Addiction, Dear Life., depression, Guest Posts

Dear Life: I Self-Medicate! What Should I Do?

January 26, 2015
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Welcome to Dear Life: An Unconventional Advice Column.

Your questions get sent to various authors from around the world to answer (and please keep sending because I have like 567 writers that want to answer your burning questions. Click here to submit a letter or email dearlife@jenniferpastiloff.com.) Different writers offer their input when it comes to navigating through life’s messiness. We are “making messy okay.” Today’s letter is answered by Shannon Brugh, whose previous essay on the site did phenomenally! 

Send us your questions because there loads of crazy authors waiting to answer ‘em. Just kidding, they aren’t crazy.

Well okay, maybe a little.

Aren’t we all? xo, Jen Pastiloff, Crazy Beauty Hunter. ps, I will see you in London Feb 14th, then Atlanta and NYC again in March!

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above. No yoga experience required. Only requirement: Just be a human being.

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above. No yoga experience required. Only requirement: Just be a human being.

Dear Life,

I have gone through hell and back since I was born. I will save you the gory details and tell you that I am about to be 27 and have finally arrived at the most peaceful place, spiritually speaking, that I have ever been. But as I am finding peace in my work, family and friendships, a new career opportunity suddenly presented itself. I have been a bartender for the past eight years and, after graduating from college, am trying to move on to a more secure career that is conducive to raising a family. Two days ago I received an email for a lead on a job as a liquor rep in center city Philadelphia. I live about an hour from there currently but lived there for three years during my undergrad. I am perfect for this job. 100%.  But one requirement is that I must submit to a drug test prior to being hired. I have suffered from severe anxiety, depression, OCD and PMDD for at least the past ten years and smoking pot has significantly relieved my symptoms. I am nervous that if I get a call for an interview in the next couple weeks, I would definitely not pass the test. What do I do?? I am a good hearted, intelligent and motivated young woman. I have spent time in Rwanda. I want to save the world. I know I would be an asset to any company in the world, but I smoke pot to relax. I don’t know what to do. Please help me.

thank you, J

Ps… That was a complete free flow of thought. I apologize if it was long-winded.

Join Jen Pastiloff, the founder of The Manifest-Station, in The Berkshires of Western Massachusetts in Feb of 2015 for a weekend on being human. It involves writing and some yoga. In a word: it's magical.

Join Jen Pastiloff, the founder of The Manifest-Station, in The Berkshires of Western Massachusetts in Feb of 2015 for a weekend on being human. It involves writing and some yoga. In a word: it’s magical.

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Guest Posts, Sex, Sexuality, Truth

Wild: A Non Cautionary Tale of One Crazy Summer.

January 26, 2015
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beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black1-300x88By Kathleen Emmets.

I firmly believe everyone should have a period in their life where they can look back and say, “Damn, I was wild.” A reckless, free experience they can call upon during their most mundane moments. When life is filled with mortgage payments, sick babies and arguments over who’s turn it is to empty the dishwasher, you can stop and remember a time when you gave zero fucks and ran wild with desire.

Mine was one summer in a dive bar in Brooklyn.

I was 17 years old and already looking for a way out. Out of my house, my life, my own head. As a child, there was an emptiness inside me that I could never quite fill. A void I can’t remember ever living without. I never truly felt like I belonged anywhere, so I tried to fit in everywhere.

I wasn’t driven enough for the nerds, not cool enough for the ‘Mean Girls.’ I’ve always had a wicked sense of humor, which probably saved me from being a complete social pariah, but school was tough for me. Deep insecurities would rear their ugly heads and I would find myself locked behind a bathroom stall in a state of panic, swearing no one liked me because I was such a loser. I couldn’t wait to graduate and move on to something else; to what, I had no idea. I just knew I wanted out.

One night in my senior year, my older brother invited me to a birthday party at a bar in our old neighborhood. It was for a close friend of his, a kid my parents knew very well so they didn’t have a problem letting me go. What could possibly happen, right? So off I went with a $20 bill my dad have given me to a bar I’d heard about for years. I have to add this was pre-gentrification Brooklyn; when what is now referred to as Kensington was called Flatbush and it was pretty sketchy. Not an area you’d walk around in at night. And this bar, well, if you didn’t know it was there…you’d never know it was there. The front entrance faced the train tracks, the back door led to an oft-deserted street. It had stools, a dartboard and the most amazing jukebox I’d ever heard. I’ve been to many bars since and still have not found a better one. It was dark. It was dingy. And it was perfect: the kind of place where a lost 17-year-old girl could raise some hell and find some trouble.

