Episode 89: Anya Marina
The Singer/Songwriter opens up about her lifelong battles with body image, weight and food, as well as the complicated and overwhelming experience of being a part of the Twilight franchise (she wrote and performed the song “Satellite Heart” on the Twilight: New Moon soundtrack, and hosted a red carpet event). Anya’s songs have also appeared on Grey’s Anatomy and Gossip Girl. She ends the interview with a performance of her song “Miss Halfway”. Paul reads a response from the Shame and Secrets survey written by a mild-mannered housewife who shares about the abuse she suffered as a child and the endless murderous fantasies that play in her mind while politely chatting at parties.
Welcome to episode 89 with my guest Anya Marina. I’m Paul Gilmartin and this is The Mental Illness Happy Hour, an hour of— Not an hour, it’s actually an hour or two of honesty about all the battles in our heads. From Medically diagnosed conditions to every day compulsive negative thinking. This show is not meant to be a substitute for professional mental counseling, it’s not a doctor’s office, it’s more like a waiting room that is hopefully— You see, I’m tired of saying ‘that hopefully doesn’t suck’ because, you know, a listener pointed out that the show is better than being categorized as something I hope doesn’t suck and it kind of opened my eyes and I went ‘it is a good show and people do like it’ and I’m gonna call it something else. More like a waiting room that is hopefully populated by people you find interesting and entertaining. And hopefully you feel a little less alone and a little less fucked up. And that may be the worst two sentences I’ve ever spoken in my life. That was wordy, and it— (laughs) I so want to go back and edit right now. I’m really trying to be less obsessive about the “mistakes” I make because I imagine the audience waiting for things to pounce on, to pick apart and email me about. And I know there are people that do that, but I forget that the overwhelming majority of you out there root for me and root for my guests. So I’m going to try not to be obsessive about this stuff, but it’s fucking hard! What did I want to tell you? The website for this show is Mentalpod.com, there’s all kinds of good stuff there. You can post in the forum, there’s a half a dozen surveys I have there that really let me get to know who you guys are. And you can read how other people filled out the surveys too, it’s really fascinating. Especially the Shame and Secrets survey, that’s where people let go of their shame and secrets and it’s quite illuminating. Oh, I know what I wanted to tell you! We have a winner for the cutting board that I made. I’m starting to do raffles for the monthly donors to the show and last week I picked a number between 1 and 500 and then I had monthly donors email me their guesses. If you’re $5 a month donor you get one guess, $10 a month donor you get two guesses, such and such. I’ll mention that again at the end of the podcast. And so I picked a number and Catherine Gonsori was the winner. I picked the number 347 and she guessed 346. There was actually two people who guessed 342 until yesterday and then Catherine puts her guess in and just bends those two over a holiday table and gives them good pegging. How does that feel? Right on the verge of a free cutting board! Put that baby out, put your treats on it, the neighbors are like ‘What? What is that magical thing? Where did that—?’ That’s from my personal friend Paul Gilmartin. And they’re like ‘who?’ Even in my fantasy I have to shit on myself. That took a terrible turn! I went from shitting on you, to shitting on me! I don’t like that! I do appreciate you monthly donors, all kidding aside, it means the world to me you guys. So, I’m doing it again this week. I’m going to make another cutting board. So I’ve picked a number between 1 and 500 and whoever guesses closest to it you get the cutting board and I’ll announce the number with next week’s episode. And again, it’s for the monthly donors only. God, could I have dragged this out more? Now I picture about 1,000 people about ready to turn this show off and I don’t think I’m that far away. I— You know what I wanted to say? I don’t know how to put this… I’m happier than I’ve ever been in my life and I’ve shared before; I’ve never made less money and I’ve never been fatter and I’ve never been happier. Especially between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I feel fucking great. My passion is back for woodworking, I’m making a table for a friend of mine that is the wood from the tree that used to be in our front yard and I dried it for like a year and cut it into slabs. I just feel so fucking lucky and I think what I wanted to say was: before I started getting in to support groups and treating my addiction and really delving into therapy, I thought that my way to survive in life was to know as much information as I could and that that would protect me and my intellect would keep me safe. I’ve realized that while facts are cool, truth is really what I’ve been after my whole life. The truth of what makes us tick. You know, I had to discover the truth of what was driving me and after doing a lot of work on myself I came to realize that the truth that was driving me was that I was that I was afraid that I wasn’t enough, I was afraid that I was unlovable, I was afraid that I didn’t matter, I was afraid of living a life that was forgettable, a life that had no meaning. And I was afraid of being left behind, I was afraid of everybody doing better than me. And that is what drove me. And it’s taken me a decade of working on myself to uncover that truth and if you’re out there and you’ve got a great life on paper and you’re a smart person but you feel like there’s an emptiness in your life, like something is missing from it, I understand you! I understand you! And there is hope, but it doesn’t lie in becoming more knowledgeable. Our intellect cannot bring us peace. An intellect is a beautiful thing given to us by the universe but it is not our savior. And in many ways it can be our enemy because we look to it to save us and we think that some profound truth is going to be reached intellectually when in reality those truths can only be accessed through getting vulnerable. Through admitting that we don’t know and by asking for help. That’s what I wanted to try to say. And I think that humility is the shortest route to truth and love is the best way to stay there.
(Opening theme plays)
PG: I’m here with Anya. Am I pronouncing that right? Anya Marina?
AM: Yes! Exactly right.
PG: All of a sudden— It’s like we’ve been sitting here talking for like the last hour and I’m like ‘oh my god, maybe I’m not even pronouncing her name right!’
AM: What is your name?
PG: She is a wonderful musician who most people would know from doing a song called Satellite Heart from the New Moon, the movie New Moon, Twilight New Moon. Her music has also been on Grey’s Anatomy, a bunch of other TV shows. Am I missing other big things that people would know you from?
AM: Maybe the threesome scene in Gossip Girls, Whatever You Like my cover of T.I.’s. Whatever You Like is one of my claims to “fame”. Perhaps everyone caught that, I did not catch that but I’ve heard that it was a much viewed episode of Gossip Girl.
PG: Awesome. How did we connect? Did you—
AM: We had anonymous sex in an alley. (laughter) You don’t remember. I guess I was not memorable. No, I listen to— Here’s the thing, I tour a lot. I’m going to be lying back on this couch in this weird position that I’m in because I pinched a nerve in my neck Paul.
PG: That’s alright. I was sharing with you that I did something to my neck last night too, so it’s mummy interviewing mummy.
AM: I’m like Weekend at Bernie’s over here. I feel like a corpse. But I tour the country in my car, in my rental car playing nightclubs, you know. And so I listen to podcasts a lot. I don’t remember— I think I first heard you probably on What the Fuck and then I got— I don’t remember. Or maybe I met Steve Agee or something recently and he was so nice and I saw that he had been on your show and I was driving from LA to Portland where I live and I listened to that episode and I was hooked. And I just kept listening to more and more. And I just thought ‘wow, what a great show. What a service you’re doing to others’. And I mean not only is it riveting, but of course I related and I identified so much and I just wrote you an email and told you how much I appreciated some of the recent episodes. You know, I think I was only four in at the time but, yeah man, I’m a fan!
PG: I remember now, it was an email and somebody’s episode had triggered something in you and you were walking into a building listening to it and you started crying or something. Is that—?
AM: I think that’s true. I can’t remember exactly what I wrote, but yeah, I think I was really moved by Morgan Murphy’s interview and I really identified with that so much and — Ahhhh! It was Theresa Strauser!
PG: How can you not sob—
AM: I lost it!
PG: When she talks about calling her dad, wanting to kill herself…
AM: I couldn’t— I can’t even— I think I might cry five or six times during this interview. I’m afraid of that. I’m a softy. I may or may not. I’m hoping I do. Let’s roll the dice.
PG: By the way, that episode with Theresa was the listeners’ favorite of 2011 and for good reason. It’s a great episode. So those of you who haven’t listened to it, go check it out, it’s really good.
AM: Yeah, that was beautiful. It made me want to call my dad. You know, and it was just such an important thing to hear. Those of us who have thought or even tossed around the idea of not being around anymore. You know, just to think about the people you leave behind and— I can’t even continue this sentence because I might lose it and we haven’t even begun.
PG: Well, let’s start with that. What was your relationship like with your parents growing up? Your parents are university professors correct?
AM: Yeah, correct. Very good actually. I sort of felt like— I identify with only children because I didn’t have a sibling until I was seven. So I was a very well loved and supported little girl growing up in the mountains of Northern California. I went to the one room school house. Kind of isolated a little bit —
PG: Are you sure you’re not thinking of Little House on the Prairie?
AM: No. It sort of felt like that at times. There were 30 kids in my school; K—6th. My mother’s Russian, she’s Anya, her mother was Anya, her mother was Anya and she and my father met in Russia in the ‘60’s at a party. He was an American teaching English for Ambassadors’ kids. He was avoiding going to Vietnam.
PG: So he decided to go right to the commie.
AM: Yeah, exactly!
PG: ‘Not only am I not going fight ‘em, I’m going to have finger sandwiches with them’
AM: Do you remember those ads for Kool cigarettes in the ‘70’s? It was like these billboards that said “I’d rather light than fight”. I keep thinking about that ad campaign—
PG: No! I don’t remember that!
AM: Anybody knows what that means? I keep remembering it was like a man and a woman side by side and she had this white almost like football player or fighter paint under the eye. Instead of black, and like a black smudge it was white? I always think about that and during that time and I don’t know whether it was a Vietnam reference or—
PG: Yeah! I think that’s absolutely what it was because instead of— She’d rather smoke a cigarette instead of go fight in the Vietnam war and I think it was also a reference to the old Tareyton cigarette ads which was a person “I’d rather fight than switch” and they had black eye and they were smoking Tareyton cigarettes.
AM: Was that like a rip off? Or was it the same company—
PG: I think it was both a play on Tareyton maybe and on the war.
