Swarm

March 6th Swarm

Suicide Prevention

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It was April 2016. I got a call from my dad. “Hurry home. Dino killed himself – he hung himself in the basement”. We were at my son’s first baseball game of the season. He had just got a home run! It was a beautiful April Saturday. Sunny, warm. It was supposed to be a fun day. It wasn’t.

Mom and I ran to the car. I yelled to my husband who was on the ball field. “I have to go. Dino killed himself”. I got to my mom’s car and I really don’t remember even driving to their house. I had to have been driving 100 mph.

“Please don’t tell me he did it. Mom I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean for him to kill himself. He’s got to be OK. Maybe dad saved him”. I was saying all of this on to my mom during the 10 minute drive to her house. We were both so scared.

When we got there, there was a swarm of emergency vehicles. The sheriff’s department. The ambulance. The fire truck. More officials came in. Asked questions. Made my dad explain what happened over and over.

I was sick. I thought I was going to physically get sick. I was crying harder than I’ve ever cried. I was shaking and didn’t know how to feel. Dad didn’t save him. It was too late.

My Uncle Dino moved to NC in December 2015. He moved here because he was suicidal at home. He had a successful hair salon for years, but lost it all because of drugs. He lost everything. Friends. Family. His business. His home. His car. Everything. Gone. So at 50 some years old he moved 12 hours away to live with my parents, his brother and sister-in-law. A brother and sister in law that he hadn’t seen in over 10 years and didn’t speak to for about 8 or 9 of those years.  Needless to say, I wasn’t really happy about it. I have two kids that were at my parents house every day. What if he was still on drugs? What would they be exposed to? The deal was he could come but no drugs and no alcohol or he would have to leave.

So he came and he looked terrible. After a few months he seemed to be doing better. But one night I took my mom and kids to Chic Fila for supper. He was acting strange. He seemed high. Out of it. Trying to take my kids food. Acting like he was going to steal things like the salt and pepper shakers or something like that…I can’t remember exactly what it was. He was just off. My mom saw it too. So I told my mom that I was going to talk to him and give him an ultimatum. He went to a clinic and got help, or he was out of here.

The next day I went to the house and asked to speak to him alone. I told him that I thought he was on something the night before and I wanted him to tell me the truth. He denied it and said he was just taking caffeine pills because he was out of his adarol and didn’t have a prescription for more. I told him I didn’t believe him. I told him that I was taking off work the next day and I was taking him to a mental health facility for treatment by a psychiatrist. He didn’t disagree. I took him. I sat in the office for two hours waiting for him to finish. He was told about other resources available to him as well – food stamps, etc. It was a good thing for him.

The next couple weeks passed. Uncle Dino would cut my hair and moms hair and I would pay him 20 to 25 bucks so he had some cash. He started talking to different places around town about his ability to do hair. He worked as a volunteer at a salon and got to know some people.  And then he abruptly left the salon he was working with. I never found out what really happened. In the mean time he started doing all of the wigs for a local theater. It started out as a volunteer thing but then they started paying him to do it for each play. This started in October of 2015. That’s when I saw the biggest change. He started avoiding me. He never stayed around me for long. He was gone a lot. Started borrowing money from my mom and dad. They paid his cellphone bill, gave him a car to drive. The bills all increased – water, electricity, etc. He never helped my mom around the house. No yard work. Didn’t even take the garbage out. All he ever did was run to the store for groceries once in a while. He was doing hair for folks around town and charging them a lot. About 100 bucks for a cut and color and they were buying their own color most of the time. The money never went to pay back my mom and dad. It was always coming…the money was coming with the next check he earned…the next time…the next time. The next time would never happen. Mom started a tally and he owed them well over $1000 dollars. Mom and dad live on a tight budget. Dad’s a retired veteran living on disability and my mom never worked. They are strapped for money. My mom would vent to me about him. She would even cry sometimes about how he doesn’t help at all. I think she felt like his mom and she had a lot of pressure on her to take care of him. I told her and my dad that I wanted to confront him. They said to just let it go.

