Snitches Get Stitches

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You can swallow the truth down and bury it alive, lock it away so no one knows it even happened.   Push it so far down within yourself maybe you don’t even remember it for a time.  But the thing is, it will come looking for you.  It will hunt you down.  Memories resurface and haunt you until you deal with what you couldn’t, long ago.

Such is the case with Jillian.   She was one of the most popular girls in my high school.  A cheerleader, she ran with a clique of girls that all came from affluent families.   They spent their winter vacationing  in places like Aruba.  Their parents were doctors, lawyers, and CEO’s.  She was pretentious, arrogant, and snobby.   

There are two kinds of people in the world and it isn’t the haves and the have nots.  It’s the good people who have empathy and the mean people who just don’t give a shit, save for themselves.

The event I buried is crystallized in my mind and scarred me leaving permanent damage.  

Shame is when you feel badly when you’ve done something wrong.  Humiliation is when another person shames you.   When humiliation is done in a public forum, it has by far the most damaging effects.  

It was my freshmen year of high school and I was waiting by the school buses to go home.  Jillian approached me with her gang of friends all standing closely behind her.  She walked over to me and held a milkshake in her hands.  She told me,” I know that we used to be friends years ago, I thought maybe you and I could be friends again, so I bought this milk shake for you.”

There was an ice cream stand 200 yards from our high school that a lot of kids walked to between classes or after school.  

I thought the whole thing seemed off,  I didn’t trust it but I took it and said thanks.  I looked down and inside the milkshake container were worms, dirt, and grass mixed in with the ice cream.   When she saw that I figured it out she walked away laughing.  I could hear Jillian and all her cronies giggling saying ,Oh my God! she actually thought you were serious!”

Peels of laughter ensued.  I just froze there holding that disgusting milkshake.  Too humiliated to move.    I heard their continued laughter as all the buses pulled up.   I was standing in a sea of students all around me, I had no idea who had just seen this happen.  I felt mortified.   I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes but I held them in as the last bus pulled away,  it was the only shred of dignity of that I had left.   

After buses departed, I stood there on the vacant side walk still clutching the dirty milkshake in my hand.  Tears poured down my cheeks, sobs turning into wails.  No one there to hear my anguish.   Then I quietly set it down next the the corner of the school and walked the 3 miles home.  When I told my older sister what happened she wondered why I didn’t punch her .  It’s because I felt so intimidated by Jillian, she was powerful.   My sister offered to kick her ass for me but I begged her not to as I feared it may make it worse somehow.  My anxiety got the better of me even then. 

After that day, I felt so humiliated by what happened I tried avoiding Jillian and all her goons.   When I saw them in the hallway, they would stare me down and then laugh and snicker at me.  Or they would cup their hands to each other’s ears to privately whisper while looking at me as I walked by, then laugh out loud.  I decided to walk outside the entire perimeter of the high school  just to get to my classes.  My high school housed 2000 students , it took me a shit ton of time to exit the building at one end and walk around to the other side.  Those bitches made me late every fucking day.   Not to mention making feel like a worthless piece of shit.

This event has damaged me more than I had thought.  It really impacted my ability to be able to form friendships as an adult, particularly with women.  If I meet someone, I am always wondering what their motive is.  I distrust that they really like me.  I wonder if they are talking shit behind my back.

I’ve never told anyone about this other than my fiancé.   It’s never came up in any therapy appointments.  Small fries compared to incest I figured.  I just stuffed it down way back then and never spoke about it again.  It happened in 1984.  There were no bullying laws.   I was raised that you don’t rat someone out.  You shut up and just handle things on your own.  It was a sign of weakness to say anything.

Well guess what.  Wherever I got that lesson, they fucked up.  They taught me wrong.  There is no cookie cutter recipe that works for every situation.  Silence can equal death in some cases.  The death of one’s spiritual self.   

No one deserves to get bullied.  I have replayed this milkshake scene a thousand times in my mind.  I wish I could have a do-over and instead throw the milkshake in Jillian’s face and then push that bitch to the ground.   But I can’t go back in some nifty time warp.

