The Netflix Show That Damaged Me Forever
American Murder: The Family Next Door gutted me, and I can’t seem to get over it. Warning: Spoilers!
I guess I wasn’t in a good place anyway. The last week has been difficult. Depression was my erstwhile companion, and every time I started to feel better, it snuck up and bopped me on the head like I’m a damn field mouse.
I can’t seem to silence the voices in my head either, and they’ve been having a field day telling me all the ways I’m a failure as a father, husband, writer, provider, and human being.
You can imagine my anxiety level from dealing with all this.
I couldn’t manage to pull any words from the mess in my head, so I put together a quick YouTube video for my channel. For some reason, I set it to render in 4K, and my mule of a laptop decided it would take a nap instead of working correctly.
Since I had a few hours to spare, I did what I usually do while I am waiting for my computer: I watched ghost videos on YouTube. My favorite channel is Nuke’s Top 5, and the first video was about the Watt’s family house in Colorado.
At this point, I hadn’t watched American Murder. All I knew was that someone died. But, if you watch the video, it is clear that it was the wife and two children. You can clearly hear Shanann Watts’ voice and the giggle of a little girl on the police bodycam footage.
I got goosebumps and decided that I wanted to find out more about this story, so I flipped over to Netflix and watched the documentary, American Murder: The Family Next Door.
I promise I was fine until I found out how the two little girls died. I was prepared to accept Shanann’s death, but my whole mind shut down trying to process the horrific last hours of those two precious babies.
I was incredulous at first and angry that he tried to blame his wife for their deaths. Then as the realization that he killed all three came over me, all I felts was pure, unadulterated rage.
Sitting on the couch in the dark at 4 am, I alternated yelling at the TV, with huge, body-wracking sobs.
Nothing has affected me as much as that show gutted me to my core.
My mind was not in a great place to begin with, and I wasn’t prepared for the wave of anger, outrage, and sadness pouring into it.
I cried for an hour.
My mind kept replaying the horror of this situation on a loop in my head, and I was in a constant cycle of resentment and desolation. I couldn’t fathom that someone could do this to their wife and children. Sure, he was a misogynistic, cheating bastard, but how does that drive you to strangle and kill your own flesh and blood? How could he callously dump their bodies in an oil tank?
Why couldn’t he just be a disgusting pig and divorce his wife and move on with his life? Why did Shanann and those precious little girls have to die?
In all my years of severe mental illness, dealing with voices in my head telling me what to do, and a massive dose of depression and despair, I never once thought about hurting someone, especially my own family. Through all the fights and divorce in my first marriage, I never entertained hurting anyone except myself.
Even in my second marriage, when things in our relationship and my mind got so bad that I tried to kill myself, I never thought of harming them.
I couldn’t fathom it, and I still can’t. I spent the whole day overthinking, and I am still no closer to finding answers that will allow me to drop it and move on with my life.
Like so much in my head, it’s become an obsession, and my mind won’t stop doing somersaults until I can make sense of all this.
To people without a mental illness, it may be hard to understand what I’m going through — the fixation, the fury, the misery — over something that has nothing to do with me, but this happens often to me.
The same thing happened when the space shuttle blew up, on 9/11, and now during the pandemic. It happens all the time when I see injustice and the back-handed dealings of crooked politicians. It’s an everyday thing when I think of Bezos and Musk sitting on their piles of gold while the rest of the world is starving.
I can’t come to grips with all the horrible crap that this world throws at us, and it’s only getting worse as time goes on.
The scary thing is, I know there are a lot of you out there who are just like me — who are so tired of eating the same shit sandwich every day. Your minds are rebelling at the unfairness of life and how dreadful and disgusting some people are.
We feel revulsion at the evil and injustice, and don’t know how much more we can take.
So what do the people like me do with all our outrage and misery? Do we hide away from the world, don’t watch the news, and sit in the dark under a blanket eating baby applesauce? Do we lose our minds and become just like the people we loathe?
How do we keep going day after day when we get pummelled continuously by society and the vile people in it?
I guess the only thing we can do is to put one foot in front of the other, try to stay in our lane, and don’t become obsessed with every bad thing that happens. Our morality won’t allow us to ignore the inequality in this world, but we can change how our mind processes it.
It’s something I need to work on. It’s something we all need to work on.