Should we redefine what an addiction is?

This thought occurred to me as I was watching a movie. A really dramatic and quite ridiculous movie to be exact, Kingsman: The Golden Circle. To just give a super brief summary; a crazy drug lord lady poisons her supply with a deadly virus that will infect whomever uses the drug. It will induce paralysis, psychosis, and eventually death. She does this, and uses it as a threat to the government for money, as her leverage is she has the antidote. In the movie we see millions and millions of people being affected, even some political officials, just everyday people. It’s a ludicrous idea, but it left me thinking. Say something like this seriously did happen, almost every single one of my friends, and even some relatives would be dead. Most of my school would be gone, the people on my block, kids, teens, adults, dead. That is a scary thought.

The legalization of weed is practically on the brink of happening, but lets clarify the real reason why. The government is not legalizing it because they really believe it would help people, it’s a money pit. Same thing with opioids, they are deadly, but again, money. Many people will disagree with me, and I am so open to conversation, but I speak from downright personal experience. Friends that I have since high school have changed for the worse, and it is because of pot and other socially accepted substances. People can not tell me these things are not addictive, because they are. I have friends who have told me, crying, “I can’t stop” or “I wish I could be like you and just say no”. The same goes for drinking. A girl I know drinks half a bottle of wine in between classes because she gets shaky if she doesn’t. Am I the only on that thinks this is a deep issue?

I am a minority, most people I know that are my age drink on the daily. And I’m not implying like going out after work and talking. I mean it’s a mission to get black out drunk and not feel for a while. Friends I have can’t go a couple of days without some sort of substance. They use to do drugs during lunch, rolled joints in class, while driving. They were, and still are addicted.

Granted, these friends and fellow classmates of mine didn’t just stick with weed. They upgraded eventually to acid, shrooms, coke, LSD, even ecstasy. The weed wasn’t enough anymore, and they needed the next best high. Friends I had in HS are now college dropouts, and the worst is seeing recent pictures of them. They look old, and quite frankly, like drug addicts. Newsflash, they are! I’m tired of people, especially kids and teens, being under the impression that pot and alcohol are natural therefore ok. Thinking they can stop whenever they want. That’s not the truth. It is an addiction, I’ve seen it, and so has the rest of the world. My generation has become overwhelmingly stupefied. We classify addiction as a dependence on and inability to stop using a substance. Well, then a huge portion of the young population are addicts. When that becomes the go to, the craving, the need in order to engage in social interaction or function, it is, by DEFINITION, an addiction.

Marijuana has helped adults and children I know with their chronic illnesses or special needs. It hasn’t however, solved anything for my former fully functioning friends. I can see it physically, emotionally, and cognitively. It has been proven that these things deplete the brain of the ability to process information in those who start abusing the drug at a young age. The other side of the argument is that many of the youth now are depressed and need something to cope. That’s not the way to go about it. It’s the same argument for people in pain, they are given opiates and can never really get better. Their “coping mechanism” becomes a full-blown dependence. They don’t even know if they are still in pain, because they have never been given the opportunity to feel without the drugs. This is the same with emotional trauma or problems. We aren’t addressing the issue, we are suppressing it. And just for argument’s sake, is it possible that many of the youth are depressed because they haven’t been given the chance to function normally?They have been given these drugs in the hopes to fit in or seem cool, and can’t get out from under themselves. Why are we normalizing this behavior?

Children with epilepsy and people with cancer arent rolling joints and smoking habitually, they take it in other forms or smoke it occasionally to try to alleviate symptoms of their struggles. So yes, legalize it, but make it clear that it really should be for cases like those. Same thing goes for the excess drinking and other substances, my generation, the one previously and the one following, are becoming addicts.

And I am tired of being shamed because I’m not one.

O

Advertisements

A Message to the Boys who thought they were Men

To you. You who made fun of me, but told me it was really because you liked me. To those who were family friends and grabbed on me because you thought I was going to be quiet. Why did you act surprised when I fought back? Did you not feel the infant sparks of this fire?

To you, you didn’t catch me.

