Practiced Professional

The music from the jukebox blares intrusively, vying for place over the din of the crowd. Hooting laughter comes from the far corner of the bar. Somewhere at one of the high top tables, a girl shrieks in boozy delight as her friend shows her something on her phone. She doubles over, slapping the table and nearly knocking her drink over. I stare at her, unaware I am doing so, wondering what is so funny, and who’s expense the laughter might be at. An old high school buddy saying something stupid on Facebook? An ex having a bad day? It could be a million things in this era of everyone sees everything everyone does.

“Excuse me? Miss?”

I continue watching the two girls and absentmindedly pick up my plastic solo cup that anyone casually observing would assume is water. Jokes on them, though, because it’s not. It’s my secret weapon. Rumpleminz. 100 proof of minty flavored liver murder. Now to be fair, to me, at this point it goes down about like water. It’s warm and syrupy, but I don’t flinch as I slug it. Who flinches from water? You have to know what you’re doing.

Again, louder. “MISS!”

Oh, shit. That’s me. I’m working.

I turn my attention toward the voice. Smile, hey, hi there, howya doin, what can I get fer ya? Make drinks. Laugh at terrible jokes. Wipe the bar. Slug the rumplminz. Repeat.

The potent, sugary solution hugs my insides. It puts a hand over the forever yelling mouth of my insecurity and shuts it up with practiced ease.

Some people don’t drink hard liquor because it burns their gut.

I have grown to love that burn, I revel in its caustic effect on both my body and my mind.

Sometimes I love it so much that even a practiced professional high functioning alcoholic like me overdoes it a bit. I can feel the muscles in my mouth get a bit too slack and know my eyes may be glazing over. As much as I seek those feelings, I can’t be letting on that my “water” is actually high-octane schnapps…the bosses tend to frown upon us getting wasted on their dime.

Luckily, this practiced professional has a method for that too.

“Hey, Devon, can you watch the bar for me for a minute? I gotta run to the bathroom.”

She bounces over, a beautiful little redhead with the looks of a flapper and the sass of an actress. Sometimes I wonder who knows. But not enough to give a shit.

She slides behind the bar and takes my place, and I pat her and spit some witty comment about the bitchy server that no one likes. Cool as a cucumber. Grab my purse as I walk out.

I walk out of the bar and detour through the kitchen briskly. Everyone is busy, which is perfect, because no one notices as I grab a little white appetizer plate on the other side of the expo line and drop it in my purse as I walk out and directly into the bathroom.

The countdown begins. I know Devon won’t care if I take a few minutes, but efficiency and time are of the essence. Twenty minute bathroom breaks don’t look that great. Luckily the Adderall are the little pink pills instead of the pain in the ass time-release capsules, which are an absolute BITCH to grind up. I glance in the mirror as I walk by it. Nothing alarming, aside from being a bit too gaunt, and my cheeks are definitely getting flushed from the heat of the liquor in my blood. My Irish lineage seems to make it impossible for me to control that one telltale giveaway. I always turn red.

No time to dwell on that.

Thankfully, the bathroom is empty, not that it would stop me if it wasn’t, but it certainly takes away from the stress. I take a pill out of the zipper compartment of my wallet and grab my driver’s license. Hang my purse up and sit down on the toilet.

I nibble the pill first. It’s a science to me now, how I weave the substances together, including the method of delivery. Eating the pills is a slower starting but longer lasting effect. So when I have enough, I eat a little and snort some, so I get the hard hitting blast of the inhalation high but still the lingering trace of the ingestion.

Practiced professional, remember?

I smash the ID down on a quarter of a pill and grind it against the plate. The pink ones bust up easy and pretty quickly I have a pile of powder. I chop it into two decent lines and am grabbing the twenty out of my pocket when someone comes in.

FUCK.

I can’t do this part with someone in here.

Giggling. The stall door next to me slams. I watch their feet. She stumbles into the stall, still cackling to her friend outside the door.

“Did you fucking SEE that shit? I cannot BELIEVE she has the nerve to come up and talk to Sarah like it’s nothing. What an idiot!”

The girl outside the stalls laughs and slurs something unintelligible. I wait, not patiently, but they move quickly, surely eager to get back to Sarah and their Jaeger bombs.