To anyone reading this, if someone is bullying you:   Don’t stay quiet about it like I did.   Don’t let some asshole fuck up your life.   Break the code of silence.  Tell someone about it.   There are people who will listen and care.  You are not whatever they say you are.   You are lovable, you are beautiful, you are worth it.   

Everyone deserves to be treated with respect.

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The Trauma Train

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photo mine:  my arm

Mental illness, has always been a dirty word.  Spoken in hushed tones from the backrooms of my family home.   Leaving me stigmatized and ashamed.  Ever the black sheep.

My right arm was the junction, where the train tracks of the razor blade passed through.  I wore long sleeves to keep the carnage hidden, even in the summer.  My right calf another mess of scar tissue.  I’m a south paw don’t cha know.

The pain inside drove me to snuff out my lit cigarette upon the tender inside of my wrist.  The burned circle scars remain.  Yeah, I was a smoker back then.  I started on Newport Lights for the cool minty taste.   Those were the days of AquaNet,  binaca, and Calvin Klein’s Eternity.   My psychiatrist had me on the Borderline cocktail: a low dose neuroleptic, a benzodiazepine, and an antidepressant.    I washed down all my psych meds most nights with a 1/2 pint of Butterscotch Schnapps.  The meds weren’t doing shit but I’m pretty sure the booze wasn’t helping.  

I got out of the nut ward after my second suicide attempt and they put me into DBT.   I guess it was supposed to help me with my suicidality and the self-harm thing.   I was 19 then.   

I was placed in the adult DBT group, not with adolescents.   I was the youngest person in that group.   I was pissed off about this decision.   I didn’t feel like an adult but my brand new American Express card with its over-inflated interest rate said I was.   I guess I looked like one because every where I went men seemed to hit on me.  Even the 40 something’s that were old enough to be my dad.   Half of me was scared that I gave them a hard-on and half of me felt confident that I could make their nether region defy gravity.  A confidence I didn’t feel anywhere else in my sorry ass life. 

The DBT skills class was a potpourri of people who at first glance seemed to have nothing in common.   The diesel dyke with metal chains and Doc Marten boots.  The businessman in the silk suit and tie.   The trauma train let everyone climb aboard.  Scott was the shrink in charge of facilitating.   He was older than a Redwood tree but wise as hell.  Many nights I wished he would just take me home with him to save me from myself.

I was in a room with a bunch of jigsaw puzzle people that didn’t fit into any sort of picture.  I hated being there and I didn’t understand any of the mumbo jumbo Linehan handouts we had to read.

The only person that I felt any sort of connection with was a 25-year-old quiet Jewish guy.  He shared that someone had thrown a molotov cocktail through the window of his home and painted a swastika on the front door when he was a teen, causing a bad house fire.  He said that he still slept in his clothes because of that incident.  I also slept in my clothes from being repeatedly molested in my childhood home.  Sleeping in our clothes, was something we had in common, even if I didn’t share it with him.  

Stu didn’t say much.  He was the next youngest person in the room and six years older than me.  Every week he got grilled for not doing his diary cards or homework.  He made up all kinds of excuses about it and even the group members started giving him shit for not doing it.  Well, except for me, I never said a word to him.  Having some sort of camaraderie with Stu though, was nearly my downfall.   

Scott gave us a handout of rules to follow at the beginning of class which we all had to sign.   A few months into group Stu and I broke one.  I ended up meeting him for a drink at a local bar to talk about DBT and what a waste of time it was.  We laughed and teased.   A few hours later we were fucking at my apartment.

I reasoned it would be a wise-minded decision that we should tell Scott and Stu was cool with it.  Stu hated class and hoped to get tossed out.  I wanted to grow as a person somehow by being honest about my lack of boundaries.  I was shocked that Scott never kicked us out for the offense but we had to solemnly promise not to have sex again.  We never did cheat-cheat on the class rules anymore.  We only got into gray areas of breaking them.  Like going to bars for drinks and making out a few times.  I think that was a turning point for me.   I decided getting better was more important than getting off.   Well, at least for the rest of that class….

