OpinionatedGift’s Click

I met OpinionatedGift through this blog and Twitter.  He left a nice comment, I clicked on his blog, read and instantly knew he was good people.  I have so enjoyed reading his thoughts and opinions over the last year.  He is a really good friend and someone I have a lot of respect for.  He was among the first group of people I asked to write a click story for me.  I’ve tried not to pressure him too much, but remind him every now and then that I’m still waiting for his click.  He always tells me he’s still thinking about it.  Last week I read the following post on his personal blog and I thought…that’s it.  I emailed and asked if I could share it here.  He kindly agreed.  You can follow him on Twitter here and read his blog here.

Twelve years ago this week I was spending my days going through my father’s apartment with my brother. Dad had shot himself on the 9th and his body was found by his oldest friend in New York on the 12th. Twelve years ago Wednesday.

Twelve years ago I was sifting through grief, memory and questions questions questions. Not the ones you might think. The fact is, when I got the call from my brother that the police had called him from Dad’s apartment, I knew what had happened. I’d hoped I was wrong. But I knew.

Mom said it best that night when we called to let her know. “He was always so sad”. It was true. He was also scared. Whatever the combination, he had a dim world view.

I loved my dad. He was basically a good man who never really dealt with his anger issues, his alcoholism or his strengths. A talented actor, he’d packed us up from Tucson Arizona, sold the Ford Falcon and got us on a train to New York City and went straight into substitute teaching and social work. His career as an actor was essentially small productions in holes in the wall (before the moniker “Off Off Broadway” was coined.) and extra work in movies.

As a kid I would listen while he would lament the vagaries of the business and how hard it was…and it instilled in me the belief that the business was indeed brutal. It didn’t stop me from wanting to be an actor. It didn’t stop me from thinking I could do better. But these things are insidious and the sins of the father are often visited upon the son. His beliefs did become mine and even when I achieved some pretty good if minor successes, my joy would be tainted by fear of the success not lasting.

Now to be sure, being an actor isn’t easy. It can be brutal, but I can see very clearly as I look back how my own thoughts and feelings that were inherited affected the way I approached my career and subsequently the way my career developed…or didn’t as it turns out.

Twelve years ago fears and doubts overtook my father to the point that he no longer was able to reason. This man who raced down the street with me…encouraged me to take the training wheels off my back when he knew I could. The man who when he saw I was floundering in my efforts to audition for the High School of Performing Arts bought a gazillion plays for me to look through and helped me find the right pieces and even coached me. A man who as a social worker had saved or improved as best he could, so many lives, wasn’t even able to remember a simple meditation technique because anxiety had overcome him.

He’d been given Buspar and started to take it, then stopped. 12 years ago it got so bad that he sat at the edge of his bed and ate the barrel of a .357 magnum. He left a note that was really more of an excuse than anything else. Fears of a cancer that didn’t exist.

Two weeks later, the girl he wanted to marry, a dancer from Japan was finally allowed back into the country. He’d become convinced it wouldn’t happen after months of legal back and forth. Fear of being alone and abandoned convinced him that his life wouldn’t work out as he desired. So it seems he decided to just stop trying.

12 years later I still wrestle with loving him and hating him. Remembering his capacity for compassion for everyone while he seemed to only have pity for himself. I am sometimes on the edge of forgiving him. And then I remember having to tell my daughter what happened. I remember how as she is now almost 20 years old, she can’t play chess because that’s what she used to do with Grandpa. I can’t quite do it.

For the past 12 years, for about 3 weeks before and after the anniversaries, he shows up in my dreams. Sometimes as if he’s never been gone, sometimes as if he’s only been on some trip in South America or something and we all just THOUGHT he was dead.I forget about it…forget it’s that time of year…sometimes even the days of his actual death or the day he was found go by entirely unnoticed. Sometimes not.

Twelve years later I can watch Dirty Harry make one line comments about his Magnum and still get a kick out of it. But when Heroes first aired and there was an episode with half a skull being cut off and brains removed, I get completely worked up.

