Couldn’t wink my way out of a wet paper bag. Can’t whistle either.
Mentally unstable yet medicated woman of dubious wit seeking reformed bad-boy to love until death-do-us-part. Likes warm, sunny days and cool, misty nights. Likes tattoos, interesting conversations, bonfires with friends, conspiracy theories, and people. Enjoys working out, eating healthy, and cake. Detests fakery, beer-bellies, unkempt facial hair, fuckery, and people. Goofiness is permissible. Maestro at assembling IKEA furniture. No left-over parts. Charges hourly rate. Seeking investors. Not claustrophobic; plan to live in a converted van down by the river when retired. Benefits include 401K, health insurance, and sex. Home cooked meals, passionate arguments, and make-up sex negotiable. Must be able to use Oxford commas and semi-colons properly. If interested in this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, please send resume and current pictures tagged on Facebook, preferably from friend’s recent email@example.com. Will respond within 72 hours.
I was in a“relationship” for six or so years. He was temperamental, demanding, and unreasonable. It never occurred to me that I was reliving the original relationship with my mother, only with someone who could fuck like an animal.
Everyone on the outside would shake their heads and give me advice. To no avail, because there were lessons in the relationship from which I couldn’t be saved. But I was drowning, and the life-savers thrown would sink into the abyss of my own self-destruction.
I shudder when I think about the abuse I allowed. That’s right. I was a grown-assed woman and I allowed the unwarranted insults, the crazy accusations, the breakups, and the addictive reconciliations. I was on an emotional roller coaster that I had built for myself.
Everyone on the outside would shake their heads and give me advice.
Others saw it as my wasting six years of my life. My mother hated him with a virulence I’d never witnessed. She would withdraw from his presence in revulsion. She left a bar-b-que because he was there and blamed me. I discovered then that narcissists hate each other.
Let me explain what I know about narcissism based on my personal experience. They hate themselves. There is none of this “I love myself, and that’s why I only think of myself.” People who love do not engage in self-aggrandizing, self-serving behaviors.
Narcissists hate themselves. They never feel like they are enough. They tear down the people who embody what they want to be but don’t know how to achieve. They crave attention to validate their existences. And it’s never enough, because their methods and successes are hollow.
Narcissists hate themselves.
I almost learned the lesson in the first month of the relationship. He had “broken-up” with me, and I had walked away with no regrets. But he called. He wanted me back. He abased himself. I thought it was because he “loved” me.
I roll my eyes now, but then, his pleas were a huge stroke to my ego. I didn’t know that I would play a part in the dynamics of a text-book case of narcissism. I didn’t know that I would suffer an abuse that would destroy everything I believed about myself.
All the signs were there. He was sweet and desperate in the beginning, as if I was the only woman in the world. Then he would push me away.
I didn’t know that I would play a part in the dynamics of a text-book case of narcissism.
I’m one of the most faithful and loyal people I know. It sounds self-congratulatory, but this is my strength – and my weakness. I am an immovable foundation in my relationships. Loyalty, love, family and in that order. It’s a principle that I adhere to because it’s something that I haven’t experienced even though I’ve always tried to embody these qualities.
I’m the kind of person to whom narcissists gravitate because I devote myself to making my partner happy. He turned this strength against me. His jealousy was unfathomable. A man would look at me and it was my fault. I was a lying whore because I had friendships with men. I thought these abominations were a sign of his “love,” because that was what he told me when he would “apologize.”
So, I took him back into my warm, loyal embrace. I would overlook his excuses, his absences, and his cowardice. I held onto the debris of every shipwreck thinking this “rescue” would be different. I tried to make this parody work. I lavished him with my love and affection always wondering why I wasn’t giving him enough to be happy.
I am an immovable foundation in my relationships. Loyalty, love, family and in that order.
I used to wear my heart on my sleeve. If you wanted to know what I was feeling, all you had to do was look at my face. I found it difficult to hide my thoughts. I felt deeply and still do, but in that “relationship” my feelings were used as a weapon to stab myself repeatedly.
I was susceptible because I was reliving my relationship with my mother in a never-ending cycle of self-loathing. As I look back on my own life, memories as early as the age of two reveal a pattern of push-and-pull. I had been “set-up” to despise myself as a lying, attention-seeking whore. By my own mother. As a toddler.
It’s true what the experts say. The narcissist will use every weapon to hold onto his victim. The phone calls, not only from him, but from his family, were incessant. I would arrive home to his truck at my curb; his cologne on envelopes contained three-page letters upon which he poured out his “pain” and “remorse.” He even wrote upon the concrete walk-way that led to my front door. In children’s sidewalk chalk.
