First off, it looks like my Subversion post got a lot of traffic through Facebook. That always weirds me out, because I can never tell if it’s good or bad traffic or who shared what with whom and what they thought of it, but this is the nature of blogging. Anyhow, I hope people liked it, because they sure came to read it!
Sometimes I write about drugs on here. I’ve been pretty open about phases of my past and the fact that I stopped drinking, etc. by personal choice in 2002, when I was 21. I’d already lived enough of the party life, and moderation wasn’t for me, though I think a lot of people do better with moderation than abstinence. I fully believe that addiction is a choice, not an uncontrollable brain disease like modern propaganda purports in order to endorse religious programs. That being said, whatever works for you, drugs, no drugs, religious programs, your own strong will–do it.
So, that aside, I live in California, home of drugs. Drugs are everywhere. They are a major part of people’s life and lifestyle. Psychedelics, pot, alcohol, they’re like a religion here. For years, I stayed away from most situations that involved any sort of drug, even on the periphery, but after so much time with my own commitment to sobriety as a form of transcendence in my own life, I am OK with being in bars or going to shows or spending time with friends who use, only because I know how committed I am to my choice. I’ve proven it to myself, and I have so many people in my corner who know my past and support my decision to seek spirituality through meditation, yoga, hiking, writing and music rather than through substances.
Mostly the battles were in my mind and body due to years spent seeking a cure to anxiety and depression (my tortured artist lot, I suppose, the genetic card I’ve been dealt) through pills that ended up causing more harm than help, left me staring down an abyss. After that debacle of years, I was the loneliest I had ever felt in my life, an experience and feeling nobody who hasn’t been there can really relate to, and I don’t expect them to. I came to some conclusions about how short life is and what really matters to me.
All these little things, the structures I’ve built: Part-time county job, rented room in a Victorian in Oakland, plenty of time to spend on music and art, being completely sober of all mind-altering substances, exercise, lots of time to reflect and process so I don’t struggle too much with anxiety or depression–these things may not seem like a lot to others. They may seem boring, even. But to me, they are all I have. They are my foundation.
I dated a guy once, when I was 19, who was trying not to drink so much. I was sober at the time, due to being a crusty punk street kid earlier in my teens and almost dying out there due to excessive consumption of whiskey daily, fights, elements, etc. I knew in my heart how close I’d been, and I was scared shitless, so I went straight edge. No sex, no drugs.
And I was happy. I enjoyed things more than I ever had before. I was working on music constantly, I was fit, I had awesome friends, I trusted myself. I looked and felt great.
But this dude came along, my soul mate I believed, a musician, passionate, intense, real, deep, successful, everything I thought I wanted, and basically he systematically worked at me until I decided to cave, because I thought love could conquer all. I thought if I drank with him, moved in with him, changed all my values, that our love would make it work.
I was so wrong.
And anyone who truly loved me would never have demanded that of me. But I was young. And I learned an important lesson which is this. No matter what your values are, whether it’s drugs or no drugs, sex or no sex, religion or no religion, if you change them to satisfy another person, you become hollow inside. You are not living up to your own convictions. You have to be true to yourself or shit just won’t work.
And no truth is static. We all ebb and flow in what we believe in. We change daily. Some of us are stubborn in our convictions, like, for me, I will not budge on the no drugs thing for another person EVER again. Doesn’t matter what comes. I believe in myself more than I believe in love or any other person. That doesn’t make me a narcissist, it makes me strong. Our own selves are all we ever have. If I make a choice, it has to be something I am doing for myself, because it feels right. And drugs don’t feel right to me now in my life.
I’ve been on some strange personal journey lately. I bring up the drugs thing because a couple things have happened to test my resolve, and I’ve found that I’m stronger than ever in it. I just don’t want those things in my life. I watch my friends use them constantly, and to be honest, I am not jealous and it doesn’t look like fun to me. My life is subtle and simple and slow and takes time. I’ve accepted that. I love to be excited and learn new things, I love to feel good, but for me, quick fixes never last. The only thing that lasts is me, day to day, for however long I last as a conscious person. And I can transcend through many other means.
I write music in order to transcend this mortal coil. Because I can’t have some of the things I want, because I am sensitive and feel everything sometimes, I try to put it all in music so that it can be larger than me, and affect on a plane I can’t access through any other means. Same with writing. I transcend through art. That’s enough for me. It’s what I have and what I choose. Anything else distracts me.
I met a musician recently, a few months back, who was real excited about some of my songs. He was up front with me after reading my blog and told me he hadn’t realized I was “so straight edge.” I wouldn’t really call it straight edge. Some of my best friends use substances, a lot. I love them, and respect their decisions, and listen to their stories. That’s enough for me. I try to be as open as I can. It’s not black and white to me what others do. Only what I choose to do right now.
This guy decided not to work with me because I don’t drink or use drugs. He was admittedly a big burner (Burning Man), and I felt like what he wasn’t saying was what I’ve heard a few times since then. If I couldn’t be in his world, on the same page as him, then he didn’t want to work with me on music.
I was bummed and pissed, because I don’t ask that of anyone. I don’t cut people off because they use substances. I just don’t use with them. And I don’t put myself in situations that are too much for me, depending on where I am inside myself at the time. But I am finding it works the other way around. People can and will reject you as an artist and a friend because you’re sober. It cuts both ways.
I was talking with an artist friend last night, and was saying that a lot of people try to change me. They say I’m too reflective or morose or depressed or think too much. She struggles with depression and anxiety, and she was saying that when someone close to her is suffering, she wants to take their pain away. She feels like for some reason, she could handle it better, because she’s well equated with pain in general.
I feel like that with those of my friends who are using drugs to cope with this world, that they are completely justified in doing so. Some of them may be using drugs for other reasons, they believe they take them to a higher plane or whatnot, but I have many who use them to simply numb themselves out, or to fill the empty spaces. If I could use something to numb myself out, sometimes I feel like I totally would, if anyone needs to take a chill pill sometimes, shut their brain up, it’s certainly myself.
But for me, I got tired of the endless empty hunt for something outside of me to make everything better. I think I have all I need inside. I can handle the pain of life, how hard it is, how much loss we all feel. I can put it into my art. It’s not easy, but it’s what I’m here for. I truly believe that, for whatever it’s worth.