I started getting angry. I would come over to help my mom in the yard or do work around the house and he would just sit there. Nothing. No help at all. I would buy dinner, take us all out to eat and he never paid. He never even offered. At first I didn’t mind. But it got old. So he would cut my hair and I only paid him about 20 bucks. Then one day I asked him to color my hair to cover my old highlights. He said sure. I paid for the color and all the supplies. He dyed my hair. I knew something look weird with the color. It seems dark. It had a blue tint. No…it’s not blue. I went home. Rinsed it again. BLUE. Really?? Blue? I woke up the next morning and my pillow cover was blue. I texted him and he said he had no idea what I was talking about. He played it off and said he thought I was crazy. Then he read the box of color and it said  Dark BLUE. Yes. He dyed my hair blue. I wish I had the picture still. At the time I thought it was an accident, but now I think he did it on purpose.

So I quit having him cut or color my hair. Months went by. He avoided me. He still didn’t help. Weird things happened….like the one night when two people rang the doorbell at 3 in the morning. He went out and talked to them and told my parents that it was a girl who needed to use the phone. Of course they didn’t let her in. Weird. They just shrugged it off. I thought it was odd.

I started to be honest with my parents about how I felt about him. He was drinking a lot. He even tried to steal alcohol from my house during the holidays. Just ask. Don’t take from me. I didn’t trust him. We caught him downing our vodka at Christmas. Literally just tipping up the bottle. He just laughed.  He started skipping holidays and he was definitely avoiding me.

I knew it was drugs. My parents were oblivious. He lived in their basement and they couldn’t see what he was doing. Some weeks he wouldn’t even show his face upstairs. A few more months passed and I couldn’t get in to see my hairstylist. I texted him and asked him to trim my hair again. (I Know! Why would I do that after he dyed my hair blue a few months before!) I tried to give him the benefit of the doubt. After all, he was my uncle. He texted me back with an attitude. He told me I would have to pay him like 75 bucks if I wanted him to cut my hair. I was furious. He is my fricken uncle and I have helped him for months now. Why would he charge me so much just for a hair cut?

That’s when I fired back. “I am not paying you that much money. I buy my own products and dry my own hair. All you do is cut it. I know what you are doing and I’m on to you. Get a job and quit mooching off my parents.” Silence. No response.

I called my mom and told her what I said. He had already been upstairs trying to get my mom and dad to take his side. He was a liar and a master manipulator. He was trying to get them to turn on me. They told him that I was their daughter and they would not take his side and that I was just looking after them. The next couple of days they said he was up and down with his emotions. A few mornings later he came upstairs and had scrapes all up and down his face. My mom thought he was drunk. It was 8am. He said he couldn’t sleep so he took 4 benadryl pills and fell down in the basement. She asked him if he was drunk and he said no. She believed him. He went to work and she didn’t see him again that day.

The next day was Saturday morning. Mom got up and got ready for my son’s baseball game. She said he was in a good mood and was getting ready to go to the theater to work on wigs. Mom left to go to the game. He and dad were talking. He asked dad to borrow 100 dollars. He needed gas and cigarettes.  Dad told him he didn’t have the money to give him. Dino then went downstairs. Dad thought he was getting ready for work. Dad felt bad so he called downstairs for Dino. He was going to give him 20 bucks for gas and ciggs. Dino didn’t answer. After calling him a few times and getting no response, dad went downstairs. Dad has emphysema. He can barely walk. He can’t walk down the stairs so he has one of those chairs that takes him down. It took him a few minutes but he went down and didn’t see him in the sitting area. So he went to the back of the basement and there he was. He hung himself. Dad was too late.

Dad went back upstairs to get his phone. Called 911, back downstairs, mouth to mouth, a trip upstairs for something to cut the cord…he was too late. The swarm of emergency vehicles…we showed up. Too late.

