Friday, August 4, 2017

What's the opposite of ADDICTION?

I had seen the TED talk and video by Johann Hari espousing that the opposite of addiction is not sobriety it is connection. My sex worker friend and I discussed the over simplicity of this video and its valiant attempt at a reframing of an old paradigm. Half of it works for me. But, my friend J whom I have known to be in a long term relationship with a partner who died of a heroin overdose and who still has occasional use and a brand new relationship seems to defy the new norm this video maker wants us to believe. Hari is a staunch opponent of the war on drugs and this video is one that hopes to support its final obliteration in the Western minds with talks and viral animations on social media. My friend J currently does outreach to risky user communities who would be the addicts in the first isolated rat park model. "I appreciate where the video maker is coming from but such a complex issue can never be over simplified. Also it is important to recognize the rat park is a outdated study that does not include the system of of oppressions that humans face." For those of us that work or have worked closely, intimately with users and addicts we know that there is a lot more that solves or transitions chaotic or destructive use for someone.

This video doesn't speak to my experience, but maybe you? I kicked my marijuana addiction, but I still don't have my connection/inclusion needs managed...maybe I do. It's getting better here in Japan, AND once I get to Cali, I pick it right back up along with the connections that I miss, but with a NEWFOUND and successful bond with the substance knowing I can stop for any number of weeks, months etc...Weed for me came/comes with connections...its not simple, its deep deep in the crevices of the no love zone, dare you travel down there?

Hari's animated video touches briefly on trauma and its pull towards addiction, but Gabor Mate focuses more on it in his talks and theories. I appreciate his approach as well, as he has also done medical work on the most at risk area of Vancouver for most of his career. Mate quotes Eckhart Tolle saying,"all addictions begin in pain, and END in pain." and I again have to say, that wasn't true for me. My dependence began as a love bonding, continued as a love replacement and then ended with triumph and surprise. I started using marijuana daily with a partner as many people start using harder substances in relationship. Its all a fun party til you can't turn the music down when you want to right? While my daily use with that boyfriend began as a fun time, I realized how wonderful of a painkiller it was when we I used it to sooth me during our breakup. I can still describe it as "a mother's nipple when I am crawling in the darkness crying like an infant." And once I had started using weed as a coping mechanism, I seemed to never be able to stop for nearly 20 years. From the age of 22 until 39 I probably smoked every day minus great efforts to abstain for 2.5 months 1 or 2 years in a row. The typical quitting streak was 2-3 weeks. I fully felt addicted because I could NOT STOP despite my greatest efforts. I had great connection with weed. I started my career in sex worker activism when Robyn Few got me higher than a kite in a roomful of prostitution activist stoners. With the enthusiasm of MaryJane AND Robyn Few together in a smoky room we planned the beginnings of Sex Workers Outreach Project on a national level and organized Desiree Alliance in its origin years. So then, why was I not able to quit? I had a boyfriend most recently 2 years ago who tried his hardest to shame and compel me into quitting. That was the worst. So here, I am threatened with losing this new relationship over cheating on our agreement that I wouldn't smoke unless I was nauseous and felt like I needed it medically when I had a stomach infection. But the teen rebel in me HATES any exterior control so she will always cheat despite the consequences. Interventions for someone else's good do not work unless the person is on board with seeing her usage as a problem. I remember 3 of my housemates were trying to get me to cut down smoking on my bong everyday. I managed to do it for them for about 3 weeks as well. And when I confessed that I had given up one of them said,"oh it wasn't for us that you were doing it, it was for YOU." HA HA. I did end up getting kicked out of that house for other reasons but it was quite the unideal disconnected human tragedy that would drive someone deeper into addictive behaviors not away from them. Some humans can be so stupid about their caring techniques. The connection of AA works as a community replacer for many people to finally "get clean," engage in mentoring relationships and have an endless global community that will support them dropping in without an appointment at ANY TIME OF THE DAY. That IS the opposite of addiction for them for sure. And to them addiction is a medical disease. The AA model would probably not work for me either. I can be a lone wolf probably due to my trauma history. "why do people use?" Gabor Mate says,"because they have deep emotional problems that they don't have the means to resolve on their own." And he also acknowledges that with right support, addicts need to learn to BE WITH THEIR PAIN not try to escape it. Perhaps, it wasn't until I defied the boundaries of possible and moved to Japan that I was also able to simultaneously defy my other impossibility which was abstain from using cannabis for months. I consider my addiction issues resolved even though I still use the substance. J does as well, even after going through a detox program saying that was "kicking was the worst experience. one of the worst of my life. i couldn't do it again..."

