OCTOBER 15, 2022: “The Man, The Myth, The Legend!” …

I can’t recall when a morning news story ever made me so fucking happy. I literally cried tears of joy for this man and his family when I heard these words from his mouth:

So, I made them a deal today, and I’m gonna stick to it. After this year, I am going to make one more Five Finger Death Punch album and then I am retiring from heavy metal.

{Five Finger Death Punch On YouTube}

The Alchemistwill be leaving the building. The FUCKER I love the most who has inspired so many of us to dig deep into our souls and unearth the sobering reality of our own tragic truths, turn ourselves inside out, make peace with our demons, and find our “power and grace“, is dimming the lights.

A dear friend and highly intuitive Death Punch sister I was talking to this morning said that lately she’d been sensing a sort of “death” with him. In fact, we’d both been feeling that something’s been a little bit off in his world, though not necessarily in a bad way, but neither of us could put our finger on it. Well, there we have it! As it turns out, the death she’d been sensing was a metaphor for an ending. The “death” of this chapter of his beautifully dirty, poetic life, and the birth of an entirely new one.

It’s “phoenixry” at it’s finest!

As I’ve been scouring through this news today, I read, “Well, let’s just hope that the next 5FDP album will come as late as possible”. Yah, yah, I get it. We’re gonna miss him. But I couldn’t disagree more. For as much as I have come to love, respect, and adore him, not as a “rock star”, but a human fucking being, it’s only right to let him go in peace without a fight.

Nothing would make me happier then to never see his face again, be it on a stage or social media where we’ve all relished being a part of his “family” if that meant he was riding off into the sunset and sanctuary of his truly personal life and endeavors. No man is more deserving of the next rebirth that will surely come from fading the bright lights that have both propelled and devoured him, into the quieter lights of his real family’s hearts and eyes. After all the tiny pieces of his broken, risen, but probably exhausted phoenix soul that he’s literally bled out to the masses, no man has earned the right to finally rest his wings and fly back home to the ones he fought so hard to keep living for. C’mon, people! Those bright lights almost fucking blinded him, and I know for a fact that he’s given the actual shirt off his back to some of us. Also? Let’s face it. Not everyone has been so grateful for his contributions to both the arts and humanity. So, he’s damned if he does and damned if he don’t. Still, the vultures have picked at his living carcass enough, don’t ya think?

There’s a song I’ve always loved and have listened to for years by another band, Cold. The poignant words are clearly written from the perspective of a weary musician:

Whatever you became, blame it on my fame. Always away from you … sold my life for a song. Whatever you feel, I take it on my stage. I sing to the world for you … and I’m always alone.

{“Whatever You Became” by Cold”}

These days, I think about him when I hear this song. I say to myself, “Damnit, Ivan, we love you! We ALL mother fucking LOVE you! But haven’t you’ve spent way more than your fair share of all of your power and grace on us? Just free yourself and go home.”

This life we’re living really is just a blip, and yes, the lights will go down. Do everything within your power to ensure that when your door closes for the very last time you leave your light on for the people you’ve left behind and not just a darkened void. It’s how you’ll become “nothing, everything, and ALL of it” and leave this place better than you found it.

{“The Grey High“}

Well, guess what, Fucker? I’m saying “job well done”! While I realize this process isn’t going to happen overnight and we’ll still have some good times to share with you, know that when the last of those lights on your stage go down, the one you’ll have left behind for all of us will keep on burning bright through that void.

Those of us who’ve been paying attention know that aside from your family, there are still many gifts and contributions you’re working on leaving behind for the cause you’re so fucking passionate about. And hey, who knows? Maybe you’ll even find a true and proper queen to ride off into that sunset with. You deserve that, too, my friend, and I’m praying that you’ll find her!

~ The Phoenix Rests ~
(A “Midjourney” Creation By @archinorn)

SEPTEMBER 4, 2022: “The Day Of The S & H Greenstamps Tattoo” …

It’s no longer a big secret that I had a twisted and dysfunctional childhood, and also no secret that some of my mental pictures aren’t so homespun and stellar …

… BUT …

… I very much DO also have some precious and beautiful memories seared so deeply into the skin of all my days gone by that they’re a virtual tattoo inside my mind.

It’s raining, grey, and what some might consider miserable here in Dallas this afternoon, but as I walked into the kitchen just now and saw my favorite “Mindset Is Everything” coffee mug sitting on the table amidst a pile of skeletons and spookiness I’m about to HAUNT The Williamson Manor with, I literally snapped back in time to the MANY “Sundays” with my mom and HER coffee cup sitting around our often very rainy, New England kitchen table.

You see, Sundays were ALWAYS our “Green Stamp” days, and I fondly remember the countless hours she would spend with us at our tiny wooden table as she’d bust out all the stamps she’d collected for that week and let me and my sister help her put them in her books. We’d sit around that table drawing circles in “the catalog” around all the treasures we were saving for while having our little mother daughter chit chats about life.

For God’s sake, I even smelled the giant pot of scratch made Italian “gravy” that was ALWAYS simmering in the background while we were stamping our fingers to the bone, and how as all this was happening on those cozy afternoons, there was the best anxiety EVER simmering in my gut because I knew that soon my beloved Grandpa, aunts, uncles, and cousins would all be coming over for our weekly “family dinnuh”!

Jean-Claude Van DAMN I’m so proud to be turning “Fifty-THREE-It’s-SO-Good-To-Be-ME” next week, and while I do so adore all you young ones out there, grab a pen and paper and take NOTES from ALL of s “OMG, they’re like, SO old” ones, ’cause we know EXACTLY how to keep on keepin’ it REAL!

Meanwhile, as I’m writing this, my girls are upstairs all hunkered down in their fluffy pajamas and blankets as the storms are moving in while I’m downstairs just doing the mom thing. I’m overwhelmed with joy and an abundance of gratitude that I not only do I get to live this ethereal existence, but that my heart has been broken and put back together well enough to know that even when I’m not sifting through the ashes of my life, there is still so much beauty to be found in them that it just shows up during the storms like a ray of light shining through my soul. I am blessed.

… and THIS, my friends, is yet another “Grey HIGH” moment from my virtually tattooed heart and love-filled Williamson Castle to yours. Oh, and (PS) … there’s something that I’ll hope you’ll remember …

All you get to keep is all you’ve shared.

{“The Brighter Side Of Grey” … by Five Finger Death Punch}

~ REAL Cat 🖤

AUGUST 31, 2022: “I’m Inside Out” …

Okay, SO, in the aftermath of last night’s Five Finger DEATH PUNCH to my face …

LET’S TALK!

To begin, what are the chances that after having made my “Inside Out” post yesterday that THE song they’d come out to WAS “Inside Out”? Was it coincidence? Was it “F8“? Hmm. Imma have to go with the latter!

Meanwhile …

While he didn’t even singThe Brighter Side Of Grey” in this set like we’d all hoped would happen so that we could finally give Gia the letter Zack wrote her in the months before he left in what is now clear contemplation of his suicide, here’s what DID happen at the show …

Ivan very clearly acknowledged us several times throughout the night, to the point where the lady behind us said, “Wow, they must actually know Ivan or something”. He would fist bump his heart then “throw it back to us”, and he waved at us a couple of times, too.

He kept throwing random water bottles out into the crowd, but then he threw one specifically our way and motioned for Christian to catch! Lol. Ask me if I drank the water that was left in it after IVAN had drank from that bottle, too. Umm, that would be a YUP … so if Ivan has any weird diseases or anything, let me ASSURE YOU that now I do, too!

THEN, after the last song, “The Bleeding”, was over, the arena lights went on and he was laughing that all had to be QUIET because of the city ordinances and said, “that sucks ass”. But THEN he walked back over and pointed directly to ME again after having already done it from the platform he was standing on. So, the kids were saying, “Mom, Ivan’s talking to you”, at which point I looked up and he pointed and motioned for me to walk towards him.

THEN, I headed through the pit towards the edge of the stage where he was waiting for me, he motioned for me to give him the banner I’d made for him that was still in my hands and the security guard handed it up to him. He signed it, “I love you”, then told me he’d been trying to make sure I knew that HE knew we were there but that the lights were making it hard for him to make eye contact.

THEN, he handed the sign back down and SAID, “I love you woman”, stood up, walked away without signing ANYONE else’s stuff, and disappeared to the back of the stage.

Yah. I’m like a kid on Christmas day this week. It was the MOST ethereal moment of my life. He made an actual spectacle out of me and my kids and it was NOT not fucking amazeballs!

All that being said, and as far as not getting to hear “The Brighter Side Of Grey” and finally give Gia “the letter”? Well, I’m just taking that as a sign from The Cosmos that it’s still not time for her to either hear that song or read Zack’s bittersweet “in case I’m gone tomorrow” words. When it’s time … it will be time … and not one single second before. Trust me when I tell you that she WILL not hear that precious, life-changing gift of a ballad until the day she gets to hear Ivan singing it in person. I’m at total peace with that plan going forward.

Next stop? I’m driving back to Tennessee on November 17th to join a fellow “suicide widow” Knucklehead friend of mine who was going to be attending the show in Knoxville all alone until I Bogarted her party and invited my own damn self to go with her! God Himself knows how much I love Tennessee, loved driving back and forth to Tennessee, and love, love, LOVE a good SOLO road trip!

