June 3, 2019
Recently declared PTSD free, a caller is interrupted by a cute little mouse while telling Geth about being emotionally and psychologically manipulated by someone very close to her.
166 — The Ultimate Bad Roommate Story
[00:00:00] [AD BREAK]
[00:00:33] CHRIS: Hello to everybody who likes a little mouse underneath a cute little leaf. It’s Beautiful Anonymous, one hour, one phone call, no names, no holds barred.
[00:00:45] THEME SONG: I’d rather go one-on-one. I think it’ll be more fun, and I’ll get to know you and you’ll get to know me.
[00:00:56] CHRIS: Hi, everybody. It’s Chris Gethard. Welcome to another episode of Beautiful Anonymous. Got a whole bunch of stuff to tell you about up top and then we’re going to get into a call that blew my mind and I have a few things to say about it before you listen to it. So maybe don’t skip this one if you’re so inclined. Couple of things to say first. First of all, at podswag.com – I think everybody’s heard me over the years mention that – that’s where you can go to get your Beautiful Anonymous merchandise. We’ve got a great new T-shirt up there. Also, they have started stocking my book Lose Well, which is nice. Better late than never. It’s awesome. They got signed copies there. You can go get them right from the podswag section. That’s where you can also get all the T-shirts we’ve ever put out, and mugs, and posters, and all that stuff. Posters, I take my share and for a long time – I’m embarrassed about how long it’s taken – I always said, ‘this poster I’m gonna take my share of the money that we make from it and I’ll put it towards making transcripts for the deaf community,’ ever since I was very inspired by that episode where we have a deaf caller. Happy to say that the first ten of those are coming. All the episodes that are not behind the paywall, that are sitting in that best-of, will have their transcripts soon and apologies that it took so long. Also speaking of that paywall, in June, celebration of Pride Month, we’re taking four different calls that relate in some level to the world of the LGBTQ community. And they’re coming out from behind the paywall. There’s going to be four extras that haven’t, up until now, sat out there as a celebration of pride. Something I am very much a supporter of, believer in, and happy to celebrate. And happy to put some of the calls out there that I think have– I have offered up the perspective of many different types of people over the years. So, enjoy those. Get four extra free ones if you’re not signed up for Stitcher Premium, which you should be, because that’s where our back catalog is and all that stuff.
[00:02:53] CHRIS: Okay, this week’s episode. Intense. Very intense. Every one has either been in, or knows someone in their life, who’s been in a codependent relationship. This is a particularly extreme example. This is someone who got into a situation that was very dark, where they were sort of held in the grasp of someone who was pretty troubled, and it built to a lot of scary stuff. Brace yourself. This is frank discussions of mental illness and suicide and all sorts of stuff. I do want to put out there, and I mentioned this in the course of the call, one thing I’m becoming very aware of with the show is, that it’s largely guided by the caller’s side of the story. And I think that’s fair. I always try to be an advocate for a caller, provide a safe space for their platform. But this one involves them talking heavily about someone else. We can all just keep in mind that person probably has their side of the story too. The caller says that. The caller expresses compassion for them along the way. Also want to say that I am the last person on earth who would ever want to demonize mental illness. I think it’s very clear that this caller recognizes they’re talking about a situation, where this person had a particularly extreme and troubled time. I want to send my love and support to everybody else out there who, like me, deals with forms of mental illness. Last thing I want to do is demonize anybody, who might have borderline personality disorder. But it comes up that this caller had to, you know, be very, very close with someone who is experiencing probably the most extreme stretch of the effects of that disorder. So, with all that being said, buckle up. You can tell this is about to be pretty intense episode, but also a very inspiring one. Enjoy.
[00:04:45] PHONE ROBOT: Thank you for calling Beautiful Anonymous a beeping noise will indicate when you are on the show with the host. [beep]
[00:04:52] CHRIS: Hello.
[00:04:53] CALLER: Hi, Chris.
[00:04:55] CHRIS: Yeah.
[00:04:57] CALLER: Hi. Wow, I didn’t think that I would get through at all.
[00:05:00] CHRIS: Well, you nailed it.
[00:05:01] CALLER: As if I’m the only one that ever says that. I nailed it. Well, what’s funny I actually called– So, every Friday morning, I have therapy. And then I had to work. And I usually call a few times just in case, on the way to work. And then I sat down at my desk and I was like, ‘I’ll try one more time’ and then I ran out of the office.
[00:05:22] CHRIS: All right. Well, I’m glad you got through. It feels like it was meant to be.
[00:05:27] CALLER: You know, some say that. How are you? You sound a little sad today.
[00:05:32] CHRIS: You’re very astute and observational person. I’m a little sad. I’m a little sad.
[00:05:37] CALLER: Why is that? You wanna talk about it?
[00:05:40] CHRIS: Well, huh. Wow. Because, I always like to be honest. I did not expect you to call out the sadness. I don’t think Jared and Harry even sensed the sadness. Yeah. Yesterday, I’ll tell you, yesterday, as of this taping, yesterday was my birthday.
[00:05:55] CALLER: Happy Birthday.
[00:05:56] CHRIS: Thank you. But I’ve never been good at having birthdays. I’ve never loved it. And yesterday was kind of a hard one and I was really mad at myself because it was my first birthday where my son was around.
[00:06:14] CALLER: As a dad.
[00:06:16] CHRIS: Yeah. And I felt like everything just kind of tumbled downhill in a way that was a bummer. I was really mad at myself because– Although I did spend a lot of good time with the boy just sitting on my chest and holding him and all that stuff. Those were the highlights of the birthday. But yeah, it was just kind of like a of rough long day, that should have been such a joyous one. And I was mad at myself that it wasn’t.
[00:06:43] CALLER: Well, Chris, I am much younger than you, but I suddenly feel like I’m going to impart some wisdom.
[00:06:50] CHRIS: Please, do.
[00:06:51] CALLER: My birthday is also horrendous. It is two days before Christmas and it’s my father’s birthday. My father’s a very kind and loving and incredibly selfish person at the same time. So, it’s always spent with TV dinners and sometimes dentist appointments. It’s never my birthday. It’s always his. And I always get mad at myself for being sad on my birthday cause it’s supposed to be happy and where I was supposed to be with him. What you’ve already figured out is my thing cause I notice when people are feeling anything, right away. So, I feel you. It’s really shitty, but I feel like, you of all people should understand that you can’t get mad at yourself for an emotion that you’re having. That’s just what’s happening.
[00:07:38] CHRIS: Well, it sounds like you and I have some similar qualities and I say you’re totally correct. But I feel like one of the great struggles I have, and that I sense a lot of people have, is this balance between intellectually understanding that-
[00:07:55] CALLER: Oh, yeah.
[00:07:56] CHRIS: -you’ve gotta wrangler your emotions, while also letting the emotions themselves be true. Those can co-exist in a way that can be very frustrating.
[00:08:05] CALLER: Oh, yeah. And that makes it worse, right? Cause you understand that, so you think it should be easy enough. But, no. Well, let me just get on your show and then lecture you about how you’re doing emotions wrong.
[00:08:14] CHRIS: Hey.
[00:08:15] CALLER: That’s where I sit, right?
[00:08:16] CHRIS: I love it. I love it. I need the advice. You wanna hear the sad part? Here’s the sad part of when it started to tumble downhill. So, my parents were gonna come and watch the baby. First time anybody was gonna watch him, so that me and Hallie could go to see Avengers: Endgame because I haven’t seen it.
[00:08:39] CALLER: You hadn’t seen it yet?
