Musings on Horror (Sinister 2 spoilers abound!)

Did I say spoilers? Yes, yes, I did. Ye be warned.

So,

HOLY HORROR MOVIE EXCELLENCE!

I got to see Sinister 2 tonight with one of my roommates, who also loves horror movies. (Guys, it’s good to have a friend who works at the local theater.)

And I’ve never been so scared by a horror movie, in all honesty.

WHAT? ME?

Yes. I was terrified. And these were the scenes that aren’t the boogeyman and his army of creepy children.

It’s horrific not because of any of that. It’s a woman on the run from her abusive husband, taking her twin boys with her. One of whom was beat up by his father.

AND THE EMOTIONAL COMPLICATIONS!

Dylan, the one who was Daddy’s punching bag, is a quiet, scared kid. His brother Zach is the one who’s more like Daddy, starting so innocently with pushing and name calling. Dylan is the one chosen by the evil army of undead children, but Zach can see them, too, and he’s jealous. Even more, he knows he’s better than his weak brother, so he can’t understand why they picked the “pussy.”

Only one small piece of the horror revolves around Dylan being forced to watch the homemade snuff films with his sadistic new friends, while the evil child-eating thing lurks in the background. The main horror is domestic abuse victims trying to escape the abuser. He hires private detectives to track them down. He drives up to the front door with cops, unaware of Dylan inside, hiding under a bed.

It’s also in Zach, who lets his jealousy get the better of him, and beats up Dylan. Who is far too much his father’s son—Round Two just waiting to happen. He takes up the mantle of “filming” that Dylan doesn’t want.

It’s also in the mother, herself. A woman who finally did something to protect Dylan, but not soon enough. A woman who has no choice but to watch Zach become like his father.

This bastard father regains legal custody of the twins, and their mother has to come along for the ride if she wants to stay with them. That’s the real horror—being forced back into that. Having to wait to eat until Daddy starts eating. Jumping when he shouts.

That dinner scene was the worst of it for me. Seeing that awful silence at the table. And, when Dylan says he isn’t hungry, his father picks up a handful of mashed potatoes and shoves them in his face.

It wasn’t the blood, gore, or violence I flinched away from. It was that one moment. That one moment horrified me more than any horror movie has ever done. It was raw, primal emotion. Breaking me down to the things every horror movie tries to do. I couldn’t help caring about the family, and wanting the best for them. Biting my nails in nervousness that they would be killed.

And also, we have Deputy So and So coming back, getting involved with this family. The perfect adorkable hero. What’s not to love?

In short, I think this movie will sucker punch abuse victims. Personally, I loved it. Almost like cutting, horror makes me feel. During a horror movie, I realize that I’m alive. And I’m grateful for that fact. That I can leave this world of dismal darkness and gray color schemes behind, and go out into vibrant colors and sunshine. But horror isn’t for everyone. Especially not Sinister 2.

But, in Mac’s list, it might just have made the Top 10. Heck, Top 3? Top 1? Just maybe.

Depression, Self-Harm and Suicide: A Bundle of Joy

Ranting, dear readers. Please excuse. Haven’t taken my Prozac for a few days, and I’m just barely getting back on it.

First, people romanticize the whole lot of mental illness and suicide, and that needs to stop. Depression is not this beautiful, profound sadness where you sit in your closet, cut yourself and cry tears of eyeliner and mascara while writing poetry.Sure, there may be elements of that, but you know what else is there? Numbness. Feeling nothing when you cut yourself, and you’re just as calm as if you were doing a doodle. “Oh, it’s a little uneven on this side. Let’s fix that. Go deeper.” It’s thinking, “Since I don’t want to do anything, I should just die, because I’m a useless waste of space. Too bad I don’t have the guts to do it.”

