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.

APRIL 24, 2022: “My Perfectly Mistaken Quarters” …

… ’cause when it’s a 4:30am covert meeting of a phoenix, sage, and PIRATE and his ever so faithful crew, this shit just hits a little different. Jean-Claude Van DAMN he’s so fucking right …

I AM A PERFECT MISTAKE!

It’s taken all the people in the history of my timeline and the masterful compilation of their coming and going, hunting and gathering, scavenging and foraging, falling and rising, destroying and building, sinking and swimming, killing and conquering, lying and truth telling, silence and screaming, plus some perfectly imperfect genetic coding to create this glorious fucking STORM that I am.

I’ve known long well that I’m a jacked up train wreck of a beautiful disaster. It was my equally jacked up train wreck of a beautiful disaster husband who would physically hold me in the mirror when I couldn’t see my own reflection and force me to say these words out loud:

I love you Catherine Williamson! Not just some of you – ALL of you!

My husband found me (or did I find him?) when I was at my rock bottom worst in every possible mental and physical way:

For 16 years I have searched for my own reflection in another person’s eyes but could never find it. I looked into the mirror and felt ugly. I felt dirty, empty and invisible. I see the way people look at me but have never really understood it. What the hell could anyone possibly see? There’s nothing here. I’m hollow. “Lights, smoke, and illusion!” Please, please, please Henrik, hear what I am saying. Last July, when it was finally time for the doctors to take the bandages off my chest and stomach, I came home and couldn’t even walk past a mirror, much less look inside one. I knew then that my destruction was finally complete, but just didn’t know how to reckon myself with the reality. That’s when I decided to not EVER search for my missing reflection again, whether in a mirror or through the eyes of another! I just gave up. Two full days passed before I was finally able to take my shirt off and I couldn’t actually look at myself for weeks. When the day finally came, I just stood there and cried. I touched my scars, held my stomach, dropped down to my bathroom floor and cried for so many hours you can’t begin to imagine. I thought my life was over, which was par for the entire course, and I knew from that day on I would NEVER “show myself” to another living soul, whether physically or emotionally. When I was done crying, and God I remember this like it was yesterday, I stood up, wiped away my tears, straightened my shoulders and began to devise a plan that would allow me to continue the “grand illusion”. I got dressed, got in the car and had Him drive me to a little shop across town that carried prosthetic implants I could stuff inside my bra to disguise my mutilated chest. I walked back out of that shop a whole and “perfect” woman again. Got back home, pulled into the driveway and never looked back. I have played the game very well I might add with the cards I’ve been dealt in a manner that would cause no one I love to suffer.

{“So Far Away“}

It was his unconditional love for me just the way I was that forever chased away the clouds of “imperfection” that had once loomed over my head. Slowly, but surely, I became less afraid to surrender “all of me” to not just my love for him, but the love I’d desperately needed for myself as well.

God Himself knows how much I do truly love myself now, PERFECT MISTAKES AND ALL, and not a day passes that I don’t still stand in the mirror and literally see my husband, my God, my angels, my ancestors, and even a few of my demons standing right behind me whispering, “You got this, Catherine! You’re our reason! You’re our gift, our scion, our message, and our voice!” They’re the zephyrs in my sky who forged this path and built this mountain for me to stand upright and tall upon as they push me forward into this perpetual state of punctuation and magic that I’ve become as I navigate this sea of madness. In the meantime, as I continue to soar through these fleeting golden years of mine,

I’ll be wearing steel that’s bright and true and carrying news that must get through. I’ll choose the path where no-one goes. I’ll hold no quarter, no quarter, oh!

{Words Adapted from “No Quarters” by Led Zeppelin}

I love you so dearly, Ivan FUCKING Moody, my kindred soul and friend. I cannot tell you how long I’ve been waiting for the perfect time, space, and words I needed to blog out this very special song. It was one of his favorites and I listen to it often. He truly believed he was a pirate in another life, and the first time I ever heard him say it, I thought he was just being silly. Nope! He wasn’t! Every single time that man stared out across an ocean amid our many adventures, he insisted that he’d been out there before. The funny thing is that while searching for the missing pieces of himself that he’d never known anything about because of his abysmal childhood, the Ancestry report we fetched really did seem to point in that direction. Meanwhile, here I am, just swabbing the deck of my jacked up proverbial ship, and I cannot thank you enough. Your words of wisdom never cease to amaze or fail me, and I truly hope that they’re blowing through the sails of some other jacked up pirates’ sails, too.

