Broken Mirror Pt 9: Sick Burn


**Editor’s note: This is the final entry in the Broken Mirror Storyline, it will eventually be numbered Pt 12. The first 3 unnumbered entries in this volume Shock & Aww, Holy Ghost, and An Empty Chair will be numbered entries in subsequent drafts.**

Adventures in Odyssey: Episode 285 – George Under Pressure

In October 1994 this episode aired worldwide and my only recollection of this session was that this was the first time I got to work with Alan Young which… you wanna talk about a Legend in the Industry…

Alan Young IMDB

Alan Young Wiki

And many passive aggressive comments and Still Faces in regards to the addiction I can’t kick that everyone enjoys guilting me for.

Still have no idea when or where it airs.

At this point I no longer cared.

In the chronology of the storytelling I’m going by air date because I really don’t remember much of the sessions of 1994 at all. The biggest memory I have is one of the writers in particular seemed to take a sorta obsession about my smoking and being particularly condescending.

It’s a hard thing when people you loved suddenly go cold on you for things you can’t control. In their minds all I had to do was not smoke.

The fact that I continue to must mean I rejected their brilliant advice to just stop.

And when you can’t… well, then they put you in a file in their brain labeled “Prodigal”.

This made me very sad. And it fueled my self hatred that people I admired are now thinking ill of me and I can’t make the necessary changes to get the love back. I must suck. I must be a horrible dysfunctional person who god has abandoned.

This happens with almost every relationship I will ever have from this point forward.

Parents. Grandparents. Friends. Colleagues– the cast was never bad to me ever that I can recall– but the crew for sure changed towards me. Neighbors. Teachers.

The self-hatred grows…

Also… my perception of relationships gets totally whacked out at this time as your mood is fluctuating and you live in this heightened state of paranoia, “are people talking about me? Do they know? Are they gonna be mad at me, too?”

So you withdraw. You say less. Or sometimes you blab waaaaaaay too much to overcompensate.

It seems whatever you do is inappropriate at all times whatever the situation is. Like you were teleported into the wrong body and it no longer functions like it’s supposed to. Somebody switched all the buttons and levers and when you reach for them and press Button A then suddenly Action 12 happens!! WTF?!? That’s not how Button A works!!

And how are you supposed to love and care for yourself when it seems everyone’s mad at you and judging you and they don’t give a shit what’s happening?

The internal spiral downward intensifies. It creates this feedback loop of doom that is reinforcing constantly and you can’t stop it.

The worse you feel the worse you act.

The worse you act the more people are mad at you.

The more people are mad at you the more you hate yourself.

The more you hate yourself the worse you feel and therefor the worse you act again.

There is no break. No rest. No respite. No do-over.

Your life becomes

scarlet lettered.

And this makes you weary and tired. Endlessly tired. And all of this plays havoc with your mental health and as your mental health spirals downward the meds are increased and decreased and is the way you’re feeling based on how the meds are making you feel or is it a response to how people are treating you based on your behavior from how you feel or your behavior from the meds you were on?

If you weren’t already insane… this process would and does make you insane.

And what was one of the side effects for Resperdol?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I stare out the window of the bus on the way to college.
The silhouette of LA in the distance.
May as well be the moon.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

College would have been survivable if it wasn’t for one particular problem.

I had signed up for courses that would at least put me in the realms of theatrical arts. I took a radio class. Something else. And a stagecraft class.

The upside to college if you’re a smoker is that now you can smoke at school.

This does not make school necessarily better.

Just smokier.

My age is definitely a problem. I don’t really relate to the life scenarios of any of the people older than me which is everybody… weirdly the difference between an immature 17 year old and 18-20 year olds is a pretty significant gap even though I’ve always been pretty good at getting on with just about anybody.

I just wasn’t fully ready for college.

Which would make sense… I’m supposed to be starting my Junior year of high school. Not taking Stagecraft with Fucking KevinDanBob™.

Now before I get to Fucking KevinDanBob™… I need to point out that at this point 17 year old Dave Griffin is a literal ticking time bomb.

My LifeMirror™ is smashed to smithereens.

BTW. Can we take a minute to appreciate the word smithereens?

One of those words you can rarely use if ever… at best it can show up precisely once in a project unless the project is ABOUT smithereens.

Good to see you smithereens! Thanks for stopping by, buddy.

Wonder which project you’ll show up in next….

So my LifeMirror™ is in shambles. One grotesquely-shaped final piece holding on for dear life… literally.

And there’s about to be a convergence of multiple…. hmmm… how best do I describe the brewing multiple cataclysmic problems here.

