Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Post Traumatic Dreams

I wish I had the words tonight for the ghosts of my past.
Mostly, I just have pain.
And volumes to say to the people on whose deaf ears I need to say it all to the most.

It's the most frustrating thing in the world when you are happy and you still have these...moments.
Moments where you second guess yourself because of a few sociopathic encounters.

I can't feel close to people the way I used to.
If anything, I'd rather not be close to anyone.

My head is being blasted from the inside out with confusing feelings.
Tonight's not the night for it.
But no night ever is.

Fuck you, John.
Fuck you, Lily.

How dare your memories make me regret being a human.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Transition to Stasis

It's hard to explain exactly what it means.

I mean, it's just a word.  One simple little word.

Good enough to come back.
Rewarded for being what was needed.

For me...reawakened.
For me...renewed.
For me...reminded...that good enough isn't a package of ingredients with things I lack.

And yet, I know that a pittance one year contract won't define my redemption.  Deep down, I still know that at a moment's notice, anything can happen, the clocks can turn back, and I can be cast aside again.  Even in a new place, a new home, with new people.

I'm wary, but at peace.

Maybe it's something about that afternoon when two other colleagues in my department took me out to lunch on the last day before our vacation, and lunch lasted from high noon to bar closing time.  Maybe it's something about standing on the edge of a cliff listening to live music and daring to sing along.  Maybe it's something about a little city you've known all your life to be "no big thing" until you walked all up in its insides.  Maybe it's the boss who heard my story and gave me a chance anyway.  Or maybe it's the retired gentleman whose seat I now replace who held my hand warmly in November and said, gently, "It's just a feeling I get with you- you're going to be just fine here- and happy- for as long as you  want to be."

Maybe there's hope.

My roots are not ready, but my heart is.
We'll see, Claudia.  Wait and see.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Dear John Doe:

John, Johnny, Jimbo. Jigga-whatever-you-have-become, whatever you are, whomever you'll be. Dear man of many stories, dear creature who longed to be a father, dear defrocked career-man, dear thinker of things to help others unthink, dear dead ex-compatriot of compassion, dear soul long forgotten, dear damaged son, dear lonely one, I write this aloud to you.

Dear Jeff, Jeffrey, JFB, Jiffy Lube, Jesus-For-Short, Jesus-You're-Not, and Jeez-What-the-Hell-Did-I-Get-Myself-Into. Dear wounded one, dear suffering spiritual soldier, dear sultry sexually sinister lover, dear creeper undercover, dear freaky cultic front runner, I sign my name as a last farewell to you.

You who both have lingered in my thoughts for years. You who have been the ink for a thousand tears stained to paper...I write this now, many years later, a few minutes wiser, a few scars less of a hater, to put words of absolution to my lips. I mean after all this time I believe your rips at my soul...were not all full of evil intention. I believe your hearts were not always hell bent on aggression, I believe the time is now for a full confession and


I forgive, because I cannot live with anything less.
I forgive your cuts, your lies, your denegrated mess.

I don't know why it had to happen today, with these words, on this blog, in this way, but all I know is that they, those, them, who would wish otherwise will turn their eyes away and it would never matter what I had to say, no matter how loud I said it. Just like no matter how many times I walked away from your foundations I regretted it, even if it was the best thing for me. I have finally emerged from the roiling sea of pain, and the only thing that keeps my boat from pitching is thinking I need to hold on. So that I do t forget that the dreams I had came from a noisy throng of extreme black-and-white songs that screamed for change. Now I know I can toss and throw away the items I gave you in exchange...the heart, the soul, the body ripped raw, are renewed and reborn, it's taken some time to heal, to get warm...but I have.

And so today in the name of everything I once stood for, I let go of the loyalties I used to make good for, and I embrace the change of the winds in my sails and I set you free. I let go of who I need you to be.

So you monster, you coward, you psycho-sociomaniac, you rapist, you fiend, I send it all back with a ribbon wrapped round the emotion that brought you. I have yelled, I have screamed, I have cursed, cried, and fought you, and discovered In all of this that no one has won. And I have no further desire to need to come undone. We are young, and our souls can change and morph and find peace.

And I need to find mine, and unbind the crease in my heart that believes that no one and nothing is good. And to do that, I must let go, and let go I should.

This is the last you will hear from me. This is the last of the past that will not set me free. This is the last dream you'll enjoy inside my head, this is the last nightmare you'll prance through my bed. I am finished. That part of my soul now lies dead and prepared to spring forth from the ashes anew. And it is my deepest wish that yours does the same too.