The door swings open. I can hear Bruno Mars for a second as I watch their feet disappear.

I put the rolled up bill to the plate and suck the lines back, one after another, both with the same nostril so they aren’t both fucked if I overdid it. Squeeze my eyes shut and close the unused nostril, pull back deep with the other. Then snort it all back.

Just as comforting as the burn of the liquor, is the taste of the drip. Each different pill, varying by does, manufacturer, and fast or extended release, has a different taste. This one is actually somewhat pleasant, sweet, reminiscent of candy. A dream compared to the nasty burn of the 30 mg time-release beads that are obnoxious to crush as well. I don’t care anyway though. It’s all part of the ritual.

For a moment, the guilt creeps in. I think of my son, home sleeping. My husband, already exhausted with my shit, and not even aware of the epic extent of it.

But I am also a practiced professional at stuffing those thoughts and feelings, and soon the drugs will take hold and push them out even more effectively, though not for good. Numbness is my lover, and the feelings I experience when it wears off only drive me further into its arms.

 

Lick the plate. Throw it back in my purse to put in the dirty dish bin when I have a chance.

I glance in the mirror again on my way out, this time the check is more thorough. Check my nose. My pupils. Then go traipsing back out to the bar and resume my alternating making and taking drinks.

Closing time. The fun begins now. Restaurant/bar culture is a whole world of it’s own. We come out to play when the rest of the party animals are stumbling in for the night, resigned to another hungover Friday at the office. We don’t have that worry, no one has to be back to work til 4 p.m., and it’s only just after 1 a.m. as we lock the doors. No one wastes a second. Beers are popped open and shots begin to flow as we all laugh and stack chairs.

I’m already drunk, but now don’t have to maintain that I am not. I make a beeline for the Bacardi Dragonberry. I fill a pint glass with ice, then two thirds of the way with the flavored rum, and top it with Sprite to justify that it’s a mixed drink. Open a Coors light and set that next to it.

Laughter, cigarettes, obscenity. We fight over the jukebox and dance clumsily around the high tops. Finally the manager finishes her count for the night and corrals us all out of the place like toddlers on a field trip.

4 am bar. Shots. Bathroom trips. More cigarettes.

Someone is mad at someone, someone can’t find her phone, someone’s arguing about their ability to drive. It’s the same shit. Alcohol fueled Groundhog’s Day. I laugh, sing along to the songs we all know, trade war stories, play the part.

I’m having fun, right?

I am a practiced professional.

But it festers. It festers below the surface.

There is something else I am a practiced professional at.

I am a liar.

I lie about everything. I have to, living this way, a wife and mother, an employee, a daughter, a sister, a friend.

The lies feel like shit. They pile up and weigh me down.

So I drink. And I use.

Then I lie more. Then I drink more. And use more.

These thoughts intrude rudely, interrupting my oblivion with their harsh reality. I can taste shame in the back of my mouth, so I hail the bartender.

“SHOTS!” I demand, gesturing at the cluster of us. “We need some fuckin SHOTS!”

I slap a fifty down on the sticky bar. Easy come easy go.

Bottoms up. Again and again.

After party. Someone’s house. So many hours of my life spent standing around a smoky garage, having conversations I will never remember.

More cigarettes. More booze. Now there’s blow. Not a moment too soon, because the Adderall is beginning to struggle against the amount of alcohol I have consumed since the beginning of my shift 12 hours ago. I try not to let my mind touch the fact that it’s probably easily enough to have put a college football player in a coma, and I barely weigh a buck ten. The fleeting thought that I have to open the bar at ten AM tomorrow for a double does nothing to slow me down. I’m all in now. I have drugs to assist me when that reality rears it’s ugly head in a mere 5 hours.

The last few of us shitshow warriors finally trickle off to respective couches, beds, and sadly, cars, at around 7 a.m.. I collapse onto the upstairs study sofa, wrap my sweater around my legs, and try to figure out how I’m gonna sleep after all that coke. About five seconds after the though passes, I am unconscious.

I startle awake to the sound of my phone alarm. The sun is an ignorant asshole with no sympathy for the disaster in my skull. I can’t move. Everything hurts.

FUCK I gotta work holy shit what time is it goddammit

I grope blindly at the floor where I can hear the phone going off.

