Twitter, Our New Justice System

I’m a little concerned about our justice system. Or should I call it justice by Twitter? The Constitution no longer seems to be the law of the land. We’re becoming a society that gets news through sound bites, or even worse,  posts on social media. And when we demand action, it’s no longer in a court of law. We ban. We boycott. And we convict.

 

On social media.

 

The media, depending on which outlet, follows along.

 

I believe in the rights we are granted in this country, in the United States of America. I believe a person is innocent until proven guilty, even when in my heart of hearts I believe that someone is guilty.

 

The beauty of our justice system is that it’s not up to me. It’s not up to you. It’s not up to an angry mob on social media. It is up to a jury of their peers. Even when that’s bullshit.

 

Bill Cosby was locked up. Finally. But he was convicted after a trial. I always knew he was guilty, but, thankfully, it wasn’t my belief that is sending him to prison. As much as I wish I had that power, I am equally glad that I don’t.

 

I’m thankful I don’t because I’m grateful to live in a country where we have rights, where we are protected, even if it doesn’t always work the way that it should.

 

Brett Kavanaugh has been accused of sexually assaulting several women. Yes. I want to believe all women who come forward. I want the archaic way we treat victims of sexual assault to change.

 

Still, I cling to innocent until proven guilty. Maybe it protects the Harvey Weinsteins of the world, the Bill Cosbys, and maybe even the Brett Kavanaughs.

 

But it doesn’t just protect them. It protects all of us. From that angry mob on Twitter that can take the smallest thing and make it trend.

 

By the way, trending is not probable cause. Going viral is not proof beyond a reasonable doubt just as social media is not a court of law. Hopefully it will never be, although it seems as if we’re heading that way.

 

As someone with a story, I want to see victims feel safe in coming forward. I want victims to be believed, to not have to wait 30 something years to come forward.

 

I love social media. I love the voice it has provided for those who once had none. I love the way it connects people, especially people who once believed they were alone.

 

Still, I’m afraid. I’m afraid because I have sons and brothers. I have male friends, male students, a lot of males that I love. And I’m seeing a lot of posts, especially on Twitter, that blame all men for the actions of some. It seems to be a new narrative. If you’re male, you’re a pig.

 

I don’t believe that to be true.

 

We are creating another divide. That seems to be what we do. We’ve gotten very good at the whole us vs them thing, and depending on who us and who them is, it can be scary. Scary because social media can wreck you.

 

Social media is not our justice system. No matter how much we want to believe victims, how much we want change, we cannot let an angry mob on social media become our justice system.

 

We are better than that. I hope.
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Before September 11

My kids will never understand life before September 11, yeah, that September 11. They will never know the freedom that came with running through sprinklers and across lawns, and neighbors not being suspicious. They will never understand that there was a time that people didn’t call the cops first and ask questions later.

They will never know that calling the cops is something new. People once believed that kids will be kids, and laughed over it, because they remembered their own stories. And they weren’t afraid.

My kids will never know the beauty of buying a plane ticket and arriving moments before take off or not having to go through some radioactive machine that their government does not give enough information about, or that we once lived in a country where nobody would ever imagine that we’d accept having to endure someone with no law enforcement credentials having the authority to molest us, because the government has tried to sell the narrative that it somehow has made us safer.

My kids live in a world where buying an airline ticket is considered probable cause, a world where cameras will catch their every move, even when knocking on doors  to Trick or Treat,  a world where there is no such thing as anonymity.

It no longer exists, for anyone.

For all the posts that people share about drinking from hoses and the streetlights being their curfew, we now have parents driving their kids everywhere because of the fear that danger is lurking. Everywhere.

Fear is the silent partner in parenting now.

My kids will never remember a day that had the crispest blue sky. They will never remember their father, a first responder, being gone for weeks on end, as he dug through rubble. Or their aunt waiting at a triage area for victims, only to realize that the devastation was so horrific that there were not even bodies to go in the body bags.

Those were things they were too young to know, things they could never comprehend.

They won’t remember me taking them down to the site as soon as we were able to get back into Manhattan, if anything, to show them that we were not going to live in fear, that we were going to move forward as New Yorkers do, or that going there and being with strangers was the beginning of some sort of healing.

Strangers hugged other strangers. Stores offered water, their bathrooms, simple human kindness, something that has long been replaced by fear and suspicion.

