The Power is in Us


Today I have 9 months sobriety from Marijuana!

Though it almost feels like the norm now, I have to remember that only 9 months ago it felt like a whole new world.

Even though I have accepted my new identity as an ex-pothead, I also accept that I have the incurable disease of addiction.

If I let my ego get the better of me and lose sight of my humility, it is very likely that Marijuana will sneak back into my life.

I have to remain vigilant, and pro-active to keep my addiction at bay. I meet regularly with my sponsor and work on my steps.

I seek guidance from my Higher Power when I need help. I see my counselor twice a month.

As normal as my weed free lifestyle seems the majority of the time, I still have my moments of temptation. 

Last night was one of those moments. I just quit smoking cigarettes on the first. I am also battling my most obstinate addiction, as I have exhaustedly done since middle school.

Food addiction is what still plagues me. It is the addiction that robs me of a normal life. It has always been my first drug of choice.

Now that weed and nicotine are out of my life for good, my only cross addiction left has supercharged it’s power. I feel defeated by it.

I realize it is time to surrender fully to my last, most dogged addiction…

I admit that I am powerless over food, and that my life has become unmanageable 

Just being honest with myself is a release and a huge weight off of my shoulders. Now it is time to start working Step one.

If I can celebrate 9 months of sobriety from a substance I abused for 21 years, I can surely do the same with any addiction.

The power is in us, we just have to figure out how to tap into that power. For myself, practicing spirituality and having support from others who have been through the same things is what ignites that power inside of me.

What do you do to tap into your power?

What helps you overcome difficulties in your lives? What inspires change for you? Post what helps you out during the obstacles of life in the comments below.

I Pray


As I sit here near the end of the first day of January 2017, I pray. 
I pray that on this very day next year I have a lot to celebrate.

I pray that I am not sitting here instead, writing this very same blog post praying for these very same things.

I pray that this year I don’t let myself down, that I don’t have to once again taste the familiar bitterness of defeat and regret. 

I pray to instead experience the sweet taste of success and pride. The mouth watering spice of adventure and accomplishment.

I pray that at the end of this year I am manifesting new dreams, because the old ones have become my reality.

I pray that in my toughest moments I do not lose sight of what those moments are trying to teach me. 

I pray I don’t forget that every struggle I endure is just another stepping stone in the direction of the life I am meant to live.

I pray I don’t expect it to be easy.

I pray I don’t give up when it feels like too much to bare.

I pray for acceptance. Of myself just as I am. Of others just as they are. And of life just as it is, and just as it isn’t.

I pray for more security, less anxiety. More forgiveness, less resentment. More love, less fear.

I pray for less ego, more humility. Less anger, more peace. Less frustration, more patience.

I pray for the courage to ask my Higher Power for help when I don’t know how to help myself.

I pray that I am able to wait in silence so I can hear the answer.

I pray that I have trust in my Higher Power when I am plagued by self doubt.

I pray that this time I don’t let my demons win.

I pray that I fight like I’ve never fought before. 

I pray that no matter how sharp the pain is or how deep the wounds flow, I don’t give in to the temptation to run from it all.

I pray that I don’t resort to using my addictions to numb myself when life gets too overwhelming.

I pray that this is my year to shine. My year to stand up to my fears and live beyond the walls of my comfort zone.

I pray that this year (2017) is the year that I finally conquer my kryptonite for good, achieving the freedom I’ve dreamed of for a very long time.

And as I sit here I pray that through all of the struggle, fear, and pain I never forget to pray to remember all the reasons I fight.

Just an Ignorant, Immature American who Didn’t Vote for Hillary 


I haven’t said much about politics in a while. I used to say a LOT about politics in years past. I would debate my stance tooth and nail. I would defend my beliefs with a self-righteous air that triggered a lot of reaction from others. Some in favor of my opinions, while some of raging opposition.

I grew tired of it. Tired of the anger. Tired of the rhetoric. Tired of the arguing. Tired of everyone pointing to someone, anyone to place the blame on.

Shocking outcome

Here we are today, November 10th 2016. Two days following the 45th presidential election. Many of us are still reeling with shock and disbelief that Donald Trump, a bigot, misogynist, and all around deplorable human being has won the nomination as the next leader of our country.

Here comes the blame

Social media has been exploding with opinions, jokes, commentary, every emotion under the sun, and of course misplaced BLAME! Blame at non-voters, and blame at anyone who didn’t vote for Hillary. What does blaming one another get us? Division, anger, and most dangerously HATE!

