Obsessive & Secret World of Classical Musicians – Ben Turner

Obsessive & Secret World of Classical Musicians – Ben Turner

The Australian professional trombonist shares about the mental, emotional and logistical rigors of making a living as a classical musician and some insights into what drove him (and his peers) to such obsessive lengths. We get a peek behind the curtain into the dysfunction and sickness that can fester in such a high-pressure workplace and the poor coping mechanisms used by people who were raised to stuff emotions and just achieve to receive love. We touch on depression, anxiety, therapy, people pleasing, perfectionism, numbness and difficulty with intimacy. Turns out Mozart in the Jungle and Whiplash are not that far off.

Check out Ben’s podcast Double Depresso
https://omny.fm/shows/double-depresso-podcast

Ben’s Twitter handle is @DepressoPodcast

This episode is sponsored by BetterHelp online counseling. To experience a free week go to www.BetterHelp.com/mental and fill out a questionnaire. Must be 18

This episode is sponsored by the Scott Alan Turner podcast. For a free audiobook and to hear the strategies he used to achieve financial independence and how he learned to handle and save money, go to www.ScottAlanTurner.com/happy

This episode is sponsored by ZipRecruiter To post jobs for free go to www.ZipRecruiter.com/first

To become a monthly donor (for as little as $1/month) and get free bonus content from Paul go to www.Patreon.com/mentalpod

Episode:

Play

Episode notes:

Check out Ben's podcast Double Depresso
https://omny.fm/shows/double-depresso-podcast

Ben's Twitter handle is @DepressoPodcast

This episode is sponsored by BetterHelp online counseling. To experience a free week go to www.BetterHelp.com/mental and fill out a questionnaire. Must be 18

This episode is sponsored by the Scott Alan Turner podcast. For a free audiobook and to hear the strategies he used to achieve financial independence and how he learned to handle and save money, go to www.ScottAlanTurner.com/happy

This episode is sponsored by ZipRecruiter To post jobs for free go to www.ZipRecruiter.com/first

To become a monthly donor (for as little as $1/month) and get free bonus content from Paul go to www.Patreon.com/mentalpod

Episode Transcript:

Transcription services donated by Accurate Secretarial LLC. You can find them at www.AccurateSecretarial.com.

 

Welcome to Episode 332 with my guest Ben Turner. We're going to talk about the stress of being a classical musician.

Support for today's episode comes from the Scott Alan Turner Show. Scott is the financial rock star who went from a money moron at age 22 to a successful self-made man with financial independence years later by using the same ideas that he shares on his show. He'll help you get out of debt faster, save more money and reach your financial goals. You can get his bestselling book on audio book for free by visiting ScottAlanTurner.com/happy.

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 a therapist. It's not a doctor's office. It's more like a waiting room that doesn't suck.

The Web site for this show is Mentalpod.com. Go there, check it out. Fill out a survey. Maybe we'll read your survey on the podcast. They're completely anonymous. We don't even get your IP address. So, share, we want you to share everything that you are comfortable sharing. And it's a big part of this show, those of you that are new to it, about half of this show is the interview with the guest and the other half of the show is me reading people's divulging their inner lives through the surveys.

It has been a tough week since, since the last I talked to you. It's been about, I think about 10 days since Herbert died, and it's gotten a tiny bit easier, but it's still really fucking hard. You know, those of you that are really big dog lovers, who have lost a pet, know what it's like, and it's just like every little thing reminds you of something that you're never going to have again.

The first thought that occurred to me, you know, because the way, as I shared last week, I found out was I was on the plane home from overseas, and I like to make it sound like I was on military duty, I got the news, and so I had, I hadn't seen Herbert in like three weeks, and we didn't, it was not something that was expected. He was towards the end of his life, but it was not something, we expected that we would see like a slow, visible decline and be prepared for it.

So, when my wife told me through text and I saw it on the plane, the first feeling that hit me was that I didn't get to say good-bye, like I did with our previous dog, Charlie, who died in, actually we put down in '03. And as painful as that was, there was still some type of closure by being able to kiss her face and, you know, the last minutes and be prepared for it, but the feeling that I've been battling with Herbert is that I didn't get that chance to [chuckles], it sounds so stupid, but to tell him I loved him one more time and to kiss his face. And I know to him I was, honestly, probably just a vending machine for treats, but let me have my fantasy.

George Carlin used to do a bit about how when you're eating a bag of cookies sometimes you'll think there's one more cookie left and then you realize you've eaten the last cookie and you don't get to savor that last cookie, that's what it feels like with Herbert, but times about a million.

And I got a call from the vet that his ashes are ready, and that's just such a, it's so weird to go from this animal that is such a big part of your life, with such a distinct personality, that you talk about every day, that you see almost every day, that makes you feel something so strong emotionally, to, you know, his ashes are ready to be picked up. It's just so weird. It's so weird.

But thankfully, my, I don't know if I call her wife or ex-wife, we're going to a mediator tomorrow to work out the details of our divorce, and I guess it's a lot, it's a lot emotionally to be going through these two things at the same time, and if it wasn't for my support groups, meditation and all that other stuff that I do, I don't know what I would be like.

I can't even imagine if I wasn't sober, what it would be like going through these things, but the kindness of the e-mails that you guys have sent and posted on Facebook and stuff like that has been really, really touching, and I haven't posted anything about Herbert on Facebook. I don't know, that just feels, I don't know. But I did mention to the people who are monthly donors, I did post on the Patreon site a little tribute, a video tribute to Herbert. It's about five minutes long. But that's only for Patreon, there's no way on PayPal to give monthly donors little freebies like that.

Anyway, this is an e-mail I want to read. This was filled out by Maria Cisneros, and somebody had mentioned in a previous episode that they, aren't we enabling people by not rigorously defining what is PTSD. This person who had written was, you know, trying to put forward the idea that, you know, we're letting too many people in the door just because they say they have PTSD, and I got this e-mail response to that from Maria Cisneros, and I just love it.

She writes, I just heard Episode 327 and I had to stop and write to you when a woman wrote an e-mail in regards to PTSD. I'm a patient with depression, generalized anxiety disorder with panic and PTSD. Interestingly enough, I was part of a team of neuroscientists at the National Depression Center at University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, who published a scientific article about PTSD.

I ran the study and was very involved, so I have a bit of knowledge about PTSD. First of all, PTSD, as the name entails, is trauma-based. Who determines trauma? The person suffering or struggling with it. Trauma can't be defined, not even by scientists researching this by an outsider. PTSD is diagnosed when any trauma interferes with a patient's ability to cope with life.

I am terribly enraged at that woman's comment. Although she definitely has the right to have an opinion, where her opinion is not warranted, it's not relevant. When she states that, quote, we need to define certain traumas that may seem more trivial from the outside, the ones that decide whether it's trauma, is the person that went through it.

For research and diagnostic purposes of patients other than herself her opinion of what she considers should be trauma or not is irrelevant. The reason why right now we don't subcategorize or categorize PTSD for so many cases is because it meets criteria established by professionals and researchers who created guidelines such as the DSM in the USA and the ICD for the rest of the world. Sorry for the rant, but that's my two cents.

Thank you for so beautifully putting into words what I think so many of us wanted to rebut with. And as you guys know, BetterHelp is an online counseling service that I personally use. They're a sponsor of the show. And I got an e-mail from Brie, a woman named Brie, and, no, I got an e-mail from the cheese brie, and I asked her if I could read this on air and she said I could.

So, she wrote, I wanted to thank you. I started using BetterHelp. I didn't mesh well with the first counselor I was matched with, but asking for a different counselor on their site is easy and discreet. The second therapist I was matched with has been working really well. I love the idea of BetterHelp because half of my struggle of going to therapy is finding someone affordable, close to home, making the time to go there, and that they are a therapist that meshes well with your needs.

With BetterHelp, the phone call sessions are amazing because I was even able to have a session on a stressful travel week. It means that if and when I move I don't need to go through the struggle of finding another therapist and catching them up-to-speed of where I'm at. I don't think I would have found BetterHelp if it weren't for your podcast. Thank you so much for that.

And those of you that are interested in checking out BetterHelp, it's, and you can do it either through messages with them. You can do it through phone. You can do it through face-to-face video. So, or all of the above. And the Web site to do it is BetterHelp.com/mental. And make sure you go to that one because otherwise they won't know you're a listener and it's important that they know you're coming from having heard it on the podcast because then they'll continue to sponsor the show.

So, it's BetterHelp.com/mental. Fill out a questionnaire. They'll match you up with a BetterHelp.com counselor, and then you can experience a free week of counseling to see if online counseling is right for you. And you've got to be over 18.

And then finally, I want to read this little Awfulsome Moment filled out by a woman who calls herself Living the Dream, and she writes, Dad calls and says, I found a piece of paper that has your name, then RAINN.org, but I don't know what that means. I say, it's for the Rape and Incest National Network. That Web site has a lot of good articles I asked you guys to read. I gave that Web site to you last October when we talked.

Silence. You know, about what happened to me as a kid. Dad says, oh, yeah, I think we looked at it then. So, did you see what's happening in China with those dogs?

 

[Show intro]

 

PAUL: I'm here with Ben Turner. We're in Berlin, but you're an Aussie and you are a classical musician.

 

BEN: Yes, yep.

 

PAUL: And we've had many requests to talk about the pressures of the classical music world, and I'm so glad that you got a hold of me. And we were able to bond over schnitzel tonight, which was really, well, you had sausages and a pretzel--

 

BEN: One of the best ways to bond, yeah, if it's a--

 

[Chuckling]

 

PAUL: It is. I had to cut the conversation off when we were having dinner because I wanted to save a lot of it for us talking right now. There's so, I have so many questions.

Let's talk about your childhood a little bit before we get to all the mental pressures of classical music and doing it professionally and all of that stuff. You were raised in what part of Australia?

 

BEN: In Melbourne.

 

PAUL: Mm-hmm.

 

BEN: Mm-hmm, yeah. And, yeah, well, I guess growing up in Australia is always a, oh, it's an interesting experience having lived here now for a little while, because you just get to see it in a bit of a different light, not that I've been here for that long, but you maybe look back on the differences here compared to the differences there. And--

 

PAUL: In the musical world or just in general?

 

BEN: In general, in general, I think, growing up in particular, you know, growing up as a kid in Australia, we have such a focus on, like on, it's a sporty kind of country, so there's always a bit of chat about, oh, you know, when you're just in general growing up as a young kid, like, oh, what sport are you playing, what are you doing this, and that seems to be a bit of the, oh, I think the dialogue.

I mean, I think one of my, I guess, concerns with Australia at the moment, for kids growing up, is that it really, you only ever really talk about either buying a house, because property is pretty expensive in Australia at the moment, or you just talk about the football or whatever sport is going on during that week, you know, so it was a very superficial upbringing I think I had and I grew up in a household that would be emotionally barren.

I think it was a lot of emotions that I felt were not necessarily validated in a whole bunch of different situations, but I link it back to talking about sport, because I think that's probably part of the reason how I got into playing trombone, so I think that's pretty important to talk about.

So, I, yeah, I played, yeah, I played a lot of sports in sort of my, between the ages of, you know, like eight to 18, a lot of Australian football, which I'm not sure if you've seen what it is. It's a, every time I talk to somebody who's not from Australia, it's always a bit of a strange like explanation of how do I explain what it is, like the combination of like, oh, yeah, it's like volleyball with like kind of like a gridiron or, but like without the pads, but more volleyball, yeah, so like always this weird trying to explain what it is.

And I played a lot of cricket and, but, and I think I was, I think I got into these sports, I think, a lot of because, a lot of the reason was because my dad was like a state-level track sprinter, so he was very sort of big on, you know, and played a lot of football as well. So he was, you know, you've got to get, you've got to get into the sport, you've got to, you know, you've got to play a little football because that's a big thing--

 

PAUL: So you definitely felt pressure there.

 

BEN: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And it wasn't that I didn't like playing sport. I mean, there were a lot of moments where I think I really, you know, there was a lot of sort of happy moments within it, but I felt a lot, I think especially playing something like cricket, I've never, ever felt so nervous. That was probably one of the first memories I can remember of extreme anxiety about going out to bat, you know, and then facing somebody who's about to throw like a, just like a rock-hard brick at your head.

 

PAUL: Dude, I got the same thing playing, I hated batting.

 

BEN: Yeah.

 

PAUL: I loved fielding. I hated batting.

 

BEN: Yeah, yeah. And this was, I just remember at the time never being able to work out like, why am I so nervous? Is this something that like, it's just I couldn't put my finger on it. And I think, I remember vaguely bringing it up to my parents and I was just freaking out about this whole thing, and I think I had similar feelings with football but that's a bit different, but this situation of just being like you're, someone is about to throw a ball at you, like, and you're the one there facing it, so how do you--

 

PAUL: Somebody who's not really good at it--

 

BEN: Yeah [chuckles].

 

PAUL: --and is just hitting puberty and getting muscles.

 

BEN: Yeah, yeah. It was a really bizarre experience to try and process, you know, at that age. But, look, I had a childhood that wasn't like overly traumatic per se, but, you know, there were situations where I felt a lot of numbness or just I, that it wasn't so much, the status quo was always sort of something that was more appropriate in my family.