I’m not sure that my kids will ever understand the loss. They didn’t attend the funerals or know that families were unable to have them because they waited for remains that might never be found. 

They grew up with a mass card on our refrigerator, a mass card mixed in with the magnets from family vacations and pictures of milestones. They knew his name, even if they had never met him. But his name became just that, a name. They didn’t have the memories, the history. They saw a picture on their fridge.

I don’t think they could ever know what they lost that day, what we all lost.

They suffered another loss a few years later in a war that didn’t seem to solve anything or give us answers.

I don’t have the worst September 11 story, but I’m not competing.

I just wish my kids could know the world I grew up in. Even with the Cold War, I felt safe. I don’t remember a time I didn’t feel safe. Until September 11.

Many many years ago, I lived in a world where kids ran through yards playing a game called Manhunt. We ran in the streets playing Kick the Can. Sometimes our ball even hit a neighbor’s car. We said sorry and went on with our game. 

We caught frogs and went swimming and snuck kisses never imagining how our world was going to change.

Every year on September 11, as I think of those lost, of those I lost, I think about the world that was lost and what my kids will never know.

The world has changed. Maybe we can’t go back to a pre-9/11, but I’ll even take the world that was New York right after, where strangers cared for one another, where we all swore we were in this together.

 

Failure Happens

The F word. No, not the one you’re all thinking about. I’m talking about failure. I get shivers just writing it. Many of you get the shakes just reading it. Except maybe those of you who think you got it beat. Maybe you do. I hope that you do.

 

I don’t. I was just ahead of it, and then I found out, not so much. It found me. Again.

 

At this point in my life, it should be in my rearview, like my rearview times 100. But its not.

So what does one do? I mean, one, not me. Ok, me.

You find a way to keep moving. You discover who your friends are, your real friends. You make a plan, a new plan, times two.

Times a million.

And then you get going.

Sure, you can lick wounds, scream at God, the gods, make a lot of excuses, but then none of those things really pay the bills, and the bottom line is that there are bills, there are always bills.

If you have kids, there are a ton of bills.

Today I took stock of my failure. I decided to go to the movies with a friend. Yeah, because what else do you do when you fail, you’re broke, and you don’t know what the f*&k to do.

I found inspiration. I laughed. I cried. I argued with a friend who wasn’t as moved as I was. Doesn’t matter.

There was a song that reached me. I can’t write music. I can’t sing. Heck, I can’t dance. But music has always found its way into my heart.

I cried watching this movie, because of a song. And I knew that I was going to be ok. Because what choice is there.

None.

Failure happens. I have always been a firm believer that we only grow through failure. Ok, so I sort of feel like enough is enough. But the universe thinks differently.

Failure has found me once again.

But its ok. Its an opportunity to take stock, to discover things about myself, about those who love me.

I got this.

 

 

Commenting on a Celebrity Overdose

There was another celebrity overdose in the news. The young woman is alive, thanks to Narcan, a nasal spray used to treat an opioid overdose. Someone is probably getting rich off of Narcan. I don’t care. God bless whoever it is, because lives are being saved, celebrity lives, non-celebrity lives.

Demi Lovato has been open about her struggle with addiction. There were recent hints, by her, that she relapsed. Unfortunately, she will not be able to recover in private. She will be the subject of mean-spirited comments that will be blistering in comparison to the support being offered by fans and others who love her.

So what part of commenting on a celebrity’s overdose can advance prevention, treatment, and recovery?

The part where others who are struggling, addicts, families, friends, know that they are not alone. They are not alone in the struggle. They are not alone in the desperation. They are not alone in the search for answers.

They are also not alone in the grief.

One out of three of my kids is an addict, in recovery, but still an addict.

All three of my kids know classmates, friends, loved ones who have gone through the revolving doors of rehabs, a billion dollar industry that keeps growing.

They all know too many lost to an overdose.

If you have never been to a wake of a kid who has practically lived in your home, be grateful. Unfortunately, I have been to multiple wakes. I’m not sure there is anything more awful than sitting in a room and looking at the kids who have grown up in  your home as they sob for their lost friend, kids that you love, knowing that one of them could be next. Except maybe loving the kid who wasn’t saved, the kid who is being waked.

Or maybe worse is knowing that your local police and social service agencies have partnered up and claimed that their partnership is in the name of combatting this crisis. Money is always involved, but they say things about how the partnership will save lives.

