Addiction, coaching, Giving, Healthcare, Homeless, Love, Mental Health, Motivation, parenting

We’re not alone

I was shocked when an article showed up on my Facebook page today. Sesame Street has created a character whose parents are  addicts. They are talking about actually drug addiction and the opiate crisis on frickin’ Sesame Street. I couldn’t believe it. Since losing my son’s father I have been very vocal about addiction and how it has affected me and my family. I have been very clear that keeping this kind of thing “hush hush” doesn’t do anyone any good and that mental health in general needs to be the topic of more conversations… but I had no idea how many little children are going through the same thing my son did.

According to the article I read of a similar name, “We’re not alone – ‘Sesame Street’ tackles addiction crisis “,  5.7 million children under age 11 live in households with a parent with substance use disorder. That number is disgusting. I’m sorry. I wish I could say it any other way, but it is. It is disgusting to know how many kids out there have parents who are struggling with addiction and mental illness and can’t get the help that they need. How many parents have kids that are struggling with addiction and mental illness and can’t get the help that they need.

I say that they can’t get the help that they need because I tried. I called every long term rehabilitation center that I could find in the tri-state area to get my son’s father into a real treatment program. Not just a 2 week or 30 day dry out, but a real 6 months or a year program. Of course he protested at first saying that it would disrupt his life to be gone for so long, but I finally made him realize that it was much more disruptive to keep having relapses.. to not actually fix the problem and only band-aid the symptoms. It would have been a lot less disruptive on his life to take a year to get healthy then to die alone in a “sober house” with his family 3 cities away and his sober house manager swearing he’s fine… he doesn’t notice anything wrong with him.

I made at least 20 phone calls to every long term facility that I could find all saying the same thing. Sure.. he’s more than welcome.. that’ll be $50,000… right.. how many addicts do you know that have over $100 in their pockets. None of them take insurance.. and none of the ones that take insurance do any real treatment.. they just clean up their puke while they detox and then then send them on their way telling them to find some sort of out patient program like NA/AA to help.. yeah.. stay away from other addicts… but go find meetings where all you do is meet other addicts.. great idea.

I’m not saying that NA/AA are bad programs. They just aren’t for everyone. They have a very strong link to God and surrendering to a higher power and trusting in that higher power to help. Only problem.. not everyone believes in God or a higher power. I know Neil didn’t. I know he stayed clean out of shear will power. He told me repeatedly that everything that he did was for me and our son. That he was living for his family and he knew that he had to stay clean in order to have us in his life.

Now I read this article about Sesame Street talking to millions of kids about their parents. Millions of kids whose mommies and daddies have to stay sober using nothing but will power. My son is not the only kid I know whose parent has died from the crisis.. my son is not the only kid I know that needed a monitor to make sure he was safe when his Da was using. I do not live in an urban city. My child goes to private school. We love in a small town. We go to church every week. To look at us we are not who you would assume would have an addict for a loved one. But that’s the point. None of us are… and we all need to start talking about it if we want to save the mommies and daddies of those 5.7 million children. If we want to save the life of just one.

Addiction, coaching, Giving, Love, Mental Health, Motivation, parenting, Wellness

The correct way to grieve

There is no correct way to grieve and I have done it all.  Grief is different for everyone. It’s also different for each person at different stages of their lives. I was reading some fan posts about a show I watch in which one of the fans was not happy with how the main character reacted to the death of her husband compared to when she had thought her father had died. This fan felt that because the characters reaction wasn’t a breakdown into tears her love wasn’t as real.

I can tell you that I have had a handful of significant deaths in my life, and I have reacted to them differently every time. Some of the differences are based on their relationship to me, some of them have been because of my age. Some of the differences are just because the more loss you have; the more you get used to it.

My first major loss was my grandmother. She had dementia for many years and when she died I was very sad, but I also had felt like I’d been losing her for a long time. I was in my 20s and that death was more about facing my own mortality. She was the first member of my family that I really knew that died. It was the first time that death really hit home. I went a little nutty about how my life was not going anywhere and I wasn’t married with babies.. and the whole deal. I ended up running off to Vegas and marrying the guy that I had been dating for about a year. Don’t get me wrong, he was a great guy, but we should not have gotten married and after a couple of years and the grief passing we faced that truth and divorced.

My next major death was my mother. One would think this would have been the worst, but it wasn’t. I hadn’t seen my mom since I was a kid. She was schizophrenic and her being in my life was just too hazardous. She had moved to Georgia when I was about 12 and I had very little contact with her while she was there. A few years later she moved back, off her meds, and causing problems. I decided at that point that a mother should not be hurting her children, and that if she were in her right mind that she would agree with me. I never saw her again.

