Chutes and Ladders

Monday February 27,2917 6:31pm

Recovery is complicated. For some reason when I think of recovery I think of it as a straight line going up with no kinks, just an arrow going up. What I am learning is that recovery is much more complicated than that. While the general direction might be up (if you are lucky and putting the work in) there are a lot of squiggles and knots along the way. When I was in AA, recovery was looked at a day by day thing. Every second by second, as long as you don’t pick up. But then there are the stories of success where people just decided on X day they would stop drinking. When I got sober on February 22,2017, I didn’t drink for 8 months. It was that Monday that I said I am done. We were told in AA that it’s okay to slip up, it’s not the end of the world,but why does it feel like such utter failure when you relapse when its a process?

I have been clean from cutting for 4 days. I am learning to be gentle with myself and say THAT is recovery. Sure, I’m sure soon something or someone will trigger me, whether it be loneliness, depression, isolation or whatever,I am almost certain I will cut again. But I need to realize that at this moment, I am in recovery and bettering myself. Recovery is like Chutes and Ladders. You climb up the ladder (4 days clean) but then you fall down a little bit, but eventually get back up and go further next time. Maybe instead of looking at recovery as a fixed point “I will never cut again” perhaps, I need to look at it in smaller bites. Perhaps it should be, “I haven’t cut in 4 days, that is incredible considering my record used to be 2 days a week ago.” I think the main part in recovery is patience.

I have been manic for the last week since my moms 3 year anniversary. I have been impulsively spending, among other things I am too shy and ashamed to admit to. It seems with me my problems are like a whack-a-mole. One problem gets slightly better and another pops up. I struggle with an eating disorder and have been falling back into those pattern specifically if I am drinking. It’s like, the depression starts to dissipate but then KA-BLAM BITCH! Another problems bitch slaps you in the face. I have felt relatively normal this past week, not crippled by depression mostly because I have been up, because of my mania.

I just hope someday…I’m not sure. I hope things will be easier and I will stop falling down the ladder so far everything, instead of starting at the beginning each time I make smaller slips. But I need to be kind and say I am trying my hardest. I am in therapy 3-4 times a week, I reach out when I need help, I write, I sing, I listen to music. I am trying. But half the time I feel like a loser. To hear the concern and disappointment in my dads voice on the phone when I tell him of my latest relapse or shennagains hurts me more than when I cut my skin open. I want to make him proud of me, I want to be the perfect son who is financially independent and responsible. Instead my days are ruled by depression and now lately mania. Recovery is difficult, but I will keep fighting until I reach the top of the ladder even if I stand shakily at the top, I will get there with the knowledge that there may not be complete recovery.

The Flashback.

Sunday February 19,2017 4:50pm

Snippets of memories come back in a flash the moment I allow myself to fully feel the weight of today. I was just woken out of sleep as my brain tried to process this fateful day. The sound of my sisters voice starling me out of sleep “ I think mom’s dead.” The feel of the hard wood floor as I stumbled, naked to the floor trying to hurry to her room. The feel of adrenaline that coursed through my veins in a split second when I saw her. That shade of purple. The spring in my step as I jumped into the air in a panic and sprinted out of the room “Call 911.” The blue carpet squishing beneath my feet. The sound of my dad’s voice on the phone as I called him to tell her she was gone and the sheer panic, fear, disappointment and disbelief in his voice. The EMT’s arrive with their bags and embroidered uniforms with their patches trumpeting their title “EMT.” I remember how it felt like mere seconds when they crawled up the blue stairs to her room and ascended just seconds later apologizing for our loss. I knew the truth already, you could tell just by looking. But that was confirmation of what my heart already knew.

The police officers arrive. Pictures are snapped. We are interviewed. They question us, I am in disbelief. The take her phone, her belongings. A stretcher is brought into the house. I run outside, harassed by cold February air, refusing to see my mother in a body bag. I cover my ears outside so I don’t hear her body being brought down the stairs as the wheels bang agains the stairs. After that I don’t remember much of the day. Except we ordered pizza. I couldn’t eat, I knew I wasn’t hungry but I asked for garlic bread which went untouched. The embraces in the basement, the tears that were shed.

The next day we planned my mothers funeral. The day was spent in the basement of a funeral home where we picked out a casket and the urn her body was going to go in after the funeral the following day.

The funeral. I saw my moms body in her final resting place. Eyes closed, hands rested peacefully across her chest. I try not to think about what she looks like under her dress because of the autopsy they had to do. I am told by the funeral director that the shade of her skin was so bad they had to put a lot of makeup on her, so don’t touch. She didn’t look right until she had her glasses on. We arrived early so we could have time with “her body.” From the front row it looked like her, just sleeping, but from up close it wasn’t her. She looked wax like and her lips were glued shut. Family and friends shuffle in, friends that I didn’t expect came to support me. I cried and cried so hard during the ceremony, my face buried in my dads chest.

