Hi. My name is Brittney and...I am an addict. It has been 35 hours 14 min and 53 seconds since I used...54...55...56...57...58......Shoot me.
Ok, let me start by saying that I in no way am trying to downplay the horrors of addiction. I have personally witnessed friends and family members who have undergone addiction recovery from everything from alcohol to pornography to Meth. I personally have no idea what it is like to be addicted to hard core narcotics or mind altering stimuli, but in a very real sense, I do understand addiction, at least as far as it can be glimpsed through the scope of my own personal experience. Taking all of this into account, and with no disrespect intended, I would like to tell you about my addiction, my realization of my addiction, and the seemingly impossible task of breaking free.
My drug of choice? Kettle Corn or "K", as it is known on the streets.
I don't know when I had my first hit, but like many other things, I believe it wasn't an over-night thing. I think I probably started with some sort of gateway popcorn that ultimately led me to the hard stuff. It use to be that I was a strict 94% fat free microwave popcorn kind of gal. Then I was told that I didn't have to purchase anyone else's product, but I could instead make my own in the comfort and anonymity of my own home. So I purchased the necessary paraphernalia (An Air Popper) and began turning out the mounds of fluffy goodness like I was makin it rain! But still I held true to my "diet appropriate" approach and only added a spritz of Pam for sticking power and a light dusting of salt. Soon enough however, this would prove to be unfulfilling, and I would eventually seek out a higher high than the current product could provide. That's right, full fledged butter and generous amounts of salt. I myself could go through almost an entire tub of a large movie theater buckets worth of the stuff in my glory days. I couldn't get enough of it! I was convinced that buttered popcorn was the food of the Gods, and that if I could only choose one food to eat for the rest of my life, it would most certainly be this. All that change however, the day I was introduced to "K".
A product so alluring that even the mere thought of it makes my mouth water and my sense heighten in anticipation. The crunchy texture, the hint of sweetness, the smell of a freshly opened bag and all of the moments of delight that it promises, and then the absolute despair when I have reached the bottom. It use to be, back in the beginning, that I could purchase a bag and milk it for a good 5 days or more, but with like most other addictions, in order to get the same reward, my amount and frequency had to increase to get that same high. Soon one bag every 5 days turned into every 3 days and then every other day. By the time I hit rock bottom, I was having to restrain myself from polishing off a full bag in one day, or even one setting.
Like most addicts, I wasn't too picky about where I was getting my product. I hate Baseball, but I looked forward to each new season, not because of the game, but because I knew what that event would bring, namely, Kettle Corn vendors turning out fresh hot batches straight out of the kettle. Sure it was $10 a bag, but when you need a fix, you will go to any lengths to get it. I am ashamed to admit that I have turned down dates, prematurely left social events, and even missed my college classes on days where it was certainly not wise to do so, all in order to satisfy the urge. It's true what they say about addiction. When someone is in its grasp, they will choose it over almost anything or anyone that is dear to them. When that urge struck, I didn't care where I was or who I was with; I could always come up with some reason why I had to leave...NOW. And once I had my prize in hand, and I had that sweet taste of victory on my tongue, then and only then could life continue.
As I just stated, even though I would never turn down product based on it's source, I did still have my favorite brand. The unfortunate thing about this is that "my" brand was only sold at one specific store here in Utah, as far as I could tell. What made it worse was the fact that on occasion, not every store in this particular chain would stock it, and worst still would be the days that the one store I knew that consistently kept it on hand would run out. Dark days my friends, dark days indeed. On such days I would normally have to default to some other brand that was still delicious, but just not the same. Still, that never hindered me from taring through it with the same veracity I applied to my first choice. Also, I should mention that just because my usage of "K" had increase exponentially, that didn't mean that I had abandoned my buttery mother. Each kind of popped goodness had it's place and time in my life. For example, while "K" could be eaten at any time day or night, I rarely consumed it at the movies. The movies remained a sanctuary for the classic butter/salt combo I had grown to love before my days of "K". As my Grandma would say, "A place for everything and everything in it's place".