[00:08:40] CHRIS: No. I have a five-week-old son. It came out five weeks ago. The math on that doesn’t work out.
[00:08:45] CALLER: But you’re a Marvel fan.
[00:08:46] CHRIS: I’m the– I’m an obsessive Marvel fan, my whole life. And then my dad caught a cold. So, they called me the night before they’re not gonna come.
[00:08:54] CALLER: No.
[00:08:55] CHRIS: And I had like-
[00:08:56] CALLER: Chris.
[00:08:57] CHRIS: I just– The bottom fell out. And then Hallie was– I was just in a bad mood and she was trying to cheer me up. I did that shitty thing where someone’s trying to cheer you up, and I was just kind of like, ‘You just have to let me be sad.’ And then she was I like, ‘It’s a movie about a man in an iron suit, and another guy who’s a spider.’ I was like, ‘I know.’ But then it was deeper. It was like, I was also just excited to go on a date with my wife for the first time in a couple months.
[00:09:27] CALLER: Yeah.
[00:09:28] CHRIS: And a date with my wife. Like, you know, you think too, she was pregnant for almost a year. Like a date that felt like the old days. And that got– And the bottom fell out. And I had no backup plan for my birthday. And then I was kind of being, you know, just sort of prissy around the house. But yeah, Avengers: Endgame and my inability to actually see Avengers: Endgame, is what led to me having a sort of out of control, historically unpleasant birthday.
[00:10:02] CALLER: That’s okay. Everybody has passion.
[00:10:04] CHRIS: Oh yeah. Oh yeah. It’s the little things too.
[00:10:10] CALLER: Well, I’m glad to hear a little bit of a smile in your voice now.
[00:10:14] CHRIS: Well, thank you for bringing it out about.
[00:10:17] CALLER: No problem.
[00:10:18] CHRIS: Means a lot.
[00:10:19] CALLER: Talking about shit makes you realize how silly it is. And then you’re like, ‘You know what? I’m over it.’
[00:10:23] CHRIS: Yeah. And I’ll tell you what. I thank you for this genuinely. To have someone notice, it does mean the world. Thank you for that.
[00:10:32] CALLER: Oh, yeah. I feel you. I feel you. Well, hopefully today’s a better day.
[00:10:38] CHRIS: Yeah.
[00:10:39] CALLER: I’m on cloud nine for seemingly no reason. But hey, I’ll take it.
[00:10:46] CHRIS: Okay. What’s cloud nine intale?
[00:10:49] CALLER: I’m currently walking through the woods because that was the closest thing I could found while running out of the office, when I got put on hold. But on Monday I was in my eighth session of EMDR, which is treatment for PTSD. And they essentially deemed me PTSD free, finally. So, I think that’s probably it. I was sad for a few days, I think because I no longer had that crutch of like, ‘Leave me alone, I have PTSD.’ But, you know, going back to ridiculous emotions. But I think it’s kicked in today.
[00:11:23] CHRIS: Wow. Congrats. That’s a milestone.
[00:11:27] CALLER: Thank you. Thank you.
[00:11:29] CHRIS: I have to say-
[00:11:29] CALLER: It is-
[00:11:31] CHRIS: Go for it.
[00:11:32] CALLER: No, go for it.
[00:11:33] CHRIS: I was gonna say, you know, I’m familiar with PTSD. I know it’s such a massive problem in many different types of people these days. But I have to say, I was ignorant to the idea that you could be cleared. I didn’t realize that was a thing, that it could kind of go into remission.
[00:11:52] CALLER: I mean, I’m sure that it can come back. And you using the word remission is funny as I was just about to say, like, I’m sure it’s kind of like being cleared of cancer, right? You’re still at higher risk. The trauma is still there and all that jazz. But, no. So, do you know what EMDR is?
[00:12:12] CHRIS: I feel like someone’s talked about it on the show before.
[00:12:17] CALLER: That’s funny because I feel like one of the reasons I wanted to call so badly is because I feel like there’s enough people with PTSD that listen to your show, that might not know what EMDR is.
[00:12:28] CHRIS: Right. I have to tell you I feel like we either mentioned it on the show or it may have been a call that wasn’t released. But I know someone has talked to me about EMDR, maybe on the show, maybe not. I might be wrong, but it’s– It’s a pretty intense form of therapy from what I remember.
[00:12:50] CALLER: Yeah, it’s a lot. It’s hard work. It’s exhausting. I’m shaky just thinking about it but like in a good way. But it’s– Yeah. You re-live the thing over and over again until you are desensitized to it. Then you reprocess it and you associate a good understanding with it. So, week after week, you’re just sitting there saying, ‘Alright, go back to that situation, put yourself back in that hell.’ And then eventually, you literally– They call it installing. You install a positive emotion about yourself associated with that. So, like, for me, it’s that I’m resilient and I got through it. And now I can handle anything. Cool stuff.
[00:13:39] CHRIS: Well, congrats on that. Yeah. I mean-
[00:13:42] CALLER: Thank you.
[00:13:42] CHRIS: I would have to imagine that, that has to be one of those styles of treatment that when it works, it works beautifully and that for some people it must really make them crumble and they have to withdraw from that.
[00:13:58] CALLER: Oh, yeah. Because you literally have to just put yourself in the therapist’s hands and say, like, ‘Yeah, here, have everything.’ And if I don’t– If I don’t respond well to it, then I’ve just dug all of this shit up and there’s nothing to do with it. So, it’s risky, but I literally just feel like nothing else would have helped. And this– It’s just wild the amount of things that are discovered through studying psychology and whatnot. And it’s, you know– I would hate for people that might respond well to it, not to know that it’s something that could really help.
[00:14:35] CHRIS: Yeah. And that’s all types of treatment. I should say that too, before I go on, ‘Ooh, sounds like it’s not for everybody.’ I feel like one of the things to remember is that anyone, anyone who would be– Any doctor who’d be administering this, you have to be certain that they’re people who are trained to do it the right way and to look out for warning signs of when it is having a negative effect or positive effect, and who are tracking progress and using it responsibly. And if to trust that and understand that medical professionals spend a lot of years going to school and, you know-
[00:15:14] CALLER: Definitely.
[00:15:16] CHRIS: -apprenticing effectively and seeing things in action with people who are more veteran than they are. And certainly, I’m not trying to have an initial reaction that would dissuade treatment because you, like you said, you’re on cloud nine and got a huge thumbs up recently. That’s awesome.
[00:15:34] CALLER: Yeah, yeah. It’s cool stuff. And there’s a– I had two appointments, before we even started adjusting, talking to this woman and like figuring out if I would be a good fit for it. So, they’re very careful before they even start opening up those ones.
[00:15:50] CHRIS: It’s really– I mean, it’s kind of an amazing– Cause it sounds like such a daunting thing and such an intense thing. But actually in many ways, you can boil it down to such a simple premise, which is that to master any situation, you need to have a lot of experience. Like if you want to be – not to be reductive, I say this in a way that’s very interested and it’s going to sound reductive initially, but it’s like, if you want to get really good at ping pong, you gotta go play a shit ton of ping pong. And if you want to get good at processing the emotions of an event, you gotta get good at living within that event. You got to spend time there and you’ve got to learn, how to navigate those waters. And it sounds like it’s based on, let’s garner experience that allows you to develop muscle memory on how to handle this and scar tissue on how to not let it cut to your core as much every time it comes up to it. To learn how to master these feelings. It seems like it’s based on let’s give you experience in the darkest shit you’ve been through, so you get better at going through it.