AM: It’s almost like a domestic abuse thing too, like I’d rather light up a cigarette than fight with my husband because it was a man and a woman on the billboard. Anyway, those three of you that grew up in the ‘70’s that get that reference, check it out. So anyway, my dad, rather than beating them joined them and married a Russian. He bought her over. They fell in love over a Venn diagram actually. They barely spoke each other’s languages. I think that my mom was still married at the time to some guy that she didn’t even live with in her Russian dormitory at Moscow University and she had to get a divorce. He granted her a divorce in exchange for the boom box that she had borrowed from him. So she divorced Benjamin, this man in Russia and married my father. My dad drew on a napkin, he said “here’s me”, he drew a circle, and then he drew an overlapping circle and said “here’s you”, then he touched the shaded in area crossing over and said “and this is us, will you marry me?” and she fell for that!
PG: That’s beautiful though!
AM: Isn’t that sweet? It kind of is sweet.
PG: Yeah, kind of a beautifully, scientifically, dorky. You know?
AM: Well, he is a researcher. A clinical psychologist, counseling psychologist, retired professor of psychology. So anyway, yeah, my parents are academics. She came to the states, and she’s a physicist and she was a Russian Lit professor and then for years and years taught math and now she’s a retired professor and she teaches yoga and meditation. So—
PG: You know, sometimes people that emigrate here piss me off, because they accomplish more with the second language than most of us do with it as our first language in a lifetime. And sometimes I’ll look at people and they’ll come over here and learn the language and go to medical school! Like I play hockey with a guy who’s Russian and he’s studying to be a neurosurgeon. He’s in his internship right now. He’s been here six years maybe.
AM: It’s incredible. She never gets tired of trying new things, learning new things, my mom, she— You know I really look up to her in a lot of ways. She’s like gardening and building… She’s always learning new and interesting things. My dad too.
PG: do you ever see her have moments when that dichotomy between what she knew growing up and what she experiences now? And will she point out to you how different it is from what is was in Russia? Because I would imagine—
AM: Oh absolutely, yeah. I mean she grew up with her whole family in one tiny room. Sharing a bathroom with four other families. When I really ask her about her childhood I realize she was incredibly poor but she’ll tell me all the time ‘we had no idea we were poor, we never had this notion that I was deprived in any way’. But she was! I mean she was like ‘for breakfast we would have a piece of bread with a little oil drizzled on it and sugar, and then for lunch we would have the same thing, and then for dinner we would have that with a little piece of maybe some bacon fat and some borscht’. I was like, ‘no wonder you were so fat!’ No, I’m kidding! ‘That’s a lot of carbs mom!’ No, we’ll get into that later. But, yeah, she was— She definitely— One of her first memories was coming to the states and saying how much food we had. Maybe these are just my memories of what she told me but that’s what she said was going to Safeway and sort of being immediately excited and nauseated by the amount of food. She said ‘I just remember all the tomatoes’. She said ‘I remember your father took me to Denny’s or something and he said ‘get anything you want’ and we ordered a steak and the steak came’— or he ordered a steak and it was like coming off the plate and she couldn’t believe it. And then she said, ‘I just’— It was breakfast time and she couldn’t believe that people ate steak for breakfast. He had ordered steak and eggs or something and she said ‘I just wanted a piece of my childhood so I asked the waitress ‘could I have soft-boiled egg? Just one soft-boiled egg and she brought the egg to me and I cracked it and it was hard and I just started to cry, I just cried. I just wanted soft-boiled egg and they couldn’t get it right’. They didn’t know what she meant, you know? I don’t know where they were, because soft boiled egg right? You idiots. So she had some trouble, you know.
PG: I can’t imagine what that adjustment must have been like.
AM: It’s funny, she just rolls with it now. She’s incredible. She speaks perfect English and she, you know, she got a Masters degree, a PhD. I can’t believe she had so many different careers, you know? She taught at Stanford for a little while, Russian literature. Taught at UC Santa Cruz, Russian Lit and then switched to math and was a professor of trig, algebra, and all kinds of stuff—
PG: That’s fucking unbelievable.
AM: I know it’s crazy! And now she teaches meditation and Iyengar yoga in Northern California.
PG: Wow, well let’s talk more about you. So you grew up and you felt safe in your house? Yes? No?
AM: I did! I think it’s funny, I think I was a fearful child. I’ve always had a sense of a lot of fear. I had a lot of trouble sleeping over at people’s homes and I think about why that was. And I’m not exactly sure why. I remember my dad always telling me, sort of joking around ‘you inherited the worry wart gene from, you come from my side of the family Anya, is a long line of worry warts’. And they’re really a relationship of opposites. My mom was very much like go with the flow, kind of that airy yoga personality. Maybe it comes from growing up in Russia where things were so hard. She’s not your typical cold Russian at all, she’s very warm, very positive. And my dad is much more— He’s up at four in the morning every morning writing me emails or writing anybody emails.
PG: Very much in his head, very analytical, very— Deals with things with ration and intelligence and ‘let’s solve the problem’.
AM: Yes! And it works for him in a lot of ways. So I think I grew up with both of those things going on in me and kind of feeling like maybe it was passed on genetically. It wasn’t until I was older and in therapy that I realized that those things don’t have to be passed on. That was the message that I got a lot was that I was a worrier and that it was in my blood, it was in my genes. And I was a worrier! I was afraid to sleep over, I was afraid to— That things would happen to me, that I would be kidnapped—
PG: Well, if you read some of the shame and secrets survey you should be afraid as a kid sleeping over at people’s houses.
AM: That’s true! You’ve just given me more food for thought. I’m glad I never slept over at your house Laura.
PG: Of course that’s the minority of people’s experiences but stuff does happen.
AM: It does, that’s true. But for the most part I did feel very safe and I knew that I was loved and, yeah, I felt good. One of my earliest memories that I think about now where I think I started— there was a little crack in that was I remember my dad carrying me down the stairs— I never wanted to sleep alone so I would always fall asleep in my parents’ bedroom with them. And I remember my dad carrying me down the stairs and saying ‘how much do you weigh?’. And I was half asleep and I said— I think I was like nine or something and I was always kind of like a smaller kid, you know. I was always called shrimp, I skipped a grade so I always had this feeling that I wasn’t caught up yet, or I was a shrimp or I was smaller, you know, or I was not ever as big as or as cool as the big kids, all that stuff. And I remember saying ’49 pounds’, I don’t know how I remember this. And he was like ’49?’— Or no, I go ’48 pound’ and he said ’48?, well when you get to 49 that’s it, I’m not carrying you down the stairs anymore, you’re too heavy!’ And now as an adult I realize the cuteness and the playfulness of that and it’s no big deal. But at the time, this message really went right to the core of some part of my brain and I never forgot that. And I was like ‘stay small, if you want to be close to dad’.
PG: Oh my god!
AM: Isn’t that weird? Or it was like ‘don’t grow up’ and I was always fascinated and obsessed, as I’m sure all kids are, with Peter Pan, the story of Peter Pan, you know, the Lost Boys. I always wanted to be a Lost Boy. I never wanted to grow up and in many ways still consider myself a young soul and, you know, a late bloomer. I graduated at 16. Because I skipped a grade going to this one room schoolhouse— For some reason I learned to read early but they tried to put me in, you know they wanted to accelerate me in whatever grade because I was gifted, I guess, at that point. You know, and then in high school I wasn’t anymore, but it was sort of too late to be held back a grade so I just graduated along with everybody of the older kids, but at 16. So I always had that sense that I was smaller, younger, or not as experienced. But, yeah, that sort of message echoed its way through a lot of my growing up and I had a lot of issues that centered around that. Wanting to stay small, wanting to be thin, wanting to not grow up, wanting to— Adolescence was really tough for me!
PG: Well thank god you then entered the freedom of being and American woman and the comfort with your body and the media.
AM: Yeah, I mean, it was rough. I remember reading a ton of books about— I was always fascinated with ballerinas, I read Gayle C. Kirkland’s autobiography, I was obsessed with Karen Carpenter. I didn’t even know it at the time, why I was drawn to that. I still don’t know exactly what it is. Maybe they’ll find out some day that it’s genetic, that things are—
PG: I watched a— about two minutes— It was a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie and the lead character, a girl, and it was the 3D animation— gigantic boobs, and I think she was supposed to be 13, 14, maybe 16 years old, gigantic boobs and a waistline smaller than what would be somebody’s ankle. And it just made me angry. Like ‘really? You have the choice how you want to portray what a girl— what a young woman should look like to children and you’re going to show somebody with a waist the size of a fucking ankle’. And—
AM: Yeah, it’s really destructive and confusing. It really is. Hopefully you get messages that can balance you out because you’re just bombarded with that stuff as a kid, as a woman, growing up and it’s probably worse for kids now.
PG: And that stuff is bad for men too. A lot of men have body dysmorphia, a lot of men and it’s not talked about. I know a lot of guys that have a completely warped sense of how they see themselves and they exercise to the point of complete exhaustion. They starve themselves, they think they’re fat. It’s not just women.
AM: Yeah, absolutely. I’ve definitely met a lot of people who I’ve shared my problems, you know, men and women. All shapes and sizes, all ages.
PG: And we can blame the media all day, but ultimately, there’s a personal responsibility that you have to take on and at some point you have to say ‘ok, yeah, I’m living in a culture that it’s fucking hard to feel good about myself in. What control do I have over it?’ To just sit there and go ‘I’m going to let my disease or my anorexia, whatever it is spiral out of control and I’m just going to keep blaming everybody else for it’, that’s also fucked up.
AM: Yeah. Totally.
PG: And has anorexia ever been an issue for you?