To my high school “friends”. You cornered me at parties, made game plans involving my name, and tried to set me up with your friends so you could watch. Often gave me that “friendly” squeeze around the waist. To you who would speak about me as if I couldn’t understand your innuendos in front of me. I knew. To that boy, you, the one who held my heart for some time. You isolated me from the friends you said were “a bad influence”. Isolated me from myself. To you who touched me without permission, in public, in private. Then ran away like a sacred cat, leaving me to gather myself. You cut me. You all cut deeper into me each let down. Yet none of you severed the chord. That chord of fibers, embedded within them, my fight.

I say to all of you, you didn’t guilt me.

To the boys who whistle at me on the street. In jeans, leggings, shorts, dresses, nothing stops you. When you think you’re in power, just know it is I who is in control. Remember, you called to me, I never whistled at you. To those of you who follow me home and try to grab on my body, or take photos of me on the train. I see you. I know about you, and I know how pathetic you are. You add those photos to that private collection your wife doesn’t know about. You’re not slick, I see the exit of pride in your eyes when I call you out. I will always stare into the lens of that phone of yours. Go ahead, take the picture, and look at it. See me, seeing you. Forever know that I know what kind of human you are.

To you, you didn’t intimidate me.

College. To my college boys. The ones who thought a photo of my midriff was an indication that I’m open for business. Do not get your majors in criminal justice, for you jump to conclusions without further investigation. To you who would make fun of me because I won’t come out on Thirsty Thursdays with you. Calling me a prude and a tease because you couldn’t get me to follow you. Pushing me, to try to get me to give in, or get worn down. Please. Thinking a follow on Instagram is asking me out, or an invitation for explicit photos. Telling me I’m a waste because you couldn’t use me, or my name, to get you higher on that undiscussed ranking system of yours.

I write to you, you didn’t break me.

You will realize one day. In that moment when you take your loved one for a checkup, desperate for answers, and it is me in the white coat. When you walk into that high-rise office, resumé in hand, and it is my name on that desk. C.E.O. I hope you feel caught, guilty, intimidated, and slightly broken. Not because I actively set out to hurt you, but because you know what you did. I hope it helps you.

For now I will not yell, I will not protest sign in hand, or talk about you. I will never be that “woman, hear me roar”. I will rise in silence. I will keep working and striving to succeed. I am already above the “glass ceiling”, as I wasn’t raised to believe one exists. I will run circles around you like a shadow, and when you look up and see my name, my face, me, drawn in the sky,  you will ask “How did that happen? How did She happen?”. It happened because I do not deal with boys like you. I would never give in to your attempts at persuading me with the fact that you are a “rich man”. I will be the rich man.

I will stand in front of that mirror, admiring the halo of my triumphs. You should know you will not cross the pathways of my thoughts. While you were waiting for the elevator to take you up, I sprinted up the stairs. I will have done it by myself, like I always have. In that glorious moment, I will break that silence. I will validate my power out loud and say:

My God, what Woman am I.

O

Kintsugi

Kintsugi is the Japanese art of putting back together broken pottery with gold or platinum lacquer. Every crack in the broken ceramic is repaired with a beautiful, metallic resin. The whole philosophy behind this is that the cracks of the object are not meant to be disguised, or the object to be thrown away. Instead, these markings and imperfections are part of its history.  When coming across this, I found it became deeper to me than the physcial art itself. So I started to apply it to myself.

This got me thinking, aren’t we all like broken ceramics. Obviously a person is more valuable than a bowl, but the idea that hiding our imperfections or cracks in our past is not what we should be doing. Experiences that break us should, in a sense, be celebrated. Downfalls in our lives show us that there is better. They make us work harder, make us humble. Why should we not repair our cracks with gold too? We aren’t disposable once we deem ourselves broken or unworthy. Many people let bumps in their journey, or on their skin, set them back. Don’t do that. Paint them in gold.