[00:17:08] CALLER: Yeah. Yes. And now I feel like I want to do like high kicks. Oh, God. Two of my coworkers are walking over.
[00:17:15] CHRIS: In the woods? How many people in your company just wander through the woods?
[00:17:21] CALLER: Well, there’s a trail. And if you cut through the trail, it goes to– Oh, God, I supervise both of them. It goes to Starbucks. So, they’re probably going-
[00:17:31] CHRIS: Wait. It goes where? Sorry I was too busy laughing.
[00:17:35] CALLER: It goes to Starbucks. You can cut through the woods, to get to Starbucks, so that’s probably why they’re walking through here. Hello, my dears. You can keep talking Chris.
[00:17:48] CHRIS: So, there’s a-
[00:17:48] CALLER: Yeah, go get your coffee. Bye.
[00:17:50] CHRIS: –a patch of woods. There’s a patch of woods between your place of business and a Starbucks. So, your coworkers are constantly wandering through these woods. And some people who are your subordinates just heard you saying– Potentially overheard you talking about how you overcame PTSD and want to do high kicks, was what they walked in on.
[00:18:10] CALLER: They were far enough away that unless they have super hearing, they did not hear that. But, yeah. No, they just walked right over. Luckily, both of them are some of the goofiest people I’ve ever supervised, so that was all fine and dandy.
[00:18:29] CHRIS: That’s good. I hope there’s a steady parade of people from your work life wandering through as you tell me about some of your most guarded personal experiences.
[00:18:43] CALLER: Well, yeah. That’s the fun part. Either it’s gonna be my boss who’s the CEO. It’s a small company. That’s less impressive than it sounds. Well, though I like when people are impressed– Anyhoo, it’s either the CEO and his wife, or it’s going to be people I supervise. Either way, it’s real awkward.
[00:19:02] CHRIS: Yeah. Such is life.
[00:19:06] CALLER: Yeah. But my boss actually knows everything because I had to take– I was going to therapy two times a week. I had to keep doing normal therapy and EMDR – separate people. So, I basically had to tell him a little bit enough that I had PTSD, but we’re close enough that it all spilled out. And his only response was, ‘Oh, that’s pretty fucked up.’
[00:19:30] CHRIS: Yeah, I mean, I’ll put it out there, that I’m not sure if it was your intention to dive deep on this in the course of the call. There’s a part of me that wants to know your story, but there’s also a bigger part of me gone ‘Well, you just got the– You just got the okay, that you’re on the other side of the PTSD. And maybe this is not a place to explain, where it comes from, or what it was rooted in.’ But I will just say, as an interested and empathetic human being, it is something that’s crossed my mind. But it’s up to you, how much you want to reveal about that.
[00:20:06] CALLER: Yeah, well. One, I knew you’d say that at some point because when do you not say that about somebody talking about something hard, they’ve been through. Call you out on that real quick.
[00:20:16] CHRIS: I mean, if– I go back and forth with this because it’s a very fair critique of the shows. But I go back and forth where I’m like, ‘Is it– What’s the bigger dickhead move?’ You know, that’s how I think.
[00:20:30] CALLER: Oh, no, you’re doing it the right way.
[00:20:32] CHRIS: But you know what I mean?
[00:20:33] CALLER: Cause, what if somebody doesn’t?
[00:20:35] CHRIS: But also, it’s like, yeah, exactly– Like, what if somebody puts out there, like, ‘I’ve been through something hard,’ and then I’m in my head going, ‘Oh, they probably don’t wanna talk about it and then I never ask. And they hang up the phone and go, ‘Jesus, this fuckin– The guy’s whole reputation is that he’s a listener. He doesn’t give a shit.’ So, I just like to put it out there in a broad way of like I give a shit, but what I give a shit about most is you making this your own. So-
[00:21:01] CALLER: Oh, Chris. No, I have nothing but love for you. I just like to– I like to pick on people that I love, so-
[00:21:07] CHRIS: Well, hey. It’s a fair point. It’s a fair point– How much– And it’s– Because here’s another thing. And I feel like you’re someone– You’re very in touch with emotions. I struggle often with this. This is effectively an entertainment-based podcast, that very often is based on other people’s pain. And is that entertainment? So that’s another line of responsibility. You’re– Real insecurities– You’ve hit a nerve of my real insecurities of nature of the show and my role.
[00:21:37] CALLER: Oh, I’m sorry, Chris.
[00:21:38] CHRIS: No. I’m glad it’s out there. Anyway, back to you. What would-
[00:21:44] CALLER: I’d give you a big hug, if I could just like re-patch that insecurity back up. But no, it’s-
[00:21:50] CHRIS: Good luck.
[00:21:54] CALLER: It’s funny, that you’re sometimes nervous about how to ask if I want to talk about it or not. Because if you think about it, the EMDR is literally me just like digging it back up until it doesn’t feel like anything painful anymore. I’m literally the poster child of like, ‘No, we can talk about whatever. I don’t give a fuck. It doesn’t feel like anything anymore.’ Sorry, Sally. I never thought I would say, ‘Sorry, Sally.’ Okay, whatever. But, yeah. No, I was living with– I was living with this girl in college, who I bonded with really, really quickly. I didn’t realize that that was because she had borderline personality disorder, which, you know, can lead people to a kind of change their mind about you pretty quickly. And a lot of people manage that disorder very well and some people don’t because it’s hard for a therapist to spot. But she– The short version is that, she was convinced that she could see dead people and hear them and talk to them. And she was also– She had– Through the years of living with her and being secluded with just her and not really getting to socialize much because she would get angry if I had other friends, she convinced me that she can read my mind. So, I thought I didn’t even have any safe spots around her. And then one day she just had a psychotic break and threatened to kill me with a knife, but also tried to kill herself multiple times, and got very violent with my boyfriend at the time. And then afterwards, she said– she asked if she spoke in a different voice, because if so, then it wasn’t her and she must’ve been possessed. And at the time I believed her because I was in it deep enough. It got pretty– It was a fun ride.
[00:24:03] CHRIS: Wow. What?
[00:24:08] CHRIS: Let’s pause right there. I just want to know, you guys could all hear that I was approaching the classic ‘What are you even talking about,’ one of the cliché phrases. We were doing back and forward, got cut off. I’m just underlining it because it will come up later. This moment will be mentioned later. So, I wanted to just highlight it. Okay, since we’ve paused anyway, we do have ads on this show. It’s how the show exists, how we keep it going. Check them out. There’s promo codes. Use those promo codes if you’re so inclined. Helps the show when you do. Be back with more phone call right after this.
[00:24:43] [AD BREAK]
[00:26:17] CHRIS: Thanks again to all of our sponsors. Now let’s get back to the phone call.
[00:26:23] CALLER: It was a fun ride.
[00:26:26] CHRIS: Wow. What? What are you– What? I don’t mean to– That I have to say I will– Can I say that when you hear the phrase PTSD,
[00:26:44] CALLER: You don’t think possession?
[00:26:45] CHRIS: You do not think that someone was held under the cult like control of someone who heard voices. You know it. And this is not a judgment of anybody, like you obviously think about certain, you know, military members, survivors of, you know, survivors of trauma and assault. And none of those things are good things. But your story is– That’s wildly specific circumstances.
