Stacy Reynolds

Stacy Reynolds

The 43 year old teacher and recovering alcoholic talks about being sexualized as a child by her father, having to cut contact with her controlling mother, and trying to heal while dealing with anxiety, panic attacks and PTSD.

Get info on Paul’s upcoming appearances in Oakland July 20 & 21.

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Episode notes:

Get info on Paul's upcoming appearances in Oakland July 20 & 21.

Episode Transcript:

Paul Gilmartin: Welcome to episode 286 with my guest Stacy Reynolds. 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 to past traumas and sexual dysfunction to everyday compulsive thinking. This show is not to be a substitute for professional mental consoling. I’m not a therapist, it’s not a doctor’s office. It’s more like a waiting room that doesn’t suck. The website for this show is Uh go there check it out, all kinds of good stuff there. Forums, we got blogs, guest blogs. You can fill out a survey. Maybe we will read your survey on the show. And there are also links if we mention to check this thing out on the podcast. A lot of times we will put a link to that under the show notes on the webpage for that episode. And speaking of links, want to remind any of you in the Bay area that I am coming there let’s see, this is airing Friday, I will be coming there in about 5 days. July 20th & 21st in Oakland. I will be performing at New Parkway Theater. Actually not performing, we are doing 2 nights of live podcast recording and the theme is raised in a cult. One of my guests is Lynn Washington who is the host and producer of the podcast Snap Judgement and the other person is the grandson of L Ron Hubbert, the founder of Scientology so I’m sure they will have fascinating stories to talk about and I am really looking forward to that. The shows are at 7 o’clock and it is $20 for each show or $30 for both shows so please come check it out. I will put a link to, on the website for how to buy tickets because the link is too long say exactly what it is. But I’m really looking forward to it. I had a good time last time we went up there and did a live recording. Before I read some of these surveys. This episode with Stacey was recorded quite a while ago when there is a point in the interview where I say she asks about my relationship with my mom and it’s a little confusing because this was 2 years ago and obviously since then I have decided to completely cut contact with her and she has since heard the podcast and heard me talk about the things that happened to me that she did in childhood and so, I don’t know if that makes any sense, who gives a shit. Listen to the fucking podcast. Here are some surveys. These are from the struggle in a sentence surveys. And a guy who calls himself, Not Steve, says about his depression, it’s like everyone is watching you drown in a shallow river. That is, these are all so good. The Bushga Jr, says about her depression. I feel like I’m a soda can that is somehow materialized at the bottom of the ocean and immediately has crumbled into itself by the pressure. And about her hypo mania, a sweaty, shaky confident high that has an irritable edge. Kind of like cocaine. Cheap cocaine. That is what hypo mania is. Cheap cocaine. I love hypo mania but it deals with some wreckage. With hypo mania. Ally, who is a trans female, writes about having dyspraxia and she writes dyspraxia is like trying to type on a lacking keyboard. You know how you want to move but your body takes extra time to process it. About living with an abuser. I’ve been told I’m a liar so many times, I’ve forgotten my own truth. Snap shot from her life, my mother screamed at me and told me that if I don’t stop crying she’d drive me to a mental institution and leave me there. That’s just sounds like good solid parenting. And a selfless mom who is willing to drive you to where you need to go. So I don’t know what you are complaining about. Sending you some love. That is fucking horrible. This is filled out by Thea and Thea writes about her depression. Too lethargic to think of anything thought provoking about my depression. I think that is the worst part of it. There is no language I can use to break through from me to others. There is no way to make anyone understand. Well you know what, we understand, and you hit the nail on the head with that. It is, it is, so hard to put into words what it feels like and there are few things when you’re in a trough of depression, there are few things more taxing than trying to describe it to somebody. It’s like trying to describe what fog is really like. About having body dysmorphic disorder, I know I’m not fat I just don’t believe it. That’s pretty profound. A snap shot from her life, purging in a port-o-potty instead of just letting myself digest a simple meal. Not being able to hold my hair back because one hand is keeping my nose shut and the other is jammed my throat. Covering the evidence with a lot of toilet paper and joining my friends like nothing happened. I hope you open up to somebody with that. That is heartbreaking that you are keeping that secret. But I certainly know what, what it’s like when you are in that pain and you find the one coping tool that you know is unhealthy but it’s on a certain level, it works a little bit, but yeah, sending you some love. This is filled out by Prozac Wellbutrin Xanax oh my and she writes about her anorexia, It’s mine, all mine. A sweet, sweet hit of control that lessens my powerlessness. About her anger issues, fear that I know what I am capable of and no way of knowing if today is the day that I do something I can never take back. After the birth, a snap shot of her life, after the birth of my second child, my postpartum depression came rushing back immediately. When my son was 2 months old, I was so overwhelmed from his crying that I grabbed a golf club and smashed 20-25 holes in the wall of my garage. Afterwards I was shaking uncontrollably but I felt so much better.


PG: I’m here with Stacy Reynolds who is a listening who emailed me, and do you remember what you said in your email

Stacy Reynolds: Originally it was that my father sexualized me and that we had that in common and that he had written something because you were beating yourself up that you need to not beat yourself because the flaws and imperfections are what makes us want to listen. That was it originally and then recently I emailed because I knew I was going to be in town and I’ve been dealing with my mom in therapy.

PG: You shared a little bit, a snippet of your mom. Share the snippet that you shared with me in the email

SR: Yeah, I had gotten out of a therapy session and I called her cause she was thinking about coming to visit us and we ended up getting into a slight argument, not really an argument, more of a judgement, I would say, on her part about how I should be teaching English as a second language, which she has never studied and I have a master’s degree in education. Not specifically English teaching but language acquisition and teaching. And she kept telling me I was doing it wrong and so I basically said I don’t want to talk about this anymore and kind of hung up the phone on her and called my therapist right back and said Can you get me in tonight.

PG: And did your therapist?

SR: No we talked later

PG: You have a good therapist

SR: Yeah she is amazing, actually I just graduated. And we are not, we are finishing.

PG: How long did it take?

SR: Um, this time? It was uh,

PG: Well stuff comes up in layers so it makes sense

SR: Yeah that exactly what she always, she like, well I guess you are now ready to deal with your mom which I never really thought about before but I was there from like, let see, the middle of June til just two weeks ago. So

PG: That’s pretty short

SR: A little fine tuning

PG: Oh because this wasn’t your first go around.

SR: Yeah

PG: I see

SR: No this was not my first go around

PG: Where is a good place to start? Your life, your story. Give us some of the broad issues that you struggle with. While I do want to certainly touch on the stuff that our parents did, what they were like, the whole environment and stuff like that because I think it is super important. Sometimes I’ll listen back to an episode and I’ll be like, man I focused way too much on their parents. I didn’t focus enough on what their struggling with today or I dunno.

SR: Yea

PG: So I want to if there is

SR: I like a bulleted list, so let me go to the list

PG: Bring your inner teacher out, Stacy

SR: So the biggest things are I am an alcoholic. I’m in recovering for 4 years in August

PG: Congratulations.

SR: Yeah I’m and I’ve grew up with chaos. My father’s an alcoholic. He is no longer living.

PG: He’s drinking God’s bottle now.

SR: Yes, well I don’t know if it’s God. I don’t know if I believe in that.

PG: He’s drinking someone’s bottle.

SR: Yeah he is sucking something dry right now. Sorry I’m gonna try to not knock over the table while I cross my legs.

PG: Its ok get comfortable.

SR: And my dad died in what 2002. And then he kind of set off a spiral of death for me and within I want to say 10 years we lost something like 8 or 9 people

PG: Really

SR: And a cat in there somewhere that had cancer or something. And suddenly we watched her die and it was really, phew

PG: And did they have the dignity to tag team each other while they were dying so that the next person knew it was their turn?

SR: One of them did, one of them did. But all the others just kind of said, hmm time to go. And some of them I was ready and it was ok, but a couple of them were pretty, pretty traumatic and I eventually never really had time to grieve anybody and I just started drinking more, drinking more, grieving, drinking, was all the same thing for me. My brothers fully alcoholic right now living at home with my mom and he is older than me and so he is 45 and he lives at home with my mom

PG: Oh my god I can’t imagine how sad he must be.

SR: I know

PG: He’s probably not in touch with his feelings. He is probably just numb.

SR: I don’t think so anymore.

PG: Yeah

SR: After my dad died, I cut myself off from my family with the help from the therapist at that time.

PG: Anyone else besides you and your brother?

SR: Nope. Cousins and stuff, but you know as we get older we’re not, we’re all kind of, in fact, I don’t think I really knew anything about any of them until maybe the last 5 to 10 years.

PG: And you are originally from the western suburbs of Chicago and now you live in the Twin Cities.

SR: Yup

PG: So go ahead, keep talking

SR: Ok, the rest of the bulleted list. Mom issues, she kind of took over as the bad guy, or you know how you have someone who is the evil person in the family, you have to have someone who si the nice person? Who is on your side, kind of, supposedly, but not really? But then the evil person is gone, you see all the evil that is there that you didn’t see.

PG: You know my therapist describes it as like a mobile that hangs above a child’s crib and its in balance but when you pull one, like if someone gets sober or someone dies, everybody else shifts, then to try to create some kind of harmony or balance, sick harmony or balance, but we are all used to playing our roles. I’m the victim, or I’m the bully. Or whatever and then that one person drops out and everyone else is going, who the fuck am I? Am I rescuing, am I asking to be rescued, what am I doing?

SR: Yeah

PG: So thinks kind of turned upside down when your dad died?

SR: Yeah I mean to be honest, I was glad and

PG: Was it a relief?

SR: Here’s what is really funny, I used to be a marathoner. He died the day before my second marathon and I was like fuck you, fucking unbelievable. You have to shit on everything I do. You just have to shit on all of it.

PG: As if he chose how and when he was going to die.

SR: Exactly, because why wouldn’t he? It’s all about me.

PG: Right.

SR: You know.

PG: The untreated alcoholic. Were you untreated at that point?

SR: Oh yeah But I wasn’t drinking at that time, not really.

PG: But you still had the -

SR: Oh yeah totally. When I look back at my life I totally understand all of the patterns and all of the things because it was all there. Always, I just didn’t actively start drinking until after 21 and then not really the way it got really bad into my 30’s. I am lucky. I had a whole lifetime without alcohol. So I know how easy it is to have fun without it and what life feels like without drinking. It’s a big advantage for me. I don’t have to look for sober activities because to me everything is a sober activity.

PG: That’s nice. I started getting fucked up when I was 14, so all the stuff that I would have enjoyed doing was riding my bike.

SR: Oh my god, I brought you some bubble gum.

PG: Throwing mud at cars.

SR: Pulling girls hair.

PG: Yeah. So before we get to that stuff, let’s talk about what was your house like growing up. Talk about this.

SR: Well it was a square.

PG: Did it have windows?

SR: Yeah we had windows. It was bad 70’s and leftover built in the 50’s décor. But it was chaos, it was absolute chaos. In therapy we talked about my very first memory, which was sitting on my chair at the kitchen table and my dad making some comment about hamburger and where it comes from and my mom turning to him and I still remember it so distinctly, she said “don’t say that to her she won’t want to eat it” and I didn’t understand what any of that meant. And I thought, am I not supposed to eat the hamburger now? And I don’t know what to do. I was a little bit of a pleaser and so I started crying which I did constantly. I was a really big cry baby And I remember my dad did something, I don’t remember exactly what he said because it was fuzzy but I remember a chair getting thrown back because I think my mom got out of her chair really fast and she ran into the bathroom and locked herself and was crying. And that was my first memory.

PG: Seems like an odd thing to run into the bathroom over.

SR: Yeah which means I remember, my emotional remember, is memory is that I remember thinking he was going to hit her. I don’t know if that’s actually true or not but I remember something happening that was.

PG: Did you ever see him hit her?

SR: Violence… no. No he wouldn’t have. That’s the easy way out.

PG: I wonder if it was just one of those situation where shit had built up between them and she was like, ya know.

SR: Yeah who knows?

PG: You know if she is codependent to your dad’s alcoholism. There can be a lot of emotional manipulation, you know playing the martyr.

SR: Yeah oh my god he was so bad about that. We were all out to get him because you know, a 2 or 3 year old child is definitely out to get her father.

PG: I was talking about the mom but both are the same way in many ways in codependence and alcoholism are about themselves. I think codependents hide it better. Fool themselves into thinking they’re, that everyone is at their beck and call.

