Peter: The Little Girl in the Wall

First published as Wild Kingdom on April 14, 2015.

Warning: The content may be triggering.

Lions stalk the plains of Africa, roaring and eating up deer, then the Rock of Gibraltar appears behind a man that lights a cigarette and promises money to people that die.

“That’s the strength of the rock!” he says.

Peter thinks about the little girl with scissors.

Mother says she hides in the walls until she hears a little
boy talking too much.

Then she pops out, holds him down, and cuts out his tongue!

Mother says the little girl has scissors as long as Father’s arms.

But the little girl can’t hear a drawing, Peter thinks.

Mother’s in the kitchen having coffee with Earline.

Earline is the lady that lives next door.

Mother says Earline is PG.

Peter goes into the kitchen to show Earline his pictures of
people with breasts.

Earline blushes and says what a little man Peter’s become.

Mother heaves a burdened sigh and shakes her head, “He’s so difficult Earline! One of his uncle’s gave him a book about the natives of Africa; now he draws tits on everything.”

Mother smiles patiently at Peter: “Go to the living room, sweetheart and we’ll look at your drawings later.”

Peter returns to the living room. where the flies chase each other around his chair: one of them drifts sluggishly to the floor.

Peter snatches it up and rips off it’s wings.

Then he drops it to the floor to see what a fly without wings can do.

A screenshot of VR avatars staged to represent a child alternate named Peter, a protector alternate named Bobby and a storyteller alternate named the Narrator
A screenshot of avatars staged to represent a child alternate named Peter, a protector alternate named Bobby, and a storyteller named the Narrator. Please click this link for an explanation of alternates and their function.
(c) Rob Goldstein 2017 All Rights Reserved

Peter – Morning with the Captain

When Mother turns on the television, Peter sits tensely
with his tiny hands clenched tightly into fists.

Mother says slouching is bad and boys that slouch must
be punished.

The Captain lectures Mr. Bunny Rabbit for stealing carrots.

Peter wonders why the Captain doesn’t burn Mr. Bunny
Rabbit’s arms.

Stealing is bad.

A bunny rabbit that steals must be punished.

Lions stalk the plains of Africa.

They roar and eat up the deer.

When they finish eating they stretch out their claws
and shake out their bloody manes.

Jim, the man on TV says; if a deer is too young and too weak,
it ends up as food.

Then he says, “As a mother lion protects her cubs, you can protect
your kids with insurance from Mutual of Omaha.”

Suddenly, Peter’s heart speeds up; he cocks his head and listens:

Mother’s in the kitchen boiling water.

Peter must sit very still and be extra quiet.

Mother says squirming and being loud is bad.

Loud little boys that squirm must be punished.

A black and white screenshot of avatars staged to represent a child alternate named Peter and protector alternate named Bobby.
A screenshot of avatars staged to represent a child alternate named Peter and a protector alternate named Bobby. Please click the link for more about my alternates and their function.

(C) Rob Goldstein 2017 All Rights Reserved

The stuffed bear in the photo was made by Second Life artist, AM Radio

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Peter: In the Wild’s of Africa

Memory lurks like a sniper:

We’re shot and relive the
forgotten.

Now we’re a little boy
crushed
in his Mother’s arms

she tells a bedtime story.

She says;

in the wilds of Africa

Women have breasts
as thick as thighs.

She says;

the bush is so dense a
boy can’t breathe.

She says;

and mamma birds
sometimes
crack their own eggs,

and the sky goes black,

and the big people eat
all the little ones.

Rob Goldstein 2017 All Rights Reserved

Know Thyself

Several patterns play themselves out in my life.

Each one is a link to some aspect of my childhood that either is either a scar
or is a source of salvation.

If insanity is repeating the same mistake with the hope of a different outcome, than I have been completely insane since childhood.

One of these insane patterns is that of seeking out and hooking up with narcissistic women.

There are other patterns based on the community in which I was raised: the racism, the antisemitism, the homophobia and the static class system as it existed for people at the very bottom.

These patterns of repetition became especially pronounced when I stopped working and entered therapy.

Psychotherapy means dredging up memories that I want buried under a mountain of distraction and denial.

