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Episode 46: Mark Teich
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The actor/ singer/ comedian is best known for performing musical comedy with Stephen Lynch, most notably selling out Carnegie Hall in 2009.   What most people don’t know is that Mark was diagnosed at age eleven with scleroderma, a crippling, often fatal disease.   He has beaten the odds but denying the pain and fear associated with it left him with a coping mechanism just as insidious – an addiction to lying.   Mark can be seen on the show A.N.T. Farm on the Disney Channel.


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Episode Transcript:
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Paul: Welcome to episode #46 with my guest Mark Teich. I’m Paul Gilmartin and this is The Mental Illness Happy Hour, an hour of honesty about all the battles in our heads. From medically diagnosed conditions to everyday compulsive negative thinking. Feelings of dissatisfaction, disconnection, inadequacy, and that vague sinking feeling that the world is passing us by. You give us an hour, we’ll give you a hot ladle of awkward and icky. This show is not meant to be a substitute for professional mental advice. It’s not a doctor’s office, it’s more like a waiting room that hopefully doesn’t suck.

Before we get to our interview with Mark Teich, a couple of notes. Our website is mentalpod.com. There’s all kinds of good stuff at the website there. You can take surveys, you can check out the forum, you can support the show financially. Uh, go look at it. Don’t make me, don’t make me explain the whole goddamn website, on this first five minutes of the show! Why’re you on my back? Hmmm, a little testy. And I apologize for using the lord’s name in vain. I know some of you are, not happy that I did that. But, you know what? It’s my fucking show.

What do you say we kick things off with a survey respondent? This is from the shame and secrets survey. This woman’s name is Mere, M-E-R-E. She is straight. She’s in her 20s. The environment she was raised in was pretty dysfunctional. She was the victim of sexual abuse but, uh actually she checked two things. Have you ever been the victim of sexual abuse, she checked two things. She checked yes, and I never reported it, and no, I have never been sexually abused. So I’m not sure, I think that was a mistake. But it’s important that I spend a minute, laying that all out there. Deepest, darkest thoughts, “I loathe my father, being in a room with him makes me shake with nausea and disgust but I still act sweet and fake because it’s the easiest thing to do. Years of acting have made me question if there is a real me, or I am only a manipulative people pleaser. I crawl into fucked up men’s minds and become their perfect woman. It’s my talent. ‘I want to kill myself’ pops into my head maybe 20 times a day. Recently when I masturbate I imagine my boyfriend cheating on me.”

Deepest, darkest secrets, things that you have done or things that have happened to you, “I used to fantasize about my brother killing himself, any play out different ways to use it to my advantage. I imagine being comforted by his friend that I had hooked up with. Getting easy As and using it to my benefit in college. I formed my current relationship by acting weak and hurt and letting my now boyfriend rescue me.”

Do these secrets and thoughts generate any particular feelings towards yourself, she writes, “I’m disgusted at my secrets and proud...I’m disgusted at my secrets and proud in my ability to paint illusions for people. I swing between anxiety, mania and depression. I am bulimic. I fear developing schizophrenia like my brother, paranoia like my father, or eventually killing myself like my genetics hint towards. I know I have a very real chance of all of those coming true if I live the wrong way. Sometimes I lie and tell myself I’m in a stable relationship to keep my emotions in check. I’m not sure if my mind is starting to detangle. I used to be a highly intelligent...I used to be highly intelligent, but thinking is getting cloudier.” And then she writes, “despite the horrible things I have said, I am a scared and whole-hearted young girl. I get the feeling like if I do not write my experience and explore it to it’s depth, I will fight the current and be swept away in a riptide. I think I have to ride it out and let it take me to whatever destination it choses. I have no control over the genetics and childhood, I can change but I still have enough power to make the best of it and stay afloat. Denial would be my drowning death. All that I have written here, I have written in a carbohydrate haze of numbness, and I feel the insecure need to let you know it is not my best writing or reflections. Still I am at a numb enough level to put myself out there.”

Intro theme

Paul: I’m here with Mark Teich and, Mark a lot of you may know from performing musical comedy with Stephen Lynch. You guys have toured, toured for years and years and years.

Mark: That’s right. That’s right, we went, we don’t do a lot of show together anymore. The last show I did was, with him was 2009. So it’s been a while—

Paul: But you guys did Carnegie Hall—

Mark: Well that was the last show that I did.

Paul: Yeah. That’s amazing.

Mark: Yeah, yeah I said, I know that I said at one point that, ‘well, I’m not going to do any shows after this, it’s all downhill from here, why, what, what else are we going to do?’, you know? The Chumash Casino, you know? It’s not gonna be Carnegie Hall.

Paul: Right, sure. Mark contacted me about, a couple of weeks ago through a mutual friend, Beth Littleford who was a guest on this show.

Mark: That’s right.

Paul: And, you, when did you, when did you—I usually spend the first ten minutes of an interview running my mouth unnecessarily, while my guest sits there twiddling their thumbs, so why don’t you, I’m gonna let you—

Mark: That might give me a chance to calm down a little bit.

Paul: Are you nervous?

Mark: Ah, well a little bit, of course.

Paul: I, I understand—

Mark: I’d rather just call myself out. Just say that I’m nervous. I used to do that on stage and, you know, it was very freeing at those—

Paul: Very freeing.

Mark: Especially, with those big crowds. And you know, the crowds that were Stephen’s, not mine. They weren’t my responsibility but I would get out there and be like, ‘these are a lot, there are a lot of people out here! I am very nervous’ you know? It’s just one of those things—

Paul: Yeah. There , there is something really nice about about being able to do that and that’s one of those things that, that I like doing this podcast, is that no matter what is, is happening is being able to, jump into that safety net that, I, I feel like people aren’t judging you and, yeah, I hope you feel, feel safe here because, because...

Mark: Yeah, I do. And if I, don’t seem like I am, I’m sure I will. I’m, it’ll get, it’ll definitely get to—

Paul: Yeah. I can understand, I can understand why you’re anxious though. Having talked, what we talked about. So we got together for 20 minutes over coffee, and you kind of told me jist of what you wanted to come and talk about.

Mark: Yeah, well and, and I had heard, I heard about the show initially from Stephen Lynch’s wife.

Paul: Erin Dwight.

Mark: Erin Dwight. Who is—

Paul: God bless her. One of the early supporters of this show.

Mark: Who is, who is, one of my closest friends, and, and between Erin and Stephen, I couldn’t love two people more. I mean, they’re, they’re just—

Paul: Even Sonny and Cher?

Mark: They’re, they’re so, well you know it’s where, it’s, it’s, Erin’s mustache is just so much thicker than Sonny’s.

Paul: And the fact that she keeps a mustache comb in her shoulder pocket...

Mark: It’s so, and even on a short sleeve, she’s got that big shoulder pocket, it’s just uh...

Paul: The last time I saw her she had a tube top that had a shoulder pocket that got up, and held her mustache comb.

Mark: And that’s our show.

Paul: That’s it, thanks. Thank you for listening. I’ve never met, I’ve never met Erin. So I can’t verify how thick her mustache is.

Mark: I can’t wait for you to, I hope she, I hope she has a chance to, to do this show. She would be, she would be fantastic on this.

Paul: I’ve always told her if she comes out to LA. We’ve never spoken in person, we’ve just emailed each other back and forth, but she seems very sweet.

Mark: She’s fantastic. And, and so she and I were, I was back in Michigan, because they’ve moved back to Michigan, and—

Paul: And by the way she doesn’t have a mustache.

Mark: What? She—

Paul: I’m assuming—

Mark: She’s a very lovely, she’s a very lovely girl. Stephen can’t even grow a mustache. So yeah, he’d be very jealous. Um, no she and I was back for my 20th reunion and we spent, we spent the day together and, and she had told me about the show. And she was like, ‘oh my gosh, you gotta, you gotta listen to Paul’s show and tell me what you think’. And immediately it was, it was one of those things where, where I couldn’t, I couldn’t, I didn’t know you, and I couldn’t thank you enough at that point. Because it was just, some little nugget here, or something there, or some link to somebody there, or that where I could just, I just, you know, I felt—

Paul: There’s nothing like, like finding fellow fucked-ups.

Mark: Yeah.

Paul: Nothing.

Mark: It was great—

Paul: It’s like a pool of warm water. It really is—

Mark: That you didn’t create.

Paul: That you didn’t create. It’s like sitting in your own urine, but it’s not dirty.

Mark: And it’s not even your urine.

Paul: It’s not even your urine, but you feel fine. It’s like you’re hermetically sealed in the warmth of urine.

Mark: Right. So yeah, I saw Beth, and I reached out to her to possibly reach out to you.

Paul: Yeah. And so you told me, a little bit about your story. Tell me, let’s start with your childhood and talk about the...

Mark: Sure. I was born in Detroit and we, we lived in a suburb—

Paul: Good, let’s get to the adult part then—

Mark: Oh—

Paul: I just think city is really the only thing that matters in your childhood.

Mark: We uh, I grew up in a, I was an only child, we lived in the suburbs of Detroit. In a town called Livonia. And, we um—

Paul: And if I remember correctly, you were saying that your parents were from Wilmette or Winnetka, Chicago, which is a very wealthy suburb. So were you raised with wealth?

Mark: No. No, I mean we were fine. We were fine. My mom was a, my mom was a florist. It was very, it was very middle-class. My mom was a florist, my dad worked in the food-service industry. But he grew up very wealthy. He grew up in Kenilworth—

Paul: Kenilworth, which is like the wealthiest per capita suburb in the, certainly the top five in the United States.

