A Strong-Willed Child™ Pt 1


This is my most private and personal life story.

This is the story that is hardest to tell.

To the world
To my family
To my friends
To my colleagues
To strangers who will mock me and troll me
To bigots who will target me for the rest of my life and use this as proof that I’m broken and all my arguments are invalid…

To myself.

Phuck. I’m already crying.

Wasn’t expecting to be there for a few more hours at least.

This is gonna be hard.

…as much as I have deluded myself into thinking it wouldn’t be.

And much like the events that follow…

there are certain things that…

once you do them…

they can never be undone.

Like Broken Mirrors.

Once they’re broken…

You can’t unbreak it.

And telling this story is one of those things.

I can’t un-tell it once it’s out there.

The last few weeks I’ve been struggling really hard with sleep. I realize how uncomfortable I am in sharing these last few posts. I think the quality is affected for sure by my stress levels. Which sucks, because I wanted to crescendo into this moment feeling like all my skills are clicking and in sync and to feel armed and powerful so that I can bring everything I have to craft this story as effectively as I need it to be… and at this moment at 1:26 AM Oct 4 2023… those skills feel fragile and weak and spent and it’s hard to visualize if this works or doesn’t.

Hours after the Speaker of the House of Representatives was ousted for the first time in this nation’s history.

While I’m engaged in a recall effort to oust an anti-trans bigot elected to a district school board in my county…

While my town is being targeted by MAGA bigots trying to turn a once functioning nation into the Christian Fundamentalist hellscape of their apocalyptic dreams…

I’ve struggled all week with: why am I doing this?

I’m at the point where the psychological strain of outing my personal shit is now overwhelming my ability to believe that this will make any difference…

But this is really all I have to give.

This is my Whale Vomit.

This is why I was sent to Fucking Nineveh™.

Why am I doing this?
Why am I telling this story?
Why did I spend a year of my life writing 50+ posts to arrive to this point?
Why am I Outing that which is most personal and which has hurt my life endlessly?

Why am I risking all the bad that can come with this?

This is all Meryl Streep’s fault.

Meryl Streep gave a speech about Women’s Rights many years ago, and how the power of a documentary triggered an Empathy response in her.

And how conveying and triggering Empathy in audiences is her life’s work and understanding… and it is a speech that has sat with me for years and has certainly motivated my efforts here (bolding/italics is me):

“I’ve thought a lot about the power of Empathy. In my work, it’s the current that connects me and my actual pulse to a fictional character in a made up story. It allows me to feel pretend feelings and sorrows and imagined pain. And my nervous system is sympathetically wired and it conducts that current to you sitting in a movie theater. And to the woman sitting next to you. And to her friend… So that we all feel that it’s happening to us at the same time.

It’s a very mysterious and valuable resource of the human species. And women, I think, access it most effortlessly. We cry at sad movies. We don’t feel we lose face or stature or position doing it. We see a news story that enrages us and we write letters through tears… our hearts pounding…

“I’ve often– I used to wonder why human beings developed these inconvenient and embarrassing responses… this sniffling, choking, wet obstruction.. ya know the thing that physicians and soldiers and stock traders and journalists and fashion models and politicians and news commentators and venture capitalists all must suppress in order to work most efficiently. (laughter)

“I’ve thought what possible value– function could it serve in the Darwinian scheme of, ya know, survival of the fittest and the strongest and the most heavily armed… (laughter)

“No, seriously, I’ve thought why and how did we evolve with this weak and useless passion intact within the deep heart’s core? And the answer as I’ve formulated it to myself is that empathy is the engine that powers all the best in us. It is what civilizes us. It is what connects us to these women who live in shrouded and muffled and beaten down and broken-in cities and towns so far away from us as if to be in a different galaxy… it enables us to feel their despair and anguish as if it were our own…”

– Meryl Streep

How do you get a bunch of angry, rightwing, religious voters who are content to destroy this country because they think it’s the End Times™ and Trumpy is King Cyrus… to have Empathy™ with the downtrodden?

A thing we will learn is how Empathy™ is an emotion sorely lacking in Fricking Evangelical™ circles.

They think they have it, but it’s a very conditional and stunted and limited and clumsy Empathy™. Because many of them have psychological conditions and personality disorders that make it impossible for them to experience Empathy™. Most often Empathy™ is completely lacking in this crowd.

Despite what they tell you.

How do I get a bunch of red hat wearing, anti-vax, anti-government, end-times conspiracy theorists to take off their tinfoil armor and take a moment to walk in the shoes of someone suffering long enough to learn that maybe they are wrong about a few things?

How can I possibly get people who are being manipulated with propaganda that plays to their vanity and makes them endlessly angry and convinced of their own god-ordained self-righteousness to listen to someone who is different?

Because that’s really all that needs to happen here.

This is the thing that solves the American Problem™.

This is a Me vs We fight.

Those who believe the rules should only apply to them and those who believe we live in a plural society with different belief structures and ideologies and sexes and races and gender identities and SOME OF US EVEN WRITE WORDS WITH DIFFERENT HANDS. Some of us have blue eyes and some brown eyes for fuck’s sake!

