Today, I have both good news and bad news. The good news is that my PTSD symptoms have largely disappeared (leaving me with depression and anxiety to deal with but who’s counting?). Hurray! The bad news is that leaves my topics for PTSDiaries pretty limited. I thought that, since I’m in a position to now look back on my journey through the wilderness, I’d share some of the books, movies and music that helped me through. I’d like to start with one of the hardest books I’ve ever read: Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock. And I will be spoiling the book, so turn back if you don’t want to know Leonard’s secrets.
Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is by Matthew Quick, the same author as Silver Linings Playbook. I really liked Silver Linings Playbook, so I knew I’d find at least something of value in the book. The synopsis is as follows:
“Today is Leonard Peacock’s birthday. It is also the day he hides a gun in his backpack. Because today is the day he will kill his former best friend, and then himself, with his grandfather’s P-38 pistol.
But first he must say good-bye to the four people who matter most to him: his Humphrey Bogart-obsessed next-door neighbor, Walt; his classmate, Baback, a violin virtuoso; Lauren, the Christian homeschooler he has a crush on; and Herr Silverman, who teaches the high school’s class on the Holocaust. Speaking to each in turn, Leonard slowly reveals his secrets as the hours tick by and the moment of truth approaches.
In this riveting look at a day in the life of a disturbed teenage boy, acclaimed author Matthew Quick unflinchingly examines the impossible choices that must be made—and the light in us all that never goes out.”
This book was hard. Trigger warning is an understatement. I sat on my bed and cried all the way through this book. Matthew Quick wrote a damn interesting and engaging character, and I felt like I was in his head. This was not easy, given, well, you read the synopsis. But this isn’t a book review.
It is revealed in the book that the reason Leonard has such hatred for his best friend, Asher, is that his best friend raped him. It is also hinted that Asher was molested by his uncle. Leonard suggests that “[he] thinks Asher wanted [Leonard] to save him.”
It really said something to me. Even though Asher was a horrible person and appeared to have everything, popularity, good parents, he was still battling this secret pain. A pain that he passed on to Leonard.
Should Leonard have “saved” Asher? Could he even have?
There is this idea that abusive and toxic people can be “saved” if you just love them enough. I know that’s not how it works. I know that no matter how much I loved R., which was a lot, it wouldn’t have saved him from the monster inside of him. Abusive people have to acknowledge that something is wrong with them and then seek help by their own free will, or else it just won’t work. Loving someone abusive will not save them. I’m sorry, but it won’t.
The most important thing the book made me realize, though, was this: there is no winning.
Despite the terrible things that Asher did to Leonard, he was still a victim too. He had to live with his inner pain and inner torment. Even though Leonard doesn’t kill Asher, Asher doesn’t win. He’s going to have to keep going with this pain forever.
I realized that there is no winning or losing in my situation with R. I may live with what he did to me, and it may be hard, but his life isn’t great either. I know that he dealt with his own secret pain. We both have to deal with it and keep going.
There is no winning. We’re both flawed human beings who are in a lot of pain. Getting better doesn’t mean that I’m winning; it just means that I’m getting better. Done.
In the end, I’m more like R. than even I could have seen. And it’s important to remember that.
Thank you, Matthew Quick.