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Close To Monsters #30

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This weeks comic is brought to you by the fact that you are nothing but an amalgamation of all your parents flaws and problems.

Wanna write your own caption for this comic strip? Then head on over to my Patreon, where for a mere 25 dollars a month, you not only get all the previous rewards, but also get the write a caption for one of these, and get credited for it!

Buy My Book!  Support Me Via Patreon!

I’m Maggie. If you like this thing I made, you might like some other things I make, like my depressing webcomic “In Space, No One Can Hear You Cry”, my podcast network “The Feel Bad Network” or my writing over at Medium. You can also find some published work for sale over at my Payhip or support my work at my Patreon! Anything helps & is appreciated, thanks!

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The Name Tape

s-l1600When I was a little girl, one of the things my mother got me was this tape. It was blue, and it had your name on it, and about 5 songs in total. I was able to find a picture of it. Now, granted, my name isn’t Kevin, nor am I a boy, but this was the only image I was really able to find of these things.

I had a walkman, and I often listened to music when going out somewhere because the noises of society would be far too overwhelming and often distress me. I have very clear memories of sitting in front of our air conditioner in the mornings before my mom woke up, listening to this tape on repeat. Why? Because the songs on these tapes made me feel special, like someone had created it just for me, because kids are dumb and believe stupid shit like that. But, there’s another reason why it hit me so hard, and that’s because I had nobody else telling me I was special, at least not for some other reason, like academically or whatever.

See, when I was very young, I was often told I was bright or articulate or special because I had excellent memory, could recite entire stories at the drop of a dime and did fairly well in school, and thus a ton of praise was heaped on me. But nobody ever told me I was special just. for. being. ME. I know. I know. I can hear the hateful masses clammoring to be the first to tell me, “Waaah! The ‘everyone gets a trophy’ generation didn’t get pampered enough!”, yeah yeah, whatever. Fuck off. First of all, as kids, we didn’t create that concept, okay? That was for the parents so they didn’t have to deal with their kids crying because they didn’t also win something, alright? Our parents created that shit, not us, okay? And secondly, yes, being told you’re special as a child, especially when you’re a child like me, would’ve actually been very helpful because when someone tells you long enough that you’re NOT special, guess what? It decimates your self esteem and you stop ever being able to believe in yourself, and being that I never understood why everyone was mean to me or didn’t like me, it made me feel absolutely worthless, because nobody was telling me I’m special even without those strangers acceptance, and that I just need to focus on believing in myself.

Believe it or not, that shit MATTERS.

So I would listen to this tape, because this tape at least believed I was special for just being me, and that was something. Here were these singers who, despite obviously paid to do this, were telling me that I was actually special. That I did matter. And for fragile broken 6 year old me, that meant the WORLD. Nostalgia is a fickle beast. Some shows I rewatch from my childhood, they really don’t give me the same feelings I had when I watched them originally. It’s cool to rewatch them, but it does ultimately nothing for me beyond the “enjoyment” factor. But this tape…I can go on youtube and listen to the songs (granted not with my name in them), and it’s like a punch to the gut. I nearly start crying. It all comes rushing back to me for just a half hour and afterwards I feel so much better, so much more grounded.

In the end, a cassette tape raised me more than my family, and there’s a lot to be said about that.

Buy My Book!  Support Me Via Patreon!

I’m Maggie. If you like this thing I made, you might like some other things I make, like my depressing webcomic “In Space, No One Can Hear You Cry”, my podcast network “The Feel Bad Network” or my writing over at Medium. You can also find some published work for sale over at my Payhip or support my work at my Patreon! Anything helps & is appreciated, thanks!

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I Am One Broken Bitch

Today, WordPress informed me that I started my blog two years ago on this day. I’ve thought a bit about how to go about discussing this, as it is supposed to be a happy occasion, but of course, you all know me, so you shouldn’t be surprised when I say it’s the opposite. The majority of this blog has been used for introspection and analysis on myself, so the fact that I’ve been using it for that over 2 years now means there’s more than enough wrong with me that I really, really need to look at myself, and frankly that’s more than a bit disheartening.

I understand that progress, recovery and whatnot doesn’t just happen overnight, but I feel like I’ve barely made any impact over these two years. I wanted to look at myself, really dive deep into who I am and why I am the way that I am, and while I think I’ve managed to do that pretty well, I wish…I don’t know, I guess I wish I could come away with a better conclusion than simply “I’m a broken girl.” I want it to be revelatory. I want it to be mind shattering. It isn’t, and I know that’s not how this whole thing works. You don’t just wake up one day and realize what’s been wrong all along and now you’re ready to fix things and you’re cured. I realize recovery takes a long time. I just feel like I could’ve either done more, and didn’t realize I had this much wrong with me.

