Carmine Carmichael smoked his last cigarette twenty minutes ago. The sun rose above the row homes on Sutter Street as he sat down on the marble steps at the corner. He hadn’t slept in three days, hadn’t eaten in two days and hallucinations had begun. His four-week-old blue jeans felt crunchy as he ran his hands up his shins, to his knees and then his thighs.
A dead leaf blew down the sidewalk, past his battered sneakers and he thought of how peaceful the dead leaf must have felt. It was, after all, devoid of all feeling. The leaf had lived its life on a tree somewhere as people passed it by without a thought.
Carmine knew exactly how that little leaf felt. Another leaf blew past and Carmine reached his filthy hand down and scooped it up with care. The weak stem felt dry in his fingers as he twirled it around, looking at the rips in the body of the little leaf.
“I’ll bet you were once so beautiful, little leaf, just like me. I was a strong man once, little leaf.”
The little leaf stood lifeless in his fingers and Carmine felt his eyes well up as he clutched the leaf to his chest. Little leaf pieces fell to the ground as Carmine sobbed.
Footsteps echoed in the distance and Carmine put his filthy hands back on his thighs and watched the leaf blow away in a dozen pieces. Carmine watched as shiny, pristine shoes stepped on and over the leaf.
“You cannot always control circumstances, but you can control your own thoughts.” ~ Charles Popplestown
Wouldn’t I just love to control everything, everyone and every circumstance so that I may never be upset, angry or hurt. The truth is, I have no control over anything except my thinking, and that is where the trouble comes into play.
For years, I tried to control the behavior of others to manipulate my mood. I would tell them how to behave so that I may be happy. This is a temporary fix to a deep problem.
Honestly, the sheer effort it takes to control other people and their behaviors is exhausting. Putting people where we think they belong, helping them act the way they should act and relying on others to make us happy is unfair to us and them.
Do you find that trying to control everything is exhausting?
“One of the best ways to uncover some of those long-hidden wants is to pretend.”
Yes! This is a fancy way of saying, “Fake it until you make it.” And why shouldn’t we? A few years back I read “The Secret” which is all about the Law of Attraction.
Whatever your predominant thoughts are, you best believe that stuff is going to happen. Don’t believe me? Have you ever driven to work (running late of course) and all that is on your mind is awful traffic along with foxhole prayers for no red lights? And what happens? Red lights and crazy traffic. UGH.
Yeah, I’ve been there, too!
Sometimes I envision great things for myself. No, I still haven’t woken up looking like Julia Roberts, but I have noticed that when I pretend things are going to turn out awesome, they almost always do.
Sometimes I pretend that I am a bigtime writer for Rolling Stone magazine. While that hasn’t happened yet, I am now writing about music for three websites. Am I getting paid? Nope! But I have my eye on the prize and I am loving what I am doing.
Have you ever tried positive thinking? How did it work out for you?
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!
I was always a people pleaser. Always… I couldn’t stand to be disliked so I would keep my feelings buried and wear that plastic smile, laugh that fake laugh and do what it took to gain acceptance. This is probably the worst thing I have ever done to myself. This is worse than sleeping with strangers, driving like a maniac or even breaking a window (on purpose). Because by not speaking my truth, I fortified a wall of lies around my soul that I still chip at today.
I suck at speaking my truth. I get that knot in my stomach and I get all frazzled and start thinking too much. That’s when my truth turns into a monster.
Now, while I am an average writer, I suck at talking. Seriously. I hold it in so long that by the time I do get it out (sometimes hours or even days later) it comes out all crazy and illogical. And honestly, at that point I have lost my focus. This has plagued me since I was little.
Saturday night my boyfriend and I went to a bar & grill. Ugh, I know. But his friend (who he hadn’t seen in over twenty years) was playing in a band (with his other long-lost friend) and he just wanted to clear the air with things in the past. Okay… no biggie.
We talked before we got out of the car and made a pact. Neither would leave the other under any and all circumstances. Period. If things got hairy or either of us started to feel uncomfortable we would say so and then we would jet. Okay, there is the pact.
That pact lasted about fifteen minutes. Yeah, he left me sitting at the bar (with my soda and Loaded Nachos) and went to go mingle with all his old friends. I sat there alone for thirty minutes being ogled by creepy old guys and the ‘shot girl’ asking me three times if I wanted a shot. My blood pressure shot through the roof the first time she came by with her tray full of booze loaded test tubes. I snapped ‘no’ as I waved my hand. Still, she came by two more times. Ugh, again.
So I am trying to see through the wall to locate my boyfriend in the other part of the bar. “Where the fuck are you?” I am thinking as I get upset. I can’t see him but hope he is on the other side of that wall.
I finally spot my boyfriend and some hot blonde hanging all over him. Okay, now I am feeling resentful, angry and jealous. This is just not fucking going well… at all. My whole ‘fight or flight’ thing is kicking the shit out of me because I am extremely uncomfortable.
