Not long ago, I overheard a man in my neighborhood who was outside talking on his cell phone in an animated, impassioned voice about how “cancel culture” was the reason for his daughter’s numerous difficulties at work and how people need to be so careful these days about every little thing they say and do, for fear of stepping on the wrong toes and getting “cancelled.” He was gesturing emphatically and looked on the verge of tears.
There was something about his words that stopped me in my tracks and made my heart twist uncomfortably in my chest. I didn’t know him or his daughter well, but I could identify with the urgency and pain in his voice. I hurt for him. I hurt for her. I hurt for us all, having to deal with this “cancel culture” phenomenon that has swept through our society.
Because the pain in his voice was a pain I think we all know or have known well, at least once in our lives. The pain of judgement, of criticism, of being told that we are “wrong” and unworthy of love or attention because of our very so-called “wrongness.” We didn’t always have a convenient catchy name for this, though, and it was a phenomenon nowhere near as widespread or rampant in my youth as it is in this digital age.
And I think that’s part of the problem with cancel culture, really — the digital age. It’s made us feel much less accountable for our own snarkily voiced judgements of others, because of the relative anonymity allowed by internet messaging and commenting, and yet at the same time, it’s made us much more likely to try to hold others accountable for the things that they may have said or done — especially if there is an online record of such sayings or doings, and especially if mob mentality tells us that what someone else has done is worthy of our scorn, censure, or derision.
But cancel culture is toxic, y’all. It’s rooted in the diseased belief that some of us are “good” or “better” and some of us are “bad” or “lesser.” And that’s just bullsh*t. We are all human, imperfect, fallible, and we ALL make mistakes. Some of us just have the unlucky experience of having our imperfect moments recorded and/or published for all of posterity to see, to spread around the internet, and to subsequently, of course, publicly condemn. But I really believe it’s foolish to think that any one of us has the right to “cancel” anyone else.
Cancel culture, in my mind, really has no place in a benevolent society, or in ANY community built on a foundation of compassion, understanding, tolerance, and mutual respect. Because we all deserve to be seen, to have our stories heard, to be treated with basic civility, no matter the mistakes and missteps we may have made in the past. Our justice system, after all (while admittedly imperfect itself), is based on these principles. Why, then, is society at large so quick and willing to abandon these principles?
It makes me sad.
It also makes me incredibly grateful to have grown up just before the digital age really exploded. Seriously, y’all, I shudder to think of what it would be like to have someone examine the entirety of my younger life with a fine-toothed comb, to bear witness to every choice, every word, every decision I’ve ever made. I would surely have been “cancelled” a hundred times over, by the standards of current society, as would many of us, I’d imagine.
I am, after all, only a human, and while I have learned and grown and become a better person over time, I don’t think any of us necessarily starts out that way — fully formed and evolved and self-actualized and all that. We have to fall in the dirt in order to learn how to pick ourselves up. We have to know what it feels like to be low to know how to begin to rise up, to lift ourselves out of the muck. I mean, my god y’all, we have to MAKE mistakes in order to learn how to be truly compassionate in the first place.
Anyway, all of that is basically just to say, in my mind, we are ALL worthy of love and respect, we are all enough, just as we are, imperfect messes and all. It is our very imperfections, in fact, that make us beautiful.
And to those of you who have been forced to grow up under the hot, relentless spotlight of this vicious digital age, my heart goes out to you, and I love you, my dear sweet darlings. I will always believe that we are all uncancellable. And I hope that you can believe that of yourself too, especially if society ever tries to tell you different.
So one of my good friends recently hosted a writing party with a bunch of writing prompts inspired by the work of Hildegard von Bingen, and it was so very muchly, muchly, like… super fun, and really also just… wayyyy more productive than I could have ever imagined. So I just wanted to repost the products of that writing party here, because it feels like a significant part of my journey, and I wanted to share it with you all.