They announce that they cannot arrest their way out of this problem, but then follow that with some very well-publicized arrests. Arrests that don’t seem to reverse the opiod crisis.

Of course it gets even worse when caught up in the publicity blitz is a kid who has struggled, a kid who has relapsed, a kid who is being made a scapegoat for a problem that the police and the social service agencies can’t seem to solve, despite all of the eloquent soundbites in the news.

When a mother who has been financially devastated by a divorce, illness, her child’s addiction, has to come up with thousands of dollars in legal fees because her kid is being made a scapegoat, well, tell me how that helps anyone.

My heart breaks for Demi Lovato, for her family, for all of the celebrities lost to addiction. I don’t have to be famous to know their pain is real.

I am not just a blogger, despite what some have said. I am a mother who has lived this. I know families who have gone bankrupt seeking treatment, help for legal fees. I am a mother who watched as a kid went from blue to colorless before the miracle that is Narcan save that precious life.

I watched as that lifeless kid walked out of my house. I hugged that kid a year later, and hugged him again and again, and a few more times because he’s beautiful and I am incredibly grateful that he walked out of my house and back into  his life.

I am a mother who demands answers from those who have access. I want the Police Commissioner, the County Executive, the local politicians, the CEO’s, the social service agencies, the local community counseling agencies, and the people who claim to be advocates to all step up. I want those people to stop passing the buck, stop giving clever soundbites, and get down to the business of saving our kids, our families.

Stop arresting our kids. Stop treating addiction as a crime. If you’re not part of the solution, well, you know what you are.

If the news reports are true, Demi Lovato’s life was saved today. Let’s not stop there. Let’s save more lives. Let’s find a cure. Let’s demand treatment that has a proven success rate. Let’s stop criminalizing an issue that affects rich and poor, celebrities and non-celebrities.

We deserve more. Our kids deserve more.

 

**Author’s plea- Please get a Narcan kit. Free training is available. Go to LICADD.org.

 

 

 

The Heroin Diaries

Heroin has a grip on my town, a town that pretends it happens in other places. A town where we have an activist who talks about being drug free, but not much else. An activist who ran for office with someone who declared us drug free, despite being a heroin hotbed.

Heroin has permeated my town, a town in which members of our Board of Education have claimed our schools are drug free. A town in which the school district ignores the crisis. A town that believes it happens to bad kids, broken families.

A town where kids are dying.

A town where kids have been in rehab. Multiple times.

A town where kids have been arrested over and over again.

The school district has it right in some ways.

My family is broken. Not because I’m a single mother.

No. My family is broken because one out of three of my children is an addict. Thankfully in recovery, but still an addict.

My family is broken because I have kids who have a sibling that will never be able to live with them again.

My kids have a sibling that will always live far away. As in from them, from their future partners, from the kids they will one day have.

It is a permanent separation.

Their sibling coming back could be life or death.

What does that look like for my family? It looks like a lot of birthdays, Christmas, Easters, holidays where there is an empty seat at the table, a seat we desperately wish was filled, a seat that is a constant reminder of a loss that so many don’t understand yet so many experience.

Heroin has broken my family. In a way that would break your heart.

Heroin has a hold on my town, even if my town pretends that it is a problem happening somewhere else.

I don’t know the answers. If I did, I’d tell you. What I do know is that the recent arrests are not the solution. I do know that we cannot arrest ourselves out of this problem, even if our police department forgets that, even if our local social service agencies pretend that the arrests are part of a partnership.

All I can do is speak to you as a mother who desperately longs for all of my kids to be under the same roof, a mother who has driven my kid to rehab in the midst of withdrawals, a mother who would gladly take the blame if you could tell me what I did to cause this.

I’ve been to too many funerals of kids I have loved.

I have seen too many kids I love in jail.

Heroin has a grip on my town. I don’t believe the answers are easy, but I believe the first step is to stop pretending this is happening somewhere else.

I call on the local activist, the school district, the BOE, the parents in my town, all of us.

Heroin is holding our town hostage. We can’t take it back until we realize that we are all in this together.

 

 

The Addiction Peeing Contests (not grammatically correct, but ok)

I’ve spent the better part of a week trying to figure out a “nice” way of saying what I’m about to say. I know. Typically I just say it. I don’t worry about how it sounds. So I’m doing it a bit differently this time.