I do not belong here.
So finally after all that, he comes back over with one of his friends. I know my face says, ‘you suck’ because, after all, I wear my heart on my sleeve. His friend apologizes to me for keeping him away. Do I get an apology from my boyfriend? Nope. All I get is justification and ‘I didn’t do anything wrong.’
For the rest of the night, true to form, I stuffed in all inside because I didn’t want to ruin the night or act like an ass in the establishment. That’s what I used to do back when I was ‘out there.’ I’d act like a total psycho no matter where I was if whoever I was with at the time hit me with a perceived injustice. But this time I wasn’t drunk or high. I was just me… raw and real with my emotions.
So I guess I have grown up a little. Most of my old behaviors didn’t ooze from my pores and I kept my composure for the rest of the night. I did try to bring how I felt up later on when we got home, but that didn’t go well.
Today I did bring it up. I had to speak my truth. I had to say where I was inside and I had to let him know that I was not mad at him, but that he broke his word to me and that hurt. And it wasn’t a question of me being right. That’s not what I wanted. I wanted an apology for him leaving my side; for him breaking the pact we made in the car. He did apologize (sort of) after (from an outsider’s point of view) a hilarious argument/discussion/fight outside on Sunday.
I was always the “why kid.” You know, that annoying little brat in the back seat (or at the lunch table) that questions everything. I mean, I never questioned why the sky was blue or the sun was hot, but I did question a lot of stuff that really spoke for itself.
When I drank and drugged, I questioned why my life sucked so bad. I questioned why life felt like hell everyday. I questioned why the hell God kept me around after it was clear I did not want to be alive. Honestly, my life sucked because I chose for it to suck. Simple…
What I have learned in these past years is that questioning everything is a ridiculous behavior that I still get caught up in… a lot. I start to question things when I don’t go to enough meetings. And the questions I ask, in the car on the way to work (this is when I have my conversations with God) are pretty silly. They are the kind of questions a teenager would ask their mother or God.
Yeah, I am slowly catching up to my real age. I think at this point I am like 20 in drug years.
Other things I question are people’s motives or actions. For example, I might question why my boyfriend did ‘x, y, or z.” But you know what? It doesn’t really matter because he did whatever it is he did. My job is to figure out why it makes me feel sad, jealous or angry and go from there. I should question myself more and question others less.
I’m not sure how many of my beautiful readers dealt with bullying and teasing as children, but I have to say, that stuff has a profound affect on people. It sure as hell had a profound affect on me. So much that, even today I, at times, have a case of the uglies. You know that sick, yucky, disturbing feeling inside… that “I’m not good enough, not pretty enough..” Hell, not anything enough.
As I write this post, I am reflecting on my day. I had a good day all in all (any day sober is a good day!) I did have a case of the uglies today, however, and when it was going down in my (always) amped up mind, I was beating myself up… royally. The “uglies” as I call them, are sneaky, vile little things that grip me up in a second if I cannot “kill” them.
I was talking with my boyfriend today about this stuff in a sense. Not specifically “killing the uglies” but more so why the hell shit bothers me that bothers me. Like, stuff that shouldn’t really bother me. One thing I do when I talk to people is listen to what I am saying because, believe it or not, there is always some message in my words that I should hear. Does that sound vain and egotistical? Perhaps…
I brought up a profound event in my life that shaped my sense of self from the age of nine until this very moment. I talk about these things because I have to KILL THE UGLIES. I have to remind myself that there is a deeper root to my insecurities and low self-esteem if I am going to get better. There is always something more than the “surface insecurity” and that is what I have to get to… fast.
This is where a big part of my program comes in. I couldn’t get over any of the pain, torment and geekiness I felt from a child through my early thirties. Being a good alcoholic, I drowned my pain in booze and promiscuity, as I searched for someone or something to fill that void or abandonment. Long after I got sober, I still searched. There had to be someone or something out there that could kill this damn ugly feeling. But alas, I learned that I had to kill the uglies from the inside.
Some days I still struggle. I might stop praying, slack on my meeting attendance or stop networking with my sober circle. That’s when the uglies start to seep in. Thankfully, I know just what to do to squash those bastards.
Do you have something that helps you when you start to get overwhelmed?
It’s true. I am an emotional, loving, caring, forgiving human being who seems to never remember that it is NOT all about me and I should NOT take everything to the life-giving, all loving heart that is in my chest and on my sleeve.
I have a hard time handling any kind of rejection.
You wanna hurt me? Ignore me. Pretend I do not matter. Treat me like one of the rest. That shit hurts. It hurts deep.
Maybe I am the “sensitive artist type” or I am just sensitive period. I don’t know. What I do know is that I love with all my heart and I just reveal myself (the real me) time and again and I get shit on and it hurts.
How do I be someone else? How do I turn into this magical, mythical creature that never gets angry, hurt, upset, jealous, resentful or bruised?
This is the question I want answered.