SR: Oh yeah its manipulation.

PG: So that they don’t feel guilty. And it’s not coming from a place of genuine giving.

SR: Right.

PG: It’s coming from a place of resentment.

SR: Right right. And it’s about image.

PG: Yeah.

SR: What does everybody think of me?

PG: God who doesn’t, who doesn’t?

SR: Yeah. I’m getting past that at 43. It’s only taken me this long.

PG: I don’t think I’ll ever get over it. I have moments where I feel really secure and I’m like ah people won’t like me or what I’m about, you know, fuck em.

SR: You are also in the public eye though. I have the option of living my nice little quiet life where no one knows me or gives a shit about me and so I have the ability to not give a shit about other people too.

PG: Yeah I guess so, I never thought about that. I never thought about you Stacy, I just think about me.

SR: You probably should have because I am important in my own brain, like a true alcoholic.

PG: So what are some other memories?

SR: Other memories, another big thing that happened apparently is that they moved me up in the middle of kindergarten because I guess I could tie my shoes better than other kids or I could read when I was 3. And that’s why part of why they moved me up.

PG: That seems more likely of a reason to move a kid up than they could tie their shoes, I hope.

SR: But I do remember trying to read the chalkboard in kindergarten when nobody else could and I saw the teacher’s notes for herself and I would see my name up there and I was like “oh my god I’m in trouble. What did I do, what did I do?” It said something about tying shoes and you know like little notes for who needs to know what and I remembering thinking I was in trouble immediately because that’s what you do when you are raised by alcoholics. Everything is your fault. Oh my god I’m in trouble in kindergarten.

PG: Everything is our fault or the three things that all doctors could agree on about addicts and alcoholics is their emotionally immature, they are self-centered and they are hyper sensitive to criticism. The first time I heard that I was like oh my god that hurts, that is strikes so deeply. I had a similar experience when I was in first grade. They brought me down to the principal’s office and I thought that I was in trouble and they made me, I was like why are they making me read and then I found out afterwards it was a book for eighth graders and they were looking at each other like this is a big deal. And it went from horror to oh my god I’m special.

SR: People like me. So apparently I had a really hard time adjusting and being a cry baby I cried all the time. I remember them pulling me out of class why don’t you go get some water after I’d peed in my pants for the 500th time. Cause I just had a hard time socially adjusting. And it came out in therapy. I hadn’t thought about it in ages. Just one of those things that went to the back of my mind and came up recently we talked about it.

PG: That has got to be pretty traumatic wetting your pants in front of people though when you are a kid.

SR: Yeah I never learned that I was supposed to ask. Because they pulled me out of kindergarten when we were learning social skills, you know and things. And so I didn’t know I was supposed to ask and I didn’t know I was supposed to raise my hand. And I really had to go and I would just go.

PG: That’s kind of heartbreaking. Thinking about that little-

SR: I know and kind of stupid at the same time.

PG: I feel so bad when I come home and one of my dogs and pooped or peed and I just think they’re just sitting there in silence you know, who knows maybe they hold it for 5 seconds and maybe they are like, fuck this guy. So go ahead.

SR: I lost my train of thought, which I do a lot because I think.

PG: You are socially awkward, nervous, you moved up.

SR: Oh I was really, really confused. I remember entire sections of elementary school when I would look around and I would have pretty distinct memories of looking around everyone else was working. I had no idea what they were doing. Because apparently I hadn’t heard, hadn’t paid attention. Didn’t know what I was supposed to be doing. I was clueless through most of elementary school.

PG: Because you were just going to fantasy land?

SR: I guess. Yeah but I remember distinctly looking around and being like, am I supposed to be doing something right now? Oh my god what are they doing? Do we have a worksheet? And I would go into anxiety panic that.

PG: So anxiety and panic are kind of a through line in your story.

SR: Yeah I really enjoy them. I really like flight or fight mode. It makes me really happy. It kicks stuff up makes you lose weight.

PG: There can be, fear is a great motivator. I forget who said that, but it is. I remember when I moved to Los Angeles, I never got more work done than I did that first year because I was like, I’m going to starve. I just had this image of being homeless and being starving, but I hate that feeling when you wake up in the morning and it’s just panic.

SR: Yeah panic, yeah. And you quite don’t know where you are. That’s the worst. Having the disorientation. I recently over the last 3 months I’ve been having a lot of disorientation. Not knowing where I am. My mind just blanked out for a minute, kind of day dreaming and then I jump out of it and not know where I was and found out it was part of PTSD.

GM: I was going to say, when you have an abusive, or two abusive parents, and kids learn to go into their head or to retreat into fantasy land. And that stays with you for a long, for I think forever. It’s really hard to be present, it is, it is a struggle to be present when you check out as a kid. Do you remember actively checking out? Other than around your parents?

SR: In school, yeah.

PG: But other than school?

SR: You mean at home?

PG: Yeah.

SR: Oh yeah.

PG: My belief that when you are trapped in a situation that you can’t escape from that’s uncomfortable which it sounds like your family was, that’s when we do our biggest checking out but I’m asking for, do you remember an example?

SR: I don’t have anything specific. I remember though that I spent a lot of time in my head you know and they would make comments like oh she’s so creative, she is going to be a writer. She is going to do something really creative but I was just trying to get away really was all it was. I had a great whole system of imagination and play and I thought I was a princess for a long time. A really long time and I remember distinctly going and I thought I looked a certain way and I guess I don’t know if I just didn’t pay attention when I looked in the mirror, I remember the first time I remember looking in my mom’s mirror and looking at myself going, that’s not me. Who is that? I’m supposed to be wearing a long gown and have long blond sparkly hair. I do not know who this child is who is looking at me in the mirror. I actually thought I was an entirely different person.

PG: Wow.

SR: So I don’t know if I’ve ever told anyone about that.

PG: That’s trippy.

SR: Yeah I remember being slightly disappointed because I didn’t look like the girl that was in my head

PG: Who wouldn’t be disappointed to find out that they weren’t a princess?

SR: Well you know now I wouldn’t be disappointed, but at the time it was a really big deal. I guess I thought I looked like the girl in the little drawings in the coloring books. And I thought I looked like sleeping beauty from Disney. But I really had a completely different image than who I was because I was constantly in my head and being someone else and play acting a different life. You know so like Barbie’s for me were a big deal, match box cars. Anything any kind of toy that could take me out of who I was and where I was.

PG: Did you interact with other kids your age?

SR: Yeah I did. I was really lucky. There were a bunch of little girls in my neighborhood and we were all best friends.

PG: That probably helped you in so many ways.

SR: Yeah I found out later that one of them was molested by her step-father and half the time when we used to go over to ask her to play he would be like “she can’t come out right now,” was when he was raping her basically. Great neighborhood. I don’t know why I just added that.

PG: You know I don’t know that there is a neighborhood where that doesn’t happen.

SR: I don’t either, it’s just that we had, I mean you’ve seen Lilia, it looks like the Brady Bunch setting. And my family on the outside looked like the perfect little happy family. Mom stays home. Dad goes to work. The typical happy family of the 70’s and 80’s. I didn’t even know what divorce was until I got to junior high school.

PG: And how did you know, is that what she told you her step-father did?

SR: Yeah, eventually. Cause we didn’t know early on. Later, after she had told an adult and after everything had come out, then we sat around and talked about it one day, but otherwise...

PG: How old were you when you talked about it?

SR: Oh maybe 12, 13ish I think. Maybe it was older than that. I’m not quite sure.

PG: And did he go to jail?

SR: No, I remember they went to family counselling and they stayed married for a little while and eventually her mom divorced him, I think. I don’t remember. I’ve lost a lot of details. That’s a really big thing from that time, cause I remember my father had made sexual comments about my body and an old family friend had done that to me, to all the women in our family. So that seems to be a reoccurring theme in that neighborhood. It was so creepy.

PG: Yeah I think so many adults may think they’re intentions are good. May think they are complimenting a child, but no child really wants an adult scanning them.

SR: No, no. The big memory that I was working on that brought me back to therapy this time was I was having a lot of issues with men looking at me and making me feel creeped out and I would have to hide behind Jodi and he is awesome.

PG: Jodi is her husband.

SR: Yeah. He would actually get in front of me and go what do you want me to do? Where am I going? Where am I standing? And I would be like stand right there because that guy is creeping me out. And my creep discerner is pretty high. So if I…

PG: Your creep meter?

SR: Yeah my creep meter is pretty good. Pretty honed. So if anyone slightly weird to me ding ding ding. It goes off pretty loud in my head. It’s not so bad now because I’ve been to therapy but I used to have to physically put someone or something or distance between me and the person setting that off. So that is part of the reason I went back to therapy in June. And, what was I talking about? Ah, the first really traumatic memory where we did EMDR about it and kind of had to take away some of the shock and pain with it is me walking up, you remember how our parents were our dinner bells and they would go out to the front door and go “Stacy!” And that was my call to dinner. My dad had done that once and I was coming up the yard and he was standing in to the door and he was in this hyper masculinized posture like taking up the whole door frame and as I was walking up, I couldn’t had been more than 8 or 9, and he said “whoo look at those curves” and he looked me up and down. And I felt myself shrink into myself because who does that to an 8 or 9 year old child? That was a big deal and that was the year that he started talking about my legs and how I was getting more curves and “whoo its getting time for the young girls to be shaving their legs.” Everything was just super uncomfortable.

PG: He probably thought he was being the cool dad.

SR: Probably but it was all so disgusting. It was disgusting because he did the same thing, he would look at my girlfriends like that. So I didn’t’ want my girlfriends coming over. And the thing is, at 8 years old, think about how little that is. Now, in my mind cause I work with girls that are 9 to 12 years old.

PG: Saying that to a girl who is 16 or 17-

SR: Yeah but at least they have curves then-

PG: Yeah it’s absurd. It’s inappropriate at those ages.

SR: It’s their father.

PG: Wow I’m really sorry that that, you had to experience that. So talk about the feelings you talked about, wanting to hide, wanting to shrink. The feeling that I would get when my mom would drank me in with her eyes was numbness. I would just feel, almost like I would leave my body, not like when you leave body and you are watching yourself from above. But it would be like I would just, I dunno. I don’t know how to say it. Just like I would disappear. Like it’s my mind, I would just blank myself out. I would just think about something else because with a parent who’s manipulative and inappropriate and has the power over you, you can’t take on that. You can’t take them on. You can’t go “that’s inappropriate.”

SR: Well also if they are an alcoholic, then they pull out the martyr card. Well I’m just trying to be nice to you. This is your fault.

PG: I’m just giving you attention. I’m building your self-esteem.

SR: Exactly. I’m just trying to tell you you’re pretty. Why don’t you just say I’m pretty then? Fascinating concept. Well I can still distinctly remember how it feels. Kind of tingly. Almost as if …

PG: But not a good tingly…

SR: No almost as if earnest tingly and kind of curling into myself. If there was some way to curl my body so that somehow my back could curl.

PG: Kind of like a taco?

SR: Yeah! Exactly a human taco kind of curled around and stuff on the inside kind of visible not really. I just didn’t want to be visible. I didn’t want to be seen in that kind of affect me for the rest of my life

PG: you also shared and to this day, well although I don’t have contact with her anymore, but the last time I visited her, I locked the door when I used the bathroom at my mom’s place because I feel like she is going to barge in. It’s just a feeling of …yeah

SR: I’ve always felt like that with my dad too. There were a couple times when my mom actually knocked on the door and said your dad really needs to go to the bathroom so he is going to come in. And I remember we had one of those shower doors that, sliding lovely doors. Frosted but it was that wavy glass and I remember I was old enough so that if I were standing up he would see my outline and I was mortified by that so I would sink down into the bottom of the tub so that he couldn’t see any part of me even through the wavy glass. I was just mortified. Because he could have waited. He always could have waited. But he had to be in the bathroom when I was in the bathroom. That is actually one of the things that has carried through out and poor Jodi has had to deal with this a couple of times or more where he has come upon me quickly when I’m changing and he is just coming into the room and we never close doors in our house. And he comes in and I “yaaa!” have a panic feeling like I have to hurrily dress myself because he is startling me and I’m not covered and that is a terrible thing to feel with your husband. But he’s a trooper and has dealt it with. I’ve heard him coming up the stairs before and have yelled “Don’t come up, I’m not dressed!” Which is ridiculous.

PG: Wow.

SR: Yeah it’s not so much now but over the last 11 years that we have been together.

