Family Skeleton After Party!

Family Skeleton After Party Guestlist:

1.  Introducing Okti
2.  AZB
3.  Throw Another Catfish on the Barbie
4.  Divorce and Reconciliation
5.  The Dancing Cave and the Prophecy Part 2

Family Skeleton After Party!

Introducing Okti

Dr Velvet Thong and Okti are sitting in a VIP booth at a nightclub, wearing ensembles generously supplied by Surrealist Underground, whilst sipping non-alcholic beverages from champagne flutes. This is Dr Velvet Thong's office, or one of the theme rooms in her office complex/holodeck, I haven't decided yet. There's an open dance floor, suggesting that there is dancing or the possibility of it in Okti's life.

Dr Velvet Thong: Hello Okti, tell me a bit about yourself.

Okti: I'm an appearance and ratings challenged popstar/reality star who until now has been primarily known as the author of The World's Longest and Most Ignored Public Suicide Note.

Dr Velvet Thong: What brings you to my office today?

Okti: We'll see how it unfolds. I think I'm here to talk about some changes in my life.

Dr Velvet Thong: I haven't seen you since that whole Family Skeleton Dance Party thing last year, but back then you were going by a different name.

Okti: I can't say my pimped up pumpkin days are totally behind me, but I think enduring them long enough to transcribe them might have helped me to break on through to the other side in a way I never would have expected.

Dr Velvet Thong: You stayed so long at the party that you eventually changed from a pumpkin into something else?

Okti: Who the hell knows, but I guess I'm going to go with it.

Dr Velvet Thong: What does the name Okti represent?

Okti: Okti was my best friend in public school. From Grades 1-3, when we had finally settled in to the house my parents built in the country, I don't remember having any friends. In Grade 4 I was invited to some birthday parties, and for a while it seemed like I did have friends. I think the teacher had intervened. Her name was Miss Anderson, and I remember that she was very kind. She submitted some of my writings to the school yearbook, and two were selected. I also had a birthday party that year, and at the end of the year, I think Miss Anderson was responsible for organizing all the girls in the class to exchange addresses with me, before my family moved. I wrote to every single one. Everyone else stopped writing to me before I stopped writing to them.

I still had Okti.

I also want to say that in high school I had a teacher named Mr Brown who looked more like a stereotypical Australian bushman than a Canadian. His exam was one of the ones I failed that fateful day back in 1982, and he compassionately refused to let my score of 18% stand (to be factored in with my overall term mark), instead using my class time total as my grade for that semester. I tried to insist that I deserved to face the consequences of my actions, but he wasn't having it.

When his class fell on Friday afternoons, he would get some obligatory stuff out of the way first, and then show us his personal movies of Australia for the rest of the class. Through the years, this didn't really cause me to develop a conscious interest in Australia, but I've often wondered if he would smile to think I ended up in Australia.

Dr Velvet Thong: I thought you said you didn't have any friends?

Okti: Back in the day, it was a popular craft project to make octopuses. My mother made a large purple one with googly eyes and a stirofoam head, as a decoration for my bed. That one also had a little bun on top of her head tied with a ribbon. Okti let me know that she would be my friend if she didn't have to have a stirofoam head, and so I made her according to her specifications. She was much smaller than most octopi, and could fit in the pocket of my snowsuit. Her mouth was a red felt heart, and one of her black felt eyes was cut in the shape of a wink.

I used to take Okti with me as many places as I could. I crocheted scarves and made capes for her.

Dr Velvet Thong: I think I see what you're getting at.

Okti: "I've got to go back and start over, like a kid. I didn't have the right heart in me. "

Dr Velvet Thong: Are you ready to talk about the prophecy?

Okti: It's looks like I made it to the age of 21 for the second time without fulfilling it. Woohooo!

Dr Velvet Thong and Okti clink their glasses together, and both take a big sip.

Okti: But seriously, I suppose there was some sense of superstitious suspense I couldn't totally override, and it became more intense as the actual date approached. Now that I've lived to see the day, it might be possible I'm more free, or open to whatever's next.

Dr Velvet Thong: In case the viewing audience experience any confusion in regard to your math skills or possible denial of the ageing process, I just want to pipe in that what we're celebrating today is the anniversary of a choice mentioned in Family Skeleton Dance Party!

Okti: Even before this, though, I found that I had been feeling more at peace than I had in 30 years or so. For me, I think that whole Family Skeleton Dance Party! horror was a kind of breakthrough, and although it didn't happen overnight after that, I eventually just knew that something had changed and that I was no longer living with the feeling of intense, constant distress to which I had become accustomed. Maybe I was closer to self-acceptance and more than an intellectual understanding that everyone I've known has done the best they could. It was like understanding and gratitude were not just concepts to be grasped intellectually, they could be felt.

There have been some hiccups in the process, but overall, the feeling that something has changed remains.

I have discovered, for instance, that as Don Quixote's family is now also part of my 'past' and present, I need to come to some kind of resolution with them that feels sincere to me.

Dr Velvet Thong: What do you think brought about this change?

Okti: I felt like I had finally tried hard enough, expressed enough that I could appreciate my effort, and 'me'. I felt ready to start trying to consciously challenge unpleasant chains of association, often by replacing them with new chains of association. I couldn't have done this, though, if I didn't have the experience of tackling many difficult projects like FSDP!, as well as difficult and challenging correspondences and tasks. There was a certain cumulative stability that became evident to me over time. I could again and again demonstrate the ability to think my way through these situations and find a centre, or to a sense of trust in my own perceptions and philosophy. I could trust myself. I could go back through my history and see that all along, even when my patterns seemed the most self-destructive, there was always part of me that was trying to understand, trying to question my own personal status quo, trying to find outlets for my particular abilities, and that in order to be true to myself, the path I've taken and the choices I've made make a kind of sense to me.

I've been trying to restructure my memory and make a choice not to go down long chains of unpleasant association in part by rerouting them with either new associations, personally significant symbolism, or ideas I like, or with a feeling of acccomplishment in having understood enough that I feel ready to move forward. I couldn't do this effectively before because I didn't have enough of a history of stable, 'positive' associations. I had trouble discerning what was 'positive' or 'negative' for me, as those concepts seemed overwhelmingly complex. This doesn't mean I think I can do this perfectly or that I won't sometimes need to rehash something or other.

For now, there are a few elaborations I want to get down to help in the process of being ready to move forward.

A lot of the material on my site is out of date or wrong in embarrassing ways. For example, I don't really want to go back now and see how I probably misunderstood a lot about official diagnoses in the entry I call a 'psychoanalysis', but in doing my own thing in my own way, in continuing to try to understand, I think I've come farther now. I think I have finally managed to articulate enough such that I can see it in a way that has had more pronounced effects on my daily mood. I've sort of noticed that something was changing for a while, but was reluctant to say anything, because in the early years there were so many false starts and retractions, and by the time I was 23 (30 years ago), I didn't want to promise anything to anyone, including myself. I stayed in that limbo all these years.

Originally, a major barrier to therapy from a young age was that I had an instinctive need to protect family and boyfriends, not tell their secrets or complain about them. To do it was low and made a person unloveable. There were certain things about myself that I needed to talk about, but to tell some of the bigger ones, I would have had to establish a kind of trust with a therapist that wasn't possible with those I encountered. There wasn't enough time, the person didn't seem to be listening or processing 'enough' of the details, the approach to therapy was too 'scattered', different people for different aspects, and no one to connect with who was seeing the overview, including how various factors, experiences and conditions impacted upon each other. And the clock was always running out, because in order to attend therapy at all, I'd have had to establish a connection and trust quickly, or my patterns would be too strong to allow for continued, regular contact.

What should have been discussed in a private, safe place like a trusted therapist's office ended up exploding out of me all over the world, with no safeguards in place for anyone, including myself.

Through leaving up a website for almost 2 decades, I have created a kind of stability for myself that is about my choices and my determination, and about standing up for myself. All along it felt temporary, but maybe it's not temporary in the ways I thought. The main issue is that the foundation of its creation and maintenance revolved around my wish to die. In everything I expressed, I was coming at it from that place. In any correspondence or friendship initiated, it was coming from that place, not a place of stability. I wasn't trying to attract viewers to make friends and expand my social network and increase my ties to life, I was trying to keep reducing them to move toward a goal of death. My actions and the thoughts I expressed were related to that conscious goal.

If concerned citizens who wanted to prevent me from being a bad influence had applied pressure to have my site removed, I might never have come to see my past and myself in the ways I do now, or have reached a sense of peace about it. I know my situation is complex and I think by now it's evident to others, and I think it's also probably evident that standard approaches to my case by professionals would not have helped, and that I actually might have had a more interesting and varied life on my own, even though it was full of distress. I think I was right not to trust the psychiatric professionals I encountered. It was not about noncomplicance, withholding essential information, or about lying. It was about lack of success in establishing trust. I always wanted to talk. I think I've proven that now.

