Category Archives: Motherhood

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She Recovers NYC 2017

I remember reading A Year Without Alcohol by Kelly Fitzgerald, now Kelly Junco, and thinking “Holy shit, this girl has some balls”.  It was 2014 and I was around three months sober when I read her blog sharing about her year without alcohol and how great she felt now that she was sober. She even posted pics of herself all wasted. I couldn’t believe someone could be so brave, I was shocked and inspired. She was the first person I saw that was recovering out loud, like REALLY loud. There was no way I could ever do that, but I thought she was amazing and I wanted to be just like her. Except for the recovering out loud part.

 

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Kelly aka The Sober Senorita

I followed her though out my first year sober all the way up to my relapse on May 18th, 2015. It was soon after my relapse that I knew in my heart and mind that I had to share my story. It was the scariest thing I had ever done, being so open and honest, how would people respond? What would they say? But, I remembered Kelly and how she did it and if she could, maybe I could too. On October of 2015 I had the chance to meet her In Washington D.C. for the Unite To Face Addiction Rally. I kind of felt like a groupie lol.

 

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Holly creator of Hip Sobriety

I found that after I started sharing my story openly I began to connect with so many other women sharing their story too!  I found Holly Whitaker creator of Hip Sobriety and I knew I had to contact her. We had a brief phone conversation where she assured me I was on the right path and if I needed anything from her to call her but that I was already doing an a great job. Who would have guessed a few months after that conversation she  would ask me to be on the HOME podcast! Craziness!

 

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Marianne Williamson

Since then I have connected with so many women, some in recovery, some still trying to figure out their path and some have just been there for me when I was struggling. The online recovery community has been such a huge part of my journey. Not only do I have friends that are near by but I can go to any part of the country and have a friend that would probably make me coffee and let me sleep on her couch if I asked. And I would do the same for them in a heartbeat!

 

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Dawn Nickel creator of She Recovers

So when I heard that there would be a She Recovers conference in New York City I knew I had to be there. 500 other women like me?!?! As Dawn Nickel the creator of She Recovers says “We are all recovering from something” and she’s right. We are all recovering from something, we just don’t always talk about it. But here was our chance to come together as one, to talk about the hard stuff, to be with others that truly get it. To finally meet the ones that we’ve only connected with and admired from afar.

What A Magical Experience It Was!!

I got to see Kelly again and this time I didn’t feel like a groupie, it felt like old friends catching up. And I got to finally meet Holly. I got to meet Laura Ward of Quit Wining another mom in recovery that I follow and look up to. I met sober bloggers that I’ve been following and admiring finally IRL! I met Heidi Smith creator of Addicitive Designs, another one that I totally love and look up to. I met so many of the women that I’ve only chatted with on Instagram. In case you didn’t know, there is a HUGE recovery community on Instagram. It was incredible! I had multiple women ask how my son is doing, and they genuinely care. It felt like a room full of friends that had know each other forever. Not only that but we got to hear Glennon Doyle Melton, Gabby Bernstein, Elizabeth Vsargus, Elena Brower, Marianne Williamson, and a few other amazing ladies.

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Sober Bloggers

I’m still amazed by it!!

 

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Heidi of Addictive Designs

One of the best parts of the conference was on Friday evening when it had just began, I was filling up my water cup when a woman slowly walking by asks me if I’m Melissa. I told her I was and the look on her face makes me cry just thinking about it. She goes into saying how she has followed my blog and listened to my episode on the podcast and how much it has helped her. I wasn’t expecting that and I’m at a loss for words to describe how her words made me feel. Full of gratitude.  That right there is why I do this, if my story helps even one woman have hope then it’s all worth it. My biggest fear when coming out with my truth has been the fear of being judged, but when I hear someone say the things she said,  I know I’m on the right path.

I’m never alone! 

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Sober Bloggers

There just aren’t enough words to describe the experience. The conference reminded me that I’m never alone on this path, ever. None of us are ever alone. And when we speak our truth, we give others the courage to speak theirs too. Just like Kelly (The Sober Señorita)  did for me. I will be forever grateful for the women that came before lighting up the path letting women know it’s ok to own our stories and tell it like we don’t give a f^*k what others think.  Can’t wait for the next conference!!