The evolution of my addiction was not a straight shot upwards however, rather, if I were to drawn a graph it would look something like this
I could go on about my volatile relationship with "K", but I fear I am becoming long winded and so I will come full circle to present day. Well actually, some 36 hours or so.
I had just come from the store after purchasing 2 bags of "K". I had recently taken to purchasing 2 bags at a time to cut down on the frequency of my visits to the store. It had been an exceptionally long and emotional day, and I was feeling exceptionally drained and a little hopeless about life. I was driving in my car and thinking about my current situation in life and my less than positive outlook based upon what I perceived to be the reality of it all, when I suddenly became aware that the brand new bag that I not more than 7 min ago purchased was now almost entirely empty. The thing was, I didn't really remember eating it, in fact, I was so taken aback by this revelation, that I immediately jumped to the conclusion that the manufacturer must have shorted me. As justified as I wanted to feel in my righteous anger towards the jerks, I quickly realized that the more likely scenario was that I had unconsciously eaten the contents of the bag in record time. In horror I put the bag behind my seat and scolded myself for doing such a reckless thing. I told myself that almost an entire bag was quite enough for one day and that I was forbade from eating anymore of it. This resolve lasted all of 30 seconds, before my hand found its way around my seat and back into the bag, polishing off its contents. With every scoop that went into my mouth I told myself....This is your last handful....ok....THIS is your last handful.....ok...THIS is your last handful, until eventually, it was. Not because I willingly stopped mind you, but because I simply ran out. I felt my hands, sticky from a combo or sugar and my own saliva most likely, as they clung to my now sticky steering wheel. I adjusted my rear view mirror in order to see my face, which was lightly dusted with the sweet sparkly remnants of my conquest. And it was at that moment that I knew and accepted what I had previously chosen to deny and ignore. I...was an addict.
To Be Continued.....
Sunday, May 20, 2012
I apologize before hand, this post may be more for me than anything else. I have been wanting to write it for awhile but hesitated because of the personal nature of the subject matter. But heck, I've come this far, might as well go all the way!......famous last words.
This song came into my life during a time where I was feeling quite worthless, if I am being honest. My boyfriend of 2 years had just ended things, I was jobless, homeless, and practically penniless. But more than that, I was feeling hopeless. I couldn't see much reason for trying anymore. It's not that I believed that there weren't still wonderful things in the world. On the contrary, all I had to do was look around and see the beauty all around me to know that the world was still the same magical place that it had been when I was a child. I realized that the world hadn't changed, but I certainly had. Or rather, I saw that the world was full of love and potential, but due to my own deficiencies , I would never know those joys for myself.
Without delving too much into my past, let me just say that my childhood, like many others, was filled with a certain amount of specific difficulty. My parents, who are both good people, discovered that they weren't ultimately good for each other. They have each since remarried and are very happy with their relationships, as are those of us who love them. But this better situation did not happen until I was in my 20's, and though it has been wonderful to see an example of what a good healthy relationship can look like now, this wasn't the case when I was growing up. I know many people grew up in homes that felt more like war zones at times, and it is pointless to try and compare one experience to another. In fact, it's pointless to try and compare two peoples experience of the exact same event. The reason I raise this point is because I want to be clear that someone else may have grown up in my home and in my environment, and come out of it entirely differently. And I would follow that by saying, for whatever reason, be it nature or nurture or more likely a combination of both, I came out of it with a particular set of challenges that I have spent the better part of my youth and young adulthood trying to understand and overcome. This is not me placing the blame for all of my "issues" on my parents, though if I am being honest, this is how I have been made to feel whenever I attempted to raise any such inquires with most of my family. It is exactly for this reason that I became a person who internalized everything. Not only that, but also a person who felt as though deep down, they were inherently and fundamentally broken.
This belief has haunted me for as long as I can remember. And while psychologically I could explain exactly where this belief must have come from; a child who felt like the world was crumbling around her and she couldn't do a damn thing to stop it which would have been frightening enough, but then to have those feelings totally invalidated would lead this same child to mistrust not only the world, but more devastatingly herself. I feel x,y, or z, but I'm being told that I shouldn't feel that way, ergo, I must not be able to trust what I'm feeling. Can you start to see how this might make a person, oh I don't know.....a little anxious?