And I guess, maybe that’s all a bunch of gibberish to anyone but me, but I think writing is just like that sometimes, isn’t it? I mean, there are some famous poetic writings that people are still debating the meaning of, after all.
The important thing about all this, to me, is that I can definitely see the ways that I’ve changed and grown and the things that I’ve learned over the years reflected in these writings. And that has a lot of significance to me. My growth feels like a big deal. And, for just a minute or two, I felt like celebrating that. (And that part — the whole “feeling like celebrating myself” thing — yeah, that’s big-time growth in itself, for me.)
Anyway. I love you all. ❤️️ Thanks for being here, and for reading. 🙏
And many prayers and warm wishes to you — my most heartfelt wish for you being that, if you haven’t already, you are able to find that place in yourself that has grown and expanded and evolved in positive ways over the years, and that you are able to celebrate yourself in your own beautiful life’s accomplishments as well.
For context on this post, and links to related journal entries from this particular piece of my life's journey, see My Sobriety Journey, Journaled.
I don’t think I knew how to feel any real feelings, except maybe brief, barely contained spasms of all-consuming rage (though even that much was rarely expressed), until I was 19 years old.
But as far as the rage goes…
I remember vivid bursts of white-hot intensity at various times in my youth, mostly stemming from feelings of indignation and feelings of being wronged and feelings of very much not being heard by the adults in my life.
And I remember that screaming into a pillow and punching the bedsheets repeatedly with all my might felt like not NEARLY enough to contain my anger… I remember that I wanted to literally DESTROY something.
And at the same time, on some deeper, instinctive level, I knew that there was no possible PHYSICAL outlet I knew of for that overwhelmingly destructive impulse (born of overwhelmingly destructive emotional pain that I didn’t know how to release) that wouldn’t also destroy me… so I bottled it, more often than not.
And I remember feeling HUGE tsunami-sized waves of shame over the very existence of that anger and that destructive desire, at several points in my adolescence.
As you may have picked up from my previous writings… I’ve been a closed shell for most of my life, but most notably in my younger years. Much of it stems from what I attribute to a lack of physical affection at a very young age, since I was in and out of the hospital frequently as a newborn, due to health issues… and when not in hospital care… well…
I was the child of a teenage mother — a mother who was a wild child, a flower child in many ways. And the only memorable photo I remember finding in my grandmother’s things of the two of us — my free-spirited mother and I — spending time together when I was an infant was an image of me lying alone on the sofa, clearly in designated “tummy time,” surrounded by pillows, all by myself, with my mother sitting beside me but yet completely apart from me, not touching me, not smiling at me, even her attention focused on someone else out of the frame of the photo.
My true, deep, non-rage-induced feelings finally erupted out of me for the first time in the middle of a Wal-Mart parking lot when I was around 19. But that’s another story. A complicated one.
But the feelings… I drowned them in alcohol, because that was what I knew, at the time. It was all I knew to do.
Because I knew that PURPOSEFULLY drinking an excess of alcohol… for the first time ever in my life, in an incident which had happened less than 2 years prior to this Wal-Mart incident — 100% coordinated and orchestrated by ME (because empowerment, y’all) — was the first time I ever in my life could remember laughing heartily, for no reason at all, just staring at my reflection in a bathroom mirror, all alone. Seeing me, and being joyful.
At least, it was the first time I remember experiencing anything close to what I could equate with “joy” at the time. (I know it wasn’t true joy now. But it was the first step along a spectrum, for me, that I had to walk, to get to where I am now.)
How do you even begin to learn how to effectively and healthily manage your emotions when you’ve never even learned how to let yourself experience them in the first place?
I think that’s where a lot of recovery programs go awry, to be honest. The root problem starts a lot earlier than we all imagine it does.
Anyway, as I was saying… I went through high school in a haze, an automaton, for the most part, programmed to success mode, to “get the fuck out of here” mode, to “make money at all costs” mode. I got the grades.
