Always waiting for the other shoe to drop…

An older post that I’d forgotten I wrote, but I think people will be able to relate to the traumatic experience I describe here.

Lucky Otters Haven

afraid-to-be-happy

I think I made a kind of breakthrough in my therapy session tonight. For years one of my problems has been this overwhelming fear that something bad will happen to one of my kids. (I don’t like to even say the D word because I irrationally believe if I say it, I’ll somehow make it happen, by putting it out into the universe or something).

Of course all parents worry about their adult kids, especially when they know they’re out there somewhere in cars, which we all know are dangerous hunks of metal capable of the most ghastly and gory deaths you can imagine and operated by countless idiots and drunks on the road who can’t drive. I think my apprehension about something bad happening to my adult children edges into OCD-type territory though, because of how overpowering and pervasive these thoughts are, intruding where and when they are not…

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Meet and Greet: 4/1/17

Dream Big, Dream Often

 dreambigwallpaper-pinkombre

It’s the Meet and Greet weekend everyone!!  Strap on your party shoes and join the fun!  

Ok so here are the rules:

  1. Leave a link to your page or post in the comments of this post.
  2. Reblog this post.  It helps you, it helps me, it helps everyone!
  3. Edit your reblog post and add tags.
  4. Feel free to leave your link multiple times!  It is okay to update your link for more exposure every day if you want.  It is up to you!

  5. Share this post on social media.  Many of my non-blogger friends love that I put the Meet n Greet on Facebook and Twitter because they find new blogs to follow.

See ya on Monday!!

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What am I running from?

runningaway

I haven’t posted anything about my therapy on this blog for a long time.   The truth is that lately I’ve been losing interest in my therapy and haven’t even been wanting to go.   Since my sessions are never unpleasant or traumatic, I really don’t know why.  I know I’m not cured, though that thought occurred to me briefly.    Sometimes uncomfortable emotions come up in session, but I actually look forward to those, because it means we can work on them.  They’ve never been cause for me to want to run.

But recently, even while I’m in session, I keep talking about things that have nothing to do with therapy, or even with me.  My therapist correctly pointed out that he sensed I was avoiding something that’s coming up.

In our last session we began talking about an early childhood trauma involving my mother, when I was about 5 -7.  I skirted around the issue and told him I couldn’t give him details, but I was starting to get emotional.   It’s not something I’m able to talk about yet, even with my therapist.  Not even here.  It brings me too much shame even now, but I remember exactly what happened as clear as day.   He wants to explore this with me and I do too, but…I’m afraid to.   It’s too shameful.    But the avoidance started several weeks before this.

So I’ve been losing interest.  This week I felt too tired to go so I didn’t.  That hasn’t happened before.

I just had a dream that may shed some light on what’s going on, because the real reason is occluded even to me.

The dream involved a usual theme that occurs in many of my dreams. Somehow, in spite of my limited income, I had come into ownership of a vast house, so vast that I kept discovering rooms I never knew existed and had never seen before.  Exploring my new home was exciting, but in the back of my mind I knew I really couldn’t afford this house.

There were strangers in the house, as if it was some public place.    I walked through a doorway that opened out to a huge industrial kitchen with huge flat stainless steel cooktops lining an entire wall.  All these random people were cooking — bacon, eggs, steaks, you name it.    I turned to some stranger and told them I owned all this.   I told them that before, I had lived in a one bedroom apartment (my actual place has two bedrooms).  I admitted I wasn’t sure I could afford all this but that I would try.

One of the strangers I met was a very attractive man in his thirties.  (In my dreams I am always younger than my real age).    He seemed interested in me and kept following me around, trying to start a conversation.   I was interested but reticent, so I may have seemed disinterested, even though I wasn’t.   We found a room with tables that had numbers on them, as you might find in a restaurant.

The man invited me to sit down at one of the tables with him, Table #30.   Reluctantly, I did.  He was friendly and asked me many questions.  I was attracted and interested, but also afraid.   As I am in real life, I felt threatened by his interest in me.   But I was willing to get to know him better.  My attraction overrode my wariness.