PG: What’s the fear in your brain at that moment?

SR: He is going to see me.

PG: And?

SR: It’s basically my dad. And he is going to see me with no shirt on. And that’s …

PG: He is going to have the power?

SR: Yeah exactly. And that’s my worst nightmare. If my dad had actually ever seen me naked I don’t know that I would have recovered, to be honest. I, that’s beyond my imagination. I never thought about that before. I never followed through the thought. I’ve just been like “I gotta cover up!” I want to not be seen.

PG: Do you feel like it’s affected your sexuality and your ability to be intimate?

SR: At times, yeah. Not consistently. I’m really lucky.

PG: It sounds like he is a pretty patient gentle guy.

SR: Yeah and I had a survival thing and I somehow knew I was going to be ok. And so, like when I first met Jodie, I was unstoppable. I was training for my first marathon. Had my first real time full time teaching gig at a real high school instead of just tutoring or having things on the side. And I felt great and I knew I was going to conquer the world. And I feel like that year I did, because it’s funny because right after that my dad died.

PG: Do you have problems being still and not doing, not having projects, not having a full schedule?

SR: Not anymore. Now I love it. If I could just do nothing and get paid, it would be a pretty sweet gig for me.

PG: You distracted yourself previously, you would just stay busy.

SR: Yeah I was just constantly doing things and I had a hard time saying no. The typical trying to fill my life with whatever so I didn’t have to sit down and actually think. So I started doing yoga in May or June and started paying attention to what was going out of my body and part of that was why I wanted to start going to therapy. I realized how much of my memory and how much of my pain is locked up in my body. And, hip flexors super tight all the time because I was always in escape mode. You always have to be ready to go. So your muscles and your hips and the front of your legs always have to be tense. So I had been holding onto tension in parts of my body for so long that I didn’t know what it felt like to not have tension there. Doing yoga and working with my therapist has made a huge difference.

PG: I would imagine too that it helped you be more attuned to what your body was telling you in certain situations so you could learn what your triggers were. And for me that’s what lead me to finally realizing what my feelings were around my mom because I wouldn’t allow myself to think those thoughts. But when my body would tense up and I would want to cover my genitals and I would want to lock the door and I would feel dead when I hugged her. And I would feel a knot in my stomach when her name would come up in call waiting. I’d learned to listen to my body and I was like why these are some pretty serious signals. It can’t all be me just being selfish and a bad son.

SR: Yeah, when is the last time you talked to your mom?

PG: April or May of 2012.

SR: So does she still contact you?

PG: We tried doing letters. I said, let’s try doing this but I don’t want to talk about the past because she can’t, she has trouble owning things and I’m not looking for an apology and I Just don’t want, I just want her to respect the boundaries that I try to set today. One of the boundaries I set was, I don’t want to talk about the past. The issues I have you’re her. I didn’t get into specifics, I just said, you know when I cut contact the original time. Some painful memories are coming up. I don’t hate you. I’m not mad at you. I’m just exhausted by our relationship and I need a break. And then when I wrote her, I said it’s been a year or whatever and I’d like to try writing because that seems safe. But I don’t want to talk the stuff that I mentioned when I left that message for you and by her second letter she was trying to say what she thought was causing me harm. Saying you know, I remember this cousin babysat you and he comes from a physically abusive family. Maybe that was something? And then another one said that basically said that my depression is my attitude, is what causes my depression and that was the final nail. And so I just didn’t write back because I was like, she doesn’t, I don’t owe her a letter back. I asked for boundary to be respected and she’s not going to change and it would make me crazy to try to get her to change. But it makes me very sad that I had to cut out of my life and it makes me sad that there’s a chance that she might not know the reasons why but on a certain level I think she’s got to know.

SR: She’s got to know.

PG: Some of the stuff she did was just really creepy.

SR: My mom said she never knew that all the abuse, like my father calling me names and him being so gross with me. She had no idea it was going on. I was like, where were you living? Where were you living because the walls were like papier Mache. You could hear everything, you could hear someone fart in the next room.

PG: What would your dad say to you?

SR: He was hyper critical of me. If he wasn’t at my brother I don’t remember because my whole life I was compared to my brother. He was the super star and he was going places.

PG: Is he older?

SR: Yeah

PG: How much

SR: 2 ½ years.

PG: Did you guys get along?

SR: That’s another thing that came up. I wanted to and I thought we did but now looking back, I don’t think we did because everything was on his terms. Me trying so hard to please him and to be his buddy and to try ingratiate myself with him’

PG: And it’s so hard for kids that are raised with no role models, who are raised by narcissists. Their needs aren’t being met and they try to fulfill their needs in whatever way they can. It’s so rarely that it’s anything that’s healthy. So often older siblings winds up taking out all of their sadness and rage out on the younger sibling and the younger sibling has no idea its filtering down from the parent who has no idea how to parent.

SR: I think what was happening with him too was, he really was the high school star. He was that guy who everybody, he did everything, he was in band. He was in sports. He was good at everything he did. He was smart. All of that stuff. And looking back at me now, I know I just don’t fit in to a traditional type of learning system. My master’s degree is experiential teaching degree which is a different way of looking at education. It’s all student centered. Its project based, using scientific method type stuff for no matter what the subject is. That is what I am good at. So I was ok at school. I was really good at sports and all that as well but I wasn’t like him and I was never going to be popular because I was fucked up. So looking back I know now that he was talking shit about me at school and everyone called me little Reynolds because I was the super stars little sister. There were times when I was seriously bullied and these kids were going to beat me up and he was there and he just saw me and kept walking, which I don’t blame him for. That’s what you do when you are a kid but at the same time.

PG: It hurts.

SR: Yeah and I don’t feel resentment towards him at this point. At this point, I just really feel sorry for him but when I look back and talking about getting along with him, it’s tricky because I thought we did but looking back now I’m pretty sure we didn’t. Cause everything was on his terms and I just really needed someone to be on my side

PG: So nobody really saw you Nobody saw little Stacy.

SR: No that’s something. There was a really big turning point for me in therapy. This last time I was there because we were talking about how there was not one person in my life that reached out to me who knew what was going on. Because you know when you grow up with an alcoholic or some crazy person everything on the surface looks good and you learn how to go through life and you don’t talk about it and you don’t address is with anybody. It’s normal. You don’t know that life is supposed to be some other way.

PG: You don’t. And it is so maddening when you find out that it is.

SR: You’re like, oh my god, these people. I would go to people’s houses later on in life and would be like “they all like each other.” What is going on here?

PG: And you laugh.

SR: People love each other in this family and I don’t know how to act here. But it was kind of funny. There was kind of a thing that there was not one single person in my life that saw me, knew what was going on, helped me, reached out to me, not one single person and, she was saying it in an ‘oh my god, you are so resilient. You got out of that’ kind of a way, but it was also very good for me because I realized, so all this time I had been feeling like all this was my fault. That I was a terrible child. I knew I was going hell by the time I was 8 cause I knew I was such a bad person.

PG: Because of the things that your parents told you?

SR: Yeah.

PG: You believed them?

SR: Yeah because my 6-7-8 year old brain, of course I believed them, they were my parents. But ti was good for me to realize that it wasn’t my fault. I was absolutely by myself, surviving somehow, magically and somehow believing there was something better out there. Maybe I am retroactively adding that thought in but there was something in me that got out. I’m really the only person in my family that has escaped that shit.

PG: That has healed.

SR: Yeah, yeah very much so.

PG: What did it feel like the first time you had felt seen and heard? Was it in therapy?

SR: I had one teacher in 5th grade that made me feel good about myself.

PG: What did they say?

SR: She just saw me and admired the fact that I was reading books that were way advanced. Way past what I should have been reading. She paired me up with, I was friends with the non-white people in my school all the time for some reason even though my dad was a stupendously racist.

PG: Your dad was a charmer.

SR: He was fantastic and what is really funny is that everyone thought he was great. You know how that is. Everyone was like “oh my god your dad is so cool.” And in the back of my mind I was like my god you should come live with his fucker for 24 hours. I would love it!

PG: That’s how I feel about my mom. You know narcissist are so charming.

SR: Oh my god everybody else thinks they are great. He was not on the parent teacher association but he was kind of, I can’t remember what it was, it was some kind of sports organization. The parents would raise money for uniforms and sell the concessions and things like that and everybody just loved him. He was president and I thought if that fucker shows up to another game of mine and he yells at me about a fucking sport he doesn’t know anything about I’m gonna fucking knife him. But that’s how he was. He would scream and shout at me. Volleyball, he never played volleyball. He knew nothing about the rules. He knew nothing about it. And he’d be out there “You need to hit the ball!” And I’d be like “wrong kind of set for hitting the ball.” And I’d be on the court you know, butt fuck up in the stands shouting at me about shit he knows nothing about.

PG: Have you ever found, this has been one of the hardest things for me to accept, is that I have many of the qualities of my mom and dad, the bad qualities. What are the bad qualities that you struggle with inside of yourself that you got genetically or you go inherited? Through the role modeling of your parents.

SR: Hyper criticism. You know if you grow up in that negative attitude. It has taken me a really long time to learn balance and to be content and to realize that I don’t have to be pissed off about everything. And the hyper critical stuff, woof I still am so mean to Jodi sometimes. At least I know I am. That’s the redeeming thing in my head. I hear myself when I’m doing it. And I can pull myself out of it and go “that was a really asshole thing to say.” But I’m still angry.

PG: That’s like 90% of recovery. And the healing is, you catch yourself.

SR: Yeah.

PG: You may still have those voices in your head for the rest of your life that are like “oh god not this fucker. Oh you’re gonna let that happen?”

SR: Don’t you always feel like it’s the asshole at the town meeting in the back that is winning out over your thoughts? I mean it’s constantly like town hall meetings and it’s like la la la la la. We should plant flowers. And theres that guy that goes “fuck em all! Fuck em all!” And that’s the guy that always wins. And there’s the one that has no filter. He always wins in my head. And it’s always a he.

PG: Its usually whichever one is meanest to me is the one that wins. The one that debases and degrades and minimizes me that tells me it’s my fault. That’s the easiest place. It’s been one of the struggles of doing the podcast but it’s been good because it’s given me, it’s like exercises to work on when people write emails that are critical a lot of times it will be very triggering to me if it’s something that is similar to what the negative voice inside my head says. There are other critical ones that I’ll get, that if they are written diplomatically or with love that I am like, you know, they are absolutely right and I’ll write them back and say thank you very much I’ll try that next time. Or thank you for opening my mind to that. For instance I was pretty uninformed about the transgender community when I started doing this podcast, still am to a large degree, but I’ve learned a lot. Listeners have really helped me kind of expand my knowledge and empathy towards what they go through. But I got a couple of emails that were hard to read because it showed me how little I knew around that. But I knew they were coming from a good place and I was happy in the long run for them. Whereas if I get an email from somebody that’s critical about something else, it could send me into a tail spin for 2 or 3 days.

SR: Do you feel like your head is just going to explode? Like the pressure is just like ahhh.

PG: I feel it in my gut. If somebody calls me creepy because having been sexualized as a kid then I became hyper sexual and, so I always felt like a pervert from 4th grade on.

SR: That’s a great way to live too.

PG: I just remember feeling like nobody thinks about sex as much as I do.

SR: Well you know they probably didn’t. Just kidding.

PG: I don’t think they did.

SR: I didn’t in 4th grade.

PG: I did in 1st grade. I just remember being obsessed with wanting to see girls naked. And that feeling was kind of burned into my soul at a very early age that I was different. So if somebody is filtering this show through their own thing, like if they think we are talking about sex too much on the podcast or talking about molestation or incest or something that I am passionate talking about because not only do I think it’s often misunderstood but it’s also something that as affected me very deeply, personally, I read that email, it slices right through me because I think “oh my god, I’m a terrible person and I can’t see it.” So it’s the combination of bad at the podcast and I’m grossing people out. And it is, I feel like, it’s almost like feel a hot flash go through my podcast and I feel sick to my stomach. And I heard someone say that in the forum once about me and said that I felt sick to my stomach when he asked that question or he said something.

SR: I hate to say as someone who has been over sexualized as a child, I have never had that reaction on this show, like listening and I’ve been listening for a long time. So that is interesting to me. That is someone’s complete different, somethings going on with them, I think.

