Would you rather be touched by fire – or ice?

This week was suicide prevention week. It occurred to me that for all the mental health awareness there is in the world, it still seems lost on the people that you want most to love and support you … your family. For the life of me, I cannot understand it.  Ive seen my own family reeling from a suicide, all of us asking ourselves what we could of done differently and wondering where we went wrong, regretting not reaching out sooner or more often. 

Yes, it’s too late to change anything about  those who were lost to the depths of depression along their own life’s path, but, No, you do not get to ever go back to being naive to the darkness which swallowed them. Please remember, you cannot forget.

What about the ones who have grappled with the depths of despair that are still among us? 

Maybe in your truth, you see this as a consequence, but  for what exactly? Being touched by fire? Do we deserve to be burned? And if the opposite of this is you…are you touched  by ice?

Seems like a zero sum game. 

Perhaps we could just trust each other to pay attention to our own truth. I’ll stay out of yours, you stay the hell out of mine? Maybe family could learn to treat other relatives with slightly more dignity than a complete stranger? 

Is that the best we can do? 

That saddens me, but then again what do I know, I’m the sick one …

                                                   right?

Letters I meant to send

Just because I’m your relative, doesn’t mean you can act like a child and give me the cold shoulder on account of you not getting your way. 

I AM NOT YOUR PERSONAL, DISPOSABLE SCAPEGOAT.

Also, If you assume I’m okay with you treating our parents like garbage, or my kids as a nuisance to your life then you must not know me at all. Yes, I see you rolling your eyes at mother and how you resent our father’s efforts to guide you. No, there isn’t ANY justifiable reason for you to cuss at our parents over my child’s birthday cake. I have been tolerant and held my tongue too long.

I am fed up with hearing you pass judgement and blame on mother, father, myself, our extended family, your friends, your colleagues … your  landlord , any scapegoat will do; and of course, everyone else but yourself – for every wrong thing that has ever happened in your life. People can have relationships with friends and family fade without the drama. Fine, there’s no love or respect lost for you here, we get it. You can be superior to us all, but please know that your profound inability to empathize with anyone or anything that doesn’t benefit you in some way was never lost on us. Bad behavior should not be overlooked simply because you act out on people who love you. Being related to someone does not give you a free pass to hurt them. Being hurt in the past by someone you hold dear is not justification to hurt anyone else in the future. Everything isn’t about you and yes, you are still accountable for all the pain you’ve inflicted, no matter how you feel. No manipulations, no crocodile tears, no emotional blackmail. 

Pain should not be a legacy, and we as relatives should know better than to force someone to inherit our stressors and traumas, ESPECIALLY our children.

I love you, always have and always will. However …

Our love isn’t a shield that protects you from reprisal when you disrespect us

An open letter to my nephew on his first birthday.

2:55 am and an electronic notification alerted me that it was your 1st birthday. You were born a year ago at this very moment apparently. I am so sorry that is something I don’t know, but then I don’t even know you. I know your name. I know youre completely adorbs. I know that if “allowed” I wouldve have been there from your first breath to my last. I also know that I could never participate in a game in which you were leverage. I know that I have wanted to be your Auntie since the moment I found out I was going to be a big sister. I know that I love just the idea of you and want so desperately to love YOU you, exactly as you are. 

 I just wanted you to know. 

Happy 1st Birthday.

All my love,  Auntie Stephanie

Atypical

I am in tears right now seeing a meeting between a mother and her autistic young adult son’s therapist in ‘Atypical’ on Netflix. I have never seen THIS kind of real-MYlife played out from so many angles. The things a mother of a child on the spectrum only wrestles with. The empathetic advocacy Ive seen behind closed doors … portrayed ?

Im not sure how I feel about it yet, but for now I guess it’s just nice to have a representation in any form of media.

Ive told Pickle about it and am curious to hear his feedback.