I happen to be one of those “immature,” “ignorant” non-Hillary voters. I wrote in Bernie Sanders. Yes, that’s right it’s mine and everyone else’s fault who DIDN’T vote for Hillary Clinton that Trump won. Before you start breathing fire and throwing out “I told you so’s” hear me out…

The only choice for me

I didn’t vote for Bernie Sanders just to say a big “F you” to the system like you are all so quick to assume. I didn’t vote for Bernie Sanders just because I don’t like Hillary. I didn’t vote for Bernie Sanders because I am “ignorant” or “immature” (though thank you for those crass judgements). 

I voted for Bernie Sanders because HE is the the one I believe in most. HE is the one that most closely matches my core beliefs and values. HE is the only one that gives a damn about the people of our country. Not just the obscenely wealthy elite people. Not just the white people. But all of the people! HE is the one I believed was best suited to be our next president. HE is not the lesser evil because HE is not evil at all!

Freedom of choice

Isn’t that what Democracy is supposed to be about? Having the ability to CHOOSE as we see fit? It’s not about being bullied into choosing the lesser of two evils. It’s about the FREEDOM of choice! Sure, you don’t have to AGREE with my choice but it is still MY CHOICE to be made by ME!

Don’t be like The Donald

Come on America, what GOOD does it get any of us to go on social media and bash those who didn’t vote as YOU see fit?! Placing blame on non-Hillary supporters and non-voters doesn’t change the outcome. What GOOD do you get from insulting us by calling us IGNORANT and IMMATURE, besides a temporary feeling of superiority and righteousness?! Placing BLAME on each other gets us nowhere! Shouldn’t that be obvious by now?

Less evil is still evil

I don’t like Donald Trump any more than his most devout haters. But I also don’t like Hillary Clinton. I have done the “lesser of two evils” thing before. To me, that isn’t FREEDOM of choice. If I like another candidate or write in and feel they are the best choice then that’s who I’m going to vote for.

You can disagree all you want with my choice, but don’t insult me because of it. Don’t blame me and my choice for how it all turned out. That isn’t fair. And that isn’t productive. 

Did I think Bernie was going to win? Of course not. Too many people do the “lesser of two evils” vote for anyone but evil to win. That doesn’t mean however, that I myself am obligated to vote for the less evil candidate. I am not voting to appease anybody. I am voting for who I believe in, and I don’t believe in evil. 


One love

If we want positive change in our failing country we have to band together and stand up for ourselves! There has to be a “One love” sense of togetherness. The misplaced blame and anger just creates chaos. It pits us against one another, distracting us from those who actually deserve to be on the receiving end of our wrath.

I have held my tongue so many times throughout this circus of an election. I have no understanding how ANYONE in their ever-loving mind could support such a crazy lunatic! I also know that complaining, whining, and insulting others does absolutely NOTHING to change ANYTHING! Lack of compassion and empathy is destroying the human race. 

The only way to change anything is to come together. We need to put our egos aside and start treating one another with respect! We need to stop siding with evil and make the right choice, not the better of two horrible choices. 

Unfortunate reality

If the media wasn’t corrupt and didn’t maximize Trump’s exposure while minimizing Bernie’s we wouldn’t be facing four years with a sociopath for a president. If the Democratic Party hadn’t done the same between Hillary and Bernie, HE would be our next president. Because Bernie had a chance. A real chance at beating Trump in this election.

So, fellow Americans here we are. Regardless at this point of how we got here, we are here nonetheless. As scary as the thought of having Donald Trump as our president is, it is our unfortunate reality at the moment. I am no happier about it than all of you responsible, mature, less ignorant Americans who voted for Hillary.

Better

I don’t want more of the same for America. I want better. I don’t want to regress back 60 years, but I don’t want to stand still either. Hillary Clinton may be brilliant and have political experience, but she is just as dishonest and calloused as the majority of politicians. Bernie is different because he cares. He genuinely cares for those outside of the elitist, corrupt, greed-filled bubble. 

You may say I’m a dreamer

Now don’t go adding naive or delusional to the fabulous repertoire of adjectives used to describe dreamers like myself. I know that consonance in our country is about as likely as Trump having a good hair day. I am well aware of the uphill climb we face to reach equality.

Not a genius, but no dummy either

I am not espousing my opinion to prove that I am right and that everyone else is wrong. I am no political analyst, or even a college graduate. I don’t consider myself highly intellectually gifted, but I am not ignorant either. I am intelligent enough to know that the system is corrupt. I am aware enough to know that the lesser of two evils still equates to evil.

Fed up!

I am writing this blog post because just like the rest of you, I am fed up! I am fed up with being lied to. Fed up with senseless wars. Fed up with police brutality. Fed up with the increasing economic divide. Fed up with our for profit healthcare system. Fed up with our justice system. Fed up with racism. Fed up with our Government who has blame for everyone, yet takes zero responsibility for anything! Man am I fucking FED UP!