How do we coexist without some honest to god Love-One-Another-Empathy™?

And shouldn’t the Fricking Evangelicals™ be leading the Empathy™ effort instead of tearing everything apart? How did we get here? How did God Almighty™ let his fan club get so lost?

When does the Loving One Another part show up?

I need Fricking Evangelicals™ to pull their heads out of their asses and find some goddamn Empathy™ for the first time in their lives so they can realize there’s more to this world than just their narrow apocalyptic political cult tells them.

How do I do that?

And how do I do that when forces so much bigger than me are dominating all media channels and news outlets and social media platforms…

How the hell do I break through the noise of Russian botfarms and Chinese apps and Saudi Arabian agitprop and Oligarch funding of these efforts whose intent is the destruction of my country just so a handful of men can own steal everything?

And they’ve swindled and brainwashed all my fans…

And so I thought to myself… what skillset do I have to help here?

Well… I am an Empathy™ Artist. This is what I do better than anything. This is what makes me a good actor and good writer and good political party builder and propagandist.

Like Meryl, I’m a person whose “nervous system is sympathetically wired”… I understand emotional communication.

And how do I apply that skill set to this moment in time when the company that made the radio show I helped build is actively thwarting… *checks notes*… democracy?

How do I get you to care about the homeless and the prisoner and the sick and the impoverished instead of just crying like spoiled brats about your own supposed persecution? You act like narcissists. And we will get into this more later.

If you won’t listen to the words of Jesus Christ– who told you to love one another and to help the Least of These™ and yet you never, never, never, never do– what makes me think you’ll listen to me?

How the hell does an Empathy™ Artist… achieve a positive result in these circumstances?



“Tell. your. story.”

But. they. won’t. listen. to. me!

“You are the only person who can actually tell this story this way. And no one else is coming to save you from the burden of doing it.”

Anybody can tell this story! Why me?!?

“Because you’re Jimmy fucking Barclay and it’s gonna sound very different when they hear it from Jimmy fucking Barclay.”

We’ve come a long way since that first Whale Vomit post….

Fucking Ninevangelicals™… y’all really suck

November 19, 1994 is the date that

Adventures in Odyssey: Episode 289 – A Call for Reverend Jimmy

airs world wide.

7 years to the month that I first started recording on this show.

I wouldn’t be surprised if it was later that same night that the events that follow transpired.

I know it was November and I had attended a Homecoming/Alumni Dance at the High School I no longer went to which means it was mid-to-late November… I don’t remember the actual date.

And it would be an offhand comment meant in good spirits that would trigger what followed.

“OhmygodDave!… we were all wondering what happened to you. You disappeared!”

It was someone I had known as a school acquaintance for several years. She meant it well. She was genuinely happy to see me.

It didn’t occur to me that anyone would even notice I was there because nobody had bothered reaching out in the entire year I had been gone.

I don’t think people fully understand how absolutely no one cared one iota that I was sick for a whole year. No get well cards, no flowers, no teddy bears or boxes of my favorite candy to cheer me up, no mercy, no welcome home banners from multiple hospitalizations, no efforts to lift my spirits or to spend time with me– granted I was depressing as hell to be around but geeze…

even Eeyore had friends.

I just assumed nobody noticed me or cared.

The data backed that up.

It also reinforced my self-hatred the whole year.

The fact nobody cared was fueling my depression and confirming my worst thoughts about myself.

But here, she sees me… lights up and says this very kind remark. She’s basically saying “we missed you!”

I was shocked in a way that emotionally destabilized me.

But I don’t register “we missed you” in my Broken Mirror MolassesBrain™.

All I can think is: “If you noticed I was gone why did no one bother looking for me?”

And my OCD brain will. not. let. this. thought. go.

The dance fades into the background all night as old friend after old friend acts shocked to see me and wondered where I was… and I couldn’t really tell anyone “Well I went crazy and tried to kill myself and graduated high school because my life fell apart and is still falling apart. Wanna see the cigarette burns on my arms?”

Right? Like that’s a buzzkill.

And so I garble some “Oh I got sick and tested out… howareYOUdoing?

You learn to be more interested in other people than your own story when you’re a mental health patient. You learn how to quickly and deftly change the subject. And distract people away from your story. You learn to become the most boring person in the room and the best listener possible.

As the music and lights and cake and punch blur and fade and get muffled in my head… all I can think is…

“If you noticed I was gone… why did no one bother looking for me?”

Didn’t I matter to you?

Didn’t you care? Weren’t you worried? Concerned?

And something clicked in me… all this self-hatred I’m feeling lately…. it’s justified.

The proof is right here… nobody fucking cares about you.

Now… this is ridiculous, many, many people care about me including the person who said that and also the person I was attending the dance with.

And my family and friends and maybe a few of my colleagues even.

But all my Broken Mirror MolassesBrain™ can feel is confirmation that every ugly, awful, self-destructive thought I’ve ever had about myself is somehow confirmed.

