Addiction Strikes Again

A mother is planning a funeral for her kid, a kid who had been a fixture in my home. There are so many parts of this story that I cannot tell, because its not my story to tell. So I’ll tell you the parts that I can.

I went to a Town Hall type meeting a few weeks ago. The Police Commissioner was there. Members of his department, high-ranking members discussed how addiction had affected their families. They discussed how they knew that they could not arrest us out of this crisis.

Right before making multiple arrests that were front-page news.

Local social service agencies were also at this Town Hall meeting. They spoke of the importance of awareness, the need for treatment that was accessible, and other things that I can’t remember because I was stuck on the headlines I knew were coming, headlines that talked of 50 or so arrests in my town, arrests that were designed to, well, I don’t know what they were designed to do because I knew that all of those arrests were not going to end the crisis.

Kids I loved were still addicts, some in recovery, some not there yet. The arrests that made the front page were not stopping those kids from using. Those arrests were not stopping the deaths that were still going to come.

I’m not blaming the police. I’m not blaming the social service agencies. Well, not really. Maybe just a little.

We cannot say that we can’t arrest ourselves out of this crisis and then make multiple arrests in various towns and  then put the arrest numbers in our local news as if those arrests are doing anything.

They’re not.

They’re not.

No. Really. They are not.

These kids are burying their friends, some who had been arrested. The deaths of their friends have not stopped them from using. You know why? Because they suffer from addiction.

It is not a choice.

So the news I received today was especially heartbreaking because I don’t think we are any closer to figuring this crap out.

Another kid that I loved, that my kids loved, is dead. I will be going to another wake where I will feel tremendous guilt for thanking God that I am not the mother receiving visitors. I will go home and thank God a million times that out of all of the problems I have, burying one of my kids is not one of them.

I will see a ton of kids that have grown up in my home shedding tears for their friend. I will hug them and tell them that I love them and worry that some of them will be next and say more prayers that it will be the last wake I go to all while knowing that its not.

There are people who will read this and think they are somehow immune to this. They’re not, but I’m not going to argue with them. Instead I’m going to tell you to hug your kids, tell them how much you love them, hug them again and tell them you love them again.

There is a mother out there tonight who would give anything to hug her kid. Instead she’s planning a funeral.

 

 

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Transitioning from 1985

In a couple of days  I begin a new life. Well, sort of. I bring my old life along for the ride, so technically is it a new life or is it a transition?

Change has always been hard for me. I’ve made a zillion mistakes, stupid mistakes, because I have resisted change instead of looking forward to the opportunity for fresh starts and new beginnings. I’m pretty sure that I’m not alone in that.

I ran into someone I knew from high school the other day. I haven’t seen him in 30 years, maybe more. I laughed, to myself, that in some ways time stood still. He knows nothing of who I am, what I’ve become, just as I know nothing of him.

At our chance meeting, we were two kids back in 1985 and the things that we were back then. Btw, my 1985 self needed a lot of work. So this old friend talked to the 1985 version of me, and I spoke with the 1985 version of him, and I wondered how he had evolved while wishing he could know all of the ways I had grown from who he once knew.

I wanted to know the 2018 version and what he’s learned along the way, who has he become. Maybe he didn’t care so much about me, but that didn’t matter. It was a learning moment. For me at least.

For some, I am the person they knew 30 years ago. For him, I was.

I’m so much more than some insecure young girl from 1985. I don’t expect anyone to know that in a random encounter, but it was a reminder for me as well.

Life goes on. As much as I cherish some memories, there are others I know that I want to move on from, just as I know that others want the same.

I live in the town that I grew up in. It wasn’t exactly by choice. The walk down memory lane can include some nostalgia while also embracing growth, my growth, and those I encounter from the past, some I remained close with, some I haven’t seen since writing in yearbooks and promising to never lose touch.

I am about to begin a new life, sort of. If you know me, that makes sense. If you don’t, well, I’d love to get to know the 2018 version of you as well as the baggage, because we all carry it. Some of us carry it in Louis Vuitton, some in garbage bags, some in between, but its there.

However you carry it, know that we all have a story, a long rich story. I’m about to add some chapters. I’m that girl from 1985, but a new version, maybe the 2.0 or even higher.

I’m not afraid of change any longer. In fact, I’m excited for the possibilities. I’m not the same person I was in 1985. Heck, I’m not even the same person I was in 1995 or even early 2018.

We all change. Or at least that’s the hope.

The other hope is that maybe when you read this you will forgive an old grudge, forget some piece of gossip that no longer matters, and recognize that the ways you have evolved, so have the others you may have left behind.

Today is the first day of the rest of your life. Maybe you love your life as is. Maybe you feel like you could use a few tweaks. Maybe you need a complete do-over. It doesn’t matter. Today is the first day of the rest of your life. (Mo, that’s for you!) Do with it what you want.

