I used to have roommate that would say “Tiffany, everyone does some kind of drug, you just have to decide which one you’re OK with”. She’d remind me of this every time I was whining about my latest dead beat boyfriend and their alcohol, weed, coke or whatever issues. While I never completely bought into this theory as I myself did not partake in drugs and very rarely would with alcohol, I admittedly saw her point. The doctor put the fear of death in my head at a very young age due to my heart problem, I guess I might have experimented more if not for that.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about these issues on a much broader scale. What if, everyone is addicted to something? One of my other close friends once said to me “Tiffany, you like these outward artistic things because you need to be seen, you weren’t seen enough as a child.” Do I need to be seen? Am I addicted to the prospect of being seen? If so, what does the word mean within this context? If I am addicted to it, then perhaps it’s a bad thing as addiction suggests. On the other hand, if my addiction drives me to stardom then it’s just called drive. At what point does something we’re addicted to become dangerous to our well being? Be it a recreational drug or something as simple as a feeling. Perhaps, they are one in the same. Perhaps, we create the feeling we’re addicted to by continuously putting our-self in harms way. Either with alcohol, drugs or simply situations….

I don’t know if I am addicted to needing to be seen, I might need to continue soul searching on that one. However, I will admit that there was a time in my life that I might have been addicted to being the victim. I say this not because I was a huge drama queen, I think I was quite the opposite. There just seemed to be situation after situation after situation after situation where I was continuously a broken record of victimization. It seemed every wonderful thing that would manifest in my life would promptly be met with some kind of major dramatic and unbelievable event.

I can recall when I was 16 my friends and I got all dressed up and went downtown Seattle for Mardi Gras. Granted, that entire sentence already sounds like it will and should end badly. It did. I remember very little from the actual event except that a bouncer from a local club magically scooped me from the pavement I was being trampled on and walked me to the rest room through a gawking crowd of onlookers. Upon entering the ladies room I fell to my knees in the wet poorly lit cramped room staring up the barley there skirts of the 20 something’s stepping over me. I was confused and dizzy on the verge of a panic attach. I remember one girl making some snarky remark “whatever you do honey, don’t look in the mirror.” While it was unsolicited advice, I was thankful for it later once I finally did get a glimpse of myself in the local hospital mirror.

My left eye drooped onto itself as I checked to make sure all my teeth were in-tacked. I later found out that I had taken a blow to the face from the wrong end of a skate board, deliberately. I immediately understood the awed looks and the reporter camera flashes that followed me after the incident while being escorted from the bathroom to the ambulance. I escaped the scene with a broken nose, cracked rib, fractured elbow and two gaping black eyes. Which is more than I can say for the poor girl that was stripped, raped and beaten to death, no crueler fate I thought. The next day I would grace the front page of the local newspaper keeled over holding my bloodied mouth. Things like this just seemed to happen to me, and at the time it was completely inexplicable in my mind. I just figured that I simply had bad luck and a knack for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

During a trip to San Francisco with an old friend we sluggishly and drunkenly walked back to our friends house late one night after a local concert. It was something she had done a million times before in the same neighborhood. During the walk I noticed a group of young woman crying on the side walk. Because they were near my age, and women, I stopped to make sure they were OK. My friends carried on ahead laughing at my constant “need to save the world” approach to every situation. I offered the girls some water and to help call a cab.  The woman sobbing with her face to the wall turned toward me with a devilish grin having made a miraculous recovery from her troubles while her friends surrounded me like a pack of calculated wolves. I was still completely unaware that anything was amiss at this point as I patted the girl on the back in an effort to reassure her that now everything would fine.

I was met with a bottle of mace unloaded directly into my face. Being 24,I of course, clang to my newly found vintage purse that had no cash or real assets inside. I kicked blindly in the air as pathetic as a cockroach desperately trying to turn back over onto it’s belly, vicious and vulnerable all at once. The mace kept streaming out into my face, my eyes, my nose, my very existence itself. I couldn’t take it anymore and decided that the clutch would have to go! I released it and the girls hopped into a waiting car near by. Being the strong woman that I am and that always gets herself through these things, I somehow managed to call and cancel all my credit cards while laying in the street probably clinically blind. I credit this to my persistent TXT messaging and literally memorizing the feelings of the keys and number under my thumb.

I think by now you’re getting the picture. Bad shit happened. It happened a lot. Inexplicable completely outrageous this doesn’t happen to other people on a regular basis bad shit. Until, one day I decided bad shit wasn’t going to happen anymore. Bad shit was going to be my bitch. I decided that I would break up with bad shit and end my addiction. I just started to take leaps of faith completely believing that it would work out, somehow someway and ever since, shit has been working out. Not just working out, but it’s been a complete shift in my reality.

