Healing

Posted in health, love on June 3rd, 2016 by Jin Wicked – Comments Off on Healing

My beloved city of Saint Paul has been often dark and stormy of late; the rain is still a welcome miracle to this drought-scarred Texan. Therapy is going well, I think. It has primarily consisted of unravelling the damage both created and churned up by the relationship I left at the beginning of this year, and further, why I have struggled so much in the process of letting it go. Two people, so unfathomably toxic for each other — one defensive, insecure, unpredictable, and controlling, in my opinion — and myself, anxious, free-spirited, lonely, and too enthusiastic. Incompatible life goals selfishly swept aside by both parties from the beginning. Two broken assholes, bewitched by each others’ charms, caught in fleeting moments of togetherness and hope. As I touched on in this video, failure is anathema to me; a dogged and motivated problem-solver, it has been difficult to internalize the idea that I cannot fix anyone but myself. Nor is it my right or responsibility to; it is, in fact, the height of arrogance. The guilt and shame I felt for abandoning the relationship — for giving up — sent me into an emotional tailspin from which I have only recently recovered. Also, I have undergone the unwieldy task of sorting out my real issues from what I was patronizingly, and repeatedly, told were the issues. The amicable divorce from my best friend of twelve years, and smoothly-coordinated cross-country move, were never a source of trauma for me. It was the relationship.

I am getting professional help. I possess the self-assurance to show my face to the world and own my mistakes — mistakes that have informed me, that will not soon be repeated. I hope that he ultimately finds what he needs and wants out of life. He remains, in spite of everything, one of the most beautiful and fascinating men I have ever known. I regret that I lacked the experience and wisdom to have not entered the relationship at all — we might be friends still. I regret the subtle signs, and flashing warnings, that I ignored along the way for love. I do not regret the precious time we spent together.

A few weeks ago I began casually dating, learning to navigate those waters, while gradually rebuilding my confidence and self-esteem back to its previous state. Overall, it has been beneficial and positive. My lifestyle and workaholic ways do present a challenge to finding a compatible and suitable partner, but I have a clear vision of what I am searching for, with an increasing knowledge of what to avoid. I have shared many meals with kind and interesting people. In particular, I have spent some time in the company of patient, well-adjusted individuals who have helped me learn to trust men again, after this breakup, and an unpleasant rebound that left me feeling gross and manipulated.

I am rediscovering what it feels like to be treated like a person, and to have my needs considered in a genuine, non-self-serving, and respectful way. I am improving my ability to honour consistent and rational boundaries. Relearning how to share my thoughts and openly discuss feelings without fear of anger, judgement, or reprisal. Relearning what it feels like to communicate without having my words twisted into the worst possible conclusion. I am grateful for the chaste intimacy, tenderness, and insight that has been shared with me by men who recognized my current fragility — and responded appropriately. I am not only healing through this, but I am being made stronger. The journey has not been easy, but I am finally allowing myself to be happy.

I am a person. I am no man’s manic pixie dream girl.

Daddy Dearest

Posted in general on May 19th, 2016 by Jin Wicked – Comments Off on Daddy Dearest

Late-night AM radio paranormal talk show host George Noory famously quips, “There are no such things as coincidences.” While I do not necessarily believe that, and I understand the phenomenon of confirmation bias, my life appears to be afflicted by a theatrical sense of timing. My personal journey of the past two years — leaving the extended adolescence I occupied for over a decade, weighed down by anxiety and depression — climaxed this past weekend with my appearance at MSP Comicon. One year ago, I tabled there with a meagre pile of my mini-comics; a shrinking violet, timidly hawking my wares. This year, I commanded a full table in the centre of the convention floor, surrounded by a stable of friends; lip syncing and dancing shamelessly for two days straight, and doing virtually anything to bring a smile to those passing by. Triumphant, it was the most actualized, confident, and self-assured I have ever felt.

On Monday night, I received news that my father had shot and killed himself. In one final act of cruelty, another person was witness to his suicide.

My father was a profoundly angry, and, at his core, unhappy man. He worked taxing, physical labour in a trade he did not enjoy, and found himself trapped there when plans to take over the family business fell through. Violence and misbehaviour eventually lead him to never consume alcohol. The sheetrock in our garage was littered with holes in the walls made by his leathery fist. The oldest child, my most vivid childhood memories involve being chased through our hallway, his voice bellowing threats at my heels, or being strapped with a leather belt. I rarely understood what I had done to deserve that. My father was a large man. There were plenty of happy times, of course, but I learned to fear him and his temper quickly. I recall many incidents of him cursing at my mother and refusing a meal because she unknowingly cooked something for dinner he had had for lunch. I watched her react and, unconsciously myself, became trained to do or say whatever it takes to avoid that anger. As a child, I fought tirelessly to earn his approval and recognition. It seldom came; more often I was punished for failing to meet his standards or be what he wanted. Therein lies the seat of my identity issues and insatiable desire to please.