Mark: Right. Exactly and he, and he grew up very wealthy. My grandfather owned a hotel downtown in Chicago. And they had their summer house out in Lake Geneva. Which was two doors down from the Ridgley Estate. My dad ended up working for PK Ridgley for, for many years. And then through a series of unfortunate events, left that whole luxurious lifestyle of working for PK Ridgley and then moved to Detroit. He, he had a life change and he was like, ‘you know, I’m gonna move to Detroit’. And I always pictured it—

Paul: That town’s on the upswing.

Mark: He moved, and this is how I always pictured it, he moved right during the riots, like right before—

Paul: ‘68?

Mark: Yeah, so he had moved there and I can just picture him, like just finally putting his last end table in place, like, ‘finally, finally I can just relax and watch CRASHHH’. You know and just going—

Paul: And some guy sticks in, ‘hey whitey! Welcome to town!’.

Mark: Right.

Paul: Yeah.

Mark: And so,so he made a good choice and ultimately, ultimately, fooled my mother into marrying him, and then they had me, in ‘73. So, yeah, so it was a very, it was a very simple, easy childhood, you know? Just, neighborhoods and everything. My folks are great. They’re, they’re kind, supportive people and, and it was always, it was always interesting to me because, it’s the things that I’ve learned, especially in the last couple years honestly, just solidify that about my mom and my dad. Especially my dad, which we can talk about. But, yeah, it was very, it was very nice, simple, I had a Scottish grandmother that lived with us for half the year, and you know, she basically took care of me. She was a real asshole but I loved her. You know?

Paul: Yeah the scottish are intense people. They don’t fuck around.

Mark: She was, she was, she would go through, she would go through probably about six, yeah, I’ll say that, about six or seven Red, White and Blues. Remember that beer?

Paul: Sure.

Mark: She would go through probably six or seven Red, White and Blues—

Paul: Made Pabst look like champagne.

Mark: Exactly. She’d uh, she’d drink those in the afternoon, and, and then she’d make dinner and go about her way.

Paul: But she wasn’t, she wasn’t, cruel to you?

Mark: She was an asshole, you know? She, she was very, she said it like it was, and, and that was about it. So it was, it was good. My, you know, good upbringing. Lot of fun. Lot of friends. It was great. And then I got, around sixth grade, I got sick. And that was where it kind of went, I guess it just tested everything, at that point. I, I was diagnosed, with, sorry I didn’t mean to laugh right there, because I, I, I remember the way that I was diagnosed.

Paul: A lot of people get giddy right before they reveal their...

Mark: I was diagnosed with—

Paul: A lot of people will begin masturbating when they recount—

Mark: Well if my penis wasn’t so inside itself from being so nervous right now, then I’d totally do that. I was diagnosed with something called scleroderma. Which is an, an autoimmune condition. Even then, back then, I’m 38 now, I was diagnosed when I was 11. And it had been around for many years, there’s no cause, there’s no cure, nobody really knows—

Paul: You still have it?

Mark: Yes. Yes, it’s, it affected my, there’s two major types. One just kind of affects the skin and gets, it’s debilitating, and it can be disfiguring, and the other is that and it affects your organs. So you can either get one or the other, and then there are all these different stems from it. I mean people can have a slight discoloration of their skin, and it could be scleroderma. But I got the whole, I got the whole kit and kaboodle when I got it. And, when the woman, when the team of doctors that diagnosed me, they’re like, ‘well, it’s most common among women, who are over 60 and are black’, and I was like, ‘snake-eyes’. You know, it just, just to be, I’m like, ‘am I looking in some weird mirror, where I’m Octavia Spencer?’ There’s something like, and, it was, the reason, I had initially laughed when I started talking about it was, I just started slowing down, that was what happened. In, at recess or, everything just started going slower. My strength and my flexibility was kind of going, we didn’t really know what was going on and, so we went to the doctor, and then we went to another doctor and, after about five or six doctors and how many second opinions, we got to this point where, we were just kind of accepting the fact that it might be arthritis or something. You know, rheumatoid arthritis. And then this last doctor, I’m sitting on the table, and she’s looking at me, and she’s kind of looking at my hands, and she’s looking at my skin, and this is exactly what she does, she goes ‘WHHHHH’, and runs into the other room.

Paul: No.

Mark: And, so, like, it’s, and, I’m always looking at my life as a movie, I always look back at my life as a movie, as it’s scenes from a movie. I’ve always done that. And, so I always see this point of view perspective, of this woman just gasping and leaving the room slamming the door, my mother sitting off to the left of me, and me looking down at my mother going, ‘so, this is probably bad. I guess this is bad’.

Paul: Oh my god.

Mark: At 11. You know, and she comes back in, and goes, ‘I want you to see this specialist, I think you might have this’, and luckily the other doctor was very very kind. He was like, ‘this is what’s going on, this is what we’re gonna do’. And then they had a whole bunch of tests and they kept me in the children’s hospital, at the University of Michigan for a few weeks and took, what seemed like it was all of my blood, and skin samples and there was teams of doctors around and, it was very interesting, like another movie situation, where there was a team of doctors and there were people that were very loving and very hopeful, and and then there were always like two doctors going like, ‘I don’t know, I don’t think it’s going to be good’—

Paul: Poking you like you’re a piece of meat. Oh that’s so awful.

Mark: Yeah and, like no bedside manner and it was one of those things where it’s that scene from a movie, and it’s like, ‘oh, he’s the asshole doctor’.

Paul: Yep.

Mark: And so, and they told me—

Paul: But you don’t know that, did you know that at 11?

Mark: Well, he, that was the thing, I grew up very fast. I made that decision to, I made that decision to kind of go, ‘I need to use whatever wits that I have, any kind of common sense that I have and look at the situation’, and there was a cheesy moment that, there was another kid there and he was pushing himself around in a wheelchair, and they had said to me that there was a possibility, a very good possibility that after a while, I would be in a wheelchair in a few years. And, and he was pushing himself around, and he said, ‘well, better get used to this’, he said it to me. And it was that moment where I was like, ‘no. No, I’m not gonna do that, I can’t let myself get to that point’—

Paul: As if you had any choice.

Mark: Right, and it was, but it was that, I guess it was that that just kind of kept me going. It was that, 11 year old hope that I could not do that, that I could say no to that. And there were, you know, like I said, whenever somebody was telling me that it was gonna get worse, then the blinders would just go on. There was just, I just had to get from point A to point B. I thought I knew what point B was, I don’t, I still don’t. It was that, it was that that kind of kept me going. And it got really bad. I, for many years to all my friends, they’ve always asked me how it was, and the process, I went through a lot of physical therapy. I never took the drugs they gave me, I opted out of them, and more just told my folks that I don’t think we should do this. And did physical therapy, and you know, placebo is a hell of drug too. It really is, and we, we just got to that point where I just kept working as hard as I could, to try to get this point, which I didn’t know.

Paul: What were the symptoms that you were experiencing?

Mark: I lost, I lost probably about half of the flexibility in my body, so it felt like everything I had to do over again.

Paul: So you were fired from the circus.

Mark: Yes, yes I could not, I could not keep up, I just couldn’t keep up.

Paul: The pity is they had the elephant tell you which, do it, at least have Barnum come out and tell you—

Mark: Right to my face, right to my face.

Paul: It’s just so fun when I get somebody that likes to play, then I know—

Mark: And I’m happy about that too—

Paul: When Mark and I, we’d known each other for ten minutes, we were at Pete’s Coffee and you’re telling me your story, and you start going on and on about, something after the diagnosis, and I said to you, ‘Mark, you had me at scleroderma’. And we both just laughed and...

Mark: Right, and which was the original line from, from Jerry Maguire and nobody knew what they were talking about, and it made a horrible plot twist, you know? It was some weird Cameron Crowe agenda.

Paul: So um, you lost, you said 50, 50 percent of your flexibility?

Mark: Yeah I, that’s, I mean, that’s an estimate. It was, it was, and I still have chronic pain. I still, have pain. But—

Paul: You never have to be confined to a wheelchair though?

Mark: No. I came out, the—

Paul: And by the way, which type, the scleroderma with all of it—

Mark: Yes. That it was, it was affecting my organs and everything. And, ultimately, the way that the doctors looked at it, and the rheumatologist, and everything kind of looked at it, after, when I was in my 20s, they were like, ‘I guess we kind of have to look at it like you had a brain tumor, and you know, you were fucked basically, and for some reason, you just weren’t.’ It’s, that’s how they have to look at this whole thing. They don’t look at the one side that I was busting my ass for years and years doing massive physical therapy. And people, like I said, that’s what I was going to say before, my friends have asked me about it, and I have always kind of played it off for many years, and was like, well, you know, it was a process and I had to get through it. It was, it was awful. It was terrible. I was, every, every moment I was in a lot of pain. And—

Paul: And you showed me your hands—

Mark: Yeah yeah yeah. My fingers, well first off, my hands are small, which is a blessing, it makes my penis look huge in it. And—

Paul: Mine didn’t look that big in it though. Then again, I wasn’t fully erect.

Mark: That’s true. That’s true. I wasn’t looking you right in the eyes either, I mean, I was so shy. I was so shy. And that wig was all off kilter that I was wearing, you just didn’t want me, okay.

Paul: So, so your hands are smaller and—

Mark: And my fingers had balled over. My fingers balled over—

Paul: So it’s like there’s no room between the, the end of your fingernail, your fingernail kind of almost looks like it’s ballooning a bit at the end, at the end of your finger.

Mark: Exactly. Like tree frog fingers, yes.

Paul: That’s an excellent—we’re not, we’re not being sarcastic here, there is a slight tree frog quality to the—

Mark: A bulbousness to it. And we alway, I mean friends of mine and I have always joked about that, that I’ve got a little tree frog in me. Um, but it’s, the best way that I can describe it is that, your bones are still growing, your skin, and your muscles around it aren’t.