  1. The meds are literally killing me. Both physically and mentally. Physically sucks because everyone can visually see how messed up I am. Twitching. Staring into space. Sometimes I can’t talk well or get stuck trying to get words out. My face and body is bloated and puffy. And mentally, I’m teetering on the edge of suicide hourly. The self-hatred is intensifying.
  2. It’s October. The last time the world decided to have an October it was followed by a November when I tried to kill myself. And the Griffin Family is about to learn what happens when anniversary dates arrive. But October ALSO means it is becoming Autumn and the Griffin Family is ALSO going to discover that perhaps Our Hero may have an issue with Seasonal Affective Disorder.
  3. October is also one of the months where the United States of America decides to play with everyone’s clocks twice a year. Once in the Spring and once here. And when the clocks get fiddled with… this has a tendency to amplify seasonal depression in ways that are literally debilitating for me.
  4. I’m starting to already fall behind in classwork and homework. Not that the coursework was too hard– thankfully– but I couldn’t focus. And I had no energy. And motivation was shot to hell. I have zero motivation to be at college other than that my parents are Ultimatuming™ me to. And falling behind is precisely the same thing that was happening a year earlier at this time. But then I was falling behind because the radio show session work would make me lose days… here I’m falling behind because I’m obliterated on meds and LifeMirror™ destruction.

I am severely and dangerously unstable.

I literally hate myself at this point with a fury that I can barely conceal. Because you can’t be mad at anyone else. Can’t be mad at god. Can’t be mad at FinalBoss™ Religious Parent™. Can’t be mad at church. Or the doctors.

Everyone has made clear to me that this is all my own fault so then where does my rage and anger go?

Ever inward.

I probably have not laughed once the entire year.

And this simmering caldera of Twitchy Dave™ is trying his damndest to just survive his first semester of college.

But Fucking KevinDanBob™ happens to be in my stagecraft class.

Fucking KevinDanBob™ is 6’Asshole” (six foot, asshole inches) tall.

He wears boots and has a giant overcompensating belt buckle and wears a goddamn cowboy hat and has the perpetual faded circle on back jeans pocket attesting to a decade worth of chewing tobacco commitment with the ever-present spit cup in one hand being the other obligatory prop.

The type of guy who already is the biggest person in the room but for reasons that nobody but Fucking KevinDanBob™ understands being the biggest human in the room is not enough to satisfy this man’s ego. No, this man must also prove himself to be the biggest asshole as well.

And he’s the type of guy always on the lookout for someone precisely like me.

And at this time in my life I am a fricking target. I have neon signs all over me that I’m fucked up and young and immature and naive and medicated out of my gourd.

Another thing to know about me… I’ve always been very comfortable around women and always had lots of female friends. Being a sensitive artsy guy who is good at listening has some benefits at times. And they all happened to smoke in this class. And so we would hang out under a tree before class and Fucking KevinDanBob™ would take shots at me. I was always assumed this was because he was too shy to talk to the women so he was trying to take me down as a way of showing superiority? Domination? It was very obnoxiously AlphaOaf behavior.

But then one day in class… I’m working on learning how to paint faux marble on a pillar when suddenly a piece of ice from a cup of soda hits my earlobe and explodes on the wooden pillar I’m painting.

WTF?!?

I turn around.

Fucking KevinDanBob™ winks.

I go back to my task.

Another piece of ice whizzes past.

Nobody sees this but me.

I look around the room wondering if anyone has noticed when he does it again.

The professor is busy helping another student.

I don’t know what to do.

The harassment continues. And it’s subtle and always done when no one is looking and so in order for it to stop I have to yell to the professor or walk over there and explain this… I’m a timid person. I don’t know what to do here. Nobody has ever prepared me for college bullies.

I’m not used to being bullied. I was always pretty good at avoiding bullies and talking my way out of problems. But Cowboy here, has a sadistic need to fuck with me.

“Why are you throwing ice at me?”

“Because I want to.”

What the hell am I supposed to do now?

Eventually I’m forced to call out–

“Can somebody make this guy stop throwing ice at me?”

The professor snaps at Fucking KevinDanBob™.

Fucking KevinDanBob™ is pissed now… his fun brought him a consequence and if there’s one thing guys like him can never experience properly is a consequence of their own actions. No, now he really is mad at me because in his world I have caused him a pain. The fact that this pain is a direct result of his behavior is not the point. You know exactly the kind of person I’m describing. We’ve all dealt with these assholes. BigTruckBoys™ with “don’t tread on me flag” stickers while they tread all over everybody. And then they HOWL when they get busted.

