Feeling In A New Era

Photo Apr 27, 3 47 56 PM

I wait for the blow. — But I’m older now. — It takes its time.

I keep thinking about my old roommate. We’d blast Tori Amos and fucking emote. We’d lay all our shit out there. 20-Somethings with nothing to prove. Back in NYC, we’d suck down fat joints and take swigs out of cheap bottles of red wine in our Alphabet City apartment. We fucking felt it. I’d play my guitar and she’d play her keyboard and we sang in a language we both understood. We’d look at each other and we just knew: It was all out there. — We made something.

My emotion hasn’t made anything in years. I’ve poured all my pain into cleaning kitchens — scrubbing out sinks. In my apartment of 3 1/2Β  years, I have nothing on the walls, save for the dried roses that hang from a smoke alarm, given to me by an ex on Valentine’s Day, years ago. — And, yes, I know. — Bad Feng Shui.

While I’m sure no one wants to hear it from a spry, 31-year-old — I feel fucking old. And, even though I’ve been diffusing citrus oils in my apartment to keep myself from having a psychotic break, I still expect the living room to stink like moth balls and old soup. If I didn’t work until 6PM, I’m certain I’d be eating dinner at 4:45PM every night.

Monday, I sat on my stoop crying. I dyed my hair red and, in the sun, it looks like my head is on fire. It feels that way too. I planted some seeds. I don’t care if they live through the summer or not. I just need something to set down roots. I need something that’s alive to break the surface. I’m tired of waiting for things to grow. And now, I have all this dirt on my hands.

I got an unexpected call from someone struggling with their sobriety. For a minute, I felt like a fraud. Hours before, I was thinking about picking up a bottle of bourbon, and, suddenly, I found myself describing all the things I do to keep myself sober — to someone else — like it’s nothing. Like it’s easy. I’m convincing. I told him — it’s worth it. That, I’m better for it. And, for a minute, I am. Better.

When I hang up the phone, the evening sun’s crept in through the window like my stalker. I’m still sitting in the same place. I haven’t run from the hurt yet. But, my mascara has, and I look like the poster for American Horror Story: Asylum. Sure enough, it’s 4:45PM, but, I won’t be hungry for dinner tonight. — The break-up diet is the world’s best kept secret. — You heard it here first.

I decide to snuggle up to the cat and play Tori Amos through the speaker. I channel a younger version of myself. I mourn her and all the feelings that, once, came to her so easily. I emote — sans my friend and the fat joint and the wine. I try to feel. And, this time, I don’t do it over a sink. But, I end up just talking myself in circles, trying to convince myself of something that isn’t true. I have never been a good liar.

So, to keep myself straight, I re-read my checklist:

  1. Drop off the key to his place.
  2. Drive directly home.
  3. Get on your knees.
  4. Pray for Jackie’s Strength.

 

 

 

 

The Suit Comes Off

draper_3

I dreamt about John Hamm last night. And, it’s not because I’m hot for Don Draper.

Well, not entirely.

I may be sober, but I’m still addicted to Netflix. Hardcore. And, no matter what program I watch, I am constantly being reminded of the things I can’t have.

But, despite being toyed with, I continue watching. I couldn’t possibly blame the media for giving me everything I want. I love it. I need it. I crave it. I watch the smoke rise off the tip of every cigarette. I wait for the camera to pan across each patterned, crystal tumbler, elegantly displaying its smooth, golden whiskey. I watch it, spellbound. And, why shouldn’t I enjoy it? — It’s all the fun that I’m not having.

It’s sexy. It’s social. It’s provocative. And, at the same time, it’s demure and totally natural. It’s masculine and feminine, simultaneously. It’s ageless. It’s casual. And, the pleasure — it’s implied. Addiction — It’s everything we want it to be and it’s everywhere. It’s part of our cultural discussion without ever having to open our mouths.

And, even when it isn’t what we want it to be, addiction is it’s own form of entertainment. There’s Mad Men‘s Don Draper, the whiskey-sipping man of mystery, and, then, there’s the real man, John Hamm — completing his first 30-day stint in a Connecticut rehab facility. TMZ harps on about it. PEOPLE Magazine picks up the story too, and not because they’re interested in addiction itself — they’re interested in marrying it to Don Draper. We want one addiction to look like all the others. It’s easier to manage that way.

