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Letting Your Heart Out

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One of the big things Jen had an influence on me with was how open and honest her website was. Practice of Madness was a full throttle, unapologetic journey in to the mind of a tortured, brilliant woman. I've put together a short adaptation of some of her stuff but I'm not really sure how potent it is - a true adaptation of her stream of consciousness would have to be in coffee table format.

One of the really exhilarating things was her honesty. I was curious about what her relationship with Richard Yves - Sitoski was like and found in some of her pieces that she was quite blunt about their recent breakup, bearing all for her 3,000 odd readers:

 Richard-Yves Sitoski, my confidante and promised editor, had just deleted me from his life for some unbeknownst reason.  Well, I did criticize some of his writing on Facebook, but I thought we had made a goddamn pact to do just that for one another.
Jen had told him that she had fallen for him. He wanted to reciprocate, clearly, but for obvious reasons Jen, despite her brilliance and charisma, inspired fear and trepidation. There were guys in between him and I but I never heard from them - they may as well have never existed as far as her legacy goes.

It's hard to really understand how to deal with the strange tortures that this world provides for us. For Jen, she aired them out. I do the same, though probably not as aggressively.

I'm not sure how I was supposed to deal with her or deal with others who came in to my life like her. People respond many ways to trauma and it depends on their maturity level (more maturity means that a person has experience in coping with trauma, while the intensity of trauma may bring down the maturity level even on someone who is older in years).

I thought I was mature. I held her dad as he cried in front of the last sight of his daughter and told him that I had tried. He didn't disagree and hugged me, bought me lunch and told me I was the best thing that happened to her. As her friend John talked to me on the phone, he called several times to ask where she was, not believing me or comprehending when I said that she was no longer with us. I told him that this was harsh reality- we needed to move on, it's what she would have wanted.

 I realized later on that maybe I was putting on a show - I was no more resilient than anyone else. I worked so hard to get my emotions in check but they came boiling up nonetheless. I got really fat. I have worked it off now but if you look at pictures of me in 2014, I was as big as a house. Eating just became therapeutic and I took pleasure in eating just whatever I could find. The man who was raised a vegetarian became a glutton who ate whatever he could find whenever he could. Men often are like this - they are taught to suffocate their emotions under a pillow, denying them any air, but they are every bit as emotional as women and the suffocation of those emotions only breeds alcoholism and other abuse.

I have blown up at people and hurt people - not intentionally, of course, but fear overtakes all. One friend told me she had an illness that was all too similar to what plagued Jen's family and I freaked out and said some things that she still seems to have taken personally. The fear of losing another person I loved was too much to deal with. The mind can be resilient but the heart will just go its own direction.

People have said in some ways that I have perpetuated the situation or that I should get over it, clearly not having been in anything like it before. I have and still hear from pretty much everyone she was ever intimate with, who have chosen to contact me and not her father because of how publicly she depicted me as her soulmate and how I've continued it with all this writing. Her inimates usually ask me intense questions when they contact me too - stuff like "Do you dream about her?" It's a situation that will be around forever - I can't pretend it didn't happen.

With the scale of her demons, Jen accomplished a lot by making it to 30 years old. I wonder if she did so in part because she understood how to let her heart out and that the judgment or misunderstanding of some of the people who read it would be nothing compared to the torture of holding it all in. If that is why she did so, I hope she was wise in doing so.


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About Radical Second Things

Michael Orion is a blogger, writer, artist and photographer based in the Bay Area. Besides his maintenance and promotion of Radical Second Things, he contributes to the San Francisco newspaper SF Western Edition, where he writes about local non-profit organizations.

Mark Cappetta is a practicing Catholic and active LGBT activist. He has been instrumental in keeping Radical Second Things and updates the Facebook account almost daily.

Eva Gnostiquette is an artist, programmer, "future scientist," bi-trans girl and graphic designer. She voluntarily helped to create the first print issue Radical Second Things and designed our beautiful banners. Thanks so much, Eva!

Jordan Denato is a professional artist based out of Iowa. He took the initiative to illustrate both Jennifer Reimer's story and Michael Orion's Oscar Romero work. He has his own art studio, Tar and Feather Studios, and is a critical part of Radical Second Things.

Radical Second Things is a liberation theology themed blog that has clear cut goals - we see the structural decline of the United States and much of the west and hope to present alternatives that will offer "a preferential option for the poor" as more become vulnerable.

© 2017 Radical Second Things