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 5, 2021: “The Freedom” …

And yet another bittersweet “October 5th” is here. His birthday. At first, I was at a loss for what to write about this morning, but after having drafted another “Quora Answer” that I wasn’t sure when I wanted to post, it struck me that TODAY was the day …

What Does “True Freedom” Mean To You?

To me, true freedom is having made peace with not only his death, but death in general, because most assuredly I say to you: DEATH HAPPENS! No one’s getting out of here alive, and as hard as it is to live on this Earth without our loved ones who have moved on, being able to release them from the mortal shackles they wore (and yes, we ALL wear mortal shackles) is, perhaps, one of the kindest, bravest, and selfless things we can do, not only ourselves, but their dearly departed souls. When a person has reached a point in their life where they no longer suffer through the experience of death, living in the moment becomes second nature, because they live in constant awareness that “the present” is all that really matters.

True freedom is having arrived at place where your happiness and self-worth aren’t derived solely from achieving every pleasure, dream, or wish you’ve ever had, or having every “thing” you thought you needed. It’s closing your eyes at night then waking up the next morning with total clarity and peace in your heart, not always “needing more”, and fully capable of living in each moment as it is.

True freedom is understanding that some things just aren’t meant to be understood, because they’re NOT, and that having blind faith in all the things we can’t know isn’t as scary it seems. Even if we’re wrong about the things we deaf, dumb, and BLINDLY believe, we’re still “halfway right”. As far as I’m concerned, “halfway right” is still a 50/50 odd, and I will gladly bet on it.

Last, but certainly not least, true FREEDOM is finally realizing that YOU are the only mortal person you can count on to survive this game with ’til the end, YOU are worthy of being your own best friend, biggest fan, and most loyal supporter, and YOU should be the greatest love story of your life! That’s when you’ve found your real home, by the way, and for the record, none of this “freedom”, or the peace of mind that comes with it, costs a single dime. Money is good to have, don’t get me wrong, but ZERO amounts of money can buy these freedoms for you. Only YOU can secure them for yourself.

I’m so thankful that I have achieved true freedom. I’ll close my eyes tonight knowing in my heart that I did the very best I could in everything I did, and that I’ve left no stone unturned. If I don’t wake up tomorrow? Imma be alright, ’cause I know what’s coming next and I’m not afraid. Now that I think of it? I think I’m starting to understand why I’m so fascinated by birds and anything with wings. Not only can they fly, but even more so than that, they always find the right place to call home. They’re beautiful, and free, and independent spirits, and anywhere they land can be their home. I guess in many ways I am like a bird. Sometimes I just watch them, because maybe I’m a little envious of all the ways they are free than I can only dream of. Then again, that’s probably how some people feel about me, so they watch me with envy, too, because I am free in all of the ways that they can only dream of. Maybe someday they will learn to just let go and GET HOME like me.

Happy Birthday and Godspeed Zachariah. Here’s hoping you are “Home” enjoying your eternal FREEDOM. I miss you, will always love you, and yes, you are still forgiven.

FREEDOM OF THE SEA

Standing on the shoreline, looking out to sea at oceans of Your hopes for me, just beyond my reach. I’ve been here on this island for way too many years, a prisoner of my comfort, a slave to my own fears. Doubt is saying, “got to stay”. Faith is saying, “sail away”! I know it’s safe here on the shore, but freedom is worth dying for. Liberation comes to those who hear the truth and sail with you. I’ll go where You are calling me. I’ll be what You meant me to be. I know the risk is real, but I wanna feel the freedom of the sea! With eyes to the horizon, mist against my face, I’ll leave behind this island in Your abounding grace. With Your word as my compass, I’ll chase my destiny. For I know the words of Your will can set my spirit free. Doubt is saying, “got to stay”, but I’m taking up the anchor! Faith is saying, “sail away”, and I’m heading for the deep! {Phillips, Craig & Dean}

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 27, 2021: “Starving A Narcissist” …

… but even THEN, it sometimes takes a hot minute to send them packing for their next kill!

In November of 1996, I “got to learn” the very hard way what really lied beneath the surface of the most narcissistic, evil man I’ve ever had the misfortune of crossing paths with …

… and his name was John.

Note that as I wrote “man”, I literally and not metaphorically laughed my fucking ass off! I’ve since been enlightened as to the true measure of a “man”, and “man” gives him way more credit than what his very SMALL affect truly is (and I do mean SMALL in every way). He’s a hoovering narcissist. Nothing more and nothing less.

Narcissists begin hoovering when they want something from you such as attention, validation, money or sex. But the deepest reason why narcissists hoover is because they are completely internally empty. They have a pathological fear of feeling insignificant, unlovable, alone or worthless, so they do whatever they can to fill this empty void and sustain their false self-image. Narcissists are fundamentally addicted to the attention of others. Without attention and control, they starve. When their reservoirs of narcissistic supply run out, they seek to prey off the old “meat” they managed to catch in the past – and that means you. This also means that they usually have many “backups” (e.g. other exes) to feed off when they begin to feel hungry again. Like predators, a narcissist knows how to manipulate the weaknesses of those they have preyed on before. They will try to entice you through random texts, apologies, declarations of undying love, and “repentant” gestures which try to convince you how much they have “changed” and “care” for you.