As I grew older, I became an angry, disturbed, and poorly-adjusted teenager. The overt violence ended, only to be replaced by undercurrents of threat. My activities and socialization were severely restricted for most of my high school years, stunting my emotional development and ability to connect with others. Both of my parents were obsessively controlling, consistently eavesdropping, violating my trust, and invading my privacy. I had a violent psychotic episode at age 14, which resulted in the screws being tightened further. They falsely accused me of drinking, using drugs, and prostitution. My makeup, clothing, weight, and interests were mocked and criticized. My attitude was somehow always the ruination of our family outings and vacations. Day after day, I was reminded of all the things wrong with me. I should state that — for whatever reasons — my two younger siblings did not receive this treatment.

Outwardly, we appeared to be the ideal nuclear family.

Friends charitably helped me escape this toxic environment those many years ago, before I descended into self-harm, or worse. I remained in Minneapolis for one year, then in Buffalo, NY, very briefly, before returning to Texas. When I came back, my parents charged me a small amount of rent, and were then mostly-able to treat me as an independent person and less judgmentally.

However — my father became more emotionally distant and unavailable over the years. Communication was always on his terms, despite my requests not to be alienated by his politics. He continued to express little to no capability for compromise. He continued to lecture and talk to me like a small child, and he expressed little interest in my life and none in my work. He was incapable of apologizing or owning any responsibility for damage to our relationship. He put only the most minimal of effort into maintaining the relationship. I realize now that I have been intoxicatingly attracted to men displaying these same unhealthy traits in my romantic partnerships. (Never Matt, though!) Affection withheld as punishment and returned as reward, being deliberately ignored, being dehumanized by name-calling like asshole and crazy, having my feelings marginalized or invalidated, and threats of abandonment are all things I have endured. I will no longer suffer others’ perceived failures and insecurities.

I set aside all my grievances when my mother’s breast cancer metastasized to her bone marrow. Initially, I cleaned my parents’ house once per week for token payment. As her illness progressed, I became her daytime caregiver. It was during this period where I felt the most connection to my father. United by the common objective of caring for my mother, we functioned together as a team, and he would occasionally confide in or seek advice from me. It was I who researched hospice care, and who ultimately helped him accept it when that time came. It was I who spoke with the hospice representatives, when he could not face them alone. Unfortunately, after her death, things returned to the status quo. He was never the same, and neglected to seek help.

My mother did apologize to me, unsolicited, before she died.

One day in the kitchen, while planning my mother’s funeral, my father looked at me and said, “My children were all disappointments — you know? I wanted doctors and lawyers. But I guess I didn’t give you the genetics for that.” And, immediately realizing what he said, he attempted to take it back. But I knew. Our relationship mostly consisted of me visiting, staring at the television for a few hours, then returning home. Dinner conversation typically involved his life or whatever he had heard that week from Rush Limbaugh. When he became abusive about including an unwanted and inappropriate third-party in one of my birthday celebrations, I decided to sever. His violently slamming down the phone on me was the last time we spoke. The silence lasted for many years, though I did attempt to reconnect before leaving Texas last September, which he declined. My feelings about his death are understandably mixed.

Over the past two years, I have worked tirelessly to address my flaws, make amends with those I have hurt, heal my old wounds, and purge my heart and mind of ugliness. Am I perfect? Absolutely not!!! But I have made a conscious decision and effort to learn empathy, to build my undeveloped social skills, to connect with and love others, and to forgive my past mistakes. I had to learn not to expect abuse, neglect, and pain as necessary companions of love. And I now have the largest, most robust support network of friends and adoptive family that care about me and want me to succeed, that I have ever had.

And I treasure every new person that becomes part of my life.

I have lost over 60lbs, relaunched my art and comics career, relocated across the country, and restarted my life. I am standing alone, on my own two feet, for the first time. I have a steady paycheque doing work I enjoy with people I am happy to see every day, and who are in turn happy to see me. I have an unsteady paycheque doing creative work that brings me personal fulfillment, and delight every time I make someone laugh or think. I work hard. I have a nice apartment, new car, new phone, and a future to look forward to.

The chains that have bound me are falling away.

Matt has been very supportive through this process, as I feel we have slowly begun to rebuild our friendship. I am appreciative that he has been available through this and other recent traumas. I will close with some advice he gave me weeks ago: “You have to let go of the self-loathing — it will kill you.”

Love and the Boogeymen

Posted in health, love on March 24th, 2016 by Jin Wicked – Comments Off on Love and the Boogeymen

Winter held one last hurrah here in the Twin Cities, unceremoniously dumping a sorry coating of soggy slush over the area yesterday. It was just enough to gnarl the highways, as everyone has apparently forgotten how to drive after a month of cleaned streets. Today I went to a diagnostic evaluation so I can begin regular therapy sessions. Exhausted, and running on only three hours of sleep after working into the early morning, I stumbled into the office fifteen minutes late. Hair unkempt, bottom lip raw from chewing and picking, a dark grease stain on my jeans from dropping a hamburger in my lap while eating and driving the night before — this is my messy life now. Two diverging tracks of growing professional success, while my personal life lurches around me.

Everyone I meet treats me so kindly. I can’t be that bad.

“What do you feel your problem is, exactly?” my therapist asked.