My father googled her every once in a while just to keep me updated. One day, in my mid 30s, I came home to him telling me that he found her obituary. She had died the year before… and I missed it. That was tough. Growing up without a mother was always hard. She didn’t help me pick out my prom dress. She wasn’t there to give me advice on dating, or tell me not to get married. She had never been a part of my life, but I always knew that she was out there, and that gave me a little peace. Maybe someday she’d get herself on track and look me up… but that day never came, and now it never would… and with that I just closed a chapter.

A few years later, 2015, was the worst year of my life. I woke up one morning to find my father dead in his bed. He had been sick for years, which is why I had moved home, but I wasn’t expecting that. His death crushed me. I found him and tears, screaming, horror. It was the worst experience of my life. It was exactly something that you would expect. My son was only 2 at the time, and I had to put on a brave face around him, but there was a lot from that year that I don’t remember. I was on auto-pilot. I had to clear out my dad’s stuff, take over his business, put in order all of his life.. and I did.. because I had to.. but I don’t know how I did it. And I don’t remember most of it.

In that same year my dad’s longtime girlfriend died.. on  my birthday. She was older and had been sick for a while, but that didn’t make it any easier. Losing her was like losing another parent. She was a link to my father. To my childhood.. Hell, she was the one who knew everything about everything. She was my go to in life when I had real questions… now, who was going to be there for me?

A little over a month later and right before Christmas my dog ran out of my front door and was hit by a car right in front of me. And not just hit.. hit, knocked to the other side of the street.. ran over.. then ran over again and dragged away. Some people don’t understand the impact of losing a dog, but for me this was like the proverbial straw… I had to choose. It was either going to destroy me, or I was going to use it to strengthen me. It was 2 days before Christmas and I had a 2 year old sitting in the house waiting for me. I held my breath, cleared up my tears, and did everything that I could to give him the best Christmas that he could ever have.

That was almost 4 years ago, and for a long time the worst of it was over. I was getting on with my life. I could only do what I could do and I was learning everything that I could about helping other people. To me, helping others made me feel better.

A few weeks ago a new phone call came in. This time it was my son’s father. He had been an addict. He had been clean for almost 2 years… he was my best friend.. on his sober days… and August 14, 2019… he was dead. My face went white with that call, but I did not shed a tear in that moment. I looked at my, now 6 year old, who was playing with a friend and I thought, “I need to be as strong as I can… for him”.

I have broken down a few times. My son has seen me cry, and knows how sad I am about Da being dead.. but I am holding it together. Not because I didn’t love my son’s father, but because I still love my son.. and I still love me, and I know that the best way for me to work through my grief is to help others. I have been writing about my experience with death, with addiction.. with loss. I have been helping out with my son’s school, and extra-curriculars. I have been attending to my son’s father’s final estate.. I am going to attend a wedding this weekend.

I am doing all of this because I love my grandmother, and my mom, and my dad, and my Mary, and my dog, and my son’s father… and my son, and my life… and the best way to make all of life worth the pain that comes with it is to keep loving and keep living. I live for all of those that I love that can’t anymore. I am teaching my son to do the same so that one day he will live for me when I’m gone… in the way way future. Because I plan to live and love and help others as much as I can for as long as I can.

bullying, coaching, Giving, Law of Attraction, Love, Motivation, Uncategorized, Wellness, women

What happens when we forgive.

Forgiveness, it’s something people talk a lot about, but I don’t think most people understand. Most people think of forgiveness in terms of the old adage “forgive and forget” but that implies that forgiveness is about the other person. It implies that you’re letting someone off the hook for their bad behavior or for hurting you, but that’s not the way that I see forgiveness.

To me forgiveness is letting go.. not for them, but for you. I recently had an ex contact me. We’ve images (11)all had this ex.. in fact it wouldn’t surprise me if we all had this exact same ex, he did tend to get around.. I digress. This ex put me through the ringer. He was a huge cheat, great at gaslighting and making himself appear the victim while trying to make you feel like he wouldn’t have to cheat, or blow you off, or whatever damaging thing he did, if you didn’t_____ fill in with what ever you feel is your biggest flaw is.

For years this man plagued every relationship that I was in. He would contact me in an effort to get back together swearing that he changed. He never did. I got to the point that I ran so hard and fast away from him that I married the next man to come along.. not because I loved him, but because I never wanted to feel love again. He still played with me and I ended up ending my marriage. I put on 10s of pounds with my self esteem crashing into the abyss. He was both the man of my dreams and the reason why I could never trust another man as long as I lived. He was a huge scar that didn’t seem like it could ever heal.

After dealing with his crap for almost a decade I finally walked away. I was with, who I thought, was a great guy. I ended up having the most amazing little boy in the world. I had huge REAL tragedies and wonderful adventures, all without him. I went through the hardest year of my life, and even though I had the urge to call him so he could “make me feel better”, the more that I thought about him, the more I realized he just caused me pain.

