They say that a rose by any other name would still smell as sweet. I think that the flip side of that coin is that shit stinks no matter what you call it.
What has me musing on Shakespearean word play this morning?
My name and the legacy it leaves me.
My last name is a big old hyphenated mess of my maiden name and my second husband's last name. It's a long story, and thanks to a lazy judge in divorce court, it isn't as easy as taking my divorce papers to the DMV to change it.
I racked up quite the string of arrests under that hyphenated mess of a last name.
Problem is, changing the name doesn't solve the problem. The social security number is still the same, and still brings up the same damned string of arrests.
I probably wouldn't have given my last name a second thought if I hadn't gotten profiled and searched yesterday. I was traveling down that same interstate where I incurred so many of those arrests, and got pulled over by a state trooper for "weaving onto the shoulder."
"Weaving onto the shoulder" is complete horseshit, however, as I was speeding down the interstate in a bashed up car with an expired inspection sticker and a blinker that works sometimes (just not at that moment), I didn't argue about the "weaving onto the shoulder" horseshit.
The trooper took my license to his car and ran my name. Standard operating procedure, I get it. I could be a most-wanted fugitive or something, they have to check. What came back wasn't a most-wanted status. Just my rap sheet, which is bad enough in and of itself.
So the good officer requests that I step outside my car and stand in front of his car (in front of his dash cam). He sits back in his car and writes me a warning for the "weaving" and for not having current proof of insurance. I am such a slob that I had all of the expired proofs of insurance for the last 2 years AND the actual policy itself, so he figured I probably still had insurance and didn't cite me for that.
However, as he handed me the warning he asked for details of my trip. I hated myself for an instant because I had to drag my friend's name into a conversation with police. Old behaviors die hard, I guess. NEVER give the authorities names, right? I only did it because I was almost certain that it wouldn't be written down, as I had nothing to hide (unless you count all the fast food trash in my floorboards).
Of course, given my arrest record, the trooper asked if I had a problem with him searching my car, as he needed to makes sure I didn't have "50 pounds of marijuana in the car." Truth be told, I did have a problem with him searching my car. Old habits die hard, I guess; my attorney once told me that I should never consent to anything. However, I consented and warned him it was a mess in there.
I got lucky. This trooper really only looked for "50 pounds of marijuana in the car". He poked through my shopping bag of new shoes, he poked through my purse, he poked through the box of shoes for charity, he poked at some empty garbage bags (I tell you, I'm a slob in my car), he poked through my travel-bag of clothing, and he poked in the spare tire compartment. He didn't make any real mess and he didn't disturb shit too much. He closed my trunk and gave me a thumbs up. I decided to shake his hand and tell him to be safe out there.
However, as I emptied my car of my travel bags once I got home, I got to thinking about my name. I got to wondering if I will ever truly be able to escape my own legacy.
I doubt it.
Even if it does happen, it won't be anytime soon. It would require a seismic shift in the mindset of an entire world of people. "Once an addict, always an addict" is the common thinking, no matter how much of a lie it is.
I think it's time to tackle the legal quagmire of changing my name. Drop the hyphenated mess. It's time to let go of the past, I guess, even if it ultimately won't matter when I get pulled over. It's really about me, and how willing I am to become something other than the addict I used to be.
A rose by any other name will still smell as sweet, and shit will always stink no matter what you call it.
I'm grateful that I can see both sides of that coin today. I will always carry my legacy of arrests with me, unfortunately; however, I also know that recovery has turned that heap of shit into fertilizer for the beautifully imperfect human being I have become.
Just for today, that is enough.
Nearly 10 percent of the US population has depression.
This is her story of depression:
It ate me up. Destroyed me and everything I had. Friends, hobbies, beliefs, passions? HA! All gone.
It messed with my mind, distorting reality until I was trapped in darkness. I thought I liked it; that the sick twisted happiness of being sad was better than the simple happiness of just...being happy. But the truth was, I was addicted to the dark. And the worst part was, I didn't want help.
I did the stupidest things, and regretted them, making myself even MORE sad.
