Me Too, Them Too, You Too

#metoo. apparently that touched a few nerves, not for those who had a #metoo story, but for those who don’t get it. Imagine that there are people who would question it, or that there are people who claim to love you, who would question why you told it and didn’t keep it the deep dark little secret that ate away at you for decades.

I wish my #metoo story was just one story, but it wasn’t. It was more than once. People don’t get that. Loved ones don’t get that.

They get caught up in blame. They wonder if you blame them. They wonder what you did to cause it. They wonder why you were not stronger, why you feel the need to share.

I shared because of my kids.I shared because I never wanted it to be my daughter, even while knowing that the odds meant it was possible. It was not about her strength. It was not about her character. It was possible because society blames the victim. People blame the victim. Families blame the victim.

I shared it because I was horrified at the thought that it could ever be my sons. No matter what I raised them to be, there was always the worry that societal messages would outweigh mine. Never prey on anyone, especially those who may be weak. Don’t rape. Don’t harass. Always respect. It sounds so easy, but for some reason it isn’t. People still blame the wrong people, even family, especially family.

I didn’t tell my kids before I shared. I told one person, one trusted, loved person. My kids read it and hugged me, loved me, and knew that writing it was something I needed to do, for me, not for anyone else.  And we never discussed it again. Because we didn’t need to. They got it.

I know too many with a story. I know too many who still believe that they cannot share. That is up to them. I wish they knew how much support was out there. I wish they knew how much love is out there. But I don’t judge. I wait. Patiently. For them to decide the time is right. Or it isn’t.

#metoo. You probably know someone with a story, even if you don’t realize it. Don’t judge. Don’t question. Just love and accept. And know that there is never a reason it is ok. Never. For no reason.

 

 

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Shamed Into Silence

I said no. Actually I said please, no, to him, as if manners would make a difference with someone who was forcing me to do something I did not want to do. It is something I will never forget, the part where I said please, please in a sentence where I was pleading with him to please not force me.

 

There was no confusion about it; at least I don’t see where the confusion could have been. There were no mixed messages. I told him no. I told him I didn’t want to be there. I asked him to please let me leave. I asked him to please not make me do what he was making me to do.

 

Later he took me home. We made small talk in his car as if what had happened had been consensual in any way. It wasn’t. There was no part where I said yes, no part where I said anything to him that could have made him believe I was interested.

 

I told people, though when I did it was with shame, as if the shame was on me and not him. I told people because somewhere in the deepest part of me I knew that what he did was wrong.

 

He confronted me in a crowded bar. He told me I wanted it. He told me that I went along. He left out the part where I asked him to please not force me. He left the part out where he did things that made me fear for my life.

 

People told me I was confused. People told me I was drunk. People told me I was desperate.

 

People told me he never would have done that. Even after he did.

 

I was 17. He was in his 30’s.

 

For years I convinced myself that everyone was right, that I must have done something to make him believe it was ok. I must have been desperate. I wasn’t forceful enough when I said no.

I told myself I wasn’t forceful enough when I said no, more than once, with tears in my eyes.

 

It is over 30 years later and not much has changed, except that I know that desperation had nothing to do with it. I know that my no was clear. It is something that should not have taken 30 years. It is something that shouldn’t have taken 30 seconds.

 

I was shamed into silence when the shame did not belong to me. I know that there are other women who understand that even if they are not out from under it.

 

Forget a society that still blames victims and celebrates those committing sexual assault. What we women do to ourselves in the aftermath is worse, yes, aided by a society that, even to this day, seems unable to understand sexual assault.

 

 

I look back often at that 17-year-old girl who was confronted in that bar and wish I could yell in her ear. I wish I could tell her not to back down, that he did everything she said he did. Instead all I can do is tell that woman who is turning 50 that it was not her fault, that she did nothing wrong.

 

Sexual assault is not your fault, unless you are the garbage assaulting someone. We all need to be on that page and stop the silence.