THEN? I’m taking the kids to Vegas for my Christian’s BIG 30TH BIRTHDAY WEEK where we’ll all catch the Five Finger Death Punch December 17th show with Brantley Gilbert.

All in all it’s a good life! I got what I want … I can’t complain! I am living the good life … a toast to you now … it’s all SHAM PAIN!

Hmm. Let’s see, is there anything ELSE? Oh, yah, I think there kinda is …

Hi everyone, it’s me, CAT! I’m a “Fifty-TWO-Good-To-Be-True” going on “fifty-THREE-It’s-Good-To-Be-ME” next week year old heavy metal band groupie FREAK!

… that time my daughter and I were in a Five Finger Death Punch promo video!

AUGUST 19, 2022: “The Great Alchemy” …

The new album dropped at midnight and it’s mind blowing, but I got stuck on this one particular song, “All I Know”. Meanwhile, while we were on a live chat with him in the wee hours of the morning, Ivan was saying that the whistling we hear at the intro just came to him one night while he was at his cabin in Wyoming. He said he’d been laying in bed, heard whistling outside of his window, then just woke up and started writing.

Now, here’s where this “Death Punch” Diary entry may throw some of you for a loop, ’cause I’m about to go somewhere some of you want nothing to do with. Those who know me best know that I fiercely believe in the higher power that’s running this whole “greatest show on Earth” gig who I by the name of God. As far as I’m concerned, creation itself is a musical composition straight from His hand, and the humans He has specifically chosen to make music of every kind are His tuning forks:

“But now bring me a musician.” Then it happened, when the musician played, that the hand of the Lord came upon him. [2 Kings 3:15 NKJV]

Here’s the deal, folks: Zack used to whistle and hum all the fucking time, so, before I heard Ivan talking about it, I’d already been captured by that whistling and listening to the song over and over. It was one of the most ethereal moments I’ve ever experienced in my life. “From Zack’s soul, to God’s ears, to Ivan’s mouth”, then POOF! “A seemingly magical process of transformation” through the creation of the hauntingly beautiful whistle at the beginning of a song that echoed to me just like the many other voices from my past that I believe are trying to send me messages:

Somehow, the haunting intro to this song with its echoes of what seem like my ancestors calling to me, channeled me back to either the wild, wild west or some ancient arena in Spain where kill or be killed was the fucking assignment, much like it is today during “times like these” when we’re all just fighting not only to survive, but fighting for the will to survive.

{“Times Like These“}

Much like my “Brighter Side Of Grey” moment back in March of 2020, I believe that Zack needed me to take note of the powerful message in this song, so he had God use Ivan’s whistling to do it. That’s right folks, love it or hate it, and as impossible as it may seem for some people to conceptualize, as far as I’m concerned, Ivan is not just some heavy metal rock star with a colorful past, present, and future, whose job is to jump around on stages worldwide and entertain the masses. His purpose here is so much fucking bigger than perhaps even he will ever be able to fully conceptualize. He’s a “universal elixir” and tuning fork that God is using to perpetuate His greatest alchemy of all … MUSIC!

Have I ever told any of you that I’m the luckiest human woman alive? Have I told you that I’m God’s actual favorite daughter? Have I told you how thankful I am to be sitting in all these truths and realities that are truly “all I know”, many of which I don’t even really understand, AND THAT’S OKAY? Well, if not, I’m telling you right now. Yes, I am. I am God’s favorite daughter and His divine apostrophe!

ALL I KNOW

I don’t think that I’m crazy. Yeah, but how would I know, when the voices remind me that it’s all just for show. Well, I thought I had answers, but the questions have changed. It’s so hard to feel anything when I’ve only known pain. Pain. You can cast me out and dig my hole. Spit on my grave. Curse my soul. You can hold me down and not let go, but the devil you fear is all I know. And the road that’s less traveled, well, it’s all that I’ve known. Every time I look backwards, there’s still so far to go. If I’m born to be broken … cold, bloody, and numb … tell me, why am I running? What am I running from? From? As I sit here in silence, all alone in myself … who the hell would believe me? Better yet, who would I tell? I can’t tell. {Five Finger Death Punch}

MAY 21, 2022: “I’m Writing This In Case I’m Gone Tomorrow” …

… because some memories are so much better than others, ESPECIALLY ones like these that remind you yet again that although the MOST beautiful season you shared with him is over, the many powerful and life-changing words of affirmation he wrote across your heart are not.

THIS, my friends, is how I became a queen, and THESE are the brighter sides of even my darkest of greys that help me leave out all the rest of the actual heaping piles of bullshit he left behind in his insanity.

He loved me. He believed in me. He always saw the very best in me. He supported everything I ever did, said, thought, or wanted. He said I could be ANYTHING I dreamt of because I wasn’t cut from the same cloth as anyone else he’d ever met, and guess what, people?

HE WAS RIGHT!

I’m proud of myself right now for seeing this “memory” today and not shedding a single tear. Rather, all I could do is smile with pride, because after all was said and done, and although at first I couldn’t see the me he saw on those days he’d FORCE me to look at myself in a mirror and try to see myself through his eyes, I see her loud and fucking clear these days not only every time I HAPPILY look into a mirror, but even more so when I look at my kids. They are my legacy. They are the reason he fought so hard for me to make peace with my own reflection.

In my heart, I think he always knew he wouldn’t be here with me until the end, which is why he was hell bent on preparing to LITERALLY rise above his ashes. God knew it, too, so maybe that’s why God sent him to me in the first place, just as maybe I was meant to be HIS “crowning achievement”. The day he died, I became his legacy, and so on the circle goes …

Hi everyone! It’s me, the REAL Cat Williamson, and I’m writing this to my kids just in case I’m gone tomorrow. Always remember that your mama was the badass phoenix QUEEN he left behind to handle things in his place in all her power, grace, and glory, and ALWAYS remember to be this IMPECCABLE with all your words. Someday they may actually save someone’s life.

JANUARY 6, 2022: “The Tragic Truth Revisited” …

Today marks an incredibly powerful day in the Five Finger Death Punch family with the release of the official “Tragic Truth” video:

We wrote “Tragic Truth” in 2011 for the “American Capitalist” album, but it simply wasn’t finished by the manufacturing deadline. Since the song was very important to us, we didn’t want to wait and hold it until the following album, so it was added as a bonus track to the digital edition.

Consequently, it never really got the attention we intended for it and a lot of our fans are not even aware of its existence. It’s been a conversation for years to somehow circle back to this song, and we felt right now, on Ivan’s birthday, and two months from his 4th sober anniversary it is probably as good of an occasion as it can be to release this music video; as it is a visual journal of our story …

The battle with addiction … the pain … the chaos … life and even death. A celebration of a victory, Ivan’s rebirth into a new life. It is also a message for those who are battling addiction right now: you are more than your addiction, and you are never alone. Seek help, fight back, it’s never too late… Ivan came back from the dead, literally. He was so far gone, if he can do it – you can do it. Let this be a testament to that.

So, with that said, Happy Birthday Ivan! Congratulations on your new lease on life. And thank YOU to all the fans who stood by us all these years, supported us, supported him, and have been the catalyst of his recovery.

{Five Finger Death Punch YouTube}

As for me? Of the now 466 entries published in this Diary, “The Cosmic, NOT Tragic Truth” is one of my personal favorites. The cryptic role it played in my healing from and making peace with Zack’s suicide literally defies conception:

All I can tell you is that my intersection with the Cosmos this morning was EVERYTHING to me. Even as I write this, I’m smiling yet again, because while on the surface it may appear that the demons that devoured him won, nothing could be farther from the truth.

The rare few of us who really knew him and were honored to both love and be loved by him know a “truth” that is much more beautiful than tragic: HE’S HOME NOW! I just know it. No more sorrow. No more pain. No more tears. No more aching for the “family” who abandoned the “Zack Of Shit”. NO MORE VOICES SCREAMING IN HIS HEAD!

{“The Cosmic, NOT Tragic Truth“}

After seeing it the first time, I kept watching it over and over. The more I watched, the more I ached, and I know exactly why I was so compelled to just keep on watching it. It’s a catharsis I needed, so, I was emotionally cutting myself because there are clearly some feelings about the last months of his life that I’ve still yet to fully bleed out.

I cannot tell you how many times in the last 870 days I’ve had random flashes of the countless times I saw Zack literally holding his head in his hands the way that Ivan does in the video. He was desperately trying to quiet all the voices that were screaming inside his mind and shake off the demons that were devouring him. I kept asking him what was wrong, or if his head hurt, and for God’s sake why was he covering his ears that way. His response was always the same:

They keep screaming at me, Catherine. I DON’T KNOW HOW TO MAKE THEM STOP!

I’m not gonna lie, but his words in those moments and the helpless looks upon his face may haunt me for the rest of my life.