I lived in a never ending cycle of hating myself and doing things that made me hate myself, and it ate up everything. Everything slipped away. I didn't know what I had or who I was anymore, and I was scared, so scared; of where I was going and who I would be, and everything was in shambles until one day...
...it got better.
No, it didn't really happen overnight. It started with a teeny light inside of me.
One that wanted to be happy; really happy. It drew me to one person, one good influence, who forced me into making better choices. I slowly started to surround myself with the right people; ones that made me smile and laugh, and I realized that being happy; really happy, was better than being sad happy.
I started doing the things I liked to do, gained confidence, and slooooowly started being more addicted to light, than to the dark.
I discovered religion, and it helps me get through the hard nights. I turn to God in the darkest times; instead of cutting, or wallowing, or whatever stupid thing I might have done before.
It took a long time. A really, really long time. I have relapses, and bad days, but I now have the resources to help myself through it all.
So it happens; the light takes over, and one day you look around and realize you are happy.
In June, Band Back Together's Bringing Back the Happy World Tour Topic is "I Overcame." We've all worked awfully hard to get through our pasts.
It's time to let our awesome flag fly, pat each other on the back and get all Eye of the Motherfucking Tiger! We got dealt a shit hand and it doesn't matter because we BEAT it.
So, The Band, it's time to share your story - your triumphs - with us.
What have YOU overcome?
I overcame an abusive teenage relationship.
It is quite strange writing that sentence - saying it out loud, so to speak. I so rarely talk about what happened to me when I was 15-16 years old. It isn't a topic that I bring up at dinner parties and family gatherings.
In fact, there are many members of my family that don't even know that my boyfriend abused me back then. I never told them because I never thought it was something everyone needed to know.
I was ashamed.
I was angry.
I was so very sad.
My story is difficult to tell.
When I allow my mind to travel back to that time, the memories are not pleasant.
Much of it is unclear and fuzzy. I guess I've blocked out a lot of that time.
When I met Chad* I was impressed by his status at our school. He was feared. The boys in our school made sure they avoided angering. He was broad-shouldered, with green eyes that seemed to see right through me.
He was handsome, and a senior when I was a sophomore. I suppose the fact that he was a "bad boy" was alluring to me. I probably had some romantic view of what dating him would be like. You know, something out of an old movie starring Humphrey Bogart.
Boy, was I wrong.
The emotional abuse started not long after we got together. I wasn't "allowed" to wear outfits that Chad thought were too provocative. No mini-skirts, tight jeans, or tank tops. He preferred me in floor-length skirts with long-sleeved tops. No makeup, unless I was coming over to see him. We wouldn't want any other guys looking at me, now would we?
It was about control for him.
I suppose that's true of all abusers.
I remember the time he tried to drown me. He lived with his grandparents and they had a pool. He invited me to come over and swim, so I put on my one-piece black and white suit with a pair of shorts and a t-shirt on top, and I headed out.
Once I got there, we went outside to the pool and jumped in. We were having a nice time until a friend of his stopped by unannounced.
Chad got rid of his buddy quickly. Once he was gone, Chad pushed my head under the water and held me there while I thrashed around. He finally let me up. I was choking and gasping for air when he told me to get dressed and go inside.
I obliged. We went up to his second-floor bedroom.
Chad came in behind me and slammed the door shut. I felt a sense of dread coming over me when he started asking me why I was flirting with his friend. I hadn't been flirting; I barely said more than hello to him.
Chad asked me if I liked showing off my body in front of his buddy. I told him that I wasn't doing that at all. I was scared by this time. The next thing I remember is him telling me to lie on my stomach on the bed and him hitting me hard on my back.
He was going to teach me a lesson, but he made sure the bruises were in a place no one could see. He was going to teach me to respect him.
I was sobbing when he finally stopped hitting me. I don't remember what happened next, but that was not the last time he beat me. I wish I could say that I was stronger and left him then and there, but I guess I was just too scared.