Paul: Oh really?

Mark: That’s what it kind of felt like. So I was—

Paul: That’s what it felt like or that’s what’s actually happening?

Mark: Um, I don’t know. I’m gonna have to—

Paul: But it was painful?

Mark: It was, yeah. It’s, it’s just, it’s that thing where, if I were to, if I were to wrap both of my hands over your fist, and you were trying to open up your fist...if I was to wrap both of my hands over your fist, and you were trying to open up your fist, that’s what it was. That was the skin over the muscle and the bone.

Paul: Oh, I gotcha. Feeling like something is compressing.

Mark: Yes. So constantly in this wetsuit of skin that I have. Yeah, so it’s, it’s um, yeah which is strange, and you’re going through, this is the worst time to—

Paul: I can’t imagine what kind of dreams or nightmares you had as a kid with that. Did you have a lot of bad nightmares?

Mark: No, it was, the only, I’ve had one dream when I was, when I was a kid that I really remember. And it was a dream where I was, I was walking through a very, it was very, deep rich brown and deep rich green. That I was walking through, all these trees, all these pine trees, and I came out on the other side and it was this, like a vacation resort, like a wooded vacation resort. And, there were a few people kind of off in the distance, kind of clamoring to this main building. And, and somebody found me, and i think it was, if I remember it right, it was just a friend of mine from high school or from, elementary school, and he’s like, ‘there you are, finally finally, come on, let’s go’. And it was my funeral. And everybody was, people were there. Everybody I’ve ever met was there, and there as a casket, at the at the far end of the room. And, and that was, and it was me, knd of making eye contact with all these faces. And, by the time that I got up to the casket I woke up, but that’s the, that’s the most vivid thing that I had. I never had a lot of nightmares, it was just, I I shut off. That’s what happened. I really shut off because I knew that I had to, I had to do something, and so I would, I would get up every day and go through every routine, whatever that was, stretching and everything, and I’d go to school. And I’d do my exercises and do whatever I needed to do and, go back to bed. You know, so, I was there, I was friendly, I was nice to people, but I had, you know, people were talking to me, but it was going right past me. Which sucked because it was all during middle school and it is at that point in time when you’re supposed to kind of like—

Paul: So you were in your own world?

Mark: Yeah. And I’m going through puberty and it’s just—

Paul: And it’s just the dominating thought in your head is, ‘everything wants to kill me and my body is changing not in a good way. Am I gonna be in a wheelchair, am I gonna be dead, is this pain ever gonna end?’. Wow.

Mark: Well the way you put it, it sounds so nice.

Paul: And then there were some bad parts.

Mark: So, yeah so, and through all of this, my folks were great. This is, this was, and this was the thing that I was telling you, when I was just going through therapy, that the therapist was telling me, and it was so funny because I was so disappointed because I wanted it to be so much more complex, and she was like, ‘oh because of this, this happened, you started doing this’. And my mom, you know I’m the only kid, and I, I care about my mom so much and, I just didn’t want to see her keep hearing news of how bad it was getting—

Paul: What would happen, what would happen when she would hear bad news? Would shy kind of crumble or that you would just anticipate how she would feel?

Mark: No I, I, I was playing defense. I didn’t even want her to hear it. So—

Paul: So it’s not like she was this incredibly fragile person.

Mark: No, no nothing, she’s actually a very strong, strong woman and she’s great but, that wasn’t in my thought process.

Paul: Were you closer to her than to your dad?

Mark: My mom and I are, if, if I have to chose who I’m closer to, yes. Yeah my mom and I are very very close. My dad, is, there. He is always there. And he’s good like that. He’s, you know, he’s bad like that too. I mean when I would mouth off to my mom, I mean, all she had, to, she’d be like, ‘Peter!’. And he’d be like, THGDAH-THGDAH-THGDAH and he’d be right there. And, so it was, it was that thing where he was there, and when I was in the hospital, you know my dad was working, he worked food service. He worked for Sysco and everything so he’d sell food to restaurants and everything and, it’s a miserable job that he has to keep going to these restaurants and taking orders every day and it’s just driving around all over, God’s green acre and, you know, you gotta start at six in the morning and you’re done at six at night, he’s always going. And every, I mean with the exception of a few nights, those weeks that I spent in the hospital, he was there, every night.

Paul: Wow. For a dad from that generation, that’s something.

Mark: He uh, there was a little, there were four beds in the room, and my bed was closest to the window, the bathroom was right here, and then in the window there was a little window seat. And it was, it wasn’t even as big as this love seat that I was sitting on, it’s maybe this cushion and about six more inches and that’s where he’d sleep, and he did it over and over and over again. And, yeah it was, I’ve never forgotten that. I’ve never known anybody doing anything better than that. It was so great. It was so, it was that, one of those things where, yeah. That I just needed at that point in time, and he just knew. Therefore, excuse me, therefore, I didn’t want my mom to get the other side of it. And hear, what I was anticipating happening. You know, bad news. And so, I deflected it. And made it seem like everything was okay, and then I started, making things sound better than they actually were. And that’s what my, that’s what my therapist was saying to me like, ‘you just, you’ve got the attention of somebody, so you elaborate, you go on, you say other things, you, because you’ve got their attention. What you’re saying might be great, but why not, add a little more to it?’ And uh, I think that’s what, I mean that’s the only kind of explanation I can find at this point in time. I don’t know where—

Paul: It’s just that, that, in your therapists opinion, that’s where it started.

Mark: Yes, in her, in her opinion.

Paul: In your memory that’s where it first started, you exaggerating?

Mark: Mh huh. Absolutely and, and, and it helped. It just helped because I could, ‘cause I could filibust, I guess, and I could just go, somebody would be like, ‘well what’s going on?’ and I’d be like, ‘well, you’ll never guess, well this and this and this happened and this is good and this is good and this is good, okay, I’ll see you later’. And so they never got a word in edgewise. You know, to feel any sadness or emotion or, whatever they wanted to feel for me, or pity or compassion. ‘Everything’s on the up and up, I’ll see you later, I gotta go’ and I was already out the door by the time—

Paul: And so inside there was, maybe a deep fear of being pitied, maybe being looked down, being that kid in the wheelchair.

Mark: Yeah, I didn’t want that at all.

Paul: ‘Cause you remember how you felt looking at him, thinking ‘I don’t want to feel other people feeling that way about me’.

Mark: Yeah I could’ve thrown up right then and there when he said that. You know, I mean—

Paul: In reality it’s like, a lot of people are confined to wheelchairs and lead perfectly fine lives, but to an 11 year old kid, you don’t, you don’t know that. It seems so foreign and so—

Mark: And I also saw the timeline. I saw, I didn’t see just, I didn’t see just me getting into a car accident and somebody fucking up my legs, and then I’m confined to a wheelchair. I saw the timeline of you’re gonna be in a wheelchair, and then it’s gonna get worse and worse—

Paul: Then you’re gonna be in a gurney, then you’re gonna be in an oxygen tent, I see. So—

Mark: And then I’m gonna be back to normal, and then back to, no. It was just, that, that horrible degressing timeline where it was, it was just gonna get worse and worse.

Paul: What do you remember, do you remember feeling when you would start to exaggerate and was there outright lying as well, or was it just starting as exaggerating?

Mark: I think it was, I think it was more exaggerating. A lot of it was, whatever situation, whatever bad situation it was, I could spin it into a positive, and, and then just add onto it. So, I, I don’t think there’s a difference between the two quite honestly. You’re saying, is there, you know, was there elaboration or—

Paul: I was interested in degrees, there is nothing as dangerous as a sick coping mechanism that really works in the beginning.

Mark: Sure.

Paul: Because something gets wired in you and and that seed gets planted that this is a good thing—

Mark: That it’s okay to do.

Paul: Do you remember feeling like, any kind of physical, like any kind of physical feeling from when you would lie, good or bad? Would you get like a rush from lying? Or was it, was there a guilty anxiety, or was it just not even, you wouldn’t feel anything?

Mark: No, I was, I was shut off because I could, I knew that I could do it—

Paul: You know that you were doing it. You were consciously doing it.

Mark: Oh yeah. It’s, it’s, I’m always, that whole, that whole thing where you, where people are like, you start doing it and you start believing the lie, I’m very aware of what I was saying. Very aware of what I was saying. And, and, I’m getting ahead of myself but, you know what some people start adding to that, ‘oh and then this and this happened?’ and you just go ‘yeah’. And you, and then they’ve got their own, you pass it off to them, so then they’ve got their own, story, way to tell it.

Paul: Sure. And then when people retell it to each other, they like to be more impressive, so they add stuff to it, and then somebody comes back to you with something, ‘and I heard this’, so it’s like, you can passively lie. You have to just not deny.

Mark: Yeah yeah it’s just don’t, you don’t deny and it’s, and you get to that school, you get to that school of, of and I know stand-ups do this a lot, especially people like, you look at somebody like Letterman that will, will can say something and will be out the door. You know, just to have that last word, to keep that nugget right there, and then take off, that’s gold. You know—

Paul: What do you mean when you say like Letterman?

Mark: Well, you know, when he, when he, he just kind of, he gets that last, even though he’s telling the joke in his monologue, he’s always got that style, that patter of where he, he’ll get that last dig in, and then he’s like, ‘so anyway’s’, he’s already onto the next thing. And that’s so, anyways—

Paul: He decides when it ends.

Mark: Right, he’s already onto the next group of people, it’s like, you’re, he’s standing here telling somebody a story, and then he’s already off and is moving onto the next group of people, telling somebody else another story. And, so you’re leaving that person there with laughter, with hope, with whatever, and then you’re out. And that’s what I would do. Whether it was me kind of going, ‘this and this and this is going on in my life’, or them going, ‘I heard this and this and this’ and me just going, ‘yep, that’s what happened’. And, but you always gotta, you always gotta keep positive about this, and I’m already gone. You know?

