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Thursday, December 17, 2015

What is Self-Harm? Another Mom's Story

As I continue through Mental Health March, I'd like to once again thank the bloggers AND non-bloggers who've stepped up and offered to share their experiences.

I am humbled and grateful to these wonderful people for opening up and sharing themselves on something so personal.

I've got some AMAZING guest bloggers lined up.

Today, I give you Jen from I Know Where the Village Idiot Resides.
Here is Jen's experience with self harm.
I am again, 
humbled.
Thank you, Jen.  


What is Self-Harm?

I can give you a generic answer that lists a myriad of activities or I can give you the interpretation that comes from my soul; the very core of my being. 


Yes, THAT deep.

This topic hits really close to home for me. I know people that have self-harmed; I even tried it myself when I was a teen (I’m 38 now). 

In this post, I'll be talking about the day that the world as I knew it had changed forever...


It was summer-time and my 14 year old daughter had just gotten home from cheer practice.  I looked over at her and noticed a mark on her upper arm.  It struck me odd, but I knew the signs - so I asked her about it. 
“Are you cutting?”
“No mom.”

I began to notice her wearing real rubber bands around her wrist and thought to myself “that’s odd”.


Rubber bands are a coping method for cutters.
In theory, when the urge hits they don’t cut.  Instead they snap the rubber bands. Have you ever felt it? It stings. The harder you snap them, the more it stings. 

I thought to myself,  “but She said No”.


Later that day in the drive-thru at a local burger joint, she said, “Mom, can I talk to you for a minute?” 

That’s all I remember because what came next rocked my world. 

She WAS cutting.  The beautiful child that I carried for 38 weeks inside my body was hurting herself and bleeding on purpose.

WHY??? 

This happens to other people.  Not parents like us.  We are awesome. We provided the right balance of attention and rewards (laptop, phone, ipod, etc).  How could this happen in our “normal” family?  We don’t even yell in our house unless it’s me yelling at a cat.  It truly is our kids’ soft place to fall.

Little did I know that behind that behind the evil bedroom door, bad things were happening.  I never once heard her cry. 

My daughter and I talked about why and it’s all a big jumble but it all boils down to her week-long visit that past summer with her bio dad, the feeling of r
ejection, weight issues and normal teenager stuff. 

I got her immediate therapy and she was lucky.  

Unfortunately, it didn’t last.  The medical facility that I used for her therapy was changing owners and had let her therapist go. How do you tell the kid that the person that she had grown to confide in was leaving?  My daughter took it in stride and we moved on to the next.  Again, the therapist was let go.  This time she had enough.  She said “No more!”  I have to say that I couldn’t disagree with her. I would have probably been pissed off too. 

Fast forward to winter 2011. 
She had been taking an anti-depressant for a couple of years but had stopped it due to the side effects.  She was almost 16 and was having some issues that caused her to start cutting again. 

All of those scars were literally and physically re-opened. 

It got so bad that the child begged me to hospitalize her. 

You know it’s serious when someone asks to be placed in a mental hospital.  I took her immediately and she was admitted.  Her meds were changed and she received intensive therapy.  She was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder, a blanket diagnosis given to kids under 18.

I remember crying so hard -  and often.  My heart was broken. 

It's been a long road.


My baby will be 17 on Friday.  She has come such a long way and I am so proud of her.  The scars cover both of her arms. 

Some day we will shop for a wedding dress and those scars may show.  The scars that will still be there, because they are a part of her forever.


In this I learned that no matter how good of a parent you are, you can be blindsided in a heartbeat.  (Clothes lined comes to mind). 

My daughter said every time that she cut herself, she felt like she was letting me down.  The only thing that saved my daughter was communication and sheer willpower. 

One could even say my awareness to ask the question in the first place had something to do with it.

What I DO know is I love that kid with every fiber of my being and will always fight for her.  She has become a pretty cool teenager and I am enjoying this different phase of parenting.

I still advocate for self-harm because it feels like it’s the least I can do. My kid made it and I am so lucky.  This I know.  I hope my experience helps you, or someone you know to see the signs and help someone you love.
Thank You,

Jen

Thank you again, Jen, for sharing something so close to your heart.

If you or someone you know are harming yourself in some way, please don't suffer in silence reach out!


Please call the Self Injury Hotline - SAFE at:
1-800-DONT CUT   (1-800-366-8288) 

You may also visit the website:  www.selfinjury.com

Thank you for reading my blog!

~Jenn

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

OMG, I'm 50. WAIT... OH.MY.GOSH I.AM. 5-0

So here it is...
Today.  Another birthday.

THE BIG ONE.

What the heck happened??

Holy SH*T!
I'm 50.
5-0.

How the heck did I get here??

Is my new name Ripa Van Winkle??  Did I blink too long and sleep through the past decade?

What the heck??

Scary how quickly time passes, isn't it?

I can remember my younger years, longing for the next birthday. Waiting for Christmas. Waiting for kindergarten. Waiting for high school. Waiting to get my driver's license. Waiting to be allowed to go out with a boy. Waiting to become legal to have my (eh hem) first drink. Waiting, waiting, waiting...

What am I waiting for now?? My AARP card??? Well, heck - where is it??

