Thursday 13–13 Songs Pop Songs that Still Move Me

Some years ago, when I was quite a faithful blogger, I did an exercise I called the ”Thursday 13.” I think I borrowed it from a dear friend and colleague Elizabeth ”Zee” Ashworth. And it was great fun, and rather a nice exercise in that it just kept my writing muscles limber a bit. For the record, that blog has disappeared into the ether, by which I mean I deleted it; I have no regrets.

But I have been thinking lately of pop songs, mostly from the 90s, that I still go back to. We all have those, right? Maybe these don’t so much move me as they inspire my hurting, tired body, so often exhausted by fibro and other illness to want to move, or they just pluck the strings of nostalgia. So here I offer a quick list of 13 pop songs that I still go back to over and over, in no particular order.

  1. “Island in the Sun”—Weezer, because ”Hip, hip.” Then again, Weezer just never disappoints. I mean that. I like nerdy guys making music. Why won’t one marry me?
  2. ”Self Esteem”—The Offspring
  3. ”Santeria”—Sublime
  4. ”Pour Some Sugar on Me”—Def Leppard (not the 90s but it gives me all the feels)
  5. ”Birdhouse in Your Soul”—They Might be Giants (I really have a thing for TMBG. They are so underrated, if you ask me.)
  6. ”Here Comes Your Man”—Pixies. I really like the Pixies, like a lot.
  7. ”You Learn”—Alanis Morrissette
  8. ”Angel”—Aerosmith (also not 90s, but my junior high self somehow thought this was the most romantic song ever. What was I thinking? Still gives me all the feels tho)
  9. ”Something to Believe In”—Poison (Someone pushed for this to be the theme song for my 9th grade homecoming. Can’t remember if that got approved. Doubtful)
  10. ”Linger”—The Cranberries. Honestly, I could listen to any Cranberries song from any album any time and still love them all, even now.
  11. ”Mysterious Ways”—U2 (This song felt so big and stadium and epic to me at the time)
  12. ”No Rain”—Blind Melon
  13. ”Walking into Spiderwebs”—No Doubt
  14. BONUS: Almost anything by Tom Petty, but I especially like ”Last Dance with Mary Jane.” There was one summer, maybe ’94 when I listened to it over and over ON CASSETTE tape.

I Need to Write. …

I haven’t been writing, and yet I identify as a writer. I have been a reader for as long as I can remember. Reading has kept me sane, has allowed me to be who I am, and writing came later. Yet writing probably allowed me to find myself and hold on to whatever shreds of sanity remained even more than reading. Writing is how I found my voice. Writing IS my voice. But the struggle with chronic illness, chronic pain, chronic exhaustion seems to have stripped from me the ability or the opportunity to write and even read. I don’t want that to continue. I need to read and especially to write, to write about what I’m reading. And not just to write about the written word but about how I’m “reading” the world I see around me. I need to find my own voice again. It is only through the written word that I know how to feel heard. So here I am trying to find a voice so that I don’t have to continue to feel as though I am screaming in silence, feeling unheard. Do you hear me, dear reader? I know that you must, if you are still reading.

What can I tell you about myself? I am Drennan. I am 46. I live with debilitating, chronic, complicated / complex PTSD, springing from a variety of traumas. I cannot look too closely at those traumas today. I live with chronic physical pain, much of it psychosomatic, triggered by those very traumas. The physical pain is with me every moment. I am a Believer. By that I mean that I believe that the God-Man who walked the earth approximately 2,000 years ago and made a truth-claim to be the Messiah was and is who he claimed to be and that his substitutionary atonement has saved me; this means that I can say with Job that ”I know that my Redeemer lives and shall stand at the last day” and that even now although my body is in the process of dying, in my flesh I shall see God. This is the reason that I ultimately have hope. I identify as a “confessionally Reformed Christian.” I’d be happy to tell you more about what that means. As you can likely tell, I am interested in theology, especially Reformation-era theology and its various traditions. I am trained as an academic, and before I became disabled by chronic pain and exhaustion, I worked teaching university-level literature and some writing. I believe that the reading and study of literature matters, and I am passionate about the study of literature and text.

All this to say that I want to write, I need to write, just for myself, for my well-being. My writing muscles have become rusty. I don’t know that any of you particularly care. I don’t assume that anyone else needs or wants to read any of this. But I find writing here, in this space that is, in theory, public to be empowering, healing, something I need. I acknowledge right now that this project will likely get messy. I will offend some. But I am tired of feeling oppressed by others who have no right to imposed their man-made rules on me. I am tired of submitting to the legalism of extra-biblical fundamentalism that has driven me to despair for so many years. I love Christ and do want to honor and obey, but I am not obligated to obey the dictates of men.

I want to find my voice again. I want to write about literature and popular culture. I may even post my thoughts about the theological works I’ve been reading, for I don’t submit to the idea that women have no business having opinions or reactions to theological ideas. Oh, and if anyone is interested, I’m currently reading Calvin’s Institutes. I want to be able to have the freedom to voice my own experiences, for I have been silenced for far to long by sexist power structures. I am no longer afraid of losing relationships or even my reputation. At this point, I have no reputation to lose.

