Matty McVarish

Matty McVarish

A survivor of childhood sexual abuse, Matty could no longer bear the silence he saw around him, so he started Road to Change and walked 10,000 miles across Europe to  raise awareness and in the process helped change laws in several countries.

For more information on Road to Change go to www.roadtochange.eu or visit the Facebook page

Follow Matty on Twitter @RoadtoChangeEU

To donate your time or money to Free Arts, the program Paul talked about that helps underserved kids in Los Angeles through art, visit www.FreeArts.org

Episode:

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Episode notes:

For more information on Road to Change go to www.roadtochange.eu or visit the Facebook page

Follow Matty on Twitter @RoadtoChangeEU

To donate your time or money to Free Arts, the program Paul talked about that helps underserved kids in Los Angeles through art, visit www.FreeArts.org

Episode Transcript:

Welcome to episode 220 with my guest, Matty McVarish. I’m Paul Gilmartin. This is the Mental Illness Happy Hour. Honesty about all the battles in our heads, from medically diagnosed conditions, past traumas, and sexual dysfunction, to everyday compulsive negative thinking. This show is not meant to be a substitute for professional mental counselling. It’s not a Doctors’ office. I’m not a therapist. It’s more like a waiting room that doesn’t suck. The website for this show is mentalpod.com Go there, check it out. Fill out some surveys, see how other people filled out surveys. You can read blogs, you can support the show, you can buy coffee mugs, you can buy t-shirts. Other stuff I am probably forgetting right now.

Let’s jump into a – oh - update on my withdrawl from Abilify (sp?). I think I am finally completely off of it. I’ve had a good week, I’ve been hitting the gym a lot and feeling in a really good mood. Thank you so much for your emails of concern and support through that tough time. I knew I was gonna get through it, and I think that’s one of the benefits of having had experience with mental illness for a long time, is that you know there’s ups and downs to it. So when you’re in one of the downs, intellectually you know that you’re going to come out the other side. It helps, cause when you’re in that pit, you feel like you’re never gonna come out of it, cause it feels so real, and it feels like that’s gonna be your new reality.

Anyway, let’s get to some surveys. This is “Struggle in a Sentence” Survey, filled out by Sarah W about her depression. She says:

Sarah W: Like being forced to go to a party, and people won’t let you leave even though you’ve told them you didn’t wanna be there.

Paul: That one really struck a chord with me. This is filled out by a woman who calls herself ‘Charlie Brown’, about her anxiety. She writes:

Charlie Brown: Heart feels like it is running away. Head feels like it is being filled with helium. I take my hand to my head and ravage my skull. I twist my fat skin until I get welts. I am falling, and just waiting for the concrete.

Paul: Wow. That is so descriptive. About her anorexia

Charlie Brown: A toxic boyfriend that I miss in the dark days.

Paul: Thank you for that. Alex writes about her anorexia, she’s a teenager. She writes:

Alex: If my stomach would just stay silent, and not try to ask for help, I could do this.

Paul: APA writes about her anorexia

APA: My eyes say fat, but my BMI says underweight, and this confuses the hell out of me.

Paul: Asian Werewolf writes about a snapshot from his life. He writes

Asian Werewolf: I’m finally going to see a musical act that I have been wanting to see for the last 20 years. Just got my ticket. The show is in July, it’s now April. I’m already worried about rain, parking, whether or not a riot will break out during one of my favourite songs. I may have to sell my ticket.

Paul: I think a lot of us can relate to that one.

This is filled out by a woman who calls herself ‘Megaman’. She writes about her depression.

Megaman: Consistently five to ten minutes late for work, and I can’t bring myself to wake up that much earlier to get there on time.

Paul: Oh my God, you completely described my life. It’s just a constant bargaining. There’s a really funny comedian named ‘Greg Gliena’ who used to do a bit about that. How you keep hitting your snooze button, and how you bargain with yourself saying “well, if I didn’t wear socks, I could sleep another 30 seconds”. – She says about her anxiety:

Megaman: I make more work phone calls on Good Friday, than usual, because I know most offices are closed, and I can just leave a message instead of talking to someone.

Paul: There is a particular joy to getting an answering machine, or a message when you know you just cannot bear to communicate with another human being. There’s something so sickeningly comfortable about that. -- About her binge eating. She writes

Megaman: Anything can be justified in that short time before a binge. Before you even realize what’s happening, and entire bag of sea salt popcorn is gone, and you knew the thing that was going to make you happy, didn’t, and never will, but you’ll do it again tomorrow.

Paul: A snapshot from her life:

Megaman: We can do a diet, doing really well. Stayed under my calorie limit, and I just wanted a treat. So instead of maybe a mini chocolate bar, or half a cupcake, I get the big bag of Sea salt caramel popcorn from the store down the street, and eat the whole thing in one sitting.

Paul: Well, give yourself points if you actually sat. I don’t know about you, but when I just completely lose all control with food, I seem to always do it standing up in the kitchen. -- Then this one is “an Awful some moment” filled out by a woman who calls herself ‘Awful lot of Falafel”. Great name, and in parenthesis, she puts (Sarah). She writes:

Awful lot of Falafel: I’m 28 and I’d finally gotten so depressed, and suicidal, that I checked myself into an eating disorder treatment centre. This was no easy feat, and when I called my Dad to tell him my decision, and he questioned me and shared his concern only for my career, and what this would to do jeopardise my future”.

Paul: Oh my God. Fast forward to family night, in the treatment program:

Awful lot of Falafel: For the life of me, I don’t know why they have us eat together around that night, but they do. After I’d painstakingly made my choice, I sat down at the table with My Mom, my Dad & my Sister. My Dad looked over my plate and proceeded to warn me about all the unhealthy starchy foods that are in cafeterias, and he told me to choose wisely. My sister kicked him under the table, and scolded him when I couldn’t. I still think about that moment, and how much love I feel for my sister for sticking up for me when I had no words.”

Cue: intro music

******

Paul: I’m here with Matty McVarish. Am I pronouncing it correctly?

Matty: Yeh, perfect, yeh.

Paul: You just got back from walking 10,000 miles, across Europe to raise awareness, and to help stop the silence around childhood sexual abuse.

Matty: Yeh, yeh

Paul: Where do we – and you’re wearing a Kilt.

Matty: Yeh, I always wear this kilt

Paul: You’re from Scotland

Matty: I’m from Glasgow.

Paul: A Glaswegian

Matty: A Weegie, aye

Paul: A Weegie.

Matty: So I’ll try to speak really clearly

Paul: I’m so glad that you, – I don’t know if you got a hold of me, or your Brother I think got a hold of me, to let me know about what you were doing.

Matty: Yeh. He was like a huge fan of the show, and told me for like a year, like you gotta listen to this show. And at that point I was already walking around Europe. So, he came out to Budapest, it was, in Hungary, and he drove the follow van behind me, for like a month. And he downloaded every episode. So it took me a month to walk to Bucharest and in that month, I listened to every episode, and became obsessed.

Paul: Oh My God

Matty: So by the end of the month, I’d heard your whole back catalogue, and I had to wait, like everyone else, for a Friday for the next one.

Paul: (Laughing)

Matty: But it was awesome, and yeh, I think I wrote to you at that point, and you said, -- because I finished in February, and you said, “Just give me a shout if you’re in LA”. So I’m here this month ‘cause it’s Child Abuse Prevention Month in America.

Paul: I wasn’t even aware of that

Matty: Yeh, well that’s why I have the blue ribbon on my kilt. That’s why the kilt’s actually blue. People expect it to be Tartan, but it’s a blue kilt because blue is the colour of Child Protection.

Paul: Where do we even begin with your story? We might as well start at the beginning. How many kids in your family?

Matty: I’m the youngest of seven.

Paul: Wow

Matty: Yeh. Irish Catholic family. I was raised in just a suburb of Glasgow. And I was born…

Paul: Why do you say “Irish Catholic”? Because you’re roots are originally from Ireland?

Matty: My Dad’s Scots, my Mum’s Irish. So the influence as a child was, kind of that Irish Catholic tradition. We spent summers and holidays in Ireland, all the way growing up, it was -- you know, all the schools I went to were all catholic, and a lot of the Priests & stuff were Irish. But yeh, it was in Scotland, and I was born exactly nine months after Pope John Paul came to Glasgow, which

Paul: (Laughing) That’s fantastic.

Matty: Exactly nine months, yeh

Paul: Dana Gould, a really funny comedian, has a line that he was born nine months after Kenney was assassinated, and he said “Oh, I guess I know how my Father processes grief”.

Matty: Exactly, yeh, it was a good day. I think there was a whole class of people who are exactly my age in Scotland, you know, so, it was a good day for a lot of people.

Paul: So what was family life like?

Matty: looking back, I mean like, Scotland has changed a lot in the past two decades, which I’m really proud of, but, growing up it was kind of scary in a catholic high school. I was abused by my uncle all the way though my primary school, and high school. I guess like it wasn’t a very -- you know like with that religious conservatism, there was not the kind of opportunity to talk about that stuff. Scottish guys are particularly stoic, and they don’t show vulnerability very well. So, you know, I was silent until I was 25 really about it all.

Paul: So, from what age to what age? You said from primary school, though high school.

Matty: yeh, I really don’t remember when it started. Like it began when I was so young that I don’t even remember the first instance of it. But it was just a regular thing, until I was 13. So, like, 1996… March 24th at 4 o’clock. I told him to fuck off.

Paul: Wow, what did that feel like?

Matty: Wow, that was a crazy day. I mean I was … he lived with my Gran. He never married, and they’d moved around a lot, and they’d moved back down to Glasgow, which was a relief cause they used to live one street behind us. So he was abusing me pretty much daily. And then my Gran wanted to move down to the main city, so he was gone, so I didn’t see him so much and I was able to like avoid being alone with him & stuff, but, …. So I was in the 2nd year of high school, I was like 13… and I guess he hadn’t abused me for a couple of months, I had managed to avoid being stuck in his car or whatever. He picked me up and we, under the guise that our other uncle was going to be there. Our other Uncle who was really cool and funny.

So I went with him, and we got there, and of course the other uncle wasn’t there, so it was just trapped in this house again. Um, and yeh… and so… it was just the usual, he kind of undressed me and was doing what he would do, and I kinda faked that I wasn’t feeling very well. So I went to the bathroom. I looked out the bathroom window, but it was in, we call them tenements in Glasgow, it’s like an apartment. I looked out the window and it was on the 3rd floor, and I thought, you know, I could either try and climb down, or I can jump. I was like, if I jump, I’ll break both my legs, and then everyone will be “Why did you jump out the window?”, so I thought I’d get in trouble, so I went back and he said, you know, he was like “You gonna do me now?” and I was like, you know, ‘that’s not happening’.

So I didn’t say anything. I just went into the living room, and he was one of those guys who would always take his change out of his pockets, and put it in a bowl. So there was this bowl of money, and I needed that to get the bus home, cause I was like 8 miles from my house. So, he followed me out of the living room. I think I said “your fire’s on, the gas fire”, and he turned around, and I just shot past him. He got a fright, and unfortunately they have these storm doors, there’s like 2 doors. So I got through the first one, and I was just getting through the second one, and he caught me. He was so frightened, he was so surprised cause obviously I’d just tolerated this forever, and suddenly I was objecting to it. So he got my wrist, and he pulled me so hard that he nearly pulled my arm out of my socket, cause he was really surprised. And then he & I were standing there, in this hallway totally shocked, and I didn’t really have a plan, and you know, I just stole a few pounds from him to try & get the bus.

So he was kind of startled, and then we got in his car, and he drove me home in silence. And I go into my house, and my Dad’s there, he worked shifts, and my Dad’s oblivious to the situation that we’re having, you know. And I think at that time, I had this little Tetris game. It wasn’t a game boy, we weren’t that wealthy to have an actual Game Boy. It was one of those crappy little …

Paul: You actually just got blocks from the garage and rearranged them

Matty: Yeh, exactly! Someone would drop them off the stairs, and I would, you know …

Paul: ‘Time to start over again’

Matty: So I was addicted to that thing, so I sat quietly in the corner and I just played Tetris, and he sat there. He and I were aware of the situation. Toy Story had just come out, that’s how long ago this was, and he was supposed to take me and my brother to see Toy Story that week. He said “I’m gonna go now”, and I just said nothing. What was weird, and my Dad didn’t notice this, he was like “do you want to walk me out’. I was like, “what?” So.. I follow him out to the hallway, and he says to me “Can we still be friends?”, and I was so like chocked, I just shook my head. Then he said “Sort of friends”, and I shook my head again.

Paul: Shook it ‘no’?

Matty: Shook it ‘no’, yeh, and then what I said was, which always annoys me, I said “ I’m not going to the Cimena” and I wanted to say Cinema, but I was so scared I said ‘Cimena’. And he kind of like, he just left, and so that was it, I was 13, and finally it was stopped. The annoying this was then, for 2 years after that, I had to act normal. You know he would bring my Gran over and he would be in our house, and everyone, my parents had no idea that this had happened. When I was 15, so 2 years later. --

Paul: and how much older was he than you?

Matty: Oh, he was my Godfather, I mean he was like 40 or something.

Paul: Oh my God.

Matty: But 2 years later, my oldest. -- cause there’s 7 of us but, he abused 4 of us. I don’t wanna talk too much about my brother’s journey, because it’s not my journey, but it kinda crosses mine a lot in …. Cause I’ve talked about their journey a lot on the walk. But my biggest brother at that time -- so I was 15, he’s 10 years older than me, so he was 25. And the first thing we heard was that he was doing his finals at University, he was studying to be a director of theatre & film…. And we find out he’s in hospital, you know, and I’m 15, and I’ve never heard of mental illness, I mean I didn’t know you would go to hospital for stress., what is that? So when I heard he was in hospital, I assumed he’d had some sort of terrible accident.

I go with my Dad, down to our local hospital, and we go to the psych ward, and here he is my brother, and he’s 25 and he’d always been my … I’d always looked up to him, he’d always been my rock…. I wanted to get into theatre & he was already studying theatre professionally, and he was in the bed, and he was comin’ off psychosis … he’d snapped, and he’d basically, I don’t know the full situation, but the police had had to arrest him, and they’d brought him to hospital realising that he wasn’t dangerous, he was just ill. I think I was sitting with my dad looking at him, and he looked like my brother, but he wasn’t talking like my brother, he was talking biblical nonsense, you know. It was really scary, cause I’d never witnessed someone in a psychosis before. I didn’t really understand what was happening until he said to my dad “I was abused by Terry”, who was our uncle. And in that moment I realised, oh, it wasn’t just me. So for 2 years I’d been, you know, thinking, you know hoping that he wasn’t touching my cousins and stuff, but --

Paul: What did you think or feel in that moment when he said that?

Matty: I was just like.. and I don’t know where I got this idea from, it was just like ‘if I don’t get help now, in 10 years I’m gonna be in this bed talking crazy. And it scared me so much that it saved me, you know, it saved my life. Witnessing that. We went out to the parking lot. I would say car park, but for your benefit I’ll say ‘parking lot’.

Paul: What do you guys call it?

Matty: A car park.

Paul: Oh, ok…

Matty: So, we went out to the car, and my brother followed us out, and um, you know it was and open psych ward, I think he was there for like 6 weeks in total, just on sedation, just really kind of recovering. And again, he said to my dad, you know, “I was abused by Terry “, my dad said “I know, you told me ok”, and so then I was like --

Paul: is he your Dad’s brother?

Matty: No, my Mum’s brother. And my dad like, I love my Dad, he’s awesome, and he’s been on a real journey with this whole story, you know, he’s really come around. ‘Cause I can’t imagine what it must have felt like for him, to discover that all his kids were abused by his wife’s brother, you know.

So we go home, and my dad’s really quiet, and I’m kinda wondering like, what’s gonna happen, now it’s been spoken out loud, you know, who, what happens now? Is my dad going to go to the police? Or is he going to go over and kick his ass or whatever. But the plan was silence, you know, nothing happened.