This past decade, specifically, has most definitely been a decade of struggle for me in many ways.  Struggling with the pain of the loss of my brother to suicide. Struggling with the stress and anxiety of my dear sweet male teenager, at the time, doing his best to kick me over the edge. (Thank God he's now an amazing functioning member of society) Struggling to hold on to my marriage during those times. Struggling with Lupus flares as a result of the stress; Years of doctors, prescriptions, pain, bizarre behavior and fear brought on by misdiagnosis, over prescription and the suggestions of a not so great outcome. Struggling with a new kind of "avoidance" that I'd never experienced before. Further struggling with the pain of what I thought were good, solid friendships blowing up - and the realization that those whom I trusted with my heart would show me how little they valued me and my friendship.
It was a lot.
But ya know what...
It wasn't all bad.  I have a great life and in the last 2 years, I've come out on the upside of struggle.
I'm THANKFUL for that past decade as it helped me to learn to use my pain in all of these situations to help others. I decided to take control over my own health care - to ditch the prescriptions.  To look at what was really going on from all angles and seeing things for what they really were, instead of what I hoped they would become or what I thought they were. I took responsibility for my own actions, stepped out and away from who or what was pulling me down, and chose to walk in a different direction.  Not the direction that looks all fun and rose colored or easy - but the direction that leads me to real true friendship, real love, real happiness and INTEGRITY.

I'm thankful for my struggles because they led me to where I am, and point me to where I am going...

I've learned that just because someone has a degree, it doesn't mean they're all knowing.
If it doesn't feel right - it's not.

I've learned to know my body, because no matter how skilled - others may not always get it right.
If it doesn't feel right - it's not.

I've learned to know my own heart and be good with the fact that not everyone knows or cares to know my heart, and that's OK.

I've learned that not everyone who says they are your friend has your best interest at heart.
If it doesn't feel right - it's not.

I've learned that it's OK to trust again, but that trust is earned.

I've learned that if someone wants to be a part of your life, they will make an effort to be there. All relationships are a two way street.
If it doesn't feel right - it's not.

I've learned that the truth means entirely different things to different people.
If it doesn't feel right - it's not.

I've learned that it's OK to keep people at arm's length when it doesn't feel right.
If it doesn't feel right - it's not.

I've learned that the past may be filled with lovely memories, but people change and as the years go by, those lovely memories become confused and things aren't always as they're remembered to be.
Sometimes the past belongs where it was, in the rear view mirror.  In the past.
If it doesn't feel right - it's not.

I've learned to let go.
If it doesn't feel right - it's not.

I've learned that when I get all wrapped up in things that seem super fun for me at the time, but really aren't good for me - God may blow it all up so that I am able to see what He really has in mind for me - and it's wonderful. I'm not being punished, I'm being blessed.

I've learned that I'm much stronger than I ever gave myself credit for.

I've learned that the things that I am given, that I don't know what to do with - God WILL give me what I need and get me through.

I've learned that sometimes the things that I am able to do, those I think of as stronger or better than me won't be able to handle it. God trusted ME, and that's amazing!

I've learned that every day it's up to me to make it a good day. To move ahead with a smile. To thank God for the blessings I DO have in my life and to appreciate the things that hurt me, because without those things and those people, I wouldn't have learned or grown into who I am - and who I am becoming. A perpetual work in progress.

I've learned (and seen) that I DO make a positive difference in this world - and that makes these 50 years SO worth it.

I've learned that I am exactly where I should be right now, at this place in my life.

It took me 50 years to get here - so I'm going to love it all up and be thankful.

So yeah, I'm 50.
Though the number tastes like vinegar rolling off my tongue, my life is sweeter than ever and I'm so thankful for that.

Cheers to another 50!  Happy, Healthy ME!
Here's to the next 50 years!!

Now where's my damn AARP card??


Thank you all for being here & for supporting my blog.

~Jenn





Special thanks to:
My amazing hubby for sticking with me through the good, the bad and the ugly - no matter how much of a pain in the ass I am & showing me unconditional love & support. (and reeling me in just before I'm about to go off the deep end)  You are my rock!   I Love you!

To my friends who I won't name out individually because I don't want to hurt anyone I don't name specifically...you know who you are. Thank you for your constant love, support, loyalty and words of wisdom. You are the essence of what true unconditional love and friendship is. Thank you for loving me just the way I am and totally getting the "Jenn" and sometimes forgiving that same "Jenn".  I Love you!!

To my wonderful and amazing children for being my inspiration.

And to my faithful blog readers ~ Although I've stopped regularly blogging on this site quite some time ago, you're still here.  Reading (even if you don't want to) and supporting still.  I don't know many of you personally - please know I love and appreciate you!

Above all to God be the glory.

Thankful!!  <3



Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Sometimes I wish I were a man.......

Don't worry.  I'm not going all Bruce/Caitlyn on you. (and I'm not joining the Navy, just love this poster)

I was away this past weekend.  Down the shore, as we call it here in Jersey, doing my favorite thing - people watching.



After a few years battling Lupus and the several pounds that medication put on my body, I've been on a big health kick.  Not so much trying to be skinny, but trying to do what I can to be pain free and around to see my kids grow and bless me with grand children.

