This Old House.

Recovering from co-dependency is being ripped away from everything you once knew to be true and being shoved out into the cold to figure out a new truth on your own (seeking outside support is highly recommended from my experience). Each step I take toward my new truth leaves a trail of uncertainty, fear and regret on my heels, just waiting for me to slip and fall back into my old ways of operating. The misconception I’ve had is that I can’t make mistakes. If I did –– I believed –– it would mean I was completely wrong and should never have left the comfort of my mother’s strangling skirt strings.

Thankfully, my beliefs are growing. They are the tiny multicolor buds in a flowering garden of possibility grown out of determination to do something different, and the desire to find out who I was really put here to be. In my heart I know I was not meant to be ordinary. Not that there is anything wrong with ordinary, it’d probably be easier on my tiny co-dependent soul if I were. I know I’m not though, in the same way a dog knows it’s not a cat, and a transgendered person knows that there is something not quite right with the body they were born into. So the work I’m doing now, is necessary.

The most difficult part? Not having the full support of the people I love, my family. While some members have supported my transition into being a full time artist from day one, others have been a harder sell. Now with me doing something as “impractical” as moving to Singapore to pursue a degree that I can get in the States, it feels like the bottom is falling out. Those that were supporting me are wavering and I’m in a revolving non-verbal stand off with those that don’t. It hurts. It hurts like fucking hell, but if I look back now I don’t know if I’ll ever get the courage to move forward again.

Building on a shifting foundation is rough. It feels like I’m flipping an old and rusty house. With every repair I make I find a new issue, like termites or a leaky roof. Termites and roofs be damned, I’ll build over, under, and through if I have to because I’m sick and tired of the rickety old abode of my life. There is a garden out there, that’s waiting to wrap itself around a regal brick home on a solid foundation to compliment it’s beauty.

Rosie.

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Miss Direction: Which way is home?

When I laid eyes on this photo, I felt an immediate identification via a deep sense of uncertainty I wrestle with daily. There are some things I know:  My name, place of birth, general location on the planet earth at this moment. There are  things that I do not know:  Whether I’m going to raise enough money to attend this program I want to so badly.  What am going to do if I fall short of my financial goals and don’t end up going? What I’m having for breakfast? Lunch? Dinner?  As usual, its the what I don’t know that’s eating my lunch right now.

Like the photographic subject I am a soldier in the middle of a war.  Unlike the subject, my war is unfolding between my ears. I battle myself for my attention constantly. I battle to stay focused  on the task at hand.  “Eyes. On. The. Prize.” has been my mantra lately. But with atomic bombs of distraction going on, it makes it pretty hard to stay in the fight.  If I played the sound track  to the feature film Inside Stacey’s Fugged Up  Mind, you’d hear the sickest mash up of shit that makes absolutely no sense together. Broadway tunes, story ideas, to do lists, disaster scenarios, positive affirmations, negative affirmations, and *clears throat* unnatural/unhealthy desires are all doing the shimmy shake around my psyche.  It’s a wonder I can walk, think, and breathe at the same time.  Some how I manage to.

I first try to remember that I have tools that point me in a Good Orderly Direction.  Prayer, meditation, a network of people that love me. It’s just making myself use them! It’s riding out the feelings of not  falling back into my old familiar boobie traps like my ex-husband or the Cheddar Chicken Melt at Cook Out. When I do use my tools and I don’t do things that are going to make me feel like shit about myself later, it gets better.  It doesn’t always free great, but I avoid self made disaster scenarios that often lead to me hitting the self-destruct button and checkin’ out all together.

Mostly, I just want to be at peace.  I want to feel “at home”, which I’ve not felt in a long while.  If I had to guess I’d say it was before this whole grad school process began.  Hell, maybe even before that. Riding out emotions straight no chaser is definitely not for the faint of heart, but bit I’m doing it. I’m glad I know that nothing impermanent is certain. I am practicing the art of war against self. Against the false belief that my happiness can be born from anywhere else but right inside of me. Understanding all this on a gut level? Well, that will come with time I hope. According to Mick Jagger, it’s on my side 😉

Rosie.

T’was a necessary day.

I’m not even sure what I want to write here, but here goes.   In recovery I’ve heard it said that we have good days and we have “necessary” days. Necessary days are days where the not-so-great things come up that challenge all that good shit you think you believe. Today was “necessary”.  I took a verbal battering from someone very near and dear to me simply because we disagree on something. Something that in the end is my business.  I listened to a barrage of insults, accusations, and ill premonitions while saying little or nothing. I was called a “monster”. I was told that I needed to pray and rely on God in the same breath.

The entire time I felt like I was physically being slashed to pieces. I couldn’t breathe. My mouth went dry, but I continued to listen and actually maintained my decorum. I casually began to pack up my things, all while continuing to listen. That was my mistake.  I continued to listen. I knew that what was being said about me was in no way true, but I continued to listen.  I took on this person’s shit.  It danced with every bit of self doubt, shame and  guilt I ever had.  It rented property in my head, and affected my mood all day.

By 4pm (this happened at 11am) I wanted a drink in a way in which I hadn’t in a very long time. Me drinking doesn’t equal going to a bar, having a cocktail and taking it to the house.  Me drinking means me finishing a fifth of whatever, asking where the party’s at, getting in my car to drive to it, and blacking out.  Even though I had no intention of going out and getting a drink, this is a dangerous head space for someone like me to be in, or anyone for that matter. There is nothing a drink or drug can do for anyone (much less an addict) to solve a problem or fix a feeling. After today, I know I believe that at my core and I’m grateful.