That’s the thing about trauma. You don’t know just how much you have until you’ve started working through it. It wasn’t just one specific incident, no, it’s ongoing. I have trauma even from this past year. It’s something that I’m going to have to work on for a long, long time to come. But, I would like to say that I appreciate those of you who read this blog, and who are either interested in me and my recovery, or can see a bit of me in yourself because you too have survived trauma. I really do appreciate it, so thank you.

I am not planning on stopping my recovery or analysis anytime soon. I’ve learned so much more about myself in the last two years than I have before, and all on my own, and it feels great knowing I’m putting in all the effort myself, because I myself want to get better. Having places like this, or the projects that I do, the fiction I write, the podcasts I create, having something to view my issues through like a lens, to magnify them and really get into the root…it helps tremendously. Art is my therapy, this blog has been therapeutic and knowing that there’s people out there who know how I feel, who can connect with my issues…well that’s been therapeutic as hell too.

I’m a problem, but I’m also a person. So here’s to another two, five or ten years. However long it takes is however long it takes, but I know that at the end, I will be a better girl than I am today, and that’s the entire point, and if you wanna stick with me, then strap in, ’cause it’s gonna be a bumpy ride, but I sure as hell appreciate your company.

I’m Maggie. If you like this thing I made, you might like some other things I make, like my depressing webcomic “In Space, No One Can Hear You Cry”, the satirical online newspaper of “Nowhere, US”, my podcast “Coping With Tonal Shifts In Reality” or my writing over at Medium.

Wanna donate to me directly? You can do that via PayPal! Wanna support me ongoing month to month and get content early? You can do that via Patreon! Wanna support me but can’t do it continuously? You can do that via Buy Me A Coffee! Thanks for whatever you can spare, I really appreciate it!

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Life Is A Series Of Junk

“What the fuck is it?” Sandy asked, chewing her nails as she and Derek stood over a table at the same flea market they hit every other weekend. Her free hand on her hip, her baseball cap shielding her eyes from the sun, she still couldn’t make out exactly what she was looking at. Derek was playing with the sleeves hanging from the flannel over shirt she’d tied around her waist.

“I think it’s what we in the industry refer to as…’crap’,” he finally said, making her chuckle.

“It’s a loom,” the older woman coming out of the camper behind the table said, as she opened her lawn chair and took a seat, “It’s used to weave thread, make blankets, clothes, that kind of shit.”

“Oh, that’s cool,” Sandy said as she moved down the table, continuing to look at things while Derek stood over the loom, looking down, until he heard a lighter flick a few times and noticed the older woman trying to light her cigarette. She was maybe in her late 40s, and had curly blonde hair and oval glasses. She crossed her legs as she lifted the cigarette to her lips and took a long drag.

“So, what, you’re some sort of seamstress?” Derek asked and the woman laughed, shaking her head.

“Hand making clothes in this day and age? What’re you, stupid? No, this is just an amalgamation of my moms and grandmothers crap. You know how it is, you try and work for a number of years but that isn’t enough so now you try and sell the things you never wanted to sell because of the emotional attachment you’ve got to them since the people they belonged to are gone now, simply to make enough money to buy a frozen dinner because nothing in this country is cheap anymore,” the woman said and Derek nodded.

“I do indeed know how it is,” he said, “It’s ridiculous that people older than me have to live the same way that I do, or worse. At that age you should be at least semi well off enough to be able to take care of yourself and not worry, but no. It’s sick.”

“Is it hard?” Sandy asked, coming back and holding a ceramic pug in her hands, “Also how much is this?”

“That’s 2 bucks and the loom is 35,” the woman said, shrugging, “Can’t charge too much or you’re just as exorbitant as the people you’re badmouthing. You just can’t fuckin win anymore.”

“Is it hard? Ya know, to…to make clothes?” Sandy asked, “I teach ballet, and I’d like to maybe make some costumes by hand for some productions in the fall. Is it hard? Does it come with, like, an instruction manual or something?”

“Uh, ya know what, there might be actually, lemme go check,” the woman said, rising from her seat and heading back into the camper. Derek slid his hands into his pockets and rocked back and forth on his feet, glancing at the ceramic pug in Sandys hands.

“The fuck is that ugly thing?” he asked.