As for me? Although I’m not an alcoholic, I have suffered and am in recovery from both an addiction “creature” of my own and a complicated mental illness. For that reason, I made the personal decision to lead a sober as FUCK lifestyle, and had my last drop of alcohol on March 26, 2021, at 4:40pm. Yes, I know that was the exact date and time because I have proof via a credit card charge from “The Shot Lady” in Nashville, Tennessee. My decision was made in support of not just Ivan’s “SOBER AS FUCK” journey and platform, but anyone else who is fighting that fight, not the least of which is someone very close to me who has yet to recognize his own tragic truths.

If you haven’t heard this song yet, YOU SHOULD! Especially if you or someone you love has ever struggled with addiction or mental illness. Always remember that not everyone survives the “tragic truth” of their journey, so we must truly celebrate the lives of every phoenix who does and support them in their flight. The wings a recovery warrior flies with were forged in a fire that not everyone makes it out of alive, and some of us had to actually die first to live.

NOVEMBER 4, 2021: “The Bullshit On Your Driveway” …

Wait! NO! Not what if I told you …

THIS IS ME TELLING YOU!

It’s not always easy to see through all the BULLSHIT piling up in front of you, especially when it’s being dumped by family, friends, and loved ones. This I know too well! But lemme ask you this

Was there ever a time that you could define? Tell me was there ever a time that you could refine what was boiling deep inside you? What was building up inside you? So what’ll you do when none of it’s true? Ya gonna go and break the mirror you thought was you while it’s coming down around you? It’s all falling down around you! If I took away your one excuse? Helped you down and cut the noose? Would you leave it all behind you? Could you leave this all behind you? If you tore away the tourniquet and put yourself in front of it? Could you leave this all behind you? Would you leave this all behind you? Tell me was there ever a way, ever a day, you could have simply walked away or talked your way out of what was changing deep inside you? Rearranging what’s inside you? While you’re lookin’ around for someone to blame, I hear that you been running around dropping my name while the ship you’re on is sinking. What the fuck have you been thinking?

{“Leave It All Behind” … Five Finger Death Punch}

Look, you have to forgive them for the mounds of stinking bullshit they left for you to deal with. All of it … EVERY PIECE OF IT! If not for them, FOR YOU! And no, I’m not saying that you have to leave your loved ones completely behind in your dust in order to get to the other side of the mountain. Well, at least not always that is, because, umm, let’s face it – SOMETIMES YOU ACTUALLY DO – but that’s a different story for another day.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again … blood may be thicker than water, but if it’s either too thick or too thin it can literally be a death sentence, and life’s too short to die of treatable diseases. That same principal applies to “drinking straw parasites” and energy vampires, who, too, are “unfortunately” contagious.

At the end of the day, whether it’s just letting certain people go, driving away and never looking back, or driving away to a safe distance, the first step to leaving anything behind is simply turning the key, starting the engine, stepping on the pedal and DRIVING!

OCTOBER 31, 2021: “… of Blood, Tears, Power & Grace” …

A very wise man once said that yet another very wise man once said:

You know, I’ve been asked a couple times why I always write “power and grace” and “love and respect” … It takes two things to make it in this world: Power and grace. Being powerful enough to project and to be assertive and stand for what you stand for, but have it be graceful at the same time, and having gratitude for those that, you know, come in contact with you, and so on and so forth. Love and respect, he said, was the second half of that, because to have power, you have to show those two things ~ love and respect. To have grace, you have to own both of those things ~ love and respect.

{Ivan Moody}

I think I’ve always known that I was the epitome of “Power & Grace“, it just took me a minute to figure it out. I’ve never been a fan of being defined by other peoples’ reflections, because God Himself knows that for far too long it was all the words, labels, and black and white BOXES the people who never really knew me used to confine me and mangle and clip my wings. Thankfully, however, now that I’ve grown into my OWN beautiful skin, I no longer give credence to anyone else’s reflection of me but mine. Yet, as I sit and ponder the magnitude of these two most powerful words, I fall back to these words from one of my favorite songs that I’ve now tweaked to apply and sing to myself the way that I always do:

It was all those days my world’s gone wrong. I’ve screamed until my voice was gone and watched through the tears as everything came crashing down. Slowly panic turned to pain as I awoke to what remained and sifted through the ashes that were left. But buried deep beneath all my broken dreams, I had this hope that out of these ashes beauty would rise and I would dance among the ruins and I would know the joy had come.

I took another breath until now and let the tears come washing down, and when I couldn’t believe, He believed for me and had the signs of spring for me to watch and see! Then I heard it in the distance! It wasn’t too far away! It was the music and the laughter of a wedding and a feast! I could almost feel the hand of God reaching for my face to wipe the tears away and say, “It’s time to make everything new”, and then He made it all new and took my breath away with the power, grace, and beauty that He made of me from out of the ashes.

{“Beauty Will Rise” by Steven Curtis Chapman}

I am truly thankful to see myself through Ivan’s words, as he’s someone I’ve clearly grown to “love and respect” for reasons that most people simply wouldn’t understand. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again … he really doesput the phoenix in phoenix“. I mean, the man literally rose from the dead! Like me, he’s been “woven in a black and white tapestry sewn with blood and tears”, and I will treasure both this book and his words to me forever.

As and aside, I am thoroughly enjoying “Dirty Poetry” and have been through it cover to cover seven times now. Just as I’d long suspected they’d be, having listened to the messages in his music and heard him speak to his fans, his words are a rabbit hole of his twisted thoughts and dreams. To me, he’s a modern day Kafka, who up until now was the only writer with whom I could truly relate. I’m not gonna lie, I never really thought that anyone could out-Kafkaesque the “Die Verwandlung” that often creeps through my mind, but damn he’s gone and done it! There are so many pieces of not just me living inside the pages of this book, but as well the pieces of the very few people I’ve truly loved in this world, not the least of which was my husband.

OCTOBER 1, 2021: “I’ve Got His Six!” …

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, I had to learn the bittersweet lesson that sometimes you actually do have to die inside a little (and sometimes even a lot) in order to be reborn into the strongest, wisest, most authentic version of yourself so you can leave this world a little better than you found it.

For the record, and as any good and loyal knucklehead already knows, this guy really DID die “once upon a time”, only to be reborn into the living phoenix he truly is. It’s the poignant yet beautiful tragedy of his truth that has led so many of us to find the brighter side of all our greys. The soul of my soul is what Ivan is to me, and I’ll forever be grateful for all the ways both his music and his “phoenix” changed my life for the better.

Hi everyone, it’s me, Cat! I’m Fifty-TWO-Good-To-Be-True, a divine apostrophe, a giant mystery, and also a living phoenix. Good GRIEF, how in actual Heaven will any of you people ever be able to make a single bit of sense out of me? Meanwhile, I’m not gonna lie … seeing this gift I had made for one of my favorite ghosts of all resting on that spot behind him literally made my day. I’VE GOT IVAN’S SIX!

Phoenixes don’t fall – WE RISE – and we always stick together, even when we’re flying solo!

MARCH 11, 2021: “My Grey-Aversary” …

On a beautiful Wednesday afternoon exactly one year ago today, “the music wheel of destiny” stopped my world, and my heart, and sent me straight into the breakdown lane of one of the busiest highways in Dallas so that I could literally “cry my eyes out”. It was as if Zack were singing this beautifully haunting melody to me, my daughter, and my son in a message from “The Brighter Side Of Grey“, where in our hearts we know he finally is. If you haven’t ever heard this song, I cannot urge you enough to listen to it, especially if you are at odds with yourself over the legacy you are going to be leaving behind for your own children and loved ones.

Today I celebrate!

TODAY I’M THANKFUL!

Today I’ll stay grey, just like the sky in Dallas as I write this, because if I’ve learned anything in my “fifty-ONE-derful” years of life, it’s that life really ISN’T a game, it’s a song, and I fully intend to enjoy every single chord until I reach The Brighter Side of every fucked up, twisted moment of my absurd and beautiful life.

Since COVID crashed our concert last year, Gia still hasn’t read the letter Zack wrote before he left. She knows this song exists but isn’t allowed to listen to it until she can first hear Ivan singing it live on stage. That will be the night I finally let her read the words he wrote to her “in case he was gone tomorrow”. PLEASE listen to this song, my friends. It may just change the trajectory of your own legacy and how you look at “grey” forever.

FEBRUARY 3, 2021: “F8” …

“FATE”

As defined by Merrium-Webster:

… the will or principle or determining cause by which things in general are believed to come to be as they are or events to happen as they do

… and also …

Traditional usage defines fate as a power or agency that predetermines and orders the course of events. Fate defines events as ordered or “inevitable” and unavoidable. This is a concept based on the belief that there is a fixed natural order to the universe, and in some conceptions, the cosmos.

But here’s the deal …

Life isn’t one solid picture, and it doesn’t come wrapped in a bow. So why do we even need to define it? Fate. Destiny. Any of it? Why do we insist that everything show up for us in perfect order? If I’ve learned anything by now, it’s that the only semblance of “order” I can count on is – OH, that’s right – there isn’t one! So, I just let all the pieces show up in their perfect cosmic timing and let them fall in place.

The “big picture” you see above is actually a screenshot of my Instagram, where I dropped nine separate pieces of my favorite album of all times. You know, the one with The Brighter Side Of Grey. I asked my followers to back out of the post to see “F8” in the bigger picture.

