Don’t forget to dot the eyes

I remember many year ago, for most of my youth and into my 20’s, feeling a certain kind of apprehension and fear when anyone would look at me.

I suppose it came from the belief that any time ANYONE looked at me, they saw all of the shame-filled hurts that I tried so desperately to hide.

Of course I knew that people could see these things; from an angry and abusive Dad, to being bullied by my peers throughout school, how could I expect any other kind of treatment when the world COULD SEE how much I deserved it.

So, now, as I am often in the company of young adults who have come from (far worse than my own experience) abusive and traumatic homes, I find the memories coming back to me.

How I loathed the eyes. I longed for the world’s eyes to be covered when they turned toward me. I imagined people wearing blinders, at the least. That would provide some comfort, until their gaze was fully upon me. But there was never any real way of escaping the looks from those I encountered.

I pretended not to hear the searing words said about me. Words beginning before I was even old enough to leave my family, and attend school. At first school was a great change for me, as I learned the joys of escaping into books and music and art…

But once I became visible, or noticeable in some way, I became the target of other children’s derision and aggression.

So I kept my head down and did what I could to blend in to the background…


These days I’m not so concerned about how most people perceive me, and I am so, so very grateful for that. I encounter other people’s children who tell me that they have seen things that no child should see. They have heard and been victims of things no human ought.

So I make sure that I take the blinders off when I look at them. That way they can see the child in me, returning their gaze, through the older eyes of an adult who genuinely cares about them. I do whatever I am able, w/in my limited capabilities, to leave them better than I find them.

I need to remember to pray for them.

Won’t you help me pray for the children, and the hurting adults they grew up to become?

Keep them alive long enough to get HELP

So, if I showed signs of having broken my leg, would you, as a religious person, tell me to pray about it, and then go on about your life? No.

If your child was diagnosed with diabetes or cancer, would you tell them to read their Bible, and that’s it? No.

Why do otherwise intelligent people insist that mental illness has to be prayed away? “If you’re depressed, read your Bible more.”

Reading scriptures and praying may not be hurtful, but I think the reasons for not going to a Dr. or therapist have much more to do with fear of what “people” would think, along with hoping that it will just go away…but it doesn’t work that way.

The last time I checked, the same people who would REFUSE to get help for a depressed child don’t think twice about taking medicine when THEY are feeling poorly.

So, here’s my point:

Familiarise yourself with symptoms of depression.

It’s NOT normal for a (child, preteen, teenager)person to stay awake all night, every night. Or to sleep 12+ hours, regularly, for no apparent reason. Or to have noticeable weight fluctuations. Or frequent tearfulness.

Often sadness is hidden behind anger. Surliness, irritability, sarcasm, isolation, fighting…

These things alone, are not necessarily a cause for alarm. If you notice several of them, on a regular basis, you should take notice.

Talk to the person. LISTEN. Then don’t stop looking for a solution until you’ve found one that is agreeable to that person.

If it takes therapy, medication, dietary adjustments, or whatever, do it.
People struggling with depression (or any other mental illness for that matter) DON’T just snap out of it. They will not grow out of it.

What happens if you don’t find something to reduce the depression? Do you want to know? Really?

The person will find a way of relief.

*Self-harm (this can end in accidental suicide)

*Drugs or alcohol (may also end in death)

*Impulsive/high-risk sexual activity (same)

*ALL of the above, and worse (death)

From my own experience as a person in recovery, and a formerly depressed person, I have a good amount of insight. And, I have no reason to lie to you.

If your kid is floundering, no matter what age, do them a solid and get them help.

In case you weren’t aware, they are killing themselves out there.

I miss being a Mom

But you are a Mom. You have a son.

Yes, I do, but he’s grown. I am learning how to accept him as a pseudo-adult. Mostly, I’m learning to give him space.

After my older son died, I wanted to cling to my “baby”. However, he was no longer living with me at that time. That ship had sailed before I had even realised.

So, currently,  I’m working on figuring out what to do with a bunch of really messy feelings.

I think, almost daily, that I ought to shut down my social media…at least for a while. But then an old memory will pop up. I would hate to miss those. My personal memories of my children growing up are so few (I guess it’s because of ptsd), and those that I do retain are liberally mixed with things I wish I could forget.

Which leaves me here. Exactly 4 months since my baby died.  Wrestling with so much fear, anger, sorrow like I’ve not known before.

I get up in the morning and quickly switch my thoughts to gratitude,  similar to switching the lever in the fuse/breaker box. It has to be a fast move, so to keep the Grief locked away.

I remind myself that my younger son is doing his best, taking care of himself just fine, and God’s got him. I trust and believe those things to be true.

I know that “feelings aren’t facts”. Intellectually, I understand that the future will get better…

But right now, I just really miss being a Mom.


