The Constant Theme

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By Joshua Blake

Life’s weird. Lately I’ve been reminiscing on mine by looking back on all of the notebooks and journals I’ve written in. Like any song you listen to, a story unfolds and a narrative appears. I believe the same to be true about life.

So, what about mine?

I started by going back to where it all began for me: writing poetry in an old notebook from when I was in high-school. I was 16 or 17 at the time, and I initially thought that this poetry thing wouldn’t last long. Two-hundred-to-four-hundred poems and a decade later, here I am.

I’ve kept all of the 7-10 books I’ve written in as a way to remind myself of where I once was, and in some ways, where I still am today. If I could condense everything I’ve written down for the chorus in a song, it’d have to be something uplifting, with a touch of doubt. Maybe something like “I always knew I’d be able to get by, but it wouldn’t happen until I passed through time.”

The current journal I’m writing in has been through a longer lifespan than any other I’ve had – about four-and-a-half years. But the last poem I’ve written in my current book from January 31, 2019, really sets the tone of what my writing is all about: Fear of my past and of my future.

“I don’t know where to look,

Or where I should go.

But I’m always pulling you in tow,

Like an arrow fired from a bow.”

[Excerpt from “Now What?”]

The very first poem I wrote called “False Assumptions,” lives somewhere, but the page I wrote it on in my original book of poems has been lost to time. I put it in a word document years ago on an old laptop, but the point is that title is, to this day, something I think of whenever my anxiety or depression flares.

However bad a situation seems, it never turns out how I think it does in my head.

Moving forward, I’m going to break down the last decade of my writings, in an attempt to see how far I’ve come, what I’ve learned, and what I can learn further on my journey through life.

The Formative Years: 2010-2012

My beginning poems centered around love. What it meant to love, how I would ever be loved, and if I would ever allow myself to be loved. But then something changed.

Despair and agony flooded my mind, and I wrestled with these emotions until I wrote about them on March 12, 2011.

“Reoccurring events running through my mind.

I feel as if I’ve traveled back through time.

Who can I trust either than myself?

I don’t want to be stuck by myself.

Fear now runs through my veins.

There’s nothing I can do to stop these pains.

Reoccurring thoughts are coming back.

Reoccurring thoughts make me see black.”

[Excerpt from “Reoccurring Emotions”]


“I regretfully give in to your gesture,

And all I see is that familiar texture.

Are you here to tell me otherwise?

What answers are hiding behind your deceiving eyes?

Can you guide me to my salvation,

Or will you send me to my damnation?

You are the only one I truthfully hate,

Hence your ability to control my fate!”

[Excerpt from “The Eternal Story” October 10, 2012, 2:14 a.m.]

This was the catalyst for my transition into journal-ing about my woes as well. I continued to write dozens upon dozens of poems throughout that year, while also expanding on these thoughts more and more in depth.

 

January 19, 2012, 12:50 a.m.

“Whenever I have any sort of downtime, it plays as my enemy. I believe I am – and always have been – wondering about my future. Where I will be, who will be in my life (if anyone) and when will I get what I’ve always wanted.

I’ve lost my identity. I don’t know who I am anymore. Mental illness? Insanity or helplessness?”

The Broken Times: Dec. 2012-Nov. 2014

Possibly the darkest times I’ve ever been through emotionally and mentally, and it all came to a head in early December of 2013. After years of believing Love was a road I’d never travel down, I knew I was at a breaking point.

December 7, 3:07 a.m.

“I am in a very dark place yet again. I’m not enjoying this cell – it’s killing me – and I’ve put myself in, while throwing away the key.”

Ironically, my only salvation during this period of my life came from writing music with my grandmother – a force like no other, with a voice that could carry for thousands of miles.

The first song we ever wrote happened in June of 2014

“Seeking Serenity”

“I’m stuck in this free fall

Patiently waiting until I stall

It’s getting lonely up here

My only friend is fear.

Serenity, serenity

My greatest enemy.”

October of 2014 was another low point, however…

On the 11th, I wrote “Far From Never.”

