52 x 36 x2 re-envisioned antique gold frame from a estate sale on church st. CHS. said to be from 1960s. lavender + powdered lavender + plaster + concrete + oil + sand + ground crystal quartz + ground rose quartz + layers of linen in between plaster to create top right texture + rock pigment.
My entire life I’ve had to learn to adapt to highly chaotic situations. How to figure out the ins and outs of what aroused chaos and how to feel out the energy of a room. Always in fight or flight mode. My nervous system was constantly activated. I craved stability. I craved being able to be alone, in a quiet peaceful space where I could truly unwind and connect with myself.
After I left Rhode Island, my active addiction was in full swing. I was the chaos. I was the danger in the room. It was like a dark cloud was always around me but I was attracting it while blaming others for making it rain. When the entire time I was the thunder, lightning, and wind. Delusionally having no idea. Pulling out the victim card. That craving for peace and quiet was filled with loud screaming frantic energy that filled my head anytime I was left alone with myself. I ran so far away from myself that I had no anchor at all. My substance use was causing my moods to be unpredictable and unmanageable. Attaching myself to anything that felt like an anchor, but most of the time it was pulling me deeper out of myself. It took a couple of years to achieve a few months of sobriety. Within those little pockets of time, even without the substances, I couldn't stand being alone with myself. The only way I knew how to cope was with instantly gratifying behaviors that even sober still put me directly in harm's way. I was more comfortable in chaos than in the silence I craved for two decades.
The longer I stayed sober the more my tolerance for chaos decreased. When I stopped seeking "excitement" I was able to really start to enjoy the process of learning how to enjoy the simplest things in life.
My friends and I had this running “joke” where we assessed which one of us would die first if the world ended. Who would be able to fight to survive, forage, hunt + gather? It was a running joke that always ended in playful arguments and testimonies of why and how we would survive. At that time I was about 3 years sober, and my friends had years and years of sobriety time. We were on vacation, and I was getting ready to go cliff jumping. Climbing this rock in Tennessee about to jump 60 feet while basically tripping the entire way up, my friend looked at me and said “you do not respect the power of mother nature”. I’ve always been naive and impulsive when I would get into a headspace where my main focus was looking for an adrenaline rush simply to feel anything at all, in active addiction and sobriety.
I was working in the mental health field, loving every moment of being able to connect with other people in recovery. I think I equally loved having to focus on everyone else but myself. Starting to fall back into feeling addicted to chaos to get out of my own head. Lacking any personal boundaries, avoiding processing any of my trauma, people pleasing, seeking validation, and rarely spending a minute alone I burnt out really quickly. Lasting just about 3 years working in the field, being something I loved so much but something I used as my main coping skill for life. I had no idea what to do with myself once it was over. While working at the treatment center, I was faced head-first with events that triggered my cPTSD. Looking back, after the excruciating pain of digging all of those memories out of my head and body to process them - I have no idea how I managed to get through some of those days the way I did. Making it easier to break down to my therapist wondering if there was something seriously wrong with me because I would rather re-live the feelings of trauma than find safety/security.
Learning that it was completely normal was one of the most important conversations I've ever had in my life. Having to adapt so long to prepare my body for unexpected explosive events daily formed this coping skill of complete and total avoidance. Adapting to survive. If I felt it all I don't think I would have. Compartmentalizing events into categories of "good" or "bad". "my fault" or "not my fault, maybe..". Everything fit into a category where I'd lock it away, and keep moving.
I have since evolved to be in a state of healing. I worked so hard to find a way to be with myself. At first, it was so uncomfortable. I would still need to keep myself stimulated with sources of distraction, but little by little making huge shifts to learn how to start building a relationship with myself. Learning to adapt to my new reality of setting important boundaries to be able to heal. Spending time creating and dreaming about what this healthy version of myself could be.
Leaving chaos behind and losing every possible source of drama becomes addicting in itself. This entire summer I have been reminiscing on how many different lives I feel like I've lived. I cannot even tap into who I was a few years ago, it feels like a movie I watched or a story I heard. For the past almost two years I've gotten up and chosen every single day to do something to help heal my core. It took a long time to set the boundaries I needed to, but when I did I felt like I could breathe for the first time. Even though there are many days I wake up with anxiety and fear this serenity is too good to be true, those feelings decrease when I make the choice to work through them. Instead of stuffing them away somewhere. Feelings of self-doubt, fear, worry, loneliness, and sadness will crop up no matter how happy you are. It is a part of being human. Finding magic in the way humans can adapt to their surroundings inspires me every day to keep working towards creating my idea of my perfect surroundings. With a deep knowledge that I cannot run from my feelings because they will always come back to the surface. I developed gratitude for feeling intensely knowing that if I work through them now I will keep evolving into the best version of myself.
You will adapt to the environment you keep. If you are stuck in a cycle of being around negative people, chaos, and people who treat you less than you deserve: you will keep evolving into that kind of environment. The more I shed the layers of what was holding me back, set boundaries, and learned how to be alone the more I actually felt myself changing. I couldn't evolve while I was still connected to my past.
I want to challenge you to think about one thing you can change today that would help you take one step towards being the best version of yourself.