Poetry Reading & Analysis (Grand Scheme ~ The Fear I Long For ~ Ghosts In My Room) (VIDEO)

Features “Grand Scheme”, “The Fear I Long For”,
and “Ghosts In My Room”
from Rather Be Haunted on Amazon.com

The Romance Experiment

The Romance Experiment by Valerie Parente

I hate trying to make my love life seem relevant
with this nonsense in the world known as The Romance Experiment.
It’s when I give someone a chance
before I get the chance to vomit
then I vehemently try to stop it
and don’t give you any options
back and forth with what I’m wanting
because one second I’m terrified of being alone
then the next second I’m terrified of being anything but my own.
Yes it sure is fun, my love,
trying to get intimate with me
and when I say I want intimacy
I mean intellectually.

– Valerie Parente (9-21-2020)

This Fear Goes So Deep

This Fear Goes So Deep by Valerie Parente

I’ve got people who want to talk
and I know what they really want is touch
they’re just trying to warm me up
and that really pisses me off.
Because I’m offended by attraction
I get defensive when you want a physical reaction.
My brain wasn’t made to pretend it doesn’t notice
when men try to fool me with a thing called romance.

I’m starting to think that my anger with the men in line
is a form of anxiety designed to defend my mind;
Yes this is a fear of intimacy ultimately
but its also a fear of being challenged intellectually
because I often feel deep disgust
by the boys who admit they have a crush
It translates into “I think that you’re stupid”
because romance involves courtship
and courtship assumes I’m desperate
and desperate translates to dumb
and dumb people don’t think, they just touch.

I feel like boys are trying to pull one over on me
all control, all of my autonomy, all the things that make me unique
and I know the intention was never to make me feel degraded
but I feel so Goddamm violated
when someone is attracted to something other than my mentality
because my intelligence is the most important part of me.
So how dare you think you’ve fooled me
into being a sexual prop or something weak.

And I’m no fool, I know I’ve only ever been in love with the guys
that I secretly know aren’t really attracted to my type
and I think that my fear is getting worse these days
ever since I broke my own heart using a friend’s name.

I know this phenomena makes no sense;
trust me, I’ve scoured all of the internet
and I can’t find other people that share this mindset
so I’m not really sure where to go next.

– Valerie Parente (9-14-2020)

My Own Fault

My Own Fault by Valerie Parente

When I was a little girl
I used to cry when a boy would tell me he had a crush on me.
I would become lightheaded and it was hard to breathe
and the only way to feel okay was to be so, so mean,
determined to make the nice boys feel sorry.

In my adult life
it’s been a lot easier to say that nobody is capable of loving me
than to accept the deeply twisted and tangled reality
that I make it near impossible for love to be received
because I am so unbelievably scared of intimacy.

So to the boys who had the nerve to ever be nice:
I apologize.
You didn’t do anything wrong and I wish you well.
You didn’t petrify me, I petrified myself.

– Valerie Parente (9-9-2020)

Living Proof

Living Proof by Valerie Parente

Funny how my biggest fear is being alone
but I’ve been doing just that my whole life.

Lovely how we can be so deeply afraid
of what we’ve already proven we can get through.

You are so much stronger
than you give your conscience credit for.

– Valerie Parente (9-3-2020)

Follow Up: An Obsessive Compulsive’s Take On The Coronavirus Crisis (3 Months Later)

These past couple of months during the COVID-19 lockdown have been some of the most mentally challenging months of my life, as I’m sure they were with many other people. As someone with obsessive compulsive disorder, centered around a phobia of germs, this whole experience has been extremely bizarre. I wouldn’t say it was solely a positive experience or a negative experience. It was a combination of both, and in the strangest way possible.

I expressed in March how uneasy I felt as the world just began to descend into germaphobic chaos in the following blog post: https://valerieparente.wordpress.com/2020/03/17/an-obsessive-compulsives-take-on-the-coronavirus-crisis/
I remember when the coronavirus was officially declared a National Emergency many people with anxiety disorders and OCD were expressing surprising feelings of calmness. A lot of these people said that they had been prepared their whole life for some kind of disaster like this, so when push came to shove and it actually happened they were more mentally prepared and stronger. I totally understood that concept on paper, but for me personally I didn’t at all share this feeling. I’m sure it has something to do with my ego and that I don’t like being compared to other people, but I hated that everyone was freaking out about germs and feeling the fears that I’ve felt for the majority of my life. It was totally irrational to feel somewhat threatened by “normal” people experiencing my catastrophe-centered mindset, but to be perfectly honest I think that’s how I felt. It was confusing to understand how I felt because I was absolutely terrified but more than anything else I was depressed by the isolation. I wound up taking the lockdown extremely seriously, cooping up in my home, not seeing a single soul outside of my immediate family, for about a 2 and 1/2 months. Mentally, it was exhausting, as I’m sure everybody else felt. As I said, I didn’t leave the house, but I heard through my family members that did take quick trips to and from essential stores that people were wearing masks, employees at the food store were wiping down and spraying carts, limiting customers that could enter the building, and tape was on the floor to separate people by 6 feet. Officials were recommending we don’t touch our face (something I’ve always avoided because of OCD), no sharing food or drinks, limiting socialization to no more than 5 people. If anything, this should have been a dream come true for someone like me that’s terrified of germs. But I didn’t see it that way, I saw it as the world descending into a madness that I individually had the luxury of entertaining but the world as a whole, as I saw it, couldn’t afford to function like this.