And so--

 

PAUL: So it was more of an absence of something than trauma.

 

BEN: Yeah. Yeah, exactly right. And I think as I, at the same time I had, it's kind of funny how I got into trombone because I guess at the same time I just, I sort of fell into it by sort of following a friend into like, oh, I really want, like they wanted to play trumpet, so like, oh, I want to play trumpet, too, and there were too many in the school band, so they're going to put you on trombone instead. So I said, yeah, okay, whatever.

 

PAUL: A lot of people get into trombone to just get girls off their back.

 

BEN: [Chuckles] Absolutely, yeah. And--

 

[Chuckling]

 

BEN: Usually because you're in the, like poking them in their face with the back of the trombone, so [chuckles].

But the, so it was, at that time when I started, it was really something that was, it was in the background of, I think sport was sort of the primary focus for me in sort of early high school, middle high school. And over time, I'd found that, yeah, sport wasn't for me, doing something sort of longer term sport-related really wasn't going to be for me, and so that sort of started to drop away and I really wanted to just quit. So I, I just don't want to do this anymore.

And so I remember, and at the same time, it was sort of an inverse like correlation of that I, I started to be a little bit more evolved with playing trombone in the school bands and stuff like that, and I remember doing lots of different trips with the school bands and stuff and I always had lots of fun with that.

And so, but I think I remember at that time, as the sport sort of dropped away, I think I was just desperately seeking some sort of identity because all the kids around me were like, you know, focusing on football or focusing on this or academic stuff or whatever, and the school I went to was probably more of a sporty-academic kind of school. So, if you weren't doing one of those two things or had your eye on one of those two things, what are you doing?

So, at the time I think it was more of a, how I became sort of more connected to playing trombone in a more serious way, was that this is, I need to find some sort of identity. It was like a desperation of like, what am I going to do if I, because I, you know, like the, I think I sort of, I think I felt sort of parental pressure, like at 14, 15, 16, about, what are you going to do as a career, what's your career plans? And which I think, as someone who had previously not been able to express a lot of emotion before, like, well, how do I put that out into words that I can put to, yeah, how do I process that, you know, how do--

 

PAUL: So, would it be fair to say, then, that in your family it was assumed that you should always be moving towards something and not being still.

 

BEN: Yeah, yeah. It was very much a future, a projecting-the-future kind of--

 

PAUL: Wow. That will do a number on a kid.

 

BEN: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And it was something that I, I was always projecting so far ahead, as in like, well, you know, we start to fantasize about, like, well, what is it going to be, escape fantasies of what your career is going to be like, oh, yeah, that's what it's going to be like in 10 years' time, 20 years' time or something like that, so you'd have these weird, yeah, I guess dreams of what you think you could do with playing music or sport.

So, I guess by about sort of 17, 18, I think that was at a time where I thought, look, this is going, this trombone thing is going okay, like I sort of was still trying to work out, well, what, I mean, I think generally a lot of people get into playing, well, initially, it's probably important to point out that I didn't actually get into playing classical music until I went to college, or like at first year of university. I sort of started playing jazz primarily first. And--

 

PAUL: Did you have any favorite trombone players when you started?

 

BEN: Ooh, yeah, I mean--

 

PAUL: I would imagine Dixieland is hugely like the root of a lot of--

 

BEN: Yeah? Yeah, I mean, well--

 

PAUL: --people that are into jazz and play trumpet, or am I just--

 

BEN: Yeah, I mean, well, it just depends on what you're into. There's so many different corners of it. But, I mean, I listened to lots of people like Urbie Green and Tommy Dorsey and, which are famous sort of jazz trombone names, if anybody's aware of them, but yeah, that was sort of, I think those were the people that sort of initially piqued my interest about that sound.

I think I'm someone who's particularly interested in sound as a whole, so that I think it wasn't just about, oh, like, I like this piece of music or whatever. I really, there was something in the sound, and I think that's also what then ended up bringing me to bass trombone, so I specifically play bass trombone.

 

PAUL: What drew you specifically to that, though, versus the higher-register trombone?

 

BEN: Yeah. I liked, there was something about the lower--

 

PAUL: The gravity--

 

BEN: --the depth, yeah, yeah. I don't know, like it's, there's something about the depth and the warmth--

 

PAUL: You like making people's balls rumble.

 

[Chuckling]

 

BEN: Yeah. The brown note, I think.

 

PAUL: Yeah [chuckles].

 

BEN: And so, yeah, I had, and then probably around about sort of the 17, 18 age, I had quite a lot of success at competitions with it as well, so sort of solo competitions and things where I had, let's just say, certain school competitions that sort of featured different people or whatever, I had a lot of success with and sort of, I don't know, it gave me, I guess, that situation of big-fish-in-a-small-pond type sort of thing, so you're thinking, oh, okay, now this is, this is the thing I've been looking for, this is the identity, this is the one, and--

 

PAUL: Hold that thought. How was it received at home when you would win these?

 

BEN: Yeah. Well, this is interesting, because I think that it was like, ah, good, that's the career now, now you're on to something, and, because this, I'm not from a musical family at all, so there were no, nobody in my family. It's quite a small family, but like nobody in my family has had any experience in the entertainment or music industries.

 

PAUL: One of them had a radio, though, correct?

 

[Chuckling]

 

BEN: Yeah, yeah.

 

PAUL: So you had a foot in the business.

 

BEN: Yeah, yeah. There was a speaker in the house, one speaker.

And, but I think it was, and I think a lot of what my, the things that I deal with have a lot to do with having, trying to find people who just understand what's going on, or find similar people who like, who just get it, you know. And so I think that was something when, that I was, after sort of maybe having success with these sort of things, maybe I was looking for more validation. And I think that sort of pushed me into, their reaction maybe I was looking for some sort of sense of constant gratification--

 

PAUL: Will there be more of this--

 

BEN: Yeah, will there be more of this because--

 

PAUL: --if I keep practicing?

 

BEN: Yeah, yeah, absolutely, yeah. And so, from that, you begin to get obsessed with it, oh, this is the success I've been looking for and this is where the, where it's got to be and, you know, this is where I'm going to go, I'm going to do these concerts and stuff like that, I'm going to go study music, yeah, I'm going to go study the blowing down the tube, yeah. And like [chuckles], which when you put it that way, it's just, yeah, I don't know, but it's, yeah.

 

PAUL: What percentage of people who do classical music professionally or at least semiprofessionally do you think got into it because of a just flat-out love of music or the instrument versus people where that was put into their life by a parent who just believed the kids always need to be doing something and always achieving something?

 

BEN: It's a very good question. Oh, less than 20, 20 to 30 percent, I think there's, it's really hard to put a finger on it, but I really think, you know, in the Australian education system as well, unfortunately, it does have its issues with how music is introduced, because I think obviously it's a great thing, but it's like, it's how you introduce it in a way that's not academic, approached academically, so you're, okay, now you've got to do this exam and now you've got to do this exam and--

 

PAUL: Which is the worst way to do it.

 

BEN: Yeah, yeah. And I think, unfortunately, that's like almost the only system that I guess non-musical parents identify with if they have their kids in a music program at a school, and I also, we'll get to this later, but I also was teaching music after I finished studying and that was also just sort of realizing how the system works as a teacher and then having, not being able to show that lack of, show that creativity for the students when the parents are asking you, so when is the next exam for their, so they're coming at it from a position of assessments and all this sort of stuff, without the, what music do you actually like to listen to, what do you like to play, you know.

And I think that's something that is really I think around the world, you know, for music education, is really such a big problem because I think there are so many people getting into it for the wrong reasons, or parents who are pushing their kids into it for the wrong reasons, that it's they've heard so much about how great it is for their math skills and all that sort of stuff that, you know, that it's really, and, yeah, I'll talk about this a little later, but with how, you know, because the schools are trying to make a buck from the, you know, from the parents because they want to expand their music programs, so they don't really care how the kids get into the music program, as long as the music program is making money and so on.

 

PAUL: For every parent that pushes a kid into classical music, one therapist finds a profession, so it's actually a beautiful thing.

 

BEN: Yeah [chuckles]. Yeah, yeah, it's just--

 

PAUL: They're like seeds, just dropping and growing new therapists.

 

BEN: Absolutely, I can imagine, yeah. And so, yeah, I think in, towards the end of, yeah, high school, I was thinking, well, this is it, this is going to be the thing, I'm going to go study music, where can I go in Australia where that's going to be--

 

PAUL: Was there a sense of connection to pieces of music where you would feel, you know, moved or, you know, the guitarist Duane Allman used to say, you know that something is worth working on more, you know, when you're working on a riff or something, when you get chicken skin, do you know what I mean?

 

BEN: Yep, yeah, yeah.

 

PAUL: And would you ever have moments like that with a piece of music, where you really felt inspiration, you felt connected to the piece of music and/or your instrument, or was it always I'm pushing towards the goal of working in an orchestra and having visibility and success?

 

BEN: Yeah, that's a good question because I think a lot of the music, and actually this is a bit of a problem with classical music, is that to maybe understand the feelings that you're supposed to have when you're listening to the music, or you apparently have had to have read some description before you listen to it and herein lies the problem with, because as an audience-goer, the audience doesn't like to be told how to listen to something.

And that's a bit of a problem with a lot of classical music, because like, yes, there are some composers who write music that something might click with you that is, I really like a chord or some sort of playing that really appeals, but a lot of it implies that you, oh, you have to have some sort of, if you don't understand what's really, do you get this piece, do you understand what this is trying to convey, you know, all that sort of wankery that is a little, it's, but I think that at the time, I guess at that time, about sort of 16, 17, 18, I think coming back to that sound thing, it wasn't necessarily a piece of music for me that actually ended up me sort of getting into it. It was more just like, there was something about the energy and about the--

 

PAUL: The vibration.

 

BEN: Yeah, the energy and the sound that really sort of drew me rather than just like, oh, because, you know, you don't want to have, like because I think a lot of the, oh, you hear of a prodigy child that have like, oh, he just heard Bach for the first time and he was just, ever since, he's locked in for life.

 

PAUL: The pretense that you must have to wade through--

 

[Chuckling]

 

BEN: Yeah.

 

PAUL: --must be mind-blowing.

 

BEN: Yeah, yeah. And that's also a bit of a, I guess a mis-, like, well, what do, a lot of people assume, do you only listen to classical music, or do you only like, absolutely not. Like I, I can't not just listen, if I just listened to classical music, I mean, it's just like, you know, it would be just like me working at a newspaper and only reading that newspaper, of that newspaper. Like you just, you know, you're just, it just, it doesn't work like that.

And so, yeah, I think there are a lot of, yeah, misunderstandings, I guess, about why people get into classical music.

 

PAUL: Was also a part of the attraction being a part of a larger machine and being able to feel and sense your part in carrying a countermelody or opening up the sonic space by carrying the bottom end or however you would phrase it?

 

BEN: Yeah, yeah. Well, I don't, well, I guess I play an instrument that doesn't necessarily have a lot of melody to play, so, which can always be a bit interesting because you're just trying to, I guess, you know, if you're someone who's really trying to find your voice with music, then, you know, 10 years down the track, if you realize you haven't picked the right instrument, you know, you can't just go, oh, well, I guess I'll start this one now. Like, it's a little bit of a, you know, you've got to lock yourself in for a little while.

But yeah, I think it's, I do really like the teamwork of it, and I think that's something that's moved on from the sports side of things as well. I think that I, an orchestra is a team at the end of the day, and I don't just play in orchestras. I play in smaller things as well. But like, you have to be a part of the team for it to work.

So, yeah, it's a real, I guess that's something that drew me to this, like this living and breathing thing that is an orchestra because there are so many parts to it and everybody's there trying to put it together and not make it sound like surgery or something like that, you know, so it's just, it's a really interesting just mechanism of how it all comes together, but to not make it sound like a mechanism.

 

PAUL: What would make a bass trombonist the best or, you know, stand out? Is there a tone or a timbre that they can get from their instrument? Or is it the volume? What goes into that?

 

BEN: Yeah, well, I think it's a bit of a paradox because I think the goal is, is that you're not trying to sound like a bass trombonist, so it's sort of like you want to sound not like a piece of plumbing, that you want to sound like something like that, yes, you are playing a piece of plumbing, but you want to sound like a violinist or a cellist.

 

PAUL: I see.

 

BEN: So, it's really like a conceptual thing that you're going a little bit beyond the piece of tubing in your hand--

 

PAUL: I see.

 

BEN: --yeah, so like how you can--

 

PAUL: So it might depend on the piece of music where you're going to fit--

 

BEN: Yeah.

 

PAUL: --in for that passage.

 

BEN: Yeah, that's right. Yeah, so I think, yeah, I mean, a lot of it comes down to deciding what kind of sound you want to make and what, and then associating that sound with, well, how does that make me a musician then as well?

So like, but this also, then, leads into, well, then does that sound and this musicianship also then make my entire identity? Is that who I am, just as a person, entirely? Like so, inevitably, if I fuck up or if I have some sort of failure, does that mean I also maybe am not worthy to do anything anymore now, you know, so--

 

PAUL: I don't want to get pigeonholed as the guy that sounds like a fart underwater.