Grab it, look at the time with one eye. Must have been going off for a hot minute, because I have much less time then I need to get ready, certainly with the unholy canvas I’ll be working with.

I try to stand up from the couch and have to sit right back down as black spots dance across my vision.

I am weak, I can feel my blood sugar going completely insane. I try to recall if there was any food in the last 24 hours, but I can barely remember how I got here, let alone minor details.

I stumble into the bathroom with my purse. My guts are churning and my head feels like it is filled with hammers and knives.

The shower is supposed to help. It doesn’t.

I step out and stand in front of the mirror to do my makeup.

I flinch at what I am looking at.

Good god. There isn’t enough makeup in the world for this mess.

I HAVE to stop doing this.

Standing up right now is the equivalent of doing a biathlon. I dig out my eyeliner and start to put it on, but there is a problem.

I can’t.

I can’t put my fucking eyeliner on because my hands are trembling so badly.

I swear as I smudge it for the third time.

My stomach churns harder at the knowledge that sets in. I don’t even fight it.

I am a practiced professional at detaching my mind from what my body is doing.

I slink down the stairs to the cabinet I know Wendy keeps her liquor in. I open it, and my eye settles on the bottle of blueberry Stoli.

I pick it up in my shaky hand, twist the cap off, and close my eyes. Two big swallows, I squeeze my eyes harder. The heat blooms in my stomach, searing, horrifying, but soothing.

Twist the cap on and replace the bottle.

I sit on the floor for a moment with my eyes closed. It is oddly quiet, surely the calm before the hangover anxiety storm begins to wrack my brain with unrelenting vengeance.

I relish the peace. Focus on the burning in my gut.

I can feel an ache in my kidneys, but there’s not time to worry about that right now. I open my eyes, look down, and hold out my hand.

It is steady.

Emotionless, I reflect on the fact that I am about to do it all again.

1 month, and countless shots and lines after that disgusting morning, I drag my drunk, depleted shell into a hospital addiction treatment unit. I fight through minutes, hours, and months, of absolutely intolerable cravings to drink.

I miss my lover.

I am not a practiced professional at sobriety.

I am terrified, overwhelmed, and have no idea what the fuck I am doing.

Five years and countless rough patches and life lessons after that drunk, depleted shell walked into that hospital, I am still standing.

I don’t miss my lover.

Like so many of us do after we finally escape a nightmare of a relationship that we couldn’t seem to get out of for way too long, I look back on my time with that lover and shudder.

I no longer seek numbness. I have found what really feels good in life. The things that get me “high” but do not destroy my soul and body in the process.

I am now a practiced professional at surviving.

I now seek feeling, and life, and all of the little moments that make it up.

Real laughter with real friends.

Waking up in the morning with a clear head.

Never having to remember anything, because I always tell the truth these days.

The feeling after a good workout.

The taste of pizza.

A real connection with a good man.

The look in my dad’s eyes on each sober anniversary.

Walking the stage to receive my degree in addiction studies.

Helping those who battle the demons that nearly destroyed me.

And, last, but by far the greatest, the smile on my son’s face when he says, “you’re the best mom ever.”

 

 

 

 

Fine/NOT fine

1524237305071How many of us really want an honest response to the question, “how are you?”

How many of us, if given a truly honest response, could handle it?

How many times have you said, “I’m fine”, knowing goddamn well that you were far from it?

I do it all the time. I do it not for my benefit, but for yours and everyone else’s.

I say “I’m fine”, because I am pretty sure when you ask me how I’m doing, you don’t want to hear me respond with, “oh actually, I’m REALLY shitty. I am obsessing over the horrific emotional abuse my ex put me through as a way to not think about the pain of the current relationship that just fell apart totally unexpectedly on me.  My anxiety makes me yell at my kid, which makes me feel like a shitty mom, which depresses me. Sometimes I resent my sobriety because it makes being single even harder than it already is. Oh, also, my childhood trauma keeps bubbling over into my present life and fucking with my ability to have a normal relationship. I have horrible imposter syndrome today, and I can’t stop comparing myself to people I perceive as better than me. Also, sometimes I can’t stop replaying the sexual abuse I experienced and trying to figure out if it was somehow my fault. Anyway, enough about me, how are you?”

