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The Tried to Make Me Go to Rehab and I Said Namascray, Bitches

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My friend Lisa has been asking me to go to yoga with her for going on three years. I did Pilates before and I really rebuffed the woo of yoga. 


I had been so wrapped up in my atheist identity that I left no space for anything that might be misconstrued as metaphysical or a threat to my non-belief. 


But I got to rehab and it was 12 Steps and find a higher power and honestly, my higher power is me! There’s nothing bigger than my own will to do right by myself.


I met Christine. She was our yoga and DBT instructor. Learning to sit with my own thoughts, listen to my own breath, stop worrying about who is checking out my ass in down dog was a very difficult task.


Christine invited me to be completely non-judgemental. With myself and with others. To laugh at myself if I fell out of tree pose. To cry when she touch my forehead during savasana. To feel my feelings and stop attributing those feelings to anything outside of myself, including god or whatever, that I am human and imperfect and that’s okay.


When Amy left and I was so alone, it was yoga class that helped me cope.


I am learning to understand that inner intensity, meditation and emotional literacy within myself is not connected to anything metaphysical if I don’t want it to be.

(Look! I can bloom my tree!)


I’ve got a long way to go. But I believe that this practice is saving my life, well, I believe that my choice to practice and commit is saving my life and is so much more useful than 12 step navel gazing and guilt and shame and war story sharing.


I am grateful for my mat. 

Written by thelittlepecan

May 7, 2017 at 2:26 pm

They Tried to Make Me Go to Rehab and I Said: We Found Love in a Hopeless Place

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I didn’t even notice her the first day. She was in the bed and I was…well, terrified.

On the second day I saw her. I was smoking, still feeling really isolated. Trying to figure out my place amongst non-peers 15 years younger than me with no fucking clue the opportunity they were passing up. I know, because you couldn’t tell me shit as a 22 year old tweaker.

Black beanie. High-tops. Hoodie.

Smoking PallfuckingMalls.

(Oh, I wrote down words about it, but this one is from my memory.)

Swagger underneath a heavy cloak of insecurity. Chiseled cheekbones and clear hazel eyes. Really, they aren’t always hazel and I couldn’t even see them in that moment anyway.

In detox with me. The only other queer woman so far as I could tell, not that it would have mattered because I picked her.

I.Picked.Her.

In any other normal scenario I’d have been sidled up next to her at a bar, or making obnoxious googly eyes at this bad bitch hidden by the drums.

*look at me! look at me!*

I settled for an out of tune piece of shit guitar.

I don’t even know. I just knew she was the only person I had any interest in spending time with in that place. To find out that those feelings were reciprocated was the greatest gift I could have ever received there, besides the strength to stay sober. She was (and is) part of that strength.

When she has a moment of happiness, her face is the pure, innocent and unabashed joy of a child. Like wonder and excitement and newness all come together. She sparkles.

Of all the times I’ve ever wished someone could see themselves through my eyes, this is the most profound.

I found love and trust and companionship in one of the most hopeless places I’ve ever been in and it was one of the most ebullient experiences of my life.

Written by thelittlepecan

April 30, 2017 at 10:57 pm

They Tried to Make Me Go to Rehab and Sometimes Love Just Ain’t Enough

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You know what doesn’t survive a PhD?

What won’t survive alcoholism?
What won’t survive an out of control child?
What won’t survive a plague of trauma unexamined?

A marriage. That’s what.

I’m going to live tweet, live blog, live live the revolution of my heart. Where I learn to love myself and put the needs of my child and my soul and my body and my ambitions before anything or anyone else. It’s not their fault. I readily give others these permissions to expect things from me and there’s just no consent on what I expect in return. And now, here we are. The proverbial house on sinking sand.

It’s sad. I’m sad. Relationship loss and grief is every bit as awful as death. Maybe more so. But sobriety is life. It’s the only thing keeping me alive.

And if you don’t want to hear about that because I’m not amending the constitution of my life in the timeline you have determined, well, then that’s all right. I’ll still be moving on my own pace. I get that I have been undeniably, brutally, in many cases unforgivably, selfish in the past. I have so much guilt and shame about that, things I can never undo. But I will not be made to feel guilt for working through and toward sobriety at a speed dictated by anyone other than myself and the Universe.

I said yes, yes, yes. This is the outcome of that.