An America for the people, not the Politicians 

So America, you want to be great?Well I hate to be the barer of bad news but no Trump, Clinton or any other personal-agenda-ridden-politician (or wanna be) is going to get us to that status. Nothing great comes easy. Nothing great comes without BIG change. And no BIG change comes without opposition. It is up to us to come together and fight for the America that WE THE PEOPLE want! Only WE can make AMERICA GREAT for us, because our vision of what makes America great is not the same as theirs!


All The Good Things That Have Come From Quitting Marijuana


From the very start of my sobriety from weed I have had people questioning why I would quit something so seemingly benign. My answer has always been that for me personally it wasn’t benign. For me it had become more of a hindrance than a help.

I am 100% behind the legalization of marijuana. I am 100% behind its use for medicinal purposes. And I am 100% ok with minding my own damn business when it comes to others who, like I formerly did, use it strictly for recreational purposes.

It seems that when somebody decides to stop using a substance, many others still using that substance take it personally as though they are the ones being left behind. They feel as though they have to defend their current lifestyle to those who no longer live it. Or as in the case of weed, they question why anyone would choose to walk away from it in the first place.

Just because I chose to give up marijuana does not mean I am all of a sudden against it, or those who still use it. Quitting marijuana was strictly a personal decision. A decision that I felt was in my best interest. A decision that for me has led to many good things.

Clarity

Just in these past 6 months I have awakened to several insights into my own psyche that I had not realized in the 21 years of my limited cognitive functions due to the effects of marijuana. Mental clarity was one of the first recognizable rewards after quitting.

Improved judgment

Along with my newfound clarity, came better judgment. I don’t care how benign you think marijuana is, it absolutely clouds your judgment. Like any other substance, it lowers your inhibitions allowing you to easily act on impulses rather than thinking things through at a rational level.

Responsibility

I’m not talking about necessarily taking on more responsibility, rather finally owning up to the ones I’d been denying for years! As an addict I found it much easier to look outward and find blame than I did to look inward for answers. Not to mention the fact that I acted out irresponsibly every time I smoked before or during driving. Every time I put weed before being a Mom. Every time I got high before going to work. Every time getting high was more important than anything else.

More money for more important things

There is no denying that marijuana is an expensive addiction. I had a medical card so I went to a dispensary. I was also given it from time to time. I never personally grew it because A) I have children living in my home, and B) I can’t even keep house plants alive! Of course when you’re an addict, you can’t not have your drug of choice available at all times. For me that meant spending between $50 and $100 bucks most months! So now I have that money for other things that are more beneficial to my life and my family’s life as well.

Improved Relationships 

Because of my improved judgment and taking responsibility for my actions, I have learned to better communicate with the people in my life. I am more direct, yet less confrontational. I am also less passive aggressive. It doesn’t matter whether your addiction is marijuana or heroin. They are used for the same reason. To escape. To avoid. To numb. To feel good. When you are an addict your life revolves around your addiction. Getting that next high is all that matters. This leaves little room to nurture your relationships with others. Addiction ruins relationships. Sobriety brings them back to life!

Less anxiety

I have always suffered from a lot of anxiety. When I suffered from an anxiety attack nothing brought me down quicker than a few hits of weed. But when out in public nothing amplified my social anxiety like being high did. Now breathing exercises and meditation help ease my anxiety attacks. And though I still live with social anxiety, being sober in social situations eliminates the paranoia that people are judging me for being high. I am 100% myself, and don’t feel like I have to hide out all the time because of my addiction.

More motivation

Motivation has never been one of my strongpoints, and it’s no secret  that marijuana isn’t much help in that department. While quitting weed didn’t magically give me the drive of an Olympic athlete, it certainly helps by no longer depleting the motivation I do have.

No longer worrying about passing pre-employment drug tests 

I have been self employed for a while now. Before that I worked for many companies and corporations that required drug testing prior to being hired. Somehow I always managed to squeak by whether it be because I did a detox kit, they didn’t test for marijuana, or as in my last job as a caregiver they accepted a medical marijuana license. Now when I peruse the help wanted ads, it is very freeing having the awareness that I can apply for any job listed without worry of potentially testing positive for marijuana.

No more munchies

Living with an eating disorder makes my choices around food extremely difficult. As with many addicts, I have cross addictions. One of them being food. Junk food to be exact. The food that isn’t really food, but a mix of highly addictive chemicals and poisons that tastes good while causing us a slow death riddled with chronic diseases. Man-made processed garbage is also what makes up the majority of the munchies consumed by pot heads. By not smoking pot anymore, I have less food binges due to the munchies. Every little bit helps.