You don’t have to share your experiences to the world or physically put your insecurities on display, but for yourself, understand that like the philosophy the Japanese so beautifully believe, it is a part of you. You don’t lose your value or purpose when you get scuffed up.  What I love so dearly about this practice is how realistic it is. It shows that we can never be “as good as new” or “perfect”, but we can reinvent ourselves, pass on stories or advice, we can strive to become stronger. The cracks are unique to the person as well. There can be many bowls that are the same shape, size, color, but the cracks will never be the same. Like a finger print, everyone has a different journey, and things that pushed them off the path at one point. Again, that is a part of our history and it should be acknowledged and admired.

Take from this little philosophy and apply it to your own life. What cracks have you been trying to hide? Why are you hiding them? Know you shouldn’t have to. Remind yourself that you would not be the person you are without the negatives. We forget sometimes how full our lives are. Think about how many interactions and lessons you have every single day. Good bad, indifferent, doesn’t matter. They impact you wether you’ve realized it or not. It is by definition what makes a life, life. If you are unhappy with who you are now, give yourself permission to heal. Allow yourself to move on and conintue with this rich journey. Live with knowing the bad will crack you, but the good will mend you with gold.

O

 

 

 

 

 

Let 2018 be the year you learn to respect yourself. Not just “love yourself”

Growing up, I used to hear my parents speak often about people in a way I did not yet understand. “I don’t love him, but I respect him”. What does that even mean? Do they not go hand in hand? Don’t they have to be synonymous? No, they do not. Loving yourself has become a rage. Will the progression of social acceptance and openness, many people have grown to become determined to love themselves. However, many a people do not respect themselves.

The difference was never clear to me, as it wasnt really explain. This is the perfect time to explain exactly what this difference is. The beginning of the year, most people have resolutions to better themselves. Get in shape, eat healthier, find love. All of these things can help you love yourself, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you will end up respecting yourself. I know many girls for instance, whom love their appearance, their senses of style, their grades, but they do not respect themselves as individuals. Girls who will follow the lead of any man because they just paid them the time of day. They’ll stop talking if they feel inadequate in a conversation. Stupefy themselves to garner attention from those they’ve placed the worth of themselves in the hands of. You can love yourself, but not respect.

Another instance is one many people have dealt with. You look in front of the mirror day after day, finding things you find appealing about yourself and play those attributes up, or see something you don’t like and try to fix it. Accepting the way you look and feeling comfortable with it. Those are all positive things, yet notice how they are all physical. Things we can physically alter, hide, remove. Those are the things we tend to focus on when we strive to love ourselves. However, very few people can step away from the mirror and feel comfortable with themselves on the inside. The goal is to step away and respect your thoughts despite the physical. That is hard to do. I have never had trouble attracting attention from men, and I say this humbly. Yet, they didn’t treat me with the respect, and having worked to respect myself, I shut many people out. It isn’t common, especially for girls of this age to do that. There is such a rush of needing to get attention from others in order to feel whole. Good, bad, momentarily, doesn’t matter. Many smart girls, who are confident in their looks or presence, still do not respect themselves.

Now, love is a feeling. It can be instantaneous, or grow over time, but respect is not that simple. And I’m talking about real, true respect. For instance, you can think you respect your boss, but if you speak poorly about them when they are not around, that is not respect. That is teh respect of authority, not the indivdual. My goal in this (as I sometimes need help with it too) is to help people when they feel doubt, to know that they are enough within themselves to not cave into the negativity of others. People can comment about how good you look, or how bright your smile is all day long, it gets old. When no one is giving you credit for your hard work, or intelligent contributions, find it within yourself to know that it is you who needs to validate your own actions. Do not go searching in a mirror to veil the insecurities with your love for your waistline, or hair. So many people do that, lets stop that. Let us respect our minds, and our feelings.

In order to further display that there is a difference, I have another example. One many could probably relate to. Have you ever been in a situation, or witnessed one, in which something was presented to you and it brought up an instinctual feeling. A feeling of either “this is wrong” or “this could be something fantastic” and you ignored that feeling or did the opposite? That was not respecting your feelings. I see it all the time. When people are asked to do somthing they don’t feel comfortable about, and they passively voice their feelings to just fish for validation, but because they think it would make them look a certain way, they comply.