Nothing happened for forever really, you know, it was just…. It was so weird for me, because I’d spent 2 years in high school, kinda going -- cause I never really understood what my uncle did to me. I thought, I believed for a long time that he was gay, you know, and that gave me a fear of gay people, so I was terrified of anyone who was even effeminate or anything. And the environment didn’t help, it was like, if you can kind of imagine an Irish Catholic High School in Glasgow in the 90’s, it was a really homophobic place.. and it’s still a bit vernacular over there, they still say “oh you’re so gay”, when they mean ‘weak’ or whatever.

Paul: They still do here too

Matty: So, you know I didn’t wanna tell anyone what my uncle did, in case they thought I was willing involved in that sort of gay contact with a man, so I kind of grew up with this fear of gay people. I believed they were all perverts and I hated anything that was even remotely camp, or effeminate. I was really scared. So, I had a girlfriend a couple of months I got my uncle to leave me alone. When I was 13, I started dating this girl Cara, and we pretty much dated until I was 20, and it was great. When we were 15 we started having a kind of sexual relationship, and that was really difficult because, I just… I didn’t like being touched, and I didn’t….. I just got felt trapped, and vulnerable any time we did that stuff. And fifteen’s quite young I suppose to be starting

Paul: That is a terrible feeling. That’s a terrible feeling.

Matty: Yeh, but the scariest thing was, in that environment you got your friends like, “did you guys fuck last night”, and so you have to be like totally macho, and oh yeh.. you know. But I was terrified of it, and it made me feel really scared, so -- but I believed that if I didn’t like what we were doing, it was because my uncle had kind of messed with my head, I’d thought he’d infected my psyche with his weird behaviours. So I kinda hoped that one day I’d be rich enough and I’d pay the right psychologist to cure me of this fear of sex. But in the meantime with Cara, bless her, I mean she might listen to this. But um, I just decided to become really good at it, you know, ‘I am not going to be beaten, I am going to love this’. So I just went in --

Paul: Would you like dissociate? Would you be… well describe to me how you coped, what you were thinking in your mind and your body as you were going through the motions of having sex.

Matty: If we were having something, and I kinda flinched or if I found myself thinking about, or if my uncle came into my mind or a guy or whatever, I would just become, try to really be present in what we were doing, and just.. you know – I’d have this mantra of like ‘how lucky am I, you know, here I am at 15, or 16, or 18 or whatever, and I get to do this, and there’s so many people don’t get to do this, and it’s amazing.’ She was like my best friend. I still adore her, we’re really close. But I guess she’s a very… she’s a great person, um, and she let me be a freak, and she let me just be crap at it, and learn how to be good at it and stuff. She never really challenged me or questioned me …

Paul: In what ways were you …. I know you’re being hard on yourself but, in what ways were you a freak? That you would recoil from her touch sometimes?

Matty: well, just like.. you know when you’re doing something sexual with someone, a partner, and if it becomes like active & passive.. the person’s lying there, and you’re doing something to them? I would start to get this voice in my head going ‘am I taking advantage of this person, or do they want me to be doing this?”. It’s like this constant dialog, and I’m still not totally dealt with this, but like, constantly checking myself and having this voice of going .. ‘is this person willingly letting me do this, or do they want me to do this… I’m not taking advantage or whatever’. I would keep talking and checking and stuff like that, as opposed to just relaxing and having fun…

Paul: I see, you’d be like, “are you ok right now, is this ok that we’re doing this?”

Matty: yeh,

Paul: because your fear was ..

Matty: That I was taking advantage, or that I was kind of, you know

Paul: Was that all in your head?

Matty: I guess yeh, she was like “shut the fuck up, it’s fine” it was like.. ‘shut up and get on with it’ kind of thing. She was amazing. But when I was –

Paul: And did she know why?

Matty: yeh, I think I told her when I was like 17, so that was how it all began -–

Paul: so there were a few years, where she didn’t know

Matty. No… she didn’t know. When we were teenagers she didn’t really know

Paul: what was her reaction when you told her?

Matty: ah, she was great, you know, like it was weird, because she was like the second person I told. So like when I was 15, and my brother had kinda had the breakdown, and I’d witnessed that, I felt this urge to get the fuck out of there. I had…. sorry I’m swearing so much.

Paul: That’s ok. FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK

Matty: In the UK I am in kids TV, so I am so squeaky clean it’s so strange to sit on here and swear, but, …I left Scotland. I would have gone anywhere, but I got offered a job in England, working for a theatre company for under privileged kids. The money was crap, it was pretty full time volunteering, but I was like ‘I don’t care’.

I went down there at 17, and this woman that I worked with called Rachel was there on the first day of my job, and she was just brilliant. Again, she is one of the people I love, and she knew I was running from something, and part of her job was to take kids from this disadvantaged area, to see the theatre. I think it was an LA company actually. Warner Bros were touring this big show called ‘Looney Tunes’. So it was like Bugs Bunny & all that on stage. We took the kids to that one night, and we dropped them all back at their houses.

Then she and I, she was like “Do you wanna go get some food?”, and I was just like… ok! It was I a place called Wolverhampton, and we went for a curry, cause it’s very kinda Indian, it’s an awesome city. I don’t know how she did it, she just got me to open up, and she was the first person I ever told. I expected first of all, she won’t believe me, and second of all, she’ll be kinda weird now that I’ve told her that, and kinda think that I am gay or whatever. But she didn’t, she just didn’t flinch. She went “Oh yeh, like my …” oh well, I can’t tell her story, but she’s a survivor too.

And, so… yes, she shared with me some stuff that really blew my mind. I was like OK, so this is a thing that happens, it’s not just me, I’m not a complete freak. She gave me some flyers for this drop in centre for teenagers. So I went along. I was so scared I gave them a fake name, in case that I gave them information and they were going to run to the police and report my uncle. Then I would create this big drama in the family. So, --

Paul: Before we get to that, what did it feel like in that moment when she shared with you that she was a survivor?

Matty: (Deep breath) again like, it was just like your brain explodes, it’s like, and you know.. we’re sitting in this Indian restaurant in Wolverhampton, and everyone’s having a drunken night. Here we are. I remember kind of being like shaking and really scared, cause I felt like I was saying I’m gay or something. I felt like I shouldn’t be telling you this, but I gotta tell someone, and it just vomited it on the table practically. The weird thing was, I expected a big reaction, and there was none. She was just like ok!

When I started the counselling, and I believe that she…I credit her for saving my life because at that point I was 17. I was starting to experiment with drugs. I was living with these students who were growing marijuana on the top floor, and they were giving me acid & stuff, and I was just lost & scared & running.

It was kind of a crazy time. My feet didn’t really touch the ground for like a year. I volunteered…. I started working for bands. So I worked with Black Sabbath, and all these bands, and I was just a crew guy.

Paul: No way

Matty: It was awesome, to be that young, and surrounded by all these hairy tattooed guys & shit

Paul: Was Ozzy with them at that point, or was

Matty: Yeh, yeh, so… a lot of drugs, I mean I was into stuff, I was just young, and I no idea what I was doing. So I’d planned my suicide. I wanted to be an actor, that was my ultimate goal. I had once done this little short film, where we got to try on some chainmaille (sp?).. you know, period costume. I don’t know if you have ever worn that, it’s so

Paul: It looks incredibly heavy

Matty: Yeh, it’d be about ten or fifteen pounds, it’s a metal jacket. And the thing is, if you learn to swim, you learn in your pyjamas, because your clothes become really heavy. So my plan was to get some chainmaille and just fall off a pier. There’s no way you’d get up, you never get out of there.

Paul: That’s pretty romantic.

Matty: That was gonna be my way. I was just too scared to jump out of a building

Paul: Would you … were you planning when you jumped off it there in your chainmaille, to say “I bid thee adieu?”

Matty: No, I was gonna scream freedom. That was my plan, and I never told anyone that, but when I met Rachel, and I started the counselling, then that option just evaporated, and I’m not gonna kill myself. And so to this day, like when I finished the 10,000 mile walk, she was waiting there, at Edinburgh Castle for my last steps, and she and I walked together the last few meters and it was finally done.

Paul: What did that feel like?

Matty: Oh man, I was just delirious. I’d walked 45 miles that day from Glasgow to Edinburgh. It was like 18 hrs walking, and the whole way it was like, people were there giving me hugs, and selfies.

That was the official end of the walk. I got to Edinburgh castle and a couple days later we did the ceremonial last mile, when a thousand people flew in from all over the world, from all these countries, and we just walked from the Edinburgh Castle to the Scottish Parliament. That was it.. that was only 6 or 7 weeks ago.

So, yeh, we’re jumping around but … the thing with Cara was… you know we were together and I got to age 20. So I lived in England for the time I was 17 to 20, and I moved up and got into drama school. A really good one in Scotland. We have two! It’s the place you know where Kevin McKidd, Scottish Actor, he was in Trainspotting, so he went there, and Ashely Jensen, in Ugly Betty, she went there. So I got into this drama school, and again, I still had this fear of gay people, you know, and if you still walking into a drama school, pretty much … you know…

Paul: Good luck to ya!

Matty: Yeh, I mean one of my lecturers on the first day, and we’re good friends now, but Jo Clifford, who is transgender, -- and here I was presented with this, oh no, I was just like the wee guy from Glasgow. Not computing, like this doesn’t make sense in my head. A world where all that’s cool.

So for the whole of the first year I was with Cara, and everything was fine. But the end of first year, a guy in my class, and he was from Belfast. An Irish Catholic family, his parents who were quite strict, and they’d bought him an apartment, but he was so effeminate. Like he screamed gay without saying it. And the whole of first year, it was awkward, bless him, and like he couldn’t come out. He was terrified he’d lose his family, and it was cringy (sp?), he would talk about girls & stuff, and you know it was like ‘mate, just chill’. But at the end of first year Cara & I went on a holiday to Greece, as you do when you’re a straight couple, and we got back, and there was my friend Paul

Paul: Greece seems like an odd place to go to reaffirm your heterosexuality

Matty: No, like for British people, you just go down to the Mediterranean, and all those islands, cheap package holidays. That’s what you do, you just go and get drunk.

Paul: We wanted to affirm our sexuality, when we went to Fire Island

Matty: We went to Lesbos… yeh. So I went there, I got back and Paul was there, and he was distraught. He told me that he’d kissed a guy, that he’d got drunk and kissed a guy, and I was not shocked, I was like “bless you”. I was studying acting, and I couldn’t even act surprised, it was like ‘Man, oh, wow, ooo really? But the thing that happened was, I was talking to him, and I was like, ‘Paul, how do you get to age 20, and not know your gay?’ You know, I mean like…. ‘How have you been covering it up all this time? And he goes, “well, you know” … there was a guy in our class, I doubt he’ll ever listen to this, he’s an actor in the UK. Well, he’s a massive cock this guy. He has a massive cock, and every morning we’d limber, you’d do stretching and stuff for half an hour, and there he’d always be in his tight trousers, you know, and Paul was like “you know in the morning, and like, there he is”.. he’s like “I just can’t look at him, I would just chase those thoughts out of my mind”. And the weird thing was, as I was talking to him, I actually recognized what he was saying, and I was like “oh, I do that”.

So here I was, I was 20 years old, and I’d spent pretty much my entire adult life believing that my uncle had fucked up my brain. But talking to Paul, I realised ‘oh fuck, I’m gay’. And it was like, literally the walls fell away, it was just like standing there, and like I was just dizzy, and like fuck! Cause I hated gay people, you know, and suddenly to…. Cause I believed they were all sex offenders, they were all perverts. In this weird moment I realized ‘Fuck, I am one, and what do I do.. where the fuck am I now?” so…. And then I had to go and tell Cara. And that was weird, cause I’m normally really chilled, really happy, and quite funny. So I go to her place, and she knows something’s wrong, and I’m you know, silent. I was silent for like 3 days, and she was going out of her mind going “something’s wrong, you gotta talk to me”.

Eventually I just said “I’m struggling” she was like “yeh I can see you’re struggling. What are you struggling with? “ and I said, “I’m struggling like Paul’s struggling”, and that was all I said. She was, obviously she was like ‘What?. What the fuck?’ . I don’t know if you remember Dawson’s Creek, but she and I were like Joey & Pacey, you know, the couple. Everyone in my class, my drama school, we went everywhere together. And so I was.. I didn’t know who I was, I didn’t know what to do, I didn’t know what this meant, you know. All I knew is, she and I were talking about getting engaged, cause we’d been together forever, and I wanted to have kids, and I wanted to be with her, and she was like my best friend, and we’d learned everything together, but I kinda said to her like “I have to go, and I can’t come back”. So I went back to Edinburgh where I was studying, and uh.. and we started second year. Everyone was like.. “where’s Cara?” you know, we were having parties and stuff cause it’s a new year, and I went to all the parties, and everyone is like… “where is she?” and I was like ‘ I don’t really wanna talk about it’.

We went to this one party, and you know at students parties, there’s always someone there you don’t know. There was this one guy there would was gay, and I ended up opening up to him of all people.

I’m standing in the kitchen talking to him, and I said, I don’t know who he was, he was like the boyfriend of some guy who was in one of the other courses at my Uni. I think he was from Malaysia. Um, cause I’m normally the life of the party, I was really quiet and kind of distant, so I was just talking to him and I told him the whole story. It was one of those weird vague situations where the party got quieter and quieter, and then everyone kinda left, then I don’t know what happened.

I woke up at 5am, and he’d drugged me. I was like FUCK, and this was my biggest fear… that I didn’t want to be gay, ‘cause I believed that all gay people were perverts and they’re fuckin dangerous. And suddenly, the first gay guy I meet, drugs me. The weird thing was, I was awake but I couldn’t move. I couldn’t stop what he was doing, and I didn’t know if that was the drugs, or I was just paralyzed, you know looking back on it… I don’t know, I just laid there.

It’s kinda foggy what really happened, but I got up eventually…. he was gone, and I got up. The daylight was coming and I was on the floor in his living room. I couldn’t find my shoes, and I’m going about his house, and then I saw him, and I just started swearing at him. I’m screaming, and calling him a cunt, and his boyfriend woke up & was like, ‘what the fuck happened?’.

I just leave their house and I’m walking home through Edinburgh, and Edinburgh, I don’t know if you know it, but it’s a cool city to walk around. There’s no metro, no underground, you can walk everywhere. The police drove past me, and I thought “I’ll just stand in front of the police car, and they’ll hit me, and that will be over”. I didn’t do that though. I walked home, I punched a couple of phone boxes. I was like, ‘I needed to damage something’. I was trying to fuck up a bus stop or something. But I got home and my flat mate then was called Phil, and he was there, and I just walked in, and I was in a complete state and I was like “I’ve just been raped”. So he phoned the police, and the police came in, and I was really scared cause I knew I was still kinda on drugs.

That was the first thing I said to the police “I’m on drugs, I took drugs and I don’t know what I took, like it wasn’t my fault”, and they were like “OK”, so they took me to the police station. I gave a full-ass statement, it took like three hours, and then they took me to hospital, and I was in hospital for a couple of days. You know, so there was all these … there was like four people in the room.. and the thing is, -- when I gave a presentation at this the Scottish parliament there, just last month, the kinda head of the Scottish police was there. They’ve asked me to come and advise them on how the police deal with survivors and victims. And I’ll talk to them on how I was dealt with that day, because like there was two police officers, and two forensic doctors in the room, and me, and like they put a fucking camera crew up your ass, and all this kinda stuff.

I was covered in biological evidence, it’s like the guy’d came all over me. I had this antibacterial shower that I had to go and do, and eventually the Sergeant drove me home. He was really uncomfortable, he was clearly homophobic. He dropped me off, and I said.. “So, are you going to go and arrest this guy?” -- And the weird thing was he fuckin texted me.. he texted me and apologised for what happened, right? So I have the evidence on my phone, and I gave it, showed it to the police, and they were like “We’ll need to take your phone”, so they took my phone of me, my mobile. I was like, “are you going to arrest him?” His exact words were “Well it’s not exactly urgent is it?” and I was like, ‘what the fuck…’ --

Paul: What?