Written by thelittlepecan

April 30, 2017 at 10:42 pm

They Tried to Make Me Go to Rehab and I said, “What the Fuck is Up with All this Gendered Sexist Bullshit?”

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I’m sitting on a sofa in the upstairs room newly outfitted with IKEA living room furniture, a sign on the wall that reads “HUMBLE” in the style of an old gas station advert and a weird looking clock that is impossible to read which is really fucking annoying…I had to have my husband ship me a watch because TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE.

I am waiting for class to begin.  And by class, I mean a 22 year old young middle class white woman who is triggered by Trap Music (the genre, not T.I.’s album with a ‘Z’) is going to speak to me and a room full of other women aged 19-40 somethings about…what?

Ah. Relationships with women. When we are in full blown addiction we will find women to be bitchy and take our boyfriends. I am not straight, but okay.  I never found my friends to betray me in that way, but…

Now we are learning about addictive behavior and…clothing?

I shit you not.

Stop wearing short skirts and Holy Respectability Politics, Batman! Dammit, girls, if you’d just dress like a lady, you probably wouldn’t shoot up so much and get facedownplasteredinthecar.

I bet you’re surprised that there’s research on the gendered ways we deal with addiction, just like there are racialized and sexualized ways…and those things intersect. Insert shock and awe here please.

Cis/straight/middleclass/white men are the bulk of all addiction treatments from AA to Passages. They are overwhelmingly run by that same demographic. And women, who raise the bulk of our children, suffer far greater instances of domestic violence, need assistance (that is often tied to drug testing or treatment completion) from the social safety net more often and experience sexual assault related to drug or alcohol misuse and abuse at astronomical rates are often completely left out of conversations about how best to deal with very specific issues when it comes to addiction. Well, unless they are being drug tested and having their babies taken away by DFCS. Wait, only poor women and WoC?  Okay.  Then we talk a lot about it. Mainly about taking them to prison and chaining them to beds if they are pregnant.

But our skirts, yeah?

In the US, the ‘‘good woman’’ is a gendered construct characterised as one who upholds exceptional moral standards; the good woman embodies an image of sexual purity, trustworthiness and innocence (Harris-Perry, 2011; Raddon, 2002; Thetford, 2004). Some scholars articulate that these images are also racialised, placing white woman as the hallmark image of the ‘‘good woman’’ – a mutually reinforcing construct of sexual and racial purity characteristic of societal ideals of whiteness (Anderson, 2001; Harris-Perry, 2011; HillCollins, 2000). Though scholars have long critiqued these societal ideals of femininity as discriminatory and unrealistic, the good woman image persists as a cultural identity that both women and mene spouse (Hill-Collins, 1990; Raddon, 2002; Thetford, 2004).

It is these gendered understandings of morality that get in the way of good sobriety, of good treatment and of trauma healing inside a facility. Already treatment is viewed as a moral failing, a neo-liberal understanding of individual responsibility with little biological/medical understanding of addiction (See Dr. Carl Hart’s work on addiction) and a pseudopsychologic/sociologic misunderstanding of social and psychological behavior.  Basically, you are bad and you should feel bad.  Jesus can help. Go to another meeting.

And it did make me feel bad. Even though I knew it was bullshit.

I watched girls, young women really, but barely old enough to be out of my Mama range, who had been violently assaulted or engaged in sex work (for which they had no reason to be ashamed) or engaged in sex for reasons they felt ashamed of (for their own reasons that I would honor) already be further shamed by talks delivered by completely unqualified techs with nary a background in women’s studies, addiction treatment, sexuality, sociology…or social work.

We are nowhere near being able to distinguish the brains of addicted persons from those of non-addicted individuals. Despite this, the ‘diseased brain’ perspective has outsized influence on research funding and direction, as well as on how drug use and addiction are viewed in society. Dr. Carl Hart

Even though:

Your risk of experiencing intimate partner violence increases if you are:

  • Poor
  • Less educated
  • An adolescent or a young adult
  • Female
  • Living in a high-poverty neighborhood
  • Dependent on drugs or alcohol

I sat and listened to this talk and then an activity whereby a fictional woman on a fictional island is fictionally coerced into having sex with a man with more power and resources than she in order to go to the other fictional island where her fictional fiancè is located, who proceeds to abandon her and shame her for her rape and she is then rescued as a distressed damsel by a third man all while her mother encouraged the entire scenario.