{Alethia Luna ~ “8 Signs You’re The Victim Of An Abusive Hoovering Narcissist“}

As par for the course over the past 20 years, John has never fully left my atmosphere since our near fateful departure. Not long after he and Angie leveled me to the point of almost no return, he showed up at my home to deliver a stack of Christmas presents and a little somethin’ else. Keep in mind that he was already engaged to Angie at the time, and although NOTHING happened between “us”, something indeed happened between “him and himself” right there on my bed! It was one of the most twisted things I’d ever witnessed in my life, which is saying a lot. After having admittedly driven my own self crazy and spending time in a couple of “facilities”, trust me when I tell you – I’VE WITNESSED SOME TWISTED SHIT!

At first he tried gaslighting it back to my insanity, but a friend hooked my phone up to a recording device so I could try to lure the truth out of him in what he thought was a private conversation, WHICH HE DID! I then proceeded to take said recording to Angie’s family and play it for them out loud! Yup! That happened. That really fucking happened! Sounds far fetched, I know, but let me assure you that the people who helped me bust “Hoovery McNarcissit” at his very best game EVER are all still alive to tell about it!

Meanwhile, some years later, in the irony of all ironies, despite the fact that he had always chastised the “pompous, showy affluence” in the small town where I lived, guess which “pompous, showy, affluent town” John and his now ex-wife chose to build their home in? Ding, ding, ding, ding ding! OUR TOWN! In fact, they built said home in the subdivision that abutted the one where my parents still live today, which is across the street from where my ex-husband and I used to live. So, imagine my surprise years later when I walked a then baby Gia to the park across the street from my home, only to find John’s wife and daughter playing there as well! I’m not gonna lie, I have long since wondered whether there was really any “irony” with that at all. But I’ve digressed.

Very long and sordid tale short, they eventually began working out at the Lifetime Fitness Center that was our “gym home” (and is still mine), and we would see them there often. At a certain point, in being polite, formal introductions were made, and my husband (who’s physical presence over-powered him by at least a half a foot and a hundred pounds) had even shaken his hand once. But trust me when I tell you, Zack knew ALL about “John and Angie”, and every time he saw me politely engaging John’s cordial conversations, he literally wanted to slit his throat. Both Zack and Gia had always said he looked like an actual snake (and now that I think of it, he really kinda does), and whenever Gia sees him, she shudders with physical chills. AND GET THIS: Despite the fact that Angie and John had parted ways, such that he had married the blonde girl I ran into at the park, she too became a member at that gym. So, I saw them both there all the fucking time. But in my mind, bygones were now bygones, soo …

In his defense, I must admit that I brought his last round of bullshit on myself. Not because I’m weak – BECAUSE I’M FORGIVING! He’d reached out to me not too long after Zack died, and I’d even agreed to meet him for dinner because I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt and believe he’d somehow changed. Said dinner didn’t end well, and perhaps someday I’ll tell you why. As for now, I’ll reveal how this drama finally played out by showing you! If you pay close attention to the dates and times, you will clearly see it! Texting. Double-texting. “Feigned concern”.

MARCH 27, 2020

APRIL 5, 2020

APRIL 6, 2020

APRIL 12, 2020

APRIL 29, 2020

APRIL 30, 2020

MAY 10, 2020

MAY 24, 2020

JUNE 13, 2020

AUGUST 13 & 14, 2020

THE END!

Well, kind of! On Tuesday, February 16th, he texted me again. Then again. Then again.

To which my final response is this:

Unaffected, unimpressed, and laughing my ass off yet again.

Now then … If you know this Diary at all, you know I have a song for almost every entry. Nope. Not this one. Music is my therapy … my happy place … MY EVERYTHING! That being said, though, as I finish this up, I can’t help but remember that night many years ago when I first journaled about “that night” I discovered what really lied beneath two of the most pathetic excuses for “spawn” masquerading as human beings, I wrote these words:

How very starved these two pathetic creatures posing as human beings must have been that my heart became meals for his very small affect and her insignificant, insecure, and insincere ego.

{“What Lied Beneath“}

So, in keeping with that train of thought, and instead of my usual “song”, I suppose all that really remains for “this thing” that was once in my life are these five final words:

STARVE LITTLE NARCISSIST BOY!

STARVE!

MARCH 17, 2021: “The Hidden Message” …

… because maybe sometimes the meaning behind the message the Cosmos is trying to send us can only be received when we’re actually ready to hear them.