I had been “set-up” to despise myself as a lying, attention-seeking whore.
When I left him, I felt hunted. I trembled for three months: mind, heart, and body. I changed my email addresses and my phone numbers. In the aftermath, I discovered that he had done things to hurt me that would only become evident weeks and months after the “break-up.” He wanted to make sure I’d feel his presence like a menacing shadow to the point of destroying my only haven.
I believe his addiction to me was genuine, but he is incapable of love. I should hate him, but I don’t. I know how to love, deeply. He couldn’t understand this depth if he wanted to and I pity him.
I believe people can be kind. Narcissists know how to be sweet and charismatic that first month or two, so I give everyone the benefit of the doubt. But the moment I smell a whiff of manipulative behavior, I disengage. It’s almost comical to see his or her face right before I disappear.
I trembled for three months: mind, heart, and body.
Today, I cry for the child I had been. I cry for the child stuck in a body that “adulted” on automatic. I also amaze myself. I love, deeply, despite it all. Loyalty, love, and family allow me to rebuild my haven.
This foundation within me has always been unshakeable and if it seemed contrary to my behavior in the past, it was only because I had given away my power to another.
The lesson learned? No one can take power from you. Only you can give away who you are.
I was maybe ten or eleven. My feet, dressed in navy blue Keds, dangled over the water. I could see the soles and my dark knee-length socks reflected in the water. I sat on the edge of a pier and found that peaceful part inside myself. It was a part of me that I could only find when I was alone.
I know my family thought I was odd. Sitting on the end of a pier over the calm waters of the Magothy River, I could feel their eyes on my back. From the warm den with its picture window, they wondered about me. They worried about a girl who would choose to sit out in the chilly, overcast March day, Easter no less, than in the warmth with her family.
But I was content here. I was wrapped in my own little world of magic and probabilities. I’m not quite sure what I was dreaming at the time, but a voice interrupted.
I knew the voice wasn’t outside of me. I wasn’t sure if it was me or someone – something else, but I could hear its words very clearly.
“Walk on water.”
“Walk on water.”
I hesitated. How was I supposed to walk on water? Like Jesus. Jesus was a miracle worker. I doubted I was.
“Go on. You can do it.”
The bottom of my feet tingled, right through the soles of my shoes, and my body felt weird. Lighter. The water beckoned, and I wondered if I had finally lost my mind.
I felt like two people in that space between two moments. The breeze froze. Sound halted. Even the gleaming ripples held their place as if caught in a photograph.
I was torn between faith and terror. I knew in a very deep part of myself that this walking-on-water thing was a possibility. I understood on a visceral level that I was able to bend space and time with my thoughts. But was it probable? And what would happen?
My mind raced over the potential fallout. I could fail miserably. I’d sink into the water, floundering and freezing, and end up in the hospital. First the ER and then the sanitarium because I had clearly tried to commit suicide. And I heard voices. Tsk, tsk.
I could succeed. My family would watch me walk to shore, unharmed, dry as a bone, and serene as a perfect, summer day. I would be canonized as a saint by the Pope no less. My grandmother would be so proud. “I made her come to church every Sunday.”
And no one would leave me alone. I would be pursued, hassled, and asked to perform the miracle again and again. Scientists would study me, even want to dissect me, and I would become a ward of the United States government. Perhaps to use as a weapon against Russia.
Either way, I would die inside. I thought of my brothers, alone with the monster that consumed our father and helpless beneath the indifference of our mother. I knew I was all that stood between them and the madness of our home life.
I didn’t want any of it. And as the voice continued to cajole me, I chose to do nothing. Well, I chose to argue with the voice, and this was something I did not do to an authority.
I waited for punishment, for reprobation, and for rejection.
“Why?” was all the voice asked.
“I’m needed here. This is the path I chose.”
I could feel the voice’s silence in my head like a pressure. Weight squeezed me into something small and insignificant. I struggled against the heaviness.
Perhaps I was a coward. Perhaps I had chosen the devil-I-know. I’m sure I did. Fear is a many-splendored prison. But I knew that any way I sliced this bread, all the pieces were stale.
The scrutiny, the concern, and the potential for imprisonment was too great if I chose to act on the voice’s demand. Though I was in a different prison, I knew that eventually, I could escape.
I also knew I had work to do. I had children to raise and words to write. I had dreams to pursue and a life to build. I had my humanity and I had plans to develop it to the highest heights I could reach.
The voice stopped cajoling as it watched the visions that unfolded in my head. I felt the pressure ease and let out a sigh of relief.
“Very well. You have made your choice.”
