Exceptional Scars

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©2017 DAMSteelman 

 

Exceptional scars

Taped up in a mason jar

How lucky you are

People complain about pain, but pain helps us grow. It tests our boundaries and lets us know what we like and don’t like. It helps us feel when we’ve had enough. Pain shows us what we can handle and what we have to change.

Change is inevitable. Sometimes I hate change, but it has to be. I mean, nothing changes if nothing changes. Sometimes I wish it was still 1986 and I could get a ‘do over’ but then my life might be different right now. We can talk about fate, journeys, and predetermined destinations in another post.

I watched the miniseries on Ted Kaczynski (the Unabomber) and I felt sad. I felt sad because he was a man who was a genius who had been through a lot. He could have helped so many people but he chose to hurt people. He could have used his knowledge and pain to help others and make a difference. Instead, he used his gifts for malice. He lived in a hunting cabin in the middle of nowhere and that frightened me because I would love to live in a cabin in the middle of nowhere. Does that make me a psychopath?

I went to the park Saturday to take a walk and reconnect with nature and also with myself. I’m still weeding out stuff to write this memoir (which I already started) that is really a rough draft. I have gone through every event in my life so far.

I have been through hell.

But I am still here.

So my story needs to be told – not with homemade bombs but with powerful words.

I used to be ashamed of my scars, but now I am proud. Why should I be ashamed of things that have shaped me? I shouldn’t and neither should you.

Never be ashamed of your scars. They are a part of who you are.

Blessed Be.

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Musical Recovery! – An Interview With Ted Brown

Music guitar
Music guitar (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

Hi Ted, thanks for agreeing to do an interview with me. First off, I want to congratulate you on your clean time. It is a rough road I know personally, but very rewarding.  It is people like you that inspire addicts and alcoholics in recovery to keep that glimmer of hope alive, no matter how dark it may get.

1. I read your press release and you said, “After I got clean, I thought ‘What am I going to
do with my life?” I can relate to trying to transition into a life without drugs and alcohol. Was
it difficult for you to find something to do immediately?

I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to be creative without drugs or alcohol and I’d almost made the
decision not to play music anymore! My thinking was that my creativity was too closely linked to my
drug use. Fortunately, the Universe had a different plan and opportunities in music presented
themselves more abundantly than they ever had before!
2. What brought you to the United States from New Zealand?

I moved to the United States when I had around 18 months clean as guitarist, co-writer and
backing vocalist with popular NZ artist Greg Johnson. I had started playing in his band and he
asked me to accompany him for some showcases for Record Companies. He ended up getting
signed, and we moved to L.A. to make an album..

3. What was your darkest moment while out there (using)? Was that enough to get you to wake
up and realize you could die?

I had a few brushes with death while I was out there. I think one of my darkest moments was getting
the news that my friend and fellow musician Matt had died from this disease. I was devastated and
although I had OD’d several times myself, it still took me over a year more to go back into detox and
try treatment again. He was so talented and it was such a waste, but I knew it could be me or any
one of those ‘smart, talented’ addicts I was using with.

4. What has been the most amazing part of your journey through sobriety so far?

There have been so many wonderful moments. I feel like all the great things that have happened in
my life have been since I got sober- getting married, traveling the world playing music, seeing all the
art I’d only ever seen in books, making albums.. Using provided me with a very limited view of the
world but recovery has expanded that view by putting me back in contact with human beings! Every
day can be an adventure if I can keep an open mind and remember to be grateful.

5. Now that you are clean and sober, do you look at people differently? Like, do you have more
tolerance?

I really had to learn how to deal with people again because I was just so used to being loaded all the
time and that had been my point of reference for so long! I think I’m more tolerant these days simply
because I feel more a ‘part of’, but it’s still a challenge (especially on the freeway!)
6. I actually love driving on little country roads, it helps me reconnect with my Higher Power and
regroup when life keeps being life. How do you relax these days?

I meditate, I read (for entertainment as well as for inspiration). I have 2 cats and a dog and I find
them to be a great source of relaxation! ( I never had pets growing up so it’s still a novelty for me). As
I said, I love art so going to museums and galleries is something I love to do.

7. Tell me about the song, “Bringing my Past Back (But Not To Haunt Me).

This is really a song about the ‘steps’ and the work that’s asked of me if I really want to get the most
that recovery has to offer. Sometimes that work is tough- messy and painful but if I’m prepared to do
it (and I never have to do it alone) I’ve discovered that the benefits are incredible. The trick is, that I
have to keep doing it if I want to experience growth..
8. Did you ever think that you’d be living the dream today? Getting to do what you love?

