I haven't performed in a while. I haven't been Lily LaRue in a while. I haven't known that that was the best thing for me. I started this burlesque journey to be creative, to feel confident and sexy in a place where I didn't and because I felt a deep void in artistic expression, and sense of community after I graduated college. I found all those things, and more.
Burlesque gave me a means to survive and support myself while living in Los Angeles, but crossing that line into the more club or strip bar world also damaged my self esteem and worth by the collateral that goes along with constantly being in that environment. And the impact it has on finding and maintaining a loving monogamous "normal" secure relationship. Which above all is what I wanted more than anything. More than being an actress in Los Angeles something I had dreamed of since I was five.
I have many happy magical memories of a few really good sisterhood friendships. I I loved that the years of burlesque finally, "paid off" into being able to support myself as a career for 3 years. I loved dancing to Rock and Roll- Playing "Living After Midnight" by Judas Priest ... after midnight. Dancing to my favorite band Clutch ... for a living, having money fall at my feet. The night I danced to Metallica's "Enter Sandman" and the dollars were piled thick over the entire stage, I couldn't believe THIS was my life, and that people were literally throwing money at me to do it.
But there was also a deep dark price to pay for having this kind of life.
There are a few able to stay away from drugs and have completely reciprocal healthy dancer/companion customer situations, and treat this like a job.. but more often.
Some women are naturally ruthless mercenaries content with sucking money out of men... I wasn't.
Some women are able to unconsciously bury the guilt of this, or the bad days that people were just horrible to you in drugs or alcohol, and that was me. I was a professional at Tequila. I stayed away from the drugs most of the time until I had a small half a year backslide, but I pulled myself away from that, but Tequila was my spirit, and I thought we were under control, until we were not.
I left the club/bar world and found a full time job right away, but within a year management changed, and I tried to visit my sick grandmother and was told I couldn't because I hadn't been there a year yet (11 months) so I couldn't take any vacation time. I was also somehow listed as the Director of Marketing, but then was told that wasn't a thing, and had a boss that was friend of someone in the company. - Needless to say I quit with the support of a loving partner and the means to find temp convention jobs while attempting to start a graphic design and website business.
When I lost it I felt like I had failed myself, I had failed all the girls back in the club world that told me that I was an escape success story, I had failed my family that was so proud of me for working in the straight world again, and mostly I had failed my partner.
My soul was still sick, and I felt like a giant loser and failure . I didn't feel like performing because I felt like accepting the "going rate" here in Las Vegas for a burlesque show was literally 10% of the full amount I had been paid before. I wasn't making enough money to pay my bills working wasn't thriving. When I showed my body for literally 10% of what I knew I was capable of being paid, and I wasn't even making enough money to pay my bills. I felt like I was being taken advantage of, and I didn't enjoy it.
I was still drinking.
I had it under control for the most part. I never got a DUI, I always prepared my transportation ahead of time. I never drank everyday. Even when my job was drinking. I tried to make the days I was not at work, sober days.
My OCD, and my ability to tolerate misery through my natural disposition toward depression always kept me out of a full fledged addiction. OCD and regiment was ironically the thing that kept me at a problem drinker instead of a full fledged alcoholic. It is the same reason I am not overweight. I WANT to eat ice cream cookies and french fries EVERY HOUR of every day. I choose to make specific dates and times and rules for that and because of OCD I am not only able to stick to it. I HAVE to stick to it.
but when I was in a bad place emotionally I would drink, and just KEEP drinking. I would black out. I would black out for the purpose of not having to think about what was going on in my life, or to feel any of the EXTREME things I was feeling.
Over my last year of cutting out being drunk, and hard liquor completely I have been forced to face a myriad of memories of guilt and shame where alcohol resulted in really bad decisions, prevented me from being conscious so other people made bad decisions I would have never made consciously for me, a plethora of "what the fuck" inbetweens. I had moments people told me I did stuff that I completely and utterly have absolutely no recollection of, or woke up during for 5 seconds, but then before I could do anything about it went "back to sleep" like being possessed, literally like being taken over by another entity, given a slight glimpse of what was happening, knowing I didn't want to be there or be doing that, and then being sucked back into the darkness.
Last year right before my X9th birthday. I had the worst. I know I vomited all inside a Lyft, because I got an $150 cleaning bill - when I didn't have a regular source of income. I woke up on my bathroom floor coming in and out of darkness, with a little voice in my head saying "Turn on your side, this is how rockstars die, choking on their own vomit" I was X8 years old, and I was puking all over my bathroom floor, and I didn't know if I was going to see X9 let alone X0
I also had another voice, my grandfather telling me this isn't what he survived the brutality of trench warfare of World War II for, to have his granddaughter die on a floor choking on her own vomit.