Drinks. We had dinner at one of our friends restaurants. I meet some of moms college friends, they tell me stories of how they used to get in trouble and have fun, how she used to skii. I didn’t know she ever skiied, I wish I could have asked her about it. My best friend Brie, stayed by my side the whole time. I will forever be grateful for her because she let me stay at her house the night my mom died. Her dog Belle protected me, by sleeping close by the bed, something Brie says the dog never does.

Looking back now its all such a blur, and yet so clear. I wear my moms ring around my neck everyday, refusing to ever take it off. I have a tattoo in memory of her, accented by self inflicted scars on my right arm with the words “ let it go this is smaller than you know” by a band we both loved. Loss does get easier with time, as they say. You begin to think of them less, the hole in your heart begins to close a bit, but that pain and hurt will always be there. If you allow yourself to go back in time the memories can feel fresh. I don’t ever allow myself to go back. It hurts too much. The trauma of losing her and the events that lead up to her death haunt me and night so I lock it up and hide from these moments. I have clinical PTSD because of what happened and what I saw and experienced. But I try not to go back, because when I do, its all too real again.

That Hue Of Purple

Thursday Feb 16,2017 1:28AM

That Hue of Purple

I remember the days when I had to stop drinking caffeinated mountain dew at night so I could fall asleep so I could forget your purple face and skin. I used to lie awake fearful that I would see you standing at the foot of my bed, in the same state I saw you last; dead, gone, deceased. I used to have nightmares of you hiding underneath my bed and finding you with your eyes snapped open, frozen in rigor mortis starting at me. I will never forget the amount of seconds it took for the paramedics to assess that you were dead. They walked up our blue carpet, must have seen your hue, felt that you were frozen, and made the assessment that you were gone at 56. I’ve woken from my bed, screaming, crying, fearful of the images I saw that day. The last time we spoke echoes though my head like an ear worm. The sound of your slurred words and click of me hanging up followed shortly by the ringtone on my phone with your caller ID calling me back, I press ignore. Oh, how I would have answered that call if I knew it would be our last. I would have told you so many things, about how beautiful you are, how we both hurt the same. I would I have told you you are loved, and stunning, intelligent and generous, but instead I kept shopping at walmart for a stupid sweater while ignoring your call.

Days go by, even weeks and months where you no longer haunt me. I no longer fear, that after the 3 years that have passed that I will find you at the foot of my bed, staring at me. Although that shade of purple that illuminated your skin will never, ever fade from my mind, sometimes I see you as how you were. With your sparkling green eyes, beautiful soft blonde curls, a cackled laugh, a cigarette in hand and a smile on your face. I remember when you received golden braces on my birthday. The years have passed, each one gets easier than the next. While you are not with me in every waking thought anymore, I wear your ring around my neck, the diamonds sparkle, just like your eyes once did.

So much has changed since you left us. I am no longer who I used to be, I am now Rilen. You could have had a son, my dear mother, but you left too soon. I chose my name for you, Rilen. It’s gaelic for Island Meadow. While you are not in my thoughts every second anymore, I carry you with me on my skin, with my tattoo— art on my brown skin. Now this art is framed by scars, framed by shame, guilt, sadness and hurt. Oh how I wish you could see me today. Flat chest, facial hair, square round face. I know you are with me, I feel you sometimes. I hear you when you communicate with me though music, you’re here. But theres so much I want to ask you. Are you okay with the fact that I am trans? Do you like my new name? How do I deal with my mental illness? How do I stop cutting? Why am I so sick, and alone? These questions I will continue to ask myself for years, but the one that haunts me  the most; are you proud of who I have become? Is the man that stands, broken and tall, who you wished I would be? Should I be doing more? I want your guidance, I need your love. I want to feel your skin, hear your laugh, feel your arms wrap around me once again. Even if it’s only in a dream I will take it. I will take it over these haunting, vivid memories that are so visceral and real. But most of all what I want mom, is for you to rest peacefully, knowing that you are loved by many.

Stained skin.

February 12, 1:50 am

My pain is represented by my scars. The fresh cuts on my arms and the bandages that cover them weekly demonstrate the hurt. The scars speak more loudly than words ever will as to how I feel. The scars speak to the pain, abandonment, fear and hurt that I feel that I’m unable to express in other ways. I try to speak, to impart to others why I hurt, why I hurt myself. But words don’t do justice. So I stay silent, not trying to have anyone understand. Nobody will get it, if I myself don’t understand, so I don’t try. The only way I know how to speak, is to write. To have words flow out of my fingers, thats that were unknown and un-realized thoughts and feelings surface, not revealed until typed onto my screen. My leg reads as a barcode, 20 or more dark scars stain my skin. My two tattoos on my wrist are framed by dark, self inflicted lines. I look into the mirror and I don’t see me anymore. I don’t know who this is, but it isn’t who I am. I am an actor and now I have to go into auditions with scars on my arms, my weakness and misery on display for all.