AM: You know what? Not, no, I mean not in a direct way. I never really— I think my real core disorder is probably obsessing and negative self-talk. And the way that it manifests itself has been through more of like an obsession with my body, food, managing my body, managing my food, managing my exercise rather than actually doing anything about it. It’s more the spinning about it, the mental spinning about it. And that has gone in and out for me in my life and so I’ve been graced with long periods of having absolutely no problem with that stuff. And then it’s come up again for me. And I remember thinking ‘I thought I was past this’. Like a lot of women it really started up for me in adolescence where I didn’t want to get boobs, I didn’t want to get hips. A lot of girls did want that, they couldn’t wait to get their periods. I just remember ‘I hope it never happens, I hope it never happens’. I don’t want to have boobs. And then I went through periods where I liked it and it was fun to be a woman, it felt good to be in my body. But yeah, whenever I felt vulnerable or scared it was when my go to thing to manage, or freak out about or obsess about would be my body, or my diet, or my exercise plan. It was always related to this vessel that I was in. I always felt somehow like— from the youngest age I can remember that I was really connected to my body. Some people aren’t. But I knew where my spleen is, I knew where my liver is, I could feel— I knew when I was ovulating. I always felt very, very connected to my body. I’d be in a great mood if I went to the bathroom in the morning. And if I didn’t, I was in a shitty mood all day. So I was always very dependent on—
PG: You had expectations about when your body should do and be and how it should feel.
AM: Yeah, and I had this illusion that I could control it. And we have periods where we can, we think we can. We have a little more control over it than at other times. But really, in reality the frightening thing for me was that I don’t have any control over it. And I don’t have control over what I eat. I thought I did at times, but if I try to manage or control it I would— I came to a point in my life where I realized ‘I can’t control this’. I don’t know— I can’t even control not starving myself at times. So I went through years and years of being in and out of that where, you know when I had a boyfriend, it was someone who I was completely in love with and infatuated with for like 8 years. It was the, maybe, love of my life at that point. And I would have no issues at all whatsoever. I’d feel great in my body, great, happy, everything was functioning perfectly. Never would have issues with it. And I’d think ‘great! I’m cured! This was sort of what I needed, this guy! He was the cure-all, he was the fix’, you know? And then the relationship ended and I got beautifully thin, smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee and crying and breaking into his email, you know, or whatever for two years. And then it started— and then I would have great ideas that would come up. I’d be like ‘I should do this fast everybody’s talking about, that’s gonna fix things’ or you know, ‘I should get into this training program’. So it would come—the disease I guess, it would slither its way into my life through these great ideas. And, that was fine for me for year and I kept it within the lines. It never got into disorder territory. Frankly it looked like normal American female behavior. You know. And, then a couple— then my music careers sort of blossomed. I had some success. I had a little modicum of fame.
PG: Was the first thing getting the song on Greys’ Anatomy? Was that the first one?
AM: Yeah. I was a disc jockey in San Diego. I was on the air for years as a broadcaster and just as a hobby I was doing some songwriting and this love of my life boyfriend at the time had encouraged me to do it. So we were writing together, I was doing open mics, and he says ‘you should make a record, you should really do it’. So I make this record called Miss Halfway and somebody from Grey’s Anatomy, the music supervisor, heard it and said ‘I want to put it on the song’. I mean, ‘I want to put the song on Grey’s Anatomy’ and that really jump started my career. And she ended up years later signing me to her record label. So once—
PG: That must have been so exciting.
AM: It was! It was so exciting! My car was totaled at the same time. I had been in a hit and run overnight. I walked out one morning and my car door was smashed in and so I was driving this car, I was getting into the passenger side every day because the driver’s side door was smashed in. And I remember getting this call about Grey’s Anatomy’ and I was crawling into my car that day and I get this call ‘yeah, we wanna use your song on the show’ and that check paid for my current car that I’m still driving. It was a grey Volvo, which I named Meredith Grey after the lead character in Grey’s Anatomy because that show paid for it.
PG: That’s awesome!
AM: It was really, it was great. And as my therapist says, ‘great things— just because something’s great and just because you get great news doesn’t mean it’s not overwhelming and upsetting’. So, I had a lot of overwhelming, exciting things happen to me over the next three years. I wrote— Just as a fluke, the director from Twilight New Moon, liked a song I wrote for the movie and hundreds of people submitted songs but he liked this one that I wrote, Satellite Heart, and it got in the film and that soundtrack was huge. Thom Yorke was on it, St. Vincent, and Grizzly Bear I think. It was a fun soundtrack to be on. I went on this tour for New Moon, this mall tour, it was in front of tons of screaming throngs of Twilight fans. It was a whole new world for me. I’d come from this coffee shop, singer-songwriter, you know, dirty night club world of playing rock shows and stuff and all of a sudden I’m playing for teens and moms and kids and stuff. And at the end of the New Moon tour I had to host this event, they asked me to host this event for MySpace, when MySpace was big and it was like the red carpet event for Twilight New Moon and they said ‘you were a DJ, you’ll be great at this cause you’re a host. We’re just going to have you host this red carpet event. There will be an Mtv VJ there and it will be no big deal and you can just interview all the people on the red carpet’ and I said ‘great, that sounds fun’. It came after 9 months of touring on the road alone in a car, no tour manager, selling my own merch, performing shows, setting up the next day, driving 9 hours, you know doing it all over again. Five hours of sleep a night, etc, etc. So I show up to this thing in Hollywood after being gone for nine months, exhausted. They hand me a binder, huge, filled with all these stars, headshots and little bios. ‘You go on the air in 20 minutes, be ready’.
PG: Oh my god. I almost shit myself. Seriously. That just— my stomach just— Maybe because I know that feeling; you’re about to go on air and a thousand fears go through your head and you don’t want to fuck up.
AM: It was the worst, it was the worst. I mean, it was such a great opportunity obviously and I’m sure I’m magnifying it in my mind to be way more that it was. But at the time, it was the worst. Doing it was actually really fun. I got through it in the way that we all can get through things. Luckily I was with the guy that knew what he was doing and it was great. So I was just the comic relief. Didn’t think for a second that I was thrust into this world of Twilight fans. You know, any franchise that has a ton of fans or anybody that has been in any arena that you’re out broadcasting in front of lot of people, you’re going to have a lot of haters. So I’d come from this world of radio where you get one or two hate calls a day ‘Hey Anya, you suck, I hate your voice, fuck you’— Can I swear on this?
AM: and that’s it.
PG: In fact, I’d like you to swear a little bit more.
AM: So I was used to some hate, you know, on radio in San Diego. Not four thousand Twi-hards or like moms, going ‘die, dumb cunt, please rt’.
PG: What? Are you serious? It’s not like your music has a hateful element to it! Your music has like a positive spirit to it.
AM: That’s true, but I was on the red carpet as a talking head holding a microphone when Kristin Stewart was walking up and I’m going ‘hi, you look adorbs, love your dress. Tell us about the movie” and when you’re a singer, you’re just supposed to be a voice in a microphone and put out cd’s and go away and be a mysterious, ephemeral little spirit that we can all fantasize about what you’re really like. You’re not supposed— you know we don’t really know a lot about most pop stars really, or musicians really. So not a lot of people— there are people that do both, but if you’re in the world of comedy or entertainment, you’re doing that. You’re not really doing anything that’s more in the serious realm of things, so there I was with a foot in both things and not everybody like it so I got a lot of that ‘why don’t you stick to music bitch’. ‘why are you hosting this red carpet event when you don’t even know the people’s names, you should have researched it more, etc, etc.’ So that was my biggest moment, that was—
PG: So, your stomachache was justified when they handed you the binder!
AM: Yes! I was not prepared—
PG: They didn’t give you time to prepare. Who can memorize a binder in 20 minutes?
AM: Nobody, correct. But I did my best and it was not horrible, I did not watch it, but I’m sure that if it exists somewhere it’s alright. I heard Jennifer Love-Hewitt liked it. So if you’re listening, Jennifer, thank you. But yeah, it was just a thing, it was no big deal and I put way more emphasis on the negative feedback that I got— I got a lot of positive feedback too, but it was the biggest—
PG: If you’re a worrier the positive doesn’t matter because the negative is your food. That’s what you use to feed the machine in your head. And as much as you can tell yourself ‘hey, there’s more positive than there is negative’, it’s like a dog’s diet; when you’re used to eating a certain thing, it doesn’t matter what the treat is, it’s that meal that you’re just going to be drawn to that because it’s what your used to putting in to your body and it’s so fucked up. You can tell yourself intellectually ‘you should ignore these people, they’re just haters’ but it affects you on a cellular level that you can’t— How do you deal with it?
AM: Well, at the time I stayed inside, I ordered zankou chicken and ate a lot of hummus and stayed in my pajamas for four days crying and kept reloading the page, and reloading the page, and reloading the twitter page and just reading these things. And then finally, I remember—
PG: So you feasted on the machine’s food.
AM: I think I did, I think I just went through my, at the time, normal cycle of probably starving myself all day because I didn’t deserve food in my mind. And you know, I was a fat fuck, or whatever I was thinking at the time. And by the way, at the time, I was. I was heavier and I was not healthy and I’d just come from the road where it’s so hard to be healthy. I was so out of whack physically, emotionally, I had no spiritual compass, I was drinking at the time. I’m getting choked up now, I’m just feeling so sorry for that poor girl, because I was just so sad and lost at that time. Pretty much my guide was just Twitter or my phone, I didn’t want to talk to my family, so I just isolated—
PG: How can that not go bad?
AM: It was bad.
PG: How can that not go bad?
AM: and then I just started to catch myself— I remember I was living in Hollywood near Larchmont and I was living in this beautiful apartment on the fourth floor and I remember I had gotten on tour— I was doing these really long drives and somewhere on the drives someone said ‘why don’t you try this? This will help you stay up.’ At the time I had flirted for many years with not drinking, you know, I barely did drugs, I can count the number of times I’ve smoked pot on two hands. I was like ‘oh, this is cool’, but it was essentially an amphetamine, this pill that I was taking, it was really helping me stay up. I’ll tell you what man, you can drive for like ten hours straight and I was making calls to all my friends with great ideas, and—
PG: An amphetamine, great pill for a worrier.