OK, fine!  I want to be skinny and hot like I used to be in my 20's - THERE!  I've said it.  :)

It's a body image thing.  Do I look better than I did a year ago?  Yes.  2 years ago?  For certain.  5 years ago?  Damn straight!  I work my not so little butt off daily to try to get back to a smaller sized me.  And not for nothing, I look pretty damn good for someone turning 50 next month!

So maybe saying "I wish I were a man" is stretching it a bit far.  I certainly wish I could think more like one in some ways.

Mainly - Body image.

I know that everyone has their own petty insecurities over their personal body image - but men?  They may say - "Man, I'm fat," they they never let that hold them back.  They'll get out of the shower wrapped in a towel that might not quite reach all the way around them, drop that towel to the floor - flex naked in front of the mirror and strut away thinking, "Yeah, boy... you still got it."
They don't stress over the "moobs" or the beer belly or the excess hairs - they flaunt it.

Too hot out?  Shirt comes off!  Ready for a swim?  No worries about unsightly hairs or belly hanging out.

They don't give a shit!

I want to not give a shit!
The thing is, as a woman, I don't know how to not give a shit.
I mean, I know that not ALL women stress over their appearance & some truly don't give a shit.  I'm not that woman.  I wouldn't say that I stress over my appearance - it's more that I wish things were where they were supposed to be.  I want to keep that unsightly nonsense tucked neatly away.  Present a proper picture of what I think things should look like.  Let's say I won't be strutting around in a string bikini any time soon.  :)  Or ever again!


This is as close to a bikini as I get


I've lost probably 25-30 lbs (and still going) and I look in the mirror and see that my tummy is flabby & riddled with stretch marks from bearing 8 & 9 lb children.  I see that even though my "guns" are great up top and my shoulders look good, I have the bye bye arm on the bottom.  I don't see the positive - I see what still needs to be improved.
I don't have the "I don't give a shit."

This is something I though about quite a bit while walking along the beach and boardwalk with my family.

I noticed other women - some bearing all (mostly the young ones) - some keeping it all tucked away - and I wondered - How do you stop giving a shit?  When does that kick in?  Will vanity haunt me until the day I die?  Or will I finally say, ya know what...I don't give a shit.



For now, I'll just admire those who strut their stuff around thinking "yeah that's right, baby, I still got it!"  Because ya know what... You do still "got it!"

Thank you for reading my blog!

~Jenn

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Friday, August 14, 2015

Ran't on Can't

Yes, I did that 't on Rant on purpose.
It gives it a little flair, don't you think??


OK - fine it's an attention getter for my fellow grammar / spelling Nazis out there.
You're welcome.



I've become increasingly annoyed by the amount of people who throw around the "I can't" line lately.

Really? Can't?
Ever heard of Oscar Pistorius?  Maybe he's a bad example being in prison and all, BUT stay with me a moment, will you? His pending murder conviction aside, this man is a DOUBLE AMPUTEE, former Olympic SPRINTER hopeful. The loss of 2 legs did not stop him from running.  He didn't "can't" - at least not in this instance. (hard to be delicate when you use a poor example).


Clearly my blog posts aren't all well thought out and mapped out - they go from brain to finger - so ride along with me further, won't you?

The hubs and I are foster parents. In truth, which he will agree, I do all the parenting work. In any case - I get a lot of "I can't" from some of these kids about themselves, or their parents. The "they can't" nonsense. No - they/you CAN - you just choose not to. They CAN work. They CHOOSE not to. You CAN read a book. You CHOOSE not to.



Can't doesn't fly with me. It never really did. Mostly because I suffer from a long stream of "I wants" (working on that) and I am ultra persistent (read pain in the ass) and I don't generally stop until I get what I want, I take a break or I don't want it anymore. Can't has never really stepped in front of me because I kick it out of my way. Maybe that's just me.

It's a choice - Crawl under a rock or claw your way up.

Is anyone else out there feeling me on this?

I don't accept "I can't" from my kids. I push the "CAN" and "WILL".

Isn't that the way things should be?

Shouldn't we be pushing our kids to dream big?  To go get what they want & bring it home to mamma for a big GREAT JOB, and to ride that into their future?

When did things get so lax?
When did it become OK to sit back and wait for someone to give you what you need instead of getting off your arse and getting it yourself? When did "can't" become the norm and people responding to "can't" with rewards?

I don't get it.

For me, it will always be can and will.
I will teach my kids the same.

Am I crazy?

Thank you for reading my blog!

~Jenn

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Thursday, August 13, 2015

How'd your dad / brother die? Oh, they committed suicide....

It never rolls off your tongue just like that...It doesn't.

It's more awkward.
No, it's not just awkward it's totally uncomfortable to wonder how to just spit those words out.

What do you say? My dad & brother shot themselves. They took their lives. My dad & brother committed suicide. What do you say? It's been more than 30 years now. You'd think that 30 plus years would set things little at ease.

They do - the 30 years, that my dad has been gone have gotten easier. The thoughts are always there. Just not right smack in the front of my mind like they used to be - but the reminders are everywhere.
This past Saturday was my dad's birthday.
The 27th is the date that Eric will be dead for 8 years.
Yeah, I think about it. It's there. It's always there.

I don't think anyone who's been through suicide ever forgets. You remember. Everything. Every.Last.Detail. Every.Last.Second of Every.Single.Thing that you did when you heard the news.
When the phone rang. When the police showed up at the front door. Every song. Every smell. It stays with you, and you remember how it felt to not know how to say how they died.

