Psychological Dive Into My Truth, An Essay

Psychological Dive Into My Truth:

A My Dark Vanessa Novel Essay

By: Tara B. Dobbs

© 2021

Everyone plays their part in life’s stage. To forget such a basic universal notion, is to quietly forsaken those who have endured so much in the shadows. The trauma they carry throughout their lives can not be unseen even when passing them by on the street or in school or even in your own home.

The novel My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell moved me to tell my story. To tell my truth. Before you in these coming passages are experiences I’ve only told in small pieces. I have never told the world about the pains I still carry. I can never go back in time to undo what had happened to me. I wish all I had gone through was a dream I could wake up from. I wish these were lies from the imagination of my brain. Yet, here I am typing at my computer preparing the notes, the full outline of my past.

Before you I will tell my truth with a combination of the novel’s My Dark Vanessa discussion questions from the back of the book. I placed the questions in chronological order. I did not include the question about Strane and Vanessa’s opinion differences about the author Vladimir Nabokov. I considered this question redundant to the more important aspects I needed to stress about my life and the parallels My Dark Vanessa pointed out to me.

To clarify, yes I have received therapy a few years ago. I have also analyzed my experience of being abused and being a survivor decades before I found professional help. Does that mean I stop going to therapy? Absolutely not. Just at this time, as of writing this essay, I’m not ready to go back to therapy. Hell, this essay is therapy.

Did my mother suspect anything in our house of abusive actions? Of course she did. She was my first bully. She was the ringleader of everything that went on behind closed doors when Dad was at work or when my brother was away getting into his own troubles with drugs, DUIs and jail. Not to mention the three years in the Navy that later he would be dishonorably discharged. All the while mom favored her son, her lover’s child. There was nothing my father could do as he was blind to her abuses constantly. Yet…

Did my mother suspect other things? Nope. It was the summer of 1994 in Idaho at a campsite. Here my father took all of us, my brother included, to pan for gold in the river. Along the way, dad would take us up the mountains to the property he stayed on in a tiny cabin in the early 1960s with a few friends of his. Mom had not believed he had gone to this place. It would finally be believed once mom saw the two thin plaid striped red and blue cooking pans hanging on the cabin wall. The goose feather down mattress bundled up in a black garbage bag to keep out of reach of rodents. The inside was dry and fairly clean as it looked to have not been used since the 60s.

With that realization out of the way, a few days passed with the basic fun of watching the stars at night. Tubing down the small river and panning for gold. Until one early morning, a soft mist hugged the ground of the dead golden grasses. I was barely awake, but awake enough to see the sun barely peeking over the hills. A moment later and a trickling sound on the ground caught my attention. I lifted my head, eyes a tiny bit blurry since I hadn’t put on my glasses, but I was able to see enough that I froze. 

My father made eye contact with me. I looked down just slightly seeing him with his penis in his hand as he peed against a tree that was at the corner of my side of the tent. He didn’t flinch as he continued. A slight smirk crossed his lips as he looked pleased that he showed his manhood to me in a quiet; unmoving moment. It was only for a few seconds of seeing this all unfold that I rolled back over and pulled the sleeping bag over my head. I never told my mother what happened because even then I couldn’t trust my mother because of the abuse she did to me for many years at this point.

In the novel, as for Vanessa’s mother suspecting anything about her daughter’s relationship before the school became involved? I’d say she didn’t suspect much because she was hesitant to talk with her daughter. Vailing what she really wanted to say by beating around the bush as it were. Vanessa’s, “I’m fine”, Everything’s okay”, etc was accepted by her mother as the truth. Which by doing so was foolish on her part.

If I were Vanessa’s mother I would have pestered her about her hiding the truth. That my daughter, if I had kids, let them be able to confide in me for anything that frightened them. Open communication would be a must in my family if I ever had children. But as for my own family, the back stabbing, manipulation and mistrust that was a constant, is the very reason I could never confide in my mother or father. Like hell, I’d never say anything to my brother.

How does her response after she sees evidence of Vanessa’s relationship with Strane? It’s way too little, too late to blow up at Vanessa like that. Her mother still skirts around the subject giving vague hints like she is manipulating her daughter to speak up. Trying to hint it out so not to feel like she’s a threat to her daughter. Her mother is far too timid on the subject. Like she was taught how to hide such sexual topics like countless other generations before her.

The bigger question – why would these parents allow their fifteen year old daughter to go to a prestigious coed boarding high school that borders on college level, even with Vanessa’s perfect grades and scholarship that accepted her after countless others rejected her?

Why didn’t her parents question any of this schooling she desperately wanted? Did Vanessa want to go to Browich because of Jenny’s going? A way to get back with Jenny in friendship or a sense of jealous revenge because their friendship broke down because Vanessa was annoyed that Jenny was paying attention to her boyfriend then to Vanessa? The sense of puppy following behavior begins here with Vanessa. Hence why in the end Vanessa gets a dog.

Vanessa is lonely and withdrawn at Browick. How does this make her susceptible to Strane’s advances? Bigger question – is she feeling lonely and withdrawn because of the fall out from her friendship with Jenny? Yes, she doesn’t know anyone at the school, that’s typical for someone new to a new school, a new location. But what also causes Vanessa to be withdrawn from others? Does she willingly choose to be a loner, even without a healthy self-esteem? For that matter, what caused her to have such a low self-esteem to begin with before she wanted to go to this school? Was she feeling more alone at home because her parents withdrew from interacting with her as a teenager? Her mother is obviously too shy to really talk with her daughter. Vanessa’s father is only going through the motions of being a dad and barely talks to her. This warns me that Vanessa has more Daddy Issues that really cause problems at Browick in the first place of being withdrawn and a loner almost on purpose that she’s not conscious of that leads her to be singled out by her teacher Jacob Strane. Easy prey that isn’t paying attention to her surroundings.

Do you think her seclusion contributes to the reason Strane is drawn to her? Obviously, yes. The problem is, Vanessa has Daddy Issues that were never addressed by her mother. Vanessa is also unwilling to patch things up with Jenny. She holds a grudge that festers into jealousy because Vanessa delussionally believes she needs attention from others at all times. She’ll find attention anywhere she can get it, even getting into the clutches of Jacob Strane.

Back in 2000, I came across a fellow fan of a cartoon we both enjoyed greatly. In the fan chat room we hit it off and started making plans to meet up. Both of us at this time were in our early 20s. Clearly adult age. Well, gradually GW told me a terrible story about his past. I wanted to know more about him and he hadn’t told anyone this story, but since I don’t know if GW is alive today or not, I’m telling this bit as quickly as I can. At his all boys boarding school in London he was the newbie that was singled out. GW was a bit taller than myself, but skinny. He suffered from epilepsy. He was bullied constantly during the first year. At one point he was raped by a fellow male classmate. GW showed me the scars on his wrists. No one believed he was raped. From his cries for help in his dorm, his bedsheets covered his blood, he was rushed to hospital. Him telling me the story shook him to pouring tears down his cheeks. I will never forget this about him and a few other things of his life for the rest of my life. Sadly, he and I broke up almost two years later due to a confusion of my intentions toward GW by his father who came from an old form of thinking that in itself was full of manipulation and abuse from his father for many years.

The mere repercussions of being a loner is bad by the rules of the animal kingdom. While human societal rules have been pushed aside by assuming children of any age may have to learn these factors on their own by horrific means. The parents’ lack of care to teach these basic rules that have stood the test of time is inexcusable. The picking off the sick and weak for real reasons, versus making yourself vulnerable to be picked off by a predatory human in social settings is disgusting.

How do I perceive Vanessa’s relationship with Jenny? Vanessa wants attention strictly from Jenny because Vanessa’s mother doesn’t really know how to talk and interact with her daughter in guiding her into some form of healthy self-esteem. Vanessa starts to believe the attention she gets from others could help her self-esteem though. This is slightly wrong. Self-esteem is created by interactions with others in small to large groups at school events such as spirit day game assemblies, sports events like Homecoming Games, dances, study groups, etc. This then builds up self-esteem, even calling it courage in one self to find new friends.

Would things have played out differently if Jenny hadn’t started dating? Wrong question. Would it have been better if Vanessa talked with Jenny alone at some point? Ask Jenny to hang out in the dorm room to talk this through. Because a large amount of Vanessa’s self isolation; seclusion on purpose it seems, is her lack in communication skills. Vanessa hadn’t reflected back a healthy parent/child interaction. Her mother was half way skirting around subjects and being almost embarrassed to simply talk to her daughter, let alone Vanessa’s father being worse at talking.

As for myself, it was at times difficult to find anyone who wanted to talk or be friends with me. When I would find someone, I would keep it to just that one friend. It rarely lasted into the next school year simply because my parents kept moving to different states through my childhood. Besides that, my wearing glasses and having slightly bucked teeth due to needing braces, which were never prescribed due to mom’s manipulative gaslighting behavior toward my brother’s wife, who was a dentist. Since I looked ugly or look stupid, by the eyes of my elementry to middle school classmates, I had very few, if at all any friends. Yet, in a way I chose to be alone. Keeping to my studies with my nose in books and my love of writing. At the same time I kept my eyes out for others who were bullied. Running to fellow classmates in need whenever I saw it happening. I knew what it felt like to be teased, kicked when I’m down and bullied. I didn’t want it to happen to anyone else.

What makes Strane single out Vanessa? Her body posture wasn’t explained by Vanessa noticing his eyes on her. The delusional description of how she believed Strane saw her for the first time was almost a mimic of Strane’s undertones of facial mirror interactions. Vanessa may have not noticed how she was showing or lack of showing emotion. The lack of awareness from Vanessa’s face and eyes made his predatory mindset hone in on her with stealth precision before Vanessa had a chance. If Vanessa was mirroring the lack of communication her parents showcased, she was showing it back to Strane without knowing it. If Vanessa had talked with Jenny of how she felt about the lack of friendship, Vanessa wouldn’t have  been in this situation to begin with. Better yet, if her parents had halted her from going to this coed boarding high school…

Does his behavior provide insight into his decision making process? Yes. Loads of his behavior tell it all. Giving her a diluted attention to pretend specialness by asking her to his desk. Him sitting next to her so close like study buddies with a crush. The Lolita novel, the poems that showcase Vanessa’s name as though it means something ordained by the heavens. He’s playing into Vanessa’s delusions about herself that she has yet to notice since she’s still a fifteen year old child. The basic self awareness by the frontal cortex has yet to finish developing by age twenty-five.

What I see in these tactics Jacob Strane pulls on Vanessa, that loads of readers do not notice, is he’s warning her of his actions toward her. Vanessa sees these gifts, poems, books as a ‘test she thinks she must pass’ to be allowed access to his world, which all by itself is delusional thinking. Jacob Strane sees she’s not taking his blatant warnings of what he’s going to do to her and takes it to the next step. A checklist in his mind on how to reel her in closer and closer.

It is also critical that Vanessa constantly ignores her instincts – her body shaking, shallow breaths, surprise at odd turns, her withdrawal of her mind to ‘float away’ to be somewhere else in Strane’s house, the dorm or school or apartment. A clear sign she was traumatized and her mind was protecting her and she just ignored it all. Never ignore your instincts.