I’ve watched the “Bubbikins” episode of The Crown more than a dozen times, and if you’ve read my “Speaking Of Faith And Crowns” blog, you know it was a huge catalyst in connecting with the many messages my God has been sending me every step of the way. But did you know that I didn’t know there was, perhaps, a more important message in it that I’d missed entirely? I’d been watching it again on Friday night when Christian called me in tears saying, “Momma, PLEASE forgive Grandpa“? THEN I couldn’t sleep, so I got up and wrote “Desperado“. THEN “the message hidden in the message” literally HIT ME like a ton an actual ton of bricks:

What if everything we think we’ve known isn’t really what it was at all? Just as I pray that what ultimately awaits me on The Brighter Side Of Grey is my own children’s understanding of what was really going on “the day of The Circadian“, even more so do I pray that I remain steadfast in my conviction that, yes, “HURT people hurt PEOPLE”, and sometimes grace is the onlybig picture” we were ever meant to understand.

… and, with that, I am STILL the LUCKIEST Queen on the face of this beautiful planet, blessed far beyond anything my MANY sins of the past should have allowed. I love you, too, God. THANK YOU – for EVERYTHING! Your not-so-hidden “hidden messages” are coming through louder and clearer every step of the way.

FEBRUARY 15, 2021: “Power, Grace, And Beauty Rising” …

WHO AM I?

I am me. I’m my very own best friend, and the one person in my life I know will never let me down. I’m the person I get to be with until I take my last breath and set my eyes upon the The Brighter Side Of Grey, and the only one I can count on when all my cards are down, come Hell or the highest of waters.

I’m the Queen Of The World who has crossed on over to the upside of just about everything, yet I’m the most wretched in all the land. Love me or hate me, I DON’T CARE, ’cause at least I know it’s true! I have the world’s biggest ego and the confidence of a lion, yet I’m humbled by the power of my insignificance. I am big. I am small. I’m a pebble skipped across the ocean. I’M A DIVINELY APPOINTED APOSTROPHE THAT PUNCTUATES THE WORLD WHO IS VALULESS AND VALUED BOTH THE SAME AND I AM GOD’S ACTUAL FAVORITE DAUGHTER!

I am NOTHING.

I am EVERYTHING.

I’m an oxymoron.

I am power, grace, and beauty rising.

(… and guess, what? SO ARE YOU!)

BEAUTY WILL RISE

It was the day the world went wrong. I screamed ’til my voice was gone and watched through the tears as everything came crashing down. Slowly panic turns to pain as we awake to what remains and sift through the ashes that are left. But buried deep beneath all our broken dreams we have this hope. Out of these ashes, beauty will rise, and we will dance among the ruins. We will see Him with our own eyes. Out of these ashes, beauty will rise. For we know joy is coming in the morning. In the morning, beauty will rise. So take another breath for now, and let the tears come washing down. And if you can’t believe, I will believe for you. ‘Cause I have seen the signs of spring! Just watch and see! Out of these ashes, beauty will rise, and we will dance among the ruins. We will see Him with our own eyes. Out of these ashes, beauty will rise. For we know joy is coming in the morning. In the morning. I can hear it in the distance … and it’s not too far away. It’s the music and the laughter of a wedding and a feast. I can almost feel the hand of God reaching for my face to wipe the tears away and say, “It’s time to make everything new.” “Make it all new”. This is our hope. This is the promise. That it would take our breath away to see the beauty that’s been made out of the ashes. {Steven Curtis Chapman}

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 25, 2021: “My Mona Lisa” …

This memory popped up on my Facebook today, and truth be told, it is one of my very favorite pictures of her thus far. As quoted by Nikita Gill above, yes, she is “that kind of person”. To know her is to adore her, but here’s the deal folks – not many people GET to “really” know her, nor do I suspect they ever will. She is her mother’s daughter in this regard, and although it may seem that I’m putting everything about myself into the Cosmos via this Diary and other forums, the truth is that likewise will anyone ever really “know me”. Both me and my kids have had to learn the very hard way that where life, love, friendships and even “family” are concerned, it truly is “quality over quantity”. LOOK CLOSELY AT THIS PICTURE! You can actually see the little fighter behind her eyes. If only you really knew the trauma and heartache this kid has been through, yet has somehow managed to rise above with power, grace and courage, you probably wouldn’t believe it.

Be the kind of person who isn’t afraid to ask someone if they are okay twice if they say they are, but look like they aren’t. The kind of person who smiles at people even if they don’t smile back. The kind of person you wished for when no one was there for you. Be the kind of person who is brave enough to stand alone in a crowd for what is right. Be that person because we need more people like that in the world. Be that person because people like that are rarer than the rarest diamonds and gold.

Nikita Gill

Just as every other beautiful thing in my life, our relationship is a bit of an oxymoron. In so many regards we are 100% polar opposites, while at the same time she’s my one true doppelgänger. The bottom line is that she’s one of my only heroes and very few “true friends”. Not to worry, though, because indeed I am her mother first and foremost until she’s an adult .

