Today I listened to the Joe Rogan Experience Podcast with Jewel as the guest. My sister recommended it to me after I told her I've been crying every day for the last few months and have been having trouble finding a therapist in this rural town I live in.
Jewel played a big role in my youth by helping me learn how to feel emotions. Her voice, her story, her lyrics...they all invoke such real, raw, heartfelt energy. At that time I was a teenage girl dealing with break-ups, fitting in, and well, sadly, addiction.
I was and still am surrounded by the disease of addiction. This silent phantom has been following my family around for generations. Fortunately, other than emotional trauma and distress, the claws of addiction haven't gripped into me physically. Don't get me wrong, I participated in a fair share of substance use in my teens and twenties, but I grew out of it. I pulled the plug eventually. I realized the extreme highs and lows of it all is not a sustainable way to live. Plus, I had a little human relying on me to be there for him.
This quiet monster has been lying dormant in my day to day life for several years now. Or so I thought. My life partner bravely chose the path of sobriety many years ago. And, the other addicts swirling around in my circle of family and friends seem to manage on their own, although, I'm quite sure they are silently struggling.
Recently though, I became aware that someone very close to me has unfortunately fallen into the dark hole of opioid misuse. As it turns out, this beast was just hiding and waiting for the right time to pounce on the next vulnerable being in our family. All of the feelings that I thought I had moved past have come roaring back in like a starving ferocious lion attacking its prey.
Jewel said something on that podcast that really struck a chord. Something like, "our culture forgot how to deal with and transmute pain".
SO MUCH TRUTH!!!
We are all so busy and distracted in these modern days. Busy checking our phones, reading emails, scrolling Instagram, Tik Tok, Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat, Whats App, going to work, making breakfast, making lunch, making dinner, going to the market, showering, doing laundry, sitting in traffic, relating to other humans each day, paying bills, suppressing all the feelings of being trapped in an ass backward society, all the while smiling and pretending this is all OK.
Who has time to feel any pain with that kind of to do list?! That list itself is pretty painful.
And we all start running on this hamster reel of modern capitalistic American life so young. Why? Because that's what our parents did. And their parents, and their parents. It may have looked a bit different when our great great grandparents were running on the wheel, or maybe they were moving at a bit of a slower pace, but believe me, they were still on the wheel.
Any feelings of,
"Why am I working for someone or some company that doesn't value me?"
"Why don't I fit in to this group of people?"
"What am I going to do for the rest of my life?"
"Why do I exist?"
We simply have learned to ignore them. Push them down. There's no time to feel that or process it. We have to keep going.
If we stop, we can't pay for our homes anymore. Then we become homeless. And how are homeless folks treated these days?
I'm only touching base on some very general collective feelings here. Then there are situations like domestic violence or sexual abuse that add more layers to the suffering.
So then what happens? Many of us try to find ways to numb the pain that keeps bubbling up to the surface somehow. That drink, that joint, that line, that pill, that prick...pick your poison. There are A LOT of them out there.
Now, let's talk about accessibility.
In my hay day, I use to have to page a guy, wait for him to call me back, drive my ass down to the Winchell's donut parking lot on the corner of PCH and Atlantic and wait some more. My weed dealer would show up, jump in my car, then we would drive to some random back alley to make the exchange and he would take off from there. The whole thing took like 3 hours...if he even called me back. When that gateway drug led me to using other substances, the way to get things got way shadier, and it took so much planning and commitment. At times, it just wouldn't work out because of all that.
But now, there's social media. You can literally buy any kind of pain numbing drug out there on Instagram, SnapChat, or whatever the fuck else is out there that I'm too old to know about. It's at our most vulnerable populations fingertips...our early teens, even tweens. The kids who are just entering into our society trying to figure out who they are and how they fit into this place without the reigns of their parents or caregivers holding them. They don't even use words to sell/buy it. They use fucking emoji's. And then it's either dropped off to them wherever they are, or picked up while they're out for a casual walk in the park.
When I hear psychiatrists and doctors say things like, "buying drugs on the dark web", I didn't use to think Instagram was that place, but newsflash, IT IS. There's probably so much other horrible shit going down on there too! I can only go down one rabbit hole at a time though.
The statistics of drug overdoses, suicide, and mental health struggles have tremendously increased since the early 2000's. Right around the time that Facebook came into all of our lives. Hmmmmmm.
Of course we all have the power and free will to not participate in social media. Just like we can choose to say no to drugs. But, think about it in the eyes of an early fragile teen for a second. Everyone at school has a smartphone. It's the way all of their peers interact with one other. There's already so many reasons for other kids to cast stones, being the weirdo, or poor person with no phone and no social media presence is comparable to social death. Also, realistically, parents want to be able to get in touch with their kids when they are walking home from school...an age old right of passage into adolescence.
So now, after hours of scrolling through other people's lives, comparing every little thing to their own lives, completely wrecking their self esteems, a little post or DM from someone comes along saying there's a pill that can ease that pain? It's like a kid in a candy store...literally!!
Where do we go from here?
Not a fucking clue.
I do know that I am feeling this pain immensely though. Not just for my loved one, but for all of our younger generations. It feels like they are being set up for failure. Their developing minds are being taken over by dopamine hits of media every waking minute of their days. Adults too. But, we are slightly wiser and our brains have fully grown. We are mostly able to see through the facade. And, if you're over 40, you remember what life was like pre-internet.
I am trying my best to deal with this pain in healthy ways. I'm doing yoga almost daily again. I'm walking and hiking out in nature often. I'm taking long salt baths. I'm letting myself cry when I'm alone (sometimes not alone). I'm talking about my feelings. I'm seeking therapy. I'm getting Reiki healing. I'm taking in healing herbs. I'm reading. I'm praying. Oh my God do I pray...I pray for sake of day, for a REVOLUTION! (Remember that 4 Non Blondes song?)
I am trying to figure out how to transmute this pain. This writing is my first step.