Can you hear the crickets? The meme of the guy blinking? Yeah.

So….

“I’m fine.”

Those two words can be very dangerous. They become automatic. I said them when I was in active addiction all the time. I have said them when I was feeling hopeless and close to suicidal. I have said them when I was wasted. I have said them when I was at work trying to function through a hangover that was bordering on alcohol withdrawal. I have said them when I was paralyzed by fear and anxiety.

I have said those words so many times when I so desperately needed to say anything BUT those words, when I really needed someone to hold some space for me and let me say what was going on, but when I opened my mouth, out it came.
“I’m fine.”

So why the fuck do I say it?

I say it because I don’t want to burden someone with the heaviness of the things that sometimes weigh on my mind.

I say it because I hate the look I have gotten so many times when I offered up only a fraction of the truth.

I say it because if you haven’t had a life that has familiarized you with the kind of things I have lived through, you may judge me or reject me.
I say it because I get tired of being told that I’ve been through worse, that I’m strong, I’ll get through it. As well intended as those words are, in a moment of honest vulnerability about being not okay, they only serve to trivialize how I am feeling and nudge me to stop complaining about it.

I say it now, because I am in recovery, and I am supposed to be ok, right?

Well, here’s the truth.

I AM in recovery. I am NOT fine all the time. Sometimes I am so far from fine I don’t know who the fuck I even am. I think some of us get into longer term recovery and are looked upon to have our shit together, to be pillars of strength, inspirational beings who have beaten down our demons and stand smiling and victorious on their corpses.

That, for me, is simply not the case. Like, at ALL.

I fell into a highly toxic relationship with a coldhearted, cruel, stone cold narcissist who shredded my fledgling self-esteem I had just begun working so hard at. IN RECOVERY.

I stayed in that nightmare for three years.  IN RECOVERY.

I have days where my anxiety leaves me paranoid, obsessing, and unable to do my job or be a parent. IN RECOVERY.

I have been financially irresponsible and totally selfish with my impulses. IN RECOVERY.

I am STILL codependent and have major problems with my ACOA traits. IN RECOVERY.

I have made mistake after mistake after mistake and had bad day after worse. IN RECOVERY.

Getting sober, and even staying sober, does not automatically denote that you are in the clear from all the monsters that clamored inside of you while you were using.

I have to stop myself sometimes when “I’m fine” starts to come out of my mouth, because those too often were the words that hindered me ever getting better. My life did not change until I stopped saying “I’m fine,”, and I plopped down on my dad’s couch and said, “I’m fucked up. I’m addicted to pills and cocaine and I can’t stop drinking. I need help.”

Saying “I’m fine” almost got me killed. My extreme aversion to “bothering anyone” almost cost me my sanity, and my life.

It is still a work in progress. I still say it too much. But now I also do things like texting a trusted friend who is in recovery, as uncomfortable as it might make me, and saying “I’m having a REALLY bad day right now.” And then when she responds, can you talk for a few if I call, then saying yes. And then getting very honest about where I am at.

Because you know what happens after that? Well, I’m not fine, but I am sure as hell better than I was before the call.

We have to remember that even as we get farther along in our recovery, it is FINE not to be fucking FINE all the time. We are humans. We are humans who likely had some serious shit roiling beneath the active addiction, and the shit doesn’t go away overnight. Fact is, some of it is so far in us, or so painful, it may NEVER go away. You may need to talk about some of your shit for the rest of your life. We can find a balance between living in the pain of our past, constantly ripping our scars open to watch them bleed, and stuffing, repressing, and denying our truth.

The other side of this is being the kind of person that people don’t think they have to say “I’m fine” to. The more of us there are, the more chance there is that someone who needs so badly to feel safe enough to be honest about where they are at, will have the opportunity to do so. Be a safe place. Be a lighthouse. Be someone who can handle the squirmy details without flinching.

And for god’s sake, stop being fucking FINE all the time.

Bad joke

A narcissist and an empath walk into a bar.

Then the narcissist blatantly hits on the waitress in front of the empath, denies it, tells her she’s overreacting, demeans her with a smile on his face, and tells her to stop being so dramatic when she responds to it.

Then he talks about himself for the entire night.

Shitty joke, right? It only gets worse.

