We’re all mad here…

I haven’t written in awhile.

I write that statement as if you haven’t noticed. As if it isn’t simply painfully obvious.

Actually, I write that statement as more of a guilty admission…sort of a “Forgive me Father for I have sinned…” opener.

It’s the beginning of a confession.

I’ve been feeling raw. For some time. And I didn’t quite understand it until just a few days ago. So, let me go there…and peel back a few layers. I don’t know how deep this will go, but I’m willing if you are. Sometimes, it’s just time for a little opening, even if it stings.

Awhile back, I asked for some erotic film suggestions, and quite a few people offered up Secretary as an option. I put it on my watch list and finally, I found myself with an empty house and some time on my hands (which rarely happens). I made myself a luxurious before-noon gin and tonic and settled in for a little sexy film appreciation.

The problem is…this film hit a little too close to home. For those in the know…go ahead and skip this part, but for those of you who have not seen the film, here’s a little synopsis to put things in perspective. The film starts with a young woman who is just being released (likely before she is ready) from a psychiatric hospital. She’s been cutting and is obviously still mentally and emotionally unstable. Her family is also quite flawed (alcoholic father, brow-beaten mother, self-involved sister). In order to find some semblance of independence, she goes to school and ends up with some sort of certificate for typing or secretarial work (I wasn’t really paying attention to the specifics) and heads off to find her first job. Long story short, she picks up a position as a secretary for a lawyer. Now, I’d say the film was set up for cliché at this point, but the thing is, it’s not. In fact, what I appreciated is that both characters are quite flawed. Neither really understands the needs growing within, and neither can control them. Having little sexual experience herself, but obviously having submissive tendencies and a desperate desire to please and be given direction, the main character finds confidence and comfort in the position that her boss puts her in. And he finds the same as she looks to him for direction and accepts his desire to control her. But he is fighting his own demons and sees his need to dominate as a sickness or some sort of deviance for which he should be guilty. Both have to overcome their own judgement of themselves…which they do through the other’s acceptance and encouragement.

I struggled with parts of the film, though, and found it less sexy than I would have had I not identified with the main character in too many uncomfortable ways. In fact, I found myself coming face to face with my own mental and emotional demons several times and had to pause and take breaks to consider my reactions to particular scenes.

After the film was over, I felt like I’d been sort of run through the wringer.

See, I’ve spent the better part of my life feeling like I’m just barely holding shit together with a string that is threatening to break at any moment. I don’t say that because I need sympathy. In fact, I spend so much time holding shit together because I don’t want people to worry about me. One of my greatest fears is to be a burden or a disappointment.

But, sometimes, I become exhausted, because holding my shit together takes a lot of emotional and mental energy, which is sometimes in short supply. Living within viewing distance of a nervous breakdown or psychotic episode is stressful, and sometimes the shadows take over. Depression. Other times, I’m flying. Manic. And if I’m neither, I’m simply going through the motions. Blind contentment. I spend most of my time here.

But there is a cost to living this way. For one, it means compartmentalizing and embracing the superficial. Routines and day-to-day tasks become the focus. And like a zombie, I simply follow my list and get shit done. Productivity feels good, though – even if it is detrimental to relationships…because there is little room for “feels” when you are trying to accomplish more than any person can rightfully accomplish in a day. And when I can’t, eventually, the stress begins to wear me down. When the one thing I’m really good at (getting shit done) stops being the one thing I’m really good at (which it invariably does, because no one can keep that shit up for long), I collapse. I either get sick, become depressed, or get angry (or some combination of the three). And then, like a deranged addict, I go right back to living the way that causes these types of collapses over and over for me. It’s lunacy. And even though there is a certain comfort in it, because it is what I’ve always done and it is what I know, it’s unhealthy for me and those I love.

But, it’s hard to let go, because I’m afraid I may never find my way back (“knowing how way leads on to way…”).

What do I mean by letting go? Well…there are a few ways to look at it. I hold my emotions in check and rarely allow myself to feel as deeply as I can because I’m afraid of feeling too much. I’m afraid of my own reactions to intense emotions. I don’t give myself permission to go too low or too high, because what if I can’t find the middle again? The comfortable flatline (death pun intended…because not feeling anything is pretty much not living, right?).

I also don’t let myself connect to others too much because of this. I don’t want to expose myself and my instability…to be vulnerable. I’m supposed to be the girl who has her shit together, after all.

But, I don’t. I really, really don’t.

And watching this film just uncovered that for me. I found myself questioning everything when it was over…because not only do I identify with the main character…Mr. D is so much like her boss – also fighting to find his own footing.

Could I submit to that level? And would submission save me from myself? My fear is that it won’t.

Believe me…I know that I think too much. And I let anxiety eat my motivation down to nothing. My negative self-talk eats away at my self-esteem and I find myself drowning in a pit of self-created self-loathing.

I am my own worst enemy.

And yet, I am also my own best defense…which is not necessarily a good thing all the time. I’ve spent so long protecting myself (from what, I don’t know) that I don’t know how to put down my shield and sword.

For all my fear of letting go, I’m not really sure I even know how. I’m not sure I can. It’s like trying to achieve some sort of just-out-of-grasp enlightenment for which I am not spiritually trained…yet. And I guess I’m looking for a guide. I’m looking for permission.

To be a mess.

To not have my shit together.

To be a failure.

To be low.

To be high.

To be everything in between.

To just be.

I know this has been a rambling post. And I know it’s a downer, too. Nothing sexy here, right? But, I think it’s important to share sometimes that my muse abandons me and my creativity takes a vacation, leaving me feeling lost and shunned and angry and scared. She’s a coy and devilish temptress, and she doesn’t always have my best interests at heart. In fact, maybe she never does. Maybe she’s a selfish bitch who uses me and leaves me for dead when she is satiated. Maybe my muse is my Dominant…a wicked, wicked Domme who doesn’t appreciate the submission I offer. Or maybe my submission is not enough…she wants my sanity, too?

Maybe I need to find a new muse. I am too much in my own head, and sometimes, in that closed space, things are bent out of proportion. It’s like Wonderland in there…all mirrors and Cheshire cats and rabbit holes.

But, we’re all mad here, right?


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  • Jor Adam

    Just be … accept what you are and what you are becoming.
    If it feels good, don’t think, do.

    Wissdom isn’t only in your head, it’s in your bones.

  • Mrs Fever

    I know, for myself, that writing out the ‘how’ and ‘what’ often helps me find balance, even when the ‘why’ of it all remains.

    I hope that processing your experience through writing, here, has helped you in some way. If not to find answers, then to perhaps to find new questions. And perhaps to find — or figure out what you need/to-change in order to find — balance.


    • Brigit Delaney

      Writing is how I find myself. I don’t share everything I write here. This is all very carefully chosen and edited writing, even the personal experience stuff. I only open myself up to scrutiny on occasion. Taking negative feedback on my fiction is one thing…but on me and my personal choices and actions? That’s a little different. Because, with only part of someone’s story, it’s hard to really make judgments. However, I find that people always do.

      I’ll just keep processing away…your comment makes me think of one of my all time favorite quotes – Zora Neale Hurston – “There are years that ask question, and years that answer.”

      I’m also not sure that balance is really what I seek. More like unity. Maybe that is similar…but I feel that things are necessarily out of balance all the time, as we focus on one thing or another and shift our priorities. We don’t have enough time to really achieve balance. Maybe not even unity. Maybe multiplicity is what I’m seeking. Hell…I don’t know. Maybe I’m just looking for wine and a bit of quiet time. That seems more doable.

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