And while we’re talking about suicide, let’s mention something—it’s selfish. Yeah, I’ve been there. If I’d had a gun, I might have done it already. My best friend, Scott, killed himself in December. My uncle and grandfather both killed themselves. I’ve seen both sides of this issue. But you know what you’re doing to those you care about? Leaving them feeling guilty. They’ll spend the rest of their lives wondering what they could have done to stop you. What they could have done differently. Too many what ifs, insidiously whispering in the back of your mind. Also, how about funeral expenses? That’s so kind of you, to burden your loved ones with that. What a star you are. And plus, embalming ain’t gonna be a pretty picture. None of this, “she looks like she’s just sleeping,” or whatever. You’ll look like a corpse that’s started to decay.

Yeah, life is hard. Everyone gets that. We just need to try and help each other through it. If we actually try, there’s nothing life can throw at us that we won’t be able to overcome.

I’m sorry. I get really cranky when depression’s hitting me—temperamental and even violent. (Surprise, that’s another fun part of depression!) I’m trying to work at it, but it’s like telling the sun to stop shining.

Getting past ranting over stupid people (I’ve spent way too much time on Tumblr lately), bad times have been more plentiful. Earlier this week, I was happy, wondering if my depression had fixed itself, or something magical like that. And then I ran out of money, and out of Prozac.

. . . nope.

I’m still just as screwy. Life sucks. Little things like spilling part of a bottle of Coca Cola are tragedies. Every little annoyance with my roommates is a grievous flaw. Books falling off a shelf have a personal vendetta against me, and therefore need to be thrown across the room. I don’t want to write, and I don’t want to talk to people. I just wanna flip the world the bird, and shut it all out.

Why can’t common sense and common courtesy actually be just those? People are difficult.

My roommate will not shut up about stuff that she’s watching on her laptop that I don’t care about. I’m tempted to say I don’t care, but as she has depression too, I don’t want to hurt any feelings.

So, for today, screw finishing touches on this post. Angry!Mac is too irritated to care.

Falling In Love Is So Hard On The Knees

Alas! Far too long have I been away! But behold, I have returned! And with fresh crazies to fill any quota! Now with exclamation points!

So, what’s new, Mac? How have you been? I’ve been well, thank you. I’ve had better times, of course, and worse ones. But c’est la vie!

Well, I went back to work at a scout camp this summer. Good times. Had a lot of depressing times. In fact, I often would sit in my tent and cry myself silly. But we don’t talk about that. We pretend that it never happened. I also played a very interesting game of chicken with my pocket knife. All this was distressing, because I’ve never been this depressed at camp. Camp has always had the power to make things better.

But this story gets better, in a way. I met a guy. Well, actually, that’s misleading. I’d already worked with him, two years before. We were friends, but I never really thought of him as more than that. He’s not really the type I’d ever go for. Plus, my self-esteem definitely hasn’t been at its highest, meaning I haven’t felt particularly lovable, which has upped my obliviousness by about sixty percent.

Well, that was until I started wondering if maybe this friend might like me. I doubted it, of course, but I still kept wondering. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t shake the suspicion, and then I started noticing all the good qualities about him, and one thing led to another, and we were hanging out a lot more, talking, hugging, and finally kissing.

For a while there, I can admit, I was pretty head over heels. And it sucked. Because I’m paranoid. And freaking crazy. I wanted so much more than I could get from him (distance being an issue), so it doesn’t exactly qualify as a relationship. Didn’t keep me from wanting more, though.

I had something to lose, and I was terrified of messing it up. Of being too needy, too clingy, too crazy, too emotional, too demanding. Of being hurt, I guess.

Around him, I felt like a normal, sane, happy person. And that’s more addictive than caffeine. I still can’t wait to get my next fix, even though I’ve started to get my life back together and re-realized that I need to do what I want to do for myself, not for him, or any other guy.

He’s what put a temporary halt to my angsting and moaning. Thanks to him, my head’s staying above the water, and I’m learning to tread again. I’m not hoping I’m going to die anymore. To say that he’s my reason for living is beyond stupid. But he has reminded me of why I want to live. And that makes the weight of the world feel so much lighter.

I know it’s not going to last. It’s still just a stupid infatuation, that has finally died back into reasonable levels. Plus, I’m crazy, and he doesn’t deserve that.

I’m still in way too deep.