NO QUARTER

Close the door, put out the light. No, I won’t be home tonight. The snow falls hard and don’t you know? The winds of Thor are blowing cold. I’m wearing steel that’s bright and true and carrying news that must get through. I choose the path where no-one goes. I hold no quarter, no quarter, oh! Walking side-by-side with death. The devil mocks my every step, ooh. The snow drives back the foot that’s slow. The dogs of doom are howling more. I carry news that must get through to build a dream for me and you, oh, oh, oh. This path I choose where no one goes … I hold no quarter, oh. {Led Zeppelin}

APRIL 4, 2022: “The Grey High” …

Ain’t it funny how things happen sometimes? I mean, c’mon people … do any of you still only believe in random coincidence? As I’m sitting here writing this, I’m yummily wrapped up in one of the king’s ginormous grey sweaters that on any other given Monday would have traveled in Gia’s backpack to her dad’s house. But for the fact that I just happened to be doing laundry last night instead of on my regularly scheduled Sunday afternoon, it wouldn’t have been here to greet me this morning when I decided to just make it a “grey day” and stay home to enjoy the peaceful oblivion of my happily solitary existence. Hell, I wasn’t even done reveling in and relishing the last four beautiful days I had of time spent with my precious kids and family, the message I got from Skid Row, and that fucking EPIC German schnitzel sandwich situation. I mean, BRING IT you badass Cosmos

I HEAR YOU LOUD AND CLEAR!

Meanwhile, I popped on to Instagram earlier only to find that while I was busy “queening” around my castle in one of the best “grey highs” I’ve had in a while, that today has marked yet another powerful 5FDP moment. It was the official release of the “Brighter Side Of Grey” video:

It’s hard to believe that our last record “F8” came out over 2 years ago in the beginning of 2020, born into the whirlwind of events that dominated our lives and will echo into the rest of our history. Those of you intimately familiar with that album, now know how some of F8’s dystopian lyrics became rather prophetic. Brighter Side of Grey was an important song on that record, but especially personal to Ivan (who’s the only parent in the band). It is a more than fitting commentary to what’s going on in the world that probably needs a good reminder right about now that we are here only for second, a tiny blip on the flow of time… not just as individuals but as an entire species. It took a trillion conditions to be just right for human life to exist in this Universe, yet it takes just one to go terribly wrong and make it all disappear. This song also serves as the perfect bridge to our new album we just finished this week, which generally revolves around similar existential questions. It’s incredible how much we don’t understand about our own existence, yet everyone’s relationship with the concept of death permeates, even orients their entire lives. Can’t wait to share it… enjoy this video and stay tuned for new music and big tour announcements in the very near future!

{FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH YOUTUBE}

In case you didn’t already know this yet, this isn’t just a song to me, and grey isn’t just a color. “The Brighter Side Of Grey” is an entire mindset and way of life for me:

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 the most beautiful shades of grey. For more than four decades, I lived a black and white existence with no room for the forlorn 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 comethat it was always supposed to be this way, and 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 hear as they bid me farewell.

{“The Brighter Side Of Grey“}

I could keep going on and on about the brighter side of grey of it all, but honestly, I’m so done writing about it. Now I want to live in it! I want to sit back, relax, and inhale all the life nugget goodness.

Today is such a good day in the music world, my friends. Not just for the factions of knuckleheads like me who have been anxiously awaiting this “official” BSOG video, but likewise for anyone else who sees it, hears the words, and really bites in to its soberingly prophetic message.

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 that 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 a little better than you found it.

APRIL 1, 2022: “Show Me A Sign” …

… because when you see a random picture then immediately hear one of your “Top 10” favorite life songs playing in your head, you know that the picture wasn’t really random:

Show me a sign to a light that shines one direction into another … sheltered peace of mind.

This isn’t just a random picture of a rockstar hugging his daughter. It’s a message of hope and healing to every parent in this jacked up world who is hell bent on changing the generational curses and narratives that have haunted their family tree for years.

This picture represents the unconditional love between a parent and their child that refuses to give up, and the possibility of better things to come for families like mine that have been broken by mental illness, addiction demons, and toxic cycles of their own. If you know, YOU KNOW … if you don’t, YOU DON’T … and if you don’t, you should literally get down on your knees and thank The Heavens and Stars.

Somewhere I lost a piece of memory, but somehow, I know my legs will carry me. Searching for circle’s end, hoping the wounds will mend.

