Tag Archives: Wellness Resource Center

Happy, Joyous, and Free b/w Give Us Your Blood

"Give Us Your Blood." 1/19/13. Charcoal. 12x8½".
“Give Us Your Blood.” 1/19/13. Charcoal. 12×8½”.

I’m still riding the high of that sale from last night. On top of that, I was carrying a couple of paintings into Sun-Ray when someone asked if they could take a look.  It’s not in stone or anything but it looks like, from the brief exchange that ensued, I might have another opportunity to show some pieces in a pretty great location in January. And I still have two other offers on the table (to display some work) that I haven’t taken advantage of yet just ’cause I was busy, outta town, sick, and then busy again. So things are going really well and I’m pretty excited. And really grateful.

Oh – and how could I forget… My mood wasn’t in the slightest bit hindered by the arrival of a veritable shit ton of records and zines today!

records december 13th

I’m really excited about all of them but especially the Teenage Softies 7-inch. Like the Brokedowns / Vacation Bible School split 7-inch and the Humanoids LP that I’ve mentioned here before, this was one of the records that was slated to be released on Traffic Street (my record label) before I crumbled and gave it all up.

"Happy, Joyous, and Free." 1/19/13. Charcoal. 8½x12".
“Happy, Joyous, and Free.” 1/19/13. Charcoal. 8½x12″.

The whole EP is great, but I think the opening track might be my favorite: “If your life is easy, you got caught in their trap. Distracted like monkeys, living life flat on your back. But if you’re working for some asshole then you’ll understand that life’s not that easy – so what about getting ahead? If you’re looking for a solution, it’s not to fuck it all up. If you’re looking for a solution, it’s not to give up. So just do what you can to get by. You’re the one that can change it this time. Stay with it.”

—–

The two drawings in this entry were products of an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, early on a Saturday morning last January. Give Us Your Blood was inspired by some asshole giving my friend a hard time; it says: “we are insane (and mean) and we’re here to help – give us your blood.” Happy, Joyous, and Free was my second attempt (following Pulp) to draw a more realistic kind of portrait. I only had one sheet of paper folded up in my coat pocket, so one is on the back of the other.

I don’t remember the exact details of what was said to my friend that morning, but I do remember something else that the same guy had said to me after I shared/spoke at that meeting for my first time (after having gone every Saturday for several months). “I hope you make it. I doubt that you will, but I hope you do.” Some of my friends thought that was pretty fucked up but I didn’t think much of it at the time. I kind of liked it actually. (Although – in hindsight – what purpose is a statement like that supposed to serve?) But like I was saying, I liked it just ’cause it was brash, insulting, and honest.  After all, most of us don’t / aren’t going to make it, so it made sense for him to doubt me. Shit – especially me. Very, very few people ever thought I’d do anything besides die with a needle in my arm. (And – in their defense – there’s still plenty of time for me to prove them right). I remember in March of last year (in between inpatient stints) I picked my girlfriend up from her first outpatient session with a therapist she had started seeing while we were still in treatment. The therapist knew me so I asked my girlfriend if she had given her any advice or had any thoughts concerning our relationship. “She says there’s a 99.999% chance that you’re never going to get it and that you’ll die an addict, more likely sooner than later.” I cracked up laughing. She didn’t know me that well! I was a little shocked she’d make any kind of a statement so bold. I asked her (the therapist) about it at some point shortly thereafter (we’d talk a little after some of my girlfriend’s sessions). I told her what I had heard and she just kind of smiled and shrugged at me. “Prove me wrong,” she said.

No sweat! (So far, so good).

—–

Go check out my store!!! It’s got cool stuff in it!

If you’re interested in these drawings, I’m interested in selling them to you. Hit me up.

Pulp

I’m in the middle of a silent temper tantrum, by which I mean I’m not talking and have dedicated myself to staying miserable until I exhaust myself. I used to do this almost every day, but they’ve been pretty few and far between since the day that I consider my “emotional sobriety date.” So – of course – I’m angry and now I’m even angrier with myself for this than I am about the stupid incident that sparked this episode.

Here’s the other of my two 9×12″ learning to draw with charcoal sketches from January.

"Pulp." 1/17/13. Charcoal. 9x12".
“Pulp.” 1/17/13. Charcoal. 9×12″.

In February 2012, I was kicked out of my second rehab in as many months. I found myself running around Delray Beach with the girl I had been kicked out with. I’m not going to try and diagnose her state back then but – if I did something that bothered her – she could flip a switch and go from being totally in love with me to telling me what an ugly, worthless, pathetic, despicable piece of shit I was. On one occasion in our first week out on our own, we were staying in some little shitbox motel. (If you’re familiar with Delray, I’m sure you know it). I don’t remember exactly what went wrong, but it had something to do with heroin or getting more heroin. And – in case I didn’t already hate myself enough (I did) – she was really piling on as much hatred and vitriol as she could manage, to ensure that there wasn’t so much as a shred of self-esteem left in me.

