Pushing the garbage out of the nest…

4 Sep

When I was 16 and arrived home from my 2 year group home stint, I had to socially “clean house”.  The emotionally unruly, psychologically broken, and behaviorally challenged individuals in my life had to go.  The constant whirlwind of  drama they produced was an attractive distraction to my mundane teen aged Midwest suburban existence-   but it came with a price that was just too high (ie: the previously mentioned 2 year group home stint).  So I socially purged, clung to the anchor of my grounded and solid friends to ride out the repercussions-  and all was well.  For a while.

When I was 22 and found myself married, with a baby, a full-time college student and working, I again had to socially “clean house”.  The drunken haze of my first couple years at college rolling around the “punk bar scene” had slowly pulled my guard down, and I again found myself surrounded with emotionally unruly, psychologically broken, and behaviorally challenged individuals.  But within the few years since the last purging, the drama stakes had been hiked up astronomically. The emotional toll of being surrounded by these people’s self-inflicted destructive behavior (which the term “madness” doesn’t even begin to cover it) was too much for my very full plate.  So again, my sane and grounded friends held my hand while one by one, I removed the madness (in some cases making phone calls telling people that I loved them, but they needed to lose my number).  Again, there was a backlash from these people- but eventually all was well.  For a while.

Now I’m 34.  Long remarried with a handful pre-teen child, working a day-job while trying to keep my art deadlines and business afloat during a dead economy.  I had desperately hoped that by my age, the embarrassing and disgusting drama of my teen aged years and from my drunken years would be gone.  I had all my fingers and toes crossed that by this point in my life the “rolling around in your own shit and calling it art” was done.  The pathetic need to pick and poke at people to cause a stir, and the “dwelling in your own misery that you created because you’re bored” was far behind us all.  I hoped that the traumatically broken mindset of “bonding through trauma” and “staying in the sickness” because of some pathetic romantic ideals set by Bukowski (or some similar bullshit) had died after people had gotten their coffee-shop poetry out of their system in college.  Because, ya know- we’re adults and all that jazz.  We have kids and mortgages and day jobs and careers and bills and responsibilities- so who has the emotional resources for crazy nonsense?  Because I don’t.  But, apparently many do.  And like before, the drama stakes have been hiked up even more because we all have more to lose.  And I have, yet again, found myself in the position of having to socially purge.  I’m very lucky to have found a small handful of really solid people out here in Orange County (and of course I have my tried-and-true friends back in Kansas whose love I never have to question), and I can burrow into them while I systematically tell all the crazies out here to fuck off… but it really makes me sad that at this life stage, I’m still having to purge.

So here’s to cleaning house.  If I don’t accept your repeated attempts to be my friend on facebook, or if you have found yourself removed from my buddy list, or you don’t see me out with Brad at your social event- take that as a sign that you are either too much of a handful for me, or I’m done with you trying to pick at my life/marriage/etc.  There’s a difference between leaning on a friend, and sucking a friend dry then jumping up and down on the carcass.  My carcass has had enough.  Walk away peacefully.  I have.

Hopefully at age 45 I won’t have to do this again.  I don’t need anything else to make me more reclusive.


12 Responses to “Pushing the garbage out of the nest…”

  1. Lucy September 4, 2010 at 12:59 pm #

    You always have such an accurate and amazing way of putting things that I can often relate to!

    I have come to realise that most of the people I have connected with, hung out with or identified with in the last few years of my life have been so wrong for me (and I’m 24)! I’ve been treated like shit time and time again and just thought it was normal for people to do that (mostly guys, for the record). I’m so glad I have better (if VERY few) people in my life now that aren’t so riddled with what you have called “self-inflicted destructive behavior”. I’d say that pretty much sums up most people I’ve come in contact with in DIY punk scenes I’ve come across. I know this because I have moved on myself and I can see the contrast. I think certain social groups breed and give grounds for a certain kind of self-indulgent regressive behaviour. I like it so much better now I’ve shed that skin.

    I think it’s good for the soul to have a filter out. You can redefine and have more control over these areas of your life once again 🙂

    Much love to you! xxx

    • Kristen Ferrell September 4, 2010 at 9:00 pm #

      It’s all about boundaries… which I used to be no good at. I collected “strays” and broken people, and then made them my security. And unbalanced people don’t make for a very secure relationship. I’m pretty good about it now- and the one great thing that all these strays and broken people has taught me is how to spot a nutso person… and I can now spot them out of a crowd. And it’s good to have drama-radar.
      But yes- certain social groups do have more emotional instability than others. And when I was in college, I ran around with all the crusty punks- and there was ALWAYS madness. Too much madness to handle. Unfortunately- some people don’t grow out of that.
      Stay strong, loveliness! And much love to you too!!

  2. Annony-mousey September 4, 2010 at 1:20 pm #

    Shot in the dark here… The uuuuuber-dirty OC/LA Cool Kids Social Club of AA and NA getting to you? The only place on the planet where it’s hip as fuck to one-up each other on “When I was a junkie stripper” stories and whoever has the most scarred veins wins.
    oh SNAP!!!

    • Kristen Ferrell September 4, 2010 at 9:11 pm #

      Oh shit! Hahahahahahaha!!!! Since I live in the sobriety capitol of the world, I am not permitted to comment on that. I’ll get flaming “Big Books” thrown through my window.