Yes, it’s true. Somewhere I have lost so many pieces of my memory. But then again, no, I really haven’t. You see, it’s all the little jacked up, fucked up, and also very beautiful mental nuggets I keep stored in this rabbit-hole head of mine that keep me safely anchored to my own soul while I’m out there perpetually searching for the circle’s end. It’s also why I’m cosmically drawn to otherapostrophes” in this world who somehow manage to crash my pity parties with signs like these of positivity and optimism right on cue when my burgeoning pessimism needs to be redirected into better and more constructive thinking. It’s how I’ve managed to become the “nothing, everything, and all of it” that I am, and truth being told, I wouldn’t have it any other fucking way.

Today has been a very good day, and I’m SO beyond thankful for this moment of “light in the dark”. Truth being told, I’ve been kinda struggling with some tired old, familial demons of my own as of late, so I really needed to see this picture and the video that inspired it to remind me, once again, to keep on keeping the faith, leaning on my own resilience, looking for the signs of hope, and forging ahead as my legs carry me forward as the living embodiment of power and grace that I know I’ve truly become.

As and aside, if you ever actually read this Ivan, please know that I am so beyond proud to know you, my Phoenix friend, even prouder of your “little girl”, and forever grateful for the many unintentional ways your journey has intersected with mine as my paths keep changing from one direction into another and I cross all these bridges alone (but never lonely). If that voice of yours was only ever meant to reach just one other person’s ears and make their internal voices a little less loud and messy, then I’d say you’re doing a bang up job! I hear you, see you, and feel you LOUD AND CLEAR, and I know I’m not the only one who feels the same. Much love to you, my friend. Just keep on keeping your faith one day and “little nugget” at a time. ❤️

INTO ANOTHER

Slowly I heal the love that’s found its way on to another path in times of change. Crossing that bridge alone, hoping our strength will hold. Should they let go then let me lay. Let me lay. Show me a sign to a light that shines one direction into another – sheltered peace of mind. Somewhere I lost a piece of memory, but somehow I know my legs will carry me. Searching for circle’s end, hoping the wounds will mend. Should this scar, then it was meant to be. {Skid Row}

The Grey High

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 tonight, I kept watching it over and over. The more I watched, the more my heart ached, and I know exactly why I kept watching it. It’s a catharsis that I needed, and PS, IT’S ALLOWED! I was emotionally cutting myself because there are clearly some feelings about the last months of Zack’s 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 MANY 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 it and shake off the demons that were devouring him. I kept asking him what was wrong, or if his head hurt, or if his ears 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, and I can’t make them stop! I DON’T KNOW HOW TO MAKE THEM STOP!

I’m not gonna lie, but the 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 life and had my last drop of alcohol on March 26th last year at 4:40pm. Lol, yes, I know that was the 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 who is closely related to me who has yet to recognize his many tragic truths.

If you haven’t heard this song yet, I’m telling you – 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 we fly with were forged in a fire that not everyone makes it out of alive and we had to actually die first to live.

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

A wise man once said that a 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 hot 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 people who never really knew me used to mangle and clip my wings. Thankfully, however, now that I’ve grown into my beautiful skin, I no longer give credence to anyone else’s reflection of me but my own. 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 this person’s words, as he’s someone I’ve obviously 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 came back from the dead! He, like me, has 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” creeping 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 20, 2021: “The Bucket List Item I Never Knew I Needed” …

Yesterday afternoon, one of my “life partners” of sorts, who has now become a dear friend, called me up and basically insisted that I “find myself a cocktail dress, slap on some make up, and get to downtown Dallas” for a once in a lifetime chance to see an actual living masterpiece, Andrea Bocelli. As I had adamantly planned not to see any post pandemic concerts until it could be Ivan Moody and Five Finger Death Punch, I almost backed out after I’d already agreed to go, because I didn’t want to break the deal I’d made with myself to hold out for Death Punch with both the kids so that hopefully they’d finally get to hear “The Brighter Side Of Grey” live on stage.

In being honest, even as much as I love all genres of music, opera has never really been my thing – but – it was Zack’s, and seeing Bocelli in concert had long been on his Bucket List before he left. Knowing him the way that I did, if he were still alive, we’d have had front row center seats at any cost, because that’s how much he loved Andrea Bocelli. Meanwhile, I did decide to go after all – not for me but more so to honor one of his dreams. I’M SO GLAD I DIDN’T BAIL!

I cried most of the night, all but lost it at Amazing Grace, and I’ll never be the same again after this night. Of note, when Andrea and his daughter sang Ave Maria, my friend turned me and said, “Cat, Zack is here right now. Can’t explain it. I just know it and feel it in my soul. I believe in my heart of hearts that she was right.