Was Vanessa the first student Strane pursued? No. She was never his first student he pursued like this. By the time Vanessa shows up, he’s honed his skills to a sharp point to not give away his position. He’s a seasoned hunter that can wait out for days for the right time to pounce.

My impression of Strane…better yet, the real reason he got the vasectomy, that Vanessa finally realizes but never directly says to the reader, is that Jacob Strane was a sick man. He never wanted children because he was afraid he would do the same sexual acts to his own offspring. Let alone he never wanted to pass on any genetic disposition, if there was any for such behavior, to his own children.

Him wanting Vaness to “…call me Daddy” was a full red flag warning he was capable of raping his own kids if he had the chance. A sick fantasy to express through the phone to Vanessa’s ears should have repelled her away from him, but she too was drugged in wanting his attention she never got from her own father in a healthy manner.

Jacob Strane must have been abused in the same way at home by his own mother when he was a teeneager. He probably never had a father figure to mold him properly. Strane has Mommy Issues, while Vanessa has Daddy Issues. Both want attention, but not realizing how unhealthy and not only socially wrong due to changes in laws and moral social order, but wrong due to the underlining abuse of simply – being ignored by their parents. The lack of talking, interacting, getting to know your kids as they grow up. The process of shaping them as mirror versions of one self. If this does not happen, you get people like Vanessa and Strane in the world going on in life all wrong and lost.

Vanessa’s father had very few vocal interactions with his daughter in the book. Any time the two were together doing father/daughter fun, like fishing, playing games, hockey even, he was only doing the motions of fatherhood. He was too shy to talk to her since for one major factor, she’s an only child. Her father had no idea how to communicate with a female child. He really wanted a son, but that’s no excuse to be so withdrawn by ignoring his child in such awkward ways due to lack of communication.

Is Strane a sick or evil character? Jacob Strane knows partly what he does is evil, but that’s only because of the cultural upbringing of fairytale, nursery rhyme stories that all kids grow up with to learn some basic form of morality and social order in a class environment. He almost doesn’t see himself as evil only half of the time because in a way Vanessa delusionally levels him out. Yet, Vanessa is like a drug to him he can’t get enough of. As for Jacob Strane, a sick man? Yes he is. He should have gotten psychological help from a professional. He kept it hidden from others for decades. Even the possible abuse he suffered in the hands of his mother or father that was never expressed in the book.

The moral conflict over Vanessa’s youth and concern for her future by Jacob Strane is by him playing out the ‘caring father figure he’ll never be in reality. At the same time, he keeps hoping she’ll wise up to his underpinning warnings about his  behavior. But, by God, she’s so dense in not realizing it. She feels a delusional loss if she walks away from him. Clinging to something that’s all in her head, but physically between them both and clearly delusional and mentally ill by Jacob Strane’s actions.

Jacob Strane has obviously had relationship issues in the past. Don’t know what form, since it’s all Vanessa’s point of view, but he wants attention just as much as Vanessa, but he wants to control her. Like controlling a dog with full obedience commands at every turn. That the dog, Vanessa in this case, can’t live without her master. Both are miserable without the other.

Jacob Strane gradually becomes worried of the pending consequences as it gets closer to the end of the book. Yet, he can’t resist going after Vanessa. He knows what he does is wrong, but like any drug, he can’t help himself, yet could if he would just get mental help. There is no shame in getting the mental help one needs.

The line separating consent and rape can be blurry. The line should have been drawn by Vanessa by only allowing basic teacher/student talks about assignments. But, ya know, she’s been incapable of drawing any boundaries for herself because her parents never spoke up to get to know their only child that was moving away to a goddamn boarding high school for gifted students.

In fall 2013 a high school classmate contacted me on Facebook. He was my more official first boyfriend and only dated for a month. Fast forward thirteen years later, my marriage is falling apart. All I’m doing is waiting for the moment to gather papers to divorce DB. All the while, I’m talking it up with DF to strike up a lost friendship since there were no bad feelings between us. He was going through a divorce to his much older wife that was 20 years older. Long story on that mess. DB liked DF and they hit it off, but DF noticed something about my husband’s behavior. It was the beginning that would make me wake up to my pending reality to get out. 

During one evening, DF was invited over to hang out. DB stayed home from work. Around this time DB accepted that I was needing attention and wanted an open marriage even for a short time. All the while DF and I were going at it in my art studio room, DB was in his office room. After some time, DF pulled out and was shocked to find the condom had broken. He said, “I didn’t feel the condom break.” I understood this to be bull shit. I rushed to get cleaned up and dressed. Asked DF to take me to the closest drug store, since I couldn’t drive due to the truck needing repairs and DB considered this my problem and didn’t help out. It was then DB and DF were setting me into separate traps. DB wanted me to be the bad guy and set me up for an affair if this went to court. DF wanted to get me pregnant because previously he had an affair that produced a child, but the affair was a full rape by a broken condom. DF had told me the story a few weeks prior before this evening. I put it all together. All the while DF drove me to the drug store for a Plan B pill, he couldn’t say no or yes to help me. He wanted to run, but I couldn’t allow that. He drove me there in a huff of silent anger and annoyance. I caught him at his own trick. Thankfully I had just enough funds in my account to buy the pill. 

Later the next day, when DB was at work, I called our friend DR to talk me through what happened. DR agreed that DF had raped me, yet it was consentual sex, but with a sleezy trick to trap me. Thankfully I have brains about me that I’m grateful for that I never, ever ignore my instincts. I took the pill while I was still on the phone with DR. Everything worked out fine after that besides a slightly off timed period, but thankfully the pill worked. As for DF, I told him to fuck off and never contact me again. 

If Vanessa was eighteen at the start of the relationship with Strane, it would have never changed her perception. Here’s why, Vanessa still wouldn’t have talked with Jenny to rebuild their friendship and the lack of communication between her and her parents still would have been there. She was a lost soul that should have asked for help far sooner.

Vanessa muses, “Looking like a Lolita and knowing exactly what I wanted…I wonder how much victimhood they’d be willing to grant a girl like me?” I have mountains of comparison from my life that will easily showcase the concepts of behavior factors of interpretations of consent, victimhood and agency.

Let’s begin…I’m a child of the early 80s. Born a Gen-Xer or a Millennial, you pick. TV entertainment filled with toy aids in the form of cartoons, big brushed up hair, spandex athletic wear, bright wild colored clothing and plenty of financial pain to the country thanks to the Republican party of Ronald Ragan that ruined everything for my family and others like me in the working middle class that was slowly disappearing before our eyes to become the working poor.

From 1980-1996 my mother obviously would dress me up in cute dresses when out in public. Even for the times my family went to church when we still lived in Chattanooga, TN. All mothers do this in some form or another because it’s the culture to do so. Dress your babies and toddlers up cute almost like tiny mini young adults. A reverse of what real young adults dress in for comfort and dress for class or work. A way to keep the child cute for as long as possible because a mother doesn’t want to end that adorable phase.

From 1986-1988 ages 6 to 8, while living in Louisiana, hot and humid air would be the early causes for my long straight dark brunette hair to be cut short in a pixie cut. Mom dressed me in more calmed colors and shorts, pants and shirts. The occasional skirt or dress depending on school photos, of course. There was one time at age 6 touring with my mom at the elementary school, I was bored not getting any attention as she and another parent were talking. I slipped away following something, don’t remember what. I must have been twenty feet away from her down some steps. She freaked out for sure telling me in a stern voice, “Don’t ever run off like that! Someone could have taken you away from here!” All the while holding hard onto my elbow to follow her back up the steps.

From 1988-1996 age 8 to 16 in Arizona, now here’s where the real dangers come in. I was relatively an only child due to my brother being away hanging with the wrong crowd with drugs, DUIs, in and out of jail or prison. I didn’t see him very much. During that time I barely had friends. As for the three years in Louisiana, I had only one friend and her name was Sabrina. I’ll never forget her.

During a family summer camping trip to Idaho in 1994, all four of us went to see the property in the mountains Dad had gone off to in the late 60s with a friend to gold prospect. Finding the two lost handled pots left in the tiny cabin on the wall. The proof was there. Dad did stay there for months, even in the winter. For this trip, we stayed at a campsite that had showers and an indoor cooking area. We brought our cat Cathrine with us since we were going to stay there for two weeks and we had no one to cat sit for us. Cat Catherine had a blast killing voles to her heart’s content. On the last day of the camping, she placed a massive dinner plate size vole on Dad’s plate on the table that early morning at 5am. Dad was an early riser so he most certainly saw her do it. She must have killed twenty voles. Good kitty.

There were those pleasantries and fun, but there were also this tiny unexpected situation. Early, real early about ten minutes before dawn peaked over the hills, I was starting to wake up. A mist hugged the ground with a chill in the air. A trickling sound against grass caught my attention, waking me quickly. I rolled over to my left. Looked up to the corner of my section of the tent. I froze. 

Right next to that corner of the tent was a small tree and my father with his cock in his hand peeing against said tree. We made eye contact. He didn’t flinch, but had a gleam in his eye that he was pleased I saw his manhood. I rolled back over, covered my head with the sleeping bag and kept quiet. I knew if I had told mom of what happened she would have brushed it off as an innocent accident. Considering her mental state, that decades later I would learn she would be diagnosed with residual schizophrenia, bipolar I disorder and postpartum psychosis, still telling her would meant I would have been beaten for…get this, and it’s not the first time or the last time until she died, I would have been told that I was lying. I never told mom or confronted dad about it. 

Oh, but then there’s the time Dad and I were watching tv and saw a commercial for Victoria Secret lingerie. Dad said, “You’d look cute in a black teddy.” A slight moaning breath trailed off. Far it to say, I see a black teddy in an adult shop and I feel icky.

At the elementary and middle school in Arizona I was bullied and teased an awful lot. When my hair was cut short for the summer I was called, “You’re a boy! You’re a fag!” (Decades later a teenage boy in his car at a stop light called out, “Fuck you, lesbo!” I called back, “Really? So a grown woman can’t have her haircut short for the summer?” That shut him up real quick.) I would be called other names by boys and girls constantly. I gradually learned to ignore them.

Anyway, I digress…By the time I turned 15, I found myself willingly stepping into a man’s life with full awareness of my own actions. Remind you, I hardly had any friends at this time. Especially at the apartment complex where I lived. I was ostracized for god knows why. Probably had a lot to do with my glasses and my bad teeth that never got dealt with cause ya know, mom had no insurance or claimed she didn’t have the money to spend. That was code for, mom stealing dad’s paychecks to go gambling. I knew she had insurance. She just never used it toward me and my brother. And I was teased for liking the boy band New Kids On The Block, so that probably had even more to do with it. 

I was lonely. Yet, I felt I had to get practice kissing somewhere in case a boy my age asked me out, which did happen a few months later. I was at the pool swimming around. My brother was friends with a guy named Jeff who was his pot dealer. He was handsome, tall, blonde and fairly well built and oh, did I mention he was 36 years old? My brother warned me about him, but I didn’t pay any mind considering my brother’s behavior previously toward the household and the crowds of people he hung out with that stressed dad and mom out to no end. (Which later, I would get the brunt of ‘punishments and abuse’ while he was gone and while Dad was at work. My mother is a whole other story.) 

