“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying ‘I will try again tomorrow’” – Mary Anne Radmacher
Keep drawing your sword.
“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying ‘I will try again tomorrow’” – Mary Anne Radmacher
Keep drawing your sword.
Ever look at old photos and think to yourself – Holy Shit, is that me?
It may seem crazy to want to share my ugliest, most horrific, life-altering moments with the world, but THIS is what gives our pain meaning.
In sharing our pain, we take back the power our struggles rob us of when we feel like letting go. Our suffering transforms into fuel for our journey.
There’s a reason the old phrase, “that which does not kill you makes you stronger” is still around today.
Whatever you’re going through – find a way to use it. Give purpose to your pain.
I’ve never shared these photos before I met Kirsty. She’s now sharing them with the world. I hope it helps anyone who may be going through their own personal hell.
This didn’t break me. And yours doesn’t have to either.
To view photos and read her article, please visit KirstyTV HERE.
It’s been a few weeks since watching my interview with Kirsty Spraggon of KirstyTV. I’ve had some time to adjust to the reality of how I look on video (it’s much different from what we see in the mirror – have you noticed?). But here’s my initial reaction:
Me: Holy shit. I’m getting that fat under my chin sucked out immediately.
Kirsty: Don’t be silly, you are beautiful.
Me: Thanks, but I’ve had this extra fat under my chin – even when I was little.
Kirsty: Well, I support you with whatever decision you make, but think you’re beautiful just as you are.
Me: Thanks. But I’m doing it.
It’s silly, I know – with all the surgeries on my skin (I’ve had nine total) to help with the scarring on my face (from Stage IV Acne Vulgaris), to obsess about some excess fat under my chin. But that’s what I saw. And that’s what I had sucked out about a month ago.
I’m very proud of my interview with Kirsty (pronounced “thirsty”) – and not ashamed at all to share what my initial reaction was. But it brings up an interesting point about “beauty.”
As adults (and parents, for some of us), we want to instil the values in ourselves and children that beauty comes from within – that a beautiful heart will shine through, and each one of us is a work of art. But does this mean we can’t (or shouldn’t) do our best to look and feel our most beautiful?
Here’s me, day one after my chin lipo surgery (on my way to work!):
And here I am last week getting dolled up for a night out:
I’m still a bit swollen, but so happy with my results.
Do I think I’m a Supermodel now? Nope. Did this little procedure change my issues about feeling beautiful? A little. Because I took care of something that has bothered me my entire life. And it feels good.
It’s why we get our hair done, go to the nail salon, hit up the treadmil and (try to) eat healthy. To look good is to feel good – to feel good (not to mention be a good person) is to exude a type of beauty you can’t describe, because it comes from your heart.
Look it – feel it. Feel it – look it. It’s a catch-beauty-two.
Now that the superficial and shallow stuff is out of the way – let’s get to the interview.
It was an emotional day, and still hard for me to wrap my head around my story, but I’m so grateful to Kirsty for giving me a *voice.
Still want to see it? I was hoping you would.
*If you or anyone you know has been effected by abuse, please reach out to RAINN (1-800-656-HOPE).
If you want to reach out to me – you can do that too. You are never alone.
Right now. This very second. Someone is thinking of you, grateful for you – just as you are.
Don’t believe me? Fine, I may not be right about so many things – but this, I know for sure. You are loved for exactly who you are. This very second. Now take a deep breath and read that again a hundred times if you have to. I’ve got time.
Ready for more? Good.
I recently had the pleasure of re-watching one of my favorite movies (next to Shawshank and Almost Famous).
Check this out:
“Look, in my opinion, the best thing you can do is find a person who loves you for exactly … Good mood, bad mood, ugly, pretty, handsome, what have you — the right person is still going to think the sun shines out your ass” - Juno (screenplay by Diablo Cody)
I don’t have a great point of reference as far as dads go, but that father in Juno was pretty awesome.
I wish we could all take a pill and wake up one day, look in the mirror and see what our loved ones see. Ok, maybe not a pill (who me? addict?). How about we all just wake up where our real life bleeds over from our dreams. The fantasy life we spend so much time wishing ourselves different from who we are – now – at this second. We have that perfect body, hair, skin, waist size, career, bank account, family, spouse… whatever.