Building solid friendships 

I go to MA meetings most weeks. I work the steps, and I have an amazing sponsor! My sponsor is not just my sponsor but one of my best friends as well! She is somebody that knows exactly what I am going through because she too has gone through it herself. She has opened her heart to me to be there as my guide, and to offer unconditional love when I need it the most. She encourages me, cheers me on, and holds me accountable for my actions. I couldn’t have come this far without the support of the MA fellowship, or my awesome sponsor guiding me through the steps of sobriety.

As you can see, I have experienced some amazing life changing benefits from quitting marijuana. The benefits I discussed above far outweigh the benefits of continuing to smoke it. At least for me they do. I can’t speak for, or judge anyone else’s choices. I still get cravings and miss it from time to time. That is when I remind myself of how far I’ve come and where I want to be. As long as I continue to stay humble, work the steps, go to meetings and meet with my sponsor I have zero doubt that I will stay sober and continue to experience all the good things from a life free of marijuana!

Romance May Be All Champagne and Roses, but it’s the “Little Things” that Define True Love

As I was listening to the radio tonight a woman called in to request a song for her Husband. She gushed about how she had the relationship that every woman wishes for. She had literally married her Prince Charming. I began fantasizing about my man romancing me with a jacuzzi full of rose petals, exotic vacations, and diamonds…lots and lots of sparkly diamonds.

The Little Things

Then the woman said something that snapped me out of my grandiose fantasies, bringing me back to reality and into an aha! moment. She said that though her husband was at times romantic in the traditional sense, it was really the little things he did everyday that proved to her how important her happiness was to him.

She mentioned that she wasn’t a morning person and that her husband was well aware of it. Instead of giving her a hard time or completely avoiding her in the mornings, he actually did things to help her mornings run smoothly. Even in the face of grumpiness and morning breath!

He would do simple, yet meaningful gestures from having her coffee ready when she woke up to warming up her car before she left for work. These things may seem mundane to a morning person, but to someone who favors the snooze button these small actions are huge. That is the beauty of it. The fact that he pays attention to her needs and seeks out ways to fulfill those needs on a daily basis proves just how deep his love runs for her.

Anyone can temporarily buy someone’s love with gifts and lavish vacations. Anyone can string words together in a sentence to flatter and charm. But when it comes to real love it’s the little things that have the biggest meaning. It’s the smaller things that take the most effort. They take thought. They take continuous action. They take listening. They take knowing. They take caring. They take a lot. And because they take a lot, they mean a lot.

Can’t buy love

Traditional commercial romance is done to impress. To woo. To sweep one off their feet. Of course in our capitalistic society everything has to have a price tag. Even love. It’s so easy to get caught up in the materialistic idea that the more money one spends the more important the recipricant must be to that person. Yes, I too have fallen into that trap. Just ask my romantically challenged Fiancé.

I have berated the poor man more times than I care to admit about his lack of romantic gestures. It seems every time I get on Facebook women are gushing about how their husband’s or boyfriend’s surprised them with a dozen roses, a date night, or weekend getaway. It would always make me question why mine never did the same. Doesn’t he love me? Aren’t I worth all the beautiful expensive things money can buy?

What really matters

And then I heard that woman tonight on the radio. I heard her gush about what really matters. The little gestures that cost nothing, yet mean everything. The consideration her husband had for her feelings and needs were what made her heart beat faster for him. Not the store bought things. That stuff is easy and impersonal. 

I realized at that moment that I too have a Prince Charming. Even a Saint maybe for all he puts up with! Curtis may not bring me flowers or whisk me away on spontaneous vacations (pretty hard to do with 4 kids) but he knows me.

He wipes away my tears, and sometimes (sorry to out you babe) he even cries with me. He makes me laugh. He texts me every day on his lunch break to check in about how my day is going. He takes over parenting duties when my stress levels become more than I can handle. He supports me. He understands me. He loves me for who I am, never trying to change me.

True love comes from the soul, not the wallet

Curtis is an amazing man. I am so grateful to have found someone as unromantic as him! Because romance, as portrayed by our society, is shallow. It isn’t about love. It is really about spending hard earned dollars on material items to fool another into feeling adoration. And even sometimes it is used in more sinister ways, such as distracting a person from the other’s wrong doings.

True love has no price tag. It comes from the soul. Something so deep and so real can’t be faked. It can be masked but eventually the mask will come off. I’m not saying all gifts that are bought are meaningless. I’m just saying there has to be more. There has to be depth. There has to be effort. From both parties. After all, it takes 2 to be in a relationship.

Thank you!

So to that woman who called in tonight in honor of her Prince Charming, thank you! Thank you for reminding me that though romance may consist of champagne and roses, real love is about all the little things we often overlook while waiting and wishing for what we perceive to be the bigger things. I’m pretty sure my Prince Charming thanks you too!

