Connecting the Threads

I have a lot of personal experience with brainwashing and being controlled and much of it stems from being a very empathetic person.  Empathy is normal, the majority of us have it; it's often seen as what makes us human and is referred to as having morals or a conscience, feeling for others, being able to understand how another person is suffering/joyous.  But not everyone in the world possesses it and those folks can be very dangerous because empathetic people identify with other people; psychopaths identify those people and use them.  (Technically a psychopath is without a conscience and a sociopath has a very weak one, but for this I am using them interchangeably.  Apologies to real psychologists!)

Words lead to feelings lead to actions in human beings.  In narcissistic psychopaths, words and actions are separate because the feelings don't exist.  Words are their truth and they ignore, deny, or don't even notice their own actions; they are delusional.  They spend all their time not taking responsibility or working towards goals, but rather shifting blame, denying things, and telling stories, oftentimes about other people.  They repeat themselves a lot because telling stories is how they will their reality into existence.
Case in point: Trump's words obviously lead to actions for most Americans (it was a forgone conclusion that a revolution was imminent), however for himself, his constant words are used to make others feel certain ways (shamed, defensive, inspired, outraged, etc) in order for them to act on those feelings and do what he wants them to.  His followers are "normal" emotionally connected individuals; he is not.  He manipulates others to do his bidding and can "get away with it" because it's technically not him "doing" anything.  He is a puppet master.  Sometimes the only consequence to harming others is a guilty conscience so with him, it doesn't matter.

People with this personality disorder create constant arguments where there are "two sides to every issue" when no, there are not always two sides.  Sometimes there is truth v. lies.  Giving credence to lies - giving them the same weight as the truth - is harmful and silencing and extremely controlling.  At the very least it makes everyone around them spend all their energy defending reality (and their sanity) and are therefore too distracted to go forward; they are stuck and powerless, without agency, and their lives are controlled by the sociopath.  This is also called gaslighting. (Note: a few years back I posted on this blog about how there are "three sides to everything" however, I had not yet explored the intricacies of dealing with narcissists at that point in my life and this post is absolutely an asterisk to the other one.)

They do not see nor can they respect boundaries; they will not allow people to have them.  Allowing others to retain their own space and volition (ie. freedom) would remove the sociopath's power; it might allow other narratives (ie. real reality) to exist or to allow another topic (besides themselves) be the focus of people's attention and that simply will not do.  They must retain the position of sun to the planets (content of all headlines!) or their story might possibly be seen as false and they would cease to exist.  And without the capacity to feel remorse, they can say and do anything; with nothing to answer to, nothing is out of bounds.  Folks like this thrive in businesses where livelihoods of humans can be exploited (oh, say... Manhattan real estate, pastor to a large congregation, or as the leader of one of the world's largest capitalist economies.)

They are their stories, which is pure ego.  Anything that runs counter to their narratives (an "ego wound") is seen as an attack on their very existence and whoever did it is now an enemy that must be destroyed.  Since they consist of ideas and words, they need an audience to persuade and take action for them, so whipping up mobs is how they function.  "Cancel culture" is synonymous with "public shaming" and is an orchestrated mob to harass, intimidate, and control their targets.  Since they have created an environment with "two sides to every "argument"" it gives credence to their false claims and forces people to pick sides, often pitting neighbors, family members, friends, or even strangers against each other.  The sociopath's vendettas become very personal warpaths for large numbers of people.  There is a lot of collateral damage in the form of people's real lives, real time, real money, real minds, real relationships, real bodies, and reality.  It's no coincidence that Trump was a "reality" tv personality; he deals in creating false realities.
Whether or not there are nefarious reasons to situations like these (fascist dictators, religious cult leaders, conmen running a ponzi scheme, theater producers making slick shows by exploiting unpaid interns, a romantic partner looking for real love but only able to approximate it by emotionally abusing you, etc) is up for debate.  But harm is harm; it mostly doesn't matter what the intentions are if the means to get there involves knowingly hurting others and facing no consequences.

TL;DR we are facing a fascist uprising; I was brainwashed as a teenager, exploited as an artist, and also just divorced a narcissistic psychopath; insight is being gained; sharing is caring.

