Friday, September 11, 2015

I Will See You Tomorrow. World Suicide Prevention Day

Yesterday was World Suicide Prevention Day, and it was the best one I have had yet.

I don't do anything too big for the day. Because of schedules, the kids, no driver's license, I can't go to any events or even get to hang out with the people that helped me through my toughest struggles. But over the past few years I have used social media to try and connect where I can. For the duration of National Suicide Prevention Week, I take the theme and update my status or add a photo that coincides with it, reasons I am going to keep fighting, things that make me strong. This year was no different, and I still have three days of reasons on why I will be here tomorrow to post. Yet yesterday was a great day for me.

See, I don't have thoughts of suicide, not any more, not really since having my son, because that uber rational part of my mind tells me I just couldn't leave him alone. I am lucky to have that part of myself even though it tends to drive my husband crazy. I don't do self-harm any more either, thanks to two kids and two dogs and living in the country, I tend to get hurt enough on a day to day basis that it hits my limit in a day and my thoughts have wondered to the activity only a handful of times over the past eight years. It's not completely gone, but again, I am lucky. My biggest fights are anxiety and depression. And yesterday was a good day; not perfect, but really good.

For me, a tough day is any day that I can't get the energy to move.As the stay-at-home parent it is my job to get Jareth up for school in the morning and make his lunch, and lately I have taken to sitting with him on the porch until the bus comes. I would really love to curl up in bed with my husband and daughter and go back to sleep, but I know I won't get up when she does, the bed is too comfortable, I am too sleepy, my husband is there recovering from the night shift and he always makes everything better. But I get up. And lately I have stayed up. Yesterday was a good day. 

After my only cup of coffee, thank you addictive personality that takes away all the good stuff I am too scared to enjoy much of, I actually got to moving around and working! I cleaned the kids' room, cleaned my room, did dishes, did some laundry along the way. Sure I sat down for a little here and there because I am reading a good fanfiction and my feet love a break now and then, but I got stuff done! I fried up some eggs to go on burgers for dinner even though the hot grease kinda makes me freak every single time. I even got some stuff done after dinner when I usually am just done with the day! It was a good day!

Sure, I had one moment where I apparently snappishly told my husband to leave my stuff alone (I thought I said it nicely, was perfectly reasonable in tone of voice, but then we always think that, don't we?). But it was quick, we were quiet for a moment, and I apologized and explained. Of course he understands why I did it. I left the kitchen grinning like a fool because we handled it! No big fight, no screaming, I won't be on edge for days any time someone even looks at my things. Yay! I remained calm(ish).

Then to make a good day even better! I went to bed at 10:30! With insomnia it doesn't matter what I do all day to wear myself out, at the end of the day I am just not tired. I stay up until 2 or 3 reading, rewatching M*A*S*H, writing a little if I am lucky, thinking if I'm not. I have laid down in bed with my eyes sore from keeping them open and still tossed and turned for an hour unable to shut of my mind. On a really bad night there is also a lot of waking in middle of the night. Last night was a good night! Sure I kinda opened my eyes when Tillie (our blue healer) came to bed, and it was kinda a shock when Brewster (our pit/lab) joined since he has taken to sleeping on the couch, but neither time was enough to keep my awake. Of course I slept through Livia ninja-ing her way between Gary and I, that only wakes me on a really bad night. And I only woke up once before my alarm in a mild panic over missing it and making my son late, it was only 6, everything was fine. I slept well!!

But the best parts of yesterday weren't the ones I lay thinking about right before dozing off and realizing that it had been a good day for me and my issues. The best parts were the ones I got so giddy about that I got to enjoy in the moment.

This is the third year I have actively taken part in the campaign, and each year I try to make sure that Jareth knows why it is the day is special. After all, he has had to watch first hand what these issues do to people; I am far from the only one suffering in my circle of friends. This year we decided to give him his own "Love" tattoo to match mine. If you don't know, mine says "One Love" in religious (and one gender equality) symbols, a testament to my greatest struggle and core beliefs. The kids love to ask what means what and to find the same symbols in everyday life. So Jareth decided to go with symbols that stood for his personality too. Video games and Superheros. Of course Liv had to have one too!
I love opening the door for talking about issues with the kids. Before he went to school we had a very brief talk about the subject, mainly so that he could explain it to his teacher if she asked why he had a drawing on his arm. It wasn't much, he is only 8 after all, but it is more than last year, and that's what counts.