The Bigger Picture

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Pic credit: 13 Reasons Why Trailer, Youtube.com

I feel like it’s been forever since I’ve written anything. Life is so crazy busy lately, I sometimes have barely anytime to breathe. It’s a good kind of busy. I can’t complain, my life is full today. When I finally get the kids to sleep and I fall into bed, the last thing I want to do is think or write or read. Most nights I don’t even want to watch tv, but I’m not gonna lie, I love me some Netflix.

This week I’ve fallen deep into the show 13 Reasons Why and I’m hooked. It’s about a teenage girl who commits suicide but leaves behind tapes for all the people that had a part in what lead up to her death. It’s so good, and so creepy. It takes me back to my suicide attempt when I was a teenager in high school. I will write about that another time when I am ready. So, I’m watching this show and all I can think of are the parents, how incredibly difficult it must be to live on without your child, not knowing why. Always wondering what you could have done differently. I thank God my suicide attempt was not successful, although throughout my struggles with addiction to drugs/alcohol, I didn’t always feel so thankful.

Last night was Sunday night, a school night, the kids were exhausted and so I had them go to bed earlier than they normally would. Which left me a couple of hours to watch tv without feeling like I was up too late past my bedtime. I love my sleep and my early bedtime. I stayed up past my bedtime, I just couldn’t bring myself to turn off the tv. I was memorized by this show. Finally I made myself turn it off. I got up to turn on my fan and made a stop at the restroom before falling back into bed. I leave the door open with the bathroom light off.

My daughters room is directly across from the bathroom. Her lamp is on and her fan is blowing full speed (her choice) and a little piece of paper she taped to her door is lightly hitting it. I notice the paper flapping in the wind, I can’t see the color of it but I can hear it lightly tapping the door. Within seconds of noticing the paper, it falls. It floats softly to the carpet in the hallway. I think to myself “How strange”, it’s been flapping up against the door for at least two hours and suddenly now it decides to fall. Right as I’m watching it, it falls. I stare at the paper for a few seconds trying to make out the color. Maybe pink, maybe purple.

I go to her door and stare at her. She is sound asleep with her favorite Trolls doll covering her, pink sheets and pillow cases. She looked so peaceful. I suddenly felt like I was in another dimension. It’s so difficult to explain now that the moment has passed. I probably couldn’t have explained it even if I was still in the moment. I went back to bed and my mind was still wandering as if I was somewhere else, somewhere other than my room or my house, or even this world. I felt a strong urge to write what I was feeling and thinking, so I did. This is what I wrote with no holding back and no editing:

 

She has her troll blanket covering her. She looks peaceful. Suddenly I feel like I’m in another dimension. We are in two separate dimensions. I don’t see her as my daughter. I see her as a human being on her own journey, here for her own purpose, one that has nothing to do with me. Or maybe it does. I don’t know. But I see her separate from me. Her own thoughts, her own feelings, her own dreams and fears. 

I get into bed and I think to myself how in the morning I will wake her up and she will dress herself and it won’t matter it doesn’t match, it never matches. That’s who she is. And I want to enjoy this part of her that doesn’t care if people like what she is wearing because all that matters is she likes it. In her mind it matches. 

Then I feel my mind reaching for the bigger picture. It’s so close I can almost touch it. Where do we go from school? Where will the road take us? Where will this road take her? One day I won’t be here to hug her and tell her how much I love her. But, when will that be? The bigger picture is there. i can almost see it. I wish I could see it now. 

I always hear “Enjoy these times while they last” and I try to remember that when I am frustrated. One day the house will empty. Where will she be then?

I’m watching 13 Reasons Why. It makes me wonder, what if she is the first to go? What if this world is too cruel and she has to leave. Where will I be?

Tears roll down my cheeks. “I love you to the moon and back” I say before she sleeps. So much it hurts to think of us being apart ever. Ever again. 

The bigger picture is near. If I look hard enough will I be able to see it? It’s there in the corner of my mind. So close. 

The bigger picture is there. Somewhere. One day I’ll see it, know it, and touch it. One day. Someday. 