So, my question is. Are we blindly addicted to our feelings? To the feelings we get when we drink, or snort a line or just get kicked in the face while we’re down. As a result of those additions, do we then continue to create those situations unknowingly in order to feed them? I think we do. I think that until we can be brutally honest with ourselves and what our emotional addictions are that we will continue to be victims. We will continue to reach for the bottle, the line, the needle the punch to the face until we can confront those addictions head on.

Stop. Stop now and think, what are you creating unnecessarily in your life because you’re addicted to the feeling? You’ve become so accustom to being scared, down on your luck, drunk or whatever….  that you unconsciously need those feelings. Begin to forgive yourself, begin to forgive others. Give yourself permission to be worth more. Give yourself permission to Let it go.

The ART of Forgiveness and Releasing Guilt

Today I forgave myself. No that’s not true, I forgave a little girl for being hurt. I forgave a child for the things that she saw and could not control. I gave forgiveness to a teenager and a young adult for unspeakable life choices. I reached out to each of them, wiped their tears and gave them my approval. It was the first time in their lives I offered this to them. It was the first time anyone had offered this to them.

Guilt had become such a standard in their lives that none of them had been able to move on. No matter what tragedies they’ve been through, or what accomplishments they’ve made, guilt haunted them through and through. Guilt tells them that it was their fault and that they were bad people because of it. It suffocated them and stole their words.

The guilt had eaten them from the inside out. They were merely hollow shells of themselves unable to piece back together.  My present self had tried too many times to lock them away, but only encouraged the deterioration. In a very real way, my present self carried them around in the physical and mental scars I bared. They couldn’t let me forget, because forgetting was letting go and letting go was weak.

The little girl was not allowed to be weak. She recalls vividly a moment when her father scolded her for crying. She was told, “the others, they cry, but you know better”. The child was her mother’s best friend, if she was weak, who would be strong for her broken mother? The teenager who failed to revive her long deceased father’s lifeless body, could not afford to be weak. The young adult paying rent at the age of 16 did not know weak. The word had no meaning to them and therefore to avoid such a thing, they could not allow being forgotten or forgiven.

They knew the only effective way to remember was to repeat their experiences. My present self would seek out those same emotions in my life and relationships to satisfy their needs. It became some kind of a drug feeding the victimizations of my past selves. There was a satisfaction in the hurt my present self continued to inflict on us all. Only after the day my present self woke up in a hospital bed as the result of my most recent victimization fix, did it occur to me, that something could and must change.

Change came and wonderful things manifested, but the inner victims cried out still. They would not be ignored and had been for far too long. They clawed at my insides and inflicted their pains. They demanded recognition and explanation for their recent dismissal.

With closed eyes and an open heart I imagined those moments that my present self couldn’t forget. I saw myself approach my former selves and reach out to each of them. I told them these things were not their fault, that they were beautiful and strong and intelligent. I assured them that the struggles were not all for nothing and that now they’d be fearless.

I felt the guilt melt from their bodies and from my present state. I watched the disease run down from my head through my heart and out my toes. I followed with my eyes as the guilt manifested into pure energy. I felt a calm and peaceful sense of freedom for the little girl, the child, the teenager, the young adult and my present self.

I am free now and so are you. You need only act on your newfound freedom within. Begin with forgiveness……

I recently submitted this piece of writing to a popular self help kind of website. Most of their articles are written in what reminded me of a seventeen magazine style. Something like “do you have boy troubles? Try baking a cake with a pretty frosting to cheer things right up! Here are 5 easy steps”. I guess that should have been my first clue that this particular piece of writing wouldn’t go over so well.

I was told to re-write the “article” with more details on “why you cried as a child” and “why your mother was broken”. I don’t know about you, but I thought those things were better left unsaid. The point was for folks to relate to it, like a song in their own personal way. Anywho, here are 5 easy steps on how to forgive yourself.

1.) Everyone has moments in their lives, like snapshots you cannot forget or delete. Those moments that make you cringe and so you quickly dismiss the images. Don’t.

2.) Go to each of those images and re-live the moment, on your own, in your mind. Go to your past self in that exact moment. Feel what is going on, smell it, taste it, be that moment.

3.) Talk to that past self in that moment. Find out what exactly the feelings are that are being felt and what is causing them. Recognize and explain to your past self how holding onto the guilt from the moment is now affecting you.

4.) Speak aloud to your past self. Say to them “this moment is not your fault, these things were out of your control and you must release them, I forgive you” or “this choice in your life does not define you, it’s OK to let it go now, you’ve learned enough from it, I forgive you”.

5.) Imagine a black stream of tar being pushed from the top of your head through your entire body and out through your toes, as you watch it imagine this is the negative guilt you feel. Once it reaches your toes, breathe in deeply and as you breathe out imagine the tar exiting your body as a pure ball of light energy. Take one more deep breath and inhale the new found positive energy into your body.

If the feelings of guilt or sorrow rise back up within you, repeat.