Uneasy Lies the Head That Wears the Crown


Am I a “grateful compulsive underearner?” I heard that phrase today. Well that depends on what you mean by that. Do you mean I am an underearner who’s grateful for some of the things in my life? I am. Actually, I don’t like to identify myself as “an underearner” because I believe that creates it into my future experience. I have a history of underearning but that’s not who I am. I might eventually be able to make the same shift in my mind as I made around the term “alcoholic” a long time ago now. To me now, when somebody says someone is an alcoholic, I assume the person doesn’t drink alcohol but lives in recovery from that disease. For now though, I’ll have to be satisfied with saying I am gratefully recovering form underearning.

I’m grateful to be sober, to have some nice things, supportive friends, 3 cool pets, a family who loves me, a nice warm and dry place to sleep at night, a truck, a motorcycle, and food to eat. I’m also grateful for resources to help me get better.
Am I, in general, a grateful person? At the moment, I’d have to say no. And I’m very sorry and embarrassed  about that. I feel like I should be a generally grateful person but at this point, I really just want out. I’m just trying to be honest.

The third way to look at this question (am I a grateful underearner) is am I grateful to be and underearner? I know where you’re going with this. I remember when I was a newly sober alcoholic. I’d hear people say that they were “grateful to be alcoholic.” That always made me want to kill somebody. I mean, I could understand being grateful you didn’t die of it or whatever, or that you found a way to be sober– but actually “grateful” you were an alcoholic? Fuck that. What I really wanted to live in Manhattan and drink them (manhattans- bourbon with a hint of sweet vermouth) and to find some way for that not to kill me “one day at a time.” In fact, I’m in such a shitty mood, after years of not saying this, today, I would love to spend the afternoon with rusty nails, manhattans, up shaken martinis (vodka or gin, doesn’t matter as long as it’s expensive)– do you recognize a theme in my cocktails of choice? And all of them “up” (that means not on the rocks for you non-drinkers) I like all of them shaken up– like my life– and icy, like my mood. I wonder how my affected choice of libations ties into my underearning consciousness?

Back to what I was saying– I guess the people were talking about being grateful to be alcoholic because the necessity of having to get sober lead them to a “design for living” that was superior to what most people have– tools for dealing with problems, a confederacy of people trying to live more purpose-driven lives without “crutches.” That I get. So in that way, can I say that I’m “grateful to be an underearner?” Not yet. But there’s still hope. But that wasn’t the actual question was it? “Am I a grateful underearner?” Well, I am a (hopefully) recovering underearner– and I am grateful for quite a few things in my life, so yes. Now get off my back.

Before I leave this “stinkin’ thikin’,” to the list of cocktails I’d waste my afternoon (and 17 years of continues sobriety) on, add a few pints of Guiness, a Costo size bottle of Oxy and enough Adderall to keep me alive and awake on that many downers. See? I never, ever wanted to be a “social drinker.” Even after all these years I’m still not sure I know what the fuck that is. Nursing a glass of wine for an hour? Now that’s alcohol abuse!

Okay, moving on–

I am responsible for my own actions and no one else’s. The reason for this is ultimately, my attaching my emotional wellbeing to controlling others’ actions has lead to nothing but misery in my life and besides; I have enough of a job being responsible for my own actions anyway.

Not underearning is one of the most important things in my life. The reason is, most all of the misery I have felt in my life has been attached to my underearning/under-being actions and belief system and everything that I do want in my life will be absolutely impossible if I do not address the problem of underearning.

To recap, this is what underearning means to me:

  • working my ass off for little or no money
  • giving away my time and talent while I live on credit and charity
  • hiding my talents (mostly out of fear of rejection)
  • taking jobs that deplete me in every sense of that word, while robbing that crucial energy from my real mission on earth
  • making poor spending choices
  • having a lack of clarity around finances and career
  • magical thinking around money
  • deflecting ideas that can lead me toward my prosperous vision
  • pauperism as a way of life
  • romanticizing poverty because of by abhorrence of people who get rich in insidious ways.

I feel like I should catch y’all up a little bit on the practical happenings with regard to my life (including my current living situation) and this whole process of recovery (from all the things from which I am recovering) and not being the next veteran suicide. I realize that I’ve made y’all privy to a lot of the spiritual/emotional work I’m doing to move toward my prosperous vision and away from active addiction and suicide (and argument can be made that they are the same thing) and that I’ve left you hanging with regard to what’s going on in my life outside of my recovery. In some ways this makes sense because my recovery is really my primary purpose in life, that together with helping others who want my help or can benefit from my experience. This is probably true now more than ever.

So during the last couple of months, I spent 3 weeks in LA and 3 weeks in New York. During the several years I spent in Salt Lake City, I always knew that New York would be the next place we (I still thought at the time I’d be moving with my now-ex “husband”). This was because I identified principally as a playwright with no intention of leaving the stage as a performer and New York is the place for live theatre in America. I love New York. I love New York. Any of you who are my Facebook friends and have seen posts I put up when I’m home in New York, know this is true. On my recent trip there, I went (for that three weeks) to find a place to live and a “B job” if necessary. Neither appeared. I could have looked harder I’m sure, but I looked. I made a recommitment to living there, posting a blog called “The Day I Became a New Yorker” or something like that. And then I ended up homeless. I was made to feel unwelcome in the place where I was staying while I looked for a job and place. (Incidentally, I had taken this man into my luxury apartment in LA to live for free when I first met him– took him out of a veterans’ homeless shelter in fact.)

I’m all for pushing past the “hard” when I’m working towards a goal. Sometimes though, I believe the Universe bumps us a little in one direction or the other to keep us on course. The trick is to figure out which I’m experiencing– is this a hurtle to test my resolve or is this a spiritual signpost saying “this is not the right way?” I’ve said that I was willing to be homeless in New York rather than live anywhere else. As it turns out, that’s not true. In fact, whereas I would have thought that I’d live in any old shithole just to be in the city I love. That’s not true either. I’m done treating myself like shit. I deserve nice things including a nice, clean, safe place to live where all three of my pets are welcomed with open arms. Do you know what kind of people are able to have that? People who have enough money to afford it. There are, in fact, a shit-ton of places in Manhattan and Brooklyn that fit the description I just gave. And, contrary to popular opinion, you don’t really have to be a millionaire to afford to live in one of them. Here’s the kicker: if I had all the money I’ve given to charity since the last time I made a student loan payment plus the money I would have made in some income-generating pursuit when I was busy giving away my time and talent for free over the last ten years, I wouldn’t be worried about which Manhattan apartment to rent– I’d be trying to decide which Manhattan apartment I wanted to buy!

Hindsight, as they say, is 20/20.

But I’m not victim. And the only wasted pain is pain that doesn’t bring a lesson– for me and hopefully for others as well.

So I came back to Alabama. I came home. Yes, as much as I hate part of all that is Alabama and the South, The Black Warrior River is in my blood and my flesh is made of the clay found in these Appalachian foothills. This will always be “home,” at least one of them. I came home to regroup and make a new plan of attack. Hopefully I’m doing it in a way like I’ve never done it before, a more mature and responsible way. I’m trying to learn how to trust on a higher level. Trust doesn’t come easy to me. Every single person or organization I’ve ever trusted with my wellbeing has hurt me badly. That tends to have an effect on a feller. I’m trying to learn to trust God or a Higher Power even as I’m reexamining what exactly that means to me. Y’all know I grew up in The Church of Christ and although I have long since realized that philosophy did not reflect my spiritual beliefs, I still often will be reminded of a scripture that I learned there which seems to fit a certain moment. Psalms 27:14 says, “Wait upon the Lord.” I think that’s where I am. I’m waiting– as opposed to taking more impulsive action. I’m not sitting still waiting though; I’m doing my footwork.

In the Marine Corps, if an approach to a mission wasn’t working, we had a famous saying: “Adapt and Overcome.” I am in the “Adapt and Overcome” portion of this journey. (Such a place actually shows up often in life but possibly never as much as now.)

So I’m back in my teenage bedroom on my very comfortable Temperpedic with Dennis the Cat at my side, eating clean (that is a complete lie) and working out (that’s not a lie) and planning my next move. The big difference this time is that I’m opening myself up to the wisdom and guidance of other spiritual seekers who went before me and presumably therefore to “God’s will” for me. I’m also learning from people who have found a way to make a living in the arts and entertainment and have generously availed me of their hard-won wisdom.

And then there’s LA. LA is definitely back on the table.

We’ll talk about LA tomorrow.

Don’t you miss Whoopie and Helen and all them motherfuckers? I sure do. That was more fun than working on my problems. Who am I kidding, that was working it out too. That’s what the blog is about. Thanks for bearing witness.

Incidentally, this is day 202 of daily blogging. I’ve not missed a single day. I’m pretty proud of that. Thanks for helping to keep me accountable. This is working. This will work. You are a valuable part of the process for me. I hope you’re benefiting as well.

See y’all tomorrow.

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