Jeff was lounging by the pool and at times would dip in for a cool off in the summer heat that July. He wore a dark blue speedo. Oh, you bet my instincts loved seeing the bulge between his legs. Jeff and I go to talking and you know what the classic shit that spewed from his lips, “You act more mature than most girls your age.”

I dinged on that real quick cause I knew I was more intelligent and aware than my classmates. For hell, I stayed clear of my classmates my age because of them bullying me. They had nothing good to offer in friendship as I saw it. I wasn’t interested in whatever they may have been into. I was into books, sciences, art, writing, NKOTB and the early stages of my first manuscript. All the while dodging my mother’s physical, emotional abuse and mental breakdowns, mental confusions, delusions and outbursts.

Well, Jeff invited me to his apartment since he had asked me if I had a boyfriend yet. I told him I hadn’t, but if I ever got a boyfriend, maybe learning how to kiss would be smart. Jeff agreed. We talked it through in his living room on the couch sitting half a cushion apartment. I remember telling him, “This is only a kiss to get used to the feeling. Can’t do this right without a tiny bit of practice.” Jeff added, “I’m perfectly fine with that. So that we’re clear, this is consensual between us both.” I agreed. We leaned in, him mostly. His hands on my shoulders. A slight open mouth kiss with no tongue. Broke away and he said, “You’re a good kisser for being your first time.” All I thought was, well, of course, kissing isn’t that difficult.

Since it had been fifteen minutes at his apartment and I could feel the cool air conditioning on my face, I told him I had to head home. I knew mom would be wondering where I was. I rushed off home and dad was there out front of the apartment calling my name. Apparently he had been down to the pool on the other end of the complex looking for me. Mom swatted my ass asking where I was. I didn’t say a word to her and never did. She’s long dead now, so no point in her seeing this confession

A few days later I went back to the pool and didn’t find Jeff there, but when I headed home after an hour of swimming I saw Jeff on the balcony of the third floor of his apartment. He called out, “You’ll never forget me!” He obviously thought there was something  more there. I never talked to him, never went near him ever again because all I wanted was a first kiss. 

In November 1995, MG asked me out on a date. He was a classmate that lived in the next apartment across from me. We only went out for a month. He was my first more official first kiss. He was good to me and never forced me. He asked if I was ready for sex and in tears I said no. A few days later he broke up with me. That’s when I learned a second time what males wanted. The only thing – sex. To possess the bodily object of their desires for a few fleeting minutes of time.

From 1996-1999 age 16 to 19 Washington state, the main experience of this time period of my life was during my senior year in high school. I had learned of the legal age of consent when I was seventeen. Deciding on my own to wait a little longer until I was eighteen at least. I was dating four male classmates during Junior and Senior year. Not all at once, of course. Only for a few months at a time until I felt the relationship wasn’t going to work in any capacity. With DF, who was a more official first boyfriend, we had sex on November 22, 1998. Best funny part – he had the condom inside out. Gotta make mistakes like that to learn from them, ya know? That relationship only lasted a month simply because our parents kept pushing the concept of marriage on us. It was pathetic on their part. But later I would reflect on learning how much of a manipulative jerk he was trying to dump me in the high school library in public. He broke up with me. I was only heartbroken for a few weeks at least.

The other two high school boys NC and TB were pretty good to me. I broke up with them under mutual understanding for the most part. The fourth final one, PK was the one that never got a part of me. He wanted sex so badly from me that it scared me to be near him. That whole month of March 1999, nearly the whole school of Juniors and fellow Seniors warned me about him. That he was mentally unstable and known to be a stocker. That his father abused him. At age nine PK’s father hung himself in the basement. PK had walked in on the act in progress. It messed up the boy terribly. Yet, way after high school, a decade later it would come out to all be true. The major factor was PK was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia because his father had the mental illness, too. 

During that month of March 1999, PK tried to force me into sex in the woods. I knew something was wrong even then with him. It was then I began to listen to my classmates. At one point a few weeks before graduation in May, he had asked a student counseling session to talk the relationship issues through. By then I had broken up with him at the end of March. There was nothing to talk about. A teacher aide had come into my class with a note for me to join her in a student counseling room with PK. When I saw him sitting at the long table, a horrible knot formed in my stomach as the door was closed. My heart rate went up. I began to shake. The exact same feeling of instincts that told me when my mother’s bipolar psychosis had taken over to prepare for a beating.

I sat down and the student counselor began the talk to see what the issue was. PK wanted to know why I broke up with him. That he wanted to still get together. My voice shook as I told him I didn’t want anything to do with him. I began to tear up as he asked the student counselor to leave the room so he and I could talk in private. The stupid student listened to him! It was that easy! I cried to her to not leave. To please stay, but she told me it was normal for two students to talk it out like this. I knew that was bull shit. After five minutes of just PK and myself alone and he saying the same crap and trying to gaslight me that nothing was wrong with our relationship. When he wanted to give it a second chance, the student counselor returned, but then I got up in a huff, crying and visibly shaking. I ran out of the room and headed to the office to tell an adult that I didn’t feel comfortable being there and would be heading back to class. The student counselor wanted me to come back. I told her to fuck off.

A few years after graduation, it was found PK had raped his first victim. Over the course of ten years PK was labeled a Level III repeat sex offender rapist. Seven rape victim total that produced a child each. Seven children he was barred from ever seeing or seeing their mothers. Most of these women were my fellow classmates. One classmate who was the seventh victim told me, “He kept saying he wanted to fuck you and no one else as he raped me and the others.” He raped these women because he was mentally ill and that I was the one that got away from being violated during high school. I had the self awareness to keep his penis and his body off of me because I cared about myself.

During 2000-2003, also in Washington state, I had three boyfriends. JC from Maryland, where I lived with him for a month, it was kinda a mutual break up. Yet, he would tell me a few years later that he was grateful for pointing out how creepy and abusive his mother’s boyfriend was toward her. But later, I would find out from a friend that he had raped her which made her get an abortion. 

The relationship with GW that I mentioned earlier about his boarding school experience, he and I broke up under mutual circumstances. Not to mention, the odd distrust his father and mother had about me. Whatever that was about.

Then, the oddness of coming across DB. I won’t go into too much detail as it was what sparked my first novel in 2010. Details of that abusive marriage are clear to see in the book. That part I want to press here happened on June 1, 2008, for my first day of work for a craft store. I was listening to my IPod on my walk to the bus stop in downtown Everett, WA. It was early that morning and the bus was to arrive at seven. I sat down on the bench and turned my attention down the street to watch for the bus. At the corner of my left eye a bald headed, overweight, beady dark black eyed man with a fat lower off centered lip, the guy came up beside me and with a slip of his right hand cupped my ass hard and said, “Hey, baby!” in my ear. I leapt from the bench screaming at him. “Leave me alone!” I screamed from the top of my lungs. Screaming loud enough that my signature hawk scream came out. That scared him shitless as he went running, almost hobbling across the street and around the corner. He peeked from behind the wall and I screamed again for him to leave.

All the while I was shaking. Looked around in a frantic seeing the bank wasn’t open yet. But one place was and it was around the other corner up the hill – Starbucks. I ran like hell was after me. Asked an employee to call 911 for a cop. The cop arrived a few minutes later. I told him what happened and described the guy so perfectly that the cop said, “Oh, I know who that is. He’s known for doing this.” I hop into the front of the police SUV and we drive off to the pervs apartment! I sat in the car watching the cop ask the man what happened. The cop comes back and tells me, “He denies ever doing anything. Without physical evidence or video footage, I can’t do anything.” 

Far as it is to say, I was beyond upset and betrayed by the system I paid my taxes toward! The cop drove me back to my apartment. The cop walked me to the door and there I woke Dan. The cop told him what happened and of course Dan did the basic thing of hugging me tightly. Yet, a few days later I asked Dan, my husband of four years by this point, that I needed a cell phone. He said, “That’s a good idea.” Got the flip phone and all was okay, but once I started talking about defense classes he said, “You can look it up yourself.” That was code for, he won’t pay for it. Yeah, what half-assed help he was. 

A few years later I would be at the beginning of the end of my marriage to DB and writing my first full novel about all that happened in that relationship and so much more.

Then, for the last one there was DR. I’ll be brief on this one. When I moved back to Washington state after two years living with my abusive family after the divorce, DR started expressing how he felt about me. I felt numb around him. With all my previous experience of manipulative men on so many forms and factors, my instincts saved my life again. Let’s just say, he was kicked out of the apartment. 

For those who may ask, I’m in a very healthy, going on six years relationship with a man that supports my writing and art. We have countless things in common. Three kisses each morning when we wake up. A few kisses on his way to work, “Have a nice day, love.” I call out to him as he heads out the door. Three kisses in greeting as he comes home. I’ve never been so safe in my life. I hope to keep it that way and maybe someday, we’ll get married.

Oh, I’m not done with this essay, folks. The fundamental differences between Vanessa and Taylor’s responses to Strane’s advances are odd. Since Vanessa’s parents didn’t question their daughter hard enough about her boyfriend in why they hadn’t met him yet or even seen him as she left the car when he dropped her off, it shows Vanessa didn’t have much agency to show care to herself. To protect herself from the ever growing dangers she was putting herself in. Vanessa kept playing a game of lies, distracting her parents and classmates to look the other way. 

Taylor had agency in caring for herself when it got too far with Strane. She understood where to draw the line. Even though Taylor said she never had sex with Strane, the mere touching of her leg was enough to set off alarm bells. It’s obvious to me that her parents cared for her enough to start questioning their daughter when she showed signs of distress. Better yet, Taylor told her father what was going on. Vanessa played games and lies with others believing a delusion in herself of the supposed relationship that was going on that Strane caused. Taylor told her father what happened, therefore, setting in motion the end of Strane’s career as a teacher. Vanessa was blinded by lust and self delusion. Taylor had self awareness and asked for help from her father.

Considering their responses to being products of shifting cultural norms or different upbringings, my Gods, Vanessa’s parents were blind and stupid to what was happening. The lack of closeness shown by Vanessa’s point of view told a lot about how she was led astray by her own self delusions about Strane. Taylor, much younger than Vanessa in comparison to both their situations on Strane, Taylor had protection of her family to guide her with open communication. It doesn’t matter the years between both women in how they were raised. The situations could have been switched at any time of decade. The concept of Stranger Danger has lacked in recent decades, but now it is at full force with venom to boot to stop adult predators from taking advantage of children and teens. The process of observing one’s surroundings and reading the emotions and tones of voice from a predatory person is paramount in the educational process more than ever.

When I was growing up in the 80s and 90s, we had Stranger Danger courses in school. My mother made sure I understood the differences between the basics of human interaction. Save for the most dangerous which wasn’t talked about hardly was, the parent or family member is the most dangerous to a child or teen. The person you know well, even a teacher, can be dangerous. To keep your wits about you isn’t just cool to say, but it is wise to train yourself to be aware of others actions. Taylor had that taught to her, whereas Vanessa did not, if at all. And the lack of communication from Vanessa’s parents in this novel really pisses me off the most.