PG: you know and I eventually did get to that place but it has made me really hyper aware when the subject of sexuality and especially with female guests. Because it can be triggering when I’m talking about the subject cause there’s a lot of shit that gets mixed up, a lot of shit that gets rewired and it can be really confusing to talk about. Do you have that experience sometimes when you are talking about sexuality or is it just you shut down, you just don’t want to talk about it?

SR: My issue is I’m sure feminist and having been.

PG: Do you have a cap?

SR: I do actually and the underwear.

PG: Is it bedazzled?

SR: It’s bedazzled oh my god you are the only other person who has said bedazzled because I would love to have one of those things just to bedazzle everything for no reason. Like I would bedazzle my water bottle. I would bedazzle my dogs. Because that is awesome. Collars. I want one of those things I don’t know why. Great creation, but anyway, I’m not like the angry Nazi feminist but I’m really really really, you know female issues, social justice that is really important cause or clause, cause. A clause is surrounded by commas. But that’s really important to me. So when I hears, this actually just happened to me. I forgot about this. I work with lift, the people with the pink mustaches on their car. Give people rides, sharing, that kind of thing. In one of our forums, some, I was joking about, no I wasn’t joking, I’m starting to, my brain is going much faster than my mouth can keep up and so I was, there is a mustache run. It’s a race for, I can’t remember what it’s a race for. Mustache race ½ marathon run, I was in the forum and I was kind of trying to get people to run this with me. Not the half, I get it, because most people don’t want to run a half. So this one guy decided he would say, “So are you going to run with more of the mustache I hope?” And I was just like “what?” I don’t even know this guy. I met him maybe like once. He is just one of those good old boys and part of the good old boys chain and was totally fine with me. I don’t expect him to understand feminism. I don’t expect him to understand his own privilege. I don’t you know. Totally cool.

PG: I don’t understand what he was saying.

SR: Like was I going to run naked and just wear the mustache?

PG: Oh really?

SR: Are you going to make sure you are going to wear more than the mustache? And I was just like “wha wha” and I felt the burning and I felt panic for a moment there. Thank god for therapy cause I was able to step back and go, ok he is super uneducated. So I just decided I am just going to write what I feel. And I said “Please don’t make comments like that about or to me. I find them really offensive and really creepy.” And that exploded the whole forum because people in Minnesota aren’t used to people being direct. This set off an “oh my god, what happened, who, who, oh my god, someone was offended, what’s going on” And so he has kind of followed up but he has never even addressed me directly. He has talked to Jodi, he has messaged Jodi and I get that reaction and I had a burning. I was like ahh panic for just one moment and had my old reaction before the EMDR stuff. Thank god.

PG: When shit triggers you it’s so, it’s like a jolt of electricity. It’s like a jolt of electricity.

SR: It’s like you are the only person who has ever, because I don’t know a lot of people that have PTSD stuff but that’s exactly what it is and fright or flight is frightening. Or shut down. Whichever one it is you go into, it’s frightening. You are just like deer in headlights. What are you gonna do? It’s all just emotional.

PG: Yeah and then such intense emotions come up afterwards.

SR: So I got on the phone called some people, texted some friends and asked them, Can you look at this? Is it just me? Am I taking this wrong? Am I misinterpreting? You know going crazy of course but I immediately tried to do the right thing which is great because before I would have just slammed him and just wrote the most obnoxious shit and made him feel like the world’s biggest asshole and then been proud of myself and then of course beat myself up for the next two years because I’m an asshole who did that online and everybody hates me now.

PG: But you would have been accomplishing a lot emotionally. That would be like running an emotional marathon.

SR: And then carrying it from the next couple of years and having anxiety related reactions to that. That’s awesome. So I still get triggered and I still have that same shit happening all the –it’s so frustrating.

PG: It’s so frustrating.

SR: I don’t feel like there is gonna come a point when it’s ok. I’m learning that now cause I still have that mindset, once I do this thing, it will be better. And I still get stuck in that, if I do A-B-and C then D won’t happen anymore and that’s not how it works.

PG: Yeah that’s crazy.

SR: Yeah exactly. Thank you very much, Ph.D.

PG: In my mind, it’s like, my goal is to just find ways that still protect my boundaries but my response is, isn’t any more over the line than it needs to be. That is diplomatic and if necessary, loving, if I can be. Loving and compassionate but firm. Compassionate towards others, but not at the expense of compassion for myself. That is what I aim for but it’s hard when you’re in that moment cause it’s like you are being tazered and someone’s going, that’s not very polite the way you wiggle around on the floor.

SR: Oh god, she made a mess. She peed on my floor, what the hell? God. Yeah it’s just really funny because I welcome the challenges, I really do, and I’m that dork who is grateful for alcoholism, and I’m grateful. I was so happy to go to rehab. Let’s all start the healing! What do I do? Are we in a group? Where do I go? I was such a spazz.

PG: I love when I meet people like you. I love when I meet people like you.

SR: Really.

PG: Oh yeah, I love when I meet people that are excited about getting sober. It just…

SR: When you hit, I don’t know how bad your bottom was, but when did you understand that you were going to die or something. And I was personally ok, I was like, you know what, it would be ok if I died. And I didn’t realize I was suicidal because I didn’t understand that just because you didn’t want to put a needle in your arm or you didn’t want to take a bottle or pills that you are still suicidal if you think that if you ran off the road that that would be ok. They had to teach me that was suicidal. And I was like not, I just don’t always want to be alive.

PG: I remember that’s what I loved about flying. There was a chance I could die.

SR: And it could be graceful.

PG: And I didn’t have to do anything. And I wouldn’t have any shame about it. Nobody would be like, oh poor Paul he killed himself.

SR: I was said for myself too because I didn’t think anybody would even care if I were gone. Nobody likes me.

PG: Oh the self-pity of the untreated alcoholic.

SR: I’m in the basement and I’m drinking.

PG: Oh that drinking towards the end is so lonely. Like the first hour and a half of my buzz towards the end was still awesome, but like 3 hours into it was just the saddest –

SR: Because there is no buzz and you are still chasing it.

PG: Talk about the loneliness of the alcoholic towards the end.

SR: Oh boy, oh boy. I really liked isolating if, and I still do, to be honest. Part of that I’m realizing that now that I’m getting older I’m becoming more introverted and I’m ok with that but I can tell when I want to retreat. I don’t want to think about what is going on. I don’t want to go and run which is usually a joy for me. I don’t want to walk the dogs which is also a joy for me. I don’t even want to go find one of the cats and take a nap. I just want everyone to leave me alone and it’s of my own doing. And that’s the thing that scared me, is I was so, so lonely but I couldn’t bare being around people. And it hurt. Being around people is exhausting, it still is sometimes, just because I think my introverting is growing. I don’t think its as unhealthy now as it was.

PG: And people can be exhausting.

SR: Yeah, I used to be one of those people that was super extroverted. I used to get energy off of people. I’d go to a club and dance, and woo, and I’d want to stay up all night with people. Now the very thought about being around that many people, I’m already tired. I’m good at small gathering and that kind of thing and I still get a lot of energy and I get a lot of energy when I’m teaching.

PG: Oh my god you and I are so alike it’s unbelievable. Truly, it is unbelievable.

SR: Wait when is your birthday because-

PG: I want to tell you about nine times I have resisted saying me too. And I’ve said it nine times already.

SR: And I like to think I am so unique.

PG: Oh yeah I’m sorry to let you down but it’s unbelievable how, and I think A) because we are both alcoholic and B) because we were both sexualized by a parent. I took this class about education, about it’s too long to go into it, but it was about rape in prison. And they were talking about the signs to look for, how you know when somebody has been raped or experienced sexual trauma and every single one of the things they listed are things that I experienced and that I feel and it was comforting but it was also really sad.

SR: I had a friend when I lived in San Antonia and he would say things like that. It was frightening but also exciting. Which is how I feel about a lot of things actually. I could totally see that.

PG: The reason I bring it up is because almost all of the things you are sharing are things are the results of sexual abuse.

SR: Really? I did not know that.

PG: Yes. Isolating, depression, addiction. There’s like 3 or 4 others that you, and the other thing that children share who haven’t been sexually abused but have a very narcissist parent share a lot of those same ones.

SR: Double whammy for me.

PG: Because the abuser is a narcissist inherently. And I think the hardest thing for us to do is to look at the narcissist within ourselves. That’s been a really hard, those are the truths that are the hardest to.

SR: Oh yeah my ego is big enough to fill china. And I know that about myself.

PG: So how do you, what works for you to bring your ego down?

SR: I laugh at myself a lot because I now that I’m just a huge asshole. And the end of the world, I’m gonna count for, you know I’d like to think I make a difference in the world. I want to change the world for girls and women and make it better. And hopefully I can do something one little girl at a time maybe. But I know that I’m one spec of sand and I’m not as important as I think I am. I think growing older is really a large part of that for me, you know I’m so happy to be in my 40’s. I’m looking forward to 50 and on. I’ve heard for women that’s a really great part of life. I mean my 30’s were fantastic even though I went to the bottom of alcoholism for me. Which as they say is a high bottom which to me sounds really, like when people talk about the positions in gay relationships that a high bottom, it sounds funny to me. I have a lot of gay friends I’m not trying to insult anyone.

PG: High bottom does have to involve an arched back.

SR: Exactly yes, and I’m not that flexible but yoga is helping.

PG: But about having a high bottom.

SR: Ah I didn’t have to go really, really low. You know everything in my 30’s was really overall great. And I’ve been really lucky that everything has been getting better as I’ve been getting older. I’ve be gaining perspective, when I got back to my 20’s. I hated that time in my life. It was total chaos. I was a born again Christian. I always wonder if you aren’t a born again Christian, does that mean you’re dead? You’re unborn? What exactly happens? Do you have to go back into the womb?

PG: You’re just not as annoying to other people.

SR: Right. I remember.

PG: There are a couple born again Christians that aren’t annoying, but…

SR: No not at all.

PG: But so many of them are.

SR: I was one of those. I had a shirt that said, Jesus the choice of the next generation, instead of Pepsi or whatever it was at the time. I have shouted to people across a crowded lunch room “hey did you know that Jesus loves you?” I was that kid.

PG: Yeah that’s so annoying.

I know. I’m proud of it. It’s one of those fine points in my life.

PG: It’s good that you can laugh about it. You can look at it and not hate yourself.

SR: I was searching. I was really searching. I needed something and at that point in my life. For people who believe, I think it’s great and they should and that’s their choice but for me, Christianity does not suit me.

PG: Just don’t force it on me. Don’t shove it down my throat.

SR: For me personally it is too much hierarchy. Too much patriarchy. I can’t, I don’t suit the system.

PG: And this kind of punishing, to me.

SR: Yeah, it was very punishing to me. I never felt worse about myself than when I was a born again Christian. I knew once again, I was going to hell.

PG: I had this epiphany in recovery one day when I realized that all my life I had thought that, cause I do believe in god I just don’t believe in organized religion. I just realized that, I never thought that god loved me. Just that over the universe, I just felt like it tolerated me. And when I realized that there is love.

SR: That’s how your parents felt.

PG: Yeah I suppose. No my parents loved me in their own way.

SR: I’m kidding. I’m totally kidding.

PG: Oh ok. I was, I cried so hard, like tears of joy, when I realized that I am loved. That I’m on a path that has meaning and purpose in everything I’ve been through was to make the beautiful life that I have now necessary. To equip me and train me to do what I do which brings me so much joy and yeah, it was a profound moment.

SR: Yeah. Personally I tend to lean towards Taoism and Buddhism. I don’t necessarily know exactly what it is I believe in anymore, like what entity, what thing. But I believe in so many things though. I believe in nature.

PG: Do you believe in crystal light?

SR: Sure why not. I believe in Dr. Pepper. And I would like to be a pepper too because I’m a joiner. Yeah I definitely believe in crystal light.

PG: To be serious. It sounds like a big part for you is trying to find acceptance where you don’t have control. Isn’t that kind of what the essence of Buddhism is about?

SR: For me it’s more about balance. Like the ying yang symbol speaks volumes to what it is. Everybody has evil. Everybody has good. Everything has the opposite in it and it’s a constantly shifting reality. Everything in the world depends on the context that you see it in. Something that is truly evil is truly evil but in a certain context when you look at someone’s background, maybe this truly evil thing makes sense. Context is everything to me and that’s why the ying yang Taoism makes sense because everything is about getting everything back to a harmonious balance that is livable. If that makes any sense. I think I’m…

PG: It makes perfect sense.

SR: I sound like a philosopher.

