“The main condition for the achievement of love is the overcoming of one's narcissism. The narcissistic orientation is one in which one experiences as real only that which exists within oneself, while the phenomena in the outside world have no reality in themselves, but are experienced only from the viewpoint of their being useful or dangerous to one. The opposite pole to narcissism is objectivity; it is the faculty to see other people and things as they are, objectively, and to be able to separate this objective picture from a picture which is formed by one's desires and fears.”
- Erich Fromm, The Art of Loving
“Mama, Mama, help me get home
I'm out in the woods, I am out on my own.
I found me a werewolf, a nasty old mutt
It showed me its teeth and went straight for my gut.
Mama, Mama, help me get home
I'm out in the woods, I am out on my own.
I was stopped by a vampire, a rotting old wreck
It showed me its teeth and went straight for my neck.
Mama, Mama, put me to bed
I won't make it home, I'm already half-dead.
I met an Invalid, and fell for his art
He showed me his smile, and went straight for my heart.
- Lauren Oliver, Delerium. From "A Child's Walk Home," Nursery Rhymes and Folk Tales”
Somehow I managed to surround myself with acquaintances who were nothing like me. I have never had a problem with understanding belief systems different than the ones I hold. These people would've had a problem with me had I come completely clean with them. I think it was suspected and known deep down - what I really was, but it was never addressed. I lived like Lot - not necessarily in the middle of bestiality, pedophiles, incestuous relationships, rapists, and the like...at least, as far as I know. But I lived in the middle of people who would execute me and my loved ones should a literal war of opinion ever occur.
I'm not a doctor but my intuition, observation, research, and common sense tells me that all of these individuals likely suffer Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Oddly enough they herded together quite well - though jockeying for position. I know my loved one (my daughter) is beautiful, majestic, noble, loyal, and a joy to be with. These sheep, in their herd mentality, would look on her disapprovingly. They would disregard her, mock her, and have an overall visible disdain for her.
I believe in vampires.
“Collective fear stimulates herd instinct, and tends to produce ferocity toward those who are not regarded as members of the herd.”
-Bertrand Russell, Unpopular Essays
“Let's face it. We live in a command-based system, where we have been programmed since our earliest school years to become followers, not individuals. We have been conditioned to embrace teams, the herd, the masses, popular opinion -- and to reject what is different, eccentric or stands alone. We are so programmed that all it takes for any business or authority to condition our minds to follow or buy something is to simply repeat a statement more than three or four times until we repeat it ourselves and follow it as truth or the best trendiest thing. This is called "programming" -- the frequent repetition of words to condition us how to think, what to like or dislike, and who to follow.”
-Suzy Kassem, Rise Up and Salute the Sun: The Writings of Suzy Kassem
Even in the midst of having the life sucked out of her, she made a stand to resist being a follower. By remaining individual she was subject to ferocity. Refusing to bend to their will she was victim to mockery, jealousy, "sticks and stones", and even hate.
I have to admit that, at one time, I too misunderstood her needs and my senses were dulled by a spell - preventing me from being an advocate or even a protector of someone so very near and dear to me. We all know a vampire can't come into your home unless you invite them in. I invited them in. I hope she can forgive me and I hope she knows I've crawled out of darkness.
With me by her side, I plan to arm her with garlic, crucifixes, wooden stakes, and bucketfuls of sunlight. We shall ride fearlessly into the sunset dousing the ground with holy water watching it burn away all evil - all death - standing in the way of life.
"Our stars are not where we last admired them. Our homes crumble and we don't now which place to long for."
- Ann Duyan, A Famous Broken Heart: A Fantasy Novel
"Eloi Eloi lama sabachthani?"
-Jesus of Nazareth
Now I've refocused my attention on the dearest person in my life right now. For it's one thing to have your heart broken. It's an entirely different level of suffering that comes with complete abandonment.
It is, of course, too soon to spill details. That time may actually never come. But my free heart aches once again for someone else who doesn't deserve the pain and the agony of being forsaken. I pray she knows how much I love her and I pray that one day she will know who longs for her and what she longs for. I pray that she will come to believe in the sun again.
I weep for those who feel all alone. I ache for those who want to feel loved. I lament for the abandoned.