He decides where they will go and with who, and if she suggests anything else, he tells her she’s being rigid and uptight.

While they are out, he makes occasional underhanded comments that slice at her self-esteem like little razor blades. But he does it so proficiently; it’s often undetectable, except from the visible cringe and growing frustrated anxiety of the empath.

When she finally snaps back after one too many of the backhanded digs, he recoils in feigned surprise and hurt. He tells her that she is angry and emotional. He tells her to relax…he’s just having a little fun.

That is a narcissist.

The only “fun” they have is at the expense of someone else.

The emptiness of the narcissist is vast….and demanding. It is rooted in pain. But the nature of a personality disorder is to not recognize that there is an issue with the set of behaviors, and they often run unchecked. So the greedy, needy, impulses wreak havoc on those who become entangled in the snare.

The empath is the ideal target. The narcissist recognizes very quickly that if all else fails, an empath is hard pressed to turn their back on pain. They are emotional sponges, sensitive to the pain of others, and often fall into caretaking and codependent behaviors if they are not careful.

Eventually, the empath is put through the parasitic cycle of the narcissist’s needs one too many times, and attempts to break free.

And here, suddenly before them, is the person of their dreams.

The one from the beginning, the one with all the love bombing.The one who is attentive, interested, and mirrors all of the thoughts, feelings, and interests of the empath so there is a forged intense connection.

The persistence of the narcissist MUST mean they truly love and care, right??

Wrong.

This is a game. This is about power, control, and winning.

The empath does not recognize this, as it is a far cry from their hypersensitive, emotion based thought process. They are naïve to the concept of people as objects. And so they are pulled back in for a few more rounds with this practiced manipulator.

All the while, the small digs, the gaslighting, the withheld affection alternated with love bombing, the manipulation of reality itself, grates away at the self-esteem and psyche of the empath. A once confident person finds themselves wrestling with insecurity. A once clear and focused individual finds themselves constantly questioning things they have witnessed with their own eyes or ears.

The relationship becomes intolerable to the empath, who finds themselves forever trying to shift and adjust to the whims of the narcissist. The narcissist’s perpetual boredom and constant need for stimulation trigger fights, infidelity, and chaos. The empath becomes resentful, but attempts to walk away are met with pleading displays of affection and empty promises of change.

However, eventually, the true underlying colors will come out if the empath holds fast to something against the wishes of the narcissist.

Taunting, jeering, condescending rants. Attacks that do not focus on a behavior or argument topic, but go right after the empath as a person. The narcissist is an expert at reading people as it is vital to them using others to get their needs met. This comes in extremely handy when the time comes for them to lash out in resentful rage. They quickly pick up on your values, which is what they will slash at. Pride yourself on being kind and compassionate? The narcissist will label you mean, coldhearted, and cruel. Do you hold your work ethic up as an asset? The narcissist will tell you that you are lazy and shiftless. Maybe it’s your confidence and surefootedness that make you stand out. Then you will probably be slandered as insecure and desperate.

If it carries on long enough, the empath will find that they are exhibiting similar behaviors to the narcissist. They collapse inward and begin resorting to manipulation, similar to the narcissist. The toxic behaviors all begin to mirror one another.

If the empath is wise, they will finally use this total unraveling as the final sign to heed and run far and fast, going totally no contact, if possible.

Then the smear campaign begins. Narcissists HATE to lose. The emptiness that drives their behaviors is deep and painful, and any abandonment only adds to this. When they lose the ability to control the empath, they will shift their focus to how others see them. The narcissist thrives on the validation and admiration of others, and they will not allow this to be compromised by a perceived defeat. So they go on the offensive. They will slander the empath, make them out to be a monster, they will play the victim and tell everyone how “crazy” the empath was.

Most narcissists seem to have a list of exes that are “bipolar” “crazy” “unstable” “dramatic”, etc. This is one of the earliest warning signs of dealing with one. They will pit you against people you have never met, breaking them down to build you up, and painting themselves as a victim. What they leave out is how their constant psychological manipulation often frazzles even the most secure of people they come in contact with. Those who end up in a relationship with one DO often behave in ways they are later ashamed of after the continuous erosion of their sanity by the narcissist.