 

BEN: Yeah, yeah. And I've had plenty of farts underwater, so.

 

[Chuckling]

 

BEN: And I think that's something, just going back to this nervousness as well, you know, that like performing in front of thousands of people, you know, like at the Opera House in Sydney or something like this, and you're playing something very exposed or like some sort of solo thing like that, and then this crazy mind battle of you're holding a tube in your hand, you're going to convince thousands of people in front of you that you're not just about to make a fart sound and then walk off a stage and they've just paid 100 bucks to see you play that fart sound through, so it's--

 

[Chuckling]

 

BEN: Yeah, and it, and I have shanked the shit out of some notes in front of people, and--

 

PAUL: To the point where you think they noticed?

 

BEN: Oh, yeah. But it's just this, just some of the re-, I look back at some of the reactions of this overthinking and just, when I've been lost in thought after some of these situations, and over time I've gotten better to deal with it, but like, when I was studying and, you know, a few years back, and then just fucking something up in front of people who apparently mean something for your career, and then it just, I just, you finish the concert, you get through it and you have to get out of there, can't look at anybody in the eye, I can't look anybody in the eye--

 

PAUL: It's the worst.

 

BEN: --getting the fuck out of there and--

 

PAUL: Well, I don't know about playing music, but when you have a bad comedy show. I call it the hoop skirt, where nobody comes like within a six-foot diameter and they pretend that they don't know that you're there, so none of you have to recognize the shit that you just filled the room with.

 

BEN: Oh, yeah. And yeah, and then you just don't know how to, you go home and then, you know, you're like, I'm just going to get into bed, I'm just going to go to bed, and then you're just, you're replaying that one fuck-up in your head all night long--

 

PAUL: [Chuckles]

 

BEN: --one little split-fart sound and you, oh. And yeah, it can be a real mind battle, and there are--

 

PAUL: Now, like would the conductor look at you when that happens?

 

BEN: I've had some funny looks, yeah [chuckles]--

 

PAUL: Oh. Other musicians, have you had--

 

BEN: Oh, yeah, yeah. And the--

 

PAUL: They probably find it funny, though.

 

BEN: But this is it, this it is. Like, and I think this is the problem, I guess, where a lot of people just push it down, like it didn't happen, move on, and then like nobody wants to talk about it, so if you go to a colleague and ask, so tell me about some of the gigs you've done before, like, oh, yeah, they actually went okay, they were all cool, you know, they won't mention the disastrous clanger that somebody's played.

And I look, yeah, and some of those clangers have been sort of under different circumstances, which I'll talk about. But I guess this whole idea of overthinking, a lot of the result afterwards, and before, because just waiting for that like, and playing bass trombone, there's a lot of counting bars rest, so, you know, which is always a bit funny in an orchestra where you've got a violin or two that's got about six million notes and they're sitting away, grinding away, and you get paid, not the concertmaster, but you get paid around about the same as they do, and I've got about six notes to their six million--

 

[Chuckling]

 

BEN: So, if you mess up one, probably you won't, yeah--

 

PAUL: Oh, my God.

 

BEN: So, the pressure is on. The pressure is on.

 

PAUL: Oh, my God. I have to go to the bathroom just hearing that.

 

BEN: Yeah, yeah. So, you know, it's a real, you know, and just some very interesting pieces of music where you've just got all these bars rest in symphonies and you've just got two notes at the end or something like that, and then, like in a movement, and it's just, it's, I guess that's the funny thing about classical music, where, you know, the triangle player at the back has got one ting at the back and that's it.

 

PAUL: Right.

 

BEN: So, but I think, for me, I just developed this people-pleasing mentality, I have to please everybody sitting around me, the colleagues around me or teachers, because if I don't, if I don't please them, then like, oh--

 

PAUL: Where's my worth?

 

BEN: Yeah, yeah. What am I doing here, you know? And to go to, so when I finished high school, going to, I moved to Sydney to study because at the time I think that was where one of the best teachers was, and then that was a good place to go at the time. I think throughout sort of those latter years of high school, I think I was sort of like pushing down a whole lot of depression that was covered by a level of anxiety that was driving me to practice trombone to pursue trombone-related stuff, so, that I didn't really realize until quite a bit later on.

But the, going to Sydney and studying music full time in a music school, and we mentioned this earlier about like some of the parallels I find with something like Whiplash, the movie Whiplash, and that even, yes, it does have a bit of a Hollywood twist to it, but there are some real elements in that to the power that a music teacher has, because if you study a music degree, a performance music degree, most of the direction is with just one other teacher and just you, so it's a one-on-one type experience, most of the course, yeah, most of the course, with other things--

 

PAUL: And it's subjective.

 

BEN: Yeah, yeah. So, you have this one person who is theoretically directing you for your career, like this is what you've got to do and this is what, and this is what I say, what I say is has to be right, you've got to follow what I say. And that, you start to question, well, you have to, you start to question, well, like is everything they say correct, like about everything, about life or whatever, like are they some sort of, like put on a pedestal above everybody else or, you know, and studying, yeah, these music schools as well, there are some very interesting social situations as well.

Everybody's there because they obviously think the music is bigger than them. Otherwise they wouldn't be there doing it to that level. And so you, the obsession that goes with trying to please, trying to please your teacher, please the other musicians so maybe you'll form a group or something like that, and just the hours that you spend in a practice room by yourself to try and get better and better and better and prepare for the next audition here, the next audition there.

But I found that just that isolation of practice meant that maybe you didn't necessarily have the time with other people to really talk about stuff at all, like, or have proper conversations, yeah, which led to, I think for me, having some really sort of bizarre like social situations, whether it be like things like relationships initially where like, just the level of unconsciousness that I had in a relation-, a long-term-ish relationship that I had, was in while I was studying, that just the stupid things that I would so while stuck in the grip of the obsession of practicing the music, so just sort of taking out shit on the girl I was going out with and stuff like that, just like, just that you're taken over by that sort of love of the music and that you're like, whatever, you know, like you're blocking out the rest of the world.

And then just--

 

PAUL: And then you can also justify it as you don't want me to succeed in my career. You probably can't see that they are just trying to get you to have some balance in your life, but you think that they're, I don't know, jealous of your success or they don't want you to be successful, and you probably can't even see that.

 

BEN: Yeah, yeah, yeah. And it's just so, there are so many musicians I know who are just lost in the grip of the music and just this obsession for a better gig. So even ones, even musicians who are already in a position maybe somewhere with, there would be, people would kill for some of the gigs that these particular musicians are getting, but it's still not enough. It's never enough.

And that's also the mentality I guess with pursuing a classical music career, is that it should never really be enough, that you're always looking for that next level up, the next level up and the next level up, and it just keeps going, going, and that--

 

PAUL: Now, if I can just interject, I would agree if you're talking about trying to improve your technique and be more, you know, connected to music, but in terms of the results of the work that you're doing and trying to achieve, that, to me, is where the sickness comes in.

 

BEN: Correct, yeah. That's right, and you're just looking for just the recognition, you know--

 

PAUL: Right, right.

 

BEN: --you're like, I can't wait to see people that look and, you know, look what I did, look what I got, look, I just got this position in this thing or this thing, you know. And I think the first, my first feeling about, look, something is a bit strange about how, what the norm was for student classical musicians was when I just, some of the, it's very common I guess when you're a student, you do a lot of these sort of orchestra tours and orchestra camps and things like that. And doing some of these orchestra tours and camps where there was just this just immense alcoholism, just a really, really intense drinking. This is in Australia, so, yes, we have it all, you know, drinking problems.

No, but we, it's, I remember a situation where, so usually you would have like, before you go to a rehearsal, you were preparing a program for one week and you'd have rehearsal in the morning, and being brass nerds, you'd have like a warm-up in the morning and do kind of like nerdy things that you would do when you play trombone, before you actually play in the rehearsal.

And I remember just the, I remember just some of the, because we're all staying together in different, like a complex of flats where you would all stay together and then go down to the rehearsals, that it was very common to just have drinks after rehearsals the night before or whatever. And then--

 

J: And you're roughly how old?

 

BEN: This would be, you know, between the ages of like 18 to 22, 23, yeah, so college age, yeah. And, but I remember just the, just having these just horrendous nights on the drink, just really, just sucking the cans dry and then just realizing that, the next morning, going down to the warm-ups in the morning, and you're carrying your trombone down to the warm-ups and you meet the teacher who's taking the warm-ups for the morning, and I remember pulling out, I had about like two hours' sleep, I'd just rolled out of bed, gone down there, and I couldn't make a s-, my lips were so, I was like so dry and swollen from the night before, I couldn't make a sound on the mouthpiece.

 

[Chuckling]

 

BEN: Amongst the other trombonists who were there, so there was only like, there were only two other trombonists there, so it was just like a bit of a trombone war, but I couldn't get a sound out because I was still hung over as fuck from the night before, from the three hours before.

And then just sort of sitting there, and then just this dread of like, just doom, of like, what am I doing? Because a well-respected teacher sitting in front of you, just like, like, you know, who is, you know, a mentor figure, and just sitting there, I just remember sitting there, just thinking like, and just like I could not work out, like why did I do, why am I doing this? And then having to just power through, and this was in the summer.

A lot of these things happen in the summer, the tours and camps, and it just being really, really fucking hot and then you're just dehydrated and you've barely slept, getting through a rehearsal and all that sort of stuff, and you're just sitting there like it, just like the world has ended, like you're just rethinking every life choice you've made, while standing to go to the bathroom every hour to sort that out [chuckles], but it was--

 

PAUL: And it's fair to say that a lot of the other people also kind of in that same boat with you, hung over?

 

BEN: Yeah, yeah. And it was just something about, well, why are we doing it? Like, what's the point, because, and I guess the initial social interactions, we couldn't talk to each other at all like unless we sort of had a few drinks. Like, not everybody, but like we'd finish rehearsal, now we'll go to the pub and then we'll talk and then--

 

PAUL: Exactly.

 

BEN: Yeah. It wasn't a, yeah, so you had this very sort of strange social vibe of like, well, I don't know if really we're talking about anything here, and then when we are, it's because we've got beer goggles on, you know, so it's just a, yeah.

Just many situations of bizarre sort of, yeah, nights where things were, you know, lots of just like, this was also something that ended up leading into things like relationships where I, just working out like what is actually like a real relationship with someone else when you're just having such rampant nights, like just drinking so much around all these different other people because I found like there's quite a lot of like promiscuity on these types of camps and stuff as well, so there was just a lot of, which would be something you just have to think, oh, yeah, well, you know, we're band nerds so it just, it never happens, right, you know, so it was just sort of the stereotype that, you know, like, oh, this is all cool, right, because it doesn't happen.

 

[Chuckling]

 

BEN: But I think it really sort of screwed up my ability to have a sort of, maybe a proper relationship or talk through, or communicate in a relationship, because I, I think at the time I was, this obsession with either the music and then the subsequent party after the music, would really override anything else.

And then the, in this, I guess it took that relationship ending in a pretty sort of dramatic way in that I had, like it was like a long-distance relationship. That was also something where, you know, I wove that into me being stuck in my head about, thinking about performances and practicing, that being neurotic in a relationship and then sort of pointing everything on her rather than addressing any of my own issues was something that was, it was the easy way out for me, and then--

 

PAUL: When the relationship ended, did somebody hit a triangle?

 

[Chuckling]

 

BEN: Yeah. And applause. And yeah, and that was a real, this was towards the end of the studying experience, but just, that was a real wake-up call as to, well, what have I really been doing in four years of music study with my ability to communicate with other people.

And then that was a point in time where I really started to look about, well, how do I, how is this pursuit of a music career, is it really worth ruining lots of friendships and relationships or to achieve what, like what am I getting out of it? Yes, I'm sort of overseas career or whatever or anything like that.

And that was where I was just, when that relationship ended, I just, I had no idea what to do. Just I, this was, I was still in Sydney. I just couldn't even get out of bed. I was basically in the fetal position in my house, trying to work out to proceed. Like, that was, and at the time realizing that, oh, I'm actually quite, I was quite codependent. That was sort of what was keeping me going and that I hadn't really, yeah, I hadn't really encountered or addressed any of the things that I was actually dealing with or any of the issues that I had.

 

PAUL: Would it be fair to say at this point in your life you didn't even really know what it is that you liked?

 

BEN: Correct, yeah. Yeah, that it was all like I, I think it was all a bit of a--

 

PAUL: Should--

 

BEN: Yeah.

 

PAUL: --like, here's what I should be doing?

 

BEN: Yeah, yeah. And this comes back, I guess, to the whole teacher, the one professor or teacher that you have that is telling you, this is what you should be going for, this is your, this is the career that you should be looking after.

And for anybody that doesn't know what the Australian orchestra world is like, it's such a small world, so there are basically seven or eight orchestras in Australia, and if you play something where there's only one in an orchestra, if you play bass trombone or something like this, there are eight jobs in the whole country for what you do. And that's it.

 

PAUL: Wow.

 

BEN: And which are pretty much all full at the moment. So, you know, you--

 

PAUL: And then how many bass trombonists would there be that you would be competing for these eight gigs?