Dr Velvet Thong: It was so impossible to trust the professionals, authorities, family and friends, that eventually in an act of desperation you decided that if no one could be trusted anyway, you could at least have some control if you gave the information to everyone? Does that make any sense?

Okti: No, not really, but what has happened was that in daring to put it all out into the world, I could see what I write in a different way (compared to how it seemed in my head) and compare it to what others write, and through the process of relating and disagreeing, through comparison and contrast, my own identity and experience became clearer to me.

To me, it now seems I'm in the early stages of identifying an equality issue, and I'm facing all the struggles to get my message across that others have historically faced when trying to help others see something they've identified that others don't yet see as a problem.

If enough individuals come forward with similar observations, it is possible to make significant changes to the collective consciousness.

And so now I'm able to feel a kinship with and a gratitude and appreciation for what others have stood up to and for in a more personal way, and I can see the importance of sharing my experiences and observations. I don't know if I have anything to say that will resonate with those who are alone and without hope, but I have made a decision to leave my website up, with the hope it might be possible for others to see the complicated and painful path I've taken and understand the steps such that they can decide for themselves if it seems like a whitewash or not, and if there is anything in it they can take away from it. Also, it would be great if people could figure out how to speed up the process for themselves.

Thus concludes The Short Version. Anyone who doesn't want to get bogged down in possibly unpleasant elaborations pertaining to stuff that I still haven't totally resolved might want to skip ahead to The Dancing Cave and the Prophecy Part 2


Maybe this section can seem a little more fun if you imagine changing ABC in the Jackson Five song to AZB. Everybody sing along.

Dr Velvet Thong: What else would you like to discuss today?

Okti: I admit there are still a few things I don't feel are completely out of my system.

Where to start?

I have some comments about Beany that I wanted to add.

Beany and I had opposite personality types. From a young age, I was introverted and introspective, while she was more extroverted. I have owned up to calling her names for a certain time period before I mended my ways and made amends for years, but I'm not sure how she remembers it, and if to her it seemed I was a constant tyrant or bully. If that is how she remembers me, I would like her to tell me.

In my memory, most of the time we didn't communicate much at all when we were young. As siblings, none of us were close. We only started to become close after the death of our mother.

I didn't like sharing a bedroom with Beany because she was always trying to disturb my concentration when I just wanted to read. We hadn't been taught how to support and compliment each other, and this is probably due to the complicated and antagonistic relationships our parents had with their siblings.

We were left on our own a lot, and I think Beany wanted some company and guidance. It probably isn't fair, but when our mother died young, she became a saint, as is often the case with those who die early, and I became the parental figure who let Beany down. However, even in the years our mother was alive, she wasn't giving any of us enough guidance, although in most respects, she was a very good mother.

She did the official, required things: we had regular, nourishing meals, clean clothes, clean, organized surroundings, we learned how to be polite and respectful and to do what was asked of us, we attended school regularly and had everything we needed for school but help with homework, we had Halloween costumes and theme decorations for all holidays, we always had Christmukkah presents and birthday presents, regular doctor and dentist appointments, she was the one who signed us up for lessons and hockey practices and drove us there and back, and after she died all of this was out the window, but I think it was a massive effort to her, and she was seriously depressed, probably in part because The Bumble didn't think she was actually doing anything, and that was part of what they were fighting about. I don't think she knew how to offer the extra that was needed to help us cope with all the moves, upheavals and stress of living in a household where the parents were always fighting, and once she had done a certain amount she left us to our own devices.

I think later in life Beany absorbed The Bumble's views about me, as I had originally absorbed his ideas about my mother, and she never learned to challenge them.

I was the kid in the family with the least amount of personality. That could have something to do with why I eventually tried out certain modes of self-expression.

When we had 'shows', although there were 4 of us, I was in charge of every aspect of the creative process: writing, directing, choreography, photography, makeup, costumes, lighting, sound effects and music, it basically goes on and on. And it's not so much that I was a control freak who refused to listen to input, or a dominant personality, it was that no one else seemed to have suggestions or initiative, I thought everyone secretly wanted to explore their potential in the entertainment arts, and I felt someone 'should' be doing this, and because I was oldest, I took it on. Sometimes when I was really, really bored, I would actually reason it out and say well what do you want to do with your life, what are you waiting for, and so I'd practice dance for my lessons, and I'd try to create shows and organize for all of us. I didn't know what I was doing, and a lot of our shows were very vague, but it was like the others weren't ready to contribute and so I did the best I could. Sometimes shows had spoof names like Blunder Woman, and I wondered if when Beany wrote she had good memories of that time, if she was really being sarcastic, if in fact she was criticizing me for making her the star of a show making fun of her. I wasn't consciously doing that. She had a Wonder Woman bathingsuit and looked really cute in it, so that was the costume. It was kind of convenient. And a year or two previously, there had been 'Charlies's Ankles' a spoof of Charlie's Angels in which she was Sabrina, her friend was Jill and I was Kelly. And in Blunder Woman, I did play the villain, the least appealing part.

It wasn't long before I came to see that that type of humour wasn't right for me. The Bumble probably played a large part in influencing that kind of humour. In my first year of ballet when I was supposed to be a snowflake, he said I looked like a snowball. Later, when Boo was making short films, he often did spoof things. Desperado became Das Burrito, and I think the people in it had burrito guns that they shot at each other, the contents exploding in slo-mo.

Boo was mostly drawn to the horror genre, and at one point I attended a screening in a Toronto factory-loft of a film of his that seemed to be an homage to The Evil Dead.

We all probably absorbed this approach to humour, and although in what I have written before, perhaps reading between the lines it might seem like I was torturing Beany, basically we all tortured each other, and she did her fair share, too. We did seem to mostly outgrow it. However, if I'm wrong about any of this, I would like someone to tell me.

When I was 23 and in Winnipeg, Beany came out to visit. The Bumble had been letting me drive his truck from time to time. I lived close to the downtown area, and he lived outside the city on a farm, and he'd let me drive us out to the farm. When it was just the two of us he was a little gruff, but mostly patient, or at least not mocking me, but when Beany was with us in the truck the two of them laughed and shook their heads in disbelief about what an awful driver I was. But Portage is a really wide road, with a million lanes of traffic, and at a time in my life when I've just been let out of a psych ward, I have no job and no life, and my 'apartment' was a room with no furniture at all in it, just blankets and a pillow for sleeping on the floor, no phone, no tv, etc, it might be helpful for me to take steps like getting a driver's licence, and in such a case it might be good to try to be a little more patient with me and give me a bit more support for trying. I think The Bumble was more likely to step up the 'humour' when he had a partner in crime.

The Bumble was like that with Natalie, too. She'd lived in the city all her life and was used to public transport. She'd never tried to drive. At a certain point she seemed to be trying to take some steps to become more assertive in life, and since we lived out on a farm, she probably thought it would be good to get a licence so she could have more independence. He absolutely ridiculed her attempts, and he tried to hide this from no one. (I didn't participate in this ridicule. It was one of the things about his behaviour back then I could identify as questionable.) I got the impression he thought she was totally hopeless. I don't think she ever got her licence.

Anyway, in the moment in Winnipeg I was a good sport, but I didn't go on to get my licence.

I don't think any of my siblings got their licences with The Bumble's help, or more than minor help.

Boo learned with Neil when he was really young, and then after not driving for years, he borrowed Sister Bumble's car for the day of his test and he passed.

I admit I'm not sure, but I think Cecil went to driver's ed through school, and that's how he got his. And I think Jean-Claude taught Beany.

So The Bumble's this great driver who didn't try to pass on his skills to his kids.

This reminds me of something else that originally I wasn't going to include, but I'm rethinking it. It puzzles me as to why he was caught three times within a short period of time for drunk driving.

Whatever his faults, I do think he was a good driver, and I don't think he ever had an accident. I never saw him drive erratically, even when drunk.

Out in the country where we lived, though (and where he got caught), there was a lot of drunk driving and dangerous driving. Truck Driver was a reckless driver, often drove drunk, hardly ever seemed to check his spots or look where he was going and had two accidents just within the 10 months I knew him. On one of those occasions, he rolled his car. He was often speeding, or driving on the wrong side of the road, including on the main streets of small towns.

I think it was the norm for people to drive drunk (or stoned), especially on weekends, but I didn't hear of anyone else getting caught, including Truck Driver or other young men I knew or knew of. His car was a creamish coloured Cutlass Supreme, so I'm thinking it was rather a noticeable vehicle, and a pattern of reckless driving would stand out.

What I'm wondering was if some kindly cop or group of cops thought that it would be a shame to ruin a young man's life for the kinds of mistakes the young make and grow out of. The thing is, Truck Driver never learned his lesson. Even after his two accidents, his driving habits didn't seem to change.