The media talks about John Hamm’s substance abuse problem in the same sentence that recaps the latest Mad Men episode. I wonder: Do we really make the connection?

Media and celebrity create this culture. It’s inviting. I mean, fuck, I salivate for the duration of every Mad Men episode. I breathe the smoke. I taste the whiskey. I feel the relief and the ritual. The substance abuse is its own sexual tension.

But, as I hunker down to catch up on old episodes, I find myself asking — why am I doing this? What am I putting myself through and what is the payoff? I mull it over for a few days. And then, while curled up in blankets on the couch, watching a marathon of Intervention, it hits me: It’s not the media. It’s just me — still wanting something I can never have.

It’s what all us addicts do. We get lost in the romance. The look of it, the feel of it, the ease of it. We become so entrenched in the peripheral relief of the substance, we lose the meaning — the storyline.

I love the idea of Don Draper. But, eventually, the suit comes off. The glamor loses its appeal, and the story is just the same as it ever was — a marathon of broken people — all seeking to fill the empty spaces.

So, as my cat and I ready ourselves to binge-watch the Mad Men episodes we’ve fallen behind on, I take a moment to be grateful for the all new ways I have learned to lose myself. I remind myself that binge-watching how things aren’t — on the screen, will sometimes remind me of how things are — in my real life.

So, I turn on the TV. I make the connection.

And, for every drink Don Draper pours, I make a secret wish that John Hamm has poured his last.

 

My Head Is A Jungle

my_head_is_a_jungle_by_soxxii-d3gujv1

I’m still addicted. To my needs, my emotions, my pain.

Sometimes, I forget — it isn’t all about me. I get lost in my own head. I live in my hurt and desire. I start to believe that the world’s being done to me. My head is a jungle. And, I can turn into someone unpredictable.

You have to believe in something bigger than yourself if you’re going to survive. — There has to be something outside of you that can save you from yourself. Because, when you get lost in your own maze, it’s hard to find your way back alone. We are all captives of ourselves.

Last week I sat across from one of my best friends, sipping tea. In sobriety, he’s the one person that can reel me back in. He’s not afraid to tell me I’m an asshole. And, sometimes, I want to knock out his teeth for it, but, mostly, I want thank him for keeping me sane. He’s been down the same road I have — he knows the detours — he helps me navigate through my ever-changing personal hell. And, over chai, he reminded me that, perhaps, it’s time to reacquaint myself with my bigger picture. Because, honestly, I’ve lost a step. I haven’t been the woman I want to be.

I still get lost searching for myself and I miss the point. I find myself down a rabbit hole and it leaves me wanting. I strain, tryingΒ  to remember why I’m really here.

When I got sober, it wasn’t for me alone — it was for the people that are a part of my life. I have to remember what it took to be the woman that they deserve. I have to suit up. Smile. Give. Sometimes, I end up having to give more than I think I have, because everyone needs something. And, I want the people I love to have the things they need. I can’t always be about my own pay-off.

Maybe, I have been an asshole. So, I take my buddy’s reminder to heart. And, tonight, I find myself beside someone who needs me. Someone whose love reminds me of what my own love is supposed to be — when I’m not busy making demands.

When I let go of the ego that got me drunk, my sobriety allows me to be available for the people that give my life meaning.

And, when I walk out of my jungle, I see them again — my people — because, really, they’re what it’s all about.

 

 

 

 

Artwork: “My Head is a Jungle”Β By Soxxii at Deviant Art.

Little Earthquakes

Photo Apr 07, 9 31 02 PM

Before sunrise, I drove home in silence.

I’m waiting for it. — The aftershock.

Even good things take their toll. And, after riding high for months, flying back at a normal altitude is like returning home after an earthquake. — Nothing is where is was before. — And, when you try to return your possessions to their rightful places on the shelf — it’s all wrong. Things have changed.

In the quiet cab of my car, I think about them — Earthquakes. Cracked foundations. Dismantled shelves.