My beautiful boys

On anger and (lack of) acceptance, and of course, grief.

I worked today. It wasn’t unbearable. I have made a couple of friends there who help me to stay in the present, and find things to laugh about.

I have a co-worker whom I worked with briefly pre-the event, and then after, for a short time. I recently returned to that jobsite and she asked me how I’m doing with my son’s death and all…

…my honest answer is “I’m staying busy.”

What that means, is:

I do everything in my power to think about ANYTHING except for the fact that my baby is gone. I struggle every single day to keep my mind in between the lines, knowing that any drifting toward the curb will surely result in careening over the guard rail into the valley of sadness and regret. Although I don’t feel a desire to do anything, I am compelled to…keep swimming.

There was a self-help book that came out, probably in the 80’s, and the title of it was “I’m dancing as fast as I can.” Lately it’s more like I’m sitting in a rocking chair, rocking as fast as I can, but the effect is probably about the same.

Added to the grief of my son’s death is the fact that I find other things in my life, things that may ordinarily be moderately annoying, to be ENTIRELY UNACCEPTABLE. That’s where I have to do some footwork. I know enough about grief to realise that my irritability could be grief, slipping out sideways. And for that, I am, as they say, responsible.

I was in a class recently with someone who just frankly chapped my ass. This person was (just my opinion) overly self-centered, obnoxiously attention-seeking, and, well, maybe narcissistic. As evidenced by the looks on the faces of others in attendance, it wasn’t just me who was finding this person’s behavior a challenge to tolerate. For all outward appearances, this person was in attendance for purely selfish reasons, which was ironic especially when the whole point of the class was learning how to better SERVE OTHERS.

So, I got to thinking (in between perceived offensive behaviors), working on a mini-4th Step: what is it about ME, that this behavior is having such an effect on my serenity?

I learned from the Old timers in AA, many years ago, that if a person is getting on my nerves, it may be that there’s something of ME that I see in them. 🤔 Hmm.

Or maybe it’s a trait that I used to have, evident in all its ugliness, when seen in someone else…🤔

A few days later, I was talking about this situation with a friend. I had no sooner gotten out of my mouth how much I felt like punching this person, and realising that I was giving them ENTIRELY too much free space in my head, when my friend said “It sound’s like (they’re) really hurting.”

It stopped me right in my tracks. Mid-rant, to be honest.


I know something about that.

In fact, just a short period before this ass-chapping situation began, I had, myself, opened my mouth and said something for which I was compelled to apologise, the next day.  (Yes, it took that long for me to hear my conscience, loud and clear. Don’t you judge me!) I apologised to person #1 for a shitty statement I’d made about person #2, because apparently I felt uncomfortable in strange surroundings and wanted to be sure that #1 would want to be MY friend rather than #2. Such an immature and hurtful thing I did. My only reason/excuse is that I’m hurting and sometimes it comes out of my mouth in the form of me being an asshole.


So, I can see, today, from this vantage point, that perhaps the person chapping my ass was, in fact, myself. After all, aren’t I the one who decides how I frame my life experiences? Don’t I  choose whether I become angry or not?

Yeah. I’m still a doo-doohead at times.

Which leaves me here, tonight.

Let me preface this by saying:

I am not depressed. Also, I am not suicidal. At all.

But I was thinking earlier about the shift in my thinking, a.d.

I had been pursuing becoming an entrepreneur, a lifelong dream. I was learning how to think like a successful business person, just absorbing all those “positive” and “motivational” phrases and quotes. Things like

“My best days are before me!”

But, now, guess what. I don’t believe that. I can not believe that there are better days ahead than what are behind.

For too many reasons to mention, it’s just not something, barring MIRACULOUS moves of God, that I’m willing to accept. Mind you, I do believe in miracles and God has shown up and shown off plenty of times…but my feelings tell me that the best days of my life are gone.

This has NOTHING to do with the incredibly strong supportive folks around me. Please don’t twist this into being about them. It’s just how I feel. It will pass.

And don’t get me started on the Mom-remorse for not knowing how to (adequately?) help my younger son through this nightmare.


This is why I hesitate to write. I don’t have much to say that’s not wrapped up in shades of grief and mourning. If you see me on the street or in a store, you won’t know that these thoughts are my constant companions. I do my best to not thrust my heaviness of heart onto unsuspecting others.

But 3 days from now would have been Benjamin’s 26th birthday. 3 months and 2 weeks since he left us.

I suppose maybe someone will glean something helpful from this. Its really the only purpose for sharing these thoughts.