Let’s face it – not many people will ever have the chance to see a true “living masterpiece” in concert, and I am firmly convinced that I was very much supposed to be at that performance. Hearing Andrea Bocelli tonight was no different to me than if I had been given the chance to sit down beside Leonardo DaVinci while he was giving birth to the Mona Lisa.

Once again, I am blessed beyond words, thankful beyond thankfulness, and forever changed for the better. How could I have possibly known that within the course of less than 36 hours I’d be adding then scratching off an item from my own Bucket List that I never even knew was meant to be on it? I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, I truly am God’s own favorite daughter and the luckiest queen on the face of this entire planet.

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 myself 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 kinda got Ivan’s six. I’VE TOTALLY GOT HIS SIX!

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

MARCH 25, 2021: “86,400” …

So, Cat, how’d that whole “family dinner” project turn out?

SUCCESS!

This Cosmos and its Creator are so beyond good to me in every way, shape, and form, and I cannot say it enough. This was the last thing I needed to rectify within my formerly “broken heart” so that when it’s my time to touch The Brighter Side Of Grey, I will do so with my soul completely healed and whole. From this point forward, it’s just a very GREY “86,400 seconds a day” for as many spins around the Sun I get to make just shining my Light in all this DARK.

TO ANYONE READING THIS WHO IS AT ODDS WITH YOURSELF OR “YOUR PEOPLE”:

It’s never too late to start again! Indeed it is true that forgiveness is for us, but the TRUEST power and grace are found in the forgiveness we extend to others.

“Hurt people” HURT people.

“Healed people” HEAL people!

While no one really knows what the end game here really is, I’m pretty dam sure that FORGIVENESS is the answer to the greatest cosmic mystery of all: “WHY ARE WE EVEN HERE?” You will never understand how much NONE OF US really deserves to be forgiven for ANY of the shit we manage to do until you’ve had to learn about it the way I have. I am here to tell you it’s EVERYTHING! Besides, as I’ve said before and will now say again, it’s not time that heals our wounds, its what we do with that time that heals our wounds. Learning how to forgive not just ourselves, but others as well for the crime of being human, is not only the most healing medicine of all, but also one of the purest forms of self-love and care.

Wherever you are on this globe right now, take a good look around at everything you see. IT COULD ALL BE GONE TOMORROW! Choose your battles well, and spend those seconds wisely, so that if you must leave tomorrow, you’ll leave in “PEACE” … not “PIECES”!

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 9, 2021: “Drinking Straw Parasites” …

AND NOW …

A WORD FROM OUR SPONSOR:

Just thought I’d share this lovely PSA for your reading enjoyment! Are YOU letting parasites and LEECHES drink from YOUR straws and feast on your precious life blood?

Good grief, I TRULY HOPE NOT! As for me, I stopped handing out my straws so freely a few years ago. It wasn’t immediate, of course, but rather, quite the gradual, arduous, and painful process. Setting boundaries was extremely difficult, because I’m an empath, and despite what some may choose to believe, I don’t take pleasure from either hurting people or seeing them hurt. So, the, “Hi everyone, IT’S ME CAT! Here you go, take one of my straws.” days are long gone and OVER! There was a time not too long ago that I didn’t even realize how valuable my straws were, so I’d hand them to practically anyone.

That was then!

THIS IS NOW!

This me” and “THAT me” seem to have finally come full circle and I suppose in many ways I’ve now become a raving biotch. I also suppose, however, that it just depends on who’s watching me guard my straws! I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I’m an actual QUEEN, and queens don’t take even nominal amounts of bullshit from anyone!

These days, I’ll only “really give” what I actually get, because my time, effort, attention and energy are some of the most precious commodities a VERY LUCKY human being could possibly get! My straws are reserved for ONLY other kings and queens, that’s just the way it is, and I don’t accept toxic nonsense from ANYONE! I’m Jean-Claude Van DAMN kinda too good for it.

“Hi everyone, it’s me – CAT! I am THE nicest biotch you’ll ever wanna know, but these straws of mine are effing RARE and PRICELESS, so if you want one of ’em, you best bring your A-Game, ’cause momma don’t play!”

Now then, please do enjoy this all too fitting drinking straw parasite serenade from perhaps my favorite “don’t you DARE take shit from ANYONE” sponsors of all … the one … the only … the man … the myth … the legend … THE GHOST: THE IVAN! K bye!

