Brainscan #21 Irreconcilable Differences
I haven't made an issue Brainscan in four years and I hope that this zine helps to explain why. Brainscan 21 explores my recognition of being in an emotionally abusive relationship, the attempts on both parts to right wrongs, the failure to do so, and gathering the strength to take the next step.
What if your private life in your relationship is vastly different than what other people see? When do you know you are in an emotionally abusive relationship? How to you gain the strength to get out of it? What do you do when you know you can't handle the burden alone? What do you do when you feel so alone and terrified of the consequences of leaving, when if it means losing friends, a home, a job and a way life that you love?
These are just some of the ideas explored in this zine through a three year personal narrative that also challenges you to examine your relationships with power, to identify how you express the power you have, and also how you relate to the power that of others possess. But most of all this, zine is about revelation, rebirth, and growth.
44 pages, half sized
Maximum Rock n Roll
"I want to start by saying what I would normally save for the last sentence of a review: I highly recommend this zine. That needs to be stated first because the description of this zine might lead readers to pass it off as one of those way-too-personal post-riot-grrl feminist zines calling some boy out for being a dickhead.
I don't know if this is a universal phenomenon, but in Portland, where this zine happens to be from, there was a short-lived but intensely polarized heyday for that sort of zine in the mid-90's. There was even a new term coined, where the allegedly dickheaded boy (or sometimes a girl) is said to have been "zined." In one respect, the subject of this zine, the thinly disguised "J," can be said to have been zined.
But the true subject of Brainscan #21 is the writer herself, Alex, who wrote this as a way of working through the pain of ending a six-year-long relationship. Alex paints a plain yet detailed portrait of a relationship where one person uses his ideology and his status in the scene as divices for control and psychological abuse. Alex does not use the word abuse lightly. As a matter of fact the word never even appeared in this zine's original incarnation. It was only after readers pointed out to her that what she experienced was in fact a form of abuse that she came to recognize it as such.
I get very uncomfortable reading about suffering of any kind and was afraid that at some point this zine too intense. But Alex manages to describe the intricacies of this dysfunctional relationship without being emotionally overwhelming, and creates a narrative that kept me engaged to the very end.
I recommend this to anyone who cares about power dynamics in the scene and in relationships, anyone who may be in an abusive relationship (physical or psychological) or knows someone who is, and most importantly in my eyes, anyone who may be an abuser or the controller in a relationship. That adds up to just about everyone, probably." (PC)
Punk Planet Review:
This issue of Brainscan details zinester Alex Wrekk's experiences in a mentally abusive, oppressive relationship--and her subsequent realization of such abuse and struggle, culminating in a decision to leave. She describes her own thoughts and feelings and the actions of her partner in such a compelling way that it is more about self-discovery than victimization. Her words are powerful and helpful for those experiencing the same kind of torment but who rationalize away the "mind fucks" their partners inflict on them. Through her writing, she calls attention to her past situation to help others and tries to understand why she let herself be controlled in an abusive manner for so long. It is worth reading and largely aims at pointing out such controlling behavior in all people, not just between romantic heterosexual couples. (AJA)
Zine World Review:
Brainscan #21: "irreconcilable differences" Alex made this zine to explain to everyone why her public relationship came to an end but also to share her experiences, in the hopes that others who might be in a similar situation could relate to it and see they are not alone.
Throughout the zine, Alex strives to be diplomatic, never bad-mouthing (although she does recount specific incidents of her ex's behavior) as she describes the controlling, emotionally abusive relationship. The zine is about her: how she lost her sense of self, how the relationship, and his actions, changed her, and how she regained her strength.
"What do you do when your private image of your partner
doesn't fit with their public image, or even clashes with it?"
"There comes a point when your mental well-being is more important than making someone else happy."
Brainscan #21 is one of the most candid and empowering zines I have ever read. We can all learn from this zine, about the power dynamics in our relationships, about respect, manipulation, and control.
In her riveting zine, Alex Wrekk writes in raw and powerful detail about her marriage to a man named J who dominates the relationship and systematically chips away at her self-esteem until she feels like a big zero, like she's the one who is crazy. (Projection and gaslighting are tactics of choice used by the cowardly abusers, but victims donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t usually "get it" until they are in way over their head.)
I believe no one can fully understand what a Herculean task escaping and recovering from abuse is unless they have traversed a twisted relationship personally. And emotional abuse is particularly insidious because of its lack of visibility. There are no black eyes and no scars to tell the tale. The scars are psychic and horrifically alienatingÃ¢â‚¬â€unless the victim talks to a good therapist and reads about this type of abuse pattern.
When I received this zine to review, I figured IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d read a few pages before going to sleep, but I couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t stop until I finished the whole story. This woman went above and beyond the call of duty and obligation to her marriage vows in trying to work things out, but, as with these cases, emotional abusers donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t really change. She finally gives up and sets out to save herself, and I wanted to shout Ã¢â‚¬Å“Yay!Ã¢â‚¬Â
ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a great story, very well paced, and Alex gets extra special reader points from me because of her guts in putting it out there. I also believe that as a writer, Alex benefits from her experience. In the process of excavating herself from the ruins, she wins the prize of a deeper, wiser soul.