That led to the opposite affect. Instead of wanting to call him I started to get angry at him. Blaming him for wasting so many of my years. Years that I could have met someone else. Years that I could have started a family earlier and given my father and son a chance to actually know each other. This created a fierce bitterness in me, and it started to bleed into other things that I did. I had real trouble creating any form of relationship. I had trouble trusting men at all, but I knew that I didn’t want to live like that.

I have spent the last 3 years working on every aspect of my life. I have concentrated on being the best mother that I can be. I have focused on becoming healthy physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. I have created a life and a person that I really enjoy, but there was always something nagging at me. A song would come on the radio, or someone who make a face or use a phrase that I would say and that pain would strike like a hot dagger and I my blood would begin to boil. I hated him, and I started to question why. Why did I give this man that I knew in my 20s so much power over who I have become in my 40s. It has now been almost a decade since I have seen him and I still feeling trapped by him. Trapped by the feelings of wanting him and hating him.

He has followed me on many social media platforms over the years and came up on my Linkedin a couple months ago. In my haste to delete the suggestion I accidentally went into his profile.. that of course got me thinking about him and all of the damage that I needed to let go of. I ended up looking back at his profile one night… debating on whether or not to break down and just contact him when a contact request came in. I just went for it. I accepted the request and within 5 seconds there was a message from him.

It was all very pleasant. We caught up. He asked about my son whom he had seen on one of the social media platforms. He asked about his father and told me he was sorry to hear about mine passing. We talked about the basic stuff that anyone catching up would talk about. Then he asked me why I accepted his request after all of this time, and the truth is that I needed to. I needed to forgive him not for his sake but for my own. I needed to forgive myself for all the time I wasted being angry. I needed to talk to him again to see that he wasn’t the devil, but just some guy with just as much damage and confusion in his life as we all have. I had to take my power back.

And you know what? It felt really good. I may never talk to him again, or we could become those people that check in every once in a while just because, or he could even become my next best friend.. anything is possible. But the one thing he won’t be is a drain, because I deserve better than that.

bullying, coaching, Giving, Health, Law of Attraction, Love, Motivation, parenting, Prayer, religion, Uncategorized, Wellness, women

The 7 Deadly Sins are of this life.. not the next.

We have all heard of Dante’s Infernal and the 7 deadly sins, it’s been used in countless movies and TV shows including “Seven”, “Charmed”, and “Supernatural”, just to name a few, but I always used to wonder why they were so horrible in the eyes of the after world (whichever after world you choose is fine). The more that I thought about it the more that I realized they had nothing to do with what happens next. They are all about this world… hence, deadly. These are the things that kill us and our spirit, our drive in this world.

download (27)We are all aware of addiction as a horrible disease. People who suffer from it destroy not only their own lives but cause serious damage to those around them. When a person is so consumed with something outside of them-self they can’t manage to do or think about anything else.. they put other things on the back burner.. they lose them-self to that addiction that is a deadly sin.

Now think about what those 7 deadly sins are:

Gluttony: which could be seen as food, or drink, or drug. The way it was used in Charmed was even shopping.. it’s obsessing over something. Some people use the expression “A glutton for punishment” because they always seem to go back to those that hurt them.

Sloth: The act of giving up on life.. seriously. You have no motivation to do anything. We all have those days, mine are usually on Sunday, when we just want to stay in our pjs and pretend the world away, and occasionally that is fine. But if you become the person who doesn’t want to get the new job, doesn’t want to go out with their friends, doesn’t want the new relationship.. out of fear, or anger, or just laziness, then you can watch years go by without actually doing anything. That’s just a slow death.

Lust: This one is a bit tricky. There of course is the sex addict, but I feel with a glutton definition that kind of falls under that category, but what about those people that will do anything to be in a relationship. It doesn’t matter what. They will change themselves, give up their own rights, their own principles. There are people who just don’t feel complete without the status of relationship on their facebook profile.

Then there’s the flip side. Those who are in perfectly great relationships, but need can’t be satisfied. They need to chase the high of “catching” a new romantic prospect. I have met a few people like this. They are the ones that have the affairs, not because they have fallen out of love with their spouse, but because they have an innate need to be wanted. This is very similar to the person who always needs the relationship. These people always need to prove that they are good enough to get the next one, and more often than not they lose the good thing that they already have.

Envy: This one is just a relationship killer. Any relationship, not just the romantic one. This is the one that makes you fight with your spouse over a smile at the wrong person, we get that, but it’s also the one that makes you shy away from interacting with those that you deem better for some reason. Whether you feel the other is better looking, smarter, or more successful, you either put them in a category of stuck up and therefore not someone that you would want to associate with, or you put them into a category of someone out of your league in which case you couldn’t possibly be someone they would want to know.