It occurs to me that the cops might not know how they'd impact the life of a teenage girl (me, but Beany also would have been impacted) if her father's licence was taken away. I'd already been moved around so much and had to adjust to many new schools, and I was currently at an 'at risk' stage in my life. Another move, from country to city, would be another stress for me to deal with. The Bumble was less a danger on the roads, even drunk, than probably anyone else I've ever been in a vehicle with, but for some reason they had to make an example of him. Was it personal? Was there a secret country cabal whose members had some beef with him? For a few years, he always had pickups, but by then he was driving the Chrysler LeBaron. Did they think he was some city slicker, not a real country boy? Could that have anything to do with it? I really don't know, and it remains a puzzle.

Does it make sense that The Bumble's father was hit by a drunk driver? Could it actually have been something like a life insurance scam? I thought The Bumble had told me when his father died they had the house, two cars and $100,000 in the bank. Maybe I'm remembering it incorrectly. Maybe it's one of those family secrets.

Mother Bumble seemed to suggest her husband's drinking was a pretty big problem. Could this have been a suicide covered up for the good of the family? Did The Bumble and his sister ever know or guess?

Dr Velvet Thong: At the last party there were a few things I wasn't clear on. What did you mean when you said that Truck Driver gave you a beer and waited for your pattern to kick in?

Okti: In Grade 11, I went to a few parties and the same thing happened. I'd drink several beers very fast, and once I think it was something like 12 in an hour. I didn't like the taste of beer, and maybe wanted to get it over with, but it was more than that. I think I was acting out my problems with food in a different form. The way I drank was different from the way other kids drank. I drank fast and was in blackout in an hour. It was the way I ate, too. When it came to beer, I did often end up vomiting in the street later, but I'd still be drunk a long time, without passing out, usually.

I couldn't control it, and it was damaging to my self-esteem that I couldn't control it. Of course if you go into blackout and do embarrassing things, the sensible thing is not to drink. I think it's possible I was acting out the sense that I had no control over my life, that I didn't know what to do. Drinking releases inhibitions. In daily life, I was scared, panicked, I felt like I was living in chaos and all my usual conscious effort went into trying to fulfill my obligations without complaining. The way I drank reflected my personal chaos. I knew there were consequences, but I couldn't stop myself.

At one party, I did this really weird thing that I have conscious memories of. I hid behind a sofa and was screaming 'NO, DAD!' I have no idea where that came from. That was a memory I had a lot of shame about. Was I trying to get people to feel sorry for me? What a shameful thing to do, what an awful person I must be.

I didn't have sex when in blackout. I would kiss and there would be some fairly basic touching above the clothes, but mostly involving my rear end - not chest or genital area. This is what people said I did, and it's what I would remember in flashes. These scenes took place in main party areas with other people around, not quiet bedrooms. I wasn't getting drunk so I could absolve myself of the guilt involved with having sex, and when people tried to make it go further, even in blackout, I stopped them. Most of them were kind enough to respect my limits.

This is different from the field incident. I would have been worried about my skin but because it was dark ('in the right way' - it was always something I had to assess according to circumstances) I might have been relaxed enough. I was on The Pill at that point and I thought the main guy was attractive. I would not have consented to being abused or cut in any way.

Dr Velvet Thong: More on the subject of cheating?

Okti: Ah yes, I wondered if in Velvet and the Memetrain it comes across like I was still having sex with Vlad when I was with Gandhi.

I saw Vlad for the last time a couple of months before I started seeing Gandhi. We talked on the phone 2 or 3 times while Gandhi and I were together. He called me from Japan where he was teaching English on my birthday, and he also called me one day at Gandhi's place when Gandhi was at work. This call bothered me because I felt he was crossing a line, not just with me, but considering he was planning to marry someone. During this call, he made comments about Gandhi that I didn't like, including the ones in particular that I quoted. It resulted in a fight, I hung up on him and never spoke to him again. It's been 27 years and we still haven't had contact.

My not contacting him wasn't really about resentment. I wanted us both to be free to have relationships that were ultimately more fulfilling. It seemed to me that if we remained in contact, he'd always have a compulsion to cross lines, so I drew one that I didn't think either of us would cross.

When it came to any person I was with, including Gandhi, they were always informed beforehand if I thought I would act on an attraction if the other party was interested. I think what I wanted was for him to say that he didn't want this kind of relationship, and that he'd help me move out, get settled, back on disability, but he accepted my behaviour as long as I didn't leave him, and it seemed to me that he really believed he would have trouble surviving without me. I also think he accepted it because he was occasionally acting on attractions without telling me.

I didn't complain about or put other females down. I encouraged him to pursue those he was interested in. I wanted him to have a full life, I wanted what was best for him, and I looked for the good in those I thought he might be interested in. In contrast, he seemed to be attracted to those who would try to put me down, for example, for my weight or eating disorder, who probably dismissed my 'mental illness', and there was an incident in which I received a call from his cell and heard nothing but a woman's laughter.

Dr Velvet Thong: That's the way it goes sometimes, and I guess the important thing is to do what you think is right, and try not to dwell on what others think, or how they behave.

Okti: There's something else I wanted to get down today, in relation to my relationships with Vlad and Truck Driver.

I think I better understand why my appearance itself is so much an issue when it comes to things like leaving the house. What I've written thus far is valid, but I think I see a new angle.

During the year of the suicide attempt and all the events that followed that resulted in PTSD, there was something else important going on at that time, and it's probably linked - Truck Driver's psychological abuse.

I need to explain various aspects. He had a pattern of tracking me down wherever I was. At school, there was nowhere I could go that he wouldn't track me down, not the library, cafeteria, my locker, there was nowhere to go, and he rarely attended classes, so it was like he had an instinct that helped him to hone in on where I was at all times, and when I was in the hospital, he had gone to all my classes to get my homework for me, so he knew about my schedule. And then, at home, he would call all the time, or just show up. He was 18-19 and I was 15-16, and he had his own car.

I was always so polite and considerate. I couldn't ever be rude. If someone said please listen, and told me they were in pain, I took it seriously, and could not abandon them. He wore down my compassion. And I was also too automatically polite to withhold info it was not in my best interest to share. If someone asked me a question, I tried to answer it.

I understand better now that his behaviour makes sense considering his upbringing, and I understand that he did have feelings, but he did wear down my compassion, especially when he started to use violent insults against me, including all the stereotypical misogynist crap. I don't see how he could have learned that his behaviour was wrong. I don't know if there was ever anyone to tell him, and so I suspect he would have gone on to behave in the same ways with others over the years. My repeatedly hanging up on him would not have been enough to change his pattern for good with others, and I think it's likely that in the end he just assumed I was a crazy bitch.

In addition to general abuse, I was absorbing insults about my appearance when he showed up without warning and I didn't look great. I used to be 'natural', and spontaneous, and it all might have resolved itself if I hadn't had the number of events to contend with, but I think it makes sense that if one of the things I was unconsciously stressed about was that I had no control over when anyone could just intrude upon me, needing compassion and sex, while trying to control and insult me, that this stress might present as a reluctance to answer the door or phone at a time when I was also dealing with PTSD, and that because the trauma was not resolved, the coping mechanisms set in place at the time became the norm for me.

A sports injury analogy might also work here. I might have been on the way to healing, but then re-triggered the injury through my relationship with Vlad. With sports injuries, sometimes if you do too much too soon, you can end up with permanent damage, or an injury that keeps flaring up again and again.

This unresolved behaviour pattern was not helped by the relationship with Vlad, although by the time I met him I had actually semi-recovered, was going out, answering the door, and making concrete plans to get back to school. Vlad's behaviour, although not the same, was similarly controlling and abusive (sorry Vlad, 'abrasive' is not the right word here) even though he didn't try to contact me as frequently, and he was a lot more specific about appearance issues. When I first moved away from him, I was sad, but I was ready to break up, and when I entered high school in September, I wanted to be free to date whoever I wanted. Vlad kept calling and showing up, and I didn't protest enough, partly because it was stressful moving again and adjusting to a new school, partly because sex with him was good, and easy, and was good stress relief, and perhaps in spite of the fact that he was extremely possessive and hypocritical. If I was open about who I was dating or interested in, I'd never hear the end of it, but I'm sure he was a lot more 'active' than I was, and I never hassled him about it.

One time he showed up after a long absence with no warning, he told me I looked gross.

I know he loved me and that I was 'special' to him, but I also knew that he wanted to marry someone better-looking than me, and I was generous-hearted enough not to dismiss him as a total a-hole. I tried to focus on the now, and enjoying whatever it was that we had, and it wasn't consciously difficult for me, because I wasn't ever in it for keeps, and I didn't believe in possessiveness. One of the things I think all couples should discuss is where they stand on the issue of what to do if one or the other were to develop attractions outside the relationship, to make sure they are in accord.

And then of course there's also that whole incident with the phone company and me getting stuck with paying off long distance phone fraud charges. Vlad would tell me what time to go wait at a pay phone that was outside the apartment at Vic Park - we'd usually arrange a day and time in advance before hanging up the week before - and he'd go to a pay phone and have Gandhi or another friend standing at another pay phone, so that when he said 'I'd like to bill this call collect to this number' Gandhi said yes he accepted the charges, and the call came through to my pay phone. If you heard a guy like this got a $10,000 payout for a whiplash thing, would you think he was legit? (Vlad, not Gandhi.)