I often go to therapy in a state of emotional distress, walking through panic attacks and other flight or fight reactions.

The literature I’ve read regarding the treatment of trauma and dissociation states Psychotherapy as essential for successfully resolving a complex trauma disorders.

Cognitive approaches teach people to manage distress but they won’t resolve Complex-Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

***

Based on a 1922 photograph of Freud in the Public Domain

The patients’ job during intensive psychotherapy is to ask why.

Why do I seek out women who are devoid of the capacity for love?

Why do I veer from an extreme identification with the middle class to an extreme identification with the poor?

Why do I force myself to fail economically just as I get closest to winning?

Accepting the option to ‘know thyself’ means living in a perpetual state of brutal self-questioning.

Why do I sometimes behave as if I hate myself?

I first grappled with the problem of internalized stigma during the early days of the AIDS epidemic when I wondered if the epidemic was God’s judgment.

None of the intellectual and political constructions that served me as gay activist in the 1970’s could defeat the internalized homophobia that AIDS unleashed.

I watched men die from grief, self-hatred and fear.

I was nearly one of them.

This was when I realized the true function of any ‘ism’ is to convince the target to self destruct.

This was why any novel written about gays before Stonewall usually ended with the suicide or the impoverished death of the main character.

AIDS was the greatest tragic ending, fraught with the dissonant myth of a loving, yet angry and vengeful God.


Internalized homophobia was the least of my problems.

AIDS was trauma on trauma.

I did not know that I had a dissociative disorder.

I did not know that I was living in the worst possible place at the worst possible time for someone with DID.

The political climate in San Francisco coupled with the fear brought on by the epidemic fueled a political backlash against the gay community.

Increased fag bashing was a trigger.

Friends who were healthy one week and dead the next were triggers.

Any spot on my arm sent me into panic, so much so that I became a frequent flyer at the local clinics, which eventually gave me a prescription for Xanax.

Xanax
                                 Xanax

I did not know that Xanax was addictive; I only knew that it made the fear go away.

The straight psychiatrists I saw  were completely removed from the Gay Community and the AIDS epidemic and didn’t understand why the panicked
patient whose friends were all dying was so distressed and unstable.

The pharmaceutical industry reported that Xanax had an anti-depressant effect.

By 1986 I was on a prescribed dose of eight milligrams a day.


Everything that happens during the course of Psychotherapy is a representation of the trauma, its affect your life, and the meaning of your symptoms.

For adult survivors of abuse a common theme in therapy is mistrust and the fear of forming an attachment.

DID allows a part of me to make friends and to form an attachment while protecting the parts of me that are fragile and afraid.

My task in treatment is to intentionally make all of myself vulnerable to another person; in my case, a woman therapist, since most of the damage was done by my Mother.

This process of building trust with a woman who wants what’s best for me and who acts in my interests is the path to becoming whole.


In the Hell of my childhood nothing about me was acceptable.

I was a show-off, too sensitive, too feminine, too much of everything that people in my ‘class’ had no right to be.

In the world of my childhood, God rewards the Godly with a good Christian family, white skin; and money.

A lowly birth meant your place in God’s plan was bondage.

The idea that all Americans have a right to a stake in the wealth of our nation was deemed an absurd fiction, a delusion foisted on good people by damned Yankees.


 

John C. Calhoun Homes
                                                      John C. Calhoun Homes

 

***

Children instinctively want to please their parents; it’s an evolutionary adaptation that enhances survival.

The double bind for an abused child is that the only behavior that pleases the parent is an abdication of the self.

As I enter my fourth year of intensive psychotherapy the questions I must answer become more confounding and painful.

But at least I know what they are have the strength I need to ask them.

(c) Rob Goldstein 2015-2017
The Photo of Xanax found on Google Images

First posted November 1, 2015-updated November 8, 2017 – After 7 years
of psychotherapy and I’m pleased to say I’m getting better.

 

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November’s Featured Blogger: Jacqueline Oby-Ikocha

It’s my pleasure to introduce Jacqueline Oby-Ikocha  as my featured blogger for November.

She is the creative force behind ‘A Cooking Pot and Twisted Tales,’ and ‘The Art of Beautiful Expressions,’

How did you decide on the name ‘A Cooking Pot and Twisted Tales,’ for your blog?