I am here to tell you that I would most likely be dead right now if it wasn’t for this beautiful girl. All it took was one moment in time with her at a Jason’s Deli when she was just over three years old when I saw her mimicking me as I was pushing food around my plate but not really eating it because I was literally starving myself to DEATH. That was the day that everything I’d ever known to be “real” in my farce of fairy tale life came to a screeching halt as my heart literally shattered in the most powerful and incredulous way and forced me to finally start fighting my way out of a darkness I couldn’t even conceptualize and into this “divinely punctuated” Light. It was HER who held the most frightening mirror up to my face of all – ME.

She is one of my muses and “whys.

In case you haven’t noticed , with music being such an integral part of my mental wealth, there is an individual song for just about every “chapter” in this Diary. However, there are certain songs that have been so incredibly important to me that they’ve showed up more than once. Miracle” is one of them. This song says everything that I feel about her in such a powerful way, just as it did my fallen king. The two of them were so much alike and shared so many of the same demons that it really isn’t any wonder that this one is applicable to them both. How lucky am I to have had as many miracles as I’ve had in my treasure trove of earthly gifts? I am a woman who is blessed beyond words, and truth being told, someday when I grow up, I hope to be JUST like her!

MIRACLE

Say it once. Tell me twice. Are you certain I’m alright? Just a sign to remind me tomorrow’s worth the fight. Ever changing – the story line that keeps me alive. So, make a wish and say: Give me life. Give me love. Star lit angel from above. Not so low. Not so high. Keep it perfectly disguised. Ever changing – the story line that keeps me alive. My Mona Lisa’s making me smile right before my eyes. Take another look. Take a look around. It’s you and me, it’s here and now. As you sparkle in the sky, I’ll catch you while I can ’cause all we are is all I am. I just want you to see what I’ve always believed … You are the miracle in me. Show me faith like you do. I’m amazed at how you move. Side to side, front to back – you know how to make it last. Ever changing – the story line that keeps us alive. My Mona Lisa’s making me smile. {Shinedown}

NOVEMBER 26, 2020: “I’m STILL Seein’ It” …

WHEN IT’S TEN THANKSGIVINGS LATER …

… and I still see the gold smoldering quietly in the embers, as far as my gaze to and fro, shining steadfast like a beacon to The Brighter Side Of Grey that led me to this Light … especially when I look in the mirror.

Golden is the crown that adorns my head, encrusted with all the precious diamonds of my life, not the least of which is me, the Queen I truly am, who was also created under pressure and fire.

Although the King may no longer reign beside me here on this beautiful Earth and my sister has moved miles away, I still have my fire babies … and so many beautiful strangers … and I’m still so very thankful for these still so applicable words from “ten Thanksgivings later”:

These lonely hours like a fire refining something that’s precious – something that’s shining. There in the darkness, surrounded by coals … it’s starting to glow.

I think I see gold … and I’m just so very thankful … FOR EVERYTHING.

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}

SEPTEMBER 8, 2020: “Thankfully Shattered Into Pieces” …

…. when it’s 365 days later and your formerly “shattered heart” has healed in ways that are still yet to fathom, such that now as you’re sifting through “9 years of joy in his eyes” you are simply and unspeakably THANKFUL.

Thankful for the adventure!

Thankful for the laughs!

Thankful for the gifts!

I’m thankful for the highest honor of getting to be the ONLY two girls he EVER gave his heart to, and that we were his first and last of EVERYTHING. This has been all but impossible to digest and nope, I will never turn a corner or look in any direction and not hear the sounds of their laughter, the traces of their smiles, or feel the bond that they shared in my atmosphere.

He was our miracle, but the joy in his eyes was the only true joy that king of ours ever had. WE were his miracles too! Despite how it ended, it was still a real life fairytale, and we will wear the crowns he left behind for us with a smile for the rest of our lives. He was ours, we were his, and that is the only truth we will ever need to know. I believe with every shred of my being that God gathered all the “Shards” that were once my beautiful king’s heart, made him whole, and took him home where they’ll be waiting for me on The Brighter Side Of Grey.

PIECES

I’m here again, a thousand miles away from You. A broken mess – just scattered pieces of who I am. I tried so hard. Thought I could do this on my own. I’ve lost so much along the way. Then I’ll see Your face – I know I’m finally Yours. I find everything I thought I lost before. You call my name – I come to You in pieces so You can make me whole. I’ve come undone, but You make sense of who I am. Like puzzle pieces in Your eye. Then I’ll see Your face – I know I’m finally Yours. I find everything I thought I lost before. You call my name – I come to You in pieces so You can make me whole! I tried so hard! So hard! {Red}

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!

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.

DECEMBER 20, 2019: “We Survive With Hope” …

CONVERSATION WITH MY DAUGHTER AT SCHOOL PICK UP YESTERDAY:

GIA: Mom, would there be any way we could go to the store after I get out of group tonight and grab a few things so I can put some Christmas bags together for my Hope kids? If your tired I promise I will do all the work and I can even pay for it myself. All I need you to do is drive me to the store and I can take it from there.

ME (Heart MELTING): Umm, daughter? I think you just gave me the greatest Christmas gift I never knew I needed.