I avoided getting close to anyone. Not that I could have, even if I’d wanted to. I didn’t know how to connect, how to trust, how to TRULY let anyone in. I didn’t have the slightest clue how to begin doing any of that. And I didn’t believe that anyone liked me much, anyway, so why would I even bother trying?
In high school, I was actually teased and bullied more times than I’d care to admit, by more people than I’d care to admit. I rode a long-distance school bus to and from my downtown-area school for all 4 years of high school, which entailed 45-90 minutes spent idling in traffic each way, all of which was funded by my nerd scholarship, which of course contributed to my popularity problems in ways that only those traumatized nerdy individuals who vividly remember their school years can possibly relate to.
And, because it was a location from which I couldn’t escape, this school bus became where I was subject to teasing most mercilessly… by even the ELEMENTARY school kids who rode that bus with me. And besides just hurling insults, they would throw things at me. Food, mostly, that I remember. Orange peels. Nobody cared. Nobody stuck up for me. And seeing no other real options, I mostly ignored it.
The few annoyance-fueled protestations and outbursts that I allowed to escape from me over the years, though they happened rarely, only proved to me that giving any attention to the bullying offenders only made the offenses become much worse.
Because, as I learned, the cardinal rule is always: Never throw fuel on a bullying fire. Never let them see you upset, no matter what. That’s what they are going for. That’s their reward. You cannot give it to them. Ignore the injustices at all costs.
Which means, essentially, that you cannot stick up for yourself. It’s the all-powerful double-edged sword of bullying that I’m not sure even the recent anti-bullying campaigns have been able to completely eradicate. (Although I am grateful beyond any words can even express that I grew up in an era where cell phones, Facebook, and Instagram were not the institutions they are today.)
This bullying continued, of course, throughout my high school years, despite (or perhaps aided by) the fact that I’d made it through every single year of school at the top of my class, and was graduating as my high school’s salutatorian. It didn’t matter that I was, throughout a good portion of those torturous bus-riding hours, writing and practicing (silently, in my head) a rousing, inspiring and comedic speech that I would later give to a packed house of over a thousand parents and family members at my high school graduation (the content of which was actually a lot of bullsh*t, because I never once talked about how I never fit in at that school, and how it was ironic that I was chosen to represent the group, and how no one there loved me or even KNEW me, really).
But the fact is, all of that unsaid stuff was true. And bullying doesn’t stop just because you wish it will.
I had always been bullied though. It wasn’t only in high school.
I remember, once, letting my true feelings out about how horrible school had become for me to my mother, sometime around the 4th or 5th grade, when I was being mercilessly teased by a few male classmates for being tall and giraffe-like, taller than all my classmates, whiter-skinned than all of my classmates, a true “haole” girl. (I grew up in Hawaii, where being tall and pale-skinned made me different than most of my classmates, and as a result, I was often teased and derided using the term “haole” — a Hawaiian word meaning foreigner or outsider — despite the fact that I was born and raised in the islands and had a significant amount of Native Hawaiian blood running through my veins.)
And of course, I was seriously hurt by the teasing and cutting words, since it was the first time I could remember ever being treated so badly for what seemed like NO REASON at all. (Sidenote: Is 3rd grade when kids start all that divisiveness bullsh*t? I really wish there were some sort of warning signs to look for, or some kind of book written about it for parents of kids who were “doing their own thing” like me.)
Anyway, I expressed that hurt I was feeling to my mother, and it is one of the only times I ever remember crying throughout my entire childhood (except, of course, for the time I was LOCKED out of the house by my entire family, as they attempted to force me to learn to roller-skate in a truly fucking traumatic — yet I would imagine probably well-intentioned — “ride or die” fashion).
And my mother responded to my hurt feelings and to the whole incident (it was a series of incidents, really, but I didn’t bother telling her that) with righteous indignation, telling me that she was going to talk to my teacher, and to my principal, and to the parents of the boy who had made me cry, and she would put a stop to it, by god, because nobody treated her baby that way!