Paul: Isn’t it funny how, when you really get right down to it, all of our coping mechanisms are about control.

Mark: Oh yeah, absolutely.

Paul: It all comes down to control and power and the fear of not having enough.

Mark: Sure, sure and I got, I got very good at it. And by very good, I mean probably not that good. Because I was starting to fool myself. I became, in my opinion, I became invincible.  I was like, I can say fucking anything, nobody’s going to talk behind my back. It’s me, you know, that’s how I started thinking. And, that’s ridiculous, that’s ridiculous and I’m not even talking about the bad way to talk behind somebody's back, I’m talking about people just saying something about me. Going, ‘did you fucking hear about Mark Teich and this and this and this?’, and—

Paul: When did it take it’s next progression or when did it, start to not work?

Mark: Um, I think for the most part when I was, after I graduated college I lived in Chicago for a few years—

Paul: Did you really go to college?

Mark: For a day. Just for a few days—

Paul: The rest of the interview is just, come on, come on, Mark. Really.

Mark: Right, I had initially, I got into, I went to Western Michigan, well I couldn’t even get into Western Michigan, that’s how shitty of a high school student I was, so I went to Eastern Michigan for a year, then west to Western. Western had a great music theater program I was very much into doing musical theater. And that’s one of the other things I, I’m happy that this disease happened. It was one of those things where, it got me, that’s another scene out of the movie, somebody was like, somebody’s like, ‘you know what’d be good for you? To take a dance class for therapy, for physical therapy’, and it was like that scene from a movie where I’m like, ‘there is no way, that you are ever going to get me into a dance’, and there’s like ZOOBIDODOOP, and I’m in a, I’m in a fucking dance class—

Paul: Jazz hands.

Mark: Yeah, jazz hands. Doing jazz hands and everything. And that’s what happened, and luckily I enjoyed it and somebody, a voice teacher asked me if I could sing, and from that I realized that I could sing, and it was from that process, being, so, from this horrible disease came some kind of passion to do something, which was great. And so, and that’s what I ended up going to college for which was fantastic. And then, went to Chicago, tried my hand at doing improv and at that point in time, I was in such a new place, that that kind of faded away, I didn’t need to, impress anybody at that point. You were just kind of, you were just kind of scared. And doing whatever you could do to, to uh, get on an improv team or—

Paul: I would've thought that, that would have made the lying intensify.

Mark: Yeah, that’s what I, looking back, even saying it now, I would’ve thought that too, but it was just one of those things where, it was just like, welp, we’re all in this together so let’s just, let’s go, let’s kind of—

Paul: Maybe it’s because you didn’t feel like everybody was passing you by. That you didn’t feel the need to, because that’s such a, such a human feeling that ‘oh my god I’m being left behind’, is there anything more panicky? Then that feeling—

Mark: Yeah, I never really thought of it that way, you’re right. You’re right because I, I feel in those, if in those instances, that’s crazy. Because that’s—

Paul: Because isn’t that what gossip is? Is I can’t ascend, so I might as well bring everybody as I can down to my perceived level.

Mark: Sure, sure, and, or, build myself up and make myself a little bit past them.

Paul: One of the two things, gossip or lie. Either way you’re manipulating the perceived level of, of people’s power.

Mark: I’ve never really thought about it that way. Yeah, and, you know that one of the things, when you said, ‘make your fear list’, I was, I was saying that I’m not, I feel like I’m in my timeline of my life as I see it, I’m behind. I’m afraid that I’m going to get even more behind in my timeline. And maybe in Chicago, you’re right. I, and I remember my buddy who lives out here now, he was my roommate back in Chicago, he had said that to me when I was living in New York, he said it, and it was very in passing, but it’s always something that stuck with me, was he said, he’s like ‘we always thought that you would be the one, that would have made it by now, you know, you were untouchable’, and I wasn’t at that point. That was the first time that anybody had ever really said anything like that to me before. It was terrifying to me and I hated it.

Paul: How long after being in, you were in Second City in Chicago?

Mark: I took the classes at Second City, I went through the training center and, we were, there was a, there was a list back in the mid-90s that, that my buddy Kevin who's living with me now was on, my friend Lance Barber was on and Sudeikis was on it as well, Jason Sudeikis was on it, and it was this short list, and TJ, TJ was on it as well. TJ—

Paul: Brilliant improviser.

Mark: Yes, brilliant. And we were all on this list and, ‘cause we had gone through the whatever training center or and we had all done the auditioning and had mailed us this letter, with this list of, and, almost to like pit us against each other, but nobody was really like that. We were all very happy for each other. But, then it was just this weird waiting game, and—

Paul: Why would they do that, say it’s down to you—

Mark: I can’t, I can’t even tell you why.

Paul: That is such a power trip.

Mark: It was so weird, so weird and we, even—

Paul: Was that Joyce Sloan? Was that who was doing that?

Mark: No it was, no that was Beth and Kelly, at the time.

Paul: Okay, I had left by then. I had also gone through the training program but I didn’t make any list.

Mark: Kelly has always been nice to me, Beth is always nice to me, uh Joyce was amazing to me, Joyce was so sweet—

Paul: Joyce kind of ran Second City in the 80s when I was going through the training program. And she would decide who got into which companies.

Mark: Right. Exactly, and at that point, and this was ‘96 or something, Joyce was, Joyce had her office, and she was more of a, as I saw it, she was more of a like a teller of tales. Like she, you’d go back in there—

Paul: Oh yeah, she loved to tell a story.

Mark: She’d tell a story, and that’s just what I thought she did. You know, and at that point in my life I was just like, ‘oh if I need to hear a nice story about Belushi, you just go back in Joyce’s office’, and then I got, I got caught up with the timeline again. And I said, ‘I should be in and out of here by now’ and I wanted to move to New York. And so, I went into Kelly’s office and was like, ‘I’m going to go to New York, you can either hire me now or not’, and he, wasn’t really, he didn’t cop into that idea at all. And I was like, okay. I was supposed to go, and then I met a girl, and I stuck around for another five months, and then I left after we broke up. And I moved to New york and, and that’s when I started working with, or that’s when I started getting into, or noticing the comedy scene in New York. Stephen Lynch was doing it, and Stephen and I had gone to college together and I had, I had written a song with my buddy in Chicago and I was like, ‘I want to do this with you too’, and I’ll state for the record right now, and that was another thing that I was doing with the elaboration and everything, I was like, ‘oh yeah, this is him and this is a collaboration thing between him and I’, and that’s not the case, it was him and he was having me do some stuff with him on the show. And, and that’s how, that’s how it always was, but I think I wanted, I wanted some kind of collaboration for so long, with somebody and that was the closest that I got, and that’s just not how Stephen works. He writes his songs, and he puts them up, and you know, after trial and error, I would, you know, give my two cents to everything but, but it was his call and everything, and he’s, taken me, I’ve performed comedy in front of more people than I could have ever imagined at this point. I would say that he is the most famous comic that no ones ever heard of because, you know, he sells out all over the country, all over the world now, in these giant theaters, and I remember when I first came out here in 2003, and I’d take my meetings, and I’d be like, ‘yeah, Mark Teich, I performed with Stephen Lynch’,  and people would just shake their head and not know who he was—

Paul: There are so many comics that, that sell out venues that so many people have never heard of. I suppose that’s one of the things about, with there being so many TV channels now and the internet, like I had never heard of Russell Peters until like a year ago when I was, ‘oh my god, this guy is selling out stadiums’—

Mark: I know, it’s crazy, it’s crazy—

Paul: And I’d never heard of this guy. But yeah, Stephen Lynch is a very funny, very funny guy, I had, sounds like a really sweet, great person.

Mark: He’s a really great person, he’s very, you know, but he, I wanted so bad, for us to, get to that point where we started really really like buckling down and working together. And ultimately I knew that, that wasn’t going to happen, at least at this point in our lives but, the way that I told the story was completely different.

Paul: Sure. What did you say?

Mark: Oh well it was just me going, I think it was just me going—

Paul: ‘He’s on my coattails’.

Mark: It was, it was always the funny joke because, that was always the joke when he would come out, he, you know, he would do these shows for massive amounts of people and, I mean, and for like 45 minutes, he’d have them in the palm of his hand, and then I came out there. So I had like the best of all possible worlds. I could, literally and be like, ‘bblllpp bblllpp bbllpp’ and leave and people would be like, ‘he was hilarious’. Because he had gotten these people to such, to such a place and, but I’d always come out and say, ‘how about a big hand of applause for my opening act Stephen Lynch’, and, but it, it got to that point where, Stephen is a very smart guy and he knew that, I just hadn’t found my place or my niche, and through these, elaborations and lies I was telling people that, you know, we were doing so much more than we were doing. He, let it be for the most part, because it didn’t really matter for him. And we discussed it, and we would joke on stage about it. And it got to the point where we finally just had an understanding ‘cause I was like, he would get done with a song and I would be like, ‘I wrote that’. And he was like, ‘yeah yeah yeah, that’s what you did, you wrote that’, so it was, it got to that point. And now we’ve got—

Paul: And that kept you from having to look at it, ‘cause if you can be funny about it—

Mark: Right and ultimately he, he’s a good friend and I hate the fact that we don’t hang out as much as we do anymore, he’s in Michigan now and I’m out here obviously. And I love performing with him, and he’s said that many times. He’s like, ‘I’m a nervous wreck through that whole first part, and then you come out and we have some fun’, and, so it was always those things that I would hear, and I’d be like, ‘why can’t we work more together?’. So, I got a little off track—

Paul: No that’s okay, so when, when was the next progression of the lying?

