I spent a lot of time being grounded growing up. For months and months on end, I couldn’t leave my room. My stepmother didn’t want to deal with me. I had to put a positive spin on everything. That’s when I started to rely on myself and just trust in my own company. I’ve always gotten myself. Being alone is thankfulness, and it comes from not having. When you don’t have other things, you’ve got yourself and that’s pretty much it. I’m happy being the flower... I just am.

  1. There are no ten steps to it.
  2. Remember good things you’ve learned from family and friends.
  3. Get rid of any negative people in your life that are causing you turmoil.
  4. Rely on yourself.
  5. Don’t make waves.
  6. Enjoy repetition.
  7. Simplify your life.
  8. Seem like you have more going on than they do.
  9. Be happy with yourself.
  10. Don’t cause trouble with other people.
  11. Live in the moment.
  12. Make a decision to be happy.
  13. See the small things.

The Bowl of Soup

Many years ago, far away from here, I lost my job at a carnival. I asked a guy for a joint in front of his wife and the next day they went off on me, started chasing me. I was like, OH HELL NO, MAN! Back in the day, somebody once told me, if you're working in a carnival and you say, “HEY RUBE!” (Like ruby red slippers) people will come running.  If somebody's getting beat up or raped or something bad is happening, a carny just needs to yell “RUBE,” and anybody who hears is going to come and stop it from happening. So I yelled “RUBY,” and people came to help. Lucky for me, I didn’t get hurt. 

Afterwards, one of the carnies dropped me off near the mall. He throws all my stuff out near a dumpster. He is stressed and old, so he leaves me there. I walked back into town, past a Chrysler dealership, or a Pontiac, no it was a Chrysler. I see a PT Cruiser pickup truck in the parking lot. I wish somebody would've said something about it because I knew I was being dishonest. I was spun out of my gord. I got into the car, I turned it on and I drove off the lot. I drove around for 3-4 hours, even went to an AA meeting. I wasn't trying to steal the car. I actually tried to return the car to another of their car lots but they were waiting for me. I was arrested and I accepted the felony charge. Possession of a stolen motor vehicle. I got sentenced to 6 months.

Fast forward, I’m serving my time and they moved me into a new cell with a man already inside. His name was Lane, and this guy's big (he makes you think like, what would Al Capone be like at 25?). I walked in the cell and he was in a yellow jumpsuit, and I’m like, why is he in the yellow suit? What happens with violence in yellow? If there's any blood, it shows up right away. Self-blood, somebody else's blood, regardless, a yellow suit shows everything. It was clear, violence was in his nature. I thought, what the heck, I’m here for a nonviolent offense. 

His first reaction was like, “OH NO, YOU ARE NOT DOING THIS TO ME! I'm in here all by myself, staying out of trouble and you're messing with me, putting somebody else in the cell with me, NOOOO!!” I don't fault him for that. And I was just like
I’m tired. God damn. Leave me alone. I just wanna sleep and get this over. 

We were stressed; we could hardly go to the bathroom. We didn't know one another. We didn't want to know one another. We did nothing but argue and fight. He would not let me sleep. He would go on his knees and pray. Going off. “I’M GOD, I’M SATAN, I’M GOD, I’M SATAN!!”….blah blah blah blah blah….going on and on at the wall. I was stuck in a 9’ by 7’ cell and it freaked me out. 

The cell was in a hallway full of rooms all the same. There's one bed. He slept on the bed and I slept on a mattress on the floor. A stainless steel mirror, a stainless steel toilet and sink. The only time you got a bowl or cup to use for water was during lunch. There’s almost no sound. You can hear yourself think. It's frustrating hearing someone else breathing or eating. They are listening to how you're breathing; they are patterning your breath. The cell has multiple coats of paints on cement on top of cinder blocks. Concrete floor, the vibration of the air; with cold rain outside, it was never warmer than 50 degrees. Low ceiling light all the time. It would get dimmed at night, but never off. You can't get rid of the smell. Human body order, feet and feces flows through the paint. My friend (Mike, God bless your soul, they say you died) said to me one time, “sometimes somebody hands you a shit sandwich and you just gotta smile and eat it and say thanks.” I was trying to smile everyday!

The second day we spent together, we were at lunch. You get a sandwich and soup. Lane asks, “You going to eat that?”
Yeah, I'm gonna eat that sandwich. “Can I have it?” NO, you can't have it! He starts up and I'm like, Oh, hell no! So I grabbed my soup bowl. I had already finished the soup. I stick my fingers down my throat and I throw up in my bowl. He's like, OH! I was like, You want to eat this? He says, “NO!,” and I drink the soup back up. It came out of my stomach anyway, right? So, I drink it down, and then I eat my sandwich to get the puke out of my mouth. I'm a shock factor kind of kid who tried to impress the chicks in third grade: lunch came around, ketchup on my chocolate cake! OH YEAH! LOL. Watching 'em shake their head; their hair wobbles a little bit. The smell of disgust.

If you're trying to be involved with other people, you're probably gonna give Lane that sandwich. Which opens the doorway for you to suffer for somebody else's greed, gluttony, lust, hate, guile, malice; whatever it is, you'll suffer to try to please another. Say I told him, “I'll give you half this sandwich, cause I know you are really hungry.” The next day he says, “I get your dinner, you don't have a problem with that right?”
No. “That’s what I thought.”  After I give him the sandwich, he may stand above me while I'm sleeping with his fist in my face, telling me, “Anything I say goes.” He may or not say it, he might only breathe it! We are not genies in a bottle or snakes in baskets to be bought and sold and tossed around. And when we no longer perform thrown in a fire or barbecue.

Jails are sometimes the safest place for somebody. Especially, when you’ve been trying to please other people and getting used and abused, without themselves knowing it. If it hadn't been for jail, I'd have overdosed underneath a tree somewhere. Some people might say,
You dont know what you are talking about. Some people will say, Oh, Stockholm Syndrome. But jail saved my life.


The Being Alone Testimonial Exercise

Part 1

Over the course of a few days, keep track of moments/activities in your day when you are alone and feel like you are taking care of just you. Take notes: time of day, activity and details of activity.

Part 2

Pick four moments/things you wrote down and make one drawing/sketch for each one. For each drawing, write a short description.

Part 3

For each moment from above, write short testimonials illustrating how it bene- fits you to inspire other people to enjoy the same moments in their day. Exam- ples can include: What did you learn doing each thing? How did it change your relationship with yourself?


Part 1

5:00 pm     Got up. Ate French fries and watched TV.

                    Filled out paperwork for physical therapy.

5:30 pm     Started laundry and had a shower.

6:15 pm     Laid down to watch TV.

3:00 am     Got my clothes out of the dryer.

                   Back to TV and then to sleep when I can.

7:00 pm     Got up. Ate a bear claw and drank some coffee.

                   Watched TV.

10:00 pm   Took a shower after taking out the trash,

                     then went back to the TV.

10:30 pm   Put lentils and rice on.

2:30 am     Put the rice from rice cooker away.

3:00 am     Put lentils away and ate a bowl, back to TV and movies.

6:00 am     Turned off the lentils in the slow cooker.

5:30 pm     Went to the store.

6:15 pm     Sat down.

6:56 pm     Went to visit friends.

11:30 pm    Got back home from a friend’s house where I washed a couple dishes

                     and drank two cans of Pepsi and talked. It was a nice time.

5:34 am     Tried to sleep.

6:30 am     No sleep, did rest for an hour. Then watched the news.

9:17 am     Out to friends.

11:30 am   Swallowed four pills.

7:00 pm     Got home, put away my things. Bought 14 mangos for $20.

7:48 pm     Sore and tired, still need to shower and

                    start a load of laundry before sleeping. Made dinner,

                    then cleaned and dried dishes. Ate. Moved clothes from the dryer.

12:21 pm    Went to bed. My back hurts really bad.

Part 2