Like Buying A Big House In The Spirit World 

The thing about addiction is when you’re at the bottom of it you think you’re only a visitor there. it’s not like you don’t know you’re totally fucked up and totally fucking up, it’s just that you tell yourself you’re only visiting. But the world outside sees that you’ve built a pretty reasonable house in addictionville and you’re considered a member of that particular society. In your mind you’re a visitor but the truth is that’s just denial keeping the door closed. I wound up in AA five days before I turn 21. I had been in Atlanta at that point for 2 and half years. I had a fake ID so was a regular at just about every bar in Little Five Points. I remember the day before I went to AA with the intention of never drinking again. I went out for one last night of drinking and as I got drunk I told every bartender that knew me as a regular that I wasn’t even yet 21, but then I would say, I’m going to AA tomorrow and I’m never gonna drink again. They looked at me like I was a lunatic. I guess I was, but I thought it was funny that I was heading there so young, and I wanted to share the joke. Or so I thought at the time. Really now I just see it as a soft cry for help. I see my whole life that way pretty much. After the last beer I had, I was at the Euclid tavern and I told the bartender there, I said , “hey man I’m about to be 21 in four days but I’m gonna quit drinking tomorrow he said you’re a dick with a half smile and then I left. 
I got to AA through prayer and also my father. The prayer came first though. I was in Panama City, the white trash Riviera, with my van and long time girlfriend. And we were tripping on mushrooms on the beach. I started looking at the waves of the ocean coming in and out and noticing patterns on the shore. I started seeing them as paintings and they were incredible. And they were just great compositions , abstract some. Some were faces and demons and then angels. Heavy religious imagery. I knew I was hallucinating but I also could see that what I was seeing was always there to receive it’s just, now I knew how to look at it. And then I thought, ” man that is happening all the time it never stops. that’s creation right there” I remember saying that to myself “that’s creation ” and then I thought Not only is that happening all the time, but it’s happening all over the world, all the time. I had this realization that God was real at that moment and I immediately prayed to him to elevate me out of the situation I was in. And what situations that? I was living with my girlfriend and we had been in a relationship, which was pretty good considering both of us coming from a troubled past. We had a cool little apartment on Alta Avenue in Atlanta. I mean it was tiny and a shit hole but it was pretty good. For me it was better than that actually. I was still just loving the freedom of being out of that house. 

 I was working and life was moving. I had started my first band as the front man and it was called bellybutton. I put everything I had into it, but we weren’t getting popular and the first ever review I got was for that band. It said in full and only said ” learn how to write songs before you try and sing them ” to add insult to injury I was actually visiting home and Ohio when I read that review. I remember it like it was yesterday. It really might as well have been. Looking back now I think I went a little unconsciously shamanistic at that point and made chant by myself in the family room. “I swear to god I’ll prove you wrong” over and over. It didn’t take the pain. The scalding embarrassment that seemed to like to follow me. What was this thing on me that people seemed to disrespect. I know now, but I didn’t then. People can see where you come from. It’s written all over your face if you look a certain kind a way. That review was posted in the Creative Loafing music menu section , which was the Bible of the Atlanta scene. If they big upped you there, you were basically set. But if they didn’t you were toast. I think my review in that section was the meanest one I ever saw, and there were some humdingers in there. 

I don’t know… did I learn how to write songs before I tried to sing them. I think I might of. I think my little chant in Akron got heard. 
We drove back from Panama City in a fight me and my girl at the time. I can’t remember for what but I think it started cause she was mad that I just stood there looking at the shore for four hours that day praying. 

When we got back to our little place the mood was lighter and we were friends again. But there was a message on the phone. 

It was my mom. 

” joe your dad is on the way to Atlanta now to apologize for your childhood and try and take you to AA” he had been sober for thirty days or so. I resented that deeply especially since I was now mired in addictions of my own. Who was he to get free. 

I called my mom to try and stop him but it was too late. I prayed to hard that day and God found a way to kill two birds with one stone. 