Mark: The lying happened when I was living in New York and felt even more invincible because I was, I was bartending and I got to that, I was bartending at a very, very busy place where I could make a lot of money, and when you’ve got that big slab of wood between you and the other person you can fucking say whatever you want. And it was that thing where, I think I heard this in one of your fear lists where you were reading off from somebody where it, the gentleman was talking about he lies to people all the time, that he just met for the first time and, it was so easy for me to do, and so I would just kind of, ‘I’m never gonna see this motherfucker again, I’ll just make something up’. And it was a gag, it was all that stuff, but it was, it was looking back, it was just me keeping my chops up. For, for real human interaction with people that I would see over and over again.

Paul: Would you get a hit from telling a person a lie, a stranger a lie? I mean, because, do you get something different out of lying to a stranger than you would out of lying to an acquaintance or a friend?

Mark: I think it was me just keeping my chops up. You know, and it was, I would do it—

Paul: Like what, give me an example of something that you would say.

Mark: Well it was, I, I used to pretend that, first off, when I was bartending I used to pretend that I was Australian.

Paul: That is unforgivable. That is, you could lie and say you were a millionaire, you could, but the idea of doing an accent, oh that is hilarious.

Mark: So I used to pretend that I was Australian and then I would just go from there.

Paul: And would you have a little barbeque by your side?

Mark: I would. It was, and it was—

Paul: Are these there shrimp? (with Australian accent)

Mark: And it was the worst accent ever. It was, it was me doing Yahoo Serious doing fucking the, me doing The Crocodile Hunter, it was, it was horrible.

Paul: Nice draw by the way.

Mark: And I had, and I would say a city that was, that wasn’t Sydney or Melbourne, that, that they were like, ‘oh you’re from there’, and then I’d just go on from there. I’d talk about this and that. That actually got me a job one time. I was waiting tables at a place called Houston’s in Chicago—

Paul: I remember Houston’s.

Mark: And then I went to Houston’s in New York, and I got, I went, and that’s what I also used to do, I would do this Australian accent through the whole thing and I just talk to people, start bullshitting, making up all these fucking lies and everything, and then at the end if I really like these people, I’d come back and be like, ‘um, I was just messing with you guys, I’m from Detroit’. You know, and the one guy was like, ‘that was great, that’s awesome, that’s so hilarious that you did that’. And he gave me a job, I got an office in the Empire State Building working for this, this big, video game arcade company that was in New York for a while. And I was like a host, for them.

Paul: Would your co-workers at this bar ever call you out on your—

Mark: No, no.

Paul: Were they aware of it?

Mark: Oh, yeah.

Paul: But they didn’t care?

Mark: No, they thought it was funny. You know, they thought it was funny—

Paul: ‘Cause at that point, it wasn’t, harming anybody. Had your lies harmed, up until that point, give me a couple examples of lies that really bother you to this day.

Mark: Um—

Paul: Up to that point, because I know there is gonna be some after this that we’re gonna get into.

Mark: I, would, the only reason that they bother me is because, and this goes up to this point, the present day point thing, the only reason that some of these stories and lies bother me is because I would start, telling them and it would get back to somebody that I was close with. And then somebody would ultimately when they got, when they were either mad about something else or whatever, they would confront me and go, ‘listen, I can’t keep up with your bullshit, I don’t know which story, so when I see somebody else, and they ask me about something, I don’t even know what you’re talking about’. And it was, that’s the only time it bothered me. That’s the only time it bothered me—

Paul: When you felt like you were, that this was beginning to burden your friends.

Mark: Yes. Absolutely, because it was never, it was a joke, it was a gag, it was a thing that kind of, lightened the mood or pass it off or, or like I said, I already had the attention of people, so why not add on more to it—

Paul: But weren’t there lies that were more serious than just putting on an Australian accent and fucking around with people? I would imagine if that’s your drug, there had to have been some times, did you lie to girls to get laid?—

Mark: No.

Paul: No?

Mark: No. It was never, it was never that, it was just this form of conversation. I’ll tell you right now the, that time that I worked at the bar in New York, where I probably got laid less, in, than in my entire life and that was the type of place that you could go home with somebody every night if you wanted to.

Paul: Why do you think you didn’t take advantage of that—

Mark: I just, I didn’t want, I didn’t want to deal with that. I didn’t want to deal with the progression of that relationship. I don’t think I was afraid, it was never the fear of the one night stand or anything, it was, the, the burden of, how far am I going to go with this person to—

Paul: I see. That felt like it was a door to a new room that you weren’t willing to walk into yet.

Mark: Yeah, and it was, you can look at it a hundred different ways like, ‘oh I already have too many friends’ or anything like that. I don’t think it was that. It was just me kind of going, ‘am I gonna, am I gonna use everything that I said’, what’s the, what’s the Twain quote, ‘if you, if you tell the truth all the time you don’t have to remember anything’. And so I’m like, it’s just too much, I don’t wanna, I don’t wanna get to that point. And it was all, like I said, nothing was ever, nothing was ever malicious or mean or anything like that, it was all just bullshit.

Paul: So then, what’s the next progression?

Mark: The next progression was, you know, quite honestly it’s what you were just talking about. What you had said that I never really kind of, put together, which was, and I’m, I’m blacking out for a second, but where you said, oh god—

Paul: Gossiping about people to bring them, to feel like you’re bringing them down to your...level?

Mark: Yes! So—

Paul: Spreading lies about people?

Mark: It was, no I never, I never, I never talked shit, it was always about me. I never talked shit about anybody, it was just me, kind of competing with my ego, and this timeline that I felt I needed to be on. Where I was like, well, we should pepper it with a little bit of this and that. And, I think sometimes it was, it was, it was, yes it was insecurity, it was jealousy that I wasn’t at this place that somebody was at. That somebody didn’t recognize that I had done, that I had been doing all of these things. Somebody was dating somebody that I felt that I had a better connection with or, whatever.

Paul: So give me some examples now of the lies that are, that are in this, new progression?

Mark: A friend of mine, a close friend of mine is a, a write for a television show, and I would, and the real story is that when he would write a script or I would see a thing of that, I would read it, and this happened a couple of times and I would be like, ‘oh I like this and I didn’t like that’. And that turned into that I was collaborating with this person on that television show. You know, that’s what it was that would kind of happen. I, I got to that, it was stuff like that, it was me, it was people, um, people always want to hear good news from you, so why not give it to them? That was my, that was my thing. Especially when I was working in the bar. People would be coming back from their, whatever their shitty job was and be like, ‘what’s going on with you now?’. And I’m like, ‘oh this is in the works and that is in the works and you know, we’re writing this next album, and I’m working on this script and oh I just...’ and ultimately, I could tell them what was going on in my life. I could tell them that things are going well. I’m auditioning, I just shot, you know, because I’ve been very lucky. Especially out here, I’ve been pretty successful, but that wasn’t good enough for me to tell them.

Paul: So it wasn’t inconvertible of you to say honestly to a friend, ‘there’s not a whole lot going on, I feel like I’m getting old. I’m afraid my time has passed, and I’m fucked’.

Mark: Yeah, I don’t see myself saying that.

Paul: And yet, that’s the healthiest thing, and I’m, it took me to 40 years of age to get to the point where I realized, ‘oh, that’s a healthy thing, to come out of my mouth’.

Mark: Sure.

Paul: But it’s terrifying.

Mark: But it’s terrifying because you—

Paul: And you’re not even saying it’s the truth, you’re just saying this is what I’m feeling.

Mark: Right. And, and, because all you see, is after you say that, is the person kind of go, like fade back into the distance, and you’re like, ‘where did you go?’.

Paul: But that’s a lot. And if anything, that brings people closer to you, because there is nothing more comfortable that being around someone you know that is unafraid to, be honest with you about what’s going on inside them.

Mark: Right, and you’re absolutely, you’re absolutely right. And that’s what I’ve been, that’s what I’ve been working on. That’s what I’ve been working on, now, where somebody asks me something, and I take them on it. And I think that was my, I think that was another huge problem that I had, where it was just so easy for me, and like I said, I felt invincible. That might not very well be the case, it was just me thinking everybody was stupid, and were falling for whatever bullshit I was throwing at them with whatever the good news. People said that to me all the time, they’re like, ‘you’re fine. You’re doing well, you’re doing really well, you don’t need to add things on top of this. It’s just not, it’s just not necessary’, and so now I take that moment, and hear what the person just asked me, and give it to them, and answer them in a way that, is, is at least kind and honest.

Paul: The other thing too when you lie to people or exaggerate about what is going on with you, you deny them that experience that if they’re feeling like they’re being passed behind, you deny them that experience of bonding with somebody who is experiencing the same thing, ‘cause, while we think everybody wants to hear that things are going gangbusters for us, yeah that’s right, I used the word gangbusters.

Mark: I’m opening up a burger place called that.

Paul: The reality is some of those people are gonna feel what you are feeling, which is, ‘oh no. I’m being left behind,’ so you’re creating that in them.

Mark: Right, right. You don’t want to bore anybody, because even going on about this now. I feel like I’m fucking boring you.

Paul: You’re not, you’re not at all. But I understand that, that, the guys that I play hockey with are, in—

Mark: Field hockey? Ice hockey? I’m sorry.