I admitted to him I was afraid of relationships but that I’d be willing to give one a chance under the right circumstances.   He seemed understanding.

I got up for some reason that I can’t remember and then came back to Table 30.   He was gone.   A woman sitting at a nearby table told me she had seen him leave and drive away.  I was disappointed.  I wondered what I’d done.  I knew I’d never see him again.

I wanted to write this dream down before it fades from my memory, but I haven’t thought about what it could mean yet.    I’m going to mull it over today and if I figure it out, I’ll write another post later.  Right now my brain isn’t working and I just want to go back to bed for a few more hours.

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It’s April Fool’s Day.

aprilfool

Happy-April-Fools-Day-2017-photos

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Emotional Literacy as a Gateway for Healing C-PTSD (Richard Grannon)

Another great video to help sufferers of C-PTSD heal from Richard Grannon (SpartanLifeCoach).

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13 reasons why you should pick up a book and read it.

Knowledge - light

I used to read about three books a week, sometimes as many as four.   As a child and teen, I was a voracious reader, so into my books that the adults around me used to worry about me.  “Why don’t you watch more TV like other kids?” they’d say.   Yes, they actually wanted me to watch more TV because my obsession with books seemed so obsessive. TV was okay, but it never held a candle to my books.

My addiction to books lasted well into my thirties.  But then along came the Internet, and before long, I no longer read three books a week, or even three books a month.  Hell, these days I barely read three books a year.

I’m trying to get back into reading books again, and am rediscovering an old love of mine.  Here are 13 good reasons why you should do the same.

bookshelf2

My bookshelf at home.
  1.  Books are cheap.    You can go to Goodwill or the Salvation Army and pick up used books for a buck or two each.  Yard sales usually have books that are practically free or less than a dollar, and you never know what you might find.  And of course, there are libraries, which carry current titles and all you pay is the cost of a library card.   Some communities also have used bookstores, and in some of them you can trade titles you’ve read for ones you haven’t read and pay practically nothing.
  2. Nothing smells quite like a book.   I’ve always loved the smell of books, and walking into a library is like walking into olfactory heaven.    You can’t get that smell from your Kindle reader.
  3. Books can take you into other worlds.  A good fiction book is like walking into another person’s life and living it for little while.  If you find a book that grabs your attention and you can relate to the protagonist, in a way you actually become that character for awhile.   Chances are, their life is a lot more interesting than yours.  You can go places you will probably never go in real life and have adventures you will probably never actually experience.
  4. You can educate yourself.  Anything you want to know or are interested in, there is a book about it.  There’s no excuse to not educate yourself, with all the books out there you can read.
  5.  Books are attractive.  They look great on shelves or lying on tables,  and are a great way to decorate a room and make yourself look smart at the same time.
  6. Books allow you to be left alone.   If you’re in a public place, such as a bus, a waiting room, or in a park, if people see you reading a book, they will probably leave you alone and let you read.
  7. Books can start new friendships.   Sometimes, if you’re reading a book in a public place, someone may ask what you’re reading.   That can be a great conversation starter, and you never know — you may make a new friend that way.
  8. You can read a book anywhere.  You don’t need to recharge it or have a special table for it or a place to plug it into the wall.   You can lie in bed and read, lie on the floor and read, lie on the beach and read, or even lean back in the tub and read.  You can’t generally go online comfortably (or safely) in these places.
  9. You don’t have to worry about the power going out, viruses, or crashes.   As long as you have a lamp to read by, you can read a book anytime you want.
  10. You will always have something to talk about.
  11. People who read books are perceived as smart.   Even if all you’re reading is the latest beach romance.  The strangers around you don’t have to know that.
  12. Books can relax you.   Whenever I settle down and start reading, it calms my nerves and I stop worrying about whatever’s bothering me.  You can’t worry about your own troubles when you’re engrossed in a character’s life or a subject that fascinates you.   Try not to read horror novels late at night though, if you want to sleep.  If you want to sleep, read a dull book.
  13. You can never really get bored.  If you enjoy reading, you can entertain, educate, or enlighten yourself anytime or any place.
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The one personality trait that explains why some people love Donald Trump.