They did this. They cuddled with me on the porch waiting for the bus. He stayed home after school so that we could put up his laundry together. He couldn't stop saying "wow, mom." over his room when he saw how clean it was. They joined me on the couch to watch Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian (only teared up near the end for Robin, an improvement for me. I miss him.) for some family time during and after dinner. There were plenty of goodnight hugs and kisses. There was surprisingly little fight over actually going to sleep and by 10:30 I was tired and done with the day with no reason to stay up. 

Eight years, nine months, and nine days ago I restarted a New Year with a little boy. It didn't hit me like lightening as I held him for the first time that I would never consider suicide again. The drugs were good, but not that good. It was gradual. It was moments like yesterday when Jareth lay on my bed while I folded sheets laughing as I told him all the bad bits of his birth and why he so owes me a hug and kiss when I want one. It was moments like 6 AM when Liv grabbed up my arm and snuggled it, because like me she needs contact to sleep, and nine times out of ten I am better than a Merida baby doll.

I am so incredibly lucky. Yesterday was a great day. And I will see you tomorrow.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Thank You

Yesterday was Thursday. To most it is just another day of the week, for me it is something important. Every Thursday my family gets together with some friends for dinner, rotating between houses so that everyone gets to come up with what to cook while the others chip in on things like dessert and drinks. Occasionally my family has to miss out because we try to get together with our extended family on that same night of the week once a month, but that is the only excuse allowed.
For most people it's still not a big deal. Who would want to find excuses to not see friends, let the kids play mostly unfettered, get tipsy while talking or playing card games? MOST people would love the chance to get to talk about the show their friends also obsess over or play a game of pool no one has to pay for. MOST people would gladly circle every Thursday on the calendar for the foreseeable future without hesitation and grin wickedly remembering the week one friend got so excited about burning a 3 yr old's taste buds, because that kid will eat anything spicy and hell yeah it is an accomplishment to get her to back off the adult wings. MOST people are not me.

If you knew me, you would know that consistently meeting with people every week is kind of a big deal. If you knew me, you would know that taking away my excuses to interact in public could be a really bad thing. If you knew me, you would know that there is a strong chance at some point this will all be too much. And if you knew me, you would probably never know why.

But somehow this whole "Dinner With Friends" thing works for me. Sure I don't really love going out for other things on other days of the week unless well within my other comfort zones. And yeah Wednesdays are a strictly family day with everyone staying at home and spending time together that really kinda annoys the hubby and oldest son. And maybe having people so willing and ready to talk about Supernatural with can be a dangerous thing. But I am enjoying it all.

For something like 7 months we have been doing this! That's a big deal in case you didn't know. For seven months I have been made to interact with people on a weekly basis! For seven months I have been getting to know people and have allowed them to get to know me. For seven months I have given up a bit of control on things like what we are eating that night, where we will be hanging out, what drinks I will have access too, what the kids are playing, what the adults are playing. Things normally I would try hard to micromanage because I can do it all, host it all, better. But giving it up, I am learning to really trust these people.

This was pointed out to me just last night. A metaphorical flashlight shining on the point throughout the night.  Let me walk you through my night of "Wow, I think I have grown!"

