Word Wednesday: Digging Deep (Cathartic Release)…


When one is plagued with a degree of mental illness, it is truly hard to unlock the space in your head filled with all the happy memories.

It seems the demons are under strict guard of that door, with the scant opportunity to let the happy sprytes open that door for a crack to bask in the rays of the sun on the daily.
Sometimes, there is a stronger Spryte that gets up the nerve to ram that door open, and the happies take over for a spell. 

Currently that is the case.

The happies are throwing a tiny soiree.

The Demons are locked away and being held at bay.

But what of the days with only a scant ray of sunshine ?
Those moments in time that never seem to go away long enough to truly enjoy the happiness:

When as a kid you feared taking your shoes off, let alone socks too
then at 52 realized that at age 11 you screamed ENOUGH!!! to your Dad who took pleasure in grabbing your ankles and Achilles tendon as a means of being "funny"

When your Dad called you "Little Shirl" because you took after your Mom in so many ways, and to this day still do. That selfless, caring, open-minded, good-hearted soul.

When your Dad would scoop you up off the ground when walking near rivers or crossing open grated bridges and declaring that he was going to throw you in the raging water, because once again, he thought it was hilarious.

When your older brother would scare you with scenes witnessed in the many horror films you saw during "family night at the movies", most likely because your parents were too cheap to hire a sitter. Or when Your brother would be creative with his scares and wave his hands in front of your face and blow while chanting "Magic fire dust in your eyes". Or his bizarre prep ritual to handle bullies by tickling you till you laughed so hard you couldn't breathe/was painful all while trying to say "I'm gonna tell the teacher on you" but never getting past "I'm". Or grabbing your hand and keeping you in the bathroom with him with the lights off as he tried summoning Bloody Mary in the mirror, or telling you whenever you had to go down the basement to watch out for "Gorilla Frankenstein & Monkey Man".

When you were 5 and playing with your girl crush who was 6 at the playground, being forced to kiss each other by some mean 3rd graders who threatened to beat you up if you didn't. First kisses should not have to be so traumatic.

When that jerk (who played the part of being your friend) pushed you off your bike and "borrowed it". He did give it back after twenty minutes. Twenty solid minutes of you crying.

When you feared the ocean so badly from having seen the movie Jaws at age 6, that you and your family went only once, to the Jersey Shore in 1978.

When in grade school there was a trip planned for the Philadelphia Zoo and your teacher asked you to ask your Mom to be a chaperone, because even then your Mom was your best friend, but on the day of the trip all the participating parents were separated from their children. Which in turn heightened or maybe pushed to the forefront your bouts with social anxiety.

When in Middle School you feared the dropping of the bomb from the Russians. You dealt with a bully who would pinch your skin off your arm and made you bleed because you kept saying it didn't hurt (even though it did), or when another bully thought it would be funny to hit you with a drumstick in the face, and made your nose bleed. He then begged you to not tell the principal (corporal punishment was still a thing in the 80's, kids were beaten with paddles with holes. Bullies were smacked, punched, kicked and pummeled by teachers into behaving (most likely even more badly).

When you were a little chunky and all the girls oinked and snorted at you.
When the gym teachers forced you to shower after gym class and they showered with you and your classmates. (Can you say pedophiles ?)

When you smiled after a joke your math teacher made, but your teacher under no circumstances believed that your smile was real. For years you decided perhaps she was correct, and kept your smile hidden behind a perpetual frown.

When in High School you always got picked last for team sports in gym class.
When in Freshman year your gym teacher paired you with a senior for wrestling, who was all about W.W.F. and flipped you in the air.
When someone felt the need to knock all of your books out of your hands.
When as a joke, someone put a secret admirer note in your locker that NEVER materialized into reality.
When you were too damn shy to accept the dates of the two girls who asked you to a school dance.
When at lunch, a senior thought it would be hilarious to throw food at you.
When you asked out two other girls one for prom and was turned down by both.
When that bully er friend spat at you in biology class but you had enough & punched him in the face (surprisingly the teacher took your side).
Or when you turned the tables on bullies flicking at your ear lobes and threw down your book bag and took chase, gaining "a don't fuck with the crazy kid reputation", never to be bullied again.

When after graduating high school you dated a girl a year older. She kept pressuring you to have sex (talk about the flip side of the coin #MeToo) and when you refused, told all your coworkers at your Sumner job that she fucked her ex. In retrospect, the thought of finally having a girlfriend than actually caring for her meant more to you. It showed you it was possible to not continue to be a perpetual single loser.

You would also start a lifetime of worry over your eventual death. A constant nagging thought of the fear of no longer existing. A fear that eats away at you over 30+ years.

When the second girl you dated was a slut and used you for sex while she was romantically involved with someone else.

When girlfriend #3 was a total psycho who emotionally abused you, treated you like a puppet, tried to run you over with her car, was the catalyst as to why Allentown Vice drew weapons on you as you we're trying to save her from jumping off a bridge and were not trying to KILL her.
Who you finally dumped after three tortured years, the last straw being her cheating on you and eventually getting pregnant. 