Sometimes, in order to really see something “bigger”, you have to step back and see it “smaller”. Life is but a mosaic of random and senseless things that somehow come together at the end just the way they were supposed to. So, try to stop worrying, always do your best, and let your mosaic reveal itself at it’s own due pace and time. Fate is what is happening as you are being shattered then put back together as a masterpiece of heartache, love and Light.

JANUARY 1, 2021: “Twenty-Twenty-ONE-Derful!” …

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

500. The number of days that have passed since Destiny took me by the hand and started leading me down a path I never saw coming. With that in mind, and in keeping with my “Fifty-ONE-Derful” years of life thus far, I have dubbed today as January 1st, “Twenty-Twenty-ONE-Derful”! Realizing, of course, that I am blessed beyond measure to find myself in a place that while on the surface seems dark and tragic, at its roots is nothing short of a miracle, wrapped in iridescence, and adorned with the most beautiful crown a queen could wear.

I once heard it said that fifty is the beginning of our golden years. As such, I find no coincidence with regard to the fact that as I’ve walked through the fog to the Brighter Side Of Grey, I’ve also managed to stumble upon The Golden Circle. Indeed I’ve come to bittersweet, endearing terms with “my why“, so from this point forward it’s just a matter of discovering “how” and “what”.

If I could have one wish right now, it would be that I really could just zap you all with “this thing” that’s coursing through my veins. It’s my superpower, my ultimate peace, and absolute euphoria! It’s the simple yet overwhelming joy in finally realizing that not everything is about me, because I am nothing, which is why I am everything. It’s my “Nothing. Everything. ALL OF IT” paradigm shift! The cycle is broken.

It is not in my nature to ask for anything from anyone, especially inasmuch as I not only have every “thing” a woman could ever want, likewise I have everything a human being will ever need. Still, here I am asking. First and foremost, if there is ever an opportunity for you share something I’ve said or written that has touched you, will you please share it so that perhaps some of these pebbles I’m skipping across the pond can radiate even further? Second, sit with this beautiful song I love so much and really let it sink in. Let the words wash you clean, lift you up, and encourage you. Let them help you cry if you need to. Let them validate and give you the permission you may have been searching for to let go of some of your burdens and cut yourself some slack so that you too can discover “your why” and become an iridescent Light unto the masses. And last, but not least, make it a beautiful, powerful, and epically life-changing year my friends …

“Twenty-Twenty-ONE-Derful!”

IRIDESCENT

When you were standing in the wake of devastation. When you were waiting on the edge of the unknown. And with the cataclysm raining down, insides crying, “Save me now”, you were there, impossibly alone. Do you feel cold and lost in desperation? You build up hope, but failure’s all you’ve known. Remember all the sadness and frustration – and let it go. Let it go. And in a burst of Light that blinded every angel, as if the sky had blown the heavens into stars. You felt the gravity of tempered grace falling into empty space. No one there to catch you in their arms. Do you feel cold and lost in desperation? You build up hope, but failure’s all you’ve known. Remember all the sadness and frustration – and let it go. Let it go! {Linkin’ Park}

DECEMBER 24, 2020: “‘Twas The Night Before Christmas” …

… and all through the land, every creature was patiently awaiting the band …

A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS TO MY AMAZING KNUCKLEHEAD FAMILY AROUND THE GLOBE … not the least of which is Ivan Moody, Chris Kael, Zoltan Bathory, Charlie Engen and Andy James. 2020 wasn’t half as bad as I suppose it could have been because of all of you! Wishing you all so much love and a POWERFUL 2021!

NOVEMBER 25, 2020: “Will The Sun Rise?”…

PERSPECTIVE.

After a deep and meaningful heartfelt intersection with my MUSE last night, or rather should I say, “a 4am meeting of the masterminds” (because after all, isn’t “4am when most masterminds do their best work), I’ve decided this needs to be said …

This song? It’s a favorite of mine! I still love Dokken very, very much, and still listen to them ALL the time. (“Under Lock And Key” is one of my lifetime favorite albums.)

“Will The Sun Rise?”

As I told my muse, the meaning of this song used to go RIGHT over my hairspray encrusted head. But now when I hear it, it wants to make me sad. I’m a grown up now. I’m a mother now. If I’m lucky? I’LL BE A GRANDMA ONE DAY … a “Crazy Grandma Cat“! These days we are living in, where it seems that Atlas really is falling?

The contemplation of “the Sun rising of it all” does tend to give cause for a fair amount of panic. But then I stop and think for a minute about everything I know to be true, and my perspective instantly shifts!

“Will the Sun rise? Yes! It will! I’ve “gotten to learn this” the very beautifully hard way. The lights go on. Then they go off. The dark of night comes. Then so does the Sun, to reveal the Brighter Side Of Grey.

Meanwhile …

Now is the time to share this song with your still impressionable teen. Have them listen and tell you how it makes them feel. The words to this beautiful, 35 year old melody have never been more relevant, and sharing them with a young person in your atmosphere could be a great opportunity to start a “music therapy conversation“.

I’m STILL the most blessed woman that I know!

If you look closely at the image on which I’ve put the lyrics to this song, you will see that it’s the “negative perspective” of a sketch I made from my father’s cigarette ashes years ago. But look below now to my “brighter side perspective” today. It’s my truth in my grey and it’s EVERYTHING! And, with that, I once again leave you with this …

NOVEMBER 1, 2020: “Crossing Over” …

Some days I rise with all the words I need to say just pouring out of my soul, and often because of a dream. Like today, which would have been our 10th wedding anniversary. It’s been just over a year of on this road I never planned to travel, and though I knew it was fast approaching, I also knew it would be a major turning point in my final ascent out of the darkness and into The Light. Let me tell you how my beautifully shattered life works …

To begin with, indeed I dreamt last night, but not before closing my eyes to the sound of the Halloween shenanigans of my daughter and her crew. Did I ever tell you that the singular flaw with Williamson Manor is that her theatre and game rooms are directly above my bedroom? Yup! That’s true! As it turns out, however, it’s not a flaw at all! Believe it or not, especially in this last 438 days, those echoes of stomping, laughing and chaos into the wee hours of so many nights are a lullaby to me. It’s why he built this home, from the ground up, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Knowing she’s here, happy, safe, and whole, is one of the realities that comforts me the most. But damnit, I’ve digressed again! Where was I?

My dream! I was front row center at a Five Finger Death Punch show, but instead of a traditional concert venue, it was an intimate gathering where Ivan was singing to me:

The widow’s life ticks out like clockwork … a thousand tears she’s cried a hundred times before. But now that he is gone, she’s ready to move on …

As he was singing, a tear fell from his eye, but it wasn’t Ivan’s face. It was Zack’s face, on Ivan’s body, holding that legendary mic stand in one hand, while reaching out the other to me like a muse. It was the most beautiful insanity imaginable! In the dream, I was thinking, “This means something! What does this mean?” Then I woke up and knew!

In order to fully appreciate where I’m going with this, you must understand that I am led solely by intuition and feelings. Call me a spiritualist. Call me a “good witch”. Call me whatever in the actual hell you want. It’s my truth and it’s never gonna change!

In every thing there is a meaning, in every moment a message, and something means everything, even if it’s nothing!

Am I bat-shit effing crazy? Perhaps I am. At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter, and let me tell you why: What if I’m RIGHT? What if it’s true? What if the Cosmos really is trying to speak to me? What if it really is Zack communicating with us through the fog and the crows and the lights in the bathroom? That, my friends, is the “crazy” blind faith that costs me nothing, but gains me everything. Sooner or later I too will cross over, and either I’m right or I am wrong. Meanwhile, just after waking from that most ethereal dream, this was right beside my bed. It’s nothing, really. Nothing at all. Just one of Gia’s bracelets that either Good Cat or Bad Cat must have found and deposited at the exact spot my foot hit the ground. “C’mon Cat, it’s just a bracelet.” Umm, ya think? But why did it show up in the endless twist of “F8 this way?

IN CLOSING …

Ten years ago today, I kissed a frog who turned into a king. Five years ago today, that king turned me into a princess. Today I woke up from a dream on the edge of literal “eternity”. With that, I was reminded of the endless joy he brought to my life that I get to keep until it’s my time to see the brighter side of grey. There will never be a day that I’m not eternally grateful for the true love and immeasurable gifts he left me with, not the least of which is the fire he lit in my soul that will light my way through every darkness. Loving that man changed my life forever, so it’s no wonder that losing him has done the same.

Today is the day!

I think it’s finally time for me to start moving on, whatever that actually means, and I’ve asked God to show me what comes next. My heart is completely open to anything and everything, but as for now I’ll just keep inhaling every moment one precious breath at a time and holding them in for as long as possible, for I know full well that every time I exhale, I’ll be making the space for whatever is out there waiting for me. Knowing God the way I do, the chances are high that whatever it is will be extraordinary. In the meantime, win, lose, or draw, this is the beautiful picture of me that I’m always going to love the most and the “me” I’m going to punctuate the world with

Happy Anniversary Williamson!

I don’t mind you hanging with us as long as you feel it’s necessary, but hey – don’t wait for me here. I’ll be there soon enough.