AM: I was getting in touch with all my old friends from high school on Facebook. ‘Hey! Three in the morning here in New Hampshire, just calling you on my drive to the next club, haven’t talked to you in a long time, I really want to get together’. The next morning I’m like ‘who the fuck did I call in Ohio, I don’t want to have anything to do with them’. So I’m like, whatever, I’m taking Adderall and living in LA, I’d just done this MySpace event that I thought I’d bombed. And I was just thinking, ‘you know what? Those windows are looking pretty good’ and then I’d catch myself and I’d go ‘what?’ and I had these repeated quasi-suicidal thoughts. And it wasn’t like I had ever thought that before, but I had this awareness that I was flirting with some murky— I was in this murky territory and I needed help. That was just a strange thought, to look at an open window and have that thought. I’d never had that thought pass through my mind before. I’m sort of conflating different events—
PG: I must be really fucked up, because I’ve never looked at an open window and NOT thought…And I’m being completely serious. Anytime I’ve been in a building where it’s an open window above a couple floors, I always think ‘what would it feel like to jump right through that thing’.
AM: yeah, that’s a scary place to be
PG: but go ahead.
AM: I was thinking it not in a passing way, but more like ‘this could happen. How could it happen? I could do it’. It was almost— You know, if you’ve ever done mushrooms and you’ve been stuck in one of those spirals in your mind and you can’t stop a thought from happening. A thought enters your mind and you’re like ‘fuck! Do not think that!’. That’s what happens to me when I’ve done mushrooms once in my life.
PG: And I think that’s the difference too, it’s not a passing thought of ‘what would it be like’, which I think is normal. You were obsessing.
AM: Yeah, I would have the thought and then just keep thinking it. And I couldn’t get it out and then I would want to not have it. It’s like that unwanted thought syndrome Maria Bamford talks about. So anyway—
PG: Don’t picture your grandfather’s balls, don’t picture you’re grandfather’s balls, don’t picture your grandfather’s balls… “Grampa, how are your balls” Ahhhh!
AM: Yeah, so I had sort of a break down. I had a couple of break downs and some really bad panic attacks in public that really scared me and I reached out and I got help and then I moved out of LA. I thought I needed to get away and I wanted to work on the next record.
PG: Reaching out and getting help, what did that involve?
AM: I’ve been in therapy for years, so I called my therapist and we talked about maybe me getting on some medication. I had this one episode where I couldn’t leave my house, I couldn’t get out of my closet, I had locked myself in my closet. I was in there, like for hours, I had a gig in Fremont, California— No, I’m sorry, Sonoma, which is like an 8 hour drive from LA or something and I needed to leave by noon for an eight hour gig and I couldn’t get out of the closet and I was calling her at like 11:30 or something in my closet and I was like ‘I need to leave’. And it was a repeated pattern before tour. It started happening all the time before tour. I couldn’t pack a bag, it wasn’t the fear of flying or the fear of driving, it was just all these unwanted fears. ‘What if I get to the place and I don’t have the right CDs, what if I don’t have enough t-shirts to sell, what if—‘. It wasn’t even like I’m afraid to go on stage, once I got on stage I was fine. It was just ‘I don’t know if I’m going to be ok’.
PG: The fear of the unknown.
AM: Yeah. ‘What if I screw up? What if I’m judged? What if—‘
PG: ‘What if I let people down?’
AM: ‘What if people don’t like what they see or hear’
PG: What’s the biggest fear in your head? That your head paints of a scenario going bad. Just give me a walk through. Just open up that dark part of your brain and all of the things that go wrong from you leaving that closet to the gig being over
AM: It’s usually something silly, like ‘what if I—‘ It’s always my future self regretting something my past self has forgotten. This is a dumb one, but one night I was working with my last manager, I would always like obsessively bug him about, ‘make sure that the rental company knows that I’m a VIP member’ not because I care about being a VIP member, but so that I get the credit and I don’t have to worry about waiting in line. Like, I want to get right to the car. ‘So make sure you guys—‘I would just be one these people’s asses constantly, like, what’s that called where you’re—
AM: No, that term in the office, that person always managing?
AM: Yes, I was always micro-managing everybody on my team constantly and everybody was like ‘we’ve got it, we know your confirmation number, we put it in. It’s all in your tour book’. And I would hate to be on tour and be stuck in a city and like look at the tour book, because I had been in situations before where the number wasn’t there or I was left stranded at two in the morning without a rental car. But not a lot, like honestly, not a lot.
PG: But you’ve experienced that a couple of times, and you’re going on four hours of sleep and you don’t have the number to contact somebody and you’re stranded and you’re tired and you just want to fucking cry. You only have to experience that once to be terrified to experience of that happening again. I totally understand that.
AM: This is why I love podcasts like this and I love, with all my heart, comedians. I think they’re some of the bravest people in the world besides soldiers, because—
PG: I cannot accept that compliment, but thanks.
AM: And artists, and musicians. People who go into treacherous territory. And I’m going to write a song about this someday soon, but when you are singing or speaking on stage telling jokes or whatever. You are filleting your soul out. Even if it’s funny, ha, ha, whatever, you are having to go to a place in your life that’s very true and sometimes extremely painful. And then to go up on stage and to talk about it and to have the balls to open your mouth and first of all to face all these strangers, and then to try to be funny and to talk about it. As a singer I don’t have to be funny, I mean sometimes I’ll try in between songs to be mildly entertaining but like it is treacherous and dangerous to go up there and sing a song and not just phone it in but try to go back to the place you were in when you wrote it. When you were crying over that person that you miss that’s dead, or that left you, or you left, or you hurt. And to try to communicate those emotions to people because you owe it to them to communicate those things in a way that’s true, as true as possible, that is scary. And then to have to be at an Enterprise Rent-a-Car parking lot at two in the morning by yourself with four bags that you just carried and some drums, and to be starving to death, and all of that shit that goes into it too. That’s also not fun and not easy and people don’t respect that, a lot of people do not respect artists. They don’t think about what they have to do and I think that’s the shit that needs to be thought about. That these people who you’re seeing in comedy clubs or night clubs or whatever, they go through a lot of shit to be there.
PG: The part that bothers me the most about performing and kind of being vulnerable on stage was the people that would be just completely dismissive of you. Because I think you’re right, when you’re sharing your creativity, you’re sharing something— What you’re saying is ‘here’s something that’s important to me, that I think is worth listening to’ and when you have somebody say something out loud like ‘next’ or something kind of hurtful— Some of them might even think they’re being funny because you’re a comedian, but it always bothers me when people are in the front row of a music show and they’re talking loudly to each other. I just want to smack them, because it’s like that musician is up there, you know, sharing something that they’re really proud of and you can’t walk to the back of the room to— ‘cause not only are you showing that musician that you don’t give a shit about them but you’re making the show worse for the person standing next to you trying to hear it.
AM: Yeah, that’s true. I’m not saying that I haven’t been that guy either at the show that’s like, you know, having a conversation with somebody in the back and then I’ll catch myself and think ‘you know, it’s shitty’.
PG: In the back it’s understandable. In the front row, that’s when it really pisses me off.
AM: It’s so weird now to be doing shows, because I remember five years ago the annoying people were the ones having conversations in the front row and now it’s just people are texting through the whole show or they’re YouTubing you, or very rarely they’re calling their friends to tell them they’re at your show but mostly they’re texting and sort of smiling at their phone through the whole show. They’re not even watching you, they’re just— And I can’t even be made at it ‘cause it’s just—
PG: It’s a generational thing
AM: It’s a different world now. And the times that I have picked on them and been like ‘what are you doing?’, they’re like ‘I’m just texting my friend that I’m at your show’ or whatever. People are multi-tasking, the weird thing is that they’re not— And I catch myself doing this all the time. They’re not in the moment enjoying what’s in front of their face.
PG: Yeah, they’re not fully present.
AM: They’re like ‘I’m at this amazing show, checking my Instagram feed.’ I do it all the time! I mean I’m not free from this either.
PG: Is it that we’re afraid that we’re gonna miss a moment or somebody— We’re gonna be left behind. It’s like it’s this rat race of who is having the cooler life and we have to post the results of our life so that people know we’re not lame and left out.
AM: That’s cool, that’s perceptive. Sometimes— I mean that might be the motivation. Lately I’ve been catching myself now that I’m free from my old cycle of self-abuse, dieting, and all that shit. I find that the “disease” comes out in these other weird ways. Like I was just spending a really beautiful weekend with my family in Baja and I kept catching myself wanting to go inside and just look at Instagram pictures of these strange people and the people are like, they’re into food, they’re like foodies or they’re like workout people that I don’t know and I’m just like obsessively staring at what they’re eating and what they’re doing with their meals and I realized it’s calming me down. It’s like this anxiety— It’s like ‘oh, ok, that’s what they’re doing’ and it’s this way that I can calm myself down in a healthy way. Maybe it used to be going and having sex with someone, or it used to be having a glass of wine on the porch, or it used to be smoking a joint, or it used to be like sexting someone, or whatever. Or like running, running for two hours, or, you know, going to a hot yoga class once and then running for an hour and going to another hot yoga class. It used to be that, but now it’s staring at someone’s Instagram feed who I don’t know and just looking at all their weird meals. That does the same thing, it calms me down, it checks me out of life for a little bit so I have to be aware of it and go ‘oh, you don’t want to be talking to your dad right now or you don’t really want to be participating in a conversation with these people that just came over for dinner because you’re scared, you’re having social anxiety, so you’re going to check your Instagram feed.’
PG: Yeah, that makes perfect sense to me and I think that’s what’s happening with a lot of kids is— You know, everything can be boiled down to when we do things that we don’t want to do or things that we can’t control. It’s our way of dealing with feelings that are overwhelming. And there are no feelings that are bad, that are wrong, there’s just healthy and unhealthy ways of dealing with those feelings and so what are you going to choose? And most people and kids especially, don’t know a healthy way to deal with feelings that are overwhelming, so you check your feed. You get on Facebook obsessively or you make yourself throw up or you—
AM: Yeah, that’s been one of the hardest practices for me to start doing. Just checking in about my feelings everyday makes— It made me roll my eyes 13 plus months ago when I got myself some help with support groups.
