Hi, I’m Leif E. Greenz and I think I’m back.
Is anyone still out there?
I’ve been wanting to resurrect “Big Mouth” since I announced that I was done with it. I don’t know what happened. Maybe I stopped writing because my life got less chaotic … or maybe something in me died.
I thought I was going to die. I was sure I’d be dead by 27. I said it over and over again, sometimes during breakdowns, sometimes casually, like I was stating the time or commenting on the weather.
“I’m going to die this year, I just know it.”
And it’s hard to blog when you’re pretty certain you’re about to die. It’s hard to invest in anything when everything is so obviously temporary. I mean that’s life in a nutshell, but most people don’t walk around feeling so dangerously close to the edge all the time.
Unless you have PTSD. This apocalyptic mind-frame is common among survivors because we live in constant fear of danger. At any moment, we think, our lives could end or we could be raped or tortured or kidnapped. It’s hard to enjoy hanging out with friends or to even feel like there’s a point to having friends when you’re certain you’ll be gone within the year.
Truthfully, our lives could end at any moment. Folks with PTSD are just hyperaware (too aware) of that fact, so much so that they struggle to stay in the present moment. And that’s putting it lightly. Staying present is like pulling teeth out of the traumatized. It is excruciating. It feels like we’re being ripped from our comfort place — that place where we’re consistently scanning the past for evidence and the future for danger. Both non-realities fuel and feed off of each other and demand far too much for the present to get a word in.
I feel so flighty writing this. I want to get up from my desk and look at the window at the neighbors who just moved in. I want distractions so I don’t have to be real to myself. What is this raw shit coming from my fingertips and how do I stop it?
Another thing: this blog is so dead, I feared resurrection would be futile. But really… who cares. If I get something out of sharing myself, it doesn’t matter who reads it. If someone else gets something out of it, hell yeah! But that’s not my fundamental reason for writing.
I write because I have to. Because it’s in my system. My body screams for it and shames me when I neglect the pen. I’ve neglected it for months…. six months to be exact. I wrote a whole damn book and then ignored it. It remains ignored at the corner of my desk, wondering why I’m so keen on abandonment.
Because writing is pain! Writing is pricking your finger and recording your truth in blood! Writing demands honesty, so if you’re being a fuckoff, you’re going to have to be real about it. And when I’m being a fuckoff, realness is the last thing I want.
There’s a biological piece to this, too. If your body is in survival mode, certain parts of your brain start to shut off in order of importance. Emotions are often the first to go.
I was numb for one year. That year looked like this: psychologically tortured by rapist boyfriend, fled to Arizona, got assaulted in Arizona, moved to Minneapolis, moved out of house in Minneapolis, lost best friends, moved to the country.
I had moments of intense feeling, but they were short-lived and rare. When the feelings did come out, it was terrifying and overwhelmed anyone near me.
My body spent the year fighting and in that fight, I was barely aware of my surroundings. I couldn’t distinguish danger from safety and, frankly, didn’t care to. I was fully prepared to be murdered. If not that, then to do it myself. Nothing mattered. I had no hope, no dreams for my future, no friends. I’d pushed everyone away. I’d scared people. I had been overwhelming.
I somehow maintained a romantic relationship throughout that mess. We’re still together. Forrest is a.) a survivor and b.) a fucking saint. I’ve told him repeatedly that if he hadn’t stayed with me, I would already be dead and I’ve meant it.
It is difficult to write when you don’t have emotions. I’d sit down at my computer to try to edit my memoir draft and … nothing. I felt disconnected from the work — like the words had been written by someone else. I was hyperfocused and couldn’t see outside of my quest for survival enough to think poetically about my past.
Okay, I caved and got up from my desk to shove trail mix in my mouth. I missed writing like this… not giving s shit.
I guess what I’m getting at is that I’m trying, once again, to bring this blog back from the dead. I’ve been living without direction for a long time and I’m finally starting to get an idea of who I am and what I want. I think I want to use this blog again. I definitely want to keep making YouTube videos. I’d like to revisit my book.
Here’s a shameful truth for you! I am a fucking terrible employee. I have, to some extent, failed at every “normal” job I’ve had over the past decade — barista, journalist, corporate sellout, summer camp counselor (don’t get me started on that one). I’ve failed every “PTSD-approved” job I’ve tried — dog walker, Uber driver, clothing reseller. I’ve even failed at illicit careers — prostitute, cam girl, dealer. And because of my chronic unemployment, I was legitimately ready to give up on myself entirely and in a dramatic way.
And then I woke up covered in sweat and self-hatred one morning, grabbed my old cam girl webcam from a drawer and sat down to record my first YouTube video without even bothering to put pants on. That’s right, I was so depressed, I wasn’t wearing pants in my first few videos. It’s only been a month since I started my channel, but it has already done so much for me. I have a routine again. I have something I look forward to. I feel like I’m making a difference. Most importantly, I’m transforming my pain into something productive — something that helps people and doesn’t eat at me like bacteria.
Wallowing alone got me nowhere. I am happiest when I’m letting others learn from my mistakes — when I’m exposing myself so that others may relate. I feel best when I’m making art. My depression has lifted to an astonishing extent. I’m realizing that my voice is my best medicine. When I’m not using it to express how I feel, my feelings express themselves in destructive ways. I let the pain build like bubbles in a pressure cooker and when the lid comes off, everyone around me gets burned.
That’s why people find it so difficult to stand by me. I’m unpredictable. I project one thing when I’m feeling the opposite. When I was younger, I tried to be bubbly and people-pleasing. As I aged and faced more abuse, that “sweet” coverup turned into rage. Neither approach was more or less authentic than the other — they were both equally false selves. My true self, buried somewhere unreachable, is heartbroken and scared.
It’s seemed easier — safer, even — to mask that truth with aggression. But honestly, it’s just gotten me in more trouble. I spent months looking for people to scream at, people to fight with. I wanted them to confirm the things I already thought: that humans are scum, that no one is trustworthy, that life inherently sucks.
That’s about when I started smoking weed again, lol.
I developed “angry Leif” in my teens. She’s a very distinctive personality. Her blood boils and she operates on uncomfortable levels of adrenaline. She was born around the time my family fell apart and I realized I would have to fend for myself. If you’re a very traumatized person walking around looking heartbroken and needy, you’re going to have a bad time. That’s how it was for a while… sad Leif was easily taken advantage of.
I created my angry self in an attempt to protect myself from that. The thing is, most abusers can see through the masks anyway, so I would still get raped, even at my “most powerful” place. Case in point: I met and moved in with my worstabuserever just a few months after I published my story about beating up my rapist. People read the article and thought I was strong, which is exactly what I wanted them to think. My reality just the opposite: the feigned strength drained even more of my energy, weakening me further. As a result, I got severely abused and was too afraid of ruining the “badass” image to actually open up about it. The abuse continued for seven months. When Jefferson got arrested, I went fully numb.
That numbness finally ended when we moved into our new home in the country. After two months of decompression, I’m back to a place where I can be creative and feel my feelings again. A lot of weird memories are coming back, which is usually what gets me to start writing in the first place.
So here I am!
I hope to keep up with this blog in addition to the YouTube channel. It feels good to return to my standard mode of expression. I’m thinking I’ll shoot for one post per week, but we’ll see!
Hope you enjoyed this rambling.
Leif E. Greenz
Feel free to follow my YouTube channel to keep up with me throughout the week: https://youtube.com/c/leifegreenz
Btw, the other major development in my life is that I am now addicted to Kpop. I will leave you with this.