I remember studying Lisa Najavits "Seeking Safety" group therapy model as a possible model to adapt for a sex worker support group I wanted to start to support myself. This group therapy model was meant to support the "co-occuring disorder" of PTSD mental illness and drug use as a coping mechanism during trauma recovery. The problem was the Najavits group model didn't seem to understand sex work outside of a risky behavior or crime and we sex worker activists begged to differ. But, in our defiance we often covered up our wounds with more substance and more sex work, AND many of us transformed our sex work addictions into sex work ACTIVIST ADDICTIONS. The glory of the fight, the media attention, the sexy community that came out of the woodwork to join you...it all seemed like the best thing to do with your time and money. Until we discovered that we couldn't escape our trauma that way. It only multiplied in a roomful of hurt people, who often went through their current coping mechanisms of hurting the community that they were supposed to be so happy to have found. I knew that I was coping with marijuana for several reasons and soothing myself from post traumatic stress disorder triggers was definitely one of the main reasons I never saw myself ever becoming sober, especially during the escort years where sexual violence and more trauma was an all too often occurring tragic continuum that I lacked the ability to deal with.

Mate states that "all addictions originate in childhood trauma." and since I earlier gave the visual of sucking on a bong feeling like the equivalent to sucking on a mother's nipple when screaming in the darkness, I'm sure I can agree that there is a strong childhood, if not infantile wound that I am attending to. A wound that I can't even put into talk therapy rooms because it likely occurred before my brain could even form words. Gabor Mate also talks about ancestral trauma. He had grandparents who were survivors of the Holocaust in Hungary, during this time all Jewish babies were meant to have incessant crying "problems." I have been hearing we hold ancestral wounds in our bodies for 5 or more generations. Finding connections when the substance connection is no longer enough. It is the courage to dig into the wound with the bravery of self growth instead of the usual escape. The CONNECTION that I lacked was the strength to connect to my pain, explore it, excavate it, overcome it, heal...When did the pain of rejection that I so needed to medicate begin? I am still discovering the truth of these imprints, with and without the aid of natural and synthentic substances.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

I am a Professional Drug User.