“I’m going back to that time and place/ The one that gave my heart such disgrace…If I’m beat enough, maybe I’ll listen/ And your gentle face will start to glisten…I need this now more than ever/ Even if love is far from never.”

On the 18th, I wrote “Everything.”

“Everything feels so broken/ My heart beats, even though it’s frozen…Everything is crashing down/ My head hears awful sound…Everything hurts when I think of you/ My eyes cry at things past due.”

On the 27th, I wrote “Tunnel Vision.”

“Tunnel vision stuck on her/ My thoughts never could deter…Life seems so out of sight/ When will things start to go right?”

The Current Era: Nov. 2015 –

The difference a year makes is extraordinarily underappreciated. In October of 2014, I was a mess. In October of 2015, I met my now fiancee and we’ve been engaged since 2018.

Still, that doesn’t mean my past doesn’t come back to haunt me every now and again.

Four years after I wrote “Everything,” I wrote “Stuck In Between,” on Oct. 18, 2018. Looking at it now, it feels like a successor of sorts.

“Stuck in between something I can’t explain/ Like something in the middle of pleasure and pain…Stuck in between something that I can’t name/ It doesn’t feel real, like I’m playing some kind of game…Feel as though I’m forever maimed/ As if I’ll always live with this pain.”

 

“Inside Out/Outside In” Sep. 27, 2019

“It’s like I’m cold, but on the inside/ Like pins and needles all over my mind…It’s like I’m hot, but on the outside/ Like I can’t outrun what’s been left behind…Shaking inside out and outside in/ I’m not even sure where to begin.”

“Now What?” Jan. 31, 2019

“I don’t know where to look/ Or where I should go…But I’m always pulling you in tow/ Like an arrow fired from a bow.”

“Sleep-talking” Jan. 21, 2020

“Sleep-talking but you’re silent/ Oh you’re so violent/ Starring right through me/ Not letting me be…Sleep-talking but you’re silent/ No longer one of your clients/ I’m lookin’ right past you/ As my memory forever haunts you.”

Going Forward?

As a way to end this little trip back through time, I wanted to end on a entry I wrote nearly a decade ago and a lyric from a song I wrote nearly six years ago.

Oct. 8, 2011

“After I fill the last page of this book, I wonder if I shall have the wisdom on how to move forward – both emotionally and physically…There’s still some holes to be filled, and I’m trying to find the shovel to fill them.”

2014

“Know Me Now.”

“So afraid of where I’ll be/ Cryin’ for you to set me free…Heart beat is out of tune/ Racin’ straight towards my doom. Keep repeating the same old story/ Hoping to find my fame and glory…Will you find me soon someday/ So my mind can break away.

I remember when we met/ You came to me with a bet…Do you really know me now/ If so, show me how.”

 

 

 

Me Too?

By Joshua Blake

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In the wake of Harvey Weinstein’s sexual harassment and assault allegations by the likes of Angelina Jolie, Rosanna Arquette and Gwyneth Paltrow and numerous other women, a firestorm of stories about other’s experiences in their own lives has surfaced with the hashtag MeToo

 

Weinstein admits he has a problem and that he wants to better himself – yet it seems that his willful ignorance was the only thing keeping him from making such a statement in the first place.

 

There’s been reports of Ben Affleck and Matt Damon knowing of Weinstein’s behaviour and keeping it hush-hush. There’s been people questioning why these Hollywood actresses waited so long to speak up. There’s political pundits asking what will the Democrats do about their relationship to Harvey Weinstein.

 

These are talking points that miss the actual talking point – or lack thereof. Sexual assault and harassment are difficult to talk about, and they should be difficult to talk about.

 

I saw tens-of-thousands of tweets and posts carrying the #MeToo banner, and I had this knee-jerk reaction against it. Not because of others will power, but of my own.

 

At the same time, I felt an amazing amount of pride and safety knowing that others are brave enough to share those two words. Not strong enough, but brave enough. Something like this isn’t about strength because heinous acts like these rob you of your strength.