And just like that, not even broken wings can stop my little Phoenix from rising far above all the mire! After everything this child has been through (some of which most of you will NEVER know), she has her mother’s heart, soul, spirit and courage, only, just so much more … BETTER! I am an SUCH an incredibly lucky woman to get to be the one who claims the honor:

Look at what I’ve done and this Light I’ve created unto a very dark world.

NOVEMBER 11, 2019: “American Woman” …

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DEAR AMERICAN VETERAN,

There have been very few people in my half a century of life who have been worthy of the title “hero”, as that word tends to be overused a bit and I aspire to be “impeccable” with my words. If I don’t mean it, I won’t say it, and “hero” must truly be earned. Anyone who chooses a path that involves walking out the door each day not knowing if they’ll be coming home? Now that would be a hero!

I have long been thankful that I wasn’t born a man and have prayed incessantly for the men I’ve known and loved. Generally speaking, men are birthed to an existence wherein everything is literally expected of them. The entire weight of everyone’s world, including the weight of their own, is laden upon their shoulders from the cradle to the actual grave. Whereas generally speaking, American women have choices. Society allows us the freedom to be whoever we choose to be. Go to college, don’t go to college. Get married, don’t get married. Be a full-time wife and mother, opt to have a career, or maybe do a little of both. We aren’t “expected” to be anything other than what we were created for, and yes there’s a double standard.

Perhaps one of the best things I’ve ever heard in my life is Angelina Jolie’s Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award acceptance speech:

I have never understood why some people are lucky enough to be born with the chance that I had, to have this path in life, and why across the world there’s a woman just like me, with the same ability, and the same desires, same work ethic and love for her family … only she sits in a refugee camp, and she has NO voice. She worries about what her children will eat, how to keep them safe, and if they’ll EVER be allowed to return home. I don’t know why this is my life, and that’s hers.

I’m not gonna lie, I’ve been handed some pretty rough cards as of late, but guess what? So have we all! Meanwhile, I do have too many options to count as a blessed and extremely privileged woman. Though my future may not be what I was planning 81 days ago, it can still be anything I choose, because you signed up to pay in part for my American dream!

It’s Veteran’s Day 2019, and some of us don’t take our freedom for granted. As a woman who’s often been chastised for my antiquated views on gender roles, today is especially important. I’m an American woman in my American home with an American voice bought and paid for by an American soldier. Please know that you are held in the absolute highest regard on not just this, but every day. Indeed, you have lived “a life of use to others”, and indeed YOU ARE MY HERO!

OCTOBER 25, 2019: “A Life Of Use” …

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I CANNOT BELIEVE I never knew about this until now and CANNOT TELL YOU the infinite number of times I’ve had this similar conversation with my SO much better, stronger and wiser version of me daughter who at the ripe old age of three years old became the catalyst for everything I’ve become today:

I am here to tell you all that I would in fact be dead right now if it wasn’t for this beautiful girl. All it took was one moment in time with her at a Jason’s Deli when she was just over 3 years old. I saw her mimicking me as I was pushing food around my plate, but not really eating it, because I was literally starving myself to DEATH. That was the day that everything I’d ever known to be “real” in my fairy tale world came to a screeching halt as my heart broke in the most incredulous way once and for all and forced me to finally start fighting my way out of the dark and into this Light. It was HER who held the most frightening mirror up to my face of all – ME. She is one of my muses and “whys“.

{“My Mona Lisa“}

Indeed, it is true, on that day, my very own daughter became the death of every ugly thing my farce of a life used to be and the beginning of all my truths. She is the reason I decided to turn myself inside out and my life upside down once and for all because I was so afraid of her becoming “sick” like me. She is the reason I finally came to realize that “nothing would mean anything if I didn’t live a life of use to others”.

This is the legacy I want to leave for my children. If I keep giving this all that I possibly can, one day, whether I’m here or not, I’ll be the luckiest woman that ever lived when they BOTH stand strong and proud amongst the crowds and say something like this about me:

My mom lived a life that was of use to others!

Thank you, Angelina ! THANK YOU!

JUNE 2019: “Shards” …

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My husband wrote this in June for Gia because he believed, and it is true, that they shared similarly broken hearts. Now, in reading it a second time, I realize he was actually writing about himself. Ten years ago my husband saved my life, and hers. In the end, it was him that needed to be saved … but I couldn’t do it.

SHARDS

I finally broke and my mind came undone. My body gave way as I hit the floor. My heart shattered. I lacked the strength to even pick up these pieces as they spilled across the floor while they looked at me in disapproval for the “mess” and inconvenience I made for them, but I gathered them up none the less as the whip cracked and scarred my back pushing me begrudgingly forward. I didn’t know what to do with what was left of me. I had never come this far apart. I was just a little [boy]. I just wanted to give up. Lay down. You know the rest. There is a crack deep in my soul that is still healing, but some days I feel as though it is only getting bigger. I thought I would never be strong enough to stand on my own and finally get my “shit” together. Could I find enough love for myself to make these jagged pieces worth putting together? I have looked to find strength in so many ”things” because I feel it is not within me, but deep down inside I know it is there. One day soon I will gather up these pieces again. Fit them together the way they are supposed to go. These shards will become my strength. My protection. My weapons against further abuses of my worth and love. The strength is gathering within me – I’m not little anymore! They shoved me on to the path of adulthood and I will show those who have wronged me my wrath, which will only be overshadowed by the ferocity of my love that is and was the best thing they will never have known. I spent so much time seeking their approval, when it was MY approval and favor, they should have been looking for all along.