“I’m an asshole,” I replied.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not always an asshole. Last year was a gauntlet of intense self-examination and development, with the focus on improving social skills and personal relationships. I am doing well in this regard. You have to know me intimately before the monsters rear their ghastly heads; before the fears of abandonment and insecurities come out to play. I struggle to respect boundaries. I am so hungry for approval that I will subjugate my own desires and needs until I explode. The anxiety feeds spiralling thought patterns that press me into doing and saying — often hurtful — things I do not really mean. I can be selfishly relentless in pursuit of targets I desire. There is more, but it all boils down to an inability to completely see other people as separate from myself in the context of close relationships. In my opinion, anyway.

Two hours of background and my abridged personal story later.

“What do you hope to achieve with therapy?” I was asked before leaving.

“To not be an asshole anymore,” I answered.

Generalized anxiety disorder with elements of depression. I am highly functional. I am no danger to myself or others. Never a cutter, never a self-harmer, never violent, and loathe to raise my voice. Paradoxically, self-aware. I understand what is wrong but I lack the knowledge to fix it on my own. I need help.

I’m afraid you’re going to leave, so I fight hard to hold you closer.

You’re afraid I’m going to leave, so you distance me away.

For years, I have known a particular couple that is obnoxiously adorable, and no less crazy about each other than the night we met. Their synergy and joie de vivre is infectious, and I would be a liar if I denied it was a variable in the equation that eventually led me here. I want that. Barely a handful of men in my life have ever rendered me starry-eyed and breathless; face burning, and blushed, and tongue-tied. I want that. Each in turn has left me heartbroken. I wonder, for how long will I be doomed to repeat this cycle? Where is the man who sets my heart on fire; with the ambition and drive and strength of self to walk shoulder-to-shoulder with me? Who makes me laugh like no other? Who forges his own path in the face of adversity, and will go down fighting?

I looked at you and thought for the first time — this is what I want. Forever.

What have I done? What have I done? What have I done?

Going about the business of my life, surrounded by the thundering drumbeat of humanity — I catch a glimpse of pudgy cheeks damp with tears, topped up with blonde ringlets and wedged underneath a mother’s chin. I want that. My body is rebelling against me. Regardless of this situation, my clock is running down; perhaps earlier than expected. Volatile moods and symptoms that only recently have enabled me to connect the dots. I no longer have a palatable reason why I chose to deny myself this fundamental part of existence. What for — piles of paper and paint smeared on canvases? A haughty notion about lives devoted to the pursuit of art? Nothing endures in the end. These things were never mutually exclusive. My heart agonizes with a previously-unknown emptiness, and the shaky uncertainty that it can ever be rectified.

I want that. What have I done? I’m an asshole.

I see the therapist again next week.

Introductions

Posted in general on March 20th, 2016 by Jin Wicked – Comments Off on Introductions

Hello. My name is Jennifer, though if you have been following my projects for many years, or you recently met me at a public event, you probably know me as Jin Wicked. As you may expect of someone with two names, I am a person fraught with contradictions. Fiercely independent and stubborn, with a great need for personal space and solitude, I also possess a hungry, sensitive, and docile heart. I am equal parts extrovert and introvert, shifting from wallflower to centre of attention as the mood suits me. Cynical, yet hopelessly optimistic at times; a pragmatic dreamer, hard-nosed romantic, detached observer, and intimate storyteller. As I have grown older, I have turned into a gentle atheist that seeks comfort at low points in religious services. I do my best to remain well-informed, but tend to shy away from the angst and conflict of politics.

The things that I enjoy most are good conversation, simple but well-prepared food, physical affection, comfortable silence, thunderstorms, treasure-hunting in thrift stores, petty vices, being outsmarted, and being made to laugh.

After a long period of withdrawal from the public eye, I restarted my art/comic career and life at the beginning of 2015. Work resumed on my primary series, A Dollar Late and A Day Short and Crap I Drew on My Lunch Break. Afterward, I began working regularly with a digital tablet. I returned to exhibiting at art shows and comic conventions. I broke free of depression, lost a large amount of weight, and became satisfied with my self-image again. I left my marriage and relationship of twelve years, and then relocated across the country from Houston to Minneapolis-Saint Paul. It has been quite a ride, in retrospect.

Over my journey of this past year, I met and fell madly in love with one of the most amazing, funny, complex, difficult, and talented men I have ever known. We wounded each other profoundly and parted ways, but through the loss, I have gained a new perspective of what I need to work on within myself.

I frankly discuss the recent events of my life in the video below.

Through my weekly series of YouTube videos, I respond to reader’s questions about myself, my work, and other subjects submitted for discussion. I share the many faces and voices I wear as an artist, performer, and writer. Join me every Wednesday for your cheerful reminder to “Stop fuckin’ around!”

My friends Mark, Root, and I host the irreverent COMIC BROS Podcast. It is available on every major syndication service, and also on YouTube. Subscribe to my channel for all of my projects, art progress videos, and more.

My Instagram account features shameless selfies, food pornography, artwork and work-in-progress, and occasionally, softly singing to you while I paint.

A photo posted by Jin Wicked (@jin_wicked) on

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Thank you so much for reading! I hope you enjoy my work!