 

Please don’t tell me you’re sorry after you read this. Just please do better. We all need to do better.

 

National Overdose Awareness Day

National Overdose Awareness Day just passed. I thought I’d be more excited for the attention given to overdoses, but something felt off. Maybe the part where most acknowledging it have been affected in some way is what bothers me. Those people are already aware. When will everyone else catch up?

Maybe the wordiness throws me. National Overdose Awareness Day. Yeah, I almost fell asleep writing that. Its not catchy like that Ice Bucket Challenge. There’s nothing fun or exciting about drug overdoses, except, of course, for the families who haven’t lost their loved ones thanks to Narcan.

Narcan may have saved lives, but it isn’t a cure, and sadly, there are many who still mistakenly believe that Narcan is part of the problem. Imagine that there are people out there who think that saving lives is a problem. Or that there are people who think that there should be limits on Narcan. So we’ll save you once, but that’s it. After that, well, kiss off.

So that’s sort of my problem with National Overdose Awareness Day. Well, that and that I don’t know what color the ribbon is. We get a ribbon, don’t we? Or maybe not because so many still believe that addiction is a choice, or that it’s because of bad parenting, or socioeconomic status, or, well, I don’t know what they think. I just am pretty sure that the people who need to be aware are not. Those people are pretty sure that addiction happens to someone else, not their loved ones.

I went to a wake not that long ago for a kid who overdosed. I sat in a room and thanked God that it wasn’t my kid. I then asked God to forgive me for my gratitude because I knew how easily it could have been my kid. It was an awful conundrum.

I had a kid that I loved overdose in my home. There really is no way to ever describe the terror. There is no way to explain what it felt like when I received a thank you card from his mother for calling 911. I did nothing other than call 911 and a mother was grateful. I will never forget hugging her at the hospital, grateful again.

The problem with National Overdose Awareness Day is that people aren’t grateful unless they are affected. People think it isn’t their problem. They have all the answers, until it is their kid, their loved one.

I wish I only loved one addict, but I don’t. I watched a lot of kids grow up who became addicts, kids who came from good homes, kids who came from money, a lot of money. I watched kids I love overdose. I sat at a wake with kids I love that had been to too many wakes. None of them need a National Drug Awareness Day. They need answers. They need a government that stops treating addiction like a crime. They need a government that stops allowing a rehab industry to remain a billion dollar industry, even with a 90% fail rate.

So yeah, I’m not a fan of National Overdose Awareness Day. Maybe I should be. Maybe it’s a start, but I want more. I expect more. I wish everyone else would too.

Life Over Death Even for Addicts

A kid I love overdosed in my home a few years ago. It would be impossible to ever describe the helpless feeling of watching a kid that I loved turn different shades of blue before turning a pasty white or the horror I felt as his face became colorless. I was sure that he was going to leave my home in a body bag. As I screamed on the phone to the 911 operator I had imaginary conversations in my head with his mother. I had no idea he was using, but wondered how I could ever apologize to her for this happening in my home. As I screamed into the phone and had imaginary conversations I begged God to spare this kid.

Thankfully police responded quickly. They revived him with a dose of Narcan. Minutes after I was sure he was dead he walked out of my home on his own two feet, a true miracle.

I think of that night often, especially as a new debate over Narcan pops up, not just between ignorant people on social media, but with public officials, people elected or appointed to serve the public.

The debate rages on as some want to limit how many times a person is rescued with Narcan while others share memes questioning whether or not police officers should even carry it. And don’t start me on the police chief who won’t allow his officers to carry it at all.

Why do they want people to die? My child is in recovery. The kid who OD’d at my house is also in recovery, but there are people out there who are not. There are many of us who love an addict.

Why would anyone think death is somehow justified? Would you want your loved ones to die?