The phone company figured it out when he used the phone booth system to call the apartment quickly because he felt he really needed to talk to me. He told me to go to the pay phone, but he'd already used my home phone minutes before, so they called me. They actually knew his name, and I pretty much fessed up to everything on the spot, but he had told them he had no idea who I was. He was cleared, and I got stuck with the bill which was for a few hundred dollars. (He was at Laurentian, I was in Toronto.) It could be he had used that system with others, and that the phone company was really after him, not me, but maybe they just wanted someone to pay the bill.

I had participated, so I did feel responsibility for it. And if I got caught, I guess I could understand Vlad's reasoning that it was because I wasn't smart enough in the moment and therefore deserved what happened.

I managed to go out and get a job while feeling very self-conscious, having been in a semi-retriggered state of PTSD for some time, and even though The Bumble had set a really bad example when it came to paying the phone company. I now owed The Bumble a specific sum. I had shame. That's when I got the job at the fish n' chip shop where the Korean couple who owned it were grooming me to look after the place so they could go on a holiday for once. I learned every aspect of preparing and making the food, to working the cash, to cleanup, and that was in the first month, and next we were going to move on to learning about suppliers and books. And while I was working there, for my birthday, quite likely because Vlad admired me for not ragging on him, for just accepting it was my fault because I didn't do as he did and pretend not to know me, he came to reward me with a fun birthday, Echo and The Bunnymen tickets, and then a present of freshwater pearls (which were pretty, but I never wore them, and I eventually sold them to a pawn shop in Winnipeg, having no emotional attachment to them.) I'm getting off topic, but I remember when he visited me at the shop, I was this drudge in leggings and a t-shirt, and he had this really sexy outfit - it was like he was trying to have control over everything, be in the power position. And that's how I remember that whole thing.

After I'd earned enough to pay off the phone debt, I quit one day after the lunch rush. I felt bad about not giving any notice, but I didn't feel like I could hold on any longer. The wife didn't get mad at me, and maybe she guessed her husband had always been trying to force my hand to his crotch when she wasn't in the same room. I'd always just resisted without causing a scene. He was persistent. Once he asked me what I did in my spare time. I said I wrote. He asked if I wrote 'fish n' chip story'? But back then I hadn't processed it yet.

It is perhaps interesting to note some connections. All of this occurred around the time I was turning 20. I had completed my last 2 credits through correspondence such that I was granted a Grade 13 diploma the previous year, but at this time I wasn't working or going to school, and I wasn't leaving the house. Obviously I was occasionally going out to a phone booth, but that was something like only once a week for a short time. Vlad and I were not boyfriend and girlfriend. He occasionally still called me, or showed up for no strings booty calls, presumably when someone new wasn't quite as easy as me. Vlad was attending university at this time. Our contact was minimal. What I'm suggesting is that during the few times I left the apartment in that time period, it was for someone who treated me poorly, so this might lead to further associations in the unconscious - going outside might not be worth it.

The Bumble had given me the speech a couple of years previously that if I wasn't actually attending classes, then I had to get a job and contribute to rent. (Yelling.) I just cowered and didn't say anything, because I knew it was totally unrealistic for me to be stable enough to get a job. Then he didn't say anything for a long time, I think he forgot about it, and I wasn't trying to get a job, and I did feel guilty about it, but it was only the phone fraud issue that spurred me to override PTSD, and pay off that debt, and then I crawled back into my safe little hole. Does it seem to anyone else that it might not have been a simple case of a kid who was choosing to be lazy? I mean, why bother with the phone bill?

What does that mean? It could mean that on an unconscious level (although consciously I would have completely poopooed this idea), I didn't believe I 'owed' The Bumble for my room and board when he had used me as a substitute 'parent' for my siblings, a cook and cleaning person, and he had perhaps contributed significantly to the damage that made me unfit for school or work, but when it came to something he himself didn't care about - paying back the phone company for charges he had incurred - my sense of ethics was different. I put up with a shitty job in which I got to see what asshats human beings can be to the people who serve them food, and in which my boss sexually harassed me, long enough to pay off a real debt. Looking at it now, though, my situation was really crappy, Vlad had a lot more money than me, including that $10,000 whiplash award, we got caught because he couldn't wait and did something dumb, and because he was able to turn around his mistake into mine, I accepted it as my debt alone. Also, I was to be the one with the 'permanent record'. Years later, when I moved to Australia, I made sure to pay off even the last $5 I owed Bell Canada from my current account.

One of the facets of the binge eating disorder could very well be that I was acting out the feeling I had no control over my life, because of The Bumble's whims over the years, but also it was a way of expressing that the amount he was 'consuming' was shocking, and when I tried to understand it, I was the one who ended up with all the guilt. I might also have been acting out the fear (mine and my mother's) that The Bumble himself was totally out of control and could not be trusted. I didn't feel 'safe' living with The Bumble, and I expressed it through my relationship with sustenance.

Are all of these theories of any significance? It seems to me they are, but that if there are too many of them, my overall message gets lost, and so maybe it's enough that I've acknowledged them to myself (and delete most of them). In writing things down, I might 'set' them in my memory, such that they can be accessed in the future if need be. There's a bit of a struggle between saying everything that 'might' be relevant, deleting too much too soon, such that I just have to do it again later, and trying to focus on moving in to a new headspace. I can't help but wonder if in trying to change my headspace I might be 'giving up' something I can do that is unusual. I think with this current entry, my original aim was not to get bogged down, but to try to focus differently, knowing I've probably expressed 'enough'.

Anyway, back to Vlad, Truck Driver and my reflex responses.

When I stopped answering the door or phone, it could be that I was trying to take a stand against people intruding on me and judging me in my own home, such that there was no safe place. I think that going out in public is also related. Because of the timing, since both relationships occurred within a year of all the trauma of that one Really Big Year, I unconsciously accepted or perceived when my appearance in public was a disappointment to either of them, and that carried on to the future. I knew what it was about my appearance that made them embarrassed of me or not proud of me, and I became hypersensitive in a way that made me look for it or perceive it in the eyes and reactions of others when I went out. There were always times when I was thinner, or managed to put together a striking or becoming outfit, but during the times I knew them, I could never consistently be someone they could be proud of. And ultimately Vlad was never going to be satisfied. He needed someone who was going to be instantly impressive, and that's who he married. The first thing he said about her was that he liked the way she looked. That means, she fit the part, the role. The next thing he said was that she was smart, 'but not as smart as you.' (I didn't ever meet her or talk to her.)

I honestly did not want to marry him, and I was generous enough to wish him a happy life, for him to have what would be best for him, and although I do know that we did connect in significant ways, his unchallenged abuse and negativity were probably wired to my traumatic experiences, such that in the future, I wasn't able to consciously challenge them. I didn't know it was misogyny, and I'd had no defence against it. My 'kindness' went so deeep that I did not even think 'I want something better than you'. I thought and said that I wanted something different. And it's probably the main reason I was so 'special' to him. I inadvertently made him feel it was ok to be his abusive self. I think there was more to it than that, but I think this connection of my patterns makes sense. I don't know if I consciously challenge it it can change over time, because it seems like now there's a lot more in the way. I shouldn't have to live up to anything, but my lack of connections to anything in the country outside this house is glaring. I have no real reasons to go out. I won't answer the phone or door if I'm only going to get telemarketers or people trying to sell me an energy program that is not better than the one here. I've had no real phonecalls. I have no reason to expect personal phonecalls. I think I might be a bit defiant about it. Fuck you. And fuck you religious people, so kind and compassionate, who, if you knew my life story would say I would be forgiven if I sought God's forgiveness for my sins, otherwise I'm going to hell.

Well, that came out as I wrote, but in reality, I don't really want to say fuck you to anyone, as long as they leave me in peace, and even if they don't, I have a reflex that usually results in me challenging my lack of consideration, compassion or understanding for the diverse circumstances of others, long before the fuck you can surface.

Dr Velvet Thong: And if you have to say no to any of these people, perhaps no matter how nicely you do it, you will be dismissed as a cantankerous old trout, well, maybe not by the nice religious people. The judgment of boyfriends led to a hypersensitivity to and intolerance of judgment from others? But consciously you did not accept this position, so it came out in unconscious reflex behaviour. 'I'm not answering the door. I just don't want to.'

Okti: Meanwhile, the situation with family is a bit like a hikikomori situation. So I've got PTSD, I've got two abusive boyfriends in a row who phone and show up after they've been asked to stop, or I've broken up with them, while I'm in full hikikomori mode, and I've got a family who are ashamed because I'm a failure, and no one talks about why I'm not leaving the house, and the situation just goes on, while unconsciously, everyone is waiting for me to fulfill the prophecy.