My brother and his gang of friends were regulars there, and I tagged along whenever he would let me. Soon enough, I didn’t need him to bring me anymore because I became friendly with one of the owners. Seventeen-year-old girls don’t realize bar owners are ‘friendly’ with all the pretty jailbait. I’d find this out much later. The first time I went there without my brother, I brought a friend. The owner asked what we were drinking. I probably said something lame like a Sea breeze. He, ignoring my order, proceeded to pour out shots for us. “They taste like bubblegum,” he said. They did, so we had two more. Then two more. We started talking to two guys I had met there a few times before. We ordered more drinks. My head was spinning. The night ended with us getting sick in the bathroom and grabbing a cab from a (thankfully) very trustworthy driver. I woke up the next morning with a hangover that could have killed a horse and a smile that lasted several days. I decided then and there that drinking was fun and something I wanted to do more of. Ahhh youth.

Join Jen Pastiloff, the founder of The Manifest-Station, in The Berkshires of Western Massachusetts in Feb of 2015 for a weekend on being human. It involves writing and some yoga. In a word: it's magical.

Join Jen Pastiloff, the founder of The Manifest-Station, in The Berkshires of Western Massachusetts in Feb of 2015 for a weekend on being human. It involves writing and some yoga. In a word: it’s magical.

Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, LBGQ

Fragment.

January 25, 2015
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beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black1-300x88By Sally J. Johnson.

I am about to bleed over everything.

*

Late one night, after a series of miscommunications strand us, my friend and I ask a cab driver to drop us off at my boyfriend’s place. Leave, we said, we’ll sleep here. When I knock on my boyfriend’s window to see if I can wake him from being drunker than I am, the glass in the pane undoes itself and a blade of it is buried deep in my left leg. I begin pouring more than the sky can be envious of. I pull the piece from my thigh and bleed in latitudes. I howl for my friend to call an ambulance, for something safe to come humming through the night toward me. She tells me later how my heartbeat felt in her hands: hot and unstoppable. But right then she thought she’d lose me.

*

Once, I dated a man who broke me into tiny pieces of myself but first pretended to fix me. He would make benches and useful, holding things out of wood. He made me a shelved mirror, which I treasured, then painted over, then threw away. He once wanted to save me money and so knelt on the cement of his garage to change my worn-to-the-metal brake pads. Instead of fixing anything, he shouldered a dent into the silver of my car. I had to take a car to a professional for the brakes, but left the crater. Later and again and again he would show me how to be useful by doing things useful for him. He built me a box, not out of wood, but from his own insistence that I was just a tiny thing meant to ask for permission to be anything more. I don’t know much about fixing anything except that a wrench is nothing without force or oil. So much of me bent out of place.

*

Somehow, when that window etched itself inside me, my cyclic scream did not wake my boyfriend but I was loud enough to pull the neighbors from sleep. I do not remember this, but they tell me they placed me on the ground before I would have fallen there myself. There, I make a large black stain they will hide under their welcome mat. I fall in and out of falling. I am wet with blood and rain and the water they pour on me to wake me. I am carried into an ambulance and my earrings—tiny pieces of painted glass on wire—are taken from me. Kept safe.

*

When I was very small, I accidentally stepped on a baby bird who had fallen out of her nest. I was barefoot. I wasn’t looking where I was going because I was cradling my cousin’s shoulders. Carrying him with my sister, pretending to aid his pretend wounds (even children know tenderness comes after a fall). I felt the little life of feathers crush beneath me. Of course, stepping on the beak and bones hurt me, but I never tell anyone that is a pain I remember.

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above. No yoga experience required. Only requirement: Just be a human being.

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above. No yoga experience required. Only requirement: Just be a human being.

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death, Grief, Guest Posts, healing

The Hole.

January 25, 2015
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By Mandy Hitchcock.

The four of us sit at the breakfast table in the sunroom. We’re still in our pajamas. The morning sun pours in, and I blink rapidly at the sunbursts in my eyes. It’s a hot and humid late August day, but inside we are cool.