...and you worry.
Will it happen again?

I haven't written in a while. Mostly because I didn't think I had anything to say. Then I opened my Facebook news feed and saw that someone else that I know is struggling, in the same way that I did, to not know how to say that their family member took their own life. Died by suicide.

It was at that moment that I decided to write for her and others like her. Like you. Like someone else. Struggling for the words to say - they died by suicide.

To say that they just couldn't take one more second of pain.

As always, with these types of blog posts - I implore you - if you are suffering - PLEASE - do not suffer in silence. Someone will listen to you. Someone DOES care. Someone DOES love you. Someone WILL miss you. Someone WILL struggle with the words - they died by suicide.

Please reach out.

You are loved.

Thank you for reading my blog.

~Jenn

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Wednesday, June 3, 2015

It's NOT about Bruce/Caitlyn... It's about compassion for your fellow human.

Every single damn day, I learn something new and different by being a foster parent and working with kids.

Things I didn't think I could ever deal with are right in my face.

I am most definitely NOT here to toot my own horn. This whole foster parenting thing... as rewarding as it can be can also be so incredibly draining I can't even begin to tell you. Some days, I don't know how I get through it. I'm no saint. I'm no blessing. I'm no hero. I'm just some old chick from Jersey who loves kids and wants to take the crap I had in my childhood and use it to help someone else if I'm able.

There were a lot of things I didn't think I could handle being a foster parent: drug addicted toddlers, mentally ill children, self abusers, children who couldn't dress or feed themselves at school age because they'd never been taught, children with gender confusion and kids who've just fallen through the cracks.

Some of you who read this know more about me than I want anyone to remember. You know the good, the bad, the ugly. You know the not so wonderful Jenn. The Jenn who - well wasn't someone I'm proud of. You know my "back story". I wasn't the worst person in the world - but I also wouldn't want my kids to follow in those footsteps.  Just like everyone else, I've got dark days and times I've embarrassed myself that I wish I could extinguish from the planet - but they're there. Some things are forgiven - others may totally blow up in my face one day.

It is the reason that I push on with the don't friggin' judge me (or anyone else) thing....  We've ALL got something. Even if it's a deep dark secret.
I am NOT all that and a bag of chips, and ya know what - you probably aren't either. Nothing personal - but we've all got something that we'd rather not have others know about us. That's OK.

I am all over the place with this, I know - and it will remain unedited on purpose. I've had a difficult / emotional morning that really had nothing to do with me and everything to do with a teen I'm working with. A gender "confused" teen. A teen who is seeing both the comments about the strength of Bruce Jenner's transition to Caitlyn and the horrible comments of judgment toward the same topic. It's a lot for a young person to take in.

It truly makes my heart hurt.

Genuinely...this stuff confuses me too. I've never been a woman who wanted to be with another woman.  I've never been a woman who wanted to be a man. I've pretty much always known who I am and because that knowledge is socially acceptable - I haven't had a problem. But here's this kid. A young, fragile child who doesn't know who they are. Who identifies as something completely different than how they were born - and  this person is afraid. This person has been bullied their entire lives in the skin they were born in, and ostracized for the person they are becoming. The person outside the social norm - and people are mean.

At the risk of sounding like a hypocrite, I really don't care all that much about Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner. Whater - it's not my business. If he's found happiness as she - rock on with that. I wish Caitlyn peace.


I understand this gender identity confusion seems to be crammed down everyone's throat. Thank mass media for that. Fact is that it's been going on for YEARS! Anyone recall a little ditty by the Kinks Lola??  Or  Lou Reed's Take a Walk on the Wildside? Just sayin'

I knew a family several years ago who's young son was born with both male and female organs. The parents had to make the choice how their child would be raised - male or female.  What if they were wrong? What if they removed the female organs and let the child grow up male and they were wrong - that the child was female? What if they removed the penis (I can mentally see every man reading grabbing their crotch right now, lol) and the child was male? What if Bruce Jenner & this child I know have the same issue going on but they didn't have the "benefit" of having both organs and making the choice?


Listen, I don't know what's 100% right and I'm pretty sure you don't either. I'm sure that making people feel terrible about who they are is wrong.

We've all been taught one thing or another growing up.

We ALL something in our lives that we aren't proud of or maybe want hidden.

It all comes down to basic human kindness.

At very least, you SHOULD be kind to the HUMAN dealing with whatever they are dealing with.

We are all in this together and life has a way of changing things up and smacking you upside the back of the head when you least expect it.

Kindness matters.

Just be kind.

And thank you for reading my blog!!

~Jenn

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Friday, April 10, 2015

Facebook... To Connect or Disconnect. That is the question.

I can remember hearing about Facebook for the first time.
My husband and I had been new volunteers through our area chapter of Young Life.


Our volunteer position was to pick up a high school girl and bring her to and from Young Life group meetings. We loved hearing her stories about school, and friends, and her college preparations.  It was in this discussion that she mentioned Facebook to me as a site that helped college kids meet others, etc.  I thought - wow, pretty cool and I never thought of it again.

I never thought of it again UNTIL my young son became a teenager.

