Category Archives: Inspiration

How to Be a Spiritual Warrior

Screen Shot 2014-07-14 at 2.29.08 PMA lady friend of mine asked me recently how I felt about personal responses to my book.

“Do you get triggered?” She asked politely. We were at a dinner party and I could tell she was trying to be sensitive to certain topics I write about. Abuse, alcoholism, and dysfunction aren’t exactly super fun dinner conversation.

“What do you mean?” I asked. I wasn’t sure what she was trying to figure out.

“When people tell you about their pain… does it bother you? You know, bring it all back?” I was beginning to wonder if she might have something she wanted to share.

“Occasionally I despair for our species,” I laughed, “But when people feel compelled to share their stories with me (whether in person on online), I am really very honored. I think of their impulse to share with me as a sacred trust. But it doesn’t upset me. Not at all.  And since I finished the book, my past is just a story for me. It’s a true story, and my story, but it’s just a story. (Thank God). EVERYONE has a story.”Screen Shot 2014-07-14 at 2.25.32 PM

But this conversation got me thinking. Since everyone has a story, that means everyone suffers. It is simply a fact of human life. How we choose to deal with our suffering is what creates our character.

Some people like to hold their suffering close to their heart. They nurture it as if it were a precious plant they were keeping alive. I have heard many, many people say something like this: “I will never forget what so-and-so did. It will always echo in my mind.” I’ve said it myself! I take this to be a sign of two things:

1) That the event that occurred was traumatic

2) That the person holding onto the trauma might (unknowingly) be defining themselves by that event.

So it doesn’t sound like I’m being judgmental here, let me tell you how I know this is true. If you read my book, you will know I had a crap load of craziness to deal with. Even though I later figured out I had all the symptoms of PTSD, I couldn’t think of myself as a survivor because I hated the word. It still seemed so limiting to define my whole self in relation to a past I could do nothing about. But I couldn’t think of myself as someone who HADN’T gone through these humiliations. That would be a lie.

I was in a pickle. How could I define myself WITHOUT my past informing everything?

Then I had an idea, inspired by a saying from 12-step meetings: “We will know a NEW freedom and a NEW happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it…”

I loved the word “freedom.” It rang in me like a bell for years. Could I find freedom from the pain I was feeling AND freedom from the past? Could that be possible? I didn’t know, but it was an idea that compelled me to go forward and at least try.

Screen Shot 2014-07-14 at 3.15.56 PMDeep down, I knew I was a fighter. I was tough, without a doubt, but I didn’t want to approach life as a battle, always having to fight off this or that asshole. I decided that the best way to describe myself was as a spiritual warrior fighting an internal war. This worked for me. Every day I would go to war against my internal pain and memory of my past.

Having grown up on the TV series “Kung-Fu,” I remembered there were students, deciples, and masters. I decided that I would stay a student, endlessly willing to be taught, until I really had something to pass on. I decided that going forward, no matter what, everything that happened in my life, and everyone I met would be a teacher.

My pain? A teacher. My past? A teacher. My body, my anger, my fear?  A teacher. Even my resistance to being taught would be a teacher.

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When I looked at my life from this perspective, I found myself in a position of choice as to how to think about myself. I could choose to feel at the effect of another’s behavior, or make another choice.

When I chose to fight for my peace of mind, to find the wisdom in the pain, I was actually fighting for my FREEDOM from that pain.

Now I do this as often as possible. Sometimes I forget (hey, I’m only human) but as soon as I can remember to it gets me out of pain and into FREEDOM from pain, which I like to describe as peace of mind.

Here’s how it works:

Let’s say I get an uncomfortable feeling: a blast from the past, a moment of shame, loss, grief, or fear I will be attacked unjustly. Or say I suddenly feel deeply judgmental of myself, and I’m no longer “enough” in any category. (You know how the mind turns on itself. It can be such an a-hole!)

Instead of fighting the thought, I say, “Hello teacher. What do you have for me to learn right now?”

Usually, the upsetting thought says something like this, “Oh, I just wanted you to know that I was here.”