Alias

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Unequivocally, I love my kids and I love my man, but there are days that I feel so completely overwhelmed.  I’ve never been put together very well.  Growing up in a really fucked up home where there was constant chaos, violence, and unpredictability had that impact on me.   My overwhelmed feelings break the damn, sweeping away logic in their current.   

It seems like a good idea to get into my car and take to the highway.   Head to some far away state.  Keep driving  hundreds and hundreds of miles away, far away from I started until no one knows where I am and no one knows who I am.

Pick out some new bullshit name like Ashley Jones and just reinvent myself.   I don’t feel worthy to be around my family.   I think, “they’ll be better without off you,” and “you’re nothing but a useless loser.”  Darkness creeps back in because well, the darkness never really left.

I wouldn’t want anyone in my new life to know the “me” I left behind.   What an insecure person I am.   The shame of all my parenting mistakes.  That I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.  That I melt into a first grader inside when I think about my dead mom.

I’m supposed to be the strong one.  I’m supposed to be the one with my shit straight.  I’m supposed to be successful by now.  But I’m not.   I’m just me, struggling floundering me.  There’s no manual to tell you how to navigate life or how to keep your relationship alive when it gets on life support and every other day there’s arguments and the couples counseling isn’t seeming to do much.  Where’s the blueprint for how to navigate being a role model to your children when you didn’t have any sort of healthy role models yourself as a child!

I told Elle yesterday, “all the razor sharp intellectual skill I have does me no good.  I’ve been coming to therapists like you since I was in college.  I can impress you with my understanding of Freudian Psychoanalytic Theory, I can bedazzle you with my knowledge that I lack Adler’s holding and soothing introjects, I can entertain you with a rousing discussion the basics of Neurophysiology.  But it’s  meaningless because its all held at an intellectual level, I cannot synthesize the information.   At the end of the day, I can’t find my way out of an emotional paper bag

Running is the easy way out.  Driving down that highway looks enticing.   The problem is that Ashley Jone’s problems will only follow her to that brand new state.   Geographical cures never worked for anyone.

Waking up every morning and looking in the mirror and trying be okay with not being okay, is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.  

The Blunt and the Bishop

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I am Catholic and it was my confirmation day that Sunday morning.  My brother had just sold me my first joint for a dollar. I thought maybe I would get a cut rate because I was family and all.  No such luck.  He was growing it behind our red and white shed in the backyard and my parents had no idea.  He was drying it in cellar which they also had no clue about.  I had already taken a couple of hits off it and snuffed it out then quickly shoved it in my purse for later on.

Right before we got into the car to head out to St. Mary’s Church, it fell out onto the driveway.   My mother was furious with me.  I stood there trying to convince her it was a blunt made from oregano.  She wasn’t buying that story, she had sniffed it and knew.  My brother had just got home from rehab and she knew that smell all too well.  She dragged me into the bathroom and made me stand there to watch as she flushed it down the toilet like some dead goldfish.   I think it was supposed to teach me a lesson of some sort.  Maybe punishment to see it slowly drain down the pipe, wasted like that.

I can’t remember much about that Mass save for the bishop’s giant inverted lampshade hat and that it was way too long and boring.  I was so high that I had cotton mouth.   The communion wafer got stuck to the roof of my mouth and I couldn’t get it down .   My mind kept wondering what kind of trouble I was going to be in when church was over.   

The Sacrament of Confirmation , when teens receive the Holy Spirit and become “soldiers of Christ” as full members of the Church.  It didn’t feel kind I was a soldier of much.  I didn’t feel any different than when I had that morning morning except that I wanted to get out of the hot tight nylons underneath my dress I was wearing.

I don’t remember much from when I got home that day.  Memories erased.  I’m pretty sure I got punished but it’s all forgotten  now.    In fact, my memories from the next 5 years are pretty spotty.  That’s because all through high school I smoked marijuana and alcohol together in very hefty amounts and high school is mostly a blur.

That day after St.Mary’s is all but gone now but I do remember the next time I bought another joint from my brother.   It was the night of the first junior high school dance.  I smoked it and got stoned in the bathroom stall with my best friend Ally.