Anyway, the point I was perhaps coming to was that I hadn't consciously challenged that I had somehow allowed judgments about my appearance and character to have more weight than an assessment of the decent qualities I possessed that had made it possible for me to be in situations in which I could be judged. My understanding and compassion for people was ultimately assigned a lesser value, and I think that might be part of what I still have to manually reset in my personal settings.

I probably have to try harder to explain more about The Bumble's personality, because I'm afraid of having him reduced to a stereotype, but for now I don't know if the following will help or hinder.

He told me (and probably everyone else) many times that he scored highly on verbal reasoning tests. I don't think I'm wrong in thinking he was using those skills while Natalie slept to try to lead me to the conclusion incest was fine and dandy amongst consenting rational persons. I also think he was trying to get me to be the one to initiate. When he realized I wasn't going to, I think he was frustrated, angry and disappointed in me. He'd had a vasectomy for fuck's sake, there was no real danger. He felt 'rejected', but because there is so much loss of face with rejection in the family philosophy that it becomes shameful to even admit you're interested in someone, he had to process it in his own entitled ways.

And in immature ways. I think what might have happened is that he went to Natalie to soothe his ego, and maybe in a way they formed a team against me. Maybe they made fun of me and complained about me, and I picked up on it because I was the only other person in the house. Maybe over time, factoring in a lot of social isolation and more accumulated data regarding how men think and operate, this original mostly unconscious drama morphed into something considerably darker and more life-impacting. I suppose this is one possible way to look at the development of the whole Tyler and Tulip drama.

I have chosen names for different reasons. To me, Natalie looked a bit like Natalie Wood from some angles, if Natalie Wood had been of average weight and build, but their personality types and other details weren't similar. This was meant to be a compassionate choice.

I'm thinking maybe I should change K-Pru's name. It occurs to me that maybe people might think I'm somehow referencing K-Stu, but K-Pru doesn't remind me of her in any way. I don't really like (most of, there are exceptions) the modern short versions of names. I could call her KP, but then only family members (and Tyler and Tulip!) would know what it referenced and that it was 'positive', but I think KP it's going to be.

There's a lot more consciousness now regarding the topic of bullying. If it's unintentional, I guess certain behaviours and attitudes can still have effects. The Bumble had a good sense of humour, he and Natalie were nice people, I had a good life, I needed to get myself a sense of humour. But I think it is possible that in an unconscious sense, I felt unsafe in my own home the year it was just the three of us together. I was 13-14, and in many ways it was a big year for me.

When I was young, I interpreted all people's behaviour to give them the benefit of the doubt. I often did this to my own detriment. When it came to my father and Natalie, perhaps I was dependent on immature people who did not really care about my future. I suspect that it might not have only been my father who wished for my death. I think Natalie probably also had those thoughts. She also would have picked up something about my father's bad behaviour with me, and was probably in denial about it, and blamed me. However, since all people might experience those types of feelings from time to time, I know what makes the most sense is that other events maybe caused these unconscious elements to begin to intrude in destructive ways in waking reality.

There was another period in my life when it was just the three of us: in Winnipeg for a time, I was alone in the house with The Bumble and KP. I had tried to befriend and comfort KP, because I thought The Bumble was treating her badly. On the surface, we were 'close', but I think our philosophies were very different. I don't think she understood my situation, and I think there were certain women she disliked, and that I was someone who would normally fall into that category. We were sort of close in a siege situation, but it didn't translate to the real world when we both got out.

Years later, she went back to The Bumble, and I was living in Australia. I contacted her at a time I was trying to have contact wtih my siblings again, not long after the death of Grampa Smurf. My website had been up for some years at that point, and when we had contact after all this time, she never mentioned the website. On my birthday she sent me a page with possums from the internet arranged on it in Word, but other than that, she never commented on my site. One of the first messages she sent was a kind of chainletter (rather than a personal, individual message), CCd to a massive list of others. It asked people to look around them and see how many friends they had, and to think carefully about how they ended up in this place. I'm paraphrasing. It then asked them to send this message to 5 of their friends, to see what comes back.

I gave her the benefit of the doubt and didn't jump to the conclusion she was sending me a passive-aggressive kind of message to say: 'You are alone, depressed and lonely because you are a shitty friend. Look how many friends I have!' It's only now that I am wondering about that. I asked her if she could send me individual messages as I didn't really like CCd material, and then she started to send the religious messages with similar themes, and I think in many cases she just sent me things she had already CCd to others. Last time I forgot to mention the one with the subject line: Beautiful Christian Sister, the one that said unless you sought love through Jesus, not only would you never find True Love, but any love you did find would be doomed. I reflect now that perhaps all those years ago I had absorbed similar philosophies, hadn't challenged them consciously, and it all became a self-fulfilling prophecy because the authority figures, those with power in my life, held these beliefs. She did write nice descriptive paragraphs about places she had been and about the weather, and used a lot of phrases like 'Happy Thursday!' or 'Happy Summer!' (when it was winter in Australia), and while I tried to get her to engage on a deeper level, my efforts got me nowhere. I wasn't sure if she was living in some kind of bizarre denial, and needed me to 'rescue' her from The Bumble, or if our philosophies had always been profoundly incompatible. In Winnipeg I gave her a lot of support when she was thinking of leaving The Bumble, and when she decided to go through with it, I helped her move.

Whatever the case, I am sort of seeing that there is a kind of pattern for transference related to those times in my life when I was in an unhealthy, fucked up threesome and couldn't get out, when the adults or authority figures in my life didn't understand me and weren't capable of offering guidance, even though to their social peers they seemed totally normal and nice.

Maybe if Tyler, Tulip and I can come to some kind of understanding, it will help in the resolution of some of this childhood baggage.

The Bumble said my mother was awful, an irrational nightmare, and Natalie took his side, Natalie was 'nice'. People thought I was 'nice', maybe because I barely spoke, and the more I've spoken up, I suppose the less nice people think I am..

What does 'nice' even mean? We didn't have the same personality type. I don't know how smart Natalie was, but she wasn't introspective. I have wracked my memories to see if I could find traces of compassion, empathy or perception in her, and I can't. And when I saw her in my 20s, even then I would not say she possessed these qualities. I know that I wasn't comfortable in her presence, and that she wasn't comfortable in mine. We were not kindred spirits.

I think she might have gossiped with her female friends in ways similar (but different) to my brothers' girlfriends and their social group. Females from different eras, but with judgments of human behaviour, in particular judgment of females, that I couldn't relate to. There was a brief period in 1996 when I went out clubbing with them once or twice a week for < two months, and then they sort of pushed me out because I was an embarrassment, but I think overall the feeling was mutual. However, I am still glad I had the experience of dancing publicly at that time, and I enjoyed all the other rituals, getting ready to go out, having a few drinks, and so I don't regret that period.

In so many movies there's the cliche moment when a kid says to a parent's new mate: YOU'RE NOT MY FATHER/MOTHER! But when I was a kid, I already thought that kind of thing was an unkind and unthinking thing to say to a person. I never said that to any 'stepparent'. It's like the human default position doesn't allow for kids to understand that adults might be in a difficult position.

No one could ever raise their voice, use an angry or sarcastic tone with The Bumble without fear of massive retaliation, although he had the perfect right to do any of those things, any time he wished, and if anyone dared to question or challenge him, they could not do so without the same fear of massive retaliation. This is probably the way in which Tyler and The Bumble are most similar. If Tyler's posting patterns are studied, this will be perfectly evident.

Natalie and KP both had a certain sense of fairness that I hadn't encountered in the men in my life. When I helped them move, they insisted on giving me something in return and didn't give up on it. KP took me out for a piece of cake at a fancy bakery cafe, and although I refused money when Natalie offered, I did accept when she offered to make me a meal, although I probably should have just taken the money, which would have been more comfortable for both of us.

When I was watching a program about mental illness, I heard a psychologist say that if a person is asked a question, and their response goes from A all the way up to Z before reaching B it could be a sign of schizophrenia.

I know I'm long-winded and go off on tangents but if someone says something like that, my first thought is: if I am asked a question, and get the impression I can only reply using two letters out of an entire alphabet, then what else can I say but 'BAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!'

Dr Velvet Thong: She needed a better analogy, but it was also stated that sometimes people have quirky or creative approaches to communication and problem-solving, and you can't jump to the conclusion they're schizophrenic. Or that they have attention deficit. That's my addition.

It seems to me that your tangents usually lead somewhere, and if you can cut through feelings of shame, the associations memory provides can eventually help you to spot patterns and connect dots, such that eventually you reach insight. I think I understand why it was difficult for you when it seemed either those in the mental health field or people you knew thought your thinking was disorganized and that maybe you needed to take a pill to help with this.

When you've told people you can't continue communicating, I think it was a desperate and perhaps understandable way to set boundaries for yourself and to try to give yourself space and time to centre yourself, while also trying to be considerate of their boundaries.

I think maybe you need to work on that cutting off business, but I do see how it's a way of looking ahead, and seeing that a person (understandably) doesn't have the time or patience to invest in waiting for you to connect the dots for them. And I also see that there's still no quick or simple way to do it, because you've had no validation from 'authority figures', there's no official lingo or jargon that can act as a shortcut to understanding.

