After years of fending off complaints about his self-centeredness, grandiosity and extreme narcissism, Trent Lockwood of Nashville, Tennessee, finally figured out that any emotional shortcoming on his part was due to the fact that, as a young boy, his father utterly failed him, causing him to turn his focus exclusively on himself - and it all happened when he was only six years old.
According to Trent, he sensed from a very early age that he was a great deal more charming and charismatic than any of the other toddlers he knew.
"It was clear I had more in common with celestial beings, like angels, than with mere mortal kids," he noted. "Putting two and two together, it only made sense that God would want to keep me very close. And as I saw it, that meant a real risk of death."
“Either that,” he added, laughing darkly, "or God was going to make me uglier and more ordinary, to fit in better on earth. To me, that was a prospect potentially even worse than dying."
Desperate for solutions, it was only natural that vulnerable young Trent would turn to his dad - only for his father to fail him unconscionably by shrugging off his son's concerns about dying.
"He just didn't get it," said Trent sadly. "He laughed and told me I didn't need to worry about kicking the bucket for another eighty years or so."
Six-year-old Trent, however, found his father's offhand response anything but reassuring. Instead, it only served to confirm his suspicions about his father's severe emotional limitations and inability to truly be there for his extraordinary young son.
“It's clear in hindsight that he was jealous," said Trent. "It's the only explanation that makes any sense."
Trent's emotional journey hasn't been easy. It's taken years of therapy, journaling and unwavering self-reflection for him to truly absorb that his father's dismissive attitude toward his fear of death was the cause of everything in his life that's ever gone wrong. Moreover, it was only very recently that Trent was able to see through the laughing veneer and recognize his father's response all those years ago for what it was: a calculated act of sabotage.
"It was tough to accept that about my own father," said Trent. "But why else would he choose to make light of a highly intelligent young boy's totally legitimate fears? I mean, who tries to gaslight a six-year-old boy?”
Grateful as he is for his newfound awareness about his father's detrimental effect on his life, Trent has no illusions that that awareness will bring him much in the way of relief.
“For someone as sensitive and complex as me, the emotional damage is always going to be there," he said, his chiseled jaw stoic. "I can't understand why my own father would try to hide my light under a bushel. I always tried to express that my brilliance was no threat to him. I didn't want him to stand in my shadow, I wanted him to bask in my light - even reflect it! But he just couldn't do it. I try to be brave about it, but it still hurts."
Fortunately, six-year-old Trent's dire predictions have proven to be at least somewhat off-base. Despite his worries about being pulled close to God, Trent, now twenty-eight years old, hasn't died - nor has he grown any less handsome, charming or charismatic.
“It's worked out okay on paper, thank goodness," noted Trent. "Despite my father's best efforts, I'm continuing to bring light and beauty to the world. I feel good about that. And I'm not going to stop."