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X Marked Hands and Hardcore Bands

October 20th, 2003 was the beginning into a subculture that has changed the course of my life. It was the day that I devoted my life to being Straight Edge. I claimed it and owned, what I thought that meant. I stayed away from drugs and alcohol because I knew if I ventured down that path, I would eventually kill myself. I knew that I would escape the pain that I faced with anything and everything. From a distance, it found comfort in the community that it brought. Even though I was an outcast, I still felt a sense of belonging. I felt more connected than with my own family. Hardcore shows allowed me to get out the anger I felt. I was consumed by the music and I still love listening to those bands that brought me so much joy.

My parents looked down on me when they found out I was straight edge. My step father sat next to me one night and blatantly asked, ‘so were you gang raped in?’ I was caught off guard because I had no clue he knew I was even straight edge. Both of the parents who raised me were police officers. We moved to Salt Lake City shortly before I chose to live a straight edge lifestyle. Most of the people there who claimed to be straight edge were placed on a gang list because of the history of violence it had. My step father was furious. It was a fight that I would have never won with him. He kicked me out in the middle of winter. I had the clothes on my back and a cellphone. I slept in this half built house for one night in twenty degree weather until morning came. I eventually crashed at a friends house until I felt safe to go back home. 

I’ve been punched in the face at shows for being a women. I’ve been called a whore by plenty of other women because they just assumed they knew me. Very few people know whole my story. Anyone who repeats someone else’s experiences is bound to manipulate their character. Unfortunately, no one truly cared about the truth that I lived. 

When I lived in Salt Lake City, Utah, I plunged into a new-self that I eventually regretted. I felt a small acceptance with the Straight Edge culture, but there was a significant disconnect. I still didn’t really know who I was. If I didn’t talk to certain men then they would harass me. I eventually became sexually destructive. I fought against this double standard that men held so hard in their grasp. Sex was disposable to them, so why can’t women have the same approach.  If I saw a ‘conquest’ I wanted to conquer it and fill a need that was suppose to fill a void. I became emotionally detached with my heart from the reality of the life I lived. I may not have done drugs or drank, but I found ways to deal with the pain I was battling. I became the label and lie that everyone claimed I was. 

When I moved back to Las Vegas I experienced a rift in territory. There was a rivalry that I wasn’t apart of, but somehow I was targeted. Fairweather friends and burnt bridges were all that I knew. People lying to me, fighting me, threatening my life, and judging me for only what they thought they knew about me. I was so sick of trying to feel unaccepted that I eventually stopped caring about friendship. I stopped believing in loyalty and gave up on those around me. 

I’ve dated plenty of men who have drank. I’ve dated two men in particular whose quench for alcohol made them violent or down right mean. I was in a season in my life where I thought I was happy. I felt content about life. One April Fools I joked about drinking. I didn’t see myself in harms way anymore like I used to. I felt that I had control over what would happen. Looking back, I completely lost myself and I was so oblivious to why I really chose to drink. I wanted to relate to the man I was dating at the time. We spent so many evenings going to bars and for some reason I was sick of being the designated driver. I wanted to have fun and embrace this mirage of happiness. I started consuming alcohol when I was 26/27. I am not into parties or binge drinking. I’ve never drowned my sorrows in drinking nor do I ever have the desire to do so. I still hate the smell of beer on someone’s breath. I dislike bars and night clubsand never intend to consider that a good time.

I hate the term ‘sell out’ over everything. In straight-edge culture that is what they would have called me in 2011. If I am honest, whenever I think about that decision, it completely breaks my heart. My identity was so wrapped up around being straight edge that without it I didn’t know who I was. I think a lot of why I chose to end that commitment was because I wanted to rebel against something that had control over me. I was broken when I became straight edge and I continued to break into pieces through-out that season. It did save my life in one aspect. I didn’t die from doing drugs. Portions of me died from promiscuity, self-mutilation, and even suicide attempts. I learned quickly that my desire to escape would always be there. The void in my heart still existed and nothing, but my faith would save me from that kind of destruction. 

Do I regret starting to drink? Of course I do! Do I feel that alcohol has a hold on my life? No, it will never have a hold on my life. I have control over what I put in my body. I have P.M.A. tattooed on my left middle finger. It stands for Positive Mental Attitude. This tattoo is a constant reminder of what I’ve endured and have overcome. It’s hard to be positive, but those moments of despair are just silly tantrums that my emotions like to have. I’ve been encouraged by so many people like Toby Morse from H2O. 

I’ve reminded myself of the rules I gave when I first started drinking. I forgot about them over the years, but I definitely believe I should be implementing them. First, never drink alone. I think it’s easy to get consumed with the darkness that comes with seclusion. Second, never drink when you’re mad, sad, or depressed. That would be a black hole of poor decisions. A mountain of regret would form and I never want to be in that kind of state of mind. Lastly, moderation.  Moderation is important because I want to be coherent and aware of my surroundings. Being a survivor of abuse, I have to be able to defend myself in any given situation.

I could easily live in the past and dwell on the ‘would haves’ and ‘could haves’. I could be consumed by the shame I felt when I gave up something so important to me for a guy I thought I loved. The best advice I could give is wait to drink alcohol. Allow your brain cells to form enough so you can comprehend who you are as a human being. Each of us were created for something more than what our minds can comprehend and for me, that’s when Christ comes in. The void was filled by a kind of love that cannot be explained. I know what it’s like to resent God. I know what it’s like to want to know answers and latch on to the first one that just sounds good. Christopher Hitchens was my homeboy for a while so I understand the God Free perspective.  I may not be a theologian, but believing in your ability is a pretty powerful thing. I had to dive deep within myself and know that I wasn’t going to be an addict. I have that power to say no if I want to. I don’t live in fear of alcohol anymore. The memories I have from the years of being straight edge will always be filled with shenanigans, laughter, and bruises. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

2011 Testimonial with One Life One Chance

Whenever I watch my segment in that video I feel embarrassed. I was diagnosed with severe PTSD three months later and my journey of embracing PMA was one hell of an adventure.

For those of you who share a season of being drug-free and/or claimed to be straight edge and have struggled with the shame of others who judge you for choosing another path, You’re still loved and respected. No one knows your story better than you.

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  1. I Dig This Heavy
    This was really tight and I appreciate how you put your heart on your sleeve so someone else can take advice and grow from our experiences. Thank you for this really inspiring and uplifting article.
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