August 20th 2016

Tomorrow is the day. The dreaded 20th of August. The day that my family and I have reluctantly acknowledged since receiving the letter nearly 2 months ago. August 20th is the day we hand over our keys to our apartment. Often times this type of situation would be one to celebrate. That is of course if it wasn’t being forced upon us. And if we didn’t have 4 children, and 4 pets. And especially if it didn’t leave us without a place of our own.

Don’t get me wrong, we still have some things to celebrate. It’s not like our 4 year tenancy at Malibu East Apartments has exactly been a five star experience. Between our own live viewing of “Cops” serving a warrant to our old neighbors for a drug charge, and living below a neighbor fit for the starring role on “Desperate Housewives” meets “The Bundy’s” of “Married With Children,” living out of a suitcase doesn’t sound half bad! Who’s got the bubbly?

It has been an interesting 4 years to say the least. Homeless encampments in the field behind our unit (which only bothered me the few times I heard them very loudly and drunkenly arguing at odd hours of the day and night) at least half a dozen different neighbors in and out of the apartment below us, the garbage dump/rummage lot behind our unit, numerous inconsiderately loud neighbors, the trailer park next door along with the obscenely loud mariachi music often heard well after appropriate hours, random gunshot blasts with some sounding way too close for comfort, and Mr. Grumpy and Mrs. Grumpier on-site managers. 

It was Father’s day weekend when we got that infamous letter stating that as of August 20th our tenancy was being terminated. Not the 20 something’s below us we had to call the cops on for throwing a drunken 3 a.m. soiree complete with blaring music and marijuana smoke wafting into our apartment through an ever-so-slightly-open window. Not the “Dysfunctionals” (Peggy Bundy and her Son Bud) upstairs with their foul languaged fights and banging and stomping and music so loud our walls vibrate. Nooooo, of course not! That would make sense, and sense isn’t common at Malibu East.

We complained, and complained, and complained. There were times where we didn’t complain. Lots of times. But who’s counting anyways? Certainly not the managers, or property owners. If this complex was run professionally, we would not be the ones being made to leave. The nice, keep-to-ourselves family with 4 young children. It’s hard not to feel slighted in this situation. It’s hard not to feel singled out and bullied.

It’s also hard not to ponder the reason why? I mean for 4 years we lived here sans one complaint from anybody. Then in May I received that fateful phonecall. The beginning of the end. It was at 10:30 p.m. I was at work cleaning the gym. It went to voicemail. As I listened to the message wondering who was calling me at such a late hour, my jaw hit the floor! 

It was Mrs. Grumpier saying that she had now received noise complaints from all 4 of our surrounding neighbors over a period of 2 weeks time (2 weeks and we are just now hearing about it??) She continued demanding that Curtis and I needed to knock off the yelling and arguing and banging or they were going to have to call the Sheriffs. WTF? This was the very first time in 4 years I was hearing about any complaints made regarding our family!

I called back getting Mr. Grumpy and I told him I was at work so it wasn’t us yelling and fighting. (I mean I can yell pretty loud but even my big mouth can’t be heard from 5 miles away!) So he very grumpily replied he would get dressed and go over to our unit to see what was going on then promptly hung up on me! He had a brief convo with Curtis mumbling something about it probably being the upstairs neighbor (Peg Bundy from Wisteria Lane). 

So we met with the managers a few days later per our request to figure out the problem and solve it! We weren’t looking to fight, or prove our idiot neighbors wrong. We just wanted to get to the bottom of it all and fix our end of it. We have 4 kids! Four kids that deserve a stable home to live in.

In the midst of our little meeting with the Grumpersteins, the Mrs. began channeling her inner Dr. Phil and began telling Curtis and I how to be a parent! I kid you not! We have a 4 year old. She gets loud. She throws tantrums. She jumps. She screams. She’s four fucking years old! This ain’t a monastery you’re running here lady! Nor is it my therapist’s office the last time I checked. But that didn’t stop the woman from telling us that kids that age just mimic their parents. We need to be tougher. Like she was as a Mom. Thanks for the advice oh wise one!

Oh, and she didn’t stop there. Giving us parental advice was just the tip of the iceberg. She went on to accuse us of fighting loudly enough one morning at 5:00 a.m. that she heard us while walking her dog. She was 100% certain that it was us. She could see our bedroom light on. Oh I’m sorry, totally my bad. I mean if she saw a light on in our bedroom then of course we were the culprit! Duh! And if she was so certain that it was indeed us then why the “F” didn’t she call us, or knock on our door? My guess to that answer is because she is full of shit! 

