Of belief and disbelief…

Way back in September last year… I posted a video on my Facebook account where I played a song on my piano which I dedicated to my mother’s memory… Sometimes I share my videos in a few groups that I’m a member of and that is what I did this time… I know this particular song is of very high sentimental… as well as emotional value to a lot of people… and yes… I agree that it is indeed a beautiful piece of music…

Yet… I wasn’t sure if I should share it or not… or even whether I should post it at all… It wasn’t about if I thought people wouldn’t like it or not… or anything of that sort… It was way more personal than that… and more for my own mental safety and the effect it might have on my own emotional well being which was…and still is… at a quite vulnerable state these days.

But of course I didn’t listen to my own feelings so I ended up sharing it… knowing very well that it would stir up some unfavorable thoughts in my mind… Of course I would rather have that than missing a chance to prevent even a one soul out there from feeling at peace through my music…

The song was Amazing Grace

A couple of days after posting that song… maybe even the day after… I sat down and attempted to write about why …or at least… how this …and almost anything connected to god or Christianity affects me… but …maybe due to my own spontaneous …or even… involuntary reactions I hit a wrong button on my computer and all was lost…

I want to give it another try…

I want to give it another try because lately I keep finding myself having to explain as for some reason people won’t stop to a simple no… or to the extreme… send me messages attempting to explain how wrong I am for “denying their god” …or the classic… “You are going to hell” remark… I hope most of you get the picture…

I do have my reasons for having to avoid this subject… reasons that I cannot yet fully write or share without jeopardizing my mental stability… or without pushing myself off the edge of an already weak mental state…

When I tell someone… especially if that someone has strong religious believes him/herself that you don’t believe in God or that you have different opinions about the Bible …they often automatically assume you are somehow a bad person… or they will try to ‘save’ you …even attempt to scare you into believing in their version of god…

…so here I am again… attempting to write about the very one thing that will usually bring up unwanted emotions… a strong collection of emotions where my brain runs off into the darkest corners of my childhood memories… Where I can hear the voice of my mother talking to her god… and where I can physically feel the pain on my 51 year old body… the same pain I felt as a child …while being tortured…

People who truly know me… family mostly… know that I try to avoid the subject of religion and anything that has to do with believing in god… or a higher power… They are also the people that respect my opinions on the subject and if… on that rare occasion… it comes up in a conversation or in life …like a christening or even a church wedding… or something of that sort… I am able to ask to be excused if I feel so… and they also know that a funeral isn’t in the picture either…

Holidays like Christmas or Easter is a mental struggle as well but my wife and close family has helped me by making new traditions and turning these holidays into non religious family time…

They know that everything I have ever accomplished or survived through was done with my sheer determination of getting through it… I won’t say this determination has always led to the best results in every situation… but …it is what it is… and it is indeed what has kept me alive… multiple times in my lifetime… and so far it is what works for me…

With that said… I do have my own personal spiritual beliefs… but without a god or a higher power… or a power that is higher or more powerful than exists in me… In many cases I don’t feel a need to find a solution to everything… I don’t really feel the need to wonder about where I will be going after this life… I don’t need to know why I have had to go through all of what I have been through… and I don’t need to know why my mother and my children had to die in that fire 24 years ago…

I try to use the phrase “I want to believe…” rather than “I believe…”

Yes I do want to believe my children are together… I want to believe that “souls” are connected… not just through this life but in other unknown dimensions as well… I want to believe I have known my wife for a very long time… much longer than those almost 32 years we’ve known each other in this lifetime… And I know we will continue to know each other when we leave here… That is one thing that makes me feel at peace… It helps me to accept the fact that neither of us will live forever… I don’t fear my own death… never have… but I do fear the death of my wife… any of my children… or anyone close to me… or … maybe in a selfish way… I fear my potential reactions… if any one of them should go before I do…

…and yes I want to believe that my loved ones are somewhere where I can join them one day… and sometimes I do truly believe that… but it’s not “heaven” or anything in that sense… However those kind of thoughts are not something that I want to spend hours wondering about as I know there is no real physical evidence of that anyway… There is no solid proof… and maybe the only way for me to find out is to kick the bucket and check it out… and that’s not on my list of plans …for now at least…

