Somewhere in the middle of this unposted post I wrote, "This year I resolve to begin with practice," and perhaps I did just that. Not like I'd anticipated -- but anticipation is just a fancy glowing crystal ball; who needs it.
A few days ago at therapy she let me go early. I couldn't think of any problems to talk about. I navigated briefly into the past, shut that suitcase, complained a bit about not having money, pitched the business to her in disguise as me working out my problems (Luckily that's how a pitch starts -- with a problem. then you state the solution, the solution is your business. Get it? Clever!). I attempted to get worked up about an upcoming three-day period when Natalie, Alex and Brookling will be out of town and then realized I was really just being paranoid. After I'd ranted for ten minutes about Prop 8, I was dimissed.
Anyhow this is what I wrote back then. [I just added pictures now] It's weird:
New Years Revolutions + Jaunary '09
I wanted to tell you that people never change. I know that sounds terrible, saying it like that? Especially from me. In September, only four months ago, I declared triumphantly: "... people can fuck you up but people can change. People will change, no matter what the stakes. People CAN change," and now I'm saying that's a lie. I wanted to tell you that people don't really change, not without a serious rock bottom (imminent death, eviction) and people change only when it's time, almost by default. Change can't be imposed by a mantra, an insight, another person or by anything so surface, no matter how resolutely these things poise to attack our stubborn souls. I mean and also people can change, to an uncertain degree of authenticity, with the right cocktail of regulated medications.
Somewhere between theory and the practice is the only me I've ever known. This year I resolve to begin with practice. It's never the bad behavior that bothers me in and of itself, it's the lingering guilt that these prescribed activities/habits are somehow responsible for the circumstances of my life and I feel, somehow, that the circumstances of my life are not enough.
If the circumstances become enough, logic dictates that guilt will then disappear.
When it's you alone -- guilt & other people & resolutions & declarations don't stand a chance against those tiny habits, your attempts to bridge the moat of your very existence, and then what changes is not YOU but the lie you tell me, or yourself.
I do it too I'm saying this to you.
But I'm saying I've seen people I love relapse consistently, sometimes innocuously, and I think nothing happens overnight, things happen exactly when these things better fit into your life.
So I'm saying people change but it takes years if it ever happens at all, so I think that's not people changing -- that's people growing up.
"You're happy if the thing you naturally want makes the other person happy. If it's not that way, then I don't know. I guess you're in limbo."
- Richard Ford, Wildfire
So for the first 14 years I vacillate -- through no fault or doing of my own -- between princess or criminal. It just depended on who was in charge. I had no control because my treatment wasn't dependent on my behavior. It was wonderful and terrifying, I couldn't sleep, I told a lot of stories.
This is the story of what happened next, in chronological order: Darkness. Then watching tv & eating & running away & darkness.
I change because I run away to boarding school and I grow up there. Here I am both supervised and happy and deliciously codependent on R. and then he leaves, and then I pop caffeine pills 'til I take too many to talk or work so I have to stop. Then I am happy, incredibly happy, and then boarding school ends so then I have starving & working out obsessively. Then starving & working out obsessively & overeating & throwing up & flirting & shopping. Then exercising obsessively & overeating & cutting & caffeine pills & throwing up & sedatives. Then I get sick and I am not allowed to work out. Then just starving. Then I get better, get head/body back in shape. Then boys. Drinking & boys boys boys.
Then I get out of control like my body isn't mine anymore, like it's a thing other people can do things to, so then I get a dumb loyal boyfriend. Then shopping & boyfriend's rules. Then this really slow feeling like I wasn't myself anymore, like I was dead inside, like I had merged with the wall-to-wall carpeting and I was the only one with a chance to go out. Then I get fixed with medication, feel like self again, but faster, and I break up with dumb boyfriend three days later. Then starving & drinking & working & working & working & shopping. Then I meet S., get addicted to him hard, we fall in love, he has control, he fucks it up.
"Help, I've done it again. I have been here many times before. Hurt myself today, and the worst part is there's no one else to blame."
-Sia, Breathe Me
Then S. stops coming over. Why? Not 'cause I've changed but because I leave the state. In New York now. Working & hooking up with girls & drinking & shopping & smoking & meeting strangers. I wasn't happy, but I was having a lot of fun! Then I meet J. Lying. Go off Wellbutrin, break up with him a few days later. Hooking up with girls, drinking, lying, applying the same fervor to paying off debt that I once applied to shopping -- not 'cause I've changed but because I have more money. Again I have so much fun, occasional bliss, and big plum-sized patches of misery! but such fun in between.
Then I was lying but with a partner-in-lying. We had party tricks & games. Co-dependent. Wicked fun, sometimes. Then drinking & drugs & girls.
Then I meet Haviland, she helps me to change no, she helps me to evolve, no, it's just harder to lie around her so I have to make my life a life I don't have to lie about. Then drinking & drugs & girls & lying. Then blogging & drinking & girls & starving & smoking but actually here is a period where things almost get better, start moving forward, so I celebrate by getting drunk and ruining everything.
Then I stop drinking 'cause I want to help MM stop drinking 'cause she'd almost died of it, and because now I have the internet, and smoking and then ... well ... now we have new things ... and this is where you've come in, probably. This is where autowin became The Real Secret. I'm not ready yet with the story of this, 'cause I can't keep trying to kill those things with storytelling or make it a trump card. I'm trying to be careful with that.
What I mean is ... did I change? Have I ever changed, or do I just replace one bad habit with another, one crutch with another, and as I get older, it's not even new addictions, it's just recycling old ones to fit the void of the day. Do the sickest people I know ever stop being sick? How do you escape a ten-year lie, a five-year habit, how do you ever do that? Is it just replacing one addiction with another? To meetings? To the gym? To balancing your checkbook? I have no problems because I am productive and healthy, because I work harder than most people who never drink or lie. Right?
"I think people can change dramatically, but not completely. I mean, I've changed a lot since we met, but not completely. I'm still a junkie. I'm still reckless. I'm still everything I always was, but I've been conditioned to hide it better or suppress it. The instincts never change."
- Elizabeth Wurtzel, Now More Again
So one must find another way to evolve or one must trick those same destructive rotations into a new song.
- David Carr, The Night of the Gun