I later found out that the worst person in the story according to the LICENSED ADDICTION COUNSELOR was the woman–for a lack of integrity.

These two instances happened on the same day, back to back.

I’ve been sexually assaulted in the context of addiction a number of times. I’ve been coerced into sex in the context of addiction a number of times. I’ve been RAPED UNDER THE INFLUENCE A NUMBER OF TIMES.  I’ve also been violently assaulted by a loved one in the context of addiction and I’ve had my mom counsel me to “carefully consider my options” when it came time to probably leave. I’ve had horrific and shameful encounters with women friends in the context of addiction. I’ve been blamed for all of these things as a woman and as an addict/alcoholic by any number of people throughout my time in that world.

So. Yeah. Triggered. Sobbing.  And attempted to make some kind of headway with the head of program direction…but, you know, as an addict/alcoholic my word really didn’t mean shit. As a victim. As a survivor. AS A FUCKING SOCIOLOGIST.

“What can you do to gain knowledge in these situations?
Honestly, I dunno you ignorant fuck, what can you do to protect your clients from further trauma and respect the knowledge we have as experts in our own lives and hey these degrees that are costing me three times your fucking yearly salary?  Yeah?

Okay no then.

I heard the words slut, bitch, and whore more times than I can count and I don’t mean in a take back the night wild hairy underarmed feminist kind of way either.

I listened as male clients inspected the bodies of female clients, who touched them inappropriately, who bragged about having sex on property with young women who were clearly vulnerable and had limited opportunities for non-sexual physical contact (more on that and the rampant queerphobia later).

I know of at least two women kicked out for what amounted to specifically labeled gendered behavior that was not allowed and women shamed for not being ladylike and women who relapsed immediately after their discharge.

There was only one group who regularly “succeeded” and I’m not even sure we can call it that.

Source Material

A. J. Gunn & K. E. 2015. “Intra-group stigma: Examining peer relationships among women in recovery for addictions.” Drugs: Education, Prevention & Policy. 22(3): 281–292.

Babcock, Marguerite L and Connor, Bernadette. 1981. “Sexism and treatment of the female alcoholic: a review.” Social Work. 26(3):233-238. 

McKim, Allison. 2014. “Roxanne’s Dress: Governing Gender and Marginality through Addiction Treatment.” Signs: Journal Of Women In Culture & Society 39(2): 433-458.

Written by thelittlepecan

April 25, 2017 at 11:16 pm

They Tried to Make Me Go to Rehab: And I Found All the Racism

So, apparently the white racial frame and the pressures exhorted on Asian Americans to assimilate (including the damage done to the psychological welfare of those trying to gain whiteness) is apparent in the micro-interactions of a small residential addiction treatment facility in North Georgia. The space is overwhelmingly white, upper middle class and male. The second of two, an Asian American resident was repeatedly subjected to the pressure of the white racial frame described in Chapter 5 of The Myth of the Model Minority during my time there (Chou and Feagin 2015).

Chou and Feagin (2015:142) write that individuals of color are repeatedly made to bear ridicule, humiliation and exclusion. I met J***d my third week in addiction treatment. His mother and father brought him and they looked about as worn out and scared as every other loved one who brings their child, parent, sibling or friend to rehab. Certainly no white savior/white knighting was necessary from me, but after seeing the way the only Black resident was treated during my first two weeks there, I guess I was apprehensive on this new client’s behalf.

J***, the nickname provided to him by his white, male counterparts in treatment who seemed to have “trouble” pronouncing his name began attempting to find his place in this closed community after about two days. The name problem was a persistent obstacle to his assimilation and an unacknowledged tool to remind him he was excluded. Referencing Sue (2007), Jennifer Gonzales (2014) writes about the lasting impact repeated mispronunciation could have on students of color…or anyone of any age who has a name not classified as “white”. While white America has no problem with names like Galifianakis, somehow a man’s name with five letters is too difficult for credentialed professionals at a mental health facility to pronounce. Gonzales (2014) has a category for both the professionals and the clients who gave J***D his nickname in this instance-“arrogant manglers” who continue on with their mispronunciations after repeated corrections and “nicknamers” who just don’t care enough about another human being (because that person is seen as less than human) to say their name correctly. Both of these categories were evident as J***d’s name was repeatedly corrupted for at least the first week he was there.