Know what’s perfect? The knowledge that nothing is.
“Perfection” is flawed. I know you’re doubting my brilliance once again, but I challenge you to find someone on the planet who is seemingly “perfect”, who doesn’t have their shit. Even supermodels have shit. I’m sure it smells like roses, but it’s there.
I told one of my best male friends how attracted to Louis CK I was recently, and he totally got it. Why? Because we get each other, my friend and me. He knows that humor, intelligence, compassion and being a kick ass dad are sexy for me. Notice I didn’t mention his bank account? That’s because I honestly don’t give a shit (fine, living on the streets penniless ‘aint much of a turn on, unless he was really, really funny), but it’s not about the money. That’s me. So you see, everyone has that special something. Just like everyone has their shit.
And I’m not just talking about the physical stuff. Show me another human being who hasn’t fucked up royally with their friends, family, boss, or kids – and I’ll ask for whatever pill they’re taking to make it through their days of denial (again, with the pills).
The most beautiful part of being human is knowing that we are.
Human beings are fucked up. All of us. We make mistakes, fall on our asses, throw people under the bus, avoid personal responsibility, live in denial, project our bullshit, betray trust, and break rules. And that’s just with the people we love.
But not all hope is lost, so open that garage door and turn off the engine, buddy.
We also have infinite measures of being able to forgive, lend a hand, support each other, share our good fortune, own our mistakes, learn from our fuck-ups, pull ourselves back up, teach other, and provide compassion, not to mention unconditional love.
Right now. This very second. Someone is thinking of you, grateful for you – just as you are – as fucked up as you are. They know you are perfectly flawed. And love you.
So now that you’ve been reminded of your Greatness – it’s a good time to cut yourself some slack.
An article I just HAD to share. Thank you, Michael Moritz.
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Why is Addiction Still Considered a Personal Weakness? by Michael Moritz
The Vast Emotional and Financial Costs of America’s Killer Epidemic.
When we hear about someone with a heart problem, HIV, cancer or diabetes we conclude they are ill. If we encounter people whose throats close when they eat peanuts or require epinephrine shots if they mistakenly eat shellfish, we understand there are aspects of their genetic wiring that make them susceptible. Yet when we hear about someone with a drug or alcohol problem, they are all too easily dismissed as weak, self-indulgent, indolent, sinful, narcissistic, debauched and feeble failures. Why don’t we assume that drug and alcohol addicts are ill and often seriously and chronically sick?
That’s one of the questions raised by Clean: Overcoming Addiction and Ending America’s Greatest Tragedy, David Sheff’s new book that studiously documents his reflections on the place of addicts in America. Sheff knows whereof he writes. He documented the calamity of drugs in his previous work, Beautiful Boy, which described in horrifying detail the descent into life’s basement of his son, Nic, who took his first puff of pot at the age of 12, feasted on pills of all concoctions, later started shooting up cocaine, heroin and crystal meth and subsequently ricocheted between the streets, halfway houses and all manner of treatment centers. (Sheff, I should note, is a longtime friend).
Since the 1980s, drug-related deaths in America have doubled – partly because the potency of some drugs has doubled or tripled. (Deaths from prescription drugs quintupled between 1999 and 2007). The Centers for Disease Control estimate that every day 365 people die in the United States from drugs and around another 275 die because they have become the victims of addicts through robbery, driving accidents or murder. That’s around 250,000 deaths a year – or about five times the number of U.S. military of deaths during the entire Vietnam War or almost forty times the number of US military fatalities in Iraq and Afghanistan.
It is impossible to overestimate the consequences of drug and alcohol addiction on society, and Clean should be an eye-opener for every parent and manager who clings to old-school prejudices and believes that addiction is a matter of choice and human weakness. One in twelve Americans over age of 12 is addicted to drugs or alcohol and addiction is now a more prevalent disease than cancer, stroke, HIV or Alzheimer’s. In poorer communities, the problems are viciously accentuated. Beyond the personal tragedies, addiction places a huge hidden tax on America – on our healthcare system, juvenile detention centers, prison systems (which are poorly suited to treat addicts but groan beneath the burden of their incarceration) and, most insidiously, workplace absenteeism (of both the physical and mental variety).