Vanssa is not at all a reliable narrator. Vanessa was playing games to hide the fact she was in a dangerous situation. She was partly aware of what she was doing, but didn’t come to terms with  how unhealthy and terrible it really was until decades later. She deceived herself by the sleazy smooth words of her teacher Mr. Strane. She was brainwashed, therefore, she wasn’t in her right mind to be reliable to herself to get herself out of the situation.

How would the novel have read differently if it were told from another character’s point of view? If her parents fucking questioned their daughter about this boarding school choice to begin with, she wouldn’t have been in the clutches of such a creep! If Jenny, her best friend had spoken up far sooner instead of being with her boyfriend. A whole host of different facets of ways a different pov would have better helped Vanessa’s outcome to have been placed in a better situation. She would have probably gone through a different creepy guy to learn valuable lessons no matter how you shape it. A young woman has to learn these things, strangely enough, to survive the dangers of the males of the species of humankind.

Strane says, “We’re living in a different time,” referring to the changes in attitude toward power imbalances in relationships. How far has society progressed from even ten years ago? I can go further back by my personal experiences, but I already told those stories earlier. Refer back to them for examples if you’d like and hen think on yourself and the news stories about rape, mulstation, sex trafficing, etc. 

Society has barely scratched the surface in confronting sexual predator males. And yet, there are female sexual predators out there, too. Far fewer, but they do happen mostly due to mental illness (but that’s no excuse to be a sick person who sexually hurts children and teenagers) What’s the bigger problem is the family dynamic is to blame for most of the social problems in the world. Teaching students the process of psychology to use in everyday interactions is best. As a supposed civilized society it is a teacher’s duty to guide a child, no matter the age, to be prepared for the outside world. If a parent(s) are willing to help teach their child to learn psychology in handling different types of people in the real world, more power to them.

Yet, in the context of professionalism and expertise it is best to have a qualified teacher who has studied psychology to be able to teach the class proper and safe forms of understanding the human psyche. There will be times kids will come across such odd people in their non-school hours of the day. Especially in the home where most times the avbusive, sexual predatory is for the most part. How to get the courage to talk to someone they trust to get the sexual abuse to stop. 

Back when I was growing up there weren’t such taught techniques. Only the basic Stranger Danger of if an adult touches you inappropriately, kidnaps the child or tempts the child with candy. Don’t talk to strangers. Don’t take anything from a stranger. Don’t go with a stranger into their car or house. That old school Stranger Danger was so vague and obscure in explaining the full details and behaviors of where real dangers come from, I think, severely hurt society as a whole.

More needs to be done by far. Most of all though, adults should be capable of saying no to a preteen or teenager if they start showing expressions of flirtation toward a much older adult of any age. That same adult should be able to say no to themselves before they ever think about doing unspeakable sexual actions toward a minor. It’s that damn simple. Be the adult that looks after kids and teens like they’re supposed to in this supposed civilized world. Nothing will change until the adults of now and two generations past do something to maintain themselves as the adults they were supposed to become to begin with.

Would Vanessa’s story change if she had been a teenager in the present day? No matter the decade or generation one was born into, there would still be someone that would be ten or twenty years older than Vanessa if she were 15 in 2020 or 2021 as this essay was being written. As long as there are adults from age 18 to 70+ who are incapable of being the responsible adult in saying no to their delusional, mentally ill, animalistic sick urges toward a child of any age, these problems will still be a problem.

In comparison to what I’ve discovered – 

Tennessee legal age of consent in 1880 was age 10, 1920 was 18 and 2007 to present is 18.

Louisiana legal age of consent in 1880 was age 12, 1920 was 18 and 2007 to present is 17.

Arizona legal age of consent in 1880 was age 12, 1920 was 18 and 2007 to present is 18.

Washington state legal age of consent in 1880 was age 12, 1920 was 18 and 2007 to present is 17.

No amount of laws will deter a man of 18 to 70+ to stop their millions of years of evolution to breed. Millions of years ago females of the human species were scares, hard to come by while small bands of tribes ventured outward to explore the world at large. We don’t know what other males or females of the adult age group would have done if they caught a child being raped. I would assume the elder of the tribe would have killed that adult male or banished him or lowered his rank in the tribe that would be humiliating.

Over time for the last ten thousand years, to five thousand years to even five hundred years ago, the behavior of the ever expanding tribes of humanity in villages, towns and cities would take drastic action against such horrific acts against a child. As civilizations progress the laws would change to reflect the changing times since sexual abuses to a child were still constant as they are today. Not much has changed in ten thousand years of progress. The only thing that does change is the lack of effective harsh punishments and consequences toward such predator males.

The basic behavior of a predator is to stock those who are weak by sickness, lameness of movement or mental capabilities. All animals in the predatory category do this for the benefit of thinning out the herd to keep down disease outbreaks and stop inbreeding. But in the human animal, these behaviors of picking off the weak does not apply to how animals do it for the sake of nature. An order must be kept by ending this horrific practice of such mental illness like behavior. All these human male predators are doing is continuing the cycle of more mental illness such as depression, anxiety, PTSD and the continuation of the acts themselves of sexual misconduct in all forms. The cycle must end somehow.

To get a better idea of the abuses toward children, please take some time to read this book: The History of War Through Child Abuse by Llyod DeMouse.

Did Vanessa change throughout the years or not? Vanessa had this terrible knack of keeping her pain to herself and to her psychiatrist when out in public. For example, when the hotel owner’s daughter was getting cat-called and pick up line like a damn fish on a hook by that drunk older guy at the receptionist desk counter, Vanessa didn’t say anything! She kept her mouth shut in confronting the man to stop. She watched the 16 year old girl freeze up, stutter and then make an escape by pretending that a fellow hotel employee needed help with the boxes. This 32 year old adult Vanessa betrayed the 16 year old child who was visually and verbally needing help. As an adult Vanessa is and should have been tasked to protect this teenager or any child in her line of sight. It is up to everyone who is an adult to watch out for other people’s kids. You never know who is the predator hiding amongst the crowd.

Another bothersome example of Vanessa not changing by learning from her experiences with Strane was constantly still believing the relationship was normal and romantic! She kept ignoring her bodily and mental instincts to confront what happened to her.

In regards to the previous entry about animalistic predatory behaviors in the animal kingdom…when a human being ignores their instincts, that knotted gut feeling or nervousness to flee, that fight or flight response, ignoring that basic ingrained evolutionary behavior will get you into trouble to be singled out as prey.

In how Vanessa changed was when she finally came to terms through the help of her psychiatrist to admit what happened to her was wrong, dangerous and unhealthy. Vanessa was able to confess to herself that what happened should have never happened. At the very end, Vanessa, who wanted to be loved and have someone by her side at all times, got a dog. This is perfectly healthy and smart on her part. The dog can act as a guard for her while being cared for, which will then help her care for herself in getting her life back in order. Also, the dog metaphorically represented the puppy-like behavior she was showing toward Strane. Always wanting to be by his side like a needy puppy since Vanessa didn’t seem to get that type of care from her parents. Hence why Vanessa wanted, for some reason, to get away from her parents by means of that coed boarding high school.

The only way Vanessa was able to change was the dynamic in her mind. When you repeat the same tactic over and over constantly expecting a different answer to your situation, that creates a form of madness which continues her depression, anxiety and PTSD. Only once she confronted the truth with the proper healthy outcome did she begin her journey to heal for the better of her mental wellbeing.

The significy of the lasting effects from the relationship with Strane could me what? Vanessa can now move on by accepting what happened to her was wrong, but that her new found power is that she’s no longer a victim. She’s no longer tethered to the toxic fishing line and hook of an abuser. She’s a survivor that can move on with her life by her own choices. Not by the choices Strane demanded of her with manipulative gaslighting tactics. Vanessa has officially come into her own as a grown, learned woman who can finally heal.

As for social media shaping the collective responses to news about harassment and abuse allegations? It’s damn easy to see the truth when servivers come forward to tell their story or stories. The abusers in all their forms can no longer hide in the shadows. Yet, there are those females or males that can claim abuse happened to them when they don’t recognize the differences in types of greetings and basic hugs in greetings. Taking the mundane basic greetings and claiming them to be sexual misconduct makes it harder for the real sexual misconduct, sexual abuses in other forms to be taken seriously. Not to mention, for those women who cry out that a man raped them when it was clearly consent. To later come out x-amount of months after the sexual encounter that was clearly consent between two adults, to claim she was assulted or that the sex was truamatizing. If the woman ignores her instincts of the consentual sex getting out of hand and making her uncomfortable, it is wise to speak up right then and there to get the man to stop. Who cares if the man has a form of power in his life due to money, status of some kind or policial power for that matter. If the guy can’t handle that a woman told him to stop, it proves he was a dangerous man to be with in bed to begin with. After that, the woman should gather her clothes and get the hell out of there. It’s that simple. Don’t ever ignore your instincts.

The biggest call out of sexual abuse currently that has been called out, but has yet to go to trial over it and placed in prison, he has caused far too much harm in slowing down the Me Too Movement. When a ring leader of sorts shows he can get away with his actions toward abusing women, it quietly allows other abusers to continue their behavior unscaved. If child abuse and adult abuses in all forms sexual in nature or not is to be arraticated, the heavy hitters of abuse that have billions in money and power must be beld accountable. Take away their power and their money. Give the abuser the worst of the worst for breaking such a common sense social law. As long as men like him stay in some form of power, no matter how delusional that power dynamic is, other abusers will still continue. Remember, most sexual abuse to a minor or adult happens under out noses at home from someone you know. All this abuse starts at home and must end if society is to thrive.

I have a stronger understanding of these issues more because of my personal experiences in my life of nearly thirty five years more than this book. This book brought it out of me to tell my truth in an essay form for all to read. I understand more needs to be done to end abuses of all kinds. It all starts from the home with adults in the house that are closest to the children. To ignore that fact in your own  home is to be part of the problem that continues the abuse.

Since I have far more insight on the matter from my own life’s truth, Strane was warning Vanessa of his actions. He was testing her to see how she would take the bait of the books, poems and the sweet words he says to her in comparing Vanessa to passages in books and poems. She was completely and utterly blinded by her own lack of family care and her own self care to realize what was happening to her. Everyone else saw the bait, but she saw nothing.

This book was like seeing a reflection of my life, but without it being a teacher at the helm of controlling me into such tethered actions. The thing about victimhood is if one allows the trauma to rule their lives on a constant loop in the mind and in daily life, telling oneself the lies the abuser spewed, then the victim will stay a victim. Forever bound negatively to the abuser. Never able to set themselves free.

As for agency, taking control of one’s trauma in a constructive manner may be creative means, therapy with a professional and moving one with one’s life, the abuser will no longer have power over you. You must stand up for yourself even when the abuser is no longer in your life. Keep yourself guarded and protected when need be, but never keep the walls up on yourself where you can’t accept the healing process.

Finally, about consent. There are many forms to express consent that is missing in the ever important process of the human communication process. Consent verbally is perfectly normal, but must have a strength to it to be heard effectively by the other person or persons involved. Body language should be taught in schools in a psychology type health class. If one is unable to read body language by the time they are five years old, there is a problem that needs to be addressed by a professional psychologist. The turn of the head. The movement of hips or stepping back or stepping forward. Reaching out with a hand to touch the face. Basic animal-like social cues for the human animal is extremely important to learn no matter the place’s body language is utilized.