I blinked. The chilly breeze caressed my cheek. Sound flooded my ears with the lap of water against wood and the call of a hungry seagull. The waves threw muted flashes of light into the dark cavern beneath the pier.
I was alone again. I was sane again. Mostly.
I rose to my feet, dusted off my skirt, and shivered. I had never remembered an experience like that. I had other instances of insanity, but none had made me feel as small and frightened as this one.
I studied my grandparents’ house, which looked like one of the models that Pop Pop would place around his beloved Christmas train garden. On Easter, the garden was carefully stored away for the next Christmas.
I returned to the stifling warmth of family. I picked through the basket of candy I’d been given. I pulled Easter grass from my hair. I argued with my brothers (“Stop touching me!”) as we returned home.
I felt relief as my head hit the pillow. The status quo had been maintained for everyone but me. My brothers were as safe as I could keep them, wrapped in the bliss of ignorance.
Only I was changed forever and to this day, that moment on the pier haunts me.
I wrote this post on August 21, 2018. I do not claim to have predicted this tragedy. I.O.
I know I’m a little late on the draw, and that my carefully considered opinion may not help in the aftermath, but when Jill Janus of Huntress took her life, it left me stunned. Not because it seemed unlikely. I’m too much of a realist to be shocked by suicide, especially when committed by someone battling mental illness.
Jill was very open about her mental illness. She struggled with it every day and somehow managed to put a good face on it. I didn’t know her personally, but her bravery and honesty encouraged me to do the same. I realize now that she is my hero out of all the people I could choose.
Today, as I suffer for going to a concert on a Sunday – just going to a concert, not performing like she did – sent a shiver through me. Will I be next? Will I end it just to escape a particularly bad spell out of a handful of bad spells?
Because I have them. I will repeat myself until not only the sufferers understand, but those blessed to not have any way of relating to their suffering loved ones. On an average of every two to three weeks, I’m reminded of why I take my medication every day.
Jill was very open about her mental illness.
I have bad times, almost 26 episodes in a year that may last anywhere from 1-5 days at a time. Very few people know this about me. Even my loved ones are shocked when I tell them.
But these episodes are mild in comparison to untreated bipolar. I’m grateful this is all that is happening instead of a full blown relapse. I have a significant degree of control over my wellness now.
I am currently suffering from a migraine, a syndrome that often goes hand in hand with Bipolar. I didn’t drink or do anything weird this past Sunday, but the act of going to a concert, of enjoying myself, has a price.
I travel for work. One to two-hour drives, one-way. I love what I do. I do a job that gives my life meaning and that helps others. But I can’t work back-to-back days like that. I can’t work week-long details in the heat of August like I used to.
…the act of going to a concert, of enjoying myself, has a price.
This isn’t getting old and decrepit. I know plenty of people older than me who are tired, yes, but not debilitated by such work. I would need an entire week to recover. I would need to lie in bed most of the day.
I plan rest around what I do, rather than the other way around. I slept for most of the next day after the Grand Canyon. I took naps in between every activity on my vacation because I HAD to. When I was awake, I was full of vim and vigor. But I had to recharge because each activity exacted not only a physical toll but an emotional toll.
All those people. Fucking everywhere. Some so rude my blood simmered. I can’t imagine how it must be to have everyone in your face because you are a well-known and respected musician like Jill. As much as I’d appreciate the people supporting my work, I’d snap at some point.
I have gotten to the place where I tell my friends, “I love you. I want to see you again, but right now, I cannot people anymore.” Because I want to be able to tell them the same thing twenty-five years from now.
I can’t imagine how it must be to have everyone in your face because you are a well-known and respected musician like Jill.
My comrades in arms, boundaries are a good thing. Being actively nice or in performance mode all the time doesn’t get you anything but exhausted. There is a point where giving and giving and giving becomes a psychotic nightmare.
Take care of yourselves. Rest. Acknowledge that rest is not a weakness but a way to build your strength. If someone can’t handle your need to rest, get rid of him. If someone refuses to respect your boundaries, send her packing. Sometimes, you’ll have to be firm, and that’s a shame, but kindness can be disguised in assertiveness.
I know it’s hard. Believe me, I know. I’ve been told I’m kind to a fault. But I want to live. I want to enjoy life. I do not want to slide into the darkness that Jill fought to keep at bay.
I want her to be proud of me. I want her words and deeds to carry forward. I want her to know that wherever she is now, imperfectly perfect as she was, she had an impact. She saved lives, mine included.
I do not want to slide into the darkness that Jill fought to keep at bay….She saved lives, mine included.