I went into the bathroom. I was crying. I looked at myself in the mirror and couldn’t fucking stand the sight. It made me angry that I was the person looking back at me. So I started punching myself in the face. I don’t remember how many times. Enough that, for a good while after, I looked like someone had kicked the shit out of me pretty well.

Which I’ve always been good at. I’ve always been good at beating myself up. But that was the one time when it was most literal.

 

I’ve had thoughts like these today. I have had these impulses today.

This seems appropriate.

Girls Are Not Pokemon

"Girls Are Not Pokemon." 3/26/13. Colored pencil and pen. 8x10".
“Girls Are Not Pokemon.” 3/26/13. Colored pencil and pen. 6×8″.

I’ve been to three different rehabs and – at each – I got involved with a girl. Though it only (directly) got me kicked out of treatment once, it was never not a serious problem. If I include life outside of rehab, in times when I was trying to stay clean, I’ve relapsed with six different girls (and, each time, while upset about something that happened with me and the girl). That number doesn’t include times I’ve relapsed without [the] girl but while upset about something with her. Heroin is dangerous for me, but girls are probably more dangerous. I first started trying to get clean in November 2010 and – in all the time since – there have been plenty of occasions when I’ve been in dangerous situations where drugs were available through someone I was with (and/or someone was actually using around me). When that person’s been male, I’ve never once caved and gotten high, but when it’s been a girl that I’m even slightly interested in (i.e. most girls), I’ve found myself with a needle in my arm just about every time.

At Tranquil Shores, this was one of the issues that we spent the most time on. In my fifth month as an inpatient, Alexis, the girl with whom I was the most mixed up, moved out. She was signed up to come in three times a week for outpatient treatment but, two weeks later, stopped showing up. We were talking regularly by phone even after she left, but it wasn’t long before I lost touch with her too. She fell off – back into drugs – and lives behind bars now. I could have easily been right there with her when it all went down.

So now there were exactly zero girls in my age range at Tranquil Shores but I had others in the area that I had met at AA or NA meetings that I was constantly texting and meeting up with. (And I was doing that long before I lost touch with Alexis). Nothing serious happened between (any of) us, but I came pretty close to making some bad decisions on more than a few occasions. And that I even came close is insane. How many times did I need to put my life at risk just ‘cause I liked the way some girl smiled at me? But I couldn’t help it. It was the definition of compulsive behavior. I felt like I needed it.

A year prior, at the Wellness Resource Center, after getting caught with a girl (somewhere that we shouldn’t have been, doing something we shouldn’t have been doing), I was sitting in my room, contemplating the trouble I was about to be in. I didn’t want to get kicked out because I knew that I wasn’t “better” yet. I knew I’d get fucked up again and fuck everything up. I remember sitting there and thinking, “I don’t care if they never let me anywhere near her again. I don’t care if they basically lock me in my room. So long as I know that she’s also locked up in her room, sitting there pining for me, still in love with me, that’s all I need. I don’t ever need to see her again.

I think that’s all it’s really about for me. I just want someone to love me or – more specifically – to be in love with me. I needed for someone to think that I was the most important person in their world. The best person. Their favorite. Once I’d get that, it never really changed anything. I never actually felt any better or less insecure. It seemed so at times, in short little moments, but if that had really been the case, then I wouldn’t have been constantly pursuing multiple girls, even when I already had one “on the hook.” [That term sounds shitty but it conveys the idea I’m trying to get across. Also, it is shitty].

Sitting in group in December 2012, I did some math. I had six girls that I was trying to juggle to varying degrees. While I’d like to write it all of as inauthentic codependent bullshit – to be honest – with half of them I wasn’t even sure [and I’m still not]. I thought there might be (at least some spark of) authentic love. Yet I was still leading on the three girls with whom I knew it was just bullshit.

What was I really after? What was the point? A thought occurred to me; it was really silly but it was also totally dead on, which just made it that much funnier…

Girls are not pokemon – I do not “gotta catch ’em all…”

—–

If you know me personally you might be looking at the date on this cartoon and thinking, “What the fuck? You were already dating Heather by then – that’s fucked up.” [I decided to turn the idea into a cartoon back when I thought of it, but it wasn’t ’til two or three months later that I actually drew it].

Originally, I set out to write this entry about a different piece but I kind of had to throw all of this stuff about my codependent traits and behaviors out there as background info first. I’ll get to the other one tomorrow. [Update: That one’s online now too].

Anyway, I really love this cartoon. I love how superficially cute / innocuous it is but how the truth to it is kind of dark, sad, and pathetic. So often, I’ve let myself to sink to the greatest depths of hell because of something a girl said (or didn’t say) to me. I’ve dwelled in shit and misery for days, on account of facial expressions that I’d later discover I had completely misread. I’ve let my emotions, as triggered by girls, run and ruin my life.

But I’m getting better, you guys! For serious this time!

—–

  • The original drawing already sold but hit me up to buy a 6×8″ print.
  • For more on my relationships at this point in my life, check out “Autobiography.”

No Accident

 

"No Accident." 12/12/12. Oil pastel and pencil. 12x18".
“No Accident.” 12/12/12. Oil pastel and pencil. 12×18″.