Live. Love. Dance. Sing. Write. Make some bank. It doesn’t matter.

I’m beginning a new chapter. So are you. Even if you don’t realize it.

Make it count!

 

 

 

 

Suicide in the News

Suicide and suicide related news have made headlines and been trending on Twitter. First it was Kate Spade. Then Anthony Bourdain.

Of course outside of those two tragic figures, there are many others, names that aren’t famous, families that want to keep their tragedy private.

This won’t be the most poetic thing I’ve ever written, but I don’t care. Its important, really freakin important.

Celebrity suicides tend to make the news and force us to examine our views, take a look at the mental health system, even if there are no easy fixes. Our intentions are good.

Val Kilmer expressed anger, while expressing his love and admiration for Bourdain.

David Spade wanted us to know how funny his sister-in-law was, even if she didn’t think it was enough.

Rose McGowan posted a tearful rant that captured what many left behind often feel.

Those were some of the celebrity reactions. But the non-celebrities felt it too. Some because of the tragic nature. Some because they’ve been there.

Non-celebs may not have the same audience, but they often feel what our celebrity counterparts feel. Some are angry. Some want people to remember the good.

But how many of us understand suicide?

I don’t, and that is even after working for a hotline. For years. I was trained on what to say, how to save a life. Still, I can’t say I understand it completely.

It is beyond tragic. I had a few other close calls as well, situations that I won’t discuss to respect the privacy of those  who were on the fence. Thankfully something saved them even if they once believed that the permanent solution of killing themselves was the answer to what was, at the time, a temporary problem.

No. I’m not minimizing what anyone went through, or is going through now. I would never minimize. I would say that there is always hope, even when it feels like there isn’t.

I will say, adamantly, that there is always someone who is ready to listen.

If you believe that life is not worth living. Call a hotline.

If you think killing yourself is the answer. Call a hotline.

Even if you just need to talk. Call a hotline.

Please. I beg. Call a hotline.

No problem is too small.

Yes. I’m saying that there is always a way out. Always.

Someone I loved dearly killed himself. He is not the only one, nor is he the only one who considered it a solution.

Some that I loved were saved.

They were saved because they called a hotline.

I wish Kate Spade had called a hotline.

I wish Anthony Bourdain had called a hotline.

Maybe things would be different.

Maybe they wouldn’t.

All I know is that suicide is a permanent solution to what could be a temporary problem.

I’m not minimizing anyone’s problems, but there are always solutions, even when it seems like there’s not. Sometimes people just need to hear it from someone else. Sometimes hearing it from someone else is all you need. Call.

Whether it is life beating you up, you getting dealt a hand that includes mental illness, or you just feel like the easiest thing isn’t to be here, please call a hotline.

There are people who are there 24/7 waiting for you, yes, YOU.

There are trained professionals who believe strongly enough that you are worth it that they are volunteering their time to talk you out of killing yourself.

They’re doing that because your life is worth it.

There is no hope left for Kate Spade. There is no hope left for Anthony Bourdain.

You are still here. There is still hope for you.

I won’t bore you with suicide statistics or how they are going up. Instead I will tell you that you are loved. You are worth so much more than you know.

People love you. More people than you realize. It doesn’t matter if you are famous or not. You are worth saving.

Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

Help is out there.

Call. Please call. If not for you, for those who love you, for those you will leave behind.

(516) 679-1111

1-800-273-8255

Someone is waiting on the other end of those numbers, right now. For you.

 

 

 

The Crazy Kid Years

Kids. I had three in five years, two of them boys. I was dealing with colic and the terrible twos at the same time.

God how I miss that.

Crazy, right?

Today I made a sauce. My daughter is still away at school. The kid who turned me grey is living in Florida. My other son, the good one, worked all day and is now out with friends. He’s 25 so there’s no curfew, no waiting up, even if there is still some nagging.

Where I’d once be trying to cook while breaking up fights over game controllers, tv remotes, who is standing in front of the tv, and all of the other things that three kids fight over, today I made sauce and didn’t have one fight to break up, no, “Maaaaaa,” from the other room. No kid coming in to sneak a meatball out of a sauce that wasn’t ready.

I would have loved to have a kid coming in to sneak a meatball. I would have handed one over willingly.

It isn’t the first time that it hit me, but it still hit pretty hard. My kids are grown. They’re not underfoot driving me crazy, making me wish it was almost bedtime.

Instead they’re off doing all of the things I wanted them to be doing, and I wish I had more time.

I would give anything to be pleading with them to stop killing each other, wiping up a spilled juice box for the 57th time in an hour, or even to be yelling at my son to please learn how to pee in the toilet, even when he was 18.