Its not my fault that the addiction industry is filled with crooks, and no, I don’t mean the addicts. I mean the pharmaceutical companies, the ones who market those dangerously addictive opiate-based pain pills that have created this epidemic. I’m talking about those same companies who came up with Narcan, the miracle treatment that saves lives.

I’m sorry that there is no cure for cancer just as I’m sorry that getting treated for cancer can bankrupt a patient and a family. A drug addict dying won’t change that. A drug addict dying won’t save the life of anyone else.

So why do people post things on social media calling for cops to stop carrying Narcan or asking why cancer drugs aren’t free if you can get Narcan for free? I guess it’s a lack of understanding because I know many of the people who share that stuff. Many of them are nice people. I don’t think they want my kid to die. I don’t think they want anyone else’s kid to die. I guess when they hit share they’re not thinking about the people they know, maybe even the people they love who are struggling with addiction.

It is not the fault of any addict that cancer drugs come at a prohibitive cost. It is not the fault of any addict that some dirtbag decided to jack up the cost of an EpiPen.

I certainly don’t want to see anyone die from cancer or an allergic reaction. I also don’t want to see anyone die from an overdose, not even if it’s the 15th overdose. Not if it’s the 100th. I never want to see anyone die, especially if there is something as simple as a Narcan treatment that can prevent death. And no, I’m not under the impression that Narcan cures addiction. It doesn’t. It does however save lives.

I don’t want anyone’s kid to die, not my own kid, not that kid who was saved in my home, not the kid of a stranger, not the kid of my enemy. Well, actually, I don’t have any enemies, but if I did, I’d hope if given the chance, someone would save their kid too.

Most of the addicts I know and love became addicts in high school. I knew many who were in rehabs during their high school years. Surely nobody could think death is justified for young kids, even if they believed that addiction is a choice.

Life over death should always be the choice, even when it’s an addict. If we can save them but choose not to, aren’t we killing them?

 

The Rob and Blac Chyna Trainwreck

The Rob and Chyna show is like the gift that keeps on giving. No, not their actual show on E! where they highlighted all of the reasons that you should take a little time to get to know a person before having a kid with them or even get to know them before you know to run in the opposite direction.

 

No, the Rob and Chyna show that plays out on social media and in the tabloids is sort of like a bad case of mrsa. Just when you think you have stopped the infection, you discover it has spread and will cost a limb. Only in this case it looks like it’s going to cost Rob a pretty penny. Good for him.

 

With the exception of Rob, I love the Kardashians. I love any family that can build themselves into a billion dollar enterprise by doing nothing. In fairness, I think they all work very hard doing nothing.

 

Then along comes Rob and his socks designs. Are those socks really even a thing? He must feel a lot of pressure being surrounded by sisters who turn everything they touch into gold. Even Kylie managed to turn controversy over lip fillers into a booming business.

 

Poor Rob. We never really knew his issue when he bolted from Kim’s wedding. We never knew why he went into hiding. What we did know was that he went off on a tirade about an ex and publicly accused her of having sex with multiple men. Oh, no, not Blac Chyna. Way before her.

 

So he comes out of his self-imposed exile after running into his sister’s boyfriend’s ex (supposedly in secret while living at Khloe’s house! Did I tell you that this is great stuff?!) and after a whirlwind romance which included driving 107 mph to go bail his new love out of jail in Texas, he gets her pregnant, proposes marriage to her, and more importantly, he gifts her with her very own Kardashian brand reality show where we got to see fun things like them fight, and them fight, and them fight some more. We also got to see her tie him up or handcuff him or something while she cracked a whip. Oh boy talk about foreshadowing.

 

Nobody seemed surprised when they broke up. Or when they broke up again. Or again and again. Really, who can keep up? The only real worry was whether or not his sisters were going to be able to block her from calling herself Kardashian complete with a trademark.

Whew, that was nerve wracking thinking of all of the damage she could do to their brand if she was allowed to go by Kardashian. I mean let her have a kid with him, but leave the name out of it!