I felt so much guilt. I felt like I did this. I was so sick to my stomach for weeks. I couldn’t sleep. I was scared to be alone – I couldn’t be alone in my house. I couldn’t walk outside in the dark. I was terrified. For months. Dino used to tell me that he would come back and haunt all of the people that he didn’t like. He was the closest thing to evil I have ever experienced.

My brothers came in from out-of-town. The first thing they did was search the basement. They found a lot. They knew they were going to. My parents were shocked. They couldn’t believe that the missed what was right under their nose. Heroine needles. Spoons. A filthy basement. It was disgusting. We threw everything away. All he owned was put into a trailer attached to a truck and thrown away. So sad to think that all someone owned ended up in the trash.

A month passed. The theater held a little memorial. Mom and I went. We cried and people told stories of their memories of Dino. He was a funny man. They told numerous stories of partying together and all the times he cut their hair. It was nice and I felt some closure. I left earlier than my mom did. My mom stayed and drank some wine and visited with the folks from the theater. They all started talking about it. What he did. How he hung himself. How they knew it was suicide or overdose. Mom told them about how she thinks he tried to do it a few days before, but was unsuccessful. The morning he woke with scrapes on his face and all drugged up…did he try that night? The women at the theater looked at mom. They said “You mean Alison didn’t do that to him?” HE TOLD THEM I HURT HIM. THAT WE GOT INTO A FIGHT AND I HURT HIM. They thought the scrapes on his face were from me. Mom obviously told them no. I didn’t hurt him. It all started over again. The fear. The pit in my stomach. He was sick. He was mean. He was evil.

He was so sick. More sick than any of us ever knew. It’s been almost a year and I still have a hard time. It took me a long time to really believe that I didn’t do this. He chose this. He had a plan and he followed through. My text did not make him kill himself. There are so many more stories about him and the terrible things he chose to do to our family. Not just my mom and dad and me, but my extended family up north too. None of that matters now. He made his choice to end his life.

It’s been a hard year. I have grown in my relationship with God. God is who I turned to. The only way I got through all of this was prayer. I read the bible every day. Devotion after devotion. Christian music. I surrounded myself with prayer warriors. God is the only way I made it through. Dino was so sick. It’s sad. The whole thing doesn’t consume me everyday like it used to. I forgave him.

John 10:10  “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.”

Tired

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Some days I just want to crawl into a hole. Maybe a hole in Cancun Mexico where I can lay on the beach, book in hand. Sand in my toes and sun on my face.

I’m so tired. My kids don’t listen. We talk about the same things every day…all day. It’s exhausting. I try. I try kindness. I try being stern. I try spankings. I try rewards. I try praying. I’ve. Tried. Everything. So many days I feel depleted. Depleted of every ounce of of my soul. I feel angry. I feel sad. I feel overwhelmed. I feel lost. I feel nothing. I feel everything. I feel like a failure. 

Before we left for church today the kids broke my (new) vacuum and spilled hot wax from a scentsy plug-in all over my new bathroom counter. I yelled. And said things I probably shouldn’t have. You can’t take back words. I know that. So, I yelled and off we went to church. But not before my husband said “what’s the point of going to church when you just yelled and screamed like that?” Yes I yelled, I do that a lot, but we were going to church. I needed it. I needed it to heal my soul. My soul needs church every weekend. My soul needs to feel recharged and renewed. My husband doesn’t always go to church with us. He doesn’t have the same desire to grow in his relationship with God. He goes to church sometimes, but only to make me happy or so my kids can see he goes too. If he can golf or ride his motorcycle instead, he doesn’t go. I can’t change that.