No facebook – Month One

Before shutting down my account, I asked whether I should let people know that I was leaving and make sure they had my contact info, but I realize the people I follow most on Facebook, are also the ones whose lives I am very much involved in. I figured these people have my cell number, we text and send pics etc and they physically know where I live. Plus, I remembered reading an article on Thought Catalog or some similar outlet which said announcing your Facebook departure is seen a dramatic, attention-seeking thing.

With ^this^ in mind, I just shut down my account. I didn’t just freeze it. I downloaded a copy of my entire feed and completely left. Adios.
DO YOU KNOW that people I talk to on the regular believe I had blocked them from my Facebook account – for no ascertainable reason? Seriously! My best friend even, told me she was going through a lot of medical shit and could have really used the support. I certainly apologized for anything I had done to contribute to that feeling. That’s not cool. For the life of me though, I couldn’t understand it because we had been texting and snapchatting, etc. Apparently though, I missed the posts.

This was not a solitary incident either. Even family members assumed that I blocked them.

I do not understand this. 

Bizarre. 

Today was a good day

Today was the day Bean and I took a giant leap into a future together, with kids in tow.  He brought his boys, BB (8) and Max(6), over to my house for the first time to have a early 4th of July shindig, with my Pickle(21), Jedi (16) and Diva(14). It reminded me of high school chemistry. We put all kinds of different stuff together and waited for the reaction. 

My Dad went out of his way to make Bean’s boys feel like a regular members of our clan and I love him so much for it. He got all 5 of them super soaker water guns and thus, allegiances were made to water war. My kids acted like kids. None of them batted an eye or balked at the idea of child’s play. The big kids helped the little kids with strategy and ammunitions, while Bean and I prepared food. Then we all ate together, kept casual conversation going that entertained all parties, followed by a bonfire, smores and fireworks. 

It was a much needed good day for all parties involved and I am grateful for it. 

As ominous clouds gather

It’s been threatening to rain/storm all day, literally and figuratively speaking. 

Figurativively, Im trying to cope, calm the storm inside my wild breaths and not lash out like I normally do when someone backs me into a corner: CLAWS OUT. The bottle of wine, Im working on finishing on my own would tell me Im going to need a better coping mechanism. Fuck. Whatever. Look, when someone tells you they would like to have a therapy session with you so that they can “relay things” to you with an assured “support person” to be on hand for you after said things are relayed, I think most would agree is ominous. Not something I would normally sign up for, but I am doing it for my mother. At least, that’s what I keep telling myself. There has just been far too much anti-climatic drama in our family since my sister got pregnant. I have been cut out and my Mom, whom would deny this if ever asked,  was placed in the middle.  

I got a call last March. I missed that call while I was driving and attempting to follow voice navigated directions, it went to my  voicemail. Over a year has passed and I still wonder: What if I had only received that call? What if I had not needed direction that night. I pulled into a CVS and listened to the voicemail. It was my sister telling me that she was pregnant. Happy tears rolled down my cheeks as I couldn’t even gather myself to listen to the other details, so I hung up and called her right back. Straight to voicemail. I let my elation and joy unfold in a voice message. I hang up and call directly back to my own voicemail to completely listen to the whole message. Sister says she is due in September. She said that since she was past the first trimester, as well as her and my brother in law, (DC),  wedding anniversary was coming up on St. Patrick’s Day, she and DC were planning a Facebook post to tell everyone, but she had still wanted to tell me formally. It tasted like the real thing, but looking back on that last word: formally I have to wonder if this was EXACTLY all she meant to do was to formally tell me she was pregnant. 

Fine, we can have a formal only sister interaction, hell, even if begrudging this seems likes a civility that our parents, who have invested so much here could have holidays with their children and grandchildren without the drama, but no, that couldn’t be what she meant because I wasn’t ever formally or even informally invited to either of her baby showerS, friends and also family, out-of-town with my Mom’s entire side of the family and where was Stephanie?  

Did anyone ask?  I digress…

Whatever is to be said, and I steongly feel, I already know but am trying to delude myself into believing there must be something more. What I do know is that there is just absolutely no excuse that will dismiss the great injustice I feel. 