~ Zachariah Lucas Williamson ~

OCTOBER 5, 2016: “MY Birthday Miracle” …

“9.1.2016”:

Hey [big brother] can you give me a call. I have a favor to ask. We need a copy of your birth certificate to help me get a passport because of my jacked up birth certificate. I’ll explain.”

Catherine, he STILL can’t be bothered to help me. It’s as if I don’t matter or even exist. I guess some things will never change.” 

As of today, we now have the only three childhood pictures of him that appear to actually exist of him. Meanwhile, a very kind US Congressman who has become aware of his abandonment and complete lack of identity is now intervening so that he may finally have official recognition as a citizen and hopefully even a United States Passport! My husband is our hero and there are no words to describe how lucky we are that “they” all forsook him, because HE BELONGS TO US NOW! Their loss is our EVERYTHING! He’s a man on a pedestal as long as he roams this Earth (and surely after he leaves it), and thank you GOD that he chose me and my children to finally call “his home”.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY WILLIAMSON!

This world is a much better place with you in it!

MIRACLE

Say it once. Tell me twice. Are you certain I’m alright? Just a sign to remind me tomorrow’s worth the fight. Ever changing – the story line that keeps me alive. So make a wish and say: Give me life. Give me love. Star lit angel from above. Not so low. Not so high. Keep it perfectly disguised. Ever changing – the story line that keeps me alive. My Mona Lisa’s making me smile right before my eyes. Take another look. Take a look around. Its you and me, it’s here and now. As you sparkle in the sky I’ll catch you while I can ’cause all we are is all I am. I just want you to see what I’ve always believed … You are the miracle in me. Show me faith like you do. I’m amazed at how you move. Side to side, front to back – you know how to make it last. Ever changing – the story line that keeps us alive. My Mona Lisa’s making me smile. {Shinedown}

JUNE 5, 2008: “Lost In A Portrait” …

"Lost In A Portrait"
~ by Gia Embach ~

This trip is almost over, and while I’ve made a push against The Dragon, part of me is still very sad. The tours each day have been long, and the sights overwhelming. I am in love with this country and being here brings me an ethereal peace that is just so hard to describe. The deep, rich history beckons my soul and calls to mind that although these last sixteen years have felt so long and treacherous, they are but a blip on the radar of my life.

As I’ve traveled here in France and wandered through each more beautiful village, I’ve found myself in a perpetual state of “eyes wide shut” as I imagine having been here in some other space and time walking these very same roads. What did it look like? How did it smell? How did it sound, taste and feel? So many battles have been fought here and many of these sights have been desecrated and rebuilt, if only to emerge even more breathtaking than before. Countless pools of human blood, sweat and tears have soaked these fervent soils, yet still these flowers bloom.

So, then what does history tell me? WHAT DOES IT SCREAM TO MY SOUL? It says that history is but a series of sometimes very sad events leading to either growth or death in endless abound. Each sunset begs the opportunity for me to leave the past behind and awaken to a horizon that literally hands me infinite choices, beginnings and ends. My story then, my “history”, can really mean something if I choose to let it, even if I personally never witness the outcome with my own eyes.

Perhaps my purpose is much bigger than myself and the lessons I’m learning along the way will somehow cause a ripple effect in the history of not only my family but any other lives I manage to touch along the way, like a pebble being dropped into the ocean. Maybe someone, somewhere, somehow, will be standing in the very places that my own two feet have stood, and thus my history will have broadened someone else’s horizon far beyond what I can possibly imagine.

Perspective has got to be everything otherwise I’m only deaf, dumb and truly blind. Still, during these last days I’ve found myself staring far beyond these beautiful Provencal fields, into an abyss I neither understand nor am fully connecting with. At the end of the day, all I can say is that I desperately need to make sense of all my broken pieces so that I can use them to make this my life, my children, this world and everyone I encounter somehow better than I found them. Please, God, I am begging You. It’s time for my masterpiece to finally start coming together. 

LOST IN A PORTRAIT

I analyze everything, I know what you mean. I answer by questioning all that I need. And I want you to surrender, I want you to see all the signs, all the faces inside of me. I see I’m not perfect, but that’s all I see. Lost in a portrait in a picture of me … this can’t be everything I see. Then my canvas is incomplete. Your color’s everything to me, and my canvas will set me free. My outline’s solid and made up of crying. And nothing’s that you say just burn my eyes. I want to surrender; I want you to find some comfort in the spaces between the lines. {Trapt}

APRIL 8, 2008: “The Real Life” …

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Well, perhaps actually penning the words to a complete and total stranger was the just the pin prick my heart valves needed to effect the slow release of toxins from my system. I mean, so much of what I wrote to her was true, but then again, so much of it was a lie! Everything about her and what I could gather from her story showed me that somehow, somewhere, there is a light at the end of every tunnel. Could it be that my resurrection is much closer than I know? It truly feels as though I am getting a little closer to bridging that proverbial gap.