He starts aggressively targeting me more and more before and during classes.

The ice throwing. Kicking tools I was using across the room. Messing with my projects. Before class as we gather at the Smoker’s Tree he’s always taunting “gonna tattle on me again today?”

And this incessant bullying is what finally dislodges the final piece of my Mirror.

One day… I’m minding my own business having my Pre-ClassCigarette when the big galoot flops down next to me thumping his chaw can.

“Gonna rat on me today?”

Something in me in that moment finally broke. I realized I could not solve the problem of this bully with words. There was no help. I can’t avoid him unless I drop the class. This is a person who is making a dedicated attempt to fuck with me. He’s bigger than me. And. He. Will. Not. Stop.

“Stop fucking with me…” I’m about to pop.

“I like fucking with you.”

I look to one of the women in our group who I was kinda chummy with and she just rolls her eyes assuming this is something the boys usually work out.

Ain’t no help coming.

Fight…

Or Flight.

But what if those are both losing options?

My suicidal ideation is off the charts and I’m having constant thoughts of self harm because one of the medications I am on has the side effect:

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

See those words in the middle… self-harm?

If I can’t fight… and I can’t flight…

I take my cigarette and I very slowly snuff it out on my arm.

“Leave me the fuck alone.”

It’s the only way I can think in my MolassesBrain™ to get the guy to back off. Show this person I am unstable… because I am.

It worked.

His eyes bugged out of his head. Maybe it was the smell of my burnt flesh which was kinda nauseating. I’m gonna be honest I didn’t expect it to hurt as much as it did… but after being endlessly stabbed by needles and smashing holes in doors and walls and windows over the last year it sorta registered as just “more ouch”.

At least my physical nerve endings are capable of feeling things.

My interior feelings were a nuclear meltdown at this point.

Fucking KevinDanBob™ suddenly finds other hobbies to engage in. He gets up and walks away and I was never bothered by him again.

Still have the scar 29 years later. Almost faded away…. some day.

I suppose I should go on record as saying that self-mutilation is not a particularly good idea.

It’s the gateway drug to greater self-destruction.

**** I had wanted to write a thoughtful piece here about the Nature of Self Harm and Self Mutilation that I hope would create a greater empathy about this behavioral problem. But I’m finding the subject is making me too sad tonight to really dive deep on.

There will almost certainly be a ping in your email boxes soon where I will go back and fill this section in. I had a lot I wanted to say about this, because the subject deserves a thoughtful approach instead of just a shock.

I do wish to educate… but… tired of thinking about this stuff and this one takes some multiple passes I guess.

My OCD is screaming at me right now, btw.

I’m what’s known in the gaming industry as a Completionist. These are the Obsessive Compulsives that will do every side quest and find all 999 Korok Seeds. Which is one of the reasons why I’m able to write this blogject the way I have, I’m thorough and methodical… Anyway… I gotta lay this one down tonight whether my OCD likes it or not.

To be filled in later.****

It wouldn’t matter that Fucking KevinDanBob™ wouldn’t bother me ever again.

The fuse had been lit.

I was total meltdown mode.

At some point the clocks changed and my seasonal depression and self-mutilation become a heavy burden… I have to drop out of all my classes.

I can’t function. I can hardly breathe anymore.

And now the psychological hit of dropping out of high school AND™ college within 5 months of each other….

Suicide. Addiction. Bad Kid School. Therapy. Legal Problems. Suspended from School . Still Faces. Bad Kid Friends. Losing Families. Anger. Destruction of Property. Parental Manipulation. Discrimination. High School Dropout. Disappointing Generations of Relatives. Shoplifting. Cops Called. Brutal Side Effects From Medications. Tardive Dyskinesia. Tremors. Dry throat. The World’s Most Painful PermaBoner™. Genetalia Failya. Professional Patient. Hypochondria by Proxy. Medical Anxiety by Proxy. Fictitious Disorder Imposed on Another. Bullies. Social Discrimination. Targeted Harassment. College Drop Out. Resperdol Side Effects. Self-Mutilation.

Red Elbow Pits

Cigarette Burns

The Final Piece of Mirror…

the last holdout…

It’s positioned right at my eye level.

It’s the last part of me I can see…

Thinking all the way back to those innocent days of switching the lights on and off watching my pupils dilate at the age of six back when I knew who I was in this mirror…

And how now I don’t recognize the eyes that stare back at me.

And I don’t want to look at them ever again.

There’s nothing worth seeing here anymore anyway…

I reach towards the mirror.

My nicotine-yellowed fingers grab the FinalShard™…

They are cut by the glass.