 

However, that having been said, I have a story of my own. It’s a story that seems like something the best fiction writers come up with.

 

I’ve been afraid to talk about this for the fear it will cause those closest to me immeasurable pain, anger and sadness. Although this may also affect those farthest from me, and for that, I’m sorry.

 

I also feel like my experience isn’t worthy of such a title. Me too? How so? I always thought of sexual assault or harassment as physically violent – I never knew it could be so subtle-y applied to any situation.

 

And because of that, I still have problems identifying what happened to me. I don’t know how to speak up about it to this day. I’m no longer plagued by nightmares or pondering why this happened, but it’s left a scar since.

 

_____

 

I recall what happened nearly three years ago as vividly as I recall what happened last night. I was at a party and I sat down with a girl, a silver-tongued devil.

We were talking about music – the Australian band Tonight Alive released their second album – and I mentioned a song that made me reminisce about a time long gone. Little did I know that I opened myself up to a sharp bite I wouldn’t be able to escape from.

Now that I let my guard down, this silver-tongued soothsayer knew exactly how to play me, catering to my apparent need for a closeness to intimacy. I knew then there’s no intimacy to casual sex, but I didn’t realize how fooled I was until after our physical act of righteousness.

 

Well, for her it was righteous.

 

When you seduce the broken spirit of a depressed, anxiety ridden 20-year-old at what could go wrong?

 

At the time, my friends didn’t even know how to respond to the benign scenario. Some told me to accept it and move on. Others thought it seemed enjoyable. What followed the months after that night were feelings of guilt and sorrow, pain and suffering, insanity and malice.

I’d cry myself to sleep numerous times a week wishing for someone to save me, while having flashbacks of her legs around my waist, her breathing – her hands pulling the hair on the back of my head – that kiss on my neck that overtook my fears at that moment and turned it into blind passion.

I whispered for her to follow me to which we found ourselves at a point of no return. I asked if she was clean, to which she nodded in confirmation. I didn’t have protection, and I didn’t bother to ask. I didn’t know how to say no, or even ask if she had any, so I let her straddle herself atop my lap as she thrusted her hips and removed her shirt.

And to think that this moment started hours earlier with her sitting inches from me giggling at every word I spoke.  Although I know one thing’s for certain: you never forget your first.

It all still feels like as if it were a dream – a concoction of a teenage boy’s ultimate fantasy – only to be acted out in reality, without all of the “accomplished feelings” and high-fives from your bros. I think I always knew something was going to happen that night – she was flirting like a high-school girl with an engorged crush on the dark, mysterious guy who always sat alone at lunch. Only, she was no school girl, and I don’t eat lunch.

She brought out my fears and hopes all in an equal fashion. She enveloped my desire to feel normal – and normal I had felt – up until the point where my sudden attack of conscious decided to guilt me into fault for what ensued between two morbidly, sad lovers.

 

So, as any story goes, now what?

 

I managed to graduate from my community college and ended up at my state university four months later – to which I withdrew medically from my only semester.

I met with a counselor named Lisa for every week during that semester. The Devil was the source of my fear, my worries. Walking around campus feeling isolated from society, from friends and family and having no self worth, make life pretty unlivable. I hated her. She took something from me I still can’t get back: losing myself to someone whom I love for the first time.

I felt unwanted by everyone and everything. I felt like a freak undeserving of love and affection because of my disability. One day, Lisa asked me if I were a woman if that succubus were a man, would that change the meaning of what happened between us. I said maybe, but I really meant yes. I went through with my actions that night because I was too afraid to say “No.” I thought she’d judge me, too, if I didn’t give in to her advances.

In an odd twist of fate however, that night’s allowed me to reconnect with others and with myself. Fast forward a year after I withdrew, and I met a girl online named Anette. Psychiatry has become my best friend, and I understand my importance to others now. Anette has become my saving grace and without her love, I’d be a body with no shadow.

Anette helped convince me to return to school, and I’ve been back for almost a year-and-a-half. After this current semester, I’ll have been back for two years.

