NHL Legend Theo Fleury

NHL Legend Theo Fleury

“My coach raped me over 200 times”. The truth that Theo almost died trying to keep to himself. Only when he hit bottom with drugs, sex and gambling could he summon the courage to face what had happened when he was a rising 14 year-old phenom. He talks about his childhood, his hockey career, getting sober and his post-career mission of raising awareness and trying to change outdated sentencing laws that allow sexual predators to continue to abuse in Canada, especially the new documentary about it, Victor Walk.

To learn more about Theo’s cause and the film Victor Walk go to www.victorwalkdoc.com

This episode is sponsored by BlueApron. For your first three meals free with free shipping go to www.blueapron.com/mental

Thanks to retired NHL referee Kerry Fraser and the Player’s Tribune website for permission to read his piece about Theo. It can be read here.

For tickets to LAPodfest (in person, live stream or 30 day archive viewing) go to www.lapodfest.com and use offer code HAPPY for $5 off (plus Paul gets some of the ticket price).

Episode:

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Episode notes:

To learn more about Theo's cause and the film Victor Walk go to www.victorwalkdoc.com

This episode is sponsored by BlueApron. For your first three meals free with free shipping go to www.blueapron.com/mental

Thanks to retired NHL referee Kerry Fraser and the Player's Tribune website for permission to read his piece about Theo. It can be read here.

For tickets to LAPodfest (in person, live stream or 30 day archive viewing) go to www.lapodfest.com and use offer code HAPPY for $5 off (plus Paul gets some of the ticket price).

Episode Transcript:

Paul: Welcome to Episode 292 with my guest NHL legend Theo Fleury. I’m Paul Gilmartin, this is the Mental Illness Happy Hour, a place for 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 counseling, I’m not a therapist, it’s not a doctor’s office obviously, you hear my dog shaking her chain, uh, in the back there, one of my dogs. Um…(laughter) well I lost my train of thought Ivy!! Um, the website for this show is mentalpod.com, Mentalpod is also the Twitter handle, you can uh, you can follow me at, uh, go to the our website, you can fill out a survey, uh, half of this show is uh, after the interview I read um...surveys, people anonymously sharing their deepest secrets, fantasies, thoughts, shames, um, you name it. So fill out a survey, it’s totally anonymous. There’s other things you can do on the website, you can browse the forum, you can support the show financially, um all kinds of things so go uh, go check it out. Just wanted to remind you L.A. Podfest is coming up, uh, September 23-25 and I will be doing a live recording with um, comedian Murray Valeriano on Sunday night, September 25th and if you want to, uh, go to Podfest and see it in person, or just watch it over your computer live or archived for up to a month, go to LApodfest.com and use the offer code “HAPPY” and then I’ll get a couple of dollars if you do, uh, buy anything, and you get five bucks off.

 

This is from the Struggle in a Sentence Survey and this is filled out by Nebbler, who writes about, uh, her depression. “Chronic Depression - looking forward to abject despair, because then I’ll at least feel something. (oh my god I think so many of us know that feeling. It’s like we need a cattle prod, to uh, to experience anything other than gray). Uh, snapshot from her life, “Months now spent unemployed, sleeping all day, up all night binging on TV shows and Match Three games to drown out the voices of guilt and shame telling me how pathetic I am. Working so hard to keep taking the steps towards health, from brushing my teeth to seeing my therapist to getting to my martial arts class, raging at the brain chemistry that makes everything so difficult. I’m so so tired of having to be strong.” That’s why I think it’s so important to have people that we, we can, um..collapse around, and it’s uh, it’s it’s so unfair because we don’t treat people that have the flu like that, you know? Do we shame ourselves or others when we have the flu? But for some reason, with mental illness, um, we, we view it as a personal failure or weakness...Um….Liliana writes about being a sex crime victim. Uhh, I wish my experience in this regard were neater or easier for me to understand and therefore talk about. I would say maybe ten percent of the survivors I’ve talked to have had an experience that doesn’t have something in it that they beat themselves up about, that they feel is, you know, in a gray area, or actually is in a gray area, um, so you are not alone with that. That is a real thing and sometimes it’s our brains doing it that way, um, and sometimes it’s uh, in reality, it’s, it’s in a grey area, but if you don’t talk about it, um, you, you can’t move forward with it, and the first two years I started talking about the stuff that happened to me, I felt such shame, and such anxiety that someone was going to say that it wasn’t valid, that what happened to me, so...Walk through that fear and start talking about it. Um...a snapshot from her life: “I’m a curious and experience-hungry person who values travel, stepping outside of my comfort zone and meeting people. However, I am so stuck in my head with compulsions, obsessions and a wide range of crippling anxieties that I’m paralyzed and miss so much. I like to think that I’m a laidback and, and adventurous person trapped inside my stupid brain.” You know, one of the reasons I wanted to read your survey is, I think we’re both, uh, I think we can be experience-hungry, laid back, adventurous, and anxious (laughter) you know, obsessive, depressed, compulsive, uh I guess that’s what makes, one of the reasons I’m drawn to doing this show is we are such complex, uh, animals, what do you use, what do you, things, people, units? Derby girl. Right, that gives us a snapshot from her life, her uh, issues, her anxiety, and codependency and she writes: “Recently had one of the most intense flashbacks I’ve ever experienced. I felt some of the same painful bodily sensations that occurred during my sexual assault. I couldn’t stop the mental imagery from playing over and over in my head. I was unable to breathe for about 20 seconds and I began sweating profusely. I ran out of my bedroom, grabbed two handfuls of ice cubes from the freezer and began rubbing them on my face, stomach, and legs. I did this in a disassociated state and didn’t fully realize the importance of my action until after the flashback and panic passed. My therapist and I discussed gripping ice cubes whenever I feel the need to punish myself or to use the ice as a coping skill when I become overheated or panicked. I allowed myself to sob, to wail, and to feel the pain that accompanied the flashback. But there was, but was also able to stay present and realize I was safe because of the shocking effect of the ice. I felt proud of myself for utilizing this skill and practicing self care. So I got that going for me. Which is nice.” Nice reference to uh, to uh Caddyshack by the way. Uh that’s awesome, um, one of our former guests, uh Susanna Brisk, who has Borderline Personality Disorder, mentioned that the ice cube thing is very helpful, uh, to her as well when she feels overwhelmed and one of the things she does is she holds them in her hand and then she throws them um, uh, really hard in the bathtub. It’s all about tools man.

 

Uh, Alex on the Mountain, uh, writes about her anxiety. “Just the thought of how to fit anxiety into a struggle sentence fucking stresses me out.” Snapshot from her life: “The external me is important, flamboyant, attractive and loved by others. The internal me is overwhelmed and struggles to maintain desire to connect with my husband or close friends. My eternal is stronger than my internal, most of the time. Oh my God, I just realized I judged and questions, and questioned every single thing I’ve written. I didn’t expect to feel this much anxiety.” Thank you for that.

 

And this is filled out by, uh, Ashley, and she writes about, um, just a snapshot from her life. Her issues are depression, bulimia, and living with an abusive person, and uh, she writes, “I don’t have a moment, I do have a quote though that pretty much sums it up: ‘You are personally responsible for becoming more ethical than the society you grew up in.’” Wow, I don’t know who said that, um...but that is profound, that is profound. So um, we’re going to get to uh the interview with Theo, but I just wanted to read this, um, piece, that was written by retired NHL referee, uh, Kerry Fraser and he was nice enough to, um, give me permission to read it. He wrote it for the website Player’s Tribune, which is a fantastic website of articles written by professional athletes, about their lives, about their sports, you name it. And uh, I stumbled across this, this uh little piece that Kerry had written about, um, a moment that he had uh with Theo, and I thought, and I didn’t come across this article until a week after I had interviewed Theo, so um, I wanted to read it because I just feel - just stop explaining it fuck face and read it, alright. Um and I will put the link, if you want to read this, uh, article, I will put the link on our website and thanks to Player’s Tribune and to Kerry for giving me permission to read this.

 

He writes “Theo Fleury challenged me to a fight in the parking lot of the United Center. I remember it like it was yesterday, even though it was twenty years ago. It was the first round of the ‘96 playoffs - Chicago vs Calgary, Game One. Theo reminded me of me actually, small guy, gritty player, played with a lot of anger. But there was also this nasty edge to him in the way he dealt with authority figures. Let’s just say our relationship wasn’t the best. So during Game One, I called a retaliation penalty on him. It was just a normal call, but for some reason, Theo went absolutely nuts. I saw him skating towards me and I started having bad flashbacks to the Wild West days in the AHL in the seventies when Rich Lemieux took a swing at me, long story short I yanked Lemieux's jersey over his head to try to calm him down and his teammate Ken Houston jumped over the boards and grabbed me in a bear hug. My little legs were dangling above the ice. My linesman came over and saved me just as Lemieux was pulling his jersey back down. So what I’m saying is - stuff can happen. Theo skates over to me and says, ‘You little shitbag asshole. Come outside to the parking lot after the game. I’ll kill you.’ Fair enough, a little extreme, but I’ve heard worse, it was the playoffs. But then he threw his helmet off, like he was about to drop the gloves, and it hit my right skate. I felt that rush of adrenaline go through my body. The only other time I felt like hitting a player was when a tough guy named Lynn Margaret, of the Muskegon Mohawks, spat directly in my mouth when we were arguing a penalty in 1979. I had that same feeling now. For a split second, my leg twitched, and I was gonna kick the helmet right back at Theo. That would have been the end my career. Instead I took a deep breath, and threw him out of the game. That defined our relationship for a long time. Theo probably thought I hated him, and I certainly thought he hated me. There’s a photo that I love of Theo getting pinned to the boards in Detroit, and instead of chirping the big guy, who's tying him up, his face is turned to me, telling me to go f- to hell, for not calling a penalty. Four years later, I was reffing a game in New York, when Theo came up to me with tears in his eyes. ‘Kerry, you gotta do something,’ he said. Theo had just gotten back to the ice after some time in a rehab program. At the time, I didn’t know the extent of his past trauma with sexual abuse, nobody did. But everybody in the league knew that Theo had spent a few rough years struggling with drugs and alcohol. At the very end of the first period, Theo had gotten into a scrum with blues tough guy Tyson Nash, and words were exchanged. Theo skated up to me after everything got broken up and he was very emotional. You almost never see guys get emotional on the ice but this was different. ‘Kerry, he was talking about my drug problems,’ Theo said. ‘He can’t talk to me like that. I’m really trying to clean my life up, Kerry. Honestly.’ He told me he hadn’t had a drink in X days, hadn’t done drugs in X days. I could tell he was sincerely wounded. In that moment, I didn’t see the guy who threw his helmet at me and called me every name in the book over the years. I just saw a human being who was in a lot of pain, and I wanted to take his pain away. But what was I supposed to do? I didn’t actually hear what was said. Do I kick Nash out for something I didn’t witness? How am I supposed to explain that in my game report? It was a grey area. So as everyone was skating off the ice, I asked Theo, ‘What about an apology?’ Theo said, ‘An apology?’ ‘Yeah, an apology. If I get Tyson back here to apologize, promise me you won’t break a stick over his head.’ He told me he hadn’t had a drink in X days, hadn’t done drugs in X days. I could tell he was sincerely wounded. ‘Ok, deal.’ ‘Alright, come back and meet me at this spot before the next period.’ I went right to the visiting team’s coach’s room to talk to Joel Quenneville, who was coaching the Blues at the time. I told him we had a little problem. I told him what was said and I’ll never forget Joel’s face - he’s such a solid guy - he said, ‘Do you want me to have Tyson take his gear off?’ I said, ‘No, I want him to apologize.’ Joel said, ‘Great idea.’ And he went right into the locker room to talk to Tyson. I skated out at the start of the second period. Theo came out of the tunnel and met me at the prearranged spot. Tyson entered the ice at the zamboni entrance and skated around a bit. He was reluctant to come over, so I had to wave him over to join the party. When Tyson got to us, his lip was actually quivering. You could tell he was deeply affected, perhaps even ashamed. He tapped Theo on the shin pad and gave a terrific apology. ‘I want to wish you the best in everything you have ahead of you,’ he said. Theo and Tyson shook hands. I said, ‘Let’s play some hockey.’ And we played some hockey. Tyson ended up with an assist and seventeen minutes in penalties that night. He was doing his job. Ten years later, I had a phone conversation with Tyson. I asked him if he remembered that night at Madison Square Garden. He said, ‘Kerry, are you kidding me? Of course I remember it. That night changed my life. It really made me think about what kind of person I wanted to be.’ As a referee, you get a tremendous amount of shit. You get it from players, fans, coaches. You get it when you’re having a hamburger at a bar. ‘Hey, Fraser!’ You get it at hotels - ‘Oh, Mr. Fraser!’ It’s just the job, but you know what? At the end of the day, no matter what job you’re doing, everybody has that moment when you lay awake in the middle of the night and you stare at the ceiling and wonder - what’s the point of all this? Am I making some small difference in the world? That night at Madison Square Garden, I really do believe that three lives were changed in a small way. I know mine was.

 

{INTRO MUSIC}

 

I’m here with NHL legend, Theo Fleury, and director Mike Lynch and they have a movie out called Victor Walk, that I just uh, watched last night, and was just, just blown, blown away by it, it’s um..why don’t you tell, tell the people what the movie’s about Theo.

 

Theo: Well, I think most importantly it’s about hope. It’s about healing, it’s about, uh, you know, no matter how far down the ladder we may fall we can always get ourselves back up and dust ourselves off and, and uh, and you know make some real, you know, changes in our life, and, and uh the importance of each and every one of us individually has a story. And uh, a lot of times we are afraid to tell our stories because of you know the shame, uh the guilt, uh that’s attached to our stories and uh, that we somehow take responsibility for, and um..

 

Paul: Isn’t it amazing how the, the brain does that?

 

Theo: Yeah, well the brain is actually velcro-ed for negativity, you know, uh..

 

Paul: How so?

 

Theo: That’s how we’re wired..

 

Paul: Yeah.

 

Theo: Is that we latch onto negativity more than we do to uh..

 

Paul: What do you think the evolutionary purpose of, of that is?

 

Theo: I think there’s lessons you know, that we can all learn from, you know, from our struggles, and from the past and I, I truly believe that we’re all handed adversity in our lives so that we eventually tell our stories and the commonality of of, you know, what we all share in common is, is trauma and uh, and that allows other people to, you know, find their voice through other people, you know? And you know, that’s been my experience. I wrote Playing with Fire in 2009 and, and uh, and through that, you know we, we’ve met so many people who have come up and said - you know, take all the hockey stuff out of your book and you just told my story, you know? And that’s, you know, what’s really common about Victor Walk and the Victor Walk documentary is that, you know, uh, some traumatic life experience happens to us, doesn’t have to be sexual abuse it can be, pretty much anything, and you know, then we gravitate to the dark side of life to deal with, you know, the emotional pain and scars that are left behind from, from that childhood traumatic experience and, and uh, you know, instead of living, we just cope and uh, you know, um (throat clearing) - and so many people think that addiction is tied to drugs and alcohol, well, you know there’s the full gamut of you know, um, you know - Iphones are, you know, an addiction and uh, you know so, um, until we sort of have some negative consequences for you know, that type of behavior is when we really start to sort of wake up and, and go, you know, I’m better than this, or you know, I’m gonna die, eventually, if I continue down this path and down this road, and, and uh, but you know that, (throat clearing) you know that ugly five letter word, you know that “shame” is attached to all of this, you know. Not only do we shame ourselves but other people shame us and, and uh, you know we eventually start to believe them and listen to what they, you know, tell us, and that’s how we end up feeling about ourselves and -

 

Paul: I think a lot of people that aren’t survivors don’t understand how complicated the ripples are. If it ---

 

Theo: But, but - everybody’s a survivor of something, you know what i mean. I don’t think anybody’s immune to trauma, you know? That’s, that’s what I’ve discovered is that, um, you know, there’s lots of people that wear lipstick very well, you know, and by lipstick I mean the outsides look good, but the inside don’t match the outsides, you know what I mean, and so, so, you know, to.. you know, to say there is nobody out there that have, has an experience - I find that hard to believe, and uh, um..

 

Paul: Yeah. Pain is pain.

 

Theo: We all, we all cope and deal with it in whichever way, you know, we choose, and, and a lot of people, you know, like to point the finger or compare, you know, and I always say if I gotta compare my life to your life to make myself feel better well, I’m sick and I need help, right? You know? (laughter) And uh, um, you know, my grandfather always told me if I’m pointing one finger at you, there’s always three pointing right back at me, so, you know, and if something pisses me off about you, well, guess what, I have the same thing, that’s why I’m pissed off, right.