Sometimes when walls seem enemies, and sleep
Given to others like a cruel jest
Sent for my mocking, I, being mad for rest,
Creep out all lonely past the huddled sheep,--
Stirring with drowsy tang of bells that keep
Soft iterance through the whispery night, where nest
And nestling sway, by winnowing wind caressed,--
There fling myself along the grass to weep,
Sobs gathering, hands gripped hard into the earth,--
The blesséd earth that takes us back at last!--
And think, "Ah, could this knowledge now befall
Some woman who for long hath thought me worth
Only her hatred, she would hold me fast
And strive to comfort me, forgetting all."
“The darker the night, the brighter the stars,
The deeper the grief, the closer is God!”
- Fyodor Dostoevsky, Crime and Punishment
“Only people who are capable of loving strongly can also suffer great sorrow, but this same necessity of loving serves to counteract their grief and heals them.”
- Leo Tolstoy
“Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid.”
-Frederick Buechner, Beyond Worlds: Daily Readings in the ABC’s of Faith
Finally the Lord said to Samuel, “You have mourned long enough for Saul…”
1 Samuel 16:1
A familiar reader will undoubtedly realize that the zeal or passion in these daily posts is losing strength and momentum. Perhaps it wasn’t zeal or passion at all that was driving it though. It would be quite reasonable for me to admit that it was depression and fear that captained the ship. I want to say that “longing” played a part in that but I’m not sure if that’s appropriate. The threats to quit writing yet continuing to do so is problematic. If it was depression or fear that drove it, that is gone.
I waited and waited in the darkest of nights and now it’s all stars - it’s all God. My grief has healed me. The Lord has spoken to me and informed me that I have mourned long enough.
Cautiously I proceed in hopes that I can help light your pathway to an even stronger loving. Dear God! I hope you land on the shores I’ve landed on, where:
My spirit leaked from the wounds.
A whole spirit pooled.
I rose from the carcass of my torment.
I stood on the brink of heaven.
And I swear that Great Territory did quake
When I fell, free.
-Gregory Corso, Transformation & Escape (excerpt)
This wraps up another cycle of offerings from Hoarsely Cry. Remember to visit the "Free Stuff" link on the righthand column for other mix discs and a variety of other kitsch. Just send an address to get free stuff sent your way!
Volume IV Playlist:
1. The Smiths . I Know It’s Over
2. Russ Colombo . Just Friends
3. Charles Bukowski . Alone With Everybody
4. Beck . Lost Cause
5. Johnny Cash . Mr. Lonesome
6. Gregory Corso . Last Night I Drove A Car
7. Red House Painters . Katy Song
8. John Lennon . Love
9. Percy Bysshe Shelley . Time
10. Angel Olsen . Spring
11. Black Heart Procession . Till We Have To Say Goodbye
12. Leonard Cohen . That’s No Way To Say Goodbye
13. Emily Dickinson . We Outgrow Love
14. Fugazi . I’m So Tired
We Outgrow Love
We outgrow love, like other things
And put it in the Drawer -
Till it an Antique fashion shows -
Like Costumes Grandsires wore.
Cicada No. 3. Oil on wood panel . 48" x 48" . 2020 Amos Oaks. Photo by Brian Scott Pittman
“Remember me and smile, for it’s better to forget than to remember me and cry.”
I was never able to say “goodbye” to her. I said “please don’t go” more times than I can count. I said “farewell” because I didn’t think it had as much permanence to it. I never knew how to say it. She had planned an elaborate “goodbye” for years. But, last night, I was finally able to deliver a proper “goodbye”.
In August of 2017 I delivered a threat of divorce in an outlandish display of wanting attention and attempting to create shock and drama in a situation where I was gaining no ground. To me, it was just one of many arguments that would blow over. Three days later, I was asked when I was going to leave. That’s when the begging started. I was shocked that she took that threat seriously and even more shocked at how thrilled and relieved she seemed to be at the prospect of a life without me in it. I continued to beg through the rest of August and on into September. But I had ignited a fuse that refused to be snuffed out and agreed to her demand for me to be out by November 2.
For years, she had asked me to paint a portrait of her. This was something that I was never comfortable creating because I felt like I could not do her justice and that my insecurities would shine through. As soon as I was alone, I started to create that painting. It was complete just one day before Valentine’s Day 2018. In my mind I had fantasies of her melting away - gushing over the painting and falling back in to my arms. What I didn’t know was that she had moved her boyfriend In across the street from her and my daughter the very month I was ejected from the house. This was news I didn’t learn until the summer of 2019. It was worse than the separation and far worse than the divorce for me.
