wicked game

What a wicked game to play, to make me feel this way.

What a wicked thing to do, to let me dream of you.

What a wicked thing to say, you never felt this way.

What a wicked thing to do, to make me dream of you …. chris isaak

frances farmer.. image credit people.virginia.edu

a situation came up this week which jettisoned me directly back to a film titled “frances” which came out in 1982 and starred jessica lange. that story, told in words and pictures, still haunts me today. lange turned out a performance which embedded the struggle she was portraying into my mind’s eye. 

and all the nuances of that particular bio-pic’s telegraphed turmoil came popping up on monday like dandelions on a summer lawn. i found myself suddenly steeping in the primal dance i remembered watching and experiencing a reflection of ms. farmer’s internal struggle with her own body chemicals looking for balance. 

farmer lived by her impulses. her very nature was ruled by those impulses and her intuition. there are brain chemicals released when impulses are acted upon. fear, anger, sex, paranoia can all fuel these brain charges. people who are manic demonstrate this on a daily basis. i see it with frequency and have some personal experience with it. and her placement in an environment which put her directly under the watchful eyes of ‘healthcare” providers  (really just behavioral police) created a situation which caused her to just seem crazier and crazier- even though she was most likely in touch with quite a lot of what she was experiencing. her behaviors were the 1st thing people were noticing and not her insight nor her brain. this sense of dismissal only continued to frustrate her and cause her to “act out” even further. her anger and her frustration were the part of her that was knocking on doors.  it was a vicious and crippling cycle for her and created an environment for a lobotomy. 

all this flashed  before me as i encountered an updated version of someone i love from my past. i felt sad. horrified. i felt helpless. i felt as if i were witnessing an accident in slow motion. these feelings were so pervasive that it could have been deja vu. none-the-less i tried to help. i spoke some truth. i used strength-based support. i have no real concept of how my information was received. 

”FRANCES” is based on the sad, profoundly troubled life of Frances Farmer, the golden-bright Seattle high-school girl who had some measure of Hollywood fame in the 1930’s, in such films as ”Rhythm on the Range” and ”Come and Get It,” and one Broadway triumph in the Group Theater’s production of Clifford Odets’s ”Golden Boy.”

In the early 1940’s Frances Farmer went into a physical and emotional tailspin that, according to this film, was arrested by something that can only be described as ice-pick therapy. Apparently with her mother’s consent, she was subjected to a transorbital lobotomy that turned a talented but disturbed woman into an eerily calm humanoid who lived on until 1970.

At the age of 56, Frances Farmer died of throat cancer in Indianapolis where, she spent her last years as the hostess of an afternoon television program.

”Frances,” which today begins a one-week engagement at the Cinema 2 to qualify for 1982 film awards, is such a mixed up movie that it still seems to be unfinished, as if Graeme Clifford, the director, and the writers hadn’t yet discovered the real point of the Frances Farmer story. It contains too many show-down scenes, too much raw material that hasn’t been refined, and more brutality than either the movie or the audience can make dramatic sense of.

Yet it also contains a magnificent performance by Jessica Lange in the title role. Here is a performance so unfaltering, so tough, so intelligent and so humane that it seems as if Miss Lange is just now, at long last, making her motion picture debut… reprinted from newyorktimes.com

jessica lange as frances…. image credit filmmisery.com

i have been watching footage of news coverage of the floods of 2013 with hodge podge curiosity. it somehow startles me just how rapidly a sense of security and safety can be washed out from under us. i have moved from the honeymoon  phase of a part of my life to somewhere that feels entirely different. i  struggle with inspiration, recognize betrayal and am reminded of the scent a hooker must encounter when she realizes that she is merely being used without much care or concern for the rest of the skills (person) she brings to the table- she is only there for 1 thing. it is if a mudslide has sabotaged my sense of home and safety, washing most of the daily comforts away, leaving silt and mayhem in its midst. in no way am i even attempting to compare my current discomfort to the actual devastation left by the floods i mention- i am merely creating a metaphor to demonstrate my emotional life. my real home and my belongings are still very much in tact. i can still watch tv and take a shower. but i have lost touch with a feeling of safety that had helped me shake loose a prevalent feeling of uselessness that had become home.

walking through the aftermath is what recovery has come to mean for me. not only are there the tangible challenges that life has to offer, but there are the primal patterns and labyrinths we have created as well. maturity affords us perspective, courage, and hope. these attributes feel very different when instinct and impulse are no longer driving the bus. i am going to do my very best to see myself through this challenge, just as i encouraged my dear friend to do. anything less is hypocracy.

“If you are never scared, embarrassed, or hurt, it means you never take chances.

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