 

BEN: Yeah, well, that's actually the interesting thing to know, is during, while I was still in Australia, there have only been two auditions for positions the whole time that I was actually around playing in more serious sense.

 

PAUL: Which was how long?

 

BEN: Oh, this was from, I guess from the time of 18 till when I left, so about five years of being, yeah, I guess professionally playing--

 

PAUL: Two auditions in five years.

 

BEN: Yes. Two auditions in five years.

 

PAUL: Is it fair to say--

 

BEN: [Chuckles]

 

PAUL: --at that rehearsal hall there was diarrhea?

 

BEN: Oh, but just people who, anybody who'd ever just picked up a bass trombone was just there, because they're like--

 

PAUL: Why not?

 

BEN: Yeah, why not? And, but just this, yeah, fear, absolute fear that, yeah. And then also putting so much weight on the outcome, it's like, if I could only get this position, like then everything would be good. Like then--

 

PAUL: Then I'd be able to relax.

 

BEN: Yeah, then I can live, now I can live, now I can start my life, after the long quest is over.

 

PAUL: Like my friend Joey said to me when I showed him a picture of me on the summit of a mountain, he said, and when Paul got up there, did he find Daddy's love?

 

[Chuckling]

 

BEN: Yeah. Oh, and, and it's, it's also fair to say that, if you took a poll of a lot of orchestral musicians around the world, a lot of them, it's not the happiest career in the world as well. Like, orchestras are not for every classical musician as well.

And--

 

PAUL: What else would they do, I mean, other than a quartet or--

 

BEN: Yeah, so chamber music, you play smaller things. And teaching, which I had a dip into teaching, and realized at the time I probably wasn't a good mix to be a teacher then.

Like, I have so much respect for teachers because I had a lot of great teachers growing up, but I realized, in a city like Sydney, that is so expensive to live in at the moment, you have a lot of music students who are finishing their degrees and then just they, maybe they want to do a lot of performing, but they're getting into teaching for the wrong reasons. They're doing it because they need to pay bills and they're not, it's not because they have 100% passion for teaching music. It's because they just, that's, you have a music degree, yeah, you can do that.

 

PAUL: I think sometimes the best information, though, is passed along by people semi-interested in what they're doing.

 

BEN: Yeah, that's right--

 

PAUL: Looking out the window while they give you important information.

 

BEN: Oh, yeah, absolutely. And so, yeah, this was an interesting time. This whole relationship breakdown was the first situation where I realized I needed to talk to somebody, I needed to get help, I needed to work out because I couldn't, I couldn't talk, I hadn't talked about emotions with my parents. You know, I didn't feel like I could bring it to the foreground.

And the weight of just, the amount that I had pushed down, deep, deep down, that was, this one situation had just sort of opened the floodgates to, ah, maybe I'm not the person I thought I was, and that was when I started talking with a therapist and said, look, have you ever talked with a trombonist before? And she said, no.

And [chuckles], there's always a first time, and but, yeah, being able to realize that like the, because I think initially this growing up in some way that is so, well, what I thought was, well, I should probably just keep my parents happy, just keep the status quo, you know, soothe the parents, soothe the parents, it's going to be fine, was the way to go, and then realizing that being able to just say what I'm feeling to somebody else and have somebody listen, just actually have somebody listen to you was so important. It was just like, and just share the mistakes that I've made or all that sort of stuff.

And this, it was just, the first time I think that I, because I don't think I'd ever actually had a proper conversation about mental health or mental illness at all with anybody, an in-depth conversation, so because I guess in Australia, like the dialogue is better, but it's still a little bit like the English, like stiff-upper-lip kind of thing, more or less. Like, it's better, but it's still got a long way to go with the types of conversations that people are having, particularly in the arts.

 

PAUL: Do you recall the vibe of that therapist, and as you opened up what you were saying and what it felt like?

 

BEN: Oh, yeah, well, it was just like a, it's going to be okay, like you can, it was just so like a, I'm not being judged, there's no judgment about what I'm saying and that it was like, it was just someone who, like you could see it in their eyes. It was something about their eyes. Like, it's really hard to sort of put a word to it, but it was just something about the way in which they were sitting and listening without it being like a, okay, now you're going to do this and tell me to do this, it wasn't such a directional thing.

 

PAUL: Was it more like they gave you an additional perspective on the importance of these failures or successes that you thought were life and death?

 

BEN: Absolutely, yeah. I think it was just that my mind, like being able to work out, my mind wasn't the fact about--

 

PAUL: Right.

 

BEN: --this wasn't the fact, like this success that you're looking forward to is really not what is going to give you some sort of perfect life or the mistakes that you've made. I'm going to determine the [inaudible] that you've had.

 

PAUL: It seems like in the absence of having conversations about emotions with kids, their default is to grow up into adults who extrapolate and exaggerate into the future and rarely with it being anything that is moderate. It's either grandiosity or abject failure.

 

BEN: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. And I think this was something with the colleagues that I was working with or, like they were also sort of feeding the, like you've got this audition coming up, how are you feeling about this audition that's coming up, and they'd know when the other auditions were coming up, and you, being able to be aware of the way that they were talking to you and that it wasn't all about them and, and this sort of leads to the amount of narcissism in classical music, I guess.

 

PAUL: Back up and, I didn't really understand what you said. When they're asking how is something going, other musicians would be saying to you--

 

BEN: Yeah, yeah.

 

PAUL: --you know, you're gearing up for this audition.

 

BEN: Yeah, so sorry. What I meant to say here is that, so generally if you're doing, if you're working in a city on a freelance basis, you're working in a professional orchestra but you don't have the full-time position, the full job. You're replacing somebody for one gig or one program.

 

PAUL: I see.

 

BEN: And so you would have the time with the people who are the full-time members of the orchestra and who would also know when specific jobs are coming up, auditions, and they would know about it and they would ask you, how's your preparation going for it, even though this preparation, like this might be six months away or a year away, and they're like, that job's coming up in Melbourne, do you know about it, and like, yeah, in 12 months, yeah [chuckles], so it's like . . .

 

PAUL: Do you feel like that's coming from a place of not altruistic or . . .

 

BEN: Yeah, well, I think--

 

PAUL: Or is just like that's their, the best kind of small talk they can do, or what, what's their intent, do you think? Is it, is their intent good?

 

BEN: Well, I think there is quite a bit of an age gap, I guess, and so I'm not sure whether or not it was a generational thing, I guess, with like, well, we've got our jobs, when are you going to get yours, you know, and I think this is something where I, yeah, as we said, talking about looking for that Mount Everest moment in a career, where a lot of these particular musicians who had gotten the jobs, who had gotten those jobs specifically because they had looked for the Mount Everest moment, and that had worked for them, so you need to imitate what we did and, in order to have some sort of career, and, you know.

So that, I think it was the way they knew about employment, you know, as an orchestra musicians in Australia specifically, but that was the way they knew to discuss those things, you know. And some, it wasn't everybody, obviously, but it was something that really, you know, somebody would say that like just, it just took one person to say that to you and you were thinking, you just worried about, well, how do I, what's my plan, what's the plan for the future--

 

PAUL: Does anybody ever go up to that person with the ideal career and say, are you fulfilled? Are you now more calm? Has your mind, is it, your mind now rested that you're in this position?

 

BEN: Yeah, I'd really love to know that because I think always at the time, in Sydney in particular, I was always thinking, I can't ask this question because I won't ever get booked for a gig again or--

 

PAUL: Or this person would be insulted?

 

BEN: Yes, yes.

 

PAUL: Like they would think it's a backhanded way of shitting on them.

 

BEN: Yeah, correct. Yeah, so that was always on my mind, and I think, yeah, the amount of overthinking that would go into these situations about, how do I talk to the, because I think it was just putting these people on pedestals that, they were just humans, too. They also have an asshole. Like, they still have a [chuckles], they function as humans, so they're not special, you know.

 

PAUL: But their assholes have a really tight armature.

 

[Chuckling]

 

BEN: Absolutely. Tension is just--

 

PAUL: Is that the right word, armature?

 

BEN: Yes, yeah [chuckles]. Got to get rid of the tension. Yeah, so, ah, yeah, it was, it was something that after I, well, finishing my studies, I then got, was just starting to get sucked into a fear black hole, like, what am I going to do, because I think the--

 

PAUL: Like if this doesn't work out, I put all my eggs in this basket, I’m fucked.

 

BEN: Yeah, yeah. And I think the music school as a whole is such a bubble, especially classical music, so like the musicians there are only really thinking about classical music, so you get outside, you know, oh, real world, right, yep, okay, that's the thing, isn't it.

And realizing that, oh, okay, I can't, there's something, I'm going to have to work out something here to, you know, because, and then feeling like maybe I've been sold a bit of a lie in the music school of like your chances of what you can really have as a career, because I think, at the end of the day, colleges and universities or businesses, they make money, and I remember having a discussion with one of the, a French horn player in Australia about sort of the ethical process of students applying to music schools because--

 

PAUL: And being realistic with them, right.

 

BEN: Yeah, because when you look at a Web site for a music school, any music school, whether it be like Julliard, anywhere around the world, in Sydney, the pictures on that Web site are of students playing in orchestras. It's just orchestras, orchestras, students playing their instrument.

So, naturally, you apply for the course and you think, ah, yep, okay. Nobody tells you that, realistically, in Australia, I don't know what the figures are in other countries, but at any one time there are only six percent of classical musicians working, like with a music degree who have gone on to get an orchestra job, six percent. They won't tell you that at day one. They say, yeah, come and play, come and practice, you know.

So, I think, and I think this was, I guess, obviously a new struggle of, what is, what am I, what am I doing, like what do I do, you know? And the desperation to make money to stay in Sydney was something that was just a real, you know, so I've got to find teaching, I'm going to do this, I've got whatever gigs come along or whatever because, you know, it's just, it's just something, and then having to put on the face that it's going okay, you know, because I think Sydney, it's something like, it's a city that's made up for like success and like, if you're doing okay, apparently [inaudible] live there and go to the beach and whatever all the time, but if you're not, if you're a freelancer and you're not doing okay, yeah, oh, good luck, because it's--

 

PAUL: And you're dreading social situations because somebody's going to ask, so what are you working on?

 

BEN: Yeah, yeah, yeah. And it's always about that, what's in the works, what's the project coming up? And you're like, [sighs], um, [chuckles] yeah, so like, you know, yeah, working out that you don't want to say that, if I were to tell you that I had a clean-slate week coming up, you know, nothing fucking planned, you know, like that sort of thing, you know, where you just, you know, and then finding the right people that you can say that to, because I think even having, testing the waters with some people and saying, yeah, I'm not doing that much this coming week, and then people that would say, oh, yeah, pfft, anyway, so back to me, and then you would, you just couldn't, you had to find the right people.

 

PAUL: Yeah.

 

BEN: And I think it was that, maybe some of those situations that made me think about, okay, well, who are the right people I should hang out with within the music world that I can talk to about this sort of stuff as well.

 

PAUL: We can bond over our empty calendar.

 

BEN: Yeah.

 

[Chuckling]

 

BEN: Yeah, but just any sort of struggle, you know, because I think it was always about, you know, like, oh, so, and then always the talk was a lot of like, where are you going to go overseas, where are you going to study, because it's such a, you know, Australia being such a small place for that, kind of music and orchestra music in Australia is so borrowed from this side of the world that it's a bit--

 

PAUL: Europe.

 

BEN: Yeah, Europe, that it's a little bit of a strange bag when you have someone playing Wagner in Sydney. Like, that's a, it kind of, yeah, you know, you've got waves and seagulls flying by, like it's a little, eh.

But yeah, that you're always sort of thinking of some way, how do I get out of here? Like not that Sydney, because I, you know, Australia is such a lucky place to live, you know, and, but this was also I guess a part of me that was still stuck in the, you know, and it's a constant battle, being stuck in the music obsession of, oh, I got to go somewhere else and see what else there is, you know.

 

PAUL: There's no way my issues will follow me to another country.

 

[Chuckling]

 

BEN: Yeah. Oh, and so, yeah, I stayed in Sydney for another year and a half to two years, but that was, it was just a strange year of having like sporadic work and then having some real sort of strange times of like not doing a lot, but then busier works and then not doing a lot again. And then working out that I was not a very good music teacher and then deciding that that sort of, I need to get out of that [chuckles] before I ruin any reputations in schools.

But I think, this is something I hadn't touched on, but living away from home was something that was also, just moving away to study, but then actually never having, having not gone back after that study experience, so just that sort of distance from--

 

PAUL: Wow, it's like you're taking a solitary occupation and making it even more solitary.

 

[Chuckling]

 

BEN: Yep. How far can I go, yeah, no--

 

PAUL: Well, the only way you could make it worse is go to a really northern country in winter, which you've managed to do, so--

 

BEN: Yeah [chuckles].

 

PAUL: Well done.

 

BEN: Yeah, although I'll keep trying with the moon. The moon is the next step, so we'll see how it goes.

But so, and then I think that's something where, I guess this comes back to that always finding someone to understand the idea of doing a music career or doing, following any sort of music career, and then maybe having the, my parents still trying to work out why am I doing it, and like, yay, you're doing that thing and it's this and you're doing some, like some things have gone well, right, and then some things have not gone so well and they're trying to--

 

PAUL: And did you scream, because as a child your love was conditional?