To Jill’s family, I convey my deepest sympathy. You understood well enough to support her through her nightmare the way she needed. Relinquish blame. You stood by her side through all of it and you are brave and noble people. I hope others learn from your resilience and compassion.
You will not be forgotten, Jill. Even by people who have never met you. There is no shame to what you did or didn’t do. To me, you are a fallen hero and I will carry the standard, wave the flag, shout to the skies that you were never weak. You, sweet Jill, were stronger than many. Rest in peace.
Imagine being able to feel the slightest hair brush against your skin. Imagine being so aware of your body that you can catalogue all your aches and pains by location, intensity, and duration. Imagine ordinary smells having flavors: feet, body odor, plastic, etc.
This is the curse of sensitivity.
Many don’t feel this wide a spectrum of sensation. I think the world population would lose its collective mind if that were the case. But there are a few of us who can name the miseries and joys of life in excruciating detail.
I can feel the electromagnetic field of a television from across the room. The crazy part is that the television is plugged into an outlet but not “on.” It’s like nails on the chalkboard of my teeth.
I can smell when something is cooked to perfection in the oven. It has a specific odor and heat. I couldn’t describe the mechanics. I just know.
I purchased a new microwave, a standard 1000w, and my son says to me, “It’s so nice to cook without having to guess.” Or, “You cook it, Mom. I always mess it up.” I didn’t realize until then that my sons could not feel the same things I do.
I take this delicate awareness for granted. I swim in an ocean of sensation.
I can see a wide spectrum of colors too. I remember my sister-in-law, who attended university to become a chef and sommeliere, asked me how I knew the boiling potatoes weren’t done. I speared one piece with a fork and showed her.
“See the center. It’s slightly darker so it isn’t cooked all the way through. I can feel the texture through the fork. If you don’t cook it all the way through, whipped potatoes become chunky.”
She looked at me like I was crazy. I didn’t realize it at the time, but she was nonplussed by my haphazard approach to cooking. She couldn’t see the difference in color or even texture. Yes, the potatoes came out perfect.
I take this delicate awareness for granted. I swim in an ocean of sensation. I hear things that others cannot. It’s nothing like spirits. Instead, it’s the distant hum of every news station covering the same event. Snippets will come through but not necessarily anything that makes sense. I used to look around to find the source but no more.
There are some energies I’ve learned to interpret. Images form in mind as my skin and bones vibrate like a tuning fork. I can tell people things about themselves that even they don’t know. Some people call me a psychic, but that’s not what I am.
I am a walking, breathing tower of electrical lines, cellular receivers, and satellites. Only those who ingest LSD might understand the reality of my existence. I “trip” every day. There is no surcease except for the dark embrace of sleep, and even then, I’m awakened by the slightest sound.
The constant bombardment of cell phones, computers, and pollution take their toll on my constitution. Depression is exhaustion. Anxiety is hypervigilance. What will come next? Why do I sleep for hours on end? Why do I stay up all night staring at the ceiling?
Through this all, through the grief of loss and the sweetness of love, I remain stoic. I cannot function if I allow the depth of my emotions to manifest. I would be in jail if I lost a rein on my fury. Others consider me “cold.”
If the other 98% of the population could understand that my tribe is not broken but simply high-fidelity, I think mental “illness” would be treated differently. Our heightened senses would be acknowledged and fortification against the onslaught would be readily available.
Please. Be kind to each other.
Psychiatric research has established that trauma, an event or events that overwhelm baseline coping mechanisms, alters the structure and thus the chemistry of the brain. The findings are replicated through CAT scans and MRI images. The findings are observed in autopsies.
As a Sensitive, daily rejection would and did traumatize me. The threat of pain was enough to create that pain within me. Shouting was a fog horn in my ears. Ridicule was a stomach ache that would not go away. As a child I had no vocabulary, no experiences, to communicate my profound discomfort.
Even “non”-sensitives are traumatized to a degree, so it is in the best interests of our species to cultivate kindness and sympathy for each other. Children and the elderly are especially vulnerable, and society suffers as a result.
Please. Be kind to each other. Show sympathy for the tribulations of others, even if you don’t understand. Kindness and sympathy may be the best tonic for a suffering world and you, as an individual, could be a contributor to the cure one act of kindness at a time.
My insides have been excoriated. Burned, salted, and frozen. I experience the agony like a physical pain that pulls my blood, my essence, into a pit of physical inception.
My goal is to break free of this intense apathy as the spirit roils within the bonds of flesh, tethered by a soul that desires manifestation. I am fighting the animal of my body whose bones have been programmed to fight, flee, and survive.
