Life in Quarantine

It is only day 587 of this quarantine. My liver is probably gone. I’ve done some questionable things, from a social distance. And I’ve taken time to reflect on my life. Yeah. Great stuff.

First I will say this one thing. Thank God this shit didn’t happen when my kids were younger. I miss them being young. I miss little hands and sweet moments, but, how I thank God regularly that I’m not locked in a house with three little ones, two of them who thought that they were part of the WWE. Oh, and the constant eating, the peeing all over the bathroom, the never wanting to go to bed, and the mess. I’m not a neat freak, by any means, but the friggin mess. Thank you, God, for holding off until they were adults.

Second first. I promised myself that I am not going to end up on My 600 Pound Life at the end of this and have made a point to run, walk, bike, and do some form of exercise every single day. Yeah, with a mask on, even if our federal government hems and haws on whether or not that is necessary. And my essential grocery runs involve no junk food, just liquor. That’s a serious concession.

Anyway, since there isn’t really much to do I’ve been paying attention to social media. Dads are drinking and high fiving and basically enjoying life. Moms are questioning every minute of their day. Is it ok that I didn’t make breakfast? Is it ok that I let them eat cereal for dinner? What if they didn’t brush their teeth? And it makes me cringe.

Moms, stop questioning yourselves. We’re all in the same boat. Well, except those of us who were lucky enough to not be living the Terrible Twos and teenage years during this shit. But basically those of us with older kids, at least those of us who aren’t assholes, will tell you to relax. Let them eat dirt for dinner. Who cares? They’ll survive. Go have a glass of wine, or eight. Go get laid. No, don’t break quarantine. I’m talking about those of you who have a husband or partner that lives there. I mean, married couples have been practicing this social distancing thing for years, but there’s some of you who still want a little. Go get some.

We’ll get through this. Those of you with toddlers and adolescents and even teenagers will love your kids again. They’ll grow up to love you, pee in the toilet, and actually do other productive things. I promise you. Mine have and you don’t know the horror that some of mine put me through.

For now, I’m working in leggings. I just ordered a new pair and they’re everything. But I also know people who have suffered loss, tremendous loss, and I’m grateful that my loss is about superficial things like eyelashes and nails. I’m healthy. My kids are healthy. And right now, that’s bonus stuff.

So take a breath. Do what you need to do to get through this. Be kind to yourself. Give yourself a break. Forgive yourself for having a meltdown. This is new for all of us. We’ll get through it. And know that there are people out there who care.

 

Note – If you need help, it is out there. Please call.

Getting Through Corona

There is a possibility that I was wrong. Mark down the date because I am never wrong. But this Coronavirus, well, it got me. No, not as in I have it, but that initially I wasn’t worried. Oh, btw, I still want addiction to get attention like this, but for now, I bow down. Coronavirus, you have humbled me. Still…

First, I’m fortunate to be able to work from home. It is a huge pain in the ass video conferencing all day, writing reports that get presented remotely, and then dealing with my other responsibilities. 

I miss my friends, my work friends, my home friends, my friends who have found their way into my life through different means. I love our Facetime drink fests and my friend who showed up to hang out six feet apart, in respect to social distancing. I love my friends who have texted and emailed, well, just have found ways to be a presence. They remind me of how blessed I am to have a circle, a sort of large circle, of people who are my people, who love and accept me no matter what. I wish for everyone what I have because I have it good.

Since I’ve been a shut-in I have paid attention on social media. I have watched on different platforms as moms apologize for who they are, what they are. As if any apology is necessary. This is new to all of us. We’ve never done this before. Yet moms are apologizing as if there is some handbook that gave us all the rules. That blows my mind.

Moms, stop apologizing. Dads too. As parents there is no quintessential guide. It doesn’t exist. We all know parents who did everything right and had little Johnny turn out to be the biggest fucker on the face of the planet. (Um, not me, but, um). We all know parents who did everything wrong and their little Johnny is now a Rhodes scholar or some shit like that. And, btw, what was right and what was wrong? Do any of us really know? If you say you do, you’re an idiot and a liar.

We’re all on lockdown. At least, we all should be. My kids are older so thankfully I’m not homeschooling my own kids. What a nightmare. None of us chose that. If we had, our kids wouldn’t be off from school right now. But we need to give ourselves a break. This is new to all of us. All of us. 

So your kid wakes up and confuses the fact that he’s not in school with the fact that he’s not in school. HE’S NOT! I’m not saying don’t get down to business, but take the blessing in this. Make some pancakes. Lie in bed together and watch some stupid show or a bunch of stupid shows. You’re never getting this time back, whether you have Corona or not.

There has been a movement to change things in schools, to get away from some of the testing. Now is the time to do all of the things that are important. Love your kids, even when you hate them. Lie in bed, bake brownies, burn the eggs, whatever it is that means you are spending quality time with your kids, do it. And then Facetime your friends and drink, because you deserve that too. But stop beating yourself up.