Every day in America, according to Sheff, about 20,000 people over the age of 12 try drugs or alcohol for the first time. Some teens (and US teens use more than in any other country) have a sip of alcohol or a toke, dislike the taste and are strong enough to shrug off peer pressure or have a good enough relationship with their parents or teachers to seek assistance. But for the unlucky teenager, that early sip, sniff, smoke or snort provokes a mental stimulus that leads to a life of misery. Nine out of ten addicts fall into this dreadful hole because they started using before the age of 18. Lest we forget, about 40% of college students engage in binge drinking which can also lead to long-term calamity. For teenagers, whose prefrontal cortexes (the brain’s center of judgment) aren’t fully formed, those early experiences are catastrophic. This makes it nearly impossible for many teenagers to stop using. Drug and alcohol use changes the brain.
The perils of drugs and alcohol addiction are faced in every home and workplace. The addict, at least for a time, is usually adept at concealing the problem. The relative, friend, colleague or boss is often oblivious (frequently for years), sometimes woefully ignorant, often blind to the indisputable scientific evidence, all too eager to offer the benefit of the doubt, and often does not know where to turn for help or whose judgment to trust.
Sheff notes that most doctors have not been trained to recognize the traits of substance abuse – particularly in teenagers where it is most dangerous. For the disease of addiction there is no national center, association or society as there are for other illnesses such as cancer, diabetes or the heart. Almost half the pediatricians in the country fail to recognize drug problems in teenagers. Most of them simply haven’t been trained to screen properly. Every case is different yet – as with other diseases – there are warning signs such as: a familial history of addiction, attention deficit disorders, depression, stress, anxiety, poverty, trauma and broken marriages.
Clean provides an unvarnished portrait of the world of detox centers laced with charlatans and people quicker to separate patients from their money than their habits. He describes the pros and cons of inpatient and outpatient treatment, the way drugs can sometimes be used to wean addicts but, above all, stresses the importance of intervening as early as possible. For the longer an addict is hooked the more protracted and painful is the treatment.
The baffling catalogs and web listings of available treatments that greet addicts and their families range from the primitive (cutting grass with a pair of scissors) to the ethereal (solitary meditation retreats) and the physical (outdoor wilderness retreats). By contrast, the cinderblock-sized guide many teenagers consult before applying to college looks straightforward. Treatment programs, which are frequently entered when both the patient and their helpers are distraught and confused, are a complete crapshoot.
Though there are a few bright spots, America’s many battles (there has never been a purposeful war) over drugs have failed. The public admissions of Betty Ford or Kitty Dukakis are long forgotten. Nancy Reagan’s battle cry (“Just say no”) is now just a trivia question. Even the mournful memory of John Belushi’s gurney being wheeled out of the Chateau Marmont has become another milestone on our national drug trail. All these many tragedies later, we still find ourselves chuckling as the comedy shows ridicule the dependencies of celebrities like Charlie Sheen and Lindsay Lohan.
Maybe we can take some solace from the reversal of one fatal addiction: smoking. The carcinogenic consequences of cigarettes were first highlighted in 1953 and, though it has taken decades, refinements in medical education, huge public health campaigns and a hardening of public sentiment have led to a massive improvement. In the last fifty years, the prevalence of smoking in America has dropped by more than half. Doing for drug and alcohol addiction what has been done for smoking will be hard, require large amounts of money and will take several generations. But it’s a fight in which we should all enlist. Remember, addiction is not a choice; it is a gruesome disease. And – like it or not – we are all co-dependents.
Originally posted in LinkedIn.
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“Coke Whore”, “Crazy Bitch”, “Skank” – and those were the nice ones. It’s been a few years since hearing colorful adjectives followed by my [stage] name, and as a true recovering narcissist, I gotta say, I kinda miss it.