People aren’t always as nice as they should be. No, silly. Not me. Some other people.

What do I mean? Hmm. Well. There are still people who believe that addiction is a choice. Yeah. I know. I wanted to call them names too.

I stupidly engaged in an argument on social media last week with someone who called the victim of an overdose terrible names.

Imagine. A young life is lost and someone is name calling. I mean if death isn’t enough of a punishment, pile it on.

Not.

I took issue because I knew the life that was lost, although, I have taken issue when I have not known the life lost. I mean at some point most of us will know a life. If you think that’s not true, ask yourself how you’re breathing with your head buried so deep in the sand.

This was not my first one, death, I mean.

I knew a few lives lost. And I know a few lives that I still worry about, as in I go to bed at night and say a million prayers that I’m not going to wake up to a FB post about them or a news article about them, or any news about them, which means that they are still breathing, that their mothers can still hug them or even be annoyed at them for not taking out the garbage or whatever it is that they are doing that gets on their mother’s last nerve.

Because the bottom line is that despite the love, we all get on one another’s nerves. Even addicts. Especially addicts. Even the ones we love. Especially the ones we love.

People don’t understand addiction. I don’t understand addiction. And it is something that has hit home for me. I don’t believe I need to explain that.

What I do know is that its not a choice. Who would choose that? Who would choose something that comes with a lot of annoying stuff, including the potential of death?

For those of you who love an addict, whether he/she is using, in recovery, whatever stage, I get it. I support you. I will never blame you, even when blame feels easy.

For those of you who love an addict, no matter what stage, I will fight for you, fight for the one you love. Because that’s what we should all do. Even those who think they don’t know an addict, even if those who are deep in it know that’s impossible.

Especially those who have access. ESPECIALLY THOSE WHO HAVE ACCESS. As in those who know Police Commissioners, Heads of Agencies, politicians, people. Don’t make me define people.

Yeah, I’m not going to explain that either.

I’m just a blogger, not someone some may consider important. But, I am important. Know why? Because I have lived it. Because I don’t care who I make hate me. I’m going to keep demanding answers. I’m going to keep pushing. I’m going to scream until the people I know who have the access will scream as loud as me and insist that those with access will make a difference. I expect them to do just that.

I demand that they do that.

I had an argument with someone this week, someone who should know better, someone who tried to pull rank, even when there really is no rank.

I expected more. I demanded more. Lives are at stake, lives of people that I love, lives of people I don’t know, but still lives, a lot of lives.

They are worth saving. They are all worth saving. Make that your worthwhile thing for the day, the week, or whatever period of time. They are worth saving. Every single one.

We are all in this together. Even if we don’t all know it. I mean I know it, but not everyone does, not even some who should.

When it comes to addiction, there is no rank. We all just want to survive. We all just want those we love to survive, especially us mothers. God, how we want those we love to survive.

You should too. And if you can do something about it. Do it. Now.

 

Disclaimer: I am just a blogger. This piece is my personal feelings. Some don’t believe this is fact-based,  but they too are short on the facts, short on the evidence that scapegoating our kids is evidence-based. Demand evidence. If there is a financial benefit, be more adamant that you want evidence-based answers. Because these are our kids. Your kids.

 

Mommies Dearest

IMG_5867Think back to the first time you realized you were having a baby, the joy, the promise, the way that  you ecstatically mapped out the future, your future, the baby’s future, everyone’s future.

You read a few books and knew everything, no really, like EVERYTHING.

Colic? You were going to beat it. Those terrible two’s were going to have nothing on you. Adolescence was going to be a walk in the park. And acne? Stop! Your kids were going to have perfect diets, filtered water, and plenty of fresh air which meant, of course, the most perfect complexions.

You weren’t just ready. You had all the answers. You were going to breast pump and send the extra to starving kids in Africa. You were going to make all of your own baby food from a garden you were going to start on your window sill. Your kids were never going to know what a chicken nugget was.

That wasn’t it. Your kid was never going to misbehave. Ever! Your kid was never going to say things like, “I hate you,” or, “you suck,” or much worse, yeah, way worse! Nope. Not your kid. You read chapters 3 through 33 of that popular book someone gave you at your baby shower. You got this.

You totally got this. Ha!

If your kid is under 5, skip forward a few paragraphs because you’re still delusional. You have no idea.