This song was playing then and remains one of my favorite songs today:

Phantom Friend

F7E507D0-73D9-4BDC-A7D5-5C234EC042DA.jpegwhen the hustle and bustle of busy life fades away,  my mind quiets to a whisper then i drift……

in that stillness you find me

you remember the darkness that befell me during those sorrowful times

your words held my hand                   through the grief and despair  

comfort enveloped me, when you reassured me that i wasn’t alone with the pain inside 

i know you are hurting too, even as you keep it locked away 

i wanted to reach you then, I want to reach you now

as the hours pass and the clock ticks by, we talk about everything and nothing

i’ve never had a friend like you, vulnerable and open

our friendship, forged in pen and ink, illuminate our similarities

but we can’t be alike

we can’t be anything

because none of this really happened

i was only drifting just now

wishing… that you were right here                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

Allergic to Kids

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To add to the list of fears I already have, I discovered I may have a new one.  Well, it’s not a full fledged fear, it may turn out to be a strong aversion.   I will ferret it out soon enough with Elle.  

I have a fear of children, especially small children.   

Not my own kids of course.  I have a small child entering kindergarten and a teen at home.   My kindergartener is so feisty and energetic she’s is like 5 kids in one.  My teenage son is on the Autism Spectrum.  At times he can be a handful.  Between them, some days I feel like Michelle Duggar.  I love my kids dearly.  I’m pretty sure that they are used to me and all my quirks. 

Very small children are quite impulsive and because they lack social grace, they can potentially maim a person with their unapologetic truths and get away with it.  “Why is your hair turning gray now?”  “How come you have a stain on your shirt?” “Your car smells like tacos.”  Their very makeup, coupled with my severe anxiety and fragile self-esteem is not a good wedding.   Being around them feels like I am teetering on a tight rope a thousand feet up, waiting to fall off.  A constant pit in my stomach.  

I avoid young children every chance I get.  At playgrounds, parks, and of course at the school.  You never know what might pop outta their mouths.  I beg my fiancé to do to the pick-up and drop-off at our kids school for this very reason.

Like cats who seem to know the very people who don’t want them near but will make a beeline straight to them; small children seem to gravitate towards me.  They make me feel super anxious with how they stare at me, then badger me, wanting me to play imaginative games like dress-up and the dreaded “Paw Patrol.“  If I have to pretend to be one of those dogs again any time soon, I’m going to buy a one way ticket to Alaska to permanently hibernate.

I can’t stand it when they use my ass as ghouls for their game of tag or go running around me in circles as if I’m their Maypole.  Still worse,  getting asked by the teacher to sit at circle time at school… oh horror of horrors.  No one in good conscience can be their authentic cynical selves when a “Raffi” song is played and get away with saying out loud , “please wake me when this is over.”

When I really think on it, another factor in my avoidance of them is my depression.  One has to expend a ton of positive energy to be around small kids because that’s what they require.  They need happy positive role models.  I am the antithesis of that.   It would take me untold amounts energy to put on a facade to pretend to be something I’m not right now.  Hell, it takes a Herculean feat just to drag myself out of bed in the morning, brush my teeth, and pour cereal for my kiddos.

I’ve recently taken to buying paper plates, bowls,  and plasticware to streamline dinner and clean up.   See that’s what Big Pharma won’t tell you in their pretty little commercials about depression.  It really does impair functioning, I should know I’m the poster girl for it, but I digress.  

Back to the children.  I’m too anxious and depressed to be around most kids.    Well, most.   Maybe I could be fine around other kids of parents that are also struggling with anxiety and depression? Yeah I’d probably fit right in with them.  Those kids are probably okay with having another adult around who doesn’t have a constant ear to ear smile.  

Who knows if I am actually afraid of small children or just severely anxious and clinically depressed. It’s all a swirly mix of misfiring neurotransmitters.  One thing is for sure, If I don’t take the damn medication that my psychiatrist Dr. R prescribed, Hard Pill to Swallow  my world will be getting smaller and I am headed for Howard Hughes’s guest room .     

As an added bonus I’ve included a deep cut from Raffi and his Rise and Shine Band for all you die hard fans:

Soggy

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Today I peeled myself like a band-aid off my mattress when I awoke. The heat and humidity was so oppressive I hit the cold shower running.  Five minutes later I was so drenched in sweat that I jumped back in.  By days end who knows how many I will take?