[00:27:12] CALLER: Which is why– Which is why treatment actually works so well. It’s because it boiled down to two nights that were definitely traumatic. Because that’s when it started getting violent and threats on her life and my life, my boyfriend’s life started coming up. But that makes me more receptive because I can just go back and live one moment over and over again. Albeit it’s not so lovely to relive a moment of some day, like holding up a– holding up like, I don’t know – it’s not a butter knife. What do you call those knives? They’re like really normal kitchen knives. Whatever. I already had a pair of knifes. So, she knew that because she knew everything about me. She knew my brother tried to commit suicide. She knew that she could hold that against me while she was trying to tell me that, you know, the reason so many people around me have been suicidal is because of me.
[00:28:07] CHRIS: Wow.
[00:28:08] CALLER: So, you know, having somebody with a whole bunch of – this is very unsensitive of me, but I think I have the right – whole bunch of crazy in their eye pull a knife up to you and say, ‘I’m not gonna hurt you,’ is very, very spooky. So, I don’t know. For a while it really fucked me up and I really believed that she just needed help and that she was like hearing voices and all that jazz and she was supernatural, if you will. I had painted her into this monster, so it took me five years to go get treatment about it because I thought that I was just an unloving person, who haven’t stood by her while she was going through a hard time. But I don’t know. I finally remove myself from that situation for long enough that I said, ‘Fuck it, I don’t like thinking about this all the time.’
[00:29:03] CHRIS: Wow, this is a story. Now, let me just say, one aspect of this show that I’ve really– that I really think about a lot, is that you’re telling us the story and it involves this other person and another person’s diagnoses and whatnot. And obviously that’s something I just need to say, like, you know, I– First of all, you’re able to recount all of this so matter of factly, that it’s clear that the therapy – the EMDR that you mentioned – it’s clear that it has had a positive effect because you were able to just break down the bullet points to what happened in a way that’s emotion free, which obviously, like you said-
[00:29:44] CALLER: No tears, Chris. There were no tears.
[00:29:47] CHRIS: But that’s because you’ve put in years of work. That’s amazing.
[00:29:50] CALLER: Yeah.
[00:29:50] CHRIS: That’s amazing. And I certainly want to say– I’ll tell you, and I haven’t even talked with Jared about this. And this is in no way meant to throw any doubt, but I did see a comment from someone on Reddit who said, ‘You know, I used to listen to that show and then someone called up and talked about my sister in a way that wasn’t totally true and made me feel weird.’ So, I have– I do wonder sometimes about, you know, stories where we’re accounting for a third party who’s not on the line. I’m just being fair and also saying that at the very least, and you’ve echoed this as well, that I hope that this person in question has also gotten help and has also gotten better because they have their own version of this story that I’m sure is equally hard, it sounds like, although you were a victim. And my greatest sympathy lies within that.
[00:30:48] CALLER: Yeah, well that’s the hardest part of it, right? It’s– I’m– I feel other people’s emotions so intensely that the idea of, you know, talking about her, I also at the same time think about how it could hurt her for other people to know that because she– The reason that we got so close was that she was such a loving person. And the reason that she knew everything about my life and lost everything that hurt me is because she was like– It was just so easy to love her and care for her. And I’m sure that that still lives in her. But I, as you can imagine, I don’t have contact with her anymore and I have no interest in it. But I do, you know, all the time, I hope that she got help, not just for– Oh, my God. Aww. Hi little mouse. I’m sorry. I’m very-
[00:31:40] CHRIS: Did you just see a little mouse? Did you see a little mouse in the woods?
[00:31:43] CALLER: Yeah. He’s so cute. He’s just underneath some leaves. He ran away, though. He didn’t like my high-pitched voice, I guess.
[00:31:50] CHRIS: So, hold on. Let’s pause. So, as we’re discussing the depths of mental illness and caring about other people and praying that everyone’s okay and the moral implications of sharing a story along these lines, you’re distracted by a cute little mouse that ran across your path in the woods?
[00:32:09] CALLER: Look, he’s– No, he just like peaked his head out of the leaves and he looks like he’s like, ‘Nobody saw.’ He looks so cute. And then he got scared of me and went back under his leaf.
[00:32:19] CHRIS: Cute little mouse poking his head out from under the leaves.
[00:32:25] CALLER: Well, this is a great summary of who I am as a person.
[00:32:28] CHRIS: It sounds like. But I have to say, because you were– I mean, it was astounding to me, like my jaw dropped and Jared and Harry in the booth, when you said like, ‘Oh, you sound sad.’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, that’s-‘ I mean, you did that after I said one sentence in a phone call. And to my knowledge, we have not met in person. Like, you clearly are an empathetic person because you nailed it. And it sounds like you and this person falling into this sphere of influence is built to spiral out of control, so I don’t know much about borderline personality disorder, but I do know that one common thing among it is, that people very much want to be in control of their own lives and maybe in control of other people. That’s a thing that I am familiar can often be a thing with this.
[00:33:18] CALLER: Yes. And incredibly intense relationships very fast. And the way I’m talking about it you can tell it sounds like it was almost romantic. Like when I talk about her, I think about that too. And I’m like, ‘Wow, it sounds like we were in a proper relationship,’ but we weren’t. It’s just– That’s just an embodiment of exactly how intense the relationships are. Which could be a really beautiful thing, if people get the help that they need. You know?
[00:33:42] CHRIS: Right.
[00:33:44] CALLER: But we have met, actually. Very, very briefly. I doubt you’re going to remember it. But do you remember– It was– I’m just gonna out location here. But you did a show at the Sinclair in Cambridge fairly recently.
[00:34:00] CHRIS: Aha.
[00:34:02] CALLER: And I had already listened to Beautiful Anonymous, clearly, and I knew that you got anxious in front of fans. The downfall is that I get very anxious when I meet people that I admire. And I came up to get my book signed by you. And I couldn’t help but laugh afterwards because it was just one incredibly cripplingly anxious person staring into the eyes of another person that was incredibly anxious. It was just like this like– It was just like this ‘Hi.’ ‘Hi. You want me to sign your book?’ ‘Yeah.’ ‘Okay.’
[00:34:35] CHRIS: Well, you know, the good news is– So, I know that I met you. I know where I met you. And I have a lot of fondness for that show. And what a cool venue, by the way. Luckily, you know, some people might say this is going to, you know, encroach on some territory where I might know who you are. Your anonymity would be broken. Luckily, you’ve described almost every interaction with a fan I have ever had. And I’m sure that for as much as you’re laughing, remembering that, you also saw a line of people in front of you and after you have a similar thing where we make nervous eye contact and I’m like, ‘Hi.’ And they’re like, ‘You wanna sign my book?’ and I’m like, ‘Yeah, I’d love it. Thank you for checking it out. It’s not that good. I hope maybe you get something out of it.’ And then they’ll be like, ‘I made you a food,’ and I’ll be like, ‘That’s nice.’ Or they’ll be like, ‘I got your card,’ and I’ll be, ‘Okay, thank you’ and that’s-
[00:35:27] CALLER: ‘Thanks, I don’t know who you are, but cool.’
[00:35:30] CHRIS: That’s every, every– That’s just my life on the road. It’s just my life.
[00:35:37] CALLER: It’s funny because my current boyfriend is, I shouldn’t say current, my boyfriend– I had talked about a previous boyfriend-
[00:35:45] CHRIS: Of course.
[00:35:48] CALLER: Different human being. Anyhoo, my boyfriend was like– he was like rubbing my back. He’s like, ‘It’s gonna be fine, do you want me to make conversation? I’m not anxious. I can ease the moment.’ ‘No, like no, it’s not gonna work anyway, because you’re gonna be anxious and then it’s just gonna make me more anxious that you’re making him uncomfortable.’
[00:36:03] CHRIS: Ding, ding, ding. Oh, yeah. Soften me up with an extrovert. The number one way to make sure I’m as anxious as possible.