Facial expressions to show with body language and vocal expressions of consent is even more important. The factor in reading eye movement, muscle mouth and facial movement, even the subtle movements in the lower jaw that move the ears, are critical in the art of language. We say far more by our facial cues than the words not spoken. Not all adult sexual activity is conveyed by verbal consent. The basic actions of the mating dance as it were is the oldest process there is to get laid.

Along with all those forms of communication for proper consent, there are those who will fake, play a game with vulnerable people to give the impression of real consent. If in doubt of a man or woman being shady in their consent language, it takes time to learn the delicate art of these fakes. Again, I can’t stress this enough, don’t ignore your instincts. If someone feels off to you that the person in front of you is faking their consent language, leave. Don’t hesitate. Don’t stop and doubt yourself. Get out of there right away as quietly as you can. Cause if you ignore your instincts, overall, you are betraying yourself to keep yourself safe.

Vanessa is only a victim to herself because her parents did not ask the hard questions about the Browick school. Her parents are just as much to blame for Vanessa’s trauma as the school itself is and Strane himself. Everyone played their part in allowing Vanessa to get into the situations she was in. There was far too much skirting around the subject of the possibility that Vanessa was in danger. No tough love by anyone to get her out of that situation. Even after she was taken out of Browick, she was still drinking, smoking and getting into more unhealthy sexual interactions and supposed relationships. The constant victimhood she even put on herself until the very end to finally come to terms that she was being played with. She wanted love and care by a man or anyone like a lost puppy. Hence why she got the dog. A reverse on the factor she was being teased in being led by a man who should have gotten help far soon and then he would have never become the predator. I’d go as far to say that Jacob Strane ignored his own instincts to get the help he needed. Vanessa’s parents ignored all the lies Vanessa was spewing and falsely giving her too much privacy as a teenager. The dorm parent was just as blind and far too timid to the growing problem with Vanessa. Jenny should have taken a break from her boyfriend to make sure Vanessa got help. Because of Taylor coming forward it helped break Vanessa’s trance over Jacob Strane. That she wasn’t the only one who was harmed by him. Everyone has parts to play, but didn’t do it quick enough to get it to end. Strangely enough though, if Vanessa’s parents paid closer attention to her needs, there wouldn’t have been a novel to begin with. Funny how that is. If you want the abuses in all forms – sexual/physical, emotional, verbal and psychological/mind games, to end, you have to be observant and when you see something happening to a loved one at home or in school or at the office at work, you can be that hero to save a life.

Odd Things Non-Writers Say

I know, not everyone writes fiction or non-fiction. Not everyone writes in general. Typing up a comment, an opinion or adding their prospective on a topic of dicussion online, is writing, but…

I’m talking about people who never read or those who do read, but never wrote a collection of short stories or a novel or two for fun. I’m pointing out those who have never written a single document past school years growing up. And after school years, never picked up a book after.

The things these types of people have said to me personally or in public, it blows my mind. (Names are taken out to protect them for obvious reasons)

“Why do you always want books for Christmas? You’re writing one of your own?” – …This one really blows my mind. This statement, spoken in person close to the holidays a few years ago, tells me they don’t read books for pleasure or for learning to expand their mind. All writer types must read diffrent forms of style and process in order to write better. Writers must study the craft. This means, we want more books on the exact craft stubject or books on a genre we are writing ourselves. I want books for Christmas, a gift card from Barns & Noble cause it makes it easier for the gift giver since they don’t know me well enough of the subjects and genre I like, I need books to study from on the craft from those before me. Yes, I can easily borrow books at the library, but a direct book that is not at the library, and if it’s particular to what I need, I can buy at the store. I keep a lot of the books on the craft of writing. I go back to the material over and over for years of study.

“All you need to do is sit down and write.” – …Oh, sweet summer child, you know nothing. It takes far more to place ass in chair, roll up to desk and start typing to pump out a book. I have a few articles I’ve already written on my author blog, that explains the common processes and my own method for myself. But to put it into simple terms here: 1) It takes planning, months or years worth for a novel. …2) It takes problem solving during the planning stages, sometimes months or years on a section to get right. Even a first draft can take some problem solving. …3) Drafts 2 and 3, to go through to flesh out the full form of the story before major edits. This process can take a year or more. …4) 6 to 8 months of major edits with critique partners. Different minds and eyes on the project itself. …5) In between each process, important breaks are needed for the mind to relax in seeing the work with fresh eyes. (These breaks include: cleaning house, grocery shopping, cooking, laundry, paying bills, reading, etc) I’ve created nearly 500+ pages worth of notes, character files, diagrams, family trees, world histories and timelines that took me years to gather in the developmental stages. It takes years to finalize a screenplay way before it ever gets looked at by a production company to become a full length movie. To create anything, it takes time and hard work. (Not to mention, the stress of Impostor Syndrome is something all writers who want to be professionally published face. Fighting the demons in her minds, the stresses of it all, lag the process down. So, again it takes time to write a 120,000 words size book.)

“What’s a novelist?” – …There are words I’ve never come across either. That’s how we learn. I use the word ‘novelist’ when I hand someone my business card or when I’m addressed diectly when asked what my job is. This person had said about my thin metal case mistaking it for a wallet, even though I use it as such. The metal container is for business cards, I told him. He then asked what my job was and I said, “I’m a novelist.” I don’t refer to the use of author, since I’m not currently published. So, this person didn’t know what a novelist was. I explained, “It’s another word for author. Someone who writes fiction.” I was abselutely taken a back by his question on the word though. He was obviously in his early 20s, but since he didn’t know the word, I blame the eduational system of the US. When I learned of the word, ‘novel’, in third grade in 1988, the English teacher saying, “We’re going to read a novel today. Novel means ‘new idea’.” I was entranced by the word. I fed off this new fact for decades. It still gives me happy chills when I use it.

I think that’s all of them. There maybe one more, but at this time, it’s slipped my mind. Oh well. To close, if you as a writer of any form come across similiar examples, remember, your book may strike their interest in reading for the first time in decades. Don’t let people who don’t read or don’t write fictions stop you from making your dreams come true. Keep writing and don’t stop.

Cleaning Up The Stage

Cleaning up the store before opening the doors to customers. Preparing the canvas before placing the first paint filled brush stroke. Sweeping the stage before rehearsal begins. Prepping your work space before you type at the typewriter for that important article or first draft of a new novel.

Not all writers do this process, but it does help…at least that’s how I noticed a shift in my work whenever I cleaned up the stage.

I was always a tidy child and teenager. I did as I was ordered and told to do in keeping my room clean or maintaining some form of space to keep organized. Even if it meant that my mother with her bipolar with residual schizophrenia on top of that which the littlest thing would upset her of whatever I did ‘wrong’ to her whims. I grew accustom to maintaining my room as perfect as possible. Reason being for the most part, I danced in my bedroom all the time. I understood early on my own observations while taking ballet class in 1985, that the cleanliness of the studio and stage was important. It kept accidents from happening. There is nothing worse in the world than tripping over the smallest object when dancing.

I took that basic training of cleaning up the stage to heart and still do it today, but with a twist.

I discovered in my early 20s that I had a niche in recognizing a pattern of thought whenever I finished cleaning dishes, laundry and sweeping the floors or cleaning anything else in one day. Once the chores were done for that day, my mind was free to focus on my writing for the rest of the week. I would have 5 or 6 days devoted to writing even if it was only note taking and study of my works. I would finish one to three chapters in that week span. Then the cycle of come Sunday or Monday I would clean house once more to prep for the next work week of writing.

Why would I go to such lengths to clean house in one day, even if all I needed to do was 2 to 3 loads of laundry? Imagine for a moment you want to write a whole chapter. The story is flowing out of you, but your mind is bogged down at the forefront of – ‘There is a load of dishes in the sink’ – ‘there is a load of laundry that needs to be washed’ – As you notice there is something keeping you from your work, you stop and go finish that other thing, for my case chores. If I find that this is happening inside my mind and I know physically there are chores to be done, and I continue to ignore those chores, I get depressed for the next few days cause I’m being lazy to myself and neglectful to my writing.

Writing is the reward for when I’m done with basic household needs. I look at this way, if you can not maintain your household of the basic clutter around you (basic chores as I described before) then how can your mind be calm and at peace to help you focus on your creative work in front of you? As much as a cluttered mind can not focus, neither can a cluttered house, stage, etc. When you have not kept to a basic once a week schedule of maintaining the house needs (your needs, mind you) then the creative work before you will and can suffer as a result.

On a Sunday or Monday I’ll see the dishes need to be done. I’ll see if one or two loads of laundry to be done. I’ll notice there are dust bunnies on the floor and sweep all the floors and clean the cat box. Then come Tuesday onward I’ll have nothing better to do than write a new chapter(s) until the next Sunday or Monday rolls around. Then the cycle starts all over again.

Don’t get me wrong here. There are authors out there of all kinds that just focus on the writing and keep going all the while neglecting the household needs to keep them sane, healthy and happy. Especially the healthy part. If you have a partner in your life that can help with the chores to keep you on task at writing, then ask them to help you with the house chores from time to time. It will help you lessen the load.

These are all crucial processes before you begin any body of creative work, before setting a dinner party or office meeting or before you fill your car with vacation essentials for that road trip adventure. If the stage is not cleaned and ready, how can you focus on the task at hand that will then keep you mentally fit and healthy?

Muse Has Changed

A common muse to some would be something you see in the world may it be a painting, a flower, a song or an event that you see or that is happening. A muse is to spur you onward to a new experience that may and should enlighten you to something positive for the world and your existence alone. Here’s an in depth look into my muse.

A common muse to some would be something you see in the world may it be a painting, a flower,  a song or an event that you see or that is happening. A muse is to spur you onward to a new experience that may and should enlighten you to something positive for the world and your existence alone. Below is the basic definition of muse:
noun

1. Classical Mythology.

  1. any of a number of sister goddesses, originally given as Aoede (song), Melete (meditation), and Mneme (memory), but latterly and more commonly as the nine daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne who presided over various arts: Calliope (epic poetry), Clio (history), Erato (lyric poetry), Euterpe (music), Melpomene (tragedy), Polyhymnia (religious music), Terpsichore (dance), Thalia (comedy), and Urania (astronomy); identified by the Romans with the Camenae.
  2. any goddess presiding over a particular art.

2.(sometimes lowercase) the goddess or the power regarded as inspiring a poet, artist, thinker, or the like.

3.(lowercase) the genius or powers characteristic of a poet.