But returning to my analogy, when I heard this song, it struck a chord somewhere deep inside of me. Music has an amazing way of doing this. Sometimes you don't even know what you were really feeling until you hear the lyrics of a song and you identify with it immediately. You think, "Yes! THIS is exactly how I have been feeling/thinking, I just never knew how to put it into words." And so it is with Second Hand White Baby Grand for me. Whether it's true or not, it is how I feel, which makes it true to me, and since we have already discussed that all reality is subject anyway, then for the sake of argument, this idea about myself is true.
I have had so many experiences in my life that have left me feeling just like a second hand piano, something that someone played until they were able to buy the piano they really wanted. Like the song said, It was out of tune, but still I learned to play. And so I see my life in many ways, maybe we all do at times. We realize that maybe we are ill-equipped to handle a certain kind of situation or challenge, but yet we do our best to stumble through anyway, praying all the while that nobody notices how out of tune we really are.
I have become a master of the art of performance, which is probably why I was naturally drawn to the performing arts and the world of theater. Certainly we all do this to an extent. To quote The Mask who is quoting someone else, "We all wear masks, metaphorically speaking." But some of us wear them more often and are less inclined to take them off. Some of us wear them for so long that we forget what the true face behind the mask actually looks like. And sometimes, we can wear a mask so long that it becomes the real us, though I think that deep down we still sense that something isn't quite authentic. And so it has been with me. I have spent my life believing that I am so flawed, so out of tune, so broken, that I needed to hide that from the world, if I ever wanted any chance of truly being loved. If I had a war cry it probably would have been, "Tell me what to be, Tell me what is right or normal, Tell me what I need to do or say or be so that I will be worthy of love, the love that I have been so unworthy of until now." I know it sounds crazy, but I really believed that the way to "get" love must be like unto a formula involving everything from how I looked to how I sounded to how "spiritual" I was, and when I finally got the formula right, then I would be worthy to receive that love I have been so hungry for. As a result of this, I was always seeking for that validation, am I good enough yet? am I pretty enough? skinny enough? am I worthy yet?......
I found myself asking these questions not only to the world, but to God as well, but seeing as how I have never had the opportunity to speak to God face to face, this question of am I enough yet? proved seemingly impossible to answer. I'm not much of a by-the-book pray-er, but I talk to God in my mind; or maybe I talk to my mind and hope that God or the universe is listening. People say that God will answer us in ways that we don't expect at times, and if this is so, then I believe it is possible that this song was God's way of answering me in a time I needed it most. When I posed the question of, "What could someone as broken as I possibly have to offer the world, or any decent man, or even another human being in general?", this is the answer that came back in the form of a simple song...
Something second hand and broken
Still can make a pretty sound
Even if it doesn't have a place to live
The words are still unspoken
Now that Momma's not around
That second hand white baby grand
Still has something beautiful to give
What this is saying to me, is that even if I am indeed "broken", it doesn't make me worthless. Even if no man ever wants me, it doesn't mean that I don't still have something beautiful that I can give to this world. It may sound a little defeatist, and in one way, I suppose it is; but what is the alternative? To give up? To call it quits? To throw the piano out? No. Though the tune may not be as clear as it could be, it is still worth hearing. And even if I am never shown the love that my heart longs for, it doesn't mean that I can't give that same love to those around me. It might not be much, and it may not be enough to have the things that I have always wanted, but it is the most that this second hand white baby grand, who still has something beautiful, can give. And maybe, someday, someone out there will here the song that I am playing, out-of-tune and simple as it may be, and maybe they will have the ability to love that flawed instrument for what it can give, instead of tossing it aside for what it can't. We all have something beautiful to give.
Posted by An Muse at 9:46 PM
Thursday, May 17, 2012
My fault really; I chose to go to school full time and not work, and as such, I became accustomed to a rather low drain lifestyle. I had so much free energy to expend that I would often find myself working out 2 times a day. 2 hours at the gym was nothing really. But now, the very thought of getting on a treadmill or pushing a weight anywhere is beyond my scope of reality. I use to not be able to get to sleep before 1am and I slept in till around 9am every morning. I have never been a "great" sleeper though. I toss and turn and wake up frequently during the night, but all in all, I would get 8 to 9 hours of relatively restful sleep.