Paul: They’re not in, most of them aren’t in show business so, they’re kind of interested in it, so they’d always ask me you know, ‘how’s the show going?’ and everything. And I would always answer their questions and then the show went away in September and there’s every week, ‘hey you got any jobs cooking?’. I don’t even go on auditions, I have, other than this podcast, and occasionally doing my Republican character, I have nothing going on, and I get this feeling in my stomach, when they ask me, ‘so, have you got any jobs going on?’, I understand, that panic of, ‘oh my god, I don’t have anything to say’. I feel like kind of a loser, but I take a deep breath and I say, ‘no, I have nothing going on’. And now the question is, ‘are you still not filing for unemployment?’. That’s honestly like the, ‘I can’t believe you’re not on unemployment’ and I just say, ‘no’, I just—

Mark: Yeah that would be what I would say to you right now.

Paul: Yeah. I don’t know why. Maybe I don’t want to look at the fact that, that, but I, I bring this up to say, I understand that, that feeling of, I’ve got nothing in the well. But there is nothing wrong with saying, ‘I’ve got nothing’. And then, laughing about it, or talking about how you feel, about that. But that’s the scariest thing in the world when you’re not used to it.

Mark: It is. It is, and then, and then up to present day two years around here, I had, I had...

Paul: I apologize for my dogs barking, I don’t know what the fuck is bothering them, but uh—

Mark: Something set, a friend or a couple of friends of mine off, and they got to the point where they needed to, to say something to me.

Paul: Do you remember what it was that set them off, or would you rather not mention it?

Mark: They, they it wasn’t the thing that we were talking about before. I don’t think it was that. I think it was, I think it had gotten to a point where they were like—

Paul: The thing you and I were talking about before where, you started the show—

Mark: Yes, yes. I don’t think it was that, I don’t think it was that. I—

Paul: We’re not gonna talk about that because it, it’s, there are people involved that we don’t want to bring into it, and have possible feelings hurt—

Mark: Right. It was, it was a shitty, it was a story that I started telling, that got wildly out of control, because what you were just saying, because so and so thinks this and they say, ‘well did this happen to you? Were you here at this point in time?’. And you go, ‘oh yeah, I was around’.

Paul: Yeah, and it was a moment in the public consciousness that, that kind of made national news, and you were saying, ‘yeah I was right there when this happened’.

Mark: Yeah, and it’s, that’s not the case. And I, and I, I feel horrible for agreeing and going along with, things and then ultimately, and then ultimately bringing it back up. Bringing it back up when I was, had a group of people in the palm of my hand when I was talking to them, or I was drinking or I didn’t have anything to say, it would, it came back up a few times. Which was, I was like, you know, you’re saying it and it’s like—

Paul: And that’s, let’s just stop for a second, that to me, is, the phrase, ‘in the palm of my hand’ is the indication of the sickness, because that infers that, a sense of control instead of a sense of camaraderie, of vulnerability.

Mark: Absolutely.

Paul: And so I, it seems like your journey from here on out, will be one of many, as opposed to better than or less than.

Mark: Exactly and I think that was my problem for a long time, I was like, ‘why does it feel like I’m losing friends? Why does it feel like I’m losing friends?’—

Paul: Because you’re trying to get friends to hard.

Mark: Yes, right. That I was, that I needed to be like, I needed to be the Mayor of Friendville. I was like, ‘we are all’, that stupid Anchorman thing, ‘we are all friends’, you know, and that was my, I think that was my problem, because I was like, ‘and then this and this and I’ll bake you these cookies of lies, these lies of cookies’.

Paul: Isn’t it crazy, how, when we let fear run our lives, the thing we are trying to avoid becomes the thing that we create, it’s like this universal principle of...

Mark: Yeah. I wanted so badly for, acceptance and for, me to put on everybody’s shoulders, you know? And, versus just kind of having somebody that just, kind of understands me. And I have those, I have a couple of those people in my life, that are kind and understand and I was very, I was very angry for a long time that somebody would say something to me, and then just go away and, ‘cause that movie in my mind happened—

Paul: Say something like, calling you out on your lies?

Mark: Calling me out on my lies and then just going away, where I was just like, I, I received a couple of emails from friends, and how I saw it when I read it was, ‘here’s all this that is going on, you need to get right with yourself’, and then I have no correspondence with them ever. Now the movie in my head goes, ‘well that person will be there for me and will help me through this process’, and that’s not necessarily the case. You know, so then it makes me angry, and them I’m like, ‘they’re a coward that they can’t stick along with me. I’ve always been there for them’, but it was me being always there for them, and doing things for them, was me doing stuff for myself, it made me feel better. You know, and that was the point with a lot of people, especially a lot of people out here. I was literally going out of my way to do stuff for people, and to the fact that these people don’t need my help, and I thought I was doing a good deed but, I was making things uncomfortable.

Paul: And sometimes, what we think is going out of our way for people or being nice to people, if we really look deep down, it’s us trying to manipulate them into them thinking that we’re a better person or liking us. We’re expecting something in return.

Mark: Exactly. Right.

Paul: But to me, true altruism, true giving, there is nothing, you’re not expecting anything in return. You just do it because it feels like the right thing to do.

Mark: Right, exactly, and that’s ultimately what I’m trying to accept right now. I and I still have a hard time with it, where I’m like, I’m like, ‘well, I did all this for this person, and I know that I’m not supposed to accept anything in return, but, come on!’. You know, and I, can’t think like that.

Paul: No, you, you can’t and, I think two things that help are one, try to put yourself in other people's shoes, and the other thing is, think of all the defects of character that we have, all the foibles, all the shortcomings, and, when we want to judge someone else, say, ‘hey man, all the shit that people let me slide with, in my life, can I let this other person slide?’. And sometimes the answer, is ‘no, no I gotta make a stand here’. But a lot of times, I do need to let other people slide because a lot of people fucking let me slide on shit in my life.

Mark: Yeah, yeah, and that’s the case, that’s the case. I thought, you know, everybody was stupid. I just think I thought everybody was stupid, and they were falling for this, and I can’t think like that anymore. I’ve gotta, you know, that’s what comedians and improvisors and actors pride themselves on. That they go, you’ve gotta understand that the audience might be smarter than you think that they are—

Paul: Absolutely.

Mark: And, and I was using that rule when I was performing, not when I was living, absolutely not when I was living. And I, and your ego gets in the way, and that’s the other thing, when I really look at, when my, these people that were friends of mine were calling me out, my ego and insecurity got in the way and I just kind of kept taking control of the room and where it would be, you know, the other thing that we were talking about, that I was being kind of, crude, they had mentioned something about me being crude—

Paul: Piggish, piggish with women.

Mark: Piggish and crude to women, I’m not, and, and so, and I didn’t know what that situation was, and I felt like I was in this kind of Kafka thing, where I don’t know what to atone for, and just tell me what I did, and I’ll, ‘cause I was going back in the recess of my memory and I was even confronting people, women. You know, going, ‘do I, do I act like this, do I talk like this?’. And, the people that I, that I had problems with, with ex-girlfriends or whatever, we had talked about those things, and even my best friend, my best friend didn’t understand what, when he had read that he was like, ‘if anything you’re too nice to these women’. So I don’t know where that, where that lies, but all I can do is get to that point where my ego just got into the way, and I was just kind of, being a dickhead, you know? And just saying things—

Paul: So you don’t doubt that that was true, you just can’t remember what they were, because you were lost in the lies?

Mark: Yeah but I, I just, yeah, and I don’t know—

Paul: ‘Cause there’s no reason they would make that up. You know Mark let me read these emails that, that these friends had sent confronting him, and they were very loving. They were very, firm, you know, some of them were very firm, like, you know, ‘I have no desire to see you. There is no need to apologize because I don’t want to be around you ever again’, but there was another one that was, ‘hey, I get it. You know, we’re all insecure, but this has just become really really hard to deal with’. So you can, there’s this sense that these friends want to love you, but you are standing between them, you and them. Your ego was standing between you and them loving you.

Mark: Absolutely, absolutely.

Paul: But that’s so, so good that you can see that now. You need to be a bigger person for them to love you, no you need to be a smaller person for them to love you, you need humility.

Mark: Yeah, I needed to take a moment, I needed, with anything anyone says to me, I just need to take a moment, what you were saying—

Paul: Not panic.

Mark: What you were saying right there, just take a moment, take in what they were saying, and respond, be honest and be kind. You know, you know that you’re kind, that, you know that your heart’s in the right place, you know that all these things are happening, you just don’t need to, you don’t need to make them feel smaller.

Paul: And the fact that you were doing this, that you wanted to come on this show, and talk about this thing which is, I would imagine really hard to do, in a public way, and I really commend you for doing this because I guarantee you there are a lot of people that are gonna listen to this and go, ‘oh my god, I do the exact same thing’. Because I’ve done smaller versions of this certainly, and probably told, definitely outright lies, you know too. I find myself when I’m in a green room full of comedians that are, more famous than I am, which is not hard, I find myself, a panic setting in, that I need to begin to make my life be more impressive than it is. I totally, I totally get that.

Mark: And that’s, and you know, and that’s what they were always saying. These people that have talked to me, they’re like, ‘you’re doing well’—

Paul: ‘You’re enough’.

Mark: ‘You’re doing well, we’re, I’m proud of you’, you know, ‘you’re doing well, you don’t need to add, you don’t need to do this’, and it was me, I was already out the door. Like I said—

Paul: But you were addicted to it already.

Mark: And it was, and that was the other thing, when Theresa, I think it was Theresa and she was talking about food issues versus like drug and alcohol issues, where people go, ‘oh you went through this, and he’s got an addiction, and we’re gonna do this’, and she said something about the food issues that people don’t kind of—

Paul: They don’t cut you that slack.

Mark: And they definitely don’t cut you that slack when it comes to this. And because, they’re just like, ‘fucking get your head together, check yourself’.

Paul: They can’t understand that it’s, that that coping mechanism as a child becomes a drug as an adult. When something works, it gets wired into us, but we can unwire it. It just takes time and it takes work and it takes therapy and it takes a group of friends and sometimes support groups but it absolutely can, can be done. And—why don’t we go out with, before we, was there anything, before we do a fear off, was there anything you wanted to—

Mark: I don’t believe so, no.

