When I was six years old, I wanted a Batman toy.
Well, maybe I wasn’t six. Maybe I was younger. But it was a long time ago, and this Batman toy was literally the coolest thing I’d ever seen. It had Batman, and Bane, and Robin, and a bunch of cool accessories. If you were me when I was very young, you would have wanted this toy, too. You would have begged and begged like I did, told your parents, “I don’t care what else I get for Christmas. I just want this one toy.” You would have begged, and cried, and written Santa sixteen wishlists if you were me, because I know I did.
And on Christmas Day, when you opened presents and the Batman toy wasn’t there, you would have been heartbroken, because I know I was.
“Shelby,” my mother told me, “the Batman toy isn’t real. I think you made it up.”
“No,” I said, “it is real! It is so real, you guys!” And then I probably did something excessively dramatic, like trying to run away from home because my parents don’t love me. When you’re six years old, you have a tendency to do things like that. I sure as hell did.
In retrospect, however, I am now fairly certain that the Batman toy never existed at all. I think I did make it up. But it wasn’t until recently that I came to this conclusion. For the longest time I was convinced that I was somehow a horrible child whose parents didn’t love him enough to get him the Batman toy he so desperately wanted, and that changed me. I latched on to this idea and I carried it with me everywhere I went.
Sometimes perceived truths can be more powerful than actual truths, and the smallest things can garner the largest reaction and the most feelings of self-worthlessness.