Matty: I know, and I figured like, if I’d had been younger, if I was a kid and I’d been raped, or if I was a woman and I’d been raped. I think they would have moved on it. But he was really homophobic and uncomfortable. It took six weeks for me to get my phone back. I kept going back up to the police station, and saying “Can I have my phone yet?”, and they had all my clothes I’d been wearing that day with all the biological evidence on it. Eventually the guy, they questioned him I guess, and took a hair sample or something.

So the victim has to have this really intrusive, and humiliating forensic exam, and the offender gets some hair for DNA, you know. By the time any action was taken, I’m aware he’d left the country. He’d fucked off back to Malaysia, or wherever he was from, and nothing happened. I never got a call, or I never heard again what’s happening. The whole thing was so fucked up, and I wanted to drop out of drama school, and I didn’t want to speak to anyone. So here I was, within the same two weeks, I’d discovered I was gay, lost my girlfriend, been raped, and then this again confirmed all my beliefs and fears about gay people, but ultimately I am still a gay person, so what do I do? So that was a crazy year. I went to the head of the school, and –

Paul: That’s the Trauma Trifecta.

Matty: I know, right.

Paul: You should have thrown in, moved and had a loved one die, and you could have set a record.

Matty: I was just awful some. And I feel bad, cause I know my brother’s gonna listen to this, and they didn’t know, I never told anyone about that. But that’s ok, I have no shame, so.

Paul: You never told anybody that was close to you about that, about the rape?

Matty: I was so scared I was gonna lose my family. Just for being gay, you know, and it was just like, it was all your fears are confirmed. I had to go and get an Aids test, and HIV, and all these things, you know, it’s was a world I was terrified of because at that time, we used to have all those commercials with the stones dropping & telling you that there was this gay plague that was gonna get you. And this guy, you know, just got me. Thank God it was all fine.

From that point on, my flat mate called Phil… he & I…. he ended up being my first boyfriend, and he let me be a freak as well. I was just like, “Don’t fuckin’ touch me”. Again, when we started doing stuff, and it was even more difficult because the stuff we wanted to do to each other was … felt like, and looked like what my uncle used to do. So trying to work out what is … you know like, why do I want to do this … him being really cool with me, just letting me be a freak. You know it took a couple of years, and then we eventually kind of, we broke up cause he was my first boyfriend and stuff. We’re really still close, he lives in London, and now that I’ve finished the walk…. I’m actually homeless right now, so he’s got a room that I can maybe move in to.

Paul: I would imagine there’s more than a few people willing to let you crash on their couch.

Matty: Yah, well I’ve been staying in Texas the past couple of weeks with a good friend. It’s crazy.

Paul: You decided you were tired of homophobia, so you’re gonna go chill out in Texas.

Matty: Exactly. I was in a bar in Texas the other day, and I’m walking around in a kilt. I went into the urinals, and there’s one stall, so I thought I’ll go into the stall, and there was this big ass guy appeared at my shoulder. He was just trying to see my cock, and I was trying to piss. I got a fright because he was right on my shoulder. I just went “Jesus Christ!, and he goes “What you got there?”, and I was like, I was startled so I just left, and he called me a ‘pussy’. I turned around and I was thinking, and looking at the size of him, ‘If I you couldn’t kick my ass, I’d fuckin kick your ass right now’. He was huge, so that’s not gonna happen.

So I’m trying to think…. how did I get there, to the walk. So for me, it was quite a journey, and that’s why I’m so fucking deeply offended by Russia right now. The fact that they actively promote, and they produce this paraphilia of all this bollocks about gay people being a danger to kids. They actively create cartoons for propaganda bullshit, and spread that.

For me, I had to go on that journey, and understand and separate my mind into my Uncle wasn’t a gay person, he was a child sex offender. Now I’m a known gay playwright in the UK. I did a gay rights festival a couple of years ago. I wrote a play about.. it was called ‘A Child Made of Love’. It was about gay adoption. I did a ten minute play festival about marriage equality, and I got plays from New York, from Indonesia, from the Congo. All these writers from all over the world writing to me, plays about marriage equality. Performed that in the UK. I am totally like Gay Rights now, but it’s been quite a journey for me, so..

Paul: Wow. So much. So much.

Matty: Yeh, we haven’t even talked about the walk yet.

Paul: Well, let’s get into the walk.

Matty: Well, it was called Road To Change. It was a 10,000 mile walk to every European Union capital, to raise awareness, and prevent child sexual abuse. So, the reason it all happened was... it began in 2007, so, but I’m an actor now, and I graduated. I got a job with the BBC. I did like 150 episodes of this kids show. And it’s still on everyday –

Paul: What’s it called?

Matty: It’s called ‘Me Too’. It’s on every day. I think it’s on in Australia, my cousin watched it over there. Most English speaking countries, it’s on. I forgot about it. We did all these episodes, and then I moved on to like soap opera & cop shows & shit. So I forget when I meet a child & they think ‘oh, it’s Raymond, and I’m like ‘oh crap, yeh, hi. So I have to jump into this character. So I did that, and then I kinda found myself writing theatre, because I was frustrated. Scotland is a really small country, the industry’s pretty small. A bit like Ireland. You watch Irish TV, and it’s the same actors and everything. We’re a bit like that. I was getting frustrated, I wasn’t getting cast in the stuff I wanted to be in. Just cause there’s not enough jobs really. Just out of that frustration, I started writing my own shows. I never claimed to be a good playwright, but I was fortunate to get getting some good opportunities.

So Summer 2007 I was over in Dublin, working with this Commedia dell'arte company. I think they’re from Chicago originally, they’re awesome. I was just training with them for a while, learning commedia. My brother’s wife calls me, this is a different brother, he lives in Ireland. She said your brother’s not very well at the moment, and I was like... ‘ok, here we go’. Cause I knew that we all had never really spoken about this together, what my uncle had done. So I finished the job in Dublin, and I took the bus up to Donegal. There’s my brother, and he’s .. you know.. stressed and he’s falling apart –

Paul: Is this the one that’s 10 years older or a different one.

Matty: A different one, yeh. So the oldest one, he’d become medicated for depression. He keeps anti-psychotic medication in the house still to this day. So I go up to see this other brother and there he is, and he’s pretty much mute, he’s losing the ability to speak about anything. He and I had never talked about what the problem is. But the problem is, that we are both Scottish men, you know, in Ireland of all places, so we go to the pub. We drink a lot of whiskey, and then we walk back to his house in pitch black. He lives up a little country lane. At 4 am we’re outside his house under the stars, you know it’s like a movie. Because I’ve been through it and talked through it, talked it out, I kinda had to lead the conversation. That night for the first time, he and I had a conversation about it. Then I came back to Scotland after that, and I was just like –

Paul: What was the conversation like?

Matty: He talked about how he was angry at my Mum & Dad. Because, not that they knew about it, but you know…. and that was one of the first things that came up for me. I was 17 going through therapy, like, this rage that I had, like why didn’t you protect me? You know, logically they didn’t know it was happening. But that doesn’t really matter if you’re a child. Their job is to obviously to look out for you, and not let these things happen. Because we’re catholic, like twice a year we would sit every night and say the rosary, you know with the beads? And I would always question, like “why are you saying this?”, and my Mum would say “it’s to protect you” And I knew, I’m not being protected. All of this was bullshit, all this stuff is just theatre, and I got really resentful of Easter & Christmas and all those things as a kid. I felt like an imposter in my own family, cause I knew they all believed in this bearded man in the sky who’s looking out for you. I was like “It’s not happening, you’re not able to do anything with these words”.

So I hate my uncle for taking me out of that stuff. He made me feel like an imposter in my own family, and my own school. Every time we were forced to go to mass, I was like “This is all bullshit, and your all fucking sucked into this stuff”. Um.. (laughs) sorry.

So there’s my brother and I, and we have this deep conversation about what he is struggling with. It was a very general conversation, but the beginning of his healing I guess. I went back to Scotland and I was fuckin’ raging again. Particularly because at that time, my uncle who did this to all of us, was still a school teacher.

Paul: argh!

Matty: I think he was also a soccer coach. He ran the football teams for young teen boys. I was like, “This is so fucked up. Why are we not allowed to talk about it, in case we make anyone uncomfortable?” We were expected to stay silent and let this guy just continue, whatever he was doing. But the problem is again. It’s so difficult to talk about it. So I, being me, and I was starting to write theatre, I wrote this play called ‘To Kill a Kelpie’. A Kelpie is like a water creature in Scotland. Like the Loch Ness Monster is a famous Kelpie, but there’s loads of different legends. The original legend is like the Kelpie would appear at the side of the water as a kinda charming guy, and if you got close he would grab you and drag you into the water. I remember at that time, I had watched a documentary about phobia. They say a phobia is like, you take something ... like people aren’t actually scared of rats or snakes, they’re scared of something that they can’t remember. Their brain has placed that fear with this thing that’s like an icon. So when you see that thing it brings back that fear, but you know, you have to examine what’s behind that. So I thought about that. I thought “what am I scared of?”. I am scared of sea creatures. I’m scared of going into water. When I really thought why am I scared of that… If you can imagine lying on my uncles’ bed, he would always undress me from the waist down. So if you are standing in water, in the lake or something, or in the Loch as we call them, below the waist you can’t see into the water and something can come at you, or grab you and do anything with you, and you have no power. You don’t know where it’s coming from.

Paul: That makes sense.

Matty: So that’s what my phobia was. That was a perfect metaphor for our child sex offender. So I wrote this play originally, and in this play, there are two brothers called Dougal & Fingal. Which is old Gaelic names. Dougal means ‘Black Stranger’, and Fingal means ‘White Stranger’. The first line of the play is “Hey Stranger”, and I was kinda tapping in to the idea that your best friend, or my Mum’s brother was a complete stranger to her. Bless her she didn’t really know who he was, or she thought she did. In the play they are twins, so they have had the same trauma, the same experience, but in the play one of them has been to therapy, and the other one hasn’t. It’s an exploration of the different places you end up in your mind. That’s really all that happens in the play. They come together for the first time and talk about what their uncle did.

So I tell my brothers I’ve written this play. I got a producer, in Glasgow to do it, and I got professional actors. I got funding. It was the real professional show, and this was before the kinda big Catholic church scandal. Before all the BBC scandals that are going on right now. So it was really intense when it was performed. The BBC came along, cause I was starting to get known as a writer. The BBC were just there to see it as a piece of art, you know. But my brothers were there because they’d knew what I’d written about. So I kinda thought... we have an organisation in Scotland called ‘The Moira Anderson Foundation’, and they’re a service provider for adults and child survivors, and they give legal advice and counselling and therapeutic psychiatric work and stuff. I invited them to be present at the show, and give a post-show talk, and have their flyers everywhere. So if anyone in the audience was triggered, they could quietly take that information with them. It kinda worked. My brothers came together in that year, we spoke for the first time. I just felt that our silence is so dangerous, cause our uncle there he is. We’re kinda just letting him continue.

(unintelligible) ..it wasn’t about revenge, it wasn’t about compensation. It was about child protection. We need to break the silence, right now! So the play was the catalyst I guess. Within a year he was prosecuted, and put in prison. The cool thing was, the play which is just a story, based on you know, inspired by true events. Then I went to the Scottish government, and I got funding to take it to New York. We did it off Broadway in 2012, and then we toured it.  We were in the States, and we would also repeat the same model. We would invite local service providers to be on the stage in a panel afterwards, we’d talk to the audience. Every city, literally every time we did it, we had people disclosing for the first time. There was a guy in San Francisco, he was like 70, and his brother was 68. He said they had never spoken about it, but after the play he was like, “I’m gonna go home and I’m gonna call my brother”. So we had that everywhere, but it costs like 50 grand, to tour the play, but it costs nothing to tour the film. So we went back to Scotland, and we made the movie. My brothers, all four of us, worked on it and we made the movie.

Paul: What was that like having all four of you pitch in on something like that?

Matty: Well, it was intense because the other actor who played my brother … I ended up casting myself in the play. You know if you get a play going to Broadway, fuck it! You put yourself in it, but

Paul: Oh Yeah!

Matty:  So the other actor and I, he learned a lot about the subject from working on the show with me. The week that we did it, my brother who was the eldest…. The Film director who had the first break down, he was directing it & it really got under his skin, and he had a kinda breakdown the week of filming. It was insane. If you can imagine the Kelpie is a water creature, and we’re filming up in the Scottish Highlands next to Loch Ness. He starts falling apart and slipping into psychosis, and I had to drive him from the film set to hospital. I had to drive him up the side of the Loch Ness to get to Inverness Hospital. He’s psychotic, and talking about the Kelpie. It’s just insane. I hadn’t smoked in forever, and I stopped at the garage, and I bought cigarettes, and I’m like driving & smoking, and he’s talking about… you know.. he becomes kinda .. thinks he’s Christ.. bless him. I love my brother and I’m so sad that he has to deal with this ‘pish’. But we can look back and kinda laugh at the craziness of it I guess. Cause we have to, we have to cope with it. But I got him to the hospital, and he was doing that thing of acting completely normal. Like, what the hell you bringing me here for?

Paul: is this the brother who is 10 years older?

Matty: Yeh. So I took him into the hospital and the nurse was like “He seems fine, why have you brought him all this way?” I was just like… so I just said to him… I can’t remember how I provoked him, but I started to talk about being gay, and he started healing me from being gay, cause he’s Christ, and I was like “Right, there you are, did you see?”

Paul: Wow

Matty: the doctor was like, “Ok, he can stay”. So I left him in the hospital and I went back and finished the movie all in the same day. I think I’d had 2 hours sleep. I was like, “Fuck!”. So the last scene of the movie was when, and I won’t give the whole story away, but you know the last scene of the movie my brother loses his mind, and ends up going psychotic, cause I’d dealt with it so many times, and I’d dealt with it that morning I’d taken him into hospital. That was literally… I had to drive from the hospital, it took me 3 hours to get around the Loch, we were filming at Loch Mora. So there’s no acting involved in that film. I mean I’d literally just lived it, I mean it was fucking insane.

So anyway, we did the play and the film, and the film is now touring I think, Universities in the States, and like there is a post-show talk which is the catalyst for discussion. My plan originally was, like if I showed it in every city in Europe, that would really get people talking. I was like, how would I get funding to fly to every city in Europe? Then I was like, if I walk.. if I walk then I would attract more media attention. That was the original idea. I was lying in the bath in London in like 2011, and I had this idea, oh, I’ll just walk to every city. It took two years of planning, and preparation, and then May 31st, I left London and walked to Paris, and then Luxemburg, and it kinda worked. I started, I was just a guy from kids TV, but by the time I’d finished I’d been on TV, radio & newspapers in 30 Languages in so many countries. I was like the first male survivor to speak, and the journalists were like “We’ve never met a man before who talks about him being abused or anything. So that was like historically significant in this country. It doesn’t matter that it was me, it matters that any man stood up and broke the silence.

Paul: What did it feel like though to be the first in some of these countries, when somebody would say you’re the first one to have spoken publically about this.

Matty: Well, sometimes it was difficult, because, you know when you’re talking to someone about this stuff, and you realise you’re talking to a survivor. I realised that there back in like Estonia, feels like Scotland in the 90’s. I can see the panic behind their eyes as I’m openly talking about these stats and situations. There was one journalist from one country, bless her. She was like totally gorgeous and perfect. Her hair was perfect and stuff. I was talking to her, and we were walking and they’re filming us, and she’s just (unintelligible) the news reporter. I could see that she was really freaking out just as I was saying these things. I was looking around, and it happened a lot in different countries. They don’t have organisations like Moira Anderson Foundation. I am encouraging people to come out, but what if they do? What are they going to do?

Paul: I great one here in the States is Rainn.org ‘Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network’, rainn.org

Matty: Yeh, that was like the thing, walking listening to your show. You would give a book recommendation. That night I would write it down, and would look for it. If we’re in a hotel with WIFI, I would try and buy it, or if there was an audio book version, and then the next day I would listen to that book, then go back to your show. I listed to the Guy Winch episodes were amazing. There was that book, I don’t remember… what was it? ‘No More Mr Nice Guy’ you recommended that.