I look out at the red lights that bleed across my dash and wonder — how did I arrange all this? Where do I put these old pieces that seek to feel new? I’ve returned from my own dream and I’ve forgotten where everything belongs. I try to squeeze my whole world onto one shelf.

Sobriety isn’t easy. I keep finding, that as the dust settles, I’m still surrounded by rubble. I return to the site of my earthquake, often. Some days it feels impossible to rebuild. Long stretches where even a feeling is just too much to process — I’m tired of surveying my own damage.Β  Sometimes, I miss being numb.

This old place looks new. I’m not sure what happened. I long for things that I understand — that I recognize. I miss a comfort that I’ll never feel again. I grasp at my idealism, the thing I once carried so easily, as it snakes through my fingers.

I need this — quiet. The low purr of the engine. The plastic Jiffy-Lube sticker, curling off the corner of the windshield. Air whistling through the cracked, driver’s side window. The heater vents all at full steam. I manage these environs with ease as I sit behind the wheel at 6:20AM, wearing my pink, pajama pants — driving slowly — eyes peeled for falling rocks.

At the four way stop I push my foot down on the break and I feel the corners of my eyes holding back giant tears — two oval levees, moments from breaking. I release the pedal and give it the gas. Tears fall, heavy, onto my grey sweatshirt. I don’t make a sound.

At home, the cat meows at my feet. I sit on the floor, wipe my nose, and assess the damage. I decide to make repairs some other time. I know, when chaos returns, I need to take a few days to sit with it.

To feel the vibration. To find room on my shelf.

To sink my hands into the rubble.

 

 

Strange Communion

Photo Apr 01, 5 11 18 AM

A year ago, I wrote a birthday essay in a vain attempt to convince you that I hadn’t completely failed myself at age 30.

I year later, I find myself wondering: What does it mean to fail yourself? And, what brings us back from the edge? — I’ll admit, I’ve been heady.

Recently, I was asked: What do you believe? And, as I made numerous attempts to pen a witty, annual retrospective, jovially escaping all my unstructured thoughts and feelings, I kept returning to that question — What do I believe?

I stare at the wall. I avoid your eyes. I want to tell you. I just can’t articulate the concept. And, it frustrates me when I can’t make my language speak to you. It should be easy. Hearing each other. Understanding. We are comprised of beliefs. Beliefs make us up. They are the dark matter that hold our cosmos together.

Beliefs. An army of them. — An onslaught. — Learned beliefs. Inherited beliefs. Lost beliefs. Stolen beliefs. Hurtful beliefs. Freeing beliefs. Soulful beliefs. Selfish beliefs. Intoxicating beliefs. Lucky beliefs. Fateful beliefs. Loving beliefs.

Too many beliefs to explain or unlearn. All patched together in a ratty quilt of celestial protection. — One square informs the other. But, get this — they’re not all believable. How can that be? I hear you wondering. Unbelievable beliefs? To you, it sounds absurd. But, is it? Does it make me a fraud? A fool? The wolf in sheep’s clothing? Am I a liar? A tyrant? A moron? Maybe.

But, whatever I am, I own it — this odd menagerie of soulful things — they make up my spiritual life. And, I won’t risk ridicule. I won’t offer up the only thing that’s allowed me survive. I have reverence for my strange communion.

Prior to getting clean, I’d stopped believing altogether. I was angry. I lived in my own, sad ceremonies. And, even those small, broken beliefs helped me to save myself.

I’m sober when I should be drunk. — It isn’t believable. But, it’s true. Certain faith makes it possible for me to be OK without having to be wasted. But, even as I walk on this solid, stable ground, I end up taking a few steps backward. I revisit the old, angry places. Some beliefs are hard to abandon, even with time and wisdom under my belt. Even with all my heroes and my heart.

We cannot always be everything we believe in.

That would be enlightenment. And, I will be the first to tell you that I am still a student of myself — of you. And, after another year of introspection, I’ve come to understand that the same belief that you once thought would sink you, will be the one that saves you.

So, what do I believe?

I believe in whatever spirit guide, constellation-riding, woo-woo-hippie-fuck-savior got me this far. It was enough to save me. Though, I never did see it, face to face.

But, it was never seeing that made me the believer.

 

*Artwork from Be Here Now, By Ram Dass*