I have flashes of memories, like him sitting in a chair across the room sharpening his hunting knives while staring at me as though he intended to use one on me. I remember him repeatedly playing a song called "Abigail" by King Diamond and drinking large amounts of whiskey.
I remember his hands around my throat, although I don't remember why. I recall there being an inverted cross on the wall.
I also remember when he enlisted in the Army.
He was stationed in Korea, but had sent me an engagement ring while in basic training.
Can you believe that? I was 16 years old!
I also recall finding the strength to write him a letter, breaking off the relationship, while he was in Korea.
I remember when Chad died.
A mutual friend told me how Chad had killed himself in his barracks.
I didn't cry. I wasn't sad.
I was relieved.
It had been a few years since I had broken up with him, but it felt like I hadn't taken a single breath before that moment where I knew he was dead.
I overcame an abusive relationship.
I should have done it sooner, and I should have told my parents.
Regardless of everything, I overcame.
I'm alive and he's dead. He can't hurt anyone ever again. And, for that, I am truly thankful.
*Names have been changed.
I could sit here and tell you that I overcame the loss of a parent when I was a child. I could tell you that I overcame addiction, domestic violence, negative self-image, and a whole list of other things.
I'd be telling the truth, to some extent.
I survived all that shit, sure.
Nah. I didn't.
I overcame addiction with the help of Narcotics Anonymous.
I overcame loneliness with the help of the Band.
I overcame all the shit I've been through with the help of others.
You helped me overcome all those things.
I didn't overcome anything alone.
We did it, together.
In June, Band Back Together's Bringing Back the Happy World Tour Topic is "I Overcame."
We've all worked awfully hard to get through our pasts.
It's time to let our awesome flag fly, pat each other on the back and get all Eye of the Motherfucking Tiger!
We got dealt a shit hand and it doesn't matter because we BEAT it.
So, The Band, it's time to share your story - your triumphs - with us.
What have YOU overcome?
Once upon a time, I was a size three. I was a tall, SKINNY, gawky teenager that appeared to be all legs.
At the tender age of seventeen, I got pregnant. And man did I take that whole “eating for two” thing and RUN with it. I gained sixty pounds with my son. Eleven years ago. I haven't seen single digit pant sizes again.
Obesity, like so many other health problems, runs rampant on both sides of my family, not the least of which is Diabetes.
My maternal grandmother is a textbook example of this. She was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes long before I came into the picture and so, I only knew her as being “sick.” When I was six, she had surgery to remove part of one of her legs due to gangrene. It was the first of a number of amputations for her. From that day on, she was wheelchair bound.
Throughout my childhood, I watched my grandmother struggle with her disease. I also watched my mother struggle with her weight and yo-yo dieting. I swore I wouldn't end up in their shoes. And then I gained that sixty pounds during my pregnancy. No big deal, I thought. But the weight didn't come off as easily as I thought it would; as easily as everyone said it would.
It took nearly five years of knowing something wasn't quite right before I found out THE NEWS.
I had Type 2 Diabetes.
God, how my earth shattered that day. In my shock and terror, I swore I'd give it all up. The sugar, the pasta, the bread. I made unrealistic goals and hopped on the diet trend of the moment. And I failed. Miserably.
It took another five years for me to learn that the key to dieting wasn't telling myself what I could and couldn't have. It was having all the things I loved...in moderation. I learned to bargain: if I wanted cake for dessert, I needed to have water, not soda, with my dinner. I learned how to make healthy snacks for myself and learned portion control.
A few months ago, in the midst of all the testing for Rheumatoid Arthritis, my doctor gave me great news. I had beaten my Diabetes. With the changes I had made, and continue to make, in my diet, I had lowered my A1C and I was now back in the normal range.
I no longer needed medication to control my blood sugar levels.
I'm still doing the happy dance.
Don't get me wrong, I know I'll forever need to be vigilant about what I eat. I know that I could still stand to lose some weight and I know I need to exercise more. But that's one less medication I have to take each morning. It's testing my blood sugar once a week now instead of every morning and night. It's the joy of knowing that I did something positive for my health.
I Overcame Diabetes.
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