I am making no promises about frequency of posts or the type of content. But I know that simply writing, whether it be about serious things, silly things, book reviews, or simply processing traumas from my past is what I need to do for myself, for so many reasons. I know that I may and likely will piss some people off in the process. And I have reached the point that I am fine with that. Because this is my space. And I need to have my voice. Dr. Seuss has famously said that those who matter won’t mind and those who mind won’t matter. I’ve taken some liberties here. But you get the general idea.

So here’s to a new chapter. I invite you to join me on this journey if you dare.

Frustration. . .

So I am here again. And I am frustrated: frustrated with myself for not writing more, frustrated with the world and with people in my life that I cannot feel like this is a safe space, frustrated that I cannot seem to get to a place where I feel like I can use this space to write in order to process my thoughts and anxiety and trauma, which is what I need for my own wellbeing.

I am realizing more and more that for so much of my life I have felt pressured into silence by those around me. It is not clear to me whether they know they have exerted this pressure, whether it’s been intentional on their part or not, but regardless of intent, the effect has been the same. I have been pressured into silence by people and institutions. And the result is that I have spent a lifetime, or at least the majority of my 46 years, simply not talking about some really difficult things. It is like I pretend these things just didn’t happen because my Mom or the church are sending me messages that they don’t want to have to hear about it. So I’ve said nothing. Nothing about my uncle being sexually inappropriate with me, nothing about the demonic energy that lived in my home when I was a child, nothing about my husband abusing me during the four years of our marriage and the church and my parents being complicit in it all. Even now I’m still saying nothing about these things. But it stops today, now, with this post.

But I am not willing to continue to be silent about these matters. This silence is killing me. I have come to believe that it’s literally killing me. My physical health continues to deteriorate as my emotional and mental wellbeing breaks down. Meanwhile my sister-in-law, Cheri, manipulates my entire family and I watch the rest of them dance to her tune. I refuse to dance anymore. She is a bully, and I refuse to allow her toxicity to control my life. I am learning to draw boundaries that cut toxic people out of my life in order to create a healthy space for me to grow. She is the first to go, and I am fairly certain that others will follow. It makes me very sad because I do care about her and am very much concerned about her wellbeing, but I realize that I cannot control her or her choices and it’s become clear to me that she is very much out of control. So Cheri, be well, go live your life, but leave me out of it. I’m not covering for you anymore.

To the rest of you I say this: I am taking charge of my own wellbeing. This means that I am going to say what I need to in order to take care of myself. This means that I am going to talk and write about things that make you uncomfortable. I may even “out” you. Consider yourselves warned. I may post about the things you said and did that you’d rather I didn’t disclose. You may even take issue with things I have to say. Maybe you remember things differently. And that’s ok. This is my space, my memories, my opportunity to process. I’m going to call it like I see it, or at least like I remember it. My intention is not to actively set out to hurt anyone’s feelings but rather to just sort through my own memories and experiences as a a way to process my own trauma. If you didn’t want me to expose these things about you, then maybe you should have treated me better.

Honestly, I am tired of this rhetoric that says I should somehow cover for you for the sake of some greater good. For example, there’s some sort of argument that says that I should not question what goes on in the church because that will sully the testimony of Christ somehow. And I realize that I am not really presenting the position adequately and it’s partially because I don’t even fully understand the position itself. But isn’t this the very position that the Roman Catholic Church uses to protect pedophiles? They cover for abusive priests as a justification to protect the institution. And honestly, I feel like I have been pressured to not speak out about my own experiences, both with the church and with family, for similar reasons: Drennan, if you talk about what’s happened, you’ll upset people, you’ll cause hurt feelings or harm to relationships to those you care about. Essentially, I feel like I am being asked to sacrifice my wellbeing fo the sake of someone else’s feelings. Because I am now at the point where I need, I desperately need to speak, for all kinds of reasons, but I am still being pressured into silence. I am not allowed to openly talk about the abuse I’ve dealt with, much less seek solutions and healing. And isn’t simply naming the abuse and the abusers the first step towards finding healing?

Blogging and Mental Health

I have been considering and reconsidering and considering again how I want to go about this and whether or not I want to go about it at all. But the reality is that I I need it. My mental health requires that I blog. That is to say that my mental and emotional health, which I know is a bit tenuous, would benefit from making public the musings and such that I am wont to do privately. And I don’t know how to justify or explain this. What I do know is that somewhere in my distant past, maybe 15 years ago, I did have a blog, now deleted, where I did process some of my personal experiences, and it did do me some good.