PG: But I’m sure your mom would have some criticism.

SR: Oh my god she is such an asshole. What’s really funny is she, I wrote her an email, after that argument, and it was really good. My therapist thought it was a fantastic email. And she said if I received an email like that’s the kind of thing that would make me get on the phone and say I want to talk about your feelings, what exactly is going on here.

PG: There’s no way in hell your mom would do that.

SR: Hell no. She likes the status quo. She wants to take no part in, not taking responsibility, because I’m not asking her for that. But even just looking at her role in everything. And she thinks I’m blaming her for things and I’ve never said “because of you, I la la la la la”. This last email was in the form of basically, “I need to feel safe and talking about dad is gonna have to happen because that is part of my painful past.” And I don’t know if you know how critical you are of me and I know you don’t mean it to be mean but its one of those things that hurts me and it’s hard for me to stay in touch with you because of that” And she wrote me back a letter saying basically whenever you go to therapy you become hyper critical of me and I know I did a terrible thing by staying married to your father and I can’t remember what else she said and at the end, this is the best part, I have a box of books I don’t want anymore, should I bring them up when I come visit you or what? I was like, good ending. Way to stick the landing mom. Like she thought I was going to allow her to come see me after that. Hey, this is all your fault again and I know when have already talked about that for the last 43 years but -

PG: So why do you still have contact with her?

SR: I just cut it off again. After that letter I talked to my therapist and that’s part of a saying, we are at a point where we are ok. You know I don’t hate her, I don’t miss her. We don’t have no need to be in touch. I don’t know what she wants. She doesn’t even like me. If we met on the street she probably wouldn’t like me at all. There is nothing. If she feels this need to have this daughter relationship to stay in touch with me, because she is supposed to, that means nothing to me. I have no need, I have no one in my family left basically and that’s ok with me.

PG: I think there are narcissistic parents. They see their children as an extension of themselves. Like an arm. Like it’s all about a reflection of them. I think that is where the hyper criticism comes from. They are so afraid that somebody is going to judge you and by proxy judge them. And so they feel like you are this thing that they, if they can get you to be as presentable and perfect as they can get you to be then they will be safe and they can relax.

SR: And she, I think from living with my dad for so long. She has no idea how critical she is. I can say something like, hey I straightened my hair today. Something as simple as that. How do you like it? No I don’t like it. Ok, well good, way to let me down easy. Or I could say I don’t agree with this politician and she would be like, well why? And it would all be this negative staccato voice coming back at me, no matter what it is, you’re wrong.

PG: So I see, it’s not like, there is nothing wrong with disagreeing or saying, well you know what I preferred your hair, your hair is nice this way, but I like it better the other way. That would be ok right?

SR: Totally.

PG: Or totally I don’t like that politician, Oh really why don’t you? What it is about them that you like? Because I kind of think they’re…such and such. So it is more the manner that she just kind of shuts you down.

SR: Yeah everything is, I’m wrong. It’s exactly what my dad did. My dad telling me about sports he knows nothing about. My father, I’ve lived in France a couple of times and I think the second time, yeah Jodi and I got engaged in France the second time I lived there. And he would come see me and when we came home, and so I know a lot about France and I remember specifically after I had been home, him telling me something about French culture and how they lived and yada yada yada and I was trying to explain to him actually that is not true. I studied French as my under graduate degree and I taught French and I’m pretty good, I’m fluent. I’ve been there enough time that I get perks when I go because I speak French and my dad was convinced I was wrong and that’s pretty much everything in my family. You could have become a Ph.D. in robotics and they would tell you, no robots don’t work like that. That’s not the circuitry that they use. No that is wrong. Its ok I’m sleepy too.

PG: No I’m trying to cover up a burp. I had a lot of garlic earlier. Does this room smell like garlic?

SR: No it smells like piss.

PG: Oh that’s because the second grade you came in here and wet herself.

SR: I know I’m so ashamed.

PG: Is there anything else that you would like to share or talk about?

I feel like I have like a book but I can’t think of anything of course right now.

PG: Did you want to do any, did I ask you to do fears or loves.

SR: Yeah I did homework. I brought a folder.

PG: You did Oh my god yeah.

SR: I’m a teacher man. I get excited about this shit. I told Jodi this afternoon I gotta write down my loves and fears because I’m, oh my god, I have homework. But it was good. Let me pull out my paper.

PG: It’s always nice when I get to talk to somebody that makes me feel less like I’m alone, like I’m different. I get that from my support groups but I really enjoy when I get a listener who I feel like is almost a sibling from another family.

SR: Yeah, what is it they say, brother from another mother.

PG: Yeah that’s a better, that’s the phrase I was looking for.

SR: You know I meant to tell you, this is so funny, I started listening to you when I was in Russia actually and I was not supposed to travel yet according to the rules of sobriety. I had gone over there for 9 months to do a teaching gig, English as a second language and I was there and I didn’t have support group, and I was like ok I don’t have anyone to talk to. I did a good job of building a support network for myself of people who were non-drinkers. Normal people, healthy people. But I didn’t have anyone, alcoholic or anyone, to talk to and so I found the podcast somehow and I started listening and I was like This is my support group and I didn’t feel bad then because I wasn’t going to group meetings. And it was so funny.

PG: Good I take that as the ultimate compliment.

SR: So hey maybe more people in Russia are listening.

PG: I have a monthly supporter living in Russia. Demetri.

SR: Nice.

PG: Hello Demetri.

SR: That’s not a stereotypical name at all. It would be better if it were Vladimir. I didn’t even get to speak in Spanish or French. That’s too bad.

PG: You speak 3 languages?

SR: And a tiny bit of Russian but I suck at it. Yeah Spanish, French, and English I guess. I guess you could call that speaking a language right?

PG: English? Not according to your mom. You butcher it.

SR: I know. Asshole. I have fears. Fears first?

PG: Sure do some fears.

SR: Alright I’m afraid I will be in serious physical pain for the rest of my life. And I say that because I have a lot of little aches and pains that seem to have come out of nowhere and I don’t know what the fuck is going on.

PG: I’m afraid I’ll never be able to eat the way I want to eat without it making me fat and tired when I play hockey.

SR: You’re on the pizza diet too aren’t you? All pizza all the time.

PG: I do love pizza but I’ve been having to not eat any to try and lose weight.

SR: I’m actually doing a cleanse when I go home.

PG: Are you?

SR: Just because I wanna know what it feels like to have all the sugar... But I get to eat. I’m not gonna not eat anymore because that’s insane. How do people do juice diets without killing someone.

PG: I have no idea.

SR: I would hurt myself or someone else. I’m afraid I won’t ever be happy with where I live no matter where it is because I tend to, after like 3 years I tend to get little antsy and I want to go somewhere else and I find fault with where I’m living. Minnesota is falling very short my expectations.

PG: I’m afraid of that the next earthquake is going to be gigantic because it’s been so long.

SR: I’ve only been through one in Santiago. I will never read all the books I want to before I die or read about all the topics I feel like I need to know everything I want to know.

PG: I definitely have that one. I have so many books backed up on the kindle it’s not even funny.

SR: Do you also read like 4 at a time?

PG: Yes. And a lot of them I don’t finish. A lot of them. I used to always finish books.

SR: Didn’t you feel like an obligation?

PG: Kind of. I struggle to do that. I’m afraid that the older I get the more and more my desire to isolate will be.

SR: I have that too. I didn’t write it down. I’m afraid I’ll never earn enough money for retirement because the type of jobs I have are not conducive to earning retirement money and I’ll work until I die. Also that Jodie will die before me so I’ll end up in a state facility alone and I’ll be working while everybody else is sitting. They’re supposed to be drooling and wearing depends and things and I’ll be working. I gotta go dust. I got earn my keep here because I’ll have no retirement money.

PG:I have the fear that somebody is going to do a podcast that is really similar to mine and everybody is gonna stop listening to mine and listen to theirs and having put all the energy into this will have been for naught and I’ll have no idea what to do with my life.

SR: I bet Demetri will still listen. I bet he will.

PG: I bet I get home and it says he has cancelled his monthly donation.

SR: Right. I’m afraid that my brother will be unable to take care of everything that needs to be taken care of when my mom dies and I’ll have to do it.

PG: I think I’ve shared this one before but I fear that when my mom dies I will suddenly see the way I should have handled this all along and I’ll feel tremendous guilt and regret.

SR: Ugh that’s terrible. Now I’m gonna fear that. Thank you. Thank you very much. I’m afraid of walking over those open grates in the subway grates in the sidewalks. I hate it.

PG: Especially if you wear heels.

SR: I don’t wear heels. Not an issue.

PG: I fear walking over the ones that’s the big metal plate. Those are always scary. I hope this guy or woman welded this well. Cause imagine if that cracks. You could just fall into a big thing of shit.

SR: And you know it will be shit because that is the type of luck people like us have.

PG: Of course. Of course.

SR: I actually know how I am going to die. It’s gonna be from Ebola but it’s because I’ll be on safari in some country that it has taken over and some monkey will throw poo and it will hit my eye and I’m gonna get Ebola and die from that. It’s been foreseen. I know there’s something terribly wrong with me. I’ve been getting a lot of headaches lately and I’m really afraid they are a symptom of something really bad.

PG: I’m afraid, I’ve done so many, I think I’ve done 500 fears with guests. And the beauty is my brain never runs out. I’m afraid I’m never gonna get back on a sleep schedule where I get up before 1 or 2 in the afternoon.

SR: What time do you go to sleep?

PG: 5, sometimes 6 in the morning. Sometimes 4.

SR: That’s really, good. Curtailing it and get to bed early for when you’re tired.

PG: If I get up before noon, I feel like Rocky on the steps.

SR: I’m really afraid of relapse. I’m afraid of how dark it was before I went to rehab and how I couldn’t live with alcohol, I couldn’t live without alcohol. I didn’t know how to live at all and that scares me to death because I don’t know if I have the tools to come back from that again and I probably do but there’s the fear that. I’m afraid I will die in the street. Alone. Drunk. Because I’m dead.

PG: I have that fear too. Let’s go to some loves.

SR: Wait I have one more fear. Because I’m kind of hot tempered. I’m afraid I will leave Jodie for some stupid shit like his snoring, which is actually a trigger for me because my dad snored but I’ll get so angry that I’ll leave and not come back. Then I’ll be too proud to ask him to take me back and that’s an actual serious fear of mine.

PG: That’s deep. Hit me with a love.

SR: Let’s see here. Multigrain Cheerio’s with whole milk.

PG: I love when I start eating healthier and I get to the point where the healthy food doesn’t taste like a terrible disappointment or you start to get used to it and it doesn’t just feel like torture.

SR: I love running even when I also hate it but the moment when I feel like I could run forever, which for me is runner’s high, I don’t know if runner’s high is something else, but for me that’s what runners high is, when I feel like, even if it’s only at mile 2, I feel like I could go til mile 4.

PG: I love the feeling when I’m playing hockey and I get a second wind and I suddenly have more energy in hour 2 than I did in the first 15 minutes, which is bazaar.

SR: I love school and office supplies because I’m a total dork teacher. A new pack of uniball pens, I feel angels singing. This folder, tri fold folders, they have them in Europe. I found it at staples. I’m so excited. I bought 3.

PG: I love, I love the excitement at getting a new computer. Or a piece of recording gear. I just had two of my, the disk on my computer at home finally crapped out and so I bought a new IMac and I had to buy a new digital interface with it because the old one wouldn’t work, cause the computer was 10 years old.

SR: It’s amazing it lasted that long.

PG: It is amazing.

SR: That’s my dream is to buy technology that lasts 10 years. I actually love it when the Itunes genius recommendations are good and I’m actually turned onto something different.

PG: I love the Pandora channel 60’s French pop. I have been listening to it and it’s so right on the edge of almost a novelty song and some of them are but it’s because you haven’t heard them before. Almost every catchy song from the 60’s you’ve heard before but that channel you hear all these great songs and I just love it. They make me happy.

SR: That reminds me of, we have XM radio which is so exciting, it’s like having a grown up car with XM radio in it. I’ve been listening to the French Canadian, the French, what’s it called, Influence or something like that. Canadian music and its really funny. I actually understand it.

PG: A lot of Celine Dion.

SR: No actually it’s not. Surprisingly, I thought it would be. Then there’s a country, a French country station that one is a little too much for me. I love pizza pot pie from the Chicago pizza and oven grinder on Park Avenue. I think it’s 2121 Clark Avenue if anyone is listening, you should go have Pizza pot pie.