As an adult, of course, I know where this urge to protect and defend comes from, but even now, if I had a child of my own, I think I would be able to recognize the “more harm than good” truth behind this line of actions and hold my tongue.
Because I’ve been a child. And authority figures are not ALWAYS there.
And there are always creative ways for mean-spirited children — who have been thwarted in and/or chastised for their devilish actions — to express their frustrations at such chastisement by taking retaliation for the apparent tattling that caused it.
And, as shouldn’t surprise anyone, children can always find new and vicious ways of being cruel to one another. Ways that aren’t immediately obvious to the casual parental eye.
Anyway, I was terrified by my mother’s proclamations of “making things right” by “talking to them all,” and — amidst voicing STRONG protestations against any such actions — this is where I learned the importance of not airing one’s feelings. Not to anyone. Not ever. Because it didn’t seem to ever help anything. (This was a difficult habit to unlearn later, though I did, thank goodness.)
I never really got the emotional validation or the reinforcement of a sense of consistent strength and stability that I think is what I was truly looking for from that interaction with my mother. She tried her best, I know she did. But she was so young. She just didn’t have the life experience, the perspective, to think it through the way I can now, as a 40-something-year-old woman. And I don’t blame her for that.
But I can see it, and understand it. And that helps.
It helps me to be okay with just feeling my feelings — now, today, and all the days going forward from here.
It helps me to be okay with feeling my feelings without having to do anything about them at all. Without having to try to change them, or drown them out. Because I am finally in a place where I can accept life’s most basic invitation — to feel my feelings and just allow them to be. And to accept myself for having them, without judgement of myself.
But also. It helps me to be strong enough not to take sh*t from ANYONE anymore. Because I refuse to take on the burden of allowing myself to become the collateral damage of someone else’s low opinion of themselves. Because I am FINALLY starting to know and accept my worth, and to know and accept that NO ONE deserves to be treated with anything less than respect.
And my greatest hope for you is that perhaps, in reading this, if you are struggling with any of these things, you can begin to be okay with feeling your own feelings. And allowing them. And being gentle and kind with yourself for having them. And accepting your own undeniable worth.
I love you.
Thank you for being here.
Thank you for bearing witness to this process.
Thank you for bringing your sacred energy and emotions to this space.
Your presence is felt, and you are deeply appreciated.
For context on this post, and links to related journal entries from this particular piece of my life's journey, see My Sobriety Journey, Journaled.
A lot of things have got me thinking about relationships lately… and my relationship to being in relationships… and my history of attachment issues and glomming onto people who are bad for me.
For historical reference:
At the oh-so-mature age of 15, I attached myself with a vengeance to the first person to show me any romantic attention ever. I think this is because I had somehow been led to believe, from watching the behavior of many of the adults around me, that “romantic” attention (or, what I interpreted “romantic” attention to be — which was really less on the romantic side and more on the blatantly sexual side) was the only kind of attention that really meant anything.
Anyway, this person, the one who first showed me this attention, happened to be an Army private stationed near my hometown (and 4 years older than me). In true “romantic,” (read: not-so-romantic) classy style, he gave me my first kiss, felt me up, and shortly thereafter took my virginity, with me lying on my back in the dirty gravel of the open carport in the front of my mother’s house.
And because I don’t do anything halfway — and also because, of course, I thought I was in looooove — I followed him across the country as soon as I graduated high school, where I proceeded to marry him at the ripe, super-mature-and-responsible old age of 18.
When the marriage turned sour (is anyone surprised by that?), I jumped into a relationship with my then-work-supervisor (who was, probably not surprisingly, only the 2nd person in my life to show me any serious so-called “romantic” attention).
To make things even more emotionally confusing for me, this happened while I was still in the process of filing divorce papers and doing my best to stay off the radar of my soon-to-be ex-hubby, so as not to encourage his stalker-ish tendencies (which included but were not limited to: calling both my mother and my grandmother multiple times over a period of months, and regaling them, for hours, with his tales of woe about how much he missed me and asking them again and again what he needed to do to win me back).
