Cunning, Baffling and Extremely Powerful
“Addiction is committing suicide on the installment plan.”
In the year 2019, I feel confident in saying that most people and families have been affected by addiction in some way. Whether it be a family member, close friends or possible yourself who has been touched in one way or another by this terrible and very progressive disease. Personally, I’ve seen addiction run through the lives of many families and individuals leaving a path of destruction that Hurricane Katrina herself couldn’t hold a candle against. And addictions of various kind continue to devastate both my mind and body.
Often people relate addiction to only chemicals be it drugs or alcohol. A lot of times it is the assumption that physical dependence compounded by withdrawal symptoms is required for someone to be diagnosed with an addiction disorder. With chemical addiction this is true. In behavioral addictions i.e. gambling, sex, shopping, internet, self-harm, workaholism, etc. the behavior also progresses until negative consequences occur as well. Specific process addictions, in my life, are anorexia, bulimia and self-harm. I’m sure there are others but currently these are my biggest and most destructive. Where the mentioned behaviors are and have been a problem since childhood.
Education about addictions, in general, has come quite far from the days of the Temperance Movement specifically due to alcohol consumption of the early 19th century. Stigmas have lessened since then. However, process addictions still have a pretty heavy stigma attached to them due to pure ignorance. One of the things that I do that keeps me sick in my disease is my uncanny ability to minimize any and all addictive behaviors that I engage in. I can tell that I have nerve damage in my forearms from 30+ years of cutting them with razor blades. My left shoulder has nerve damage from a self-inflicted gunshot wound several years ago. My internal systems have no telling what wrong with them from all the years of purging and heavy restricting by starving my body and ridding it of food.
Other behaviors that are considered an addiction for me are shopping, huffing chemicals and using belts to play “The Choking Game” until I pass out. All the addictions mentioned are ones that can individually kill me at any point. I will minimize them to justify to myself another reason to do it again just like any drug addict or alcoholic. I will come up with any reason to engage in these behaviors just to be able to get through a moment of uncomfortable feelings. I truly do my best trying to cope with all these things, but coach won’t let me slide unlike my internal addict that justifies yet another reason to keep going.
I have struggled many years and have kept my addiction alive. No matter the reason, there is always at time and a number that has my name written on it when it will be my last. It’s almost like dodging bullets knowing that one has your name on it. I wish I had a healthy fear of these behaviors, but I don’t. I fear the uncomfortable feelings and visions more than I fear dying from addiction. Each day I pray and yearn for the day that I’ll be able to live life without such horrible feelings. Who knows? Maybe the life I have dreams about being a part of could one day be possible if I would just get out of my own way.
“Every habit he’s ever had is still there in his body, lying dormant like flowers in the desert.”
Her Winds Still Blow
“You can take the people out of the city, but you can’t take the soul — that remains here.”
― T.J. Fisher, Orleans Embrace with The Secret Gardens of the Vieux Carré
As the official opening day of hurricane season June 1st every year, I can’t help but to remember the wide path of destruction left by Hurricane Katrina on August 29, 2005. Anyone who went through that storm, no matter the location has my deepest sympathies. I also went through that storm and not a day goes by that I don’t remember how scared and awestruck I was at the devastation. Last night I was awakened by a horrible nightmare complete with an ass kicking migraine. I woke up with nausea and last night’s meal gurgling in my stomach. I was also chilled by the sweat on my brow and clothing attempting to dry.
I couldn’t help that I had just had a nightmare, but the vividness of the dream was one that startled me. Hurricane Katrina happened before Mel and I met. I was still married to my ex-husband at the time. And I also can remember my nannie still being her good ole grouchy self. We had a gas grill and each other and that was about all we needed unless you counted the need for air-conditioning. I’m a spoiled kid of the 1980’s and I grew up with air conditioning and desperately need it when it’s hot. People including my mother were sleeping in the beds of pickup trucks rather than in the house because you stuck to everything because of the heat. I slept on the hot wooden floor in the dining room and my 85 years old grandmother and would’ve been sleeping in Heaven with Jesus sooner had it been left up to my mom. My grandmother was being a pill, and everyone heard her. She And her chihuahua were soon taken to a friend who made sure she got in the air conditioning and away from us for a while. Meanwhile for the first few days everyone was eating out of each other’s freezers as the defrosting led to some good eating.