It goes so fast. Like way too fast, and we don’t realize it because we’re so busy worrying about a bunch of stupid things that we probably shouldn’t be worried about, like if the house is a mess or they’re peeing in the toilet or all over the damn bathroom. Ok, so I don’t actually miss the pee part, just the mad pee-er.

My daughter lived in Germany last year. My little baby girl, who hated dance and could give her brothers as good as she got, sent me a text one day that she was in Italy. I laughed remembering waiting up for her and wondering how we went from her being at a party two blocks over to being a continent away and not always being sure which country she was in.

It goes so fast, like so freakin fast! Did I say that already?

We worry about stupid things as our kids grow up, things like if other parents would be horrified at how often we dropped the F bomb in frustration, or not even in frustration. We stress over how many times our kids peed in their pants while being potty trained  as if they were going to be walking at graduation in a Pull-Up.

If I could go back, I’d let them pee wherever they wanted, and I’d probably drop the F bomb at a few parents I thought were idiots, well maybe a little more than I probably did. I’d worry less about the fruit snacks and cheerios that always seemed to be scattered across the living room.

I would have enjoyed it more. I mean I enjoyed it, but all that nonsense sometimes took away from the moments, the important moments.

I remember trying to remember all of the moments, as they happened, the way it felt when my son put his little hand in mine, the way my other son knew to throw his arms around me when he did something bad, that my daughter always seemed to know who she was, even at 5.  I spent a lot of time freezing moments in my brain knowing there was going to be a time I’d want to relive them.

That time is now. I made a sauce today and instead of breaking up fights or pleading with them to let the meatballs cook, they are all grown and doing their own thing. I’m proud of who they are and what they are doing.

Still I’d give anything to be screaming at them to please stop killing one another. I’d give anything to go check on them because they are being too quiet and find them laughing together, because, at the end of the day, they loved as hard as they fought.

So if you’re breaking up fights, pulling your hair out, or wondering how long before you can pour a glass of wine, or two, or even three, take a moment and freeze it, look at those faces, those little hands, and cherish the moment. One day you’ll miss it. Pour that glass of wine too. It will definitely help.

This goes for parents of teenagers too, especially parents of teenagers. I’m pretty sure tequila is a better option than wine, but that’s another conversation.

Seriously though, while you’re wishing for nap time or bedtime to come so that you can have a little freedom, some peace, or even a moment to breathe, know that the day will come that you will be sitting there doing whatever you feel like doing, and its really really awesome, but you’ll still miss those other days where you were sure that your life was a potential reality show.

It goes incredibly fast. One day you have a newborn on your chest. The next, you’re wondering where the time has gone.

If you’re lucky enough to have your kids there, go hug them, tell them you love them, right now, even if you can’t stand them. Because this is a moment you are not getting back.

 

 

 

Squads, Crews, BFFs

My squad is ever evolving. Or is it crew? Or bunch of BFFs? I don’t know what to call them. I only know that I can tell you I love them all madly.

I believe in the beauty of women and the beauty in friendships among women.

Out of all of the wisdom I have tried to impart on my daughter, it has been that women are strong, beautiful, loyal, and to surround herself with the ones who will always have her back, even when they know she’s messed up.

Don’t believe the myth that women can’t be friends. We can be. We are.

I have surrounded myself with women who are accomplished, smart, amazing, and loyal. I know that the women in my life have my back. They know that I have their backs.

In a major way.

There is a narrative out there that women can’t be friends, that we’re catty, that we cut one another down. Do those women exist? Sure. They do. But they are the minority.

My friends are beautiful, not just Christie Brinkley beautiful, but beautiful in the ways that matter. We  look out for one another.

I had a friend recently help me out at work. If that wasn’t enough, she was telling everyone she thought I was gorgeous.

I’m 50. I look in the mirror and see crows feet, an extra chin, maybe a little muffin top. My friend missed all of that. She sees other things, things that she loves me for, and I love her for that.

In return, I look at her and see a beautiful person who is generous and kind. I don’t notice her hair or if her boobs are sagging. Actually, I noticed how great her hair looked and that she seemed to be glowing.

And if anyone thought differently, I’d tell them where to go, maybe with some strong language. Ok, so definitely with some strong language.

Girls rule. I believe that, like in my heart of hearts. I look at all of the women in my life that I love, that love me, and I am grateful. I want that for my daughter. I want her to have friends who will have her back, who will love her no matter what, even when they think she’s wrong, especially when they think that she’s wrong.

Because we all need friends who will tell us when we mess up, even if they use different language. We all need friends who will tell us to get it together, that we deserve more, that they deserve more.

That’s what friendship is about. That’s what sisterhood is about. It is about unconditional love.  It is about knowing that your friend’s truth is really about loving you, even while giving you the hard truth.