On October 2, 2012, I was kicked out of Tranquil Shores. It was my third time being kicked out of rehab that year. This time was different though. I knew what I needed to do and, on October 19th, I was welcomed back.

When I had been kicked out of Hazelden and the Wellness Resource Center, a lot of what was going wrong with me had to do with girls. At both facilities, I got “involved” with another patient. That hadn’t been the case this time but, when I was readmitted, I started doing it again. This time, I was determined enough to succeed that I didn’t let it control me the way it had before. We had more than a few conversations about how we were just friends (even once in the presence of the treatment staff when they began to worry about what might be developing). But I held on, I didn’t give in and do anything that would have been automatic grounds for my being kicked out again. Still, it eventually got to a point where we had resolved to be together after we got out of treatment and that’s the kind of emotional attachment that’s not good for anyone early in recovery, let alone a basket case like myself.

I don’t mean it as an excuse because I don’t see it that way but my thoughts, emotional responses, and consequent behaviors are not like most people’s. I “have” borderline personality disorder.

Something happened. It doesn’t matter what. She and I weren’t getting along and it was fucking ruining me. And because I wasn’t supposed to be involved with anyone (let alone a girl I was in treatment with) I couldn’t be honest with my counselor or anyone else about what was eating at me. It occurred to me that – if I wasn’t willing to talk about my issues – there was no longer any reason to be in treatment. Things got worse until one night, alone in my room, I lost it. [Since that’s a whole story of its own though, I won’t go into the details here].

The next morning I woke up feeling thoroughly empty, thoroughly hopeless. In my head, I had convinced myself that I wasn’t really doing anything wrong because I hadn’t actually slept with the girl. But I was fucking destroying any shot I had at ever getting better. I was already contemplating leaving and I knew, if I went down that path, I’d be shooting heroin again in no time. I was keeping my mouth shut for the sake of my relationship with this girl, but if I didn’t start talking and sort this shit out [if I left Tranquil Shores] the relationship was over anyway; I’d lose everything. I talked to a friend and realized that I had no choice. So I told the truth about everything that had gone on between us.

And she denied everything. She told them that it was all in my head – that I was even sicker and more confused than I seemed. I couldn’t believe it. I thought this was going to be the best thing for us. We weren’t supposed to get mixed up with each other in the first place but… it happened (nothing could change that) and now we’d be able to deal with it. And get better. It was going to be awesome. The greatest relief ever. But she wasn’t interested. She stuck to her story: that I was out of my fucking mind. I had an encyclopedia’s worth of Facebook and text messages to prove otherwise, but when my counselor said I could show them to her if I wanted to it felt petty. I realized that the truth didn’t matter. It was a big epistemological lesson for me. Emotions are stronger than facts. If I held that this relationship had happened, my treatment was going to progress as if that were the truth. If she held that it hadn’t, her treatment would address the issue as if that were the truth. [Weeks later, she did come clean and acknowledge that everything I said was true, but that’s not relevant to this piece].

After the dust settled from the shit storm that had been that afternoon, I went back to my room and wrote.

Pretty bummed out right now. Sad about the person I’ve let myself become. Not feeling totally lost though. I’m grateful for the lesson I was able to learn today and for the opportunity to use that knowledge to make my future better than my past. It hurts now, but this will be a good thing so long as I’m willing to utilize it, grow, and change.

I needed to get out of my self for a little while so I started to draw. Three hours later, I was flooded with feelings that I didn’t know what to do with. I stopped drawing. I scrambled around my room looking for something to write on. I found a piece of paper that I had traced my arms onto three weeks prior [for a project I hadn’t finished; I still needed to draw a knife into my right hand, for starters]. A few days prior I had that intention, but couldn’t bring myself to do it. Now, I didn’t care about that. I just needed something to write on. What spilled onto the paper was very stream-of-conscious. Just before I touched my pencil to the page, I decided to put it in my left hand since (it’s said that) writing with your non-dominant hand helps with honesty and hinders pretension.

i didn’t know who i was or what i was doing
i’m not whole yet but I’m closer than ever
remember october?
i realized I could choose to not be an obnoxious, negative problem
november ended, i forgot
today is 12-12-12 and i just remembered
and i learned something new today
i can choose more
i don’t have to be confused
i don’t have to send mixed messages or be inauthentic
i can be whoever i want to be
I KNOW WHO I AM TODAY
i am honest sincere loving compassionate kind intelligent fun dedicated loyal creative talented doing my best sorry for the harm and hurt i’ve caused proud of my achievements and sam NICE TO MEET YOU

I’m embarrassed of this piece sometimes. The old, guarded me would call this the dumbest shit ever. But – as I commented when I first made it – it’s the most positive, productive thing I’ve ever produced. In recovery, there’s lot of talk about a “spiritual awakening.” This is the unintentional document of mine. I’m so grateful that I have it to remind me of exactly how I felt in that moment. I only wish that I could feel that way all the time. My resolve to be the kind of person that I described had (and has) never been stronger.