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I don’t know where the words came from. I don’t know the feeling I had or why I felt as if I was floating or sleeping with my eyes open. I can’t explain the experience, all I know is it happened. Maybe the show brought up so much emotion in me that it felt like an out of body experience.

What I do know is I love my daughter and my son more than words can explain and I couldn’t imagine ever being in this world without them. I say a special prayer for the parents living in this world with part of their heart missing. I say a special prayer for my dear friend Lisa L. who keeps a smile on her face when I know all she wants to do is hide in her bed and cry.

 

Death Becomes Her

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That is a picture I took of myself to show my mom just how bad I was feeling at that exact moment. I look like sh^t and felt even worse. I put on Facebook the only way I knew to best describe how I felt was, Death Becomes Her. I’ve never had the flu. I NEVER want to have it again!!!

When my son told me he didn’t feel well this past Monday I took him to the doctor and was surprised when they said he tested positive for the flu. He had just tested positive for strep throat four days prior and was still on antibiotics. Seriously?!?! While I was at the doctors office I got a steroid shot because my allergies had been acting up for a while now and it had been over a year since I’d had a shot. The doctor said she was worried about me getting the flu too and prescribed me Tamiflu. I looked at the doctor like she was crazy. I don’t need Tamiflu, I don’t get the flu. This is only allergies. Yes, I feel like I’m dying but it’s JUST allergies. Denial denial denial.

That was Monday, today is Saturday, and I’m finally starting to see light at the end of the tunnel. Finally. This week has been the worst. I never knew that laying in bed could actually be painful. It was impossible to get comfortable. Sleep did not come easily. I felt like I’d ran a marathon, my legs hurt like hell. My wrists even hurt, what is that?!?!

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Even though me and my son were down for the week, I still had my daughter to take care of and get back and forth to school. On Wednesday morning my daughter got herself up and ready for school and asked if I was going to take her to school. I laid in bed with 103 temperature dreading the drive two blocks away to her school. “You can stay home today baby.” If it had been my son he would have jumped at the chance to stay home. Not my daughter. She innocently shook her head and said “No mommy, I want to go to school.” So I dragged myself out of bed and got in the car. That was THE longest drive ever!

We pulled up to the school twenty minutes late. I hunched over the steering wheel trying really hard not to puke. I watched her eagerly run to the front door, purple dress and pink tights, tie dye Little Mermaid backpack, hair flowing. Her little legs running as fast as they could. I had a moment right then. An overwhelming wave of gratitude washed over me. There I was feeling like death but all I could think about was how grateful I am for my life, for my babies, for the fact that my daughter chose school over staying home. That was a sweet moment. 

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One morning (not sure which one, the whole week is a blur) I sat on the couch with my son in the dark, tv off, drinking pedialyte from the bottle. Unable to sleep, I just sat there feeling worse than I have in a long time, I had a flashback. I went back to to the time I thought it a good idea to mix rum and pedialyte together in hopes of not having a ridiculous hangover. I went back to the many times I sat in the dark hungover and unable to sleep, guilt and shame consuming my every thought.

Damn flu! Damn flashbacks! Snapped out of that real quick!

Anyway, that’s been my week. My first experience with the flu and hopefully my last. My kids are well and I’m seeing light at the end of the tunnel. Thank goodness! As my friend says, this was my body’s way of telling me I needed to slow down and rest. My body doesn’t have to be so damn dramatic to gets it’s point across lol. Now excuse me while I go put onions in my socks.

 

 

 

Two Years Ago Today

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Today is January 31, 2017. Everyday I go onto Facebook and I see my “memories”,  I click on it and I get to see what I posted on that day in the previous years. Sometimes the memories are fun to see and some not so much. This day two years ago is probably a day I will never forget. It was the beginning of a downward spiral that would lead to my rock bottom. On January 31, 2015 I posted this:

“It’s a bitter sweet morning. I have been asking for prayers that my son get the help he needs and last night those prayers were answered. Yesterdays events was the last straw, he had become a danger to himself and others, especially his sister. I don’t know what’s going on in that mind of his, but the help that he will be receiving is exactly what he needs and I’ve been working on getting for him. The process was just sped up yesterday. He is in an inpatient behavioral health program that is for children 5-12. Although I know this is what he needs, it was so hard to leave him there last night. I am so thankful for all of your support and prayers. I wouldn’t be able to make it through this difficult time if it wasn’t for such supportive friends and family.”