Welcome to living in a bowl of soup.

In this muggy misfortune, you have to be careful when wearing shorts because your legs fuse to any smooth surface.  I shrieked as I lifted myself off the chair on which I was sitting for a mere few minutes.  The pain when you finally stand up from your seat, feels like your skin actually rips off.   Fun times.

It’s feels like I am in Miami not Massachusetts.  When I slid into the drivers seat of the car I was astonished to see that the outside temperature gauge on the dashboard read: “108 degrees.”  Yeah, I’m all set with this.   

The meteorologist said it’s supposed to rain today but other than a few scattered drops I’ve seen a lot of nothing.   Oh the tease of a cool front blowing in.  It’s New England after all, they say “if you don’t like the weather wait a minute it’ll probably change.”  Well “they” lied because I’ve been swimming in this Wonton soup all day.

I don’t particularly like rainy days.  Unless I’m able to hunker down indoors under a cozy comforter and sip on hot cocoa.   I never thought I’d find myself saying this but I wish it would rain…

Love you Neil.

 

Shrapnel

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I slunk off in the hallways of that sex site.  The one where it all began for me.  It’s like some kind of fucked up pilgrimage that I make.  To peruse where I started my first blog.  It was over 15 years ago but it seems like a lifetime away.  A good number of people watched my blog.  I think it’s easy to get people to read when you are writing vignettes about sliding your wet fingers between your legs while driving your car in broad daylight.  No real talent there.   

My past trauma created a deep brokenness in me, a need for attention and validation.  Those watchers on that blog were fulfilling the attention I was seeking.  I paid a hefty price for it all.  Writing those posts made me felt dirty.  Dirty, denigrated, and ashamed.  Shame, such an fundamental part of my childhood was very familiar to me.   A psychologist had once told me, “Often in the absence of genuine love and validation we seek out what we are used to and  what’s familiar. “

My then therapist warned me it was further traumatizing me to stay on the site.   He suggested that I start blogging elsewhere.  I desperately yearned for my integrity.   So I left that underground BDSM community in search of self-respect, healing, and legitimacy.

Why do I revisit that site? I’m not entirely sure.  Am I looking into a rear view mirror at the life I left behind? Is there something about that lifestyle that I miss? Do I feel like I will never cut it as a writer anywhere else?  

These are questions I’ll explore at my next session with Elle. Shrink Trouble  Oh wait, she doesn’t know about any of this.  Lol.  Yup, another thing I sorta left out.

It’s as if a bomb exploded while I was living that lifestyle and now I have shrapnel embedded in me from the blast.   I wonder if I can ever take all the pieces out?

I wonder if I will ever want to?

An American Dream

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I grew up in a blended family.  My mom married a 2nd generation Italian-American man named Domenic.   He adopted me when I was 3 years old at the Cambridge Probate Courthouse and became my dad.  

Growing up with a large extended Italian family was pretty cool.  There was lots of cousins to play with, lots of cookouts and get togethers, and uncles that kinda had that Tony Soprano feel to them.  Yet, I spent the most of time with my grandma.  

Grandma could make her own pasta and pizzelle by hand.  She always cooked homemade pizza on Friday nights.  She prayed the Rosary every morning.  She was the most holy woman I have ever met.

Grandma spoke with a thick Italian accent and she was very quiet and reserved.  Well, unless I made her cross.   Then all bets were off and everything was spoken in Italian.  I didn’t understand shit from shinola of what she was saying.  I only knew to run to my bedroom quickly.

Grandma came to the United States from Naples, Italy in 1922 through Ellis Island.   She was 16 years old.  I was told she was wearing only one shoe.   She was very poor and had been living in an orphanage which was run by some Catholic nuns.  

She met my grandpa another Italian immigrant.  They married and settled in Lexington, Massachusetts.  There they had a small farm to raise cattle.  My grandpa owned and operated a meat market in the city.  They had a modest home where they raised their 6 sons.

They had realized the American Dream.