Even though I am a "starving artist" and technically speaking, am probably below the poverty line as far as income goes, I, in my squirrel nature have been able to be very smart with my money. I won't be flying to Europe any time soon, and my car needs about $1,200 worth of work, but I have remained out of debt and have never done the pay check to pay check thing. It was for this reason that I was able to still live out of my parents home and go to school full-time and not (have to) work. I had a brief moment of working a super part serving job, but that was short lived and totally low key. But now.....oh now....
As I have mentioned before, I recently went through a separation from my 2 year relationship. At the time of the break-up we had been discussing marriage in a serious way and had begun to make plans for the future. This is part of the reason that I felt comfortable to continue focusing on my education. Like so many young couples, my hope was to finish my 4 year degree within the next year and then begin working so that my "husband" could then finish his education without having to worry about working full-time. Obviously this wasn't how things turned out, and I was forced into the task of totally redirecting my life course. I know that people do this every day, and I believe that in general, this is why they tell us to not get to attached to an idea or ideal or "plan", because life is only consistent in one way, and that is how inconsistent it is. But even with all of that in mind...starting over really sucks sometimes! Particularly for someone who might be a wee bit on the anxious side and struggles just a bit with change. Small changes are enough to cause generalized anxiety at times, big changes.....*shudder*.....enough to make me think that I just wasn't cut out for this whole life thing.
I can't remember where I heard this, though I'm fairly confident it was Deepak Chopra, when he said that in general, people who are able to adapt to change in a healthy way, tend to be happier and healthier people. I believe this, not because I have lived it, but because I have lived the opposite of it.
People just love to say that everything happens for a reason. Other people really like to say that we are here on earth to learn lessons. I have even heard people say that we will live only as long as it takes us to learn these lessons and that if we are still breathing, it means we haven't gotten it right yet. Now I don't know if I totally buy into that; and by "totally" I mean at all, but if this is true, then I believe I have discovered one of my lessons. I feel confident that I need to learn to adapt, to embrace change instead of crumble at the mere thought of it. I think I will discuss this further in my next blog, so for now I will just add that this is easier said than done, though I believe it to be quite possible to do. Maybe I will never be able to do it to the extent that others do, but maybe I will be able to make at least a step forward from where I am now. By the way, it would be interesting to me to discover where I fall on the scale of adaptability in comparison to my fellow (wo)men. I tend to think I am more crazy than the average Joe(sephina), though I have to admit as of late, I have had several examples that have led me to believe that I'm pretty on par in many respects. But as I firmly believe, reality is in the eye of the beholder, so if it's true to me, then it's truth and reality, and really it's the only reality that is relevant to me. I can change my mind or opinion or truth as it were, but I can't experience someone else's truth. I live only in my own head, and through the filter of my life experiences and beliefs. But before I tangent further, let me come back to my original rant.
I now find myself working a full-time job for the first time in...well...ever. I am working 40 hours a week in a very physically demanding position. Now I get up at 6am (5am on Weds), so that I can be to work by 7am. By the time I stumble out the doors of my employment 8 hours later, my feet are shrieking at me and I feel as though I could die on the spot and be quite content to do so. It's been exactly one week since I started this new job/lifestyle and I am praying that my body adjusts, as oppose to imploding. I also moved out on my temporary living situation with my parents, and am now renting a room in a city where the average age of the men I encounter is 18-23. Oh yeah, my prospects are lookin good! *Cougar Growl*
In reality though, I haven't the time or energy for dating at the moment. Well, not exactly, I have the time, but I sure as shampoo don't have the physical energy. I just want somebody to come over and hold me when I get home, or offer to rub my throbbing feet. That's what I want right now, a soft place to land. But, since I'm not sa-much dating and I'm not sa-much into taking up those guys who stand on the corner with their "Will work for food" signs; for the time being I am left to lick my own wounds, as it were. Time to put on my big girl panties and join the "real world", whatever the crap that means.
Side Note: The expression, "Put on my big girl panties" has got to be one of the ill-contrived I have ever heard in my life.