 

[Chuckling]

 

BEN: Pfft, yeah, look, you know, it's just a--

 

PAUL: Is there any truth to that or am I just being a dick?

 

BEN: No, no, no. You're absolutely right.

 

PAUL: All right.

 

BEN: But it's the, [sighs] you know, and then just, in the back of my mind there was always that escape fantasy of coming to Europe to, maybe to see, well, maybe, look, I've got, I'm young enough to try it, we'll see what happens, and I had saved up enough money to make the like one-way trip to come here, so I guess I've been here a bit over 18 months, coming up, under two years.

And so, yeah, I think but that, the six months leading up to that were just strange months. I think I was just dealing with just a variety of different sort of depressive states of not being able to look at the trombone at all because I just, I didn't see much on my schedule coming up and was just, didn't really see the point in picking it up.

It was just, well, you know, like this is, oh, well, I can go to Europe but not anytime soon and I don't really have the drive to start preparing now. So, what's on TV? You know, like it was always a, like a later, I'll do it later, but also hating myself because I knew I was just telling myself, oh, I’m such a lazy piece of shit--

 

PAUL: Oh, what a horrible place to be.

 

BEN: Yeah.

 

PAUL: It is.

 

BEN: Yeah. And then, having different flashbacks of different teachers that have given me other various criticism about my playing--

 

PAUL: [Chuckles] I like how you remember all of those but none of the good shit.

 

BEN: Yeah, yeah [chuckles]. But I remember, like I had this really great South African teacher in Sydney, and he would say, like a really great guy and I actually was really lucky to have him as a teacher, because I think he got it. He got some of the struggles and, you know, with his sort of path as well, but didn't stop him being any, like any less of a dick when he wanted to be.

And I remember him saying once to me, in this really strong South African accent, that I had a bit of shit in my sound, like when I was playing, so he was like, you've just got a bit of shit in your sound. And I just remember, just, like not being able to work out how to take that, because I remember, because it was his kind of way of joking as well, but also like a dig at how something was sounding in my playing. And I remember just walking out and just like, is that, was that like--

 

PAUL: I sound like shit.

 

BEN: Yeah, but like, am I all shit, is that just like me, like everything I, like how do I get this shit out of my sound? Is there a shit extractor?

 

PAUL: Wow.

 

BEN: And I remember just like, [sighs], but that's where I look at something like that, it just took me like this was that dialogue in my mind of various different trombone teachers or different conductors that say something that sticks with you, that really gets in the, you know, in the groove, because I guess being a musician, it's, I guess, you know, it is sort of comparable to being in a sports team in that you have to sort of stay at the standard.

You're constantly having to stay at a good standard. You can't sort of let it slip. And then being told you've let it slip, you let the standard slide a bit, and then just working out, well, yeah, that's right, I'm shit, I'm definitely shit, you know, I knew it.

 

PAUL: I guess one of the things that I've always been puzzled about, you know, you hear about classical musicians practicing, you know, 10 hours a day.

 

BEN: Yep.

 

PAUL: I mean, is that like a pretty common thing, eight hours a day--

 

BEN: Less, yeah, probably, eight is more like a piano player's amount. I mean, like physically for brass players, like you have to sort of dial it down a bit because of the way your muscles work around your mouth and actually just holding up the instrument all day, but more something that you were expected was something like six at least, like a six-hour kind of day.

 

PAUL: And is that to be improving or to just keep at the level that you're at so that your skills don't diminish? Is it stay sharp or get better or--

 

BEN: It depends on the time of the year, but generally improving, you know, always looking for that extra edge.

 

PAUL: Describe to me, once you're already in a large city orchestra, you're clearly good at your interest, at your instrument, what are you looking, what ways can you be better in those six to eight hours a day that are noticeable by anybody?

 

BEN: Yeah. I mean, that's something where, like you see musicians in, yeah, big orchestras that are still looking for that next big orchestra above that, so they will still commit to finding that extra edge or extra, and like it's so discernable--

 

PAUL: Like, what is it?

 

BEN: Oh, just a new way of playing something, a different musical shape, a shape to a way you're playing it, an ease, looking for something that may be, when you're playing a particular part of music or a whole piece that some bits were more difficult than others or tension that you had when you were playing, looking for ease, general ease in the whole process.

 

PAUL: I see.

 

BEN: And that there must be some other way or a level up where you can achieve that sort of ease but through some sort of slog.

 

PAUL: So that everything can be second nature.

 

BEN: Yeah, yeah, yeah. And, yeah, it's just this looking for, yeah, just never really, and then the judgment of musicians who have a position in an orchestra, who have decided that, yeah, sure, I'm happy with this position, I'm going to have a life, and hearing some of the things that have been said about those musicians, that, oh, they've passed it, they've just, they're just sort of stagnating, just this talk, a lot of, oh, ruthless backstabbing in classical music.

 

PAUL: Like, give me some examples.

 

BEN: Oh, okay. More in chamber music situations, I remember I played in a trombone quartet and just situations like, [sighs] just, you just can't play in tune, just can't do it, like you just, like this person can't play this, he's just not playing in tune, they're just a little bit out of tune or whatever, something like that, like it's just, like you can't--

 

PAUL: That person can't play in tune?

 

BEN: Yeah, yeah, like you just can't play, like just this obsession with like that if you can't do these things or like this, you're not matching us, or like some sort of very vague insult as well, but also if the other person was to hear, that like how do you interpret that, like you're not matching what we're doing. Like, well, what am I doing that's not matching what you're doing--

 

PAUL: Like you're not going to point to a passage where somebody was sharp or flat or anything, it's just a vague--

 

BEN: No, no. It's vague, but that, in a way, seems to be more sort of hurtful to people because they're like, you're just not doing it right, you know, and you just like get that sort of like, that sort of passive aggression either, so yeah, the backstabbing or just to somebody's face where you're like, yeah, you need to just sort out some of your parts, and like [sighs].

 

PAUL: It's like saying you literally are not enough.

 

BEN: Yeah, that's it, that's it. It's just like, you, yeah, you just, you just, and you haven't been enough for quite a while now, yeah.

 

[Chuckling]

 

PAUL: Just all of you, it's just not working out, this whole thing about you being upright, it just, it was a bad idea.

 

BEN: Yeah, yeah. And like, what are you going to do about that, you know [chuckles]? Oh, yeah, like that sort of stuff, but also, oh, just being able to, the inevitable personality clashes, where somebody would have, would offer up some advice to somebody else and then just said, as soon as the rehearsal would finish you'd walk out with that person who received advice, and then you'd just hear them say, well, they can go and get fucked, you know, like it can just like [chuckles], like it's really like so, [sighs], yeah, like it's just taken in and then, you know, but also this comes back to that lack of communication, so we can't talk about it, you know, in a proper, appropriate way, so I'm going to take it in and then I'm going to sort of bitch about it somewhere else and hold that resentment to somebody else, yeah.

 

PAUL: What percentage of people that become classical musicians professionally do you think were raised in a household where there was any kind of modeling of emotions being expressed in a healthy way or even discussed?

 

BEN: Oh, [chuckles] very low, very, I can't actually, I just don't know. Like, it would be, I just, I've just had so many discussions with people who have just have brought up that, like who then felt comfortable around me to say that I can't, I haven't been able to process some of these feelings or emotions, but in general, like it would have to be just, I don't know, like, I don't know, a 10% or 20% kind of thing as well, like it's so, I just really think there's a lot of, and this is about that, the superficial glaze of what classical music is, of like, oh, you see that front stage and they're all playing and they're all playing together and it's all so glamorous and whatever, and you only see that front stage and you don't see the back stage of what's going--

 

PAUL: The nervous breakdowns.

 

BEN: Yeah, all behind that, you know--

 

PAUL: Are those pretty common, nervous breakdowns?

 

BEN: Oh--

 

PAUL: I guess you don't know about all of them.

 

BEN: Yeah, that's true, I don't know about it. But I would say--

 

PAUL: Because we hear about famous musicians that, it's like they are all, or so many of them, were just on a razor's edge of staying sane.

 

BEN: Yeah, yeah. I would really think there'd be, there would be a percentage, a fair percentage, I think, because, you know, but that is covered up by all these different coping mechanisms, you know, whether it be booze, drugs, sex, you know, it's just, it's a bit--

 

PAUL: Which is funny because people don't think of that when they think of classical musicians, but . . .

 

BEN: Have you ever read or seen the TV show Mozart in the Jungle?

 

PAUL: Nh-nuh. Is it good?

 

BEN: Have you heard about it?

 

PAUL: I have heard of it. Is it good?

 

BEN: Ah, it's also sort of a bit like the Whiplash situation, as, you know, it's a bit of a take on the classical music world from a, a real-life take this time, not like a--

 

PAUL: But not wildly inaccurate.

 

BEN: Yeah. But probably closer, but the author, what was her name, Blair Tindall, which is an oboe player who played freelance, or who's freelancing around New York, and I've forgotten where she studied, but it was, she just writes about her experience right from the beginning of playing oboe through school and some of her sort of strange infatuations and love things and stuff and all that, and studying, and then her encounters with different famous musicians while she was young and old, like, you know, and different situations that she got herself into, but also just her gradual sort of slow resentment of classical music over time. So, she was in it, in it, and then slowly decided it wasn't for her over time, but not without some dramatic stuff happening along the way.

But it's those sort of stories where, you know, for someone who is entering classical music, I guess either just about to studying it or--

 

PAUL: They should watch it.

 

BEN: Yeah, yeah, because I think it can be, it just can be so superficial that you see that, oh, yeah, I'm just going, I'm going to be playing music, it's going to be great, and all this sort of stuff, and it's all these nuances of social interactions where you can really, it can just destroy you.

Like somebody says one thing and then you take it the wrong way or it's just these, like specific teachers have spent enough years with you to work out how you kind of function, because you see them, not daily, but, you know, at least once a week, and they sort of know how to get under your grill to--

 

PAUL: And working with the occasional person who is professionally brilliant but a fucking monster off stage.

 

BEN: Absolutely, yeah. Yeah, absolutely. And yeah, and I think that's something where, like it really was, it was a real wake-up call, I think, just to fast forward a little bit to me living here in Berlin, I was living with another musician who was working as like a student musician in the Berlin Philharmonic. So, for anybody that doesn't know--

 

PAUL: Which is the crème of the crème, right?

 

BEN: Pretty much one of the crème of the crème in Europe.

 

PAUL: London would be the other one.

 

BEN: Yeah, London, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. Oh, where other, it's kind of the, it's sort of the big three, or Vienna Philharmonic, and amazing musician, amazing musician, but I've never seen someone who was so self-destructive when he didn't have it in his hands because I would see him 24/7 because I lived with him.

So, I would see the other sides of him, so the, the behaviors where he would lock himself in his room and just do nothing on the weekends and sit around and just binge-watch TV shows for days, just would come out to like get something to eat and go back into there, like when he wasn't working, for the week off that he had. But also--

 

PAUL: Is this now being classified as self-destructive, but I--

 

[Chuckling]

 

BEN: No, no--

 

PAUL: --I'm going to have to use different terminology when I talk to my therapist.

 

BEN: No, no, no, no, no. I'm going to, I'm getting to it. But just he, I remember having, watching a concert that he was playing in and we ended up having a drink behind, in the bar of the Philharmonic here, so you can go and sort of have a drink with the other Philharmonic musicians.

And then I, it was probably the biggest learning curve for me because you just see that these musicians, who are apparently world famous, big, big, big, big names in what they do--

 

PAUL: And you knew who these people were--

 

BEN: Absolutely. And you would see some interesting stuff going on behind the scenes, like just, like strange relationships outside their marriages and stuff like that within the orchestra and things like that. But also, the way in which they would interact after the concerts as well, so where you were treated, if you were someone who was just watching, you were treated like a, a bit like a second-rate sort of person. They're like, so what do you do?

And you're like, oh, yeah, I play, but like, oh, but you're not playing with us, okay, yeah, you know. And how to, how do I process that, you know, like so, is that what I'm aiming for? Do I have to be some, well, am I looking to have my, you know, like to be some sort of, you know, pretentious elite and I, there were a lot of like just, like it was almost an out-of-body experience of looking at some of the situations and thinking, is that what I really want to be a part of, you know, and then, because it was like they were playing great music but also it didn't necessarily mean they were great people or, you know--

 

PAUL: Wow, what a great way to put that, they were playing great music but that doesn't mean they were great people.

 

BEN: Mm-hmm. But yeah, I don't know, but that was--

 

PAUL: That was a wake-up call for you.

 

BEN: Yeah, but it also, I think that also put me into various situations here, since living in Berlin, where different types of like depressive states, where I was sort of questioning, why am I doing it? Like, it's just like, well, what's the point? Why should I be a part of this sort of, this whole deal? I mean, what's it for, you know?

And then realizing, because since moving to Berlin there a patch where I didn't see any therapists because I, well, I don't know how it works here, I mean, how do I, I mean, it was a bit of a gamble, I guess that was the, you know, you're putting, I'm going all in on this decision to come here, see what happens, you know.