This would not have been possible if it wasn’t for the courage and bravery of the men and woman who had wanted to create a new nation.   They risked their lives and fought to escape the tyranny and taxes of the British rule.  For this I thank them.

I give thanks also, to all others who paid the ultimate sacrifice or were wounded in each subsequent war and conflict fought both here and abroad for protecting our freedom.

I know that my Grandma was always proud to call herself an American and so am I.

Amidst the sparkle of all the fireworks that will burst through the sky tonight in spectacular colors, I’m thinking of one special woman.  She came to this country in search of a better life.  Her dreams came true because of the sacrifice of so many special and devoted people.  

THANK YOU to all of you.

Happy Independence Day!!!!

Shrink Trouble

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So I see a shrink every Tuesday named Elle.  Therapy has been going nowhere for the last year and I feel like I’m not getting better.  Whatever “better” should look like who really knows as it’s all kinda subjective.

Most weeks over the past year I’ve been wondering why I even go.  95% of the time I am late for sessions or worse yet I have just plain forgot.  How does one forget their weekly therapy appointment? Lol.

Now if you are in the mental health field you know there are “Treatment Interfering Behaviors (TIB).” A TIB is any behavior that is incompatible or directly interferes with a person’s ability to participate in treatment successfully. This behavior is important to address because it can prevent people from overcoming problems.

I thought to myself,” I wonder if my constant tardiness is one of these such behaviors?” But then I reasoned that I am late for everything else in my life so perhaps not.   

I’ve been keeping the fact that I feel like I’m not making any progress with Elle from her.  That probably isn’t a good sign.  I mean my fiancé knows, my BFF knows, even the man at the deli knows, Walter.  I talk with more candidly than my shrink, there’s just not enough time at the counter and he doesn’t have a degree in Psychology.  I didn’t want to hurt Elle’s feelings.  She seems kind, nice, and I really like do her.

Last week I finally took a deep breath and just said it.

“There’s something I want to let you know.”

“Okay.”

“I really like you and I feel like we have a good rapport.”

“Yes.”

“But I just don’t feel like I’m getting any better.”

* Silence *

Me stammering and feeling uncomfortable as fuck, “I mean, I’m not sure what we are really working on, I’ve got so many issues it’s like one of those clowns that can spin the plates?

“And I’ve got like a crap ton of plates of trauma right, but I feel like none of them ever get resolved.”

* More silence *

Again with the clown reference.  Mime Clowns  WTF is wrong with me?

“So I guess I dunno,  I’m not sure what else to say.

“I’m sorry you don’t feel like this is  helping.  It doesn’t help that you haven’t been here much. “

Ouch! There’s her counter-transference defensiveness although I wasn’t expect such a soft-spoken shrink would bang that out.

“And when I did give you a workbook to try, you had a major life crisis and had to leave therapy for awhile.

Double ouch.  This cat has claws.

* Silence fills the room *

Well we are about out of time,” she sighs, “you did come in 15 minutes late.”

Hell no, she’s not seriously gonna go there with the time shaming thing?

“Why don’t we pick this up next week when we start.  Again, I feel really feel badly that you haven’t  felt like this has been helpful.”

I’m anxious, sweating, and wishing there’s like a rock I can crawl under fast-like.  I feel like I have to “fix” this somehow?

“Yeah no, I mean I really like you, maybe it’s just me and I’m too broken you know?”

”We’ll talk about it next week,” she answered dryly.

I felt like I had just stabbed her in the back.  Yet I didn’t.  This was feeling crazy.  Shit! this is why I’m supposed to be here.  I’m too over-analytical, too OCD, too wound tight, and a sneeze away from being Sylvia Plath.  Which is why I didn’t say anything to here for a year. 

I learned from such an early age loyalty to the family secrets are more important than how you feel inside.  I learned the art of people pleasing.  You had to figure out fast how to keep people happy to survive my childhood home.

Well that session did not go well.  I just broke some of those childhood rules.  I didn’t stay a people pleaser by saying therapy was going nowhere.  I sure as shit wasn’t remaining loyal to the relationship at any cost.

Maybe that’s why I feel like crap?  Meh.