I don’t even have the energy to hurl the shard and smash it against anything.

It falls from my hand and lands on the pile of shattered detritus at my feet.

I glance down for one last look at my eyes but the FinalShard™ is smeared and obscured

Red fingerprints


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7 responses to “Broken Mirror Pt 9: Sick Burn”

  1. David K Johnson Avatar
    David K Johnson

    I knew lots of people in college who had mental problems and stopped going to class and eventually dropped out. But I still saw some of them go on to good things afterwards! Hang in there buddy

  2. Mary Margaret Avatar
    Mary Margaret

    We’re listening, Dave.
    Reading this makes my eyes sting and my throat ache.
    I wish I could do something to help 17-year-old Dave.
    I hope that the compassion I feel for you at that time will fuel action towards ‘troubled kids’ that I run into in real life. (including all my grandkids being raised in varying degrees of ReligiousParenting, and still listening to AIO every. single. day.)
    Kindness matters.
    You mattered. You still do. And I’m so very glad you’re here now, telling this story. I remind myself often, that I am every age I’ve ever been.
    We own our stories. You give me permission to maybe, someday, tell mine. Even, especially, the vulnerable parts.
    And although this granny couldn’t quite pull it off, I imagine smashing the bully’s nose to smithereens.
    ((( Hugs )))

    1. dave Avatar

      Thank you so much for your support and kindness. I see you.

      This message arrived at a moment I very much needed positive feedback. And I’m grateful. And it helped to push me on to the next part.

      And yes! We all need to tell our stories and shine lights in dark corners.

      Supposedly the Truth shall set us free *fingers crossed*

  3. Elaine H Avatar
    Elaine H

    Dear Dave,
    I was so heartbroken to hear your story. I went down a little wormhole a few nights ago and ended up reading your entire blog from start to finish without stopping. You are a very talented writer and it was easy to get caught up in your story.

    I listened to Adventures in Odyssey growing up and Jimmy Barkley was by far my favorite character. I am a few years younger than you, had an overactive imagination as a kid, and was the youngest of three, so I connected with that character on so many levels. My family was not evangelical, my dad being a non-practicing Catholic and my mom being the one who made sure we went to church sort of regularly. We were socially a pretty left-leaning family, so I was always able to ignore or roll my eyes at some of the episodes with over-the-top messaging. (Castles and Cauldrons was one of my favorite episodes because I remember thinking it was really scary and I wanted to play a game like that!) Any time there was a content warning at the beginning of an episode from that point on, I remember thinking, “Oooh, this is going to be a good one.”

    Our Christianity was one of, be kind to people, take care of those who need it, and love everyone, because we are all God’s children and he loves all of us. I was sheltered in that I didn’t realize until I was in my late twenties that much of Christianity in this country is right-wing judgmental bigots. I don’t know how I was so oblivious.

    When I was in college, I introduced my then boyfriend, now husband, to some of my favorite episodes while laying in bed in my dorm while we fell asleep. The irony of that was not lost on me. Our first dog was named Whitaker and our first son was named John after John Whitaker. Our second son is named James after Jimmy Barkley, though he hates if anyone calls him Jimmy and has only ever gone by James. We weren’t obsessed or anything but just loved those characters. I don’t even think my husband is actually a Christian. He has told me that he likes “the idea of it”. I don’t think you have to be a Christian to get a kick out of that Thanksgiving episode, or lots of other AIO episodes, actually. Many of them are just really great stories with some Bible verses thrown it every once in awhile. You just have to take some of the messaging with a grain of salt. “The Bad Hair Day” with Harlow Doyle is a really good one, though I haven’t listened to it in over two decades, so I might be misremembering.

    I was so angry when George Barkley became a pastor, as it just seemed like a cop out, even listening as a kid. Now, I am so angry on your behalf at the way you were treated on the set and at home. It’s devasting to hear and I hope you write a book in which you name all the names of those who were so rotten to you when you needed love and support, not shame and guilt. If you do, I hope it becomes a best-seller and that those who shamed you feel ashamed of themselves.

    Hang in there, Dave. You are a wonderful soul and a good person. You have so much talent and you deserve happiness and love. Your work has had a positive, lasting impact on lots of people, who turned out into decent people, not “f**king evangelicals.” (I’m not a curser unless I am furious and shouting, and it would be disingenuous of me to pretend otherwise. I don’t care one iota if other people do, though.) I will keep reading your blog and will be rooting for you through it all. I can’t wait to find out what good things are in store for you.

    1. dave Avatar

      Thank you so much for this gorgeous and heartfelt message.