CROSSING OVER

All perched alone he sits there broken. An eldered man with storm clouds setting in his eyes. He counts the sands of time – remembering days gone by. It seemed like yesterday before it washed away. Hey, don’t wait for me there – just find your own way. Hey, don’t wait for me there – ’cause I’ll be there soon enough. The widow’s life ticks out like clockwork. A thousand tears she’s cried a hundred times before. But now that he is gone, she’s ready to move on. It all just fell away – it seems like yesterday. {Five Finger Death Punch}

OCTOBER 28, 2020: “Because Jekyll NEVER Hides” …

In order to love who you are, you CANNOT hate the choices you have made. LET THAT SHIT GO!

Words to live by.

WORDS TO DIE BY!

Whatever sins from your past are holding you back from rising so far above yourself that even you can’t stop your ascent … LET THEM DIE WHEN YOU CLOSE YOUR EYES TONIGHT! No one is perfect. We’ve ALL fucked up! Some of us more than others. Guess what? That’s what grace is for. You deserve so much better than the guilt, shame, and self-degradation caused by the human mistakes you refuse to release yourself from.

AUGUST 31, 2020: “The Cosmic, NOT Tragic Truth” …

It was a super early morning for us as we awoke to a 4:30am alarm for a 5:00am departure to her 5:30am practice. While Gia was getting ready, I popped on to Instagram only to find the picture above which quite literally hit me like a ton of bricks. You see, just before waking I’d been enjoying a blissfully enchanted slumber, during which my husband had conveyed an extremely powerful message to me in the MOST surreal of ways.

It was him, I just know it! I could smell his skin, sense his touch, and feel his breathe on my face. While I won’t go into detail, because believe it or not there are many things I’ll keep safely inside the most private places of my heart, in this fantasy he had been shadowing me as I moved from one house to another.

He was there, but he wasn’t, I could see him, but I couldn’t, yet at every turn I’d made throughout the day his presence was lingering behind me in a haunting but not frightening way. At the end of it all, what had ’til then only been an eclipse of his presence turned into his physical body. There we both stood tightly embraced with our hands locked together when I asked this most profound question:

I know where you are … I believe it in my heart … but I just NEED to hear you say it. Am I right? Are you There now? WILL I SEE YOU AGAIN SOMEDAY?

I didn’t hear his voice, as he never spoke a word, but indeed he communicated in the silent and sacred “1-2-3 hand squeeze” language we had shared during our season together. His answer to my question was emphatic: “One squeeze for yes”, not “two squeezes for no”, right on cue to my prompt.

As this first year without him has all but flown by, I’ve made absolute peace with his suicide. The heartbreaking pain of his many tragic truths was so far beyond sobering that it still reduces me to tears when I sit with it.

I’ve said it before and will say it again: Unless or until you’ve born the cross of seeing a human being “dying out loudin the egregious way that he did, you couldn’t possibly understand the magnitude of relief I felt upon the release of his mortal shackles. He had held on for dear life as long as he possibly could until the day he died, but when the end of his darkness finally settled in, Fate stepped in with the final blow.

Still, let’s go back to how this morning with Gia even started. We’d backed out of the garage to find ourselves greeted by a bright orange moon on fire and ethereal setting in the field that meets the end of our driveway. We were in such connected tangent it was alarming but comforting at once! The intrinsic conversation that soon availed tapped directly into our understandings of “all of this”, yet far beyond our simply dimensioned minds have yet to fathom. She knows what I know and I know what she knows, which is ALL either of us needs to know. It’s powerful!

Keep in mind, too, that the first song that cued up when the engine started today was “Remember Everything“. That had to mean something, I just knew it! Exactly what, I wasn’t sure, but sufficed to say that neither of us can listen to that song now without being ever so painfully reminded of everything we remember about not just our own lives, but Zack’s and Christian’s as well. But here’s where it gets even more interesting …

After I’d dropped her off and was heading back home, “that other song” I love to hate so much found it’s way to my speakers …

The Tragic Truth.

Wait! What had just happened? IT DIDN’T MAKE ME CRY THIS TIME! Instead, I just smiled as I rolled on down the road with my gaze fixed hard into the sky from which I heard his voice serenading me with those tragically truthful words:

It’s the demons I’ve created for myself … the Tragic Truth … it’s hard for me to understand myself, so it has to be hard as hell for you.

{“The Tragic Truth Revisited“}

All I can tell you is that my intersection with the Cosmos this morning was EVERYTHING to me. Even as I write this, I’m smiling yet again, because while on the surface it may appear that the demons that devoured him won, nothing could be farther from the truth.

The rare few of us who really knew him and were honored to both love and be loved by him know a “truth” that is much more beautiful than tragic: HE’S HOME NOW! I just know it. No more sorrow. No more pain. No more tears. No more aching for the “family” who abandoned the “Zack Of Shit”. NO MORE VOICES SCREAMING IN HIS HEAD!

I‘ve said it before, and I’ll say it again … my “circadian life” is so much bigger than I will ever fully know, and my adventure still isn’t over! All it took was this one cryptic message from The Cosmos to remind me, yet again, that I’m such an incredibly blessed woman. In case I’ve never said this, let me say it now: I wholeheartedly believe that I’m God’s favorite daughter, even despite the many circumstances in my life that seem to prove otherwise. For this, I am as eternally grateful as I am for the true and immense love I still feel that continually travels the distance from from light years away.

AUGUST 10, 2020: “The Tree Of All Seasons” …

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Dear Cat:

Let me remind you of the words to that song he would sing to you:

There’s a light in you that tears me down to nothing. There’s an angel in your eyes. There’s a hope inside that you can make it better. You see right through my disguise. When it rains it pours, and everybody stumbles. I won’t let them bring you down. I won’t let you down when the seasons change. I won’t go down. I’ll fight through the pain. I’ll be there right by your side. I’ll never let them bring you down when the seasons change.

There’s a hope in me that I will die for something. Was the fire in my eyes? All this pain inside. Will it be this way forever? I can run but I can’t hide. When it rains it pours, and everybody stumbles. I won’t let them bring you down. When the seasons change and we’re in for colder weather, look for me on The Divide.

{“When The Seasons Change” by Five Finger Death Punch}

Don’t you see? None of this is about you! It has NEVER been about you! IT’S ABOUT THEM! Not just your babies … all the lives you’ll have touched before your time is done … if only for a season. Your greatest treasure and greatest triumph are in knowing just how insignificant you really are in the bigger scheme of things. Your “valuelessness” is your greatest value! Your “powerlessness” is your greatest power!

YOU’RE REACHING NIRVANA!

You are EVERYTHING because you are NOTHING. You’re just a pebble in the ocean making ripples of change for everyone whose path you cross on this journey. Your purpose is to just keep working the roots of this new and healthy family tree you’re now growing — free from the black toxicity that suffocated and broke all the branches of the tree that we came from. Just keep changing the story girl, ’cause the buck is only gonna stop with you, but only if you refuse to stop!

Love, ME!

AUGUST 8, 2020: “As The Darkness Settled In” …

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“8.8.19”

It started out as such a beautiful day as we awoke to a bright blue sky, ate breakfast together, worked out together, then split up for the day so that Zack could see his therapist and Gia and I could go run some errands. He seemed happy. Genuinely happy. We’d been working SO hard to keep his head above the water, and I, the eternal optimist, was counting on the fact that everything was going to be okay and we were going to get him out of the darkness. How little did I know that the darkness was truly settling in all around us.

At just after 2pm, while the rest of the world was just turnin’ and Gia and I were shopping, playing, and getting ready for our “double date” with the boys, the love of my life and one of the MOST beautiful souls I’ve ever known was standing at the Cabella’s counter just a few parking lots away buying the Springfield handgun he used to end his life 14 days later.

PLEASE stop what you are doing right now and take a good look around. I implore you to pay attention and take nothing and NO ONE for granted. One of those faces you see either standing right beside you or faded into the crowd just may in fact be the “happy, smiling face” of a human being who is secretly dying insideespecially during times like these.

Studies are showing that as “Atlas has been falling“, social isolation, anxiety, uncertainty, chronic stress, and dire economic difficulties have led to both the development and exacerbation of depression, substance abuse, and a host of other mental illnesses. Given that stress-related psychiatric conditions are often associated with suicidal behavior, it’s no surprise that the suicide rate has skyrocketed.

I find no coincidence in the sobering and twisted fact that while unbeknownst to me, my husband was enacting the tragic plan to end his own life, I was making an entirely different kind of plan later that same night to help slay dragons and demons of my own:

As I’ve become passionate about raising mental health awareness with all my waves and ripples, this particular post that I wrote in a widely read question and answer forum I contribute to is my most prolific pieces so far:

I’ve been writing tirelessly about not only his, but my mental health journey as well, in “The Diary Of My Perfection”. I’d be honored if any of you would care to read, follow or share it, as it is now my mission to try and be a Light in other people’s darkness. Thank you for the kind words and vast support of this post. It means everything to me. I cannot let either his lost battle with mental illness or anyone else’s have been in vain.