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 again 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 in every best possible way, 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’s next. My heart is completely open to anything and everything, but as for now I’ll just keep inhaling every moment one precious deep breath at a time and holding them in for as long as possible. I know full well that every time I exhale, I’ll be making the space for whatever in this world is coming next for me. Knowing my God the way that I do, and knowing ME the way that I do, chances are that whatever is coming next is probably going to be extraordinary. In the meantime, win, lose, or draw, this is the beautiful picture of the me that I’m always going to love the most and the “me” I’m always going to strive to be in my soul …

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}

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 about anything at this point! It’s just – so – 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.

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 eternally grateful.

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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WAS IT FATE? OR DESTINY?

AUGUST 8, 2019. It started out as a beautiful day for our family. We all woke up to a beautiful sky. Ate breakfast together. Worked out as a family, then split up for the afternoon so Zack could go to his therapist and Gia and I could go run errands on our own. He seemed happy. We were both working SO hard to keep his head above the water, and I, ever 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 he’d been succumbing to. Little did I know how the darkness was truly settling in around us as Fate was spinning the wheel …

At just after 2pm, while the rest of the world was just turnin’ and burnin’ and Gia and I were out 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 (and might possibly EVER will have known) was standing at the Cabella’s counter just a few parking lots away buying the Springfield handgun he used to shoot himself in the head just 14 days later.

!!! PLEASE !!!

Wherever you are …

Whatever you are doing …

Take a good look around you NOW!

One of those “happy, smiling faces” you see either standing right beside you or faded into some crowd may be the face of a human being who is silently dying inside.

ESPECIALLY NOW DURING THESE TURBULENT TIMES!

Current studies show that social isolation, anxiety, fear of contagion, uncertainty, chronic stress, and economic difficulties have led to the development and/or or exacerbation of depression, anxiety, substance use and other mental illnesses. Given that stress-related psychiatric conditions including mood and substance use disorders are associated with suicidal behavior, IT’S NO SURPRISE THAT SUICIDE RATES HAVE SKYROCKETED!

!!! PAY ATTENTION !!!

Eyes wide open!

Take nothing and no one for granted …

NOT EVEN THE “HAPPY FACES” YOU SEE!

Be mindful always!

You just never know!

For the record, this post wasn’t meant to make you sad. It was meant to make you MINDFUL of others … and more so that everything isn’t always what it seems. I am going to do everything I can to stay peaceful, joyful, and hopeful today and keep my feet on the ground, BECAUSE … I CAN! While “August 8, 2019” is indeed a huge part of “my story”, it doesn’t mean I can’t let it play out for the better. This fucked up, fate-filled day in will NOT have been in vain and will not define me as a victim. I am choosing to do something else with it. I am choosing to spin it as “Destiny” … NOT “FATE”!

I am passionate about raising awareness of “mental health mindfulness” and this one blog post that I wrote last September is one of my most clicked, read, and shared pieces so far. That’s a good thing! Please share it if you can so that perhaps more people will remember to be mindful of this other “mask” problem in our world right now.

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: An almost “fifty ONE-derful”, seemingly normal woman, sitting in bed singing along to a ridiculous music video, swaying back and forth and waving her fist in the air! THAT. SO. HAPPENED!

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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 in being honest, my Knucklehead card is one of the most powerful things I own. “THE REAL CAT WILLIAMSON”: Loves people. Hates humanity. Loves Light. Hates dark. Loves love. Hates hate. Loves being broken. Loves being whole. LOVES JESUS! Loves Five Finger Death Punch! And yup, there are many a day that I just wake up feeling OFF, and guess what? THAT’S OKAY! I spent nearly an entire lifetime being ashamed of the train wreck I’ve emerged from BUT NOW 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 DAMN TIME I WANT! So, with that, make it a great day everyone! Here’s to hoping YOU can embrace your “little bit off” days, too!

… {PS} …

If you really want to know more about me and what goes on inside my crazy little head? Listen to the words of this song! Then if you really, REALLY want to know what goes on inside my crazy little head? The Charlie “The Engine” drums at :55, 1:39 and 2:30 manifest actual metal butterflies inside my heart that give me flipping chill bumps. No, but seriously though!

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)

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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. 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?

The general consensus is that my “splitting” was the result of severe emotional and psychological abuse from my childhood, and I do tend to agree. I was raised in a conditionally based system of reward, praise, affection 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” whenever I screwed up or failed to follow the rules, and ZERO was the 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 purposely, 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 …

Them

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 and beautiful moments of my life, 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 the most beautiful shades of grey. For more than four decades, I lived a black and white existence with no room for the forlorn 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 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 hear as they bid me farewell.