- It had been a long week up to this point, one that had me spending most of Wednesday in bed and thinking it would be nice to repeat the very lazy lounging on Thursday as well. I felt weary throughout most of the day, wanting nothing more than sleep really. But we had plans, standing plans, that I was not about to be let out of.
- The husband picked what we were going to bring. Drinks and honey glazed carrots. He makes really good honey glazed carrots. Only problem, we didn't have the stuff for the dish so we would have to stop and get the things and cook it at our friend's house. I hate cooking in other places, out of my element so to speak were I know where everything is and all that jazz. But there was no other option.
- I was going to have to cook!!! I enjoy cooking, don't get me wrong. I am using my family and friends as guinea pigs until I perfect my own unique lasagna recipe. BUT the husband makes the good honey carrots. Everyone loves his honey carrots. He knows how to make them. I would be making them for the first time for our friends. Oh yeah no pressure. Why?
- Because the husband and kids would be going next door to swim while I cooked. Along with our friends. Leaving me alone in a strange kitchen, by myself, to make something I haven't made before. And with instructions like "lot of butter." "Then add a ton of the cinnamon" "And when they are ready pour on the honey." What? No recipe? Left alone? Normally I would be panicking. Instead, I don't know, I rolled with it. I turned on Pandora on a phone to fill the silence, and began chopping carrots. Damn near relaxed!!
- When the last of our friends arrived I directed them to the pool without a thought. Told them to go have fun. One of them went about putting the drinks they had brought in the fridge, reaching around me to put one on the counter. "Brought you Smirnoff." He grinned. Thankfully I didn't cry right there. They went out of their way to bring drinks I liked even though both of them would drink whatever was available. I am the picky drinker and they thought about that as they made their purchases. Then he made sure I had one before leaving the house. It's a big thing for me to have people spoil me. A really big thing.
- His girlfriend asked where my swimsuit was. Uh oh. Oh no. I would not be swimming. Why? Well because . . . I don't know. It's been a long week, I've been stressed. Sometimes I just can't do water. I spent the next twenty minutes explaining to her one of my justified oddities in comparison to this thing I have with water that has no reasoning, it just is. She laughed. "You are so weird." She laughed again. "Ok, Whatever." She shrugged. Like it's no big deal that a grown ass woman has some seriously odd issues with water for no apparent reason. (Yeah because the no artificial orange thing is so normal, too.) She called me weird, we BOTH laughed about it. When she left I was still smiling, because she hadn't meant that in a mean, teasing way. She had made an observation: I was weird, and was perfectly ok with it! That doesn't happen for me.
- When the carrots were done, I covered them, grabbed my drink, and went to sit next to the pool while the others swam. I made one guy get off the cooler because that was the close, dry seat, he could get in the pool so I could sit. I took beers and moved them out of the way of the splashes, handed over new ones, joked with a guy I had never met before, dug through a bin for goggles that didn't exist. I acted like a normal adult instead of my quiet, shy, withdrawn self. Of course no one there realized a difference, because with them I am always talkative, I always tease others, I always fit in. None of them know that I really never do. Well maybe except the one guy who knew me in High school and knows I have issues with making friends. But not the others.
- When we sat down to eat I warned them all: "If the carrots suck blame him, he left me to cook them." Everyone agreed they tasted great. "That was my way of fishing for complements while using him as a scapegoat just in case." I told them honestly. After all, I need reassurance and confirmation. They laughed and said again that the carrots tasted good. No judging the fact that I needed the words to be said, just doing it and moving on.

It was on the drive home that I came to the very tipsy realization that I am entirely too blessed for my own good. I have spent the past couple of years coming to terms with all my issues, spending a lot of time taking a closer look at myself than I have wanted to. I am flawed. It's something that I am learning to just deal with, but fully come to terms with it. I am flawed and that is ok. It helps that I have this awesome husband that knows about my flaws, either seeing them for himself or listening as I fill him in on what is going on inside my head. My three closest friends have anxiety issues, I think two of them are on meds and the third is seriously considering doing the same, so when I need someone to understand from my perspective I have people to talk to. But they live in three different states from me and aren't exactly available for coffee at my house, and sometimes no one is able to talk me down from an attack (although they have on numerous occasions thus far). I had been back in Texas for nearly five years before I was able to find other friends that I felt comfortable enough to be around, to talk to, to be myself with. But now I have that. Because I am so very lucky.

