money… It was all really dumb and performative. At least that is what struck me. Again, it went back to perception. For some reason, Matt had some hair up his ass and the perception of taking down some imaginary villain was more important than being decent. 

What sucks is that I come across other people and I see how easily their perceptions of me can be swayed. It just takes a bit of manipulation, and really, we all go through that with different aspects of life. It’s just to different degrees. When it’s your family that smears you, people hold credence to it because those are supposed to be the people who know you best. 

Even with BJ, it’s perception. He wants me to believe that I am not good enough to heal from what he put us through. That’s something that I have definitely picked up on recently. 

What I don’t think is fair is that it isn’t even their fault. My father was supposed to teach us this shit. He was supposed to teach us to be upstanding, and honest men. What my father really taught us was how to cope with anger and fear in unhealthy ways. I have my own ways of reacting, and they mainly lead to things like drugs and sexual perversions. I think that happens with most people. These underlying issues just bubble up into shit. I’m even responsible for my own havoc. 

I’ve used women, betrayed friends, stolen, and lied to my loved ones. I have had issues with getting out of bed before. I’ve had issues with managing money and being impulsive. God, there were times right after Cisco was born when I would look at myself in the mirror and just be disgusted with who my son could possibly see when he looked at me.

My own perception had clouded my judgment. I had walked through life thinking that I was a “good guy”. I am one of those people who now believe this “good guy” syndrome is bullshit. No one is good or bad. We all have done good or bad shit, and in the immediate, in the now, we can choose to do more good or bad. The good people are the ones who are aware of this and still choose to do good. And that’s what I really have been trying to focus on. Rather than having the perception of being someone who is always trying to do good, I am trying to actually be someone doing good.

Like I said before, I don’t know what my brothers’ perception of me is anymore. I guess it isn’t important. Being mad and bitter about things they did, while it makes me feel good for a tiny bit, also forces me to fall back into previous thought patterns. It fucks with my PERCEPTION. And keeping my perspective helps me with my perceptions of different situations. 

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