Why do I do this? Why do I pour my heart into everything? The risk is always there and I know this. But I give my heart anyway. Over and over and over again.
Sometimes I wish I didn’t feel the hurt, the pain, the agony of rejection or dejection. But then, I remember:
It is good for me to feel these things and sort them out. Because the moment I decide I can no longer handle feeling these feelings is the scary moment I might look to pick up a drink. After all, not being able to handle my feelings was a huge part in my alcoholism.
I go to a meeting.
I talk to my friend, Heather.
I think (this is not good).
The final thing I do is give it to God. I have so many little papers in my God Box: things I want, things that bother me, people I cannot help. All kinds of stuff. I put those little pieces of paper in my God Box and then forget about them. After I say a prayer and put my written thought in the God Box, I forget about it…
For a little while…
But, me being me with this heart on my sleeve, my head starts to mess with me again. Sometimes I think wearing my heart on my sleeve is a huge character defect. However, a lot of people (including my former sponsor) has told me it is an admirable trait.
More so in the last ten years than any other year there seems to be this strive for perfection. People want the perfect family, the perfect job, the perfect mate, the perfect nose, boobs, butt… I could go on forever. And don’t sit there like you don’t know what I’m talking about, because you see it, too.
Wake up people! There is no such thing as perfection… none. So strive away and kill yourself if you must trying to make it, do it, write it, sing it, draw it or look perfect.
IT. WILL. NEVER. HAPPEN.
But what we can do is strive for perfection. We can always do better, be better, act better, write better, think better, talk better, love better, work better….. we can always be better.
As an alcoholic (which translates to a sick mo-fo) one defect that plagues me to this day is the defect of “having to be perfect.” So in a sense, this blog post is written to me along with the rest of my awesome readers because I have been feeling insecure for the past week or so.
Insecurity is my warped devil. It tells me I will fail at everything. It tells me I am never good enough or anything else enough. I have to smash that devil with the hammer of hope. I have to tell myself that, “yes, I do have flaws, but my flaws are what make me the beautiful human being I am.”
Some days I believe it, others not so much. This is where my program of recovery comes in to play.
When I compare myself to others, I fall short every damn time. “She’s this, she’s that. He has this, he has that. Theirs is better. When am I going to get my just desserts?!”
When I compare myself to myself, I excel every time. This time last year I was living somewhere else, in a different (loveless) relationship and depressed. I was overweight (one of my ‘I never’s’) and feeling like total crap.
I made a conscious effort after a mild epiphany to “Strive For Perfection.” And must keep in my mind I will never attain it, but striving for it will and has helped me continue my progress. Some days I have a mild setback, other days I kick butt! In the words of Dori in “Finding Nemo” – JUST KEEP SWIMMING.
We are as perfect as our imperfections…
Do you strive for perfection? Are you a perfectionist? How do you deal with the demand for perfection in today’s society?
So I’m sitting there on my couch, I make a comment, someone comments on the comment I make and… BOOM! Commence being up in my head fo the next 36 hours. “Why did they say that?” “Am I not good enough?” “How can I be better?” “Dammit, my ex’s were right.” “If only I had better(insert trait or quality here).”
Why do I have to take everything so personally? The truth is, I don’t have to take everything so personally. I kind of choose to when it comes down to it; we all do. Maybe it is the way I am wired, maybe it is the way I was raised… who freaking knows. All I know is it ticks me off and while through my twelve step program I have learned tools to combat my inner demons, sometimes they blind side me as I sit there with my soul bleeding through my fingers.
Now, back in the day (like three years ago) I had to let my offender know exactly what wrong they had done me and you can believe, that poor soul wished they never saw me after I was through with them: definitely a form of hostage taking at the highest level.
As I’ve walked this journey of sobriety and self-discovery I noticed something. I am either really up or really down and when I am in between (very rare) I feel like something is wrong. I do try to be somewhere in the middle and get nervous if I am there for too long. My boyfriend pointed this out to me. He said something like, “Babe, blah blah blah.” The truth is I don’t remember. But it had something to do with me being up and down. Had his statement hit me on an emotional level, I would have remembered what he said verbatim. But it didn’t, so I just shrugged it off.
These days, I have a tendency to still hold resentments (bad ju ju in recovery!) but I handle them in a different manner… sometimes. I am an emotional creature. I find that most artists, writers, etc. are more emotional than others. Maybe that is why we draw and write… I don’t know the answer to that either.
What I do know is that I have a sickening knot in my stomach now and my program flew out the window. No, I did not drink or drug, but this anger/resentment/rage thing is nauseating. If I get the laundry done in time, I’ll head to the 7 pm meeting tonight that is right up the street. And yeah, I say “get the laundry done” because no one else is going to frigging get it done.
So, what should I do when I feel like this?
Call my sponsor.
Call someone else in the program.
Get to a meeting.
What should I not do?
ISOLATE AND THINK…. I am very good at this. I need to unlearn this behavior… stat.