My “surface level only” policy where relationships are concerned is fast becoming a sham and I desperately need to make the words therein my letter to her real. In the meantime, I’m still alive, though not-so-well here in my beautiful ivory tower as I continue my rule over a magical kingdom where everything appears to be perfect. “Queen Catherine The Perfect”; Perfect life, perfect family, perfect house, perfect car – perfectly happy, with all the perfect things that accompany my perfection. I’m the envy of every woman I know, covered in diamonds from head to toe, with a loving husband by my side at every turn (or so it seems). I play this perfect role so that my family remains happy and blissfully unscathed by the secrets in my past, and so the painful memories I have yet to leave behind don’t interfere with their lives in any way.

Despite the seemingly perfect, bright and sunny existence I awaken to each morning, there’s a storm cloud hovering above that follows me everywhere I go. I’m beginning to think that maybe I haven’t cried enough these last 16 years and the “cloud” in my atmosphere is all those unshed tears. The storm is coming fast thoughI can feel it on my skin!  But will there be a rainbow afterwards?

It seems like only yesterday when a stranger took my innocence, and since that moment Fate has continued to rape me. It’s been just about a year since I entered that hospital, spirit broken, but body still somewhat whole. One week later I walked back out, leaving behind the last remnants of what once made me a woman. The physical scars that I wear now are now clear and tactile proof that I am nothing but an empty shell. These years were not imagined – they were real! At night sometimes I cry, grasping my pillow tightly so the precious baby girl sleeping beside me doesn’t hear. Then in morning I awake and prepare myself for the day that awaits and walk out of my bedroom an illusion. My children greet me with their glorious smiles, ignorant to my pain, and this is the way it is.

Despite the seemingly outward perfection, my soul is hollow, and I feel alone, abandoned, and sick, if not “a cancer” to the entirety of mankind. The mental camera in my head just can’t seem to help itself from constantly flipping back and forth through all the erosion, toxicity and filth inside my mind.

Each day that passes is drawing me closer to something spinning hopelessly out of control.  My day of reckoning is fast approaching and may be just around the corner. I can feel the ripples just beneath my skin as my realities are boiling to the surface. The unrelenting knot in the pit of my stomach and heart is getting tighter with each day that passes and it’s getting harder for me to breath. I am shaking, anxious, and, oh yeah, a total fraud! 

Just up ahead, I think I can see the front of the proverbial bridge, but how can I make my legs actually move across it? If I actually make it across, what there will I find? Are there secrets about myself and even my “seemingly perfect childhood” that are still yet for me to discover? We shall see. Dearest Catherine, “Queen Of Perfection”, surely you can perfect this dance.

THE REAL LIFE

I wanted to find somewhere to hide, and I opened up and left those fears inside. And I wanted to be anyone else, only to find that there was no one there but me. But I woke up to real life and I realized it’s not worth running from anymore. When there was nowhere left to hide, I found out that nothing’s real here, but I won’t stop now until I find a better part of me. I let those hard days get me down, and all the things I hate got in my way. I could have screamed without a sound, I found myself silenced by those things they say.  But I won’t stop now until I find a better part of me that’s out there somewhere, and it can’t be that far away. That’s where I’ll find myself, and I’ll find my way out. That’s where I’ll find out. {3 Doors Down}

NOVEMBER 8, 1996: “What Lied Beneath” …

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On this cool, crisp day in November, John asked me to meet him at a church in Sachse where he had been invited by one of my new Christian friends and mentors, Angie (who he’d also befriended) to attend a Power Team Christian evangelism show where he would also later be baptized that as well. He said that he had “something very exciting and important” to tell me that night, and based upon the tone and context of the recent conversations we’d been having I had every reason to believe that he was actually going to propose to me! Imagine my surprise then when after the baptism I was led into a room in the back of the church, where there he was standing, beside Angie and her entire family, a lot of people whom I’d truly come to admire and respect. It was then that John told me that “he was so sorry”, but over the last months, and completely unbeknownst to me, “God had called them together”, they’d fallen madly in love, and had been hiding their relationship from me. There I stood, just as I had 20 years before, numb and sick with the same stinging, disconnected pain just beneath the top layer of my skin on “the day of the Spic and Span“. I walked out of the church, heartbroken and alone, and just started driving on a 300-mile round trip to Oklahoma City and back. I’d just danced with the devil, a narcissist of unspeakable proportion, who after all was said and done “hoovered me” for years to come, but that’s another story for another time.