I know I said I’d try to avoid any more Trump posts, but I found this really interesting so I’m going to share it here.

Someone asked this question on Quora:

“Why do some people hate Donald Trump and others like him?”

The question was asked on September 24, 2016, before he got elected.

In response, someone posted a study, that came to the following conclusion: the surprising truth is that it isn’t race, income, social class, or even political party that determines whether someone likes Donald Trump or hates him. The answer is level of authoritarian traits. People who score high in authoritarian traits (as opposed to egalitarianism) tend to support Trump. People who score high in egalitarianism tend to dislike Donald Trump.

authoritarianism

Why Do Some People Hate Donald Trump and Others Like Him?

https://www.quora.com/Why-do-some-people-hate-Donald-Trump-and-others-like-him

Answered by Yegor Tkachenko, MS in Operations Research, Stanford University

Let’s focus not on why Trump is a monster, or on why Trump is a saint, but on why there is such a split in American society in attitudes when it comes to Trump.

To assure everyone that the split exists, the most recent Rasmussen reports survey indicates that there is a 38%-38% match-up between Trump and Hillary if the national election happened now [Trump 38%, Clinton 38%].

As evidenced by many answers to this question, there is a large group of people who believe Trump is a liar, bigot, racist, con-artist, and also not good on foreign policy (on foreign policy, Trump has often avoided details and has offered some radical and not broadly accepted ideas – such as giving nuclear weapons to Japan and South Korea).

This group of the US population would agree that he is completely unpresidential, very offensive, and some might even think he would bring about the end of the world if elected [Introducing the Trump Apocalypse Watch] or could be a new Hitler.

In the eyes of this group, the fact that 38% of voters in the US support Trump might be quite unexplainable, or the explanation is that those voters are uneducated, gullible, racist, bigoted, hate women, hate minorities, or are simply nuts. In contrast, those who oppose Trump, are the sane ones and have seen through his lies.

Trump supporters would largely ignore the accusations of racism. Where the jaws of the Trump opponents drop when they hear Mexicans called criminals, Trump supporters are quick to point out that Trump’s anger overall is directed not at all of Mexicans (as it may often seem from his words), but only at those who are in the US illegally. In such a case, why would someone not condemn the violators of the law?

Trump supporters, while not necessarily believing that the wall between the US and Mexico will be built, find it to be a beautiful symbol and a smart negotiation tactics to force Mexico officials to help crush the drug traffic into the US, whereas Trump opponents ignore the potential benefits of this idea in negotiations and instead focus on how hard it would be to do economically.

When Trump suggests that he could develop good relations with Russia and Putin in particular, Trump opponents are not really impressed (they might view Putin as mainly a journalist murderer [The complicated reality behind Trump’s claim that there’s no proof Putin had journalists killed]).

However, Trump supporters might see in this a chance to finally normalize the relations between 2 leading world powers, which could have immense impact on the world stability (it is true that a lot of progress could be made on many of the world problems if the US and Russia stopped blocking each other’s proposals in the UN security council using their veto rights [Russian vetoes are putting UN security council’s legitimacy at risk, says US, ‘US has been veto champion in UN for decades’ – Chomsky to RT ]).

The list goes on.

The truth is, Trump supporters do not care about offensive language and about the face-value of Trump ideas, and are always able to give a positive twist to what Trump says, focusing not on the details in his words, but on their perceived purpose.

Trump supporters are also enamored by his ability to say what he thinks, even if it offends someone, and by his ability to preserve and accumulate wealth despite multiple setbacks. Trump supporters are attracted to his leadership skills (Trump has employed thousands of people), and the fact that he has so much money (be it 2 bln or 10 bln) that it would be harder for lobbyists to influence him as a President.

Finally, where Trump opponents view Trump presidency as a disaster and the end to the US as we know it, Trump supporters hope for the creative destruction in the government, where Trump won’t have enough power to do real damage to the country because of the limits on executive power, but will be able to stir everything up enough to bring about some change.

As can be seen from the above, neither group is irrational.

One group values civility, respect, politeness above all – and for them Trump is unacceptable.