I deserve the bullying. No wonder I dropped out of schools. I suck at everything. I’m useless. I’m a sinner. A Prodigal who’s going to hell anyway.

It wouldn’t really matter to anyone if I was alive or dead…

Remind me… What was that side effect of Resperdol?

Oh yeah.

Thoughts of suicide or self-harm, worsening mood, feelings of depression

Later. That. Night.

Cue ominous music.

Before we get rolling here…

I have never told this full story to anyone.

Ever.

Not my parents.
Not my brothers.
Not my spouse.
Not my best friends over the years.
Not to any therapists or mental health professionals.
In all the advocacy work I ever did for mental health years later… never told anyone the details of what I am going to share here for the first time.

People know pieces of it.

And there are parts of this story I don’t know from other people’s perspectives.

But this is my story.

And I learned to bury it deep down where nobody could judge it.

And for the last 30 years I’ve had to eat mountains of shit from people who have no idea what it’s like to go through something like this…



And so this is my attempt to weaponize my story to create Empathy™ in you... RedStateVoter™

Your politics are so fucking toxic and your intentional lack of education about things like LGBT issues or mental illnesses or biology is so dangerous that people are dying in droves in this ChristianNation™ you claim.

You cause these problems with your arrogance.

COVID was real.

The president you elected botched the recovery because you all believed his lies because they were trying to let it spread hoping it would kill liberals in cities in big enough numbers so he could win re-election.

And you all are still supporting this genocidal fucker!

Red states are still suffering the worst effects of it.

You killed a million of your fellow citizens because you couldn’t wear masks and get shots like grown fucking adults.

And you call yourselves “pro-life” which is the biggest LIE in US political history.

You couldn’t be bothered to stay at home for two whole fucking weeks without howling that you were being oppressed because churches needed to be tem.por.ar.il.y shut down.

Because you all don’t believe that science is real because you think science is a plot to undermine christianity. <— how batshit crazy is that sentence?

I need you to understand that your behavior during the last 40 years is why I’m telling this story.

You seem to not understand what actual oppression is like so I’m going to have to ram it down your fucking throats.

I had a fan… I will try my best to make this as unspecific as possible so as not to humiliate or embarrass anyone… remember the goal here is not to perpetrate mob tactics of harming anyone… but imagine this from my perspective:

This fan is a Preacher. This fan has co-occurring morbidities. This fan was invited to preach at an indoor church service during the first year when churches were openly defying the lockdowns and howling about religious freedom.

PreacherFan™ was invited to deliver the sermon at an all-day-long worship session to defy an oppressive government while also somehow praying for god to stop the pandemic or something while everyone is bravely singing without masks which you all called Face Diapers™.

Anyway… PreacherFan™ goes and preaches bravely for God Almighty™’s Glory.

And. gets. Co. vid.

This is before the vaccine existed. And as I followed this fan’s story there were endless exhortations of this man’s FaithFriends about how much they were praying for his healing and imploring God Almighty™ to come through for him…

He ends up in a coma.

Many MORE prayers are prayed for him to be healed by God Almighty™.

Eventually one of his limbs is sawn off.

When he comes out of his coma and learns he can no longer count to 20… all of his FaithFriends say:

Praise Jesus!

It’s a miracle!

God healed him!

Why would God need to heal him from an airborne disease he got while delivering a sermon in a house of god where Jesus’ name was being praised and glorified? How could he possibly get sick in that Holy environment? Where everybody in the building is filled with a Holy Spirit that claims “discernment” as a supernatural power given to believers.

Btw.

When does that discernment part kick in?

Asking for 300 million fellow citizens.

How fucking brainwashed do you have to be to not listen to the doctors God Almighty™ gave you?

At a time in human history when we have electron microscopes and can split atoms and communicate instantly around an entire planet and you all allowed propagandists and con artists to convince you of every BonkersSauce™ piece of bullshit from horse paste to bleach to Dr. Fauci is a fraud. How successfully you have fallen for the most batshit crazy propaganda is going to become one of the most intensely studied phenomena for the rest of human existence.

You. fucking. fools.

And how does this God only magically show up when there’s some halfway good news in the end? Eventually this PreacherFan™ ends up in a nursing home Praising Jesus the whole way.

Wanna know the kicker to this story?

This happened to more. than. one. of. my. PreacherFans™.

Several. In. Fact.

Your illiteracy is so easily led astray and manipulated that I am compelled to tell this story about myself in the hopes that this literature thaws your ice cold soul.

You leave me no other option.

Fascists exterminate the mentally ill.

So I am going to force you to experience what it’s like to be someone with a mental illness and grow some empathy inside those cold hearts and ignorant brains in order to save my own life here.

This is the story of:

That time God Almighty™ sent you Jimmy Fucking Barclay to dogwalk you step-by-step through a suicide attempt so you will gain Fucking Empathy™.

Buckle up.


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2 responses to “A Strong-Willed Child™ Pt 1”

  1. Leslie Cowles Avatar
    Leslie Cowles

    I love you

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