Paul: That’s a good one.

Matty: But I was like… that was about always trying to please people, and I listened to that book, and here I am walking around Europe you know, getting chased by wild dogs, trying to rescue 820 million people. Suddenly when I listened to that book, it explained my whole psyche.. I was like “oh crap! I’m just gonna get a plane home”.

Paul: Did it bring you some relief though, that you could let go, and not try to take care of everybody?

Matty: Yeh, I mean... yeh, like, again, your show was such a…. it was weird.. you talk directly into the mic, so when you’re walking, especially when you’re reading out the surveys, and you’re walking one on one, it feels like, and for everyone that’s listening to this, I’m sure it feels like you’re talking to them. The journey I was on it was great to just hear people talking on about this shit, and just so openly. I did a podcast for the walk, and I started punting your podcast, telling all the survivors listening to my show would listen to this show.

Paul: Aw, thank you.

Matty: Where were we?

Paul: You were walking... what was it like to be the first person to talk about .. the journalist, you could see in her eyes there was somewhere she didn’t wanna go.

Matty: well I felt conflicted, because I want everyone who has been abused, for reasons of child protection. If the person who abused you is still in contact with kids, we really need you to come forward. But saying that in the UK is fine, but saying that in Romania, where the police force aren’t really supportive, and there isn’t these kind of NGO’s that are going to you the support, emotionally. I started to get waves of emails from people. I remember walking through, I think it was Latvia, and a couple of weeks before I was in Finland and I’d spoken in national media. Someone wrote to me, and the email was a picture of a kid. It was a little boy on his sports day. The email said “This is my son, my husband keeps molesting him, what do I do?” And I was like “FUCK!”

Paul: Wow

Matty: I just went, and I think I walked off the road to the nearest store, and bought a pack of smokes, and I sat and smoked like 20 cigarettes, and going “What do we do?” you know?. But when I was in Helsinki I’d met the organisations that serve Finland, and I was able to just redirect it. That actually started happening quite frequently, so there’s various –

Paul: What did you do in the Latvia situation though?

Matty: Again, passed it on to the authorities, and the NGO’s who are that woman’s immediate support network. -- I would walk with the British Ambassadors. The British Ambassadors in every country started walking with me.

Paul: What did that feel like?

Matty: It’s insane, because the whole time I was walking up til September, Scotland was building up to this independence referendum. I walk in a kilt with the Scotland flag on my chest. It might as well say FREEDOM tattooed on my fucking forehead, you know. The British Ambassador represents the Queen, and also the British Government. We couldn’t have met as many government officials, and as many press as I did without the British Embassy’s help. But it was politically awkward, cause I’m so pro-independence. But to be Pro Independence wasn’t to be anti- English, it was more important than that. One of the British Ambassadors --

Paul: Can’t the two of you come together over awful food though?

Matty: Haggis? You guys give it a bad rep. Have you tried Haggis?

Paul: I have, and I rest my case.

Matty: Do it now, come on maybe you guys --

Paul: Maybe I didn’t have it done the right way.

Matty: If you go to the cinema and eat a hot dog, you’re eating worse than haggis, cause that’s full of lips and assholes & shit. At least haggis, you can see what it is, you know, there’s still lumps in there.

Paul: They are lips and assholes from beautiful pigs

Matty: Oh right, ok, you don’t like sheep?

Paul: They’re all lookers. I do not like the taste of sheep, it’s too strong man. Is most haggis made from sheep?

Matty: Yeh, it’s lamb, it has to be. Unless you get vegetarian haggis, but that’s just from, you know ….   So the British Ambassador, one of them said to me, “so where do you stand on the independence”? I was like, wow, that’s a difficult question, and I just said.. “Well, you know, I’m currently out the country so my vote won’t be counted. He said, “Well, if that’s another vote for independence off the table, then I’m happy.” I was like, “wow, that’s cheeky”, so I said “you never know ambassador, I could be back next year in the office beside yours as the Scottish Ambassador. But anyway, it didn’t go my way. Scotland voted no, and the week I was invited to speak at the United Nations, and I walked through Switzerland, so the week of the referendum I was in the UN, and I’m walking around in my kilt with this Saltire on my chest. People from Hawaii, or Catalonia, or Montreal, any delegate from anywhere in the world where there’s an independence discussion were like, running at me and asking me what’s going on. I didn’t mean to become an inadvertent Scottish Ambassador myself. That was pretty intense, cause the British delegation and the UN were hosting me that week.

Paul: Were the Swiss neutral on childhood sexual abuse?

Matty: Well, I walked around the EU, and when I went into Switzerland that’s non EU, that was the only time I left the European Union. So I was purely there to be at the UN, and then I went back to… I walked to Madrid. It blew my mind when I started walking, everyone was just like… you know my friend said to me “Just think”, before I left he was like “This time next month you’ll be lying dead in a field with gypsies robbing your corpse.” The worst thing is, my family were thinking of having me committed. They were like “What the fuck you gonna do? What the fuck you’re talking about, your gonna walk around Europe and change these laws?” I’d be like “I’m sure it’ll be cool, believe me”.

I went to 200 companies and asked for support, but I got nothing. But I was like.” this is gonna work”, so I started walking & people eventually saw what I was doing. If you donated £10 to the Road to Change, that £10 would pay for either food or socks, or diesel for the follow van. So practically I walked 30 miles every day. The van would drive 30 miles, and I’d just do that until I got to the next city. The British Embassy was really helpful helping me get to the Governments. I spoke to pretty much the governments across the EU. The focus of it was to ask them to abolish the Statute of limitations. You have that in the States. It’s a fucking disastrous law.

Paul: hmm

Matty: it creates a child protection problem. In simple terms, when I was in Hungary for example, I was asked to speak at the International Day of Victims, and I’m on the stage with the Secretary of State, and all those people, and I said “If my uncle had abused me in this country, you would not have arrested him. He would still be free. A repeat child sex offender would be free and in contact with your children, because of your legislation”, and they said, “No, that’s not true”. I was like, “Unfortunately it is true”, -- and because the head of the police had given me the Hungarian law. Nine months after that conference, they abolished the law.

Paul: What does that feel like? Knowing that --

Matty: well, they didn’t call me up and say thank you for pointing that out, but –

Paul: Your own self-knowledge, that you helped nudge that?

Matty: That Conversation? Yeh, Hungary is a country of 10 million people, and from now on they’ll be no restriction on those kids coming forward, you know. Cause it does... that was what I spoke about at the UN, what I had observed, and the silence is different in every country.. No country in the Europe, no country in the wold is comfortable talking about sex with children. But what I’ve started to find is, when I spoke to survivors in different places they were like, well.. --There was a woman in Sweden that said ‘women here were supposed to be contained, and polite, and the whole of Scandinavia is pretty much middle class. Women can’t show anger, but anger is one of the most common residual outcomes of sexual trauma. If you’re in an environment where you can’t process that, the result is silence, and that’s generational. But, if you go to Italy, the women don’t have that problem. They can be fucking screaming in the street, so they can really show emotion, but in Italy, the men can’t be vulnerable, you know. Half of the EU used to be Soviet Territory, and so there’s not so much a cultural thing, it’s a historical political situation they have. The older generation, they explained to me there’s this kinda sensibility of secrecy. You automatically don’t involve the authorities, in anything they consider family business. And that’s not left yet, cause it’s only 20 years ago that that curtain was lifted.

Paul: Yeh, cause to go outside Soviet Union was around and to go outside your family was to attract attention.

Matty: Yeh

Paul: And that could –

Matty: So all these different qualities of people are the reasons these people stay silent. If you imagine the European Union, there’s three countries there that are less than the population of LA. So like Luxemburg in only half a million people. The whole country. Malta is like 360,000 people. In a country that small, you cannot have a sex offender’s register, because if you identify the offender, you automatically identify the victim. So they won’t do it that way. In Cyprus, there’s another really tiny country. They explained that the way the oldest person in the family is like sovereign, and their word is infallible. So a child cannot speak, or say anything negative about their elder.

Paul: What?

Matty: So all these different cultural equalities or whatever religious was prominent, you know religious situations. In Poland I spoke in the newspaper, and nothing in the article said I was gay. But I’m walking in a kilt, and it’s a blue kilt, so it just looks like a skirt if you don’t know what it is. The article was about me having sex with my uncle. The online article just got all this homophobia thrown at it. I was just like “that is exactly the problem”. Any country that promotes homophobia, where there’s a fear of LGBT. That incubates the silence of the boys abused by men and the girls abused by women, cause there terrified to be associated with anything gay.

I was talking to a newspaper in Romania, and I said “Homophobia breeds Paedophilia”, and they went “yes, we know” and I said, “you didn’t hear what I said. You think I said “Homosexuality breeds Paedophilia. Exactly the opposite is true.” Any country where there’s LGBT progress it’s kinda stymied.. That’s the kind of place where they’ll be abusing the kids and the kids don’t get to come forward because that fear of being associated with it. I am so proud to be Scottish, when I got home, my First Minister was there, and I got to speak at the Scottish Parliament. In the middle of my presentation, it was the same presentation as I gave at the UN, but it kinda shorter, in the middle of the presentation I kinda lost my thread and just said “Can I just thank my First Minister for bringing Marriage Equality to Scotland, on behalf of my future husband and I.” Everyone clapped. Then I said “I’m currently single, but you know, when I put my mind to something”.

Scotland has been through a huge change, and it’s great when you see kids ‘coming out’ in high school now, and all that kinda stuff. I’m really pleased for them.

Paul: That is so beautiful. It’s so beautiful. I get so many emails from kids that are stuck and you know, they’re 14, and the environment and their family is toxic and homophobic, and they’re afraid to come out, and I never know what to say other than ”hang on in there for four more years, and then get the fuck out of there”.

Matty: Yeh, yeh, The United States for me, like I love the US, I really do. I’ve got I love NY tattooed on my arm, but I worry for the religious territories of this country and the kids there. In a way Ireland is making a lot of progress. The health minister in Ireland just came out, and he’s in his 70’s , so that’s been through a transformation. I remember even ten years ago, these teenagers hanging themselves in the wardrobe and stuff, and it’s just like “if you could just hang on”

Paul: And people in the Trans community have it even worse. The ignorance around it, and I actually include myself when I started this podcast in that. I didn’t even realise that the term ‘She-male’ was derogatory

Matty: Do you know what it is, I totally agree. I listened chronologically to all your episodes, and I loved witnessing your progression, cause you were like totally open. You were like “I don’t know the terminology here”. I loved actually watching you grow as a presenter, and how open you are and how you are open to criticism and stuff.

Paul: Thanks buddy. I appreciate that. So I wanna ask you, how has doing the walk.. how has that changed you?

Matty: Well, I got back, and they slapped me with a Doctorate. So now I’m a Doctor.

Paul: Really?

Matty: Yeh, I didn’t know that was coming. When I walked into my town in Glasgow, I was invited into my old school, and they gave me a Doctorate, and I um, and I was so shocked. I was also given the ‘Top Scot Award’, which is this annual thing. It was given to J.K. Rowling has it, and Susan Boyle. Rock n’ Roll! So I’m now –

Paul: Dude: That’s Awesome!

Matty: It means like, I don’t know. I’m kina confused about what I am now, cause my career has changed. I’m getting invited to ,, I’m invited back to Strasburg in June to advise the Council of Europe on legislative change. The one I helped encourage in 8 countries, we’re gonna try and do it across all 47. But I still wanna be an actor, I wanna do TV & theatre. There’s all these projects I wanna work on. So, my life has changed. I’m here, I’m sitting in LA. The next year ahead, in the next few months I’m gonna in Croatia & Cyprus again. I was just in Denmark last week. It’s weird but I love it.

The other thing that’s happening right now is pretty bad. I had to shut down my Facebook yesterday. I discovered that... I called the police yesterday, I was in Albuquerque and I had to phone the Scottish police. -- My Email. All my accounts had been hacked, and somebody’s been sending threats to people from my email. Sending them to me as well, and to people.

Paul: Oh my God.

Matty: When I discovered that… cause my Facebook’s been acting weird for a while. So I was like “shit!”. So I called the police, and I said “Someone’s infiltrated all my email accounts. Because I started getting replies from people, confusing replies, and then I read the email that was from ‘me’. I was like, that doesn’t even sound like me. What’s frightening is, my email address has the contact details of some government, and the BBC and many, many governments and shit, and I was like…

Paul: Oh No

Matty: So that’s kinda freaky, so I’m smoking again.

Paul: (Ruckus laughter)

Matty: I only finished the walk 6 weeks ago, and I collapsed after about a week, I collapsed of exhaustion. It was just the perfect storm, I was adjusting from 5000 calories a day down to what normal people eat for my height. Also the fact of the physiological shock of stopping walking. On the last day of the walk I had like 300 Facebook messages. Many from survivors, many of them in countries where they don’t have that support, and asking me “please, tell me what to do”. So I finished the walk, and like I said from about 14 countries, about 1000 people had flown in and, for that last week I got an average of 2-3 hours’ sleep every night. I just did back to back drinks, and coffee with all these people who’d flown all that distance to see me, and be part of the walk. So I felt obliged. You know as a survivor to be acknowledged now. Just constantly talking to people, and hearing their stories. I totally empathise when you talk about when you get big long emails from people, and you absolutely wanna respond, but it’s just overwhelming.

I went down to London to see my agent, and I didn’t make it. I was … I went into a store .. it was so weird, I had.. we’d say a shopping trolley, but I had a cart. I said to the staff, “can you please watch these groceries, I need to sit down”, and I thought I’d sit down for 5 mins, and I’d feel better. But after an hour, I was still sitting there, I was like a lead weight. They said “Do you need an ambulance?”, and I said “I don’t know”. I called my friend and he lived not far from where I was, and he came and got me. He said, “listen, me & my wife are going on holiday tomorrow. Why don’t you just have our apartment? So that was perfect. I was supposed to be on Breakfast TV on the Thursday, and I called and they were really cool, and I said “I’m falling apart, like I can‘t move”. They pushed the interview back, and I did it the following week. I couldn’t breathe, I was hyperventilating, and I just felt really heavy. So I went to hospital and got all these tests. The doctor was so funny he said “Right, the problem is, you’re really fit & healthy, but, you’ve just walked 10,000 miles”. So he says “that’s what’s wrong.”. I was like “ohhhh, Ok”. So my heart rate was freaking out, it was all physiological, I was just stressed out of my mind.

Paul: So did you wade through all those Facebook messages? Did you get anybody to help you with them?

Matty: yeh, I had to kinda delegate all the problems. I had, like the tax thing in the UK, you had to submit your tax to the office before the end of March. I had receipts in 30 Languages across 14 currencies for the whole project. Only I was responsible for submitting them. So my brother, thank god, came and he helped me sift through all that shit. And the van, that was following me. Like, what do I do with it? We’re now talking to a museum in Glasgow about. Creating an exhibition, you know with the map of Europe, and my trail. Because people come from all over Europe to Glasgow, to see this museum. The Transport Museum. So that’s another meeting I’m having when I go back. The thing is, like, I called up the Mayor of Glasgow. The Lord Provost, and I said “I’d like to speak to about what child protection measures we have in place”. The council of Europe have this really cool, 1 in 5 campaign that I think we should have in Scotland. I’ve witnessed now, when I started this, I couldn’t get people to listen to me, like, you know it took a couple of countries before I managed to get into the British Ambassador, and into the governments. But I come back I and I call up, and I say “hi, I’m Dr Matthew McVarish, I wanna talk to you about the Council of Europe’s 1 in 5 campaign, and I get the meeting immediately you know. So, when I go back, I’m meeting the Director of Education for my country. I met the Pope, so that …

Paul: Wow… that’s amazing

Matty: opened up doors, you know. It’s crazy, just by walking I got to speak at the UN, I got... The Secretary General at the Council at Europe, walked with me, and I got to speak to him about this Lanzarote Convention. That’s what I’m going back to revise and conform.