They also have exes that they keep in their pocket to suck attention and energy out of, in the event of their current target leaving, or boring them. They cannot be without a fan club of sorts, or they are forced to experience their deep-rooted, extremely uncomfortable feelings of inadequacy.

All told, the narcissist will likely never let go of such a valuable source of attention and amusement as the empath provides them. It is up to the empath to make the break, stick with it, and then begin the work in earnest of rebuilding. This includes taking responsibility for their part in it, and understanding what parts of them need healing to prevent it from happening again.

This toxic nightmare can leave the empath cursing the nature of what they are, as it made them more vulnerable to the wiles of the narcissist, which in turn, broke them down so badly.

Don’t let that happen. Don’t ever regret being who you are. Being a kind, in tune, forgiving person is not a curse, it is a gift. If you crossed the path of one of these people, forgive them for their actions that they are often unable to control, and let them go. Thank them for showing you the parts of you that needed your attention, and for the lessons you learned.

 

143 ❤️

 

A monk with a smartphone

Yay! Something good!

Who doesn’t love something good? Good song, good talk, good sex, good day, good laugh…good shit is good. So when you find something good you’ve really, really wanted, you enjoy it and do what it takes to keep it, right?

Wrong.

Well, wrong if you’re like me and have no idea what to do with good things. Me with a good thing is what I imagine a Buddhist monk is like with a smart phone.

I DON’T UNDERSTAND THIS!!!!!

So here comes a challenge. It’s funny how the things we develop to protect us at certain points in our lives later can be the walls that keep us from everything we want. Defense mechanisms exist for a reason…usually early in life, something is happening around us that is too painful or traumatic or confusing to process, so our mind protects itself. The child who is trying to survive in a chaotic alcoholic home learns to detach and retreat into themselves. The teen who lacks a parental role model begins to emulate the gang members around him. The young girl whose parents are constantly battling one another and ignoring her existence overcompensates every aspect of her life trying to gain notice and acceptance. These things are meant as a way to protect us. Make us feel better. Comfort us. But they grow. They mutate. They turn into big, hungry, demanding beasts that push us into making choices we don’t realize we are making, or do realize and don’t want to, but find ourselves helpless. Suddenly, you realize that you are a puppet to your past and your strings are being yanked and pulled away from the things you so desperately want from life.

We all have things like this to a degree. Some of us are worse than others. Some of us see our flaws, and some don’t. Some of us want to change, some are content with the behaviors and their consequences.

I have never been shy about the things I’ve lived through or the ways I have to fight with myself to move forward. I probably tell everyone far too much, and I know that. But I say these things and share these experiences because I know that there are others out there quietly hurting. Silently wishing they could be different…be better. Wishing for the strength to beat their situation. To not follow their parents footsteps, or continue to fail at relationships, or be a doormat, or overcome their temper. Whatever it is. So I over-disclose for this simple reason: I cannot undo what has happened to me, nor can I stop the things I struggle with (not yet, anyway)…but I CAN control whether I take that and use it for something good. And to me something good is someone out there feeling a little better because they see themselves in some little part of something I say and find comfort in it. Or hope. Or strength. Or motivation to make a change.

Anyway…back to what I was saying. My defenses are pretty glaringly obvious and I have them for reasons anyone who knows me is aware of by now. I was the girl who overcompensated as a child and became a tiny adult and a fixer because her mother was emotionally unable to pay her any love or affection. I am the girl who does not trust people to do what they say they will do, because she was constantly let down. I am the girl with a HUGE fear of rejection and abandonment because the one person who was supposed to love her and be there no matter what, lost her battle and chose to end her life in what felt like the biggest rejection and abandonment of all time. I am the girl who put herself in the way of too many men who were manipulators and alcoholics and users and now constantly looks for warning signs and secret agendas and tricks.

I am also the girl who is fighting hard to have good things in her life…and they are actually beginning to happen.  So here is where things get tricky. Where is that middle ground? How do you trust in a process when the unknown has always caused you immense anxiety? How do you “let it be” when feeling out of control is one of your biggest barriers? How do you act like a normal person WHEN YOU ARE NOT A FUCKING NORMAL PERSON AT ALL?