Someone tonight told me, for every cut you want to make, there are 1000 reasons not to. I am putting my career at stake with my sickness. I want my body to be pure again, clean, untouched. Instead I am tainted, dirty and soiled. Some people don’t hide their scars because they say they are sings that they are a survivor, proof that they have been through some stuff.They want the world to know they are warriors.  I don’t know that I agree, but its gotten to the point that my pain will be visible to see. Even if I wear a long sleeve shirt the pain will reflect in my eyes. Sure, my lips curve into smiles, my laugh booms out of me, but the darkness still rests within.

I’ve begun to cry more times these past 2 weeks than I have allowed myself in the past year. My eyes become blurry and fill with tears, but they refuse to fall. They sit stubbornly around my brown, sad eyes, unable to dip to my cheeks. I don’t feel a release, I feel nothing most of the time. I am hollow. I am carved out and empty. Covered in scars I did nothing to earn.


A Life Lead in Confusion

Tuesday February 7,2017 10:35pm

My life is lead in confusion. I am confused about my gender, my trauma history, why I drink, why I cut, why I am so mentally ill, why I have no friends, why I feel empty. I am surrounded by endless thoughts of what, why, how come? I wish I had answers to all the questions my mind asks of me, instead I walk around in a haze, stumbling around trying to find the door that holds my secrets and unsolved truths.

I want to be understood, I want to be loved, I want to once again, feel whole. I want to have people in my immediate surroundings who I can spend time with instead of seeing blurred faces through a computer screen. I long for someone to touch, to hold and be held by. I want to sit in my sweatpants and watch sappy romantic comedies with a friend while shoving our faces with popcorn. I want to feel so fulfilled and purposeful in life that I am bursting with life, unable to hold in my joy that I could get up and break into song at any moment. I want to greet my days with purpose instead of shades of grey that paint my days. It’s only been 2 months since I’ve been out of school and I feel disheartened. I wonder, will I ever make it as an actor or will this be my life forever? Living off my dad and lying around, like an amorphous blob in my bed.

When will I look in the mirror and be happy and not see double chins and fat hips? When will my legs gain their strength and tone again? Do I want to continue hrt and become looking more and more male, or do I want to slow down and stay how I am, in the middle? I don’t fit with others and I don’t fit with myself ,there is turmoil and unrest deeply settled in my soul. My withering soul that longs to spark back to life. To feel free, love, understood, apart of SOMETHING. So much, if not all of my life I have been alone and felt disconnected, I now wonder if this because of my disorder, or is that just me? Forced to walk beside my own shadow? I don’t have the answer to all of these pitiful questions and it plagues me. I want clarity, I want to take of my splattered glasses that are covered with fog and dirt and see clearly. To feel complete and needed. I make youtube videos to help others and help myself, but I wonder, who is really helping me? I have a mental health team that encourages me and understands, supports, empthathizes and sympathizes with me, but am I really interconnected with anyone? Or am I just a flag flapping alone in a field?

I don’t know what I want most in my life, if its to feel included and understood? Or to just feel whole and content within myself? I don’t have any answers at this point. I am lost.


My piano mocks me. 

My piano is mocking me. “Play me” it whispers loudly. It’s a reminder across from my bed that has become my haven that I am ill.i haven’t been able to play weeks.  Unable and unwilling to leave the house for days at a time. Nestled in my bed I lay, motionless, my mind whirring with thoughts but other times it’s as empty as a tank of gas. 

I actually had enough energy to read and write and eat today, which is an accomplishment. I’ve been sleeping until 4 pm and staying up too late, repeating a vicious cycle. My thoughts have been like tar lately, slow moving. I’ve felt like an empty vessel, disconnected from the world. Alone I sit in my dull lit room, longing to connect to strangers on the internet that might some day become my friend, or at least provide temporary relief from the empty loneliness that seems to occupy my waking hours. But mostly, I just sleep. I sleep my days away running from my depression, at least when I am not awake I cannot feel lonely or bored. It’s when I wake the unpleasant feelings return and hover over my head like a dark, rainy cloud, soaking me with negativity and ennui.

 I want to feel happy and whole again. I want to have the energy to get through a day without having to take a nap 2 hours after I’ve woken up. I want to feel the air on my face,talk with a friend. But instead, I rot in my tomb of loneliness and despair.