Red Leigh Cooper

Red Leigh Cooper

Wednesday, July 20, 2016


"I still don't know what I was waiting for
And my time was running wild
A million dead-end streets
Every time I thought I'd got it made
It seemed the taste was not so sweet
So I turned myself to face me"

- "Changes", David Bowie, 1971

I went into therapy in the fall of 2015. I was finally ready to deal with some of the issues from my childhood that I felt were keeping me from being a healthy adult. It's my admittedly unsubstantiated, but fully experienced, belief that many creative types have emotional issues of some kind. There is something cathartic about creating that helps us, but spend enough time around a mess of them (and I think in particular that a group of musicians should be called a "mess") and you might realize it's time to clear some things out of your subconscious catalog. Possibly well past time, even. 

This was good timing because, of course, Marc leaving, and for the second time, exacerbated past issues I had experienced. While I have done a lot of work to realize that this band wasn't my identity and that there was more to being me, there seemed to be some things that maybe I hadn't fully dealt with. 

I'll admit it; I expected to go in and hear "fear of abandonment", maybe "low self-esteem", or even "depression". What I did hear would change, if not completely alter, my world:

"Stockholm Syndrome" (also called "Trauma Bonding"), "C-PTSD", and something with some of the worst connotations and misinformation surrounding it... 


Wait, what? I'm pretty independent! I'm not necessarily needy...what the hell, lady?

Like most people I thought this meant someone who is needy but it's not that and in fact it's more than that. Let's visit Wikipedia, shall we?

"Codependent relationships are a type of dysfunctional helping relationship where one person supports or enables another person's addiction, poor mental health, immaturity, irresponsibility, or under-achievement." 

Oh yeah...okay...that's it...

My therapist and I figured out that my biological mother fit the profile of someone with a "Cluster B" Personality Disorder. My unresolved codependent tendencies derived from being her child have had me chasing those kind of relationships all my life. As I look back I realize that I have had many toxic boyfriends, supervisors, and close friends throughout my life. I've had more toxic close relationships on average than healthy ones. 

I'm a serial "fixer". I always try to see the good in people and I want to help them achieve the best they can be. I know what it feels like to grow up with no one supporting you emotionally and cheering you on. I don't want people to feel that way. The thing is, I just don't know when to stop, and that's what gets me into trouble. I've been so conditioned to walking on eggshells and avoiding conflict as much as possible, even if the person I'm trying to help is behaving irrationally and eventually disrespecting me.  I help at the detriment to myself and that has to stop. I always think, "they will get better I just know it. With enough love and support they will stop doing what they are doing. We do have some good days..."

Eventually no matter how hard you try to help, the rage you were trying to avoid from that person happens. You can't believe that they couldn't be helped and that they would behave that way towards you after all you've done, but this is why they are labeled as "toxic" and why you have to know when to walk away. These are the types of people I just can't have in my life if I'm going to break this cycle. I will have to have healthier boundaries and develop a healthier self-esteem, or I'm going to continue having "holes" blown in my life. 

It's really hard at first. You feel guilty. You are used to letting people treat you however they want to because somewhere you learned that was the only way to get people to like you. You feel guilty because those types in your life don't like your new way of thinking and then deem you the monster because they've stopped being able to have their way in every situation. 

I was on the phone recently with someone trying to be clear about why I had to remove someone close to them from my life. It was causing issues for us, and since we had been friends a long time, I felt it appropriate to have the conversation. 

"It's not that I'm different..." I said trying to explain that I'm still the loving person I was and that that hadn't changed. 

He interrupted me, "No, Dana, actually you are different now..."

You know what? He's right. Different isn't bad. It can be good...very good. I will own this. I am different. I turned myself to face me....

I'm not just on a journey to find me and my purpose...I'm on a journey to love and take care of  myself as well. That's the only way I can be found.

Happy Fishing!


Saturday, January 16, 2016

The Force Awakens

     Hopefully by now everyone has seen Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens. If not, I apologize for the following spoiler. You can stop reading here, but I'll try not to give too much away...

     Who didn't catch their breath when Han Solo and General Leia saw each other again after so many years apart? The audience is then given a glimpse into what happened, why it had been so long since they were together, and ultimately, in his despair, how Han went back to "the only thing I knew". That moment really resonated with me because at a time of great confusion, I found myself returning to the only thing I knew...

     So it's been awhile since I've blogged, yes?  I've had an amazing and busy year of grabbing the starfish! StoneKracker released a CD this last year, we played a lot of shows, and Marc, my lead guitarist as you might remember, and I even started a recording business together. I really felt like I was out living my purpose. I knew where I was going with my life. I mean, sure, bands aren't forever, and the business was something we could do creatively for some time to come.

     ...until the day it all came crashing down around me...

     Towards the end of last September, Marc announced that he was leaving the band because he would be spending all of his time working at another recording studio and would not have the time to devote to a musical project. He also let me know that I would not be continuing on with him in the business because in order to take this opportunity, he felt that he needed to work freelance.  Our band and business partnership was over. Just that quickly, it was all done. Although we had several resultant conversations due to his decision, he had already firmly made up his mind and was adamant that this was what he wanted, The band supported his decision and then, a little over a month and a half later, he was gone. He was no longer performing with the band and he had had his last recording session in the studio we built in my home,

     Upon hearing the news, I felt that big hole in my heart returning. The future, as I thought it was going to be, had been pulled out from under me. Like I said, I know that StoneKracker won't be around forever, but I love this band and had surrounded myself with people I consider to be family. There were many opportunities to take advantage of and projects to pursue now that we had music recorded. I really loved the business that I had put a lot of time, hard work, and money into it. It was all such a whirlwind of emotions and that fear of loss that I had been carrying around previously for a decade or so was creeping in.  I just wasn't sure where I was going from here and how I would go forward.

     The next three days were heartbreaking. I cried so much no one was buying my "I have allergies" excuse. You could see the pain on my face from the bags and dark circles under my eyes and the redness contained therein. The reality of the situation was playing over and over in my mind along with a handful of questions. What do I do know? What does my future look like? What about the band; how does that continue? Wait a minute...

     Remember when my friend Amy asked me, "Yeah, but what's YOUR dream?" We had been talking about why I went into business with Marc that day at her house. That was the one question that has haunted me on and off since then. Maybe somewhere in the back of my mind I knew I was living Marc's dream and not mine. Amy's was the only question I had to answer to make all of the rest of the answers fall into place. That's why the "hole" was coming back.  I forgot about who I am. Think about this:  I have made a whole blog about finding out what I was supposed to do with my life only to find myself living someone else's. Where did I go wrong here? I would have that answer too as long as I dug deep to remember, to actually know and be sure of, who I was and what I wanted. Only then would I be able to accept this major life change and others to come in my life and move forward no matter what happens,,,       

      So, here I am. Just like Han Solo I'm going back to the only thing I know, because deep down that's who I am. That has to be my starting point. I'm back on the beach unable to grab the starfish bobbing in water because my hands are full of shells...

     Hello, my name is Dana "Red" Leigh Cooper and I'm a writer...

     Welcome back to the ocean be continued...

Happy Fishing!