PG: Speaking of pot, did you ever eat at Potbelly, Potbelly sandwiches on Lincoln in Chicago?

SR: No, I don’t think I did.

PG: oh they were one of the first places, at least that I ate at, that would put the sandwich in a wood fired oven and make it toasty and crunchy. Long before Quiznos.

SR: I was an Italian beef person so anytime I could get a beef.

PG: Awww, Portilo’s or Alzros (sp?) beef.

SR: Well we had a place out in the burbs that was really good, it’s actually where my brother works now.

PG: Was it Carms?

SR: No. What was it called? Barone’s.

PG: Barone’s? There’s a Barones’ out here in LA. It’s less than a mile from here. Right down the street.

SR: I wonder if it’s the same people. I can’t believe it would go from Lyle. That’s so weird. I’m almost frightened.

PG: Small pizza world. Who’s turn?

SR: Probably you.

PG: I love how our little dog, Herbert, when I come to bed how he, how excited he gets to see my wife as if she was gone on a trip for 2 weeks. She jumps all over her, and licks her face and he’s just so excited. And it’s just ridiculous.

SR: That’s funny because my next one was dogs too. I love it when the dogs are happy and they tuck their ears back and then they go into a big stretch and they make those grunting sounds. And they are stretching really hard and it’s all just out of joy. I love that.

PG: I love when I open the door and they both go tearing out into the back yard and one of them trips.

SR: Our dog did that the other day and she had a big grass stain because she actually swiped her head across the yard. I like buying new outdoor and camping gear and actually using it.

PG: I love looking out at our backyard and going, oh my god we have fruit trees in our yard.

SR: Aw, I wish we did. I love learning new languages and then becoming fluent enough to actually use it and not sound like a dick.

PG: I love when I know a phrase in a foreign country and I say it and the person is surprised that a foreigner knows it.

SR: Awesome I love doing cross word puzzles specifically from the Sunday paper. The Minneapolis one is ok. But I love doing the NY Times and I can actually complete them sometimes.

PG: On the Sunday?

SR: Yeah.

PG: You’re a bad ass.

SR: Sometimes I take me a week to get it, but I get it.

PG: That’s pretty bad ass.

SR: Yeah I feel pretty smart.

PG: You should.

SR: Yeah.

PG: Give me one more and we’ll go out.

SR: This is funny because this happened last week. When Jodie brings me coffee in bed because I’m reading or doing something and then later on when he actually brings up the full pot of coffee and the creamer and he gives me a refill and there’s not really enough room in our room to do that. So it’s really funny because he has the coffee and the creamer and he’s like, would you like a refresher.

PG: That’s sweet.

SR: Yeah he’s pretty cool. He’s a keeper.

PG: Stacey Reynolds, thank you so much for coming and sharing your stuff with us.

SR: Thanks for having me.

PG: Many, many thanks to Stacey and as I said we recorded that about two years ago and she, I asked her for an update and she is still struggling physically. She had a knee replacement surgery but is healed. And the aches and pains were from this thing she has called spinalstenose, which is a narrowing of the spinal column, so unfortunately she is not able to run anymore but she is hanging in there and she is living in Minnesota. And she is still with her husband. And yeah. That was really, really, it was just so nice when you talk to somebody and you hear their story and you’re like, wow that is so similar to things that I have been through. I feel so much less alone. Before I read some surveys, want to also remind you, I Said this earlier in the show, but those two show coming up in Oakland, the July 20th and 21st, we will put a link on the website for it. It’s with Glen Washington who’s the host and producer of NPR’s Snap Judgement and Jamie DeWolf who is the grandson of L Ron Hubbert. They both were raised in cults and I’m really looking forward to interviewing those guys. Before I read these surveys if you’re thinking about supporting the shows, there are a couple of different ways you can do it. You can go to our website and you can make a PayPal donation. Or my favorite, becoming a monthly donor for as little as $5 a month. It’s super easy to fill out and it means a lot to me. It helps keep the podcast going and gives us a financial footing. You can also support us non-financially by going to Itunes, writing something nice about us. You can spread the word about the podcast through social media. Oh and one other financial thing is you can use our Amazon search portal. Just click on our homepage, you’ll see a little amazon logo and then anything you buy at Amazon on that browse will get some money, a percentage from Amazon, and it doesn’t make what you’re buying any more expensive.

Now let’s get to some surveys. The first thing I’m gonna read is, and I had the feeling this was gonna happen when I was recording the episode last week, but I read a very, very graphic survey that this person, a woman, had filled out and it was actually, it wasn’t under the sexual fantasies that are most powerful to you. It was under deepest darkest thoughts. But they were sexual fantasies and I got an email, I got 3 emails from people actually, but this is one of them and she calls herself “my two sense” from Fort Wayne Indiana. And she writes, “Dear Paul, I admire what you are doing here but I don’t agree with everything you say. I also do not think its ok to air the very specific fantasy of human torture, rape and murder as you did in your most recent podcast with the atmosphere of everything is fine about it. How many listeners hear that and think, well Paul didn’t say anything about that being wrong and he is always telling everyone they are just fine to have their sick fantasies. Sociopathic killers fantasize about doing those exact things before they actually do them. How do you know if that was a fantasy or a description of a crime? It’s not ok to fantasize about torturing, raping and killing. It’s not” and in all capitals “ok. I wish you would think about what message some of the fantasies, fi that’s all they are, send out to your listeners and how that might cause them to act.”

You know my first instinct was to completely disagree with her. Because it is not my job to tell people what is right and what is wrong. I feel like the purpose of this podcast is to help people feel less alone and have more compassion for themselves and maybe more compassion for other people around them or to set boundaries with other people. But one of the things in reading the shame and secrets surveys is that so many people beat themselves up because they have a sexual fantasy that is amoral. And obviously this one that I read was an extreme example of it. And my hope in reading that was that somebody hearing that would say, oh boy peoples fantasies can get pretty dark and pretty extreme. I guess mine isn’t a big deal. That being said, I felt like it was, it wasn’t something that maybe should have been read aloud. And while I know there’s many things in this show that trigger people, I feel like that one, the draw backs of reading that one outweighed the benefits of reading it and for that I think you’re right but I don’t think I have the power to tell people what is right or what is wrong. And I don’t think anybody fantasizing, I don’t think anybody is gonna act on their dark fantasy in real life based on anything I say. Especially because I say all the time, any fantasy is ok if it stays a fantasy. If you feel you are moving towards a place where you are becoming more and more engrossed in my fantasy and its being addictive and it’s distracting you from your life, then that is something that is serious and you need professional help for. Anyway, I hope that all makes sense. But I just want to say to the people who were bothered by that and wrote into me, I appreciate you sharing your thoughts with me and I really appreciate that you did it with love and diplomatically. And that means a lot to me.

This is a struggle in a sentence. And their, this person is gender fluid and they call themselves Captain Becards Slow Double Faced Palm. I don’t even know what that means but I like it. I think Captain Becard might be a Star Trek person. About their trichotillomania, no I promise all these bumps and scars aren’t from some horrifying STD or skin condition. I just spent 20 minutes a day ripping my pubic hairs out by hand until I can get the thoughts to stop. About being trapped in a straight relationship, can this date with my boyfriend please be over soon so I can sob into a pint of halo top watching Carol. That is such a great sentence. Oh my god. That is a small poem. Thank you. You have a flare for writing. Thank you for that. Rain writes about her food addiction. This handful of sugar will make my mother love me. God that is so good, so good. This is a happy moment from Lucy Bear. And she writes, I had a good moment the other day. I’m scared of pretty much everything and thus very risk adverse. I’m currently writing my MA dissertation and an opportunity came up to apply, to present my research at an event for those in the field. Although I am struggling with my dissertation due to depression manifesting in procrastination and perfectionism, for one brief moment I thought fuck it and I put in my abstract. I don’t know yet if I’ve been chosen to present but it doesn’t matter. Just putting myself out there, making myself vulnerable. Literally saying I have something to say that is valuable and that others will want to hear. All this is so alien to me that it felt like a huge break through. That is so awesome. God do I love reading stuff like that. Because that is what, at least for me, that’s what getting better looks like. Just millimeter little baby steps and there is a momentum to addiction and getting, and staying untreated mental illness, but there’s also healing.

This is from the shame and secret survey filled out by Carly. She’s in her 20’s raised in a totally chaotic environment. She’s never been sexually abused. She had a very abusive mother. She writes, my mother was always really emotionally abusive. She would always yell at me over things that I couldn’t control or that had nothing to do with me. She was also sometimes physical but that’s hard to admit because she is my mom and I do love her. The last time was when I was 16 or 17 and she was angry at me for making cupcakes at about 9 o’clock at night and she slammed my head against the table and the cupcakes went flying. I’d say that’s physically, somebody who’s physically abusive. You know just because cupcakes are involved doesn’t soften anything. That would be weird if there was a law, it’s not murder if there’s a bunt cake in the room. Any positive experiences. Yup exactly she’s my mom and she is sometimes nice. She says she loves me and I love her but I’m hurt by the way she treats me. I think it’s important to look at the way somebody treats you to see what their love is for you. You can say you love people but it’s really your actions that that matter. Her darkest thoughts are suicidal. Sexual fantasies most powerful to you, I’m a woman and honestly I’d like to have sex with another woman. I feel kind of weird about it because my mother said she would quote “kill me” if I ever even liked another girl. So since I’m still afraid of my mother I’m not sure I can ever have this experience. That is one of the saddest things I’ve ever read because I don’t have to say why. Its. What if anything, would you like to say to someone but haven’t, I’d like to tell my friends and family about my bipolar disorder because I feel like it makes life very difficult for me and I just wish people could understand that. What if anything do you wish for, happiness and love. Have you shared these things with others? I’ve tried but my friends find me annoying, selfish and draining. I’m gonna take a wild guess too that those are things that your mom said you were. How do you feel after writing these down? It seems like a relief because they are concrete and not swirling around in my head. That is one of the things that is so good about journaling. It slows them down and we can take a really good look at. Is there something you would like to share with someone who shares your thoughts or experiences? I’m not sure I’m in a good position to give anyone advise. I know I speak for everybody who just heard me read this and we just want to pull you away from your mom and to find some people who are safe and do want to hear about your bipolar disorder. And hear what it is you are feeling inside. Who won’t be drained or think you’re selfish or overwhelming. That really moved me. Thank you for that Carly. And I pray that you can choose yourself and have some compassion for yourself because it’s the easiest thing in the world and it’s the hardest thing in the world to choose ourselves over a parent who is abusive towards us because that pond to them is so genetic and so ingrained in us by society but distancing ourselves from somebody requires so little actual effort. It’s the emotional part that is so hard but, anyway, I’m going on ad nauseam.

This is a happy moment filled out by a guy who calls himself “if only I could play the banjo.” And he writes I want to switch this up and talk about other people being happy while I observed and wonder, how do they do that? I was at a popular folk festival earlier today. I went just because a friend of mine was really into the idea. We arrived and soon saw all kinds of barefoot hippies’ quote “letting go” and enjoying the scene. They were all shapes, sizes and ages seeming to be having a spectacular time. Then there’s me. All stiff, self-conscious and ready to leave after 20 minutes. What is it that keeps me from enjoying a day at lakeside park amongst some really friend people. Fuck I hate that I’m always the guy that can’t wait to get home and obsess about how I can never met anyone who finds me interesting enough to date. I think many of us are shaking our heads and laughing and saying oh my god you just described me. This is just a thought. Join those people in dancing but mock them. Imitate them and do it right to their face. And say this is what you look like stupid hippie. Then do that really stereotypical dance from episodes of drag net from the early 70s. Dude I am the most self-conscious dancer in the world and I so get that. It is, I used to have to be drunk to dance and even then it was, yeah. I’ve always looked at people who dance self-consciously, like what planet are you on? How are you not terrified of people judging you?