 

Speaking of damage, I wonder how the family feels about Rob’s latest slut shaming tirade. Will he have to give his name back? I don’t feel very sorry for Blac Chyna. No, not because I think anyone deserves to be slut shamed, but because she gave as good as she got.

 

When you rush into impregnation with a man who has previously slut shamed an ex, you should have a reasonable expectation that the same will happen to you. Still, people make poor relationship choices. You live. You learn.

 

Blac Chyna is now doing her media tour expressing how hurt she is after this latest betrayal. She was so hurt that she was posting her own naked selfies wearing jewelry with a new man in Rob’s bed. Yeah, Rob let us know it was his bed and, damn, even his robe. Oh, the horror.

 

Rob’s lawyer, infamous for getting OJ off for double murder, is expected to appear in court promising that Rob will voluntarily stop slut shaming, after he was kicked off of one social media site and his posts removed from another. Maybe he’s sincere?

 

I guess the moral of this story is if you’re going to have bad taste in romantic partners have the smarts to make sure a payday will be involved because really, isn’t that what’s important?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Addiction Not Weakness

Addiction is not a weakness. How do I know this? Well, my answer isn’t scientific, but if it was about strength then I know that the rehab industry would not be a billion dollar industry with a 90% fail rate. Those pricey places would figure out a way to tap into an addict’s strength and have a better success rate. There’d be a cure. Oh, wait. No cure would be needed because we could tell addicts to suck it up and be strong.

 

If only that was the answer, I wouldn’t have been at a funeral a few weeks ago, my heart breaking for parents who had struggled for years as their son struggled, parents receiving condolences from people like me, people who were thanking God that it wasn’t them making arrangements.

 

Those parents had to sit in a room with their son, their son in a coffin. Could there be anything worse than that? Except maybe the years leading up to the overdose that eventually took their son from them. No. Those years had to have had some hope, some hope that the so-called experts could have found a way to help their son get clean, to live.

 

Now we’re seeing lawsuits against the pharmaceutical companies that some believe are responsible for our opioid epidemic. Let me be clear. I blame the pharmaceutical companies. I blame our government. I cannot say enough that no other industry would get away with a one out of ten success rate and still be able to get federal funding. Hold on. Not just federal funding.

 

Insurance covers the treatment. I have an autoimmune disease and could not get the insurance company to cover two drugs that could have eased my symptoms, drugs that would have cost approximately $300 a month.

 

Think of all that insurance won’t cover and then imagine that rehab with a 90% fail rate is covered, multiple times, and that’s just rehab. Don’t get me started on the halfway houses.

I’d like to say that’s great that addiction is covered by insurance except it really isn’t when it is not evidence-based treatment. I mean if it were evidence-based they’d have to ask why they only have a one in ten success rate and why with that success, or fail rate, people are lining up to get in the doors. That’s a story for another day though.

 

I saw something tonight on social media mocking addiction, calling it a weakness. I saw it shared by someone who loves my child, a recovering addict. It wouldn’t be the first person claiming to love my child who has said something ugly, even if they were not meaning to be ugly. I’ve heard horrendous things not just about my child, but about me as a mother. I don’t really care what anyone says about me, but I do care when someone claiming to love my child shares something as ignorant and as hurtful as a video mocking addiction and laughingly calling addicts weak.

It isn’t a “weakness” that I’d wish on anyone. My child will most likely never live in my home again. Most of my child’s friends are either in recovery or are still in the process of getting clean, not an easy process, especially when our government allows an industry to grow into a billion dollar industry despite an alarming rate of failure.

The good news is that unlike those other poor parents from a few weeks ago, I still have my child. I was not sitting in a funeral parlor, distraught, as people tried to find the right words to say. I was in that funeral home, but as one of the people trying to find the right words even while knowing nothing could ever come close.

The bad news is that there will be more parents sitting in funeral homes. We are going to lose more kids, and we are not losing them because they are weak.