First of all, we’re the lazy type who hit the snooze button 50 times before dragging our butt’s out of bed! And that’s never earlier then 6 a.m! Second of all we’re a family of 6 with 4 kids living in a 2 bedroom apartment. The living room is our bedroom! That light she saw would’ve been the girls’ night light. I tried convincing her of the truth, but apparently she’s too delusional to handle the truth! 

The next thing we were told had me fighting back tears. She told us that apparently a few of the neighbors went above them and wrote a letter to the company that owns the complex. At that point I interrupted her and asked her where that left us and our fate as far as our tenancy was concerned. 

They told us to try and be mindful of our noise (um I thought we always had been which is more than I could say for our neighbors) and they assured us that they would patrol the area near our unit and pay close attention to any noise and where it was coming from. And that was pretty much it! They never followed through with their promise. In fact after all of this went down we saw them less than we ever had before!

So Curtis and I went home and had a chat with the kids. We told them all that we needed to be extremely careful about our noise levels. Curtis also installed some insulation material on all of the doors and cabinets to prevent any slamming. We took our warning very seriously. With 4 kids, less than stellar credit and basically one income, we knew if we had to move that finding a place we could afford in this area would be near impossible.

Sure enough about a week later we got a letter from the property owners stating that we had complaints about our noise levels. Of course it stated that if it continued it could affect our tenancy. We were franticly reminding the kids to be quiet. Even during the day when our 4 year old was playing normally and running around we would tell her to stop. Apparently we weren’t tough enough as I’m sure our parenting expert Manager would have told us.

The day before Father’s Day we got our letter telling us we had 60 days to vacate our apartment. As much as we despised living there at that point, we were devastated! We knew what we were up against as far as finding a new place to live. Being that Curtis’s Son has Crohn’s disease which can be very debilitating and exacerbated by stress, we talked to a legal aid lawyer about requesting “reasonable accommodations.” This was to basically try and buy us some time to be able to find a place to live. The lawyer told us that they had to comply by granting us at least some extra time. I wrote up a short and sweet professional letter requesting an additional 90 days and mailed it through certified mail.

A week later we got a letter back that mentioned nothing of our request but reiterated the move out date of August 20th. And that’s all she wrote! So tonight is our final night at this shithole we have called home for over 4 years! Glad to be getting out of here for sure, just not thrilled about the way it has ended. We were treated unethically. The whole thing just felt like a conspiracy to get rid of us. It was handled in a very unprofessional manner.

What’s really funny is that when we signed our 12 month lease in May of 2012 Mrs. Grumpypants specifically told us about the idiot living above us and her 17 year old Son. She said they often got into horrible fights with yelling and cursing. She also told us (so un-grumpishly) to please let them know if it got out of hand and they will talk to her. She also told us that because we had children they would take noise complaints regarding us in stride. She said they totally understand that kids make noise and that that wouldn’t be held against us in any way. Pretty freaking ironic with the way things have transpired right?!

In retrospect, we should’ve taken those comments as a warning to the living situation and lack of professionalism that is now blatantly obvious. But of course hindsight is 20/20. It is what it is. I know bigger and better things await us. But that still doesn’t numb the sting of being treated like a dollar sign. We are human beings with 4 innocent children. 

Sure, kicking us out might enable the company to raise the rent for the next tenants, but what’s a few hundred bucks to a multi-million dollar business? What all of this has done to our family has had a much bigger impact. A very negative stress-inducing hardship. If it weren’t for the fact that we have family that care enough to take us in, we would be a family of 6 living homeless in the streets!

That about sums up corporate fucking America! Profit over people. Always. It just sickens me. So for now our family will be split in half living between family members until we find another place. Not looking forward to being apart and not having our own home, but at least it’s temporary. Good things to come! After all we’ve been through these last few months, karma won’t let us down!

In other news, if anyone is looking for a 2 bedroom 1 bath apartment, #68 at Malibu East on Santa Rosa Ave. Will be available after tomorrow!

I Celebrated My Own Independence On July 4th

July 4th marked 90 days of independence from my 21 year dependency of Marijuana. Sadly, I really don’t feel it is a huge accomplishment. I have had numerous people ask me why I even quit in the first place. As if wanting to live without weed is just crazy!

A “functional addict” is still an addict

I also fall into society’s trap of believing it to be nothing to brag about since it wasn’t like I was sticking needles into my arms. I wasn’t stealing money from loved ones just to be able to afford my next fix. I wasn’t in the ER being revived from an overdose. I get it. From the  outside I seemed to have my shit together. A self-employed Mom with no criminal record who blogged on the side. I was a functional addict. There are many of us out there. Now let me paint you a picture of the deeper layers of Alyson Carsten. Let me explain what I look like from the inside…

I am a tangled web of emotions. Anger, fear, sadness, emptiness, guilt, shame, anxiety and lonliness are always just a memory away. They are my demons trying to keep me down. They often win. Using pot as a coping mechanism was just “something I did” for 21 years. It only worked temporarily. If it wasn’t pot it was food. If it wasn’t food, it was shopping. If it wasn’t shopping, it was cigarettes. If it wasn’t cigarettes, it was pills. I used them all for the same reasons, to cope with uncomfortable feelings. 