Whether someone communicates in person, on the phone, through texting, email, artistic expression, old-time letter writing, or through any other medium, it can be possible to detect a person's core value and belief systemd. It might be assumed that some forms are better for certain types of expression than others, that some might more easily facillitate or impede the expression of emotional substance or depth, but it's not a good idea to assume any form precludes the potential for significant communication.

Okti: I know all too well that even smart and accomplished people are human and that what I write has the potential to hurt or trigger insecurities or doubts, and that unfortunately the best, most compassionate people are the ones most affected, always thinking that maybe they need to address some wrong they might have committed, while the ones who have behaved in the worst ways and who have no remorse don't associate what I say with themselves, or wouldn't give a shit if they did.

Dr Velvet Thong: I don't have anything particularly relevant to say, I'm just letting everybody know I'm still here.

Okti: I'm not proposing unconditional acceptance, or having the self-control to be kind to everyone. It's about a kind of connection that comes from understanding, such that you don't have to force yourself to be considerate, it's just the natural extension of the understanding and connection between beings.

I am stable enough now that I feel I could commit to a lifelong friendship with Don Quixote, even if that didn't mean I'd die in a month or a year, but after a full lifespan. But I don't feel ready to commit to living in the same house.

Recently,I thought it was a good idea to go over our expectations and assessments of our relationship, just to make sure we are still on the same page. Don Quixote agrees that we are friends and an alternative family, and that our relationship is not sexual or romantic, and that we will support each other to have other relationships, and do our best to remain committed to the friendship.

I want him to be free to experience a more complete love, and I want to be free to experience a more complete love.

If horrific cumulative trauma results in unconscious reactions or reflexes that don't respond to rational problem solving, maybe there is some instinctual or creative way to 'heal' the unconscious. Maybe that's still what I'm trying to find.

Back to summarizing mode:

The connection I"ve pointed out between PTSD, appearance issues and unconscious psychological abuse isn't separate from family influence. In my first attempts to express my experience, I was never able to trust that family could understand me and support me, and in fact it was just the opposite: their judgment of me and their unconscious shame, which I perceived, in a sense added to the abuse, and made it all more difficult In hikikomori, the individual's shame is not the individual's alone, it's the whole family's shame, and they get stuck in a kind of rigid limbo, where nothing can ever progress. In my family in particular, unconscious sexism and misogyny combined with competitive instincts to drive me out as a perceived threat to the family's status/standing.

Dr Velvet Thong: You couldn't trust professionals or authorities, either.

Okti: We were all good students, but I was the best student. However, only the males of the family were able to go on to attend higher education. Boo wasn't able to finish his film studies (but has always been able to find work in the industry), and Cecil, although granted a full scholarship to get a master's in mechanical engineering, didn't finish, either. While he was working on it, he was offered a really good job. Neither had enough family support to complete their courses, but both had kinds of support the females didn't.

I've come to a kind of acceptance about my life. From this place, I think I'm ready to restructure.

I still have problems with my body, my weight and appearance. At present I'm scared to look at my body, but at the same time, I wouldn't let anyone shame me about it. I wouldn't let anyone put me down for it.

I accept that 'this' is natural for me. A lot of people in the modern world aren't happy with their bodies. Perhaps we can relate to each other. I can't keep judging myself. I have to accept that this is part of who I am and part of what I'll probably always struggle with. It's good that I can eat normally. It's not good that I can't control my alcohol intake enough to reduce my weight, and it sucks I suppose that that is my biggest concern when it comes to my alcohol intake. And ageing sucks in a lot of ways. But I still can possibly enjoy aspects of life in some ways.

I would ask everyone to stop making jokes assuming that all women are concerned about their weight, or comments that try to demonstrate relateability by saying 'I guess we all could stand to lose a few pounds/kilos'. I would also urge all women to stop saying things like 'You're young, for a man.'

That last one perpetuates the idea that men have more sexual and relationship value than women. Women actually live longer than men on average, so the statement only pertains to sexual desirability and relationship potential, and refusing to keep spreading that meme is a constructive step.

At present, there are technically more overweight men than women, and yet we have a similar mindset which I think reassures men something like 'well, you're not really fat, for a man. OK, I know there are men who are more affected than some women, but overall, there is still a strong discrepancy, and ideally, we would examine the whole issue more deeply. I'm just saying that maybe we could start with challenging statements like the ones above in daily life and entertainment by refusing to perpetuate them.

In the last few days, I have been finding writing natural and easy, just like riding a bike, etc, but I want to get back to the feeling of peace I've had lately, and while writing, I don't exactly experience a sense of peace until I feel satisfied I've done as much as I can for now.. I don't want to keep going over the same things. If I can't solve this permanently, I at least want to try to get back to that peaceful place. It could be it was easier to attain when only on the computer once a month or so, especially after completing things like work on the house and Family Skeleton Dance Party! When I hit a wall and could do no more work on the house, the interesting thing is that Don Quixote was so pleased with what we'd already managed to do together, and because the tasks were no longer overwhelming and impossible and he could see my vision, he had the energy to continue to do a few projects on his own. He did them in his own time, and I think all of this work we did together has helped him to reach a happier period in his life, and makes him feel more bonded to his house and to me.

I want to say that I am now in a phase of checking my email once a day again. For a few years, I only checked once a month or so, with some exceptions, and other than that, on an individual basis, I'd let those who were likely to be affected know in advance.

I admit I don't know for sure if hackers have ever deleted or sabotaged any of my mail in any way.

Dr Velvet Thong: Any more stragglers you want to get out of the way before wrapping up this session?

Okti: In a society based on capitalism and competition, even within families there are aspects of competition and the survival instinct that end up presenting in dysfunctional ways. When it's gone too far, the commonsense approaches to addressing the imbalance aren't always enough, and in extreme cases can be like trying to put a bandaid over a gunshot wound.

If there's been no acknowledgement of the wound, a friendly birthday greeting or other seemingly innocuous message can set me off. If it's been acknowledged, and both parties recognize we might not be able to do anything about it as medical science is not currently advanced enough to handle this particular case, then I am willing to try communication that isn't complicated and draining when we 'keep in touch', but from time to time it might not be bad to inquire as to gauge how close I've come to bleeding out.

So, what was all this talk of me reaching a sense of peace? Where has that gone? If I really achieved peace then why the need to say all this? Because while I think I understand the issue, part of what is necessary for me to heal myself is that I keep trying to communicate my understanding, share it with others, so as to participate or connect in life, not just stay in my head in my room, understanding that everyone's path makes sense and that everyone is doing the best they can. I still need feedback in order to go further.

I'm winding down now, although I think these last bits above and below need work, in order to create clear connections.

The first time I said I wanted to move in with The Bumble, I was 11. I wasn't legally allowed to choose, and my mother wasn't about to give up her legal rights. At that time she began threatening to have me locked up in a convent for my own good (I think there's a big one up north somewhere, maybe Sault Ste Marie, but I'm too lazy to Google at the moment), so that didn't help her cause much. However, I think now I can appreciate how desperate she must have felt.

While I think it's possible my mother wanted me to suffer somewhat such that I could understand what she'd been through and how necessary she was, I think she'd have been outraged by The Bumble's casual dismissal of my life and potential. When she was angry with me, saying that in choosing to live with him I was throwing my life away, it was mostly about fear. She feared for my safety, because she understood him better than the rest of us did.

I think I understand now what she saw, and what she tried to prevent, and that a lot of her efforts have been lost on the wind, and now there's only me to recognize how hard she must have fought, and what it means.

Yes, I think something happened with her postpartum that might have affected our relationship from the start and our bonding, and yes, I think over the years her attitudes about weight and appearance affected me, but I think now she'd understand about eating disorders, and maybe she'd tell me about hers, and I think she'd say that The Bumble's religious ideas were more harmful than hers. And she could point to me as a case in point.

Dr Velvet Thong: He gave you the 'gift' of the biggest hurdle/threat to survival, she added in some complications, but underneath it all, she valued life, and in particular your life, more than he was capable of valuing or understanding anyone's life but his own, at that time. She'd probably seen some potential in him, but had to eventually abandon it in order to try to nurture it in her children, and protect them from what he couldn't see.

Okti: I find myself wanting to say:

I'm sorry, Mom. I wish I could have helped you back then, but I don't think all your efforts were in vain.

Throw Another Catfish on the Barbie

If Ken and Barbie try to ride a unicorn in a secret enchanted vegetable forest without obtaining consent, and the unicorn bites their heads off, what legal recourse do they have? Can they ever evolve into real, live, human beings?

Dr Velvet Thong: It would be nice if we were done with the whole Tyler and Tulip debacle, but I sense there's more you feel the need to say or summarize.

Okti: I think my psychological landscape might have been a kind of preparation for that later confusion. Transference isn't about finding someone exactly the same, it's about finding something similar in important ways.