This is a struggle in a sentence by a woman who calls herself dickweed. And about her Misophonia. It feels like even if I were getting married or sending my child to their 1st day of school or simply just sitting happily reading the newspaper. If someone around me starts clearing their throat for more than 15 seconds, I will cut their fucking head off. Snapshot from her life, sitting on the bus on the way home from work after a great fulfilling and productive day, in a state of boiling inner rage at the man in front of me who has been snorting back phlegm and coughing consistently for the past 30 minutes of my hour long journey. Suffering from Misophonia during winter in Melbourne as a daily user of public transport is the freshest fucking hell I have encountered in my life so far. I don’t have Misophonia and that would drive me bananas. If you have money you might consider getting those noise cancelling headphones. They do a pretty damn good job of tuning things out. And maybe putting on the podcast and turning them up and listening to this voice, oh yeah. Sweet, sweet DJ. Do you have anything mean to say to me DJ voice? I love you Paul. Wow. Did you change? You used to be mean to me all the time. Got nothing but love for you buddy. Oh thank you. You’re a dick. Ah so you were just setting me up. Playing on my vulnerabilities. Paul I think this bit has worn itself out. Coming up Eddie Money! I’m gonna be at the park theater... that is such as half assed DJ bit. So close to going back and erasing that but my half-finished game of civilization is moments away. Oh it’s been so delicious. It’s been so delicious lately. Last night, played from 10 at night to 6 in the morning. That’s healthy. But I didn’t shame myself. I made myself get up at 11 and I went to the gym. So that cancels it out. Whatever you say Paul.

This is a struggle in a sentence filled out by fat fraud. His issue is depression and he writes nobody can possibly hate me as much as I do and I’m terrified to find out I’m wrong and more terrified to find out why. That is just, again, a small poem. A small poem.

This is a shame and secret survey who called himself Wade and he is, this is only partially filled but he is straight and in his 20’s, raised in a slightly dysfunctional environment. He has never been sexually abused but have been physically and emotionally abused and he writes, growing up all I wanted was a good relationship with my dad. My parents divorced when I was 6 and for my dad to recognize me and be proud of me. Instead I had a father who never showed up to any of my events that I asked him to and the one time he did show up to soccer practice to pick me up, he commented on the warm up lap asking why weren’t you in first. Jesus Christ. Whenever I ask my dad to make more of an effort to have a relationship with me he would always say he would and then when he eventually wouldn’t or quote “forgot we were supposed to spend time together”, he blamed it on me and laughed at me when i said I was hurt by him. I later learned that when I was a toddler I was physically abused by my dad disguised as punishment. Spanking taken too far, bruises, etc. I blocked all those memories out, thankfully. I mean that is exactly what I was talking about with the other survey, is that bond. We want to ignore any truths. Any truth to keep that bond with a parent. Any positive experiences? The starting point of every cycle of forgiveness. My dad would apologize for whatever you say I did to hurt you. That was in quotes, “whatever you say I did to hurt you” and promised to make an effort. I felt valued by him and hopeful that this would be the last time, hopeful this would be the time this would be ok. It never was. I think that the fact that his phrasing was “whatever you say I did to hurt you” apologizing for whatever you say I did to hurt, I mean he might as well say “yeah that stuff you were talking about that I kind of tuned out on, yeah, yeah that’s a bummer.” I mean your dad sounds like a bad sitcom character. A badly written dick. Darkest secrets. I’m afraid I’ve made up or over dramatized how my dad has hurt me and I’ve irreparably damaged the only chance I have at a good relationship with my biological father and you have not over dramatized. We could have just heard what he said about you not being in first on the warm up lap and that would have explained everything. It would have explained everything. And this is going to sound cheesy as fuck but I don’t know, it’s like you’re gonna have to choose between a good relationship with yourself or a fantasy relationship with your father because you can’t have both. There is no good relationship with your father unless he turned on a dime and did intensive work but he sounds like a complete narcissist and narcissist rarely get any help. I just would love to see you choose yourself. I know that sounds cheesy but, you know what I chose myself. I was in an unhealthy relationship with a parent and I’m so fucking glad I chose myself and it has been just one of the best decisions, one of the most painful decisions, but one of the best decisions I ever made. There you have it.

This is an awfulsome moment filled out by CG and she’s 15. And she writes at age 13 I was scrolling through Facebook when I saw my dad’s girlfriend’s status update to married. My relationship with my dad has become so formal that my first thought was to send him a congratulations text, instead of being even remotely bothered that I felt that Facebook was sending me notifications saying you now have a step mother as if technology was so advanced that it could predict when my father was being a neglectful fuck. That’s awesome. And awful. Hence awfulsome.

This is filled out by water lover and she says about her relationship with her mom, and she has had a lot of problems but doesn’t go into it. I am full of resentment towards my mom and full of disgust for myself for being resentful of my mom. Man you hit the nail on the head. There seems to be a theme in this, not only this episode but these surveys and these were not picked with any particular theme in mind but the pain and the overwhelming fear of speaking up for ourselves with a parent. And I think the hard part of it is the genetic bond that, just that primal emotional bond that we have with a parent, but the other thing that I think is hard is abusive parents are often really manipulative and really, can just really be a mind fuck. You put those two things together and that is a one two punch.

This was filled out by pale organic depressive. She’s a teenager and she writes about her bulimia. Explaining the crippling fear and grief and loneliness in your relationship to the world with eating makes me nervous, haha. You guys are amazing. Just amazing. You’re ability to encapsulate such complex, intense things in a sentence or two just never ceases to amaze me.

This is a happy moment by a woman who calls herself tough guy. And she writes, when I told my partner about how my mom said seeing my stretch marks from gaining weight made her so sad and his response was, you mean your lightning bolts? I love those. For a brief second I could see myself how my partners views me and I was actually beautiful. Love it. Love it.

This is a shame and secrets survey filled out by HB. Just gonna read a couple of excerpts. She is 19, she is bisexual, she was raised in a pretty dysfunctional environment. She was raped although she doesn’t believe, she’s not sure if it was but she said no and the guy still entered her. She’s been physically and emotionally abused and, by her mother. Really, really fucking abusive. Any positive experiences with the abusers. And to me this is one of the most fascinating things about this survey is how dark and light abuse of people can be. How complex human beings can be. Although if you think about it really in this one, let just go ahead and read it, this one really isn’t that black and white. Any positives experiences with the abusers, definitely, my mother is my mother after all. My father committed suicide when I was 8 and she has gone through so much to take care of me. Having practically already raised my older brothers. Between the death of my father, her own food addiction, our poverty, the foreclosure of our house and fear of homelessness, on top of my own emerging mental illness. I often don’t want to say she did any wrong because sometimes I’m not sure if I could do better. That is all irrelevant. Whether or not she did what she did was right or wrong even though it’s wrong, whether or not you could do any better. None of that matters, what matters is getting in touch with what you are feeling and opening up to somebody about it so that poison, whatever you want to call it doesn’t weigh you down for the rest of your life. That’s important. And as you begin to do those things you will have clarity on how to handle things in the future. That’s what so great. Just by opening up, paths start to emerge in our life and we begin to intuitively understand how to handle future situations that present themselves. So I just want to, and by the way, you didn’t, you aren’t responsible for any of those things that you listed that your mom had to deal with. And you can have compassion for your mom that she experienced all those things. But not at the exclusion of the compassion for yourself. That’s what I should have just said instead of all that. Darkest thoughts. I francize about cutting myself in front of others so they can see the pain that I have and they can’t deny that I am mentally ill. A lot of times in my life, despite being on medications receiving disability services and going to 3 different specialists almost weekly, my family won’t admit that I am mentally ill. My brother likes to say I am just going through a rough time. When I think about cutting myself in front of him or showing him all of my self-harm scars I am ashamed yet it feels cathartic because I feel like he wouldn’t be able to deny that. That makes perfect sense to me that your urge is to do that. But you’re also trying to get through to people that don’t speak the language that you speak which is, oh I hate this phrase, the emotions, the language of the heart. And it is crazy making trying, expecting people who don’t speak a language to speak a language. So your mission is to find people who speak that language and let them be your family. Maybe your other family will come around, or maybe they won’t, but at least you won’t be cutting yourself. And living in that fantasy that people are gonna change. Some people do, but a lot don’t. That was obvious.

Darkest secrets. I am a compulsive shop lifter. I don’t like that I do this and I’m not a materialistic person but shop lifting is a way to do something that I know is wrong and perhaps be caught for. I almost want to be caught. Being caught would mean attention and validation that all id o is right. Wow that is heavy. That is really heavy. Thank you for that. That you have so much insight. A support group would so benefit from having someone like you in it. Would so benefit. Anything you’d like to share with someone who shares your thoughts or experiences. Don’t slide your sleeves up subtly and hope they see your scars if you trust them enough to care, talk to them. Man, HB. That is some good shit. Now if you could just take your advice, if you could just take your own advice, it’s amazing, 90% of the surveys I read, the answer to that question, what would you say to someone who shares your thoughts or experiences, you say exactly what it is you need to hear but for some reason we don’t allow ourselves the same compassion that we would afford other people. It’s incredible.

This is a struggle in a sentence filled out by K. And he writes about his anxiety. It’s like I have 6 different bosses that remind me when I make a mistake but all 6 bosses are me and I didn’t even make a mistake. That is awesome. About his alcoholism. I can’t stop and I’m afraid to ask for help. Oh buddy, I’ve been there. I’ve been there. And I can tell you your life unraveling from alcohol, untreated alcoholism or drug addiction is one quintillion times more frightening and dangerous and real then the fear of asking for help but I understand it. I understand, I was talking with somebody from my support group about that tonight and this guy has gone 30 years of needing help and never asked for help, and he is at his wits end but I think he is finally starting to open up and it never ceases to amaze me how frightening that first bit of vulnerability is to say, hey I’m not doing so good. Can you got a minute? Can I talk to you? But you can do it. You can do it. About his love addiction. I miss her so much and I hate her so much. Snapshot from his life. Crying in the morning from a nightmare, by the way about love addiction, every bit as dangerous as alcoholism and drug addiction, it is a drug addiction and the drug is, the pharmacy is in our head and its open 24 hours and it tells us that intensity is intimacy and it’s not. Love addiction is not about intimacy, it’s an intensity disorder. Snapshot from his life. Crying in the morning from a nightmare about ex looking through her Instagram, shaking from fear and rage from her new boyfriend and life. It should be me there with her. Yeah dude that’s some serious shit. That’s some serious shit. That is a drug. Raging through your body. And it is a mental illness, love addiction is. It distorts reality. You could wind up hurting yourself and somebody else just like an alcoholic could by driving drug. There’s a lot of great support groups for, sending you love man. Sending you a hug.

This is filled out by adult child and she writes about her co-dependency. It’s like this constantly internal conflict of who am I? I’m a different person with everyone I meet just being how they are so they like me. I’ve been doing it since I was little. I don’t even know who the real me is. Snapshot from her life. My father screaming at my brother’s fiancé at a dinner. I felt like I wasn’t even in my own body. I was so numb and when the fiancé apologized to me I kept saying its fine, its ok. Meanwhile I was crying inside. Once we went our separate ways I cried the whole way home. That’s what codependency is. Pretending everything is fine while keeping all the pain inside. Worried you’ll rock the boat even more if you show your sadness. So profound. So profound. I used to think that if I presented a version of myself that I thought that you would like, I would be safe and my future would be secure and I would be ok and it was the very thing that was killing me. And the very thing I feared, which was letting you see me, was the very thing that has saved my life. That is how powerful mental illness and addiction is.

I’m just gonna read a portion of this. This is a shame and secrets survey and this is from Debbie Downer and she was, she is in her 30’s, she’s straight, raised in a pretty dysfunctional environment, I’d say it’s even worse than that. She was sexually abused by her step-father and she writes, once I got up the courage to stop he would then, he started doing other things. It makes me nauseous to think about and it makes me angry that once I finally told my mom she chose to believe him over me. And you know most people say who have experienced that, that hurts even more than the sexual abuse and I, that makes perfect sense to me that would hurt more. Darkest secrets. I haven’t told many people about the sexual abuse, I still see my step dad often and I try to forget what happened to keep things civil between my mom and I. My sister cut off all relations with him and my mom has never forgiven her. I’m afraid if I tell her my feelings, she will not speak to me again. That is unconditional love of the highest order. And like I said before to other person, the other survey. You have a choice, do you chose your mom or do you chose yourself. And you know who I’m rooting for. Wow that, I almost sounded like a drag queen. You know who I’m rooting for girl. I am waving my finger side to side and moving my neck. Mmmhmm. What if anything would you like to say to someone but haven’t been able to? My mom, why she chose my step dad’s word over mine. Because your mom is afraid. Because your mom is an emotionally immature, damaged person. And she is terrified of being alone. Or terrified of confronting something in her life that maybe happened to her that she didn’t speak up about. And she has just buried it. There could be a 1000 different reasons but none of them have to do with how loveable you are. None of them. Your mom is filtering it all through her own bullshit. But sending you some love. Sending you some love. Am I being cheap with the love tonight? Am I doing it with too many people? Way too many Paul. I’m beginning to hate DJ voice as the people who hated him the first time they heard him.