PG: For food issues?
AM: Yeah. I had moved to Portland— I kind of left off my story, but I had moved to Portland, Oregon to write a new album and I thought it would be a good idea for me to get out of LA. I love Los Angeles so much and I have so many friends here, but I noticed I was really focused on appearance and I just had lost my sense of home somehow and I wanted a home. I went to Portland and it felt like home. I bought a home and I just really got rooted there. I had a garden and, you know, I got out of Hollywood for a while which I just needed to do. And then the thing came back again! I couldn’t escape it. I was in this six week long thing where I just wasn’t eating all day. It was a great idea. Another great idea. Another—
PG: What would you feel when you would decide not to eat? Would there be a euphoria from it?
AM: A little bit, but usually I was pissed off. There was just sense of— The hallmark of it in the beginning was hope. The hallmark is the sense of hope, like ‘I found the answer! This is what’s going to fix everything! Oh my god, this is so great! This is what will fix everything. I’m just about 7 pounds overweight and…‘. Or, I’ve had lot of food allergies too, that was always like ‘I know! I’ll eliminate this thing from my diet and that will go away’. When you have allergies and they just come from out of nowhere, and my experience of my story such that after abusing drug pills and my body for so long traveling, my body did rebel. And my body did develop all of these allergies and I had something called celiac disease and I didn’t know that that runs in the family.
PG: What an awful thing. It’s an allergy to gluten and you don’t know at first that that’s what’s making you sick and so you eat bread and will get incredibly gassy or diarrhea and you’re driving in a car cross country. I can’t imagine how awful that must have been.
AM: Yeah, and it’s in so many things I didn’t know. You know, I’d go out for sushi and be eating what I thought was just really clean. I didn’t know it was in soy sauce, it was in malt vinegar. It was in all these random things, so I was getting sick all the time and feeling like my body was rebelling and I couldn’t control it and so I had eliminated virtually everything from my diet at this time. I think at that time I was eating like sardines, cabbage, and broccoli or something. And that—
PG: Did you know you had celiac at that time?
AM: I knew, yeah, I think—
PG: Because doctors can test for it.
AM: Yeah, I think at that time I did know and I had this sense of— That euphoria ‘yeah, I’ve got this under control, I’ve totally figured out my allergies and I just can’t eat anything’ and the solution is ‘I’m just going to eat sardines and green tea and cabbage and I’m great! This is a great lifestyle for me.’ And then, that also stopped working because if you starve your body of too many things it will— Your body is the smartest thing. I have a song on my new record called Body Knows Best and it’s sort of about this. It’s really about no matter what you do to fuck with your body it will fuck right back with you at some point FYI. So, I thought ‘I’ve got a handle on this thing and I will not eat until six o’clock every day’ and then that’s what I was doing for six weeks. It was working for the first three or whatever, I got to where I wanted to get to and then it stopped, as it will and I had another one of those panic attacks like I had in LA but this time it wasn’t in public, I was at home. And I couldn’t—my brain had like a short in it and I couldn’t function, couldn’t get up. I was literally on my knees in my kitchen crying and panicking. I had no idea if an hour had passed or what and just at that moment I got a text message from a friend who said ‘I’m going to a meeting, do you want to come?’ Now, this was not a meeting I had any interest in going to. I had, I thought, not anything in common with these people, but I was so desperate and it was so weird that it came at this moment, that I was like ‘yes, I’ll be right there’. So, I went with her to that meeting. I have no recollection of the meeting, I don’t know what it was about. I just remember crying and being like ‘oh, other people have shit too and we get to talk about it and I get to listen and it’s free and this is rad.’ And I got help that way little by little. And, I got out of it and I have not been on a diet or compulsively exercised or starved myself or binged in over 13 months. Now, granted, I was not like your typical binger or anything like that. I was totally flying—
AM: Right, exactly! I was flying under the radar as a pretty normal “person” who would occasionally have these strange things occur. Like going to visit my friend with brain damage in the hospital thought, ‘I’ll pick up some gluten free cupcakes for him and his family who are waiting in the ICU’, and—
PG: Interesting that they need gluten free cupcakes.
AM: Yeah, I know! None of them had celiac too, but it was interesting and I’m sure that I made a big deal about going to four different gluten free bakeries in Portland. And one of the things had fallen on the ground and within 30 minutes everything was gone or picked through because I had somehow— I don’t know what happened but that thing would happen sometimes where I was like ‘fuck, this brownie fell on this cupcake, well I’d better eat this cupcake—‘
PG: To straighten it out.
AM: Yeah, to straighten it out. And then that cupcake— ‘I can’t give them three cupcakes, so I’d better just eat all three and just tell them I couldn’t make it to the bakery’.
PG: It’s amazing the lies that our addiction can tell. It’s the most brilliant prosecuting attorney in the universe. It will come up with reasons why today is the last day that you will abuse whatever it is that you abuse; drugs, alcohol, food, sex, shopping, another person, whatever. And you believe it because it’s using your wit and your cleverness and your intelligence against you. It knows what your weaknesses are. It’s so— And you try to negotiate with it, but you’re negotiating in its neighborhood. You will never win trying to out-think a disease of thinking. And that’s why support groups are so important. Because it takes you out of that isolation and that thinking.
AM: Yeah, nobody will tell you quite like a peer. In your, whatever your particular disease is or your issues. Nobody can give it to you as straight as those people. And sometimes you don’t even trust anyone who hasn’t been down the road you’ve been down quite so much. Like, I love my therapist and I’ve been with her for years but there’s this, I don’t know what her story is, but I have this thought in my head like ‘well, she doesn’t totally get it, because she hasn’t lived it’. But then if I’m talking— Like, I was talking to one of my friends the other day who goes with me and she said something like, you know ‘it sounds like you’re doing your thing again.’ Like she’ll just catch me, or whatever and say ‘are you skipping meals?’ ‘Cause that was the way my disease kind of manifested itself, was skipping meals. And I said to her ‘no I’m good ‘cause I had like two snacks so I’m fine’ and she’s like ‘it sounds like you’re skipping meals’ and it will take me two or three days to realize ‘Oh, I am, I’m doing it again and I don’t even realize it. I’m trying to cut these little corners’. And for me personally, if I’m skipping meals I will, it’s like setting myself up for the other swing of the pendulum which is having really big ones, or, you know—
PG: The other thing that I want to touch on that’s important, that what your friend said is that your friend, because you know them from the support group and they have nothing to gain by telling you the truth or lying to you, you are going to take that them saying that to you much differently than your mother saying that. And because you know they’ve lived it, you know they have your best interest at heart. You know they’re giving you the truth and that to me is what’s so beautiful about support groups, is that you get the unvarnished truth told to you in the most gentle, loving way. It’s like, it’s almost like when you’re in a really nice hotel and they slip that bill under the door to you. It’s the way your support group tells you the truth. Whereas with your family, they put it on the end of a sledgehammer and they hit you on the forehead with it. Yeah, they might be right but the manner in which the truth is told to you, you can’t accept it from that person anymore because there is so much baggage. But with support people, it’s new, they’re new relationships and it’s founded on his beautiful purity.
AM: Yeah, I do like so much about it. I like, it’ this very unique relationship. I don’t have to call them back. I don’t know anything about their lives, really. I mean I know certain thing. There’s this weird thing binding us, that’s like we’re just here to help each other. It’s like this sense of ‘I’ll go to war for you, I’ll be on the front lines for you and at the same time, you owe me nothing, I don’t expect anything.’
PG: Many of their last names you don’t even know! They know some of your deepest, darkest secrets. There’s something really cool about that. And that’s not to say there aren’t occasional people in support groups that you’ll turn and run when you see them walking down the street.
AM: Oh, fuck yes!
PG: You know? But you soon learn to ‘ok, that’s a person I need to keep my wall up around’. But anyway, go ahead, where were we?
AM: I forgot! I forgot exactly where I was.
PG: Oh, we were talking about, ok, you kind of backslid a little bit. You were up in Portland and so this person said, ‘hey, why don’t you come, we’re going to a meeting’, and so you started going to a meeting.
AM: Yeah, I got help that way and I’ve been good for the last 13 months or so and I feel like finally a sense of hope and that there— I never thought I’d be a person who ate breakfast and now I eat breakfast, I eat lunch, I eat dinner. It’s kind of weird. And I’m healthier than I’ve ever been. And I’m a thin person, if you’re listening and you don’t know what I look like. I know sometimes that’s confusing. I’m probably like the most emotionally and physically healthy that I’ve been in my life so it’s good. It feels really good.
PG: Is it safe to say that you feel a hope that it isn’t contingent on a person, place, or a thing?
AM: Yeah, definitely. I mean it’s not— I’m single, I’m a single lady. I’m not held together by a relationship and at the same time I feel like I’d be— It’s the first time in my life that I feel like I’d be a real asset to a relationship because it’s the first time in my life I’ve felt total acceptance of myself and my foibles and my flaws and I really like myself and love myself. And I don’t think I ever really had to do that and in order to get over any eating disorder you have to accept that it’s part of you and you’ve gone down that road and that you might go down that road again, that it’s sort of in you. I don’t know why I have it but I have it.
PG: You’re dealing with it.
AM: Yeah. And when I get scared, which happens to me a lot because I’m a human being and that’s what happens. When I get vulnerable, before this interview you know, my go to thing is one of three things right now today in my life. It’s my body, my diet, or my exercise, I guess. I guess you could boil it all down to my body, you know. That’s where I go in my mind where I think about stuff. It’s like ‘how could I fix this?’ But now I have the awareness to go ‘oh, I’m just scared. I’m scared I’m going to be vulnerable and open up. I’m scared of being judged or I’m afraid I’m going to say the wrong thing. I’m afraid I’m not going to be profound. I’m afraid I’m not going to be funny. I’m afraid I’m not going to be cool.’ But I think I’m at a place in my life where just admitted all of those things makes me like myself even more. Because the people that I like the most are the ones that aren’t the mysterious, ephemeral, ghostly, idol. They’re the people that are the real people. That’s why I love comedians so much, that’s why I love reading memoir so much by people I find fascinating. That’s why I love artists that aren’t “cool”. Because they open themselves up, they tell their story. That story has flaws. They talk about things they weren’t proud of. I love them so much more because I identify.