Paul: Is it Pope Francis that the one?

Matty: Yeh, I met him, yeh.

Paul: and he seems to have turned a little bit of a corner, compared to the secrecy of the Catholic Church previous to him..

Matty: Yeh…

Paul: Didn’t he issue an apology for ..

Matty: He met personally, I mean he’s meeting survivors personally. I was wondering when I met him, if ,cause I wrote to him a year before I got to Rome. I’m not catholic any more, but I was raised catholic, and I was able to lace the letter with the kind of references to St. Francis, who walked across ... he walked to the Vatican to speak to Pope Innocent I think it was. I just said… “I’m trying to reach millions of people with the message with the importance and urgency to break the silence.” I said to Pope Francis. “If you could say something about this, it would reach billions”. and it would, you don’t need to be catholic. He is a world figure. I got a letter back a couple of months later. I think I was in Romania, walking and listening to your show, and … your fucking dogs, man. The whole countries covered in wild dogs, and I’m listening to your podcast. You’ll be talking and like reading this survey, and suddenly Herbert would go ‘ruff’, and I’d spin around like “fuck!”, and there was no dog there, and you’re like… ‘Herbert’s scratching his ass or whatever’. That kept happening.

So I’m walking through Romania, and I’m getting this email from this office in Edinburgh, saying we’ve had a letter from the Vatican. The letter was, ‘Ok, can you tell us more about your campaign’. They wanted me to fax them. I’m in a van in Romania, and I was like “who has a fax machine?”, you know, it’s 2014. So I sent a letter back to Edinburgh, and they faxed it to the Vatican. That was the last I heard. Then a couple of months later I go down in through Bulgaria, Greece, Cyprus, Malta. I’m walking back up through Sicily. It was the same day you gave me a shout. I was walking through Sicily, and you’re like there’s a wee lad walking in a kilt, and I was having a great day. Then the phone goes, and this guy says “I’m Father” I can’t remember his name. “I’m calling from the Vatican about your appointment with Pope Francis”. I was like “oh, Fuck”, because Italy is, sorry Sicily is like an upside down egg box. It’s really bumpy, you know like…so I have signal here, and I don’t have signal here you know. I’m walking, I’ve got to get 30 miles that day, so. He was like “We just want to confirm your time and place”, this was the Vatican obviously. I was like, “I need to check with my colleagues about that, and then I’ll call you back, can I call you back?” and he said “no”, he said “I’ll call you in two hours from now” and that was it, I had a colleague in Geneva, and one in Washington, who were wanting to be there. I was like “crap!”. The thing was, I couldn’t keep walking in case I walked out of signal. So I just had to wait there. For two hours for the Vatican to phone back. So, that’s how that happened. In weird suspicious, no, not suspicious, kinda weird mysterious but about getting in to meet him. On the day, you know, I was in the Vatican, there was a bunch of others, about 10 of us who had this special ‘Golden Ticket’ to meet the Pope. The other guy, I think he was Iranian, and he had a two kids with him. The woman beside me was from Miami, she was like this really wealthy banker, and I think she had cancer . So eventually, Pope Francis who was just there, he was on this alter, it’s like a stage. He reads this prayer, that’s read about 5 times in different languages, Then everyone starts leaving, he comes walks down the steps , and you know, there he was, he was right in front of me.

It was crazy because like, half of my brain is like, you know. .. half of me is going , “Right! This guy is the head of the Catholic Church, which is the institution responsible for the misery of millions of people. The homophobia, and their stance on contraception which is spreading aids, and all this kinda stuff”. The other half of my brain is like “Fuckin’ Hell! It’s the Pope! This little guy is God, you know. You can’t shake that catholic conditioning from your childhood. When he was finally standing in front of me, the childhood side of me won. I had this whole spiel I was ready to give to him, and all I said was “Papa, my uncle abused me”, and that’s how I started. He looked at me, and before I got into my spiel, he just blessed me, he touched my head. In the most comfortable normal way he’s really tactile, I guess he’s used to everyone wanting to touch his hand and stuff. So he put his hand on my shoulder as I explained, and I showed him the route, I got to show him the map where I’m walking around Europe. I’m trying to speak really clearly, cause he’s south American. He’s like nodding along and stuff, and when I said “we’re trying to do this now, because if we don’t, every 5th child in Europe is going to be sexually abused at some point in the next 18 years. He kinda just went silent. He closed his eyes, and genuinely, I believed he was genuinely pained by just that fact, or that knowledge. I got bashed by the gay press at the media in Scotland –

Paul: For meeting with him?

Matty: For meeting with him. They were like, ‘You don’t want to be friends with the Pope is you’re a gay activist’. My experience of him, was genuine compassion. He genuinely has an authentic… he deeply listens to you, which is very intense. For every survivor who is out there, I wish, if it would mean anything to you if you’re a catholic. I wish you could have that moment when, the guy who we’ve appointed to represent God on earth, looks you in the eye. When I said my uncle abused me, he just looked with such sorrow, and he blessed me to absolve all the pain. It was just crazy, cause I was a little catholic boy when my uncle was abusing me. I was on a high for like a month after that. I made it my screen saver, the pictures we got of me with the Pope. All the way through Spain & Portugal, if the police stopped me, we called it the Pope Card, and flashed it, I’d be like “It’s me and the pope”, they’d be like “oh, let him through”. It was awesome, free coffee everywhere in Europe

Paul: How has doing the walk changed you? We’ve heard logistically how it has changed your life, but how has it changed you? If at all, emotionally? Or spiritually?

Matty: I have a fear of possessions you know. I used to have an apartment in London full of crap. I sold everything to pay for the walk. I don’t like to accumulate things, and I wanna stay that way. I had to shrink my life into a shoebox of a van you know, I wanna proceed that way, I don’t wanna have all these… I was reading an article in Time Magazine, about ¾ of Americans with Garages can’t park their car in there, cause they have all this crap. I never wanna get like that, and it was the walk that kinda help me shred my life of what’s important. I practically don’t own underwear, cause I don’t wear it you know. That was like, “if you don’t wear it, don’t own it. Why have a cupboard full of stuff you don’t need?” I’m finding –

Paul: I’ve got a few things to get rid of before that.

Matty: Keep your underwear man. You’re American, don’t worry about it. This year…. I started seeing someone I met in Budapest, when we were there, and we dated all around the walk, kinda long distance. He would fly to whatever city I was coming to next, and we’d hang out. But then we broke up in December, and for me, I think I’m like “it’s ok, I’m done with that now”. I’ve noticed a really negative pattern in my relationships, and now that it’s happened again, I’m like “fuck, I need to figure out what’s going on”, you know. When I was in London, I think I might have been tipping in to sex addiction, you know on that Grindr thing? I was meeting too many people. One day I think I met three different guys, not together, but separately. I was in London writing scripts for theatre and stuff, and you’re bored. The horrible thing about Grindr, is you can have a guy at your door faster than a pizza! It’s like GPS bumming you know. So I got a bit… I’m just pleased at the moment that I’m not interested in having a relationship. I’m reading Guy Winches ‘Emotional First Aid’. My brother Mojo, he set me up for this show, he bought me that for Christmas, so I’m really excited to read that, and do a bit of work on rumination. Especially cause my Facebook and Emails have been hacked, that’s the perfect fodder for really panicking you know.

Paul: A rumination nuclear bomb

Matty: Yeh, so I’m just like hand over to the police. I’ve had to delete the Facebook, and all the apps from my phone, and say it’s not me. Yesterday I was in Albuquerque airport, and I put on Facebook: “ all my email accounts have been hacked, if you receive an email from me, just screen shot and save it”. As I posted it, it got deleted, and I was like “fuck”.

Paul: wow

Matty: So, that was scary. My phone got stolen in Madrid, really suspiciously it vanished from my lap, pretty much. I was looking around the café going “Who took my phone?”. Because it’s an apple, it was an iPhone. You can watch where your phone is, and within an hour, it vanished. They’d wiped it. I don’t know who they are, but I guess I’m pissing off a lot of people.

Paul: You’re also changing a lot of people’s lives. Do you ever just sit and think about how many lives you’ve changed, in the wake of the walk?

Matty: Ummm… no, I mean

Paul: I know that’s impossible for a former catholic to answer. Every bone in your body is saying ‘don’t you dare sound full of yourself!’

Matty: I have these theories about why I did the walk. There’s like four reasons that I did it. The first one is that my uncle once told me, he literally said “don’t tell anyone”. So part of my brain was like, 5% of the walk was a big ‘Fuck You!’. He’s like “don’t tell anyone”. Ok, I’m gonna tell the Pope. I’m gonna tell hundreds of millions of people in 30 languages, so that is maybe 2% of the walk was revenge against what he did, but um. The other one is .. my uncle used me like a sex toy throughout my entire formative years, you know through the early developmental stages, right through puberty. He messed me up so bad. I have no grasp on my self-worth, and I still struggle with that. A physiological entitlement. I never owned a car, and if I tried to buy a car, I’d think “do I deserve a car”? So, part of me is maybe .. the whole walk is kind of trying to do good things that I can write down on paper. If this meeting in June goes well, I will have effectively created enhancements in human rights, right across 820 million people, and I can put that on paper and say “well, I must be a good person, cause I did that, you know?

Paul: Yeh

Matty: and the other half of that coin is actually that masochism thing, like do I deserve this bullshit. I have two kilts, this one is for pictures, and the other one was identical, but now it’s all teeth marked. I had to get vaccinated for rabies, I had constant chest infections walking up the Baltic Sea, and you know, walking for 12 hours in direct sunlight in 40 degrees, about 70 or 80 Fahrenheit. I’s suppose it’d be. Walking in the blizzard through the snow. Walking in a hurricane in Poland. Just that constant 12 hrs punishment, and thinking I need, I deserve this you know. Sleeping in a van that leaked on my face every night.   So part of it was that masochism thing, this kind of weird Catholic self-punishment. The fourth reason is that thing of, if you’re ever in a store, and there’s a little old lady trying to reach for a cereal box on a shelf too high…you automatically --

Paul: make fun of her?

Matty: and kick her? Yeh… no… you automatically reach for it and you hand it to her, and there’s no question that you would do that. You would help someone who can’t get to that stage, when you can. When I realized that this law we have in Europe is so simple, you know. They’re our children, and there will be more victims in the future who don’t have a voice. I have a voice, and I was like “why wouldn’t I help why wouldn’t I speak?”. It’s just that automatic, and I think thankfully, that that one wins out.

Paul: Do you feel like you are able to love yourself more easily now? Or at least not loathe yourself?

Matty: Well, my boyfriend who I was dating, dumped me on Facebook. We were dating and he just kinda vanished, and I suspect he was already seeing someone else

Paul: Maybe his account got hacked, and was somebody else. He’s wondering where the fuck you went.

Matty: But again, I think that is the kind of situation that I can ruminate on, and go “what did I do, was I too weird?.. when we were having sex was i…”, you know all that kind of stuff that I could go back and worry about. It’s nice, I still daily, when I get back into my emails, still get emails from people telling me how the walk has inspired them to see a counsellor or start their journey of healing. It does help.

Paul: That’s beautiful to hear.

Matty: Yeh. I wrote down seminal moments, I don’t know if I covered all of them. Maybe I did. Uhh Yep, I covered them both. I wrote some fears and loves. I don’t know if you still do that on the show.

Paul: Let’s do a couple. Hit me with some fears.

Matty: oh, ok

Paul: and if people want to contact you, Roadtochange.org?

Matty: It’s .eu roadtochange.eu yeh

Paul: The road to change, or Road to change?

Matty: Road to Change yeh. Ok, oh man…. I’m scared that I am too complicated for anyone to ever truly get me, and I’ll always feel alone, even when I am with someone.

Paul: I’m afraid that, even though I am doing so much work on it, that I’ll never be able to be truly truly intimate, and let my defences down and let go of the critical part of my brain.

Matty: Oh so you have that too?

Paul: Oh God yeh, Oh God yeh

Matty: Cool

Paul: yeh

Matty: bless you

Paul: Too bad I’m not gay, we’d be perfect for each other

Matty: Yeh I know, what a night we’d have man, seriously. I’m scared that I’ll never really push myself to realise my goals because I don’t believe I am worthy of them.

Paul: Do you realize how ridiculous that one sounds coming from you?

Matty: umm

Paul: The thing that you just accomplished. You climbed Mt Everest

Matty: I climbed the Alps, Everest isn’t --

Paul: Dude. You put that thing together. I know you had help from people, but that is… (gasp). Everybody I think, wants to die knowing that they left their mark on the world. You have left an indisputable mark on the world. There’s no disputing it. There’s no… you changed laws. You changed fucking laws. There are people whose lives are being protected now because of… it’s not like you just made a phone call. You fucking planned for 2 years. You walked 10,000 miles. You had nights of 2 hrs of sleep. You got sunburned. Your fucking toes and fingers froze

Matty: yeh

Paul: You have left a beautiful, beautiful legacy in this world, and yet still I don’t like you.

Matty: Alright.. you’re a cock. ‘And for my next trick’

Paul: Dude seriously! Don’t make me get up and slap you, and I will not yell ‘freedom’

Matty: Well, it’s weird when you say it like that, but like, well.. yeh, that’s what happened, but it’s not --

Paul: You can’t feel it.

Matty: Well, not at the moment, cause like I’m really jittery, cause someone’s attacking me. That’s one of my fears, that I’m really scared that I’ve pissed off some very powerful paedophile rings in Europe, and they’re gonna go and try and kill me, or hurt my family. That is an actual reality, and it’s really scary. Thank fuck I’ve got the Scottish Police, they’re on my side, and I’m just gonna hand over all my online stuff, and go look. That’s the thing, like in the UK, the paedophile rings are going right up to government. There’s some dark, dark energies that you’re working with.

Paul: Dude, you have given out so much positive karma to the universe. You have, you have made your statement. You have made your statement that is undeniable. It’s not like you came out and said “I’m against paedophilia being covered up”. You’ve gone to incredible lengths to walk the walk, and not just talk the talk. So if it comes down between you, and somebody else’s word. Somebody who hasn’t walked 10,000 miles, who the fuck do you think we’re gonna believe?

Matty: yeh

Paul: Give me your next fear, cause I can’t even stay on that one anymore.

Matty: I’ve always been the strong one in relationships. I’m scared that if I meet someone who’s sorted and secure, that I’ll finally fall apart.

Paul: and what would happen if you fell apart? Be vulnerable?

Matty: yeh, I guess

Paul: and you might get hurt?

Matty: I just don’t wanna lose control.

Paul: but Dude. There’s no vulnerability without letting go. I know, it’s easier said than done. I have the same fuckin’, same fuckin’ issue. But I do have moments where I let go, and I silence that critical part of my brain, and I get vulnerable. It’s scary, but it’s also beautiful. You know, one of the things I’ve noticed in asking you emotionally how this has changed you. You kinda deflecting it a bit, like you don’t wanna go inside. Maye that’s your, sounds cheesy as fuck, but maybe that’s your next journey. The one inside yourself. To learn how to let go, maybe a support group or something.

Matty: Yeh, cause like there’s one in Norway, and um, I was in Copenhagen a couple of weeks ago, and my friend survivors that are gonna go up to Norway and do this retreat where you get to fall apart. I’ve never done that.

Paul: Oh, that would be beautiful.

Matty: I called him up, and I was like “Can I come too?”. They were like.. the Norwegian government are so wealthy, they pay for the whole thing, and I was like “I’d love to do that weekend.” They were like “well,

Paul: ‘You hacked me on Facebook, fuck off!’

Matty: No, they were like, “We don’t have any spaces left, but maybe you could come and do a talk”. I was like “fuck!” Again, that’s what I do, I give talks. I’m flying all over the place to give talks. I’m like “can I be the guy, can I just fall apart”.

Paul: Yeh. Can you call him back? Check back in with him?

Matty: Yeh. Well I can’t get into my email until I get back to Scotland. It’s a fuckin nightmare! Fuckers! I try not to send out hate, I don’t like to do that. I just bless whoever the fucker is that’s pissin’ with me. I just hope they fuck off.