As it stands, I have no idea. What I do know is that it is not productive to bring your old bullshit to the party. A also know that that’s FAR easier said than done. Again…these tools we’ve picked up, we did for a reason. But you don’t need use a hammer to paint a picture or use a screwdriver to straighten your hair. The time has come in my life when I have to believe that what I am doing is right, what I need will come, and whatever happens is what is supposed to happen. I cannot continue to use my old ways of thinking to try and get new results. I cannot let my old, tired insecurities and self-doubts continue to guide my course and expect to end up at a beautiful new destination. I know that I will only steal from myself if I allow my fears and anxieties to overtake the magic of new beginnings.

I am not afraid to tell you all that I am terrified of a lot of things. I am terrified of everything from spiders to having my heart broken. And sometimes I am terrified the old Jessie will shit on the good things that new Jessie has. But if I have learned one thing, I have learned that I am resilient. That even though more times than I care to think about, my internal monologue is pretty awful and unforgiving, I’ve succeeded. I’ve beat things I thought I couldn’t. I made a conscious decision to break my family’s cycle of addiction before it consumed myself…and also my son. And breaking free from active addiction is all about changing behaviors. Learning your triggers and taking their magic away. Replacing old bad habits with new healthy ones.

So there is nothing now that says I can’t fix what’s broken…except me.

We are constantly getting in our own way. Making problems where there were none, worrying about things we have zero control over, stressing about what’s already said and done. We forget that although we are powerless over many things in life, we ALWAYS possess the power and the ability and the strength to change our lives from the inside out. It really does start with you. If your past hurt you, that sucks. It really, really does….trust me, I get it a thousand percent. But YOU are the one who lets it continue to hurt you. YOU are the one who lets it come slithering into your life like some douchey guy at a bar. Tell that guy to fuck off. You don’t want him to buy you a drink or give you his number….It’s always the same shit with that guy.

Leave it behind. Enjoy your good shit.

143

Jessie

 

regain

You hold on tight
To the very thing
That tears you up
Yet still you cling
Without it there
The pain too real
Your thoughts will race
Too much you’ll feel
You fight the world
You fight yourself
You put your dreams
On the back shelf
There is nothing else
But chasing a high
Comfort in numbness
Cloaked in a lie
Your demons grow
They call the shots
Your personality gone
Potential rots
And all the while
You refuse to see
That you can’t win
“It won’t happen to me”
“I can stop anytime”
“I won’t stoop that low”
“At least THAT’S not me”
“No one will know”
And the lies pile up
Rationalize it all
Victim of the pride
Before the fall
It’s hunger grows
You feed it more
Lie, steal, cheat
A slave is born
You’re at it’s every
Greedy whim
Head going under
Trying to swim
One of two roads
Lie up ahead
You change your ways
Or you end up dead
Neither is easy
They both demand work
But one will bring joy
That is borne of the hurt
One a desperate existence
That will suck you dry
A broken spirit
Often wishing to die
The other a struggle
But a miracle too
Grab that glimmer of hope
And let it pull you through
To the other side
Of the fear and the pain
What you lost and more
You will regain

Action trumps all.

You will never be able to simply TALK something you want into existence.

You cannot research something into reality.

You cannot wish quietly day after day until the wish just spontaneously comes to be.

The only path to your dreams is the path of action

Sometimes action means taking risks—financially, emotionally, physically. It can mean risking a heartbreak, jeopardizing a relationship, losing your savings, looking stupid, or not looking anything at all and going completely unnoticed.

You will face criticism along the way, often in direct proportion to how far out you are sticking your neck to achieve your goal. Most of this criticism will come from people who are angry because they are too lazy or scared or stuck to go after their OWN dreams, and so they comfort themselves by tearing down anyone who is out there making things happen. Pay no mind to these people. They do not need your anger, or your defensiveness. They already live in their own self-imposed punishment every day. People like this love nothing more than to try to dull other people’s shine so that they do not feel alone in their underachieving ways. They take no responsibility for their part in their own stagnation. They are not supportive at best and highly, highly toxic at worst. Simply step around them.

Your fears will lie to you. They will say things like

“You aren’t good enough at that.”

“There’s too many other people out there who are better than you.”

“You’re gonna look like an idiot.”

“What if you fail?!”

“It’s too big of a risk, just be happy with where you are.”