I felt like the most useless life form on this planet for nearly two years, and if I hadn’t met Anette, I don’t like to imagine where I’d be. That scares me too much.

But things do get better – eventually. It just a matter of when and how, not one or the other.

 

Hi! Care To Read? No? Okay!

By Joshua Blake

The by-line should probably read “By Who Cares” but, who’s keeping score? You? Oh, you weren’t? Good.

Anyhow, WordPress notified me a few days ago — actually, more like a week — to say that it was my blog’s three-year-anniversary.

That’s it, really. I don’t know what else to say about that.

I mean, sure, I could go on about all of the fond memories I’ve had (none) and what my blog means to me, but that’s just superficial.

If anything, this — writing — is cathartic to me. It helps keep me sane, I think.

This isn’t the time for reflection, nor is it the time for me to go on this tirade of self-righteousness and doubt in regards to my abilities as a writer — which I feel are decent at best.

I can already hear people saying “No, you’re really good!” or my girlfriend saying “Shut the fuck up, you’re really good,” or some other variation of the two.

I just don’t see it.

Some think I’m good because they can’t “do what I do,” or write down their thoughts that convey emotion in others. But, the joke’s on them, because I don’t think I do that well, either.

Well, that’s bullshit, honestly. I do think I can convey emotion in my writing, but, which ones?

What you read (or don’t read) before you as far as my feelings about my own writing goes, is about a sixth of how I look towards myself on any given day.

It’s not boredom. It’s not laziness. It’s loneliness.

Loneliness within myself, from myself, outside of myself.

Everyday I try and find out what it means to be me, what it is that I am, and what it is that I’ll be.

But, that’s just it. I’m not supposed to know. Those answers are different on any given day.

Some days, I’m meant to be a student, a brother, a friend, a son, a boyfriend, a journalist. Other days, I am those things, all of them.

But in terms of what I’ll be, what we become? My alter-ego? I haven’t got a fucking clue. Oh, right, I am someone who worries about this constantly, too.

And why do I? Why do I have these corrosive thoughts that plague my mind like a virus on your  computer that you can’t delete?

Is it really normal to feel this way? Like a twister of emotions swirling in your head? The emotions that keep you up at night, but you do nothing about?

My therapist calls this “free-floating anxiety,” which made me smirk the moment he mentioned the term, because, he’s right.

My thoughts and emotions are like oil floating above water while it manages to seep down poisoning everything it touches.

I ponder things that happened five, six, or seven years ago, make up bewildering scenarios in my mind — sometimes tragic ones — that never see the light of day, all for what?

Because I’m not satisfied? Because I’m trying to recover from an illness that’s years past? From a sexual assault that’s years past? Are those the reasons why? Because I still feel sick in the head, sometimes wishing I’d be sick again so I’d have to fight for myself?

Or, is it so I’d have a distraction from my self-torturous thoughts?

Now, do you see my problem? If there’s one thing I can do with my writing, it’s conveying how I think and what I’m feeling.

I can’t do that with spoken word. That scares me too much.

When I’m around those I love, I feel as safe as I can possibly be, but it’s still hard to say things to the people who say “you can tell us anything.”

It’s too easy, which is why it’s so hard.

I Have No Idea What To Name This

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By Joshua Blake

Something about this photograph is hypnotic to me. Therapeutic. Distracting.

I have no idea what to name this.

Something about where I was sitting made for – what I thought to be – the perfect shot.

I have no idea what to name this.

Something about the very words you’re reading make no sense to me.

I have no idea what to name this.

Is this what I’m supposed to feel like when I’m lost in a sea of toxic thoughts? Thoughts that never seem to leave my mind no matter the happiness I experience on any given day? Is it my own insanity?

Sure I have good days – great ones even – but they’re only temporary – like most things.

I know I’ll be okay, I know I will. It’s like I’m staring at a transparent mirror, seeing everything that’s meant to be on the other side, and all I’ve to do is walk on through.

So then, why don’t I?

Am I afraid to fail? To succeed? Maybe I’m just bored. Maybe it’s cacophony.