That was a really difficult time, to say the least. I would celebrate one year sober a few weeks later on February 10th. I kept a smile on my face but I was struggling mentally and emotionally. He was released unexpectedly and too soon in my opinion from the hospital eight weeks later on March 31st. Nothing had changed. I was still at the school every other day and slept with one eye open afraid of what to come if I let my guard down. I tried to keep it together but by the middle of May, just days after I came home from my first She Recovers retreat,  I hit a wall. My kids would be removed from my home after a relapse that lasted twenty four hours. That was my rock bottom.

So when I read that “memory” this morning, all of those feelings of despair, hopelessness, and frustration came back. I’ve been in a funk all day. Besides not feeling well physically, I feel weighed down and overwhelmed. Why? Because I’m still dealing with the same stuff as I was that day! Maybe not to the same extreme, not really, but definitely close! I keep wondering when and if this craziness will ever end. Will there always be this weight on my shoulders? This time though I know that I don’t have to keep a big smile on my face when shit sucks but I have to remind myself of that. Out of habit I will give the smile along with “I’m fine”. When really I want to lay up in my bed and hide out.

Today I know that self care comes first. I listened to my body today by canceling  an appointment because my body told me to STOP.  Today I will write what I am feeling because then those damn feelings don’t have so much control over me. Today I will breathe deep and know that bedtime is coming soon. Today I know that I am not alone even if my mind tries to tell me that I am and even if it feels like I am, I am not alone. I will not make the same mistakes I have in the past. I won’t let it get to me. I won’t let it bring me down.

Tomorrow I will make time for a yoga class. Tomorrow is a new day. Tomorrow I will put one foot in front of the other just like I did today.

Today I breathe. 

37 Years Old

IMG_1534I turned 37 years old yesterday, January 29th 2017. It was also 621 days sober for me. Longest I have ever gone without a sip of alcohol.  It’s really is crazy to think how different life is these days. Had it been four or five years ago I would have been at the bar, kids at the sitter and I would have drank til I blacked out.  Of course the next morning I would have to piece together the night before and nursed my hangover, which more than likely included more alcohol. So grateful I don’t live that way anymore.

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Instead I woke up and went to work. My boyfriend and my kids surprised me at work with flowers, cards, a balloon and a cupcake. I waited on friends who tipped me well and to top it off my boss and my coworkers got me a $50 gift certificate to my favorite yoga shop. I finished off the day with a nice dinner at a yummy steak house.

Life is good today. I have so much to be grateful for. I’ve come a long way from where I used to be. Heck, life this time last year was completely different. On my 36th birthday I was only allowed one hour with my kids in a counselors office for a therapeutic visit. One hour!! Talk about coming a long way!

Life is FAR from perfect though. My relationship has it’s ups and downs (mainly because I can be a huge pain in the ass), my son has his own issues, life is crazy busy I barely have time to breathe at times, but overall I’m a lucky girl. None of this life would be possible if it wasn’t for recovery. If I didn’t wake up everyday and choose my kids, choose sobriety, choose LIFE, I wouldn’t have any of it. I have to make the conscious decision to keep going, even on the hard days. Because even on the hard days, recovery is always worth it.

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Tomorrow Is A New Day

 

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I’ve been on the verge of tears the whole day. My mind is crazy wondering what I could have done differently. I try to remember this isn’t my fault. Or is it? All I know is I wish I knew how to help my son.

I walked through a cemetery yesterday morning with my son looking at children’s graves wondering aloud what happened to those kids. Young boys. A  little girl. I told my son I bet their mom misses them. He didn’t seem impressed.

His cries echoed through the halls as I signed him into the hospital. How could we be there again? Why is this happening again?!?! Why? 

I went to a yoga class this afternoon to quiet my mind. At the beginning of the class the teacher says to set an intention, or dedicate our practice to a person. I’ve never had an instructor suggest dedicating a class to a person, but I knew it was meant to be for my son. I held back tears throughout the class. I let them flow when the lights went down at the end. My son is on his own path and I will always be by his side, but I have to remember to be ok even when he’s not. Easier said than done.