This is new to all of us. We’ll get through it. And when we do, let’s give the attention we gave Coronavirus to some of the other things that affect our kids, like addiction. First though, let’s get through this, without beating ourselves up.

 

Coronavirus and Addiction

Addiction was in my rearview. At least I thought so. Everyone is talking about Coronavirus right now. No disrespect to anyone, but that will be sorted out, and our kids will still be addicted. And yeah, people will make money from Coronavirus, but not like they will off of the opioid crisis. Sackler family, I mean you. And a lot of others.

I’ll never forget the denial. Yeah, so much denial, because if you haven’t lived it, you cannot possibly imagine. Denial is your best friend. Nobody wants to believe that someone they love, their kid, kids who were like their kids would steal from you. I mean, you give them everything, and then things disappear. Little things at first. Little things like spare change, dollar bills, change jars. Then it becomes bigger things. I’m aging myself, but, VCR’s, video game consoles, I don’t know, things that are now outdated. Of course, there’s also jewelry, money, etc.

So the denial was big, like, oh maybe I didn’t just take $100 out of the cash machine. Or, maybe I threw out that game console. Even while the reality is that you didn’t, and you know it.

So recently a kid from my neighborhood posted something on social media. He’s in recovery. He wishes that people talked about it. He wishes that people talked about it back when he was in high school, and an addict. He wishes he hadn’t lost so many friends to it. Oh, his high school was denying that there were drugs in the school even while many of the students were in some form of treatment service. 

Then there’s the kids that I have loved since they were way high, as in height, not feeling groovy, kids who are no longer a part of my life, not because that’s how I want it, but because that’s the nature of addiction. There has been loss, too much loss. But there has been a different type of loss, like the kids who grew up in my home, kids I loved, loved like they were a part of my family, because they were, always will be.

I don’t know where all of them are now. I often wonder when I go to a funeral, when I hear of an arrest. I do know some were recently in jail. Some have relapsed. And I’d give anything to go back to when they were sitting in my living room laughing about stupid stuff and eating pizza and teasing each other and, well, back to a time when my living room was filled with love.

I’ve seen some at funerals and hugged them, and hugged them again and told them I love them, because I do. But love is not a cure. If it was, there’d be no crisis. 

The Coronavirus doesn’t scare me, maybe because nothing is scarier than watching a kid you love go from blue to pasty white as he is overdosing, praying that the ambulance gets there with a Narcan shot and he doesn’t die. Nothing is scarier than going to bed at night and not being able to sleep because you’re getting up every ten minutes to check breath. Nothing is scarier than what becomes a daily routine of, well, just being grateful that there are no funerals to attend to this week. And nothing is scarier than the denial from all of the people who don’t live it who think it is just a matter of you saying no to your kid. Or the people who supposedly love you and your kid who have lots of helpful advice like, “just tell him no,” or, “Did you take away his Playstation?” Those people are assholes, by the way.

Addiction was in my rearview, so I thought. It’s never really there. I wish addiction and overdoses got the same attention and response as the Coronavirus. It deserves it. Screw anyone who says one is voluntary and the other is not. Kids are dying. Kids I loved have died. 

So find a cure or vaccine for Coronavirus. But let’s not forget those others, the kids, our kids. They’re dying too, at greater rates. Yeah, that last line isn’t scientific, but it’s true. For the kid from my neighborhood who wishes people would talk about it, here I am. I talk about it. I write about it. I scream about it. Addiction is not a choice. Our kids are dying. 

Worry about Coronavirus. But when that’s taken care of, which we know will happen, let’s get back to worrying about all of our kids who are addicted and dying. They are my kids,  your kids, all of our kids.

Oh, and it shouldn’t have to be a choice, but we live in a world where attention matters, perception matters. I’ll leave it at that and say, please cure Coronavirus, and please, find a cure for addiction. In the end, the bottom line will be money. Who is making it.

 

Addiction Kills-Even the Good Ones

Death is hard, really really hard. Death in the addiction world is even harder because where people don’t always know what to say, well, a loss due to addiction makes it even worse. People say dumb things. People say hurtful things, even while not meaning to be hurtful. It goes back to the whole they don’t know what to say thing, so they say stupid things.

Some decide it is a good time to talk about “good” kids versus “bad” kids. Nope. It’s not the time. In fact, there is never a time for that talk. Good kids get addicted. Well, I’ll leave it at that because despite the belief that addiction is a choice or something that only bad kids do, nobody deserves to die, not even the so-called “bad” kids.

I’ve been open about how addiction has hit my family. I have pretty much shouted from the rooftops, not because I’m thrilled about it, but because I know so many families who have been touched, families who keep it quiet because of the stigma, a sense of shame, and to protect their loved ones. But, keeping quiet, hiding, worrying about stigmas, well, that’s not my thing. I respect those who go that route, but I go a different way because I want answers, solutions, cures. Not that those others don’t, but I’m a little more in your face about it. Pretty much I have a former CEO that told me he felt battered in my quest, and while I didn’t batter him, I demanded results, action. I still demand results, even if I’m not getting them, just yet.