I don’t know what I thought when I was in active addiction! Mostly “getting, using and finding ways to
get more”. I always thought that I had the wrong life, that it, “wasn’t supposed to be like this”…my
fear was that I would die from my using. Every day surprises me!

9. Do you have any words of advice or wisdom for addicts and alcoholics still struggling with
addiction?

Anyone can get clean, lose the obsession and find a new way of life. But you need to have had
enough and of course that ‘rock bottom’ is different for everyone. One thing I know is that we can’t
do it alone, I tried many, many times. The disease of addiction is cunning, it will give you many
reasons why you’re different, why recovery won’t work for you, but it’s working for millions of people
all around the world every day! It’s important to just jump in feet first! It’s scary, but so is using..

10.I did not get to hear the song, “Looking for Home Down Hallways.” But it immediately gave
me a chill as I thought back to the days when I was so alone and just wanted to be loved.
Can you elaborate on this song?

This song is about looking for salvation. From a person, a drink, a drug, money, a location.. Anything
outside myself that I think might be the thing that’s finally going to make everything ‘O.K.’ The pursuit
of that ‘fix’ is what nearly killed me and it can manifest in recovery as well, even without the drugs
and alcohol.

11.When it came time to make amends to people, were you excited to get it out or nervous to
reach out to people you had wronged?

When I was new, the first step I noticed on the wall was #9 and I thought, “Oh no, I’m never going to
be able to do that!”. Fortunately the steps are in order so I didn’t have to make amends until I got to
that step. I did however try to make some amends before I got there and without my Sponsors
blessing- needless to say it didn’t go so well. The steps are a gentle slope, so even when I’m
apprehensive I’ve been able to move forward..

12.What is in the future for you and your music?

We just completed a beautiful clip for the song “Love Is..” which is due to drop on
10/15. I’m working on songs for another album as well as promoting “An Unwide
Road” The future looks musical!

Being Me…

Dance Floor
Dance Floor (Photo credit: enric archivell)

Okay, so I’m an alcoholic.  I was probably born one, but didn’t catch on until my late twenties.  Further, I didn’t do anything about it until my early thirties. I tripped, stumbled, blacked out… did all the crazy things that alcoholics do and then some.

The one thing that got me tripped up all my life was… me.  I am so damn hard on myself!  I can go down my list of “nots” and really spiral into a dark, lifeless hole.

I am not pretty enough; smart enough; talented enough; GOOD enough. It seeps in like a cool November breeze and before I know it I am sitting there shivering with rage.  I cry, curse at myself. Hell, when I was a teenager, I even used to hit myself if you can imagine that one.  I just hated myself so much.  I hated me, I hated my mother for giving birth to me and I hated God for allowing my birth.  Surely, it was a mistake.  Why on Earth would He put someone as pathetic and ugly as me on the planet?

Yeah, ugly.  I suffered with my self-image for a long time and still do… sometimes.  I was picked on all through school as a child and then a pre-teen and a teenager.  I was even made fun of as an adult. I resorted to violence to fend off the teasing when I was younger.  When I was older, I just drank more.  Surely the alcohol would numb my self-loathing.

I guess I felt, “hey, if I can’t be pretty, I’ll be a brute.”  Even though I weighed maybe seventy pounds soaking wet when I was thirteen.  At five feet seven, that right there my friends is a ‘bean pole,’ as I was called.

There were much worse names.

I was picked on in junior high school because I didn’t “fill out” like all the other girls.  I was so flat chested, I didn’t even wear a bra.  One time, some boys were walking down the hallway behind my friend and me and they grabbed at our backs to snap our bra straps.  I found out later they did that to prove I didn’t have a bra on because I didn’t have breasts. They laughed their asses off that day.  I ran in the bathroom and cried.

I felt worthless.  I felt ashamed.  I felt soooo ugly.

So yeah, I became violent. I started getting in fights with other girls and I started beating up boys.  Beating up boys!  Not so much beating them into a bloody pulp, but I got the best of them for sure.

Now, you would think that after all these years, and all my years sober and all the step work I have done and all the resentments I have talked about with my sponsor and all the shit I have let go, that this would be the big one I wanted to let go, because, after all, who the hell wants to hold onto a big pile of shit?

I just don’t know how to let it the hell go!  I am so mad still (sometimes.) I am not mad all the time, but sometimes I just get mad.  Sometimes, I look in the mirror and still see that skinny, flat-chested girl who used to get picked on. The girl who boys didn’t like.  The girl who boys didn’t ask to go to dances and when she was at dances, they certainly didn’t want to dance with. The girl who never got put on the “list of girls.”

A lot of people say, “Darlene, get the hell over it.  That was a long time ago.  You’re beautiful!”