So off to church we go. I lectured the kids all the way there. I dropped the kids off at child care and went in. I sat down. Empty. Tired. In a bad mood. When I got to church today I felt like a failure. I fail everyday. I feel like I try and try to make life changes, but I continue to fail. I think – is God annoyed by me? Does He think “Gosh lady, get it together already”. That’s how I feel. How can he keep forgiving me? I pray for peace and and joy and calmness, but I’m just a ball of anxiety and anger and I never know what is going to send me into a tizzy. The clothes piled up? The dog hair? The dirty floors or toys all over the place? The groceries that I never made it to the store to buy? Bills that need to be paid? Money for the book Fair (again!) I forgot snack day? The kids not listening? A smart remark from my husband? Nothing that matters really. Stupid things. I can’t seem to change myself. I try every day to be better than the day before. To be calm and peaceful. Some days are better than others. I just wish things didn’t bother me. A clean house is not important. My kids don’t have to be perfect listeners. Why do I let little things bother me? I guess I feel like I’m not in control when I can’t get things to go exactly how I think they should go.

Sometimes I wonder why I feel so broken. I have a great life and great kids and a great husband. My heart feels empty some days. I know that I need God to make me feel whole. But sometimes I feel like I am failing God, too. Do I not know how to pray right? Is he not listening to me and my desire to be a better wife and mother? What is wrong with me? Why can’t I change? I feel like I have the weight of the world on my heart and someday it’s just going to burst.

I don’t want to ruin my kids. I don’t want to push my husband away. I don’t want to make my kids feel like they have to be perfect or that they have to be exactly as I want them to be. I want them to be confident and happy children, BUT I DON’T KNOW HOW TO GET THEM TO LISTEN. I don’t want my husband to think I’m not happy, because I am. It’s exhausting to have all these things on my mind at the same time. I cant seem to shut it off. I think it’s a normal mom thing. Right? Or am I really going crazy!?!

We went to the neighbors to cook steaks over the fire. A little time outdoors, next to the fire, under the stars, can do wonders for your soul. I’m still tired, and overwhelmed, but I feel better. Nobody’s perfect. I’ll never be perfect so I shouldn’t expect my kids or my marriage to be perfect either. I’m too hard on myself some days. I don’t always have to have it all together. I’m still praying. I’m not giving up.

It’s nice to have this place to vent. Thanks for listening. 💕

Psalm 23  – The Lord is my shepard, I have all that I need.

Career Center 

February 27th- Center 

I work in a Career Center at a high school. I am a  Career Development Coordinator. I help students figure out what they want to do “when they grow up”. I work in a system where a lot of the students are at risk. What is at risk? At risk for dropping out of school. At risk of not meeting grade level proficiency. At risk of becoming pregnant, joining a gang, going to jail. Maybe. Maybe not. At risk means a lot of different things.

I believe all students have the potential to be successful. In my job, I try to match students interests with potential career opportunities. I provide students with work based learning opportunities -apprenticeships, internships, job shadowing, volunteer work, etc. I love my job, and I love the kids I serve. But, over the past 9 years I have worked with students that have dealt with things that they never should have had to at 15 years old.

One student in particular will always have a special place in my heart. She was a special child. She lived in a broken home. When I first met her she was living with her mom, but that changed. This student, lets call her A, was taken from her mom’s home and moved to her Dad’s house because her mom was living with an abusive boyfriend. Mom chose the boyfriend over her daughter. Unfortunately, things didn’t get any better at her Dad’s. At her dad’s she didn’t have electricity. Or food. Or hot water to take a bath. She didn’t have clean socks or underwear and wore the same dirty jeans every day. I was able to get her food and clothes. New underwear and bras and socks and new jeans and shirts, everything. She couldn’t wash her clothes at home, so she brought them to school for me to wash. We had a plan. Her bus driver would bring me the clothes in the morning and I would give them back to the bus driver in the afternoons. Not too long after she received her new clothes she came to me. She told me that her dad sold her new clothes…for drugs. He sold the food stamps…for money to buy drugs. She was hungry.