To be continued …

An open letter to my little sister on her day of marriage

I don’t remember the first time we met, whether it was at the hospital or at home, but I do remember the first time I held you like it was yesterday. I can clearly recall looking down at your little perfect face. You were a magical wonder to me. I had no idea how you came to be. I just knew you were growing in Mom’s belly and then you were there in my arms and I was your big sister. I remember trying to help you not to be scared at night in our shared room. Telling you stories and singing you songs, like Lionel Ritchie’s “Ballerina Girl“, after we were tucked into our bunk beds. Decorating the underside of the top bunk like the night sky with puffy paint so that it didn’t look like spiderwebs anymore. Fighting every fiber of fear in my body to get up and throw the creepy clowns in the closet so they didn’t scare you. Teaching you to tell time on the wall size wristwatch that hung on our pepto bismol pink bedroom wall to distract you from things I didn’t want you to hear. Taking the blame so you didn’t in get in trouble for your experiments and inventions. Growing up fast so that I could protect your innocence when heavier things surrounded us. Looking over my shoulder to make sure you didn’t follow my own path.

I know you had some trouble as you forged your way into adulthood, attempting to navigate life and love.  It hasn’t always been rainbows and butterflies. There’s been hurt and bitterness. You’ve learned some lessons the hard way. But I hope today as you leave life alone to join together with your husband, that you can look back and see that EVERYTHING that has happened, good and bad, has led you right to this point in your life and made you the woman that he fell in love with.

When you love someone, you can see all the things that make them wonderful very clearly. I know that you see your husband-to-be in that light. But I think you struggle to realize that all the things that are wonderful about him, that you love with all your heart, that you are willing to sacrifice for, willing to give everything you’ve got without thinking twice … finds it’s equal in you.

You are just as wonderful. You are just as magical. You are just as real. You are just as worthy.

As I sit here, with tears of complete joy for you streaming down my face and words failing me, I just want you to know this:

Sister, you are a beautiful, one of a kind, fully deserving of every happiness. Today’s the day. The day you are marrying the love of your life. Please allow yourself to be completely vulnerable. Let everything that has come before go and move ahead and risk it all.  Because you have to in order to fully experience the complete joy and love that is waiting for you. Know that love is the answer to most questions in life. You are ready and he is “the one”.

Go ahead and jump into the great unknown, holding his hand, with your beautiful smile and laughter.

I’ll be right here … always.

Chris’ Healthy Heart Fund

Guys, this is my beloved cousin, Chris.

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On Sunday, February 8th Chris went to the ER with severe abdominal pain. The doctors at UNMH determined that he had a blood clot that was preventing blood flow to his kidneys.

Chris did not realize it at the time, but he was experiencing Heart-Failure.

Chris’ Heart-Failure is a side-effect from his pre-existing diagnosis of Atrial Fibrillation or “A-FIB.” If not treated properly, A-FIB causes blood clots that can result in stroke, heart-attack and other dangerous outcomes.

Chris’ heart has been determined to be at a 20% ejection fraction measurement, where a “normal” heart should be between 50-70%. (This is a measurement of how much blood the left ventricle pumps out with each contraction.)

…After 10 days of being closely monitored, Chris was released on Tuesday when medication began to stabilize his condition.

We hope to get Chris’ numbers up over time. His condition is not curable but it is manageable with medications and serious lifestyle changes.

Chris needs rest. He will rely on a number of medications for a while; some of them he will be taking for the rest of his life.

Chris still has a clot near his heart that is preventing him from getting a shock-treatment that would likely improve his situation.

Chris’ existing health insurance expires in March! His doctors have advised him not to go back to work until his overall health has improved considerably.

This fund will help assist Chris with medical bills and will help support a program of healthier eating.

Chris needs all the help he can get as he is transitioning to Medicaid (and whatever else he can apply for), during this financially stressful time.

http://www.youcaring.com/medical-fundraiser/chris-nelson-woods-healthy-heart-fund/308050#.VOoKe414m7s.facebook