"Dear Prudence" by Amanda Grieme

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Dear Janice... Hurt

The Eve 3/27- Hurt

Dear Janice -

Sadly I think that you were one of us, and nobody recognized it because of your “raw iron soul,” as Jim Morrison so eloquently put it. You are a legend; you set the standard for a hard-living, hard-loving, and hard-drinking Blues singing mama, but from what I gather, your perception of yourself was not good, and it led to your Heroin overdose in 1970.

Apparently you had a seemingly happy childhood, but your transition into womanhood was difficult; I can relate. As a teenager, you tended to gain weight, your hair became unruly, and you developed scarring acne, that not only scarred your face, but your self-image; then you became rebellious, drinking and drugging, you avoided mirrors, and became an outcast among your peers. But luckily for you, your voice cradled you, but not long enough.

Man, you were so remarkable; when I listen to your music, it exudes so much passion that I can taste it ...but I can also see something. I can see that darkness in your eyes, that unfounded shame, that feeling like you weren’t worthy of the attention that you received, that self-loathing, and fear of rejection, like what happened to you as a high school kid. It all ate at you, and it is evident in photos. In studio shots you look completely lost; “who am I?” Your embarrassed of the camera, afraid that the photographer doesn’t think you are worthy of being a subject.

It is obvious; only models learn the art of faking contrived photography, but we unfortunately think that we aren’t worthy if we don’t emulate their grace. When truly, like in wildlife photography, I think that the best photos are candid photos; the pictures that capture the spirit in someone’s eyes or gaze, or the truth behind a smile or a frown.

The most remarkable photos of you, the one’s that capture your exquisite beauty and spirit are shots of you in mid-performance; you were seductive, alive, and beautiful. I wish you could have seen that; maybe you’d still be around. I know what it’s like to hate mirrors.

I wonder if you used to starve yourself, too? Perhaps your diet consisted of whiskey, cigarettes, and an occasional dropper full of liquid acid, etc.. You probably thought that it was a sure fire way to stay thin, right? I did that for a while, although my “meal” of choice was gin, and a whole lot of it. I did throw in olives from time to time; that’s a vegetable, right? Oh, and if I became hungry, I would simply smoke a cigarette, or ten. Did you do that?

But my favorite self-loathing remedy was to simply poison myself. I would eat two bowls of cereal, would look in the mirror, hate what I saw, and run to my “drawer” and grab the little brown bottle, well aware that it would make me violently ill for the next four hours, or so. I had better come up with an excuse for my flu-like behavior, quick (I can hardly type this without getting sick). It was called Syrup of Ipecac, and I forget how I discovered it, but I did. To this moment, I cannot encounter anything that even remotely reminds me of the stuff without gagging, or worse (talk about a powerful conditioned response).

Although I have grown away from the physically debilitating part of the eating disorder affliction, it still manifests itself in different ways; Frieda, my cognitive therapist says that it is a control issue, not a weight issue. I agree. I used to try to purge my negative feelings, not necessarily food. I could control what would enter and exit my body, when I had no control over my emotions, pendulum-like mood, and sometimes my behavior. I had a completely warped perception of who I was, and what I saw, hidden behind a huge smile for the rest of the world; I hated.

I wish that I could have shared this with you earlier.

(Download Janice.... upper right)

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