So, it took a bit of time to then sort of reestablish connections and to decide that I needed to start talking again to somebody, to work out, well, what am I actually doing with, you know, and processing a whole bunch of other different situations here.

Like living away from, like from Australia, so also that, you know, which I mentioned this before, like, you know, being, when you're in a different country, you're already sort of alienated as it is, but like when you're depressed, that's like a next l-, and in a different country, you know, like you just can't, the comfort foods or whatever, like you go into a supermarket here and you're just like, all you've got is like bread and cheese and that's it, you know, like, you know, it's really hard, yeah, so you, you have to find different ways because it's like, you're here for a reason. You've come here because you want to have a music career or something like that, but also, you know, you're dealing with stuff and then, you know, you wonder how, you know, how do I--

 

PAUL: It's funny, you know, we don't think twice about somebody going to get a foot massage or something else to soothe their feet, but, you know, if you want to soothe your emotions or your soul or soothe your mind, it's always little suspect. Oh, what's the matter? What's the, you know, are you cracking?

 

BEN: Yeah, yeah.

 

PAUL: I mean [chuckles], it's just like, no, we need to soothe.

 

BEN: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And I think--

 

PAUL: So you started seeing a therapist.

 

BEN: Yeah, here, which was also interesting because you, finding an English-speaking therapist, you know, because I came here not really speaking any German, was also, it's hard because, I mean, and there are a lot of creative people here as well, so there's also, there's a lot of, you know, it doesn't mean that the therapists are all pretty busy here. I mean, in any city therapists are busy, but it's, you know, it can be difficult finding one that you then, if you've clicked with one person, how do you know you're going to click with another person in a different country--

 

PAUL: Right.

 

BEN: --who is not necessarily a native speaker. So, that, it's hard. I mean, you have to sort of then start again, how do I find someone who I can relate to or someone who's going to, who I think can listen to me or who can, who's not going to judge. You know, it goes back to that. Even though I'd already been told, like I'm not going to, that this particular person is not going to judge me, but that talk comes back into your head that, oh, but I think they're going to judge me if they're, you know.

But yeah, and then just here work has not been a stable thing all the time. You know, I've worked freelance, on a freelance basis like I did in Sydney, so you have situations where you're still questioning, what am I going to be doing in six months' time, in a year's time, all of that.

And how do I stay here, how do I not freak out about the future, how do stay now, in the now, and not be so obsessed with having to pick up an instrument and practice because I think I'm not going to be able to, you know, have a roof over my head in a few months' time or whatever, you know.

And I think that, it's just, yeah, but also I think throughout, through those experiences of probably not doing that much, you know, there's, you know, you have that time maybe you just get outside and you just, you can, I don't know, and maybe that's given me a bit of a chance to practice just being and just maybe have a bit of a, get better at just sitting--

 

PAUL: Being.

 

BEN: --yeah, just having a sit and just hanging out, you know, because I think that bubble of the music school can be so, you get stuck in doing what you got to, you've got to keep going, you've got to keep--

 

PAUL: And you're surrounded by people who are also all buying in to the idea that you have to be moving up, quote, unquote--

 

BEN: Yeah.

 

PAUL: --to be living a good life.

 

BEN: Yeah, absolutely. But then just working out that now I can talk with other musicians like who want to talk about this sort of stuff as well, because I think it's just been a, such a long period of time where I just, just this bottling down of fear, of like, I’m not going to tell anybody about what I'm really thinking about what my chances are with this type of career, because you don't want to show the cracks. You know, I didn't want to show the cracks, but now, you know, it just seems like, you know, everybody's got that kind of crack somewhere, you know.

 

PAUL: So have you had some good conversations with fellow musicians?

 

BEN: Yeah. Well, I think this is something, you know, I think here, because there are so many, I mean, it's quite a few artists, it's quite an arty city. There's lots of different people around who do lots of different interesting things, but also it means maybe the people that you meet have a way with words, or maybe it's not such a, as I said, well, where I grew up was a little bit more conservative and, whereas here, maybe, I felt like I've had a little bit more of an opportunity to be more open with other people, with other musicians, with other people in the arts about certain struggles that I have and continue to have.

You know, I think it's something that just being able to, yeah, really reach out with people, it's just something that I'm continually working on, I think, whether it be in music or not in music, you know, and this actually finding out what appropriate communication is with people, I think, you know, with whether it being relationships or friendships or, yeah, it's just a--

 

PAUL: It's what it's all about.

 

BEN: Yeah.

 

PAUL: You know, it's funny because the thing that I sought out just as an emergency measure became the very thing that brought purpose into my life. So it's like, not only did it put out the fire, but it like helped in all these other areas, in non-emergency areas, that it brought this calming effect and this sense of meaning and purpose, that I could never get enough of from doing or achieving, but just by being and connecting--

 

BEN: Yeah.

 

PAUL: --it's like being and connecting, to me, is like 90% of it. If only being and connecting could pay the rent.

 

BEN: Yeah, absolutely.

 

[Chuckling]

 

PAUL: How fantastic would that be?

 

BEN: Yeah, I mean, because pull out, you know, one note of being from the wallet of connecting--

 

[Chuckling]

 

PAUL: Oh, I'm late on rent, I'm going to go stare in a field and I'll be back with the cash.

 

BEN: Yeah.

 

[Chuckling]

 

BEN: Just jingling in a bag, yeah.

 

PAUL: Is there anything else you'd like to share?

 

BEN: Oh, yeah. I think, oh, yeah, I think with just this, I guess, people who, it doesn't have to be classical musicians, but just musicians in general, finding the right people to play with and who, it's not just about like the end result of a performance.

There's something so much more important about the whole, the connection you have with the people that you're working with as musicians, not just this end product I think that is such a, it can be so obsessive with any genre of music, it doesn't matter what you're working on, it can be really intense, but yeah, I think, yeah, the more people that talk about these sort of things the better, and especially in, you know, in something that can be so, I guess, stuck in traditions like classical music.

 

PAUL: And I would imagine, if your end goal is to be able to play with more ease, it would make you a better musician, wouldn't it?

 

BEN: Correct, yeah. Absolutely, yeah. So it's something, yeah, that it's, I think, well, actually, this is something I didn't mention, but also just I think just letting go of, not looking about what people, what gigs people are doing on social media and all that sort of stuff, because I think we're being so, it's so easy to just compare--

 

PAUL: It's so easy.

 

BEN: And I just find myself getting sucked into black holes of, you know, opening up Facebook to see--

 

PAUL: Ah, don't do it, don't do it. It's--

 

BEN: Yeah, it's just, yeah, yeah, and I think that's, that's something I'm, that's probably the only concern I have about young people who are, you know, who are growing up with these things from, you know, teenagers now, you know, just having access to all these different social media tools that are, you just really, I just wonder how people, how that will affect people into the future, you know, not just in music, just in general, with how people, you know, think about themselves--

 

PAUL: The compare and despair.

 

BEN: Yep.

 

PAUL: Yeah.

 

BEN: Yeah, hm.

 

PAUL: Anything else?

 

BEN: [Chuckles] No. I don't know--

 

PAUL: We covered a lot, man.

 

BEN: Yeah.

 

PAUL: That was, yeah, there was, I was, I learned a lot. I learned a lot.

 

BEN: Cool.

 

PAUL: It gave me a great, and I hope the listeners as well, a great peek into what it's like behind that curtain.

 

BEN: Yeah, sure, I look, yeah, anytime [chuckles].

 

PAUL: Thanks, Ben.

 

BEN: Always.

 

PAUL: Many, many thanks to Ben. And Ben actually has a podcast, where he talks about stuff like this, with other creative people. He's doing it in Berlin, and it's called Double Depresso, and I'll put a link to that on our Web site. So, yeah, go check that out.

This episode that you just heard will soon be, or are hearing, will soon be transcribed and available on our Web site, and many thanks to Accurate Secretarial for donating their time and helping out the show.

Speaking of helping out the show, there's a couple of different ways that you guys can help out the show. You can become a monthly, first of all, you can become a one-time donor through PayPal, or you can become a monthly donor through either PayPal or Patreon. I recommend Patreon because it's just a better Web site and I can give you free content through Patreon. PayPal, there's no way to do it.

And you, all of that stuff is on our Web site. You'll see a little tab that says donate, or support the show, and then donate. But it helps greatly. This show cannot survive just on advertising. I depend on you guys, and you can become a monthly donor for as little as a dollar a month at Patreon.

You can also help us by using our Amazon portal. If you're going to buy something at Amazon, enter through the Amazon logo on our homepage, and then, if you buy something, Amazon will give us some money but it doesn't make what you're buying any more expensive, and that, all of these things add up, but we definitely, definitely need that help.

You can also donate frequent flyer miles, which will enable me to go record people outside of the country. It was so nice going to the UK and Europe and recording non-Americans. Not that I don't like my fellow Americans, honestly, it was also nice to just get away from [chuckles], I'm going to be honest, it was just nice to get away from America for two weeks.

Oh, speaking of financially helping out the show, a sponsor that has really, really helped us by consistently advertising on the show is ZipRecruiter. And I got a question for you. Are you hiring? Do you know where to post your job to find the best candidates, because finding great talent can be tough.

Thankfully, with ZipRecruiter, you can post your job to 100-plus job sites with just one click. Then their powerful technology efficiently matches the right people to your job better than anyone else. That's why ZipRecruiter is different.

Unlike other job sites, ZipRecruiter doesn't depend on candidates finding you. It finds them. In fact, over 80% of jobs posted on ZipRecruiter get a qualified candidate in just 24 hours. There's no juggling e-mails or calls to your office. Simply screen, rate and manage candidates all in one place with ZipRecruiter's easy-to-use dashboard.

So find out today why ZipRecruiter has been used by businesses of all sizes to find the most qualified candidates with immediate results. And right now, my listeners, you guys, can post jobs on ZipRecruiter for free. That's right, free. Just go to ZipRecruiter.com/first. That's ZipRecruiter.com/first. One more time, to try it for free, go to ZipRecruiter.com/first.

I have an e-mail that I got from a listener who asked to be called Oglaf, which I guess is a reference to an Internet cartoon. And he writes, just wondering if in your experience our mental afflictions can be measured by how many times a stressor/other stimulus occurs. For example, my mum often attempts to manipulate people by seeking compliments. It may seem innocuous, but I am reluctant to supply them, as I fear complimenting her will only feed her addiction.

Could it be the opposite, the amount of validation, quote, she seeks may eventually be restored or satiated by giving her what she feels she wants?

I am not a mental health professional. I don't have a degree. But I did tour comedy clubs around the country and had some really terrible experiences, and ate some really unhealthy food, so I feel like I am qualified to weigh on [chuckles], weigh in on this.

Actually, I remember one time having a meal, it was delicious, at Bob Evans, and then I had like an eight-hour drive home after my show, and I don't think I have ever been in as much pain as I was. It felt like somebody was stabbing my stomach with an ice pick, but I digress.

I don't believe, I think this ship has sailed on your mother being able to be externally fulfilled by people complimenting her. Maybe, you know, temporarily, for a minute or an hour or a day, maybe even a week a compliment will help her, but I think it has to come from within through intensive work and processing the shit that happened to her as a kid that left her feeling so invisible, unworthy, you know, etc., etc.

Just my two cents. And that has been, by the way, the case with me, so, you know, because I think when we get those messages as a kid through neglect or abuse, the message that gets buried in our heads is you don't matter. And if you have decades of that wired into your brain, somebody saying you look nice in those pants is not going to undo that overnight.

Here's something somebody posted on Facebook that I really like, and it's 10 traits among truly authentic people, and it's just such a great list. And number one, they are self-reflective. Number two, they are not judgmental. Number three, they live in the present. You know, I would like to add to the number two, they are not judgmental, and if they are they catch themselves. That way I can weasel my way into the list.

Three, they live in the present. Four, they are focused on the long term, which can be confusing because it says, while they live in the present, they have a plan for the future, they are focusing on long-term goals and not on the short-term gains they could make by lying to, cheating on or stealing from others. They invest their time for long-term benefits and do not follow the mercurial crowd of trend-chasers. They know who they are and what they want and so make a plan to achieve that in a reasonable amount of time, because I think it's really easy to think having goals is the same as obsessing about the future, and those are two completely different things on the healthy spectrum.

Number five, they have character. Number six, they listen. Number seven, they are consistent. Number eight, they are honest. Number nine, they respect themselves. And number 10, they are courageous. They have the courage to be themselves and to be true to their ideals, even when those things are not popular. They have the courage of their convictions and the strength to stick to their guns even when the whole world is trying to shoot them down and bend them to their will. Love it. Thank you, person that posted that on the Facebook page.

This is an e-mail I got from a woman who is a, well, I'll just read it. She writes, I just finished listening to the podcast with Dr. Natalie Feinblatt. It was nice to hear the clarification of mental health workers and resources available. We talked about the differences between a psychologist and a psychiatrist, a licensed marriage and family therapist, etc.

I would like to point out that a resource was left out, the psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner. I am a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner. I completed my training at Vanderbel-, [chuckles] slow down, Paul. Nobody's leaving. And if they are, you don't know about it.