Help my dad clear some Karma and answer my prayer for help. 
In describing abuse, the abusers can come off like two dimensional monsters. My parents aren’t that. At least I never thought so until more recently. But I avoid thinking like that, only enough to prevent future abuse. Which is very real. Just as damaging in its way than abuse from childhood. I say that to the people who are still suffering and need to go no contact. 
But they weren’t monsters in my mind. I still very much like and love them all. It’s so weird having all these confused and congnitive dissonant information raging around. 
God … are you trying to make me feel absolutely bat shit crazy? I kid God. I respect him tho. I don’t use his name in vain and when I do I immediately apologize to him and who ever heard me do that. 
But my dad made it too Atlanta. Told me about AA. I remember that trip fondly. I think we actually got along that time. I agreed to goto AA but I made it a transaction first. I’ll goto AA with you if you buy me a case of beer after. He did. I’m smiling thinking of that which immediately leads to crying. Jesus. Sorry. 
As fate would have it. We went to the dogwood. I didn’t share and mostly it was just old crusty dudes but there happen to be one very attractive girl there who was just a little older than me. 
The lightbulb went off. “There is life after drinking I thought”

And with thirty days of that 

I was wandering around little five points drunk but telling on myself to every bar keep that would listen. And heading into the dogwood for a good long while. 
Even though I was still only 20 I had a huge amount of experience drinking myself into oblivion. Also drugs always factored into my story. I was the one that found my parents stashes when I was a kid first just weed, which I immediately showed my sister, they had two big bags full of weed. Sandwich bags that probably amounted to a half ounce, no big deal , but to us it seem like an impossibly huge amount of drugs, and it did blow my mind when I found it. I always remember the smell of it every night when I would go to sleep, and that was never explained or probably even questioned. I can’t remember if I ever asked directly “what’s that smell? ” But one time I smelled that smell in an usual time and in an usual place. My mom had a friend over and they went into the family room. And closed and locked the door behind them. And then that smell. I decided I needed to find out what the fuck that was. I was probably seven or eight years old. Soon after my mom came out of the room and I notice she had a black purse I’ve never seen before. She was heading upstairs to her room and I made up a kid like question, to ask her, but I was really just spying on where that black bag would go. The next time my parents left the house with just me and my sister there, I went straight to where she put that purse back up in her closet and I looked inside and found the contraband. I just sat there holding it and feeling all these strange emotions. I didn’t know what weed was yet, but in my child’s mind, it just said “this is drugs and arent people who do drugs the ones I’m supposed to stay away from? and arent the people who do drugs the bad people that I’m not supposed to ever go near? And what does it mean if my parents are those people? “I ran out of the room and got my sister. Brought her to see what I found. We deduced that my mom just rolled her own cigarettes and that this was some kind of tobacco. We put the weed away, back in the bag , just as I had found it , or so I thought. We decided we would ask our mom about it, I think 

Then we put it back in the hiding place and went on with being kids. The next day my father was in a rage. It was morning and there was no time to ask about the weed because the weed was all anybody could talk about. I had accidentally put it back in the wrong pocket. So we got found out for finding them out. My dads reaction, now makes sense to me but it took years for me to understand it. He was hyper defensive. I guess in narc land that just equates to he felt guilty and then projected that criticism straight back to me. He said “this is our fucking house and will do what we fucking want here.” The word ” fuck” was used frequently and aggressively by all of us in that house. It lost its edge with over use. It became impolite to not throw a fuck in now and agin. 

My mother was being far more diplomatic and trying to explain the situation. She was the good cop. And said they just smoked on occasion and it was no big deal or something to that effect. It’s a tough to manage having to say “don’t do drugs” when you’re doing drugs. How to give a kid the message that A) they should be very afraid of these things, and be careful about them. Or really never do them at all and B) still justify your own use. 

Course weed is no big deal but that’s not where this story ends. 