[00:36:13] CALLER: He’s not an extrovert either. He just, you know, he is a superhero. He swoops in when I’m anxious and just makes me laugh. It’s amazing. Granted, you can tell it’s not hard to make me laugh. But he still gets all the credit. It’s fine. But no, he was ready to point– You, at one point in the show, you singled out two people and asked them where they were from. And I was not looking at the stage cause I was looking at my beautiful boyfriend. And you said, ‘Where are you from?! And I in the back went ‘Vermont!’ And he wanted to tell you that so badly and that is when the anxiety became the most crippling. I was like ‘No.’
[00:36:55] CHRIS: Fair. Fair.
[00:36:56] CALLER: ‘You can’t tell him.’
[00:36:59] CHRIS: Well, it all worked out. Now we’re here together. Now, okay, so many questions. Where are you? We’ve already burned through half an hour. I wanna-
[00:37:09] CALLER: No.
[00:37:11] CHRIS: I wanna– Cause– Let me ask you this, because, I mean, you wound up in a situation-
[00:37:17] CALLER: I’m sorry. I have to interrupt. I am very distracted by the fact that you said we’ve already burned through half an hour. I have not seen the people that I supervise comeback.
[00:37:24] CHRIS: You gotta yell at them.
[00:37:25] CALLER: They’re just burning through workday. Okay, I’m sorry.
[00:37:29] CHRIS: But that– You can’t really go, ‘Hey, I saw you guys go to Starbucks and it took too long and I know because I was in the woods on the phone for that entire amount of time.’ You don’t really have the moral high ground to stand on in that scolding.
[00:37:40] CALLER: Listen, I am their boss.
[00:37:43] CHRIS: Uh. So, they– Right.
[00:37:48] CALLER: No, I have no ground to stand. You’re right. I know that very well. You had questions.
[00:37:53] CHRIS: Well. Again, tell me when it hits the point, where you’re like, ‘Who wants to sit in this?’ But you made it clear it’s okay to ask. I’m just really fascinated. So, you wound up in a situation with this person. It built to a few days, that you mentioned, where there was threats towards you, threats towards herself, threats towards another person you love. It’s led to a severe amount of trauma that took years of intense therapy to unwrap. And for all of that, I am sorry. I’m so interested, you know, you hear about these situations like when you– You were convinced this person could read your mind and it hit a point where you were convinced that they had superpowers. You were living in a world where they had manipulated that. That to me, like, I hear that, and you start to think about people like Charles Manson, who convinced other people they had superpowers and where it got really dark. You start to think about like, you know, that cult leader who, you know, you start to think David Koresh. You think about the guy who convinced everybody that the comet was coming, and they ought to cut off their own penises. Like, you’d lived a smaller version of this, where you were in the sphere of influence of someone who was able to convince you that they were beyond human and that you should live under that spell. You had at least your own small version of that.
[00:39:13] CALLER: Yeah, and what’s funny is, so, I went to art school and– So that all went down– We were living in a dorm– That all went down right before winter break. And the next semester I had already signed up and registered for a class called Horror in Photography and Film. And naturally, as you can tell, I already mentioned like exorcism movies, I couldn’t watch them. I couldn’t watch exorcism movies. It was horrifying because it felt too similar to what had happened, or what I had been led to believe had happen until I signed up for this class. I had to go to this class and the first assignment was to make a brain map of what you think of when you think of horror. And I just have this distinct memory of sitting at my desk while she was sitting on her bed because I hadn’t moved out at that point yet. I was still like, ‘I’m going to help this person. She’s in pain. I’m gonna stay. I’m gonna be a good friend because she’s telling me, she wanted to kill herself because I’m not a good friend. I’m gonna be there.’ And I was sitting there trying to make this brain map of horror. And the only things I could think of to write down were all about her, and that night, and things that she had done. And I was convinced that she could hear what I was thinking. And it was– I just sat there shaking. I couldn’t write anything down. I didn’t make the assignment happen. And I think it was about three days after that where she had– She’d done a few different like catty things, like taking some of my artwork off the walls and ripped it off and left it on my pillow for me when I was out at classes and things. So, after a few days of that and thinking that I can’t do my homework for this horror class, I finally got to school to get me a different room, which they charge me extra for. So that’s great. But yeah, I genuinely thought she would hear everything going through my mind. And it was terrifying.
[00:41:31] CHRIS: What happened-
[00:41:32] CALLER: Not a good time.
[00:41:34] CHRIS: What was the convincing moment, that made you think she had that ability?
[00:41:40] CALLER: It’s a slow burn. It was slow burn. I had lived with her for two years already, so I didn’t realize it happening, until all of the violence started and then all of a sudden, I just felt like it was so real. And she was saying that they finally had to do with– Well, one, she went to kill herself because she was depressed, organically depressed. But she also was saying that there were like five different ghosts in our room, that she couldn’t get to leave her alone. And, you know, that’s when it starts to not make so much sense anymore. Where I look at that and I’m like, ‘How did I– How did I buy into it?’ Which is the therapy talking. Which is great. But I did at the time. It was very, very real.
[00:42:28] CHRIS: Yeah. So, you’re convinced there’s ghosts and that she has psychic abilities and you’re wrapped up in it. And do you have– You mentioned you had your boyfriend at the time. Did your boyfriend or other friends in your life where they, were you talking with them about this? Was it like a matter of fact thing or were there people in your life stepping in and going, ‘Hey, this relationship’s really intense and it’s getting dark.’ Or was it something that kind of was kept in a bubble?
[00:43:01] CALLER: Both. My boyfriend was there for the whole two days from hell. You know, he was by my side the whole time and by hers. She was very violent towards him. And when she tried to jump out the window, cause she didn’t want the EMTs to get to her, he still ran after her and stopped her doing that. So, he was pretty amazing about it. He’s very heavily traumatized and doesn’t speak to me anymore. But that makes sense because it’s hard not to associate each other with it. But he was there for me afterwards in the realism of it. You know, he didn’t live with her, so he didn’t have the kind of– I have never thought of it as brainwashing, but I suppose it is, he doesn’t have that. He just saw this like a really fucked up friendship. And he just kept saying, ‘[beep] we gotta get out of that room.’ Well, bleep my name. He just kept saying, ‘You gotta get out of that room. You gotta move on. You gotta make sure you’re not talking to her.’ And I was so, so in it. And this was like a month afterwards, that I would say, ‘No, we have to be there for her. She’s hurting. This whole thing happened because she’s hurting, and she needs people. She needs support.’ Which, I think, is a big, big reason why he and I failed. Cause he was ready to move past this faster than I clearly was. It’s now been five years and I’m finally past it. I can hear this mouse squeaking. Where is it? I love animals, okay.
[00:44:41] CHRIS: No, please. Find the squeaky little mouse. I think if there’s anything to help break the tension of the story you’re telling that’s getting progressively darker, it’s a cute little mouse hiding under a leaf.
[00:44:52] CALLER: Well, I can’t find them, there’s too many– It’s okay, I know he’s here. But, yes. I lost my train of thought. But I think you get the gist.
[00:45:02] CHRIS: Yeah.
[00:45:02] CALLER: I only spoke to my boyfriend about it. I spoke to my dad a little bit. But, like I said, my dad is very loving and very great and he’s also incredibly selfish. So, it wasn’t that helpful.
[00:45:14] CHRIS: Now, what’s the timeframe? Like you meet– You said you lived in a dorm. So, are you randomly assigned to live with this person, or had you been friends prior and you’ve opted, ‘Oh, let’s get a room together’?