Thank you, if you’ve read this far. I am so very grateful for the kind and generous, emotionally available people in my life. If I can ask a simple favor, it is that you keep my family, Benjamin’s wife & friends in your prayers. 20160217_220356.jpg




Joy, Rapture & Terror or, How I Learned to Survive Extreme Feelings without Drink or Drugs

Good news & Bad news

Ok, kiddos, there’s good news, and there’s bad news, about getting clean/sober. The good news is, you’re gonna be able to feel GOOD again, in all the various forms “good” comes in. And the bad news is…well, I hate to be the one to have to break this to you, but the bad news is that you’re gonna start to feel the gamut of BAD again, as well. Yeah, I’m sorry. The thing is, if you want to feel the GOOD, you also have to feel the BAD.
Now, I’m not gonna tell you how to navigate the tsumani of emotions that are gonna hit you all through your first year or so of sobriety, like the biggest roller coaster in the world. I’d like to, really I would, but the simple fact is, I’m just not qualified. It’s only by the grace of God that I’ve made it this far. What I am gonna do is share a few tools that have been very important for my survival, when the big storms have hit.

Feelings won’t kill you

When I got clean, as you may already know, I was 3 months away from giving birth to my first child. I really didn’t expect to have a child, ever, and I was awestruck to have been given the opportunity to love this tiny person in my belly. So, when he came into the world, I felt joy, rapture, and terror – and no, I couldn’t tell at all which was which. I cried happy tears like I can’t remember crying before. It was so glorious. Birth. Wow.
Then, just a week later, I felt the worst feelings I’d ever known. That was when I seriously wondered if my heart was going to explode, or perhaps IMPLODE. Those days and nights in the Children’s hospital were like none I’ve experienced before or since.
Those days are the reason that I can tell you quite confidently that feelings can’t kill you.

What’s the answer?

What I discovered is a fool-proof recipe for getting me through extreme feelings without drinking or drugging. You may do it differently, but this is how I’ve made it through elation and heartbreak, more than once. I write it here in the hopes of sparing someone the destruction that can happen if you’re not aware of how serious a predicament you’re actually in.

Emotional Survival Plan

First, let your support system know what’s going on, and especially how you’re feeling about the situation. Putting on a brave front at this time is for idiots. Yeah, IDIOTS.

Next, get on your knees (doesn’t have to be literally, but you know, in your heart and mind) and make contact with the Higher Power of your understanding. Talk, cry, wail (that’s usually my favorite) or shout. Just let it out. You will be amazed at the results.

Now, call in reinforcements. Your parents, your Pastor, and anyone with whom you have a spiritual connection. Call them and ask for their prayers, whatever that may look like. The more the merrier. And don’t minimize your situation! If having them with you (whether phyically or in spirit only) is crazy important to you, it’s gonna be the same to those who love you.
In my experience, I went to 12-Step meetings when I could. Within The Rooms of Recovery I found a safe place. At my most frightened, most confused, most vulnerable , I can go into a room of others like me and know that I’m safe. I can scream and curse if I need to, or I can sit quietly and listen. It’s ok, there.

Sometimes, if someone is in the hospital, it may not always seem feasible to go to a meeting. But consider this, especially if they’re not likely to know if you’re there or not, for just an hour: if you don’t take care of your sobriety, you’re going to be worthless to the others that you love who are in the fear, pain, sorrow, etc that you’re in. And then they’re going to be concerned about you and trying to do damage control on your mess….you get the picture?
So, let’s do everyone a favor, mkay?
Do whatever you must, to ensure your sobriety, and then take care of whatever you are able.

Good times, bad times, ya know I’ve had my share

People talk all day long about how things like a break-up, or job loss, or illness can lead to a relapse. Well, listen closely, and please hear me when I tell you that it’s just as easy to fall prey to the addiction when things seem to be wonderful.
Heck, even non-alcoholic/addicts will be watching out for you when the shit hits the fan. It’s almost a given that you’ll need to step up your vigilance during stressful times.
But you –yes, YOU– be on guard for the happy, shiny, glitter-filled times. Watch out for “what could go wrong?!” days, and the “top of the world” days.
There’s good reason why alcohol (and addiction) is called “cunning, baffling, and powerful”.

Hungry Angry Lonely Tired

I’ve been dealing with those 4 in varying amounts for the last few days. They’re not strangers to me. I feel like a weathered war veteran when it comes to “h.a.l.t.” That certainly doesn’t mean I’m exempt from tripping up when those 4 come around, but it means that maybe I’ll figure out what the problem is and find a remedy before I feel a (self-imposed?) crisis coming on.

The happy ending
…is at the end of the day, whenever it is that your head hits the pillow, and you’ve gotten through One. More. Day. Successfully. Sober.
And that, friends, is how I manage.
How about you? Do you have a go-to for overwhelming times?

Posted from my cabin in the mountains.