 

Paul: You’re spot on - you got it

 

(laughter)

 

Theo: Yeah, exactly, you know. And uh, and a lot of times we, uh...we put so much into other people’s opinions of us and really at the end of the day their opinion is all about them, it’s nothing to do with us, you know?

 

(laughter)

 

Paul: Ninety-nine percent of the time, they’re thinking about themselves.

 

Theo: (laughter) Yeah, exactly!

 

Mike: Yeah, the projection.

 

Theo: Well yeah, because, because we have, you know, we have these things in our brain called mirror neurons and that’s exactly what that, you know, explanation is, is that, you know, you are looking at yourself in the mirror and that’s why you’ve been triggered and that’s why you get negative emotions and negative feelings from, you know, from that person is because you have exactly that same thing and, and uh, as we all know, it’s very hard to look at ourselves and uh, uh…

 

Paul: Especially when the shame is still there.

 

Theo: Yeah, of course, you know.

 

Paul: Yeah. Um..how can people see the movie?

 

Mike: Uh..we will be continuing it to our film festivals throughout 2016 and either late 2016 or early 2017 for us to be on VOD and, and distribution and, and we’ll see whether or not we get a limited theatrical release or not.

 

Paul: Ok, and uh, what’s the website?

 

Mike: victorwalkdoc.com

 

Paul: Ok. Uh, you did a great job with the documentary Mike. Uh I loved how you, uh...captured people’s stories during the walk, that was, um, to me obviously the meat of it, which just proved we are not alone and what I found so moving was the hugs. Talk about the hugs Theo.

 

Theo: Well I think it’s important um ---

 

Paul: If you could scoot to the mic a little closer.

 

Theo: (throat clearing) I think it’s important to bring people into your space that have had that experience because, you know, a lot of people you know, see me, and my reputation has always been, you know, this tough hockey player but, it wasn’t tough, I was just friggin angry, that’s what it was, you know? And uh..and so, I want people to feel safe and I want people to feel comfortable around me, and, and uh, and so I exude that, you know, in my energy, in the way that people approach me and, and um, you know, it’s ---

 

Paul: It was, it was hard to believe watching it, that is the same guy..

 

Theo: Yeah

 

Paul: That, I see clips of ---

 

Theo: Yup.

 

Paul: Um, but I understand as a survivor, that’s who I used to be.

 

Theo: Yeah, anger saved my life. Many times, anger saved my life. Or, you know, just really not being afraid to die, you know, that’s really what it comes down to right?

 

Paul: I joke that, when the plane would get turbulent, I would laugh.

 

Theo: Yeah.

 

Paul: Because I would say, they’re all scared. I hope this fucking thing goes down. Then I don’t have to make the decision ---

 

Theo: Well I used to say, if the plane goes down, you can eat me, you know? (laughter) Right, you know? (laughter)

 

Paul: Well let’s talk about your story, you were born in Manitoba?

 

Theo: I was born in Saskatchewan.

 

Paul: Oh, Saskatchewan.

 

Theo: And uh, raised in Manitoba so.

 

Paul: Oh Ok.

 

Theo: It’s like, uh Arizona and New Mexico, basically, and uh, you know my Dad was an incredible athlete in his day and, and uh, so my early childhood we moved around a lot because he was playing, playing hockey in different places and getting paid and, uh you know, he, he uh, he’s a really talented guy, you know, and uh, you know, somebody who I’ve become really proud of over the last, you know, probably ten years, you know, since I - since my own story came out. You know, my dad was sober twenty years when, when my story came out and, and he still had a lot of stuff, you know, that he hadn’t, sort of dealt with and, and uh, he saw, I guess, how much I was changing in a short amount of time by helping people, and, and uh, in the last ten years I’ve seen this guy go from, you know, sort of being selfish and self-centered, which is part of, you know, the disease of alcoholism, and uh, you know, he’s just really become this incredible, uh, man who is willing to help anybody and everybody, you know, and it’s, so it’s kinda neat to see that and uh..

 

Paul: Is there anything better than seeing the light come on in somebody’s eyes?

 

Theo: Yeah, yeah, and you know, and that’s part of that, that, that closeness when people come to me is..is...you know, I want to be that person that gets rid of their shame, you know and to watch - and you saw it in the documentary, you saw that shame leave several of those people in the documentary and that’s really what you’re seeing, is your seeing, you know, people get out of their cars, their heads are buried in the floor, their faces are buried in the ground, they walk really slow, their, their posture’s really slouched and you know, at the end of a meeting, and, you know, I call it, you know a reveal, so to speak, you know, their whole demeanor changes very very quickly and so, you know that says a lot to us as human beings that, you know, uh, that we can provide that for somebody and, and you know, in a matter of a few short minutes you can change somebody’s life just by listening, you know?

 

Paul: That, when I got into a support group for um, uh, dealing with the repercussions of the childhood stuff, hugging somebody that knows what I experienced felt like, felt like home, for the first time.

 

Theo: Yeah, absolutely.

 

Paul: When I walked into that room, I said, it’s, it’s like my whole life i’ve been a three-legged dog, and I walked into a room of three legged dogs ---

 

Theo: Yeah

 

Paul: And went, oh my God.

 

Theo: Yeah, yeah.

 

Mike: And did you see in the doc, that one gentleman who said he’d never hugged anyone in his adult life?

 

Paul: That was amazing.

 

Mike: And yet, he’s hugging Theo. And you see him ---

 

Paul: Yeah, well Theo’s fucking huggable (laughter), I mean, there’s no two ways about it.

 

(Laughter)

 

Paul: You wouldn’t have said that in 1997!

 

Theo: No, that’s true, that’s true, for sure.

 

(Laughter)

 

Mike: And even going into what, you know, what you said, you know, I think the reason, you know when I loved Theo, growing up as a kid, playing him, is I loved the way, his, his style, I loved how he had and when, when I heard later in my adult life, you know that, what he had experienced in his trauma and i’d had a similar trauma, it was one of those things like - is that why I connected with Theo so much, was I had that same rage, I had that same anger built up in me when I was playing hockey? So, I think it’s like you said, it’s something where you might connect with someone and not even realize that you share that same trauma there.

 

Paul: I think about, I play you know, beer league hockey, and I think about that when I, when I see somebody exploding ----

 

Theo: Yeah.

 

Paul: Somebody who’s constantly getting tossed out of games, I think what happened?

 

Theo: Yeah.

 

Paul: What happened, you know?

 

Theo: Yeah, of course. It’s, it’s, you know, once you get on the other side, it’s very easy to notice people’s behaviors because again, you’re looking at yourself in the mirror, right, you know? You know one of the great things that I get to do now is I speak in maximum security prisons in Canada so, I speak to the baddest dudes on the planet. And what they’ve taught me, is they’ve taught me compassion. Right? Because when I’m speaking and I’m looking in the audience, I’m lookin’ these guys in the eye, I see myself ten years ago, you know, that emptiness, that sadness, that loss, you know, that anger, you know?

 

Paul: The lack of hope.

 

Theo: Yeah, and, and you know, I just go - Man.. I can’t believe how far I’ve come, you know? And..and then, you know, getting instant feedback from these guys going, you know what? Nobody’s ever explained my life to me, better than you just did, you know, and, and even though some of these guys are never getting out of prison again, you know, they have hope. And that’s, to me that’s just, like, you know...And if you would have (laughter) told me five years ago that I’d be, you know, speaking to, you know, guys who were molesting kids I would have said you’re out of your mind, you know, but….but, I think...the compassion is always the key. Vulnerability is always the key, in bringing a conversation to another level, to another level, to another level is, is that, you know, these guys in prison see me as a tough guy, right? But, they also saw me in a completely different place, right? Because they saw me as the hockey player and now they see me as the motivational speaker, the, you know, whatever you want to call it and they go - hm...So you can still be tough and you can be vulnerable at the same time? It’s like - whoa, you know, and uh ---

 

Paul: I mean that takes a real man to, to...Uh, one of the meetings I go to is, is a men’s meeting and we cry.

 

Theo: Yeah.

 

Paul: And ---

 

Theo: You have to!

 

Paul: That’s ---

 

Theo: You have to!

 

Paul: That’s sign of a real man to me is a guy that can cry in a room full of other men.

 

Theo: In order to get rid of your anger, you have to learn how to cry, because those tears...could be tears of sadness, but they are really tears of healing your soul and healing that, that fire, that anger inside of you, because anger is sadness turned inward, that’s all that is, and because, you know, in our culture, in our society, uh, you know, we were always told that, men weren’t allowed to cry, men weren’t supposed to cry but, but we’re human beings and that’s part of the genetics that make us up is that, you know, anger and sadness are, are two real, very raw and strong emotions and, and if we don’t express the sadness, that’s, that’s why all those guys are in prison, right? Because when anger turns to rage, you can actually black out in rage. And in rage, you commit a crime, a murder, in a very split second and that’s why some of them are in there, because, and, and I’m sure if you asked them - that was never their intention to get, for it to escalate to that point, but when it becomes out of control, you know, that’s what happens.

 

Paul: So let’s talk about your - oh and by the way, for, if we haven’t mentioned it, uh Victor Walk is a walk that you did from uh Toronto to Ottawa, which uh, for our non-Canadian listeners, is the capital of Canada. And it was to raise awareness on childhood sexual abuse and how lenient the sentences are and we’ll, we’ll get into that towards the end, but let’s, let’s get back to your story, so you were raised in this rural area, and what was home life like?

 

Theo: Well, it was complete chaos, you know, both my parents struggled with um..with their own childhood traumatic experiences is how I sort of put it together and that, you know, um, my parents were doing the best they could with what they had. Unfortunately it affected me and my two brothers because of, you know, of their, um, their own personal anger, their own sadness, their own everything, right? And so, how did they cope? They coped with - my dad was an alcoholic, my mom was a prescription pill addict, and so that’s what we saw. And that’s what we learned, you know, was chaos, and, and a lot of yelling, a lot of arguing, a lot of hurting one another with words, not so much physical, but with words. And uh (throat clearing), and so, I discovered hockey at a very young age which, which became you know, my happy place and my everything place.

 

Paul: Tell, tell the story about the day you tried hockey.

 

Theo: (Laughter) Well, you know most of us who try something new for the first time, you know, we usually struggle, you know, like nobody goes down to a guitar shop and buys an electric guitar and an amp and takes it home and plugs it in and, you know, starts rattling off Jimmy Hendrix, you know, it’s, you need, it takes time and dedication and all these things but my experience that day was, you know, I put on the equipment and I didn’t fall down, and I didn’t struggle, and um, you know I absolutely fell head over heels in love with hockey, and, and uh, you know, without hockey, I don’t know where I’d be. Honest to God. Um..and..you know I had three amazing fathers who became my coaches and became my mentors, they coached me for nine years and um, you know thirteen sets of parents in Russell, Manitoba that you know, looked after me and, you know, instilled me with some pretty incredible morals uh, you know, that I still hold near and dear to my heart, and I really believe it’s the reason why my hockey career was so successful, was, you know, I learned the importance of team, I learned the importance of winning, and you know, I’ve always said, once you have the blueprint for success, you have it for the rest of your life, and, and uh, even though I struggled in the middle part of my life with, you know, with the trauma and the abuse and all that, those morals were still there and I really believe that’s what helped me come out of it was, you know, remembering love, remembering people caring for me, remembering people taught me respect, and, and uh, and I learned about consequences too, right? And so, you know, I always see that, you know, um...that those three things have to be a part of our, our kids’ upbringing, have to be a part of our kids’ learning is respect, love and caring for teammates and consequences and that’s what I was taught very early on in my life and, and uh, you know, even though that I was out of control and, a lot of the time, a lot of time when I was out of control, I wasn’t with people that I loved. I wasn’t with people that I disrespected, you know and uh, and uh..you know, I was a great kid, I really was, you know, and, and unfortunately, uh, um...not being able to identify what emotional pain was and where it came from and why, um...you know why I became an alcoholic, why I became an addict, why I gambled, why I ate too much, why I had too many relationships, you know, etc etc..I didn’t understand, you know, I was just sort of, surviving, you know, and uh, but..both you and I know about addictions is once you cross the line, it’s a long road back, you know, uh ---

 

Paul: Once you’re a pickle, you can’t be a cucumber.

 

Theo: (Laughter) Yeah, exactly, you know. And uh, and then you get to the point where you gotta make a decision - Am I gonna to die or am I gonna live, you know, and even though you decide to live, you have no friggin clue how to live life on life’s terms, you only know how to cope, and so, you know, you have to really sort of look at yourself in the mirror and, and uh, and start to peel the layers of the onion off to get to the core of, you know, what am I really feeling here, you know? And..in writing my second book I really discovered what my core beliefs were about myself right?

 

Paul: I’m sure they were fantastic.

 

Theo: No, no. Abandonment and neglect. Not good enough. Not loveable, and do I even exist? You know, were the four core beliefs that I had about myself, and, and uh, which caused me to be this classic overachiever, that, you know, no matter how good I was, it still wasn’t good enough, right?

 

Paul: If I’m not spectacular, you will leave.

 

Theo: Yeah, (laughter), exactly. But they eventually did leave, right? You know? Because, uh, you know, one thing that we’re really good at is we’re good at collecting enablers. We’re like the best at it in the world and eventually those enablers get fed up, and, and uh, you know, they have to take care of themselves and, and uh, you know, they move on, and, and...but that is, that moment when you’re completely alone in your chaos and pain and suffering, is what we call the proverbial rock bottom, right? And uh ---

 

Paul: The most beautiful gift in the most hideous wrapping paper.

 

Theo: Yeah (laughter), exactly! But, you know it’s an exercise that we have to go through in order to, you know, really start to live, you know?

 

Paul: So, let’s, let’s back up then to - you’re starting to get good at hockey. You’re in Russell, Manitoba. You’re starting to get a sense of yourself, that hockey is giving you an identity.

 

Theo: Oh yeah.

 

Paul: Um..give me some seminal moments from, um, adolescence.

 

Theo: Yeah, well I think from the time I was six years old that anybody that would listen to me I’d say, you know, someday I’m gonna play in the NHL, you know, and, and I, I would always repeat that over and over, either for myself or, you know, other people and uh, and so that became my obsession.

 

Paul: And did you feel that if you didn’t get to the NHL, that, that ---

 

Theo: Well there wasn’t any doubt.

 

Paul: Right.

 

Theo: Like, there, there wasn’t any doubt, that I wouldn’t, you know? And uh, and so, you know, there were certain goals that I had to achieve along the way to get to the NHL, you know, you just don’t wake up one morning and say hey, you know, I’m gonna play in the NHL - there’s a lot of work, and there’s a lot of dedication that has to happen in order for you to accomplish that. And uh, (throat clearing), when I was thirteen, I went to a, a camp in Brandon, Manitoba, and uh, it was for a very famous Canadian hockey coach, his name was Andy Murray, who coached the Olympic team, he coached the St. Louis Blues, and it was his hockey school and, and uh, and so I was the type of kid - first on the ice, last to leave, always the first in line to do all the drills, and so there was a scout, uh, from the Winnipeg Warriors and and, you know one of my goals was to play in the Western Hockey League, which is the next step to the ---

 

Paul: ‘Cause you wanted long bus rides?

 

Theo: I didn’t give a shit, you know, didn’t matter, I would have walked, you know? Um and so this scout noticed this little guy, who was, you know, so enthusiastic and had a lot of charisma, and, and uh, um, incredible talent, you know. He started talking to me and asking me, you know, what my dreams were, what my goals were, and what my aspirations were, and he was actually paying attention to me, which, you know, I desperately needed at the time, was some sort of guidance, some sort of person to, um, sort of take me under their wing, and, and get me to that next level and this particular guy just happened to be “the guy”, and uh, and so, um, I was a part of the first ever “bathroom draft” that they had in uh, Western Hockey League, which is at fourteen years old you get drafted ---

 

Paul: Wow.

 

Theo: You know, and uh, I was picked in the second round by the Winnipeg Warriors and uh, you know, uh, summertime came and this particular scout came to my house and sat my parents down at the kitchen table and basically said, you know, we think Theo needs better competition and uh, you know, we’d like to, for him to play as a sixteen year old in the League and so, um, you know, we’ll, we’ll get him a good home to live in.

 

Paul: At fourteen you would be playing with sixteen year olds?

 

Theo: Uh, fifteen. I left home, I left home at fifteen.

 

Paul: Ok, ok.