Okay. So fast-forward through a series of subsequent sh*tty, ill-considered decisions (that I made in the throes of desperation, aloneness and neediness, and silent but spiritually violent outcries for love and attention), and a few months later…
I found myself pregnant by the aforementioned work supervisor (and still not yet divorced from my ex), with both of us soon to be out-of-work and out of health insurance, since we’d just found out the company we worked for was closing down the location we worked at and laying everyone off.
And I suppose, given the potential shock and awe accompanying that bit of information, you might think that’s where the hammer dropped completely, and that that’s where the interesting part of the story ends.
But it’s not. At least not in my story.
I really, really wish it were.
But in my story, it was at this point that I found out that:
- my work supervisor was not only still sleeping with his soon-to-be-ex-wife (because he was, like me, ALSO in the process of a divorce when we hooked up… though he’d told me when we first got “romantic” that he barely had any contact with her anymore, because they didn’t get along very well), but ALSO…
- he had another girlfriend (the very same someone he’d falsely called an “ex-girlfriend” when casually mentioning her to me once) whom he was, of course, sleeping with at the same time, and…
- all three of us oh-so-lucky females had been simultaneously impregnated by this f*cking winner of a human being. Yes. Yes, I really did say…. at. the. same. damn. time. (Apparently, this guy was on some sort of a “spread your seed far and wide” trip that fed his ego and made him feel more “needed and important,” according to what he told me about it much later.)
And because that just wasn’t enough of a one-two-three punch of hurt and humiliation to have to deal with, somehow (because, amazingly, miraculously, the main thing I was worrying about was losing him, in the middle of this clusterf*ck of a situation), I let this dude convince me that the only way for he and I to stay together was if I got an abortion, and that me agreeing to doing that would somehow “fix” everything that was wrong with everything that was happening in the world, and that we’d then be able to ride off into the sunset together and live happily ever after.
Honestly, I have no idea what I was thinking to believe this line of total f*cking BS… except that I was 19 years old, and he was a good decade older than me… and that I believe that I was actually addicted to him in the same way that I later got addicted to alcohol, because he said and did things that made me feel “good” about myself in ways that nothing and no one else ever had (I mean, not truly and honestly good… but he made me feel needed and important, no matter that it was a false feeling… and, no, the irony of the fact that the sense of presumed fulfillment that he and I were both searching for had pretty much the same roots in our respective psyches is not lost on me).
Anyway. Yeah, I was addicted to how he made me feel. Or how I thought he made me feel. And I didn’t think straight about anything concerning him for a long, long, long time.
Long story short (too late, I know), I got the abortion (he drove me to the abortion clinic, like a true gentleman… and of course, just to make sure I actually did it… okay, probably more the latter than the former), and the whole abortion experience was emotionally utterly awful and physically unexpectedly painful and spiritually just all-consuming and depleting, and I felt a leaden-heavy, all-encompassing sense of guilt about the whole thing for years afterward.
The experience opened up a huge sense of ineffable and unspeakable LOSS inside me that I will always have with me.
I mean, I’ve always supported a woman’s right to choose (and still do), but I’d never, before that moment, thought about it in terms of how the experience might affect me personally, and I hadn’t realized that I’d feel such a STRONG sense of attachment to that life growing inside me, or that it would hurt so, so f*cking much to lose that connection to that tender spark inside of me. It was an emotional pain more sharp and vast than I even have words for… more than I will ever have words for, I think, really.
But there’s something else about this experience that bears mentioning, too.
Because while I know a significant part of that feeling of enormous loss had to do with the winking out of that tiny ember that had been growing inside of me… for a long time, I thought that was the ONLY place that sensation of loss came from.
But it wasn’t.
I realize now, with the benefit of hindsight, that another HUGE component of that sensation of loss I felt came from losing so many other things at the same time.
I mean… I lost my faith in the innate goodness of humanity. My innocence. My ability to trust fully (not just in others, but in myself).