A  would miss school every now and then. When she came back after being absent I would ask her why she was absent. She would tell me that she had to stay home to watch her 1-year-old brother. If she didn’t stay home, the 1 year old wouldn’t have anyone to watch him because his mom and dad were too busy doing drugs. This was her half-brother from her dad and his girlfriend. The girlfriend wasnt very nice.

A came and sat with me a lot during her lunch. I kept macaroni and cheese and fruit in my office for her. I bought her deodorant and face wash. She had acne from bring malnourished. She was so thin. I cried a lot after our visits. I wanted her to know how special she was but I didn’t want her to think I felt sorry for her…but I did. I would have moved her into my house, but my husband said we just couldn’t do that.

A was not a troublemaker. She didn’t act out in school. She was quiet. She was smart. She was kind. She was one of the kids who could easily fall through the cracks and she did in a lot of her classes. Her teachers had no idea what her story was. They didn’t know that nobody took care of her or that she took care of herself and all of her younger siblings.

A graduated from high school with a B average. She told me after she graduated that I was more like a mom to her than her real mom was. We’ve kept in touch since she graduated a few years ago. She needed a car to get to work, so I gave her my old car so she could go to work. It made me happy that we were able to help her. She is still such a good kid.

The Career Center is more than a place where kids can learn about their careers. Relationships are built in my office. I’m passionate about my job and helping students see their potential. God has put me in my position to help share His love with students…at risk or not.There are so many kids like A. It’s heartbreaking and inspirational all at the same time.

Jiggle

February 26th – jiggle

I asked my husband what was the first word he thought of when I said “jiggle” – he said fat. That was the same word that came to my mind, too. 

I asked my 8 year old son what was the first word he thought of when I said “jiggle” – he said shake.

I asked my 5 year old daughter what was the first word she thought of when I said “jiggle” – she said jiggle bug. 

The adults think of something negative, but the kids just give me a definition and a cute answer. Gosh, how nice would it be to be young again and not not brainwashed by society. I hope I can raise them to be happy in their own bodies forever.

 

 

Breast or bottle?

I read this story this morning and it actually infuriated me. I am all about doing what is best for my children, but people have got to stop this breast is best crap. I never heard of the “Fed is best” organization but I agree with them 100%. Babies need to be loved and fed not starved to death because doctors pressure moms to breast feed and their mom cannot produce enough milk. I was one of the moms that couldn’t produce breastmilk and the pressure to exclusively breast feed is exhausting. I actually contribute some of my poat partum depression to not being able to breast feed and feeling like a failure of a mother right out the gate! I even had to wear some stupid tube taped to my breast that would give my baby forumla but still allowed him to “latch on” at the same time. I would wake up to a screaming, hungry, baby and I would have to spend 5 minutes getting taped up before I could feed him. I tried for 6 weeks with Aiden and then quit. I felt terrible, but it was just too much pressure and I didn’t even produce milk! Nurses and doctors need to quit pressuring moms to breastfeed. It’s not for everyone! With Addison, I tried to  week or two and quit. I wasn’t going through that again!! This story here is proof that babies need to be fed and loved – not starved until a moms boobs can produce milk! This is just terrible to read! Bottle feed for crying out loud!

Where does mommy guilt come from?

Parenting. The most rewarding yet excruciatingly difficult task I’ve ever done. My children are a blessing. I was told at 20 that I probably wouldn’t be able to have kids. If I did, I would have a hard time getting pregnant. However, I got pregnant two months after I was married! It was a huge surprise. God is good and blessed us with a healthy baby boy, Aiden. A few years later we had Addison. She wasn’t as easy, but more about that a different time. I’ve been given the most important job in the world  – Mom.