 

Theo: And uh, and my parents knew what I wanted to do from, from day one, so they didn’t stand in my way, and, and uh, you know, when I was fifteen I moved to Winnipeg and uh, you know, needless to say, that choice and that decision would change me for the rest of my life because over the next two and a half year period, this particular coach - and I don’t like to say his name because he’s got enough press and he’s, he’s like a demagogue in Canada and, and uh- but this particular coach raped me 150 times over two and a half year period, and I don’t call it sexual abuse, I don’t call it sexual assault, it is rape. Rape is rape is rape is rape, because, you know, there was zero consent, you know, on my part and there’s zero consent on most kids at that age, right?

 

Paul: I would say all kids.

 

Theo: Yeah, exactly. And, and so ---

 

Paul: With an adult.

 

Theo: Yeah, and so, you know, that experience, you know, left me ---

 

Paul: Now, was he the one that scouted you?

 

Theo: Yeah.

 

Paul: Or was that ---

 

Theo: Oh yeah.

 

Paul: Oh, ok.

 

Theo: Oh yeah, like he was the guy that could get me to the, to the next level. And so he groomed everybody around, you know, he put himself in a position of power and authority and, and uh ---

 

Paul: Gave you love and attention.

 

Theo: Oh yeah, yeah.

 

Paul: Probably uh..

 

Theo: Took me on trips and ---

 

Paul: Started out with probably, with uh, innocuous seeming physical contact and escalated.

 

Theo: Yes, yup, yup, yup, yeah, it’s the classic, you know, the classic grooming, right?

 

Paul: Yeah.

 

Theo: And before I knew it I was in too deep and how the fuck am I gonna get out of this, right? You know? And uh, but yeah, you know, that’s where the shame got attached to this guilt, resentment, anger, you know all of these things, and, and uh, you know, no coping mechanism at the time.

 

Paul: For the person who can’t understand why every person in that situation doesn’t immediately go to a parent, or immediately go to the police, what do you, I understand why, but, can you, can you address that?

 

Theo: Well, my parents were not in a space to be able to, to hear that, you know? And uh, you know, when I, and I tell this story all the time you know, when I went to school in Russell, Manitoba, and I walk through the front doors of Major Pratt Collegiate, I knew everybody. I knew the janitors, I knew every teacher, I knew every student, I knew everybody. I went to Winnipeg, I went to a high school of 1000 kids, when I walked through that front door, I didn’t know a soul. Nobody. None of my teammates that I played with were at that school, he set it all up, you know.

 

Paul: Wow, you were as isolated as you could be.

 

Theo: Yeah, exactly.

 

Paul: Which is just what he wanted.

 

Theo: Yeah, exactly. He wanted me to have to rely on him for absolutely everything in, in, in life, at that time, in my life. And and so, I ended up going to this high school party and, I sat in this chair, and, and uh, nobody talked to me, and I just was kinda looking around and, this high, this grade 12 guy drops a six pack at the foot of my chair where I was sitting and you know, at that time in my life, I was anti-smoking, anti-drinking, anti-everything ‘cause I saw what it did to my parents. And so after having probably a two hour conversation with a six pack of beer, you know, should I, shouldn’t I, should I, shouldn’t I, back and forth, you know, I cranked the first beer, cranked the second beer, cranked the third beer, cranked the fourth beer, and sat back and went - this is the greatest day of my life, you know? And I was hooked, instantly. And uh, yeah, and, as the story goes, you know, uh, you know, my addictions took me out of the game, took me out of the sport that I absolutely loved and uh, and yeah, about eleven years ago, I had a---

 

Paul: Let’s talk about the NHL years though, if you’re, if you’re comfortable, uh, talking about it. Um, do you..where did you play, uh Juniors?

 

Theo: I played Musha. So when I was in Winnipeg, that year the team got sold to Musha.

 

Paul: Ok, that became, that became the Warriors?

 

Theo: Yeah.

 

Paul: Ok.

 

Theo: Well they were already the Winnipeg Warriors.

 

Paul: I see.

 

Theo: We moved to Musha and we were called the Musha Warriors, and so Graham, who was the coach, became the head coach of that team in Musha, and the general manager, so he was like, he was everything. And so we all moved to Musha, and uh ---

 

Paul: Is that Major Junior?

 

Theo: Yeah.

 

Paul: Ok.

 

Theo: Yeah, yeah. It’s called the Western Hockey League so.

 

Paul: Yes.

 

Theo: Um, and sixty five percent of all NHL players get drafted out of that league, right? And uh ---

 

Paul: And it’s the most physical of the uh, of the Canadian Junior Hockey League.

 

Theo: Oh yeah, oh yeah, it’s crazy.

 

Paul: Again, for our non-Canadian listeners, there are tiers of junior hockey which junior hockey is basically the, you know, the level before Pro, so there’s, starting on the lower level, Junior C, Junior B, Junior A, and then at the top, Major Junior.

 

Theo: Yeah, yeah, and, and so, you know, I went on to have this amazing hockey career, you know? Uh, World Junior Champion, Stanley Cup Champion, Canada Cup Champion, Olympic Gold Medalist, uh ----

 

Paul: Seven Time All-Star.

 

Theo: Seven All Star Games ---

 

Paul: Did you ever, did you ever, uh, do the, uh, win the Art Ross, or the ---

 

Theo: No. No. ‘Cause Gretzky was in the League. He won it every year. You know, he won the scoring title every year and the MVP, so, there wasn’t, there wasn’t much scraps left for, you know us, uh ---

 

Paul: And then Lemieux as well.

 

Theo: Yeah, exactly. And Yzerman, Sakic, you know the list goes on and on so.

 

Paul: Do, do you look at the rules now, and I’m sorry if I’m gonna hockey geek out a little bit, but um, do you look at the rules now and say, man there would have been so much more room to play?

 

Theo: No, no.

 

Paul: No? You don’t care?

 

Theo: I love the era that I played in. It’s when men, when men were men.

 

Paul: It was such a brutal time, so much clutching and grabbing and it was so much more physical.

 

Theo: Yeah, but it, it was physical, you know, and I loved that part of it. It fit, it fit my story, so to speak right?

 

Paul: And for those of you that don’t know, uh Theo, you’re 5’6”?

 

Theo: 5’6”, yup.

 

Paul: 5’6”. And when you’re 5’10” there are questions about whether or not you can play in the NHL.

 

Theo: Yes, of course, yes, absolutely. And when I arrived in the NHL I wasn’t as big as I am now, you know, I had to sort of fill into, into my body so I probably played my first year, maybe at 150 pounds in the NHL and the average height is six feet, two hundred pounds in the NHL, at that time, and so, you know, I was given up six inches and fifty pounds, so (chuckle), you know ---

 

Paul: But you were fast.

 

Theo: But I was fast.

 

Paul: And you were determined.

 

Theo: And crazy. And, you know, nuts.

 

Paul: Oh dude, the, the highlight clips of you, are just like, watching it’s like candy. It’s just ---

 

Mike: Yeah, he could shoot, hit and score. A lot of people could either shoot or score hey ---

 

Theo: Well they, well they considered me to be like a power forward at 5’6” and 150 pounds, you know, but you know, it was, it was just pure anger, that was fueling, you know, that and, obviously admiration, and you know, I’d go into a visiting rink and I’d get boo-ed, and it, it was just attention, I didn’t care if it was negative or not, it was attention and that’s all I wanted you know? And uh ---

 

Paul: That’s a lot better than them saying, who is that?

 

Theo: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. (Laughter) I wasn’t sitting on the end of the bench, you know, playing three or four minutes a game so.

 

Paul: And then you get called up by the Calgary Flames in 1989, which is the one year that they win the Stanley Cup.

 

Theo: Yeah, I know.

 

Paul: How awesome is that?

 

Theo: Yeah.

 

Paul: On your rookie year. At one point in the season were you called up?

 

Theo: January 1st. Of 1989. I uh ---

 

Paul: Four months in the League and you’re carrying a Stanley Cup.

 

Theo: Well, you know what happened was I was, I was sort of pissed off that I actually got cut in training camp, ‘cause I was like the leading scorer in exhibition and, but you know, Calgary had a really sort of established veteran team that were, you know, taking one last run at the Stanley Cup with the personnel that they had. And so I went down to Salt Lake and I probably, I sulked for the first month, and, you know, it was the first time I had ever lived on my own so I had to get my own apartment, you know, cook my own meals, do my laundry, I had no clue, right, you know? And uh, and so, you know, I went down for the first month. I don’t think I scored a goal in the first month that I was there, and uh, you know Paul Baxter was my coach at the time, and he was, you know a really sort of tough, you know, grizzly old veteran and so, I remember we were in Denver, uh playing against the New York Rangers farm team and, and uh, he, he sat me down in his hotel room and he said uh, you know “Is everything ok.?” And I said, “no”, I said, “This, I’m not having any fun”, and you know, I go, “Well I think you’re being a little bit too hard on me at this point”, you know, I said, “I think I need some soft love as opposed to tough love.” And he said, “Well here, I’ll make you a deal,” he said uh, “When you’re in our zone, I want you to play my system, ok?” He says, “You get the puck over our blue line, you can do whatever you want.” And I went on a tear, like you have no idea. I had like 74 points in 40 games after that and uh ---

 

Paul: Wow.

 

Theo: I was leading the, the International Hockey League in scoring by like 20 or 30 points and uh, so New Year’s Eve, we were playing in Salt Lake and we were playing against Denver, and uh Mike Richter was the goalie, the Stanley Cup goalie in ‘94 when the Rangers won. I scored a hat trick against him, and uh, so I was getting ready to party right, New Year’s Eve, I just scored a hat trick, it’s gonna be an awesome night, you know and uh -

 

Paul: So Richter hadn’t been called up yet?

 

Theo: No, no, he was still in the Minors too. And uh, so I’m coming out of the shower and Paul Baxter was the coach and he said uh, he says, “What are you doing tomorrow morning?” I’m like, I don’t know, probably recovering from, you know, tonight. And he said uh, “Can you be at the airport tomorrow morning?” I’m like - for what? He says, “Well”, he said, “I just got a call from Calgary. They’re calling you up.” And I was like holy cow. And so the first call I made I made to my dad and I said, “Hey dad, you know I got called up” and uh, and I said to him, I said, “I ain’t going back.” I said, “When I get up there, I’m gonna, I’m gonna make the most of it.” And so uh, I think it was January the third, I played my first NHL game in Calgary against the Quebec Nordiques and, and uh, didn’t, didn’t get any points, but played pretty well, and then uh, the next night we played the uh, the LA kings, and uh, I had three assists in the game, and then the next game after that was against the Hamilton Weathers, in Calgary, on hockey night in Canada and I scored my first two NHL goals, uh, against Grant Fuhr, and uh, needless to say, uh, I didn’t go back.

 

Paul: Was that the clip where Don Cherry was, in the movie where Don Cherry says, I like this new kid.

 

Theo: Yes, yes, yes, Fuhr, Fuhrian (laughter)

 

Mike: Yeah, he calls it Flegarian, he messes up his name and everything.

 

Paul: And by the way, how is your first name pronounced?

 

Theo: Tharren.

 

Paul: Tharren, ok.

 

Theo: Yup, it’s like Darren, with T-H on it.

 

Paul: I gotcha, ok.

 

Theo: Yeah. And so, you know, um, we uh, we go on this magical playoff run and uh, you know, it ends up on the Montreal Forum and Fleury is French, and so most of my family are Montreal, Canadian fans and have been for forever, and so, half in that series, half my family is still cheering for Montreal, right? You know?

 

(Laughter)

 

Paul: I get it, I get it yeah.

 

Theo: And uh, and so, you know, we win the Stanley Cup in the Montreal Forum and I’m just like, this is insane, like, this is crazy, you know and ---

 

Paul: And it’s like beating the Yankees for people that don’t follow hockey. The Montreal Canadians are like the Yankees of hockey.

 

Theo: Yeah, well, you know, Yankee Stadium is like the Vatican of baseball. Montreal Forum is like the Vatican of, of uh, um, of hockey, and uh, you know, the (unintelligible), and the Jean Belliveau’s, those guys are like considered like archbishops in, you know ---

 

Paul: He laid in State, Jean Belliveau, when he died, he laid in State at the, at the Forum.

 

Theo: Yeah, so did uh, Maurice Rocket Richard too you know? And, and people don’t understand that or realize that, but uh, you know hockey’s like religion in Canada and if you can you know reach you know, the, the ultimate ultimate, which is you know, winning the Stanley Cup is pretty crazy and uh, and yeah, so so ---

 

Paul: Did people compare you to Richard?

 

Theo: Yeah. There was - to the Pocket Rocket, so ---

 

Paul: Yes, his brother, Henri.

 

Theo: So, Maurice’s brother, yeah, he was, you know, Henri, Henri won ten Stanley Cups like, it’s crazy. Um, but uh, you know in an eighteen month period, I won a world junior, a Turner Cup, which was the uh IHL championship in the minors, and a Stanley Cup, in eighteen months I had three rings and I was twenty years old, and I’m going - This is easy, you know? (Laughter) You know? You know what I mean? Like, is this gonna happen like, every year, you know? And needless to say, I never got another sniff again. The closest I got to winning a cup was uh, when I got traded to Colorado, and uh, and we lost in Game 7 to Dallas, and Dallas went on to beat Buffalo and uh ---

 

Paul: But you did win an Olympic Gold Medal.

 

Theo: Yeah, and then in 2002, that was sort of, when I probably should have retired because, you know, what more could I have won, or what more could I have accomplished, you know in the NHL? And truly that’s when sort of the passion left me and then my addiction really kicked in at that point.

 

Paul: Before we get to the addiction, just give me a couple of snapshots from your time in the NHL, or it could also be where your addiction was beginning to uh, blossom, while you were still playing.

 

Theo: Yeah, so, so, you know, uh, Graham got fired from Musha when I was seventeen. And I bas ---

 

Paul: For what reason?

 

Theo: Don’t know.

 

Paul: Well, we can probably guess.

 

Theo: Yeah, we can probably guess. And uh, he wanted me to go with him but Musha wouldn’t give me my release and thank God they didn’t, uh, and that was the last I ever had contact with him, was, was, was that time. And uh, and so, he was still in my life, you know, he would still call, and we’d still have conversations or we would meet up, but it was never, like it was never the same, you know.

 

Paul: I see.

 

Theo: I had my own family at that time and you know, so ---

 

Paul: He never had you cornered again.

 

Theo: No, no. He never had any control over me anymore, never any power, right?

 

Paul: And the abuse was from fourteen to sixteen.

 

Theo: Sixteen. Yeah. Yeah. And then, you know, he, he went on, he coached in Winnipeg for a while, and then he got back in the League and he coached in Swift Current and, uh, he got fired from Swift Current for the same reason he got fired in, in uh, Musha, and uh, he kept phoning me and bothering me, we should buy, we should buy a team and, you know all this stuff, and so, we we got granted a franchise uh in Calgary and uh ---

 

Paul: Was there a little voice in your head, going what are you, what are you doing?

 

Theo: Yeah. Yeah. I was, I was so confused. But I also knew, that he was a great coach and that he would eventually assemble a great team in, in uh, in Calgary right? And uh, and so in 1996, Sheldon Kennedy came out with his story, and uh, you know, there was whispers ---

 

Paul: And Sheldon had also been uh, raped by uh, by Graham.

 

Theo: Yeah. By Graham. Yeah. Yeah. And so Sheldon, you know, couldn’t cope anymore, couldn’t cope with seeing him, because both Sheldon and I were playing with the Calgary Flames at the time and the Calgary Hitmen dressing room was almost right beside ours and Sheldon got to the point where he just couldn’t, you know, see him around kids and coaching kids and so he, he came out with uh, you know with his story, and (throat clear) there was whispers of uh, that there was another guy and everybody assumed it was me and, you know, for basically I don’t know, six months, I had to basically say “no comment” in the media and uh, and that’s when my cocaine addiction really ---

 

Paul: What did it feel like saying no comment?

 

Theo: Well, it felt like I was lying, you know? And I knew that everybody knew. Um, and, you know, nobody really came to my, came to help me either, you know? None of my teammates, none of uh my coaches, the organization, uh, you know, there really wasn’t a whole lot of support, and so, you know, here I am, kind of, dealing again with all of this stuff you know, the PTSD that comes along with, with any sort of, you know, traumatic experience and, and uh, I dealt heavily into the cocaine and we all know what cocaine does to you over a short period of time, it’s ---

 

Paul: George, George Carlin used to say, “The purpose of cocaine is to make you want more cocaine.”

 

Theo: Yes, of course. So you know, it was a very fast trip to the bottom of the gutter, and you know, that’s where I was, and uh, you know, that’s where I was, geez, eleven and a half years ago, you know, I was living in Santa Fe, New Mexico, uh, had a $3500 a week cocaine habit, you know, was buying cases of vodka, and you know and, and uh, and ---

 

Paul: How much would you drink on a given day?