J***d attempted on multiple occasions to gain entry to this overtly white space. He “excelled” at rehab (a condition ironically named “making an A in rehab”) by never missing meetings or groups, giving out cigarettes to anyone who asked, playing corn-hole with anyone who would team up with him and making conversation with his most ardent attackers. When overt racism was apparent, he laughed it off. This is explain by Lara in the reading, “ignoring the issues and always just trying to be better than the people around me so…they didn’t have anything over me” (Chou and Feagin 2015:145). It’s impossible for me to know if his attempts were propelled by a need to be a model minority in a facility that attract so many from the low end of social acceptability or he was just trying to survive that experience or both, but the outcome was the same.

Of course, outward humiliation and degredation were present as well. During large group meetings it was common for clients to respond to roll call with silly or inappropriate outbursts, rather than “here” or “present”. Several young, white men began to respond with “Allah Akbar”—nevermind that none of these men knew J***d’s religious beliefs or had recognized that he is not Middle Eastern (which is assumed to be the reason they did this. I am not sure they understood the vastness of the Islamic population worldwide or that, as a near Asian descendent it was just as likely that J***d is Hindu or Christian.) This outburst was followed by some garbled version of another Arabic phrase turned into a bludgeon to associate Brown persons from Persia, the Middle East, India, Pakistan, etc. with terrorism. “Rocking the boat” was not an option for J***d (Chou and Feagin 2015:169). In a closed environment where these same men were his roommates, small group therapy-mates and his cohorts in games, outings and social smoking activities, speaking up was not available. At least, not if he expected to get through the program. At one point he or someone else did complain. The talk in the rumor mill began immediately. Someone was “offended” and “they were just joking”. While the responses to roll call stopped, the same phrases continued, even escalated during smoking times or free times. These spaces were even more important than the roll call situation because this is where clients create relationships. Close relationships with at least one or two other people in treatment are considered especially important to successful completion. In other words, exclusion can literally prevent a person from maintaining sobriety and gaining the tools to finish the program. This is another example of how racism can impact health care outcomes.

Lastly, in the same way that Coates (2015) discusses at length the ways in which Black Americans have little to no rights over their own bodies, J***d was repeatedly humiliated either in secret or in person for his dietary needs-his autonomy over his own person. This is another example of exclusion, othering, unrealistic expectations and humiliation (Chou and Feagin 2015:142). Clients and staff believed that J***d should be expected to put his faith-based dietary needs on hold in order to accommodate the facility. If he did not meet this expectation, he could assume some backlash. On a Saturday while an outdoor activity was being held outside, I read on the couch in the common space. A man from admissions was speaking loudly to the nursing staff. He was complaining about religion and having to respect the beliefs of others. “Just because you being in some Big Sky Fairy shouldn’t mean that we have to accommodate your food!” There was only one resident who required dietary accommodations for religious reasons. When I mentioned that he was being very loud and others, including clients, would be able to hear him, the response was one of categorical disinterest. A moment later after a short discussion on appropriateness of professional behavior, I was told that I was “taking this too seriously.” A later conversation with the head of the clinical team ended with an instance of rescuing whites (of which I am quite possibly a part given my minimal attempt to do anything) since this admissions professional didn’t “mean to offend me” (Bracey 2011). It seemed to go over his head that I wasn’t the person who needed to be assuaged or apologized to, another occurrence of whiteness being the important factor. I was talked to, humored, and placated rather than any meaningful conversation about race and its intersection with religion and bodily autonomy in a facility touted as a spiritually grounded program.

The instances of racism in my time at residential treatment were many. Beginning with the fact that I only saw four people of color my entire time there. The only other Asian client was a Vietnamese woman who suffered much of the same racism J***d did, but dealt with it differently, by utilizing her woman-ness to create connections with other women and separate herself from younger clients. Still, slurs like “slant eyes” were heard during her tenure as well. It was suggested that it would be helpful to have people on staff with a more broad understanding of inequality and social factors that intersect with addiction, but these were, as most suggestions, brushed aside in favor of a “what have you done to escalate conflict” approach. This was an eye-opening experience in a number of ways. A disheartening example of how racism still works in medical and mental health institutions, an example of how this treatment may do more harm than good for those not of the upper-middle class, white, male populations.

 

 

Bibliography

Bracey, Glenn. 2011. “Rescuing Whites: White Privileging Discourse in Race Critical Scholarship” Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association Annual Meeting, Caesar’s Palace, Las Vegas, NV, Aug 19. http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p506887_index.html Retrieved January 11, 2017.