When you spend a decade in your 20s as a sex-worker (nude stripper), it’s hard to shake the judgment vibe. Even though my pole-swinging days are long behind me, at forty-four, I still wrestle with some pretty ugly name-calling. Only now all these years later, I only hear it from myself.
“Guess which business icon is coming from NYC to OC to give a game-changing presentation this week?” – @BryanElliott
Game Changing? Really?
I’m the first to admit the only business savvy I possess is a direct result of watching Samantha Jones work her shit as a kick-ass publicist in New York on Sex and the City. Carrie’s stint as a contributing writer for Vogue was also helpful, but to be fair, that was really more about the Vivienne Westwood pinstriped suit (I still dream about it). So when Bryan’s tweet popped up on my TL (that’s “Twitter Time Line”, for you social media virgins), I was more curious about the “game changing” than “business icon” part.
After clicking on his link, I learned Bryan’s guest was none other than Seth Godin, world-famous entrepreneur, author and public speaker. He’s HUGE! This is HUGE! Naturally, I was still clueless as to who exactly Mr. Godin even was, but after perusing his website, I dug the guy immediately.
Because I’m fighting the men off with a stick, and hordes of literary agents and publishers are fighting over me, I decided to throw Bryan a bone, and sign up for this gig. It took a lot of calendar adjustment (what with my channel surfing old Seinfeld and Will and Grace episodes and heating up some frozen lasagna), but I was able to swing it.
The event went down on a Friday night, right after work. Enter excuse number one to bail: The “I’m too tired” vibe came around just after the blood-sugar-crashing-three-o-clock hour – and lasted all the way through to the hotel parking lot where a few steps away in a banquet room, were hundreds of Seth followers and fans. It didn’t take long before my brain was flooded with even more reasons to drive my ass home, instead of attending. “These people are professional business-career grown-ups. Who you foolin, you crazy bitch, ex-stripper, drug addict wanna be writer?” There’s nothing like stepping out of your comfort zone to release your inner asshole.
There was only one person I wanted to talk with, one of my best friends Patrick, who at that very moment was somewhere flying over the Arabian Sea (asshole). He’s a self-made man who has been through the professional ringer and survived, keeping his business afloat after nearly every one of his “friends” in his industry turned on him. He also happens to be my biggest cheerleader and can make me laugh, while I wipe my tears. I knew I couldn’t speak with him, so I sent Patrick an email instead.
“I’m sitting here in the hotel parking lot, paralyzed with fear. Why am I so afraid? I forced myself to come here tonight, this is so out of my comfort zone. This whole business/Corporate America/entrepreneur thing – I feel way in over my head.
But I’m doing it. Out of our comfort zone is where the magic happens, right? Fuck. Here goes…”
Fast forward to where I end up in front of those hundreds of people, under the spotlight during Seth’s Q&A at the end of his presentation, my knees buckling as I cling to any words of encouragement that would keep me from passing out. C’mon, Christine. You used to bend over naked in front of strangers, for fuck’s sake. Get your shit together – you can do this.
When it came time to speak, I was honest (probably to a fault – did I really tell Seth Godin I had no idea who he was?). My voice cracked and I fought back nervous tears, but I asked my question. As I stood there locking eyes with this incredibly talented man (with a mind that’ll blow your creative socks off), I savored every sip of his honest and thoughtful advice.
I’ll share exactly what I learned in a future post (you can take the “strip” outta the “tease”…) but for now, I’ll just say that not only was this event indeed a game changer – it reminded me that as long as I stay true to my whistle and scorecard, the fans in the seats will come.
* * *
Here’es the part where you tell me: Have you ever stepped outside of your comfort zone – and what went down because of it?
There’s so much negative news in the world, some of us have chosen to stop reading and/or watching entirely.
I’d like to help change that.
It’s been a while since this weekly column was alive, but It’s back and ready to shine some light!
Every Tuesday, I’ll highlight an article I find that focuses on GOOD NEWS. This column is called Good News Tuesday.
Spread the word.
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How Letters From Strangers Saved a Teen’s Life
(CBS News) COLUMBIA, Md. – Words have power. They can tear a person down, or build someone back up — as we found on the road in Columbia, Maryland
Don’t let the light fool you. Inside this home — and too many others like it in America – it can get pretty dark.