When he first started out it was MySpace. Like any over protective mom of a teenaged boy who likes to step on the line, I also got an account. He accepted me on his friend's list and I kept an eye on him. All of the sudden, the page got really slow. He was "hiding" on me, but WHERE the HECK was he hiding...FACEBOOK!!


So I joined Facebook and he became my friend on Facebook as well. His friends also became my friend on Facebook, ya know - since I was the cool mom (insert eye roll here.). It was still handy in keeping the kids out of trouble and communicating as I or they needed to. I didn't bother much with it until I learned that people I hadn't seen in years might also be on Facebook too!! I'd dabbled in Classmates.com and I tripped over myself on MySpace. I was totally weirded out with Facebook until I learned that there were long lost people EVERWHERE in there! I thought, wow, this could REALLY help me to connect with people I'd love to be in touch with again. Friends that live far away. Family I hadn't seen in years. I was hooked!! I LOVED IT!! It all seemed so WONDERFUL!!
Until it wasn't.


I'd recently heard and read via other media sources that Facebook has been thought to cause depression because some people couldn't handle seeing other having better lives than them. Again, can I get an eye roll here....Sheesh.

On that level, I think it's totally ridiculous.
Who the hell cares what other people are doing? If you are so unhappy with your life that you can't stand to see others having a good life - you need to do something about that and maybe get the heck OFF Facebook.

On another level...I can totally see it.


Have you noticed how absolutely MEAN Facebook is making people?

It's as if people actually believe that they are entitled to "say" mean things to people just because they're typing the words and not actually speaking the words.

The Facebook society seems to have created this "it's all about me" mentality.

I sort of get it...Facebook IS a solo sport. I mean, really - it's you and the computer. If the computer screen isn't talking to you, than who the heck is it talking to??  And DAMN that person who posted that comment. HOW DARE THEY?

I get it, but I don't.

I recently put up a random post on my page. I didn't think it was a big deal.  It was an opinion thing, run of the mill, nothing controversial. This post incited so much anger in one person, based on another person's opinion. This other person completely internalized the comment and flat out attacked this other total stranger.

This isn't just my issue. I see more than a fair share of page administrators stating how they have to ban and block people constantly due to mean or even threatening comments based on a silly post.
Yes, of COURSE we want feedback and reactions! Do we want people attacking other people or us? NO.  For the love of all that's holy, IT'S FACEBOOK! Get a hold of yourselves!

I wonder, if this were a face to face conversation or a conversation overheard from one table to another in a diner - would this person EVER have the nerve to react in such anger toward another?

The meanness on here is relentless.

I had once been accused of being a keyboard coward, which I took with a grain of salt due to its source. Truth be told - if I have something to say, I don't hide behind my keyboard. I say what I have to say to the person.
May it come out in my blog as well?  Who knows...If the situation could help someone else - yes.  I don't feel guilty because I've already addressed it. I try to NOT do that, but if I do and you think it's you...ASK. It's probably not.

Anyway, I'm getting off topic.

The point is - that if you heard LIVE AND IN PERSON one stranger saying something to another stranger that offended you or that you didn't agree with, would you ever have the nerve to flat out blast them? Most people would not. I would not.

I don't know what gives the people the idea that it's totally OK to say the meanest things possible to someone else based on what they do and do not agree with, just because it's being typed instead of spoken.


I'm not claiming innocence. I've had my share of things that I've typed in words. In my defense, I do actually have conversations and speak the words if I'm upset or angry about something. Have I been guilty of a "poison pen" email?  Um, yes I have. In some cases I've been absolutely remorseful about what I'd said, and apologized. Other times I'm so thankful that I finally had a chance to say what I had to say without interruption and be done with it.

Does that make me better? No. As I said, I don't claim innocence.

What I am saying is that I can totally understand why Facebook is making people feel bad.

Someone will post something totally innocuous (and this is NOT just my experience, though this has been my experience in the past) and five people will decide the comment is about them and either flat out attack them on their page, attack them on their own page or attack them in real life by spouting off to others what they took the remark or shared post to mean.

I have been called negative. I have been called hypocritical. I have been called things I won't even say on here - when the fact is that sometimes I just see a post that I like for one reason or another and I share it. If it is an emotion I'm feeling at the moment - whatever. That doesn't mean it's open season on Jenn, or that I'm inciting some sort of secret battle with another. Sometimes it just is what it is - a random post.

Will I post something that can be construed as mean, or something I think is funny that others won't - yes. I probably will. Not everyone going to love everything I share or post, or even know my state of mind at the time of the post, and that's OK.

I am putting this onto myself at the moment because I can relate - but also because it's a topic that I've seen people discuss over and over and over again - shutting down their Facebook accounts because it's just so mean and petty some times.

I totally get it!

I often think, "Is it even worth it to have a Facebook account?"

Then I realize that I can't control what other people think or feel. If I don't want to see the negativity other people post, well - I can control that.

I stay because I blog. I stay because I believe that some of the things that I have to share might actually help someone else going through the same stuff, and if the crap I've been through can help someone else - great. I also like to see the lives of my friends and family that live far away. I stay for some of the reasons I had when I first learned about Facebook. To connect with the people I love and care about.

I'm not going to let the negativity of someone else take that away from me.

...instead I choose to disconnect from the drama that others seem to thrive on.  I choose to disconnect from the people or things that will hurt me or people I care about. I choose to disconnect from the meanness that I don't want in my life.  I don't see it, so it doesn't exist.

