Did My Brain Fall Out?

Haven't we all asked ourselves this question? There are days I am quite sure my brain did fall out - I can barely put one foot in front of the other and I forget everything. I know you can relate!

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Big Unknowing Bus and I Call BS!

There are times you learn things from a book, the internet (that can be iffy) or the news (even iffier these days).  Most of the time what we learn is from rotten, twisted, beautiful, glorious life. The best lessons come when you didn't know you needed to know something that you didn't know. That’s when the big Unknowing Bus comes to screeching halt at the end of your driveway. BEEP BEEP. Get on bitches! 

We never know where we’re going but, according to my optimist friends, it’s all about the ride, right?


At times like these all you can do is piece together some ugly patchwork quilt of that yellow Holly Hobby bedspread you had when you were 7, orange peels, old carpet remnants and candle wax that you hope and pray and hopeandprayandhopeandpray will resemble order and common sense.  The hope is that the end result will make you look all smart, like you knew what you were doing all along. Nothing to see here, keep it moving, people. Sometimes my inability to summon order and conjure common sense makes me cry. Or giggle. Or both at the same time. Sometimes it’s all I can do to not faint from the vapors, panic, give away the family secrets and spend the rest of my life under the covers. And drink.

But, somewhere in the midst of my mind-chaos, I must have the strength and wherewithal to call BS.

Now, in this conundrum of twisted, beautiful life when do we learn to call BS?

If you're lucky, you have some friends who are generally smarter than you and they’ll be happy to tell you all about your BS.

Take for instance my daughter's autism. I didn't know ANYTHING. If I could make that ANYTHING the size of the moon it still wouldn't encompass the THINGS I didn't know. She was six months old and missing milestones and I only knew "milestones" because of those parenting books that I poured over like they were my Bible. Young and shy and knowing NOTHING I asked the pediatrician. Old school fella that he was he just said babies progress at their own rates. I called BS. And you know what? I didn't know more than that. Just that it felt wrong. Lucky for me I had a friend who agreed on that BS and handed me the knowledge I needed at that moment.

And life goes on. Keep weaving that quilt. Get back on the *#%&* bus!

Rinse and repeat.

Marriage, pregnancy, step-children, preschool, elementary school, home ownership, middle school (aka HELL), IEPs, LREs, debt, AIG, moving, self-harm, depression, unemployment, anxiety, learners permits, death, the boss from hell, college, money, taxes, love, family, friends. Caring for my aging mom.


At each age and stage I am faced with this cavernous unknowing. It can be small things like pumping gas (yes when I moved south I didn’t know how to pump my own gas, shut up). It can be BIG things like moving your ailing mom 700 miles from home and untangling all her ribbons, tentacles and connections. Either way, big or little, the unknowing for me is the hardest part of the entire process. So here we are, 15 months after mom has moved down here, after I made HUGE life decisions for her because she was unable to do that for herself, and BLAM, that huge *%&# Unknowing Bus has stopped outside my house to pick me up again. I’ll get on, kicking and screaming, but I’ll be damned if I know where the hell I’m going.

I guess I’ll let you know when I get there. Please be waiting for me with order, common sense, drinks, giggles and a sham wow to dry my tears. Or heck, you could hop on with me. It's all about the ride, right?

I couldn't do it without you.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Kellin, the Super Symbolic Hamster

We’ve all had a helluvayear here. 

Today, the hamster died. We were devastated.

It’s a helluvathing.

And I know some of you reading this are thinking, “it’s only a hamster,” and although you are right, Kellin the hamster was a furry blob among the many other furry blobs (big and small) we cohabitate with, she had so much more meaning. She was the symbolic hamster.

No, this is not hyperbole. It is not the delusions of an English teacher gone over the edge.

Kellin symbolized, for all of us, especially C2, the ability to conquer a demon so large, so hurtful, so painful, so sad, that even typing these words are making me cry. Kellin symbolized 128 days. That little ball of fur with the beady red eyes (ech) symbolized mental health and positive choices.

So let me explain. A year ago C2 revealed to me in the Walgreens parking lot that she had been injuring herself. I like to think I reacted well, but on the inside I was confused. I was so sad. I just wanted to fix this. I may have stammered. I wanted to be full of God’s grace; I think I was not.

Let me help. Let me help you, baby.

So we got her help. And it’s been quite a journey. We’ve forayed into EDNOS (eating disorder not otherwise specified). She got really skinny. I really thought that we would lose her. I would lay awake at night and plan, and plot and check on her, to make sure she was still here, and here, present in the moment, in our family and still alive in her bed. I questioned my parenting, my marriage, my job. I considered quitting work to stay at home with her. I wanted to pull her out of school because of those bastard middle school little shits who brought her pain and heartache. I wanted to throttle the administrators and guidance counselors at her school who seemed to be so incredibly clueless and ineffective. I wanted to do….something.

Something ended up being time and patience. Something was many late nights reading about cutting, EDNOS and suicide on the internet. Something was my maniacal decision to hide everything that I thought was a potential danger in the house behind locked doors. Something was tossing her room like some Russian spy looking for the Holy Grail. Something was love. Something was tears, alone in the shower and together with C2. Something was long drives to nowhere with my baby. Something was writing her notes and leaving them in secret places. Something was watching my husband trying to cope. Something was watching my husband, who has wrestled with his own recovery for the past 28 years, relate to C2 in a way that I couldn’t.
Something was waiting for C2 to decide that she wanted to get better.  

I can’t lie and say I succeed in all of these somethings each and every day. In fact, I know I was so far from what C2 needed on some days, that I was more of a hindrance. And I also like to think that many of those days I was just what she needed. That she KNOWS that every day with her here on Earth is what I need. That she is my blessing. My everything.

So C2 decided that she wanted to get better, so we drew butterflies on our arms (check out http://butterfly-project.tumblr.com/ for more information) and talked about “triggers” and we counted days. We hung her count on the fridge. We celebrated when that number increased. 10, 42, 75, 84, 97, 128.

 And a relapse.

Talk of hospitalization. Frantic calls to her counselor and the crisis line. And then we went back to doing our somethings. We circled the wagon, kept her close to home, and we began the count again with the promise that when she reached 128 days again she could pick something that she really wanted. She picked Kellin.

So, that hamster was so much more than another furry mouth to feed. She was special. She was a reward for SO MUCH HARD WORK…WORK that C2 should be SO proud of. So, yeah, we’re overwhelmingly SAD that she died. And YES, I let my kid stay home from school today and eat ice cream and watch an entire season of Glee because she was SAD because that was a SOMETHING, the something that she needed today.

C2 – can you pick a new reward that can’t leave us!

*There are over 2 million people in the United States who self-harm. Of those 2 million, the majority are young girls, although it does affect boys too.
Know the signs, open a dialogue, get help.

Dear C2:
I cannot express how proud I am of you. Your journey is yours, so thank you for letting me share this. Know this for certain, you are MY LOVE, MY LIFE, MY EVERYTHING. I am so blessed that God sent you to me. I am so happy that you chose to stick around, to get healthy, to keep moving forward, one step at a time. I am thrilled that you put up with me, my uncoolness, stupid jokes and sometimes thoughtless words. Know this, each and every day that I am here on this Earth, I am here to keep you safe. I am here to love you. No matter what you do, you can’t EVER shake this mama bear. So, thank you for choosing to get better. Thank you for being you. Xxx000