Chou, Rosalind and Joe R. Feagin. 2015. The Myth of the Model Minority. New York: Routledge.

Coates, Ta-Nehisi. 2015. Between the World and Me. New York: Spiegel & Grau

Gonzales, Jennifer. 2014. “How We Pronounce Student Names, and Why it Matters.” Cult of Personality. https://www.cultofpedagogy.com/gift-of-pronunciation/ Retrieved April 6, 2017.

 

 

 

 

Written by thelittlepecan

April 22, 2017 at 10:20 pm

They Tried to Make Me Go to Rehab and I Finally Said Yes: A Series

I don’t know how to start a description of deciding to go into rehab. I’d had years of meth use behind me…working on my second decade of being clean. I couldn’t stop drinking and eventually I found myself handcuffed on the side of the interstate with my 10 year old precious boy in my car.

Seemed like I should get my shit together.  This was clearly beyond acceptability.

You should see my admission photo. I look like Bambi met a MACK truck on a dark Smoky Mountain road and truly had no idea which way was left.

So, I went right.

I’m not a wallflower. I’m anything but. But you couldn’t force me to talk that first day, though force me they did.

I was frantic to find anyone who seemed like me. On the inside. I was determined to take this for all it was worth and force myself to ignore whatever bullshit I heard.

And heard it I did.

Racist, sexist, ableist, queerphobic, antitheistic, antiatheist bullshit.

It was horrific and traumatic and beautiful and freeing and stifling and one of the greatest experiences of my life.

I stopped having panic attacks. I leaned on people very different from me. I learned just how deep my racial and class and educational privilege is and how far that shit would carry me at the expense of others.

I fell in love.

I fell in love with myself.

 

These are my experiences. These are my analyses. These are my words.

 

Hold on.  I think I’m back, Bitches.

Written by thelittlepecan

April 22, 2017 at 10:08 pm

What’s in a non-belief?

My friend Kent sent me this NPR article by Penn Jillette, who’s like the funniest atheist out there.  He’s also pretty poignant and I gotta give him credit for this one.   When you don’t believe in god, there is no one to alleviate your sins, no one to forgive you but the people you’ve wronged and no one to shoulder the guilt you feel but you.

I’ve been having a bit of a time with this recently.  My parents, my step-mother and my father, recently allowed me to move into a townhome they own while I pursue my master’s degree.  I’m responsible for utilities and any living expenses and they will waive my rent.  This is a fantastic opportunity for me and my son and really, even for my mother who’s been ready for me to get out for a while.

It’s also opened up a lot of really deep wounds, wounds that are barely scabbed over and quite honestly, wounds that have probably been weeping with infection for the better part of five years, maybe even longer.

This is not the first time this offer has been made to me.  The last time, I lived in a family rental for four years.  It had been renovated after an elderly family member (who was a hoarder) died so that it would be habitable again.

When I moved out, it needed a second renovation.

It’s taken me all these five years of sobriety to even begin to look back on my drug use with any type of reality.  I try to leave excuses by the wayside and own up to the decisions I made, but that’s hard.  It’s hard to admit that we’ve taken advantage of those we love.  It’s hard to admit that you lived in filth, of your own doing, even though an alternative was clearly provided.  It’s hard to admit that we’ve stolen, that we have been liars, that we were not a person of integrity.

Who wants to admit those things about themselves?  No one, but we have to.  We have to first be honest with ourselves to begin the path of forgiveness.

Here’s where the non-belief kicks in.  God is not going to forgive me these things I have done.  The only person, who can forgive me, is me…and each individual that I have wronged.  That’s probably the only one of the 12 steps I agree with, making amends.

I had dinner with my step-mother last night.  I was really nervous, but glad we were taking steps towards healing our relationship.  She was honest with me and I tried to be honest with her.  Sometimes that is really difficult, the honesty.  Admitting the whole of who you are to someone can be really scary.  I came out as an atheist and that felt really good.  I made a promise to live up to a new commitment and I really felt like I received a level of forgiveness that was wholly undeserved, but truly appreciated.

Without god, there is no one but me.  Me and who I am, for better or worse, and how I approach my relationships.

We made a commitment to honor the word honesty in our relationship.  That’s all I’ve got for the New Year.  I think that will be quite enough.

Written by thelittlepecan

January 5, 2011 at 4:28 pm

Posted in addiction, atheism

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