I remember watching TV with my parents and it was just the three of us. My sister created a fortress in another room where she studied like a lunatic. She hid out in books and academic achievement. I was bad at school had to go through first grade twice. I think the reason was more because I was so bullied in school that they couldn’t keep me in the same grade. They had to let me become bigger than the other students. It was that bad. My life as a child during that time was pure pain on every level and from every direction. I was a scapegoated outcast like you wouldn’t believe. I used to leave my body when I’d get bullied. And I got bullied by everyone. I was defenseless. But I could leave my body and this became a skill I had. I didn’t know how to defend myself and that’s how it is when you come from house like mine. You’ve been groomed to not protect yourself and the world is full of predators who see that weakness. 
This whole book/blog is because I was still much more vulnerable to that treatment, than my adult ego or narrative would let see and believe. The thing about all this stuff. Abuse and what not is. It doesn’t go away from time. And sick people don’t become well just cause time passes. If Nothing changes then nothing changes. I would have been fine leaking my story over time. Never really getting to the nitty or the gritty, if the illusion that my family was now mostly healthy stood up. But it did not. It did not at all. If people don’t get help. Or very actively help themselves, then nothing changes. 
The writing of this is all about working to acquire healthy boundaries. Working to feel that I have a right to tell my story and defend myself and Express myself. You could even say discover myself. 
But back to cocaine. 
The three of us were just watching TV and it was a show in the 80s. Cocaine was all the rage in the 80’s. I was probably 10 and it was about people doing cocaine, losing all their money and getting bloody noses. I don’t think anyone died in the show. Cocaine was everywhere and I don’t think people thought it was as dangerous back then. This show on TV was like an early cheesy warning about cocaine type movie. I didn’t know I was in empath then. I didn’t even know it last year, but I was, and I knew somehow that the fear I felt, that they were up to that same thing I was watching on TV ,was real. And in my mind I thought I’m going to find their cocaine. Not many days after that, I did. Along with a box of cutting powder which was just weird. My dad explained it this way ” I like I like just sniffing it , I like the act of it , so I break it down to make it go longer.” He had twisted logic about many things, the man can’t resist a sale. I guess this was like cocaine on sale to him. I was actually less shocked finding the coke than I was finding the weed. I think a couple years aging in between helped. And also the fact that I had already known they were up to some illegal stuff. So I was used to it. As a kid you don’t classify weed as less of a bad thing than coke. Drugs are drugs and that’s it. 
I use weed now and think of it as medicine but as a kid it’s drugs. With the cocaine I didn’t go to my sister, with the cocaine I went straight to my mom and was like “what the fuck? ” She minimized it and explain it away again saying it was just a Now and then type a thing, but told me or asked me to not tell my sister, which I didn’t. 

What’s sad about that is, I felt kinda cool and good about that. Like I knew something my sister didn’t. Like my mom asking me not to tell my sister felt like her trusting me. In a way that cocaine became A loving expression. That’s how lopsided and upside down everything is in a narc house. 

It’s strange but writing this I’m just sticking to the facts of what happened makes my story seem more darker than what I thought. I know people like us minimize abuse. We minimize what happen. That’s a survival mechanism, but that’s also where the upside down nature of narcland needs to be understood when considering Buddhist writings on forgiveness. 

Or the forgive and forget mentality. Which I agree with and like. And I think you have to let go of things of course and move on. But the problem is with victims of emotional abuse we are programmed to forgive and forget and we do that in a unhealthy ways for predator types who know this about us inately. And who take advantage of this. So as much as I’d love to just all this go and “get on with my life ” I’m afraid that the writing is me for the first time really ” getting on with my life” 
I never saw them take cocaine or even smoke weed. One time my dad and I took mushrooms together at the other side of a brutal visit to their place in Florida where I’ve never been back since. 

But there was a traumatic event directly related to coke that happened with me and my mom when we were alone during the day at the house. 

I was a kid and my mom suddenly had a panic sweep over her and then screamed ” I think I’m having a heart attack” 

I knew innately that our secret had something to do with it and then the weight of too much to explain dropped on me like lead. I ran up and down the stairs not knowing what to do or who to call. My mom was laying in her bed and moaning. 

I saw her die in my mind and thinking of a life with only my father as a parent was among the biggest horrors in a horror show that was scalding me alive. 

I can’t remember if I called 911 or not. Or if she did. She never lost consciousness and her panic calmed down and then she was ok. I’ve since had a hundred of those type of “heart attacks” it’s called panic at the disco. 
And I was so relieved , that the pain of that shocking event got dissolved (or so I thought) the way having lost something valuable creates enormous stress which is instantly relieved and elevated upon finding the lost object. 
Drugs were a phase for my folks. I think a rather long one , but a phase none the less. That smell stopped happening and the little viles I would still visit in my dads sock drawer just stopped being there one day. He did keep that box of cutting powder around for awhile longer tho. Weirdo. Lol. 
It’s weird to be this revealing. But it’s so therapeutic. I can’t stop crying as I write and it’s really in a strange way kinda nice to be with myself again or maybe for the first time. 
If I’m not writing I’m just laying there doing nothing or else exercising and or listening to healing content on YouTube. 

Last night there was video on having a spiritual awakening and just about all of the things they talked about are exactly what is going on with me. 

I suppose many people are going thru this right now. But why now? And why so many of us? 

There’s a movement which I was unwittingly swept into. 

I never actually intended to focus on a blog for this stuff. My idea on how to share what I’ve learned and my process, was to start a YouTube channel and do it anonymously. 