“I’m a professional drug user.” I said on the microphone proudly in front of a small crowd of Harm Reduction conference attendees. “No, seriously. I GET PAID to do drugs.” The crowd didn't balk, it was the kind of conference where half of the attendees were high or on a contact high from the energy of the others in the room. Safe injection rooms were par of the course and most of us were high functioning attendees doing our community work on our substance of choice. The drugs I was referring to however was not marijuana or cannabis, my daily dependence for 20 years. It was primarily cocaine. The other drug that i was paid to hold space for was crystal meth which I didn't like to do myself but many of my late night clients at the time were always on. I got paid to keep the company of drug users and addicts who were caught up in a cycle of spending money on impulses which signal comfort if not actually helping or genuine, it still is aimed to soothe the consumer of sex workers and drugs. And both sides are helping each other survive so they love each other for that even if there are obvious negative repercussions, consequences, lies they tell themselves to continue a behavior or job tolerance. To date the MOST money I have collected in one day of work is still the $10,000 i got for doing massive amounts of cocaine with an escort client. $1000 for every line I could put down. I never knew i was so capable but like most things in my life, i am always surprising myself with how resilient and strong i can be without even predicting it. This man could have been the gateway to a life of hell and addiction but despite the fact that there would be years of all nighters paid to do less drugs with less pay i still never got sucked into anything i couldn't walk away from or that was too irreversibly damaging. The difference between being a professional drug user and an addict is that the professional makes a profit. The addict not only doesn't make a profit but often does more and riskier work. But both are usually doing pretty risky work. My known job title is sex worker or escort however, the majority of my clients are either not capable or not interested in having much intercourse with me. These clients pay me to keep them company or watch them do strange things without judgment. Of course there ARE SOME sex acts involved but much of the time spent is in companionship and camaraderie around drug use. Many of these guys call me often so they have my trust and i can take a Xanax and fall asleep while they stay awake until the afternoon when i am ready to leave the motel and drive back to my house. However, there is of course sometimes a definite exciting party atmosphere as part of some nights and I am indulging in some quintessential studio 54 type rock star experience. This IS of course extremely fun and hot. I learned how to share a cock just like a porn star with a real porn star and a famous DJ who ended up trying to not pay me! And despite the amounts of drugs induced, I remember the blow job just like it was YESTERDAY! And of course, there are nights and days like these for me to enjoy. In the last 5 years of me deciding to take on this sect of the sex work clientele I’ve gotten my share of excitement, adventure, repulsive and traumatic stories to share or to try to forget forever. This is what minimal screening gets you in the late night market. IF they could get through a few sentences of intuition screening on the phone and didn't sound like they were smoking a crack pipe while talking to me on the call I would feel safe to jump in my car and head over alone. The only thing i had to protect me was my stun gun and martial arts but what i convinced myself for YEARS at this time of my life, was that anything I saw or did ONCE, was never so bad.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Dysfunctional Whore Drama

Don't become a sex worker if you like feeling worth something.

People will make it clear they don't value your life.

Men will say they care then be abusive.

Women will be jealous, worried you're sleeping with their dude, don't even think about dating one.

_________________

I stopped on this 📪 of a FB friend to comment recently because I remember making posts like this and feeling this way. Anger. Bitterness and Pain. Pain that I didn't want to ever admit I had in any overt way except that my posts were screaming to the world “Can you FUCKING feel my pain? Don't you fucking care about me?” because i knew they didn't.   The tricky part about being the owner of the lips that speak this truth is that they are often super quick to spit venom at anyone who dares to call me them a victim, even though we are screaming from victim mode. Dont you dare point out my own pain to me.  “I am NOT your fucking BAND AID solution, FUCK your band aid.” she will say and throw that shit to the ground even if it might have been useful.  The words might vary but the meaning and reaction will be the same.

So i stay away usually.   I learned the hard way that NO ONE LIKES UNSOLICITED ADVICE or coaching.   EVEN if they are on Facebook asking for comments.

We recently observed another International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. My mentor and best friend Scarlot Harlot veteran sex worker activist referred to it as IDEVASW and I didnt even know what the acronym was. “oh is that what the kids are calling it these days? I didn't know. I'm out of the loop.”  Annie Sprinkle and myself and I'm sure there are others both concur that we stay away because we have each been verbally attacked and traumatized by other sex workers at  IDEVASW events.  so now i avoid the whole scene.  Sex workers are a highly  traumatized community and it can be a volatile and fragile place to spend time for some. Mainly for those that have transgressed the violence with some method to survival and appear to be “happy hookers.”  Happy hookers are not welcome at an event where the names of the dead and murdered are being read out loud. Happy hookers are not welcomed by the unhappy hookers. Sometimes they try and succeed in taking away your happiness.  It can be a misdirected stab a thon where no one is spared.  The attack can wound you so deep you have to seek therapy to heal from the violence you received as a result of attending an event intended for healing violence!  

Its a difficult internal problem that i have long given up trying to solve. But this day as i was reading updates on my wall i stopped to comment because the old me still remembers what it feels like to be on the world's MOST HATED LIST. But perhaps it was all in my head.  Not that the disregard to sex worker lives was imagined, just that the REALITY I CHOSE WAS TRULY IN MY HEAD. We create our own realities based on the stories we choose to tell ourselves on a daily basis, then we attract results and situations that reflect this inner truth. I didn't learn that was true until years later after I decided I was fed up with my results and committed to changing my focus, to changing the story echoing in my head.  I commented,”Well what are the amazing and GREAT things that being a sex worker has showed you about the world and people?” i wrote in her comment stream.  Offering a reframe...treading lightly, expecting a defensive punch in the jaw at any moment...this coming from the words of the compassionate lifecoach but mostly coming from the former sex worker who has also felt these same feelings not too many years ago. I was attempting to refocus her story.