[00:45:26] CALLER: I’m sorry, Chris. You guys need to get back to work. You’re slacking. No, you’re slacking. Get back there. Bye.
[00:45:39] CHRIS: Okay, so now that your subordinates have been scolded, tell me more about this fingaly only who briefly controlled your life.
[00:45:48] CHRIS: Pause. Pause right there. Everybody, I made light of the dark situation. I’m gonna go ahead and say I nailed that. I nailed that. I’m gonna go ahead and say I nailed that. Let’s go and pause for advertisers, so I can pat myself on the back even more. Check these things out. There’s promo codes in there. Really helps the show if you use those promo codes. So, please, do listen and step up and do that if you’re so inclined. Be right back.
[00:46:14] [AD BREAK]
[00:47:21] CHRIS: Thanks again to all of our advertisers. Now let’s finish off this phone call.
[00:47:26] CHRIS: Okay, so now that your subordinates have been scolded, tell me more about this fingali who briefly controlled your life.
[00:47:35] CALLER: I’m an excellent boss in case you’re wondering. I’m fantastic.
[00:47:38] CHRIS: It sounds like you’re pretty chill. So, was it a randomly assigned person? Dorm room? Did you know them prior and you said, ‘Well we should live together’?
[00:47:49] CALLER: Well, I met them my freshman year of college and I had a different roommate situation set up for the following year. And then she told me way too late that she was dropping out. So, this other person swooped right in. She was like, ‘[beep], I’ll move for you, you’ve gone through a hard time and I understand that I can be there for you to live together. It’ll be great.’ Badabing badaboom.
[00:48:18] CHRIS: Yeah.
[00:48:19] CALLER: And then we lived together.
[00:48:21] CHRIS: So even hearing that, it sounds like maybe from the start, she sensed that you were someone who could be manipulated a little bit.
[00:48:29] CALLER: Yeah, I didn’t know it.
[00:48:30] CHRIS: Of course, but hindsight’s 20-20, my friend, and so–
[00:48:35] CALLER: Ou yeah.
[00:48:36] CHRIS: And, so what was it? A one semester or full year that you were kind of living with this?
[00:48:41] CALLER: I live with her– Well, do you mean before or after everything went down?
[00:48:46] CHRIS: I’m just trying to get a sense of like, how many weeks or months is it that you’re falling under this spell, before it builds to this night where there’s violence, and someone trying to jump out of a window, and people threatening with knives? Like, how– I’m just trying to get a sense of the timeline of how long this went on for.
[00:49:07] CALLER: Well, so I’ll just give you the whole timeline. I lived with her for a full year and then we moved into the next year. The first full year, I noticed that something was weird about living together, like– Talking about this makes it funny that I should have just figured it out. She rifled through my underwear drawer a few different times and got mad at me that year, that I hadn’t told her I was going underwear shopping and she noticed I had new underwear. So that’s a totally normal thing to do. And then I lived with her for another year. I was like, ‘Yes, sure, next year sounds great.’ And then it was about halfway through that school year where everything happened. But before that, it was just, ‘Well, she’s hurting. She’s weird, but she’s hurting so I’ll just keep being there for her.’
[00:50:04] CHRIS: It’s amazing to hear this and to hear– Again, I thank you for being so articulate about it, because in the moment– It’s one of those things, even just that moment you just described it so subtly terrifying to realize.
[00:50:14] CALLER: And dark.
[00:50:15] CHRIS: Well, yeah. Even to hear, like, well, she’s someone who came to you and said, ‘You know, you’re going through a tough time and you can lean on me.’ And then you’re in the room with her and she’s going like, ‘And I need to lean on you as well.’ And clearly, you can piece together all these things you’re mentioning. So now you’re in this relationship, it feels like, ‘Well, we can only lean on each other and we both have these depths of pain.’ And then all of a sudden, it’s like– And then she goes through your underwear drawer and says, ‘How could you go underwear shopping without me? Which is in the moment, I’m sure, such a– Sounds like such a– Like, you can tell from hindsight, like, ‘Oh, that was such a test.’ That was such a test of her figuring out how many of the average boundaries, that people would draw lines in the sand about, can she– How far can she sort of like loosen up the elasticity of your boundaries with these moves, that are kind of pointed, but bizarre, and it’s not really a thing that has an effect, but it’s a violation of privacy on some level. ‘Can I get away with it and make you feel guilty about it, like you shouldn’t have done that? Even though I’m violating your privacy.’ You start to see, in what you’re describing in hindsight, all these control maneuvers, that you must not have realized were happening then.
[00:51:33] CALLER: You know what’s funny, is you saying that I was just like, ‘Oh, I guess it could have been that.’
[00:51:38] CHRIS: Well, you tell me I’m sad, and I tell you that you were under someone’s control. Looks like we both can sense things about the other.
[00:51:45] CALLER: We got each other’s back here.
[00:51:47] CHRIS: Yeah, a couple of years too late, I’m so sorry to say, but I’m happy to be here for you now.
[00:51:53] CALLER: Well, thank you. Well, thank you. But you know what? I– Life sucked for a while, but I’m, like I said, life is good now. I am a boss. Which does not sound very serious when I say that out loud. I’m in a very, very balanced and beautiful relationship that has amazing communication. And for the first time in my life, that I’ve ever felt like I can stand up for myself and say, ‘No, you’re wrong. What you’re doing is wrong.’
[00:52:25] CHRIS: Good.
[00:52:25] CALLER: Now, there are not many things that are, like, actually properly wrong very often. But yeah, I’m empowered and it’s a good life. It’s just taking a while to get there.
[00:52:38] CHRIS: Yeah. Yeah. It’s funny– I– You know what? You know what I find to be one of the hard things about this, too? So, it sounds like you spent about a year and a half with this person, and it becoming almost like, what would you say, like obsessive or addictive relationship, that you get sucked into. And then, when you’re on the other side of it, it must feel like, ‘Man, well, that was my whole thing and everybody else’s lives are moving on. And what’s my foundation now? Because that was it.’ That’s how you get sucked into stuff.
[00:53:19] CALLER: Ou yeah. I– She– Between her and– Like I said, my boyfriend at the time was there for me. He was really loving, but he also didn’t socialize. You know, he has a lot of his own mental health problems that he’s seeking help for. He’s not manipulative, he just is very crippled by it. And I really hope that he– I really hope he’s finding some happiness in life. But between him and never wanting to go out but wanting to spend every day with me and her, who would get angry when I had other friends, I really only had the two of them. I was in an acapella group and we were all very, very close and all that jazz. But they still had no idea what was going on because I didn’t feel like I could or should talk about it.
[00:54:13] CHRIS: And let me make a guess. Was your roommate trying to convince you to quit the acapella group?
[00:54:20] CALLER: No, she never did that actually. And she was very supportive. She went to all the shows. She acted like a number one fan.
[00:54:26] CHRIS: She’s a fan of acapella. Who knew? A fan of acapella. I didn’t expect that from this person’s description.
[00:54:34] CALLER: But no, I was also– For the last two years of school, I was copresident of the group here, so she wouldn’t have been able to convince me anyways. I had too much take in it.
[00:54:45] CHRIS: Do you feel like-
[00:54:45] CALLER: Although, she convinced me of some other weird shit. So maybe. I don’t know.
[00:54:49] CHRIS: Like what? What kind of weird shit? What are we talking?
[00:54:52] CALLER: I don’t know. Her being able to read my mind. Nothing you haven’t heard, Chris. Come on, you’ve lived it now.