This group also tends to take Trump’s words literally at their face value and detests the idea that Trump might be saying something that he does not actually think in order to achieve his goals. For this group such behavior is lying.

The group of Trump supporters views economy to be the most important thing for the US and is of the opinion that too much politeness in political discourse leads to groupthink and lack of progress.

Instead, they want more straight talk even if it offends someone – for even if someone is hurt by the words, they can get over it, but at least politicians can start discussing the issues they were afraid to touch before because of the political correctness police.

This group tends to be ok with not taking Trump’s words literally – they understand that a person can say something he does not really think in order to achieve his goal – and in their opinion it is a smart PR strategy. (For example, a claim that President Obama was not born in the US – how much free media has this claim earned Trump? And do you thing Trump really believed it?)

The existence of these 2 camps that view and value things differently explains why there are so many Trump haters and so many Trump fans at the same time.

Neither group is dumb (although there are some not very intelligent individuals in both groups), and each group is quite diverse in terms of age, race, gender, education, and income levels.

Addressing and challenging the views of either of these camps is something campaigns on both sides will have to do to defeat Trump or bring Trump to victory.

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The 4 types of narcissistic abuse victims.

Originally posted on May 15, 2015

abuse_boy

It’s become clear to me that not all ACONs and abuse survivors are on the same page when it comes to their attitudes toward narcissists.
Because we all are abuse survivors you would think there’d be more solidarity among us, but this is not necessarily the case.

It seems there are four distinct types. In spite of things I may have alluded to in the past, I don’t think any one group is worse or better than any other. They are different, and each has their reasons for having the attitudes they do. I’ll explain why I think the attitudes are different among the four groups. There is definitely a pattern I’ve noticed.

1. The Narc-Hating Group.

female_warrior

These ACONs usually underwent the worst abuse as children, or had two narcissistic parents instead of just one. Having abusive parents seems to instill the greatest anger in victims–more so than having been with an abusive spouse–and this anger isn’t easily let go of. This group has a warrior mentality: to them, ALL narcissists are evil, bad seeds, or demonic, and have no hope whatsoever of recovery or healing. They may acknowledge a continuum or spectrum among narcissists, but it’s not important to them. A narc is a narc is a narc, and they are all considered impervious to change and anything they do is suspect. Some ACONs of this type are ultra-religious and believe all narcissists are seared souls destined for hell.

2. All Cluster Bs are the Same Group.

cluster_b

This group goes a step beyond the first one, in that they believe anyone with a Cluster B disorder–Borderline, Histrionic, Narcissistic, or Antisocial–is character disordered and manipulative, and therefore all pretty much the same and to be avoided like the plague. They do not make exceptions even for Borderlines–the least “malignant” of the four disorders. People who subscribe to this view were as damaged by their malignant narcissistic parents as the first group. One of their parents may have been Borderline or Histrionic, rather than narcissistic– but people with those disorders don’t always make very good parents either. It’s unfortunately all too common for narcissists to collude with Borderlines in the abuse of the child, with the Borderline in the more codependent, subservient role.

3. Not all Narcs are Hopeless Group.

smashingmirror

This group may be in the minority among ACONs (at least among bloggers), but it’s the group I’m evidently in–which has raised the ire of some of the Narc-Hating ACONs. People in this group aren’t going around singing the praises of narcissists and in fact the vast majority strongly encourage No Contact (just as the other two groups do). They do not tolerate or enable narcissistic manipulations and abuse, but they hold that because narcissism may be a spectrum disorder, that those at the lower end of the spectrum (non-malignants) may be redeemable under the proper circumstances and with the proper treatment. They may show more sympathy or empathy for people with narcissism than the first two groups, but they aren’t enablers either. Most do not believe malignant narcissists and psychopaths/sociopaths are redeemable, however.

Many people in this group were part of the Narc-Hating group when they were trying to disengage or go No Contact with their abusers. They used their anger to give them the courage and motivation to disconnect and stay disconnected. But because their hatred and anger toward narcissists isn’t as deeply ingrained as in the first two groups (I’ll explain why in the next paragraph), people in this group eventually can no longer hold onto their anger and prefer to try to understand the motives of those who abused them, while at the same time remaining disconnected from their abusers and not enabling narcissistic behavior. Their desire to let go of anger is very difficult for ACONs of the first two groups to understand, and people of the third group may be seen as betraying the ACON cause, even though this isn’t really the case at all. They’re just handling things differently.