It takes lifelong work

Take note that after just 90 days clean I am not some “wonder woman” cured of all her shortcomings and inner turmoil. That is a lifelong process that never ends, because staying healthy takes continuous effort. I still have a lot to learn about productively managing my stress, I still have a ways to go to figure out this whole self love and acceptance thing, and I still have the rest of my life knowing that if I don’t stay a step ahead of my addiction(s) they can take hold and drag me back down before I can even scream for help. 

Once an addict always an addict

Addiction doesn’t go away. It can only be kept at bay through learning to live a whole new lifestyle. The drug of choice doesn’t make a difference when viewing the bigger picture. That bigger picture is where the addiction stems from. Though we are all unique individuals with different circumstances that drive us to addiction, the core reason is always the same. Addicts use their addictions as a method to escape and cope. Weed, narcotics, food, shopping, cigarettes, and the internet are all ways I escape and avoid feeling feelings! I also use these things to cope with my depression and anxiety. 

When we don’t know how to identify or cope with our emotions in a healthy way, we turn to addictions to suppress and numb them. Emotions are scary enough to stable people. To addicts they are utterly terrifying!

It takes support

So I go to meetings weekly, see a counselor, meet with my Sponsor and work the steps. It isn’t something that can be done alone. It takes a village…of support! I am very grateful for the amazing support system that I have.

 I often have to talk myself into going to the meetings due to my social anxiety, but after every single one I drag myself to I am grateful that I did. I always leave filled with love and inspiration. I often hear stories much more harrowing than that of my own. This is so inspirational. And it fills me with gratitude that they are willing to share their experiences to help others.

It takes doing what you’ve never done before

I am also learning how to ask for help from my higher power. That is something I am not at all used to. I am not religious. I identify myself as more of a spiritual being. I believe in a force greater than myself, I am still just not sure how I interpret what that power is. This new way of living my life is a huge learning process. Faith has never been part of my behavioural repertoire before now. It is all very foreign, yet so fascinating at the same time.

Nothing worth it comes easy

Knowing that I am not alone on this challenging, yet amazing journey to a happier-healthier-substance free-ME makes all the difference between winning and losing the fight. I have a lot of love in my life to be present and grateful for. And I have a lot to be proud of as well. I often don’t give myself the credit I deserve. That is another thing I am working on. The most important thing is that I am moving forward. It isn’t a race, it is a lifelong process that takes continual effort. It isn’t easy by any means, but it is beyond worth it!

I was Raped and you Might Have Been too

*Warning…explicit content. This is a very personal experience that I have been aprehensive to share about. I am doing it in the hopes of helping another woman find her voice too. Please be kind with comments/responses. Thank you!

Rape is any sexual activity in which one person doesn’t give their full consent from the start, wants to withdraw their consent after giving it, or is incapable of giving consent in the first place.

In my particular case, consent was never given. I was 19, he was 29. It was our second date. I wasn’t planning on having sex with him. We were parked making out in my car. He went down on me, then coming back up just pulled it out and the next thing I knew he was inside of me. He didn’t even give me the chance to say no. No condom. No choice. No respect.

I didn’t know what to do. I thought about telling him to stop, but he was a big guy of 200 plus pounds. I was barely over half that. I knew I wouldn’t be able to fight him off. 

I was also just out of an abusive relationship both physically and emotionally. A relationship where I had been forced into sex on numerous occasions. That in itself is an example of rape that many refuse to accept. My self esteem was at an all time low. It even occurred to me that I never said “no” so maybe it was my fault.

Soon it was over. He pulled out to ejaculate. How thoughtful of him. Worried of course about fathering an unwanted child, but not of a woman’s right to have a say whether he puts his dick in her or not. Not to mention the potential for STD’s. Why not just use a damn condom? Probably because that would have given me enough time to tell him “no.”

Understandably I never talked to him again after that. Not even when he called me later that night to make sure I made it home safely. Really?! Nevermind the fact that he violated my most precious right just a couple of hours earlier! I let it go to voicemail. He called a few more times after that, but I was disgusted by the guy and wanted nothing to do with him. He acted perplexed as to why all of a sudden I was ignoring him. After all he had a great time that night.

I will never forget it. I have played it over in my head a million times. Different ways I could have handled it, different ways it could have turned out, how I might be different today had it not happened…all thoughts that have echoed in my mind these past 18 years. I wonder if he has done it to other women? How many? Did they tell him no? If so, did he become violent?