Perhaps it’s nothing like the times before. Perhaps it’s Satan knocking at my door.

I attempt to sleep. But then I’ll just stare; blankly into the quiet and ghostly air.

If there’s such thing as regression, then what’s the opposite of depression?

Maybe I need a reboot to find a new session.

Maybe then I’ll finally learn my lesson.

There’s no point to this confession.

A Long Lost Memory Part Two: The Cycle Begins

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By Joshua Blake

Above reads the first entry of a journey that started nearly two years ago. Even though this tale started years earlier, this book holds my life story – not the one I project – the one in my head. Let’s walk down this road together, because its pages are wearing thin.

Reading this again feels all too familiar and foreign all at once. Who wrote this? They seemed lost – like I am – but sure of what they need: understanding. Hey! That’s what I need. What don’t I understand? Maybe it’s my importance to others. Maybe it’s the fact that I can’t control my future, no matter how hard I try. Maybe I’m just unsure of my intentions.

Not too long after my first entry I wrote of my urge to not sleep for around a week. “It’s almost as if I’m waiting for something to happen and I don’t want to miss it.” I wondered then what I was waiting for. I think I found the answer, Recently, I’ve had the urge to sleep all day – a way to escape my own agony. But it proves to be my greatest adversary. I resort to clutching a pillow at times of mental unrest, as if I’m being consoled by something, when I have nothing.

“Shit! What’s gonna happen when you’re 30 or 40? Will you be in more pain? I already have days where I feel twice my age. My body feels broken down enough. What about a job? Will you even be a journalist – are you even ready for life? I’m so unorganized, how could I be?” Then I wonder about relationships. Where are those going? Well, nowhere. I don’t even try to establish one. If I wasn’t so fucking scared of what people thought, I might have one. Unfortunately, I just look at that as another thing to deal with. “You have school – that’s like your job – and you’re always sad. Who’d wanna be with me?”

My mother would contest. “Nobody gives a shit that you’re disabled, nobody,” she tells me, sounding like a broken record. I think back to the moment when I told her I’d walk at the age of five – I was three at the time. She didn’t believe me. “Don’t be upset if it doesn’t happen,” she said. To which I naturally disregarded, and held her statement in contempt. Not too long after I turned five, I walked on my own without my walker – this is before my surgery, mind you. I did something that was impossible, or should have been. Where the hell did my ambition go?

The only person who cares about me being disabled is myself. If you’re an alcoholic, or a junkie, you go to AA or rehab. If you don’t like your nose, get plastic surgery. If you wanna be in shape, work out. There’s no 12-step program for this shit. Nobody went, “Hey, let’s help people who struggle with Cerebral Palsy. They can do this, that, and the other thing, and they’ll be cured. CP free!” It doesn’t work that way, does it? Nope, instead it’s this life-long disease of torture and self-doubt, fueled by anger and sadness. That is until you get to the realization that you can’t change it.

That three year old kid who wanted to walk when he was five? He did that. “I’m finally normal,” he thought with joy. He changed his life, but not his fate. He didn’t know that people would look at him as different growing up. “I can walk like you, too,” he thought. That was, until he realized it looked different – it looked weird to him as well. Now he’s older. He enjoys playing music, and going to college. He’s a cool kid with attitude, and dresses in jackets, jeans – countless rings and wristbands of his favorite artists – he wants to mask his insecurities.

He says to himself “Hey, maybe if I wear all of this stuff, my disability will vanish.” When someone says that he has a lot of bracelets on, or that they like his rings, he gets excited. “Yes, it worked!” It even fools him, until he sees a reflection. It even fools him, until he sees people analyze how he moves. It even fools him, until he knows what he has: me. I’m the voice in the back of his head who makes him scream and cower in fear. I won’t stop until he realizes that he can fool me just as easily. Until he finds the courage to stand up, like that three year old boy did many years ago, he’ll never rid himself of me.

The saddest thing is that my mind’s split in two, and I don’t know what side I’m on. I don’t understand myself, and that’s a scary thought.