Before, I was too ill to wrestle with this demon. Though I am mostly well, the demon has grown toothier, hoarier, and sharper of claw. Survival is a traitorous bitch.
…now I look it in the eye. I scream in its face.
I have not escaped. I have not been ripped from my fate by the cold hands of medical science. Where before I had done everything imaginable to escape the horror of inception, now I look it in the eye. I scream in its face. I refuse to turn my back to it. I’m willing to name it.
About once every two weeks, I wake and know it will not be a good day. My body will ache, my head will throb, and my core will compact into a small, burning coal that sears the space below my rib cage. The Ego knows I long to escape. The Id throws temper tantrums that dance upon my teeth. I struggle within a concrete vise of emotional sterility.
I do not see things as others do. I am made differently. On purpose.
Sanity is a lipstick that smears my mouth. I’ve been raped by too many dark truths, drowned in too many deceptions, and hung too many times for crimes not my own to subscribe to this world’s idea of what is acceptable.
I do not see things as others do. I am made differently. On purpose. I am labeled insane by a society that does not see the wonders or the dangers that I do. I feel for a wounded world. Your hurts, his despair, her anxiety, are all within me. And still I smile because your joy, his relief, and her laughter are all within me too.
I often wonder if I have feelings of my own. Perhaps I do, but they are buried beneath the demands of this reality. I long to escape, and in the moments of agony, I realize that I cannot.
Until it becomes too much to bear. The pain, the suffering, the crushing loneliness all contribute to the eventual, and often unsuccessful, attempt to take one’s own life. We only hear about the successful suicides. The “sudden” suicides.
Godsmack has always been the one artist that voiced the feelings that I locked away beneath a smiling façade. As the band grew, my appreciation for their work grew.
I called it “canned” Godsmack. I demanded something more, something better, than revisiting a past that no longer held relevance. I wanted the grrrr and the soul. I wanted the contained release of fury tempered by experience.
Every good composer has a formula and it’s one that works. It gives a frame work, but it isn’t an excuse to stick to the tried and trope.
I admit, I avoided listening to the new album, When Legends Rise. Disappointment feels the same as heart break and I don’t have enough heart left to afford it.
But Godsmack delivered this time around.
Is it gritty? To a degree that it blends the old with the new and drops bombs of nostalgia (bitches). There’s still a few growls, riffs, and groovy rhythms left in the ol’ fellers.
Is it pop? Eh, for those snobs who act like Godsmack is the Yanni of the hard rock/heavy metal genre, maybe (may you rot in your self-importance along with your testosterone-poisoned idiocy).
Was it meant to appeal to a wider audience? Yes.
Was it manufactured or “canned?” I’ll give that a no.
“When Legends Rise,” is a perfect front-load song. It felt like a nod to power metal, rather than an attempt to be heavy. There is an epic quality to the lyrics and the cleanness of Erna’s vocals showcases the range and depth of his voice.
Of course, there’s “Bulletproof,” another pleasing front-load that was issued as the first single with an interesting video accompaniment. I’m still trying to figure out if Pasquale’s leisure suit was ashes of lime green or ashes of goldenrod in color, but I digress.
Once we get past the hit-makers, things get interesting. You can see the formula. Every good composer has a formula and it’s one that works. It gives a frame work, but it isn’t an excuse to stick to the tried and trope.
Treading a path of authenticity is an evolution. Sometimes it devolves into mimicry and many times it opens a doorway into unexpected creativity and fulfillment.
Frameworks give the freedom to experiment, and what I really enjoyed about the remainder of the songs were the sudden changes, unexpected changes, in the melodies, especially demonstrated by Rombola’s guitar.
I enjoyed the addition of hand drums without going overboard. I enjoyed how the children’s choir kicked off the song “Unforgettable.” A ballad in “Under Your Scars,” no less? (And I loved it??) These risks may be calculated but still frightening as hell if you wrestle with the continuity of a career.
I’m a lyrics person. I want to know every word that is sung. I want to know what it means, and while familiar themes of Erna’s past efforts are present, they are coupled with new imagery that is deeper and burns a hell of a lot more because no one shakes mortality or loneliness.
I think the only song that didn’t quite fit the album was “Eye of the Storm.” It felt like an add-on, and that always bothers me. Perhaps a few more listens will warm me up, but I am very pleased with the album overall and glad I spent my cash on a preorder.
Treading a path of authenticity is an evolution. Sometimes it devolves into mimicry and many times it opens a doorway into unexpected creativity and fulfillment. If you’re in a group and they’re on board, ready to deliver solid musicianship, then you’ve got a platform for artistic integrity.