      It’s kept me writing and floating the last couple nights when I’m writing my most difficult section. I keep reading it.

      These notes and messages really sustain me during this project and I am tremendously grateful to those of you who take the time to reach out.

      And you have the distinction of being the first person I know of to have named a kid after Jimmy! I’ve been told of dogs and cats being named affectionately after the Greatest Character of All Time™, but this is my first human! I am tremendously honored that Jimmy was and is still enjoyed so much. That gets you VIP status in Dave Griffin’s world! lol

      I’m curious to know how you came to find this particular rabbit hole of content if you’re able to trace your pathway here… I’m very curious to know how people find it and what their first hook into the project is if you have any data to share.

      Ok right?!?!? C&C is the most epic episodes of all time– they’re completely ridiculous but like scary horror silly ridiculous. I was so proud of the performances as an 11 year old and then years later everyone rightly takes those episodes to task.

      There’s a Jon Lovitz quote floating around somewhere about how actors put all their effort into projects whether they are good or bad. You do the same amount of hard work regardless of the project quality. And it sucks when the final product turns out to be poor or the agenda of unscrupulous people or whatever. C&C is a weird piece of art on my resume that I am weirdly still in love with but also horrified by like an ex that you don’t want to admit you dated but secretly still crush over.

      Your mode of christianity is precisely what I’m trying to get people back to.

      I love that you were listening to AIO while sharing a non-marital bed with your college BF. Like that dichotomy genuinely warms my heart. I struggle with my feelings towards the show now and it brings me great comfort to know that not everyone who listened to it fell for the larger propaganda. I want people to enjoy the show and the performances in it!

      I was very frustrated by the George Barclay becoming a pastor storyline. Because it really kinda killed the last year of fun I had with the character. Jimmy is at his best having wild adventures that bend the medium of audio theater. And when this storyline kicked in… I couldn’t tell if it was because of my problems forced the writers to abandon Jimmy storylines… or if it was the parent org was trying to push a ministry product/service… or both… but I remember at that point if I hadn’t already been medicated I was emotionally checked out on that storyline. It utterly bored me.

      As to the book… I have some people trying to help me achieve that and I need all the help I can get. This is not a small project lol. I appreciate your enthusiasm and support! And hope to have news on that front some day soon.

      And as to swearing… it’s totally okay if you don’t. I swear enough for the Western Hemisphere to make up for it!

      Thank you for engaging here and for taking the time to share your thoughts and reach out and give me a lift while I’m grinding through the hardest writing section of my life. This was a very welcome message that warms my heart and gives me purpose.

      I’m grateful! <3

      1. Elaine Avatar
        Elaine

        Dear Dave,

        Let me start off by saying that I’m geeking out a little bit that I’m talking to Jimmy Barclay! So cool! And an honor to hear that my message brought you joy 😊.

        You asked me to retrace the rabbit hole I went down to stumble upon your blog. My 14-year-old’s preschool teacher, who is one of the most incredible people I’ve ever met and is still a dear friend even though it’s been over a decade since my son was in her class and we no longer live in the same state, mentioned to me that, a couple of years ago, Will Ryan passed away. I honestly don’t recall how that came up in conversation. That night, I looked him up to read about his other work, and somehow, I landed on Chris Anthony’s AIO Facebook page, which had tons of old photos of the actors in the recording studio. Lots of the actors had been tagged in the photos and I was clicking and scrolling through their various bios. (It was after midnight and I couldn’t sleep, but that’s another story). Anyway, you were tagged in one of the old photos, and upon Googling your name, your blog appeared. I started reading the first entry and did not stop until I had read them all. I have a problem in that, once I pick up a book or start reading something, I have trouble stopping until I read the whole thing. I have to be careful to not to start reading if there is a chance I may have to do something else any time soon. It’s an issue.

        That Jon Lovitz quote is perfectly applicable to him, as he is a great talent and hilarious, but has been in some, umm, not amazing movies.

        Keep up the good work! I know that I don’t really know you and that you don’t know me either, but reach out any time if you want, for any reason. I mean that sincerely and not in a weird way. Sometimes it just helps to know that people genuinely care and want the best for you, as I do.

  4. Devon Avatar
    Devon

    Self-harm really is the silent heroin. It’s terrifying how addictive it is and how attractive it becomes when you reach that point. I also like your note about the connection between neurodivergence and the Completionist personality trait because mine is definitely deeply tied into my autism but surely also has lots of crossover with my addictive personality and how I allow myself to fall deep (too deep, sometimes) into a game or hobby or reading something or what-have-you because it diverts that trait from being applied to something more self-destructive.

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