Another reason a person may hold that some narcissists are redeemable is they may have a narcissistic child, and it’s an extremely difficult thing for a parent to accept that their own child may be beyond hope.

It’s been my observation that people in this group may have suffered less severe abuse as children, or had only one narcissistic parent instead of two. One of the parents (usually a codependent spouse) may have actually loved their child, and this love tempered the abuse inflicted on them by the narcissistic parent even if they were forced to collude with the abuse at times. Some people in this group may have even had normal childhoods with non-narcissistic parents, but got involved in relationships or marriages to narcissists (which technically means they are not ACONs at all). It’s been my observation that people who suffered most of their abuse at the hands of a narcissistic spouse or lover rather than a parent never developed the deep hatred toward all narcissists that the first two groups tend to do.

4. Codependents.

Fashion model stylized as marionette doll sitting on violet studio background

Codependents are often (but not always) personality disordered in some way, and many of them are Borderlines or covert narcissists. They are usually victimized by their narcissists, but also identify with and collude with their abusers. Most codependents were abused by narcissistic parents, and are drawn to narcissistic relationships where they are compelled to re-enact their abusive childhoods. This is the group that may never acknowledge they are being abused or reach out for help. They continue to defend and enable their abusers and may believe they are the ones at fault for anything that goes wrong. If a Codependent leaves their narcissist and realizes they were actually being abused, then they are no longer Codependent and join one of the first three categories.

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6 “useless” emotions that aren’t useless, and 2 that really are useless.

Originally posted on July 10, 2016

negative-emotions-crop

I get tired of the positive thinking brigade who tells you you always must be happy and that there’s no place for “negative” emotions.   Not only is it obnoxious to wear a pasted on smile all the time even when you’re not feeling it, it’s not natural or healthy.   Of course, being a positive person who thinks positive thoughts is a good thing, but when it’s taken to ridiculous extremes (and it certainly is in my family, where “negative” emotions are not accepted or allowed) it can be soul-damaging.   Following is a list of unpopular (or “useless”) emotions that definitely have their uses (when they’re not excessive).  There are only two emotions I can think of that have no uses whatsoever, and I’ll describe those last.

1. Guilt.

My father always used to tell everyone that guilt was an unhealthy, useless emotion, but I couldn’t disagree more.   True, excessive guilt is bad for you, but the right amount of guilt separates people with a conscience from the psychopaths. I pointed out this to my father once, and he became enraged.   Hmmm, I wonder why!   The ability to feel guilt keeps us civilized and mindful of the feelings of others.

2. Sadness.

Sadness is a normal reaction to a loss.  It also connects people in those times of loss.  We have socially sanctioned rituals that promote and even encourage the expression of sadness (funerals) but otherwise, people are uncomfortable with the sadness of another and are always trying to cheer you up.   If you’re crying, people always want you to stop. Why?  Feeling sad and crying can be healing; if sadness is repressed it can lead to something much worse–depression.   People need to just shut up and let you be sad and cry if that’s what you need to do.

3. Anger.

There are times it’s appropriate to be angry.    Anger, though toxic both to yourself and others when excessive,  helps you survive.  If you feel threatened or feel that someone close to you is threatened, you are going to fight back.  The only other survival option is to flee (which I’ll talk about next).   Otherwise you’re just going to stand there and let yourself or your loved ones get attacked or treated badly.    Excessive anger, of course, leads to hatred, and hatred is not only useless, it’s dangerous to the soul.

4. Fear.

If you can’t fight (sometimes you can’t), you can flee danger.   Like anger, fear is a survival emotion.   It can be excessive, leading to anxiety disorders, but fear in normal doses is both healthy and appropriate reactions to danger.   It’s important to distinguish whether it’s better to flee (fear) or to fight (anger).