But in my mind I was gonna stick to sharing just about the healing part of this journey. I didn’t intend to go straight into the dark heart and source of how all this happened to me. But the thing about describing this kind of covert abuse ( speaking now of the present situation) 

Is that telling part of the story, doesn’t really cut it. In order to explain, the how , why and what for, with a condition as complicated and diabolical as NPD you just can’t tell part of the story. You have to tell the whole story. 
I’d say I started this journey to heal myself but the real energy came from the attacks I had recently faced and was frankly still vulnerable too before I let myself have a free voice. Maybe I’m still vulnerable, so if that’s the case let me be all the way vulnerable and see who can join me there. 

Let me put my chips on the bet that there is power in vulnerability. If not. I’m down for whatever. I still have that risk taker inside. 
But I’m betting that if I can really open up

the foundation of true love and friendship will find itself. Or that’s the idea. I guess. When life bottoms out, and if you’re a born gambler with a spine built to take punishment. You throw the dice in ways others can’t. But once they see you do it. They can. It’s like the four minute mile. 

I know millions have shared stories such as these. So I’m not pretending to be the first, but in our life there are certain trails you have to walk alone. Certain chances you have to take in order to go forward. 
After the barkeep called me a dick and laughed I walked down Euclid to Alta avenue saying to myself. ” I will never drink again”

I started going to AA religiously. I went to three meetings a day and began my more adult relationship with God. I even hugged a tree one time and would pray almost constantly. God is a concept by which we measure our pain. 

I made 2 and a half years sober that time. Which for a 20 year old. Now almost 23, and in those days, was a very unusual thing. I was the youngest one in my home group. There were a few others that were close to my age so it wasn’t unheard of and nowadays I think it’s common. The home group was called Dogwood and I could walk there. And would go all the time. I made new friends and phased out the older shadier ones. And just absolutely loved the community of AA and in particular that room. We could smoke and I smoked usually three cigarettes per meeting. That was like my thing. It’s crazy to think about that now. So many of us sitting smoking. But that’s what we did. There was a smoking side, but come on. It’s smoke it floats everywhere. 

But that’s all I did. No weed. No nothing, and after a time I really loved it and identified myself as a sober person. I didn’t think I’d ever fall off the wagon so to speak. I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t, but of course I broke that promise and then kept right on breaking it. 
But 

I don’t think I’m gonna break it this time. I can’t see going back. Ever again. As an addict you can never say never but I’ve certainly changed in the last six months more than any other time in my life. And I can promise you, the idea of trying to escape that way seems as ludicrous to me as jumping off a building. 

I spend all day everyday building myself thru prayer meditation exercise and nutrition really for the soul purpose of healing and being able to be big enough or strong enough to really hold up what I’m attempting to hold up here. It’s not hard for anyone to stretch their imagination into seeing that my situation at this point is life or death. I can in no way afford to step off my path. Kinda like buying a big house in the spirit world. I can just barely afford it but if I dig deep I might just be able to keep up the payments. But I gotta dig deep. And I gotta keep digging. Digging my way out of this grave. 

3 Comments on “Like Buying A Big House In The Spirit World 

  1. You’ll have a garden with birds… or what was it Marianne Moore said about poetry?” Imaginary gardens with real toads in them.”

    Best wishes for you and your spirit house.

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  2. Dude, it truly is hard to not be inspired by you. This story/blog really resonates with me as it is in fact my story too. Yep, growing up in an alcoholic dysfunctional household. Feeling like a constant outsider. Very difficult relationship with my dad. Battling through addiction most of my life and making it (finally) into the rooms. Yes, relapsing many times as well. But here to stay now (I hope) 41/2 years>?!! wtf. I met you in LA not too long ago at Oaks Gourmet on Franklin and Bronson. It was really cool to finally talk to you. You mentioned you liked my shade. I caught you live at The Living Room in NYC during that long residency you had around the time of Graduation Ceremony (one of my fav records of yours) and i’ve seen you at the Troub in LA and also at the Fonda opening for the Whigs. Your solo show, and how you incorporate your art and poetry/writing into it changed how I go about my show. Thank you for that. All I can say w/o being too preachy here is that (barring live and let live and it takes what it takes), is that one of the coolest things to me was that you were sober and that “sunlight of the spirit” really came through in music and live show. I feel like smoking weed might get in the way of that. Believe me I had a love affair with weed and “just” smoked weed after putting the drink down for many years. You know, I judged the rooms (personality over principles) and basically it almost killed me. Funny how you get away from the rooms and working a program and then “smoking a little weed” seems like a good idea again. Well, from my experience it leads you back to that same fucking place. We know that place. Not a good place for us. I hope that you can find your way back to the rooms again. That is the answer… I’ll be at the Teragram in LA on the 11th… yes, being vulnerable is … namaste.

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