I don’t have the answers. I just know that addiction is not weakness. I also know that addicts and their families could really use support. Before you judge, before you share something hurtful, know that every parent of an addict goes to sleep at night thankful for another day that they get to love their kid. Not every parent has that luxury and they should never have to see people share things calling their kid weak, especially not by the same people who claim to love their kids.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who to Blame When Drugs Hit Home

I am the mother of an addict. I’m not sure what people envision when they read that, but many are sure it could never be them, would never be them. Most think they have done something right, or more likely, that I have done something wrong, something that they haven’t done.

It has been said that I am in such denial that I enabled the addiction and all of the bad things that came with it. That’s not a completely unfair statement though I don’t know that I’d call it completely fair either.

Addicts are master manipulators, and tell me what mother wants to think the worst of her child. I know that I didn’t. Writing that pains me because that’s almost like saying that addiction only happens to bad people or to kids who have bad parents, and I don’t believe that, not because I’m trying to pardon my own parenting, but because if it was as easy as blaming bad people or parenting methods, well, we’d have solved the problem.

Two of my three children are not addicts. I’m terrible at math so I don’t know if that’s a great percentage or not. I do know that one of my kids is still an addict and that sucks no matter what.

So why do I put this out there? No. Its not because I have some insatiable desire for attention.

I put it out there because I’m pissed off. I’m pissed off because heroin addiction is out of control and despite the rehab industry being a billion dollar industry we still have no cure.

I’m pissed off because too many kids I love are addicts. Some have overdosed. Some have died.

While these kids are in the throes of addiction, overdosing and dying, while some poor parents are planning funerals, people are playing the blame game. I get it. They’re afraid. They need to find a reason it can’t be them, why it will never be them. But it can be them. Because we don’t know what it is exactly that creates an addict. There is no scientific answer to that. And don’t let the rehabs bullshit you. They don’t know either.

According to a CNBC report there is now a Senate committee investigating the top five makers of opioids in the U.S. to determine whether or not they played a part in the addiction epidemic that has led to fatal overdoses in tens of thousands of Americans. A committee now in 2017, ten years after Purdue Pharma paid a $635 million settlement.

It has taken our government ten years to even look into this so I have no hope that they will come up with any real results. Money will change hands but the cycle of addiction will continue and rather than blame the drug companies or our government, people will blame the addicts. People will continue to talk about how they knew that kid was no good or some other ridiculous thing to say about a child.

There is some hope. We now have Narcan, the first and only FDA-approved emergency treatment for an opioid overdose. Oh wait. The same FDA that has approved some of the highly addictive pain pills that lead to addiction. The same government agency that still classifies marijuana as a dangerous drug.

For now, I’m pissed off because forget the ignorance in my community, in other communities, in my own family. My government appears to be in the business of addiction and they’re letting so many get rich off of it I wonder if there is any hope.

My kid is lucky. Yes, I said lucky. He’s clean but not because he’s better than any other kids who went down the same path or because he’s got better parents than any of those other kids. He’s lucky. For some reason he got clean while many of his friends still struggle, while some have died.

The same as I don’t know why he became an addict, I don’t know why he was one of the ones who was able to get clean. And I say my prayers every night because the rate of relapse is high. I know kids who were clean who relapsed and overdosed. It is a very scary thought.

And while I say my prayers that my government will ever actually care about the people it is supposed to serve, I will also say a prayer that the finger pointing will stop. As the mother of an addict, I understand the fear, but its not saving anyone. I won’t bore you with the statistics. I’ll just tell you that the rate of overdose is crazy high.

Say what you want about me as a mother. I don’t really care. Here’s what I care about. There were four deaths in the past month due to drugs that I was made aware of because of kids that I love who are addicts.

Four deaths in one month.

Let’s stop this pointless blame game and figure this addiction thing out. Lives depend on it. Not just my kid’s life, but a lot of kids’ lives, maybe even one day yours.