 

Theo: I could stay up for seven, eight days, no sleep, and uh, yeah. I don’t know how I did it, you know? And I would basically, eventually pass out, you know, and uh, you know sleep for 48 hours, get back up, and, do it all over again, you know, and uh...and then you know, moved back to Calgary and uh, you know, started dealing with you know, with sort of the wreckage of my past and, and uh, got sober September 18th of 2005 and, and uh, yeah, really started putting the pieces back together of my life, and, you know getting back in my kids life, and repairing relationships, and you know this story, the making amends and you know, paying back people that you owed money, and you know. And so slowly the pile of shit that you’re carrying around, slowly starts to dissipate you know, and, and finally your side of the street is clean and, and uh...but I still wasn’t satisfied, you know, there was something missing in my life, and, and you know, that’s when I wrote the book, and and that’s when I found purpose, and uh, and that’s when I, you know, went back to my, my roots, and uh, you know, I started going to aboriginal

communities and sharing my story, and working with youth, and you know, talking about suicide, and and all this stuff, and what really happened was, I really grasped on to the spiritual teachings that they had, and you know, my concept of God, was pretty fucked up. You know, I grew up in the Catholic Church, and my mom was a Jehovah witness and uh, so I remember standing outside of a meeting one night, and this old timer comes up to me and says uh, “Hey kid, how you doing with your higher power” and I’m like - it’s not happening. And he said something very profound, he said uh, he said, “You realize in this program you get to pick your own God right?” And I was like - what the fuck are you talking about, right? ‘Cause I, I never really thought about that, right? Being able to pick, pick a God of my own understanding? I was like, wow. And uh, and yeah, so I started to, sort of, make up who this whatever you want to call it, was out there right? Um, you know, I remember people always saying there’s a plan for your life, and I’m like, yeah right, you know. If this is the plan, you know, I’m outta here.

 

Paul: Yeah. Somebody’s getting fired, you know?

 

(Laughter)

 

Theo: Yeah. And uh, but you know, slowly but surely, you know, really started to connect to that, to that power, and believing it, and, and uh, it was through the, the ceremonies, you know? Um, sweat lodge, and smudging and powwow and drumming and you know, all this stuff, I just was like oh my god, I’m home, I’m finally home.

 

Paul: And is part of your ancestry aboriginal?

 

Theo: Yes, yes, Yup. And uh, and uh, you know I have this incredible, amazing woman who, uh, forty years ago was living on Skid Row in Winnipeg and picked herself up, dusted herself off, went back to school, got an education, and uh, you know that, you know when you meet somebody and they have just serenity, and you go, man I want what she has. And, and, and it was like, I was so attracted to her serenity that I wanted to learn, and I wanted to hang out with her, because you know, she had so much love to give, she had so, so much, uh recovery, that I wanted that, and uh, and it was her that started introducing me, because she’s very smart, she started introducing me to all these, you know these teachings, and prayer, and meditation, and all this stuff, and you know. Once it finally clicked and the lightbulb came off, my, like my, my life just skyrocketed into another dimension, you know, and uh, and so, all these amazing things that have happened in the past ten years, have happened because of spirituality.

 

Paul: And would it be fair to say that, for you, spirituality is embodied in leading a principled life?

 

Theo: Yeah.

 

Paul: Where service is important?

 

Theo: Yeah, yeah, that’s basically it. But, I’ll take it even a step further. To me, true spirituality is relationship. The first and foremost, the relationship that I have with myself, right? I had to learn to love myself. I had to learn to be alone with myself, and be okay with that. You know, that was an important step, but a really scary, you know, sort of painful, you know, learning to be okay with, with myself, and, you know, it’s a miracle that I can sit in a chair for hours on end without, you know getting up and walking around or, you know, whatever it is and so.

 

Paul: I heard somebody say one time that a clear conscience is the softest pillow.

 

Theo: Yeah, absolutely. And uh, and not causing any more wreckage, you know? Like ---

 

Paul: Yeah. Life is so much simpler. It’s so much simpler.

 

Theo: Yeah and you know, living a drama free life where, I’m not creating drama and I’m not allowing others to create drama in my life as well, you know? And uh ---

 

Paul: So part of your healing obviously has been setting boundaries with people.

 

Theo: Oh yeah. Well I grew up in a house where there was zero, there was no boundaries.

 

Paul: How did you, how did you learn how to do that? Because obviously you would first have to ---

 

Theo: Well through therapy. Through therapy, you know, through, you know I don’t even know how many hours of therapy I’ve done. Two thousand, three thousand hours of therapy.

 

Paul: And so you would recognize in therapy, you would talk about the feelings and you would recognize oh, this feeling I have about this person is not a healthy feeling. It’s not, it’s not my problem, It’s, my body is reacting to the fact that this person isn’t healthy for me.

 

Theo: Well, yeah, and it’s a trigger from the past right? And uh, because I, you know, any type of conflict or anything, I automatically went to abandonment, neglect, right? You know?

 

Paul: Would you shut down?

 

Theo: No, no. I’d ---

 

Paul: Get angry?

 

Theo: Fight or flight, right? You know, that was just the automatic response. Um, and I had all sorts of mental health problems, you know?. Anxiety, panic disorder, depression, suicidal thoughts, you know ---.

 

Paul: That’s it? (Laughter)

 

Theo: That’s the full gamut, right?

 

Paul: That’s the, we call it the mental six pack.

 

Theo: Yeah, exactly. And uh, you know, what I sort of realized is that..you know, when I told my story, all those things started to go away and they started to dissipate from my life.

 

Paul: And were you telling it primarily to your therapist?

 

Theo: No, no, I was on the speaker’s tour.

 

Paul: Oh, ok.

 

Theo: Oh yeah, like, telling my story, anybody that would listen, you know? And uh, yeah, you know, you’re only as sick as your secrets, well, I had lots of secrets and I was really sick.

 

Paul: So you had been speaking, primarily talking about uh, drug addiction and alcoholism.

 

Theo: Telling my, telling my story.

 

Paul: And then you began to integrate this thing that happened, wow.

 

Theo: Yeah.

 

Paul: That makes sense though. What a, what a perfect vehicle for you to begin to do with it.

 

Theo: Yeah, because, I knew every single person in the room, when I was speaking. I knew every single person in the room that was traumatized in their life, right, because they couldn’t sit still, they’d get up, they’d walk around, you know?

 

Paul: You’d see that knee bouncing?

 

Theo: Yeah.

 

Paul: That is the siren song of the uh ---

 

Theo: Yeah, exactly. And you know, when that goes away, so does all those mental, you know, those crazy thoughts and you know desperation, and you know, all those things go away, and that’s why this movie is so important, is because when you can physically see on the screen, relationship, of two people who’ve experienced trauma, one who’s through it, and one who’s just starting their journey ---

 

Paul: You’re just starting Mike?

 

Theo: No, no.

 

Paul: Oh, you were pointing to Mike.

 

Theo: No, I mean that, as him being the many people that come ---

 

Paul: I see.

 

Mike: I’ve been lucky, I’ve been going through the journey for a long, I came out when I was seventeen to my parents, and all my friends, and even when I met my wife after a month of knowing her, I came out to her, um, when we were dating so um, no, and I would say, having met Theo, ever since I met him, I had to dig it back up. And when I was writing the narrative script before I did the documentary, I dug stuff up and then almost retraumatized myself and then had to dig myself back out of it again.

 

Theo: Yeah.

 

Mike: And then doing the walk, and then obviously making the, and not only the, the walk changed my life, but then reliving the walk, for like, you know ---

 

Paul: Editing it, day after day.

 

Mike: Over and over and having to hear the stories, over and over, and that’s when I learned a lot from Theo about how to, not take on all their pain, which is very hard to do sometimes. It’s very hard to not take it on personally.

 

Paul: Yeah.

 

Theo: Yeah, you have to learn, you have to learn not to attach any emotion to it, because really at the end of the day, if the person doesn’t want help, there’s nothing you can do anyways, right? All you can be, is that, you know, I can bring awareness, I can talk about it, but I can’t save people’s lives, right?

 

Paul: No. You can be a shoulder for them to cry on.

 

Theo: Yeah, yeah, but that’s it.

 

Paul: And that’s what I love about the film is that you are literally a shoulder for people to cry on during the walk..and it’s so ---

 

Theo: Yeah, it’s powerful isn’t it?

 

Paul: Ah it was like sitting next to a fireplace, it was just, it’s just so, it just warmed me ---

 

Mike: And it wasn’t just the shoulder I mean, what was great, I think about you know, what he did and what we captured, the documentary is, like we’ve all talked about, hockey players being the manliest of the men, and having someone so manly as Theo who is seen as a hockey player that had all the fierceness as anyone else, and I think for all these other men, at least from my experience on the walk, having them see Theo find his voice and be able to share his voice, I feel like all these other people on the walk, were so tired of keeping their secret for thirty years, forty years, sixteen years, whatever it was, wow, I can be a man and come out like Theo did and share my voice, I’m gonna do it, I’m gonna have my voice. And even in the trailer, you know, there’s a guy who kinda struggles for a bit, and he goes, “I was abused”, and it’s those kinda moments, where they, the minute they say it, the minute it’s off their chest, you see the change in them, and it’s, as you saw in the documentary, I think it’s the two-parter, it’s the opening up, saying it, and then being able to embrace for the hug, on the release, it’s almost like breathing, breathe in, breathe out, you know. Say it, and then hug, you know.

 

Paul: Yeah.

 

Theo: Yeah. Well, you know. Those of us who are in recovery we need eight hugs a day, is what they say. Probably even more than that.

 

Paul: Yeah, I tell my wife a hundred.

 

(Laughter)

 

Theo: You know, so it’s uh, you know this documentary gets rid of a lot of stigma around the subject, is that at the end of the day, we’re all human beings, and we’ve been dealt some pretty shitty cards, but even though we’ve been dealt shitty cards man, we’re still, at the core of who we all are as human beings is we’re, we’re good people you know, and you see that, over and over and over again in the documentary. And then you know, and then you see you know, the people that run our country who are probably more sick than us as victims are, are uh, you know, are running the country.

 

Paul: Have you been able to uh, initiate any legislation changes?

 

Theo: Zip. Zip, zero. Yup, and what I was told, what i was told when we were in Ottawa is that, um, until judges are held accountable for their decisions in our country, nothing’s gonna change, which means, we have to rewrite the Constitution, which could take, you know, who knows.

 

Paul: If people want to uh, help, uh, I’ll put some links on the website, um, but uh, any that you can think off the top of your head, ways that they can help your uh ---

 

Theo: Well, we’ve created the Breaking Free Foundation through the, you know, through the Victor Walk and what we’re doing is, most people can’t afford professional help, and so, you can write to us for a therapy grant, and if you’re approved ---

 

Paul: Is this just Canadians?

 

Theo: Yes, for now. For now. Um, we would love for it to be a global movement for sure, um, but, you can write to use for a therapy grant. If you’re approved, we’ll pay for your first six sessions of therapy and we’ll find you a therapist that will, you know, hook you up and you can go through the program and, and uh, even after you’ve done the first six sessions you can actually write to us again and reapply.

 

Paul: And is this for uh just people who are uh, sex abuse survivors, or just anybody?

 

Theo: Trauma. Trauma. Trauma. Which encompasses everybody, right?

 

Paul: So it could be uh, domestic violence or anything?

 

Theo: Whatever. Doesn’t matter. Divorce.

 

Mike: That was the big thing to that we uh ---

 

Paul: Traffic. Would that be considered trauma? Really heavy traffic.

 

(Laughter)

 

Theo: Yes, yes. Absolutely.

 

Mike: That’s a big thing that it felt like we all learned on the walk was you know, and Theo says in the film, is that, you know, it doesn’t just have to be about sex abuse - trauma. Is that trauma shapes us all, in our lives, especially childhood trauma, and how we deal with that through adolescence shapes us in who we become as an adult and that’s the biggest thing I think that we want people to have when they come see the movie. You don’t have to be a survivor to enjoy or relate to our film. You can be anybody who has had any kind of experience, and you’ll be able to watch the film, you’re gonna see other human beings telling human stories that we all can relate to.

 

Theo: Well there’s always a reason for somebody’s behavior. And that behavior, is a learned behavior from childhood. It’s that simple. You know? What you see, is what you’re going to repeat as an adult, because you think that it’s completely normal, that, you know, your dad beats the shit out of your mom, well guess what you’re gonna probably do when you grow up? That’s what you’re gonna do. If you’ve been in a neglected family environment, when you grow up as an adult, you’re gonna neglect your kids, you know, it’s just, it’s just that.

 

Paul: Unless you learn a different way.

 

Theo: Yeah, exactly.

 

Mike: The vicious cycle.

 

Theo: That vicious cycle, of, you know, of trauma.

 

Paul: It’s funny, we teach algebra, and we don’t teach people how to recognize and express their own emotions and which one do we need more on a daily basis?

 

Theo: Yeah, we’ve actually been approached as a foundation to, to research trauma in formed education because our teachers are traumatized, right, and they’re passing their trauma on to our, onto our kids, so you know, what does trauma in formed education look like? We’re in the early stages, we have a pilot project going on in northern British Columbia on a couple of the aboriginal communities, that’s having an incredible amount of success. And uh, you know, we, we eventually want to bring that to the mainstream and, and uh, cause the days of desks, is gone. You know, because, kids don’t need to sit and listen to a teacher to get information. They can just pick up their phone and google whatever they want and find the, and find it, you know and so, you know, to create a safe environment within the school system, is the way to go. Couches and bunk beds, you know, that’s where kids learn is when they feel safe in an environment is when you get the, you know, the most and the best out of them. So, I absolutely love it, either way, I love the opportunity that I have every day, and uh, I’m very grateful and thankful and you know, for the people that are listening out there, you know, I look at my life now, that you know, my parents were truly a gift. Graham James was truly a gift in my life because, without having had those experiences, I wouldn’t be sitting here now, and I wouldn’t be having this incredible platform, and this incredible opportunity to, to change the world, and there hasn’t been a day gone by since that first Me Too at that bookstore in Toronto, that i haven’t had one person, in seven years, on a daily basis, looking, and asking for help, and that’s because I let go. I let go and uh, just let it happen.

 

Paul: There is no sedative like meaning and purpose.

 

Theo: Yeah, there isn’t. And you know, all of us who’ve been around Victor Walk for the last three years, you know, people, you know, that haven’t had the sexual abuse, but people who’ve had trauma in their life, the Victor Walk has changed their life. Like, all eight of us that were involved in that first Victor Walk, you see us in the movie and you see us now. We’re completely different people.

 

Paul: Are you gonna do it this year?

 

Theo: Yes, we’re walking from my hometown in Russell, Manitoba to Winnipeg, which is 400 miles this time.

 

Paul: Oh my God.

 

Theo: But what we’ve done is we’ve turned it more into a rally, as opposed to a walk, so, you know, we’ll walk like 20 kilometres a day, but, in the morning we’ll do a rally in a small town, where we’ll do some speaking and do some talking and hanging out and then we’ll get back on the Winnebagos and walk a little bit more and then make sure we’re in a new venue in the evening, and do the same thing because it creates you know, community, and it creates conversation that a lot of small town communities, just bury that stuff, you know, and uh, and so, yeah, and not only that, we, it’s like a vacation for all of us to get to see each other and hang out with each other because uh, you know our lives are very very busy and we’re all doing different things, and so it’s nice to get together and you know, just hang out.

 

Mike: You know, what’s better than having a campfire and having some real conversations.

 

Paul: I was so jealous with that clip where you guys were camping, and fishing and I was like, oh man, that just looks like the best.

 

Mike: That’s part of it. You know, part of it is, still living your life, and being able to have real, open, vulnerable, honest conversations.

 

Theo: And relationship, right? You know..because uh...you know, relationships are really hard for us after trauma, you know? They really are. And so to be able to have the gift of you know, true friends, and people who love and care for you unconditionally is, is truly an amazing gift that fills up that, that big hole that, you know, um we had for so long, we were filling it up with all the wrong things, you know, and now we fill it up with the right things. Hockey’s given me everything I have in my life and I’ll never forget that, and I’ll be grateful, and thankful that I got to play with the greatest players that have ever played this game, that have respect for me, and uh, you know I can call friends and teammates and all of that, but i think more importantly, this is the reason why I was put on this earth and you know, obviously, hockey allowed me to have the voice that I have today, but uh ---

 

Mike: It’s great helping other people because like you said, you feel it yourself, but it also continues to heal yourself.

 

Paul: It does.

 

Mike: You continue to heal yourself while you’re helping other people. And on the walk, it was so hard walking 25 miles a day in the walk, and but when people would come and tell us their story, it gave us that boost, it gave us that energy to keep going.

