There was a time when Gator felt his whole world was justified to be the sum of trauma and loss. It was in a way but the way Jack used that world was unknown to him. He never wanted to be reminded of his failures with Greta or his kids for that matter. An adamant speech repeated over many times when he was in a conversation with his family. “Don’t remind me of that!” would come from Gator and finally, after a particularly intense conversation with Greta and Stijn, Gator said it again.
Gator’s denial of his failures to be a good reptile to Greta because of his past, were the driving force behind his bullying of conversations. He did not want to be reminded of failures because he thought he was powerless to prevent them. It was someone else driving the boat he would find himself in with personal relationships .So he would blame Greta for reminding him of his failures, thus pushing against the only thing she could say. Things that hurt her inside. Things an insensitive Gator would blame on his old world. Not growing but living in limbo thinking nothing would change him.
It, perhaps is well described in Latin: “Incurvatus et se.” A fancy way of saying a way of living that always curves in on itself. Seeing everything in life as affirming ourselves or not. Usually affirming our poor behavior as a product of our reacting to past ‘unpleasantness” and powerlessness to prevent the unpleasant things. Using that memory behavior to tell someone who cares about us to stop telling us about our behaviors. A convenient scapegoat, really not upfront on the memory radar. Just on top of the charts and navigation aids within.
A weak child making a decision for the rest of his life to not show compassion or weakness to anyone. Alone inside the orphanage of his own making and in charge of it. “If you tell me that my room needs painting in the orphanage, you are wrong!” “Don’t remind me of those times there, you were not there and never will be!”
As though Gator always had the last word and has an excuse for being a bully of conversations. Tromping on the feelings of Mrs. Gator because he, once again, does not want to be reminded of that long ago decision to be unable to help anyone. Let alone, himself. The reality of his young son’s courage and truth speaking in that moment, it stunned Gator. Change was afoot, change as obvious as change rattling around and around in the clothes dryer. Revealed truth, painful truth beyond this writing. Trying to remember every precious, angry word from a son. Desperate to heal his father from yet another curving around to short circuit tenderness and understanding. Anger at his father as Gator’s fear and anger from so many years ago watching his father beat his mother. Powerless then and now… truth dawning finally within. Not powerless, not leaning on his own limited understanding. Gator knew out of this confrontation things would never be the same again. The fear, the blaming of others, the violent emotion of facing failure and using it to disconnect from his loved ones.
It was leaving, there were footprints behind, oh yes. The footprints of disguise and confusion were leaving their life and soon, the thing would be out of sight. Only memory and yet another hidden path to a new bond and yet another strength that Gator desperately needs to be cleansed. Wanting that white robe, washed in the blood of the lamb. It’s pretty good.. Jack Gator