Posted by An Muse at 6:22 PM
Sunday, May 13, 2012
Because of the current financial/emotional/single/whatever stage I find myself in at the moment, I am once again back living with my Mom and Step Dad. Though it is only temporary, it is strange to try and be both an adult woman, and also someones child while living under the same roof. Both my Mom and step Dad have been very kind about not making me feel bad about having to couch crash for a bit. And it is particularly nice to have family around when you are feeling a little less than your best, which I am. In fact, to add insult to injury, I got sick yesterday and have been laid up in bed for most of the day. At least this affords me the time to write.
At one point this afternoon, I stumbled out of bed and wandered downstairs to give my Mom a proper Mothers Day greeting. It was then that she asked me if I was going to feel bad if I wasn't included in the little gifts that she had put together for all the mommies in our family. Out of all of my sisters, both natural and step, I am the only one who isn't a mother (or expecting). When my Mom asked me the question, my knee jerk reaction was something along the lines of, "Ummmm...No, duh, I'm not a Mother so why would I care? That's like asking me if I am going to be upset because I'm not going to get presents on someone else's birthday." But then I realized something, my mom actually had just cause for asking such a question. The reason for this being the way I have conducted myself in the past when it came to other celebratory events.
This is hard for me to admit, and I know how this is going to sound, so go ahead and fire up the hate mail and mind-judgements because I am about to give you fodder-a-plenty for the witch burning. Light your torches cuz here we go!
Let's just say, that within the past couple of years, I have found myself growing a bit more....uncharitable towards the ceremony of marriage. In plain words, I hate weddings, and I'm not too keen on wedding showers either. I'm a horrible person, I may as well have just said that I enjoy clubbing baby seals with aluminum bats. What kind of sick, twisted, bitter human being would admit to hating weddings? Yup....that's me. Though as we all know, it's never that simple really. Behind every hatred is some other extreme emotion hiding behind the hate, and so it is with this. You all seem like intelligent folk so I probably don't have to explain the genesis of my hangs up. So let me just say, that the reason I struggle with weddings can be boiled down to the fact that I myself am not married but wish desperately that I was. Where is my freaking fairy tale eh? Where is my knight in shining armor and white Honda Civic?
I realize how petty and selfish and ridiculous I am being. But let me say that I'm not wicked Queen status over here. I'm not SO bitter that I would begrudge someone else their happy ending. Am I glad they have found their companion? Of course. Is it my secret desire that until I'm happy, nobody should be happy? Of course not. But that doesn't mean that I particularly enjoy being reminded that everyone else seems to be capable of achieving the thing I want so badly. I'm jealous, plain and simple. I'm jealous and envious and covetous and all other bible no no's you can come up with. Just so we are clear though, to date I have never refused to attend, or thrown a temper tantrum at someones reception or shower. I'm not a psycho, I understand propriety and appropriate behavior. But that doesn't mean that my little heart doesn't start to ache like the dickens when the bride and groom share their first dance. What can I say?.....I want that, and maybe someday I will have that, and maybe when I finally have that I will REALLY feel like a jerk for being such a selfish child when everyone was getting it and I was not. I totally recognize how petty it is to harbor feelings of resentment just because it's not "your birthday" and someone else is opening presents. By the way, that has never bothered me; I take my birthday when it comes and enjoy others when it is their turn. Weddings though......weddings and all things that go along with it.....that's another story.
Let me try and bring this full circle.
The reason I have no issue with not being recognized on Mothers Day is because (A.) I'm not a mother, and (2.) I feel no resentment for this reality. For some reason, I am able to put this situation into perspective. If that day comes that I am a mother, then I will celebrate with all of the rest of them accordingly; but if it never happens, then I will continue to honer those who have taken on the mantel. I believe there is an order to these things; you date, you marry, you have kids. I know it doesn't always work like this and I'm not judging those who didn't follow this order, but I am saying that this is how I would prefer the order go. I can't even think about being a mom until I have step one and two completed, and by the way I'm heading, it's not looking like I will be properly celebrating this particular holiday any time soon.....but who knows? Life has a funny way of being totally unpredictable. But until that day comes, I say Live and Let Live. Or in this case, Mother and let Mother. And maybe, if I can pull my head out of my own self pity, Marry and let Marry.