 

Theo: Yup.

 

Paul: That’s amazing.

 

Theo: And uh, you know, what I love about this documentary is it’s not produced reality TV, it’s real. It’s real ---

 

Paul: Well, that’s very clear ---

 

Theo: You know, it’s real, and it’s uh, not scripted, it’s just you know, hanging out with us and what happens, you know, even though the Victor Walk has ended, that’s still my life today. You know? That happens every day of my life and uh, like I said, I love it, and it’s so important, and it’s so needed and uh, you know, and it’s you know, guys like you who have these podcasts, that, you know... As long as we touch one soul in the hour that we spend together than hey, this was so worth it, right?

 

Paul: Amen.

 

Theo: Amen.

 

Mike: Absolutely.

 

Paul: Thanks guys.

 

Theo: Thank you.

--------------------------------------

 

 

I can’t even begin to tell you. I’m sure you could hear it in my voice, but how exciting that was for me to talk to a guy who was a legend in my favorite sport, and talk about the subject that’s the most important subject to me in my personal life and wow. It doesn’t get any better than that for me.

 

Uh, before I read some surveys, I want to give some love to Blue Apron. They are our sponsor this week and they continue to keep putting out great meals. This week in particular I made a pan seared cod and pickled grape with summer bean succotash. Now that, there’s so many things I love about Blue Apron. Here’s the list of things I love about them. You don’t have to go to the grocery store, I mean, that’s enough right there. The ingredients are fresh, they’re organic, they’re responsibility farmed or harvested, the dishes aren’t repetitive, they’re not difficult to make. The instructions are clear and simple, and uh, I just, I just love it. I’m a fan. And even after Blue Apron is done sponsoring this show, I’m going to continue to order it because I like it. And here’s the other thing that I really like about it, is, you know, for people who have experienced abuse or whatever you want to call it, those of us, let’s just say, those of us that struggle with self care, doing good things for ourself, a thing like this is a really important thing. You know things like flossing are important, for those of us that struggle with self care but what better way to do something nice for yourself than to do Blue Apron. So check it out, it’s less than ten bucks per meal. The ingredients are good and fresh, because it really starts with good, fresh ingredients. Um..the meals this month in August - spiced pork burgers with goat cheese and cucumber-corn salad, summer vegetable and quinoa bowl with fairy tale eggplants, shisito peppers and corn, and chicken tinga tacos with summer squash and tomato salsa. So check out this week’s menu and get your first three meals free, with free shipping by going to blueapron.com/mental. You will love how good it feels and tastes to create incredible home cooked meals with Blue Apron, so do not wait. That’s blueapron.com/mental. Blue Apron - a better way to cook.

 

One more thing before we get to some surveys. I want to remind you guys that there are a couple of different ways to support the podcast, if you feel so inclined, and we can always use more money to keep it going. I realize a lot of you, um, don’t have any money to give, and I totally understand that and continue to enjoy it for free. There’s many things that I listen to that I don’t even think about um, donating to, so no judgment here on my part. But that being said, we could really use some more money here, so you can go to our website mentalpod.com and you can make either a one time paypal donation, or my favorite - become a monthly donor for as little as five bucks a month and it may not seem like a lot of money to you, but we have a pretty big base of listeners so it can add up, you know, if a lot of people just do that little bit, it could make quite a difference. Um, you can also support us by using our Amazon link on our homepage if you’re gonna buy something on Amazon and then they’ll give us a little bit of money and it doesn’t make what you’re buying any more expensive. Um, you can also help us non-financially by going to Itunes, writing something nice about the podcast, giving us a good ratio and finally you can really help us non-financially by spreading the word through social media, that is um, that’s the way that everybody could help. And if you don’t want to do any of those, I get it. I get it. I played civilization five for seven hours last night, yeah. I could’ve been doing things that better the world, but no, I was mixing it up with England and India, and fucking Russia’s popping it’s head up. I had to bring the hammer down on them. So, I was busy. If you guys have never played Civilization, do not, because it should come in a crack pipe. It’s insane.

 

Alright, let’s get to some uh, surveys and emails. Got a pretty big pile, so hopefully my voice will hang through this. This is an email I got from Fiona, and she writes, “While listening to today’s episode, in the shower, because I showered, exclamation point, gold medal for me today, lap of honor, I’m going to clean my teeth later too, you were trying to explain sis - as a term to listeners, which might, uh, which might not have heard it before”, uh, I think she meant who? Maybe I’m wrong. And then she writes, “Full disclosure, I’m sis. So take whatever i say on the matter with a quarry full of salt. Amazingly, trans people have a variety of experiences, wink. Instead of talking about being born into the ‘wrong body’, perhaps you could consider the term assigned gender at birth, um, some trans folks I know have had the surgery some people think essential to being legitimately trans. Some haven’t. I don’t generally inquire after my friend’s genitalia - cis or trans - um, maybe the middle British class manners, question mark, but their bodies are no less their actual gender. Some men have vaginas and their bodies are male, some women have penuses and their bodies are female. Some people are completely comfortable with their bodies as they have been since birth. Some people find their bodies a source of extreme distress and dysphoria. I hope that you accept this suggestion with all the love that I send with it. I’ve been listening for about two years now, um, and then she says some nice things about the podcast. Um, and (laughter) and she also mentions that right now, she’s playing World of Warcraft in her underwear and avoiding as much of life as she can. Ah, thank you Fiona, and um, you might want to class it up a little bit, if you’re playing World of Warcraft, and wear a tuxedo T-shirt. Just in case somebody walks in on you, you don’t want to look like a loser. Um, thank you for helping enlighten me in, get better at articulating and understanding a segment of the population that is gravely, not only understood, but….you understand, I don’t have to finish that sentence.

 

This is an Awful-some moment, filled out by...and to any of our new listeners, Awful-some is something that is kind of awful and yet has something about it that is also kind of awesome. Um...and this is filled out by “Why can a parking ticket be validated, but I can’t be.” - And I think we’ve read one of her surveys before. She writes, “Many of my school pictures in elementary school and middle school, I am sporting an awful, terrible perm. What you may ask, a why you may ask, well, my quote mother, I don’t know why mother is in quotes, uh, would perm my hair when she got drunk and then laugh at me after telling me how terrible it looked. She did this for her amusement only. Not only did she do this to me, she also did it to my brother. He at least would be able to shave his head the next day until it grew out, and she did it again. I had to go to school with this very large, mushroom shaped hair on top of my head, and people asking, “what did you do to you hair?” Internally I wanted to scream, “My crazy mother got drunk and this is her pastime and cry because she laughed at me.” Instead, I said, “Oh, you know, I wanted to try something different.” Dare I complain, or I would have been beaten. So my choices were: large hair or large bruise. At least the bruise would’ve healed quicker than the hair to calm down, I suppose. I still hate to see my curly hair, and I’m thirty-nine years old. Perms and my quote, mother, both chemically imbalanced.

 

Thank you for sharing that. Um, for some reason, I just had the picture of Annie, from the musical Annie. Ahh...I’m not indecisive, I just can’t decide, describes her ADD. It feels like I’m running in circles, while people throw things at me. I stop to pick something up, stop again, grab something else, throw another back, then round the corner and grab the thing I dropped, pick up another, and so, uh, over and over and over again. Snapshot from her life. Driving for two miles, not realizing I never moved my high heels from the hood of my car to the inside of my car, and seeing them in my rearview mirror, fly off, over the roof, one by one, onto the road behind me. Yup, Nope, not going back. I liked those heels too. Wait. Where I was driving?

 

And then any comments to make the podcast better. “My friend’s dog has a really nice butthole. Have you ever considered a survey on if/why we notice dog’s buttholes and what it could mean?” I have not considered that, and I’m really, uh, I apologize for the Pandora’s box of buttholery that I’ve opened by riffing on my dog Herbert’s butthole. But I thought about this and I’ve decided that there’s really kinda three categories of dog buttholes and it’s totally dependent on how covered it is by fur. There’s my favorite category which is - you can’t see it, it’s covered with hair. Um, and then the second category is, I don’t know what you would call it, but it’s kinda like, oh yeah, when you look at it, you’re like oh yeah, I forgot how weird it is to look right at a living thing’s butthole. And then there’s the third kind - which is, uh, Spill Your Drink Butthole - where, you’re never, like my friend Lisa Arch, her dog Bogie has a Spill Your Drink Butthole, that it looks like, it looks like it was designed by Liza Minnelli, like it can’t get enough of the spotlight. I don’t know if that’s the case with her but she’s the first person that came to mind because I’m a hundred years old. So, that’s my thought on buttholery.

 

This is..this was filled out as a struggle in a sentence, but it’s really an awful-some moment and uh, this is filled out by Stefan, or Ste-FAN, and he writes, “When I told my mom I was depressed, she looked at me and said, ‘If you were depressed, you’d be seeing a psychiatrist.’” Un-fucking-believable. That may be the densest, shortest, most perfect, awful-some moment we’ve ever had.

 

This is an email I got from, uh...I think it’s a woman, uh, yeah, and uh, she calls herself Oh For Fuck’s Sake. And she writes, “My Daddy” (and in parentheses, I’m not a kid, but it stuck) “died in 2007, my mom died in February of this year. I’m on a lot of medication for a myriad of things. The types of meds cause my emotions to flatline. I was very close to my parents, especially my Daddy. I moved into their home to take care of them for the last month of each of their lives, but I haven't been able to grieve. I feel permanent emotional congestion. This has clearly affected other parts of my life. For instance, my wonderful and beloved husband and I haven’t had sex in a few years. Yes, years. He has erectile dysfunction and I hurt too much and my medication has killed my previous, highly active sex drive. We decided we could be intimate in other ways, but obviously this isn’t ideal for both of us, unfortunately, to have such an understanding and patient husband. He also has to deal with my mental fog. However, the grief, uh, the grief need is making me a little nuts. I know the longer you put off grief, the harder it is to go through when you can. In addition to not being able to grieve, I feel guilty for not being able. It seems like i can feel mild guilt and shame, etcetera, but not this other stuff. Ugh. I was wondering if you had an episode dealing with this issue, and I missed it.” To which I would say the episode with Ashley Burch, is a really good one, B-U-R-C-H, and she shares about losing her partner, uh, who she was very close to, her boyfriend. They might have even been engaged I can’t remember but..um, yeah he overdosed, and um, so that might be a good one. And I’m sure there are other episodes. You can always, if you’re ever looking for something uh, a type of episode, two best ways to look for it is go to our website and in our website’s search box, type in a keyword or a couple of keywords and see what comes up. And another way would be, go to the forum and there’s a thread called “Discuss the Podcasts” and post a question there. Um, I hope that helps. And the other thing I wanted to say was that that is exactly how I felt when my dad died. Is, I felt like a piece of shit because I didn’t feel more. And it will come up when it’s supposed to come up, there’s no right or wrong way to grieve, and um, you might, you might try googling grief counseling, and I bet there’s support groups or a therapist who’s trained in that, so just google that in your town or city, and see what comes up. And if money’s an issue, also include low fee, and see if that helps.

 

This is an awful-some moment, from a guy who calls himself Oh Shit, It’s Tuba Time. And he writes, “My old man had intimidated me for years, an ardent perfectionist who demeaned my emotions and taught me quote lessons in how best to manipulate others while I was a young boy. My father was the only person in the world I was more afraid of than my mother. I knew nothing about my father and he showed no side of himself that wasn’t aggressive and snide to me. The man was a mystery. By not getting him, I was showing myself to be unworthy of his affection. This was the kind of guy who would, and did, give his a son a lovingly homemade Loser of the Year trophy for Christmas.” Let’s just let that, let’s let that sink in...for awhile...you know, if….if Child Protective Services had known that about you, they would have removed you from the home. ‘Cause that is every bit as bad as punching your kid right in the fucking face, actually probably worse. Anyway, continuing. “Just so you can get a sense of what this guy was about. One night while I was sleeping in my tiny room, I was woken up by the blasting sound of tubas. Curious, I followed the sound for a bit, and discovered it led to the basement. Peering into the basement, I saw my father with eyes closed, and wearing nothing but boxer shorts, jamming the fuck out to a cassette full of tuba music. It was all I could not to laugh right there. In that moment, the emperor had lost his clothes. He wasn’t some uber-mench like I had always thought him to be. He was a fat, balding old man, who was either so ashamed of his love for tubas, or so beyond the realm of reason that he felt compelled to blast heavy brass music in the dead of night and conduct an imaginary orchestra in his underpants. I called this event Tuba Time and every time I heard that stupid fucking cassette at some ungodly hour, it told me that my father was, in fact, a regular old person just like the rest of us. Although he continued to abuse me after that night, I never again saw him as an indomitable force. It felt like a moment in the movie in Predator, when Arnold’s character evaluates a blood stain left by the predator and concludes that his team could, in fact, kill the beast. In a word, seeing my flabby-assed father, awkwardly flailing about to the sounds of honking lower brass, was simply awful-some.” Beautiful. Just beautiful. Christmas gift.

 

Um, this is a shame and secret survey filled out by uh, Hari Kari, or Harry Karry, I’m not sure how you pronounce it. Uh, and she is forty-one, straight, raised in a pretty dysfunctional environment, um, was the victim of sexual abuse and never reported it. She writes, “A friend’s mother used to bathe me when I spent the night and very much focused on the vagina. I was six, and wasn’t sure this was wrong. I mentioned to my sister that she would want to give me a bath, and she said, ‘I bet you like the way she gives you baths.’ She was nine.” She’s been physically abused and emotionally abused. She writes, “The only physical abuse i remember was being run over my mother’s boyfriend. It broke my leg. After he was gone, my stepfather didn’t speak to me for about ten years. They are still together, and we have mended our relationship, but I am still very nervous around him and my brother dislikes me because he doesn’t remember the abuse I suffered, only all the acting out I did as a young adult, and I never told him, uh, and I never told him. I resent my sister for leaving me there and moving in with our birth father, because I stayed for fear that he would hurt my brother, who was ten years younger. I didn’t trust him. I have difficulties maintaining relationships, friendships, or romantic, with both men and women. I have a massive fear of abandonment and I dream of it all the time, in one form or another.” Any positive experiences with the abusers? “My stepfather was the full father of my younger brother and was slash is a very good father to him and is managing, uh, and is managing grandfather to my sister’s kids, so I never know how i feel about him. I just know he resented me and my sisters deeply, for a very long time.” Darkest thoughts. “I often think about changing my name and moving far away where nobody would know that I’m a loser. This often leads to thoughts of suicide, although I would never act on it for the fear that my nieces would be mentally harmed.” Deepest secrets. “I have shot crack. I don’t know if most normal people even know you can do that. I’ve held my niece after being awake for three days on a meth binge. I was staying with a boyfriend in Los Angeles when I was seventeen. He broke up with me. His roommate came in the room I was staying in, and had sex with me. I was too timid to say no. I never told anyone. He was twenty-eight, as was my boyfriend, who one time, was my babysitter.” Uh, sexual fantasies most powerful to you. “I think about having sex with two men, most often, sometimes two women with one man. I don’t know, it’s anything unusual.” Um, anything you’d like to say to someone you haven’t been able to? “I wish I could explain to my brother why there was so much animosity between his father and I. I wish my sister would back me up and not pretend everything was fine. I wish my mother would tell my brother that I was abused and neglected, and there are reasons behind my past behaviors.” And what, if anything, do you wish for? “I wish that I could be financially dependent. I wish I didn’t have to borrow money from my parents to pay my bills. I wish I was smarter and stronger. I wish that my sixteen year old niece didn’t inherit these mental disorders that I fear came may have come from me”....Uh, have you shared these things with others? “My mother knows I wish I was more financially independent. She often says this is the cause of my anxiety, almost like she doesn’t know I had panic attacks all night as a child. Uh, she wants an answer and I haven’t been totally open with her about my fears.” How do you feel after writing these things down? “I feel like maybe I made this all up. Maybe this is just my crazy brain. My birth father has confirmed all my memories, but he disappeared about twelve years ago.” I’m so sorry that you had to experience all of that and um, and i’m really sorry that you don’t have a family that supports you, at least, at least for right now. And um, as i recommend to a lot of other people, check out the Rape and Incest National Network, rainn.org, and they’re a great resource for counseling and um, all of the stuff that you described in here, um, are, are the things that, the characteristics, of a sex abuse survivor, um, and I’m sorry, I’m just so sorry that you..don’t have any support right now but there are a ton of people in the world who will love and understand you and validate your experience and your feelings and love you unconditionally and it’s just our job to find them. And that’s honestly, that’s the hardest and scariest part.