“Don’t talk that way about Maurice,” Sandy said, gently petting it, “He’s my child and I love him.”

“Here we go!” the woman said, hauling a small accordion container out of the camper, “I knew there were some instructions with it! God bless packrat grandmothers, am I right? Now I have tons of crap to haul around and sell only just enough of it at a price low enough to just break even on gas money.”

Derek watched Sandy pull out her wallet and start to pay the woman. Her teaching gig was paying pretty well these days, and Derek wasn’t doing too terribly himself, but their funds weren’t anything to be wowed by just yet, not even close. The woman, Pam, said she’d help them carry the loom to their car, since they had no other way to get it there and Sandy was already holding the ceramic pug. As Pam lifted the loom and the three of them headed off through the crowd of people, for the first time in a long time, things felt pretty okay.

“So, you two come here often?” Pam asked.

“Try to every other weekend,” Derek said, “We’re bleeding hearts for piles of junk.”

“It’s why we’re dating,” Sandy said, making Pam smile, “But yeah, we try to buy things on the cheap and even though you’re right, it’s not fair the markdown you have to give your own belongings just to try and survive, it’s still cheaper than a department store. Plus, I don’t know where the fuck I’m gonna find a loom without getting into a time machine and traveling back to Salem.”

Derek stopped, trying to remember if they were in fact going in the right direction to reach the car. Just then as they waited, Sandy felt a tug at her pants leg and turned to see a little girl, maybe seven years old in overalls with braided hair looking up at her. Derek and Pam continued to discuss the direction while Sandy knelt down to the girls eye level.

“Are you okay, sweetheart?” Sandy asked.

“I need help,” the girl said, “You’re a girl, so I can trust you. I don’t know where my parents are.”

“Okay, uh…just hold on right here for a second, alright?” Sandy asked, standing back up and tapping Derek on the shoulder, then thumbed over her shoulder at the girl. Pam and Derek craned their necks over her shoulders and saw the little girl, both realizing what they were getting into. Finally, after a few moments of discussion, Sandy turned back around and knelt back down to the girl.

“Okay, I want you to take my hand and we’re going to walk around and see if we can find them, alright? Do you remember where you saw them last?” she asked, and the little girl nodded, smiling, making Sandy feel all the more maternal, “Alright then, take my hand and grip it firmly. We’ll find your parents, I promise.”

The four of them continued walking, now with a different goal besides the car in mind.

“There were lots of lamps,” the girl said, “They were looking at lamps, and there was an old guy with a hat, but it was wide, like my grandpa wears when he’s fishing.”

“Okay, that just about describes every single guy here,” Derek said, making Pam chuckle as she finally tossed her cigarette to the ground and stomped it out with her boot.

Sandy sighed and looked down at the girl. She looked remarkably like herself as a child, and it bothered her, but she wasn’t sure why. See, Sandy’s mother wouldn’t have ever let her out of her sight. Her mother was like a hawk, never letting Sandy do anything on her own, always planning her entire life to a tee; her outfits, her playdates, her meals. For a split second, Sandy wanted to take this girl and save her from this life, but then she quickly remembered that this girl wasn’t her.

Suddenly, in the midst of this crowd, Sandy realized she’d lost Derek and Pam, and she and the girl were alone in the middle of this entire flea market between everyone else. The girl was looking around, but Sandy’s eyes were glued to this girl. Sandy looked around for a moment, trying to see if she could see hide or hair of Derek or Pam, and when she looked back, she found herself staring this girl in the eyes, and the girl had her childhood face.

Sandy start to breath faster and faster. Her chest tightened, her fingers wrapped around the ceramic pug started to twinge. She was having an anxiety attack and Derek was nowhere to be found. Sandy fell to her knees, unable to look back up, unsure if she was scaring this little girl now, and then suddenly, she felt the girls little hand on her head. Sandy looked up and the girl was standing there, her face normal again.

“You seem scared,” she said, “I was scared, but you helped me, so I’m helping you. Don’t be scared, okay?”

And then Sandy felt a hand on her shoulder. She looked up and saw a man in a suit looking down at her, trying to help her up. As she wobbled to her knees, the man held her by her shoulders and looked in her eyes firmly.

“Are you okay?” he asked, “Ma’am?”

“I…think so…yeah,” Sandy managed to whimper. She watched a woman approach the little girl and scoop her up, squeezing her tightly as the man smiled at Sandy.

“Thank goodness. We saw you with our daughter from across the crowd because you were on your knees and people were starting to stare. Are you sure you’re okay?” he asked again.