PG: That’s beautiful.
AM: Thanks, Paul.
PG: I’m really glad you contacted me.
AM: I’m so glad that you reached out to me. I didn’t think that you were going to ask me to do this. But then when you did I was struggling with terror. But I’m glad that you did and I’m glad that I rose to the occasion. But I just thought, you know, women I look up to in my life that I think are fucking awesome are people like Diane Keaton and Gilda Radnor and a lot of other female comics you’ve had on. And just, musicians like Chrissy Hind and Patty Smith and just women that have been open about their lives and are rock and roll and don’t give a fuck—
PG: It doesn’t get any more punk rock than Chrissy Hind. She is, man, she is just—
AM: She owns it!
PG: She owns it and she’s not trying to be anything other than who she is and— You know, the funny thing is her kids probably think she’s a fucking dork. Her kids are probably embarrassed to be with her at the mall. They’re probably grown by now. Oh yeah she does have kids.
AM: Did I forget a whole part of my story?
PG: Oh yeah! Where there any seminal moments from your life or your childhood that sort of stick out to you. Remember the moment we were talking about before we were rolling?
AM: Oh yeah! About my dad, yeah. I was thinking about this the other day. I was listening to you talk about your stuff with your mom and it really sparked something in me—
PG: Have I mentioned my mom on the podcast?
AM: yeah, I think I’m so close to my dad I really relate to your relationship with you mom in that the things my dad said to me growing up shaped so much of how I viewed myself which is strange considering my dad said like two or three things to me about my body growing up and it was always not a big deal. Like, I remember— But I always remember those things. Like I remember playing catch with him on the beach once when I was 14 and he said to me while we were playing catch— and this was in public, in front of people. He said to me “what’s the wait?” and I go “what?” and he says “what’s the wait?”, and I go “what do you mean what’s the wait?” and he goes “your weight?”
PG: What a weird question to ask in public on the beach.
AM: I go “I don’t know, like 100 pounds or something?” and he goes— I think I said like 108 pounds or something, and he goes “perfect weight, perfect body”, and that always sticks out in my mind. And I remember his saying to me when I got into personal training when I was like 19 or 20, I got really into ‘oh, I’m going to get a trainer’. I remember him saying “well listen, don’t get your arms too big cause men don’t like women with big arms.” Which is like a normal thing for a 55 year old man to say occasionally, I guess, who’s stuck in his academic books and he’s just not really into…
PG: And he probably had no idea that you were so focused on your body and that whatever you said, whatever he said, whatever anybody else said was going to be taken like the 10 commandments.
AM: Yeah, and he’s like a Jungian psychologist who studied Joseph Campbell and teaching archetypes. And one day I’m wearing this belt from my mother and it’s got this big buckle on it and he goes ‘you know, in other cultures when you wear a belt like that it signifies the female wants a larger organ from the male inside of her’ and then he’d walk out of the room.
PG: You want a Ritz cracker?
AM: It’s like, ‘I’m 13 dude’ like trying to figure out my lopsided tits that are growing in one after the other and like what is happening to my body and you are just waltzing through the living room talking about archetypes and belt buckles and Ghana. Like, it just— I just remember going to school that day and being like ‘I’m a slut because I’m wearing this belt and it probably means that I look like somebody that wants a huge member to fuck me’ and I just— Listening to your podcast somehow that day, I remember hearing what you were saying somehow made me able to take all of those comments that my dad made, cry about them, feel them, and then let go of them and sort of accept— Grieve all of the pain that I’d been holding onto for years. Feeling ashamed of those things, feeling resentment about those things and then sort of realizing ‘oh, you have to take the power from those things and realize those were just passing comments that my dad, who loves me very much and was not trying to sexualize me or anything, made’. Were they appropriate? Probably not. Like they were not— they just— My dad has no filter.
PG: Yeah, but they didn’t come from a bad place.
AM: Not at all. But that helped me, it really helped me just let them go. I think I’d been holding onto them for so long as like these gross, shameful things I remembered. I actually talked about them with my therapist and my friends and revisited them and was able to be like ‘oh, that was kind of another one of those dumb things. Just file it under dumb things that my dad said at a dinner party to somebody that he didn’t mean’. Yeah, and why am I holding on to that for years that men don’t like women with big arms. And for years, I have thought ‘I have big arms’. For years, not wearing tank tops because I think that my arms are huge.
PG: Wow! Really?
AM: Oh yeah. I mean, it’s hard for me right now just to be sitting her with a short sleeved shirt on because somewhere in my mind, my diseased mind, I’m thinking ‘my arms are too big to be shown, they’re really too big.’
AM: Yeah. So if any woman or man can identify with anything I’ve said in this than it has not been a waste of time. Because I have to tell you, it is so great to be able to be free of it and to be able to live a life. I’ve felt so much gratitude for the first few months of being— of going to meeting and stuff and just talking to people and having support where I couldn’t believe that I was able to eat breakfast every day. I just really believed somehow breakfast is for fatties, or breakfast is for losers. All those fucked up messages that I got reading magazines or listening to my anorexic friends in college that were successfully 98 pound or whatever it was that I wanted to be. And it’s nice to be able to be thin and healthy. And to take care of myself, and be compassionate toward myself and like myself and to go on dates and not be embarrassed about my arms.
PG: And I think that it’ll be cool when you do get into a relationship because you’ve found something to— found a way to be comfortable in your skin, is you won’t be coming in to a relationship needing that relationship to fill a part of you. You’ll be there, hopefully, as somebody who brings something to a relationship and it’s going to be an exchange rather than somebody who drains from the relationship because they feel that their life is lacking.
AM: Yes! That was one of the first things I experienced at getting better, was, I couldn’t think of anything except myself and my body for months. I remember being at lunch or at dinner parties with somebody and being just ‘god, please help me someday have my mind back. I don’t even know what this person in front of me is saying. All I care about is how much is on my plate, what I’m going to eat, when I’m going to eat next and I just want to go home and watch the Kardashians. That’s all I care about, that’s all I care about and god, please let me have my mind back. Let me care about current events, and music, and songwriting and maybe practicing.’ I have gotten to that place where I was so obsessed and my life was so small that I just wanted to be left alone with my tiny little portions and my exercise plan and just leave me the fuck alone because I have to go to the park and race walk for 45 minutes and then I’m going to go hot yoga, and then I’m going to do this, and then I’m going to eat my sardines and cabbage and just leave me alone.
PG: It’s almost like that is Nirvana to a sick person, it’s like a little fort that they create. Everything else is walled off. I know I can control these elements and so if I can create a fort and this is all my life is, there won’t be any disappointment, there won’t be any surprises, and I won’t get hurt. But, what you do is that you do get hurt because your life becomes very small and you get really lonely in that fort. I remember, my last days of drinking, I remember saying to a person, it was last call at a bar and this was a complete stranger. I said ‘let’s go have a drink across the street’, because I just didn’t want the drinking to end. And this person said ‘I can’t because I have to get up for work in the morning’ and the words just came out of my mouth, ‘please don’t leave, I’m so lonely’.
AM: Yeah, I remember that story from one of your podcasts. And I related to that.
PG: I was so ashamed. That’s what the fort is, the fort becomes so lonely. And yeah, there’s a sick element of control. But it’s so lonely.
AM: That’s the hard part about getting sober. For me, from alcohol and from food and dieting, is when I can’t go there anymore, when I can’t use a diet plan or whatever anymore, I can’t abuse myself in that way. That’s really what for me, recover has become, is like I don’t hurt myself anymore through negative thoughts, or through food, or through diet plans, or exercise plans. Is that I’m left with a lot of fucking feelings! And you know, it’s like that’s gonna be— I heard a friend of mine say that once, she said ‘I drove home from a trip with my family and it was a five hour drive home and I cried for five hours the whole way home but at least it’s not what I would have been doing three years ago before I got help which would have been eating for five hours the whole way home’. And that stuck with me in my mind, I think about that all the time when I am crying or I’m sort of at a crossroads, it’s like ‘hey, it could be worse.’ And you know what? I’ve never written better songs or more honest songs, and I’ve never felt more while singing, and I’ve never felt more while singing, and I’ve never felt more like there’s more of a connection between me and others. And I don’t have such a small life anymore, and I do think about current events, and I do think there’s hope for me. There’s a lot more in my mind now besides all those things I mentioned before. You asked me about seminal moments in my life before, and you just reminded me of one more. It was sort of my “bottom”. It was, I was in a sort of a disgusting hotel room on tour alone and I woke up the next morning with zero recollection of the night before and I started to piece it all together and this is before I knew I had celiac disease and I was reacting to alcohol in a really weird way. I would have two drinks and black out, two! Two drinks! And I would not remember stuff. I was, somehow, I was hypoglycemic too, so somehow my hypoglycemia and the sugar that I was eating was causing me to pass out and I was blacking out from stuff. My routine would be, after a gig, I would go back to a hotel, I would have a couple of drinks, by myself and then I would not— I was only drinking as a gateway to sugar. Cause I didn’t realize that sometime when you have the gluten allergy, or the celiac, sometimes, I think I had a candida thing too, you really crave sweets. I was going into vending machines at night and was waking up with wrappers of shit around me, like Reese’s cups, and that was when I realized I really have to figure out— I gotta cut out the drinking because it’s some kind of weird gateway to sugar.
PG: Yeah, often times the drugs and alcohol— you get sober for a while and you figure out ‘oh, I was only doing this because it made me more comfortable living with this other core addiction’ and it’s like the whack-a-mole. Ok, now you’ve gotta deal with this other thing.