You can disconnect from all of that as well.

I wish you peace.

Thank you for reading my blog!

~Jenn


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Friday, March 27, 2015

Please don't leave. If you don't think you'll be missed, think again...

Every year around this time I get all blah...

Not only is seasonal depression still lingering, because Mother Nature can't figure out which season should be in play - I'm also rolling into the time of year that I lost my dad.


It's been 31 years.  I still miss him every day.

I'm not 100% sure this blog will be well put together or easily flowing.  It is totally unedited and will be 100% my feelings, my thoughts, my ramblings as they come out of me today - 31 years (tomorrow) after my dad killed himself.

For those of you reading for the first time - on March 28, 1984 my dad took his own life.
It's a day that is etched so far into my mind I can still close my eyes and see/feel every single moment as if it's happening over again.

Because of what I've been through, I take this time of year to tell my side of it as a way to help others who may be suffering from depression or suicidal thoughts to realize they do mean something to someone, no matter how you may feel - AND to help people like me to know that it's totally OK to still feel the pain and still not be able to make sense of any of it.

If you want to read "My Story" click here:   How Suicide Has Affected Me.  My Real Life Story


I am LUCKY to have gotten to where I am without depression, without suicidal thoughts and without full on self-destructive behavior. (though I definitely walked the line.)  I am thankful every day that I am not someone who suffers from depression.  Thankful!

I was 18 when my dad died.
Even though it's been 31 years - that's 31 years of stuff that he missed.  That I missed having him here for.  Do you know how much happens in 31 years?  How many things you're forced to figure out for yourself as a child of someone who committed suicide?  Yes, he DID miss them.  I don't want to hear that he "Didn't miss anything, he's been right there watching."  Those are the nice things people like to say when someone is mourning.  While it may be true - my dad wasn't HERE WITH ME because he CHOSE to leave - and that is what's different.  That's where the anger, sadness, pain come in.  Because he CHOSE to go.

My family life wasn't all sunshine & flowers.  I lived with my dad.  So when he was gone, it was just me to figure it out.  And it's the words of another that forced me to figure it out...

The words I'll never forget that were spoken to me.  Words that both tore me down and forced me to build myself.  "Just because your father's dead, don't think you can move back in with me."
At the time those words terrified me.  I hated and resented those words.  The felt vile and completely unloving.  My dad was all I had and he was gone.  What now?

Whatever the sentiment behind those words at the time, I'm grateful for them now as they forced me to figure it out for myself.  Those words created the survivor that I am.  I figured it out for myself because I had no choice in the matter. I'm a better / stronger person today because of those words.

Do you know what it's like to be 18 and alone with no guidance??  How about dropping some insurance money into the mix?  That alone was a recipe for disaster.

I was LUCKY.



I didn't have my dad, the perpetual voice of reason, guiding my steps.  Steering me out of trouble in his own way.

I was only 18 years old when my father committed suicide.  I'm not saying that I didn't know my dad. He was my dad, of course I knew him.  I just didn't KNOW him as one adult knows another.  I knew him as the little girl I once was.

Yes, I know... many kids lose their parents.  Losing your parent to suicide is a whole new ball game.  You don't know how to feel.  You don't know what to say.  You don't know if you should feel embarrassed or brave or protective or victimized.  It's like being naked in the middle of a crowd.  You're completely vulnerable.

I both lost it completely AND totally held it together at the same time.  Sometimes I think I still do.


Right now, I am older than my dad was when he died.  When I think about that alone, it saddens me how much he lost.  So many things he missed.

I think that's one of the things those who are suicidal don't get... the tomorrows that they will miss.  I can't say for sure as I'm lucky enough to not suffer from suicidal thoughts or depression.  Even though I've lived through the deaths of both my father and brother by suicide, I'm no expert on the subject.  I can only speak of my thoughts, feelings and the things told to me in grief counseling.

It was said that a sad person can still function.  Still cares about the day to day activities, those who need to be tended to.  A depressed person still cares, but does only what needs to be done.  If the house is on fire - they'll burn with the house.  That's a lot to take in.

All these years since my dad died, I often think about the things he's missed.  I think about the mistakes I'd made because I didn't have my dad to ask me what the hell I was thinking.  He was good at that.  He'd never tell me what or what not to do, but he'd steer me.  He was the only one that could do that.



For those of you left behind - I get you.  I feel how you feel.  Lost for answers.  Even if you got a "note" (I didn't) you still don't totally get it.  All you feel is the pain, the loss, the anger and the confusion.  I know.  It's 31 years and typing this mish mosh of feelings - I still don't get it.

If you are someone struggling, some one who thinks they won't be missed - I have news for you - YOU WILL BE MISSED.  In that split second between life & death where you make your decision - make it be the decision to live - to go on - to fight.  There is another tomorrow to figure it out.  Tomorrow may not be filled with all you've dreamed of - but if you keep dreaming, there's the next day and the next day.  One second, one minute, one hour, one day - one breath at time.

It's OK to be sad.  It's OK to feel like things just totally suck.  It's NOT OK to quit on yourself and everyone who loves you.  Just because you're not getting what you want at this second - doesn't mean the next second won't get better.  Stick around to see it.  Please.