“I’m fine, yes,” Sandy said, “Are you-”

“Yeah, we’re Anna’s parents,” the man said, “I’m Arthur. Thank you so much for staying with her, I couldn’t imagine if somebody much worse had-”

“Sandy!” Derek said, finally reaching her and hugging her, kissing her cheeks, “Are you alright? What happened? I turned around and you were gone!”

“I’m okay…” Sandy said, “Can we just go please?”

“Yeah, yeah Pam helped me find the car, everything’s all loaded and everything,” Derek said. As he took her hand and started to leave, Sandy felt the man slip something into her hand. As she walked away with Derek, she looked back at Anna as she smiled and waved, being carried off in the opposite direction by her mother, and then her eyes wandered down to what Arthur had pushed into her hand. It was a business card. Arthur Portis, Psychologist. Once they’d said goodbye to Pam and paid her, Derek and Sandy got into their car and started on their way home. Halfway there, it began to rain. As Sandy rested her face against the window, watching the raindrops race one another down the glass, stroking the ceramic pug with her hands, she couldn’t get the girls face out of her mind, her own mothers voice running through her head.

“Sandy, do you wanna stop and get dinner on the way home?” Derek asked, “Oh, also, I texted Brittney and she said she has a ton of extra cloth and stuff for you, so…Sandy?”

Sandy was far away, remembering the afternoon she’d gone outside in her ballet slippers for only a split second to pet their neighbors dog, a pug, and before she knew it, her mothers hand was gripped around her wrist like shark teeth, her nails digging into Sandy’s soft skin, screaming at her for getting dirt and mud on her ballet slippers before recital. Because of this, she didn’t let Sandy go to practice recital, and instead Sandy sat upstairs in her bedroom, staring at her slippers hanging from the wall, caked with dirt, tears in her eyes and swore she’d one day succeed at dancing, simply so she could spite her mother, proving that no matter what she did to her, she’d never take dance away from her.

Sandy fell asleep before they got home. When she awoke, she found Derek had carried her inside, made her some tea and put her in bed. She was still hugging the ceramic pug to her chest. She cried, but only for a few minutes, and then she fell back asleep.

Sandy Price was in recovery, and it was slow and it was hard, but she knew in the end it’d be worth it, no matter what it took to get there.

I’m Maggie. If you like this thing I made, you might like some other things I make, like my depressing webcomic “In Space, No One Can Hear You Cry”, the satirical online newspaper of “Nowhere, US”, my podcast “Coping With Tonal Shifts In Reality” or my writing over at Medium.

Wanna donate to me directly? You can do that via PayPal! Wanna support me ongoing month to month and get content early? You can do that via Patreon! Wanna support me but can’t do it continuously? You can do that via Buy Me A Coffee! Thanks for whatever you can spare, I really appreciate it!

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Amanda Cries In The Bathroom

technologiesMaybe it’s because it’s where we’re potty trained or where we perform the most self care, but the bathroom had, over time, become Amanda’s safest spot in her life. Granted, it wasn’t because she was taking care of herself in there, she’d be lucky if she managed to wash her hair more than once or twice a week, and it certainly wasn’t an upset stomach keeping her in there either. No. It just was the place she felt the safest. When she was at work, Amanda would pull a book and her lunch out and head into the bathroom to sit and read and eat.

Sometimes, late at night after a bad dream, she’d wake up, covered in sweat and terrified, and head for the bathroom, locking herself in and cowering in the tub like she’d done so many times before as a little girl. She could swear she could still hear her parents fighting outside the door, or the sounds of her mother berating her weight, but no, it was always just in her imagination. Those days were well and gone, even if the trauma wasn’t. But now it was where she went whenever she felt threatened or upset or that she wasn’t in control. When she felt hopeless or lost, the bathroom was her guiding light.

Sometimes she’d cry, sitting on the edge of the tub, still brought down by all the negative things her mother had said to her growing up about her weight, or about her looks, or how she ‘wasn’t keeping up with the other girls, appearance wise’ and that the boys would notice. She didn’t care about the boys noticing. She only wished her own mother wouldn’t be so harsh about it. At least the boys ignored her, while her own mother expended the energy to be critical towards her. Sometimes she’d cry, sitting on the toilet with the seat down, while thinking about her parents fighting right there in the kitchen. They either didn’t realize she was in the bathroom and could hear their every word, or, and much more likely, they just didn’t give a shit that she could hear their every word. Amanda locks the bathroom everytime she goes in now, even if just to brush her teeth. Anyone else coming in while she’s occupying the space would be a serious invasion of privacy.