[00:55:02] CHRIS: Some dark stuff. Some dark stuff. I’m glad you’re on the other side of it. But it must give you perspective, when you hear stories– Do you hear stories of people who fall into situations, where you’re like, ‘How did you go there and do that and believe that?’ And then you’re like, ‘Oh, no. Well.’ I’m sure you’ll never read a story about, like some charismatic cult leader the same ever again because it’s so easy to read that and roll your eyes and go, you know. You read about something where you go, ‘How could someone fall for that?’ And you’re like, ‘Back in college, I kind of felt for something like that.’
[00:55:46] CALLER: Yes, it’s– Yeah. I don’t subject myself to reading things like that cause I don’t really imagine it would go down too well mentally, but it– Yes. It’s very understandable. There’s– I found one coworker recently. She’s going through a very, very dangerous divorce. And she opened up to me very randomly one day and told me that her husband had threatened to kill her and her son. And, you know, I very briefly told her about this roommate, and I told her that she had convinced me to– She had convinced me that she could read my mind. And she was the first person that ever heard that. And was like, ‘Yeah, I know, my husband, Connor, kind of got there with me too.’ And that was like three weeks before I agreed to do EMDR. So, it’s actually more like– I feel more equipped to listen to people talk about their lives, and I just feel like I’m more equipped to be empathetic. And I’ve always been an empathetic person, but it just makes it easier to hear people’s stories and understand that, like even if there’s not that much rationale to it, it might have really fucked them up in ways that you don’t know until you’ve lived it.
[00:57:18] CHRIS: Yeah. Yeah.
[00:57:21] CALLER: Yeah.
[00:57:22] CHRIS: And I’m glad you’re on the other side of it. Now you’re just a person. You got a good job. Yelling at your employees out in the woods, just like every day, every day average stuff is lurking in the woods, ambushing your coworkers.
[00:57:40] CALLER: They just wanted caffeine and I’m here to ruin their day.
[00:57:43] CHRIS: Yeah, you’re crouched behind a tree like, ‘Get back to work.’
[00:57:47] CALLER: It’s funny you say that cause I literally just crouched, like rubbing a stick in the sand, trying to write like my name or something, mindlessly. So, you know, that’s funny. No, it’s funny, cause I– Here I am. I’ve ended up in this job where– How can I talk about it? I run a photo department where people sent us their photos and, to keep it vague, we do things with the photos. We organize them. We do a lot of archiving, all that jazz. Which means, that I’m looking through people’s personal photos all day, every day. So, I don’t really know that I’ve ended up with a normal job, but I’ve ended up with one I love.
[00:58:35] CHRIS: That’s good. That’s good. I mean, I can offer no opinions based on that. That completely secured a description of a job, that makes me feel like I know less about it, than when I knew no information at all. But I’m glad you’re happy with it.
[00:58:53] CALLER: No, it’s just one of the things I– One of the departments that I head is, we don’t know of any other business that does it. So, it would be very simple for people to find-
[00:59:05] CHRIS: Let’s not do that. Now, question for you. You’ve used a specific type of therapy to kind of conquer the trauma, that came along with a bad experience. You mentioned that you have a coworker, who is in a domestic situation, that had some reflections of what you went through. You leaned on each other. There’s probably– This is the type of thing that, you know, you don’t see too many like– Like I was saying, you hear PTSD and there’s archetypal things, and then yours is so specific and so unique, that you can think of sort of like, you know, single white female as like the only pop culture representation that– There’s probably other things out there. I don’t even know if that’s a close one. But there’s a– Point being, I’m rambling. There’s probably people out there listening right now, who are in some relationships that are unhealthy. Who are listening to you and realizing, ‘Oh, I’m kind of being manipulated,’ or, ‘I’m kind of being controlled,’ or there might be someone listening right now who goes, ‘I’m living in a house with someone, who tells me that they can talk to ghosts,’ and I bet it’s doing some good. I bet it’s doing some good for some people too, go, ‘Oh, wait, I maybe have had a sneaking suspicion, that I’m in too deep on a relationship that’s really intense.’ I bet, you might be helping some people, maybe take a step back, see that they can get to the other side.
[01:00:41] CALLER: I mean, I certainly hope so because it’s not the kind of thing, where you reach out while it’s happening. If it’s anything like it, you know, if you’re manipulated enough to think that this is the norm and that this person is someone to be a little bit afraid of it’s, you know– You’re not gonna reach out and put yourself in what you see to be danger. But also, this is funny, it’s weird dichotomy, I feel like, I hope that it helps people to listen to because I don’t want this to be a completely selfish effort on my part of like, ‘Let me go talk about my problems.’ But also, it feels selfish for me to think, ‘Gosh, I hope I’ve made an impact on somebody’s life.’
[01:01:32] CHRIS: But it’s fu-
[01:01:32] CALLER: Now you can see where my problems lie.
[01:01:34] CHRIS: Well, it’s– Well, it’s judgment free. The examples you’ve brought up are such an extreme, that I can’t imagine there’s too many people in the world who are like, ‘Oh, yeah. My college roommate convinced me that they could talk to ghosts and read my mind, and kept me in a bubble, where I wasn’t allowed to have any friends outside of my acapella group, and then eventually it led to a 48 to 72 hour stretch of complete terror, where I thought I might die, or I might witness someone else die.’ Like that’s a wildly specific thing. But I, as you’ve talked about it, I remember a friendship I had in college that I look back on. It was with a young lady, who I had fallen for. And it was an extraordinarily unhealthy thing, where I look back and realize, ‘Oh, there were some elements of control there,’ of her telling me, ‘Oh, I don’t want to be with you,’ but she’d find out I made out with someone else and go, ‘Well, now I know you’re not the type of person I could ever be with,’ and me going, ‘Well, and I shouldn’t ever make out with anyone else.’ Realizing I was being controlled. I was being controlled. And there’s certainly a range of it. But wow, I don’t even– I’ve rarely found myself speechless on this show and trying to process the situation you landed in, is one of the few.
[01:02:55] CALLER: I have to admit that one of my– Whenever I listen to the podcast and you say, ‘What are you talking about?’ Every time, I’m like, ‘God, I wanna get Chris to say that.’
[01:03:06] CHRIS: You did before. Right out of the gate.
[01:03:08] CALLER: I did.
[01:03:10] CHRIS: I didn’t complete it. I went, ‘What do you even– Huh–‘
[01:03:18] CALLER: But notice, that brought me a little bit of joy in talking about this wildly fucked up experience.
[01:03:23] CHRIS: So, you’ve listened to this show and the many dark twists and turns it has taken over the years, and you’ve just kind of sat there going, ’I’m gonna get through some day and I got that piece.’ You’ve had that thought.
[01:03:37] CALLER: No, I’ve never thought I had that. I’m, you know, I’ve always thought like, ‘Oh, shit, why does somebody else had to go through that? That’s horrible.’ But the desire to feel validated by you saying, ‘What are you talking about?’ is definitely– It’s definitely up there.
[01:03:54] CHRIS: Well, I did. I got– I said it right early. I went, ‘What do you even–‘ And I also took off my glasses at one point and placed them down. So, you’ve hit the– You’ve checked every box of me being flummoxed and not knowing what to say.
[01:04:10] CALLER: That is that is a tribute. Thank you.
[01:04:14] CHRIS: Now, being that you’ve been in a situation before, where someone was able to kind of, I don’t know, is it too extreme to say like they kind of– Someone was able to sort of put you under their thumb as far as being able to dictate your life. What safeguards have you built in, so moving forward you won’t fall into that trap again.