Musings on being unfriended, exes, and online lives

I lost another Facebook friend today who was an actual close colleague in real life. This has happened twice now and it's over the same issue: me having the gall to acknowledge the presence of their ex. One case last year had me visiting LA and, having had a wonderful visit with my friend A two years prior, I texted her to see if she wanted to meet up and she promptly sent a terse response in the negative. I then checked online to see if there was something happening in her life that I missed and needed to know, but then noticed that she had unfriended me. A mutual friend told me the next day that it was because I had accepted the online "friendship" of her ex-husband. I accept friend requests from almost everyone, even strangers sometimes if they are part of performing arts networks, and hardly interact with online contacts; I regard FB friends as a large rolodex of people I know. I knew him, knew her side of their sad history, and thought if he wanted to connect online that perhaps he and A had worked things out or something -- I didn't give it much thought before clicking yes and promptly forgot about it. But A took it as a betrayal. There has been one time before when a colleague of mine reached out to say that someone I had on my "friend" list had abused her and would I please delete him as a contact because even seeing his name triggered her PTSD. I gladly did because I cared for her as a real friend and only connected with him because he produces a show I was hoping to perform in. I have since made the decision - which is mine to make and no one else's - to avoid the show and him. Had A reached out to explain herself, I would have absolutely deleted her ex because I care for her and hardly know him. But I suppose we were not very good friends in her eyes, because she wanted to delete me from her real life without even a word mentioned.

My abusive ex was recently outed on Twitter for being abusive. It took me so long - years - to end it with him (counseling is a marvelous thing and I recommend therapy to everyone) because he wasn't like that all the time. A lot of people in the shows I do, bands I'm in, and my social scenes know him and the reaction to his name is usually the same: they smile, laugh, and shake their heads. Why? Because he's funny! He's a charming, charismatic, fun dude! 85% of the time. The other 15% he's an angry, alcoholic, violent dude. When I first met him he had gotten fired from a show for drunkenly hitting a woman, but I thought he was working on himself. I believe in second chances; I've needed a second chance or two myself, sometimes. Well... he stopped working on himself and after much back-and-forth and crying and drama, we ended things. I lived a sort of hell for a while after that by having to always be reminded of him because that's how the performance scene goes: everyone hires him because of his fun side; his witty, quirky side that loves to drink whiskey, act like Groucho, and joke about his womanizing ways. I never faulted anyone for continuing to hire him, but knowing he'd be at a high percentage of shows I was either in or wanted to attend would paralyze me with anxiety. It still makes me nervous and I am prepared to leave any project if he's also cast. I'm not "over" it, but the only way I'm capable of saying something now is because I've made peace with it. I've been working on myself and that's the only thing that can be done. And here's the thing: it is my life, my history, my feelings, and the only thing/person I have control over is me. I let people know what happened (in a matter-of-fact way) anytime they express interest in dating him, including him in plans, booking him on a show that I'm performing at, etc. but if they want to hang out with him, employ him, befriend him, or totally acknowledge his existence and mention him occasionally, it is not my place to guilt them, harangue them, or vilify them because they are not in charge of keeping my story; they are not beholden to me for choices they make that do not concern me! I wish him peace; I truly want him to be healthy and happy and thriving. There will always be love in my heart for the love inside his and it's my wish that the past remain the past and that his path has led to a more compassionate, balanced, and aware place.

Yesterday I was featured in a magazine and was excited but nervous about how the article and photo had come out. I picked up a couple issues and was biking home with them, anxious about even opening one to see. At that moment, a theater colleague of mine passed by and I asked him to do the honors of opening it up to take a look at what thousands of New Yorkers had already read on their morning commutes. The exchange took about a minute and then the light changed and I was on my way to happily share the press exposure online. I threw in the encounter with the theater guy because it illustrated my feelings of excitement and nervousness. Now, theater guy used to be engaged to rock girl and I know them both very well. We've shared stages numerous times, they were guests at my wedding, I've cried to them, laughed with them, etc. and I know all about their on-again-off-again, contentious past and I know (oh boy, do I know) that in every relationship that has gone south, there are three sides: what he said, what she said, and what really happened. She is married to someone else now, he is happily living with someone, and I'm friends with both of them and love them. However, after posting the article, rock girl sent me many messages during the day and into the night, even commenting on my actual post with vivid detail, reminding me passionately of her side of the story over and over again and warning me not to talk about him or associate with him. I empathized with everything she said and was forced to re-live their drama four years after the fact. This morning I realized she had unfriended me.

Life is hard. We want to share our burdens and accomplishments and joys and sorrows; we don't want to keep them to ourselves. Feelings are slippery and sticky and ethereal and tricky. Boundaries can be set in stone or made of smoke. Online lives (which are a strange, funky version of our real lives) are now part of the whole package and can give you unexpected boosts of fun and intrigue and connectedness, but can also challenge you with things you thought you'd left behind. I have no answer to this difficult issue, which can often feel like an uninvited intrusion that rips open old wounds. I suppose the openness and vulnerability of having an online presence can force us to deal with and heal the things we normally would have avoided because if we don't, we run the risk of feeling betrayed by friends who aren't really players in our personal struggles.