I don’t encourage foolish, impulsive, reckless, self-defeating action. However, if your heart is screaming at you to do something…

Stop ignoring that. Stop allowing it to be batted down before you ever even try. Stop telling yourself it’s too far away

My journey to sobriety began with telling my dad I needed help.

My fitness journey began with walking into a gym, being confused as fuck for one day, and then hiring a trainer.

My career began with finding an internship and believing I had what it took to do it.

TAKE A GODDAMN STEP.

If you spend every day at your office job daydreaming about your childhood dream of being a vet tech…look up some classes.

If you roll over every night to face away from a person who hurts you that you stay with out of fear of being alone…call a therapist. Find a hobby. Start looking for what is missing inside you that makes you desperately need another person to feel ok.

If you can’t fall asleep at night or function in a social situation without getting half wasted, or you can’t stop eating painkillers to get through your day…..acknowledge it’s a problem and call a fucking treatment center.

If you hate your body and eat too much or don’t eat at all when you get anxious and then get anxious about how you look and cry when you try on clothes…get to the gym and sign up. Talk to your doctor or a dietitian about how to eat the right way for your health.

If you have a friend or family member you fell out with and it hurts you every day to be without them…PICK UP THE PHONE AND DO YOUR PART TO FIX IT.

Almost any of the situations we remain paralyzed in, we do so because of fear or pride. We fear things like rejection, failure, and the unknown. Pride holds us fast in resentment and unwillingness to change.

As you grow older, and you start to face realities, especially losses, you may start to develop a sense of urgency. You start to realize that if you do not go for it, you will never have it. And that the time you have to do so is not only very short, but it is not guaranteed. Sadly, most will do nothing with this realization except let it cause them regret and anxiety.

We all laughed and rolled our eyes at “YOLO”.

But shit, maybe those kids were onto something.
Because honestly…. you only get one life. There is only one you. There is only so much time that the world will get to experience your unique set of gifts and traits for. Don’t waste that away in mediocrity and fear of what you don’t know.

Get out there and make it happen.  OWN that shit. If you fall…laugh, cry a little if you have to, then get up and brush it off. Next time, you might fall again. But you’ll land a little better. And getting back up will be easier. Do that 178 times if you have to. You’ll learn so much more about life and yourself by failing a million times then by sitting in your couch reading articles on your smartphone about what you WISH you were doing. You have everything you need right there inside of you to be the person you want to be. But you gotta get up and MOVE.

Don’t talk about it. Don’t dream about it. LIVE IT.

143

Start Here!

Fighter

You can change your job

Change your address

You can dye your hair

And buy a new dress

You can hide in a bottle

Or a bag or a line

The opposite sex

A distraction so fine

But wherever you go,

There you are, so they say

So you don’t fix the pain

Just make it delay

Til the high wears off

Or the dress doesn’t fit

Or the new town still sucks

Relationship goes to shit

These escapes do no good

The pain is still there

So now you get mad

Because your life’s not fair

And you fight with yourself

As you sit all alone

And you feel the discomfort

Straight down to the bone

So you’re back where you started

And now you must choose

Run back to your quick fix

Sex shoes or booze

Or your phone or a drug

Another scenery change?

Maybe bet on some horses

This shit’s all the same

You can run all you want

Run fast and run far

But remember that thing that they say-

There you are

So when it comes back

And it wells up inside

And you get to make that choice

And your brain screams to hide

It is in that very moment

You must stop in your tracks

You turn and you face it

You take control back

Your thoughts are not facts

They’re just things in your head

They may hurt or scare you

But they won’t leave you dead

And that first time you choose

Not to run away screaming

That one small decision

Is so full of meaning

It means you are not a victim

Of your circumstances or thoughts

It means you can learn

If willing to be taught

It means you are exactly as strong

As you believe that you are

It means if you get out of your way

You’ll go so very far

Don’t run from the feelings

That scare you the most

If you sit with them calmly

They’ll fade just like ghosts

And each time you stand and face down that pain

Helplessness fades

And confidence gains

Until one day you wake up

And you sense that shift

Your feet are now planted

No longer adrift

And it’s not because there aren’t

Still bumps in the road

The bad days still come

With their heavy load

But it’s different now

Because you finally believe

That the fighter within you

Was meant to succeed

 

J. M.