I wrestle with fear too. And it’s not hard to see how it keeps me from acting. Clouds my thinking. I’ve made a decades long struggle of shifting from “can’t” to “can”. It hasn’t been easy.

Twelve years ago I cremated my father. Twelve years later I’m still cremating parts of his legacy so I can rise from the ashes.

Faith

I got back from vacation today and checked my email.  I have a great cyber-friend who challenges me from time to time.  Being the kind and respectful person that he is he never does it in a comment on the blog.  He had read yesterday’s Sunday quote from Notes from the Universe and just didn’t get it.  He expressed that the quote sounded like blind acceptance without any logic behind it.

I read back over that quote and sent an email back to him regarding what it meant to me.  I wanted to talk about it a little more here though.

I titled this post “Faith” because that is basically what it comes down to.  I’d say some people get put off by that word because they equate it with religion.  But the truth is we all have faith in a lot of stuff throughout our days.  We get in our cars to go to work in the mornings and we have faith that they will start and carry us safely to our destinations.  We have faith when we get our paychecks that we will cash them and they won’t bounce.  We have faith that our children will be safe when they are at school.  If we didn’t put our trust and faith in some things outside of ourselves we would probably go insane.  If we applied logic to every step we were about to make and thought intellectually about all the various ways that things could go right or wrong we’d probably be unable to actually take action on anything.

When things are bad we have to believe they’ll eventually get better.  I’d say most suicide cases happen because the person simply can’t step out and trust that their conditions will improve.  Change is inevitable.  Nothing is fixed.  Last week when I found that quote, I was having a particularly insecure day.  I was thinking about losses in the past and worrying they might happen in the future.    I was thinking logically.  Isn’t it logical that if one person I love leaves forever that another one might?  The effect of those thoughts was that by the end of the day I was curled up on my bedroom floor sobbing.  I’d let my monkey mind’s chatter trump my faith.

I do understand why my friend would have a hard time swallowing the whole “forget logic” idea.  For me the quote meant to stop over thinking things.  But I don’t think we should leave behind our common sense and intuition.   I think of my intuition and common sense as the navigation system for my faith (if that makes sense).  I trust that they will guide me and keep me out of trouble.  If someone calls me and offers me a “free” vacation my intuition radar goes off.  There’s no way in Hell I’m getting something for nothing and I’m not willing to sit through a sales pitch. It’s usually then that I use my common sense and hang up the phone.

I’m not going to re-post the quote, but to me it was just about having faith that even though I don’t see exactly how things fit together now that doesn’t mean they don’t fit together.   I do think that I am a “Being of Light” or expression of love.  I might not feel that way every day and especially not when I’m crying on my bedroom floor.  But it gives me peace and comfort to know that I can, have, or will make a positive difference in this world regardless of how small.  Every little bit counts.

Natalye’s Click

I discovered Natalye’s story while reading Jarrett’s blog (Jarrett’s click will post tomorrow).  Her strength and bravery touched me so much that I immediately contacted her on Twitter (@IamPhoReal) and expressed to her how grateful I was that she had shared her powerful story.  After a few days of tweeting back and forth, I asked her if I could post the story, “Damaged,” here on “Waiting for the Click.”  She agreed. Here is her story just as it appeared on Jarrett’s blog.

When asked by my best friend to write something for his blog, I thought to myself, I really don’t have anything of importance that I can write about. I haven’t written anything in so long, I forgot how to even put a paragraph together, much less a piece. I have never written anything that hasn’t been inspired (besides status updates and comments on various subjects, but to me that’s just me vocalizing whatever I feel or like; and I talk TOO much. I feel I’m doing that now! lol). But while I was searching for music to put on my blip.fm account, I came across a song that got me through a very crucial time in my life. One song. One horrible moment in my life. And that one song healed me when not one person in life at the time could. (I know Jarrett that you said it didn’t have to be earthshattering, but I didn’t plan for it to be lol). I don’t want sympathy or pity. I’ve kept something in for a LONG time, and not only because it’s not what you call proper “dinner conversation”, but because I didn’t want anyone thinking I wanted someone to feel sorry for me. I’m a strong person in my eyes, but I also have some emotional damage that I didn’t know, up until a month ago, I still had. And I feel, if I can help just one person with my story, I can help myself with that problem.