Our three-year-old sits between Ed and me, too big for a booster seat anymore but too small still to reach the table from a regular chair, so he is on his knees, carefully unrolling one of the freshly baked but entirely canned orange cinnamon rolls his dad has prepared us for breakfast. He finishes unrolling it, and now that it’s a long boring strip, he decides that it’s no good and hands it back to his dad. I take it, roll it tightly again, and offer it back to him. “Is that better?” I say. “Yeah!” he says gleefully, grabbing it and finally taking a bite.

On my other side, our newly minted one-year-old daughter perches in her high chair, working her newly minted pincer grasp to pick up the tiny pieces of cinnamon roll I have torn up for her to eat. We were so much stricter with sugar two kids ago, but I’m as unreasonable as ever about choking hazards. She’s clearly frustrated with the small pieces, shoveling them by the handful and squawking at me for something more substantial. Or maybe she wants milk. It’s still tough to tell at this stage.

It’s these moments—these moments when life feels so very close to being absolutely perfect, almost maddeningly close—that I am stunned, again, by how absolutely imperfect, how irrevocably and horribly wrong it all is.

It’s in these most ordinary-extraordinary moments, these moments that seem to happen every day and yet almost never, when she is most absent. As we four sat, savoring our rare vacation treat of canned orange cinnamon rolls, she was so missing. So missing that I couldn’t help but imagine her there, even almost see her, on the other side of the table next to her dad, squinting at the sun in her eyes. Gangly and knobby-kneed now, with not the slightest hint of the chubby cheeks that graced her sweet face when last I saw her. Those exquisite knees pulled up tight and tucked under her nightgown. Hair maybe long enough at last for a braid but still so wispy that the braid can barely contain it. A five-year-old kid. “Five-and-a-half, Mom!” I can almost hear a small but indignant voice say. “Mommy” would surely have given way to “Mom” by now.

She’s right there, and like the sunbursts in my eyes, I can see her only until I try actually to look at her, and then she glides away.

It’s been four years, four months, and seventeen days since my daughter Hudson died from a sudden and incredibly aggressive bacterial meningitis infection. She was seventeen months old. One day, she was an otherwise healthy toddler with what appeared to be an ordinary toddler virus. The next day, she was fatally ill. Three days after that, she was gone.

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above. No yoga experience required. Only requirement: Just be a human being.

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above. No yoga experience required. Only requirement: Just be a human being.

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Family, Guest Posts, motherhood

It Gets Cold in Florida.

January 24, 2015
berkshiresdotorg

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By Victoria Fedden.

It gets cold in Florida. Most people don’t realize that, but around Thanksgiving the temperature predictably dips down into the 40s, at least at night, and shocks all the tourists. I should’ve known better. I’ve lived here for the past fifteen years, but this morning I’m not prepared for anything, least of all shivering in a prison yard, sockless, without a jacket.

I forgot everything: the zip-loc bag, the right amount of cash for the vending machines, quarters for a soda because when they have visitors is the only time they can get a cold can of diet coke and that’s a big treat. I remembered not to wear green. They’d already sent two people home for wearing the wrong color. One man stormed off on his Harley, livid. The other woman cried and said it was Thanksgiving weekend and she was wearing lime green, nothing like the inmates’ olive uniforms, but the guards told her she should know the rules by now and she had to leave. A three hour drive up and back all for nothing. I’d driven four hours, with a four year old, which made it seem like eight. Would they send us home too?

I’m so scared I’m sick, but when you have a child who looks to your cues, you have to hide your fears so she feels safe. I fail at this too often. I break down sometimes daily, in sobs on the bathroom floor. There are days when it feels like I may literally die from anxiety, grief, regret over what this has done to my marriage and how I am damaging my child the way I was damaged. I always said I would be the one to break the cycle, but here I am, right here on the hamster wheel and I am taking my child to visit her grandmother in jail, mad because this is not the life I imagined for my daughter or myself. Just last week at preschool drop-off I watched my daughter bound into her classroom and then brazenly announce to her classmates: “My mommy cried ALL day yesterday!”

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above. No yoga experience required. Only requirement: Just be a human being.

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above. No yoga experience required. Only requirement: Just be a human being.

Continue Reading…

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