Trust your ability, trust your gut, trust the fact that there is a whole other side of you beneath your skin. Dont let the plagues of what society says is cool, even what your friends say is cool, sway how you truly feel. Do, of course love yourself, but please, do not rely on the mirror or what other people say towards you to build you up. Respect yourself when you are in a group and when you are alone.  It will never steer you wrong.

Kids

Once I was the center of the universe. Like many of the youth I believed that everything revolved around me. That the heliocentric model was incorrect, because what was the sun in comparison to me and my needs?

 Younger people tend to have such a frosted perception, not only of themselves but of the atmosphere around them. Kids believe that the world is their stage and everyone else just contributes to the performance. As children we didn’t have to plan ahead. Not by a year, not by a month, not even by a day. We lived minute to minute only acknowledging the existence of ourselves. It was so nice living in a world that only was what you wanted it to be. You didn’t have to acknowledge world crisis, or issues amongst humanity. You didn’t see evil or pain, because as far as we were concerned, things like that didn’t exist. If you were happy, the rest of the world had to be happy right?  I wish it was as simple as my underdeveloped mind perceived, but as the inevitable task of letting go of your child-self is up to be completed, the concept of stepping out of your comfort zone develops a whole new meaning.

 

Now I am a part of it, the universe. I am a part of history, the present, and the future. We all are. We are part of a system. Not the one that we call society, or the one that people tend to feel oppressed by. I’m talking about the system that everyone is involved in, whether they like it or not.  I am talking about a species. We biologically, evolutionarily, and capability wise, are all the same. I am in someway connected to all of you, and you to others, but we forget that. There are so many layers that are placed in between people, separating them. Color, religion, political affiliation, gender, even technology. We have adapted to see sensitivity as a weakness, and in turn have suppressed the ability to sympathize. No one can dispute certain facts, not even myself. We think that reading an article on Facebook makes us aware of what’s going on, or sharing a post to your timeline can help relieve someone’s ailments. Punching in your credit card number to purchase an item which donates a fraction of the profit has somehow become humanitarian. We have reached the point that when listening to a tragedy on the news, the death toll determines the severity. We breathe a sigh of relief when it is found out only one person has passed. “Thank god it was only one” is something that I have heard often. That was still a life. Someone connected to a family, friends, someone who worked and played a role in the system. One of the biggest falls in this human civilization, has been the rise of desensitization.

 

Everyone can agree that after helping someone it has not only benefited them, but is has also benefited you. Why do we ignore that? Human connection is so powerful, and it can help change the separation in our culture. It can remind us that we should embrace the fact that we are all the same, yet celebrate the things that make us different. We live in fear of feeling sad, or guilty that someone is suffering somewhere else. So we just don’t acknowledge it. Like we did as children, acting as if it does not exist. As we grow up we can no longer be our selfish, child-selves. As we go out into the world we start to affect others, and we have an unspoken responsibility to create a positive impact. If something you see or read causes you to have an emotional reaction, listen to it. If you choose to ignore that feeling due to the common fear, change will not occur. We need to help each other, we all occupy this same space, and everyone has value. We can no longer fear the unknown under the assumption that if we cage it, it can’t hurt us. You will never be able to cage the unknown, it will cage you. Engulfing you into its opaque walls, sucking the ability to experience from your lungs. We were not designed to grow up and remain as selfish children, thus, we should not act like so. In order to progress as a society we need to feel the pain so we can recognize when it’s gone. Get out there, help someone, feel not only for yourself, but for others. Let us regain our humanity.

 

O

I don’t want to die, just not exist

Without the research into the statistics, or diagnosing the youth of the general population, I can safely say I have witnessed such an increase in depression. So many resonate with constant feelings of sadness, or not even realizing they are sad because they’re constantly numbing themselves with whatever they can. Not just drinking and smoking, but with risky behavior. Adrenaline rushes help distract from the empty pit slowly being filled with these anxious, dark feelings. I write about this because I feel it too. More recently stronger than I ever have. When I was a senior in high school, I was internally a mess. I had anxiety that no one could have imagined and a pretty intense eating disorder. This was sparked by an emotionally abusive relationship I was in, and the fact that I felt so poorly about myself that I didn’t think I could make it through college. I went to therapy, dumped the boy, and yet I still wasnt happy. I wasnt eating, and when I was, I was secretly bingeing. I felt like no one liked me even though I logically knew that wasn’t the case. I was getting attention from guys and when I explained I didn’t hook up or send naked pictures, I guess word traveled. I then wasn’t the first pick anymore. It started to turn me further into myself.