Origin
1350-1400; Middle English Muse < Middle French < Latin Mūsa < Greek Moûsa
My muse, whom I met when I was ten years old in my dreams who took on the form of a wise elder man with long white beard and mustache and small circular glasses. He would appear when I was alone in my room or at times when I was at school. He hardly ever spoke, but when he would it would be to the stance of: being careful of what I was doing and keep observant. I learned early to listen to him, but over time I grew less to listen, this of course frustrated him.
From age ten to fourteen, I found myself dreaming of a tropical island. A place for me to hide from the abuses, turmoils and angry; hurt-filled words of my mother. A place for me to hide and recoup from family and school stresses. I found that my muse, the one elder man that would follow me at school and hang around in my bedroom, who always walked on my left, was on the island, too. When I had first arrived on the island, in my dreams and meditations, I was afraid feeling I was alone, which I was for a few years, but gradually this man appeared. We would take walks around the island and into the woods and find waterfalls. I even found ruins of three stone towers in the near center of the island. (Later I would learn what these Three Towers were for and place them in my first manuscript)
It was not until June 22, 1995 that I had astral projected in my dreams to a new exciting world. I saw all its people, places, markets, shoreline, harbors, country side, animals and strange plant life, one being a pear shaped dark purple with pink spotted fruit. I found myself being filled with as much information about this world as I could carry in my mind on my journey back. I awoke back in my body that morning with refreshed vigor as though I was born and cleanly washed. For the next few days I set out to write the first few pages of the first manuscript which went through three different titles before settling on – Mythia.
It was not until a few months had past and I had written three new chapters at the beginning of the new school year of 1995, that I learned my muse’s name – Ynycornus. (Originally spelled Unicornus in some of my early writing class projects in between writing the first manuscript) Ynycornus by this time, was becoming someone I could depend on. He was full of wisdom and compassion toward what I was going through. I loved him dearly for being who he was, even though I became frightened in thinking I was hallucinating him due to the abuses of my mother.
 Continue reading here…

Continue reading “Muse Has Changed”

All the Signs are There

20 Diversion Tactics Highly Manipulative Narcissists Sociopaths and Psychopaths Use To Silence You

I’m going to cut and past the article here. From all 30 years of my life of being around family members and ex-boyfriends and an ex-husband and his own family that were just like these traits expressed, I can’t stress this educational piece enough.

If you are in a relationship that your gut instincts tell you is bad, listen to your inner truth. You can get help and get out of that bad relationship. In the end, you can find real love. It’s not the end of the world when getting out of a relationship like this.

****

20 Diversion Tactics

Highly Manipulative Narcissists,

Sociopaths and Psychopaths

Use To Silence You

Article By: Shahida Arabi

Toxic people such as malignant narcissists, psychopaths and those with antisocial traits engage in maladaptive behaviors in relationships that ultimately exploit, demean and hurt their intimate partners, family members and friends. They use a plethora of diversionary tactics that distort the reality of their victims and deflect responsibility. Although those who are not narcissistic can employ these tactics as well, abusive narcissists use these to an excessive extent in an effort to escape accountability for their actions.

Here are the 20 diversionary tactics toxic people use to silence and degrade you.

1. Gaslighting.

Gaslighting is a manipulative tactic that can be described in different variations of three words: “That didn’t happen,” “You imagined it,” and “Are you crazy?” Gaslighting is perhaps one of the most insidious manipulative tactics out there because it works to distort and erode your sense of reality; it eats away at your ability to trust yourself and inevitably disables you from feeling justified in calling out abuse and mistreatment.

When a narcissist, sociopath or psychopath gaslights you, you may be prone to gaslighting yourself as a way to reconcile the cognitive dissonance that might arise. Two conflicting beliefs battle it out: is this person right or can I trust what I experienced? A manipulative person will convince you that the former is an inevitable truth while the latter is a sign of dysfunction on your end.

In order to resist gaslighting, it’s important to ground yourself in your own reality – sometimes writing things down as they happened, telling a friend or reiterating your experience to a support network can help to counteract the gaslighting effect. The power of having a validating community is that it can redirect you from the distorted reality of a malignant person and back to your own inner guidance.

Article by: Shahida Arabi

Follow Shahida on Twitter Facebook

************

I’ve been asked by Shahida to only post the first main paragraph of the article.

You can find the rest of this indepth educational article in the link at the top.

Thank you.

Why Drugging All Schizophrenics For Life Is Not the Answer | Alternet

Why Drugging All Schizophrenics For Life Is Not the Answer | Alternet.

There is hope for people who suffer from schizophrenia. This brings a smile to my face cause of all the people with the disorder I’ve come across in my life.

Schizophrenia: Walk In My Shoes Part 2 – The Saint Could Not Save Him

Schizophrenia:

A Walk In My Shoes

Part 2:

The Saint Could Not Save Him

I had met him through a mutual friend in November 2002. Dan was tall, lengthy and had hardly any muscle tone to him. As I grew to know him, love him and observe him as I always did with people I got to know, over the years I noticed his muscle mass was shrinking. I had taken him to a doctor to test his testosterone levels and they were quite low, but the doctor said, “That’s because of his age. He’s nearly 40, this is expected.” That diagnosis, in 2008, didn’t set well with me. There was something else going on.

A few years later, in October 2012, an old classmate had come into town, finding me on Facebook. We started chatting it up and soon he came to visit to meet my husband Dan. It had taken a week to catch my husband’s work schedule from Boeing to get a chance for the two to meet on a weekend, but little did I know what an eye opening encounter it would be.

I had to nearly force Dan to come meet this old classmate. He was reluctant to do so because it was something new to experience. He never did well with new interactions. New situations, even new foods he had a hard time dealing with, but he trudged along for my sake. All I wanted to do was help him have a better life than the one he was so poorly raised in. After a few minutes, Dan came out of his study.

“Dan, this is that classmate I told you about. This is Chris. We were in NJROTC together in senior year at Marysville-Pilchuck High school,” I smiled feeling the excitement rise in me and behind that excitement of hope in adding Chris to the current group of friends. I had hoped that Dan was going to be much more coherent and sociable.

Dan stepped back a bit, rubbed his neck and stuttered feeling the kitchen counter top with his hand for something to brace against as his anxiety kicked in, “Uh, hi,” is all he said.

“Nice to meet you, Dan. Tara’s told me a lot about you,” Chris extended his hand in greeting, but Dan did not take it. Instead his hazel green eyes widened and within seconds had scampered off quickly down the hall back into his study not saying a word as he closed the door behind him. Chris stood there for a few seconds dumb struck to Dan’s peculiar style of greeting. Without missing a beat, “There’s something really wrong with him,” he thumbed down the hall, raising an eyebrow.

At this point, I was still party in denial of what Dan’s mental state really was. I had been studying about schizophrenia for nearly six years prior cause I had a feeling something was wrong. The novel I had started writing in summer 2009 about a character with schizophrenia was just a cover so I could continue to study on the subject.

“Oh, that’s just how Dan is. That’s normal for him,” I chimed with a smile, but I felt an unease with those words. I knew right then that there was something wrong with my husband of nearly ten years.

“Really, Tara? Of all people, I never knew you to be this thick headed. I know you can see he needs help,” Chris advised as I listened to the tone in his voice of concern for me. It was then I realized that I could no longer hide the fact that my husband of ten years could not be saved by me. It was that very thought: I can’t save him had crossed my mind, is when I knew Dan’s family had not told me the truth about their son. I could feel my heart break when I realized his family’s betrayal.

If they had told me about his mental illness, I would have changed tactics to either find him the help he really needed or I would have left him at the alter. If they had told me the truth first hand I probably would not be writing this right now. I would have gone off to other things, but being the good-natured, whole hearted person that I am, I couldn’t stand by and let no one love him. I tried to love him were his family had failed in not loving him in return.

Little did I realize that Dan would never be able to replicate the love I had for him, back to me. He had no mental understanding of how to love fully due to his residual schizophrenia. It was not until a week after the divorce papers were turned in on January 26, 2012 that I had asked the question again to his half sister.

“Now that I’m divorcing your brother, what the hell is wrong with him?” I fussed. I was tired of the games his family was playing trying to keep me as the angel to care for him.

“What do you care anymore? You’re leaving him,” she fussed in return.

“I have to know so I can be at peace with all of this. I need to know, now tell me, what is mentally wrong with Dan?”

She sighed heavy, “Dan was diagnosed with residual schizophrenia and anti-social personality disorder. He was a sick baby all the time. He was skinny. Had a hard time drinking milk cause he was always so dirty. He constantly had diarrhea, so it was hard to keep him clean. Mom would just leave him on the bed on a towel without a diaper just crying,” at this point I began to cry. I could picture it perfectly as to how he was treated and my heart just turned to dust. “You shouldn’t cry over this. It happened decades ago,” she added. How could his half sister say such a thing about her baby brother? “Besides, I am to blame in treating Dan so poorly, too. I called him weak and I didn’t stand up to him when Glenn,” their stepfather, “would call him names and hit him. I should have stood up against the abuse and loved him more. I’m grateful that Dan had someone so wonderful to love him. It’s a shame you’re leaving him like this.”

I was furious.

I wanted to reach into the phone and smack her face.

I wanted to go back in time and steal little baby Dan away from that awful place!

After that, I called his biological father. You might be asking yourself right now – ‘Why didn’t she ask these questions early on while they dated?’ Oh, I did ask these questions but I kept getting the run around from all of his family, even his biological father until the end.

“What’s wrong with Dan?” I would ask his biological mother Jill.

“Let Dan tell you,” she always said.

“What’s wrong with Dan?” I would ask his stepfather Glenn.

“Let Jill tell you,” he always said.

“What’s wrong with Dan?” I would ask his half sister.

“Let Glenn tell you,” she always said.

Then it came for me to ask his biological father who was hard to get a hold of due to his very busy work schedule and better life with his wife of 20 something years.

“What’s wrong with Dan?” I asked, the first words out of my mouth over the phone. At this point I was at the end of my rope. If his biological father sang the same song as the others, I don’t know how I would react.

This is what I found out from his biological father after I backed up what he told me. Here are my findings. Again, just as in Part 1, all psychological information will be coming out of Writer’s Digest book Writer’s Guide To Character Traits second edition by Linda N. Edelstein, PH.D. Published in 2006. If you want to reference back to Part 1 http://www.psych2go.net/walk-shoes-part-1-brothers-mind-lost/ for the first collection of technical findings, by all means, please do.

Traits Of Children and Adolescents Who Have Later Become Schizophrenic

This disorder is rarely seen in children, and there are few definitive hallmarks in childhood that can predict a later schizophrenic problem. Though there are several characteristics that might indicate a predisposition toward schizophrenia, most children who display some of these traits will not go on to develop a mental illness.

(The above bold text I expressed in the above paragraph is because now, since 2012, there are a small handful of children born with schizophrenia that have been successfully diagnosed. These children are part of a life long study of the mental illness to find a cure. A little later in the article you will understand why I mention this now.)

Possible Early Warning Signs of Schizophrenia in a Child:

    • Is unresponsive, withdrawn in infancy; has poor muscle tone

    • Is irritable in childhood; flat in affect; easily distracted

    • Has low re-activity in childhood and adolescence; poor motor functions such as coordination and balance

    • Is shy and introverted; rarely joyful (girls, all ages)

    • Is disruptive; displays inappropriate behavior (boys, all ages)

    • Is unresponsive in adolescence; has poor eye contact, little facial expressions, and lack of voice inflection

    • Is socially incompetent in adolescence

His half sister, during the good times of my marriage to her brother Dan, would tell me stories of how silly he was while growing up. She would jokingly recount, “He could barely hold that large iron skillet with two hands while he tried to chase me around the house cause we were arguing as to who’s turn it was to do dishes after dinner. I can’t believe he was trying to hit me with that iron skillet when he couldn’t even lift it off the ground!” she laughed.