5. Jealousy.

I’m not talking about envy here, an emotion often confused with jealousy.  But they are not the same.   Jealousy refers to the fear that someone is taking something you love away from you; envy refers to wanting what someone else has.  There are similarities though. Both are bitter, painful emotions, hard to deal with.  Sometimes they lead to people attacking the object of their jealousy or envy to “even the score.”   But jealousy has its place.   It’s another survival emotion, similar to anger mixed with fear, that warns you that something that belongs to you is in danger of being taken away.   The problem is jealousy often crops up when there is no real danger of that happening, and that leads to all kinds of problems.  Excessive jealousy can actually be self-defeating and drive what you love away from you — the most obvious example is constantly asking someone you’re in a relationship with if they are seeing someone else, or snooping in their things to find out.  That sort of behavior will eventually drive the other person away.

6. Envy.

I hesitated to put envy here, because on the surface it really doesn’t seem to have any useful purpose.  I almost put it as one of the “useless” emotions I’ll be describing last.  But envy does have one useful aspect.  If it’s not excessive, it can be a motivator, making you take action to improve your own circumstances.   When it’s used that way, it’s really more akin to admiration than envy.   The problem with envy is it can so often turn so bitter that it saps all your energy and lowers your self esteem, making you LESS likely to improve your circumstances or achieve the things you want.

The Two Emotions That Really Are Useless.  

uselessfork

1. Worry.

I heard a great saying once:  “Worry is useless because if what you dread comes to pass, then you’ve lived through it twice; if it never happens, then your worry was in vain.”  I took those words to heart because of how true they are.   Worry is absolutely useless.  If faced with a potentially bad or dangerous situation, worry won’t help you.  If something can be done to prevent the situation from happening, taking action will help,  and once you take action, then there’s nothing more to worry about.   If there’s no action you can take, then worrying about it is a waste of time.  Better to plan how you will deal with it when it happens, than to sit around wringing your hands, pulling out your hair, and making yourself sick over it.

2. Shame.

Shame must be distinguished here from guilt.  Guilt refers to something you did, while shame refers to the person you are.  Guilt is useful because without it, there would be no apologies or amend-making for bad behavior.   People would just go around doing whatever they want, regardless of how it makes others feel.   Shame, on the other hand, is useless because it means feeling sorry not for something you did, but for who you are.  If you were the family scapegoat, then you were the receptacle for all the family shame, and were made to feel like you’re worthless and don’t deserve to live.    Shame is the one emotion that is at the core of all the personality disorders and every case of complex PTSD generated by familial abuse.  It’s incredibly toxic–probably the most toxic emotion there is, and it has about as much usefulness as a bicycle does for a fish.

For more about shame vs. guilt, please read Carrie Musgrove’s article about the important distinctions.

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Remembering my favorite seasons of American Idol.

Since Trump got elected, I feel as if a magnet has been taken over the country’s hard drive.  I barely recognize America as my country anymore, and feel almost like I live in an occupied country.   Politics has taken over my mind.   Things I used to care about — like movies, entertainment television, novels, and other “frivolous” pastimes — hardly seem to matter anymore.

But all this obsessing over current events and the political situation all gets a little too much sometimes, and it helps to remember simpler times — like my interest in the singing competition reality show American Idol that lasted from 2006 through about 2009 or 2010 (after that year the show–and my interest in it–went south).    My interest was renewed somewhat in 2014, because one of the contestants, Caleb Johnson, was from my city and went on to win.

I wasn’t that interested in American Idol during its early years (it began airing in 2002 as a summer replacement show), though perhaps I should have been, since two of its most famous winners, Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood, went on to become major stars who are still making hit records today.   No contestant since has matched their level of success, though several have done well for themselves and have careers in the music industry.

I assumed American Idol was too cheesy to capture my interest (and I won’t deny it could get pretty cheesy), but because my kids were in their early teens and used to watch it, by default I began to watch it too.   The first year I did was in 2006.   It was season 5, the year Chris Daughtry made the Top 4 (and everyone was sure would win).    I watched reluctantly at first, but soon Daughtry, a hard rocker with a post-grunge style very much in vogue at the time,  became my favorite contestant so naturally I had to tune in every week.   I was devastated when he got a shock boot in 4th place.    I didn’t expect that at all. No one did.