Don't leave someone you love left behind to wonder WHY?  To be alone.  To feel the pain.  To feel the loss.  To feel the anger over and over again of the decision you made to check out.

Please talk to someone - anyone.  SOMEONE will listen.

Choose life.

Thank you for getting through this mess of feelings.

Peace & Love,

Jenn

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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Friends?

I haven't blogged regularly on this page lately.
Mostly because things like the title of this particular blog would set some people in my "real" life into orbit, deciding this blog MUST be about them.  It is my hope that by now, those people have fallen off and don't bother with my blog posts.  Fingers crossed.  :)


Friendship / false friends seem to be the theme in many of the posts I've seen across Facebook lately.  Not by men, but by women of course.  I don't say that as a negative to either of our sexes - but to the reality that we women are deeply emotional, feeling beings.  Men just shrug it off and have a beer.  It would be so nice to not feel sometimes, wouldn't it?

My old boss, a man, once told me "Jenn, not everyone is you FRIEND.  Just because you know someone doesn't make them your friend.  It makes them your acquaintance.  Friendship is earned and very few people are actually your friends."  Never was a statement more true spoken.

The posts I've seen the most speak to the loss of friendships of those that were thought to be true, loving, close as sisters friends.  Sadness of the loss of a relationship gone bad.  It's almost like mourning the death of a loved one.  It's really very sad.

I understand the pain of this type of loss.
While there are a few "friendships" I am relieved to have learned the truth about, there are a few that even though I have learned are bad for me, I do still mourn the loss of.

Is it a thing when you get to a certain age?
Is it that now that I am "this age" I know who I am and what I will and will not tolerate from another person?  Does it become a time where enough is enough and you move along?

Why now?

I don't ever remember feeling this way when I was younger.  Everything seemed to roll right off my back.  Ok, so this friend ditched me... no problem.  Let's call....whomever.  I had a ton of friends.  Or at least I thought I did.

I guess at this stage of the game I expect that if "Suzy" says she'll be at my house at 7, "Suzy" will be there.  If "Suzy" isn't there, she'll let me know in advance or at very least why she wasn't and/or accept responsibility for the situation.  Not say hey... ya know what, if you didn't ..... I'd have been there and ya know what you should just understand that and get over it.


I'm trying to exercise discretion related to an inbox session between myself and an online friend, who was recently treated badly by another friend.  Instead of the other friend just saying "I'm sorry," she turned the situation around to put it on my friend making the situation her fault.  Immature.

I'm getting off track, but acknowledging a situation (how'd I do?)

It's really all about TRUST.  The number one key factor in any relationship.

At a certain point, we should expect that the people we've chosen to love and hold in our hearts as true friends ARE true friends.  People you can trust.  People who you will know who YOU are and not get all weird about stupid stuff online or rumors circulating around town.  Real friends will CONFRONT this issue and say, "Hey... I heard...  or I saw...  What's that all about?  Are you OK?"  OR - "Hey, you really hurt me."  (If they've actually felt hurt by something you've said/done directly to them.)  It seems that if you invest the time into another person, especially years, that the other person should know who you are and respect both you and your friendship enough to not only know the truth, but to come to YOU if there's any confusion.  Why is that so hard?



I'm someone who loves with all that I have inside of me.  I'm loyal and protective.  I will do anything for my friends.  I make every effort to be involved in their lives, even if I can't see them every day.  I will defend their honor, even if I don't say so, and I will remain true to them.  Yup, just like an old dog.  :)  BUT hurt me once and I shut down.  I can/will forgive given a little time to heal.  Hurt me twice, I'm done.  I totally shut down, walk away, slam the door and lock it.  Not because I don't forgive, but because I respect myself enough to not tolerate negativity toward me.  Maybe that's not the best way to go about it, but it's what works for me.

It's funny, as I type this - although I'm writing a story about someone else's situation - it feel so personal to ME.  It feels like MY story and my mourning.  Maybe some of it is.

...Some things you just never get over.

Even when you know the relationship can no longer grow and prosper.  The loss can still be devastating.

Not just for marriage, but friendship too.
And even when you walk away, out of self preservation, the other person may NEVER see what was done or how you feel.

That may be the saddest thing of all.

Friendship IS a love relationship.  Something to hold dear.  To cherish.  To nurture & protect.

Honor your friendships.  Honor your friends.

True friends and people who genuinely love YOU are hard to come by.

Thank you for reading my blog!

~Jenn

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Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Knock, Knock, Knock... AARP Calling. Anyone home???

Helloooooooooo, Jenn....
I know you're in there OPEN THE DOOR!

I'm rapidly reaching the point where I will have completed 49 years on this planet, and the next big number is headed my way.

The BIG 5-0.  YUCK

I can run, but I can't hide.
Beats the alternative, I suppose.

Ever since the calendar has switched to the new year, I've become keenly aware that the 5 at the end of 2015 corresponds (in my brain) to the year 1965.  The year I was born and it also represents (in my brain) the 5 in the 50 that I will be turning.

I have been pondering obsessing over these years more and more.  Some good years, some not so good.  Seems like I'd have more time to work out the not so good years...but now I don't have that handy dandy youth to carry me through.  Ho hum...