Full of hope and excited with this lovely work that included her holding our cat and blooming peonies, I loaded it up in my vehicle and drove to her place. As I was walking up the porch steps, she just happened to be opening the front door to let the dog out. “The stars have aligned!” I thought. She looked at me oddly and asked what I was doing there. I explained that I had brought Valentine’s Day gifts for her and my daughter. She looked at the painting oddly and gave a grunting chuckle. That was about the only response I got from her.
She divorced me in August of that year. One year later she was packing to move away. I had not really completely gone through everything in the house and offered to help her pack and move. After she was gone, there was still quite a bit of cleaning up for me to do. I did one last sweep of the attic and discovered the painting - face against insulation and covered in lint from a broken dryer vent hose. A bit sad about the complete disregard for the painting, I went home for a long walk. The evening was heavy with the shrill mourning song of the cicada. I came back to my house, sanded her image off the wooden surface of the painting and drew a cicada on it. Several days later, I wrote a lament titled “Cicada”.
In December 2019 I started working on 14 different cicada paintings and collaborated with a small group of musicians to compose an orchestrated “life-cycle” piece that would accompany the poem.
Last night I had an event - a showing of these paintings with a performance of the poem and orchestration. This illustrative group of images were a journal-like display of my life in a very intimate setting. The small venue was shoulder to shoulder with around 120 individuals. Some of these folks were very near and dear to me. Some folks were acquaintances. Some were people I’d never seen before. But everyone there felt like family. It felt like a support group of people who had come to rejoice that a life was no longer dormant but was emerging - a life that would sing a shrill song and have a moment to make a positive lasting impact. It was my moment to give a proper “goodbye” to the girl who I gave my heart, mind, and soul to for 26 years.
There were so many things concerning me that she wasn’t wrong about. She would tell you that I am dramatic. I can’t even say “goodbye” without making a production of it.
“Your time may come. Do not be too sad, Sam. You cannot be always torn in two. You will have to be one and whole, for many years. You have so much to enjoy and to be, and to do.”
-J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King
The album “3” by The Black Heart Procession was released 19 years ago. I had never heard a dirge so hopeless in all my life. I had been in a bit of a rut with my musical selections and had no particular life soundtrack at the time. It is tragically funny that this became my soundtrack. Reason being, I tend to romanticize what we “had” in our marriage. I do that because it had so much good about it that I always felt outweighed the bad. The problem was that the bad was never addressed. She refused intervention and the problems only stewed until they finally boiled over.
This was also a time when I was trying to find a way out of my job of intense labor as a sub-contractor in the construction work force. I’d been involved with it for a decade and I was over it. My former wife did not care what I did in life as long as it generated an abundance of wealth. The wealth never came.
I have a very vivid memory of spending a day demolishing a metal fire escape that led from a second story apartment in a multi-unit house that I was in the process of turning back into a single family home. After a great deal of pain, frustration, and exhaustion, I sat at the top of the threshold with my legs dangling over the void where the escape had been earlier that day. The Black Heart Procession were lamenting lost love in the background. I was well-aware then that I was in a loveless marriage - 16 years before it was over. But I continued to have a relationship, a job, a way of life that was detrimental to me, to her, to our children. I sat on that threshold and wept for a very long time.
The looking back is so unhealthy. The looking forward is what I do now and God! how refreshing that is! There is a line in today’s offering, “Till We Have To Say Goodbye” that mourns, “But you’ll never know this life till you have to say goodbye.” I always saw this song, like most songs on this album, as completely lost and hopeless. But viewing life through rosy eyes, I now take that line as gospel. If I had not finally been able to say goodbye, I would never have had the ability to move forward - to put myself in a position to know this life. And this is a life I look forward to living.
"Post this at all the intersections, dear friends: Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear."
-James 1:19 (MSG)
"A man should never miss an opportunity to keep his mouth shut."
-David Eddings, The Treasured One
"You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep spring from coming."
I am looking forward to cold weather moving out. I can't wait for warm sun, flowers, green grass - rebirth and renewal. A time of resurrection, new life, new hope. I'm headed out of an emotional winter right now. I have absolutely no interest the "beloved" any longer and still don't want to get into those details, but the essence of the situation must be explored today.
The events that took place last weekend - revelations that made me loathe the one I used to love - were so full of nerve-wracking drama and involved a rather large circle of individuals. I lashed out at many of these folks because I missed an opportunity to keep my mouth shut. I allowed my tongue to lead. A dear friend of mine often calls me "Mr. Reactionary". I do many things without thinking them through. I am very spontaneous with ideas, actions, decisions, and my tongue. It is unfortunate and one of many negative traits I continue to iron out as I move out of winter. In my reaction, I assumed things about friends related to my turning point and said things to those friends that I immediately regretted but it was too late. I've been putting out fires for two days.