Choosing ‘a cooking pot and twisted tales,’ is as literal and as mundane as it gets.  Following weeks of coining names for feel and size, I failed to find anything that settled with me. One Saturday afternoon as I prepared lunch with my children, we swapped stories whilst cooking – it’s the way that my mother raised us. She entertained my siblings and me with folk tales or songs, somehow that made the chores lighter, happier and faster – that was when the name came to me, and as it settled in my heart it felt just right.

You write in the about me section of your blog: “If I blog successfully throughout the next year, I would have cultivated the discipline of settling down to write and ramble. I would (hopefully) have finished the drafts of the three novels that I am working on.”

Have you achieved those goals?

I have blogged consistently for two years and I must say that I am glad that I started. From my younger days, I journaled my thoughts in a diary, wrote stories and poems on scraps of paper. I started stories I never finished. I hoped that cultivating the habit of writing daily would give me a disciplined approach to my writing. I’ve written far more than I expected in the past two years. My novels are still in draft form because I am still reluctant to go the route of self-publishing for my novels – not just yet.

In two years, I’ve successfully published two of my poetry books – Out of The Silent Breath and Unbridled and the third poetry book is practically ready to go. I aim to release that in January 2018 because I have another book that sits in my soul and presses for my attention. Surprisingly, it’s a self-help book and inspirational. I have a need to get it out because I know it will help people.

Photograph of blogger Jacqueline Oby-Ikocha holding a copy of her book of poems, 'Unbridled'
My poetry book ‘Unbridled,’

Did you always want to be a writer, or did writing come to you as an adult?

My love for words and expressions led to my participation in school dramas/dance, writing dramas and short stories, and lead speaking at debates.

As a child, I didn’t know a lot of black writers except a few like Buchi Emecheta, Ngugi Wa Thiongo, Flora Nwapa and the esteemed late Chinua Achebe who happened to live a stone throw away from my folks at the University of Nigeria Nsukka campus, even then, I simply knew him as Nwando’s daddy – Nwando Achebe was my school mate. Most of the books available to us were written by Westerners and I had no idea that one could become a career writer.

I grew up in a place where a child’s course of study was determined by the parents and my parents thought my flair for the written and spoken word was better channeled into Law as opposed to Mass Communication or Theater Arts, which were my choices. In fairness to my parents, back then our actors and journalists were not well paid and I guess my folks worried about my future. Out of deference, I started out reading Law, then French language and my career has evolved over the years. Now, I am finding my way back to that which always had my name on it – writing and communication – though I must say that I’ve gained more from my diverse career background.

You mention that as a child in Nigeria you loved Nigerian Folklore: do you have a favorite story?

I was raised in a loving, Nigerian family; I was fed the staples of folklore and proverbs. Words of advice from my parents and grandparents were always accentuated with proverbs that puzzled my young mind.  Being that our life was always busy with many chores and farming, to make these duties less cumbersome especially when peeling cassava, shredding the corn heap, making pap, weeding the farm etc, my mother told us stories and most of the tales were underlined with a moral or two.

These tales helped to hand down tradition and customs and I remember that tales of the clever Tortoise and the animal kingdom always made us laugh, while ‘AGABA, the eater of liars,’ firmly planted the moral to tell the truth in my mind.

 

book cover for Out of the silent breath
Out of the silent breath by Jacqueline Oby-Ikocha

What other kinds of art shape your writing?

My writing is influenced by a keen observation of things that go on around me daily. I am an avid people watcher and a people’s person. Sometimes, I simply take a seat and as people pass by, I formulate stories in my head about them. I love nature – who doesn’t. The wonders of the world that I see leave me in constant awe and appreciation. I draw from life’s experiences, past and present, from the handiwork of others, painting, photography, conversation with total strangers and music. Music kindles my spirit.

Do you see blogging as an art?

If art is defined as self-expression, then blogging which is a form of self-expression is an art and the blogger becomes part of the art he creates.

I see your blog as a centering influence, has anyone ever said that to you before.

Robert, words like yours keep going. I must tell you that when I started my blog, it was purely born out of the need to make some sense of my life, broken as it was. In real-time, I am attuned to community and society around me and for some reasons unknown to me, I draw others easily to me; I could say that I’ve unwittingly managed to carry this over to my blog.