Why? Because when people are telling you that you should start a family, pestering you about getting pregnant, and generally harassing you to join the club you can never get out of, they leave out some crucial information. They don’t tell you the part where all kids at some point turn into unrecognizable creatures that do things that are unimaginable.

Don’t believe me? Think back to when you were a teenager. Yeah. Think harder. You know what you were doing.

Oh, and that was before social media, cell phones and 24/7 news. Our parents had the luxury of going bowling or out with their friends and actually bowling and hanging out with their friends. They didn’t track us. They couldn’t. And they didn’t have some stupid moms group that regularly exposed all of the bad things you and your friends did or all of the horrific mommies dearest who couldn’t wait to make themselves feel better about themselves by trashing other kids in those stupid groups.

Nobody warns you. I mean, I warn people, but my reach is sort of limited.

If you’re having your first kid, you may want to skip the rest. There’s nothing you can do now. Your life is pretty much over.

You may escape colic.  God bless you if you do, because it is a special place in Hell. Nobody tells you this, but the terrible two’s don’t actually start until three, just when you think you’ve escaped it, and it typically hits on that day where you’re running out with greasy hair, no bra, and forgot your wallet. In fact, its pretty much a given that it will never happen on that day when your hair and makeup are perfect. Yes. I said that day.

In fact, I promise you that if you leave your house in your pajamas, without brushing your hair, or are in any kind of unkempt state (basically from the time they are born until they are 25) well, that’s most likely going to be the moment your kid will decide to go from cute little Gerber baby to Rosemary’s baby. I promise!

I’m still scarred by the memory of my beautiful daughter, at the age of 3, deciding she had to strip in the middle of a parking lot during a snowstorm because I was silly enough to believe the myth that we would not survive without milk and bread. I can’t remember what I was wearing, but nobody was mistaking me for Gigi Hadid, even if she hadn’t been invented yet.

I will never forget that day. I remember it vividly, the  gorgeous purple faux fur she shed in the supermarket parking lot, the adorable snow boots from some expensive boutique scattered like wreckage, her precious leggings that matched perfectly the tutu dress that was now getting buried in the freshly falling snow, the gallon of milk dropped along the way as I tried deseperately to keep her from flailing herself out of my arms and into a snow bank.

Worse than her actual tantrum were the looks from the other shoppers, other mothers, the Mommies Dearest.

As I struggled to open the car door while wrapping my arms around my practically naked daughter, I scanned the snow looking for the various articles of clothing and then had a moment of panic because I wasn’t sure if I had dropped my keys. I don’t remember how I got her into the car seat, how I managed to strap her in, or what maternal instinct kicked in that spared her life and stopped me from dropping her in the snow and taking off for someplace tropical.

Somehow we made it out of there. I’m pretty sure the milk and boots didn’t.

Nobody offered to help me. The Mommies Dearest just stood there silently shaming me with those awful looks, as if this was the first time any of them had ever seen a kid throwing a tantrum.

I still think about the Mommies Dearest and wish I could go back and mash their faces in the snow. I made a promise that day to never be one of them. I will never be a Mommies Dearest, some awful person who shames other mothers having a tough time.

Kids are awful creatures. They go from adorable little bundles of joy to these things that ooze poop and vomit and then they grow into things called teenagers, and that crap is starting younger and younger, and they find new and improved ways to humiliate you in public,  and they have a brilliant way of doing it at the most opportune times.

The more awful creatures though are the Mommies Dearest. There is a special place in Hell for them.

My kids are all in their 20’s now and despite the horror of that long ago day, there are still times I would give anything to go back to it. I’d hug my daughter a little tighter, yes, during mid fit, and tell her I loved her and that all of those Mommies Dearest  glaring at us were stupid and that one day we were going to laugh about this. And maybe I’d apologize for dressing her up in that tutu dress and the purple faux fur. Not the boots though. They were incredible!

When I see a mom in the store struggling with a kid who is making her sorry for leaving the house, I offer a smile, a sympathetic look, and sometimes a kind word. Because I remember how awful those moments were and how horrible the Mommies Dearest can be.

Being a mommy is one of the greatest things in the world, well, from birth till 2 and then again after 20, so for like 2 and a half  years. But way worse than colic, the terrible twos, teenagers, the I hate you years, and pretty much anything else your kid can put you through are the Mommies Dearest.

Never be a Mommies Dearest.