Every sexual violation causes wounds

I know for a fact that it has had a lasting effect on me. I wouldn’t still think about it so often and so analytically almost 20 years later if it didn’t have an impact. I’m sure it has effected me on deeper subconscious levels that I’m not even fully aware of. Just because it wasn’t the stereotypical image painted by society of what rape looks like, it doesn’t make it any less damaging. It doesn’t in any way shape or form make it ok! I didn’t say “yes” and that means “no!”

There is no excuse for rape

It does not matter what a woman is wearing, if she is flirtatious, drunk, on drugs, or passed out. Her body is her body!! If a man doesn’t get a “yes” then that always means “no!!” Always!!! If those rights are violated then consequences must be had by the perpetrator. And not a slap on the wrist with a “boys will be boys” or “she was asking for it” excuse to negate responsibility either. I don’t care if you’re rich or poor, black or white, muslim, christian, gay, or straight….no fucking means no!! Whether it is verbal or not! Whether it is before intercourse, or during. If there isn’t obvious continual mutual consent then it is rape. Period!

It is very possible that the guy thought it was consensual. We were making out in a parked vehicle, then he began performing oral sex on me and before I knew it he was penetrating me and we were having intercourse. Maybe he thought I wanted it as so many men say as their defense in a date rape situation. Just assuming something is never the same as knowing something, and should never be allowed as a valid defense.

Sure, I did make some really stupid and dangerous choices that night as well as many others during my teenage years. I’m lucky I didn’t end up dismembered in the guy’s freezer. I take responsibility for my choices that night, but I’ll be damned to weigh down my shoulders with the responsibility of his stupid choices that night as well. And for the record it is always, always a man’s choice where he puts his penis!

We live in a very gender biased nation. Rape culture is prominent in our society. A term coined by feminists in the 1970’s, Rape Culture refers to the minimalism of sexual violence and the objectification of women in our society. 

It is victim blaming, while the true guilty party never sees the inside of a jail cell. It is men thinking It is ok to harass women on the street. It is the media portraying women as objects of sexuality.  It is the notion that women are “asking for it” by wearing certain things, or acting in certain ways.  It is men getting high fives for getting “laid” and women being called sluts for the same damn thing!

Giving rapists minimal consequences allows rape to continue

All of this behavior, all of these beliefs allow men to continually violate women and suffer minimal to no consequences for their actions.  This is why so many women suffer in silence.  This is why 2 out of 3 sexual assaults go unreported. This is why women often feel ashamed, and blame themselves when they are sexually violated.  This is why for so many years I wasn’t sure if what happened to me even constituted rape. By definition I was raped, by public opinion it’s a hung jury.  

Today I am the Mother of a 4 year old little girl and Stepmother of a ten year old girl.  I worry for them growing up in a male driven society.  I worry that my Stepdaughter at ten already loves makeup, wants to wear a bra, and talks about having a “boyfriend” at school. I worry that the women they look up to are pop stars that dance provocatively, wearing next to nothing, singing about sex. I worry that one day they too will be faced with a situation similar to mine, or worse. 

The only thing I can guarantee them is knowledge.  Because men aren’t taught about not raping women, women have to be taught about how not to get raped.  I will arm my Daughters with the knowledge that they are worthy of respect. That their body is theirs and only theirs, and that nobody has the right to do anything to it without their consent.  Nobody!  Not even a date, not even their boyfriend or Husband.  

I also happen to be the Mother of a 13 year old boy, and Stepmother to a 14 year old boy. I will teach them that they never ever have the right to take advantage of a woman in any situation.  I will teach them to respect women in every way possible.  My Son and Stepson will be the guys protecting women from rape by being an example of men with dignity and conviction.  Examples of what every man should stand for.

What happened to me that night 18 years ago shouldn’t have happened.  It shouldn’t happen to anyone.  Sadly it happens a lot more often than we are aware of.  This needs to not be a normal occurrence.  This especially needs to not be something that women are ashamed of talking about!  That will never allow this atrocity to be overcome.  

Women need to band together and stand up for one another.  Men need to stand up for us too.  Because every time rape is brushed under the rug, ignored, or kept silent all together it is allowing it to continue!  And every time a rape is committed, which in this country is every 2 minutes, it is happening to someone’s Mother, someone’s Daughter, someone’s Sister, Aunt, Cousin, or friend.  It is happening to a human being.  It happened to me, and maybe it happened to you too.

If you have been the victim of rape, abuse, or incest you can get help. Call the Rape Abuse Incest National Network (RAINN) at (800) 656-HOPE

https://www.rainn.org/about-national-sexual-assault-telephone-hotline