The Lonely Watches of the Night

It’s been a while. I’ve been pretty caught up in work, and socializing. Arguing with my sister and forgetting about it the next day. Reuniting with old friends. Writing. Going on family vacations. Trying, and usually failing, to step outside myself.

I’m no hero, in any sense. The things I do right I only do because it’s always been that way. I’ve never stepped close enough to the edge to be tempted. I tell myself I’m a peacemaker, and that I can always see both sides of the issue, but I find it so hard to relate to someone who struggles. Me, I just keep doing the things I’ve always done, and have barely made any progress on the things I’ve been trying to do more.

Of course, I want to be someone that others can look up to. To be a savior, rather than just a background character. But that requires looking past the end of my nose. Not as easy as it sounds. I want to help people change their lives for the better. I want to catch them when they fall. But the mind is of different opinions, and I’m trying to keep myself afloat, right now.

Human beings are so fragile. We can be hurt so easily, by a harsh or wrong word. Such a small thing. Yet it can cause so much damage. Years of hurt, all a result of a few words. Sure, the wounds caused heal, but there are still the scars. Maybe not as visible as a physical scar, but it hurts more. After all, psychology says the pain of rejection doesn’t lose its keen sting with the passage of years. It’s pain like that which will cause us to face the dark watches of the night alone, in silent tears, wishing we could be different, thinking longingly of our own demise. Better yet, a complete cease of our existence. We remember every plausible weapon we have, and stop caring as much about what it will do to our family and friends. It just needs to be over already.

This regained fondness for suicide got me whispering a two-word prayer in that darkness—a mantra against it. Help me. Words I find myself unable to say to a living person, face-to-face. I know how to play the game, after all. When someone asks how you’re doing, their eyes are going to glaze over as soon as you start talking about your problems. The appropriate answer must be positive, or neutral at the very least. It’s every citizen’s job to shut up about the bad stuff. Laugh in the open, but save your tears for closed doors.

Yes, I’ve seen It’s A Wonderful Life as many times as the next red-blooded American. I understand how I’ve supposedly affected so many people’s lives for the better. But they’d be fine without me. After all, so few of them ever notice that I’m even there. Not really.

I’d thought I was over this. I realized I wanted death, but I didn’t actively seek it. And I was fine with that. But pleasant, ending thoughts have a bad way of coming back in the dark of the night. They claw at your mind, over and over. Sweet and alluring, to shuffle off this mortal coil, and find an end to the heartaches and thousand natural shocks which flesh is heir to. No more responsibility, no more stress, no more questioning myself. Because there’d be no more me.

And even when there aren’t those sweet thoughts of suicide, there will still be me, sitting quietly on my bed, staring at the open blade of my pocket knife, wondering where to leave a mark on myself. Something that will hurt, but not affect my performance at work. Because I am an idiot, at my core. And the stupid needs to be bled out.

This story doesn’t have an ending yet. Right now, the antihero is merely staring off into the distance, shelling out her To Be or Not To Be. She’s hoping things will get better. But it feels like they’re just going to get worse. Disasters with her not standing as a hero, but cowering, playing the forgettable role of Afflicted Citizen 398. Longing for the affection of one of the heroes, but knowing her place and never speaking up, so she doesn’t even get the role of abhorrent admirer.

But after finally having applied to the local college, she is planning to make use of the counseling services offered—just have to wait to get in. That’s a bright spot. But alas, the dark appeal of death and injury are so very tempting.

Life: it’s such a bother.

EHS and Lockdown: The Summers of Hell

My mother has always had a thing with trying to separate my sister and I from our friends, all the while assuring us how much more intelligent we are. We weren’t allowed to play with the most popular (aka, richest) girls on the street, after one of them was mean to me one time too often. As a result, all the other girls had to make a choice: and it was made to exclude the crybaby. And, by extension, her longsuffering older sister. Lucky for all of them, though, as the cooler sister she had the brains and guts to sneak out. The crybaby never did. Two awesomes for the price of one, right?

As a kid, I wasn’t used to having many friends, let’s just say. All the girls my age that I knew well enough (a grand total of three) never wanted to be around me. The older girls just took pity on me. Sure, I’m grateful for that pity, but sincerity was always preferable.