“There are a lot of kids out there that suffer depression and anxiety,” said seventh-grader Noah Brocklebank.
And not many are willing to talk about it on national television.
“Not many are willing to talk about it, period,” said Noah.
Noah is okay with people calling him depressed — mainly because, over the past couple years, he’s been called worse.
“Like ‘fat,’ ‘ugly,’ ‘annoying,’ ‘loser,’” he recalled. “The saying ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me’ — I really don’t think that applies.”
Noah’s mother Karen says the bullying, combined with his underlying depression, ultimately led to the night of January 26.
“It’s so scary,” said Karen Brocklebank. “You just want to save him.”
That night, her son posted a clear warning on the Internet — a picture of his arm all cut up and a note that read: “Day of scheduled suicide, February 8th, 2013, my birthday.” It was to be his 13th birthday.
“I just felt like everything was worthless,” said Noah. “My life was terrible. I had no one.”
After that, Noah ended up in the hospital for eight days. And while he was in there, as his doctors assessed his mental health, his mother came up with a plan to improve his vision — a plan for Noah to see more clearly how much he matters, how much he’s loved, and that there really is life beyond seventh grade.
So she asked some friends on Facebook to put all that in a letter. She was hoping for at least a couple responses.
“But we got more than a couple,” said Noah.
What happened next is a remarkable testament to both the power of social media and the kindness of strangers.
“I know it is hard to believe right now, but life gets better. I promise,” Noah read from one letter.
Noah has received thousands of letters from every continent on the planet, including Antarctica. The sheer volume alone has brightened up his home a million watts.
“I has restored my faith in humanity. It really has,” said Karen Brocklebank.
As for how this changed him, Noah said: “I was focused on the bad side of the people, like the Continue reading
A letter written from a father to his son.
If only all parents would be this way.
I overheard your phone conversation with Mike last night about your plans to come out to me. The only thing I need you to plan is to bring home OJ and bread after class. We are out, like you now. I’ve known you were gay since you were six, I’ve loved you since you were born.
What’s a “Walk of Shame”, you ask? Oh, so many things… but in a nutshell, it’s the walk home (or to your car, or cab…) after a night of naked play time with someone you just met at a club or party (or grocery store, if that’s your thing). If you want a visual example of one, NO ONE does it better than Madonna at the end of her Justify My Love video, as she scurries down the hallway, shit-grin and suitcase in hand.
I’m no Madonna, but my story is good, so I tweeted it to Loveline and they replied immediately.
“Please call in with that. It’s so good.” was their response. So I did.
Here’s the audio of the call.
A fun chat with Dr. Drew, and a website plug to his audience? That’s what you call: Spontaneous Win.
If you’re new to my page, let me get you up to speed. I’m a 44-year-old recovering hot mess who, from 1987 to 1996, used to grab her ankles on the stripper stage in Waikiki, where I grew up. I survived some pretty major shit as a kid and am writing a book about how it all comes together – after everything fell apart.
My main squeeze was Blow, but I had a torrid affair with Ecstasy after our introduction on my 21st birthday, and for a solid five years, I was in love with both. Booze was always my back-burner bitch, and every now and then Acid and Shrumes crashed the party. But Cocaine – from the moment I snorted my first line at fourteen – she was The One.
You may be wondering how a freshman in high school could even get their hands on drugs. Trust me. It ‘aint hard. At least, it wasn’t in the 80s. But I gotta say, with the current drugs of choice coming straight from mom and dad’s medicine cabinet these days, I can’t imagine accessibility being a huge deal.
But how could a parent not know?
Parents don’t see what they don’t want to believe. It’s the Holy Grail of addiction for a kid: we know you think you know, and with every turn of your blind eye, we delve deeper into our addiction. Of course, not every high schooler who pops a pill, smokes a joint, slams a beer or even tries blow is an addict. But so what? Isn’t even one kid who uses too many? And let’s get real – there are shitloads of kids getting high. Not buying it? Here’s a free sample of some raw facts:
“Recent research by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse reveals that drug use among teens has reached epidemic levels: a staggering ONE out of every THREE teenagers meets the medical criteria for addiction.” Kristen Johnston – SLAM
That little nugget of Scary is a direct quote from SLAM (Sobriety, Learning and Motivation), an organization actress and author Kristen Johnston started five years ago, which assists New York City’s youth in recovery.