So I told my husband on the drive home about these little revelations about the people we hand out with, and how I felt I needed to thank them. He told me I really should. So:

Thank you! Thank you Erin, Nicole, and Abby for knowing what it's like and being there through thick and thin for more years than we should be comfortable admitting to with our age. Thank you Blair for taking a chance and continuing to push until I was able to be a friend back, and making me keep in touch when I wanted to hide away. Thank you Renn for knowing back before I was ok with myself enough to be ok with others and not judging me by what you know. Thank you Joseph for putting up with my quiet self long enough to get to know me. Thank you Jenn for just being you, because you are so awesome words can't cover it all and I really needed a friend like you. Thank you Ju for being patient enough to try to understand when our differences make it really hard to get. Thank you Brooke and Derek for seeing me as more and trying to be friends, because y'all and the kids mean so much to me. Thank you guys, all of you, for letting me be flawed and not making me think it is my fault or that I am broken. I've been trying to figure myself out and heal what I can by myself, but you all make it so much easier. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Thank you.


I would like to extend a hand to anyone that needs friends like mine. I may not be them, but I like to thank I am a good friend in my own right. So if you need someone to talk to, someone that gets you or is willing to listen enough to work on getting you, please feel free to get a hold of me. Just because I am figuring my own things out doesn't mean I am not willing to help you with yours, too. Who knows, the next time I say thank you, you may be the one I am saying it to.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

My Mother's Day Gift to Myself

Mother's Day is that one day a year that we are kinda forced to pay attention to our mothers, give them a little appreciation for something they do all year without a second thought. We buy cards and little gifts, inadequate tokens to show how much we love them and are thankful that they agreed to go through the horrors of childbirth only to then spend the next (at least) eighteen years raising us. Sometimes it is the only time that some of us stop and appreciate all they do. I fully believe that this day does not do mothers justice! It is both necessary (we really do need to stop and realize what others do for us every now and then) and insufficient (seriously, for all mom's do, one day is so not cutting it). And I say all this from the point of view of a daughter.

As a mother I really do like having a day that my husband forces my kids to be nice for as long as he can. I love that all my non-mother friends tag me in their little posts, reminding me that they are ok with my endless posts about my children that clog up their newsfeed throughout the year. I like getting the phone calls the next day from my two best friend to tell me what their kids did for them and my other best friend (who is not a mom) to tell me what her and her siblings did for the woman I see as a long distance mother myself. I adore the cute little videos that try to capture what a mother is and all they do, the ones that make everyone cry, almost making me as a very emotional mother seem normal with my constant tears. And I thoroughly enjoy the almost painful laugh I get at the yearly vids of men going through that labor simulator (thanks Try Guys)!

But what about the rest of the year? The other 364 days when we are up early to get everyone else ready for their day. I don't get my first cup of coffee until I have been up for an hour, what about you? Or that constant cycle of cleaning because no one is capable of cleaning up after themselves? The late nights and long days? The taxi service and chef's kitchen? I've poured and set out snacks for five other boys running through my house because Jareth invited them over. Birthday planning, dinner hosting, lunch packing, two-cart grocery shopping! Chocolate covered cherry secret moments and laughter filled truffle time. Morning cuddles with a full bed of two kids, two dogs, and a husband still asleep enough to think he gets to stay in bed. Random hugs. Yelling matches. Spankings and temper tantrums and "it's not fair"s. Begging for this toy or that snack. Only Mom can hold me because I am sick, clingy, and want only her. Mom does it this way. Mom said I could. When will Mom be home? All of this comes with being a Mom and we do it all on demand because we have to.  And that's all ok!

The thing is, being a Mom is pretty tiring. It's hard. It's stressful. And sometimes I really mess it up. There are days when I barely roll out of bed, only doing so because if I don't there is no one else to get Jareth up for school. When my husband stays the night with a buddy so the drive to work is a little shorter and he can get a little more sleep, Livia and I spend the whole day in bed watching YouTube. Some days I wake him up an hour early because I really don't think I can handle the kids by myself any longer. I don't cook very often, partly because I can't and partly because when I can the smallest negative comment says to me that I can't do anything right. I hate playdough because the colors mix and it sticks and my OCD just can't take it (Livia is 3 and loves it and I am just now fighting myself to let her play with it). Jareth could make his own lunches when he was 5 because there were mornings I couldn't get myself to do it for him. Livia eats pepperonis every day for lunch, because she loves them and because they are easy to serve. Wild Banshee Wednesdays originally started because I needed a day to turn the music up too loud and drown out the outside world and push myself to play with my son. Jareth asks for hugs, waiting a moment for me to turn and open my arms, because he knows I don't always like to be touched and I have to prepare myself. I cried the day Jareth turned to me and said "Mommy, I love your laugh, it's pretty. I don't think you have laughed all day. I am glad you did now."