AM: I know, I can’t wait to see what’s next.
PG: The cool thing though is that you’re headed in the right direction.
AM: Thanks. I feel like I am. It feels really good, it really does. I never thought, ever, I’d be a sober person. I grew up on one of the most famous wineries in the world, Ridge Wineries. It’s a great winery up in Northern California. I grew up around wineries all the time, it was part of my life. My mom’s Russian! Vodka in Russian means “a little water”. Va da in Russian is water. Vodka is like “little water”. So that is the relationship Russians have to alcohol, ‘it’s just a little water’.
AM: Yeah, so it’s kind of weird, not drinking. It’s actually not weird, the only thing that’s weird about not drinking is how other people get about it. You know, you go to parties and they’re like ‘is it weird? For you to not be drinking? It’s gotta be super weird’. No, the only weird thing about it is that you keep bringing it up. I’m fine.
PG: An inch from my face. With hot alcohol breath.
AM: How do you cope with that at parties?
PG: I don’t really go to parties. But when I’m at a party and I start to feel social anxiety come in I just ask people about themselves. And I keep asking question, after question, after question. And that is usually a really good icebreaker and at a certain point the conversation either becomes natural and kind of flowing or there’s a point at which it’s kind of awkward and I feel ok about bailing and finding someone else to talk to. But I do find it excruciatingly painful at parties to find an exit line when I’m in a conversation I want to get out of because I’m so afraid I’m hurting the other person’s feelings. And I’m like— and to me it feels like it’s going to be so obvious that I’m saying basically ‘you’re boring, I’m going to go find somebody better’. So it’ll be like— A lot of times I’ll say ‘oh, excuse me if you would, I’ve gotta go do this—‘. And sometimes I do gotta go call somebody or do something else but I agonize about that sometimes.
AM: Yeah, I do too. I feel really socially anxious. I’m trying to get better at that. I had that the other day. I was at a party with a lot of people that I knew, which sometimes makes it even more stressful, because ‘oh, I haven’t seen you in three years, we should really catch up!’ and there’s all these other people I haven’t seen in three years, so we should really catch up. And I went and I called a friend and I kind of re-centered myself afterwards and I realized ‘hey, I’m really grateful to be here and to see all these people that I’m probably not going to see again for a long time’ and do I really want to be escaping this moment or what. Sometimes I really have to remind myself how fun something can be, like especially with relation to my body, going back to that, I have a lot of fear about like being physically intimate with somebody, but if I can sort of flip that and remember how fun it can be to be physically intimate with somebody then I can transcend all of that worry. Like at that party, I had to go be by myself for a second and then I went back and I was approaching it with this completely new view and I had so much fun because I told myself, ‘just connect with them in a real way,’ even if you say ‘I am totally freaking out right now, I have nothing to talk about and I feel like I’m probably really boring’. I said that a couple of times to people and they were like ‘I’m really freaking out actually! And I feel like I’m really boring!’ and we had a great conversation.
PG: Yeah, that’s amazing.
AM: To just try and be as authentic as you can. But it is scary.
PG: Easier said than done sometimes. Alright, let’s do a fear list. You wanna start?
AM: Fears first?
PG: Yeah, let’s do fears first and we’ll go out on loves.
AM: Ok, I’m afraid I’ll regret never having children.
PG: I’m going to be reading the fears of a listener named Melissa. I’m afraid that the allergic reaction to the vitamin supplements I took is going to cause permanent damage to my health. She’s fuckin’ throwin’ it down right out of the gate. No fuckin’ around.
AM: Me too, Melissa. I’m afraid I’ll be judged for my body.
PG: I’m afraid I have cancer or some other serious illness. I’m too afraid to go to the doctor because they never seem to find anything wrong with me when I feel sick so by the time they find the source of the illness/cancer it’ll be too late. I have that one.
AM: I have that one too. I have a fear that I have a spot on my left lung. Because my whole life I’ve felt this weird little cramp on my left lung. So I feel you Melissa. That was my fear Paul.
PG: Oh! It was! Melissa says; I’m afraid that I’ll always see my accomplishments as insignificant.
AM: I’m afraid my body is actually average and normal and not thin.
PG: I’m afraid that anything I accomplish will be seen as small potatoes compared to what everyone else has already done when they were half my age.
AM: I’m afraid of eating things that will make me sick.
PG: I’m afraid I don’t have the capacity to finish any of the projects I’ve started.
AM: I’m afraid the guys I’ve dated in the past have formed an email group where they trade stories about my breath and/or my boobs. And/or vagina. And/or size of my vagina. And/or smells. And/or amazing ass. Done.
PG: or amazing ass?
AM: Yes, I have both. I have like the fear that people are just dissecting how horrible my body is and also talking about how amazing it is. It’s the most self-centered disease.
PG: It’s a real potpourri of self-loathing and grandiosity.
PG: Umm. Melissa says, I’m afraid that everyone can see that I’m a totally dysfunctional person trying to blend in and act like a functional person but the only person I’m fooling is me.
AM: I’m afraid one of my parents will die and be lonely and fucked up.
PG: I’m afraid I won’t know what to do with myself when I do achieve financial success.
AM: I’m afraid of losing my sister before I die.
PG: I’m afraid that my ex-husband’s accusations that I’m mentally sick and insane because I don’t feel an outwardly, over the top affection toward babies are actually true and every man feels that way about me.
AM: That was a good one. I’m afraid one of my parents will die before the other and will move on with a really annoying person like an overly earnest, tantric sex therapist or a gold-digging floozy with terrible style.
PG: That is so fantastic. That is so fantastic. I’m afraid that I won’t be able to love my kids in a healthy and balanced way. I’ll either be too obsessive and smothering or overly distant and cold. I think that’s super healthy that she has that thought.
AM: I do too. I like that and I relate to that very much. I’m afraid that I’m boring and that I talk too much.
PG: I’m afraid that I will never attract a man that is emotionally mature enough to be in a relationship, let alone someone I would want to have kids with.
AM: Yes. I’m afraid that I’ve overstepped my bounds in this interview.
PG: No, not at all. I’ve loved every minute of it, except for the last five seconds and that awkward thing I just said. And your big arms.
AM: Fuck you! Fuck you!
PG: She’s doing curls with her fears list right now—
AM: I’ll crush you with my arms.
PG: and I can’t even see her behind the huge veins in her biceps.
PG: I’m afraid that I’ll never be the ideal girl to any guy and that he’ll secretly resent the fact that he’s not with somebody better until we break up.
AM: I’m truly afraid one of my best friends that refused to get help years ago is homeless and going to meet an untimely and unnecessary death.
PG: That’s their journey.
AM: I know.
PG: You can’t save ‘em. I’m afraid that the guys I date are always looking for someone thinner, longer legged, bigger boobed, blonder, or red-headed, more confident, more outwardly sexual, more hip, more artistic, more of a party girl, more socially connected, and has her shit together more than I do.
AM: Red headed, that was interesting. I’m afraid I overshare and use comedy as a crutch out of insecurity.
PG: I don’t think so. I think you’re— Just from this interview, I didn’t find that at all. A couple of people that I’ve recorded would go to the glib place when things would start to get deep and it was really hard to interview them. I didn’t find a single moment of that in our interview.
AM: I’m glad, thank you.
PG: The rest of it was shit, but— (laughter) Melissa says, I’m afraid that I’ll always need a new and external source of happiness. Wow, what a perfect one for what we were talking about today.
AM: Yeah. I’m afraid I’ll get complacent in recovery.
PG: I’m afraid that I’ll never be satisfied with all the good that I do have in my life and feel I always need more.
AM: I’m afraid of taking the first drag of a cigarette again because it’s always been the start of a long struggle when I do that.
PG: I’m afraid that taking anti-depressants at the age that I become sexually active has ruined my sex life forever.
AM: I’m afraid of living life on the sidelines.
PG: I’m afraid that I’ll never be able to have an orgasm in front of another person except when I’m really, really drunk.
AM: That’s hard for me to have one when I’m really, really drunk. I’m afraid I’ll forget to ask my mom and my dad everything.
PG: I’m afraid that my social awkwardness makes me present myself as being crazy to others and that I’m highly uncomfortable to be around.
AM: I don’t have any more fears that I could think of.
PG: And she’s only got two left so I’ll read her last two. I’m afraid that the only other beings I really relate to are animals and I’m afraid that I’ll get sick of that song Somebody That I Used to Know by Goyte. I really like that song and it would be a shame if I did.
AM: Awww, that’s cute.
PG: Thank you Melissa, that was awesome. Let’s jump into some loves.
AM: Ok. I love the sound of Jane Fonda’s voice.
PG: I am going to be reading loves that people on a Facebook thread that I started. Uncle Tito says I love when my sleeping cat opens his eyes, smiles at me, and rolls over so that I can stroke his face and belly.
AM: I love Judy Davis’ monologue in Husbands and Wives. I think it’s perfect and I can never get enough of that.
PG: She’s an amazing actor. Actress or actor, what is the…
AM: either one.
PG: Rachel White; I love when babies laugh.
AM: I love Noah Baumbach’s Kicking and Screaming, Margot at the Wedding, Greenberg and The Squid and the Whale. All of his movies.
PG: Paul Carpenter says I love drinking cold water from the hose after mowing the lawn on a hot day.
AM: Awww, I love that one too. I love Lena Dunham and what she’s doing with Girls.
PG: Did you see Tiny Furniture?
AM: Yes! Twice.
PG: That’s really good.
AM: I love that movie.
PG: Eddie Spaghetti says I love waving back when kids wave down from the bridge.
AM: That’s cute. I love making out with someone who’s a great kisser.
PG: Dawn Metz says I love when my dog runs around the living room like a happy, little bat-out-of-hell.
AM: I love Ayangar yoga and how it makes me feel.
PG: Dawn also says I love when my son checks to see if my daughter is sleeping just because he knows she is afraid of creaking noises at night. Aw, I love when siblings show affection to others.