When your Dad finally felt relief that you weren't throwing your life away with a spic (he was actually grateful she wasn't a towel head, a chink, a kike or a nigger <yeah I grew up hearing these words, makes me think the reason I had friends or dated women of all races/religions/sexuality was because I knew it would bother him to the nth degree) His attitude did mellow as he aged but it must've killed him to have one son marry a white woman and have no kids & the other marry a woman, divorce, come out as Gay, have a male partner and adopt a mixed race child.

All those years in your 20's with job rejections & unsteady employment  that your dad attributed to laziness when in turn you probably suffered from some form of mental illness but never had any proper help to alleviate.

Weight gains.
Potential Girlfriend #4 being killed in a hit and run.
Girlfriend #4 who turned out to be a lesbian, trying to find herself.
Multiple misfired blind dates from hell
Girlfriend #5 who at the time was the youngest person you ever dated (7 years your junior) but aside from a creative connection and some light make out sessions, she wasn't ready to commit. 
Potential Girlfriends #6 All considered you were better suited to be "friends" than lovers.
Girlfriend #6 Who treated you as a number, specifically Guy #15 (she was a kinky bisexual who kept track of all of her sexual encounters in a spiral notebook).

You barely got your first associate's degree
But, tried harder than you ever tried before
graduating with honors for your second associate's degree (a far cry from the middle & high school days of not caring and dare I say, cheating)
Going through even more job rejections
and living in Astoria Queens, NY for a measly 5 days, tortured beyond belief with unemployment and a terrible living situation.

When your Mom took ill and eventually succumbed to cancer two months shy of your 32nd and her 60th birthday.

A frozen moment in time.

When you finally moved out (a ridiculous late bloomer) started a relationship with a 10 years older girlfriend #7, who like previous relationships broke up with you after three months. Firmly believing you had the three months curse. You even considered converting to Judaism for her.

But with Mom gone and this relationship ending you started a tumultuous relationship with and without God. Settling on keeping God's in your life on your own terms.

When you stepped down from a promotion because you cracked under the pressure of the position, the day before it started.
When you blew your inheritance from your Grandmother's estate and we're forced to file chapter 11.
The three visceral and super uncomfortable years you lived with your brother, his partner,  & adopted child.

When you had a very hard time making it work in the local art scene because of debilitating social anxiety issues. Or when you submitted a piece of work but used crayons to color it and unbeknownst to you the curator wrote a blurb comparing you to Daniel Johnston, when the only reason you chose crayons is because, why not ?!

When girlfriend #8 was actually just a one night stand that turned into another bout of being someones emotionally abusive puppet (you'd never think someone 15 years older could be so cruel).

When you settled with girlfriend #9, the oldest one (20 years your senior) but hated how stalled it would be. At 36 you wanted to glide through life whereas at 56 she was far more content grabbing a coffee. When your Dad and Step Mom (you never accepted her as your Step Mom) told you the relationship was a huge mistake.

When you studied improv but froze during your graduation performance and instead of compassion your dad and his wife told you with utter snark "Don't quit your day job".

Every single decade 
childhood, teens, twenties and thirties
had something rotten to the core
to unsettle your well being
yet, you survived

by 40 you'd meet your soulmate (12 years your junior)
Harkening back to girlfriend #3, you found yourself
in the position of boyfriend/fiance/husband/ THERAPIST

But for once, albeit challenging, the next 12 years compared to the last 40 would be blissful.
You'd eventually break through walls with your dad and enjoy the last 6 months of his life
Even though you would continue to deal with a bully of a brother (you'd come to realize a lot of his adult snark was always the wine speaking) your relationship would take leaps and bounds.

And even though all of this SHIT continues to remain in constant motion in the forefront of your memory, the happy sprytes keep you afloat and help blow away the dark clouds summoned by your demons on the daily.

And you live happily ever after stable, content and sometimes miserable.

But the key being, you live.


12 thoughts on “Word Wednesday: Digging Deep (Cathartic Release)…

  1. Matt- I really have no words for this post, and perhaps they aren’t necessary as this is your lived experience. It is not my place to do anything other than observe. I do appreciate what you wrote, and the insight I have gained into your past with your sharing these moments. Thank you, you are remarkable in so many ways. Stay strong.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for being the first to write a comment at least. As I told my friend offline, now I have to try to dig out the happies. Sometimes things just need to come out.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. This post is profoundly personal, and I think it’s often difficult to know, or feel comfortable commenting. However, I also think it is so important to acknowledge when someone shares something so deeply personal. We as readers can’t change what happened to you. There may be some that experienced some of what you lived through but find it too much to respond. There’s that cliche about speaking your truth and you did that. It deserves to be acknowledged that you were heard.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. ❤ appreciate the support Deb, I’m sure people have had it worse. But I also ended on a hopeful note, that despite it all. I persevere.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh, Matt, thank you so much for sharing so much of your life and your truth. Your courage and sincerity always amaze and challenge me. I love the power of “yet, you survive.” And another truth: you have a wonderful smile.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Meh, courage. I’ve told the harsh truth of my life so many times in so many different ways (short films, plays, comics,poetry) that this was just another way. 😁

      Liked by 1 person

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