 

Uh..The Goblin in the Seventh Story Window writes about her love addiction. “He said a total of twelve sentences to me, ever, and now I view his blog every day, under a web proxy, so he can’t identify my IP address. The last time I saw him was a year ago.” About her PTSD. “Every single loud noise pushes me out of my body.” About living with an abuser. “I come home. He’s in my bedroom, and my underwear drawer is wide open.” I don’t know who he is, but that is fucking uh, I can’t imagine..what that physically, what must go through your body when you walk in, and see that. Um, her other struggles. “I feel like my life is a clogged toilet that just won’t stop flushing. I wake up in the middle of the night perfectly calm, but my body is thrashing around, screaming that we messed up again, and I have to grab hold of her, pacify her, and rock her back to sleep, so that I can go back to sleep too. I’m just trying to map out my life, but I can’t remember almost anything. I know I was aware of what I was doing at the time, but it’s just not there.” And then she paints a snapshot of fifth grade. “I’m in fifth grade. I’m about to put a math assignment away in the folder I keep in the basket under my chair. The next thing I know my teacher and the math specialist approach me and ask to see the assignment. It’s not on my desk. I check in the folder under my chair, it’s not there either. The teachers are getting angry. I empty out my whole desk, check the floor and my bookbag and I cannot find it. They scold me for being careless and walk off, shaking their heads. I’m ashamed of myself, scared of their anger, and confused. I do not know where the assignment went. Things like this have been happening several times a day, for my entire life.”....I can’t imagine. I can’t imagine, what that is like. If you haven’t listened to the episode with Melanie, uh, Melanie R about Dissociative Identity Disorder, um, you might check that one out, um, because, I don’t know if, you know, I’m not a therapist or a psychiatrist, so I don’t know if that’s what you have, but um, if you do, um, Melanie talks about steps she’s taken with her therapist to reintegrate parts of herself, um, I don’t know. I’m certainly not trying to diagnose you. That may be an episode that brings you comfort or is enlightening, or, whatever. And then I’m gonna apologize a third time.

 

This is an awful-some moment filled out by Tom Thompson Came Paddling Past, I’m Pretty Sure It Was Him..Uh..I had to google that because I was like I know that’s got to be a reference to something, and it’s a song lyric from the Canadian Band, Tragically Hip. And she writes, “A few months ago, I made the mistake of not taking my meds for two days. It was an accident, but one of them is Effexor, so it was not great. The first day, which was a Thursday, my apartment building was out of power for almost twenty-four hours, and I didn’t have water, and then I fell asleep for like seven hours, woke up at 2am, and couldn’t fall back asleep. The next day I had to go to work and by the time I got home, I was so tired, I went right to sleep again. By Saturday, I couldn’t get out of bed and I kept saying, after this episode of whatever I’m watching, I’ll get up. I’ll run the dishwasher, I’ll take a shower. I got up to get more water and suddenly felt, such intense sadness. I laid back down in my bed and sobbed harder than I remember sobbing in a long time. I cried so hard I could barely breathe, and I didn’t know why. My poor cat was so confused, and tried to fix things. Tried to fix things by licking my forehead. It was at this moment, that my parents called me for their weekend phone call. I picked up the phone and just bawled into it. My mom, who once told me to stop crying at a funeral, said, ‘I don’t know what’s wrong with you. You were fine last week. I can’t talk to you like this, ‘ and passed the phone to my dad” (stomach growling) Listen to my stomach! “My dad just kind of talked about nothing for a bit and then said, ‘well you sound kind of tired, so I’ll let you go.’ After the call, I made myself get up and shower and when I did, I felt a vertigo sensation and these weird electric tingles all over my body and it dawned on me that i was withdrawing from my meds. I took them, took a shower, downloaded an app to remind me to take them at the same time and then emailed my parents to say I was ok, and not to worry, that I had forgotten to take my meds, and they know, uh I take stuff, and they know I take stuff for my mentals. The next weekend my parents called and I was lying on my bed, hanging out with my cat. I talked to my mom first, who never mentioned anything about my emotional outburst. My dad got on the phone. He talked about his car, and whatever my dad talks about, and then said, ‘Hey, I was meaning to ask, how are your allergies?’ What, I asked. ‘Oh, last week, you were having really bad allergies. Are they better now?’ I said, yes, and then got off the phone as soon as I could. I was lying in my bed, just realizing, that my parents, were in such weird denial, that they wanted to call my shit “allergies”. Allergies! I started laughing so hard that tears started to come down and my cat got up, looked at me in his judgmental cat way, and walked out of the room.” (Chuckle) Thank you for that. That, the level of discomfort some people have, with talking about anything that is emotional, never ceases to amaze me, and it’s just so tragic when it’s parents. It’s so tragic.

 

Um. Fuck You Sunshine writes about her depression. “That feeling you get when you watch someone stand up and do something as simple as wash a dish in the kitchen sink and you think to yourself, where the hell do they get the energy or motivation to do that. Then you think, wow, something’s wrong with me. It’s a freaking dish.” I get it. I remember, when I was at my lowest, one of the things that made me realize that I needed help, was, I remember one time looking at dishes in the sink and thinking, I will put a shotgun in my mouth, before I wash those dishes. Um, snapshot from her life. “Sunshine makes me anxious. Not always, but on days when the weather is especially spectacular, I feel that jolt of anxiety. It starts in my throat and moves downward through my chest, expanding as it spreads outward in a sensation similar to that of drinking ice cold water first thing in the morning, leftover PTSD from all the beautiful days I’ve slept away or wasted. Days spent looking at the outside world through a square glass windowpane outlined in painted, white wood. Seeing the sunlight filtered through green leaves that sway gently in a light breeze, playing peekaboo with that perfect blue sky. Seeing it, but from the inside, seeing it and feeling guilty and anxious for wasting it. Feeling guilty and anxious but still being too tired and hopeless to get out of bed, or off the couch to go outside and enjoy it. My last catatonic depressive episode was two years ago. It’s been a long road, but I feel better than I have in years. Overall, I take care of my physical and mental health. I go to therapy. I fostered and rebuilt relationships with friends. My diet is better and I get outside hiking or rock climbing almost every week. But it’s been sunny and gorgeous for the past five days in a row and the anxiety and guilt are still there. I’ve been going nonstop and I’m fucking exhausted. The scars are deep. Maybe I’ll never be able to truly relax again on a sunny day. Or maybe I’ll move to Seattle.” It is crazy, the things that, that trigger us, and um, yeah, I feel guilty sometimes too on a sunny day, but I don’t know, I don’t know if I could handle the, the clouds in Seattle or Portland, um, but the summer’s there are fucking awesome. Thank you for sharing that.

 

Uh, Doubting My Sanity writes about her bipolar. “Knowing I could get out of the hole if I just had one more drink, scratch ticket, eight ball, and a ten dollar bill.” Snapshot of her life. “Tried to explain to my fiance that by, that by depression, oh, that my depression and anxiety are lifelong struggles for me and seeing his face visibly sink as he realizes, that since he proposed, my depression and anxiety are now his lifelong struggles too.” Comments to make the podcast better. “I’d love to hear from people, maybe shorter segments, that have come from stable homes but are still fucked up. I think it would show people that it’s ok if they had alright upbringings but are still struggling with mental health. That discussion point of giving yourself permission to feel messed up, even if you didn’t have something horrible happen to you. Haven’t heard anything like that on this show before.” Um, actually, we did, a little while ago, I think it was maybe six months ago, with um, Dr. Jonice Webb, J-O-N-I-C-E, and um, she has a book called Running On Empty, and her episode on this podcast is all about emotional neglect, the stuff that’s under the radar, that isn’t traumatic, but it’s, it’s, um, it’s...I don’t think I’ve done another episode that had as many responses and...comforted as many people as that episode did because there are so many people out there who view their emotional and mental struggles as their fault. And, I think when they hear the damage that just emotional neglect can be, from well-meaning parents, it begins to make sense, why they feel the way they do. And it’s not to blame the parent, it’s so that they can, give them, give themselves permission to start feeling the feelings, instead of constantly trying to shut them down. So check it out, Dr. Jonice Webb.

 

Um..My Cat’s Butthool, not hole, hool, writes, uh, a snapshot from ah, her depression. And this one’s actually really to me more about love addiction, even though she doesn’t say it. She writes, “I constantly need attention in my relationship. My supportive and loving boyfriend is so good to me, but when he pays attention to his friends and videogames, I feel shut out and ignored. I feel like I’m needy and annoying. I don’t really have many hobbies and although I have many good friends, I rarely hang out with them and struggle to maintain my own social life, outside of my relationship. So when my boyfriend is doing his own thing, I get upset with him and want him to pay attention to me. I feel selfish and burdensome. And in attempt to fill this emotional void, I sometimes feel in the relationship I have recently been, uh, I sometimes feel in the relationship, oh..sometimes a comma can make all the difference in the world...uh...in an attempt to fill this emotional void I sometimes feel in the relationship, I have been recently talking to a male coworker of mine. We are both fucked up and constantly seek attention from our partners. He has a girlfriend. I guess my coworker and I have recently become emotionally dependent on each other, since it is lacking in our own relationships. My boyfriend recently found out that i was talking to this other person and he was very upset with me. He was so upset, that he even cried, because at one point, I told this other person that I wanted him, when I was drunk. My boyfriend and I made amends, but now everything is back to the way it was before. Right now, he is playing a video game with his best friend, like usual, and I’m laying in the dark, in our bedroom, tempted to text my coworker again. I don’t know what to do. I don’t want this to turn into an emotional affair, but I’m afraid it is too late.” And my thought when I read this, is first of all, you should read the book Facing Love Addiction by Pia Melody and second thing is, um, if you don’t do anything about it, it’s not gonna go away, and um, my opinion - this is not about your, this boyfriend, that this is a pattern that you’re addicted to, because I think you’re probably afraid of emotional intimacy, and the only people that feel safe are the people that are unavailable, either because they’re in another relationship or they’re always distracted, and um, and so it’s like catnip, um, to the person who actually um, is made nauseous, if they eat catnip, but smelling it, is like, you know, fantastic. I am already hating that analogy.

 

This is a shame and secret survey. This is filled out by In The Lost and Found Bin, and she’s gay. She’s in her twenties. She was raised in a pretty dysfunctional environment. She was the victim of sexual abuse and never reported it. She writes, “At my first job, on the first day, I was fifteen, the man who owned the place walked me into the kitchen to show me how to make the tea and forced me against the stove, and shoved his hands down my pants, his hand down my pants. He couldn’t reach anything due to his fat hands and my tight jeans. He tried to fumble with the button on my jeans. In this moment, I ran out of the kitchen and out onto the street. I then walked the seven miles home in hailing rain in a t-shirt because I didn’t grab my coat on the way out. When I got home, my mother screamed at me, wondering why I was home early from the new job and immediately accused me of getting fired for being a stupid piece of shit.”...I have to say, she sounds like a terrific lady. I don’t know why you didn’t hear her out, why you immediately, just, shut down, uh, your mom trying to help, by calling you a stupid piece of shit. What you need to do, is you need to look for the compliment inside the stupid piece of shit. Because inside every piece of shit is a diamond. Uh, yeah, your mom is uh, a sick person. As is that guy. Ah, anyway, continuing, she’s been physically and emotionally abused. And this is, this is one of the reasons I wanted to read this survey, um because this is a classic example, which she writes here, of how we minimize our abuse. And she writes, “I was never badly physically abused. I didn’t get the bruises that I saw on some of my friends at school. But my dad was a big fan of shoving. He’d shove me down and then wait until I’d nearly gotten back on my feet, then shove me down again. And again. And again. And again. Until I could stumble away enough to get to my bedroom and close the door and hold it close, closed. He’d then bust the door down and stand in the doorway screaming so loudly that I’d feel his spit spraying across the room. He’d eventually stop when his voice got hoarse and he couldn’t scream anymore. My mother would just slap me. Sometimes I deserved it Sometimes it would be for quote telling lies about my father’s abuse. There’s more. My parents are heavy drinkers, so assume what you will from that. The rest is pretty much just textbook emotional neglect.” You know what I have to say though, that is fucking amazing, and I see this so rarely, is that somebody who was raised in that kind of abuse, that they didn’t freeze, in that, in that moment. Um, it’s, it’s very unusual and um, it’s not that, not that the trauma wasn’t already done by what that fucking guy did, um, but i just, I found that, that interesting. Um, and I’m just, uh….the image of your dad pushing you down every time you would try to get up is, so heartbreaking. It is so heartbreaking…(long pause) that is just...fuck….and there, and there you say, I was never badly physically abused, I mean that it, that is what our brain does. We go, other people have it worse. And I think the only way to heal, is to really just...see the truth of what it really is and feel it. And mourn it, and cry, and let people love you while you’re doing it. Um…darkest thoughts. “My dad is getting older and isn’t as strong as he used to be. Sometimes I think about how easy it would be to beat the living shit out of him, and he wouldn’t be strong enough to fight me off.” I’m gonna be honest, I think right now, a lot of us are thinking, if you do do that, please take a video and upload it. And I gotta be honest, I would probably use his cries for help as my ringtone. But do not quote me on that. You know, he’s a sick man, and that doesn’t help anything to uh, shut up, stop fucking moralizing, you fuck face, just read the surveys. My DJ voice came for a little visit. Rocking the quad cities, Paul, you’re a piece of shit. Darkest secrets. “I’ve had some addictions, serious addictions in the past. Everyone knows I’m clean now. Occasionally every three to four months, I isolate myself for two to three days and get as fucked up as possible.” I wouldn’t call that clean. Or maybe you mean right now you’re clean. Um, that’s called binge, a binger, that’s what my dad was. Sexual fantasy that’s most powerful to you. “I love it when I have a sexual partner that enjoys being choked, because I love the power I feel from choking them. I am safe as much as one can be in that situation and would never push it too far, but the feeling of power, that I could hurt them, if I wanted to, is like a drug.” Man if you can explore that with somebody who’s willing, and uh, either enjoys it or enjoys you enjoying it, that would be fucking awesome. What, if anything, would you like to say to someone you haven’t been able to? “Dad, you need to stop being such a pussy and get help. Mom, you need to wake the fuck up and form your thoughts, form your own thoughts for once.” Have you shared these things with others? “I’ve mentioned things but will never tell anyone. I would feel like I’m causing drama or asking for help and I hate asking for help.”   You deserve help. You need help. We all do. And there’s no shame in it. And, nothing changes if nothing changes, and you’re worth it. You are worth it. And I would love to see you open up to somebody, um...it’s amazing, how much we can heal, if we uh, find a safe place to share. And let people love us.

 

This is an awful-some moment, filled out by, ah, your guys names..Coopid Stunt. Maybe she means Cupid, but obviously the, Cupid Stunt, ah, she writes, “I got breast implants fifteen years ago when I was a stripper. I hated them from the day I got ‘em and as I got older, they became unbearable with pain and size. Uh the National Health Service (I think she’s British) has refused to remove them, (well she says, NHS, I think it’s National Health Service) has refused to remove them after, after several attempts of asking. I made myself a promise that if I gave it another year, and the answer was still no, I would pop them myself. They said no. I did it. Having complex BPD is absolutely, without a doubt, my superpower of doing extreme, weird things that seem completely rational to me, but leave other people speechless. On the upside, I feel free for the first time in fifteen years. I love my boobies. By the way, I got my hypodermic needles and syringes at the Livestock Farm Store. I ensured that I had a sterile environment and all that. I went to my GP the next day, and got the all clear. Obviously, I had saline implants, and apparently it’s safe for the empty bags to remain. The thing I don’t understand is why my therapists and doctors didn’t believe me when I said I would do it myself.” Thank you for that. And I’m glad you’re, I’m glad you’re ok. Um, and I think we probably would have all enjoyed a video of that as well. Maybe we could have done like a montage of uh, her pushing her dad down, and you doing a titty fountain.

 

Uh..Maha writes about her depression, anxiety, anorexia, and uh, other compulsive behaviors, uh, this is a snapshot from her life. She writes, “When I was sitting in my room with no lights on one afternoon, around six, looking out my window at the sunset, and I thought, I’m bored, maybe I should cut myself again, for no reason, other than that I had nothing better to do. I then realized, how big of a problem my self harm was.” I’m glad you realized that. And, this is, you know, what you just described, just really, uh..I felt it because that is, when I was a kid..that is how my depression would express itself, is, I would lay on my bed in my bedroom and, I don’t really ever remember it, doing it in the summer when it was sunny out, but man, when it would be November, and the sun was just going down, and the grass was brown, um...it, it was just like this...it was like a coma, it, I don’t know how to describe it, but I would, I just remember thinking to myself - You’ve been staring at the light bulb for forty-five minutes, what are you, what are you doing? But something about it felt so soothing. And there’s something too about the fall, that just, when you’re depressed in the fall, that just feels like, it almost feels like you and the weather are, are, have found each other’s eyes from across the room, and you’re and like you’re soulmates, you know, the grey sky, and the blowing leaves, it’s like you can empathize with the leaves, ‘cause you’re like I get it man, I’m tired too, I’m barely hanging on. Look at you, letting go and falling off. I wish I had the guts to.