The deeper I dig into my own personal story, with every chapter that unfolds within the safety of my words as I write this book, the more I’m realizing – what a gift Kristen and SLAM is to our kids and families today.
I can’t help but wonder how different my own path would’ve been, had I been part of a sober high school.
But regret is an allergy for us addicts – if we allow ourselves even a taste – we break out in shame. And life is fucking hard enough without having to disinfect our past. So we move forward, one day at a Goddamned time, navigating around the land mines of blame.
But someone is to blame.
Every addict has their own story, so there’s no way we can blanket the world with one giant finger-pointing party. The bottom line is, once your child is in trouble, in the immediate sense, it really doesn’t matter how they got there (ok, it does, but you’ll have plenty of time to figure that out during Family Week).
The hooks of addiction are sharp and unmerciful, and they don’t need a reason to puncture, they just need the skin. And when it comes to our children, SLAM (and every sober high school in the country) is the greatest armor we have.
I’m not a therapist, interventionist, doctor or specialist – but what I can tell you is teenage addiction (and depression) is REAL. If you need more proof, here’s a poem I wrote, high on cocaine in 1983. I was fifteen.
If you’re wondering whether your teen (or anyone you know) is an addict, TheFix.com is a great source of information.
For more information on Kristen’s sober high school, SLAM, please visit their website www.slamnyc.org.
Anyone who says life is easy is lying. Or in denial. Or both. I don’t know of a single soul who doesn’t struggle with trying to balance the pieces of the puzzles that make up their life, do you?
I wrote this quote last night and wanted to start a dialogue. I want us to not feel so all alone with our overwhelming thoughts of going crazy while navigating our personal tightropes.
No one can do it all, all the time, without falling every now and then. What matters is that we get back up.
And now, a favor:
Please leave a comment about something that YOU struggle with in life – and let’s rest assured, even if what we juggle on a constant basis is somewhat different in our personal story than others (or maybe we’re all trying to balance the same shit), we are all in this together. YOU are not alone.
Thank you, my kick-ass readers,
Seeing as it’s Valentine’s Day, I gotta say – man, am I in love.
Shift it back, people, I didn’t meet Mr. Marvelous, or score a new “back massager” or anything. This is a different vibe.
Last night, while knee-deep in getting caught up with one of my favorite shows right now (Girls, HBO) this piece of artwork hit me – BAM! – right in the heart. Let’s call it Cupid’s Motivational Arrow.
I already want to give Lena Dunham a sloppy kiss on the mouth for showering us with her brilliance (she writes, produces and directs Girls), but after seeing this last night, I’d like to send her a dozen long stem roses with a card that reads: THANKS FOR THE REMINDER.
Is there anything more inspiring than realizing our greatest accomplishments are a direct result of facing our biggest fears? I mean, that’s what makes us so afraid, right -the fear of failure? But here’s a thought – what if we succeed?
Nothing worth fighting for isn’t above working our asses off. Our dreams deserve our attention and every ounce of passion coursing through our veins. I know. It’s all so cliché. We’ve heard it a millions times: “If it were easy, everyone would do it”. It’s funny how quickly we forget.
Here’s the thing. Even if we fail, we’ve made it farther than we would have if we sat around with our thumbs up our asses (but if that’s your thing, knock yourself out). Just by trying – by following our dreams – we win. Maybe not what we set out to do, but there’s a gem hidden inside each failure (you’ll see it once you brush away your ego).
So even if I’m not celebrating romantic love today, thanks to that silly little visual last night, I’m reunited with a part of my heart that needed my attention. In believing in myself, knowing I’m worth the risk of daring greatly - I’m circling back to a kind of love that can’t be measured with kisses or candy.
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Here’s the part where you tell me – have you stepped outside your comfort zone lately? Tell us your story in the comments.