I hope you begin on a path of new truth, with idealism in your heart and a fountain of youth springing forth from the oceans of ideas you have. I hope you use your power with caution, humility, a laugh, and with all of the wisdom one can glean from a paradise lost in a dystopic scene.

Goodbye, J-men. Goodbye, John Does. The greatest and worst people I ever did know.


This letter-poem is written as an homage to a promise I have made to myself today, that I will no longer dwell on my past between my ex-cult-leader-lover and my past with an ex-therapist. I purposefully delete them from my mind with as much willpower as I can, and instead I carry with me the lessons I have learned from my experience. I no longer permit myself to hold ill will, pain, or space for feeling for/about these two people. I forgive them. I forgive myself. It is time to move on.

Thank you for reading.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Regrets and Regression

*this entry will not make a lot of sense unless you know the tale*
*or have lived a similar one yourself*

I was a board member.

I knew damn well that I should have spoken up sooner.

The problem with having a sociopath for a friend is that, however twisted his facts may be, there ARE truths within them.

It's true that when we worked together, I bit my tongue a few times toward the end. He was so PASSIONATE about everything...the kind of passionate where you don't want to get in the way or you might get run over. You just listen. You rationalize. You tell yourself the parts that make sense. And you try to ignore the parts that don't, treat it like a handicap for a brilliant mind or something.

I shouldn't call him a sociopath. That's not fair. It might be true, but it's not my call to make. That alone could be the reason I feel sick inside. What a name caller.

Sometimes I wonder if not being able to reach him in the critical days was his way of setting me up to fail him. Or maybe it was my way. My fault, just as he says it. My "hurtful" words. I know I said some- many. I've gone back and read them. Maybe it was me.

I hardly care. But the guilt will drive you mad. Some days I wake up from a nightmare and all I want to do is stand in a confessional with every person I've ever hurt, no matter in what aspect, and pleaded for their forgiveness, and apologized, over and over and over. I could have stopped the topple. I could have saved the Center. I didn't. I sat back and watched it all melt down, watched its director melt down. I resigned. I walked away, just like I have in the past. I have never once gone "down with the ship". When the Corps leader asked me to die, I said no and I left. When the director of the Center told me to deal with it or resign, I quit that too. I'm a coward. I would believe that.

And then I read that one email I saved from the rubble. The one I put in a box away from the pissing match that said, "You've been very courageous and professional." Held onto it for dear life. From a stranger who barely knew me, those words meant more to me then and now than a thousand "I love you"s from a man who couldn't be further removed from their meaning.

What's amazing to me is that I don't miss him. Somehow, in my mind, I've learned that "him", the person, never existed. But I miss the validation. And the closeness. And the realism. I never thought you could fake those things. But you can. And lots do.

And well...I have become comfortably numb, I suppose. But you miss the human piece of it all, and it hurts sometimes.
And there's the guilt.
Because the only actions you can be responsible for are your own.
I get mad when people don't assume their responsibilities.
I'm sorry.

For whatever it's worth, for whoever you are, were, or will be, I'm sorry.
I'd give anything to have the superpower of the inability to hurt someone.
Because I understand what it's like to hurt for something. And real or imagined, everyone...EVERYONE...understands pain.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Sunglasses and Shame

These are the days your annoyingly cautious self warns you about. The days when you can be alone for hours at a time with that all-too-familiar person...yourself...and the wheels in the sky get to turning.

I don't know if its depression or a craving for the chaos that is decidedly absent from my life, but something in my head clicked when I got up this morning.

I had been dreaming about the Corps.
I had been dreaming that, in a twisted reunion of sorts, the leader and my ex-therapist had gotten together in a think tank and hidden their identities until my arrival at this dingy basement-place that looked like an unfurnished version of my parents' house. Demanding to know what I had been up to. Didn't I know the End Days were coming? And where in fuck were my sunglasses?

Sunglasses. That was the word. The cryptogram. I woke up with images of creepy people in sunglasses all day long.

Sunglasses were often worn by the inner circle of the Corps. There was good reason for it. Often, members of the group had to cope with some kind of trauma...real, recent real, imagined, partially imagined...of course, who knows what was and what wasn't...and it was important that no one interrupted anyone else's suffering progress. The idea was that you had to suffer through to become stronger. You could talk about it, sure, but you had to be careful to discuss it in terms of I/me and not use names or images of others. That was gossip. That detracted from the intimacy of the conversation you were having with a fellow member.