In 1995, I was just starting my 2nd year in junior high (8th grade to be exact). I met a guy through one of my friends. Little did I know, that he was 23 years old. I “dated” him for a month before I thought I was ready to lose my virginity. When the chance came, I recoiled. Even though I thought I “loved” him, I just wasn’t ready yet. He was livid. He started yelling that he spent all this time & all this money on me to not get what he wanted. I was beaten.. and then, I was raped. I was left on the couch bleeding; and strong little me didn’t cry. I held myself together, called a friend, and left.

I deserved it, that’s what I believed. I shouldn’t have put myself in that situation, I told myself repeatedly. Months passed by. I was always angry. I got suspended for fighting. I bullied random people. I was arrested for shoplifting. I was lost. It was a classmate’s comment that broke me: “Nan (that was my nickname in jr high), you always made straight A’s. You’re making straight D’s & F’s now. What the hell would make you want to have people look at you like a stupid ass?” After that, I locked myself in a bathroom stall and cried. I hadn’t cried since before the incident. I went home that day and told my parents. I saw and felt a deluge of pain I thought didn’t exist outside of movies. What the hell do we do?

We decided to report him. To summarize the conversation, they said: It has been months Nan. If you had come forward when it happened, we would’ve had proof. It looks like it’s gonna be your word against his since you say there were no witnesses & you didn’t tell anyone of the incident. But hey, they did offer to have a counselor help me with my “problem” (insert brutal sarcasm here). I died inside after we left. I could even say that I didn’t just lose faith, I had faith in nothing & no one. It was while I was watching a movie that something cracked. It was a song. Not just the song, the lyrics caught my attention:

Healing comes so painfully & it chills to the bone
Will anyone get close to me?
I’m damaged, as I’m sure you know
..
I can’t go back, I must go on…

I listened to that song over, and over for the next month. And each time I listened, I felt more & more like I could feel. I can honestly say, music saved me from suicide. I laughed more easily. I attended a Christian school after. I had a REAL best friend (who is still my bestest friend til this day). Music saved me from a situation that has psychologically damaged TOO many women that it has happened to. I wouldn’t let that happen to me. Over the years, I’ve kept the fact that I was violated to myself. Situations would arise & I would bring it up so that people would understand why I react certain ways in certain situations. Some never understood why I didn’t see a psychiatrist. But to me, singers were my psychiatrists, songs were my prescriptions & lyrics were my painkillers. When I tell people this, they’re just whatever about it. But it’s true. And I’m blessed to have something so common, yet unbelievable, help me through a horrible time.

I know there are more common situations where women that have been raped never heal. I always believed I fully healed, but I’m still pushing people away who get too close to me. And yes, I do see I always do this, even to Brooke & Joni. Hearing that song again made me realize that in some ways I am bruised; but not damaged. I can’t go back, I must go on, I must remember that; Especially when it comes to all my great friends who want to be there for me & want to help me.

And indirectly, Jarrett, you asking me to write something was a blessing in disguise. I always thought telling people that I was raped would leave me raw & vulnerable. But it was a good thing. A great thing if I can help & inspire someone else. I hope whoever reads this sees that just because something bad has happened to them, does not mean in any way, shape, or form that they deserved it! And that with the help of those who love them and those who understand, & some beautiful music, they can heal & fully embrace themselves and bask in it. More easily said than done you may say, but as you can see, it can & has been done.

My life motto: Show Love With No Remorse (RHCP).. I don’t plan to stop now…