I feel much like the person in the picture above - hanging on for dear life. What the heck do I have my claws sunk so deeply into?? My youth?? HA! That ship sailed somewhere within the 10 year gap between baby #1 & baby #2.  I'm not sure you know this - but mentally...I'm no grown up! Shocking I know.  No worries.  I can hang with the best of them.  Right up until 9:30 pm.


50....F.I.F.T.Y.

Nope, still not liking it.  I wasn't ready to be old(er) and menopausal and having things not sit exactly where they're supposed to on my body.  I mean, I always knew I would be older some day, and maybe I'm not really "old" yet - but...  Sheesh.  What happened to 30 something?????

Speaking of 30 something... While browsing Facebook - I saw one of my friends online & realized that it was 30 years ago that he and I worked together.  OMG... 3.0. YEARS AGO - when I was 19.

I'm much more grateful than fearful.  I'm happy.  I have everything I've ever wanted and then some. How awesome is that?

I've overcome some health issues and am in a position now where I have a good handle on my well being.  I know what I need to do when I'm feeling badly and I just do it - without the drugs that made me crazy and sicker.  Did I mention the medication made me crazy??  Well that was fun. Who needs a mid-life crisis when you can have a medically induced psychotic episode? Read sarcasm.

All in all, I have no regrets.  I believe that life plays out as it's meant to. No matter how you try to manipulate the outcome, it cycles back around to where it's supposed to be.  Amazing.

It's been a fabulous learning experience.  Many lessons hit me all at once, but they all bring me back to the same thing - this is who I am.  All of me. The good, the bad and the silly.

I've had 49 years to build this me I am - and well, creaky knees and all...
THIS IS WHO I AM.

50... Come and get me.
I'll be waiting in a glitter cat suit, drinking a margarita.

Bring it!



AARP, I'll be waiting for my card to arrive in the mail. My polyester pants will be pressed & ready and I'll be waiting (im)patiently at the door by 4:30 PM to leave for the Early Bird Special.

Don't be late. You know how we old folks hate to wait.

...Or I'll just embrace this new decade and be full on FABULOUS!

Yeah...That's more like it.  Fabulous.

I'm ready for my next 50 years.

Thank you for reading my blog!

~Jenn

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Friday, January 30, 2015

When you're not coping with the loss of a loved one

I talked to a friend the other day who's been through some pretty tragic losses one right after the other.

Their life is almost on hold because of these losses, as if what was lost no longer validated what still is.

I was without words.  I got it.

That was me not too long ago.

My brother has been gone 7 years 5 months and 2 days at this writing.  Suicide.  I remember it as if it were yesterday.  I remember how I felt hearing that he was gone.  I remember how I felt for days, weeks, months - and yes, years after he died.

I was changed forever.

I know I'm not the only person on this planet to suffer great loss.  I know so many others have had so much more and sometimes worse.  I never want to feel that pain.  Never.  I can only speak of my own.  The hole in my heart that, as I said - changed me.


That pain turned me from someone who was secure in who I was - to being somehow needy.

I was always afraid of the "who's next?"  I didn't form close attachments, because they'd leave anyway and I did my best to push (or scare) away anyone I felt close to so that I was doing the leaving.

I got caught up in behaviors that were bizarre, then I got sick.  Stress was a major factor in the Lupus that was always underlying, but I never knew was there.  Stress flared the Lupus - making me so sick.  This brought on other problems and it snowballed.  My normal was abnormal.  My world was upside down in so many areas.  I'm so thankful to my husband for not only sticking it out - but kicking my ass back into shape.  I'm also thankful for this blog and those of you who read regularly.
THIS was the perfect way to process everything.  (without therapy)  The good, the bad, the ugly and the absolutely bizarre.  Many posts I've taken down - because WHAT THE HECK??  At the time, though - I needed to say whatever it was I'd said.

Most people I surrounded myself with didn't know how badly I was struggling.  I'm not even sure my husband knew the extent I was struggling.  I talked to NO ONE about how I felt.  I surrounded myself with people who didn't really care all that much.  I mean I didn't, so why should they?  I began to accept treatment toward me that I would have never previously accepted as OK.  It wasn't OK.  On the outside - I was fine.  I could hold it together in group settings (unless there was alcohol involved).  No one saw the dark and twisty that was inside of me.    It took a while for me to realize where I was with ME, what I expected of my life and what I expected of those in my life.  I finally began to see things as they were.  To realize that real friendship shouldn't be such hard work.  It should just be and to start fresh.  Forgive what needed to be forgiven and file the rest.  Not just with others, but with myself.

It was a long road.

Looking back now - and putting this out in print and reading it - I can't believe it was so long.  I can't believe how little I cared for myself or how much damage I did to myself in so many ways when all I really had to do was ask for help.

Never once did I ask anyone to talk with me about what I was going through.  I was ignoring it.  Trying to push through the pain.  Brave.

If you are here - don't be brave.

Don't let YEARS of your life go by in grieving.  TALK TO SOMEONE.  ANYONE.

Don't be like me.

I regret nothing in my life.  I look at everything as a lesson or a page/chapter in the book of me, but honestly - reading back, I wish there were more entries of joy and happiness than sadness and pain.

I want your pages to be filled with joy and happiness too.

Because what's gone is gone.  Truly.

Love with all you have and you will never have any regrets.

And if you're sad - talk about it.

Thank you for reading my blog!!

~Jenn