{“What Is The Worst Mental Illness Crisis You’ve Ever Witnessed“}

At over 150,000 views and 6,000 “shares” and counting in virtually every country and language, while “this day” in my life will always remain a truly bittersweet part of my story, I REFUSE to let this fucked up, “fate-filled” moment in our family’s history have been in vain. It will not define me as a victim, because I am CHOOSING to see it as a “Lions Gate Portal” to manifesting something truly powerful from it’s wreckage.

JUNE 8, 2020: “Imma Little Bit Off Today” …

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Last night, while the unsuspecting world was either peacefully sleeping or wresting with the Devil, something cool happened in the subculture I live in called “Knucklehead”. It was the official video release for one of my favorite songs, “A Little Bit Off”. Guess what people? I just woke up to Christmas in June and couldn’t be any more stoked!

PICTURE IT

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A seeminglynormalish“, 51yo woman sitting in bed singing along to a ridiculous music video, swaying back and forth and waving her fist in the air! (Lol. Yes, that really happened.) If you haven’t figured it out by now, much like the leader of this crazy Pride I’m in, I, too, am an oxymoron, and my Knucklehead card is one of my most powerful flexes. “The REAL Cat Williamson”: Loves people. Hates peopling. Loves Light. Hates dark. Loves love. Hates hate. Loves being broken. Loves being whole. Loves Jesus.

Loves Five Finger Fucking Death Punch!

Jean-Claude Van DAMN there are many days that I just wake up feeling OFF. Guess what? THAT’S OKAY! I spent nearly an entire lifetime being ashamed of my “fuckin’ crazy” and even more so the train wreck I emerged from. That was then. This is now. THESE DAYS I FUCKING EMBRACE IT! Leave it to this gang of creatively genius, beautifully disastrous, oxymoronical MANIACS to help me figure out that not only is it okay for me to be a jacked up effing mess sometimes, it’s also okay for me to yell, scream, and holler it out loud any fucking time I want to! So, with that, make it a great day and here’s hoping YOU can embrace your “off days”, too!

MAY 15, 2020: “Back To The Castle” …

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Ivan

This is Ivan. He’s the lead MANIAC for the band of my life, Five Finger Death Punch! Ivan isn’t your run of the mill guy, and to some he may seem kinda scary. Covered in tattoos as he serenades the world from the darkest depths of his being, he’s the living embodiment of alchemy, and one of my very few heroes! He level’s up his “Phoenix” to an entirely different vibration if you can just look past the scars on his bleeding soul. “What you see is what you get.” Nope! Not with Ivan! He’s a completely open book and a total mystery, as on one hand he seems to be telling us everything about himself, while on the other no one really knows him. That’s how I feel about myself by the way, but where in the HELL was I going with this? Oh, yes, I remember … it seems I’ve been “shooken” by a ghost yet again!

Earlier this week he posted a clip of himself “TikTok-ing” with his daughter which immediately cut my heart in a brand-new place that I never knew needed to be cut. It was one of the sweetest things I think I’ve ever seen, while also one of the saddest. You see, I am a daughter who cannot help but wonder, “What could have been if my larger-than-life father had danced with me in the living room”?

So, here’s the thing, people: He’s probably worth a gazillion bucks and has a cult-like following worldwide. But when the lights go down at his final show, what do you think that beautiful little girl of his will tell her about her daddy? “Grandpa Ivan was a rock and roll star” or “Grandpa Ivan danced with me in the living room”? I’m betting it’s gonna be the latter.

HEY DADS …

Now, about that legacy you’ll leave behind. WHAT’S YOURS GONNA BE? You may not be a perfect parent, because no parent ever is, but trust me when I tell you that it’s NEVER too late to change the ending to your story. This, my friends, is what us “knuckleheads” call “The Brighter Side Of Grey“, and I’m here to tell you IT’S EVERYTHING! Despite the mottled undertones here about the struggles with my own father, I very much want to end this entry with a “brighter side of grey” that I’ve found …

My daughter had two dads to take her to the castle, which I find rather amazing. While her “step dad” escorted her to most of them, her real dad escorted her to a couple as well. Neither of them was perfect, and both of them hurt her in complicated yet delicate ways, but at the end of the day I just know in my heart that she’ll treasure those dancing days forever! She’s an incredibly lucky girl, but I’m an even luckier mom, so beyond thankful for both of the princes who danced with their Cinderella!

MARCH 20, 2020: “Outlaws & Outsiders” …

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If you know me well, you know that much like me, my music journey is somewhat of an oxymoron, with a listening pleasure range from anywhere between movie soundtracks, to orchestra compilations, to “death metal”, and everything in between. Well, almost everything, that is, because there are some genres of “music” that I literally just can’t do. Five Finger Death Punch, however, is one of my all-time favorite bands. It’s a little rough around the edge’s folks, not gonna lie, and definitely not for the faint of heart. But behind every raging scream, pounding fist and stomping foot are the tears and still beating hearts of real-life Phoenixes. Their brokenness. Darkness. Sadness. Rage. Regret. Vindication. Introspect, and yes, even the distant Lights of their Salvation (if you know where to really look for it deep beneath the surface). It sounds like “hate”, but it’s really “hurt”. It’s the very tragic truth and everything that comes after finding it! This morning I posted this on one of the private pages I follow:

Hello tribesmen. Hope you’re all faring well in this COVID operation. Meanwhile, I’m sitting here locked in my house with only my German Shepherd and my thoughts. When I posted this on my blog today, I went back to read it then closed my eyes and had THE best imaginary scenario about me and ALL OF YOU …

It’s two months from now. The pandemic has desecrated the earth. People are literally insane, like, real life “Walking Dead” martial law civilian chaos. But MY TRIBE is thousands of fed up, pissed off, “not right in the head” but actually VERY RIGHT IN THE HEAD, well-prepared, “life’s been priming us for this shit since the day we were born – how YOU doin” inked up, leather clad, metal in their faces, weapons-ready warriors and bulletproof phoenixes that the world once thought were just a bunch of angry freaks, losers, weirdos and assholes grinding their axes for NOTHING! Then? We take over the world! It was THE best mini-movie I’ve ever watched in my mind! 

Let’s be ready to pick up our axes and start swinging, and this can be our fight song! Happy Friday everyone. Love all of you angry freaks and weirdos. No, really! 

So, here’s my vibe today: “Outlaws & Outsiders”! It’s this ridiculous life thing for me and yes, it’s oh so beautiful! Someday I’m going to meet this band, I’m telling you right now. I’m extremely stubborn this way and when I put my mind to something, well, you can pretty much count on it happening. Ivan Greening (a/k/a “Ivan Moody’) is the leader of “The Pride” (a literal pack of animals) and although he too is EXTREMELY rough around the edges, he likens himself a Phoenix, which to me is beyond relatable and “human”.

If “Coronapocalypse 2020” is really coming for us all, trust me when I say that you’ll find me and both my kids living in this rogue society. Nothing like an army of once voiceless, broken, set aside, forgotten, hated, misunderstood, shame-filled “less thans” whose lives have been preparing them for “social distancing” from the moment they were born. The best way to survive if the end of the world is really coming is to go find all the other survivors waving their giant axes in the air. Because some of us once lived underneath a rock for this very reason. Just sayin’ …

OUTLAWS & OUTSIDERS

Got a gypsy soul. I’m a rebel and rogue and I’m always on the run. With a fire inside, I ain’t ever gonna die. I’m a locked and loaded gun. When the matches strike and the gasoline lights, it’s only just begun. One thing I learned, is you can watch it all burn, but the flame ain’t ever done! Ooh … Raise ’em up a little higher, your lighters, outlaws, and outsiders! Ooh … Some call me a renegade. The enemy. Throw your hands up if you feel the same. Whoa, living life at the edge. Just say what you wanna say or walk away! I’ll stand tall when there’s hell to pay! Ain’t no power higher. We’re the outlaws and outsiders! Mm, yeah.

I was born in the dark with a fearless heart and a taste for the other side. I was a crazy-ass kid. All the shit I did. I’m amazed that I’m still alive. They thought I’d change with a little bit of age, but you know I never will. Takes too much time to walk a straight line and I don’t have time to kill. Ooh … Raise your fists up higher, you fighters, outlaws, and outsiders! Ooh … Some call me a renegade. The enemy. Throw your hands up if you feel the same. Whoa, living life at the edge. Just say what you wanna say or walk away. I’ll stand tall when there’s hell to pay! Ain’t no power higher. WE’RE THE OUTLAWS AND OUTSIDERS! {Cory Marks with Ivan Moody, Travis Tritt & Mick Mars)

Knucklehead
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MARCH 11, 2020: “The Brighter Side Of Grey” …

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TO MY KIDS …

I’m writing this in case I’m gone tomorrow. I’m writing this in case I’ve moved along. There’s something that I hope you’ll remember: That life is not a game, it’s a song. So, take the best parts of me, locked away without the keys, and know that I’m forever by your side. When the lights go down, know that I am never far away. When the Sun burns out, I’ll be waiting on the brighter side of grey. If you’re reading this, I know you’re feeling sorrow. If you’re hearing this, I know you’re probably scared. Just know that all the things you want are borrowed, and all you get to keep is all you’ve shared. So, wipe away the tears for me, know that we’ve made history. Remember no one ever really dies.  When the lights go down, know that I am never far away. When the Sun burns out, I’ll be waiting on the brighter side of grey.

