Thomas Wictor

The cow must die

The cow must die

This is a sad video, but it isn’t graphic. And it makes a broader point, so please watch it.

“Awww, ya dumb fucker.”

No, the cow doesn’t deserve its fate, but the engineer did all he could. The cow had the entire world to stand in. For whatever reason it chose to position itself on train tracks and watch calmly as its doom loudly approached.

I’m going through a rough patch right now, in terms of having to let cows get run over by trains. What people need to understand about me is that I’m spent. I’m wiped out. A person recently told me that he went to seven funerals in 2013.

“By the last two, I was just numb,” he said.

I’m pretty numb in a lot of ways. The problem is that my physical and mental conditions don’t give me any leeway. I came within a month of having to be committed to a mental institution for treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder with secondary psychotic features (PTSD-SP).

By the way, I oppose General Peter Chiarelli’s campaign to replace the word “disorder” in PTSD with “injury.” Under the new definition, I would suffer from “post-traumatic stress injury.” The reasoning is that a disorder is stigmatizing, while an injury isn’t.

Well, the answer isn’t to adopt Orwellian newspeak; the answer is to pound it into peoples’ heads that having a disorder shouldn’t push someone to the fringes of society. We’ve tried this before: terrorism becomes “man-caused disasters.” The Global War on Terrorism becomes “overseas contingency operations.”

This is all being done in an effort to make people feel all warm and comfy, their heads full of fuzz.

A disorder is a spectrum; an injury is specific. My PTSD is different from that of others I know. In my case I dissociate and become forgetful. I feel like I’m in a dream. A broken arm is a broken arm, but PTSD manifests itself differently in individuals, and it’s treated differently depending on the symptoms, the severity, and the temperament of the sufferer.

My suspicion is that there’s an agenda behind the proposed name change, just as there was behind the other name changes I mentioned. I think the agenda is to get the government off the hook when it comes to paying for the treatment of service members who develop PTSD.

Back to my own numbness.

I simply no longer have the ability to expend energy and emotion on cows that insist on standing in front of trains. The cow must die. Here’s what I said on page 279 of Ghosts and Ballyhoo.

Develop an On-Off Switch

For people. It sounds heartless, but it really isn’t. To survive, you must be able to instantly write off those who transgress. When they do or say certain things, they show you that it’s no longer necessary to consider their desires or feelings. The truth is, you’re not writing them off; they’re writing themselves off.

Save your concern for the deserving. Like faeries, they’ll reveal themselves if you’re patient and kind. Keep in mind that they’ve had to develop on-off switches, too, due to their own experiences. They don’t like having to flip that switch any more than you do, so they’re careful. Caution is always warranted.

Before I wrote this book, I was unable to adopt Tim’s policy of having an on-obliterated switch. It came in quite handy on occasion to have someone in my life who has such a switch. But I recently discovered that in extremis I have an on-obliterated switch myself. So far I’ve used it only once. I don’t want to get into the habit of obliterating people who implacably try to impose their will on me for selfish, petty, vindictive reasons.

Scott Thunes told me that he’d love to see me just once thoroughly kick someone’s ass. Well, I did, Scott. I did such a good job that the ass in question will never be un-kicked. It’ll have footprints on it forever, like the surface of the moon. The thing is, I took no pleasure from it, and I didn’t feel better afterward.

However, I have very little remorse for flipping my on-obliterated switch that one time. I can’t decide if not being conflicted over what I did is a loss or a gain. Regardless, it’s not something I ever want to do again, so my request to everyone—my nonnegotiable demand—is to let me live out the rest of my life without being subjected to any more games, head trips, power plays, gaslighting, or stalking, all right? I still bleed when I’m cut, but I’ve learned to cut back—twice as deeply.

Thank you for your cooperation, and you’ve been warned.

I wrote that in late 2012. Since then I’ve had to kick asses on a regular basis, and now I give it no thought whatsoever. I just let fly. Every ass I kick deserves it, and I do so only when the owner failed to keep a promise, assaulted me, lied, tried to rip me off, or treated me with disrespect. My footwork has become very adept.

When people do or say certain things, you no longer have to care about them. I care about everyone in a vague, general sense; I want the human race to continue existing. But I now flip my on-off switch without a qualm. It doesn’t matter how long I’ve known the person. If you transgress in a certain way, you show me that you’re hopeless, and I immediately eject you from my life.

The switch doesn’t have to stay off forever. But for me to switch it on again, I need you to express in plain English that you understand the poor choice you made, and you’re sorry. You must make amends.

In my life, not holding people to standards of behavior has resulted in catastrophe. I’m done with it. And you may not share my definition of friendship, but I won’t change it for you.

I now accept people how they are, or I let them know that we can’t be friends. I don’t try to “correct” people or give them “constructive criticism.” That second term is a euphemism, like “man-caused disaster.” It’s a warm-and-fuzzy way of saying “trying to exert your power over others.” You’ll know I want your help or your constructive criticism if I ask you for it. To offer it without being asked is not what a true friend does.

It doesn’t matter to me if you disagree. Those are the terms. Take them or leave them.