Dan replied, “What? I don’t remember that.” I was surprised at his remark. How could he forget such an important part of his childhood even though his family didn’t know that their son had a mental illness so strong as residual schizophrenia.

During the first few months of getting to know Dan, I found I was falling in love with him. Then one day, in the first week of January 2003, Dan came down with mononucleosis. His parents brought him home to Camano Island to get healthy. I offered to clean his apartment the entire time he was ill. I cleaned his apartment for one reason: to express how much I loved him. It was not to give up my power as a woman. It was out of real love that I wanted to express in this way. It took a week of back breaking labor from ceiling to floor in every room of the Edwardian style house apartment. A single bedroom, with a large square living room with fireplace and hallway attached to the original kitchen.

Later, when Dan was relieved of his illness of mono, the kissing disease, I saw how much further his muscle mass had diminished. The doctor that did a check up on him was surprised that I had not caught the disease since it was so easily transmutable by sharing of silverware and kissing. I had relayed where he got the disease, but he did not believe me considering his mother and stepfather had told me that Dan was born with a compromised immune system.

“You caught mono from your roommate you had living with you for two years. The same person that introduced you to me – classmate Jenny from Marysville-Pilchuck HS.” She had, all throughout those years of school got around. I knew better than to hook up with her that night during the sleepover at Dan’s apartment that late November in 2002.

Onward with my investigation of Dan’s mental state, as I gradually got to know him through his family, I asked a few questions here and there. The case was building. It was then I could not keep this all to myself. Over time I would force him to go to doctors for different medical situations that came up. As I studied, I found that schizophrenics are born with compromised immune systems. The more Dan got sick from odd things, the more I dug into his medical history through the books I read.

This is what he had during my marriage to him in chronological order.

    • Mononucleosis

    • Staph infection

    • Concussion at work

    • Staph infection a second time

    • Concussion at work a second time

    • MRSA once

    • Concussion a third time, along with hairline fractures of his L12 vertebrae when he landed on the stairs backwards

    • Blocked right sinus due to 2in polup which was removed, sight of his own blood pouring out scaring him half to death

Doctor said to me and him, “If you get a third staph infection, the antibiotics will no longer work for you due to your immune system.”

Doctor said to me and him, “If you get another MRSA infection, the antibiotics will not work on you and could counter act against your already compromised immune system.”

Doctor said to me and him, “If you had landed on your T1 vertebrae, which is connected to the nerve system for your lungs, you would have died instantly due to your lungs collapsing.”

As I mentioned a few times already, that schizophrenia can cause low immunity with or without it being a genetic disposition. The reason behind a low to highly compromised immune system in schizophrenia I would say has a lot to do with the chemical imbalance of the brain. What can enhance the low immunity further to also make schizophrenia worse, could be a protein allergy from cows milk. Dan had an allergy to cows milk and breast milk in general, but it was heightened during his teen years with milk having hormones being injected into cows. The high levels of testosterone, a hormone injected into cattle to bulk up muscle size and increase milk production, can cause a low testosterone level in a child born with schizophrenia. This would then create a compromised immune system. With this in mind, what the doctor said to Dan was spot on – with his compromised immunity he was born with and the low testosterone level, it would counter act with any antibiotics he was given to fight off any infections in the future. His body could not produce the amigo-acids needed to build stronger red blood cells to maintain muscle mass which then drastically lowered his testosterone levels and lessen his white blood cell count.

(Now, I will go on record right now that I may have gotten some of my information wrong from trying to remember this from memory. If in fact I have gotten some of the info wrong in the above paragraph, please let me know.)

As to what Dan’s biological father had told me over the phone in mid January 2012 was quite shocking.

“As you may know, I’m divorcing your son,” I began.

“No, this is the first I’ve heard of it. No one told me, not even Jill,” the inflection of his voice was absolute shock. “What brought this on to happen?”

“Dan has not held up his part in the marriage. I’ve done all that I can, but he hasn’t come through. He ignores me at every turn since the second year of marriage. He had odd mood swings. He eats the same foods all the time. He clams up when I confront him on things that are not rational to get in trouble over. He would get into false fits to make me unhappy and then when I’m crying my eyes out and in crisis he would turn around to treat me like a child who needs healing. He got a reaction out of me and kept doing it over and over. Frankly, I’ve had enough. It’s like raising a child that won’t grow up,” I took a breath. My emotions were getting the better of me, “Tell me, Lee, is there something about Dan I should know?”

Lee took a long sigh, “So, Jill never told you, I see. Tara, Dan was a very sick baby when he was born. His mother had mental issues herself and it was hard for me to get her to stop doing drugs during the first trimester of her pregnancy with Dan. It wasn’t until after Dan was born that I divorced Jill and then shortly after she found Glenn who would care for her small family. I dropped all contact from her after that. When I tell you it was hard for me to reach her, I mean it. She was a difficult woman to deal with even when she wasn’t using acid. There was something wrong with her, too.”

At this point, I realized looking back at Jill’s own behavior that she exhibited symptoms of schizophrenia, particularly paranoid schizophrenia with a hint of residual, too. I hadn’t the heart to tell him of her true mental state as it was far too late to do anything for her and to leave him with a possible burden of guilt along with, would have been bad on my part. I felt he knew inside his heart how really mentally unstable she was.

He continued, “She also drank Diet Coca-Cola, nearly five cans a day, every day since she was married to me. I had looked into it that with the mix of drug use and the constant consumption of the Diet Coca-Cola which has the sweetener aspartame in it, both factors kept eating away at her brain. Whatever was left of her genetics, I’m sure she passed on schizophrenia to Dan.”

Then it dawned on me. Glenn had tried for decades to get Jill to stop drinking the soda, but she refused. Jill was in a trance to consume the same foods and drink all the time. Exactly the same behavior as Dan. She would black out and her short term memory loss got worse. Not to forget, that Glenn continued to bully and name call Jill, too. All the while, Glenn not knowing that he had married a mentally unstable woman who desperately needed medication to control her ever growing symptoms of schizophrenia and at last, she was on medication for her seizures. Her seizures were caused by the constant consumption of Diet Coca-Cola and the drug use in the past had eaten away at her brain. Her brain looks like Swiss cheese, the doctors said, which Glenn had told me later about.

With this realization that Dan, my husband of nearly ten years, was born with residual schizophrenia due to a woman who herself was schizophrenic and took drugs and drank a nasty artificial sweeter to make it all worse without her being conscious of what she was doing to a fetus so early in gestation. Never mind the fact that with the constant bombardment of verbal, physical and mental abuse from Dan’s stepfather, half sister, and possibly countless school piers bullying him making his mental state worse, he would have still had schizophrenia even if Jill never took drugs or ever drank the soda for decades.

To conclude part two, Dan was born with schizophrenia and with the abuse he was given he also developed anti-social personality disorder. When someone hides crucial information about someone just for the sake of protecting them from possible harm, is in fact harmful. To expect a person to suddenly swoop in to care for your ill adult sibling or adult child just cause it is covenant to do so, is also harmful. If you love your family member who is so ill in the mind, you would be in good graces with them and medical professionals if you would not hide the facts from everyone cause you are ashamed.

Shame and a hint of false pride is what kept his family from helping Dan get the proper care he needed. Along with the fact, that now in the year 2015, neuroscientists are finding new workings in the brain of how sensitive a chemical imbalance can be. How malleable the brain is from auditory, vocal and physical stimuli during early development is so very crucial these days.

Join me again for Part 3 – Schizophrenia: A Walk In My Shoes – The Ones Left Behind, where I will discuss about classmates, customers, neighbors and friends that I watched in horror as the disease, they might not even know they have, consume their lives into a viscous cycle.

A Walk In My Shoes Part 1: Brother’s Mind Is Lost

Schizophrenia:

A Walk In My Shoes

Part 1:

Brother’s Mind Is Lost

I remember it like it was yesterday. I was awake in my bedroom at the Canyon Creek Apartments in Phoenix, Arizona. I couldn’t sleep, so I listened to my New Kids On The Block album Hangin’ Tough. I turned down the music cause I felt a tension in the air. I could hear my mother in the living room waiting for my brother to come home, who was twenty-one of age at the time in 1991. The door slammed shut and my brother was in tears, nearly screaming at the top of his lungs.

I’ll call him, Travis.

“Travis, now calm down, honey,” mother cooed as I heard her follow him slowly into the kitchen. The kitchen and my bedroom shared the same wall. I didn’t even have to press my ear to it, I heard everything as though the wall was never there.

“No! I won’t calm down!” he yelled, his tone was fussy, growling almost, teeth clinched as he spoke.

“Shhh…you’ll wake Tara,” she soothed, getting slightly closer to him. I can tell in the location exactly as to where she stood before my brother. The walls acted like sonar bouncing their two voices right into my ear. My father, this whole time, was asleep in the bedroom down the hall, as far as I knew.

Travis began to cry. “I can’t calm down!” he growled.

“Did you take anything tonight?” she asked calmly knowing previously his past interactions with friends he hung out with.

“No! I can’t make the voices stop! Stop yelling at me!”

“I’m not yelling at you,” she spoke so calmly I was stunned. Where had she learned to be so cool under such pressure, I thought to myself.

A drawer opened. His fingers fondled around for a few seconds in the silverware container and then slammed the drawer closed. “Make them stop!” he growled, half yelling.

“Travis, take the knife away from your throat. Honey, please.”

I could hear his stance change. I could hear his foot move forward toward mom. All the while my hand was relaxed, open palmed, on my Joey McIntyre poster as I tried to calm my sobs. My other hand lay on the white of the wall. At that very second I could hear him move his arm outward. A slightly heavy jacket rustled as his arm moved forward toward my mother’s chest. I knew were the knife was headed.

“You can’t stop them! I want to die!” he cried, tears choking his words as the emotions poured out.

“Put the knife down. Here, give me the knife,” after those words were spoken by my mother, her full cool in action, the clatter of the knife was laid on the counter top.

“What’s wrong with me!” he sobbed into mother’s chest.

All the while, I cried. My body shook. My tear filled eyes I wiped with my left hand. I remember like it was yesterday – my tear soaked fingers trailing down the poster leaving streaks behind.

schizophrenia schiz·o·phre·ni·a [skit-suh-free-nee-uh, -freen-yuh] n. Any of a group of psychotic disorders usually characterized by withdrawal from reality, illogical patterns of thinking, delusions, and hallucinations, and accompanied in varying degrees by other emotional, behavioral, or intellectual disturbances. Schizophrenia is often associated with dopamine imbalances in the brain and defects of the frontal lobe and may have an underlying genetic cause.

My brother had been in the Navy from 1988 to 1991. He was dishonorably discharged having done something against regulations while he worked in computer programming. He had also been caught too many times selling and using drugs on base. These were not symptoms of his schizophrenia. Even way before that, when he was little, Mom had told me stories that he was a very overly hyper child. Always getting into trouble and was hard to deal with especially in his teen years. He had dropped out of high school during his Sophomore year. That is when all his mental upheavals really started.