I completed my training at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing in 2011. Since that time, I have worked in various inpatient, outpatient and school settings in Alaska and Oregon. I currently work three jobs in Portland, Oregon. I work at a non-profit agency for Native Americans, where I work primarily with children and adolescents. I work two days of the week in private practice with all ages. My oldest patient is 73. And I work a moonlighting weekend position at a local psychiatric hospital.

What I have noticed is that many people, maybe most people, outside of the health care industry, which includes mental health workers, do not understand the role of the psychiatric nurse practitioner or the training involved in becoming a psychiatric nurse practitioner.

In the state of Oregon, I have almost the same scope of practice as a psychiatrist. I am an independent practitioner. The sole difference between a psychiatrist and a nurse practitioner in the state of Oregon is the ability to perform ECT, which is electroconvulsive therapy, i.e., shock therapy.

There is only one hospital, to my knowledge, that provides ECT in Oregon. I would love to hear you interview a nurse practitioner on your podcast. We provide a holistic style of practice for those with mental illness. I was trained, I personally was trained in CBT, DBT and play therapy through my training at Vanderbilt, in addition to psychopharmacology and medical management. I am reaching out to you today because psychiatric nurse practitioners are frequently forgotten and misunderstood, and I hope that your podcast could help enlighten the general public.

As a side note, I have shared your podcast with numerous patients. Thank you for what you do. Thank you for sharing that.

This is an e-mail I got from somebody who wants to be referred to as S. And she was sharing that her husband deeply loves her and that she doesn't know what to do because when she begins to open up to him, he gets a bored, distracted look on his face and has no interest really in talking about emotions or knowing what's going on with her.

And I wrote her back and said, you know, while your husband may love you in some ways, his not taking an interest in you opening up emotionally is the opposite of love. That is a failure on his part as your partner. And while he may not possess the language to talk emotionally, if he truly loves you, he will be willing to go to counseling together to communicate better and develop emotional intimacy. It's the most important part of a relationship, and you deserve to have it, especially since you crave it. That is a healthy need, and him not hearing you is an unhealthy response to your healthy need.

This is a Shame and Secrets Survey, and this was filled out by a person who identifies somewhere between female and agender. They are gay, in their 20s, raised in a slightly dysfunctional environment, and they put, gilded cage. Ever been the victim of sexual abuse? Some stuff happened but I don't know if it counts.

Ever been physically or emotionally abused? Not sure. My dad threatened to kill me when I was 15 because I was friends with someone he didn't like. I [chuckles], I love that the two words, not sure, are followed by the five words, my dad threatened to kill me, or is it six words? I don't know.

Other than that, [chuckles] other than that, how was the play, Mrs. Lincoln? Other than, and opening all my letters and checking my school e-mails and kind of interrogating me regularly about those, which I guess is unhealthy. He's a pretty chill dude. My family is also really unhealthy. I'm my mother's therapist, best friend, subordinate, and she kind of needs me to be around a lot, and I know that's not really abuse, but it feels damaging and uncomfortable, like I don't really exist except as an extension of my parents, so that's probably bad parenting on their part.

That is bad parenting on their part and, in my opinion, that is also abuse. That is absolutely abuse. You're ignoring your child's, now the fact that they are ignorant doesn't mean that that's not still abuse, because it's not about blaming them. It's about identifying what you are or aren't getting in your life and how you are going to go about healing that and changing that in the future, not to be confused with changing them.

Darkest secrets. I watch straight porn because I need to dissociate a little bit to be able to masturbate, and I would never have sex with a man, so it's easier to not emphasize with, then she puts this in caps, generic white porn star number 32178. That is actually my favorite generic white porn star. When they're playing at kind of awful rape-y stuff, which I hate and feel kind of triggered by, but it's the only thing I can get off to.

Speaking if triggers, Thomas the Tank Engine is one of mine. I don't know why, but my gut feeling says child sexual abuse. Before I realized I was a lesbian, I was kind of manipulated, I wasn't romantically attracted to him, but he was to me and I felt like I had to force myself into believing I reciprocated, I was forced, kind of manipulated into a really intense online relationship with a guy who probably needed me.

He was living in the United Arab Emirates and didn't have access to proper psychiatric or therapeutic treatment. I left that relationship and he killed himself, and although I know I'm supposed to understand it wasn't my fault, that one was totally my fault. That was totally not your fault, totally not your fault.

Sexual fantasies. I hate talking about sexual fantasies and would probably get myself a clitoridectomy if I could, but I'm really into awful, awful rape but where the girl feels pleasure shit. I know it's probably a result of trauma. I hate myself anyway.

What, if anything, would you like to say to someone you haven't been able to? Number one, family, I'm a fucking lesbian, and yes, that does mean I am likely going to hell but you don't need to bring hell to me while I'm still alive [chuckles].

Number two, P, I used to be in love with you and, and that's the initial P, not the liquid pee. I used to be in love with you and probably still am, question mark, but like, don't worry about it, I'm in no state to try and convince you to reciprocate. Three, don't pay attention to me, but please pay attention to me from a safe distance. That is so fantastic.

What, if anything, do you wish for? I want to feel in control of myself and my life. I want to feel like I'm being respected as a person. I wish I could set boundaries with people. I wish I was slim and attractive.

How do you feel after writing these things down? Slightly relieved but also very pathetic.

If you haven't yet listened to the episode with Dr. Feinblatt about codependence, I think that would be a good one for, if you're listening, a good one for you to listen to because codependence is all about struggles with boundaries. And there's something else I wanted to say but I can't remember what it was. Fuck. What was it? I hate that. I hate that. It was just right there in my brain, and, oh, I know what it was.

You know, she wrote, don't pay attention to me but please pay attention to me. Somebody, I wish I knew who it was that said this recently, but they said the phrase, come over here and leave me alone. And it's like, oh, my God, yes, that's it. That's one of the reasons I love going to my favorite coffee place to work, is because I love having people around me leaving me alone. It's like the perfect, it's the middle Goldilocks bed for me socially. Isn't Goldilocks the one with the bed, one bed's too hard, one bed's too soft?

This is an e-mail I got from a, it says Buffett Warren .01, and I got to assume that this is the Warren Buffett because, well, I'm just going to read it. I hope this information meet you well as I know you will be curious to know why/how I selected you to receive a cash sum of five, and then there's like a shitload of zeroes, and there's a bunch of commas, and I, and there's no period before the last two zeros. There's a common before the last two zeroes. So, I don't know if Warren Buffett wants to give me five million dollars or 500 million dollars.

And because one is a dream come true and the other is a slap in the face. But I want your guys' take on this. He writes, our information below is 100% legitimate. And that is a relief, that is a relief, because a lot of times somebody will write, our information below is 72% legitimate, and I'll be torn. I'll be like, I, then it's up to me to find where that 28% horseshit is and that's a lot of work.

He writes, my wife and I decided to donate the sum of five, and then all those zeroes, to you as part of our charity project to improve the lot of 10 lucky individuals all over the world from our 12 billion U.S. dollars I and my wife mapped out to help people before she died. We prayed and searched over the Internet for assistance because I saw your profile on Microsoft e-mail owners list and picked you. I didn't know that I was on Microsoft e-mail owners list.

Susan, my wife, and I have decided to make sure this is put on the Internet for the world to see. My wife has cancer and she died at Colchester Regional Hospital. My wife just didn't die, but she has a great person. She was a great person and I miss her so much.

I think it's important that he said my wife just didn't die but she was a great person, because sometimes people do just die and then there's just a shrug, and that's always awkward.

I miss her so much and this is why I've decided to do one thing I promised her forever. As you could see from the webpage above, I am not getting any younger and you can imagine having not much time to live, although I am a billionaire investor.

I got to be honest. Ten years ago, when I saw your picture, I thought, he's not getting any younger. Actually, when I see anybody I realize they're not getting any younger, but let's not nitpick about this.

We have kept just 40% of the entire sum to ourselves for the remaining days because I am sick and am writing you from hospital computer because I don't know when I will die.

What kind of a world do we live in when Warren Buffett has to borrow the hospital's computer to give me either 500 million or five million dollars?

And then he asks for all of my personal information, so that I can forward your payment information immediately. I am hoping you will be able to use the money wisely and judiciously over there in your country. Well, over here in my country, which I thought you lived in, hm, I don't use money judiciously. What I usually do is I immediately go to Beverly Hills and I try to spend all of the money that I have on one single hat that glitters as much as possible.

And I got to say, if I wind up getting this 500 million dollars, I don't know if I can get that in one hat, but I'm, listen, he ends by writing, I'd like to reassure you of the legitimacy of this services as we will not be involved in any fraudulent act and will never be. That just means a lot to me that he's mapped out his moral future and shared that with me. But I don't know if I can, I don't know if I can take him up on that. Where am I going to put it? That might have been the longest, most drawn-out spam bit I've ever done.

This is a Shame and Secrets Survey filled out by, I'm just going to read two things from this. This is filled out by a female who's 16, straight, raised in a slightly dysfunctional environment. She calls herself My Mind is Running 100 Miles Per Hour and I Can't Seem to Catch Up.

Have you ever been emotionally or physically abused? She writes that she has been both, and I wanted to read this because this is such classic religiosity on the part of her parents, and I see this over and over and over again, where people take their own issues and funnel it through religion to punish somebody innocent.

And she writes, my father has always been an incredibly violent person. From a young age, I've been exposed to his temperament and have had to endure years of physical and emotional abuse. One moderate example of his unreasonable anger happened on a Sunday morning.

Being raised in a devoutly Christian home, we attended church every weekend. And by the way, wouldn't it be great if there was a term for people who called themselves devoutly Christian but were actually abusive hypocrites? And I'm not talking about the girl. I'm talking about the parents, but wouldn't that be nice.

Being raised in an absurdly hypocritical Christian home, we attended church every weekend. I remember an argument that I was having with my mother on that particular Sunday. She was scolding me on my apparel. I was wearing jeans and a nice blue paid button-up shirt. My parents being very traditional were convinced that that outfit was not appropriate for an 11-year-old girl.

She continued to yell at me and ordered me to change myself into a dress. I was adamant and became irritated very quickly. I told my mother she was not going to make me wear a dress. As soon as my father became aware of the disagreement, he walked up to me, sternly stared at me for a few seconds, and struck me in the face.

All I could feel was my cold body in shock. Here I was, an 11-year-old, being punched in the face by a 35-year-old adult. The room was silent, and following the silence was the sound of my blood making contact with the floor.

He walked away. Behind him was my eight-year-old sister looking at me. She had a facial expression that I still remember. She was trembling. As I saw her face, I knew I had to protect her from any situation that could cause her any sort of trauma. I wiped away my blood and walked her to her room and assured her I was okay.

My mother stayed in the room and continued to iron my father's church pants. To this day, I feel that I was partially responsible because I feel that I could have avoided the occurrence if I had just worn that stupid dress.

The other thing that strikes me is how naturally the victims go to the place of blaming themselves, how you went to the place of taking care, it's amazing how we abandon ourselves in that moment, and I suppose because as children we were trapped, and it seems probably less futile to that child to go comfort her sister and tell her that everything's okay or to blame herself for talking back, instead of saying, what kind of a fucking monster bloodies his child's nose over clothing, and the irony, clothing for church?

Any positive experiences with the abusers? There were occasions where my father would show his love for me. He would often tell me, you know I love you, right? He would hug me, but they often felt forced. I feel that this was a result of his lack of emotional contact with my grandma. I believe this because he does it every time he speaks about his childhood and how much rancor he has towards my grandma, sometimes after a conversation on the phone with her.

He would also make sure that my sister and I have all the necessary supplies to succeed in school. As a child, I would convince myself that I needed to achieve all the dreams he had for me to gain his love, but now I feel that I need to achieve all my dreams to love myself. I don't know if I will ever get there, but I can only hope.

I hope that you can get to a place where you can love yourself without having to achieve anything, without having to impress anyone, by just being you and just recognizing that you are awesome as you are. You know, could any of us improve in certain ways? Of course. We could all improve in certain ways.

But that doesn't mean there isn't an authentic, beautiful, lovable person inside of us. Your father has that inside of him, but it's so covered up by all of his issues that he can't access that. And you sound like an emotionally curious person and I think you've been given a gift at 16 years old to have a desire. You've begun to see the sanity, you know, the insanity, which is a part of breaking the cycle. And I was just really touched by your survey, and disturbed, frankly, that there's violence around what you wear to church. I mean, just soak that in, soak that in. That is like, that's top-five fucked up.

This is a Shame and Secrets Survey filled out by a guy who calls himself Closet Party. And he is straight, in his 20s, raised in a pretty dysfunctional environment. And I'm also just going to read part of his survey.

Ever been the victim of sexual abuse? Yes, and I never reported it. I was sexually abused by my babysitter over a period of about three years from the ages of seven to 10. She was a teenager at the time. It went as far as oral sex but never intercourse. At the time I enjoyed it and I never thought it affected me, but now, looking at the mess my life is becoming, I'm starting to think otherwise.

He's been physically and emotionally abused, horribly bullied as a kid for being overweight. He describes a scene that is like out of a movie, where everybody in class is throwing their candy at him and saying, eat it up, fat ass.