AM: That’s why I love The Kardashians, I really do—
PG: We might disagree on that one. I’ve only watched five minutes, so I don’t—
AM: There’s this really weird, sweet relationship between Khloe and Kourtney and Khloe is the taller one and she will drag Kourtney, the older and shorter sister, she’ll drag her around the floor and for some reason whenever I see those scenes, I wanna cry and it makes me happy. People can shit on that family all they want, but I fucking love how cute they are to each other.
PG: I love that you’re unafraid to show affection about a show that is, you know, pointed out as being the complete depravity of American culture.
AM: I know. People need to relax. I love when I have the right amount of green tea, or chicken salad, or good food, and I get this orgasm in my head and feel really euphoric.
PG: Dawn says I love it when I buy flowers and they last way longer than I thought they would.
AM: I love when I risk being honest and direct with someone and they reply with compassion and openness. That’s a good one, I like that.
PG: Dawn says I love it when little children are very excited to meet other people who share their name. That’s a good one, I love that.
AM: I love Hey by The Pixies and generally all of Doolittle.
PG: Lolita Gentry says I love when my meds finally kick in and I forget why I was depressed.
AM: Awww, that’s a good one. I love when people say my name when they’re talking to me. It doesn’t even have to be sexual, I just love hearing my name.
PG: Aw, that’s a good one Anya. Lucy Pinball says I love the moment that comes about halfway through the day when I notice that my morning anxiety has finally subsided.
AM: I love this moment when I met John Hamm because he kept banging my leg with his arm and yet he had his arm around his girlfriend the whole time. He was a good guy, a funny guy, a down-to-earth guy. And I liked something about that interaction, I liked the kind of man that he was.
PG: I’ve met him a couple of times and hung out a little bit and he really is a super nice guy, really so unassuming.
AM: Salt of the earth.
PG: And the first time I met him I was just like ‘Oh my god! It’s Don Draper!’
AM: I know! I didn’t know it was him for the first two minutes of talking to him because it was before I had ever seen him with his hair normal because I had always seen it slicked back. I was like ‘who is this normal, kind of floppy haired guy?’ and then I realized ‘holy shit, it’s Don Draper’, and he was so cool and normal. We were talking about Wilco which made him even cooler.
PG: Jacob Cantu says I love winning Monopoly while keeping my cool. That’s funny.
AM: I love asking people for help and getting it. And knowing that no one gives shit whether I pay them or not, they just want to help
PG: Jennifer Sullivan says I love it when I can unabashedly geek out about a favorite band or comedian with someone.
AM: I love it when I make my sister laugh because she’s a really tough sell.
PG: Kelly Jo Brisco says I love when my sister actually shows that she cares about me. Aw, that’s nice.
AM: That’s cool. I love living in a world where I can connect with friends or meet people that I’m inspired by in an instant with the click of a few buttons.
PG: I love the way a drawing works when there are very few lines.
AM: I love when I’m in harmony with god and the universe and my body and I can eat a bunch of chocolate and/or whipped cream and I can shit my brains out and feel great afterwards. Once in a blue moon this happens. Gonna regret saying that one.
PG: The last one I didn’t credit, was to Stephen Venn and this is his also. He says I love that first sip of coffee of the day.
AM: That’s good. These people are so well adjusted. I love eating a bunch of chocolate and shitting my brains out!
PG: I love watching a good documentary about a serial killer.
AM: Someone else’s is I love that one sip of orange juice I have in the morning on my porch with my golden retriever. (laughing) I love crying in public with my sister.
PG: KJS says I love bird watching and I just realized these aren’t from Facebook these are actually from Twitter.
AM: I love going to the Korean spa and getting the shit beaten out of me and going to another place mentally and having a transcendent experience while being pummeled. I love being uninhibited and like I’m just a spirit in a body, not like my body is who I am and I get that feeling at a spas like that, especially when they don’t speak English.
PG: That’s a great one. Speaking of bodies, I want to call to action. Go take the body shame survey that I have on the website. Go to the website mentalpod.com and then you’ll see a little thing to click on that says “take the survey” and there’s about six surveys that you can take. I’m getting some real interesting things that people are writing about that one. KJS says I love summer road trips through Wisconsin playing my favorite music with wind blowing through the car.
AM: This is my last one, I love letting go and letting the emotion come out. I love when I accidentally start to cry in a song and it actually makes the song sound better.
PG: Aw, that’s beautiful. And I’ll end with Richard— I don’t even know how the fuck to pronounce his last name so I’m not even going to try. I love how my wife invariably falls asleep in my arms when we lie on the sofa to watch a movie. Aw, how sweet.
AM: Yeah, that’s good.
PG: Well Anya, thank you so much for being a great guest and opening up. I’m glad, I’m really glad you did.
AM: Thanks for having me Paul, it was an honor and a pleasure.
PG: Is there anything you want to say about the song you’re going to play before you play it?
AM: Ah, actually I was thinking today about what songs I could do. I wanted to do this one called Flinty from my new album because it’s about love addiction and drugs, but then I got this email from a girl on Twitter and she was saying ‘I always loved that first song you wrote called Ms. Halfway and I was thinking about it and it was one of the very first songs I ever wrote and it’s about a conversation that we have with ourselves and the negative self-talk that we can have. And it’s sort of about— I used to think because I was a DJ, because I was a wanna-be singer-songwriter years ago, I was a wanna-be actress, I was a wanna-be a lot of things but never really focusing on one. I always thought I was going to be like this Miss Half-assed, Miss Halfway person. So this is a song about the dialogue between that voice and the other one that’s like ‘no, you’re finding your way’ because I ended up being someone who synthesized all those things and I don’t think of myself as a half-assed person anymore. I’m proud of everything in my past, it really helped shaped who I am now. So I hope you like it, this is Ms. Halfway
(AM sings song)
Many thanks to Anya Marina for a great episode and for sharing that song with us. Before I take it out with a survey I want to remind you guys that there’s a couple of different ways that you can support the show. Especially around these holiday times if you’re going to shop at Amazon please do it through the search box on our home page. Again the website is Mentalpod.com. You can support us financially by making a one time PayPal donation, or my favorite, becoming a monthly donor. It means the world to me and it helps me to get a little closer to my dream of making this my full time gig. And my way of saying thanks to you, as I mentioned earlier in the show, is I’m going to give away another cutting board that I made. So I’m going to pick another number between 1 and 500 and monthly donors out there— and you can sign up out there to be a monthly donor and take your guess. Email me your guess and just put the number that you choose in the subject line. If you’re a $5 a month donor, you get one guess, if you’re a $10 a month donor, you get 2 guesses, $15, three guesses, etc. and on and on. Paul, would a $25,000 a month donor get 5,000 guesses? Yes, you would and I would come to your apartment and loofah your buttocks. Alright, I think that’s it for the, ah… Oh, also, we’re selling Mental Illness Happy Hour coffee mugs, travel mugs, beer steins, etc. and you can find those on the homepage. Just go to the fucking website would you? God, you’re pissing me off. Alright.
Let’s take it out with a survey that was filled out by a woman who calls herself Stacy Bananas, this is from the Shame and Secrets Survey. She’s straight, she’s in her 30’s, was raised in an environment that was totally chaotic. Have you ever been the victim of sexual abuse? She writes; “yes, and I never reported it”. Deepest, darkest thoughts, she writes; “I have a fruit basket of messed up thought every day, all day. I picture murdering people, gutting them, stabbing them, choking them. Pretty much every messed up thing you could do to someone. It’s almost my own sick joke I carry around with me. I’m a sweet little, stay-at-home housewife. Most people expect me to be the life of the party. I have a quick wit, and adore making people laugh. They have no idea I’m murdering them in my head. It thrills me that they don’t have a clue.” What sexual fantasies are most powerful to you? She writes; “I enjoy thoughts of being made love to, I only want to be gently loved. I want to be cherished and adored. However, I get very rough with my husband and ask him to choke and hurt me. I want him to call me a bitch. I think because of what I’ve been through. I believe that he can only enjoy sex if he’s hurting me. He’s never said that, it’s just my own issue I project on him.” Would you ever consider telling a partner or close friend your fantasies? She writes; “I can tell my husband anything. We have done everything a person could come up with, bondage, role-play, outfits, whips. I just can’t ever ask him to make love to me. I’m too ashamed to ask. I don’t feel like he would want to. I’m afraid that he would laugh at me.” What are your deepest, darkest secrets? She writes; “I was adopted with my brother and sister into a family that already had three older boys. They sexually molested me, and my brother and sister. They forced us to give them oral sex and touch them. They liked to watch us run naked while they shot us with rubber band guns and pellet guns. My adoptive mother knew what was happening and did nothing. Later in my life I married a man who became very abusive. He would make me dress up like a little girl. I got pregnant and at seven months he had sex with me and got very rough. He broke my water and my child was born very early. He was arrested eight years later for raping and murdering a ten year old girl and dumping her body in a dumpster. I’ve spent years recovering from all this.” Do these secrets and thoughts generate any particular feelings toward yourself? She writes; “I felt like a mistake for most of my life. I felt like I was a pointless human being. I believed that I had something wrong with me that caused people hate me and want to hurt me. With a loving husband I have begun to heal and love myself. I still feel ugly and unimportant but I hide it well.”
That… I don’t even know what to say. That just…. That just took my fucking breath away. That is so heavy, that is so fucking heavy, that a human being has to go through all of that. And, I’m just sending love your way. I don’t even know what to say except, I hope you continue to heal. The human spirit is pretty fucking resilient. Just the fact that you’re alive is proof of that. And, my heart goes out to you and I think anything I would say beyond that would just sound trite and stupid so I’ll just— And I’m sorry if I’m ending the podcast on kind of a down note, but somebody’s got to do a podcast that talks about this stuff and lets people know that they’re not the only ones that have experienced that. That’s the really fucked up part, is that there are other people that have experienced that kind of shit. But, Stacy Bananas, you’re not alone. Thanks for listening.
(music plays out)