You’re single. It’s February. Unless you’ve been ordering take-out since New Year’s, you’ve been sprayed by now with the pink and red projectile spewage of the ever so annoying romance marketing machine, perpetuated by the myth that unless you’re in love on Valentine’s Day, you don’t exist. Ok fine, maybe you do exist, but trust me, you don’t really matter. At least not to Hallmark.
Whether you’re picking up cough syrup at the drug store, or navigating your grocery cart through the aisles, there’s no way to avoid the over-the-top piles of love-shit on display, in the form of chocolate hearts, cupid dolls and bossy stalker candy. Be yours? Kiss you? Fuck off, I’m single.
I know. With my sunny disposition, charming, balls out personality, and dazzling trust issues with men, I can’t imagine why some dashing young lad hasn’t swept me away from my miserable single life yet, either.
Make no mistake. I love being in love, and I’ve been blissfully lost on a cloud of multiple orgasms, pillow talk and naked spoons before. But right now, as a single gal, I gotta say, I’m pretty goddamned happy.
There’s nothing lonelier than being with the wrong person. Nothing more heartbreaking than sticking with a partner who has betrayed you, because you’re afraid to be alone. Or maybe you’re not attracted to your “plus one” any more, you’ve outgrown them, but you’re paralyzed with guilt for fear of breaking their heart, so you stay. I know, because I’ve done all three.
So many of us define ourselves by our relationship status, which is not only sad, it’s dangerous to our mental health. How many of us feel “less than”, when we find ourselves single? Why do we feel that if we were just with someone – anyone – the planets would miraculously align, and we’d snap into Happy? So what does that mean – if we aren’t in a couple, we don’t get to be happy? It’s a scary trap, and nothing could be further from the truth (if you don’t believe me, you can call a couple of my unhappily married friends).
It’s taken me years to get it. Countless failed attempts of shoving squares into circles. And trust me, no one on the planet can reenact The Way We Were and every Sex and The City episode like I can. Carrie and K-K-K-Katie were my girls. But now, I’m finally on board. And I believe, with every fabric of my patched-up heart – that the only person responsible for my happiness is me. This isn’t to say that my friends, lovers (and anything else I dig with undying passion) don’t help put that extra bounce in my step. I’m just saying, I walk just fine on my own.
I have nothing personal against Valentine’s Day – I actually think it’s sweet (pun intended). But for those of us who are single, we don’t need to feel like shit, which is what usually happens this time of year. It’s natural to feel left out, and personally, I think there’s an untapped marketing goldmine for the flower shop, candy and greeting card companies. Where’s the bouquet that congratulates us for not settling for less than what we deserve? Taking this a step further, I say if you’re single, change the word “Valentine” completely. Call it Victory Day.
This February 14, remember to celebrate YOURSELF, and the fact that you’re strong and truthful enough to know you’re worth more than what you’ve lived with in the past. If you’re a chocoholic (like me), buy yourself some candy. Take a bubble bath and go to town with the blissful solitude that is your peace of mind.
Still feel like shit? Read this list of love lessons – and remember – you’re worth more than what some candy-filled display wants you to believe.
1. If someone wants you, nothing can keep them away. If they don’t, nothing can make them stay.
2. Stop making excuses for people’s behavior.
3. If you have ANY doubt in your mind about someone’s character, leave ‘em
4. Allow your intuition (or spirit) to save you from heartache.
5. Stop trying to change yourself for a relationship that’s not meant to
6. Don’t force an attraction.
7. Never live your life for anyone.
8. If you feel like you’re being strung along, you probably are.
9. Don’t stay because you think “it will get better.” You’ll be mad at
yourself a year later for staying when things are not better.
10. Actions speak louder than words.
11. Never let anyone define who you are.
12. Don’t knock masturbation (it’s sex with someone you love).
Here’s the part where you tell me: what are you doing for V-Day?
The expression “easier said than done” can follow just about any piece of advice or claim. “I’m gonna be on time to work from now on”, “I’m going to the gym five days a week this year”, “he’s an asshole, forget about him”, or, my personal favorite, “don’t panic.”
Easier said than done.