Paul: You’re putting so much light out into the world. I just have this feeling that you are gonna be ok. That this is gonna blow over.

Matty: it’s cool, cause I’m here in the States because it’s Child Abuse Prevention Month. And tomorrow I am doing a concert in Houston. So I’m going to be singing.

Paul: That’s awesome!

Matty: Yeh, it’s really nice to get up and sing, and to do that creative stuff again. I’ve got a friend. She runs ‘Not on our watch America’ Foundation in Houston. She is a fuckin bad ass. She walked with me from Slovenia to Croatia for a week.

Paul: Let’s give her a shout out.

Matty: Yeh, Randa Fox, you’re fucking awesome, she knows it. She’s just such an inspiration to me, and she’s gonna really make some fucking changes here in the States.

Paul: That’s beautiful.

Matty: yeh,

Paul: Let’s do some ‘loves’

Matty: ok, I love listening to someone rant when they really know what they’re talking about.

Paul: That’s a good one. That’s a good one, I’ve never heard that one before. Um, I love seeing beautifully photographed or filmed scenery in Ireland.

Matty: oh yeh?

Paul: and Scotland too. I watched a thing, and I’m not just saying that cause you’re here, but I do have a dream of one day going to Ireland, and Scotland, and just immersing myself in the culture and the nature there. I watched this thing last night on Netflix, and there was this guy who fucking loves nature. He’s just taken a canoe down the River Shannon. Talking about how it has evolved over the past 20 or 30 years, and ‘this bird is here now, they’ve migrated from Spain because temperatures are warmer, and they need a cooler climate. This bird is not here as much now because this other predator came up from this, and listen to that. That’s them letting their babies know there’s food over here’ –

Matty: and you like that?

Paul: Dude, it was like the most comforting… it was like a cup of cocoa before bed

Matty: oh yeh, yeh

Paul: It just made me want to get on a plane, get in a canoe, and just go down the River Shannon. Do you call it the Shannon River, or the River Shannon?

Matty: River Shannon I guess, yeh

Paul: But I love that, you know I think also cause my Dad’s side of the family is from Ireland.

Matty: You should come do the Edinburgh Festival, you know.

Paul: I would love to do the Edinburgh Festival, but I don’t -- I kinda stopped doing stand-up comedy, so I don’t do

Matty: You should come and do some podcasts, in Edinburgh

Paul: Oh, I’d love that. I’d love to do that

Matty: I could hook you up. After this I’m going over to, do you know Lynn Ferguson, she’s like Craig’s sister. All my friends here in LA are comedians, that’s (unintelligible)…, a lot of our mutual friends on Facebook are comedians, Scottish comedians. Yeh, if you come over, we’ll show you around, but definitely come and do a podcast for a week or so, you could get loads done. I could set you up with some really cool

Paul: We’ve got some great Scottish listeners who I have corresponded with.

Matty: That’s the thing. I love this show but 95% of the voices are American voices understandably. It’s really cool to... there was a French guy one point, and just to hear a different .. cause I know, there are people in Finland and Denmark who listen to your show.

Paul: One of my dreams is to have the show’s budget be enough that I could do a trip through Europe. Go to London, go to... I don’t know... maybe Edinburgh, maybe Dublin and then I would love to hit some of the Scandinavian Countries

Matty: yeh

Paul: and interview people. Fuckin love that

Matty: Yeh, it’s not actually that expensive. Well Scandinavia’s a fucker, but actually, once you’re in Europe flights are pretty cheap. Seriously

Paul: by the time you’ve got hotel, food

Matty: but I know people in every city man, if you wanted to do that, I’d hook you up, seriously. I mean, I’ve got free vacations for the rest of my life. If I wanna go anywhere, ‘hey guys, I’m comin’.

Paul: Alright, give me another ‘love’.

Matty: I love, my brother and I have this favourite movie. It’s called Scrooge. It’s the Albert Finney musical version of ‘The Christmas Carol’. We watch it on Christmas Eve with my dad, we used to do that together. But the whole year, you know I’ll be in a meeting or something, and I’ll get a text from my brother, and it’s just a random quote from that movie.

Paul: I love that

Matty: It just always makes my heart smile. We just do it all year, you know.. he’s awesome. It’s just so random and camp this movie. It’s from the 70’s with Albert Finney. That movie Scrooge has been done so many ways, with the Bill Murray one, and the most recent remade story but we love this kinda crap 70’s version.

Paul: I love seeing family members making each other laugh. I love that.

Matty: yeh, You’d love my family. My brothers are so funny. We always try to outdo each other.

Paul: Give me, give me one more ‘love’

Matty: I love that day in like July, when you go into Starbucks, and they’ve switched to the Christmas beverage. You’re like “yes! Santa’s coming. Fucking awesome”.

Paul: I’d normally say that’s a beautiful one to end on. I cannot end on one that has Starbucks in it. Give me another. I don’t know, I don’t dislike Starbucks, I just want a different one to that.

Matty: Ok, I love when I’m shopping with someone, and they pick something up, and go “oh, this is gorgeous, I love this”, and then they put it back and forget about it. Then 7 months later you give them it for Christmas and they are like stoked.

Paul: that is beautiful. That is fucking beautiful, and you are a beautiful man, Matty McVarish. You are a beautiful fucking human being and the planet is lucky to have you.

Matty: Thank you

Paul: Thanks buddy.

Paul: That is one special, special, human being. I am so proud when I have guests like him on the podcast. I am so proud to be doing what I’m doing, and to be able to… collaborate with people like Matty. I think I was high for a week after I recorded that, it was just I recorded it actually about a week ago, and I’ve just been so excited to share that with you guys, cause I know you feel the same way about him, that I do. I guess I’m just kinda fumbling for words cause I just think about all the effort that went into what he did, and what he’s been through, and I am sure what he will still be going though, as he heals. It just leave me speechless.

Before I get to some surveys. I don’t think I have any emails, it’s all surveys. Want to remind you guys, there’s a couple of ways you can support the show if you feel so inclined. You can go to the website which is mentalpod.com, and you can make a one-time PayPal donation. Or you can do my favourite, and become a monthly donor, for as little as $5 a month. It’s super easy to do, it’s super simple to set up, and then you don’t have to do anything. It really, really helps the show. We really need you, monthly donors. The more you guys contribute, the more we can expand the show you know. Like I was talking with Matty. I really want to go do episodes on the road, I wanna record some of you guys in person who are in other countries. I talked about the UK, and Scandinavia. I also wanna really go to other parts of Europe, and I really wanna go to Australia, cause I love you, you Aussies. You’re really great supporters of this show. Alright, I’m kissing enough fuckin ass, I’m starting to make myself sick.

You can also support this show when you shop at Amazon. Enter through the search portal on our home page, on the right hand side, about half the way down. Amazon will give us a couple of nickels if you buy something, and it doesn’t cost you anything. You can support us non-financially by going to iTunes, and writing something nice about the show. That’s a really important way to help us, cause it boosts our ranking, and that brings more people to the show. You can support us non-financially by just spreading the word through social media. That helps greatly. The more people that listen to the show, the more people that get comfort from the show, hopefully, more entertainment, or whatever you get out of it. Also the more people that can help support it and expand it, cause I have lots of ideas on how I’d like to expand it. But at this point, many of them are limited by our budget.

Alright, let’s get to some surveys. This is the struggle in a sentence survey, and this was filled out by a woman who calls herself ‘Baby Flower’ about her depression. She writes:

Baby Flower: My depression is when I start to see colours grey, in winter, and start to dread the summer.”

Paul: I’ve never dreaded summer, but I think what she’s saying is, instead of seeing colour in winter, she sees grey. In which case I would completely identify with that. And if she’s not, she’s saying ‘when she looks at things that are grey in winter, she sees colours’, then I think she’s on acid and I want a hit of it. About her love addiction, she writes:

Baby Flower: If I could just find an affirmation that I am loveable.

Paul: About her co-dependency:

Baby Flower: if he doesn’t call me and ask me to come over, I feel a sense of abandonment. When I am with him, I wonder if he will ever love me enough to commit to me in any way. I can’t ever escape these thoughts.

Paul: Thank you for sharing that, oh and a snapshot from her life:

Baby Flower: when I lay in bed, and I feel bugs crawling in my skin, and when I start to lose sight of colours, when thoughts that maybe I am manipulative and worthless, because I can’t keep one relationship. Not friends or a romantic relationship. Then I know I am too far gone, and I need to go get help, but am too lazy & pathetic to do so.

Paul:  Thank you for sharing that. This is a shame and secrets survey filled out by a guy who calls himself ‘Tumbler’(sp?), and he is straight, he’s in his 20’s, was raised in a slightly dysfunctional environment. Have you ever been the victim of sexual abuse?

Tumbler: Some stuff happened, but I don’t know if it counts. Something happened with the babysitter when I was very young. I don’t remember it, or know the specifics, but parents left a hidden camera, and ended up firing her. My family doesn’t talk about it, but I get the feeling, that something is wrong about that time in my life. There was a fair amount of emotional incest in my family. I was the oldest in my family, my mother told me things, and acted inappropriately at times. She would never see it that way, but now that I am older, it bothers me. She would ask me or my brother to sleep in bed with her when my dad was away on business, when we were well into our teens

Paul: That’s gross.

Tumbler: Their room was near my brother & I’s room, and I could hear them fuck from time to time.

Paul: I assume you are talking about your Dad & Mum, not your Mum & your brother. Either way, it’s a terrific show.

Tumbler: She still makes comments about my body, and will grab or grope me, and make comments about my physique which make me uncomfortable. These things usually make me feel a shiver go down my spine, like I need to recoil or disappear.

Paul: He’s been emotionally abused

Tumbler: We were not allowed privacy in the house I grew up in. When I was in 7th grade, my first girlfriend wrote me a letter. I remember it was in a pink envelope and she had sprayed it with perfume. I hid it in my room. My mum found it and became irate that I was keeping secrets from her.

Paul: That makes me sick to my stomach, and sad.

Tumbler: There was nothing in the letter that caused concern from a parents’ perspective, I can only think that my mother was jealous.”

Paul: Any positive experiences with your abusers?

Tumbler: Yes, I had many great experiences with my family. I know that they love me, and would never intentionally hurt me. That complicates things quite a bit for me.

Paul: Darkest thoughts:

Tumbler: I ruminate about horrible things happening to people I love. How I might react or what would, or could affect my life. I wish sometimes, that something outwardly horrible would happen to me, or someone I love, so I can feel like I have justification feeling the way that I do.

Paul: I think you have those things. People who are regular listeners to this show, know that I relate very much to this. Let me just say it’s taken me a couple of decades of therapy and support groups to finally give weight that what happened to me, is , you know…. fucked up. Let me save you two decades of humming and haain about whether or not what happened to you was fucked up. It was fucked up. Alright. -- Darkest thoughts:

Tumbler: I sexualize almost every woman I meet. I envision them naked or what it would be like to fuck them. Even women I am not attracted to. I would never want to know the kind of porn that I watch.” Oh “I would never want ANYONE to know the kind of porn that I watch.”

Paul: That would be difficult to know what kind of porn you watch. Just have to have parts of it blocked out. ‘I think he’s fucking a pumpkin I think, I’m not sure. I can’t tell if it’s a pumpkin or a head’. Rough anal porn has been my favourite since as long as I can remember. If you’re gonna go anal, why wouldn’t you go rough? What is the purpose of ‘I like gentle anal porn.’ I don’t think I’ve ever read that one. My favourite porn is ‘Tender Anal Porn’. –Your darkest secrets:

Tumbler: I found my parents sex toys when I was 12 or 13, and I used to take them out and mess with them when I would masturbate. I wouldn’t necessarily use them, but having them around was arousing.”

Paul: Sexual fantasies most powerful to you

Tumbler: I often fantasise about holding down different women that I know, and fucking them from behind. I don’t want them to disapprove of what I am doing, but I want to physically overpower them. Then an older woman is giving me head. A Mom type. I see the parallels here with my past and I find it disturbing afterward

Paul: There’s no reason to be disturbed by that. That is completely human. What if anything do you wish for?

Tumbler: I long to be able to open up to a woman who loves me, and for her to accept my being weak in that moment, to be comforted and understood.”

Paul: That’s beautiful. -- Have you shared these things with others?

Tumbler: I opened up to a long term girlfriend, and it was one of the most powerful experiences of my life. My family does not share feelings at all, so it was something completely new to me. It sounds corny, but for a year or so, afterward I felt like I was reborn

Paul: Again. Beautiful. Beautiful. You sound like a great guy. -- How do you feel after writing these things down?

Tumbler: I feel sad, it brought up a lot of things to the surface that I usually try to tuck back down. I also feel that everything I wrote was completely disjointed and fragmented. I thought about going back and writing things out a lot more clearly, but fuck it

Paul: I think it was very clear what you wrote, and if you feel moved to go check out a support group, I think one for incest survivors might be a good one to go to, and tell that part of your brain that’s saying ‘it doesn’t qualify as incest’ to go ‘fuck itself’. -- Can you tell what colour tea it is? It’s green tea. It’s a kinda different slurp than black tea. -- This is struggle in a sentence filled out by ‘Hanging on’ She writes about being a sex crime victim:

Hanging on: I was roofied and raped, and contracted chlamydia. I confessed to my boyfriend, and he told me I was lying and seeking attention because I don’t wanna take responsibility.

Paul: Not only should you leave him. If your car isn’t readily available, call Uber, and get the fuck away from this guy. Immediately. Immediately. He does not deserve you.

This is a ‘Happy Moment’ filled out by a woman who calls herself ‘Sorry I Fill Out So Many Surveys. Not really. Go Fuck Yourself’. That might be the longest name we’ve ever had. Her happy moment, she writes:

Sorry I Fill Out So Many Surveys. Not really. Go Fuck Yourself : Today I went on a little road trip adventure, which was fun on its own, but the real icing on the cake was coming home and listening to an older episode of the show, while eating pizza. Not sure which episode it was, one of the newer ones I think. But when you asked the guest if he placed on the autism spectrum because of his obvious discomfort with making eye contact, I had to pause the episode for an onslaught of supernova-esque (sp?) of mini revelations. I thought about my own day, and my own interactions with strangers, and realised that I really like people. Like, I really, really like people. I’ve a hard time feeling comfortable with people, or being confident around them, or even making eye contact with them. But holy moly, I love ‘em. I spent the rest of the evening thinking about my future, and how I want to be a social worker, and maybe it’s just that things are starting to look up for me in a general sense. I am so excited to start moving forward. God I love people.

Paul: Love it. Love it. That’s one of my favourite things about doing this gig, is the happy moments. Or the breakthroughs, or the bitter/sweet moments. Those are the ones I really love and when someone’s alternating between laughing and crying. That might be my favourite. That’s just like life can dance down into 30 seconds. -- That’s not tea. I’m actually drinking my own cum. It’s very thin. I probably should see a Doctor. -- This is ‘Shame & Secrets’ survey filled out by a woman who calls herself ‘History Geek’. She’s straight and in her 20’s. Raised in a stable and safe environment. But she qualifies writing:

History Geek: When my parents were unemotional, and my sister off often emotionally bullied me when I was depressed.”

Paul: I wouldn’t call that ‘Stable & Safe”. I should probably add another category to that. Where there was no ‘over-abuse’, but there was an absence of ‘emotional connection’. I should definitely… let me make a note of that. She was the victim of sexual abuse and never reported it. She writes

History Geek: Through mutual friends I was introduced to a mysterious older guy who I became enamoured with. I began a sexual with him, hoping that he would fall in love with me. I found out that he had a steady girlfriend, and I found out things about him that were really shady. So one day when he was over at my house, I told him that I didn’t wanna see him anymore. He kept trying to push for “one more time”, and I kept saying no, but he continued to grope and force me to touch his dick, and try to get my clothes off. This was all in my childhood home with my parents upstairs. I felt horrified. I couldn’t move, I just sat there as he touched me, and shoved him off occasionally, but he would continue, and this went on for 90 minutes or so. And then I drove him home. It didn’t hit me that I’d been sexually assaulted, until I was driving home. I felt disgusted with myself that I’d just sat there. I thought that it was my fault that I let this continue to long with such a horrible human being, and that I couldn’t push him off of me, and kick him out of my own house.