When I think about it this is what has helped me with the hallucinations… the need to be able to have a solid proof for everything… I know very well there are things in life you cannot find an explanation for… and that’s where most people turn to religion… Where knowledge ends religion takes over… but for me… I don’t know… It feels like a waste of time to try to figure out an explanation of everything… I don’t know why I had to go through my childhood the way I did… I don’t know why my children had to die…

Yes sure… in the past I have spent time trying to find a “reason”… and used the most obvious one to me at the time… it being what I was taught as a child… that it was because I was evil and I wasn’t in enough physical pain to control it…

Many people jump to the conclusion that my disbelief was brought on by the death of my children… In a way that’s understandable as it’s not uncommon for those who believe in god question their faith when a child dies…

But in my case it’s not really about my children dying… but it goes much further than that… most…if not all of it to my childhood… While I know now that my mother was wrong in what she believed about me… Some things are just not that easy to shake…

There is a lot that I have accomplished through therapy over the years… I have learned ways to deal with my mind… How to keep my “inner demons” from destroying me… Some I’ve managed to get rid of for good… but some I have locked in a cage inside of me… Sometimes they can break the lock so to speak and poison my thoughts…

I know I can’t fully explain how this… religion or god… affects me… I don’t think I can fully understand it myself… but if I did… I’m sure I probably wouldn’t be struggling with it the way I do sometimes…

Although I know people mean well when they tell me they are praying for me… I sometimes struggle with the very thought of it… Sometimes I struggle with a simple word someone puts down as a comment on my writing… or a comment on a status on my Facebook page… I can just ignore it on a good day…or at least my trigger threshold is higher…

Some days I have to stay away from those while I get myself to calm down from my out of control short circuiting brain… but I know I cannot hide inside a bubble to avoid this to ‘get to me’… and I don’t expect people to give up what they believe in… for me however… I find myself scroll away from that kind of posts… even with the smallest reference…

Yes… It’s a childhood/abuse thing … has to do with my mother… things she said… and did… to me… It triggers …not just memories… but more like feeling or emotions… something that I can not control… It triggers fear to a point of an anxiety attack… even visions of being a child again… being tortured by her… and when the vision is gone… a very strong need for me to hurt myself…

I grew up with both parents believing in god and reading from the bible… and making me reading from the bible… I had an ugly childhood… and yes… their religion… or their fear of their god… especially my mother’s was a large part of that ugliness… and while she physically tortured me …in the name of her god… quoting the bible…

The very simple explanation is… evil versus good… and her words… evil must suffer so it can be controlled…

…but of course there is a LOT more to it than that… yeah PTSD… and probably a bit of brainwashing too… and maybe a fear of a higher power ruling me… controlling me… I don’t want a higher power or something more powerful than the power I have in me…

She believed I was evil…she made me believe I was evil… Son of Satan… She prayed…she said God told her to torture me… to control my “evil mind”… Yes I know this was her mental illness… maybe even a part of my own mental illness…

Almost every day of my life until 10 years ago I wanted to die… and that feeling grew worse and worse… Although I did believe my mother about the ‘curse’ and that it would only go to someone else if I’d died… I didn’t care about that anymore… I wanted it to end for me… I struggled with the thought of it for almost two years though… of course I’d had thoughts like that before… even made a few “spur of the moment” attempts… This was different… and needed a careful planning… But when it was “too late”… I changed my mind… I only needed one second… or a part of a second to change my mind… Of wanting to live… and to be able to see my children grow up and have children of their own… and that split second… Just before passing out… the will to live took over…

I don‘t know if any of you are familiar with the word „trigger“ or „flashback“… but I sure am… And religion, especially when it is directed at me directly it is a trigger for me… as I mentioned earlier… I can actually physically feel and hear my mother torturing me…

I have my reasons for not wanting or needing a god… I hate the fact that people cannot seem to accept that… I can accept that other people believe… but please… when I specifically ask for no „prayers“ it’s NOT because I hate your religion or anything of that sort… and if you for any reason feel offended by the fact that I dare to say that out loud to protect my own well being… then I’d rather you’d just keep it to yourself and stay out of my way…

I know this is long… I know I’m going in circles… If you have read through the whole thing… If you read through this and I have in some way offended you… then by all mean feel free to silently walk away… Either way… I appreciate you taking the time…

Bits and pieces…

twins

The small treasures… the memories…

Memories that give you goosebumps …make you smile…

Memories of laughter… a child voice… children playing while you work…

You remember the words they used… and you smile…

You remember Kim’s interest in learning how to play the piano… you remember her sitting on your lap at the piano asking you to play something… of her saying…

“I want to know what it feels like”

…and you remember Meg dancing around in her tutu… pretending to be a ballerina…

You close your eyes… as you play… and you can hear them… hear their little voices… hear their laughter … or their bickering over a barbie doll and what dress she should wear… You hear them solve the argument as one of them suggests the blue fairy princess dress…

“Play the tummy tickle song daddy!” one of them says…
…and they laugh… and they dance… and they laugh…

“Play something beautiful!”

…and they dance… and they smile… and they dance… like two little butterflies…

You smile… They are yours forever… and you feel you are the luckiest dad in the world…

Forever 5 years old…
Happy 29th Birthday Kim and Meg.
I love you always <3

Love Struck

He wasn’t supposed to fall in love… forbidden… she told him… She said he was “incapable of love” and that he was only thinking he was in love when in fact it was just lust…

“Remember the evil in you…” she said…

“You make them fall in love with you and then… bahmm! Something bad happens… They will get sick… or someone they love would get sick or injured… Something terrible would happen…”

That’s what she said… and he was afraid not to believe her… Too many signs of her being right… The shadows… would remind him as well…

——–

It wasn’t until my last year at school I started to give in to the girls… or not until Chris became my roommate… Girls seemed to like him and he like them… Both of us played around those first four months of the school year… We partied every weekend…. we got drunk… showed off our music abilities and the girls where there…

My mother’s words were constantly playing in my head… so I broke a few hearts… possibly talked about as the boy who only wanted them for the sex…. not their love or to give them my love…

I believed I was incapable of love… and in a way I didn’t understand what it meant…

——–

Final concert of the semester… Friday November 30th 1984… Last year’s students… Two hour program… I was playing Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata… all three movements…

I hadn’t seen Chris all day… He had told me he was coming but he wasn’t there yet… but he was late… The show had already started… It was almost time for me to walk on the stage… I noticed Chris walk in… with a girl… the most beautiful creature I had ever seen…

Did Chris get himself a girlfriend without me knowing about it? I thought to myself… Somehow that thought changed… It could have been someone saying it out loud… but I knew this was one of his sisters …not his girlfriend.

For a moment the time stood still… Like in slow motion she ran her hand through her hair… said something to her brother… walking slowly… gracefully… It was that moment… like… she put a spell on me… an arrow through the heart…

Someone said something behind me… For some reason I just couldn’t take his eyes of her… Nothing else mattered… It was just me and her… It felt like in a dream… the one you don’t want to wake up from…

Again… someone said something… and I felt someone laying a hand on my shoulder… “You are on the stage! NOW!”

——–

Throughout the performance I glance my eyes to her direction… I can’t see her though… but I know she is there… I make an effort to speak to her through the piano… and put my every emotion I humanly can into the music…

Once done… I stand up… The guests seem happy… I try to look but there are too many people… I can’t see her…

“Didn’t Chris say he was going to meet me after my performance?” I think to myself… “I’m sure he said so… He better take her with him…”

——–

Then I remembered… “You cannot fall in love”

——–

I didn’t meet her that night… didn’t talk to her… I left before the concert was over… had a few drinks and eventually passed out…

Next morning… or afternoon… when I woke up… Chris was there… reminding me of our party in the evening… people to call to see if the room was ready… and things to prepare… Somehow I managed to ask if he had invited his sister… but knowing she was going to come made me nervous…

We had rented a little party room or a bar for the party…. not the first time…. but we arrived there early to take care of a few things… Everything was ready though…. so Chris said he was going to go and get his sister… but I’d wait for the guests in case he would be late… I know it was way too early to start drinking but I was nervous. People were starting to arrive…. but Chris wasn’t there yet…. When they finally showed up I’d had too much to drink and I’d fallen asleep. Somehow I must have gotten home and when I woke up the next day with a splitting headache and feeling ashamed…

——–

I didn’t know how to stop myself from thinking about her…

I tried to fall out of love… I tried to forget about her… but I couldn’t…

It didn’t help that almost three weeks later it was Chris’s birthday party… I got drunk… yes… but not too drunk… and she got a little drunk…. but we talked …and more 😉

31 years later …I am still in love… Yes we’ve had our tough moments… yes… I’ve almost lost her a few times… but each time my love for her grows even more…

I know I am not always the easiest person to live with… I know I have done things that have made her sad… even angry at me… but she has never given up on me… even when I gave up on myself…

She is the reason I am here… She is my strength… She is my best friend… my partner in life and the mother of my children …and with her I can do anything…

He can feel the tears in his eyes as he walks to her and silently put his arms around her…
– What’s wrong? she asks as she wraps her arms around him…
– Nothing’s wrong.
– Then what is it? she asks again and he can sense she’s worried…
– Nothing’s wrong… he replies… I just remembered something…
– What is it?
– I just remembered how much I love you… and I realized how horrible I’ve been to you…
*tears*
– Can you forgive me? he asks through the tears… Can you forgive me for everything that I have put you through? …and please don’t say it was never my fault… I just need to hear you say that you can forgive me…
– Yes of course I can my love… I have already forgiven you… I love you…
…and for a while they just stand there in silence in the middle of the kitchen in each other’s arms and cry together…

NOTE: A part of this is a draft and/or bits and pieces from older writings… so I know this is all over the place… and I know there are parts missing…and at least… for those who haven’t read much on my blog or don’t know my “story”… this may not make much sense at all… but right now it’s the best I can do…

Day 45 (Week 8) EC Surgery

I know not everyone who reads this have a Facebook account and/or have me as their Facebook friend… and since I’m getting messages/emails from people asking me how I’m doing I feel I should put an update on here… but I’m sorry for the lack of posting on here…

I will be going back to the center next Monday…. and Sunna will get back to work as well… This is where I get my therapy… speech therapy…. chance to socialize with other people and various activities… They have arranged for me to be able to have my naps and meals as well…. so that’s all good…

Each day comes and goes… Some days are bad …either physically or mentally… or both… and days some good. My energy level is still very low… and I fear my depression is kicking in because of it… and maybe because of me just staying home… even though I try to go outside for a walk everyday… sometimes more… but I spend a lot of time either in my bed resting… or sleeping…. or playing my piano…. but that one is somewhat a struggle however as I’ve been having some pain issues in my right side from the surgery… As long as I don’t do anything that requires much movement I’m OK(-ish)….

Eating is also still a struggle for me…. both mentally and physically… I’ve already talked about that in a previous post… I still have my j-tube and not getting rid of it anytime soon… but I feel I need to do this… this eating part… in the hopes it will become easier someday….

As it is now my mealtimes are six… sometimes seven… throughout the day… Each meal consists of very small amount each time and everything I eat is run through a mixer…. I’m still working on bigger chunks though… even though bigger chunks for me… means very small pieces…

I’m not drinking thin liquids… like water…. for now… as it normally wants to go the wrong way down… I don’t know if anyone remembers… but before my very recent esophageal problems and then cancer diagnosis I was supposed to have a surgery that would help me with food/liquids going down the wrong pipe…. Originally that was the plan for this month…. but things turned out differently so I’m still waiting for that one…

In spite of all these meals…and eating… which again… isn’t very much each time… I have no appetite at all…. I haven’t felt hungry for years and in fact I’m not sure if I can remember how it really feels like… but this is why eating by the clock is important for me…

One of the things that have bothered me the most is the fact that I don’t have much sense of taste at all now… and if I do sense taste… it’s not pleasant at all…. I don’t know if this is permanent or temporary though… I can’t say my sense of taste was good while I was still eating before the surgery… but this is frustrating… to say the least….

…but I am still standing…. still fighting myself or the universe…. and I will as long as I have to…

Day 9 – EC Surgery

My mood is total shit… I really need my “mood stabilizer”… my piano…

I do have a computer now so I should be able to write more easily… but my brain isn’t working very well at the moment… and I think that is also affecting my mood… It just takes me way too long to do everything and I feel like something is holding me down and I’m fighting to get loose… or like everything has gained extra 200 pounds… heavy… slow… slow-motion… are words that come to mind…

Tina is coming over for a visit later though… That will help I’m sure…

Happy Birthday

twins

For my girls… Kim and Meg… (04/15/87 – 08/16/1992)

Today it’s been 28 years since they were born… my beautiful little girls… They were always happy, laughing, singing and dancing was their favorite thing to do… Kim loved to sit by my side and watch me play the piano… she asked me to teach her… and she was a fast learner… Meg said she wanted to live on a farm, with animals… but like many little girls she also wanted to be a princess, living in a castle… “when she grows up” as she always said…. They were only 5 years old… forever 5… yet I wonder what they would be like today if they were still here…

In my mind I can see you dance….
like two little butterflies
smiling and laughing… happy
I smile at the thought
but yet I can’t stop the tears

Happy birthday little girls…. love you forever….

– this is not me playing… This is my son… and originally made as a school project… This is however a song composted my me… dedicated to Kim and Meg — and yes… I can see them dance…

Twenty years

There is something inside of me so I feel I must try to write in an attempt to get it out of there…

This day, January 17th 1995… or 20 years ago I did something that I have had to live with ever since… something that I have regretted and would do anything to take it back… to somehow be able to go back to the hours before it happened and change the chain of events that led to it…

This involves a car, alcohol and two people I loved. I was the one driving… I was drunk, Chris, my best friend and my sister Maria, where in the back seat… none of us wearing a seat belt…

I remember only bits and pieces…

Afternoon January 16th… Chris and Maria were looking for someone to drive them to a party… They said they weren’t going to stay there for long, maybe for one drink and then go back home as this was in the middle of the week and Chris had school the day after…
Chris asked me if I could do this for them… My father was there and said since I was fresh out of rehab it wouldn’t be such a good idea… I guess something in me snapped when he said that and even though I knew he was right I agreed to do this for Chris and Maria… I told my dad not to worry and asked him to trust me on this…

We arrived… I told Chris and Maria that I was just going to wait in the car and they went inside… a few minutes later…. someone came and invited me inside for a coffee. “Help yourself”, she said. Once I got in someone else offered me a drink… and without even hesitating just a little bit I accepted… and… I don’t know how many after that… however I made sure Chris and Maria didn’t see me drinking. They were also quite drunk that night so when it was time to go back home they didn’t notice… It was a few minutes after midnight when we left the party….
As we walked to the car a thought crossed my mind… I remember thinking that we would most likely not make it home in one piece…

I don’t remember the exact moment of the crash… maybe a little while the car was still rolling… I remember looking for Maria and Chris as they weren’t in the backseat… lots of glass… I managed to get out… panic… I saw Chris… he was under the car… I felt sick… and remember thinking he must be dead… Then someone came and said something… and the next thing I remember is waking up in the hospital…

My father was in the room when I woke up… I wasn’t sure at first if what had happened was a dream or not so I asked him. He told me I should “pray for Chris and Maria to live” and then he walked out…

I only had a bump on my head, a few minor cuts and bruises… I was discharged from the hospital around noon…

Chris left the hospital many months later stuck in a wheel chair for the rest of his live. We never really got Maria back…. She lived for 4 years…. unable to take care of herself…. She suffered a severe head injury in the crash that left her with brain damaged. She was unable to control her body and needed 24 hours of care. She died because of me March 20th 1999 at age 31. Chris died two years later.

It’s been a long time since this happened… 20 years… this day always brings out the memories… the fear at the time of the crash… shame and guilt… self-hatred…. anxiety… and fear… and words from my childhood… which make those feelings multiply in size… the shame… self-hatred…

It’s been both ways today… up and down… I had some problems sleeping last night… had my meds like usual and went to bed… I don’t have to take those every night… but they help me relax and that usually means I can sleep through the night without feeling like a zombie when I wake up… Last night I did fall asleep soon after I got in… But woke up again… I don’t know what woke me but I felt afraid… panic almost… it took me some time to calm myself down… I know that when something like this happens I’m supposed to wake Sunna up… I didn’t want to at first… as I had other thoughts… preventing me from “doing the right thing”…

Morning was ok… we went to Sunna’s parents… and we stayed there for a couple hours going through old photos…. Then we got back home… and did stuff around the house… talked to friends in far countries… and Emma… played my piano… pretty much a ‘normal’ lazy Saturday…
And for the last two hours or so I’ve just been writing my way out of this day…

This is something that I have been playing a lot over the past few days… Chris and Maria loved this song… and I have memories of them involving this song…

For those you are on my Facebook… this is a new version… and I hope it’s better than the others I’ve already posted….

November Rain

This song is precious to me…. as it holds precious memories…. memories that I never want to forget… I don’t have many memories left of her… my little sister… where she is healthy and the bubbly funny girl she was….

This was one of Maria’s favorite songs… I have memories of us playing it together…. me on the piano… her on the flute… This is just me playing… and even tho it’s not the same version… I can hear her on the flute… for both of those songs…

Memories

A big bright room… too bright… a piano… He’s alone in there… There is window but it’s dark on the other side… but he knows she’s there… and a man he has never seen before…

He’s tired… and he’s hurting… but in spite of the pain he knows he has to sit down and play for them…

He pauses for a second or two… but then sits down at the piano and waits for the sign…

He wants to do well…

He starts playing….

39 years later… about 5 or 6 days ago… he is…. like so many times before… going through some of his old recordings… He comes across this piece again…. but he knows he is in no shape to listen to it…

He has been fighting depression… Even though he may smile or laugh occasionally he’s depressed as hell… Sometimes he just sits and stares into thin air… His body feels heavy… and he’s unable to move… or like something is on top of him pushing him down… he can’t get up… he feels sad ….or hopeless…. tired… old….

Memories from his past jump out of nowhere…. when they are least expected…

He listens….

He hears voices… not the one that he normally hears… but voices from the past…

This is the time when he doesn’t want to exist…. He has bad thoughts…. thoughts that have almost destroyed him in the past…. and it makes his anxiety go sky high…. and he feels a whole lot of guilt…. for almost everything… even things he knows deep down are not even close to being his fault…. He tells himself his thoughts are not true… but it doesn’t change the effect they have on him… they are still too strong… they feel too real to ignore….

He turns of the music… or maybe the piece just finished…. He walks into his living room… to his piano… sits down… and plays…. He can feel her behind him… the pain when she ‘does what she has to do’ …but he keeps on playing… His body aches… from top to bottom… but he keeps on playing…

I need my brain to understand… it can’t let those memories take over… consume every nerve in my body… every cell… and leave me broken for days thereafter…

I want to be able to sit down and play without reliving events from my past… I need to do that… for me… and me only….

This recording was made today… It isn’t perfect…. it wasn’t done effortlessly …or without an unwanted and painful memory from the past… Someday it will be…

  1. Broken Butterfly Wings Gabriel J Arsante 7:27
  2. Coldplay - A Sky Full Of Stars - Piano Cover Gabriel J Arsante 4:30
  3. No. 11 Piano Gabriel J Arsante 2:57
  4. Forever in my Heart Gabriel J Arsante 3:36
  5. Chopin Piano Concerto No. 1 - Movem. II - Romance, Larghetto Gabriel J. Arsante 9:58
  6. Canon In D 2014 Gabriel J. Arsante 2:28