Why am I telling you how bad I can get? Because it is ok. This is my Mother's Day gift to myself: being ok with the bad moments. I am allowing myself to have off days. I want you to know that I know I am not perfect and I am coming to terms with that. I have my issues, I am dealing with them, and that's just how it is. And it's really ok if you are the same way. It's going to be just fine if you can't handle everything all the time. The thing about Mother's Day, we aren't being reminded to love our mothers, we are being reminded to let them know that we do. My kids love me through the hard times. Livia sits with me all day in bed, rubbing my ear, giving me a hug or cuddle, and still wants me to spend the day with her again tomorrow. Jareth curls up on the couch with me, asks how I am doing, and watches my show because he gets it. My husband goes without a little sleep, helps a lot more than he should, and makes sure to give me an extra tight hug when he can. If they are ok with me, the three people that matter the most, than I need to be ok with me, too.

So today don't forget to tell your Mom that you love her, that she rocks, that she is the coolest Mom ever! And if you're a mom, take it easy for a day! I get that you probably can't have the Hallmark Day of Relaxation, but you can take a breath, give yourself a thumbs up, and remind yourself that you rock! Being a mom is tough, you can't call in sick, you can't take a personal day, but you can allow yourself some slack on the whole being perfect thing. Share my gift with me, be ok with being just ok. You're doing a great job!

So what did you get or do today? Let me know that you are ok!

Happy Mother's Day

Saturday, April 18, 2015

While I was silent

On Friday, April 17th, I participated in the Day of Silence. It is a youth movement meant to draw attention to those that feel they must remain silent about their sexuality, as well as their allies. I'm not considered "youth" any more but I thought I would partake in the day since I was unable to when I was in fact in high school. I was surprised to find that a number of things came to light for me.

1. The first thing I had to do was explain to my kids what I was doing and why, the night before. My 3 yr old had no clue what was going on, not fully, but she still told me she would help me be quiet (which has now been added to one of the cutest phrases I have heard from her lips). My 8 yr old was excited by the thought behind the day. Suddenly he wanted to participate because he felt that the way his classmates pick on him is bullying and feels the need to draw their attention to it. I talked him down, but on Monday we will be asking his teacher if she will be willing to allow him to have a DoS on Friday. We are asking because he is young, it will be difficult, we don't want to disrupt the class, and well, we want to give her a heads up. Of course if he does this it will be for bullying and harrassment in general, not simply the LGBTQA+ cause, although that is what caught his attention.

2. It's easy to ignore most people, to not respond, to get them to understand things with hand gestures and simply pointing. Not a 3 yr old, who surprisingly remembered what was going on and was soon ok with me not talking. But this meant me having to do a lot more for her since I couldn't simply tell her to do it herself or go get Daddy. I must also say, it was one day when I was extremely glad I took the time to teach my kids some sign language when they were little.
Anyway, it was very hard not to randomly blurt out how cute she was, how silly she was acting, how much I love her. While today was about bullying, I couldn't help but think about the number of voices permanently silenced due to suicide. How many mothers out there don't get to say these same things to their own children because they were taken from them when they could no longer bare the harrassment? I nearly cried a few times just staring at my daughter. I'm sure it is something that will stick with me for a while.

3. Which leads me to my own mother. Nearly every morning she sends me a sweet little text sayign "Good morning. How are you doing?" It is a bright spot in my day. Today the text read "I know you can't speak, but I wanted to say hi." It put a huge smile on my face. My mother is a Christian, a very sweet, loving, Christ-like Christian. Something I have found is rare. She has one daughter that is openly pagan and another that is openly gay. And she texts them every morning asking how they are, sending a little support my way when I choose to back a cause she may not feel fully comfortable with. Because she is amazing. I have found a small group of people who are the same and I have pulled them in close over the years, so happy to have found them after too many years of being tormented for my beliefs. Today reminded me that there are those out there willing to overlook the differences and offer kindness.