However, in 1996 he suffered a nearly fatal car accident in the state of Washington, were my family had later moved to. My brother was the middle passenger in the truck. A Marine friend was sitting on the right and a friend to them both, a blond woman drove. The light to turn left was green. Just as the driver made the turn half way, another driver ran the red light broad siding into the truck. The Marine died instantly. The driver of the truck my brother was in only bit off half her tongue.

My brother had the worst of it. Broken legs in two differently places. Broken left arm and broken right wrist. Shattered jaw. Closed head trauma. He was unconscious on impact. He was kept in a chemical induced coma for six weeks for his brain injury to heal. To encase his brain, a metal plate was placed over the opening. Due to his previous issues with the beginnings of schizophrenia from his teen years into his early 20s, this closed head injury activated it a hundred fold. The doctors and psychiatrist diagnosed him as: Paranoid Schizophrenic.

Now, to the technical information that I have studied for years. How I come to find schizophrenia so fascinating and kept up with my studies on the subject, even though I never went to college to obtain a degree, was when I unknowingly married a residual schizophrenic (that subject will be for ‘Schizophrenia: A Walk In My Shoes Part 2: The Saint Could Not Save Him’).

All the information I fill this article with, up to this point, are all coming from one book: Writer’s Guide to Character Traits (second edition) by: Linda N. Edelstein, Ph.D. Published by: Writer’s Digest Books, copyright 2006.

Early Warning Signs of Schizophrenia:

None of these signs by themselves indicate any mental illness.

    • Sleep disruptions; inability to sleep or unusual waking hours

    • Paranoid behaviors

    • Withdrawal from family and friends

    • Difficulty concentrating and paying attention

    • Deterioration of personal hygiene

    • Rambling or disorganized speech

    • Flat or expressionless gaze

    • Unusual sensitivity to stimuli such as light or noise

    • Smelling or tasting things differently

    • Steady, noticeable decline in school or work performance

    • Threats of self harm or harm to others

    • Can demonstrate sexual promiscuity

    • Opposition to authority; truancy, vandalism or theft

    • Feelings that others are watching or laughing at him

    • Extreme preoccupation with religion

    • A growing sense of deja-vu

    • Believing that independent events are connected

    • Irrational fear or anger

I can not stress this enough – the list above shows all the basic signs. It takes a combination of them, each person is different in combos of symptoms, to exhibit full on or medium functionality with schizophrenia. A regular person can experience ‘deja vu’ at some point in their lives or many times in their lives, but for a schizophrenic they experience it often to the point it can make them paranoid to take precautions that can endanger themselves and others.

The most common food that I found that my brother did not like and still does not like to this day was – tomatoes. I found this to be strange, so I looked into it years later. What I found confirmed even more that my brother had a chemical imbalance in his brain that caused his schizophrenia. A schizophrenic will absolutely hate the taste, texture, and smell of tomatoes and bananas due to the potassium compounds in the fruit. The smell especially triggers a reaction to their frontal cortex instinctively to stay away from the fruit. It may seem irrational to normal people, but to a chemically damaged brain it is a sign that there is something wrong. Now, there are people who don’t like tomatoes for other reasons, but a normally healthy brain will still try to consume something new.

As for the preoccupation with religion, in a normal person they will do ritual actions that make them happy. A ritual is only something someone does constantly at the same day and same point of time. This does not mean the person will ‘worship’ their toothbrush in the morning. This means a normal person has a routine that they are comfortable with every single day. In a schizophrenic the constant actions of something religious in scope can become so obsessive they take it as full on reality. A fabulous thing my brother said more than once in 1993 to 1998 – “I am an angel from God! I am here to guide you into the righteous light!” He would scream this during false arguments with my parents just to get a reaction from himself onto others. He would then go into a fit and slam the front door screaming at the top of his lungs. He was not under the influence of cannabis. However, cannabis can induce more schizophrenic behaviors if someone does not know they have the chemical imbalance.

Not to be confused with ADHD, having a lack in concentration for a schizophrenic person is sporadic and has no pattern. What can make them lose concentration easily can be the voices in their mind or the basic stress of being in a crowd of people that are talking all at once. For a regular person, losing concentration can stem from being overly interested in different stimuli all at once or being easily bored with one subject you are working on and then needing something to awaken you to get back on track. A normal person will take breaks if they are becoming distracted, but for a schizophrenic taking a break from distraction is very difficult to master if at all.

Those are just a small handful of what my brother exhibited in many combinations of onset schizophrenia when he was not on any medication. In the list above, he experienced nearly the whole thing in varying degrees throughout his 44 years of life so far. Today, for the last five years or more, he has been on three different medications to maintain the symptoms. At this time there is absolutely no cure for schizophrenia.

Traits Of A Person With Schizophrenia:

Internal –

    • Experiences bizarre delusions; alien thoughts are inserted in the mind

    • Has disorganized speech: rambling, incoherent, wandering from topic to topic, provides answers that do not respond to questions

    • Has bizarre thinking patterns: unusual associations, illogical connections

    • Experiences disturbed moods: may go from very stubborn to peaceable

    • May exhibit peculiar behaviors: disheveled appearance; lack of hygiene; inappropriate sexual behavior; agitation; talking to self; jumping around

    • Is confused; responds to internal stimuli, not to cues in the outside world

    • Hallucinates; any sense can be affected but the most common is auditory: hearing voices that comment, threaten, or instruct

    • Is anxious, apprehensive, and plagued by self-doubt

    • Is socially alienated and feels misunderstood

    • Is usually expressionless in speech with little body language

    • Shows inappropriate affect; laughs or cries without reason, or shows no emotion

    • Feels estranged from self; does not feel real

    • Has difficulty concentrating; poor memory

Interpersonal:

    • Avoids new situations

    • Can be out-of-control and impulsive

    • Withdraws from others; is secretive and inaccessible

While growing up with a brother with schizophrenia, I found myself keeping away from all that he exhibited toward the family. His outbursts of raising his voice because mom, dad and myself would be talking nearly at the same time, he would be overwhelmed and yell to us to shut up. Whenever the television was turned up load cause dad’s hearing was going, and if anyone, even one other person was talking along with, he would get visibly agitated. He would then demand the sound be turned down. The slightest argument, or hint of it from my parents to supposedly scold me over something minor, my brother would raise his voice to shut everyone up and then burst out of the room saying, “I can’t take this anymore! Will you all just shut up!”

The worst onset of his schizophrenia was a day I will never forget. He was hyped up on cannabis that was laced with something. He had been gone for a week and my parents were worried sick. He came home one afternoon totally out of his mind. An argument, as I would call it a false argument ensued. I don’t remember what exactly was said, as I was traumatized by his outburst to block it out. I remember coming down the stairs in the house we lived in in Marysville, Washington. I had enough of it. I sat down in the leather chair and yelled at him to just leave the house. He then got into my face, nearly nose to nose yelling at me. I do not remember to this day what he said to me, but I remember gripping onto the arms of the chair shaking. Both my parents rushed behind him grabbing his arms and both saying, “Don’t you touch her!” My father then rushed to get the camcorder to video tape the event. My brother noticed this right away and changed his tactics. He acted normal again as though everything was fine. He then stormed out of the garage yelling at our parents that they were being paranoid.

I was then fussed at for starting a bigger argument. I was in tears and my mother said, “Why are you crying over this? He didn’t do anything to you. You have nothing to cry about.”

What they did not know and still do not understand to this day, now that I’ll be 35 of age this year, because of my brother’s wild behavior due to schizophrenia has caused me to be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). There are other factors for my PTSD that I will be discussing in a later article about that subject alone.

As for now, I will conclude this article by saying this to all readers: If you love someone no matter if they are a family member or a dear close friend, even in school, and they exhibit symptoms of schizophrenia you must guide them to the help they need. Schizophrenia is a quiet mental illness that the person does not know they have. Their consciousness is so removed from reality it takes a healthy person’s mind to recognize that there is a problem. However, there will be times that the one you love can not be saved. No matter how many times you try, a schizophrenic person may never find treatment. There are those that are just coherent enough to allow the realization that they have a problem.

At this time there is no cure only medication treatments and years of psychotherapy will a person with this mental illness be able to cope with their daily lives on a schedule.

In the next article, I will discuss my experiences being married to a schizophrenic and show examples of other people I came in contact with over the years from school all the way into my working retail career.

Been Around Schizophrenia

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uxktavpRdzU

I laugh at the numbers in which you were given about Schizophrenia. My brother has paranoid schizophrenia and takes meds and drinks along with. 3 of my classmates in high school have schizophrenia – 1 is in prison for murder, 1 committed suicide, 1 is under house arrest for life and not allowed to leave Everett, WA cause he’s a level 3 rapist and takes a heavy cocktail of meds (this one I also dated for a month in high school before I discovered the truth, I nearly was raped by him, too). An ex boyfriend from high school, his step sister, one of the twins, has schizophrenia and lives on the streets. In the apartment building in which I lived with my husband, there were 3 schizophrenics – 1 now lives on the streets his name is David, 1 might be dead now, but was in a mental hospital after she was removed from the apartment due to how she lived in a hoard of filth, and 1 just left everything she owned and left, don’t know what happened to her.

Oh, my now ex-husband, has residual schizophrenia all his life and has never taken meds. His family never told me until after the divorce what his condition was. I found out on my own the hard way and left before he did more physical damage to me. Another neighbor next to the apartment building brought a woman in to help her, she had schizophrenia and committed suicide three years later. I know of 20 other schizophrenics I’ve seen, interacted with cautiously cause all of them didn’t take medication. Half of them were physically dangerous. All these people I’ve come to know, including my brother, all live in Everett, Washington. Everett used to have a mental institution, but was shut down in the 80s. Now, most of these people walk the streets with no meds cause they can’t afford it even with Obamacare. They don’t even know they are that mentally ill to get help.

Now, there’s the story of a family in Tacoma, WA back in 2008, I think it was. The father went to work. His 10 year old son went to school. The wife and her two younger children stayed home. The husband’s grandmother had lived with them for nearly five years under medication and living in the attic just fine. She was coherent and normal, took her meds every day….Until one day, she stopped taking them. Within three days time her mind reverted back to it’s original schizophrenic state but snapped. The father came home, the son came home. What they found shook the state of Washington to it’s core. The mother and the two children were found dead in the kitchen. The grandmother had committed suicide.

Now, tell me again that schizophrenia is not dangerous? That the numbers are a 1% of the population? 1 in 4 people now know someone or has someone in their family with some form of schizophrenia. It used to be 1 in 9 people 15 years ago. The numbers have exploded due to people’s awareness of symptoms and meds being given only if someone can afford them.

My brother can barely afford his meds to keep down ‘the demons’ in his head. The insurance companies cut him back at least four times a year cause THEY THINK he’s overly dependent when they don’t understand how much he needs them that badly to function. When he doesn’t have his meds, it only takes 3 days for his mental disorder to go wild. I won’t go into any further details as this hurts me to know that you and your production group think that it’s only 1% of the population. Well, news flash buddy, I’ve lived through all that 1% which is getting bigger. I’ve seen it all my life. I know things I shouldn’t, but it has kept me alive.

%d bloggers like this: