Chapter 6: You Make the Knife Feel Good

“You can get addicted to a certain kind of sadness”

Gotye once said this. Okay, he said it 9 trillion times in the summer of 2011.

This phrase is about to be very important.

Here’s the chapter that is going to win me the least points. I predict everyone’s least favorite because it’s going to be laced with things that many people don’t want to hear.

So buckle up. Bumpy ride ahead.

It’s no secret that some people like pain. I’m not theorizing. It’s a simple fact. There are masochists. There are cutters that find it cathartic. There are Asphyxiation lovers. If you’ve ever known a Dom (I have!) you would be in awe of the things people PAY to have done to them. To belittle them. To hurt them. To harm them.

Now I don’t care if this is putting a cigarette out on someone’s thigh or clamping their nipples damn near off, the point is this exists. More than you think.

Again, not a shrink so I will spare the mambo jambo on the “why” people pay. It is usually evident in the types of clientele anyway, right? Powerful, rich business men that want to feel something opposite that. They want to feel powerless, subordinate, less than, emasculated, yadda yadda.

It’s always good to change things up I guess. I always say if we all felt drunk 24-7 we just might buy a shot of Sober. Just to shake it up and feel something…else.

But the lower hanging fruit here is that people simply like to escape reality.

Also a fact.

The funny thing is, we all do it in very different ways. There is no blanket escape or one-size-fits-all.

I call these little ways to escape, Houdinis.

So since there is no blanket, one-size-fits-all Houdini, we all pick our poison. Sometimes, our poison picks us.

Many people make a choice at some point. Cocaine, Opiates, Crack, Booze, Sex, Gambling, Pills, Speed, Meth, whatever.

And maybe that poison is just the ticket for release. And they choose it again. And again. And it eventually becomes their trap door inside their Houdini trick. How to abandon reality. How to leave the cage.

Maybe they try one and later find a better trap door. Gateway drug, if you will.

Regardless, it is an eventual custom escape plan. A pick your poison Choose Your Own Adventure if you will.

Hell, some Houdinis aren’t even bad for us.

Let me give you an example.

I first learned I could escape through books. I think many kids do. Or did. (I hope they still do.)

I grew up behind a library. Not like, in the woods as a homeless orphan. I mean my childhood home was just one tiny creek jump from our town library. So I read. A lot. I knocked back books like a drunkard at last call. And they taught me a thing. That I could leave my mind behind. I could leave the world for a little while. I could go somewhere else. Where better than the Land of Make Believe?

And, that worked for a while. Then I became a brooding adolescent escaping into music (as most of us do) listening to Glycerine or Soul to Squeeze staring at a plastic starred ceiling on a sopping wet pillow because well, it felt good to cry. I had virtually nothing to be upset over just normal teenage angst. Watching the bubbles of a lava lamp bounce to Mazzy Star while I wrote poetry about just how fucking hard life was.

It was a release.

Then I learned that loving an impossible person got me out of my own head. I fell hard for a boy in high school who hot and colded me. It was unpredictable and inconsistent. It was Heaven and it was Hell. I had a teacher tell me they would “always remember my blue streaked cheeks.”

(That was the makeup I cried off by 4th period Chemistry on all of his cold days.)

But the hot ones? The ones where I felt like the only girl in the world? They made up for it. They induced Amnesia. They were the high worth the low.

And this became the next escape. Only I didn’t know that. I thought it was the quintessential chase after the “hard to get” type. I thought it was the Jordan Catalano, the Dylan McKay. Worse, I became so hooked on the seesaw that I believed this was the only type of love I wanted. (When someone gives you low lows, when you come back the high is that much better. Duh.)

When he eventually discarded me, I escaped into drugs. Not like hard drugs, I was a teenager but nevertheless. Drugs! He was nothing compared to the drugs I found to erase him and then you need something to escape those, too.

This can show you how compound escapism works. You like to Houdini, healthily. Then find a release with maybe a higher high. Then you need a release from that release. And so on.

Example: Someone gets their good chemicals from working out. Then busts their back. Then takes pain pills to escape the excruciating physical discomfort they’re in. And that works for a while. Until they need an escape from their newly-formed drug habit. Because they’re a God Damn Opiate addict now. Compounded escapism.

Smoking cigarettes to escape stress then hating yourself for smoking and spinning in the self-hate you have as a smoker. Compounded escapism.

So how does this relate?

“You can get addicted to a certain type of sadness.” – Gotye

Or how about, “That’s okay man cause I like the abuse.” – Offspring

Or my all-time favorite, “You make the knife feel good.” — Jane Child

Now we go to the part where victims will start to hate this chapter and probably me but it is so critical to healing that I don’t care.

What happened after the hot and cold boy? More media lies later–taxi cab and airport chases and ratings booster on-again-off-again couples–I had

fooled myself into thinking the only way I could move on from unrequited high school boy was a bigger chase. A tougher catch. A more elusive person that showed me even less love. Higher stakes. More thrills. Add Adrenaline. Up the Dopamine.

Though this isn’t an autobiography I will share a few delusions I had that led me to the proverbial knife.

I was sitting in my apartment in NYC one night watching Sex and the City and the episode asked something like would you rather love someone more than they love you or have them love you more than you love them.

They say we never actually remember things only the memory of the last time we told the story. This one, I am positive, I remember.

I was smoking a cigarette and I said, without hesitation, “I’d rather love someone more than they love me.”