[01:04:43] CALLER: Well, that’s the kind of shitty part of it, where even if I don’t feel that trauma to the same extent, I still have had to make certain moves in my life that eliminate the possibility of that happening. Like I have someone, who is still considered to be one of my best friends. I recently cut her out. Listen, it’s funny, I feel like I’m getting more emotional talking about this. But, she– I’m concerned because she listens to the show. But, it’s just– There are people, who bring it up from me again. And sometimes it’s just their personality or the way that they feel emotions are so intense, that it mirrors that I experience, so it’s– I’ve had a few people in my life, that I’ve had to just cut out and not give proper reasoning to, because how am I supposed to say, ‘It’s you as a person.’ Because it’s not actually them. And it’s not that they’re bad people. It’s just that I can’t hold my chin up around them because they remind me too much.
[01:05:50] CHRIS: Yeah.
[01:05:51] CALLER: And then there’s other people, who I can tell are trying to manipulate me because unfortunately, there are still not great people out in the world. And I just remind myself in that moment that they can’t. I will see right through things now. I’ve learned enough to see right through it, which means I’m not as trusting of a person as I used to be, but I think I can accept that now.
[01:06:17] CHRIS: Do you feel like you have to be real careful signing up for any sort of like, fad diet, or like if you signed up for that Gwyneth Paltrow goop stuff. That could get real dark real fast, huh. All of a sudden, you’re just covered in algae and you’ve got to smooth over stone up your hoohaa. And Gwyneth Paltrow is– None of it’s medically cleared. And that’s a whole dark thing, huh?
[01:06:44] CALLER: I did not know you were about to go there. That’s really funny.
[01:06:46] CHRIS: There’s some truth to it.
[01:06:47] CALLER: Oh, that’s right, Chris. You’re a comedian.
[01:06:51] CHRIS: On my– That’s even– I’m not sure anymore if that’s still-
[01:06:55] CALLER: Oh, you are. You are. You made us laugh at your show. You’re a comedian. That show is actually a comedy.
[01:07:01] CHRIS: Yeah. You know, I tell myself I’m a comedian. And then every once in a while, I wind up on the phone with someone who’s lived through a horror I can’t imagine. And I go, ‘Am I? Is that my job anymore?’ But then I also, on my best days, I will say-
[01:07:14] CALLER: Things you say are funny, though.
[01:07:15] CHRIS: Well, all self-deprecation aside, I’ll say, there’s a lot of people who make jokes. There’s not a lot of– There’s not a lot of people who provide a forum for people like you to spread their story to the world in a way, that might help others and hopefully help you. So, I also got to realize who gives a shit if I’m not a comedian anymore. Maybe there’s something beyond that, that I’ve stumbled into and I have to show some confidence in that.
[01:07:40] CALLER: Fuck yeah, Chris. Has some confidence.
[01:07:45] CHRIS: Doing my best. And you know what else is weird? I’ve also, through my comedy, through this show and the Chris Gethard show, some people have told me– I had to actively step back and realize, ‘Oh, I could be a cult leader.’ I’ve had that joke said about me and I’ve had to go, ‘No, that’s not what I want. I don’t want that.’ There’s been times, where I’ve trended in that direction. Where people have come to me is like, ‘Oh, you’re the one who gets me because you’re the guy who listens.’ No, I’m also a guy who has mental breakdowns, when I can’t go see Avengers: Endgame. So, let me just be responsible about this. Be clear about who you’re dealing with.
[01:08:20] CALLER: Well, as someone who has not at all been in a cult, but who has felt someone have an extreme amount of power for seemingly no reason, you’re not that. You don’t need to worry about that.
[01:08:37] CHRIS: I could have been. I’m glad I stepped back. Hey, we’ve only got a little while left. I want to thank you for this call cause this, I’m gonna go ahead and say, this one threw me for some loops. It’s been a couple years. I thought that my skin was thicken from this show. This one through me for some loops. I thank you for being open about it and I wish that we could talk for two or three hours because I feel like I’ve only still heard the tip of the iceberg. And most of all, I’m happy to hear that you’re feeling okay and like you’re on the other side of it and that you’ve got some strategies in place to keep yourself feeling safe. And thank you, because this is one that at the end of it, I can just go, ‘Wow, I can’t believe what I just heard.’
[01:09:25] CALLER: I guess you’re knocking off all of the checklist of like, impress Chris. Get him to say what’s going on. Nailed it.
[01:09:34] CHRIS: Audible glasses throw.
[01:09:37] CALLER: I didn’t hear it, but I am outside and there’s wind. So maybe, maybe that’s why.
[01:09:41] CHRIS: It happened. It happened. But I’m really so glad that you’re out of that situation and that you’re okay. And that it didn’t build to something even darker and that you have been able to unwrap it all and hopefully just keep moving on and moving forward, so sincerely.
[01:09:58] CALLER: Yeah, well, I mean, the main thing is love, right? I love so many people around me and I know enough who love me, that I couldn’t break their hearts by letting myself break. And that’s what gotta keep everybody going. Just finding that anchor, that reason to keep going.
[01:10:16] CHRIS: What a beautiful sentiment to end on.
[01:10:21] CALLER: How many seconds do we have?
[01:10:22] CHRIS: Oh, it’s– We’re well past 60 minutes.
[01:10:25] CALLER: Oh, no.
[01:10:26] CHRIS: Jared has the– He’s hovering over the– [ring] Wow. What a ice cold, drop call, Jared. ‘How much time do we have left?’ ‘Oh, we’re past it.’ ‘Oh.’ Click.
[01:10:41] CHRIS: Caller, thank you for sharing your story. Like I said, we could talk for two or three hours to hear about all the different things that happened, and levels that went to, and how it got there, and how you got out of it. And I’m so sorry we didn’t have more time. But I also feel good that, you know, we did find time to joke around and touch base. And you yelled at your employees and we saw the mouse. And you asked me how I was doing because it’s just yet another reminder with this show, that you had this massive thing to talk about, but it’s not the sum total of who you are. And what a beautiful thing to realize and, I think, underline at the end. Thank you for the call. Thank you to Jared O’Connell, Harry Nelson in the booth. Thank you to Justin Linville. Thank you to Shellshag for the music. You wanna know about me, I got some road dates coming up in the next couple months and probably some live tape is coming too. Chrisgeth.com is where those all get announced. You wanna help the show, go to Apple Podcast, rate, review, subscribe. Really, really helps, when we do. Thanks so much for listening. And I’ll talk to you next time.
[NEXT EPISODE PREVIEW]
[01:11:54] CHRIS: Next time on Beautiful Anonymous, our caller has three kids, another on the way, one’s in the hospital. So much to deal with and yet he still finds time to call us.
[01:12:04] CHRIS: Can I– Can I ask?
[01:12:05] CALLER’S KID: Uaaaagh!
[01:12:07] CHRIS: That’s awesome. I love that we have kids screaming in the background. I love it. It’s good slice of life audio right there.
[01:12:13] CALLER: They’re fighting a little bit right now.
[01:12:15] CHRIS: Well, if you ever need to go– If you ever need to go step in, please don’t let this phone call be the thing that allows your children to just brawl unimpeded.
[01:12:24] CALLER: I’m– Be nice to your brother. Yeah. He’s going to be the only boy. He’s two and they fight like crazy – he and my 4-year-old.
[01:12:38] CHRIS: Yeah.
[01:12:40] CHRIS: That’s next time on Beautiful Anonymous.