The reality is that I am now in a position where, for reasons I may discuss at another time, I have been cut off from my mental health support, my professional providers, that is, and I need another outlet. I am foundering (not floundering–I dislike when people misuse or mix up those terms). But my mental health and advocating for my mental health is my responsibility. And since I am in the position that my therapist will no longer see me, thanks to my trifling sister-in-law, I am setting up structures to care for my own mental and emotional health in the ways that I know how as best as I am able. This blog, then, is part of that scaffolding that I am putting in place to provide mental health support for myself. I don’t know how to explain to you exactly HOW this works, only that it has been my experience that it does work.

Here’s the rub: blogging is, of course, public and it requires the naming of names, the telling of my own story. In short, you can expect that I will, among other things, be using this as a space to “speak my own truth,” as some might call it. Others may term it “naming and shaming” others. The stark reality is that I have spent a shit ton of energy in my 46 years covering for others and not telling my own story. I think that this has merely served to compound my trauma. I’d like to be able to “speak my truth” to a therapist, but she recently abandoned me. Because of my various issues, Complex/ Complicated-PTSD being one of them, I admittedly have difficulty with opening up to others. But writing is one way that I am comfortable with being open and vulnerable, and it certainly is a useful tool for processing. And making it public is honestly very, very liberating.

I do realize that there is something potentially problematic about making my issues public and putting it all on the internet. Maybe I am violating boundaries by naming names, although I’ll point out that I’ve not done so. Yet. But I have the right to tell my own story and to seek healing for my emotional and even physical trauma. And believe me, the emotional trauma does manifest physically. I live with the physical pain every day. But the writer Anne Lamott has famously said that we all own our lives and the events of our lives, we are entitled to tell our own stories: “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your own stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should’ve behaved better.”

So starting today, right now, I am standing up and taking responsibility for my own mental health and wellbeing by telling my own story. And this means that to everyone who has abused me and walked all over me, I may be putting you on blast. Live with it. But it’s a new day for me. Also, my identity is in Christ now. There’s nothing worse you can say about me than the reality that I am a sinner, but there’s nothing more beautiful about me than the reality that I am saved by grace.

The Time I Overdosed on Ambien

That title sounds a bit dramatic, I know, so let me begin by defining “overdose.” An overdose may be defined as simply taking too much of a controlled substance or taking a dangerous amount of a drug. And I did. Inadvertently. Shall I begin the narrative at the beginning?

Just over nine years ago, I briefly dated an ER doctor who I quickly became very much attached to emotionally. He was a real jerk. We shall call him Doc Comis. I have suffered from chronic insomnia all my life, and he convinced me that Ambien would solve my problems, insomnia and other problems. So he prescribed Ambien for me. In retrospect, it seems ethically iffy to prescribe a controlled substance for someone with whom you are having a relationship. What I find to be way worse, however, is that he, as a doctor, prescribed this dangerous drug, knowing full well the risks, and offered no oversight at all, as you shall see, dear reader.

Doc Comis was, to put it politely, a real piece of work. I can now say definitively that he was emotionally abusive. And that is something that needs unpacking another time. But after prescribing me a full month’s worth of Ambien plus refills, Doc Comis just ghosted me. And that sent me into an emotional tailspin, as you might well imagine. My insomnia worsened as I fell off the emotional cliff edge. And one night I accidentally overdosed. I have little memory of the actual event. Here’s what I know.

I got my prescription from good ol’ Doc Comis refilled, so I had a full bottle. And here’s a pertinent piece of information: I live alone. I could feel insomnia chasing me, so I took a single pill before bed. I was unable to sleep, so I took a second, per the instructions on the bottle. When I got up the next morning, having slept much later the usual and especially groggy, I found that the bottle of Ambien which should have been nearly full, as I’d just picked up a new refill, was almost empty. Sitting next to it was a half drunk bottle of vodka.

I was terrified and shocked. I had only a vague, dream-like memory of getting up at night to take more pills and drink vodka. And I wasn’t trying to harm myself in any way. I had this sensation of being unable to relax and rest, so I was just trying to medicate and get to sleep. Although I readily admit that I have suffered from so-called chronic suicidality for years, I truly was just trying to get rest. And my memories of those events are so very vague. I’m certain I was sleepwalking or something akin thereto.

I got rid of both the Ambien and the vodka immediately, and I haven’t taken Ambien since. I should have dropped Doc Comis immediately as well. It took a bit longer to completely get rid of that jackhole. He messed me up way worse than an Ambien overdose ever could.

Enter at Your Own Risk

DISCLAIMER: This blog represents the thoughts, memories, and impressions of just one person. I do not claim to be representing absolute truth but rather my own thoughts about my memories as I recall them. I am certain that other parties would have other and very different memories. This is my place to process. If you don’t like what I have to say, you are welcome to exit now.

If you are a family member or someone who otherwise knows me ”in real life,” this may not be the place for you. You may find things that you’d be better off not knowing about me, about past experiences with me. My intent is not to cause you pain but, rather, to have a safe space for myself. I suggest that you exit now.

This is not a family friendly site. Expect cursey words! Again, if you don’t like the F-word, you are welcome to exit now. I’ll still love you.

Nolite te bastardes carborundorum. In other words, don’t let the Muggles get you down!