 

Uh, this is a struggle in a sentence filled out by Therapist About To Be In Therapy, and a snapshot from her life. Her issues are anxiety, alcoholism, love addiction, and uh, snapshot from her life, she writes, “My son, and this happened a few years ago, my son is just five months old, it’s a week before Christmas, and my husband at the time tells me he’s leaving me for another woman twice my age, making twice our income, um” - well normally, it’s for somebody half, half your age, um so at least that parts refreshing. She writes, “Oh wow, I probably should have gone to therapy then, ‘cause perhaps I could have made the past six years of my son’s life better, if I could just stop resenting and hating his father for what he did. Ironically, I’m a mental health therapist helping clients overcome this very thing. Why can’t I just practice what I preach?” And, you know, my thought is, and again, I’m not a therapist, but I did that one time get a smattering of applause one night, doing stand up for drunk people in a town that I can’t remember, so I think I’m qualified to weigh in on this. But my thought is, in my, in my experience being on the you know, uh, the client side of the couch, is, and in support groups, is it was in the support groups of feeling um, the emotional connection to people who shared my story, that allowed me to let go of my resentment, and my anger, and my sadness, and all the negative emotions. I was able to let some of it out, lot of it out in therapy, but the real, real cleaning of it came in in the support groups, uh, because the other thing I had to do in support groups was I had to see my part in things. And until I wrote it down on paper, it was always completely somebody else’s fault. And once I was able to see that I had brought something to the table that was less than ideal, I was able to have some compassion for that person I was resentful at. And to me, in a nutshell, that’s the basis of trying to, trying to be a spiritual person, which is certainly hard, but that’s my two cents.

 

Ah, this is an email I got um, from Dr. Taylor Daw and he writes, “Dear lucky winner, we are pleased to inform you of the result of the computer email balloting system drawn in our online bonanza from the prestigious lotto max anniversary email drawing promotion 2016, an international program held on the first of June, 2016, in United Kingdom, which your email address was attached to the following informations, which consequently won in the second category, and has therefore been approved for a lump sum payment of 850,000 euros which, which payment fall under the Africa regional payment center in Burkina Faso, West Africa, um...I gotta say, once i get this money - the first thing I’m gonna run out and buy is, I’m gonna buy them a period, and a couple of commas, um, but this is very exciting! I mean, I talked about how I need a bigger budget for the podcast, 850,000 euros. If you would just give me a second, I’m just gonna text, uh, Tweet people this, so that they can know how exciting this is...uh..just received 850,000 euros, financial issues are over. Send. Um, oh and then there’s some more. Note, due to mix up of some numbers and names, we ask that you keep your winning information confidential until your claim has been processed and your money remitted to you. This is part of our security protocol to avoid double claiming and unwarranted abuse of this program by some participants. I just lost 850,000 fucking euros...This is very disappointing.

 

I think the only way to soothe myself is reading more surveys, or staring into Herbert’s butthole. I’m gonna read some surveys. Although I have to tell you at this stage, Herbert's butthole is in the uh, I don’t know what the, what was the name we gave it for it, the uh, curtain stage, where you can’t see it. What’d we call it, uh...Shut up and read.

 

This is filled out by a guy who calls himself I Have No Joy And I Must Smile. None of us, none of us can relate to that one! He is straight, he’s in his forties, he was raised in a totally chaotic environment. He was the victim of sexual abuse and never reported it. He writes, “Several times when I was a preteen, ten to twelve, but I might be wrong on the age, while visiting my stepdad’s family overnight, I shared a bed with a young twenty-ish step aunt who convinced me to finger her to orgasm, or I would be forced to sleep on the floor, when, where supposedly roaches roamed. She tried to get me to remove my clothes, but I refused and continued to finger her. Eventually we stopped visiting, except on holidays, where my abuser would act and talk to me as if nothing happened. Later, during my preteen/early teenager years, and while living with my grandmother and an uncle who also lived there, he would forcibly hold me down while fondling my genitals. I wanted to tell someone but he used the threat that I would have to move to another school and would lose all my friends. To me, my friends were my whole life and the thought of losing them, kept me silent. Even to this day, at thirty, I moved away from my hometown and only rarely visit my parents because the thought of going back to that town brings up too many disgusting memories, to the point where I end up staying inside the guest room, not leaving to explore the city I grew up in. To this day, I don’t believe my parents know about the abuse, and I have no interest in telling them. Just staying away from the city is enough to cope with it.” I hope you're talking to somebody about this. I know I sound like a broken record, but um...Have you ever been physically or emotionally abused? “From the ages of twelve to eighteen, I lived with my maternal grandmother. Um..my grandmother was a racist, untrusting, super religious Catholic, who was addicted to Codeine meds, and was very mercurial in her interaction with me.” I’ve got to tell you, she sounds like a great package. She’s a..you’ve got a racist, you got untrusting, you got super religious, for a lot of people, the dream would end there. But she’s also addicted to Codeine meds. And mercurial. That’s five. That’s a five pete. “She would shower affection towards me one minute, then berate me the next, calling me lazy, good-for-nothing, evil, and cursing me out every chance she got. She would put me down when I showed that I had gotten decent grades, which in hindsight is probably because she was uneducated and the thought of someone succeeding in life was unbearable to her. Oftentimes, when we would get into an argument, she would try to taunt me to hit her. I never did because I knew she was doing it so she would, she could immediately call the police on me. Other times after an argument, she would come to my room while I was asleep and sit on the edge of my bed, never speaking. She would do it in the hopes that I would wake up and ask for forgiveness from her. This continued until one night, when I decided to pretend to sleep. She tried to sit on the bed a little harder, thinking that I just wasn’t awake yet. When I refused to respond, she left my room and never tried it again. My final act of defiance towards her was when I was invited to hang with my friends the night before graduation. At first, she was ok with it until she saw that my friends were all white. She then exploded in my face, calling my friends ‘honkies’, and tried to prevent me from joining them. But something snapped in me. Maybe it was the thought of my friends being verbally attacked as opposed to myself, that prompted me, and I told her to fuck off and left her house for the last time, joining my friends, and only explaining the basics to them about my predicament. I went back to my parents’ after the incident, where they informed me that my grandmother had thrown all my stuff out. I never felt more free. Last I heard, she may or may not be homeless, because no one in her family talks to her anymore. I’m not ashamed to admit that a weight seemed to lift from my shoulders thinking about her as a failed human being.” Any positive experiences, with her or any of the abusers? “There were many positive experiences with my grandmother, but it was mainly in service to her own ego. As I consider this question I’ve come to the realization that I was simply a teenage codependent to her chaos and self loathing.” That makes sense to me, um, and for people who are narcissists like your grandmother, um, they can be loving, and, or I should say appear loving and supportive and all that other stuff, when it’s convenient for them, because I then, I think it helps soothe some of the shame that they feel from their outbursts. And um..and they probably can’t see that what kids really need is consistency, you know? Giving ‘em nine days of fucking trauma and chaos and then one day of ice cream, um, does, is not what a, the one day of ice cream does not make up for the uh, the nine days of (sigh)..I’m too tired to come up with a word. Darkest thoughts. “I’ve had violent rape fantasies where I’m the aggressor, and the victim shows the same feelings and facial structure that I probably had while being forced to endure my own abuses. Other times, I’ve had fantasies of being dominated by the opposite sex, then held and caressed by my attacker.” That’s funny, I...when I...confronted what, and I’m sorry if I’m talking about this too much, um..But I, I know the, how important it was to me when other people said ‘me too’, so um, when I finally gave weight to what had happened to me, one of the most powerful fantasies um, because one of the things that my mom did, was she gave, among a host of other things, she gave me a bath that felt really sketchy when I was like eleven or twelve and I felt tricked. But I became aroused, and um, and I just felt, uh, yeah..and when I finally gave weight to all of these things, suddenly I had this intense sexual fantasy of me being that age again, and it being either a different mom, or you know, maybe a girl on the block who was older than me that I had a crush on, um, and they would take it further, and they would bring me to orgasm and then, the last part of the fantasy is, after they teach me how to orgasm, they wrap me in a towel and hold me while I cry. And the imagining the crying, while they hold me, is as powerful a part of the fantasy, as the, you know, getting the hand job or you know whatever you, you want to call it. Um..and here’s another thing that’s similar to what you share. And the vibe of it in my fantasy is that it’s being pretended that it’s not a sexual thing, that this is very clinical, this is how your body works, I’m not enjoying this. Because that was the, the vibe that I got from my mom, was that this was just her doing her motherly duties and um, and so, it’s..it’s just interesting how related to the original abuse our fantasies can be sometimes. How much it’s us wanting to get in a time machine and go back and have a redo, but have control, you know, by choosing the details of it, you know, which to me is a form of control..um..Darkest secrets. “Once I fondled my younger brother’s ears by placing my lips on them from behind. To this day, I don’t know why I did this as opposed to doing something more invasive, but I felt, uh, hold on one second, ashamed and horrified. He didn’t react because his focus was completely tuned in on the video game he was playing, so I quietly went back to my room and never spoke about it again.” Hey, for a kid that been through what you’ve been through, um, that, dude. If that’s your darkest secret, good on you. Sexual fantasies most powerful to you. “Having a harem where there’s a field of women who worship me and do any sexual act I demand of them. This makes me concerned because I feel that this is a reflection of the codependency relationship I had with my grandmother, but now, i would be in the position of power. It makes me sad and hopeless for my future.” Oh, buddy, don’t. Do not. That’s your brain’s way of trying to cope. Fuckin’ enjoy it! Enjoy it! You know, unless it becomes an obsession that is robbing other areas of your life, fucking explore it, you know? Have your partner wear a veil, uh, you know, uh, what, I don’t know what goes on in a harem, roast a pig? Uh, you know, do something, but um, do not, do not beat yourself up about that man. You just, you just sound like such a beautiful, sensitive man and I just want to give you a hug. Um..what if anything, would you like to say to someone you haven’t been able to? “I have a friend that has wanted to know what happened to me back in my past and I’ve wanted to tell her everything, but convinced myself that all I’m doing is unloading on someone who's already had enough burdens on their plate and I’m old enough that I should have had these issues resolved by now. I’m only bullshitting myself, I know, but that’s how I justify it.” Why don’t you try writing it down, maybe taking some kind of baby step, um...or as I’ve mentioned before to other people...get this episode, queue it up to the part where I start reading your survey, and play it for them. Um..what if anything do you wish for? “A loving relationship with a woman who I can be comfortable sharing my past with. I wish I could believe that there are women who are attracted to me and not convince myself there’s something wrong with them for being attracted to me.” Dude, that’s that is so common, for those of us. It’s so hard. And then, the one’s that do, like us, then we, we look at them like what’s the matter with you? How could you, how could settle for this? And then, you know, sometimes we lose their respect. It’s why healing is so important. Um..have you shared these things with others? “Yes, once during a conversation with a friend I jokingly mentioned that I haven’t had sex in several years and she chuckled and said that made her sad. I continued to laugh but I hurt inside and vowed to not share these things with others.” Oh dude, there’s so many of us survivors that go long stretches of time, some people it’s decades, without having sex again. Um..how do you feel after writing these things down? “Not much different. I’ve come to terms with my situation awhile back. I’m sure things would be different if I were saying this to my friends as opposed to being an anonymous person doing a survey. My guess is that I’ll end up a bawling baby from the release I would get from that conversation.” And that would be awesome man. That would be awesome. And somebody could hold you. And you could cry. And it would be just like that thing that sexually, you’re longing for, but not in a sexual contact, context, that...thank you for that. Thank you. And I hope you, I hope you get to hear me read that because I’d like to, I’d like to hear from you.

 

Um..this is an awful-some moment filled out by, I don’t know if it’s Kersten, or Kersteen, and she writes, “First appointment with a therapist, I think it went well. She gave me some homework. I have to write down when my boundaries are crossed, when I do stuff I don’t actually want to do, and work on structure, get up at the same time every day, go swimming at least once a week. Most importantly she told that no one does anything to me, I let them do it. We arranged a new appointment in a week, and I was on my way to face the world.” By the way, I would say that there are some exceptions to that, if you were being mugged, or robbed, or raped, or something like that but, yes, if you’re talking about everyday life to life little things, yes, I would agree with that. We arranged, stop trying to control the world Paul, way to go Paul, “We arranged a new appointment in a week and I was on my way to face the world, feeling a little lighter. Two hundred meters from the clinic, I run into somebody from the Danish Heart Foundation and this guy wants me to sign up for monthly donations. I’m a student on a tight budget and tell him, uh, tell him so. He understands, but talks me into giving a one way donation, even though I don’t actually want to. Not even ten minutes after my first appointment, I’ve already done something I didn’t want to. I laughed all the way home.” That’s so awesome. And that’s such an important part of us getting better is, uh, how did somebody say it one time, taking your recovery seriously but not taking yourself seriously.

 

This is a happy moment filled out by Pinky, and she writes, “I came home and found my old cat sleeping at the foot of my bed, completely relaxed. She woke up and greeted me. I petted her and touching that silky fur, I realized that yes, there are still reasons for me to stay alive. Another one? Yesterday, I was walking in the park where I used to go with my ex-lover who dumped me suddenly a year ago. The park was so beautiful the way the old trees are in late summer. The weather was warm and it felt good to walk all by myself and I walked past the bench where we kissed last summer and seeing that place didn’t hurt so bad anymore. It was just a sad, but sweet memory.” I love moments like that man. I love the little ones. The little ones that just uh…

 

The Sad Brains Hotel and Resort (I love you guys) writes about his dysthymia. “I didn’t realize until very recently that it has silently sucked all the little details out of my life. Smells, sensations, little joys, the satisfaction of self care. It’s fucked.” About his anxiety. “It feels like the yawning chasm in my chest is trying to give birth to the boulder in the pit of my stomach.” That is beautiful. Um..and dude, I get both of them. Although I don’t experience the physical anxiety the way people do but the depression one, and it doesn’t have to stay that way. Just keep trying. Any ideas to make the, oh no, snapshot from his life. “I was feeling so alone in the middle of a huge event in the center of my city one night that I was simultaneously furious at all the people out having fun with their friends, and feeling so exposed and self conscious, that I completely disconnected from my body. The thought of taking the train home filled my head with such disgust and anxiety, that I walked the ten miles home and didn’t even feel tired or sore afterwards. Just sad, angry, and lonely. My three friends in this whole stupid world.” Any comments to make the podcast better? “Take the opportunity for a guitar solo, now and then. Melt some faces.” I think you’re right. I think you’re right. I just have to figure out a key, that I’m gonna shred, that I’m gonna shred in. And I want to grow my hair out a little bit. And I want to tease it, I think that’s a given. I’m gonna use a full can of hairspray, uh, find some leopard Spandex pants, let my gut hang just a little bit over the spandex (laughter) would not be a problem. Then find a nice lady shirt that’s a little too small for me, and um, fucking lay into it. Lay into some uh..some tired blues riffs, oh yeah, over distorted, over compressed, way too much echo. Fuck yeah. That is, by the way, there is nothing I hate more than hair metal. Nothing.

 

Crafty writes about her depression. “Socializing feels like being on stage, with a full audience and screwing up all my lines/music/whatever.” About her anxiety. “Even though I already know that I worry too much, I still fill my brains with worst case scenarios because if I don’t think them, they will certainly come true.” That’s great. Thank you Crafty.