I have a feeling my flow of wedding invites is about to take a severe and abrupt decrease. I promise there is still a part of me that is happy for those who have found love, I just wish I could be part of the club too.
Posted by An Muse at 4:20 PM
Tuesday, May 8, 2012
It's ironic really, my whole life I have more of a loner in a lot of ways. There are many things which I enjoy and even prefer doing by myself. I see movies alone, I go on road trips alone, I even eat at restaurants alone. I am not a fan of group projects, team building exercises or even yoga classes that involve more than just me. I'm not big on choirs and it's not unusual to see me sitting alone in church. This might come as a shock to those who know me in a more casual way. After all, I'm a performer, and I can be extremely social when the feeling moves me, but the thing is, a lot of times I find myself more comfortable with the company I keep, namely me, myself, and also I. At least, that's what I thought...
Then I discovered something. I experienced a new and wonderful satisfaction of constant companionship. Was it perfect? No. Were there times when I wanted to literally push him from a moving vehicle? Of course. But as uncomfortable as it was for someone like me at times, I began to see why it is that people would chose to form these unions. It's nice to come home to someone, it's nice to know that if you died in your sleep that it wouldn't take 3 days before anyone noticed you were absent. But most of all, it's amazing to be truly loved by another human being. I guess, in some ways, I had never really experienced this sensation before, mostly due to my "me against the world" mentality. And to be honest, I don't think I really fully understood it until after it was gone. And now it feels like an energy source I had been taking for granted has shut off. Like I had been living on a low-fat diet and then suddenly somebody tossed me a never ending supply of peanutbutter pie and said I could eat as much as I wanted and it would never run out and also it wouldn't go straight to my thighs. Needless to say, I was a bit mistrusting at first, and even until the end. I'm not saying that the relationship itself would have or should have lasted, I'm merely trying to describe the sensation of the loss. It is devastating, and though I know this may all be stuff that others experienced back in their teens, this is on a whole new level of hurt for me. So please excuse my angsty teen aged rants, whilst I try and work this through.
Lest you think that I am sitting at home alone in a dark corner having a threesome with Ben & Jerry, let me share one realization that has helped me somewhat in the letting go process. Like our little lone rider up there, I too realized that while a Seesaw is, by it's nature fun, it's innate funness isn't really fully experienced unless you have someone on the other end. And when you have that someone, what makes it so enjoyable is that you are enjoying it together. It's a joy that feeds off of itself like this self-renewing energy. Two people who are buying into an idea, and the idea is love and that love is given freely and generously. It's beautiful, it's wonderful, but it isn't always lasting. Sometimes, a person can choose to get off the seesaw, for whatever reason. Maybe they get bored, maybe they saw a jungle gym that promised more excitement, or maybe they simply weren't enjoying the ride the way they use to. And for those left alone on that plank of wood, the sudden and rapid decent to earth can leave you feeling a slew of emotions, and very few of them warm and fuzzy.
All that being said, at some point I think that one realizes that it wasn't the other rider per say that made the experience so amazing, but rather, what the two of you shared together. What made it so amazing was that you felt and experienced it together. You danced together, you cried together, you laughed and grew and loved together. And then you realize, even if you could convince the other end to stick with it, or give it just one more go, it wouldn't matter, because the spell, as it were, is broken. And you think, I don't want someone who isn't enjoying the ride with me, it's hollow unless the dream is being dreamed together.
For someone who always figured they would be better off alone, this realization has come as something I would have never expected. I know this is simplistic and I know that relationships aren't as trite as merely picking another warm body and seesawing off into the sunset. But when you find someone who you love for whatever reason, then it becomes what you share together that fills you. I guess it should come as no surprise really. After all, I remember hearing somewhere that the only thing we have that is truly ours to give God is our agency, because everything else we have He already gave us first. And so it is with love, what makes it wonderful is what also makes it so stinking painful. It's the agency of another human life, to remain in yours, to ride with you through all the ups and downs, not because they have to, but because they want to.
Posted by An Muse at 9:26 PM