Say, for example, you had an abusive boyfriend before entering the group. You could discuss the pain you felt, the reactions you had, the general history. But you couldn't mention the abuser's name. Couldn't speak the names of the friends who helped intervene, or hurt you along the way. The only person you were permitted to talk about was you, and maybe the person directly in front of you with whom you were carrying on the conversation with. There were a few reasons for this. First, it drew you more intimately toward the member you spoke with- they were forced to limit themselves to only talking on the deepest of personal levels. Second, it heightened your empathic awareness...when someone speaks on such an intimate level, it becomes far easier to place yourself in the shoes of their suffering and offer comfort. Third, it forced everyone to come to terms with the rawness of their own personal lives and how things came to be where they were now.

But when the conversation was over, and your face was swollen from the agony of "lifting the burden", you put your sunglasses on and acted as if nothing happened. Normal people wouldn't understand. "Why are you crying?" Was really such a superficial question to the untrained eye. No one truly wanted the answer to the question, not long enough to stick around and solve it, or mitigate it, or even rationalize it. Your true kin were the people that would listen, with no judgment, and integrate your suffering into their pursuance of the path of Truth.

When I think back to my sunglasses days, I remember only a handful of times I ever practiced the doctrine. I was pretty good at ironing out the crinkles in my face from pain; I often told myself it was a divine gift that I could keep the secrets shared within the circle I belonged to. But there were days where I needed them. Like the day my leader confided in me his experience of being molested.

It was late afternoon. It was after school. We were just high school kids, barely driving age at this point. And he had been wearing his sunglasses for two weeks straight. I mean straight- unless the teacher took his sunglasses away from him, that's what you would see in class. I understood. When you suffered, you didn't want anyone else's eyes looking into yours. You were preserving the sanctity of your soul. People would stare weirdly, and I would think, "You just don't understand; if you took just a minute to ask, you'd see how beautiful the whole thing is." At least I liked to believe I thought that. But when people asked me, I would shrug, embarrassed, and walk away, caving to peer pressure and removing my glasses.

He sat me down, in a corner far from most building administration. We liked to be alone where we felt we could talk freely, and after school provided a great service in that. He held my hands as he slowly removed his glasses. He looked tired- like he hadn't slept in days. I pleaded with him to talk to me, to release some of the pain. He looked at me with his heavy, serious eyes, and said with great measure,

"If I open up to you about this, you will suffer too. What I am about to tell you will hurt you because of the love you feel for me. Please understand that I don't want to hurt you. But you will feel a lot of things, things I may not be able to help you with. I don't know how strong I can be for you. And telling anyone breaks our intimacy. You understand the burden you place on yourself?"

I nodded, swallowing hard. It was true that I loved him a great deal, would give anything for him. Now more than ever, I needed to be there for him.

He began to tell me of the molestations that took place in his home, while we had been romantically involved. He gave little detail, because with each suggestion of an act, he would grimace as if he were about to be sick. I, in turn, would hold him, rock him, rub his back and hold his hair in case he were sick. Inside, I burned crimson. Inside, I was being shredded apart. He was right. I was hurting for him.

I remember demanding names. I remember screaming all the sensible sentences in the world- "Wont you let me call someone for you? Why didn't you tell me then? Why won't you tell me who it is?!" He would laugh quietly to himself, pat my hand gently, and tell me that if I knew who it was, he feared I would kill the person. And while it was true that if I knew who it was, malicious thoughts would come to mind, I doubted very sincerely that I could ever kill someone. Still, he shook his head.

In the midst of all this, when he finally finished talking, he leaned in and kissed me, deeply. I still remember that kiss. It stung- it physically hurt to feel his lips on mine, after hearing about all he had been through, and how he had waited so long to tell me...that I might have helped him, might have stopped it, had I ever known. I felt worlds away. I felt like the enemy. And then he spoke.

"Claudia, I want to thank you. For helping me. Your beauty is in the way you suffer for others, like a great sacrificial angel. Oh, darling, don't cry. Will you always cry so deeply when I kiss you, even after the beauty we share together?"

I felt like my body was filled with guilt and anger and sickness. I felt horrible for dumping him years earlier. I felt awful for doubting his pain, his mood swings. I felt like part of the monster in the story. I continued to cry. He hugged me, tightly, nuzzling my shoulder.

