Thunk! Thunk! Thunk!
The sound of her head rhythmically thumping against the headboard of my bed reminded me of dribbling a basketball.
It also made me wonder just how many more times I could thwack her noggin against the hardwood before she jumped off, threw a pillow at me and stomped out the door.
I got to seven - my lucky number - before she finally gave me the I’m-going-to-gouge-your-eyes-out look.
Afterwards, when she stopped seeing dots, she grabbed my head in revenge and started pounding it against the wall like one of those hand-held paddle ball games while screaming “Why are you hitting yourself!? Why are you hitting yourself!?”
With that, she turned and left.
I didn’t sleep well that night. I felt like a prick. I felt like an asshole for taking pleasure in slamming that poor girl’s head into my oak frame.
As I lay there with my head spinning, I thought “how often do I act like this?”
That was followed by “do I even realize when I’m being an asshole?”
It may seem weird, but once you start asking these sorts of questions you realize how blind you’ve really become to your own actions - or really, how blind you’ve become to the consequences of those actions like picking drywall out of your ear.
And it’s not just the “I feel like a prick” mentality. It’s the loss of self-worth we get when we do something that goes directly against our moral code.
Many of us act on auto-pilot. Cause and effect. But do we really do the “right thing” without a second thought? I don’t think so. Not at first at least. I think it’s something we learn to do that eventually becomes second nature.
Maybe you tell harmless white lies or exaggerate; maybe you never show up when you say you will; maybe you talk smack about someone behind their back without facing up to them with your real thoughts. You may even be the bastard who opted for the stall instead of the urinal and pissed on the toilet seat but didn’t wipe it up.
If sincerity, integrity, not being a wussy, and responsibility is in your personal moral code you just failed yourself.
But the hardest part isn’t recognizing when you’re not living up to your standards; it’s going back, fixing everything, and holding yourself accountable for when you screw up and get off course again.
Owning up to our own inconsistencies is just too daunting of a task for most of us.
But it has to be done. You have to apologize. You have to go back and wipe the urine off the seat.
You’re not doing it for them. As corny as it sounds, you’re doing it for you. You need to know that you can stick to your morals - whatever they may be - in any situation and take full responsibility for the consequences of your actions or inaction.
Thinking of all this led me to a newly-adopted creed that I follow:
Like who you are when you go to sleep.
Turned off to the rest of the world, you have no choice but to tune in to yourself. You can still hear your inner voice over the white noise of the fan. The blankets that cover your body leave your self-image exposed.
So before you go to bed tonight, recount your day and see how you stack up. Where did you back down? Where did you settle for anything less and briefly compromise your morals? Learn from it. Like who you are when you go to sleep.
And always call the girl back and offer to bandage her head. It’s just the nice thing to do.