What is the most important thing you’ve learned about success as a blogger?

Blogging success for me is writing stuff and finding that it resonates with others. It still amazes me till tomorrow that people bother to read what I write. I will say that most times I’m tickled pink. If truth be told, I only expected a handful of humans to pity me and read an occasional post. I didn’t anticipate connecting with as many people as I have, and I must say that it humbles me.

Blogging has shown me latent parts of me that I had no idea existed. I knew that I had things to say, but I can’t believe that I have this huge well of untapped resources in me. What I’m learning is that the more I dig, the deeper and richer it gets. That I could take up blogging and stick to it has helped my self-belief, determination, and courage to grow. One thing I will say to anyone having self-doubt in their capabilities as a blogger or writer, ‘work through the doubts; they may never go away, but your can-do attitude will quiet them.’

You have a separate blog, The Art of Beautiful Expressions: how is it different from A Cooking Pot and Twisted Tales?

‘A Cooking Pot and Twisted Tales,’ is my first blog baby and the second blog baby ‘The Art of Beautiful Expressions,’ is a self-hosted blog set up to serve as a resource center for bloggers, writers and photography. I focus on the rudiments of blogging, writing and photography.

Please share a short piece of writing, a poem, or perhaps an excerpt from one of your books.

 

Excerpt from my poetry book ‘Unbridled,’

Us 

There are us.

Born at the edge of a void

where there is no beginning;

early memories blurred

by recollections of bouncing on uncle’s laps

where turgid erections caressed our baby butts.

 

There are us.

Sitting alone all night

erasing ourselves and playing cracked records

from torturous nightmares of useless rape

forcefully fucked and threatened with grim death

where safety is far, and we can’t seem to get away.

There are us.

Who have felt emptied

by those who take want they want

leaving us feeling less than whole

plotting their demise in inconceivable ways

where we pray for peace to find us.

 

(c) Jacqueline Oby-Ikocha 

 

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The Cycle of Abuse, Free Your Mind

Some days it feels as if my crazy ass Mother is in charge of the U.S. government.

Animated GIF of a scene from Joan Crawford's Straight Jacket in which her homicidal daughter hurls an ax at her
It’s like I woke up to find my crazy making family in charge of the government.

I found this old handout from my days as a treatment provider in San
Francisco’s mental health system.

It was written for survivors of domestic violence.

Few situations are more crazy making and chaotic than life with a
psychologically a
busive parent or spouse.

Here are 14 points to consider as you work to free your mind from the
narcissistic cycle of Abuse.

There is the difference between humility and
humiliation.

We reject and expose gaslighting.

 

A meme found online that describes the gaslighting stgrategy of denying what is true even when presented with physical evidence
Gas lighting, Red Flag

We call a lie a lie.

Healthy people do not tell other people what they want.

Anger is normal when trust is betrayed.

We have the right to say no.

We have the right to our own opinions.

We have the right to honest relationships.

We let abusive people suffer the consequences of their
actions
without guilt.

We expect friends and family members who hurt us
to know how to apologize.

No one will tell us what to think.

We do not take the blame for things we did not do.

When people violate our bodies and minds we hold
them accountable.

Accepting what we cannot change means changing
what we can.

The self-loathing projections of the abuser do not define us.

A friend who can’t feel shame and admit to being wrong is not
worth keeping.

 

 

Text and header image (c)  Rob Goldstein 2017 All Rights Reserved

 

 

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Letter to my future daughter

from The Little Mermaid

The Little Mermaid

Dear Alexandria,

As you reach your tender sixteen, there are a couple of things I would like to share with you. I want to start by telling you, my beloved daughter, that I love you endlessly. I fell in love with you when I heard your heartbeat for the first time. I fell in love with you when you clutched to my bosom in the middle of the night. I fell in love with the way you smile, with how you smell, wih every single piece of you because you are a part of me. You have to know that, to me, you are far more precious than the Kohinoor diamond. Alex, you are a blessing in my life and I’m forever grateful to God for proffering me the good fortune to be your mother.

Darling, you are not born with a silver spoon in your mouth. You are born…

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