I love my kids with every ounce of my soul. They are my life. I work full time but I do everything I can do be at field trips, school celebrations, football, basketball, baseball, dance…heck we even tried karate! But – I’m not superwoman. I can’t do it all. I have a career that I will not apologize for. I went to college and earned a degree to work. Yes, I would love to be a stay at home mom…but I can’t. For the past 8 years I have held onto guilt about so many things but being a working mom is the one I struggle with the most. My son has to ride the bus because I work. He hates the bus, but I can’t pick him up in time in the afternoons, so he rides – guilt. I have missed every school party for my daughter this year because of work – guilt. When I leave to meet a girlfriend for dinner – guilt. The time I didn’t even know about the 10oth day of school celebration and Addison was supposed to wear something with 100 items on it – guilt. When I get home from work and want to rest instead of play outside – guilt. Not having a five course dinner for my family every night – guilt.

Where does mommy guilt come from and why do I put so much pressure on myself to be perfect? Part of it is my own image of what being a Mom means and the unrealistic expectations I set for myself. Part of it is I feel guilty for being tired and stressed when God has blessed me with a family…all I ever wanted!! But some of my guilt comes from comparing what I do or don’t do to others. Where do I see this? Social media. Everyday I see moms and dads posting their best pictures. Their best pictures of the best parts of their best day and their fabulous trips and activities with their kids and pictures of moms at school parties and functions and then they post their best dinners or gourmet breakfasts or their 10 mile runs and….you get the point.

I like to post about my children and husband, too. I post adorable pictures for my friends and family to see. I want to share my great life, too. But do I think about who is on the other end of that phone, computer, or tablet? The mom on the other end who is struggling with her kids, husband or family? Or the woman who can’t have kids at all who sees my children plastered all over my page? Yes, they can unfollow me and I can unfollow those moms who drive me crazy with their posts but that just hides things. It is still there, just hidden from my view or until a different person posts about their perfect life.

I don’t think we can run from it. We all strive for perfection and want others to look at us and see how wonderful our life is. We don’t want our real struggles to show so we post pictures of our husband and kids and dog and dinner. Once I saw someone post the information about the new $450,000 house they were going to buy! And, surely,  you agree that pinterest adds to mommy guilt, too?? Now I have a place to store all the unnecessary ideas that ill never have time to accomplish!! Pinterest birthday parties are crazy! Our posts (and I’m to blame myself!) show everyone our picture perfect life.  But let’s call it what it is – fake. Other moms look at our best photos and think we don’t have the worst pictures to go with it! The worst pictures that show our kids fighting with each other. Kids that don’t listen (ever!) or boxed macaroni and cheese for supper. Or, how about pictures of that dreadful laundry that has piled up to the ceiling in the laundry room??  Or pictures of the floors that need to be mopped (because they haven’t been done since Christmas!) Or, a picture of that temper tantrum that the kids had this morning that caused World War III and now everyone is grounded from EVERYTHING for the rest of their lives!!! Or, dare I say, the fit I had this morning myself because I didn’t give myself enough time to get ready so I was impatient and fussed at my kids for no reason. Our posts don’t show the fights with our husbands or hurt feelings we experienced in our friendships. It doesn’t show the real life battles.

What it does show is highlights of a fairy tale world. The world we want everyone to see. I know how I feel when I see everyone’s best life thrown around on social media but I still post my best, too. I think if moms were honest with each other about how we really feel sometimes or how hard being a mom really is, then maybe we wouldn’t feel so guilty. If I knew that I was not alone with how I felt, maybe I’d  break free from some of my guilt. I have an awesome life with awesome kids and and an awesome husband, but I don’t need a million likes to prove it. Once I start believing that my life IS as awesome as I want it to be, maybe the mommy guilt from the unawesomeness  (is that a word?)  will go away.

I’m not saying that we should stop posting our pictures, but what I am saying is that we need to remember that we ALL have the worst photos to go with the best ones. I don’t want to contribute to another mom’s guilt and I don’t want to compare myself to others and feel like I’m failing, either. All I can do each day is try to be the best mom and wife I can and show my husband and kids the love they deserve with my actions…not with my posts. Today, share with your mom friends about some of your struggles. I bet they have some to share, too. Some days are better than others. All I can do is try. The guilt thing, I’m working on.