I did all the healthy things I could to take care of myself like: talking to folks, making a meeting, praying, cleaning my space,  taking a shower, and writing about it. It’s 9:19pm, and I’ve officially gotten through this very necessary day with the bonus of seeing where its lessons fit in my life. Going forward, I know I must work on certain things so as not to continue to have the same “necessary day”. The main thing is developing the ability to give people their shit back.  Yelling, accusations, insults, and ill premonitions are sure fire guarantees that somebody is trying to give you some shit that ain’t yours. Run like your life depends on it.  It just might.

Rosie.

Someone to watch over me.

Yesterday I spent most of the beautiful 75 degree day in my bedroom tearing it apart in order to reorganize.  I do this mainly when I’m wrestling with emotions and I don’t want my mind to eat itself.   Fast forward to 11pm last night, not much but the destruction part had  been done as I’d left my house at 2pm intending to get food and ended up staying gone for the rest of the day. As I stood looking at the remnants of my space and thought about the monumental task of putting it all back together again, I began to cry.

This wasn’t a regular cry. This was one for the record books. Huge crocodile tears filled my eyes and plopped down to the floor. One of those Viola Davis Doubt*, streams of snot ran down my nose.  My body shook.  I even got those crying kid hiccups, you know the ones they always try to talk through but end up sounding like they have a severe stutter. I was deeply sad, and I let myself be there until I could figure out why. My eyes were  just at swelling, and my gullet jam packed with Mike and Ikes when it occurred to me that in that moment, I wanted someone to take care of me. I wanted a male somebody to come in and make this shit right. I then did the other thing I do when faced with an internal crisis (I mean beside glutting myself with dime store candy), I wrote.

My writing put me in touch with something I didn’t know was there.  I’m tired of being the strong, smart, independent one.  The one that puts things together, or figures things out. Compound that with me not being one of these dainty little women that men tend to want to take care of and on most days I feel like a female Grizzly Adams.  I didn’t have a father, while I love my brothers dearly they are fairly useless in the area of handy-mandom, my romantic relationship … what romantic relationship? Anyway, the bottom line is that the times in my life when I felt protected and cared for by a man were few and far between.

So I stewed for a bit, swallowed the sticky wad of Mike and Ikes and tried to “activate my faith” (phrases like that tickle me ^_^).  I thought about times that I had been loved and supported specifically by men, in ways that were non-sexual. What I discovered is while those times are scattered, they are there. I have been loved and wonderfully cared for by men in my romantic relationships (even the sucky ones) – in my family (my Grand Pa always came through with a happy meal when I needed it most and my brothers  effectively kept me dateless through my teens for my own safety.) –and in my male friendships (these are men who have “dated” me, danced and laughed with me, given me emotional and financial support without  any expectations).

The more I wrote and thought and cried and chewed, the more I realized how skewed my perspective is. There is nothing I can do about my past life experience. Nothing. So there is no need to let it make my current existence  miserable. My history with men is just that, HISTORY.  I can make new choices, shift my perspective,  find new mistakes to make and  new lessons to learn. I can only do these things if I choose not to fall back into old patterns, which is what I was avoiding by destroying my bedroom in the first place. See. Full circle. Don’t you love how life works? I know I do.

Rosie.

*the magic happens at 1:11.

Hello, My name is Stacey and I’m an addict.

I have officially broken my own anonymity per the 12th tradition of all 12 step programs. I broke it for the need to speak freely about what addiction is and isn’t and what recovery is and isn’t per my own experience.  Clearly I’m writing this because of the recent passing of Whitney Houston, but it’s been bubbling up in me since the passing of Amy Winehouse.  It nags the shit out me to see the joke addiction is made out to be in this society, as if it is some signifier of inferiority that only the weakest of society are afflicted with.

Guess what? That man negotiating million dollar deals on the 54th floor of your nearest sky scraper, is smoking crack in his office after board meetings cause he can’t take the pressure.  Your son’s 3rd grade teacher that is always so great with getting him to do his daily reading, is tweaking meth while her class is on the playground. Not convinced?  Sigmund Freud was a damn coke head! Addicts are everywhere and the sooner we start acknowledging addiction as a disease like diabetes or heart disease, the better off we’ll be as a society.

For starters, addiction has more to do with obsession and compulsion than sheer sloth. It is a disorder of the brain, and it’s treatment often consists of a multifold approach.  My own course of treatment has included: outpatient rehab, 12 steps, meetings, prayer, meditation, and therapy (and that’s not even everything.)  You see, contrary to popular belief one does not pop into rehab, pop out after 28 days and go on living their lives normally. Recovery from addiction takes work  and a lifetime of work at that. How is it then that we expect people who are in the lime light to “get their shit together”. I can barely shuffle my shit into the same building much less get it together after two years clean, but I’m getting better :).

When I heard of Whitney’s death, I was in a room full of recovering addicts. We talked, some cracked inappropriate jokes ( laughter being the 2nd cousin of fear), some sang songs, but the sentiment was the same: She was one of us, and she never “got” it. It saddens me when I see the requisite apathetic tweets and facebook updates after tragedies like these. “She/He brought it on her/hisself” or “Yeah, but A MILLION people are dead in (place 3rd world country here)”. I challenge these types of people to take a good look at what addiction has done and is doing in THIS country. Incidents like these are opportunities for us to take our own inventories, not platforms for self righteousness.

Ain’t it the American/Human way. We dress people up, call them our “darlings” and when they stray from our expectations of them we seek their complete annihilation.  Fame is so dangerous in that way.  Just for today, I’m good with being regular assed Stacey R. from Elizabeth, NJ trying to piece together this thing called life with a lil’ help from my friends. If any good can be said to come from the recent deaths of Amy, Etta (the wear and tear on her body was drug related y’all), and now Whitney is my resolve to stay and live clean, is  that much stronger.

Stacey R.

11/10/09