My mother physically and emotionally abused my brother and me, the worst of it starting when my parents divorced when I was seven. She would often spank us super hard or hit us all over our bodies with a wooden spoon. A lot of times she would use closed fists, which would leave bruises or sometimes cause us to bleed.

The worst instance that I remember is when I was playing with toy cars or something at the top of the stairs, making a lot of noise, of course. My mom was on the phone, and without breaking the conversation or changing her expression, she came over and kicked me in the face so hard it sent me spiraling down the, sprawling down the stairs and left me with a bloody nose.

I remember crying and crawling back to the top of the stairs, and she was just on the phone laughing with her friend like nothing happened. The abuse stopped when I was 12 or so because I kicked that bitch in the gut and left her there crying on my bedroom floor the last time she tried to attack me.

Any positive experiences with the abusers? There's no excuse for my mom and the other abusers in my life, but I'm not an idiot and I can at least understand the context of the abuse. My mom had just gone through a divorce, being abandoned by my father with not much money to raise two admittedly terrible and overactive boys, and that's when the real abuse started.

I hate it, though, that you use the word terrible. You know, overactive, yeah, but terrible? You know, that sounds like a message that abuse has pounded into your head.

I can't imagine the stress and her own personal emotional state for those first few years, until we got on our feet. I can also understand that really my sexual abuser was also a kid. She was a teenager and she should still have known better, but I don't really blame her or hold it against her. I also remember sometimes begging her to do it and her genuinely not wanting to, but then just giving in because I wouldn't shut up.

I do suffer from anxiety and depression, and there was a suicide attempt in college, but when I think about these events from my past, I don't necessarily feel any immediate pain or sadness and I feel like I've come to terms with them. On the other hand, I have such deep self-esteem issues that I feel they must have really affected me on a deeper subconscious level.

I no longer have a relationship with the sitters or anyone that bullied me, but I do now have a surprisingly good relationship with my mom. I even leaned on her emotionally a lot recently and she's been a great listener and gives good advice. She's never exhibited that sort of behavior since my teenage years, and she's gone out of her way to be welcoming to my wife, who's an immigrant, and to show love to my son. We practically have to beg her not to visit us so much because she just loves him so much.

I know I should hate her for all she did, and we haven't talked about it, but I don't really care and I'm enjoying having a good relationship with her. I'm not sure if that's healthy or sick.

Thank you for sharing that. It's amazing how complicated shit can be. And, you know, just keep listening to your gut, keep listening to your gut. I think the, when the shoulds and the coulds and all that start plaguing us, that's usually when I think we stop listening to our gut.

This is an Awfulsome Moment filled out by Duped by Bunny Poop, Then Dumped by You, Too. And he writes, I’m a new listener to your show and have such an appreciation for it. I am noticing myself reaching out to others empathetically and have been making connections with others that I previously was too nervous to try. Thank you for that.

One such connection was last night with my Uber driver. Making the usual Uber talk, I discovered that he did not complete university because he had a very traumatic event that spun him into a two-year very dark and incapacitating depression. He was now about 24 years old. Because of listening to your show, I was able to connect with him and gently keep the conversation going in order to let him know that he is not alone and how amazing his support system of family and friends were, as they basically scraped him off the ground and loved him back to health.

I was generous with my own fucked-up information, and I feel like that helped some of the walls to come down, too, and acted like a fertilizer on a very meaningful moment with me and another human being. Upon reaching my destination, he said, oh, a strip club. I thought you were a Christian. Thank you for that.

This is a Shame and Secrets Survey filled out by a woman who calls herself Almost Free. And she is straight, in her 30s, raised in a pretty dysfunctional environment. Ever been the victim of sexual abuse? Yes, and I never reported it.

My mother, a middle school teacher, molested me until I was about seven or eight. I remember kicking her in the chest and saying, bitch, if you ever touch me like that again I'll kill you. That's interesting, how many similarities there are in the surveys that I read this week, because they were practically back to back, you know, maybe one or two in between these, but anyway, continuing.

I didn't discover until I had my own daughter that there was much more damage that was done. For example, I taught my daughter to wash herself at two years old because I would tremble and shake at the thought of giving my own daughter a bath. Just the tip of the iceberg. There were always, quote, issues with my privates, where she would, quote, have to apply various creams herself.

By the way, if you are listening to this episode, feel free to contact me. I know of a support group for people who have experienced almost the exact same thing that you are describing, and they found a lot of healing and kinship in connecting to those other people who were sexually abused by their mother.

And what you describe, the cream, you know, excuses to apply creams, that's like a big one. That's like one of the most popular ones of mothers that sexually abuse their daughters. And the other one is calling them into the bathroom when the mom is in there, walking around the house naked despite the child being uncomfortable with it, and invading the child's privacy when they are in the bathroom or changing, despite knowing that that child doesn't want that.

My daughter was able to wash herself on her own at three and there were not many times that I had to do this, maybe about five since she was born. Oh, I think she's talking about putting cream on. I'd use a Q-tip and tremble. I realized that I still had plenty of work to do. Having a daughter and going through various stages makes me aware of how sick my mom was. I'm glad I went to therapy up until I gave birth and some therapy after to learn how to not pass these issues on to my daughter, but to this day, I still get pissed.

She died right before I started back at college. She was sick for a long time. This is the same person who told her own daughter, knowing I had a high IQ, that I wasn't smart enough for college and should just get a good job. Who does that? She was a teacher who helped former students of hers go to college.

She's been physically and emotionally abused. After standing up to my mother, which meant me staying up all night that night with a knife in my bed, it was verbal put-downs and knock-down fights until I left the house and even after. When I was younger, I didn't fight back, but after a few years I said, what do I have to lose, and would fight her back as hard as I could.

I literally worked out and weight trained so I could kick her ass. She punched me in the face for putting too much soap in the sink to wash dishes. She'd pull my hair so hard, in front of my friends, that I couldn't even brush it. Why? Who knows. To this day, my temper is unmanaged.

I have learned to let a lot of things go and process them, but I cannot deal with anyone that's manipulative or negative. I immediately go into survival mode and can very nicely cut them deeply with my words. Now I try to leave the situation if I feel myself getting that way.

I left my last job because my boss reminded me so much of my mother that I couldn't deal with it. I went to the ER with chest pains while working for that lady, my first experience of a full-blown anxiety attack.

Any positive experiences with the abuser? She was a single mother. My dad left when I was about five or six, but he managed to see me every week. I have a few stepmothers that were more motherly to me than my own mother. I don't really know any good things because to me they were always around other people, they were fake to me.

If she tried to give me a hug, I'd ask if she was dying. When she did die, she laid on my shoulder, the most creepiest moment in my life. I wanted to shrug her off. I am glad she is dead.

Darkest thoughts. I wish my mother died earlier. I wish she'd died when I was under 18 so I might have had a shot at a normal life, maybe stay with my dad and my stepmom at the time. It wouldn't have mattered where I stayed, just not with her. I did as much as I could around other families that my mom left me with so they could like me, hoping someone would take me, but she literally had everyone fooled. Some of her students' parents would let their daughters stay over for the weekend. Bad idea. I always slept on the couch when they were over, but I had my own room with bunk beds.

I can't bring myself to really go there just yet, but it's sick and creepy. Did I mention I was happy she's gone? It's only been three years since she died, but I must say these are the best years of my life.

Darkest secrets. I would put soap in her food. I'd just watch her get sick. Then when she needed help, I'd act like she didn't exist, a little payback for her waking me up in the middle of the night when she got home at about 1:00 a.m. on a school night with punches in my chest to go wash a bowl and spoon out in the sink, then punching me because I used too much soap.

Sexual fantasies most powerful to you. I don't have any big fantasies. It's kind of sad, but my fantasy is a loving man that's kind to me and my daughter. That's literally it. That is not sad at all. That's beautiful.

What, if anything, would you like to say to someone? I would like to, I would have loved to ask my dad if he wanted me to stay over at his house that night that he died. I would have been there to call 911 earlier. He died of a heart attack. Maybe it could have been prevented, question mark. I spent the evening with him and left early to go home.

What, if anything, do you wish for? I wish for me to be sober and mentally healthy. I have not had much experience with these things in my life. I want to be the best mom I can be, to finally attract a healthy relationship.

Have you shared these things with others? I have a close friend. She's okay with me sharing because she grew up with me. Another close friend that I told about the molestation wasn't comfortable with it. I've learned to keep things to myself.

How do you feel after writing these things down? I've kept a journal since I was about 12. It saved me. I always make sure to keep an open notebook. I write in it whenever I feel like it. I feel comfort in knowing that I have pages to write on. If I get to the last page, I immediately go out and get another book, even if I don't write in it for a long time.

Anything you'd like to share with someone who shares your thoughts or experiences? I've listened to a few podcasts on here about people who have been in my same situation. The anger is real, and there is no rule that says you can't be happy that someone that hurt you dies. Also the part about these people being very involved in the community or people that others would say, I would never think he or she would ever do that, they do and they will.

Thank you so much for filling that out, and I am so sorry, I am so sorry that you had to go through that. That is, I mean, how unsafe the world must feel to you, and I, if sobriety is a problem for you, I highly, highly encourage you to address that first, because it is so hard to make any kind of emotional headway when we're deep into our addictions. But sending you some love.

This is a Happy Moment filled out by Volatile Violet, and she writes, recently I've been making friends with two people from work. I can't believe we found each other. Each of us has a parent with both BPD and bipolar disorder. BPD is borderline personality disorder. It's incredible to talk to the two of them about all my shit. They are probably the first people I've met who can actually understand what I've been dealing with.

I've tried to talk about my issues with other friends and I've always felt like I was making them uncomfortable. With these two friends, we can commiserate and say, yes, I know what that feels like, that's fucked up. Thank you for that.

Those are the little moments, like she just described, that sustain me. Like when I'm going through a tough time, just that simple connection with somebody that understands and I know is really hearing me, seeing me, feeling me.

This is, you know what, I'm not going to read this one, but this is another one that was filled out this week, and this is a, I can't remember if it's a guy or a girl, a girl, a woman who was also molested by a babysitter, and she's in her 40s now.

You can see why I get so angry when there's something on TV or in the media referring to sexual abusers as if they're all male or people minimizing the effect that something has on someone if the perpetrator is female.

This is the last one. This is a [chuckles], this might be one of my favorite Awfulsome Moments, and this is filled out by a guy who calls himself Finger Blast From the Past. And he writes, OCD had plagued me throughout high school, but I only got my diagnosis during my first year at college. I had decided to stop eating because I was so afraid of contamination.

I am one of the lucky few people who have a great support system. I had a happy childhood with loving parents and a best friend who cares deeply about me. They saw me through terrible times, packing me up from college, forcing me to go to the psychiatrist to get medication and forcing me to take it, even though I thought it was contaminated, and driving me to CBT and support groups.

It took eight months of intense work but I was finally starting to get better. To celebrate and expose me to another healthy level of fear, my parents wanted to take me and my best friend to the family cottage. I'd avoided going for years because it was essentially a shack with no running water, torture for someone suffering from contamination OCD, but I loved that damn cottage when I was a kid and I felt ready to push myself to go.

During my recovery I was also able to support my best friend as he came out of the closet. We're from Louisiana, so this wasn't easy for him. His daddy still doesn't speak to him today, seven years later. We became really close that year. I could tell he had feelings for me, and although I considered myself straight, my love for him was so strong that the boundaries became a little blurred in my mind.

I'd been so miserable for so long, so I figured I owed it to myself and to him to see if there was something there. I was ready to live my life. I decided that the week away was the perfect time to make a move.

The first night there we went for a walk and I kissed him. It felt right. And he was so happy that it made me even happier. A few more days passed where we would kiss whenever we had a quiet moment together. Things were picking up, and when my parents told us that they were fixing to go fishing, I knew what was going to happen.

They left and we really started going at it. I was midway through giving my first blowjob ever when my daddy walked in. He walked straight back out the door. When he finally came home, oh, and didn't come home for hours. I was losing my damn mind and my best friend was trying to comfort me.

When he finally came home, I couldn't even look him in the eye. He asked me to go for a walk with him and my mama asked my friend to clean fish for dinner with her. We started walking and my Louisiana-born-and-raised daddy said these exact words. I got three things to say to you, son. First thing, I love you just the way you are. Second thing, I told your mama and she loves you just the way you are. Last thing, boy, if you're doing that, I know you are over with this contamination obsession and I'm really proud of you. That's right, I got caught having sex with another man, and my daddy told me he was proud of me. It was the best damn day of my life.

And I think that is the best Awfulsome Moment we have had in however many years we've been doing those, so thank you so much for that. Thank you, guys, again for your support and just the nice letters and e-mails and posts on Twitter and Facebook and stuff like that. It's, it just feels good. It feels good. And I hope you heard something in this episode that brought you comfort or turned on a light bulb for you--

 

[Closing music swells]

 

--or just distracted you or helped you fall asleep. And never forget that you are not alone, and thanks for listening.

 

[Closing music]

 

Transcription services donated by Accurate Secretarial LLC. You can find them at www.AccurateSecretarial.com.