Now, I’m sure there are peeps who can actually turn their new leaf over without so much as breaking a nail. They roll up to work early, are in kick-ass shape, never drunk-dial (or email, or text) their ex, and can breeze right through a scary situation with heartbeat and sweat glands in-tact – I’m just not one of them.
Aside from the whole “you could die” thing, not to mention the other slew of Awesome that can happen when drug addicts use (losing your job, friends, health, money, home), being an addict in recovery is something I’ve learned to manage without having it be all-consuming (like it was, when I first got clean). But there are always exceptions.
Less than 24 hours ago, for the first time in my drug-free life, I had a panic attack. I’m not talking about being hit with that familiar wave of anxiety we feel when sitting across a would-be employer during a job interview. This was a full-blown, assault of my sympathetic nervous system, and it came out of nowhere.
If you’ve been lucky enough in your life to have never experienced an anxiety attack, let me lay some symptoms on you:
Fun, right? According to standards set by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV), when you have a panic attack, you generally experience at least four of the above mentioned symptoms. Last night, I was hit with eight.
Back when I popped Xanax like Cheerios, if I began to feel anything remotely alluding to a panic attack, I’d just double my recreational dose. Done. Problem solved. Numbing the pain was my specialty, and I thought nothing of those pesky little words on the side of the prescription bottle: use only as directed. Like all addicts, I’d rationalize. My two biggies were, that I have a high tolerance (wonder why) so I need more to “feel it”, and I’ve got this under control (as long as my two doctors never find out about the other).
When I was using, I kept myself floating in a constant bubble of denial, arrogance and audacity. Who the hell takes six grams of Xanax with a bottle of wine every night, and thinks they’re untouchable? This asshole, that’s who.
Even when I was in the emergency room, my sheets soaked through the mattress, and an oxygen mask covering my face, I was still an asshole in the bubble. It wasn’t until (on my third day in rehab fresh from detox) sharing stories of my colorful past as a stripper with an insatiable appetite for ecstasy and blow twenty years ago, that it finally hit me – fuck – I’m a drug addict.
So what’s a recovering pill-popper to do when the thick cloud of panic seeps in, and you feel like you’re gonna croak? My first instinct was denial (old habits). I tried to ignore the beads of sweat dripping down the back of my neck, while sitting on the edge of my bed shaking the numbness out of my hands, and repeating the words in my brain: “this isn’t happening.”
But it was happening. Within minutes of my refute mantra, I succumbed. I was indeed in the unforgiving grip of a full-blown panic episode, and if I didn’t figure something out quickly, I’d be right back on that slab of sweat-soaked foam, grasping for air through a plastic mask. Here’s where being an addict is a hoot: I was more than a little tempted to go. I knew how easy it would’ve been to crawl back in the bubble, with the soothing rescue of Nirvana coursing through my veins, compliments the lucky doctor who had the pleasure of having me on his call last night.
Somewhere in the space of salivating for a chemical cure and holding my hand in the surge, I resisted the urge to fall into the arms of the *hospital, and created my own life raft of will. I revised my previous chant of denial in my brain and used my recovery miles to upgrade them through to my voice. I spoke out loud: “you can do this.” Over and over again. You can do this. You can do this. You can do this. Breathing slowly through my nose, exhaling out of my mouth. Over and over.
Last night was impossibly rough, but not impossible. I was alone and fucking scared, but in-between wiping tears and talking to myself, I reached out to friends. I even tweeted my agony, knowing I’d get messages of support in reply (don’t knock the Twitterverse, those are my people). I felt their words, and welcomed the virtual hugs. I directed the slide show memories in my mind, and thought about how far I’ve come, and how pissed off I’d be if I were to derail my recovery over what was clearly an addiction survival pop quiz from The Universe. You can do this. You can do this. You can do this.
I’ve never been good at tests, especially when they come without caution. But when I woke up this morning, realizing I was in my own bed, no IV in my arm, no portable blood pressure machine in the room, and no hospital gown to wrestle with, I knew this one, I had passed.
Your move, Universe.
*This essay is in no way meant as medical advice. If you or anyone you know suffers panic attacks or disorders, please consult your physician. I’m just a hot mess trying to stay clean.