I met with a very dear friend last night who was crushed by my assumptions and my stern reprimand. There was immediate forgiveness from this individual and we were able to iron things out but there will be a scar...you don't forget stuff like that. Alas! But I'm leaving it behind with everything else I'm leaving behind. I cannot continue to allow Mr. Reactionary's past decisions to haunt me. I've been forgiven.
As far as lamenting love lost, I just can't do it. The daily posts have been so stale. There is no heartbreak to ponder any longer. This is something I thought I'd be working through for at least another year but it's like pulling teeth at this point. I keep threatening to quit but keep having individuals encourage me to keep posting. Even last night, the friend I met up with for my apology informed me that they had just been through a breakup. On a road trip taken this weekend (when my reactionary self sent out the scolding) they had listened to the mix CDs. One disc in particular hit home for them and a choreographed event was played out in their mind from the 1st track all the way through the 14th. Stories like that make me want to keep it up.
I realize today's post is a drag. It is dull, boring, and doesn't really stick to a single point. I'm just trying to wake up from my dream - I'm thawing out from a very long winter. I am learning lessons and I'm so excited to move forward. I can't and won't lament the one I used to love any longer but I'll always have nostalgia for everything that came with the first few months I laid eyes on her. The fact that her innocence is so long gone is more heartbreaking than anything now.
This past October, I traveled to Cincinnati, Ohio to see Cigarettes After Sex. While in town, I went shopping for records. Angel Olsen's newest album, "All Mirrors", had just been released. I went to the turntable bar at Shake It Records to give it a sample. About 15 seconds played before I lifted the stylus, took the wax off the platter, and returned it to it's sleeve. It wasn't because I was unimpressed - I was in love with it and knew I was buying it without needing to hear another note.
At the time, I was still in a pretty sad state. I was blown away by the lyrical content of this album and thought, "If I had the ability to write songs, this is the album I would have written for my life right now." It was uncanny. My poor daughter rolled her eyes at me daily because I played it over and over and over and over again. I'm still playing it. Without a doubt, my favorite album in the past 3 years.
Today's offering - delivered at the end of my longest and most disorganized post to date - is "Spring". Track 5 from "All Mirrors" lands exactly where it should on this gorgeous album. If you have a story of redemption and hope send it my way. I'll pick one to share on the site. If chosen, I'll send you your own vinyl copy of Angel Olsen's "All Mirrors". If you don't have a turntable, I'll send you the download code and keep it as a back up.
As spring reveals itself, I pray you find the love that will never leave - plant it in your heart.
Percy Bysshe Shelley
Unfathomable Sea! whose waves are years,
Ocean of Time, whose waters of deep woe
Are brackish with the salt of human tears!
Thou shoreless flood, which in thy ebb and flow
Claspest the limits of mortality!
And sick of prey, yet howling on for more,
Vomitest thy wrecks on its inhospitable shore;
Treacherous in calm, and terrible in storm,
Who shall put forth on thee,
“Love never dies a natural death. It dies because we don't know how to replenish its source. It dies of blindness and errors and betrayals. It dies of illness and wounds; it dies of weariness, of witherings, of tarnishings.”
- Anais Nin
If you navigate to Hoarsely Cry for daily devotion, you may have noticed I skipped a couple of days. There is a wonderful reason for that. Like magic, I have been liberated of heartbreak. This isn't a joke. I don't have the energy to explain why or feel the need to go into the details.
I no longer wanted to write daily thoughts on here even though it had become part of a daily routine for me. It was something I looked forward to and it was a practice that was helping me to realize my sadness was not nearly as great as I portrayed it in my writing and offerings.
This blog had nothing to do with my freedom. It was actually something the former "beloved" did. So, cheers to her for her poor decision making!
As I was about to delete the website, my daughter asked what I was doing. When I explained, her response was, "Don't do that!" She told me that she enjoyed seeing me write and really liked the collection of music and quotes and other projects. She let me know that she saw a change in me once I started writing.
So, for now, I'll continue to curate heartbreak. Not for me though - maybe for you. I hope that something in here soothes your heart. I hope you understand that you will rise above this seemingly hopeless situation.
I do understand that I am the recipient of an emotion that needed a good death. I realize that I am surrounded by people who are full of life - people I truly love and who truly love me.