And lastly, because much of this post dealt with the topic of domestic abuse, I want to say this: no matter your personal demons, it's never an excuse for abusive behavior. No matter what is happening in a relationship, it's not an excuse to hit someone. No matter how much you've had to drink, it's not an excuse to kick them. No matter what words were said or emotions are erupting, it's not an excuse to choke them. No matter what, there's never an excuse to rip their hair out and throw them to the ground. Doesn't matter the size difference between you or what your genders are, there is never any excuse for violence. A lot of people have told me that it takes two to tango. Yes it does, but when you realize your dance partner isn't getting help and you've cried yourself to sleep every night for almost a year, then it's time to leave. That's on you. Don't stop dancing - never stop dancing! Just...find a new partner and know that your old partner still lives in the world, has the rest of her/his path to continue, will probably interact with people you know, and that it's also on you to navigate the dancefloor.


Wow, insomnia! You really help me get shit done, lol. Two posts in one night is unheard of. In this case, you've helped me finish something I started a year and a half ago. Sometimes it takes me that long to be emotionally distanced from a topic so I can write about it. Here we go:

There is a colleague of mine whom I have been nothing but professional with. I haven’t humored his attempts at getting close to me, nor have I rewarded any of his behavior: he writes and sends me poetry, I don’t read it; he gave me an unsolicited mixtape, I politely thanked him but tossed it away and didn’t ever mention it again; he gave me a book, it went unread; he offered to take me out for cake and I went because Ifuckinglovecakeanddon’twanttoliveinaworldwithoutcake, but made conversation like an adult without any flirting and kept the topics to our shared, professional interests. And then I paid for my own goddamn cake because I didn’t enjoy the interaction with him. I always made it clear in our interactions that I either had a boyfriend or was dating and never, ever, ever led him to believe I would ever be interested in dating him. When he started coming to all of my shows and touching me at all social functions... that’s when I began to feel unpleasant and grow cold towards him. He then started visiting my dating profile and even went so far as to post a missed connection online for me that my friends alerted me to. This is stalker behavior.

Then I received an unwanted “love” letter from him, but let me be clear: It is not love if it isn’t reciprocated. It’s harassment. The letter verges on obsession. I am not going to respond to him, but I AM going to respond here:


You start out by saying you’re sorry. You should be sorry - for making me spend my time having to deal with your issues and wasting my energy on this. You apologize five times over the course of the letter, wherein you call me a genius and the creator of a new world, as well as “spiky, difficult, wanton, brilliant, and untamed.” You then go on to say you shouldn’t and will not judge me for being real and flawed instead of a fantasy and that if we were to date I would “tear you up” and “break” you. I can’t... I can’t even. ~facepalm~ This deified/vilified way of speaking about women is so detrimental. Ladies just can’t win! (In fact, your last words in the letter are “we would have been something, we would have won”, basically saying that I cannot succeed at life without you.)

You admire how strong and powerful I am. How do you think I got that way? Take a guess. Yeah, dealing with dudes like you and having to build a thicker skin, straighter spine, and 100-mile stare. I did not ask to hear any of this, but you told me anyway. I avoided you because I didn’t want to hear what you had to say, but you just had to make me hear it anyway. Gross.

I know I’m amazing, you don’t have to tell me. I don’t make art for you or for fame or to cultivate a legion of fans. I love to entertain. If I’m charming and fun to be around, it’s not to impress anyone, certainly not you. The reward for being a pleasant, confident person should not be feelings of dread and fear because here is the truth: by attaching yourself to my talents, charms, and life you make me want to stop being talented, charming, and lively.

The first letter like yours that I received was at the age of 13. His was more than just creepy; it was vile, objectionable, and offensive: the writing of a hormone-ravaged adolescent from a family with a history of mental illness. He, too, was impressed by what I do with art and I was willing to stop doing what I was good at - to turn out my light - because it attracted his unwanted advances. Thankfully someone saw the confusion, anxiety, fear, and tears his attention brought me, told a teacher, and he was removed from my vicinity. And even then I thought it was my fault that he acted like that because he said I brought it out in him.

You position yourself to be my savior; the support I need to realize my true potential. You describe the gifts you’d give me as “trust, peace, security, inspiration, support, and love." And while I have found these qualities (in more areas than just a man) and hope to find them over and over again, they can’t be given to me. Or in this case thrust upon me. They are cultivated from within and recognized in others. The brighter they shine in me, the more I will see the brightness elsewhere. You bemoan, “I guess I've lost you pretty much completely” but you never had me! No one can have anyone. But they can connect.

