Sunday, May 31, 2009

New Years Revolutions: Time Can Never Kill the True Heart

On December 30th, 2008, I wrote a post that I was going to post on New Year's Day, but I never did because I decided it was too personal in parts, or that I wasn't sure it was stuff I wanted to really say. I think I had a lot of weird situations I was navigating then. Well, I've always had weird situations to navigate, at least since starting autowin and until about a few months ago. I'm not keeping anyone else's secrets now, except for Colonel Sanders, who gave me the secret recipe for Kentucky Fried Chicken before he died. One day I'll sell that shit on ebay.

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.
I'm sure I do have problems, I'll have some this week maybe. But I gave up trying to change my personality and decided to change my life to better bring out the most functional parts of my personality. That makes it sound so solid, like Legos. But who doesn't love Legos. Asshats, that's who. I don't know. I want to talk to you. With you.

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

Because my story is the only one I'm legally allowed to tell, I'll tell a good chunk of it now. It's not different from other stories I know, that's what I'm saying, there's nothing too spectacular about it, none of my bad habits are that dramatic.

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 drinking & inhaling anything crushable or already in powdered format & running & starving & shopping & playing The Sims. Then friends return from being abroad. Then inhaling & speeding & addicted to S. and still & drinking. Then friends rally around me and tell me I can change and I think they are right and decide to change. Instead S. comes over an hour later. Over and over. Then swallowing everything crushable 'til I was put on Wellbutrin to ensure that wouldn't happen again.

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.

Do I change here? Not really. I just change my perspective on confidence or something. Also, The L Word, I get addicted to this new awareness of this new culture realizing that the girls I'd always liked might actually like me back. I read & watched & dreamed & went out and spent as much time around and inside those girls as I could & fought with people who'd loved me before all that and were trying to keep it up. Fun but darker than expected. I became addicted to the idea of girl-on-girl culture.

So then girls & drinking & drugs drugs drugs & cigarettes & girls & cross-town cab rides & throwing up. Then I start doing this 60+ hour workweek, but have to take care of M. who's now back from the hospital and I'm too busy for much else but still drugs & smoking & girls, almost because of it, and it's an energized, focused darkness that often bounces and becomes light. Then L. & I become BFFs and I try to make L. change, try to be a living demonstration of how people change, but maybe I hadn't really changed at all, I just talked a lot.

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."
(A friend)

I'm trying to put all habits - -anything you'd resolve to stop doing -- on the same playing field. Like drug addiction is just a good example, but this isn't about that,it's not even about licking the edge of those solid addictions like you're starving for a reason but scared too.


"In real life, every day you might come to a new conclusion about yourself and about the reasoning behind your behavior, and you can tell yourself that this knowledge will make all the difference. But in all likelihood, you're going to keep doing the same old things. You'll still be the same person. You'll still cling to your destructive, debilitating habits because your emotional tie to them is so strong--so much stronger than any dime-store insight you might come up with--that the stupid things you do are really the only things you've got that keep you centered and connected."
- Elizabeth Wurtzel, Now More Again

This is about how I wanted to tell you that people never change. Whatever our relationship is to that pit between our heart and our hips that stores all that is compulsive, comforting, familiar, habitual, uncontrollable ... the part of us so essential that it's immune to others' desires.

So one must find another way to evolve or one must trick those same destructive rotations into a new song.

"The problem with your life is behavior, not disclosure. Secrets are what addiction calls foreplay. If you want to live a life that you can be honest about, live one that is worthy. The answer to life is learning to live."
- David Carr, The Night of the Gun
What I mean is do what you can to make your dreams come true. Don't assign value to the things you can control and the things you feel you cannot, just control the things you can control until that side tackles the other.

So I guess my New Year's Resolution/Revolution is to do what I want to do and I think from there the rest of it will fall into place. (Dec '08)


Anonymous said...


"And though you are not yet Socrates, you ought, however, to live as one desiring to be a Socrates."

Epictetus, from The Enchiridion

Thanks for being so raw.

When you rip right down to the words of weakness - it really holds a mirror up to the shared feelings that afflict all humans.

Can a blog post be pure poetry masquerading as prose?

Anonymous said...

Thank you.

elliB said...

The words you write never cease to amaze and move me.

Lynne said...

The posts you always seem unsure about are the ones I end up liking best...and the ones that mean the most.

I'm sure there's a life lesson in there somewhere.


mon said...

wow, i kind of really love this. coincidentally, i'm currently in the middle of 'the night of the gun' so this kind of slots perfectly into my internal processing right now.

heidi said...

thanks for writting so honestly.

this post hits way to close to home right now. all this drug, eating,drinking issues. I had to take my bro to rehab(for the 4th time in the last 2 years)yesterday for same issues..altho im sure he was on much much more than anyone could imagine... prb to much info but I appreciate you being honest and giving hope to people. overcomming all that bull shit (no matter how small or big it is) and doing what you want to do... thats the only way to live. love life and you should be proud!

whew that was serious for me.
here here to autostraddle!