I was ten years old when I became friends with one girl I could trust—my best friend to this day. Together, My sister, our friend, and me were an inseparable team. Except how my sister would go to this friend’s house without telling my mom. Or stay out too late with this friend.

This was where the trouble in our newest paradise really started. Mom started being quick to condemn this friend as a greedy little brat, and paint me and my sister as two angels Too Good For This Sinful Earth. Since the greedy little brat was having such a bad influence on her two angels, Mom started forbidding us to see her, except at church activities. That didn’t last too long, though, as I recall.

But, when we started going to school, it got worse. See, my aunt, uncle and cousin had moved into the neighborhood. This aunt is my mother’s sister, who’s a Type A personality you do not want to mess with. You get on her bad side, she is terrifying. Oh, and around her, my mother goes completely (and very unnaturally) passive.

Well, my aunt supposedly overheard our best friend calling my cousin fat. And the crap hit the fan.

Now, first of all, let me point something out. My best friend is pretty overweight. And a nice person by nature. Her saying such a thing about my totally awesome cousin, whom she always liked, is totally implausible. But our protestations amounted to nothing. Even as the excitement of going to school for the first time loomed, my mother was chewing out my best friend and her father. There was a very tense scene in my best friend’s front yard where the three of us had emotional breakdowns while Mom argued with my friend’s dad, about why we were never allowed to see this friend again. But our pleas fell on the deaf ears of a crazy woman. And my sister was sent to school with my cousin, in a different city.

So, the only time they got to see each other, really (since during that time we were forbidden from going over to our friend’s house), was when we had church activities. And when our friend got a license, she would drive us to and from those activities. And she would take long detours so we could just hang out for a few minutes. That certainly didn’t help matters.

But school was an instant love for me. I was practically a straight-A student throughout middle school. I loved learning new things—like about paragraphs and cells.

With my aunt living so close, though, she decided the golden trio (me, my sister and her daughter) needed to work harder, because there was no way our parents could pay for our college. So, the solution was to graduate with our Associate’s Degrees. How were we to do that? Electronic High School during the summer, of course! My sister and my cousin, both being actually in high school, were immediately signed up, of course. Me, I was offered the opportunity.

Now, I could tell that my aunt thought this was a great idea, when she brought it to my attention. But I had my misgivings. I was just out of seventh grade, which I’d only had one semester of. I’d taken in a lot of new information. I couldn’t handle what was in ninth grade classes when I couldn’t even fathom what eighth grade would hold! So, walking on eggshells, I told her very carefully and submissively that I didn’t think it was right for me, and I’d really rather not.

The next day, she returned, literally cornering me and yelling about how I had to do it because I was smart enough, don’t lie to myself. And my dad wasn’t going to pay for college. And I was getting enrolled whether I liked it or not.

It seems so minor. But that day was the day I climbed my favorite apple tree, sitting high in the branches where nobody could see me, and started dragging a sharp piece of apple wood across my skin.

So, much of the summer consisted of going to a computer lab at the local university extension and getting on computers with my sister and cousin. I tried. I really did. I submitted a few assignments for the Earth Systems class. As in, the first two. But when it got to abiotic and biotic factors of the environment, I was completely lost. Besides, next to me on either side, my sister and cousin were playing around on the Internet. Of course, this was a classic thing with me. Everyone else played around while I got stuck with the short end of the stick—like when my sister always snuck out. I wasn’t about to let that crap happen again. So, I also began Internet playing.

But one day, my aunt came along, and sat beside me. Without thinking about it, the first thing I did was check my email. She glanced over at my screen and whispered, “Mac, what are you doing?”

“Checking my email,” I whispered back.

“No. Get to work.”

I blinked, about to say that my sister and cousin had been doing it too, and why was I getting blamed, but looking over at their screens, I saw strictly aunt-appropriate things. Traitors. But I wasn’t about to sink to that level. So I said nothing. I tried to do the work, I really did. But online classrooms are not my environment. I struggled (never making it past those darned abiotic factors) before they finally stopped taking me. Summer passed, and I started eighth grade that fall. I never said it to anyone, but in the back of my mind, I referred to that summer as the Summer of Hell.