I was the only one in the room who said that.

Not remarkable at all. But what is, is that I believed this was just due to my wanting to chase a Mr. Big. That unrequited love was more fun. That the Aidans of the world were fucking boring.

This is because I found a high in the chase and more importantly, an escape in the chase. But I did not know this then and consequently, I met my qualifier (abuser) this way.

Pay attention.

An abuser, especially the kind this book is focused on, creates a spin.

Not like a cutesy butterfly spin either. A laundromat in a fucking tornado spin.

The up/down, high/low, hot/cold, here/gone.

Is he? Will he? Where did he? Why won’t he? When will he?

Would he? Should he? Has he? Why didn’t he?

What happened? Where did he go?

Spinning like a drunk on a Tilt-a-Whirl.

This is how your everyday becomes with a toxic partner/emotional abuser. You (the victim) are walking on eggshells, they love you, they hate you, they are present, they are missing…

There is an actual name for this phase of dysfunction called Idolize, Devalue, Discard. It’s basically elation to depletion to deletion. This is the dizzying spin where a victim is on a pedestal and can do no wrong, then suddenly loses all worth and then they are tossed aside. This is a VERY COMMON cycle for these kinds of abusers. It can be over time (like the duration of the relationship may stage out this way) or they can create this whirlwind inside a single day, every day.

Regardless, you spend your days dizzy. So, guess what you don’t spend your days doing?

Dealing with your own shit.

We rarely do things in life without a gain. Even subconsciously. The spin is awful but there is a GAIN. The dance is mutually-beneficial, as crazy as that sounds.

This is what I mean when I say, if you’re not careful this type of relationship begins to “make the knife feel good.” The knife doesn’t actually feel good, it simply stops other shit from filing in that also doesn’t feel good. And somewhere along the way you got used to this particular discomfort and told yourself you were okay with it. The devil you know became the devil you need. Not all Houdinis have a sign-up sheet. This release came from a catch and release with our brain and before we knew it, we were hooked on this escape route.

If you’ve ever loved an addict you know, you become the disheveled mess.


When a codependent lives within the obsession of another person’s problems, they

get a very serious addiction of their own – leaving themselves for someone else. This is why programs like Alanon and Naranon exist – to help re-wire a codependent.

If you’ve ever taken steroids (corticosteroids, like a Prednisone) this is a good

analogy. On steroids, you get to somewhat vacate your own adrenal function for a

while. Your fight or flight is on hold.

The “drug” of an intimate partnership with an abuser allows you to similarly vacate yourself because you are twenty-four seven spinning, piecing together what just happened, connecting dots, scratching your head, wondering why someone is giving you the silent treatment, even crying yourself to sleep. The enigma of the detached person has made you one very attached person.

Now, that sounds kind of scary, right?

But what if vacating you every day is a plus? Maybe you have not yet gotten right with you. The time spent alone with just your thoughts is less than desirable. Maybe your real fears are bigger than this and so this cat and mouse began to somehow, believe it or not, feel better by comparison.

Don’t get it twisted, it is miserable. In reality. It is wreaking havoc on your adrenal system (much like the steroids) and emotionally and mentally, depleting you. It can also impact your physical health like your nervous and digestive systems.


What was the gain? Not for the abuser, we know the abuser’s gain. What was the

gain for you (the victim)?

There is some level of familiarity in predicable pain. What I shockingly found after

years of therapy was that I could tolerate depression way better than anxiety.

Some people are the opposite, yes.

However, for me personally, my real fears, the real shit I had yet to deal with (like mortality, sickness, loss of loved ones) was the ruminating loop I had in the background before I got on this roller coaster ride.

It behooved me to admit that this constant spinning as a result of the

nosedive my once perfect relationship took to the up and down seesaw it became

– was actually obstructing my normal anxieties. It was a gain for me. It was a pain

that I was writhing in but it became a pain I could handle. It became a pain that I

thought I could “fix.” It was a pain game that I thought I could win. I could love

harder. I could do better. I could “have just done this one thing differently.”

And that obsession, that loop of thought took precedence over all my other former thoughts.

If you leave the spin, what will file in? When you find that old thought patterns and fears start to fill that space, you can see why you filled this space with an insatiable game you could never win. You were up against a puppet master, and I mean master, and you were in a fool’s game. But the game has a gain and as soon as you can admit that, you will begin to heal.

Dancing in the fog (Sarah from the Labyrinth-style and yes, there are cult sleeper film threads that say Jareth was an abuser) is simply a pause button on all your other shit.

We harp on why abusers won’t get better (and it is proven they cannot) but the reality is, the onus is sadly on us to also get better. To leave. To stop spinning and to simply go through.

We are injecting that spin in our veins and are a junkie to this person who is intentionally hurting us for their amusement. Once you start to hold that as your anchor in the volatility you will never unsee or unknow it and it will haunt you until you leave. You have a role to play here, too.

Now, it’s not the role they convinced you you are playing, that of the “cause.” But in order to get healthy you have to own the one that you are playing, the addict to the gain of the spin that keeps you from your own shit. The co-dependent. The junkie to this person when they don’t do a thing to deserve you and frankly love isn’t supposed to be two unhealthy junkies with addictions to one another’s issues.

YOU have to be the one to “get clean” and instead you are now voluntarily signing up for another disillusion every day when deep down, you know better.

Time to use the knife to cut the ties that bind so the devil you know can be the devil you knew.

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