And this man, this winner of a man, shortly after this seriously traumatic yet relatively unacknowledged event in my life… he told me that while his ex-wife had gotten an abortion as well, that the other girl — the not-really-ex-girlfriend who was also pregnant by him — was not getting an abortion, because she was in the military and could support the baby on her own (because the government would pay her extra for having a baby, basically).
And because he supposedly wanted to do “the right thing” by her, he was staying together with her and her baby. Not with me.
Okay. I know I was super gullible, y’all. I can see it now, looking back, with years of life experience under my belt. But I saw NONE of this then.
I mean, looking back, I’m 99.9% sure that this was what he planned to do all along. But I never saw it coming. Not one little bit.
Yeah, I’m a sucker for pain, apparently. And back in those days, I naively always just believed that what people were telling me was the truth. Because despite all the bullying that I’d endured in my school years, I hadn’t yet been truly and fully hardened by life.
(This was, of course, one of the major turning points in my life’s journey, where I started turning away from innocent naivete and toward cynicism and suspicion of others and their intentions.)
Anyway, back to the story.
As it happens, this guy’s ex-wife and this other girl who was having his baby — they were apparently all three somehow still good friends even after everything that had happened (which is super strange and honestly still confuses me to this day).
And one day the two of his “other women” were hanging out together there with him at his place, and I guess he got pretty drunk (a daily occurrence) and told them about me and my pregnancy by him (thank you very much, ex-supervisor guy who shall remain unnamed here), and then the two of them decided they were gonna conference-call me together, from his house, probably also at least half-drunk, because they were pissed that I had, as they put it, “taken advantage of him.”
So I got a page from his number.
Yes, this was indeed back in the days when people didn’t all have cell phones, but a lot of the “cool kids” did have pagers, which meant that we could call our friends back when they paged us. (I was not a cool kid, but somehow I had managed to get my hands on a pager. The universe works in mysterious ways, I suppose.)
Anyway, I got this page.
Thinking that it was him paging me, I was excited of course, and I called back right away, from a payphone in the front of the Wal-Mart parking lot, where I happened to have been doing some shopping at the time.
And this is where I was standing — on the sidewalk in front of a Wal-Mart — when I found myself on the receiving end of some serious verbal harassment by these two very hostile, angry women. They spent the majority of the time that they were on the phone with me taking turns calling me a whore and a homewrecker and explaining how this guy (whom I was still hung up on, even then) didn’t even like me.
I wish I hadn’t responded at all. I mean, their abusive statements didn’t warrant a response. At least, not from a mature, collected person with healthy self-esteem.
But I did respond. Because I was hurt, and naive, and unsure of myself in so many ways, and because I knew that what they believed had happened was untrue, and I thought that if I just explained, they would understand, and then maybe they wouldn’t be so angry anymore.
Did I mention that I was naive?
So I tried to defend myself by explaining that I had been with this guy at his place just the night before, because he had called me and asked me to come over, so I obviously wasn’t “stalking him” as they claimed. I mean, I hadn’t even been the one to initiate the relationship in the first place.
Explanatory sidenote: This guy, my ex-supervisor… he’d actually used confidential company records to get my phone number and call me at home one day, asking me if I wanted to “hang out” (code: f*ck). And being the soft, unbaked cookie that I was at the time, I never once questioned the invasiveness or complete lack of professionality that this action implied. I was just grateful to be called, y’all, if you can believe that. Because I was amazed, honestly, that anyone thought me worthy enough to hang out with. I surely didn’t think that highly of myself at that time in my life.
Anyway, back to the story. I defended myself on the phone. And of course, when I said all this stuff in defense of myself, these two girls, they laughed and called me a liar. (I wasn’t lying, but apparently that was too much truth for them to process.)