Then I say, “Okay. I recognize you. Perhaps you need something. Do you?”

And sometimes it needs a hug, or for me to cuddle in a blanket and watch TV. Then I do that.

Sometimes, however, it just wants me to know it’s there.

That’s when I say, “Okay. I hear you. Don’t stress. I got this. I can handle almost anything, remember? I’m a warrior.”

And that seems to do the trick.

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“High station in life is earned by the gallantry with which appalling experiences are survived with grace.”

~Tennessee Williams

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Roles in an Alcoholic Family

Screen Shot 2014-06-02 at 4.30.44 PMI grew up in an alcoholic family system.  The illness in my family effected all who were in it, or around it.  It took me years to recover.  To this day, my recovery is a practice, a never ending series of decisions and growing awarenesses.

I have learned that alcoholism is only one face of addiction.  There are many things to have addictive relationships with: anger, sex, shopping, food, exercise, TV, sugar, drugs, pills, work, gambling, even the internet!  Here is a good definition of addiction from Psychology Today.  In effect, addiction is a compulsive reaction to stressors, a need to take action rather than deal with or “feel through” the feeling that is bothering you.

Typically, an addict will deny their behavior because they feel it is essential to their surviving whatever stress they feel. Addiction is compulsive and yet cunning. It is important to note that being an addict doesn’t make you a bad person. It makes you a person who has something to overcome. So many of today’s heroes are people who have overcome great obstacles!

In order to help myself overcome what I experienced growing up, I find it is very helpful to continue to look at the behavior and emotions around alcoholism/addiction, as well as its effect on those around it.

The following is attributed to a book that is, unfortunately, no longer available by M. Davis, called “Surviving An Alcoholic Family.” I find it a very clear description of the roles we are often assigned in a family struggling with alcoholism/addiction. If you recognize yourself in one of these roles, please do not feel ashamed or hurt by it. You are also not a bad person, but someone who is seeking wisdom and happiness! Those who seek are those who want to find!

Awareness is always the first step toward healing.

The Alcoholic

- other family members revolve around this person
- likely to be experiencing quite a bit of pain and shame even though they may not see it as the result of excessive alcohol or drug use
- as things get worse, the alcoholic is faced with increasing feelings of shame, guilt, inadequacy, fear, and loneliness
- develop a number of defenses to hide their shame and guilt – may include irrational anger, charm, rigidity, grandiosity, perfectionism, social withdrawal, hostility, and depression
- project blame or responsibility for their problems onto others including family members who take on unhealthy roles in order to survive


- children of alcoholics feel guilty for their failure to save their parents from the effects of alcohol

- “The alcoholic parent is not satisfied with his own childhood, he wants yours too… When the father vanishes into alcohol, the son/daughter lingers and lingers, searching for a lost part of him/herself.”

Codependent/Enabler/Caretaker
- steps up and takes control if the alcoholic loses power
- enabling is anything that protects the chemically dependent person from the consequences of their actions
- spouse often takes on the role, but children and siblings can also be enablers (multigenerational alcoholic families will sometimes designate a child in this role, a sign of more serious pathology)
- tends to everyone’s needs in the family
- loses sense of self in tasks of a domestic nature
- never takes the time to assess his/her own needs and feelings
- person never gains what they need most in order to get better: insight
- never are confronted with the facts that would drive home the point: drugs or alcohol are destroying their lives and their family
- as long as the enabler and the chemically dependent family members play their game of mutual self-deception, things never get better – they get worse
- others cannot bond with the caretaker due to the bustle of activity
Caretaker’s purpose: to maintain appropriate appearances to the outside world.

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Hero
- high achiever; takes focus off the alcoholic because of his/her success; perfectionist; feels inadequate; compulsive; can become a workaholic
- alcoholic bestows this role onto the individual whose accomplishments compensate for the alcoholic’s behavior
- often the oldest child who may see more of the family’s situation and feels responsible for fixing the family pain
- child excels in academics, athletics, music or theatre
- gets self worth from being “special”
- rest of family also gets self worth (“we can’t be that bad if one of us is successful”) – his/her deeds assure the family that their definition is more than alcohol
- hero does not receive attention for anything besides an achievement; therefore, inner needs are not met
- he/she loses the ability to feel satisfied by whatever feat he/she has manifested
- as things get worse, the hero is driven to higher and higher levels of achievement. No level of super responsible, perfectionist, over achievement can remove the hero’s internalized feelings of inadequacy, pain, and confusion
- many others grow up to become workaholics and live under constant stress as they work in the service of others seeking approval for their extraordinary effort
- they often end up distancing themselves from their family of origin
- interestingly, many family heroes grow to marry alcoholics and become enablers
Hero’s purpose: to raise the esteem of the family.

Scapegoat
- goes against rules; acts out to take the focus off the alcoholic; feels hurt & guilt; because of behavior, can bring help to family
- lightening rod for family pain and stress
- direct message is that they are responsible for the family’s chaos
- family assigns all ills to the person who harbors this role, e.g. “Mom would not drink so much if (Scapegoat’s name) were not always in trouble.”
- in reality the misbehavior of the Scapegoat serves to distract and provide some relief from the stress of chemical dependency
- child has issues with authority figures as well as negative consequences with the law, school and home
- on the inside the child is a mass of frozen feelings of anger and pain
- may show self-pity, strong identification with peer values, defiance, and hostility or even suicidal gestures
- this role may seem strange in purpose. However, if there were no scapegoat, all other roles would dismantle. He/she allows others a pretense of control
- alcohol is not identified as an issue – often, the scapegoat is identified as ‘The Problem.’
Scrapegoat’s purpose: puts the focus away from alcohol thereby allowing the alcoholic to continue drinking.

Mascot/Cheerleader/Clown
- uses humor to lighten difficult family situations; feels fear; others see him/her as being immature; limited by bringing humor to all situations even if inappropriate
- this individual most popular in the family; brings fun and humour into the family
- learn to work hard at getting attention and making people laugh especially when the anger and tension of substance use are dangerously high
- often named a class clown in school; frequently demonstrates poor timing for the comic relief; most people don’t take this child seriously
- often hyperactive, charmers, or cute
- inside, they feel lonely knowing no one really knows the real person behind the clown’s mask
- may grow up unable to express deep feelings of compassion
- may put themselves down often as well as cover up their pain with humour
- accepts laughter as approval, but the humor serves to hide inner painful feelings
- the laughter prevents healing rather than produces it
Mascot’s purpose: to provide levity to the family; to relieve stress and tension by distracting everyone.
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Lost Child
- no connection to family; brings relief to family by not bringing attention to the family; feels lonely; does not learn communication and relationship skills
- has much in common with scapegoat – neither feels very important
- disappears from the activity of the family
- sees much more than is vocalized
- reinforced for causing no problems
- build quiet lives on the edges of family life and are seldom considered in family decisions
- they hide their hurt and pain by losing themselves in the solitary world of short-term pleasure including excessive TV, reading, listening to music, drugs, object love, eating and fantasy
- favorite places for the lost child are in front of the T.V. as well as in his/her room
- due to the sedentary lifestyle, a lost child tends to have issues with weight
- as adults they feel confused and inadequate in relationships
- may end up as quiet loners with a host of secondary issues such as: sexuality problems, weight problems, excessive materialism, or heavy involvement in fantasy
Lost child’s purpose: does not place added demands on the family system; he/she is low maintenance.

In my experience, it is easy to fall into more than one of these categories. Sometimes I was “the scapegoat” in my home of birth, other times “the mascot,” and other times “the hero.” As I moved into having adult relationships, I was often an “enabler,” while feeling like “the lost child” within myself.

Now I know that I do not need to be any one of these things. There is a greater role I must BE: that of my authentic self. If I sense that I am falling into a role, or having one put upon me, I can recognize that this is only an old, familiar system, and I do not have to play the part that is being thrust upon me. Nor do I have to react or respond to any accusations. I know who I am, and I know what the truth is, for me.

I hope this blog has been of some insight or help for those of you struggling with similar upbringings or issues.

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Love,

Cady

 

 

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A Nose Knows

 

The nose has it.

The nose has it.

This morning I discovered that quite a few people do a google search on my nose. This totally cracks me up. Why in the heck are some people obsessed with a nose that is not “average?”

My nose has been called everything from a “beak” to “stately,” pretty much right to my face. Trust me, I am aware that my shnoz projects past the usual sniffer. I used to joke when I was a teenager that I had a “Judd Nelson” nose, and could stick a big martini olive inside each nostril without an issue.

The fact is, I have inherited my dad’s nose, which had quite a bulb on the end, and got bigger as he aged. Not exactly something to look forward to, but considering I don’t drink as much as he did, there is a chance I might escape the dreaded honker. Then again, I might not.  What to do, what to do…

Many a time I have looked in the mirror and adjusted my nose with my fingers to see what I would look like with a smaller nose, or at least smaller nostrils. I can see it would make a nice difference, but once you go under the knife… there’s no going back.

Oh yes... I see the resemblance.

Oh yes… I see the resemblance.

 

Then this happened: a fellow (with a rather large proboscis) who worked in the building I was living in (in NYC)  told me said he remembered watching me in my early days on AMC. He told me he liked my character because I had a big nose, like him. He said seeing me on TV made him feel better about HIS nose.

I mean… how could I get a nose job after that??

My nose seems to make a statement, and whether or not you like that statement… well, that’s up to you.  But I think I get some credit for having never cut off my nose to spite my face. Yes, I would look more like your average pretty lady with smaller nostrils, that’s for certain, but then I wouldn’t look like “me.”

Might as well roll with it and love the big nose!

inspiration

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“Murdering My Youth” and Y&R

You might not believe it, but it’s a totally BIZARRE coincidence that I am both releasing my book, “Murdering My Youth,” publicly, and having my first air day on Y&R TOMORROW, April 16th. I assure you, I planned to release the book in March, and then one hundred and one things got in the way. When I was able to get down to the nitty gritty of dotting every “i” and crossing every “t” it took far longer than I anticipated. Then Michael Logan asked when it would be ready and I forced myself to set a date. Which I missed. Then it just happened that his article and my release date coincided. Magical, weird, wonderful… and SCARY!

Yes, being on Y&R has been a whirlwind: great writing, incredible actors, an amazing directing and producing team… it’s really a dream come true. And let’s not forget the fantastic Peter Bergman, who has been my sherpa, so to speak, helping me get into the groove of the studio et al. I count my blessings every single day.

As for the book: I am offering a better price on my website (order form below or just email me at blueglitterfish@aol.com) for those who want an autographed copy, or just want it cheaper.  It may take me an extra day or two getting to you, but it will cost $9.99 plus shipping from me. I have to ask a bit more on Amazon and Create Space since they take such a big bite out of the price (I see 5 bucks from the $15.25) however, you will be able to buy the ebook version there, which I can’t provide, and the book itself will probably get to you much faster.

I must warn you: the book is intense. It is also FUNNY, (as they say, “Laugh and the world laughs with you. Fart, and you fart alone”) but I don’t want to sugar coat it. It’s my story of my upbringing and it’s a real one. I won’t blame you if the book is not for you, (I’ve thrown one or two books across the room, myself) but I DO hope you check out Y&R if you haven’t already! I’m having a BALL and I think the story is wonderful. Good, old-fashioned, daytime DRAMA!

Yea SOAPS!

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My Book: “Murdering My Youth”

cover design by Andre Provedel, photo by Courtney Lindberg

Cover design by Andre Provedel, Photo by Courtney Lindberg

Cover design by Andre Provedel, Photo by Courtney Lindberg

I just had the honor of being interviewed by Michael Logan for TV Guide. Look for his article in the April 21st issue!

In the article you will find out that my book, Murdering My Youth, is being released April 15th.

You will be able to buy it through my website or on Amazon. I am doing my best to make sure it is at a reasonable price as things are still tough out there.

If you would like to pre-order or have a signed copy write to me at blueglitterfish@aol.com or use the contact form below.  I will contact you to arrange payment and shipping.

Thank you in advance for your support of this book.  A warning: it is a fast read but not a light one. Issues of child abuse, death, trauma, and grief are dealt with in detail. Yes, there is humor, and sometimes there is strong language but I do not mean to offend, minimize, or sensationalize. My hope is that in sharing my story those who can relate will feel less shame, those who once judged will feel more compassion, and those who suffer in silence will consider reaching out for help.

 

 

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Artist’s Rights

Definition of Courage Being an artist isn’t always easy. For one thing, people tend to assume they know your true identity based on your work (as if you were trying to hide it from them!) It’s an easy mistake to make, but the fact is, we are so much more than our personalities, our history, our knowledge, or even our experiences. If you allow yourself to experience the process and practice of making art, in whatever form it appeals to you, you are really being a kind of channel.

This channeling is available to everyone, anytime, and anywhere. It is a fact of being human.  We make things.  As the great but totally goofy George Clinton said at Voodoo Fest one year, “This is what we do.”

The marvelous Keri Smith posted a wonderful list of things that would make an artist miserable. Chris Roberts-Antieau wrote an artist’s statement on “Trusting Direction.” I thought I might make a list that I will call “Artist’s Rights.”

1. You have the right to not care about what other people think. These days, it seems like criticism is both endemic and a market for those who don’t/won’t think for themselves. Spending too much time trying to please everyone results in pleasing no one and will make you inefficient and unhappy. Bottom line? Screw ‘em if they don’t get it.

2. You have the right to require time alone. Much of the work that creative people do is done alone.  Allowing yourself precious private time is essential, as is keeping people who are full of shit out of your circle and your headspace.

3. You have the right to take your time. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Some books/films/paintings take years. Art that is personally authentic and substantial is worth waiting for, and you have the right to insist on taking the time you need to make something beautiful.

4. You have the right to claim some authority over what you’ve spent time doing. You are allowed to insist you know what you’re talking about based on your considered experience with, and practice in, your art. You don’t have to have a phD to get people to listen to you if you have clearly devoted yourself to a practice.

5. You have the right to grow and change artistically.  People often tend to categorize an artist based on the first successful thing they did. If Ron Howard was expected to be Opie on “Happy Days” the rest of his life, what a disservice that would be to the incredible filmmaking he has accomplished as an adult. People will continue to pigeonhole you. Change anyway.

6. You have the right to NOT talk about your work. Art can make some people uncomfortable.  Intellectualizing art is a great way to avoid feeling the emotions that can come up when experiencing it. When someone insists you explain your story/song/picture you are not obligated to tell them. Really. Allowing yourself some secrets will preserve you as a creative person.

7. You have the right to not market your work. Not everything worth making must be sold.  Structuring your work for the biggest dollar can put instant limitations on work that could otherwise be groundbreaking. Similarly, you have the right to not “follow the rules.” It can help to know the rules, but it really isn’t a requirement. What some call “Folk” or “Handmade” Art has a deep wisdom to it.

8. You have the right to not be a role model. Making art that puts you in the public eye should not also demand that you become a saint. The best work is often made by people who have explored all the vagaries of the human condition. Give yourself a break.

9. You have the right to be passionate. Some artists can get consumed by their work. These moments are like an illness that overtakes them for a time. If this happens, try and allow yourself the experience. Censoring your passion so that others will feel more comfortable doesn’t do you, them, or the art any good.

10. You have the right to keep your own hours. The muse strikes when she is good and ready, and often it is in the middle of the night. If you tell her, “Come back after I’ve had a cup of coffee,” she probably won’t. Don’t let other people give you a hard time about WHEN you need to write, edit, practice, draw, or compose. If you don’t listen when the call comes, who will?

Wishing you a joyous, liberating, delicious, frustrating, indecent, fascinating, immersing, trippy experience with whatever art calls to you!

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