“i'm not in the mood to be a happy hooker right now.”  GOT IT. “i’m totally not being that, i just saw your post and stopped to show you some love.” she gave my comment a thumbs up.

And i sighed relief that she didn't hit too hard.  This is what i feel whenever entering these spaces be them physical or online headspaces. I'm too sensitive to absorb these attacks because I'm not a front line soldier armed with my own quick ego defenses anymore, and because I've been unfairly and cruelly ripped down while singing on stage last year at an IDEVASW event last year, among other violence I've received from other community members.  I'm not as tough as I used to be. Ive allowed myself to get soft and I've allowed myself to see the world and the people in it in more ways than are currently offered in the sex worker community.

This also brings different choices.  And one of these choices is to avoid people and situations that are potentially volatile for my own protection. A part of me keeps some groups and pages on my notifications so i can check if anything has changed, but unfortunately the last time i tried to offer solidarity to sex workers on one of the red umbrella pages when backpage shut down someone ran up to me with a reactionary comment knife and i left it without argument so she could think she won that battle. But in truth what i didn't have the energy or desire to write in a place where she would ignite into an argument was that “All i said was “im in solidarity with you but i guess you wont allow me to do even that. arguing with other whores is neither a good use of your or my time so...im just going to let you think you’ve won even though you’ve done absolutely fucking nothing to solve the greater issue at hand in any way except temporarily stroke your ego.” i said nothing. And in this case silence equals non violence. Dysfunctional whores can suck it amongst themselves.  They dont want me and i dont want them. Anti. Social. Just Me. Lone Warrior. Peace.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Journal of Times I Might Have Forgotten How Painful if Not for Saving Old Journals

7/28/11 Another close race to the 1st of the month. Just used my lil disposable income to place an Eros ad. they only charged me $95 this time. I am STILL recovering from Monday. I will NEVER use this shit again. Its just my little codependent tendencies. I succumbed to the loneliness of the PNP hell. Pulled me in. And now I am even more alone with it all. I simply can't believe that I spent 8 months allowing his mediocre shit head coke/meth snorting lame ass into my body over and over. Today was going ok until it became just like a work date and I got scared. I just can't believe how much my body is being ravaged by this drug. But I guess its good because it really shows me how awful it is. Just like Carlos. He kept me on his "payroll." His lame ass. I was his cheap little dirty fuck and I loved it. Good ol Destiny Inn off the freeway. I have to drive past it every time and I have flashbacks. He sucked me in so easily because there was no one else who gave a shit. No one else wanted to hold me in the world. I was so very alone and I know exactly why I needed him. There was nothing else but my own loneliness to comfort me and it was so so sad. The last time we got high I was not having fun. It was as if I was coming down almost immediately as I went up. It was scary. I am obsessing over my ok cupid profile. TMI as always.

What a perverse addiction it is....but we all NEED TO EAT. or at least that's why I always tell myself afterwards.

I needed a lil drugs....a lil money....and...a lil LOVE. And really the amounts indeed were just that. Little.

A lil drugs cuz the lack of money, a litl money cuz the lack of love. Just the basics in doses I tried to be in control of...If that is an addiction then I guess I'm just a basic neccesity junkie phening for another cure for my lonely cries aching for someone to hold me, kiss me sweetly. It could be so much worse. I'm so glad I am blessed to live and continue to give.

I came to you cuz my pockets were in need. You were the only one there willing to let me stay the night. Some-BODY to hold and receive my love. The love that I have been dying to give someone deserving. 7 days ago I purposely self destructively, self harmed myself in an effort to PURGE this man's evil and ugly connection to my beauty. I did it in a way that was somewhat risky and somewhat reckless but in a way that I knew would not be too dangerous.