But, I digress. So if you know someone lost their child to addiction, please check yourself. Are you judging? Are you lecturing? Are you blaming? Are you sure you’re doing none of those things? Because you may be, even if you don’t think you are. And if you think you are because, well, you think you have all the answers, think again. No parent needs your “good” kid versus “bad” kid speech. In fact, if I was that mother, I’d stab you in the face if you started that discussion. Oh yeah, with whatever dull object was handy.

The rehab industry is a billion dollar industry. Billion. Read that again. And again. Let it sink in. BILLION. There is money in addiction. In creating it. In treating it. In every aspect of it. BILLION! I won’t even get into that rich AF family that hid the evidence that the drugs they were profiting from would create the addiction industry or how some are trying to recreate it in another country. I believe there is a special place in Hell for those who created this situation for their own financial gain.

The rehabs have a 90% fail rate yet continue to get government funding, insurance money, parents mortgaging homes money, and God knows what else kind of money. They have a proven fail rate. Where are the watchdogs?! Where are the f*&@ing watchdogs!! But that’s a different conversation, an important one, but different.

For now, I ask you to be kind. If your kid escaped addiction, it doesn’t make you a better parent. It just makes you lucky. No matter what you think. You are just lucky. We can disagree on this, but the bottom line is there are parents not as lucky as you. Be kind. Don’t give them the speech about how you loved your kid more, better, or did better things as a parent. You didn’t. You were lucky. And you don’t want to get stabbed in the face.

Addiction sucks. It’s a family disease, a community disease, a disease that kills. It is killing our kids. They are ALL our kids.

Someone said to me recently that I must be afraid every single day. Yes. I am. Especially when we lose someone we love, someone who was our family. I am afraid when I know all of the “kids” the amazing kids who share their recovery stories, the ones who are in jail as I write this, the ones who are struggling, and the ones who appear to be success stories. I worry every single day, but especially when we lose one that we love, that they love. I still struggle with putting that in the past tense.

Loved. We loved. Nope. Can’t do it. We love, totally, completely, forever.

My family lost someone this week. There are no words to describe just how awful it was, for us, for that family. A parent hugged me and told me that he was there for me. Imagine that. He is there for me. I loved his kid. God, how I loved his kid, and I’d kill anyone that called him the “bad” kid or talked about his choices.

He was beautiful. He was respectful. He was loving. He was loyal. He was amazing in ways he hadn’t even figured out yet. And people loved him, really really loved him. So please, be kind. Change the conversation. Stop talking about bad and good and start demanding cures, action, and the end of lives lost to addiction. It is the difference between life and death, and that life could be the one of someone you love one day, even if you don’t believe it could happen to yours or one you love. They are worth it, even if you think they are the “bad” kids. Forget that. They are not the “bad” kids. And no kid deserves to die, not even the “bad” ones.

Finally, a thank you, to those who get it. Thank you for the love, the support, the understanding, and for not shaming or blaming. Thank you! If you’re not there yet, message me. I’ll try to help you get there.

 

Stop the World

Right now I want the world to stop. I want to go back and do something different because in some messed up way, I think that maybe if I did something differently, that maybe something else could be different. Unfortunately, life doesn’t work that way, no matter how badly we want it to.

A kid that I love is gone. I should say another kid. Another funeral is being planned for someone lost way too young. As broken up as I am, I cannot imagine his poor mother. Sure, he called me mom, he practically lived in my house, but his mom. Jesus! I don’t even know what to say. There are no words for her. No matter how much we all collectively loved him, she is still the one planning his funeral. She is burying her child. No mother should ever have to do that. Ever. Yet, here we are. Again.

And what about the kids that will be going to another funeral for someone they loved. I say kids, but they are all adults now, even if at 51 I still look at them as babies with whole futures in front of them, well some of them. Another is gone. The future that was in front of him has been stripped. Stripped. He was robbed. We were robbed.

How do you recover from something like this? How do I tell my children, who have been to way too many funerals for people their age, that life goes on, that the future is limitless? How do I tell them that when it has had limits for so many people that they went to high school with, graduated with, loved, considered family? How do you ever recover from that? How do I tell them that they will recover? When I’m not sure how I will.

I got the news and went through pictures and wished I had more. I wished it hadn’t been so long. I wished I had picked him up the last time we were going to breakfast. I hadn’t because the time was so short. Little did I know how short it actually was.  Realistically I know that not picking him up didn’t seal his fate, but had I picked him up I would be remembering a hug that was more recent. Him calling me, “Mom,” would have been fresher. But I didn’t because, well, life got in the way. And now I would give anything to go back.

I want the world to stop, but it won’t. I want to go back, but I can’t. All I can do is try to figure out a way to honor him, to be there for my kids, for the rest of the kids that I love who aren’t mine, even if they feel like they are. I can stop and feel my emotions, all 8 hundred million of them, even the ones that hurt like hell. And I can remember this young man being in my home and how much we loved him and how he was a part of my family. Even if he is gone too soon!

   

 

 

 

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.