{Five Finger Death Punch}

THIS PICTURE. It’s one I sketched in my early 20’s using the literal ashes from both my father’s and His ashtrays. At the time, I had no idea the impact this or any of my 32 Sketches would have on me down the road, yet as I look at them now, I can’t help but notice that although I was in very dark place when they were born, something inside me was distantly hopeful. Still … this one. It begs the younger me to stay focused on the very bright future I couldn’t see through the fog I was in yet was patiently calling to me all the while.

If you know me well, you know that grey is my favorite color, which is evident in my predominately “black and white” or “nothing but grey” artwork. What’s interesting about this one is how poignantly it reflects upon the mental illness I fought so hard to overcome for the better part of my life, long before it was diagnosed. My disease imprisoned me in the dichotomy of black and white thinking and held me for ransom in the compartmentalized boxes of my mind where I stored all my pain and trauma. Before I put went into remission, I was unable to accept people, situations, emotions, or behaviors as anything other than “good or bad”, “right or wrong”, or “one way or the other”. MY ENTIRE WORLD WAS BLACK AND WHITE AND THERE WAS NO ROOM FOR THE GREY! I had a defensive view of both the positive and negative qualities of myself and everyone else, and there was no way for my broken psyche to allow anything in between to exist in one cohesive space.

How did this happen?

It is believed that “splitting” is the result of severe emotional and psychological abuse from my childhood, and I tend to agree. You see, I was raised in a conditionally based system of love and acceptance. If I was “good”, I was praised, affirmed, and rewarded. If I was “bad”, I was admonished, punished, and rejected. They’d “wash their hands of me” when I screwed up or failed to follow the rules, and ZERO was there validation or consideration of my feelings. So, my mind would “split” as I desperately attempted to shield myself from the constant fear of being abandoned, betrayed, or eviscerated by anyone who claimed to love me.

For the record, I do not believe these traumas were visited on me intentionally, but the trauma was real indeed, as was the effect it had on my damaged psyche. For years in the wake of not only my broken childhood, but as much so in the wake of my own self-inflicted destruction and imprisonment, I felt alone and voiceless, regardless of the people who “appeared” to be standing beside me. At this point it, is no longer a secret that I myself attempted suicide on November 8, 1996 and lived to tell about it. But I’ve digressed …

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Music of all genres has been an integral part of my mental wealth journey, but one of my favorite bands, Five Finger Death Punch, has been at the forefront. Their songs have not only helped identify some of my lost and broken feelings, but have also given my former “voiceless self” permission to either cry my feelings to the surface or YELL AND SCREAM THEM OUT LOUD! I’d pre-ordered their new album months ago and had been counting the days until it was released, so I was stoked to finally get to listen to it, starting from the beginning, as I headed out of the house today. Meanwhile, when THIS SONG cued up, I had to pull my car into the breakdown lane on the highway as the words began to cut me in all the most bittersweet ways. I couldn’t stop the tears, or the physical heartache, and I literally couldn’t breathe. It was one of the most cathartic, awful, fucked up, and beautiful moments of my life. It was almost as if he were singing it to me himself. To me. To her. To Christian. To the very few people he left behind that he truly loved and let into his very private world and who loved him just the same. Someday, when it’s time for her to read the letter he wrote but never gave her, I will let her hear the song. Knowing God the way I do, when she’s finally able to receive these most beautiful lyrics of both our lives, in conjunction with the most impeccable words a secretly dying father could possibly have written to his daughter, they will become as significant a part of her healing as they have been to mine.

HERE’S THE THING

Grey is not just a color to me – IT’S EVERYTHING IN BETWEEN! It’s the grace I’ve received that is so undeserved, yet given to me anyway by The One who has never loved me with black and white conditions. He “takes the best parts of me and locks them away without the key” and I know that He is never far away. He’s the Light that shines ahead of my journey and dilutes the blackness of the abyss into all the most beautiful shades of grey. For more than four decades, I lived a black and white existence with no room for the grey I knew I needed but didn’t know how to connect with. As I look back at this picture now, I’m filled with the most unbelievable solace you can imagine. It reminds me of just how far I’ve come, that it was always supposed to be this way, and that there is always a “Brighter Side Of Grey”. I’m not gonna lie … it is now my final wish that when it’s time for me to move along, this is the last song I’ll hear as they bid me farewell.

DECEMBER 28, 2019: “Still So Far From Home” …

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Dear “Brother”

I understand that you are upset right now and maybe a little with me too. All I am asking you at this point for HIS sake and for the sake of all that he went through while he was here on this Earth is that you please try to come to terms with his truths. His realities. His last wishes and decisions. That note he left us was a gift. IT WAS FOR US, NOT FOR THEM! You, me, Gia and Rick? We were “his family”! No one else! Those words he wrote in his suicide note were not intended for either the general public, the world at large and most ESPECIALLY the “family” that threw him away like garbage! I will always consider you my family D. And in my journey to speak his truths I will never fail to credit you for being the only brother he had because that is how he saw it! That’s how he spoke of you and that’s what he made painfully clear to anyone that paid attention. He always felt that you were “caught in a void” between “all of them and the truth” because maybe copping to the sobering facts was going to be as painful for you to bear as it was for him. When Zack made the decision to excise them and the “thought of them” from his heart it was a bittersweet and painful gift to unto himself.

So, that’s all there is to it. Rick and I are here for you when you’re ready to talk true facts. I truly hope you can be well someday. He worried about you incessantly and I cannot say it enough! It always bothered the fuck out of him how you let them treat you like a revolving door, only using you as they needed you, in and out, in and out, and there was nothing he could do or say to convince you to stand up for yourself and say ENOUGH and walk away like he did! He kept praying you’d find a family of your own one day, a nice, safe, loving woman to finally give you a real home and some joy and healing and peace so that you’d finally “not need to accept their bullshit scraps and leftovers”. Your brother’s legacy “before he got sick” will carry on somehow – I’LL MAKE SURE OF IT! You need to do everything you can to honor him and all that has happened here and start finding a way to, in fact, say the words: NO MORE SCRAPS AND LEFTOVERS!

And for the record, regardless of how it appears on the surface there is no “hatred” in my heart for anyone involved here. I feel nothing for the people that destroyed my beautiful husband from the cradle to the grave! Nothing! Absolutely NOTHING! They aren’t worth my energy! If anything, I feel sorry for them all because they missed out on REALLY knowing one THE BEST human souls that ever walked this planet. They missed out on his “best 10 years” and getting to see him flourish. Smile. Succeed. Grow. Be fearless. Courageous. Change. Become self-aware and strong (much stronger than he even knew). Experience joy. Laughter. Happiness. They missed out on getting to know what an amazing human being, husband, brother, friend and DAD he was to Gia! We got the BEST of him. Everything good he ever did, was or could have possibly been, WE GOT TO HAVE AND WITNESS IT. He was a fucking miracle and you can’t not know it’s true. With all the odds stacked against him, statistically the last 10 years should probably have never happened. He was the frog who turned into a prince and then eventually into a king – he just needed love, and a home and a family to get there. And? HE FINALLY HAD IT! It’s just that the holes your mother left inside his broken heart were deeper than any of us know and he couldn’t find his way out of them anymore. He got too tired and fell. THEY ALL FAILED HIM MISERABLY AND YOU KNOW IT! I’m sorry if this upsets you. I just want you to help me honor, validate and hold ALL his many painful truths and realities up to the light. It’s the right thing to do and I WILL NOT HAVE IT ANY OTHER WAY!

{My Text To “Big Brother” dated September 12, 2019}

As of this night, December 28, 2019, neither of the only two “blood family” he’d ever believed he could rely on to be there when all of his cards were down bothered to “come and get him”. These are the keepsake urns that Rick and I had made for each of them on the day he and I went alone to make the arrangements for my husband because neither of them could be bothered. Somehow, we both foolishly believed that for once in his life or his death at least one of them would finally just show up for him! “Taking him home” is no longer an option for either of them at this point, however, as I would rather spread these ashes amongst the footsteps of his ancestors in all the places he dreamed of going than let anyone treat him like “scrap” ever again!

FAR FROM HOME

Another day in this carnival of souls. Another night’s end ends as quickly as it goes. The memories are shadows, ink on the page. And I can’t seem to find my way home. And it’s almost like your Heaven’s trying everything. Your Heaven’s trying everything to keep me out. All the places I’ve been and things I’ve seen. A million stories that made up a million shattered dreams. The faces of people I’ll never see again, and I can’t seem to find my way home. ‘Cause it’s almost like your heaven’s trying everything to break me down. ‘Cause it’s almost like your heaven’s trying everything to keep me out. To break me down. {Five Finger Death Punch}

DECEMBER 16, 2019: “Born To Battle” …

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BORN TO BATTLE

A blazing flame slowly dies in a night as cold as snow. From the ashes a Phoenix will rise – it will spread its wings and blaze again and the world will watch in terror.

A tree stands tall, unshakeable in disaster, with leaves that feed and a trunk that houses things that are large and small, from the lions resting in its leaves to the mice that every bird is after, and thorns that wrap around this tree as it loves and must protect it all. The tree that has been through storm and fire will watch as it stops danger in his tracks and fill the forest with powerful laughter.