It was an amazing high for about an hour. And then it was all downhill from there...

7 days it stayed in the muscle fibers of my body nasty chemicals infusing my pure heart full of LOVE THAT HE NEVER DESERVED. I sometimes asked myself why but I was able to finally analyze every aspect of why I went to him each time he called and i was able to FORGIVE MYSELF for having the desire to have my basic needs fulfilled. My tank was running on empty and he would offer to fill me up. Not a lot, just a little and then...always the inevitable disappointment. For 7 days I felt physical pain in my body which served as a reminder of the drug that I never shall put in my body again.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

LET THEM GO!

Everyday in America seems to top the day before with another unbelieveable fulfillment of Trump’s campaign promise for making America stink again. As I write this there are about 1-200 people held in airport detention centers in every airport, numbering in the thousands across the U.S. Activists and armed police have filled the International terminals of major airports chanting “Let them Go!” It’s the first time I’ve ever seen crowds of activists inside of a building, and a clear reminder to all of us how easy it is to enforce martial law for a select population using blockage of entry ports controlled by the state, now 8 days under the control of a fascist commander in chief.

Crossing through ANY immigration system can be frightening, even if you think you have privileges. Officials have ONE NARROW LENS in the name of protecting their country and the right to search your body, car, baggage, read your love letters and your journal without a warrant, make fun of you, rip off your hijab, grab your pussy, yell, detain you for hours, move you to an immigration facility which will turn into days, months or decades as in Guantamo Bay... and even if you aren't found guilty, if you got this far in their punishment process every time you try to pass through or visit it will be the same hell...5, 10, 15 yrs later! Immigration never forgets. Always, always have a timed screen lock on your smartphone or it is open season search of all your emails and social media.

Oh Canada asks me,"Have you ever been in trouble with us before?" and I wanted to say,"No." and just catch my connecting flight but I reluctantly tell the truth and missed my flight to Japan. The white guy waiting next to me said he had an incident 15 years ago. We both watched the woman from Canadian immigration yell at the wife to "answer for herself!" instead of having her husband answer/interpret for her.

Luckily, I’ve never been convicted of a DUI, because having a DUI, among other crimes, such as drug addiction or possession of a controlled substance convictions for sure will render you inadmissable to the Great Land of the Beaver. If you have an addiction but never went to a mandated treatment program (another good reason to seek non conventional solutions to addiction like ayahuasca) and never got arrested for it, then you can try your luck at the border.

I did try to drive across the border with a weed pipe in my car thinking that is was not a big deal. It was one of the biggest deals of my life. They searched my car, my person, detained me for close to 10 hours, read my journal out loud to me while laughing, and scrolled through my Facebook posts. It was pretty horrifying. I made it through the ordeal but the next day the PTSD kicked in and I could not stop crying. It was New Year’s Eve and I had made it back to Seattle, having to find strength to “celebrate.” The very first thing I did of course was drive to a dealer’s house to medicate my instability and pain. I am a white American female. NO exceptions were made for little supposedly privileged me. I don’t even need to imagine the pain that these 1000s of detainees, i can take myself back to that place quite easily. But for me, I was just on a little road trip, thinking it would be cool to drive from Seattle to Canada for just a night and visit a friend. I’d get some weed when I got across the border but I didn’t want to spend the extra money for a pipe.

The stakes are much higher for most of the people being held. They are fearing instant deportations, life ruin, family separation, life shattering consequences. Syrian refugees seeking peace in America after escaping war, losing their families, after months upon YEARS of waiting though the current vetting process that is already in place, will be turned away after all that waiting and hoping. "We don't want 'em here." One of the Iranian born victims of Trumps policy had her flight rerouted to a different country and was stranded. “I am broken, I never thought I could cry for so long.” The reason that the ban is on all Muslim majority countries, according to a CNN clip i just saw, was that he was seeking to create a “religious test” for 90 days. It is not related to “the lessons from 9/11” as Trump states because the countries where the terrorists of the WTC were from Egypt, U.A.E, and Saudi Arabia which are not listed on the banned countries list. This is the disgusting version 2017 Executive Order 9066.