In my opinion,  Daughtry’s cover of Fuel’s “Hemorrhage” was one of the best performances ever on this show.

Chris Daughtry’s shocking elimination in 4th place.

Daughtry’s shocking elimination was mitigated somewhat by the fact he became quite successful, with a string of mainstream pop-rock hits over the next few years.

Daughtry’s hit “Home” was used as the elimination song in season 7 every time someone went home (the song played over a film of the contestants’ “journey” on the show.)

The next year I didn’t really have a favorite contestant and didn’t get into it quite as much. A 16 year old named Jordin Sparks won that year.   I would have preferred third placer Melinda Doolittle, a former gospel singer, but that wasn’t to be.   Doolittle’s style probably was a little too old fashioned but she outsang everyone else that season.

2008 (season 7) had its first bona fide rocker win — David Cook, whose style was similar to Chris Daughtry’s.  No one thought Cook would win, but he knew how to play the game, and seemed to top himself every week.  He never had any bad performances. He could cover just about any genre, and make it his own by rearranging the song or by using someone else’s rearrangement that suited him.   2008 was the first year the contestants were allowed to use musical instruments, and David Cook was the first of a long line of white guitar playing male rockers who would keep winning for the next several years (some say this led to the show’s demise).   I was over the moon when he won, because I’d been rooting for him since the auditions and at that time, no one took him very seriously or thought he had any chance at all.

 

Cook’s own rearrangement of the Mariah Carey song “Always Be My Baby”

A performance of his own song, “Anodyne,” which was not on the show, but he performed at many of his concerts on tour.   I’m including it because I love the song, even though the quality here isn’t that good.

The next year, 2009, was the year Adam Lambert, a gay glam rocker, almost won.   Like David Cook, he never had a bad performance, and was creative and innovative, with impressive, unforgettable performances, usually with elaborate stage sets and lighting.   He had a voice that could hit unbelievably high registers, much like Chris Bellamy from The Muse (who was one of his mentors).  Season 8 was a very talented year (some say the most talented year) — all of the Top 4 were great, so it was hard to pick a favorite.   An inexperienced but talented singer named Danny Gokey had a soulful, raw gospel-tinged voice, and most people thought either he or Lambert would win, but neither did.  Gokey finished third.  On finale night, a quiet, unassuming folk-rocker named Kris Allen, who had been building momentum during the last episodes of the season, took the title.   Adam Lambert fans were devastated and shocked.   I wasn’t all that happy with the outcome, as I would have preferred either Lambert or Gokey, but I could see why Allen would take the title. He was very likable and talented in his low-keyed way.

My favorite Adam Lambert performance — a slowed down arrangement of Tears for Fears’ Mad World.

I think season 8 was the last really good season of American Idol.   I watched halfheartedly for the next couple of years, and finally stopped watching at all — and so had my kids, who were entering their 20s and had other interests.

In 2014 though, my daughter mentioned that a boy she had known through her friend in high school (they did not attend the same high school) had made it through the auditions.  His name was Caleb Johnson.   He was a hard rocker with a style reminiscent of the classic rock of the 1970s.     Of course I tuned in to check him out, and saw that he was very good and had a style I enjoyed.   His range was huge.   I didn’t expect he’d go that far though, but every week he kept making it through the rounds, until he made the  Top 3 and a big “homecoming” (a tradition where the Top 3 contestants emerge from the “Idol bubble” and return to their hometowns to be greeted with parades and fanfare) was held here, which I attended.  That was a lot of fun.    I still didn’t think he’d win, but he did.    Unfortunately his album didn’t do very well, but as far as I know, he still makes a living making music and performing at various charity events.

Caleb Johnson’s cover of Aerosmith’s Dream On.

American Idol’s final season was last year, but I didn’t watch any part of it except the finale, because of the tributes to the original judges Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, and Randy Jackson, and many of the former contestants.   I don’t even remember who won.    The show has a good legacy, and was cancelled at the right time, after a 15 year run.  It’s peak years seem like the distant past, even though it really wasn’t all that long ago.

 

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