When I finally snapped at said “Screw it, I need to go back in society” I started small, grabbing a coffee at my local grocery store or coffee shop. Gradually I started seeing friends again, but only in outdoor settings where we weren’t breathing right on each other. And I’m shocked to say (and maybe this is my all-or-nothing OCD mindset) that I’m extremely “over” the whole virus situation. Obviously I understand it’s still a danger, but as I take appropriate precautions with face masks and bringing wipes and hand sanitizer in my car, I’ve become completely un-phased by the fear of the virus. After one time finally going back into the real world I at ease again. I felt like everything was going to be okay. I felt like there was nothing to worry about as long as I was doing my part to stay sanitized. I think this is a perfect testament to how well Exposure Therapy works with obsessive compulsive patients. I hated Exposure Therapy as a teenager, but in my adulthood, when these circumstances in the world were dire, I sucked it up, held my breath, and I faced my fears. I can’t tell you how afraid I was in the 2 and 1/2 months; I kept telling myself that the second officials said it was safe to go out again that I would probably wait an extended month after that. And guess what? I didn’t. I didn’t do what my fears wanted me to do.

So, going back to my original statement in this post, I was not comforted by the idea of the world becoming more OCD like me when this all started. Now, 3 months later, I understand what people were saying. I understand why the world’s anxiety lessened those already with anxiety. I get it now. Because when I go out and I touch something or drink my coffee in the park, I’ve instilled in my mind through the exposure of going out that first time that nothing bad is going to happen to me. Is that true? Maybe not. But is it a healthy mindset to have now that the virus is on its way out? Yes, I think so. And when that little OCD voice in the back of my head says “You should be scared to leave the house” I just remind myself this: the world is a safer place today than it was 3 months ago. I went over a decade of my life afraid of germs but still going out in public and taking precautions with hand sanitizer and gloves, and did the germs kill me then? No. And today I’m going out with the exact same OCD rituals in place PLUS the rest of the world now has rituals to keep me safe too. Did people wipe down the carts at the food store before? Not to my knowledge. Did cashiers specifically change gloves at the ice cream shop when they accepted your cash? No. Did people judge you for not touching your face even if there’s a piece of hair in your eye? No. These were little stressful quirks that I had that were now socially acceptable. Those were things I did to stay clean, and now the rest of the world (for the most part) is doing these little things too. Things that I always thought were necessary for survival. So, if anything, the world is cleaner and safer because of the coronavirus. That’s what I keep telling myself every time the OCD voice creeps in. If anything, you are safer now than you were 3 months ago. And its this very thought that made me understand why those with anxiety felt comfort when the world addressed COVID-19. I get it now. It took a couple of months and exposure to a new world, but I get it. And this is much different than the tune I was singing in March when I made my first COVID-19 post from the perspective of someone with OCD.

If there’s anything I want anyone to take away from this blog post it’s that the mind is extremely resilient. We are so strong as human beings. And you may feel afraid now of something, but I promise with the proper mental exercises (for me, Exposure Therapy), you will see a day when that anxiety is put at bay. It’s not going to be permanent, and you don’t have to understand how it will feel before you experience that peace, but just know that it is possible even during what seems like the apocalypse.

– Valerie Parente (6-9-2020)

The Time Is Up

The Time Is Up by Valerie Parente

In 2 months you’ll be able to breathe again.
In 2 months you’ll remember the fallen.
In 2 months you’ll learn to live with yourself.
In 2 months you’ll realize what really counts.
In 2 months you’ll find a reason to laugh.
In 2 months you’ll rise above your past.
Because this is God’s way of saying the time is up,
time to come face to face with your fears
time to get to know the mind you’ve been avoiding for 25 years
time to feel the discomfort that matures you through loneliness
time to master your trauma like a true artist
time to look inward for gratification
time to make those long overdue changes
time to show your ego how far you’ve come
time to tell the people you love that they’re enough.
It’s time to see your deepest pain through;
It’s time to contribute to the world that chose to spare you.

– Valerie Parente (3-31-2020)

Self-Preservation

Off Limits

Self-Preservation by Valerie Parente

It’s not being prude
its self-preservation
it’s protecting thyself from everyone else
in an attempt to preserve
the life lessons I’ve earned
because what could be worse
than losing the individual I learned.

I swear, this fear of intimacy
is not a fear of what’s in me
it’s fear of a touch that might corrupt
everything I’ve ever dreamed of.
Because what happens when I open up?
Would it change the person I was?
I’ve spent a lifetime learning who I am
and I’m so deeply scared
of my worldview crumbling at another’s hand.

– Valerie Parente (1-3-2020)

Mirror Image

Mirror Image by Valerie Parente

Everything I accused you of, I manifested in myself.
Every letter I wrote to you was a letter to myself.
All the pain and hidden motives I assumed you felt I assumed in myself.
All of my accusations were a mirror image of myself.
You didn’t push me away, I pushed myself away. Because the ego inside this head tried to sabotage any chance of another ego helping me out of this hole I call my soul.

Desperation

– Valerie Parente (12-18-2019)

 

Projection

Projection by Valerie Parente

you never really did care, did you?
it was never about my feelings
it was about abiding your ego
and the anxiety that makes it seem whole
when in reality you’ve just been stuffing fear into a structure you call personality
fear of intimacy
fear of commitment
fear of emotions
it was never really about me not being good enough
it was about you maintaining your phobias.

Pretty Pain

– Valerie Parente (11-25-2019)