There were 5 big trees on my parent’s house that were casualties of the storm. Water and sewage were a thing of the past. Gas was being rationed. And how the Mississippi Gulf Coast and New Orleans, Louisiana was doing was a mystery. It was the time when hardship let to sitting under the carport at night with sweat running down the side of our heads and swatting mosquitos and laughing to keep from crying. We knew the devastation in our neighborhood and town and that was all.
What we did learn through all of this was how to help our neighbors. When anyone mentions pulling together resources for something the time when Katrina hit the southern United States always comes to mind. I eventually got to see the hardcore destruction firsthand when I was helping to publish a book by doing some photography from the destruction. But emotionally I was affected in ways that even I don’t know. Exactly 14 years ago today Hurricane Katrina would change life for many people including myself. Because being awaken by a nightmare and a migraine let’s me know that her winds still blow.
“Life is a hurricane, and we board up to save what we can and bow low to the earth to crouch in that small space above the dirt where the wind will not reach.”
–Jesmyn Ward, Men We Reaped
“You’re imperfect, and you’re wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging.”
Sometimes “ah-ha” or “lightbulb moments” seem to come from out of thin air. You don’t question them. You sit and chew on them, if you have the time, until you’re able to digest what happened or what was realized. Lately, I’ve been bothered by why I care so much about others’ opinions of me. Maybe I was just wanting to find out how and why my humor seems to be attractive to people. If you think I’m tooting my own horn, let me assure you that’s not what’s happening here.
I’ve been sitting and wondering also why I have been tossed about and “unsettled” with my internal guys. I’ve really been working hard on realizing how painful and harmful my self-sabotage. Maybe I just ran into this while searching for answers. The toxic emotion that drives a lot, if not all, my self-sabotaging is fear and shame. Well what is it that I fear? Literally…. most everything. But one of the things that I fear the most is people leaving however that might look. I also have seemed to attach other people’s opinions they may or may not have about me to the worthiness of myself as a human being. That’s insane kind of thinking if you look at it. Growing up in small town U.S.A. that’s all that did matter. But the belief was so engrained in my belief system that if someone didn’t like me, I have felt useless. I remember this from the time I was very young. And then as a blossoming teenager looking for a place to belong, if I was funny, I didn’t have to fit into one group, I was accepted most anywhere and any group. The problem is that overtime if I wasn’t liked by someone the belief has been that I’m a failure with a heartbeat. When the reality is that people don’t give two squirts of cat pee what or how I’m doing.
You would think as much as I crave alone time that I would enjoy being alone. The truth is that I hate it. I was always a social butterfly. If there were 100 people to socialize with then I wondered why there wasn’t 101. Over the years I bought into some pretty horrible and crippling beliefs that have altered my life. With Coach’s help we also looked at how this belief system was influenced by my adoption. Low and Behold, I’m wanting something that I’ll never have….my birth mom’s love and approval for just being alive. When I met her there was nothing there between us and that hurt tremendously. My heart yearns and cries for her approval. I realized yesterday that I have attached people’s perceived opinions of me to my self-worth. But what hit me like a ton of bricks was when I said, “She didn’t have the capacity to love me. But that doesn’t mean that I’m a bad person. I AM WORTHY OF LOVE AND HEALTH RELATIONSHIPS. AND NO ONE PERSON’S OPINION OF ME DEMINISHES MY WORTH AS A HUMAN BEING. What they think of me is not my any of my concern.
Now, I’m not going to sit here and say that the realization cures anything. But I think being able to say this with a good Brene Brown quote near by is closer to believing it. It’s not that I haven’t toyed with the idea at some point. I’m just simply….perfectly imperfect. My heart felt it yesterday and by then end I’d call that one hell of a session. Thanks, Coach!!!!
“Shame is the most powerful, master emotion. It’s the fear that we’re not good enough.”
Searching For Truth
“If you’re searching for a quote that puts your feelings
into words – you won’t find it.”
It’s days like today that I wonder what I could’ve done wrong? Did I do something to make the perpetrators conduct evil? Today, they sit with their families and enjoy time together. And I on the other hand sit and continue to be tormented by things they have done. My rational mind tells me that I’ve survived and that was what I was supposed to do. However, there are times throughout the day that makes me wonder what the hell I’ve done wrong by surviving. My life is chaotic both internally and externally depending on how you see it. I simply want to walk around my room with a purpose. Others could careless what happens to me…. them. I have worked hard to become who and what I am. I am what I am but a “headcase” not quite. You see that’s the only thing I was called for many years. My name disappeared and I became “headcase.” All I want is to be able to be the controller of my life. I want love and to be heard that what I tell you is believed. Perpetrators are great at teaching us that no one will believe our stories or jail would be a consequence for telling stories. I just want to know that I’m being believed. I don’t know why I’m writing other than to say that I need to be heard. I’ve said this from the beginning and satisfaction is not believed at least today. I have been imprisoned by their evil and they have been imprisoned by nothing. How do we settle the score? We just keep pushing forward in the search for truth. Searching for the “TRUTH “that seems to elude us all.