If you cannot look at the people in your life and know that their love is unconditional, you should walk out the door, like immediately, and find people who will love you no matter what.

Girls rule. Like really rule. Don’t buy the crap that women can’t be friends. We are amazing friends. We are the kind of friends who will cry when your heart is broken, hold your hand when you need lifting, glare at the person who did you wrong, and lift you up when your options seem limited.

If you don’t have that now, go out and find it, because there is nothing better than a woman who loves and supports you. Or women. You deserve them.

If you don’t have them, go find them.

I believe in girl power, not in the exclusion of men, but in addition.

 

Women rock. We may not rule the world, yet, but we should.

We are smart, accomplished, beautiful, loyal, and amazing. I have a squad. I love them. They love me. That’s how it should be.

Girls rule. We totally rule!

 

The Love You Take

Love. Its all about love. Always.

I sat with a friend recently who doesn’t know how incredible she is. Like, she’s amazing. So why doesn’t she see it?

I was her once. I spent years in a relationship that broke me down. I believed the worst things about myself because a partner, someone who was supposed to love me, made me believe I was less than worthy.

So I sat with this person I love, this amazing person who is strong, this person who has overcome so much, and I had trouble with the fact that she doesn’t see what I see.

She’s not the only one. I talk to so many fabulous women who downplay what they are, who they are.

Why?

What is so wrong about recognizing our worth? What is so wrong with saying, “I’m friggin awesome!”

I know I’m awesome. It took me too long to realize that though. Why?!

We need to build up our daughters, our sons, our sisters, our brothers. No. Not in an everyone gets a trophy kind of way, but in a way that we all know that we have value, even if we are flawed.

We are all imperfect, but those imperfections make us human.

I sat with someone last week who made me cry. She made me cry because of the things she saw in me, things I did not see in myself. And that was even with believing I knew my worth. I guess I didn’t because she saw things, said things, that shook me, in a good way.

We all need someone who sees those things in us. Yeah, so we should all be able to see those things in ourselves, but if we can’t, well, we need a reminder, a friend who will say, “hey, you’re incredible, and here are all of the reasons why.”

I can give every person I love a list of things that I love about them. A long list.

Its all about love. We go through life working, learning, trying to figure stuff out, but its about love, who we love, who loves us.

If you can’t figure out what it is that makes you lovable, ask someone who claims to love you. If they can’t tell you, run, like immediately, run, really really fast, and find someone else. Because you are worthy of love.

Love makes the world go round. It really does. If you don’t feel loved, something is wrong. If you don’t love the people in your life with all of your being, something is wrong.

We are all worthy of love, of being loved. Every single one of us. So go get it. Accept it. Own it. Demand it. And never apologize for it.

It is always about love.

Sweat the Small Stuff

Don’t sweat the small stuff. So they say. Wait. Who’s they? And what’s wrong with the small stuff?

Yesterday I went to lunch and then did some shopping with my daughter. Today I did the same with a friend. No. I’m not loaded. No. I’m not even close to loaded. So if I’m not loaded, what am I?

Grateful. Yup. Grateful that I did an inexpensive lunch with my daughter after shopping in an outlet store. Grateful that the next day, I had enough cash on me, after losing my debit card for the 800th time, to go have a cheapie bottomless brunch with one of my closest friends.

So why do I feel this is something worth writing about?  Well, because I feel like we are all running around like chickens without a head. I feel like we are all worried about stuff that doesn’t really matter.

You know what matters? The time I spent with my daughter where we tried on outfits that we hated, but laughed about our bellies or arm fat or any of the other stupid things that don’t really matter. I was in a dressing room with my beautiful daughter. She was happy. There was no outfit that was ever going to match that.

You know what else matters? That I sat across a table from a friend who rebuilt her life, a friend who is beautiful in every way. She doesn’t see it, yet. One day she will. For now, I see it for her. And I sat there with her, admiring her growth, loving the person she is, and feeling grateful that somehow she found her way into my life.

How many times do we hear, “don’t sweat the small stuff.” I spent a weekend paying attention to the small stuff, to the way the light fell on my daughter’s face when she laughed at something silly I said, to the way my friend’s eyes lit up when she talked about a triumph at her new job, the way she was beginning to see what I see, that she is amazing, that she is incredibly strong.

I sweat the small stuff, all of it. I believe that the love is in the details, all of the details. So sweat the small stuff. Ok, maybe don’t sweat it, but pay attention. Notice what makes your heart skip a beat. Pay attention to the smile your kid is sporting. Look in the mirror and love what you see. All that stuff, well, that’s what makes the world go round.

Love makes the world go round. Forget being the change you wish to see in the world. Be the love you want to see. Sweat the small stuff. It matters.