I don't know if this is what an NDE is, but it sure felt like it, hardly being conscious, voices of my ancestors.
Maybe a part of me did die that night puking on that floor but I am glad it did. Because I like that part that was left. I like the part that it was suffocating that can now breathe again.
The next morning was the worst day of my entire life. But it was the start of my life again.
It was the start of reexamining my values, and finding myself again.
I felt disgusting. I felt guilt and shame for that night, but I also felt the guilt and shame of EVERY OTHER NIGHT I HAD LIKE THIS FOR THE LAST 20 years.
and I started replaying ALL of them in my head.
The pieces finally started coming together. I still don't know in a lot of those memories which I made conscious choices for and which ones the choices were made for me. I don't know and I don't remember all of the things that happened, but I feel guilt and shame for the conclusions I made from the tiny glimpses of the chopped up edited timeline there was content present for.
But from a survival perspective and cost benefit analysis perspective the connection was finally made.
I am a very smart person, but it took me 20 years to figure out how much this shit was fucking up my life, even if it was just 1x or 2x a year of a great bender and its not because I am not smart, its because I didn't want to accept that I couldn't escape anymore.
BUT the escape is just a cycle.
Do a thing feel bad, or have someone do something bad to you > Consume substance to feel better, or simply forget what is happening in your life > While you are under influence of substance you do something bad again, or you pass out and someone does something bad to you.
=Guilt, Shame > Drink to deal REPEAT again and go to the beginning.
I also hadn't been able to find steady work enough to cover my bills since leaving that full time job. I was determined that I would focus completely on finding a solution. It meant having a clear head to completely figure that out.
For me it meant changing course, I had to give up on a few clients, some I felt were sucking me dry expecting me to treat them like a full time employer when they weren't even covering a quarter of my bills, and some I really liked working with, but simply needed to shift focus for my own survival. I had to abandon most of the graphic and web business. I had to make different choices.
It is almost a year later. I am going to be X0 in a little less than two weeks. I have been free of hard liquor and I haven't been drunk since that night. This isn't a badge I am looking for, or an AA coin or praise.
I am a relatively good person, but there are plenty of moments in my life I really really hurt people and made huge mistakes because I was having a bad time, and decided I couldn't cope with my emotions and drank, and just kept drinking.
I am writing this because I see so many in this same fucking pattern and I want you to know you can do it. You just have to realize you can't escape anymore. It's NOT an escape it is a trick. Whether you have 3 DUIs, or once or twice a year you black out.
If your life isn't where you want it. STOP and re-access your habits, and your choices for coping with this hard rough brutality that is life, and you will be able to create one that is a little less brutal
"WHY," I finally asked myself "ARE YOU CONTINUING TO CONSUME A SUBSTANCE THAT PUTS YOU INTO A DANGEROUS POSITION WHERE YOU DO NOT KNOW WHAT IS HAPPENING TO YOUR OWN BODY. YOU WORK SO HARD TO SURVIVE, YOU ARE A SURVIVOR, YET YOU LITERALLY CONSUME YOUR OWN KRYPTONITE"
Why don't we talk about this? Are we embarrassed. I sure am, but I feel like we should talk about it. The actual intricacies of this substance and this process, and as a woman the debilitating guilt and shame - to help each other.
I have a really great career budding now. It takes all my talents including all the skills I used to plan market and create burlesque shows and I am able to connect some of the artists I knew and help them find business and work. My ability to get my shit together is helping others I met on my artistic path, because my time in the underground allowed me to have other resources to solve corporate problems and think outside their world.
So what happens to Lily LaRue. I don't know. I have performed without drinking a couple of times now. It is alright, but it is not the same, a part of me was able to contain a comfortable "leashed regulated" part of that entity, the entity of me + alcohol - part of myself I did express without guilt or shame.
I am fortunate enough to have created another identity. One I can write this under and not feel like it will compromise what I have built under my alter ego in the straight world, I can tell this story and hope it helps others. Maybe I will perform again. I do not know but I have this website, and maybe I will write freely under an alter ego.
I will be perfoming / competing at Burlypics Nevada at Baobab Stage Townsquare Las Vegas. I am super excited to be debuting a new comedy / narrative burlesque striptease act. I don't want to give too much away, but I have been planning it for a really long time.