Oh yeah, and to add insult to injury, this guy’s roommate, who was sitting right there with this guy and these two girls as this conversation happened, picked up the phone at their request and proceeded to lie for him, telling them that I hadn’t been at his place. (Where, BTW, my car had been parked all night, visible to anyone who might have driven by. And the roommate was home. And didn’t just say hi to me. We all ordered Jack-In-The-Box that night and watched TV together. I got the cheddar wedges.)
Anyway, this very painful conversation went on for quite a while, during which the two girls took great, vindictive pleasure in revealing to me that:
- the ex-supervisor was actually gonna marry the not-really-ex-girlfriend,
- I was just a piece of trash who needed to stop harassing him like a desperate slut, and
- they hoped my abortion hurt a LOT, because I was a wh*re and totally deserved it (yes… I had, for some reason, at some point during this call, been WAY more honest than they deserved, and had admitted to them that my abortion was a very painful and traumatic experience… primarily because I was 100% naive and trusting at the time, and I had just assumed that women with shared experiences of hurt would naturally support one another rather than ripping one another to emotional shreds).
Anyway. I have no words for how that last piece of their verbal assault felt… it went too deep, and I can still feel it today, sometimes. I mean, it was detailed, y’all.
Like… just for comparison purposes, they felt the need to tell me that his ex-wife’s most recent abortion procedure at the Planned Parenthood was, according to her, “so awesome and not painful at all, because they gave me lots of valium and I didn’t feel a thing, cause like, I was feeling kinda high and stuff and mostly just happy” (but, I think, also because apparently this was her 3rd time getting an abortion as well… so she was pretty much a pro at it by this time).
But the big question here really is… why did I stay on the payphone with them and let this verbal abuse continue for so f*cking long, y’all… I mean, the whole time snotting uncontrollably and sobbing my eyes out in the very public space of the Wal-Mart parking lot?
Why did I allow myself to be assaulted and harassed this way?
Did I mention I had low self-esteem at the time?
But also… I think I kept hoping and praying that what I believed about the world being essentially a good place was true, and that this guy would eventually stand up and do the right thing and tell them the truth and get them to stop verbally abusing me.
I kept hoping that good would win out in the world. You know, like it always did in the movies I watched in my youth.
But good didn’t win out. At least not right then.
This was one of those pivotal moments in my life, though. I know that emotionally, spiritually, and in every other way that matters… I marked it.
Because this was when I lost the biggest piece of my innocence — the innocence that I had somehow managed to stubbornly cling to throughout my school years, despite growing up with a series of physically, verbally, emotionally, and spiritually abusive addictive personalities as live-in father figures.
And because I know for certain that this is the point when I started to consciously and deliberately use alcohol to drown out my feelings, rather than just using it as a social lubricant to be a “fun girl” and fit in.
Because I had feelings that felt WAY too big and unspeakable to hold on to, and I didn’t want to even try to hold onto them. I wanted them to float away.
I also think this is the point when I started to believe that I deserved having bad things happen to me. Because, god help me, I internalized a lot of that Wal-Mart payphone conversation, on a very deep and insidious level.
(Which is why I urge you all: Be thoughtful with your words. Especially your angry ones. Because, my friends, we can hurt each other so very deeply. We can create lifelong wounds in each other, whether we intend to or not.)
Back to the story, though… this guy… he did eventually marry the not-really-ex-girlfriend, just as predicted, and he ultimately had not just one but two children with her. In quick succession.
And then he divorced her.
All within the space of less than 2 years.
(I’m sorry, no, the story doesn’t end there. I wish it did.)
This guy. He started calling me again. And you all… OMFG y’all… I cringe to think about it… but I went back to him.
And I have no excuse but youth and utter brokenness. Because the familiarity of the evil you already know and have dealt with before… that feels more comforting than the vast yawning scary emptiness of an unknown potential future, sometimes.
But after a while, this guy… he had to move several hours away due to a job transfer. And we drifted apart.
Which was a breath of fresh air for me…
But then he moved back to the area I was living in. And he emailed me “just to say hi” and let me know he was back in town. And I went back to him. Again.