      But I am always amazed and highly irritated when OC sobriety drama slaps me in the face, considering I’m not a sober person and don’t do “sober person” things despite the fact that I have loved ones who are sober. And it makes me drink even more. 😉

  3. Kat September 4, 2010 at 3:50 pm #

    I’ve had to do the same thing. I enjoy being around creative, dynamic people. I like being around people who have ideas. The difficulty is when people like that give up on themselves. They haven’t succeeded at blah blah blah, so why the hell should you? They become enormous, toxic anchors, trying to drag down you, your career, your marriage, whatever you have buoying you up.
    It took a long, long time for me to learn that drowning people tend to drown people who jump in to rescue them. It took me longer to learn how to throw a line to them. And it took me even longer to learn how to walk away when they insisted the water was fine even as it choked them.
    It was the hardest thing I had to learn. I don’t envy you having to clean house, Kristen. But I am glad you are able to do it.

    • Kristen Ferrell September 4, 2010 at 9:17 pm #

      My solid and stable friends will ALWAYS have my heart, and I will ALWAYS help them no matter what. But those stable friends of mine will help themselves more than anything I can do for them… which means they are HEALTHY people. That’s the difference. They don’t thrive on and roll around in their own shit. They don’t enjoy the madness because it brings them the satisfaction of attention from others or excuse their craptastic behavior. The friends that I keep near and dear enjoy fun good times and smiling- and handle their struggles in emotionally stable way. Anyone who isn’t able to do that has to be kept at arms-length. You stated it so wonderfully- because they unhealthy people WILL drag you down… even if it’s just for their own amusement.

      • Almost Lost in crazyland September 4, 2010 at 10:06 pm #

        OH SHIT, you put it all into perspective, everything I have ever thought about this. I was one of those people, well not the crazy version, but I went slightly crazy because I was with crazies! It was the most unproductive, most disgusting time of my life. I still chose to remain “clean” from the things that made me nuts, but I cannot go there with these people….ever. One is an extension of another and another and so on and so on, its a huge Web. Every time I think I have let enough time by and I grow up a little more, I forget and think maybe they have changed too. WRONG, it takes no time at all until I am right back where I was, the only difference now is I can see it coming and I bow out gracefully before I am knee deep in horse shit. I have never seen so many boo hoo poor me spoon fed degenerates in one area in my life. It’s an Epidemic……….. I will hold your hand through this my friend. Through and Through!

        • Edith September 5, 2010 at 12:38 pm #

          I think the comment from “Almost Lost..” was supposed to be in reply to the AA comment above- and if so, i agree fully. I grew up in Boston, and was sober for 6 years there. for work I had to relocate to Costa Mesa- and the people in these AA/NA groups there were more f’ed up than anyone I had ever met. i had to eventually stop going to meetings there because if I saw one more young newcomer girl get passed around and screwed by every middle-aged orange county punk guy at the meetings, or deal with one more unstable female sponsor, I was going to relapse. They make dysfunction an artform. And you cant trust any of them.
          Lucky for me, my job allowed me to transfer again and i live in Arizona now. I happily gave up the beach and great weather for the desert if it got me away from the people in the OC rooms.
          If you are a target for the Orange county sober people- good luck. They are scary.

          • Kristen Ferrell September 5, 2010 at 1:12 pm #

            Yeah- that sounds about right.

            Even though I’m not sober- I love that the program exists for those who need it. And 90% of the people I know out here in California are sober- and have been for a while. So it can totally work. But Southern California is notorious for it’s shallowness, superficiality, status-driven behavior, and moral bankruptcy. So when you have a group who’s entire foundation is to make sincerely broken people better, and you throw in all those California defects- you’ve got a recipe for disaster. And you’ve got to be a really strong person to combat all the drama and craziness that comes from it. I know quite a few people who have had to move away or who had to leave AA/NA entirely in order to stay sober just because of this insanity. That’s not how it’s supposed to be. And it sure wasn’t how it was in the Kansas AA/NA.
            It’s pretty sad.

            • amyjeen September 5, 2010 at 1:26 pm #

              so very well stated kristen. i do the same every 5 years or so. i call it weeding the garden. it’s what keeps the flowers from getting choked out and able to grow more strong and plentiful.and like a real garden, it does need the weeding done occasionally!
              i had a dream the other night i tried to seduce mr. shatner and he totally turned me down. i accused him of saving himself for you, and he agreed.
              i was so angry with you hahaha !
              no more sugar before bed.

  4. ACW October 5, 2010 at 8:01 pm #

    I’m a bit late to respond… I’ve read your blog for a while and immensely enjoy it.

    Back to the subject. Whatever you call it, removing harmful people from your life is healthy- we all know that.

    What hit me in the face, while reading responses, was the references to AA. I only have 29 days sober, but even through my 20 years of drinking, I have met more screwed up “sober” people in my couple of months while attending meetings- I live in San Diego, not Orange County. Either way, here I am trying to straighten my life out and I come into contact with seriously off people.

    I suppose I’m just happy to hear other people see it and say it. I kind of thought I lost my mind when I quit drinking.

    All the best,

    p.s. Your work is amazing. Many happy blessings sent your way.

    • Kristen Ferrell October 7, 2010 at 8:52 pm #

      Ya know what breaks my heart about the “AA Damage”? It’s that it doesn’t have to be that way- and in most places, it’s not. But out here, where the social norm is status jumping and superficiality, it gets lethal when you add people who have broken programming and they’re trying to lead each other into a better life. It’s the blind leading the blind.
      BUT there are some solid people at the meetings (though they are difficult to find). My husband and some of his core friends that are in the program are fantastic and drama-free. The problem is trying to sift through the crazies to get to the gold. Just be really careful about who you let close to you. Watch people’s behavior with an eagle eye- and if you see them participating in the Sobriety Social Hierarchy, then run. This is your sobriety we’re talking about, so don’t waste time on people who aren’t worth it.
      You aren’t crazy. You’re just living in an area of the country that breeds crazy- so it’s all around you. Stay strong, and congrats on your 29 days (which is now 31 days)!!

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