While my sister was going to school in another city, I was allowed to go to high school at home. So, I got to go to school with our friend during my freshman year, when she was a junior. It was a great time. After school, she’d sometimes drive me home (again with the long detours), and others we’d go over to her house for a while and play Kingdom Hearts.

But, of course, the good times were not to last. Near the end of the school year, my sister got in trouble for staying out too late with this friend again. And now, my aunt was here to back my mom up. So, they devised the plan to put my sister on “lockdown.” She was sent to live at my aunt’s house (my cousin had moved out by this point), allowed no contact with friends, no computers, no phone, no TV, no music. Only books and school.

And then, my turn came. The last day of freshman year. Nobody taking roll, of course, so my friend, myself and some others decided to have a mini-party at A&W a couple blocks away. We were going to take my friend’s car, until she realized that was what had gotten my sister into so much trouble, so we walked. Had a great time. At the end of the day, I went home and took a nap.

Only to be yelled and shaken awake by my mother, who wouldn’t tell me what was going on, or what I had done wrong, just that I was getting in a car with my aunt.

Enraged with the dim disgruntlement of the half-awake, I grabbed my iPod (music always helps calm me down) and headed outside. I couldn’t argue with my aunt. I was too afraid of her. That’s the kind of woman who will steamroll you if you so much as look at her funny. Except, no sooner had I got out there than the iPod was confiscated. And it was a very quiet drive to her house.

There, I was told it was my turn on “lockdown.” Because I had been accepting rides from my friend when I wasn’t supposed to. And I had gone out with my friends, leaving the school grounds, without telling my mother. (Who had, actually, confiscated my cell phone when hers was broken a few months previously.) Never mind that I didn’t have her number memorized and didn’t know how to contact her without my cell phone. Or that I didn’t even think about it. My aunt assured me that yes, I did think about it, and I did deliberately spite my mother. No matter how much I protested my relative innocence in tears, I was assured of my damnation. And, realizing I was trying to break down a concrete wall, after that I just stopped talking. I listened silently as I was informed that I would not be going back to the local high school, but separated from my evil friend, and sent to the same high school as my sister. I cried myself to sleep, still trying to figure out what in the world I had really done.

Thankfully, the next day, I was taken to the library and told I could get one book. The Wizard Heir by Cinda Williams Chima, as I fondly recall. That book was my escape—my refuge from the madness of real life. I spent all day reading it until my parents came to pick me up, out of the blue.

Of course, I still didn’t have a cell phone. And I didn’t have computer access, as I was still on a less strict lockdown. So, I was cut off from all the friends I’d made once more with one brutal stroke. Most of them, I haven’t seen since that day.

And that fall, I started at a new school. Discovered the escape to be found in working at the local haunted house—an outlet for my issues. Developed the Mormon Goth persona, so there would be no more crying protestations against what I was considered too young to understand. I learned my lesson. Shut up and take it. Suck it up and deal with it. You can’t fight crazy with tears. You fight it by yelling louder. Drowning them out.

So yes, I do have social issues. I don’t tell people what I’m really thinking or feeling, most of the time. I’ve worked very hard to separate myself from feelings. That way, it doesn’t hurt as much when I’m second-best to yet another person. When I’m invisible. When I’m treated unfairly.

It took me a while, but I realized the Summers of Hell were plural. More than I could consciously remember, with all Mom had put us through over the years.

Hi, my pseudonym is Mac, and I’m a Mormon. Believe it or not, my life in a “good Mormon family” was my own hell.

On Cutting, Self-Harm and Ice Cream

The best ice cream known to man

The best ice cream known to man

The Emo stereotype. Release the pain! Buy those clothes from Hot Topic, wear those skinny jeans, and cry tears of eyeliner while listening to some appropriately depressing music, because nobody understands, right?

I admit, cutting is a teenage cliche that is rarely taken seriously in fiction (in my limited experience), because there is just too much of it, written too badly, from too many attention whores (aka, Suethors).