"It's all right, I'm better already. It's all right. Seeing you like this helps me to know that love still exists. You are beautiful and I shall always love you too. I know it hurts. Thank you for helping me."

I wore my sunglasses for three days after that.

It would later be discovered that, in all the pain and beauty of intimate conversation we had that day, my very words on those days would be used against me. Would I be willing to suffer the ultimate of injustices to truly understand? And would it matter? And would I go to the limit and carry the burden beneath my own sunglasses?

The glasses never did go back on after that week, but I cherished the need for them. The pain of real intimacy, of truth, of the window in the eyes that lead to the bleeding soul beneath. Those same glasses would stare me in the face and ask me if I was afraid to die in later years.

And those tinted shutters that hid more than I ever imagined I'd see.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Cult that Quit Culting for...Gaming?

I need to talk about it.

Slowly, casually, with measured words at first.
Then build it up into a motherfucking whipped frenzy of furious flurries of phrases that don't even make sense anymore.

I'm feeling things. I don't like feeling things. I like thinking things. I like tuning out to the sounds of a beautiful mind.

Feeling means fear. Fear is to be avoided.

But I'm angry.
And I need to talk about it.

It's a stupid reason to be angry. It's even a stupid thing to be upset about. But I'm angry anyway. And upset anyway. And I need to talk about it.

And there's no one to listen who will HEAR me.
So I'm here. Because one way or another, I. Need. To. Talk.

Because when your former cult leader disbands your cult and uses the name to create a goddamned gaming site...apparently that's what you do.

Years of my life WASTED in a group that decided that the fantasy realm was the safest place for them. Years of my life running from a death threat under this groups name, and his nefarious fake Christ leader.

I don't even know how to feel, really. I'm just shaking, or vibrating. I'm hot in my face and cold in my limbs. I'm sensitive and irritated by the little sounds around me. I'm remembering the guy that talked to my mother months ago, asking about me all creepy-like. Reading the on-screen image that he's the leader of this gaming site. In the same name as my old cult. That my old cult leader is now second in command to this guy. He's a moderator. A general. But not THE moderator, not THE general. Sensibly, I'm happy he's demoted, deflated. Sensibly, i actually hope hes just a casual gamer now. Insensibly, I'm absolutely baffled how a narcissist could stoop to being second in command.

And most Insensibly, I'm blown away that a gaming website would retain the same name and claim so much innocence to its operations. This group boasted about surviving the eventual End of Days...and its leaders are really going to pretend it's all been part of some kind of game forum?!

I feel that powerful wave of rage and doubt again, just like in the old days. I'm doubting that this website could be just what it says it is...I feel like it hides behind its guise and anyone who knew the history of V.C. Would snap this door wide open. I'm raging because if that's truly the case, people can get hurt, lead in, drawn to it under false pretenses and then manipulated until they leave the group.

And yet...what if I'M the crazy one this time?

Maybe they're not the same people. Maybe there are two people out there with the same name, the same age, and the same 1997 founding date of V.C. that they claim to have. This website started in 2012. Maybe it's all coincidence. Maybe I'm even wrong about what I believed I was a part of...

Maybe I should stop thinking about it. It's not harming me anymore, so what should I care anyway?

A goddamn gaming website. All this bullshit talk about God and the Truth and Open Honesty. And you take that name, however profane, and use it to hide behind in some fucking gaming community, mocking what little good I could have held it up to. Now you sit and drink Mountain Dew and wait for a bunch of zombies to click your little screen, either so you can pump them full of your fucked up riddles or pepper them with your game comtrollers. Either way, it's bullshit.

I'll tell you what. My experiences weren't a game. And they sure as hell weren't just some RPG shit that you talk about. I hope for your sake that you're being goddamn sincere on your site and you're not running some fucked up truth harem behind some World of Whatever goggles trying to sex your way into someone's brain. I HOPE you're actually BEING mindless. It would be a welcome change.

I'd still feel better if you didn't refer to yourselves as an army, though.

Bah. What do I care? If its not hurting me...
I'd talk about it if I knew how.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, March 29, 2013

Judas, Judgements, and Juvenile Religious Education

My best friend and I used to fight over who got to be Judas in our sleepover re-creations of Jesus Christ Superstar.

You may find it strange, but a couple of 7 year olds with a video camera and a shiny LP of the London Cast recording from the 1970s was all we needed when Good Friday came rolling around.

