I am simply, like everyone else, an ant. I am tiny in a world so big. Why do the people around me rely on me so heavily? Words carry a great meaning for me and I have a need to over analyze and figure things out from inside and out. I stood on my porch one day watching the ants, march in perfect unison, hustle together, carry items far bigger than they are. So I began to read about ants, I became fascinated with the matriarchal society of ants, their strength, both individually and as a group, their amazing ability to build and network, the underground network can go for miles. Ants demonstrate the power of an individual made strong by the group. As an American, living in an individualistic culture I tend to forget that we, as individuals, only carry power within our groups, our hierarchies, and other people with whom we connect and build our networks. Ants are genius and respectful of one another. If there is a storm or a flood, one singular ant will drown but they network, bond together, and form an “ant raft” in which 500 plus ants will connect together using the pads under their feet and their jaws to connect together and therefore become water resistant creating a “raft” by which they can survive the flood.
I started thinking about my journey as an adult. In a codependent relationship built upon the need to consume a drug. How I maintained my business throughout all of it and how the women who would sit in my chair became my metaphoric “ant raft” holding my sinking head above water and allow me to survive my flood. At the height of my addiction, I would wake up in the morning smoke enough heroine to not get sick that day, go to work and put on a facade, work all day, and then return home at night to get high for hours until I passed out only to start it all over again the next day. I was shrinking away in size and strength, but I got out of the darkness at work. I talked to women who had survived traumas. And they were doing okay. I could see my way out of the dysfunction I had created on my personal life for 8-10 hours a day, all while creating beauty and making these women feel confident and strong in themselves.
This business ironically introduced me to drugs (in beauty school was where it started with cocaine and partying for days) and this business was the key to me getting and staying clean. I had a village of support. When I decided to get help, I was honest and open with my clients, my family, my friends and I didn’t lose my business in the process of getting clean. Everyone came together in support of my efforts. I think the idea of shame keeps people from being honest, I was able to let go of those feelings because my clients would sit in my chair and tell me stories of themselves, their friends, or family members who were battling some form of addiction. It became a bigger network of people to whom I was holding myself accountable. I read the daunting statistics about drug addiction and the sad reality that only 3% of addicts who get clean actually stay clean. I think the stigma needs to be removed. I am thankful for my strong heart and self confidence, because I was capable of being open and honest with the people around me. I feel no sense of shame or regret, my experiences have shaped me into the woman I am today. Strong, successful, and more than anything empathetic to others. I close my eyes and watch my ant raft float by in my mind and feel gratitude that I was able to survive my flood.