Yeah. A cycle of brokenness continued there that, like a broken record, I had to eventually completely jump tracks to get out of.
It wasn’t easy. Or fast.
The fact is that it took me almost a decade to shake this guy and his dark influence on my life. Eventually, I had to just tell him to stop contacting me.
I don’t know how I got the energy or the will to do it. I’d like to think that the universe was guiding me.
I think my actual last words to him were something along the lines of “hearing from you reminds me of some very bad choices I made in the past, and that’s just not a good energy for me to hold in my life anymore, so please know that I wish you well in life and that I don’t hold any resentment toward you, but also.. please don’t contact me ever again; if you do, I won’t respond.”
It really did feel like the universe was guiding me in finding those words.
I’d like to think this is when I started rebuilding my self-esteem. Which is still an enormous work-in-progress. But this one small thing… it was a huge step forward for me.
Anyway, I’m still working on acknowledging some of the past traumas in my life, because I think there are a lot of sh*t-storms that I’ve been through in my years on this earth that I tried to get through by pretending them away or pretending that they didn’t affect me, when they very much did.
And I believe there is a lot of wisdom to be found in acknowledging the things that happened in my life in the past, and in looking at my part in all of it, in how things went down, in how I got to where I eventually got to with alcohol and everything else, and in striving to just be a better human in general.
P.S. I love this Buffy video speech about cookie dough because it kinda just speaks to my soul. (And I feel like there are lots of things about me that are not “cookies” yet, outside of the relationship stuff even, and I need to be patient and keep moving forward until my cookies are done baking.) And this video just makes me laugh. Hope it makes somebody else laugh a little too.
For context on this post, and links to related journal entries from this particular piece of my life's journey, see My Sobriety Journey, Journaled.
Hey y’all! Just wanted to jump in and say hello (yet again)!
I’m Trish — she/her pronouns, full-time RVer, 9/11 military vet, divorcee, polyamorous, pansexual, kinky, nerdy, overly blunt at times, 2w3 on the enneagram scale, INFJ on the MBTI scale, horribly inept (and perhaps a bit lazy) cook, and UBER protective dog mama.
I travel around a bit, but I’ve been calling AZ and SoCal my home/s most recently. I’d guess I’m ’round about a year or so sober now, but I don’t do the day counting thing (it was counterproductive for me in the long run), which means I don’t have a number to throw up on the scoreboard (so if you don’t either, you’re in good company!).
I spent a good 20+ years drinking to excess prior to getting sober, so I’ve got lots of experience with f*cking up, lots of experience with day 1s and broken promises, and lots of experience with scary blackouts, drinking to fit in and be more of a “fun party girl,” and drinking to numb emotional pain.
I’m also a recovered bulimic and am currently working on applying a lot of the tools and principles I learned from sobriety on breaking free of my emotional eating patterns (which involves acknowledging and dealing with some unacknowledged past trauma… ugh… fun stuff y’all… but I’m doing it! which is empowering, really).
My journey has not been without its ups and downs or without struggle, so please don’t take the relatively lighthearted tone of this post to mean that I think I’ve got it all figured out.
It’s a process. An emotional one. A tough one. One of the toughest things I’ve ever done, really.
But this whole addiction experience, and everything I’ve learned along the way, everything I’ve gained while clawing my way out of the multiple abysses I’ve fallen into in my life — it’s all amazing, and a huge gift, and I wouldn’t change a minute of it for the world.
Maybe that doesn’t sound like it makes sense, on the surface of things. But it’s all a part of my history, and thus, a part of me. And if I didn’t have all of that in my past, then I wouldn’t be the same strong, knowledgeable woman I am now.
Building blocks, y’all.
And I love who I am now. Well. Most days. 🙂 Yeah, that’s a work-in-progress too.
Anyway. I’m kinda feeling like this, these days, more often than not, and it’s a kinda awesome feeling:
Thanks for sticking around to witness this journey of personal transformation. It’s been an honor to have you with me. Love you all!