KayDee said...

You word everything I wish I could say perfectly. Everything I think/feel but can't find a way to say. It makes me feel..warm?

Thank you.

Honestly, you're my hero.

I'm a weirdo, but I feel like that's okay.

saint modesto said...

Wow. Just, wow. You always blow me away.

Haviland Stillwell said...

smile smile smile

mindy said...

I could muster up all the nice words and compliments to articulate what I think and how I feel about your poetry/prose/post, but I think you already know how impactful what you write is to everyone who reads it.

But, it always takes courage to write something like this - so thanks for having the guts to spill them.

Mercury said...

Thanks for posting that. 6 months later, whatever.

It's touching.

And true... like it articulates a feeling I've had but never expressed so eloquently.

Crystal said...

Tiger this is really, really good. To pinpoint, this -

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. It's just so spot on. You usually are.

Allie said...

I've missed you. Ditto all the comments about awesomeness and loving it. Autostraddle is great, but it's not this, and this is what I love. Obviously you can't do this all the time, because ugh, no one can. But when you do, it's the greatest.

cnpetty said...

i wish i could articulate things like you do. i want to bottle all of your words up and keep them with me always because they feel so true and real to me. and reading this gives me hope that one day it will get better. thank you for being able to encapsulate your feelings so graciously.

autumn m said...

i wish i could say something cooler than all the other people did, something that had some kind of super awesome meaning. but i cant. but this post..... this amazing raw honest emotion. this is why i keep coming back.

laura said...

look at all the places you've been!

i'm trying to learn to like change and growing up but sometimes it's hard.

Brynne said...

[i]Then drinking & inhaling anything crushable or already in powdered format & running & starving & shopping & playing The Sims.[/i]

I love the way you write.

Brooke said...

"What I mean is do what you can to make your dreams come true. Don't assign value to the things you can control and the things you feel you cannot, just control the things you can control until that side tackles the other."

That's hot.

riese said...

cycnet: a blog post can be anything masquerading as anything, i often feel i walk the nonsense/wisdom line, hopefully just carefully enough. i like that quote.

anonymous: You're welcome.

elliB: thank you!

Lynne: I feel like there's a quote on this -- about the conflicts and uncomfortable things being the thngs one must write about.

mon: oh, i always want that to happen to me, to discover i'm reading something that's been read by something esle i'm reading. i wrote that not long after finishing the night of the gun actually, and i'd looked back at a lot of it afterwards, the parts that stuck.

heidi: thank you for listening so honestly. it is sad how hard it is to change, so i guess what i'm hoping is there's a way to succeed without having to try to change yourself, and fail, or something. here here to autostrddle!

KayDee If I could learn how to fly and leap buildings in a single bound, then i could be your superhero, not just your hero. it is always okay to be a weirdo.

saint modesto: aw, thanks! thank you

Haviland Stillwell: french kiss french kiss french kiss

mindy: thanks! is it courage? I'm not sure. but the nice words make me feel like my guts will get cleaned up or something. which is comforting.

Mercury: Hi friend! Thank you, eloquence has always been an aspiration of mine.

Crystal: What you said was spot on too. You usually are.

Allie: Thank you! Yeah I think I am running out of veins to open, like a heroin addict or something. it's hard to write about the present right now, because i am not actively attempting to manipulate it, but experince it. Anyhow thank you.

cnpetty: Things will get better. Because you'll keep growing up! And learning stuff, figuring out how to make it better. Or at least it's good to believe that, it is. Thank you for saying those nice things about where you'd like to keep my words, too.

autumn: I think what you said was cooler than anything, ever, so you know.

laura: I know, all the way to totes rock bottom and back. It's always hard, but hard can be interesting.

Brynne: Thank you!

Brooke: Hotter than lava?

Anonymous said...

I want to be your best friend. I will kidnap Haviland if necessary.

Bokolis said...

You're in danger of finding out who you are.

People are indeed pliable inverse to their options.

Even if you weren't so forthcoming, we could have assumed the personal stuff...the readers' anguish tempered only by knowing that Haviland would show up at some point. The fun parts notwithstanding, couldn't have been as much fun for you.

My suggestion: get more productive addictions. Overly simplistic, to be sure, but the answer here isn't to fix. This is shit you have to undo.

zed said...

Wow, I feel like I was holding my breath reading that entire thing.
"How do you escape a ten-year lie, a five-year habit, how do you ever do that?". I've been grappling with that kind of question for a while. A blank slate is not achievable, so is it ever possible to escape what your life has become, what you have become. I haven't decided whether I can change myself and fix this mess and be happy and live again, or whether it's all to painful and I'll just bury my head back under the covers.

Thankyou for writing this. Thankyou for sharing this. It's inspiring. Not in the epic, overawing way, but in the real, simple, honest way. Thankyou.