A tidal wave races to land as anger from the broken earth surges through the city in its wake. Salty water fills what once was home to a beach pristine with its white sand. Concrete jungle, horrible and strong, your walls are beginning to break. The creatures that destroy its castle are now drowning in its tears. Water will heal if you show it respect, but woe it brings in oppression.

A wind from four corners will push on still – tornadoes and hurricanes do not stop for lesser things. You can track and prepare but you cannot break its unstoppable iron will. Yet only days before, a soft breeze gently embraced the leaves and refuse from the Sun’s sting. It is no fault but their own, taking for granted and taking advantage of something they do not know – of something they will fail to control. So, the wind sounds a warning of a storm on the roll.

A roar charges through a burning world as a warrior departs. The pounding of horses running and the power of thunder rumbling. Rubber on asphalt spins and burns as those four doors carry weary hearts, heavy. Hearts that move, hearts that love and hearts that have been through too much. This world hurts what is afraid of, yet the strong ones have made struggle an art. So, bring on what you have – just try and stop them. When you push them, they will be ready!

~ by Gia Embach ~

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~ by The Phoenix Collaborative Project ~

OCTOBER 3, 2019: “The Agony Of Regret” …

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Dearest Cat: If he were still here and standing right in front of you right now, what would he be saying? Wouldn’t it probably have sounded a little something like this? Couldn’t have this could have been his song?

SO HERE’S MY DAILY PSA TO ME AND ANYONE READING THIS:

Don’t ever look back in the agony of regret of any kind, as not a single good thing can be gained from it. Sift through your wreckage in search of only the gifts, beauty and strengths you “got to earn” (not “had to learn”) from being hurt, broken, let down and disappointed in even the most egregious ways. The best day in your life will be when you finally look up and thank God for all of it – most ESPECIALLY all the bad stuff. Trust me when I tell you that the taller the shadow of devastation that looms behind you the more powerful and precious even the smallest of shiny treasures waiting on the road ahead of you will be! 

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AUGUST 22, 2019 (Sometime Between 8PM And 11:30): “He Refused” …

I REFUSE

I don’t wanna die alone. I don’t wanna live forsaken. I refuse to let this go. Because my soul is breaking. I don’t wanna let you know that my heart is just so jaded. I refuse to let it show. I refuse to let it go. Wake me up when this is over. I’m tired of living life like it’s a dream. Please wake me up when it’s all over. I’m tired of living right here in between I refuse. I’ve always walked alone. I chose the path less taken. I refuse to let you win. Life’s a bitch and I’ve been shaken. It’s not a joke at all. Inside my spirits fading. I refuse to take the fall ’cause no one cares at all. Wake me up when this is over. I’m tired of living life like it’s a dream. Please wake me up when it’s all over. I’m tired of living right here in between. I refuse. ‘Cause at the end of the day I’m not you. I refuse. Wake me up when this is over. I’m tired of living life like it’s a dream. Please wake me up when it’s all over. I’m tired of living right here in between. Wake me up when this is over. I’m tired of living life like it’s a dream. Please wake me up when it’s all over. I’m tired of living right here in between. {Five Finger Death Punch}

Zack

AUGUST 20, 2019: “The King Who Questioned Everything” …

IMG_0028He lives in darkness. There is no progress. He knows his demons – that lie within him. He has no vision. He has no sight. He hates perfection – it isn’t right. Who cares anymore, who’s there anymore? HE’S THE ME I WAS BEFORE HE HELPED ME BECOME WHO I AM HE QUESTIONS EVERYTHING! He lives behind a lie. He is so ashamed. He keeps insisting that he’s the one to blame. He cares no more. He can bare no more. He’ll say no more. He can’t give us anymore. HE QUESTIONS EVERYTHING. And we’re losing him.

JANUARY 1, 2017: “When The Seasons Change” …

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My Dearest Catherine,

From the moment I met you I knew you were special I just did not know HOW special you were and how special and important you would become to me. I can honestly say that you have shown me the best that life has to offer despite our problems, issues we have had had and things we have done and said. I know it can get even better than it has ever been.

I know I don’t verbalize it enough but I really do think overall that you are an incredible wife, friend and mother to OUR kids. You are more thoughtful, forgiving and caring than anyone I have ever met or anything I could aspire to be. I truly envy that about you. You are also a gorgeous woman. Your inner beauty has always been the biggest draw from me and it is the reason that I married you and the reason I love you so much.

I know I have not always led you to believe this, but I also love to hear you talk and I do enjoy talking to you. You are the only person in my life I feel that I can truly confide in and not be judged. You know more about me than any other person on this planet and I know that goes both ways. You are a very passionate speaker, and you always do your best and take the extra time/effort to help someone understand your point or feelings. I love that about you, and it is one of your greatest strengths in my opinion so long as you are tactful, and light handed with criticism. Please don’t ever feel that you talk too much or that you are a bad person for speaking your feelings/thoughts so long as you know in your heart that you are coming from a good place and do you best to be constructive which you usually do.

I have done, said and thought so many things to/about you that I am not proud of, and I am deeply sorry for. I know that 2017 really can be the best year of our lives, that this year we can really start over and get back to the place where we truly love, honor and cherish each other with no regrets, bitterness or anger in our hearts towards each other or anyone else for that matter. You are the reason for my happiness and confidence. You built me up when no one else would, picked me up when I fell, held me when I cried, celebrated with I thought I had done nothing spectacular, kicked me in the butt when you knew I needed to get over myself and believed in me when I did not even believe in myself. You ARE the light and the love that has filled my soul all along. You are the reason that I am the father, husband and human being I am today. You have taught me more than I ever thought I could learn from a person and challenged me to do things that I never ever thought I could do and more. We met for a reason, and we are together for a reason that was always meant to be. We love each other, feed off each other, mend each other’s wounds and fill in each other’s cracks. We must continue to do so because we will break without each other. We have to stay together even when we don’t think we can and give each other no reason to like the other or be likable to the other.

I know we will grow from everything that has happened this past year and that things have gotten better already and will continue to do so even if they get worse for a time. Our pain and suffering is temporary but our love and connection is literally eternal. I am sorry I forget that sometimes.

Happy 2017 Baby! I love you and I know you love me. It’s time to truly enjoy life TOGETHER and make this relationship we have better than it ever has been. I Love and adore you Catherine Williamson and I always will. Thank you for being my wife and thank you for being you.

With all my heart

Zachariah Lucas Williamson

WHEN THE SEASONS CHANGE

There’s a light in you that tears me down to nothing, there’s an angel in your eyes. There’s a hope inside that you can make it better. You see right through my disguise. When it rains it pours, and everybody stumbles. I won’t let them bring you down. I won’t let you down when the seasons change. I won’t go down. I’ll fight through the pain. I’ll be there right by your side. I’ll never let them bring you down when the seasons change. There’s a hope in me that I will die for something. Was the fire in my eyes? All this pain inside – will it be this way forever? I can run but I can’t hide. When it rains it pours, and everybody stumbles. I won’t let them bring me down. I won’t let you down when the seasons change. I won’t go down. I’ll fight through the pain. I’ll be there right by your side. I’ll never let them bring you down when the seasons change. When the seasons change and we’re in for colder weather, look for me on the divide. I won’t let you down when the seasons change. I won’t go down. I’ll fight through the pain. I’ll be there right by your side. I’ll never let them bring you down. I won’t let you down. When the seasons change. {Five Finger Death Punch}

APRIL 1, 2009: “He Remembers – EVERYTHING” …

~ The Phoenix Collaborative ~

… that moment your son sends you a bittersweet cryptic text message at 3 o’clock in the morning, and although you’re glad that he’s finally telling you how he really feels about all the ways you’ve let him down … it’s a Five Finger DEATH PUNCH straight to your heart. What he doesn’t know is that my heart is breaking even more than his, because I have to live with the sobering, tragic truth that I’m the one who’s broken his.

Dear God:

Please. Help me. Help me help them. Please. Help me find a way to unbreak my own heart, so that I can stop breaking theirs. They … will remember … EVERYTHING.

REMEMBER EVERYTHING

Dear mother, I love you. I’m sorry I wasn’t good enough. Dear Father, forgive me, ’cause in your eyes, I just never added up. In my heart I know I failed you, but you left me here alone. If I could hold back the rain, would you numb the pain? ‘Cause I remember everything. If I could help you forget, would you take my regrets? ‘Cause I remember everything. Dear brother, just don’t hate me for never standing by you, or being by your side. Dear sister, please don’t blame me. I only did what I thought was truly right. It’s a long and lonely road when you know you walk alone. If I could hold back the rain, would you numb the pain? ‘Cause I remember everything. If I could help you forget, would you take my regrets? ‘Cause I remember everything. I feel like running away. I’m still so far from home. You say I’ll never change but what the fuck do you know? I’ll burn it all to the ground before I let you run. Please forgive me. I can’t forgive you now … It all went by so fast. I still can’t change the past. I always will remember – everything. If we could start again, would that change the end? We remember – everything. {Five Finger Death Punch}