This is an awfulsome moment from I Moan. We’ve read surveys from her before. And I’m just gonna fast forward, it’s a little on the long side, so I’m just gonna fast forward to part of it. Just give you some background, she was snorkeling on a boat with her family and the waves were, got really big and everybody was getting seasick and she went into a bathroom threw up on the bathroom and as she left the she saw a boy practically comatose wrapped in a fluffy towel being held tightly by his mother. He looked miserable clearly had been seasick as well. I clung to the end of the boat, dry heaving over the side with water spraying in my face as the boat slammed violently down wave after wave. A woman went into the bathroom where I had vomited and immediately started gagging and complaining about the smell. I immediately felt intense shame knowing it was my vomit she was smelling. I chastised myself for feeling shame about something I couldn’t help but then felt it again as she brought the trash can out asking a deck hand to please do something about it so she could help her daughter in the bathroom. I apologized feebly and dry heaved over the side of the boat again. I then looked over at small boy wrapped up snuggled against his mother’s bosom and began to cry. I wanted to be that boy being protected from the cold spray of the water and to be held in such a way to minimize the impact of the waves. My inner child began to feel self-pity and I began to yearn for something that I never even had to begin with. I began to spiral downward into the depth of my needs and then suddenly my 7 year old staggered to my side to vomit. I pulled myself together as I held back her hair and she leaned over the side of the boat. I rubbed her back and I did some deep breaths with her. We commiserated on how terrible we felt and I wrapped my arms around her to protect her from the ocean spray. I went from being a young child to a grown ass woman in the span of 10 seconds but I can still feel the tug of that inner child and the intense desire to be held and protected even now days later on dry land. That is so beautiful. I’ve never read anything more beautiful involving vomit. That might be the only thing beautiful involving vomit. You guys fucking rock.

Eventual Caterpillar Husk writes about his co-dependency, I will manage everyone’s every thought and every feeling forever. So fantastic. And I think you can do it. I think if you just try hard enough and are clever enough and don’t sleep and find out what everybody likes and doesn’t like on the planet, I think you can do it. Get back to me on that. I’ll be up playing civilization trying to digitally control what everyone does on the planet.

This is a struggle in a sentence survey filled out by wakey wakey eggs and the crushing weight of living. I don’t even know what that means but I like. I know what the crushing weight of living is but I don’t know what wakey wakey eggs means, is that like breakfast eggs? About her co-dependency, so it turns out I’m not laid back, just desperately eager to please. Awesome. Snapshot from her life: the last two nights at work have been really shitty and I was laying there across my desk when it started to rain. The roof at the office that I work leaks all over the place so I put out buckets and called my boss. Nothing for it, just leave the buckets out. Whatever, go back to y desk, stare blankly inot space, throw thing whenever I get a call because how dare they interrupt my depressive episode like leaking catheter bags and blown tires. Finally an hour and half before the end of my shift, the ceiling can’t take it anymore and the tile right besides my desk crashes down and water and cardboard tile bits go everywhere. Fuck it. Nothing for it but to let it sit there half in and half out of the bucket until my boss comes in to relieve me. That is like a little Cohen brothers movie right there. I can see, like William H Macy or Francis McDormett sitting there at the desk, some horrible local radio show on the radio, yeah what else would it be on the TV? Actually it could be on the TV.

This is a struggle in a sentence filled out by totally not Herbert and he writes about his depression, feels like there are tons of treats but I never get enough. Snapshot from your life, the treat is there but then tis gone. Why isn’t there more? Any comments to make the podcast better? Paul should give Herbert more treats. Herbert is a good boy. First time listeners must be like, what the fuck twilight zone have I walked into?

This is a happy moment by a woman who calls herself annoying full of energy. A little back story, fast forwarding through it, and she has terrible social anxiety. She has been a job for quite a while and there’s a boss who is very abrupt and kind of intense and intimidating. And she had shared with him that she has social anxiety and it was really hard for her to share that with him and he didn’t really seem that interested and the fact that she had that, but then she writes, he caught me in the hallway later that day and even though the whole conversation was only about work I sensed deep caring in his eyes and the whole attitude. Nothing was said but I felt he wanted to protect me whenever our paths crossed. Paul, I feel like stepping out of my fear and letting others know what a silly problem I deal with has given me the foundations for feeling safe and protected after all I had avoided profession that required talking for my whole adulthood. Now my knees no longer shiver. My voice is steady and walk up to anyone, yes I’m still afraid but it no longer stops me. That’s amazing, amazing. There is so much beauty and possibility on the other side of that fear. And fear is a mile high, a mile wide and paper thin. You know that thing that the players run through when they come out of the tunnel for a football game. That big circular piece of paper that is what fear is. And we spend so much of our lives standing in the tunnel, going that looks like concrete. I can’t, there’s no way and everybody is on the other side saying, no its not it sjust paper. Our brain tells us no, it’s concrete. It’s concrete.

Travis writes about his depression. It hides in the background until I am weak and then throws itself on me. The world around me caves in on itself and everything turns numb. This happens 1 week out of every month. I guess it’s my man period. Snapshot from my life, feeling like the laziest, most ungrateful selfish unproductive time wasting person in my city. Everyone else is playing the game so easily and I can’t seem to find enough meaning or enthusiasm to join in. The next minute I know exactly what I will do. I will start this business, I will start this group. I will write this book. I will get healthy again. The cycle continues, day in day out. That sounds like the rapid cycling bi-polar. But I don’t know I’m not a therapist. I’m not a doctor but I am a hypochondriac. And that must count for something.

This is a survey I read, I really just touched me so deeply. This is by a kid, he is 14, he is gay and his name is Cookie. And he’s never been sexually abused. He’s raised in a pretty dysfunctional environment. He says he has never been emotionally abused and is unsure if he has been physically abused. He writes I am unsure of what is wrong with me. My friend thinks that I was physically abused by my brother but I don’t agree. My parents make me feel inadequate and unimportant due to my brother’s disabilities but it’s not their fault. Yes, whether, it doesn’t matter what your parent’s intent was, what matters is that you feel inadequate and unimportant. That’s what matters. And whether you want to call it emotional abuse or emotional neglect, what you are experiencing is real. People don’t make that kind of thing up. There is better shit to do with your imagination than that. So I just want to say that that is real. That is a real thing. Any positive experiences with yoru abusers. I love my brothers and my parents but I could not ever open up to them about how I feel. I would like to move out so I don’t have to talk to them. Darkest thoughts, I think about suicide a lot. I have told some friends about this but not my parents. I’m scared they will freak out and obsess over me. Darkest secret: I have lived a privileged life. Had always had plenty of money and not sexual, physical or emotional abuse apart from what I said before. I want you, cookie, I really hope that you are listening to this episode and I want you to, if you haven’t yet, listen to the episode with Dr Denise Webb. I think it will ring some bells for you and in the meantime open up. Find a parent that feels safe to talk to or a counselor or somebody. Let me finish reading his survey. What if anything would you like to say to someone you haven’t been able to. I hate myself so much. I think about killing myself every day. I am so sad that I feel nauseous and don’t eat or sleep. And I’m gay. You are so ok exactly as you are Cookie. You may not feel accepted in your environment, but your life is going to change eventually. It is, you are not going to have to live in your house forever. I don’t know how your parents would react to you coming out, so I can’t give you any advice on that but fuck anybody who doesn’t love you because you’re gay. Who doesn’t love you because you are struggling emotionally or mentally? How could you be a 14 year old gay child living in our society and not on some level be struggling emotionally or mentally? You would have to live in some type of town that I don’t know it exists. I’m sure it does somewhere. I’m sure, but buddy, and then writes, what if anything do you wish for. I would wish for happiness but I don’t what to be happy. I can’t explain it. I don’t want anything. I think that is one of the reactions of when we begin to lose hope, is that we just like a wounded animal. We just want to pull away and not have to do anything but that’s not, it’s not the way to go, buddy. It is not the way to go and while I don’t know what it’s like to be in your circumstance, I do know what it’s like to feel hopeless. And to not want to be around. And it is a temporary thing you are going through. That I know for absofuckinglutely, I might have just made that word up. But, have you shared these things with others. Yes some friends. How do you feel after writing these things down? I feel like an attention whore because I feel like I’m taking this survey for sympathy. These are all things Cookie that people going though depression or people living with depression feel. This is a real thing that you are going through. None of this is a weakness on your part. And none of this is a reflection of any kind of defect in you. And there’s so many people listening right now that just want to give you a hug and tell you, you are a beautiful, beautiful kid who is sensitive and vulnerable and those are the kinds of people that make the world a better place. Even if just for us, stick around Cookie. Stick around so you can help us because that is the type of person that people who are forced to grow when they are young. Most of my best friends, that’s people who grew up in difficult circumstances and had to do a lot of intro section. And thought about suicide and thought that it was never going to get better and it did get better for them and now they can appreciate the fact that if they are just patient, things will change. And worrying about what everybody thinks of us is a prison of our own making if let it. But thank you for sharing that and I really hope that you hear this.

This is happy moment filled out by, and this is a 15 year old, and when I thought it was just such a serendipity that this, within an hour of reading, going through the surveys and finding yours, I found this one. And this is filled out by a trans-male, who is 15 and he calls himself, I’ve reached the end of my tether and now I’m going to hang myself with it. Now remember this is a happy moment. And he shares, going to a support group for the first time. It is open to all ages but I’m the only non-adult, being practically disassociated with anxiety which quickly dissipates being welcomed and treated like a human, being seen. Feeling protected for once passing as a boy and being told, I can’t believe you are transgender. In parentheses, the biggest comment a trans-boy can get despite what people and the media might want you to believe. We don’t want to be special snowflakes. We just want to be normal. People remarking how complete I am. My actions, the way I look, very male. Being called brave for being trans, not naive or confused. When I speak being referred to as intelligent not selfish, immature or attention seeking. Instantly feel more at home at the group than at home with my family, by blood. It’s the one thing I look forward to every month. It replenishes anything I thought I had lost form being drained the time period leading up to it. Being accepted and seen, felt heard, complimented, not questioned or belittled or bossed around or told what to do. There’s absolutely no sense of I’m big, youre little. I’m smart, you’re dumb which I get in everywhere else in life. Never thought going to a support group could be like this. I feel so humbled when I’m there. I can be totally honest to people who aren’t judgement. They are the best people ever. I mean what can you do after reading that except drop the fucking mike, huh? Thank you for that.

And finally this is an awefulsome moment filled out by Venus. And she writes, until I entered my current relationship, happy, healthy and supportive, my number one coping strategy was putting myself in risking sexual situations. I would meet up with strangers who I met online or briefly at parties, go to their place and have very emotionless, alcohol perpetuated and often unprotected sex. My self-worth is usually pretty awful. One night I met a guy at a party about my age and went home with him. In the throes of self-esteem inducing lust, he whispers wanna see something excited. I braced myself for whatever the fuck this stranger was about to do to me. Then he reached into his mouth and pulled out a set of fake teeth and smiled a bizarre fake toothed smile continuing to make out with me sloppily with me. Dentures on his bed. Good thing I was tipsy enough to ignore his totally unsexy move. Nothing with fake teeth but did he really expect that to turn me on? When we woke up the next morning, he couldn’t find his fake teeth and he accused me of steeling them. I didn’t but the thought of me doing the walk of shame back home with dentures in my bra makes me laugh. You guys are so awesome. You guys are just so fucking awesome.

Thank you for your surveys. Thank you for those of you financially support the show. Thank you those of you who support through social media or that email me. Or that tell your friends about it or that learn something from this that helps you and then share it with somebody else. All of that stuff. So just remember that if you are out there and you are struggling, especially you Cookie, it’s not just a bullshit saying. It can and it does get better. It’s not to say that life is easy or perfect or any of that but it just takes opening up to get the ball rolling and its never as scary as you think it’s gonna be. That email, that survey that I read from a 15 year old, that’s the whole reason I started the podcast, is to try to spread the word about all the beautiful situations that can come from having to face adversity. It’s a forced gym membership. It is a beautiful gift in horrible wrapping paper. If you give up, you never get to open it. You never get to open it. And just remember you are not alone and thanks for listening.

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