I've mentioned before that I was raised Catholic. And my mother did a wonderful job with that- from knowing the stories to answering the questions and only ladling in the guilt when necessary. Sure, she skipped the masturbation chapters in "It's Perfectly Normal" when I hit puberty, and maybe it wasn't entirely accurate that giving a boy a hug could get me pregnant, but she was just protecting my well being. And one of the ways she taught me the church rules was through song and story.

I saw Ted Neeley (the actor portraying Jesus in JCS) live on stage at the tender age of 8. Amidst a flock of die hard Christians and die harder music theater buffs, my mother and I squealed with joy that afternoon when we saw him onstage at the local symphony hall. The story always left me with questions, and Mom always dutifully answered as best she could. It was our best bonding time. That's why I suppose it's never been a surprise that I hold a fondness for the Catholic Holy Week.

There's Holy Thursday, with its last supper and the reading of script while 12 members of the church get their feet washed (a symbolic portrayal of the apostles), and Good Friday, the day Jesus dies and the church becomes barren and empty, with barely even the sound of chanting, and Vigil Saturday where everyone gathers in hope and music and prayer into the wee hours of the night, and then Easter Sunday, when all the usual folk come out of hiding and don their bests for the big celebration at church. As a musician, Easter Sunday becomes a special heralding, a call to duty and the chance to sing gracefulness to The Lord. Gigs on Easter Sunday have always been treated with reverence in my family and I too, find peace in performing on those days. I've seen the insides of hundreds of churches this way. It's special, heartwarming.

But I digress. It was those moments I had as a child that lead me to my reverence of Holy Week, and while I completely goofed this week by eating chicken salad this morning (no meat on Fridays), I still try to choose appropriately for the high holidays.

I have morphed as a Catholic, even as a faithful person. I spent 5 or so years in a pseudo-pagan cult; I spent a few years thereafter practicing solitary Wicca, and a few years practicing nothing at all. Though I married in the Catholic Church, I am still hesitant to state that I am Catholic...I do not really represent the modern viewpoints of today's Catholic Church. I relish a woman's right to choose when to become a mother. I don't believe that responsible use of birth control will damn you to hell. I even support abortion in horrifically extreme cases of abuse or rape. Once, I wondered what my mother- my dutiful Catholic mother, would say to me if she knew all these things about me. I did a brave thing- I asked her.

"Claudia," she said, in the calmest voice I have ever heard, "no church should der provide more than guidelines, really. I raised you as a Catholic because your father and I believe in raising children to be faithful, mindful people of God. I had to get you from Baptism to Confirmation and see to it that you understand why the values I teach you are important. After that, your religion, your faith, is your path to walk and I can't walk it for you. You will have your own personal experiences with God. It's up to you what to do with them."

I was stunned. With all the years gone by, here stood my mother, the dutiful Catholic, telling me to forge my own spiritual path.

"Why didn't you say this after my confirmation, or when I was 21 and having my spiritual crisis, or any of those things?" I asked, a little frustrated in this new approach.

"Because everyone's relationship with God is personal. Influencing it is unfair. You are an adult, whether I like it or not, and the best I can hope for is that you have a good relationship with God. That I've taught you to have a good relationship, and that you won't be easily swayed into pain or harm or malice."

Shame suddenly filled my face, but she was kind and aware, and added, "And that you know that even the best relationships have rocky moments and painful experiences. What matters is the connection."

Mom does not regularly attend church as she used to. She doesn't go to Holy Week masses any more, and she doesn't even force the family to go to Mass on Sundays. But I know she prays. And I know that every Good Friday, I can expect her to watch Jesus Christ Superstar on her TV as a reminder of the faith she was raised in, the faith she raised me in. I know she still carries God with her every day, praying and following in her own way. Because it IS personal.

My best friend and I are no more than Facebook acquaintances today, but we can still remember our Judas vs. Jesus rock opera battles and laugh. And my mother and I can smile over our sympathy for Judas in his plight to protect Jesus from sounding too much like a cult leader. It is immaterial to anyone else, but for us, it is special.

And for me, it is redeeming. That after so many years of questionable religious experiences, I can still find enough common ground in the simple things to declare that I know that divine must exist. It is enough. The old makes way for the new, and each year, while I may not worship the death of Jesus, I find my sins washed away in the subtle experiences of those old traditions around me.

Catholic, or whatever I may be, I am freed from my chains, and it is a Good Friday, indeed.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad