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Human Parts
A publication about humanity from Medium: yours, mine, and ours.


In Human Parts. More on Medium.

Lived Through This

It took healthy love to appreciate the abuse I had excused

“Just a heads up, I might write about our relationship,” I recently said to my boyfriend. “But I promise I won’t do it without your permission.”

“Consent,” he said.


“Without my consent,” he repeated. “You don’t need my permission to do anything.”

“Oh. Right,” I said, laughing a little, and we exchanged the knowing look — a tender, amused wince — that has become commonplace in our relationship. The look is a mutual acknowledgment that I am really fucked up. Or, to be kinder to myself (which is on my self-care list!), …

Past Is Prologue

The term went mainstream in the ’80s and ’90s, and it’s carried a stigma ever since

By the time I attended my first Al-Anon meetings as a teenager in the ’90s, I had heard the word “codependency” many times. Where? No one in my house talked about it, nor did friends, but it was ambient in the culture at the time. While researching the genesis of this term and its conceptual underpinnings for a memoir about my own disastrous relationship patterns, I realized I’d probably heard it on the daytime talk shows I sometimes mindlessly watched after school.

Codependency had a moment in the late ’80s and early ’90s. But, sadly, when the term went mainstream…

We do people a disservice when we assume their hesitance at the 12 steps is hesitance at recovery

Chances are you know something about the 12 steps of recovery. We have seen it in movies or on TV. The church basement, strong coffee, a person standing up and making a public declaration about how they have a problem. For many people, it works and it works really well. It offers support since there is the ability to socialize and be around other people who understand what it is like to use substances, and the desire to no longer use them. …

I’m newly sober and dog-paddling through the booze all around me. It’s summer, and Whole Foods has planted rosé throughout the store. Rosé is great with fish! And strawberries! And vegan protein powder! (Okay, I made that last one up.) At the office, every desk near mine has a bottle of wine or liquor on it in case people are too lazy to walk the 50 feet to one of the well-stocked communal bars we’ve built on our floor. Driving home from work, I pass billboard ads for Fluffed Marshmallow Smirnoff and Iced Cake Smirnoff and not just Cinnamon, but…

Overprescribed and alone, I found myself wondering if beating cancer was worth it

Journal entry, February 11: I can’t move forward until I tell my secret. I know I can’t tell it for myself alone, but for all those who walk the dark path of things unspoken. I must tell my truth for the sake of the silenced and ignored.

The face of

“I feel like I’m Sisyphus getting punched in the junk.”

My therapist smiled at this grand analogy. It was the only way I could articulate the experience of necessity as never-ending-ness, of misery as repetition, of life as punishment. Not just Sisyphus, not simply pushing the boulder up the hill to no avail…

After almost 40 years, I gave up weed and it was life-changing

I took the month of August to camp and hike and travel alone in Ireland. Part of my intention was to quit smoking weed, which I’ve previously written about as being my go-to strategy for connecting to the sacred, for accessing presence and immanence.

To be clear, I pass zero judgment on anyone who chooses to smoke weed. I’ve mostly used weed in beautiful, supportive ways that expanded my sense of connection with the natural world, and lots of folks can use it without any downsides. That’s just not my experience.

As part of my weed-retirement process in Ireland, I…

Your journey has taught me what perseverance means

It’s been three years. Three years of saying no to the alcohol, the demons, the tug of giving in. Three years of saying yes to sobriety and yes to helping others.

In these three years emerged a person who is stronger and sturdier than the person you were before, even before the alcohol grabbed you and held on. You are no longer a person defined by your past; you are defined by the here and now. You have reasons for being instead of reasons for wanting to die. …

A selection of bad days (and a good one)

When I get out of jail it is a beautiful bright winter day, now absolutely ruined, the taste of cheap bologna and warm boxed milk lingering in my mouth as I squint and re-lace my Sambas.

I feel worse than the night my heart stopped, splayed across the staircase leading up to my apartment, my vision blurring in hyper speed while my neighbor drilled me with chest compressions to the distant sound of sirens.

Or was it the cold December morning I left the clinic in Pasadena, my heart in some slow-motion shatter, and drove into Forest Lawn to leave…

Notes on an overdose


The night before the overdose I put on my only dress, which was $11 at CVS, and thought about cake.

I had to be at the President’s house for dinner. Everyone from my major was going to be there, which was like nine people, and I’d heard there would also be a cake in attendance. Chocolate, probably, with multiple stories of frosting. A similar cake occasionally appeared in the school cafeteria, missing a half. The appearance of said cake created a state of polite warfare among us students. Sometimes, because I hated myself and also everyone else, I would take…

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