Everytime Amanda had looked to live somewhere new, it always boiled down to the bathroom. What was the lighting in it like, was the aesthetic pleasing, was the color palate enjoyable? Where was it located in relation to the other rooms was a big one. If the bathroom was right off the bedroom, or better yet, attached to the bedroom, then boy howdy she had a winner there, because the bedroom was the second safest place she’d ever had.

But what was it that made the bathroom the absolute best place? Sure, all those things were good starts, but in the end, it’d probably have to be the fact that when she came home from school one day, her mother, who’d terrorized her her entire life and made her question everything about herself, had slipped on a bathroom mat and hit her head against the sink, dying instantly.

When Amanda found her, she’d only been dead for about an hour or so, and nobody else was home yet, but for the first time in her life, Amanda felt protected…and free. So Amanda did what she did everyday. She took a bag of chips and a few books, sat on the toilet with the lid down and her mother cold and lifeless on the floor, and enjoyed the only place that ever made her feel safe.

The bathroom.

I’m Maggie. If you like this thing I made, you might like some other things I make, like my depressing webcomic “In Space, No One Can Hear You Cry”, the satirical online newspaper of “Nowhere, US”, my podcast “Coping With Tonal Shifts In Reality” or my writing over at Medium. You can also donate to my PayPal or support my work at Patreon, where you’ll get access to patron only content and new content early, all for as cheap as a buck a month! Thanks for reading!

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If You’re Sick & You Know It, Clap Your Hands

I’m not really sure how to handle this. I’m not used to recovery.

When you’ve spent your entire life being traumatized, terrified, and abused…you sort of become used to it. And, if it’s the only thing you feel regularly, then it’s not only something you become used to it, but it becomes normalized. It’s just how you feel. But, 2017, despite all of the horribleness that’s filled it (and let’s be totally transparent here, it’s been 97% horribleness, this year’s sucked eggs), has probably been the best year for progress on my mental health. It’s kind of amazing, because you’d think everything I’ve gone through this year, all of it being rather traumatic and miserable and in some cases literally abusive, would’ve had a negative effect on my mental health, and yet…

…yet I’ve managed to pull myself back up every time and keep on trudging along, continuing to find myself actually thinking I’m better than those who hurt me than thinking I deserved what they did to me because something is clearly wrong with me. I’m no longer actively calling myself the victim all of the time, and that’s…that’s a really weird, unfamiliar feeling to have, especially for someone who’s been a victim for the majority of her life. But now I see myself less a victim and more a survivor. I’m no longer just accepting that I was hurt and that that’s who I am (though, in no way am I saying that people who feel this way should feel bad for it taking them longer to get better), now I’m saying, “Well, I got really hurt and used and yes that’s a major part of my identity, but I am more than that too. I’m going to be okay.”

I’m going to be okay.

Never in my life did I ever imagine myself actually saying these words to myself. It doesn’t get better, don’t ever buy that bullshit line, but it does become moderately tolerable. Recovery is a scary word for me, especially because for so much time, I even denied I was sick or hurt. When told I had depression by multiple doctors, I denied it. I told them it wasn’t depression. I have denied being sick for so many years, until I finally realized there’s nothing wrong with being sick, nothing shameful about it, and it’s just another facet of my personality. What was shameful was denying it. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being a sick person, mental or physical wise. What’s wrong is that we make people ashamed of their sickness.

I am in recovery. I am recovering. I am recovering from a whole hell of a lot, but I’m still here. That’s not to say I’m fixed. Recovery doesn’t end, that’s the thing. There’s no end point, where suddenly I’m magically all better and I’m no longer in recovery. I will be recovering until the day that I die, that’s just how it works. Recovering from a multitude of things, always and forever, and that’s good, because starting to recognize that I’m ready to recover means I’ve moved past everything that hurt me. I’m still depressed. I still get sad thinking about the trauma I’ve endured, but I’m ready now. I’m ready. I’m alive, and I’m sick and I’m recovering.

That’s the nice thing about being a work in progress. You’re never out of things to fix.

Hi, I’m Maggie. If you liked this post, you might like some of my other work, like my depressing webcomic, “In Space, No One Can Hear You Cry” or my writing over at Medium. You can also donate to the PayPal and help my girlfriend and I get groceries and pay our rent. Anything is greatly appreciated! Thanks for reading!