On top of personal relationships it’s what stops you from going for the job, the promotion, the bigger and the better, because you feel that there is no way that “I could possibly be the best candidate when there are so many more out there that are… smarter, more educated, have more experience” or whichever “truth” you decide fits your explanation. The only thing this does for us is keep us scared and incapable of moving forward.

Greed: Now this seems like it should go the opposite of envy and sloth and should be a great motivator to help someone be successful, but I guess that depends on your definition of success. Greed is not to be confused with ambition. It is great to have goals and be ready and willing to work and fight for those goals. It is a deadly sin when you start crossing lines and stealing, manipulating, and using others just to get what you want. When you start to realize that you have elevated the money or the prestige to be more important than the people around you you start to realize how much you have really lost.

Pride: This is another one that seems like it should be good, until you see it blown out of proportion. How many times have you heard of a family falling apart over pride. It could be a marriage or parents and children who don’t speak for years or even decades over something.. that half the time they can’t remember, or can’t admit wasn’t a big deal. Pride is a dangerous animal. It keeps you from giving up your principles and makes us all stronger for it, but it can be a huge stumbling block once it’s been damaged. There are many out there that hold so tightly to their pride they can’t even give the next person a chance for fear they may be made a fool again.

Wrath: This one is huge. This one is one that we see crippling nations and destroying civilizations. This is the one that needs an enemy. This is the one that needs to place blame on anyone else. This is the one that creates wars. Usually this one is a combination of the rest. This is the one that comes about when someone who is being greedy, and prideful feels envious and they obsess over who they can blame for their apathy. This is when we look for problems to to criticize others over instead of solutions to bring about peace and resolution. We are too angry to see anyone else’s perspective. We are too angry to see our part. The only thing we can do is accuse, and hurt back… and that’s never solved anything.

So as important as the afterlife is to most of us, the only life we actually have control over right now is the one that we are currently living. How do you want to spend your days? Do you want to do, see, and accomplish as much as you can? Do you want to love, learn, and experience all of the wonders that this life has? Or do you want to blame, ridicule, and waste the little time that you do have to be the person you always dreamed you could be?

 

coaching, Giving, Health, Healthcare, Homeless, Love, Motivation, parenting, Politics, religion, Uncategorized, Veterans, Wellness, Women's movement

The season of giving

The season of giving is over. Thanksgiving is long forgotten, except by our pants. Christmas is a lovely memory. We are all in the process of throwing dead trees and left over wrapping away. We are ready for our New Year/New Me. We are planning all of the things that we want to do to make our lives better.

We’re going to lose weight, quit smoking, go back to school, get a new job, get a better relationship… we are going to make our lives perfect!

thBut what about all of those who are just hoping to get through the bitterly cold nights? The food pantries and soup kitchens don’t just have “guests for the holiday”. We all talk about the things we want to get and achieve, but what about the things that we want to give.

At the time of Holy Days we all talk about how “it’s better to give than to receive” and how “giving is its own reward”, then the new year starts and we suddenly forget that there are poor people. We have battles online with strangers about all of the people leaching off the system.. as if anyone is choosing to be poor and/or starving and homeless.

I understand more than most that people make their own reality… but this doesn’t mean that they do it by choice. Some aren’t strong enough to make better choices. Some have mental illnesses that prevent them… not everyone has a well-built support system in place to deal with things like childcare, or even a place to shower and get mail so they may apply for a job.

Most of all I think of the children. In the past I have volunteered for a program called “Horizon’s for Homeless Children” a program in which adults volunteer to hang out with children in homeless shelters. This gives parents a chance to work, and children a larger support system in which to depend. I have also been a Big Sister through the Big Brother/Big Sister program, and have given many a present to a giving tree or tows for tots. This past winter I found myself taking tags for boys my son’s age because the thought of him waking up on Christmas with nothing was heart breaking.

I’m amazed when I read comments online about how poor people shouldn’t have children… yet, those are the same people opposed to birth control being covered by insurance… or insurance being covered at all. I’m amazed when I read that everyone who’s on food stamps are just lazy. I’m amazed when I read from the same people about “Pro-Life!”… it seems to me that you’re just pro-rich-life.

Now this is not an abortion debate. I, myself, have issues with abortion and it has nothing to do with my religion and more to do with the science that has come about and the understanding of when babies can feel and think and so on..  This is a humanity rant (for lack of a better word). I am completely PRO LIVING. I am pro helping those who need help. I am Pro feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, healing and hopefully preventing sickness. I am not only for this depending on which job you have had in the past, or what color or country that you are born. I am for LIFE.

The season for giving is every season.