Now that I’ve written all this, maybe your letter did help me realize things and help me in some way. I feel a touch stronger, an inch taller, and my gaze might be just a bit longer.

Now leave me alone and never touch or speak to me again.


Oh hey, blog! What's up? Insomnia's returned, so I'm running back to you. ;)

Let's see, an update: I have since lost the matchmaking job I posted about, not because I wasn't good at it (I was!) but because I ran off with a rock band to tour North America. Which is a job I also lost, not because I wasn't good at it (I was!) but because ultimately it wasn't a perfect fit. For one huge, glaring reason (which is why I was very happy to leave after the tour) but also smaller, less glare-y reasons. I came to the realization on my own, halfway through Canada that I didn't really belong there. And it was a calm, internal thing; I was quiet and reasonable about it. Which is WEIRD for me.

Let it be known that I have always been astoundingly awkward when it comes to realizing things, making decisions, or basically growing/evolving in any way. I am forced kicking and screaming into self-awareness and enlightenment, knocking over everything on my way and usually hurting innocent bystanders in the process. I do not like change. I know things are wrong or don’t fit, yet I DO NOT WANT TO CHANGE IT. Perhaps because I'm so happy to have anything, anyone, something with me: any job is better than no job, any man is better than being alone, any artistic outlet is better than nothing, any house is better than no home, etc etc etc. So I stay and stay and stay and eventually explode. Because some higher power simply won't let me live out my days in a "meh" fashion. Nowadays (say, maybe the past 8 months) I stay less time, but still explode. I want to get to a place where I’m graceful, quiet, and slick about it. It’s so traumatic. The realization part is usually more drama than the actual situation I’m addressing. Why do I react so violently to learning, moving, leaving, expanding? If I were gloriously happy someplace or madly in love with someone or blissed out doing some job, that’d be one thing. But...I'm not sure I ever have been. Not for longer than a few months, at any rate. This sounds so teenage goth (and I'm blaming you for this, insomnia!) but I’m not sure I know what true contentment feels like; being in a place that satisfies every need and even the less savory parts I'm confident will work themselves out? Nnnnnno. Gonna say no. But I WANT it so badly that I lie and say I have it in order to feel better. And when the truth finally bores itself out from under my fantasies and into my line of sight, I throw a grenade and light all the bridges on fire. In front of everyone. Usually standing on one of them.

Whoa, new everything right now!

I had such high hopes of writing here all the time and then my life got turned upside down! I'm sure most entries start like that, with an apology for not writing enough. Oh well. :)

So I've got a new job as a professional matchmaker and it's the perfect combination of inter-personal skills I been honing as a performer, with the office skills I've been honing at dayjobs for 15 years. I'm sort of loving it. I'm currently typing on break in my cubicle:

(sidenote: it's been exactly half my life since I moved to NYC ~tossing confetti~)

My therapist asks the question I should ask of many things: why this, why now? What am I supposed to learn from this thing/person/situation that's landed in my lap? And it IS unique - most of my family/friends didn't even know people did this for a living until I dropped the news on them.

Good question, Mr. Therapist! And the answer will be providing much material for one of my radio segments. Topics that are touched on at work are: dating in NY, judging books by their covers, searching for happiness, how a partner fits in with the ideas of success (and why women tend to want a man on their "level" of income and "success" whereas a man is fine with someone who is several rungs down the ladder), babies/family, the differences (or perceived differences) between men and women.

I'll hopefully be going on a retreat in 2 weeks to start writing in earnest about these topics and more. Oh, and along with the everything-is-new headline, I recently have a new home and am newly single. My feelings on these are mixed.

Pirate? Irate?

Oh my god, does anyone use LiveJournal anymore??

The name PirateJenny was already taken. So I chose IrateJenny because it's true: I am often "feeling or characterized by great anger." (synonyms: angry, furious, infuriated, incensed, enraged, fuming, seething, cross, mad, livid)

That being said, some of the reasons I'm journaling are to chill out, process emotions/thoughts, opine, and self-therapize because I'm fatigued by the outrage and overwhelming irate-itude that's coming across in articles, shows, and conversations.

Also, I need to get writing skills flowing because Radio Free Brooklyn has decided (against better judgement??) to let me have my own radio show come fall, so it's best to start flexing the word muscles sooner rather than later. I want to showcase my peers' voices as well as my own (hopefully more so - it's a 2-hour program!) on a myriad of multi-layered topics.

Learning how to record and edit the content will also be fun. I hope. :) And I already picked a title! "Blonde Thunder Presents:"