Paul: She’d never been physically abused or emotionally abused. – Darkest thoughts:

History Geek: I think about killing other women. Walking up to a group of girls sitting together and laughing, and having a good time, and just killing them all. I am a feminist, but I hate other women, and often view them as annoying and trivial, and as competition to me to win over a man. I often think about killing children. Every child I see, I wish was dead. I often fantasize about being a famous serial killer. Putting myself I the shoes of someone like Ted Bundy, and imagining me committing his crimes, or think about being the brutal dictator of a country and having the power to kill anyone I wanted.

Paul: Darkest secrets:

History Geek: I purposely slept with men, knowing they had a girlfriend, because I wanted to ruin their relationship. I feel like I secretly want everyone to be as miserable as I am, and when it comes to social relations. I told a woman that I slept with her boyfriend, anonymously on the internet, just so I could watch it all be destroyed.

Paul: Sexual fantasies most powerful to you:

History Geek: I have strong incest fantasies, and strong fantasies about being a sexual slave. I think about being physically abused while having sex. It makes me feel really dirty, because nobody knows this side of me. I feel like it’s really degrading to me, and I consider myself a feminist and it makes me feel shame.

Paul: What if anything would you like to say to someone you haven’t be able to

History Geek: I would like to tell my sister, that when she would accuse me of faking mental illness for attention, I would get suicidal. When she convinced my parents I was faking it, I completely shut out my family emotionally, because they only made it hurt worse. My sister still doesn’t believe I’m bipolar, and tries to tell me what to do with my medication and my Mom sides with her cause she graduated med school. I’m terrified of my sister, and I wish I could tell her it’s because it’s because of her that I felt like I had no one to turn to as a teenager, and that the only way out was through death. She convinced me that no one cared about my problems.

Paul: What if anything do you wish for?:

History Geek: I wanna find my soul mate who loves me more than anyone he’s ever loved before. I wanna have a love that is reciprocated and a partner that is my best friend, and will hang out with me inside all day, because I don’t wanna leave the house most days.

Paul: Have you shared these things with others?:

History Geek: No I pride myself on being a feminist, and my friends are all feminists, and I feel like sharing that would cause them all to hate me. I feel that every woman in their right mind would hate me.

Paul: How do you feel after writing these things down?:

History Geek: Better. It still kinda disturbs me that I hate women so much, because it’s so illogical.

Paul: Is there anything you’d like to share with someone who shares your thoughts and experiences?:

History Geek: You can still be a feminist, and still be uncomfortable around women. I dealt with the rejection of female platonic relationships all throughout my childhood, and the experience of men always choosing other women over me. I do not actively hate women. I am just damaged from my experience, and need to work on the way I think about it.

Paul: Well thank you for sharing that, and it sounds like you’re in a lot of pain, and like there’s a void of intimacy in your life. In personal relationships, and I can tell you, that is something that can improve. It can improve, but we gotta get out of our comfort zone, and ask for help. So, if you’re not in therapy, I’d really encourage you to check it out. Thank you for sharing all that stuff, and sending you some love. – I almost choked on that sip of tea. That was actually half tea, half jiz. – This is a struggle in a sentence, filled out by a guy who calls himself ‘noah-juan’ (sp?) and about his depression he writes:

Noah-juan: you are a horrible person on the inhale, you are a horrible person on the exhale from the moment I wake up.

Paul: So, if you’re not thinking you’re a horrible person while you’re holding your breath. That must mean you’re full of yourself. I cast you to the sea. Sending you some love. I can’t, just the nature of the show, I can’t leave it with a joke like that. Is that bad? Is that annoying that I have to follow that up with a ‘no, I’m just kidding’? I think it is. I don’t know. I’m having a perfectionist angst moment. – This is the bodyshame survey that was filled out by a woman who calls herself ‘Forgotten Gypsy’. What do you like or dislike about your body? She writes:

Forgotten Gypsy: Cellulite, and unusually large stretch marks. I don’t feel I look normal in clothes, much less out of them. I also have a high forehead like Christina Ricci. I am super self-conscious, but is further brought to my attention by an aunt who thinks she is hilarious by calling it my ‘five head’, and smacking me in the head, and yelling, “give me five” at people. I hate it. I’ve told her to stop and she thinks I am being sensitive and stupid. That she’s just joking, so it’s ok.

Paul: She sounds like really, an awful fucking person. I’m sure it wouldn’t be healthy, but my first instinct was for you to send me a picture of her, so I can find the meanest thing that you can say back to her when she does that. I’m super tempted to have you do that. Probably not the healthiest thing. When I read that I was just like ‘oh I wanna fucking take that woman down’. – This is a happy moment filled out by a woman who calls herself ‘River Duck’. She writes:

River Duck: A teacher of mine went diving. He brought back this small abalone shell, and on the back of this shell, was this barnacle. I love stuff like this, and I still do. I was his teachers’ assistant at the time, and I remember I was admiring the small life sticking it’s little tongue in and out, blowing little bubbles as it did so. I heard him quietly say “I brought it for you”, and with this sort of tenderness, and I don’t know if he expected me to hear that. I was really depressed at that time, and I knew he knew that. I was 17, but I felt like a 5yr old. I felt this sort of wonderful embarrassment. The sort of feeling I imagine a father giving his young child. The shell made me smile. That teacher often made me smile, and sometimes laugh uncontrollably. I wonder why this memory resonates in my mind? My parents were emotionally distant and neglectful. I feel a little bit conceited and vain for taking such pleasure in the small kind words of this man I think so highly of, but I still smile. – Thank you so much for sharing that beautiful moment. I don’t think you’re conceited or vain for being touched by that. Most of us grew up in environments that were emotionally invalidating, or just kind of ‘emotional deserts’. … God I remember playing hockey one time. I would have been in my 30’s. It was roller hockey. There used to be this group of guys and girls, and we’d get together, and we’d play on these tennis courts. Somehow, a couple of the people that were playing that day, knew it was my birthday, and they brought me birthday presents. I started to cry, cause i.. it just .. I don’t know why I think it’s kinda the same…. It seemed like such a small thing, but it seemed so pure. I love that, so thank you for sharing that, and I’m glad I could ruin it by just grinding the show to a halt while I stumbled over my words. – This is the shame and secrets survey. Filled out by a woman who calls herself ‘Piccadilly’, and I just want to read a couple of exerts from it. She was emotionally abused. She writes:

Piccadilly: My Mom always acted like she didn’t like me. She’d be very angry with me a lot of the time, and I’d never knew how she’d react to me. She told me I was a ‘fat, smelly, lazy, lump sitting in the corner of her living room, and she wished that my school friend was her daughter instead’. She would refuse to speak to me for hours if I offended her. I remember this once happened because I had the hiccups, and the noise annoyed her. When I was about 8, I laughed and sprayed over the table on holiday. She was furious with me for a week. She didn’t beat me, but she used to throw things at me, or slap me if she lost her temper.

Paul: Any positive experiences with the abusers:

Piccadilly: yes, I believe that my Mom loves me, and she thinks she did a good job raising me. She sometimes acts loving and as if she cares about me. She has always provided for me financially and practically. I love her a lot and makes it hard for me to accept that she abused me. If that’s what happened.

Paul: Oh yeh. That is definitely abuse. – Darkest thoughts:

Piccadilly: I wish I had a more concrete trauma, which I could tie to my problems, instead of vague first world problems.

Paul: What? Wow, that takes my breath away. That you don’t think that that is traumatic. What your Mom.. the things your Mom said to you. That is abuse of the highest order. That is absolutely as abusive, if not more abusive than somebody, you know, punching their child. Oh, I just wanna hug you. Anyway, continuing:

Piccadilly: I wish for something bad to happen to someone I love, to give me an excuse to feel the way I do, or at least to distract me. I wish I could think of a way to kill myself, that I wasn’t too scared to carry out.

Paul: Darkest secrets:

Piccadilly: I eat compulsively and I am extremely overweight. I am very embarrassed about this. I probably eat 3 or 4 times as much as other people, and I think about food all the time. It has reached an extent where I have almost disabled myself. I find it difficult to walk for more than a few minutes, and difficult to climb stairs. I increasingly can’t fit into the furniture in public places.

Paul: Who wouldn’t feel emotionally overwhelmed? With the template you were raised with in childhood. Who wouldn’t be engaging in some kind of compulsive behaviour to numb the pain and the loneliness? Oh, I’m sending you some love. Please go talk to somebody. Please go talk to a therapist about this. Cause what happened to you is really, really fucked up. – This is the bodyshame survey filled out by ‘Rose’ and she writes:

Rose: I struggled with self- harm for more than 10 years and have scars all over my body. I’m deeply ashamed of them because I see them as evidence that there is something wrong with me. Although I have not harmed myself in over 5 years, I know I will have to live with the scars for the rest of my life, and I have no one to blame but myself. I hide my scars most of the time because I worry when people see them, they will think I am crazy or unstable.

Paul: You call me crazy? I say you look at them and remind yourself that you are fucking still here. That you have endured feeling overwhelmed, and sure, we all could have reacted to things differently. The first 40 years of my life I reacted in the worst way possible to things that overwhelmed me. But why don’t you look at them and say ‘I’m am fucking strong, cause I am still here’. Or tell me to ‘go fuck myself’. You know, I’m in the kinda mood, that if you told me to go fuck myself, I might enjoy it. I might enjoy it. I might give you a little tip of the cap. I’d have to go buy a cap first, but … This is a Happy Moment, filled out by ‘Physics Freak’, who sent me a nice email. We read one of her surveys in a previous show. I love it when I get emails from you guys, sharing how you felt when you heard your survey being read. Yeh, it really touches me.. anyway. Her happy moment is:

Physics Freak: Cuddled up in bed reading a non-fiction book. Not an unusual occurrence for me. Found myself caught off guard, when the author revealed an untimely death of one of the young women he’d gotten to know while writing this book. My eyes welled up, and tears started streaming down my face. I’d been captivated by the description of this woman, and I realized I had the intense desire to meet her. Especially after learning that she ran a restaurant a couple of hours from me. Now, never knowing that would ever come to fruition, the tears evolve to sobbing. I then suddenly realise that this was the first time I’d felt connected to another human being in so long. The sobbing then became interspersed with maniacal laughter. Here I am actually feeling something for another person, and my tears were suddenly beautiful to me. Even though I was feeling sad, it wasn’t the overwhelming dread that it usually felt like. It was something I hadn’t even known could be missing, and feeling it again made me so happy. So I just sat in bed, laugh crying. It was great.

Paul: Thank you for that. – This is a shame and secrets survey filled out by a woman who calls herself ‘Paralyzed by Choice’. She is bi-sexual, she is 18, and was raised in a stable and safe environment. … Ever been the victim of sexual abuse? She writes:

Paralyzed by Choice: Some stuff happened, but I don’t know if that counts. I’m pretty sure this doesn’t count, but feel compelled to mention it anyway. When I was around 11 or 12, a boy around my same age did something strange. He touched my privates over my clothes, with an object. I yelped, and moved back. He laughed, repeated the action and asked if I liked that. I just remember this feeling of pure fear flooding my body. I should clarify, that aside from other sexual comments, this was an isolated incident.

Paul: I think the important thing to remember in this the phrase I just remember this feeling of pure fear flooding my body. You know, when we experience that, that counts. That counts, because the other persons’ intention shouldn’t factor into whether something was abuse or not, as much as what we felt when we experienced it. Because this isn’t about prosecuting that other person, it’s about processing our feelings, and giving weight to them, so we can fully process them, and hopefully heal, and move on, and stop feeling stuck. – Darkest Thoughts.

Paralyzed by Choice:

 

 

Hollow and just like a ghost, I feel just like a ghost. You know when a vampire has to just get back in his coffin. I am like that, that’s what my bed is, and there is probably something else good to follow that up with, but my brain just fucking completely went to screen saver.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What follows are the surveys that Paul read. The name in bold is the alias the survey respondent used to fill out the survey.

 

PARALYZED BY CHOICE:

I think that in any given situatuion my brain is always asking itself “ what is the stupidest, ugliest, most reprehensible thing you could do right now? “ hey what if you do that? I will be doing something totally ordinary and suddenly think, “ what if you just stabbed everyone here with a needle? What if you raped a kid? I also have a lot of self-destructive thoughts. I tend to have suicidal and semi suicidal episodes immediately followed by periods where I am completely terrified of death. I’m afraid that by contemplating suicide I’ve somehow indicated to the universe that it has the right to strike me dead at any moment. I often find myself fantasizing about cutting my face open. I’ve cut myself in other places, but no one has ever noticed the scars. And I think a part of me just wants to be seen and known without my having to explain anything.

 

DARKEST SECRETS:

I almost feel like my deepest, darkest secret is that I dont have any deepest darkest secrets. I live mostly in my own head. I’m often too afraid to act, even on simple things.   I sometimes feel like I have no good reason to be the way I am which is unhappy, and fidgety, and afraid.

 

PAUL:

Oh, if you only knew how many of us feel unhappy, and fidgety, and afraid. Continuing….

 

PARALYZED BY CHOICE:

However, I have no friends, I haven’t in years. I think at some point I just lost the ability to interact with other human beings in any way that will make them continue to want to interact with me. I’m so afraid of being in any kind of group situation that I almost can’t talk at all. I can talk more comfortably in a one on one situation, but I never feel like I’m being myself I just make mindless small talk till they get bored and go away.   I dont blame them, because I know I’m boring, I’m afraid that I’ve spent so long just trying to be okay, that I dont even have a personality anymore.

PAUL:

I dont know what I like, or what I want. I dont even have a favorite color.

 

SEXUAL FANTASIES MOST POWERFUL TO YOU

 

PARALYZED BY CHOICE:

Anal, dirty talk, and women humping inanimate objects. I want to be fucked by two men at once, one vaginally, and one anally, while I suck on one woman’s breasts, and another sucks on mine. As foreplay, I want them to tell…

 

PAUL:

Can that happen? Can two women suck on each other’s breasts at the same time?   IS that uh? Oh, I guess you have to be upside down. Would be…. what’s half of sixty-nine?  You can’t divide sixty-nine…um…and get a whole number. Sexual positions should only be whole numbers. Continuing…

 

PARALYZED BY CHOICE:

As foreplay, I want them to tell me exactly what they’re going to do to me, the more explicit, the better. A smaller part of me wants to masturbate while I watch another woman hump a pillow or inflatable object to orgasm. HOW DOES SHARING THAT MAKE ME FEEL? Aroused, just a little…. I wasn’t kidding. About the dirty talk thing. The second one feels a bit more perverse though. Part of me wonders if being sexually aroused by interaction with inanimate objects is a sign I’m fundamentally disconnected from other human beings.

 

PAUL:

When I first read this, the first thought was I wonder if it has connection to the fact that that trauma you experienced was with a guy touching you against your wishes with an object. But either way, embrace…embrace what turns you on. Embrace it. Throw the shame out the window and get your freak on. And that is not me calling you a freak by the way.

WHAT IF ANYTHING DO YOU WISH FOR?

 

PARALYZED BY CHOICE:

I wish I knew how to make other people happy instead of just uncomfortable. Sometimes I interact with someone, and as the walk away I think “ what if I said something that unintentionally hurt them in any way? ‘’ Because I know that’s happened to me where you just fixate on some stupid, tiny thing and it’s horrible, and the thought that I might just be spreading pain, like my feelings are somehow contagious, it’s terrifying. So I wish I at least knew, uh, if they were.

HAVE YOU SHARED THESE THINGS WITH OTHERS?

 

Paralyzed by Choice:

I don’t feel close enough to anyone to tell them these things.

HOW DO YOU FEEL AFTER WRITING THESE THINGS DOWN?

 

PARALYZED BY CHOICE:

Better. But also more afraid, and a little bit aroused, and like I shouldn’t be making that joke. Sorry.