But it’s not just about how nobody understands, or about getting attention, although they can be involved. Nor is it just about releasing pain.

Once upon a time when I was in Young Women (that’s the Mormon program for girls between the ages of twelve and eighteen), my leader told a story about a girl who always had cuts and bruises on her arms. So, she asked where they came from. The girl replied, “That’s what I do when I’m mad at someone.”

My leader shook her head, saying, “I couldn’t believe that she didn’t understand God’s plan for her.”

I didn’t understand, though I said nothing. I mean, sure, I got that our bodies were basically on loan from God. But wasn’t it better to hurt yourself than to hurt others? When I was angry, and I wanted to hurt someone, I’d always hurt myself, because it was bad of me to think that way about them. Slaps across the face, punches in the abdomen, biting until I couldn’t stand it. Pulling my hair. No marks ever left, and nobody’d ever ask any questions, because nobody got hurt, and nothing got damaged. Because this was between me and myself. Sometimes Stupid just had to be put in line.

Long before I’d had enough access to the Internet to realize that self-harm was common enough to be cliche, I cut myself once, too. And, for me, it was not about how nobody understood me, or about consciously releasing my pain. It was about not understanding myself. I’d been yelled at again, because I wasn’t even in eighth grade yet, and I couldn’t handle online high school classes. I was an intelligent girl, I’d been told. I was smart enough. My parents weren’t going to pay my way through college. I needed to get off my lazy butt and get to work. Stop lying to myself. Why couldn’t I do it?

It was about punishing myself. Because I was messing up, just like I always did. The lesson needed to be harsh, and I needed to make it sink in. It was about toughening up. Learning not to be the pathetic little crybaby who broke down every time I got yelled at. About taking in all the pain of life without comment. Being the hero of the story, not the little girl hiding in the corner, who exists solely to show that the hero is heroic.

So what did I do? I sat in a tree, repeatedly digging into my arm with a sharp little piece of wood. Never went deep enough to draw blood, but it’s still my only visible scar.

Sure, I’ve deliberately cut myself since that day. For valid reasons: cleaning an infection, getting out a splinter, a thorn, a piece of glass, and other foreign objects. But I still look forward to it with that same adrenaline as that day in a different lifetime, when I gave myself that scar. I’m still making myself stronger. Increasing my pain tolerance. Proving to myself that I’m not a sissy. It’s all the same, right? And when I need someone to take out my anger on, sometimes I regress to the old habit: harmless punches and slaps that won’t leave any marks, because I don’t have the guts to bruise myself.

But now, with those yelling voices no longer present, I can understand what that leader from long ago meant. It wasn’t about how our bodies are temples, which are God’s property, and how terrible it is to damage things that belong to someone else. It was about individual worth. About how I am a child of God, and it’s not always me that’s the problem. After all, the worth of souls is great in the sight of God. Just as I shouldn’t judge others, I shouldn’t judge myself.

The yelling voices don’t exist anymore, except inside my own mind. Every move I make, they’re right there, telling me how stupid I am, how whiny, how useless, how unlikable, how ugly, how background character. And I’m finally beginning to learn to tell them to shut up. I’m not perfect, but I know I’m better than that. And every time I feel the need to punish myself again, I have every right to decline the invitation.

To anyone out there who might be subject to the yelling voices and punishing themselves, or trying to make themselves stronger, I want to say that you don’t need to. When you’re angry and don’t know how to deal with it, turn it to some positive use. Exercise can be physically punishing and testing, too. And it will definitely make you stronger. When you’re depressed, find something to laugh at. Above all, realize that it’s this crazy, screwed-up world that’s the problem, not you. You are a child of God, who loves you, is there to help, and will never forsake you. If you don’t choose to believe that, believe this one: you have the potential to be something wonderful. There are people out there who want the best for you, and want you to be happy, even though they’ve never known you and maybe never will. You have the power to overcome–all you have to do is use it.

Another awesome alternative (and tasty too!) is eating ice cream, as seen here, and in the greatest fanfiction of all time. Partially thanks to that, I prefer Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey (pictured above, in all its magical glory), myself.

Cheers, and happy eating!