Ok so it’s difficult to find quotes about fortune cookies that are better just called stale cookies. I have mostly used them as entertainment to amuse myself. Anyway, since moving to Texas I’ve begun to keep my fortunes from the cookie which my alters all seem to need. What makes a cookie more delicious than having an expiration date of 1994, a slip of paper with a random fortune that will never come true and some fake lottery numbers. I haven’t found a number yet that was as lucky and a random set of keys to a brand-new house showed up in the mail for me.
I have several fortunes saved. Nowhere near as many times as I’ve gone to eat sushi and left there feeling like a frenzy feeding sharks on Shark Week. But some of the fortunes have by paranoia alarms going off and alters running for cover. When some of the phrases sound like Brene Brown wrote it that’s when a philosophical conversation breaks out. Yep, I have a head full of sporadic philosophical geniuses. And let’s face it, I’ve been a little too serious and emotional lately.
The alters’ that love the fortune cookies the most are the ones that lay close to 1980’s music and culture. They also like to read them in the voice of Mr. Miyagi for added effect. My favorite fortune cookie must be the one pictured because we were all caught off guard at the thought of sleeping cookies. They’re so stale that they are more like “dead cookies.” I’m telling you that most people who live alone are literally alone. Not me…. I’ve got want-to-be comedians going all day long entertaining any and every one that I come in contact with.
It’s times like these when I wish that I could be silly with Marshall and Copeland playing and acting silly. Even they know that we play when momma can play because the swing always goes the other way. I try to take things as they come like if I was given the opportunity to duck I wouldn’t. Geez…. really universe? So, I don’t just write lighthearted blogs to help you. I do it to help me and to deal with life as it comes. I take some dark and lonely roads sometimes and get lost trying to get out. She said, “It will be worth it. Not easy.”
I laugh a lot, but no one sees
How much these visions torment me?
Fight as I may, I have yet to win
Screaming loudly, “No! Not Again!”
God might frown but the devil smiles
He knows his influence on this broken child.
Forward I still go but no one sees
My limping, hurting and the pain that pushes me.
How do I succeed whilst in his mouth of flames?
I’ve tried and tried with very little gain
Can’t anyone plainly see?
How my demons are killing me?
I say, “Yes!” and they say, “No!
We will beat this crazy and very useless ho.
But try as I may spilling heartbroken tears;
All this happening year-after-year.
Prayers are spoken but no one sees
This desperate girl inside me begging Please!!!
To help me stop this destructive path
How many more times can I survive their wrath?
The people who help have grown weary as well.
How can I continue to drag them through my personal hell?
All the while I silently scream, “help but don’t leave!”
The message is constant “Then let us help you please!”
I don’t know how to let you love me and teach me knew things
Please let me be the puppet on a string.
I listen and try the best that I can
Can I start over and learn to let people love me again?
Answers unknown and fears cover my heart
Can I possibly let you mold me like a beautiful piece of art?
This little girl desperately wants to live
But how much more can I take and are you still willing to give?
I’m not greedy and want everything from you.
God, the universe, The Great Spirit says I’m not through.
Don’t give up as everyone has and I apologize for
being such a hardheaded jackass.
Compassionate and caring more than anyone has ever been
Please try drilling through my thick skull once again.
By: Dana Landrum-Arnold
Realization of Life
Oh how I want to die
And stop living every day as a lie
Using the masks so no one can see
Letting them see anything and anyone but me.
Behaviors and chemicals have helped with the pain
But now they do nothing with little to gain
Nothing more than an evil monkey on my back
Just waiting for the final day that I’ll crack.
Living life on the outside is how it seems
But on the inside it’s a nightmarish dream
Protection they give me and protection I’ve had
Why then do I fell so incredibly bad?
Wanting to die is all I recall
Planning daily for my final fall
Because pain this bad all I want is for it to end.
Not even wanting to share this with a friend.
But I talk to “my guys: to see if this is what they really want.
As the days creep closer the reality begins to haunt.
All we want is to end all the painful strife
Because our realization is all we want is a pain free life.
By: Dana Landrum-Arnold