Paul: Okay.

Mark: No, I, it was one of the, it was, that thing where you just get to that point and, I felt and that’s why I wanted to talk to you was, thank god for, that I knew Beth and that we had done that show together and then, Erin, it just kind of happened that I needed to, at least say it so that I could keep going on with my life, get moving. And I felt that, that hopefully you’d see that same way too so that I could—

Paul: Absolutely, absolutely.

Mark: So I thank you for that.

Paul: I’m really glad you, you decided to come on and talk about this.

Mark: Thank you.

Paul: So why don’t you kick off your fear list, I’m going to be reading fears from Anne, who is a listener. We did about half of her list a few episodes ago, but we didn’t finish her list, so I’ll be picking up midway through Anne’s list.

Mark: Okay. Shall I start?

Paul: Yep.

Mark: I’m afraid I will imagine how I will die right before I will die, so it will ruin the surprise.

Paul: That’s awesome. Anne says, ‘I am afraid that growing up in the Midwest has allowed me to unknowingly walk around with flaws like bad breath and body odor because everyone here is too polite to tell me I have these problems’. Oh that’s awesome.

Mark: Well we don’t live there anymore so that’s good. I’m afraid that someday I won’t believe in anything anymore.

Paul: Anne says, ‘I’m afraid that while my co-workers are outside taking cigarette breaks with my boss, they are making connections and more likely to get a promotion or leniency on time off than I am’.

Mark: I’m afraid I’m losing my mind.

Paul: I’m afraid that as we fight wars over oil shortages, I in fact am, and am perceived as a douchebag, as I’m driving our Toyota Highlander by myself, when in reality, it is the only used car we could afford after we had our baby because it used to be my dad’s and he gave us a really good deal on it, and I needed to get to my new job which is almost an hour away.

Mark: So descriptive.

Paul: It’s so descriptive, she—

Mark: Was there one period in that sentence?

Paul: Not one. Not one, um, it’s, she is one of my favorite fear off people because you can just feel it coming out like a fucking shit—

Mark: She, she barfs out her fears.

Paul: She just barfs it out. It’s so good.

Mark: I’m afraid that all this work that I’ve done so far is still for others and not myself, and I won’t be able to achieve the things that I want to achieve.

Paul: I’m afraid that one day I will find that I was delinquent on a bill that I forgot I owed, or I’m filing some form of official paperwork from HMO stuff to the IRS and someone in a dark suit will come to our door and say, ‘that’s it you fucked up and now you’re all going to become homeless then die in short order’.

Mark: Oh wow. I hope it’s Tommy Lee Jones. I’m afraid that my non-fear of death will make me careless and hurt other physically and or emotionally.

Paul: I’m afraid that I wasn’t deserving of my masters degree and someday someone will reread my thesis, decide it was crappy and try to take my degree away.

Mark: I’m afraid I’ll never get in better shape.

Paul: I’m afraid that I’m the ex-girlfriend people tell their, ‘oh my god this was the most fucked up relationship I was in’ stories about.

Mark: I’m afraid to let go of my ego and not be someone, just be anyone.

Paul: I’m afraid I’m the ex-girlfriend no one remembers or ever talks about. Isn’t that funny, her back to back fears are that she’s being talked about and then her next fear is that no one is talking about her?

Mark: Yeah. I’m afraid that I constantly judge because I don’t think people think the way that I think.

Paul: I’m afraid that there really is a god and that he’s very pissed off at me.

Mark: I’m afraid I’ll lose the rest of my friends by doing this show because they had no idea I was elaborating most times.

Paul: I’m afraid that there, I’m afraid that when my grandparents die that the house that they live in will not stay in my family and strangers will move in the one place that felt safe and warm to me during my childhood. Oh, that kind of makes me sad.

Mark: Yeah, wow.

Paul: That’s the show.

Mark: Just go out on the Benny Hill music and everyone will be okay. I’m afraid that no one will think I’m worth it anymore. Even though I continue to think that he or she is worth it.

Paul: I’m afraid that abortions will become illegal in America and rich women will survive on one pregnancy while poor women will die horrific deaths from back-alley procedures. Now we cue the Benny Hill music and we go out!

Mark: Oh boy. I’m afraid I’ll use a form of media to ruin my chances of doing anything ever again in the field of entertainment. Whether it’s a performance or a function where I just fucking snap.

Paul: I’m afraid that most people are fundamentally selfish and that the world is doomed because of it.

Mark: I’m afraid that I will actually think that my struggle is over in life because of my previous illness and as soon as I complete that thought I’ll be diagnosed with another incurable untreatable disease.

Paul: I’m afraid that my son will grow up to be a Republican obsessed with Ayn Rand. That’s very specific.

Mark: Yeah. I’m afraid of forgiveness postponed, or worse yet denied.

Paul: I’m afraid that I will never have enough time that I want to, that I want to, feel the air of all the places I want to go, marvel that all the art I want to and I will die feeling like I have squandered so much time trying to earn a living at a job I kept solely because without it my family has no access to medical care. I would imagine there are a lot of people that feel that fear, but it’s just a grey ball inside them. You know, of just, ‘oh I’m just not getting it done. I’m not, life is passing me by, and everyone else’—

Mark: Absolutely. That’s why, when I heard that, when I just heard that I immediately thought of the midwest. I immediately think that thing because I always, I was always so happy to, I mean even though I love Chicago, and I loved living there, I just wanted to go, get away.

Paul: You felt like as long as you were there, you could not possibly fulfill what you need to fulfill, to avoid feeling like a failure.

Mark: Right. Right.

Paul: I understand that totally. And it’s crazy—

Mark: And look at me now ma! Okay, well here’s a big one. I’m afraid that unlike most other sins I’ve committed in life so far, my failures with people provoke actual embarrassment and guilt. I’ve sabotaged relationships, I’ve dropped the ball on opportunities to build others up, and hurt good and shitty people I care about because of my inability to fully trust that they have self worth with or without me. I have a long harbored delusion that somewhere, somehow I could do a better job bettering them. I’m an ass and I have recognized it through it being pointed out to my friends and ex-friends. I’ve worked diligently to better myself, I will continue to do so and I’m sorry. It doesn’t change the past though, and I don’t know if this sense of shame will ever fully vanish.

Paul: That was a fear or, or more of a confession?

Mark: That was a little bit of a confession, but it seemed like there was a fear and some shame in there as well.

Paul: I see, that was good. That was juicy. That was, that was a t-bone with, I guess all t-bones would have the bone in, but uh, where was I? I am afraid that America as a nation will never mature beyond pre-kindergarten and will continue to stubbornly cry ‘not yours, mine’ when asked to share things like access to doctors and medicines.

Mark: I’m afraid that everyone is afraid of me. Whether it’s their idea in their head who they think I am, or what I’m capable of. Like I’m a monster, ‘don’t cross Teich. He’s a fucking powder keg waiting to blow’.

Paul: I’m afraid that one day I will end up in prison for a crime I didn’t commit. I had that one all the time, all the time.

Mark: I think about that. I’m afraid that no one will take, I’m sorry, I’m afraid that no one will take care to take the time to tell me what’s wrong with me because, you know, who cares? It’s just fucking Mark Teich.

Paul: This is kind of a dark one but I feel like I should read it anyway. Anne says that, ‘I’m afraid that one day I will be walking down the street and I will see the man who raped me when I was 17 and I will be unable to say or do a thing’. I want to thank you Anne for having the courage to write that. That was pretty deep.

Mark: I’m afraid that everyone knows a secret about me and I’m trying to figure it out. Now I’m saying all of ‘Mark fears’ with a question mark.

Paul: I have that fear too. That there’s, that I did something, in the past, that I think nobody knows about, and everybody knows it.

Mark: Everybody fucking knows it’s a secret. And I’m just, you know—

Paul: And I get rejected for something or somebody doesn’t want to hang out with me—

Mark: Or somebody doesn’t call me—

Paul: ‘Cause they know that thing that I think nobody knows.

Mark: Exactly. And what’s even worse, like going back to what we were talking about, that I might not even know what it is. That I might, that you know, like I don’t think that they know, I think that it’s something that I don’t even remember or—

Paul: Or it was a misinterpretation of something. Yeah, yeah. Anne says, ‘I’m afraid that I might have a dairy allergy but I refuse to see a doctor about it because I love cheese and icecream so much’.

Mark: I’m afraid that I’m in some kind of Truman Show type life and that people are massively disappointed with the show.

Paul: I’m afraid that my son will grow to like his daycare providers than he likes me.

Mark: I’m afraid that I’m forgettable. I don’t matter.

Paul: Oh boy do I relate to that one. I’m afraid that my son will feel deprived because we can’t afford to buy a house for him to grow up in.

Mark: I’ve got a couple shames but she’s beating my in the fear off.

Paul: She beat you in the fear off, and still probably had about eight fears to go. You are, you are good and, you want to share a couple of shames? I don’t have any listener shames handy—

Mark: No that’s fine—

Paul: So I’ll try to, I’ll try to Miles Davis it.

Mark: I’ll give you a love first. I wrote a love, I just wrote, ‘I love my story’. I’m just currently trying to piece it all back together. That’s what I, I had to, when I was writing fear and shame and everything, I had to, I needed to write some kind of a little bit of love—

Paul: That’s beautiful. Maybe we should, a love-off, in the future. Hopefully it wouldn’t get too cheesey, but that might be nice, in mixing up all the negative stuff. You can never have enough love can you?

Mark: No, I, I hope not, because I crave it.