 

This is a happy moment from Chunky Munchkin, and she writes “After a suicide on my college campus I decided to start an Out of the Darkness walk. This was close to me because I’ve lost family members to suicide and made multiple attempts myself. A ton of work went into this. For months leading up to the walk, we would sit in the dining halls and advertise the walk. People would come up and thank me for starting the walk and share their connection with the cause. But the best feeling, was one day, this guy walks by and holds up his arm/fist. Of course, my mind automatically went to the worst. Is this guy threatening me? What is his problem? And then I realized, he was showing me that he was wearing the rubber cause bracelets I had given out at the tables months before. That single moment of solidarity and proof that something I did had stuck, filled me with joy I can’t even describe. That this was making a difference. I was making a difference.” Ah that’s so beautiful. And to me, like, those are the moments that, that I live for now, are the ones that just tell that part of my brain that’s always trying to tell me - you blew it, you wasted time, you made the wrong decisions, your future’s fucked - when I do those things, those nice things, that, give me a feeling of meaning and purpose, that mean part of my brain shuts up. And that to me, is like, the goal. That is the goal. She also has a struggle in a sentence and she writes about her depression. Post-partum depression. “Sitting on my bed, bleeding, naked, trying to get the hang of breastfeeding, feeling like a cow, and tears dripping on my son’s face because I can’t stop crying.” Wow. That is..wow, I think Ivy just said it all. Wow, that is a picture man. I can’t imagine how overwhelming that must feel...Wow. Thank you. And then about her bulimia. “Sitting outside in the grass, in the pitch black dark, puking in a bag, so that no one will hear, see or find the evidence.” Um..and then this snapshot from her life (she was sex crime victim), she writes “After reporting, I filed for compensation for counseling through my state’s office of victim services. Two months later, I got a letter saying ‘we have found you are not a victim of a crime’. Shit. Even the victim services people are denying my repeated sexual assaults.” Yep, again, Ivy weighing in. Um, that’s the best, you know, I understand shit can fall through cracks in a bureaucracy, and that something that is fucking horrifying can sometimes not have enough evidence for it to be considered a crime, or prosecutable, but to, for them to use such insensitive language like that is just mind-boggling, um..you know, I would be interested in knowing what state this is and maybe starting some type of Twitter campaign or something to bring attention to how damaging that is to a survivor to..well..we, we know that um, what happened to you is real and valid and um, but that still sucks.

 

Ah this is a shame and secret survey filled out by Snoozed, Losed and she is straight, in her thirties, raised in a pretty dysfunctional environment. She was the victim of sexual abuse and never reported it and she writes, “About ten years ago, while having drinks with my brother, I started telling him about a time that our mother, while changing me, while changing me, pulled down my stockings and reached up, in between my thighs and touched me. She laughed and told me that every girl has a tickle button and continued to touch me there to see if I would giggle too. It only just then dawned on me how perverse that was, and years later, how it affected my sexual development. Ever since then, I have loathed my femininity. I’ve never felt comfortable being alone with my mother, or with sex. I was three years old at the time and it’s the first memory that I can remember from childhood, when this world suddenly became a very uncomfortable and untrustworthy place.” And by the way, if it seems like I have just purposely um, you know um, lopsided the surveys tonight, with ones where there are um, female perpetrators, believe it or not, this is in the span of, I’d say this survey gets taken maybe three, four times a day, this is just in the span of going through maybe ten surveys, the ones I’ve read today, so this is to let you know how common these things are. This is just a random, consecutive picking from about a dozen surveys, these shame and secrets ones, I think I’m reading six, maybe, today? And yes, I do have that self critical part of myself that is worried that you’re gonna judge me based on the surveys that I choose and that I have some type of uh, you know..whatever, yeah, my head is a..busy place. Um, and I’ve mentioned before to people who have been sexually abused by their mothers that I know of a, and participate in a group that we started, for those of us who have experienced that, and if you’d like more information, um, email me. Ever been physically or emotionally abused? She’s been emotionally abused. “My parents were very religious Christians. Even though my mother molested me as toddler, I still had to ‘honor’ her, by putting up with her passive aggression and manipulation. I had to concede to round after round of fruitless, round of reconciliation counseling until I got past uh, my anger towards her. Because I refused to suffer through that painful and frustrating experience again, my father emancipated me from the family last year, and yet they continue to reach out to me on birthdays. When I was a child, the only thing I ever wanted was to be an actress. My mother auditioned me for her theatre company, but rejected me because I was ‘too insecure’”. Wow. Your mom’s ability to project is masterful. “I was eight years old. Thirty years later, after a ten year career in film and TV, my mother told me she still thought I was untalented and would never make it. Even though she has my headshot up in her office and brags to her coworkers about me whenever I’m on TV. Even though my parents made me and my brother sign contracts when we were fifteen and sixteen declaring that they were unfit to parent us, so we had to care for ourselves, they make me feel bad for not wanting to spend time with them on holidays. I could go on, but then I’d have nothing left for my novel.” Darkest thoughts. “I fear that I am a poisonous toxin in every relationship I get into. I can’t keep a job for more than eight months, a relationship for more than a couple of years, and a pet for more than a few weeks. I feel like I am justified in severing these relationships, but deep down, I feel like I am crazy and irrational and will never be able to commit to anything meaningful.” Darkest secrets. “It was Christmastime and I was anxious about going home. To cope, I drank a bottle of wine, and then ate a handful of laxatives that I used to purge out of guilt after starving myself for days on a religious fast. I felt I’d failed. I woke up from a blackout and ran to the bathroom to relieve myself, only to blackout again, hitting my head on the doorknob as I went down. I immediately went into a seizure, then my body went cold and still as I felt my heart slow down then stop. The wind left my lungs and the only thing I remember thinking is - perfect love casts out fear - and that my body literally willed itself to life as I vowed to figure out, out, that, what the hell that meant. My heart started pumping, heat returned to my bones and I crawled back to my bed to sleep, waking up hours later with a splitting headache, a bruised eye, but otherwise ok.” And that’s as far as she got in the survey. Thank you.

 

You know, I was always knew that there was sadism in the world, and I don’t mean, I’m not equating the sadism that is in people’s sexual fantasies. I’m talking about the sadism that is inflicted on people who are vulnerable. I always knew that it existed in the world, but until I started doing this show, I never realized the extent of it. Um..

 

This is a happy moment (thank God) filled out by Scout, and Scout is gender fluid and they write, “I’ve been having a rough couple of months. I just graduated high school, I’m out of a job, and I’m struggling with depression and what I believe is avoidant personality disorder. But a few weeks ago, I was visiting my older sister and her family, who I don’t get to see very often because we live so far apart. One day we were driving to town together to go have dinner and she put me in charge of the music so I started blasting Sublime’s Caress Me Down, um, I started blasting Sublime. Caress Me Down came up on the playlist and she and I just started belting out the lyrics as we rode down the twisting country roads on the way to the city. The wind was funneling past us as we both sang out in Spanish at the top of our lungs. And for the first time in several months, I felt free. I felt like I was home. And like nothing except Sublime and being myself mattered. When the song ended, we kept singing Sublime songs all the way into town until Santeria ended right as we parked to go have dinner together. It was one of the greatest moments I’ve ever had. Last night, in the middle of a panic attack, she texted me to tell me that she was thinking about that moment, and about how much fun she had, and I started crying even harder, but now, out of happiness. My sister is an absolute blessing in my life and I don’t know what I’d do without her.” That is so awesome that you have, that, Ivy is doing a lot of, a lot of contributing tonight. That is just such a beautiful survey, thank you for that. That just..It’s nice to have the upbeat palate cleansers after the uh, all the dark stuff. And you know what I really like to is I like when you guys, and I’m not asking you to do this, but I love when you send me emails letting me know that you, I don't know if enjoy is the right word, but this the heavy surveys um, don’t turn you off from, from listening, because I worry. I could say about what, but let’s just leave it at, I worry. I worry about everything. But I worry that I’m losing listeners because I’m, you know, I make the show too heavy. But this is the stuff that I want to talk about and it’s my podcast so go fuck yourself. Haven’t said it in awhile. I feel a little dust came out of my mouth when I just said that.

 

Um, Paranoid Anxiety Guy writes about his OCD. “At night you feel guilty and irresponsible for lying down in bed, even after spending thirty minutes checking the apartment. Even after all that checking, something might still be on or unlocked and you’re gonna suffer financially. Possibly, to the point of homeless. Now it’s time to check both alarm clocks for a few minutes.” That, that has to be a handful, man. I know all mental illnesses are, but, um, I don’t think I’ve ever really had that kind of checking, double checking OCD.

 

Oh My God My Sentences Are Way Too Long, I’m A Worthless Failure writes about her anxiety. “Listening to the podcast on my phone and the moment Paul pauses in the middle of a sentence and I freeze in complete terror, that I’m actually gonna get a phone call.” Yeah. I get that man. That. that feeling like when you’re listening to something and all of a sudden it fades out, and you’re like motherfucker, responsibility, I thought I had escaped your clutches! Snapshot from her life. “Hiding that I drink from my parents even though I’m twenty-two and they would most likely be fine with it. But I have to be the perfect child, the one that doesn’t cause trouble.” Here’s a suggestion. If you’re afraid that they’re going to judge you for it, here’s what you do. You say, hey mom and dad, would you mind if I went onto the front lawn and took a huge shit? And they’re probably gonna say - yeah. And then say, Ok, well how bout if I just open a bottle of wine. See, and then it won’t seem so bad. I’ve never tried that. Actually, you know what, that’s what they used to do in the early days of Saturday Night Live. Actually, I’m sure they probably still do it, is they, when they would write a joke in that they knew was too edgy for the censors, they would write something before it that was a hundred times worse, that they never expected to get in there and so the censor would cut the first one out, and then let the one that they actually wanted, in, uh, after that. So that’s what I was kind of going for. I don’t know. Put in whatever your inappropriate thing is, uh, you know, take a shit, uh, what else is there? Wack off, take a shit? There’s gotta be a third thing. I was gonna put down a band by saying, I don’t wanna take down bands I don’t like. I’ll take down a genre. Fuck hair metal.

 

This is a happy moment from Sullen Artist and she writes “I’ve been sewing for about three months and I made a beautiful gathered rectangle skirt for myself. With the fabric leftover, I made a matching one for my two year old niece. I tried it on her, and she refused to take it off the rest of the day because she loved it so much. I’ve never felt so proud of anything i’ve made before until I saw her cute little smile when she saw that we matched.” That’s beautiful That is beautiful. Any comments to make the podcast better? “I think the forum could be utilized more.” Um, I cannot disagree with that. If you have suggestions on ways that the forum, um, I suppose the reason that I don’t utilize it more is I can't even keep up with reading the surveys, and sorting through them, and organizing them, and picking which sections of them I’m going to read, so um..yes, so that’s, if you have any suggestions, send them to me.

 

Chelsea writes about her depression. “I would have the same emotional response to someone throwing me a birthday party and someone shooting a nail through my hand with a nail gun.” That is awesome. Snapshot from her life. “A couple of months ago I knew I needed to eat dinner and really wanted waffles with maple syrup. I hadn’t purchased maple syrup for myself, probably ever, actually. I went to the store specifically for those items and was walking around, syrup bottle in hand and had to pause in one of the aisles, because I was filled with so much panic and guilt, that I was about to burst into tears. This definitely wasn’t the first time I’ve nearly cried in a grocery store. As an aside, I did buy the syrup and I did eat the waffles. Eating disorder recovery win that time.” Um, which made me think that, there’s gotta be, somebody should, I’m sure there are other people that panic when they’re in grocery stores. I’ve read dozens of surveys of people that have had panic attacks in grocery stores. So maybe somebody profit on this, by coming up with a guide for uh, panic attacks out in public. Maybe call it The Anxious Shopper, or uh, yeah. Write down what’s the best aisle to get to, if you’re gonna have a panic attack. Which I think, personally, would be where the marshmallows are, ‘cause then you kneel down, they’re usually down low, you kneel down low and you just squeeze the fuck out of them, until that uh, until that panic goes away. Or um, maybe you go to the chicken rotisserie and uh, you try to ride it like a Ferris Wheel, which of course you’ll fail at, but you’ll be concentrating so hard on trying to ride it, you’ll forget about your problems. Again, I’m not a therapist, but I did, speaking of chicken, I did cook chicken on basic cable, for sixteen years. And I would sometimes put gel in my hair, which, has gotta count for something. You could also have The Depressed Shopper, now that, I could contribute to. Actually that would be a very, very short guide to shopping. It would either be, don’t leave house, uh, the house, or it doesn’t matter what aisle you go and lay down in, because none of it fucking matters anyway. I didn’t need to add that fuck, that last fuck was really gratuitous.

 

Slug Complex writes about her depression and anxiety. She gives us a snapshot of her life. “My daughter’s getting married next month. I want to give myself the option of not going, because two people who raped me will be honored guests there, my mother and my ex-husband. I’m going, but it will make me physically sick, and probably take weeks to recover. I love my daughter.” I’m so sorry. And again, I did not cherry pick these um, these surveys to make it look like, you know, disproportionately um..but there is a part of me that feels comfort when I read, um, well, of course, you know I’m sad and I’m angry that the other person had to experience that, but there’s a part of me that feels like I found my tribe. And, I know that probably sounds fucked up, but I think others, survivors, understand that. Because we’ve been alone in our heads, with shame, for so much of our lives. And confused. Confused about: Did they really mean it? What were they thinking? Is it that bad? Am I exaggerating? Should I have done this? What if I did that? Um, yeah. So when you find somebody else who’s experience, and you realize, oh, yeah, they have so many similarities to me in terms of our issues, and how we feel about ourselves, and how we question that day, or days, um...It’s about so much more than just the traumatic act that happened. Or acts, in many of our situations. But um, I don’t know if you’re the same person that wrote about the..I think there was another person in here, um, ‘cause I mentioned the support group. Same for you, if you would like to know how to get in, be connected with that support group, email me.

 

This is a struggle in a sentence, filled out by, I don’t know how you pronounce it, X-A-N-N-I, Xanni, um, Xanni is trans-male and writes about his depression. “My bed is my best friend. My brain is my worst bully.” That is a t-shirt. That is a fucking t-shirt. My bed is my best friend, on the front and my brain is my worst bully, on the back. Yeah. I’ve got to get these t-shirts together. I told you were working on one or two Herbert ones. Um, I wish somebody was keeping track of all the struggle in a sentence, or just any excerpts that would be good t-shirts, ‘cause we need to open a t-shirt store. Uh, about her, his PTSD.. “Getting triggered into a panic attack from hearing people talk in panicked voices in the other room, only to find out it was because of a sports game.” Snapshot from his life. “One time at my boyfriend’s house, I got really drunk on way too much whiskey and punched myself for hours until he got home and held me down.” I’m hoping that holding you down was to keep you from punching yourself more. “I felt so guilty that his parents might think he hit me from all the bruises, so I tried to hide my face from them for a week. Later on, I cut the shit out of my arms. I felt out of control with self hate and anguish, like a fire in my gut, burning myself from the inside out. I just wanted to punish myself for not being a normal, perfect girl. For not being who anyone really wanted in their life.” (Sigh) Sending you some love Xannie. Any comments that make the podcast better? “More episodes like the lady who was in the Belgian child sex ring. I like hearing the really dark and fucked up stories.” And I like hearing that other people feel the way I do, although like, I feel bad using the word like, but there’s, I’m drawn to, is that a more acceptable verb? Let’s see. We..you know what, I’m just gonna read, I had one more shame and secret survey, that it's just too long, and I don’t, I don’t feel like um..reading it. And uh, it’s another one in that uh, the vein of the other ones. It’s uh, a female babysitter who abused a girl and I think we’ve heard enough of those today and my voice is getting tired. Why am I explaining it to you? Why don’t I just, why don’t I just pick it up, and move it aside…

 

This is a happy moment filled out by Lavender. And you know, end the show on something by Lavender. And she writes, “I recently left an emotionally abusive home for college. Last night I walked out of the theatre after a spoken word poetry performance by one of my favorite poets. It was raining heavily, the kind of rain that sounds like thousands of tiny soldiers running across the pavement. Every so often, the sky lit up with lightning. The thunder jolted my heart. I stopped, staring up at the sky, feeling the raindrops hitting my skin. I grew up in California, so the novelty of water coming from the sky hasn’t worn off yet. For the first time in many years, I felt so much. I could feel the emotions bubbling up inside me. I realized that I had escaped. And that I could start to heal now. I thought of everything I’ve been through to get to this point. When I was a little girl, at some point, I must have stopped seeing a future for myself. Sometimes it’s more painful to think of how much better things could get. Sometimes it feels safer and better to just think about the moment. Hope is a dangerous thing when you’ve been abused. I always expected to be dead by eighteen. But here I was, standing in the rain, feeling so much and seeing a future ahead of me. The rain soaking into my shoes and hair didn’t matter. Neither did the lightning or the scared squeals of my classmates. And then the thought came to me. I made it. I survived. And in that moment, I felt so god damned ALIVE.” (And alive is in all capital letters)....You know what I love about you guys? You always give me something that’s just the perfect thing to end on. Actually, sometimes it’s hard to pick one, because so many of them, are just so inspiring but, um, I think we hit the..yeah, we uh, we hit Herbert’s butthole mark. We did 180 minutes. We’re at 181:50 uh, right now, and uh, I hope you enjoyed or got something out of our episode, um.. If you’re struggling, I hope you can get the courage to ask for help and um, it could be the best thing you ever did and I know it’s scary, we know it’s scary, those of us that have reached out for help, but, things can get better, um, and just never forget that you are not alone, and thanks for listening.

 

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