Tulip's more intellectual and complex than Natalie, and Tyler has more self-control and subtlety than The Bumble. Tulip and Natalie are both good feminist role models in some ways, but possess hidden baggage that makes them susceptible to men with unconscious sexist and misogynist attitudes which they end up reinforcing or not challenging.

This was driven home to me when I heard Tyler describe how a stepmother was responsible for all the ills in his family. Originally, he had said his father was abusive, but later in life he said he had come to the conclusion that he was more like his father than he had thought, and that really the guy wasn't so bad.

The villain of the piece was the stepmother, and the father had nothing to do with making his mother feel like shit or his family feel like garbage, and when on his death bed he signed everything over to the stepmother, it wasn't just an extension of everything he'd already been doing for years, it was the result of calculating exploitation of a moment of weakness. His father was simply helpless before her, a woman of little or no intellect, skill or wit, whose physical charms had shrivelled up years ago, a thoroughly unimpressive specimen. I guess she was just pure evil.

I've been drawn to similar issues with men, but I have been the least committed to men, and a lot of that has to do with not wanting to negatively reinforce bad behaviour, even before I could coherently identify it.

Dr Velvet Thong: What is Tyler and Tulip's real crime?

Okti: In modern day lingo, they're rapists, and bullies.

My assessment is that Tyler and Tulip are able to access and exploit a range of emotions in the service of cruelty. That's their highest aim, and it's bigger than the need for control. In communicating with anyone, I was always wishing for death. That was the one big aim that overrode all else, but I didn't want the kind of despairing death they wanted for me. I would say now that my wish has more to do with understanding, but not the kind they think they have of me. If I have ever been cruel, it would have been in the service of understanding, and I know that I really really hate being cruel. They have a code, they have limits and standards as far as what kinds of cruelty are acceptable, but they are still far beyond what I could ever choose to inflict on people.

Dr Velvet Thong: I think for them it has been about control and manipulation, but that in many ways you have been able to turn it around on them.

Okti: I think their justification for cruelty is love, specifically, their love. It's the foundation on which the relationship is built. It's what brought about the most influential/impactful aspect of their original bonding, and how they discovered the extent of their compatibility. That kind of info is difficult to accept, and so it becomes necessary to justify it in the name of love. Everything from that point that comes in or goes out has to go through that filter.

Referring to Tulip by an alias, on my site I did say some disgraceful things, about her and her father, and I apologize for those things. I reaalize she's probably not going to apologize for the (more than equally) disgraceful things she's said to me, but I guess I don't know for sure. The rest of what I wrote might have been a valid expression of rage related to powerlessness, and understandable. However, my comments could have been hurtful to others who have endured abuse, and I am sorry. I will try to focus on standing up for myself, and others who may have been targeted by Tyler and Tulip, or those like them, in more positive ways from here on.

On the newsgroup, Tyler had a lot of aliases. In my first message to him, I listed them. He tended to use names that represented antiheroes or villains, or that expressed sarcasm or irony. He identified as autistic, even though most of those with Asperger's supposedly have trouble with sarcasm and irony. But whether he tried to disguise himself by using poor grammar or not, certain themes were repeated, and they were that he was lonely and at his wits' end. He had a perfect life and Significant Other, it was like they were Barbie and Ken, but he was still in a desperate condition. At present, I would say that making a choice to use a.s.h as an outlet while remaining faithful is one way to cope with life, but I'd also add that you have to be careful and clear. If you're posting to a suicide group about how desperate and lonely you feel, while in a relationship, it's not a stretch for people to imagine you might want out of the relationship, especially when you say that you have resisted committing because you weren't sure what else might be around the corner.

When I wrote the first time, it was to list all the aliases and to try to say something about relating to aspects of his loneliness (not the Barbie and Ken stuff, but more to do with the difficulties of articulating, communicating, connecting). I was trying to offer comfort, I wasn't trying to flirt. With all the aliases, he seemed to be trying to attract attention to himself to see if anyone cared, or could 'see' him. I only wanted to send the one message, and leave it at that. Considering that's how the interaction started, it actually seems to make a kind of sense to me that over the years I'd think he might be the person catfishing me. It's tempting for many people to try out aliases and fake IDs online, but he showed an early propensity toward it to an extreme that most others were not likely to go to. I was really bad at this kind of thing because I'd always fess up about everything, and couldn't contain my true viewpoints no matter where I was online.

I think the justification for the catfishing was probably in relation to some perceived fault of mine, that was actually his fault, due to him giving me misleading, inaccurate and incomplete info to work with from the start, and him coming to false conclusions about what I expressed, in large part because his unconscious sexist and misogynistic attitudes prevented him from understanding me.

And that's all I have to say about that.

Dr Velvet Thong: Thoughts on Bullying.

Okti: I consider what they did to be rape. I consider what they did to be bullying. When I could identify it, I did not consent. At times I felt that since there wasn't anything I could do about it, I might as well not struggle, but I still did not consent, and I think they knew this.

There does seem to be greater awareness about bullying now, and the effects and motivations are clearer. I think progress is being made, but it is likely to mean that certain types of bullying will have to go underground or be more difficult to detect.

Dr Velvet Thong: Like with Tyler and Tulip?

Okti: Yes. And so I am wondering if it might be helpful for others undergoing something complicated and hard to prove, something that no one cares about, if I make the effort to write down my experiences and impressions, and demonstrate how I have fought back, if maybe I can offer support in that way.

There will be complex reasons, but some people might just always think the mainstream are a bunch of wankers. It seems bullying is a longstanding human instinct that will have to ultimately be combatted with reasoning, effort and choice.

One of the reasons I was initially drawn to Tyler was that he seemed to admire reasoning and rationality. He also seemed to believe that you can't assume people don't change. I think he posted something about that.

Tulip has participated long enough and heard my arguments long enough that even if she is the victim of a domineering sadist, she hasn't expressed remorse to me, even in code. In fact, she's done the opposite. She's laughed at me, again and again. Maybe I need to get a sense of humour? Maybe I need to get Enlightened? Maybe she hasn't yet seen the overview or understood the implications or proportions of her actions compared to mine?

I think it's possible they might think the situation would lack proportion if all these years this has been going on in private, and then they are publicly shamed, when they were probably subjected to abuse and influence that led them to this behaviour in the first place.

Tyler was all about rationality and so it makes sense that it's possible he could have decided on this behaviour rather than kill himself, or accept that Tulip might kill herself. In making that choice, he'd have to know there might be consequences some day. My website's existence is due to the choices I have made instead of killing myself, and because I know how 'necessary' it's been, in that way I can possibly relate to the choices others make for a similar reason.

Dr Velvet Thong: OK, where do we stand now with Tyler and Tulip?

Okti: They're still here, they're still watching. They're watching as I type this. I have to make a conscious decision to handle the self-consciousness, and express myself regardless.

If they apologize, if they seem to feel remorse and concern, I will forgive them, and try harder to understand.

Dr Velvet Thong: I think there's still more you need to cover, there's something you started to say to me a while ago, related to a.s.h.

Okti: I couldn't remember if in FSDP! I had stressed that there were a lot of extremely kind people there. Most of them wouldn't have counselled anyone to commit suicide, and many talked with some people for hours when they were at a danger point, not to push them over the edge, as is sometimes demonstrated in movies and media, but to try to help them through a dark night. I also did that on more than one occasion.

The friendship I have with Don Quixote is based on the exact opposite sentiment to the one in which Tyler and Tulip's relationship is based. When I first wrote to Don Quixote, it was because he had gone against the entire group and expressed support for a young woman who was being bullied. She wasn't as popular or in tune with the group mentality as some of the people there, and they were completely merciless, ganging up on her, for relatively minor crimes. People in positions of power, including the webmaster himself, joined in on this, and they used horrible ways of attacking her, including using irrelevant personal data they unearthed, for example, that she had had an abortion. It turned into a vicious gangbang.

Don Quixote suggested the woman was mentally ill, although I will concede I would hassle him about his word choices now. I wrote to him first in support of what he had posted publicly, and then I posted myself. I tried to offer support to him, to her, and to myself, as best I could at that time. I still didn't really understand what the term bullying meant.

There was a forerunner to this incident, involving the same young woman some months earlier. I had had a heated argument in email with the webmaster about it, and when he couldn't be swayed, I broke off personal contact.

If we go back to Tyler, I have a theory regarding one aspect of what went wrong with our communication. Tyler's beliefs didn't factor in that I was too unstable to continue relationships. He believed it was 'bad' when people didn't commit to relationships or friendships. This moral judgment becomes an excuse for an underlying compulsion. He has an abnormal, not highly moral reaction to the breakups that occur in life, and that's partly what the (alleged) stalking is about. He can't let anyone get away. It disrupts him in some really difficult way. Under that is a sexist sense of entitlement, and disregard for what is best for the other person, or her personal wishes. She has no rights, and no recourse.