Paul: God so do I. There is nothing like, nothing like just feeling love and feeling a part of... What’s the shame one, or did you have more love stuff?

Mark: No just that, that’s just, that was just, I needed to just write that one down, I just needed to write that down at that point. When I was writing everything down.

Paul: That was sweet.

Mark: Shame of my self-centeredness and my lack of mercy when people aren’t thinking the way that I want them to.

Paul: I was trying, I was thinking more of a specific thing that, we had done, and this one, this was a—

Mark: Oh that’s right, when we were talking about that in the coffee shop.

Paul: This is a really big one for me, and I don’t know if I ever, if I ever mention this one on the show before, but it was before I realized I was an alcoholic, and I was really depressed and I was, I was on meds for the first time and I had quit drinking so the meds were working really well, but because I wasn’t addressing anything spiritually in my life, I was feeling really good but still completely full of myself. Still completely full of ego, so it was really kind of mania and I was doing that show The List, VH1’s The List, and k.d. lang was the host, and—God this is so hard to talk about because I have, for years after this happened I would, my stomach would turn into a knot when I would think about it—because I was so full of self I thought that I had to do something spectacular, you know? And I thought, this is so hard to talk about, I thought, ‘wouldn’t it be funny if I went and sat on her lap, and told her that she needs to come over to the other side’. And it was just uncomfortable, and she handled it very well, but it was all about me, and there were three other panelists on the show, and one guy, it was like in the middle of his question that I had gotten up and done this. And I had seen her sing like, it didn’t come out of the blue. I had seen her, seen her sing the night before at a Joni Mitchell tribute concert and she was amazing, and I did genuinely have a crush on her, because she was so, she sang so beautifully and I just found her to be so attractive, but, it was, I couldn’t even see how inappropriate I was being because I was so full of self and so full of ego, and just absolutely disregarded the other people on the show. Disregarded how that may have made her feel, and I didn’t realize it until about an hour after the show, and went from thinking, ‘man, I can’t wait until people see this, ‘cause this is gonna get talked about’ to ‘oh my god, what have I done?’.

Mark: Yeah.

Paul: That may be one of the biggest shames I have in my life.

Mark: Right. Now that I look at what you’re talking about, then we can just use everything that I’ve talked about this whole hour as my shame-off.

Paul: In a way it is, in a way it is but I hope you’ve seen that this, probably came out, of a coping mechanism that a very scared, sensitive child had, and most of us, that are fucking up in one way or another, it comes out of that. And your responsibility as an adult now is to recognize what that is, when we keep running into that brick wall, it’s up to us as adults now, to say, ‘hey I’m not a child, this isn’t working for me’—

Mark: ‘I’ve gotta take the blinders off’—

Paul: ‘I’ve gotta take the blinders off and see what I can do to fix this’, because kids can get away with it, but adults can’t. And I want to congratulate you on being an adult and stepping up to the plate and doing it even though it’s painful. Even though it’s embarrassing. My hat is off to you and I want to thank you. Thank you for being a great guest.

Mark: Thank you so much.

Paul: Thanks Mark.

Many thanks to Mark Teich. I also want to thank Stig Greve who keeps our website in order. He designed it, he does a fantastic job, he does it all for free. His business is called Chromadile, and there is a link to his business on our homepage, so if you’re looking for a web designer, he’s, he’s your guy. Also thanks to John and Michael who help, and Manuel who keep the spammers out of the forum. Thanks to Carla for, giving me great feedback on the show. I, we’re not done yet, I’ve still got a, a listener email that I want to read. And before we get to that, actually it’s a listener survey, I want to, mention that there are a couple different ways that you guys can support the show. I know if you’re regular listeners you’re tired of hearing this, but, to keep, to keep this thing going I feel like I’ve got to do it every episode. So I apologize if you’re annoyed, by hearing the same thing every week. Three different ways you can support the show. You can support it financially by making a donation through PayPal, there’s a link right on our homepage. You can support it by shopping through our Amazon link, that way Amazon gives us a couple nickels, doesn’t cost you anything. That’s on the homepage, right hand side, about halfway down. And the third way you can support us non-financially by going to iTunes and giving us a good rating. Writing something nice about us, that boosts our ranking, brings more people to the show. Now that wasn’t that painful was it?

I’m going to read a survey respondent. Her name is Libby, she is in her 20s. She occasionally uses drugs and alcohol. The environment she was raised in was a little dysfunctional. Exercises once in awhile, diet is not too good. She’s been through therapy, more than 20 sessions, tried meds but didn’t feel they worked. She shares her feelings on a regular basis but doesn’t know if it helps. She has a non-existent spiritual life. She is unsatisfied with how much money she makes.

Common negative thoughts she has, she says, “I feel like I don’t deserve, I feel like I don’t deserve the life I have. I feel like a sham intellectual. I feel like my boyfriend would be happier with a thin or thinner girl.  I don't think I can ever exhibit the self-control necessary to lose the weight I know I need to lose. I feel like I am constantly inconveniencing people around me and I frequently adopt a repentant demeanour. I feel like I am apologizing for existing and if I didn’t I wouldn’t have to interrupt what they’re doing what is certainly a stupid question.”

Behaviours she engages in that she wishes she didn’t, “I wish I didn’t smoke, bite my nails, pig out on pasta or procrastinate.” By the way, one of the reasons that I’m reading this response, Libby’s survey response is it, feels to me like, the most prevalent kind of thing that people have going on in their brain. This to me feels like a slice of, not only American female, but of American. Or fuck, not even limited to America, I just think, this just struck me as, ‘I bet so many people can relate to this’.

Do you believe some person, place or thing is keeping you from being happy, if so what? She writes, “I feel like if I didn’t smoke, if I wasn’t a fatty, if I’d finished college sooner”—God she’s so hard on herself— “If I’d had a career rather than a part-time job, if I wasn’t selfish and didn’t want so many things that I can’t possibly afford and actually had the willpower to live within my means, then I might feel genuinely happy instead of intermittently happy.” Boy, that one went right to my, the fucking center of my soul. I feel that, that feeling is so fucking, I can so relate to that.

Her defining mood is panicky. Her most common thoughts are, “I don’t have enough, I don’t do enough, and if I were famous I would be happy”. Oh no, sorry, “if I were rich I’d be happy”. Her most common activities are procrastinating and accepting others as they are. Which is a nice change of pace. Somebody’s got a, a little bit of contrary feeling, other than just negativity going on.

Does anything ‘cause you to feel ashamed, if so what? She writes, “getting less than an A in my course work in high school. I was happy if I got a C or better. During my first attempt at college I practically flunked out, now I hold myself to obsessively high standards. And when I don’t meet them, I feel like a loser. I let myself get overwhelmed last semester and finished it with two As and two Cs. I was inconsolable for days.”

Does anything cause you to feel guilty, if so what? She writes, “lying”—and by the way this was on the top of the stack of respondents that I’d printed out to see which one I wanted to read at the end of the show. Coincidence? She writes, “Lying. I stop lies in my throat all the time. I developed a habit of making up stories at school when I was really young because I thought that I needed them to seem more interesting and avoid blending in with the beige walls. To this day I’m convinced that 90 percent, 95 percent of the people I graduated with, barely knew my name at school and wouldn’t know if now if it weren’t for Facebook insisting that we did in fact go to school together. It was difficult to keep the stories straight when I was a kid, and it’s difficult to keep from telling them now. It’s always stupid things. Sensationalized versions of real experiences. I wish I could think of one to share right now, but they are always fleeting thoughts, and try as I might, I can’t seem to summon up any stories as pathetic as the ones that pop into my head.”

Does anything cause you to feel angry? She writes, “even though it happened several years ago, I still harbor some anger at my mother for something she said that made me feel completely worthless. We were discussing my sister’s creative accomplishments of what she has many, and resenting her for it is another of my personal failings. And I said ‘I wish I did something for her to brag about’, and then she said to me, ‘well it’s not like you have any tangible talent, nothing I can see anyway’. Thinking back I’m sure she viewed this statement as harmless, referring to visual talents like painting or sculpture, but it still made me feel like shit. Another thing she did that makes me feel angry to think about was when I was 11 I was having really bad cramps and when they did the ultrasound, she thought she saw something on the monitor, so she drove me silently to the drugstore, bought a test, and stood outside the bathroom while I peed on it. I wish I could say that was the only time she made me take a pregnancy test, before I’d even lost my virginity which wasn’t until I was 18. It’s no wonder I didn’t tell her when I got pregnant and had an abortion, about which I feel absolutely no shame, guilt or anger. It was a mistake and the best possible solution for that mistake for me personally. If I were writing a memoir I would dedicate an entire chapter to the crazy things she said to me and done. I’d call it ‘if my mother were a hyena she would have eaten me at birth’.”

If there is a god, what are some of the things you would say to god? And she writes, “I would apologize for the inconvenience of my existence. Since if there is a god, he has certainly been keeping me alive and well by some sort of miraculous power. I have done so many fucking idiotic things, it’s a miracle I remain on this earth as opposed to in it.” This one is just breaking my heart.

Do you have any comments or suggestions to make the podcast better? She writes, “I wish it were posted more frequently. I love hearing the deep dark secrets people keep locked away because it’s therapeutic to know I’m not the only one who is a little demented but still relatively functional. The survey was therapeutic as well. There are things I feel I can’t talk to my significant other about, like the lying thing and talking anonymously helps.”

Well Libby, if it makes you feel any better, reading your survey made me feel better. Made me feel, less alone, less broken, less fucked up. It reminds me that all the crazy thoughts I have bouncing around in my head, and my desire to exaggerate when I’m feeling like I’m not enough between you and Mark and me, I’m hoping other people out there that feel like they’re not enough, know that they’re not alone. So, thanks for listening.

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