The Fading Reflection

They say I look more like you every day. I don’t see it. I think we become less alike with each passing moment. I look in the mirror, and the man I emulated seems to be missing; there isn’t enough of you in my reflection. I know you would tell me I need to be my own man, but I don’t know how.

I used to be angry. I was angry that you left me, that I couldn’t lean on you anymore, or come to you for guidance. Now, I’m supposed to have all the answers, and I don’t even know if I’m asking the right questions to begin with.

I used to think I was a decent guy, on my way to being a good man. Now, I’m not so sure I’m even human. I’m more like a vacant space, a vacuum, sucking all the life out of those around me. I’m a wreck, addicted to experiences and fleeting moments, unable to find something worth living for. I don’t know what I want, or even what is worth wanting.

You told me I was supposed to guide people, lead people, protect people; you said I was here to give them a shoulder to lean on, to help prop them up when they were weak. Well, they’re always weak; and you know what, so am I. I’m not as strong as you thought I was, I’m not as capable as you believed. I’m not at all the powerful son you wanted; I’m afraid I may have become a waste of your time.

Your work was not complete here, I don’t give a damn what the religious soothe-sayers want to say. The others, they thrive without you. Me? I never learned to be my own man, and I spent my whole young life trying to be you. I wanted nothing but to be just like you. I wanted to be strong like you, I wanted to be happy like you, I wanted to be loved like you. I am weak. I am lost. I am…used. I am your photo-negative, I am everything you were not.

Most days, I’m quite sure I’d be better off dead; the others, I’m drunk. Drunk on the sauce, the experience, the job…whatever it is, I use it to hide and run away. You never ran from anything. I run from it all and claim to be unafraid. The only thing I’m not afraid of is dying.

Listen, old man, they need you, and they tolerate me. Let’s make a deal; let’s trade places. I’m sure they’d love to see you. I’d be surprised if they noticed if I was gone.

I’m not my father’s son. I don’t know what I am, but I am definitely not that. His son would be a leader, someone who people could look up to. Your son would be successful, wise, and content. Your son would make the world a better place. Your son would have a host of people who would miss him were he gone.

This…thing you raised, the one who looks at me with his dead eyes when I glance into the mirror…he makes me sick. He’s nothing like your son. Look, man, I’m sorry. I would say I hope I can change that, but hope is something I have been kind of short on ever since you checked out. Maybe, in time, I’ll be able to pretend that you would forgive me for who I am. I know I’ll never forgive myself.

You know what? Maybe we do have something in common. We’re both pretty hard on ourselves. Maybe I have a chance.

 

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