Growing up in the south, I tried to fit in with the other “Barbie Doll”, “Miss America Complex” (infected) little belles.
Problem was we didn’t know the perfection we struggled to emulate wasn’t real and some fantasies are dangerous. Nobody really talked about “air brushed” magazine pictures, weight control by lethal, addictive drugs or bulimia/anorexia. To be honest, I was spellbound by the myth of perfectly thin thighs and lost touch with reality. So, I probably wouldn’t have listened anyway.
Drinking became a coping device to fit in as well. It hid the shame of living with a psychotic mother who experimented with whatever torture the “voices” dictated towards me and my two small siblings.
I have had 4 spine surgeries as a result of those years imprisoned with a schizophrenic and have spent several weeks in 5 lovely psychiatric institutions myself . My mother committed suicide when I was 15. My younger brother didn’t make it. Nor did my baby sister Ann. Maybe if I were smarter, better or prettier…she would’ve loved me enough to stick around. Yeah right. The “not enough “seed was an ‘early spring planting.’ I’ve spent most of my life laboring with exhaustive efforts trying to harvest your approval, acceptance, love ,your loyalty and faithfulness . You know- the usual desperate gatherings of a tortured soul settling for scraps and “slim pickin’s” (as they say) pathetically bargaining with a starving self esteem. Ah, the good ol’ days~

However, there came a time of reckoning. A time when all the self pity, booze and pills in the world didn’t quiet the insane cacophony of life’s demand to be lived. It was Sept. 10th 1985. I couldn’t get drunk. I couldn’t get sober…and I was too clear to go insane. I was at the turning point. We all either live dying or die having really lived. So, I prayed ( I am not a religious person) I prayed however to whatever power I believe is greater than my self pity, my tragic childhood, my tortured soul…ALL of it! I truly believe there is a power BIGGER than ALL of me and my misery. I was not only relieved of the obsession to drown myself in alcohol but also self pity….and oh yes, I was addicted to my own misery. How do I know? I was getting mileage out of it. I needed to feel pain to feel alive. If I didn’t feel hurt or abandoned or in crisis I didn’t feel alive. So what would I do to establish my miserable comfort zone again of “alive?” I would create a crisis, push people away to feel abandoned ,so I would get to cry and bemoan the part of victim. Voila! The part of victim would guarantee attention from equally unhealthy types, but hey the mileage I was seeking was attention and company…and let’s say it in unison…”Misery LOVES company!!” Slow suicide.

After a lot of 12 step programs (and I qualify for ALL of them) therapy and medication, I began to take responsibility. I realized that long after my torturer(mother-family) were gone I picked up where they left off, but still continued to blame them for my unhappiness! The “Blame game” nearly killed me. Finger pointing became a national sport…only I stayed unhappy, sick, and emotionally toxic. When I began to take responsibility for my part and went on a ‘negativity free diet’….I lost 560 Lbs. of codependent ,misery cosigners I had enlisted along the way as “friends”. It’s so easy to be miserable. It takes real guts to be happy.

I always avoided facing my demons and standing in my darkness. However in so doing I never felt whole. I bought the same “good/bad”, “kind/cruel” polarizing ,extremist nonsense being crammed down the rest of the giant social throat. I snort with laughter when I hear so many people busting a freshly cleaned colonic gut trying to convince me of how “enlightened” they are. It seems you have to be full of “love and light” today to qualify for validation. Well, I think that makes you full of something alright. And probably why you’ll need so many colonics too .But the rejection of my dark side (or any part of me that I judge unlovable ) only made me aware the pain is in the separation. Any pain. Separation from myself, from society, from a higher power. It’s painful being separated from wholeness. So, I don’t get to judge. I do get to accept and embrace ALL of me..the “so called” good, bad and especially the ugly. Wouldn’t it be more humane (honest) to just admit that sometimes we all can be real shits and sometimes we all can be real saints…and sometimes just shitty saints and sometimes saintly shits? They are not mutually exclusive! We are divinely complex beings. Maybe if we integrate our own light and darkness ,it won’t be so hard to accept our brother and sisters? I may not be a religious person, but I heard the role of God has already been cast, so I figure we all can stop auditioning for it?

Happy and at home with my dark side as well as my light. And all shades in between. My not-so-thin thighs- those stubborn creases round my eyes-a face etched in lines tell a tale of psyche wards and jail …but the spirit stayed whole. It did not splinter. My soul committed to integration while the world convinced itself of segregation. Every time I got knocked down I just… Got. Back. Up. All. Of. Me.