One of the major points I am trying to make is that sometimes people don't have anywhere to go to talk about embarrassing or complicated things - and that's not just me, it's also Tyler and Tulip (one or both might have actually had to endure something like conversion therapy at some point, as Tyler's conversations often seemed to contain the kinds of ideas one would pick up in such a situation), who eventually learned they could trust only each other. From that perspective, it is possible to have compassion for them.

I kept my family's and my boyfriends' secrets, and would have gladly died with those secrets intact if someone had given me a suicide pill years ago, years before a.s.h and my site. But through writing and burning/deleting and through continued isolation over the years, and access to more books and online conversations, patterns and insights were becoming obvious to me. Maybe people have been hurt and angry about my findings. I deliberated a very long time before moving forward. It has been a major struggle with conscience. And then, a feeling of necessity. I can't offer proof, but I can point out what I think needs to be explored and addressed.

When I was on a.s.h, I still completely believed that every person has a backstory, even a 'troll', and I wasn't usually as incensed by the presence of trolls as others there.

I'm not writing what I'm writing in the hopes of pushing Tyler and Tulip to split up. I think it's possible that they could try to help each other through a transition to seeing things differently. They already have a solid foundation between them, and they could transition together to a new phase in life. I guess the problem is that whether underneath it all it was a fun game that they sort of discovered accidentally, or a compulsion as strong as addiction, a void will be left if they stop.

One thing they have shown me is that it is possible for people to be truly committed to each other. The Bumble was never committed to anyone. I have been seeing a few more examples in life of true commitment and compatibility, and maybe this is something else I can be less cynical or jaded about.

Dr Velvet Thong: Will you ever be able to trust anyone?

Okti: In what context? I think I have a sense of who can be trusted, and to what extent, when I've been able to communicate with someone for a while and can assess their patterns. I know that if I personally don't feel I can trust someone it doesn't mean they're a bad person. It can mean that I don't think they're up to dealing with my complications, and if I don't want to inflict them, or live with a whitewash, it might be better for me not to agree to a superficially friendly association.

The situation with Tyler and Tulip.. even though now it's a part of daily life that's abnormal, but 'normal', I would like some kind of resolution that works for all involved. I can't see how that can happen without some direct and clear communication. I guess I'd also like to know if it is like an addiction, if there's remorse on their part and a wish to quit, but no idea how to do it. If I thought my contributions had been interesting, and that my wellbeing was wished for, I might be able to figure out how to see this constant presence in my life as morphing into something new, less antagonistic.

Dr Velvet Thong: I suppose there's nothing to the rumour that they had signed a book and movie contract telling their side of the story.. er.. something like you agreed to forego prosecution in exchange for validation, a cut of the profits, with some also going to certain causes you endorse, including victims of online harassment, and a say in what they were allowed to publish from their detailed transcripts, and were content in knowing that all of you would be contributing something vital to the understanding of mental illness and exploitation. (ie, why some people turn everything against themselves, and why others turn it on others).

Okti: There were too many legal complications, and they didn't want to draw attention to their other dubious or nefarious activities. So, at least for now, it's a no go.

I want to understand and forgive, but I don't want Tyler and Tulip to go on to stalk others. Maybe they have always stalked others. I don't know what they were up to during the years I only signed on once a month. I want to stand up for these other potential targets, protect them. I'm going to continue to try to do so.

Dr Velvet Thong: I understand that in writing you have a need to be thorough, but take care not to keep belabouring what has already been stated. Try not to keep beating them over the head with it, give them a chance to think for themselves.

Divorce and Reconciliation

Okti: I sincerely hope I haven't harmed anyone in my biological family or in Don Quixote's family in my attempts and desperate need to understand what the hell happened, and why our communication sucks so much. I've reached a kind of acceptance that I hadn't been able to before, and I think it's because I finally went far enough. If I have harmed you, I'm sorry, and I hope that you can find it in your hearts to forgive me.

Unfortunately, I might be dealing with the effects of family dynamics for the rest of my life, and it might not ever be easy to have contact with anyone from my past, or with people, period.

I suppose the concepts of divorce and reconcilation could also be applied to the relationship I have with my body. I'm trying to accept myself, no matter what phase my body is in, or what's going on with my appearance. If I accept myself, I know it is better for other people in the world with similar struggles.

Although I consider myself 'divorced' from all members of my biological family except Boo, it shouldn't be assumed that in my mind that's the final word. What it means is that things are clear enough now that no one has to feel obligated to take an interest in me or vice versa. We are all in a position to make choices as to who we want as our family. I might have mutated to such an extent that the original members of my family can't relate to me or recognize me as the person they thought they knew, and they might not genuinely want contact. The ball is in their court now.

It seems like the next logical step is to try to reach some kind of understanding with Don Quixote's family, such that they also feel they have a choice and are not bound by a sense of family obligation, that they feel they know or understand me well enough to know if they want me as part of the family, and vice versa.

There are those who might have wondered for years what happened to me or where I went when I left without a word, and it's not fair of me to assume I was nothing to them, or that my discomfort in having to admit the reality of my life trumps their need for resolution or closure.

Dr Velvet Thong: Or your need for resolution or closure.

The Dancing Cave and the Prophecy Part 2

Dr Velvet Thong: How do you feel about outliving the prediction made by The Bumble and his psychic friends that you'd kill yourself by your 21st birthday?

Okti: It's interesting. Through the years, the people I've been closest to have all seemed to accept that suicide (when it comes to me) can be a natural thing (or the right spiritual path), and so they've sort of left me to my own devices. I wanted people to know that my life wasn't a zen garden of tranquility. Hopefully now they do, and perhaps ironically, this does give me a sense of peace.

I never thought I'd live this long, and in a way, it feels like an accomplishment. There might always have been some kind of inner stability or strength of which I was unaware. And although those in my life often expressed love in backward or dysfunctional ways, I have probably been luckier than others. I'm hoping that even if this is the case, there might be something in my message for those who haven't been as lucky.

The first incarnation of my website was uploaded in 2001. Since that time I have tried to describe my experience with depression, disordered eating, addiction, social isolation and a consistent, persistent wish for death that was strong enough to feel like a need. I had felt that way for many years before I could articulate it publicly. I was consistent and clear in stating my wish for close to 3 decades.

I think something is changing now. I am reluctant to come across as too confident or sure too soon, and I definitely do not want to be held up as an example: 'See, she didn't really want to die.' Or, 'If she can pull herself out of it, you can too.' It's important to me that people who have not experienced suicidal ideation, or who have not experienced it to an extreme enough extent to relate to me do not judge those who cannot just snap out of it. Nobody should have to live in the state I lived in, for any length of time. My story is one story.

My site will remain as a record of my journey. I'll try not to edit out errors, ignorance, offence so as to show it's possible to change, or to learn.

What I think is happening is that through years of struggling, I have cleared out and organized enough that I can 'see' more, and now I am ready to try to restructure my memory and life frameworks. I don't think this means I will re-enter society and become a productive member according to usual definitions. It means that I have accepted my situation, I'm at peace with the efforts I've made to change and understand, I'm grateful for many things in my life, I'm proud of myself, and I think I'm 'strong' enough now to live and possibly enjoy aspects of an alternative life that might still be quite isolated. I feel 'stable' enough to make choices and draw limits for myself. I trust that even through the struggle with addiction, there is an underlying pattern that allows for creativity and personally meaningful accomplishment.

I understand now why I always had an impulse to write. The persistence with which the need to understand and be understood has been pursued proves that the potential for emotional growth still exists, and is pursued in spite of all obstacles to hope.

I am now secure enough in my own ability to perceive and analyze that even when someone with a lot more power, status and respect, someone who is recognized and rewwarded for their intelligence and empathy, dismisses me, I know how to figure out why, and how to stand up for myself.

Dr Velvet Thong: It's perhaps a kind of tenuous thing, where every time someone challenges that self-esteem, you might wonder if the whole structure has been built on false reasoning, but it seems to me you now realize it's something you can fight to keep, knowing that you have the persistence to take things to a new level, but also the ability to accept when you yourself haven't seen something or are wrong, admit it, and go on from there, to continue building something you can trust, and to remember to re-examine and question the whole structure or framework from time to time, without fear of the whole thing falling down on your head.

Okti: It's actually an amazing thing, to look back and see all the attempts at writing, all the deleting, all the difficult relationships and struggles to express, and the creative efforts to understand more. It does actually seem like it was leading somewhere. I've been thinking my way out of a box.

Dr Velvet Thong: Originally, you didn't think anyone could respect you because you knew what you 'should' do to earn respect, but couldn't do it. Now you respect yourself. It looks to me like you're starting to feel more connected to humanity. Your struggle is now something you can identify as something you have in common with many lonely souls through the ages who have sought to bring awareness of new knowledge into the collective consciousness. The snags and challenges you have faced are like the ones others have faced, and the records of their struggles, victories and defeats, their influence and effects, are beginning to remind you of your own.

What's next?

Okti: Who the hell knows?

Let's dance.

->exile on meme st: a diary