Yes, there are times that I feel beautiful. But there are other times, usually when I am watching television or I am on the beach or at a big concert or something, that I just get way lost in the hoopla of what is defined as beauty today.

For the record, I don’t watch much television and I rarely go to the beach. I listen to a lot of music, do a lot of writing and I do my readings everyday because a small part of me knows it is all in my head.  A small part of me sometimes sees something beautiful in me.

I never think of drinking over this.  Hell, I can’t remember the last time a drink entered my mind.  Thankfully, I have a lot of women in my life and a pretty good support system.  Thankfully, I have the rooms and the literature I read.

Thankfully, most times I recognize it is all in my head.

Hope – It Keeps Me Hanging On

Music guitar
Music guitar (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

Not sure if you ever saw the movie “Shawshank Redemption,” but there is a great scene in that film regarding ‘hope.’  Tim Robbins’ character has it and Morgan Freeman’s character thinks he is hopelessly romancing hope because hope is a heart breaker.

Maybe it depends on the person when it comes to hope.  I used to feel disdain for hope.  Maybe it was because I grouped hope with wishing and praying when I was using and drinking.  Then again, the things I hoped for were things like not getting pulled over by the police while I was high or having twenty extra dollars in my pocket to finish getting my load on. Go figure.

These days ‘hope’ is very different for me.  I do hope for material things like hitting the lottery or waking up one day with big boobs, but I know these things aren’t going to happen, so I am acting the child when it comes to hoping, praying and wishing for things.

I need to redirect my hope to attainable things that are not materialistic.  I write music reviews for three different websites.  At this moment, I am not paid for this, but that’s okay.  I love what I do.  I hope to one day get paid to write about music, but until then I will work my day job and write about music in the evening.

I hope to one day have a flourishing career in the music/writing industry.

Hope is amazing.

Day 3 – Worthiness

If you don't see your worth, you'll always cho...
(Photo credit: deeplifequotes)

“The reality – the real reality – is that we are already worthy, there is no test to pass.”

That’s right.  Worthiness.  Self-worth. Feeling worthy. I battled with this demon for decades.  I battle a little less each day and am winning the war. Go me!

Worthiness was all in my mind.  I tied my self-worth to people, places and things for years (like a good alcoholic).  Even after I got sober, I still did this and could not figure out why I wasn’t feeling any different.  Then I started reading my Big Book and a ton of other books.

It clicked.

There is no test to pass!  No one is judging me.  Okay, maybe some people are (human nature), but you know what?  Who cares!  In the end I have to stand before me and my Higher Power and that is all I have to live with.  If I can get to the end of the day and go through my inventory and know that I did the best I could, recognize where I need improvement and give it to a God of my understanding, I have lived my life as intended.

Do you ever feel unworthy?  How do you leap that hurdle? 

Day 1 – Reacting to Conditions

Sunday
Sunday (Photo credit: ex.libris)

I have this great book called, “365 Excuse Me…” which is a daily thought book.  There is a quote for each day of the year and a short blurb about the quote.  I do not read this book every day, but when I do, turn through the pages until I find something that suits me.

I had a great heart to heart with my daughter Sunday night, and after picking the book up, happened to flip to the page that said this:

“As long as we’re reacting to conditions, something will always be wrong.”

How awesome is that?!

Basically, that quote means we cannot change anything that goes on around us.  We can only change how we think, which changes how we feel.  We can choose how we react to a particular situation!  Way freaking cool, man!

It took me years to figure this out!

Quick example:  I am in traffic and someone cuts me off.  I can either yell expletives and flip him off, thereby ruining most of my morning, or I can say to myself, “Gee, I guess he is in a hurry.” Shrug it off and just go about my route to wherever.

I have no control over what the guy did!  I only have control over my reaction to what happened.  Period.

Are you able to control your reaction to outside events? 

Happy Summer Solstice!

The sun behind the Heel Stone at Stonehenge, s...
The sun behind the Heel Stone at Stonehenge, shortly after sunrise on the summer solstice.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yes!  Happy Summer Solstice everyone… today is the 21st day of June 2013.  Being so, I decided I have been way too damn negative and I need to amp up my positive vibes!

While it is extremely easy for us to get into a slump it is just as easy to step out of that dark hole and count the blessings God bestows upon us each day!

Therefore, since it is the first day of summer, I am calling this “New Attitude Day.” No matter how down we get on ourselves sometimes, or how crappy we feel, there is always… always something to be grateful for.  It could be something monumental or something as simple as having toothpaste.  You get the idea…

Today is a gorgeous day here on the East Coast… filled with warm sunshine, cool breezes, chirping birds, a bright blue sky and tons of other things – all reminding me that there is a God…

Amazing things happen when we lose the “poor me” attitude and get grateful!

What are you grateful for today?