 

PAUL:

There’s nothing wrong with making that joke. Um…. it sounds like you’re living in your head a lot. And you could benefit from connecting to people. Throw the idea that you’re going to be this way forever outta your mind. That is one of the worst things that we can tell ourselves. Is that the pain, or the feeling of being stuck that we’re in, is going to be that way forever.

This is a STRUGGLE IN A SENTENCE filled out by a guy who calls himself NEEDLESS AND SELFISH. I’m a fan of his already, right outta the gate. He had me at needless. About his love addiction he writes, I love this one.

 

NEEDLESS and SELFISH

‘’Why have I been taking long drives and smoking cigarettes while listening to depressing music for three months you ask? ‘’ Because she looked at me funny.

 

PAUL

That is, that could be a t-shirt. ‘’Why have I been taking long drives and smoking cigarettes while listening to depressing music for three months you ask? She looked at me funny.’’ Awe, that is just beautiful.

SNAPSHOT FROM HIS LIFE.

 

NEEDLESS AND SELFISH:

My friends are always trying to set me up with women. They tell me, ‘I know you’re nervous, but just go up to her and be like how ya doin?’ What they don’t understand is I’m not just nervous. I mostly walk around feeling hollow and like I’m made of glass. I feel like the slightest breeze could just shatter me. Yet I’m still standing. I just wish I would finally shatter. And then I would just be swept into a corner, an my friends would think I prefer it that way, when in reality, I'm too fucking ashamed to even ask the dust pan to hold me.

 

PAUL:

Buddy, it sounds like there might be some depression in there, because when my depression gets really fucking bad, that is exactly how I feel. As I walk around just feeling hollow and just like a ghost, like bed is the only place, you know -you know how like vampires want to get back in their coffin? When I’m depressed, I feel like that’s what my bed is. There’s probably something else to follow that up with, but my brain just completely fucking went to screensaver. This is an awfulsome moment filled out by a woman who calls herself FOREVER MASKED. She writes…

 

FOREVER MASKED

When I was sixteen, I was having an affair with a married older man of twenty four….

 

PAUL:

“ I wouldn’t call that an affair by the way…. um…I would call that sexual abuse. But anyway….

 

FOREVER MASKED

Due to circumstances of our ‘’relationship’’ family functions were spent together. There was one particular night when we went to a function and all ended up in different vehicles for the drive home. He and I ended up with about seven others in a van. One of those seven just happened to be my mom. So we sat in the back bench seat, sharing a blanket. He grabbed my hand and put it over his jeans on top of his penis. At this point we’d never done anything but flirted. This was the very first time I had ever had my hand on a mans penis that was as consensual as it could be for my age. I remember being turned on, and in disbelief that he ‘wanted me’. As the drive home continued, I was snapped back to reality, and the fact that my mom was sitting to the right of me and had no clue what was happening under that blanket.  She went even further, to have a mother daughter moment and tell me how proud she was of me. That was the first time she ever told me that as a teenager and I’m sure it will always be remembered as a truly awfulsome moment.

 

PAUL:

Thank you for sharing that. This is from the body shame survey filled out by a guy who calls himself “THE FOOL”

WHAT DO YOU LIKE OR DISLIKE ABOUT YOUR BODY?

 

THE FOOL:

Fucking back hair. I look like a goddamned ape. Who wants to be with a pudgy, hairy, emotionally unstable, broken man? This is a tremendous source of shame for me. Especially when sleeping with a new partner. It’s a particular feeling of my wanting to release myself fully into a much desired and needed sexual engagement. But countered with the incessant wrenching in my head that tells me that she may, when seeing that gorilla like, seemingly oafish physique, be disgusted and have to either flat out reject me, or begrudgingly go ahead with the act in revulsion, so as to not hurt my feelings. Either way I feel shame, which sucks, because I really like sex.

 

PAUL

There are women who dig hairy guys. SO, you know, maybe there’s a, on a dating website, you could fill that out. And I think that the thing to maybe put your energy into is, you know, you described yourself as emotionally unstable and broken. Why don’t you see what you can do to sure, sure that up? That’s the stuff that is gonna keep somebody wanting to be around you.

This is a SHAME AND SECRETS survey filled out by--how are we on time? Doesn’t matter, its my podcast. How you like that?-- This was filled out by a woman who calls herself KILLJOY. She is a bisexual--that sounded weird. She is a bisexual. Why don’t I follow that up with, she hangs out with the blacks, um...that just felt weird-- She is bisexual, she is in her twenties, she was raised in a slightly dysfunctional environment. She was the victim of sexual abuse and reported it. She writes:

 

KILLJOY:

I was repeatedly molested by my older male cousin when I was nine years old. His female little sister, who was my age, was simultaneously molested by my older brother. We were all on bunk beds in my brother’s room. We did it all the time. I’ve talked to my therapist about my part in it, but I’ve never talked about the fact that that my brother was involved, because it makes me sick to my stomach. I was also repeatedly assaulted by my boyfriend when I was a junior in high school, and I still have PTSD, even though it’s been five years. I have nightmares, every single night; reliving various times he abused me. My junior year of college, so last year, I was raped by a guy I was seeing. The best part is that he claims to be a feminist, and when it came out that my university is being federally investigated for mishandling rape cases, He posted on a Facebook status I posted that it was disgusting how men treat women, and how systemic the issue is and all that shit. The stuff he was saying was spot on, but it was real rich coming from him. And lastly, I was raped by a waiter at a local bar just two months ago. This one is obviously the most vivid for me. And it still makes me sick whenever I think about it. This is an excerpt from my story that was shared at a protest/march at my university last month. ‘‘I’ve tried several times to form the words to explain what happened, but my language always seems to fail me when I need it most. All I can do is feel his bristly moustache and hear that stupid DAFT PUNK song in the background. The song about getting lucky playing during a rape. I swear he moved to the beat of it. I can hardly picture his face. I don’t know the color of his eyes, because I couldn’t bear to look in them, but I remember how is bony fingers felt inside me. I showered five times the day after, but I could still smell him. The first three nights I could not sleep at all. Now I have nightmares. I relive my rape every single night. I have been raped before, but never by a stranger. I didn’t think anything could feel worse than being taken advantage of by a friend, but I am a thousand times filthier now. I couldn’t fight back, I couldn’t speak, other than to mumble no, no, no. I couldn’t do anything more than silently cry as he was on top of me, inside me, behind me, and I have no idea what I am supposed to do now other than pretend like it didn’t happen and move on. I’ve done it before, I can do it again, I have to, if I want to survive.’’

 

PAUL:

She’s been emotionally abused…she writes:

 

KILLJOY:

As I mentioned above, I was in an abusive relationship. When I was in high school, my boyfriend raped, hit, and yelled at me on a regular basis. When that wasn’t enough, he started to get creative. One time he tied me to the bed and repeatedly threw tennis balls at my stomach, all because he lost a tennis match. The last time he hurt me during our relationship was the absolute worst. He wanted to have sex, and I didn’t and he started to get angry so I tried to leave. He grabbed me and threw me on the bed. He yelled at me to stay there so stupidly I did.   He went outside, grabbed a can of gasoline and came back up. He poured the gasoline all over me and grabbed a lighter out of my bag, which gave him yet another excuse to get mad at me because he told me I wasn’t allowed to smoke cigarettes anymore. He held the lighter over my body and I knew he absolutely had it in him to kill me. I didn’t even have the ability to watch my life flash before my eyes. Nothing was going through my head. My eyes were just glued to the lighter. I was convinced I was about to die, but for whatever reason he didn’t. I guess seeing the intense fear in my eyes got him off enough to calm him down. Whatever the reason, I’m still here. A week later, he broke up with me for another girl. I still get so mad at myself thinking about how I’m not even the one who broke up with him. He broke up with me. Disgusting. I wish I could say that was the last time I interacted with him, but last summer he contacted me again. He said he missed me, and that he was on meds, and that he loved me. When I told him I wanted nothing to do with him he got mad. He said he knew where I lived and that he had been in my city looking for me. He had roses to give me. He always gave me roses to say ‘’I’m sorry’’ when we were together. I hate roses. After I spent a few weeks in terror, paranoid, that he was following me, I decided I couldn’t run from him forever so I met up with him. And what happened? He was super nice. We had coffee, and I wouldn’t let him buy my drink, which irritated him, but it was fine. Then we slept together. Afterwards we were lying in bed and he asked why I wouldn’t let him buy my drink and I said because I have two jobs and I can buy my own damn drink.   And he mumbled something about feminism, and I got mad, and then he tried to cheer me up, but I wasn’t having it, and that made me mad. And the next thing I know, I’m leaving there with a black eye. I still cant believe after years have gone by, I went back. I not only went back, but I slept with him. I’m beginning to think he will always have some form of control over me. I will never escape.

PAUL: ANY POSITIVE EXPERIENCES WITH YOUR ABUSERS?

KILLJOY:

‘‘With my cousin and brother, absolutely. I have a great relationship with both, as long as I don’t think about the whole molesting thing. With my ex, yes. He was the most charming, handsome man. Now he’s a frat bro…go figure. It makes it complicated enough that four years later I let him back into my life. I still have to force myself to not respond to texts or calls. I still love him, even though I know I shouldn’t. I still think that he loves me more than any other boyfriend ever has. It’s just so intense, that we can’t control it. Maybe were meant to be together, and I just need to accept the lows in order to get the highs.

PAUL:

‘‘Please go seek help for love addiction. Please.   And to process the horrible, horrible traumas that you’ve experienced. As I mentioned in the interview with Matty, Google the Rape and Incest National Network. You can get free counseling, and you absolutely, absolutely should.

DARKEST THOUGHTS:

KILLJOY:

I love rough sex. I love porn that is offensively degrading to women and it makes me feel so disgusting inside because that shit has happened to me. I’ve been on the receiving end of that, but I fucking get off on watching it. It makes me so sick

DARKEST SECRETS:

I’ve never told anyone, not even a therapist, or a friend, or anyone that my brother was involved in the molesting thing. My parents know about my cousin, not my choice, but they don’t know he was involved, and I will never tell a single soul.

PAUL:

‘‘That is one of the worst things that we can do in our healing is to hide those things that are really hard to share. Those are the things that when we share it with someone who is safe and appropriate, those are the things that kick starts our healing.   So, I really hope you take that off the table and share it with hopefully…

KILLJOY:

I haven’t told my therapist or psychiatrist or anyone that the people I do it with about my coke relapse. Two summers ago, before I was involuntarily admitted to a psych ward, I was snorting it several times a day.   I had withdrawals after eighteen hours without it. I just relapsed after ten months clean and I feel so awful about it, but I can’t stop and I don’t know what to do

 

 

PAUL:

I think processing the trauma that happened to you is going to be linked with your ability to stay sober. I think until you start talking about the stuff that is really hard to talk about with your therapist, I think um…. anyway…I’m beginning to run my mouth, but WHAT IF ANYTHING WOULD YOU LIKE TO SAY TO SOMEONE YOU HAVENT BEEN ABLE TO?

 

KILLJOY:

To my most recent rapist, fuck you, I miss that bar. To my rapist from last year, fuck you and your polyamorous relationships. To my ex, I fucking hate red roses, also your sister isn’t even good at soccer. Your mom had to sleep with the coach so she could get playing time, asshole. To my brother, have you forgotten?

WHAT IF ANYTHING DO YOU WISH FOR?

For the insurance company to get its shit together so I can get on Abilify again since right now it costs $950.00

 

PAUL:

I’ve talked to a couple of people that are on Abilify, and they’re doing fine on it. I would just say that anybody who has to go off it. Buckle up. And make sure you stay in contact with your psychiatrist. Because it was fucking horrifying.’’

 

KILLJOY:

Also, I wish to get my borderline personality and PTSD under control so I can get through my last semester of college and actually live my life peacefully. HAVE YOU SHARED THESE THINGS WITH OTHERS?

Some of them. For the most part, my confessions of rape and stuff have been fine. But the shit about the hospital and having borderline personality. People just look at your differently after. Like they have to walk on eggshells around you.

HOW DO YOU FEEL AFTER WRITING THESE THINGS DOWN?

Mixed up. Like on one hand, it’s really nice to let it out, and I always feel stronger after sharing my story, its such a high, but on the other hand, I just feel sick.

IS THERE ANYTHING YOUD LIKE TO SHARE WITH SOMEONE WHO SHARES YOUR THOUGHTS OR EXPERIENCES?

Your life is not over. We can heal from this. Its fucking bullshit, because we have to work hard every fucking day to even get out of bed in the morning. But we are stronger people for it. I’m not saying we are better people who don’t struggle with mental illness, but goddammnit, if we aren’t a bunch of strong, badass motherfuckers. We can do this. And if you don’t think you can, try reaching out to others. Nothing makes me feel stronger, than when I share my story with people through rallies, and marches, and speeches. You are not alone, no matter how deeply fucked you feel you are.

ANY COMMENTS TO MAKE THE PODCAST BETTER?

Not really, I love this podcast, even though it makes me cry at work sometimes. So fuck you for that.

 

PAUL:

That’s another email I love getting as people that uh, cry and uh, try not to cry when they’re listening to it at work. I’m just sending you some love KillJoy. And, open up about all that stuff with your therapist. I really encourage you to. And then finally this is an AWFULSOME moment filled out by a woman who calls herself WHY THE FUCK AM I SO FAT? She writes:

WHY THE FUCK AM I SO FAT:

Last night I had a meltdown, completely out of nowhere. The kind my meds are supposed to prevent, but for some reason aren’t at the moment. On a scale of one to ten, one being fine, ten being I’m slitting my wrists as we speak, I started out as a four, but after several hours of uncontrollable crying, I was approaching seven to eight territory. The sobs, and snots, and tears were getting so bad that I started choking. And in the process of desperately trying to get oxygen into my lungs, I got the bright idea to also relieve some of the pressure in my ears by closing my mouth and blowing air from my semi functioning lungs up into my sinuses to try to unblock my Eustachian tube. Suddenly, I heard a loud pop, and my left ear exploded in pain. Watery mucous began flowing from my ear, which beneath the pain, was most definitely not clogged up anymore. Yes, I had ruptured my own eardrum by crying too hard. So far this just sounds awful, but the physical pain plus the distraction of desperate Googling to having to call the twenty four hour medical helpline to figure out if I had to go to the ER (turns out the answer is no) ruptured ear drums heal on their own in a week or two. You don’t need to see a doctor unless things get infected. Managed to jar me out of my gaping black hole of depression and get me calm enough and stable enough to eventually fall asleep. My ear still hurts like the dickens, but well, I’m alive, so I reckon this counts as reasonably awfulsome.

 

PAUL:

That is awesome. That is awesome. And before I bid you adieu, I want to give another plug for the free arts program here in Los Angeles. I told you last week about the program they do where they bring art to kids while they’re waiting to testify against their abusers in the courthouse. They also offer a weekly mentor program and I’m just gonna read you a description of it; free arts and weekly mentor program engages small groups of children in weekly ninety minute art sessions focused around a broad based theme over the course of eight to twelve weeks. Led by carefully trained and screened volunteer mentors, allows children to develop and nurture self-esteem as they create healthy relationships with positive adult role models in a safe environment. And um, if you don’t know about Free Arts, Free Arts inspires hope and self esteem in abused, impoverished, and homeless children through creative art programs. Through dance, music, painting, and other art, children ages four to eighteen find new ways to channel emotions, develop positive communication skills, and spark renewed trust with adults. Free Arts serves nearly 27,000 children every year, from more than five hundred carefully screened, selected, and trained volunteer mentors who together donate more than ten thousand hours annually. It is just a great, great organization. And they could use money, and they could use volunteers. So, go to their website freearts.org and pitch in because they’re doing a good thing. And thank you guys so much for um, another week of building this thing together and supporting each other. And I really appreciate it. And I hope if you’re out there and feeling stuck you know that there’s help, and there’s hope if you’re willing to get out of your comfort zone. And you are most, MOST definitely not alone. And thank you for listening