Unexpected Villain of the Piece
Making sense of my unplanned and gradual descent
When I was younger, I always felt I would be the good guy, the hero in my life story. I think most people do? No one really wakes up one day and thinks “I am going to be the villain”. Even Mega Mind decided to be bad because he tried so hard to fit in and then felt everyone was against him because he was a blue kid with a big head and who seemed to be quite clumsy.
When I was growing up, I loved characters like He-Man, Optimus Prime, Spider-Man, The A-Team, and The Equaliser (a little later than the others, I might add). Good guys.
I even genuinely toyed with the idea of becoming a vigilante.
I always tried to do my best to be nice to people, even when they were not nice to me. Well, apart from one time when I still celebrated birthdays and was having a party and a boy in my class at school was standing behind me in the queue to get into the dining hall asked, “Can I come?”, to which I replied “No”. He then asked “why?” and I still feel a tiny ache when I remember back to my reply “because I don’t like you!”.
What the hell, Paul, not cool!
If I believed karma was an actual real thing, I’d say I had received my karmic punishment for hurting that wee kid. However, I don’t. I do believe you should treat others as you would like to be treated and that life has a funny way of getting you back for the things you’ve done, but not in mystical karma.
Anyway, I digress.
Apart from that incident, and the normal stupid stuff kids do. Some underage drinking etc., I can honestly say I spent most of my time trying to be nice and get along with people. Trying to be a good guy. I was not into fighting, always tried to accept other people’s opinions, even in my most opinionated stages of life.
How shocking it was when fast forward a couple of decades and I found in the 2010s I was as far from being the good guy in my life and was most definitely the villain of the piece. Granted, I never ascended to the giddy heights of the world’s worst criminals. But, in terms of within my own life and to the people I love most – I was not a team player, a good husband, a good dad, or, even a good human.
I made people cry, caused untold stress and anxiety, lied, cheated, and, gaslit. Basically, did all the things I believed I never would.
I could make excuses like so many villains do or give reasons why it wasn’t my fault. The truth is, though, while other factors may have been at play, I was in control of my life (or was not in control or chose not to be or didn’t know how to have control - either way you look at it, I was responsible). We can only really, in truth, control our own actions.
I know things happen and people change, but I still think it’s curious how gradual and subtle the changes were. My wife noticed. She warned.
The problem was I was addicted. That was what infected me. That was what sent me on such a wide trajectory from my original path.
I'm not sure if I want the lesson to be don’t dismiss those little red flags or don’t coast along thinking it’ll never happen to you or if I am just getting this all off my chest because I need to for me. It may even be a combination of all those things.
That is why people work hard to be good people and should not be dismissed or made fun of for trying to be good. It takes effort, perseverance, and determination. Some of us just fail miserably and then must deal with the fallout later.
Ultimately, I'm in a better place now and I am slowly distancing myself from the person I was not so long ago and it feels good. I still get those healthy pangs in my stomach when I remember something I did when I was the villain. As painful as they are, and often the flashbacks feel incredibly real, they remind me also of how far I have come.
About the author
Writer, 42, from Scotland. Spent more than 12 years writing content for others, without credit. Felt it was time to start writing for me!
It's an exploration of sorts. Expect personal stuff, films, TV and music stuff and fiction too!
Very well written. Keep up the good work!
Original narrative & well developed characters
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On-point and relevant
Writing reflected the title & theme
Niche topic & fresh perspectives
Heartfelt and relatable
The story invoked strong personal emotions