Over the summer of my freshman year in college, I decided that I couldn’t take it anymore and I started eating again, whatever I wanted. I will always be a health conscious person, but now if I want a damn piece of cake, I have it. This helped me regain some of my lost high school confidence and I felt more mentally strong. Yet, even in my now sophomore year, I have moments where I don’t want to be here. Where I feel so alone and without purpose that I dig myself into thoughts so heavy, I feel like I’m sinking. I stay up at night thinking about irrational fears in which people, who I know at the forefront like me, really don’t. Or about how I’m never going to find someone who values the fact that I do, in fact, have a brain. There are even moments I cry uncontrollably because I’m in such distress. The worst part is, I do it alone. I am so embarrassed about expressing my true feelings because I have fabricated this girl who has it all together. A challenging job for my age, a hard major, good grades, even works out. Those around me explain that sometimes I’m “intimidating” and that I’m this “savage” because I can read into people. The truth is, I can sense people’s hurt and insecurities because I too feel that way. We spot what we know, and what I know is sadness.

Within the past few months I have had a couple of days in which I think closely about not existing, not being here in this life, even just for a moment. When I wait on the train platform, I feel the breeze and see the lights approaching. I then I close my eyes and think about how easy it would be to just jump. But by the time that half-second thought is over, the doors have already opened to board, and I have to continue with my day. I am scared to die, but frequently I don’t want to exist. I say this because I feel misunderstood and frustrated. I don’t know what I could do better. It’s not like I could get sober, work harder in school, or go get a job, because I already have these things. So why the hell do I feel so horrible and unmotivated?

A problem I think many people have is the fact that we are glued to our phones. Glued to looking at people’s profiles and getting discouraged at the fact that they seem to be having a better time in life than you or me. Remember though, would you post about your bad grades, a picture of those jeans that no longer fit, or your puffy eyes after crying about a breakup? No. We post what we think makes us look the best, but its hard to remember that. Social media feels so real to us, yet it’s such a mirage. I used to think about working out solely for being able to look good for Instagram.  That is a sick thought, but it is so commonly the driving purpose for many desicions made.

We are influenced by every interaction in our lives, and not just human to human, our lives on our phones impact us too. I’ve been thinking deeply on it, and I’ve realized that it makes me sad. I’m living my life through the pictures of others, or in my imagination depicting what I want in my future. I’m wishing time away because I don’t like my now. We need to enjoy our now. Indulge in these current moments as best as we can or else we will always be fantasizing about the future instead of building it. Its hard, its lonely at times, and it takes strength to fight depression and anxiety. It’s a scary place to be, because like me, most are very good at hiding it. I dont want to hide anymore. These emotions take up space in my head and in my body. They consume your thoughts and  goals then turn them into seemingly impossible tasks. Self love is a term tossed around by everyone these days, but no one explains how damn hard it is. How hard it is for everyday people, who dont have a modeling career or a huge successful business, to learn to love ourselves when those claiming they’ve reached this self-love Nirvana are commonly not every day folk.

This comes back to my point about being so engulfed in the lives of others, especially online. Turn of your phone, go for a walk, write, sing, pet your dogs, tell your mom or dad that you love them. Do something that centers around your life and not others online. Do for other people. Volunteer if you can, even just give a stranger a compliment. This could help someone who may be having a dark time like you feel a little hopeful, and it could fill something in you as well.

In my heart I know I don’t want to die, I really dont. I want to exist because I value my abilities. I will continue to sweat to love myself, to cry to love myself, and to laugh to want to be in my own skin. I never want to allow my mind or body to leap off that train platform, and I dont want yours too either.

O