4. And thus that last little hit home for me. I was bullied for much of my life. Even back when I still practiced Christianity, I was in a bigger school system where I was in fact in the minority for my beliefs. I was looked down on and laughed at. When I found my way to Paganism we were in the process of moving to a small town that currently has 6 churches for the small population to choose from. Once more I was the minority, the outcast, the one on the recieving end of the notion that we should "just string 'em up and let them burn." I hate to admit but while dealing with the slurs and comments I didn't pay any attention as my sister came out gay. I can only hope her popularity saved her from the worst of it.
When Facebook first started, back when you actually needed and .edu email to log in, I was still trying to get to know my new college acquantances. I told my roommate I was pagan before moving day so she could leave if she wanted, she asked that I hide my books until after her parents left. I did. I told my Welcome group that it meant I was polythiestic and got all kinds of excited at the World Cultures reading list for it's diversity, but I rarely talked to all but one of the other members as soon as it stopped being mandatory. After a heated debate the second semester about boundries involved in religion, conversion, caring for others souls, some stopped talking to me completely. So I always watched my posts on FB. Years later I found that I hesitated before every repost, wondering if someone would be offended o disgusted. I reread every update for any signs of my beliefs, knowing I had friends and family that disagreed or even worse, didn't know. It wasn't until my stepmom informed me that her father, the preacher, already knew about my religion, after we had gotten back from staying with him on vacation where he never said a word and was so sweet to me. Holy crap, I could say what I wanted because those that mattered no longer cared!
I was silent for too many years, unable to voice my real opinions and beliefs! Suddenly I could say what I wanted. So I started doing that. I repost little link about Pagan Pride Day. I "like" that article about dealing with depression and mental health. I shared that video about the couples behind an X-Ray kissing. I am not in your face pagan and I don't have only gay friends. But I am me and I no longer hide that.
So today when I couldn't get on Facebook and point out how I am reminded of why I worship the Sun when I am lucky enough to catch a sunrise like this morning, I was very caught off gaurd and a little anxious. I simply couldn't imagine having to go back to being silent about who I am. So why must our youth feel they have to be silent?

Think about all the voices you don't hear.

Thank you to everyone that respected my decision to partake in this event. Thank you to everyone who has made sure that I do not have to be silent the other 364 days of the year. Thank you to everyone who has spoken out about bullying and harrassment for whatever cause. 

I hope you feel you can speak up. Remember, you can always talk to me.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

April 17th - A Day of Silence

So back in 2003 I heard about the Day of Silence. A Friday in April when students across the country remained silent to show their support for other students that had to keep quiet about their sexual orientation. A way to speak out against bullying without saying a word. I tried to join it, but being from such a small community that didn't understand it didn't turn out so well.

I decided this year to partake again.

Traditionally it is a thing only done by students, but I don't see why that has to be. There are plenty of adults out there that feel that they can't be who they want to be for fear of hatred. It is also a campaign for the LGBTQA+, but they are not the only ones bullied for who they are. People can be terribly unaccepting when they want to be.

So tomorrow I am going to take a vow of silence. That means complete silence. No talking with friends, family (yeah, even the kids), and not online. I have almost always felt safe in expressing my beliefs and preferences, but there are so many others that can't. Even if you are just a plain jane and have nothing to be silent about, maybe you should consider being silent for the day, it may give you a look into how others feel when they are unable to express themselves.

I am hoping that by doing this I can show my kids (mainly Jareth since he is older) how devastating bullying can be. I may fail, I may end up breaking down and talking with the kids, and I may give in to check a notice on Twitter. Or I may make it through the day, having to be quiet about my opinions and thoughts for the first time in my life, or since I came out of the broom closet back in 2001. Either way, I hope to raise some awareness for those out there that even as adults they don't feel free to be themselves. That alone could inspire something big.

For those that don't feel they have anybody to talk to, please feel free to message me. Reach out because I am here to listen to whatever you have to say about whatever subject. You don't have to be quiet!