When I arrived back in Dallas, it was just about time for the Saturday parking lot meet up with Christian and his dad for our weekend custody switch. I was wrecked beyond belief but doing everything I could to keep it all together for my son’s sake. I needed not to let what had happened the night before break me down completely, and by this stage in the game I was a pro at stuffing painful things down and pretending they just didn’t exist. Despite my best efforts, though, I consciously decided to pick a fight with my ex-husband so I could just run away and avoid having to fake my way through a “normal” weekend visit with son. I hadn’t slept in over 24 hours, had just experienced the second biggest bombshell of my life, and although I didn’t know it, was less than 15 minutes away from the first of my nervous breakdowns. I went back to my parents’, where I’d been living at the time, swallowed every single pill, capsule, and liquid medicine I could find in my bathroom. I JUST WANTED TO “GO HOME”!

The details of that morning were never very clear, but I do remember just lying there, rocking back and forth and screaming that I wanted to be with God. It was my sister who first realized what I had done to myself and called 911. Meanwhile, my ex-husband and Christian had followed me home because he’d been concerned that something was just “off” at our meeting and was worried. My parents were ballistic as my sister was frantically pulling me out of the bed and dragging me to the bathroom to throw up everything I’d swallowed. While I cannot and will not ever say that I actually died that day, what I can say is that something did happen within my body and soul in that moment that not only defies logic, but as well everything I’d been taught to believe about life, death, and “hereafter” in my cradle Catholicism. It was “something”. I went “somewhere”. “Somewhere” I can still hardly fathom. No, I never saw “the light” we all hear people talk about when they’ve had a near death experience, because again, I don’t think I was actually dying. Rather, there was a numbing, soothing, lulling void in my mind, as if I were being cradled in blissful nothingness by every single hand from every single shred of the universe at once. It was ethereal to say the least, and even still when I think of it I want to cry, but not in a sad way, in a joyous one. “That moment” fully devoured and immersed me in something so much bigger than my simple mind will ever understand, yet at the same time I very much do understand it.

Meanwhile, my Christian, a mere five years old at the time, managed to slip through all the chaos and come to me. He, too, was ballistic and frantically crying, but had taken hold of my wrist and was patting my back as though HE were the parent consoling their child. Up until that point, I hadn’t been able to focus on anything in the room, because everything around me was just “dark”, yet I could very clearly hear my son was saying:

Mommy, God’s not ready for you to go home. He wants you to stay here and be my Mom.

It’s imperative to note that although I could see his mouth moving and hear the words he was saying, it was not Christian’s voice I was hearing. I firmly believe, and will never be convinced otherwise, that it was God Himself was speaking to me through my son.

I stayed in the hospital for a few days until the state had me committed to a local Dallas psyche ward where I underwent intense treatment for clinical depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and the sorely delayed but much needed rape counseling I’d never gotten. My whole family was involved in this process, which was something that by then that we were all in dire need of. Looking back, I realize that I didn’t want to die that morning, I just couldn’t pull myself out of the black hole that I was in. I was lucky. Very lucky. I made it home in time for Christmas that year, feeling lighter and happier than I had in years, clear-headed, focused, and internally combusted with a fire in my soul of epic proportion. Despite the unbelievably selfish horror I had put them all through, my entire family welcomed me home again.

As for the devil? He never ONCE turned back see what he had done! It was such an easy choice for him to just discard me as the unwanted “baggage” he’d also once referred to as my son. As for me? It was everything, because I loved him, I’d trusted him, and had given him every piece of my already broken heart I could have given. As for her? Her betrayal of me “in Jesus’ name” literally murdered my soul and caused spiritual damage within my heart, soul and psyche that would literally take years to recover from.

Perhaps you’ve heard it said: “The devil doesn’t come dressed in a red cape and pointy horns. He comes as everything you’ve ever wished for”. It wasn’t for years that I’d finally understand that they were two of the actual devil’s own. He, the consummate wolf in sheep’s clothing, and she, by the name of “Angela”, the most beautiful angel of Light I could have known. My friend, mentor, and “sister in Christ”, with a pit viper’s tongue and a knife in her backstabbing hand. Indeed, it was my darkest hour to find out what really lied beneath the surface of two of the most truly evil “things” I’ve ever encountered. How very starved these two pathetic “human creatures” must have been that my heart became meals for his very small affect and her insignificant, insecure, and insincere ego.

WHAT LIES BENEATH

Take a breath. Hold it in. Start a fight. You won’t win. Had enough. Let’s begin. Never mind. I don’t care. All in all, you’re no good. You don’t cry like you should. Let it go if you could when love dies in the end. So, I’ll find what lies beneath your sick twisted smile as I lay underneath your cold, jaded eyes. Now you’ve turned the tide on me ’cause you’re so unkind. I will always be here for the rest of my life. Here we go. Does it hurt? Say goodbye to this world. I will not be undone. Come to life. It gets worse. … Don’t carry me under. You’re the Devil in disguise. God sing for the hopeless. I’m the one you left behind. {Breaking Benjamin}