My dear friend who lost her son to suicide a little over year ago showed up on my door with a card and flowers. She’s one of the strongest women I know, if not the strongest. I think of her when times get rough with my son. My phone has been going off all day with kind words from friends. Thank God I’m never alone.

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My 2016 Year End Review

I tend to compare myself to others in the blogging community and I feel less than, I don’t feel like I quite measure up to all the others. I don’t always know where to put commas and I know my grammar isn’t the best, I don’t have a way with words and I’m not an expert at anything. So when I see others doing so well with their writing I kinda feel less than. Stupid I know but I’m human, it happens.

A few weeks ago I asked a friend if she thought I should stop writing on my blog. Her response was no. She explained that one of these days someone may need my help and how it would help for them to be able to read about where it all started and how I got to where I am. Because one of these days I won’t have a probation officer breathing down my neck, I won’t have to breathe in a machine in order to start my car, and the days when DHS visited my house will be so far gone it might be difficult to explain to a woman struggling that “Hey, I’ve been there done that and I made it out alive”, so to have the proof from all the blog posts could somehow someway help someone. And who gives a F*^K about my grammar and punctuation anyway!

 

This is ME! Perfectly imperfect.

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I have seen so many blog posts about how to make it through the holiday and they are all great, so I didn’t see any need to add another to the long list of “How To’s” instead I decided to do a 2016 year end review. I went back through all my photos and posts from 2016 and holy shit I’ve come a long way. It was such a great reminder of all the freaking amazing things that have happened this year. Maybe years from now someone can look at my blog and see that I’ve gone through hell and come out the other side better than before and think to themselves “If she can then maybe I can too!”

 

This time last year I had no kids, a not so great relationship with the foster parents, an ankle monitor on me, a curfew, and I was scared to death I’d never make it out the hell I called life. Today things are so different. I made a list of some of my favorite things that happened this year. No particular order.

Here’s a few things that happened this year! 

I got this thing off!

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Holy shitballs, wearing that thing sucked! I had to wear it for four months as part of the punishment for violating my probation. I had to drive two hours to the place that took it off and I made it there before 7am. To say I was ready to get it off would be understatement. Thank goodness I had to wear it during the winter months! It’s the little things.

 

I was asked to share my story on the HOME podcast!!

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I mean if that’s not cool then I don’t know what is! Holly Whitaker creator of Hip Sobriety sent me a text asking if I’d be interested in telling my story on her and Laura’s podcast and that I could think about it and let her know. There was no thinking about it, hell yeah i wanted to be on it. It was so healing telling my story to them and to so many others. I look up to these women and there they were asking me to tell my story, my messy ugly story. *MIND BLOWN*  The episode came out one year to the day my kids were removed from my home. It wasn’t planned that way but God works in mysterical ways. The picture is of me and my daughter on Easter at my house on the porch. She had to go back to the fosters house that day but my dear friend Melissa took this picture while we had a special moment. I’ll never be able to thank Melissa enough for taking this picture. I’ll cherish it forever.

 

 

My kids saw their new house and new rooms for the first time!

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The picture says it all. After they were taken away I realized that it was time to move and start fresh. I loved the other house but too much had happened there. Too many nights spent intoxicated. Too many hangovers there. Me and my daughter shared a room, my son felt like it was us against him. Plus that was the house that DHS had come to take them away two times. It was time to start fresh. I fixed up their rooms knowing they would come home eventually but also worried they never would. These are the pictures I took of them as they toured our new house. The perfect house for just us three.

 

 

I bought a car for the first time ever in only my name!

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I drove illegally for many years. No license, no insurance, no tags.  And I definitely wasn’t working towards getting a car of my own, I always had a cosigner. This past summer I signed the papers for my own vehicle and a freaking minivan at that. Craziness. The van was super clean except for this little movie theater ticket stub from the movie Miracles From Heaven. As I stood by the van alone I picked up the ticket, looked up and said thank you God. Today I get to drive around a million kids and I love it!

 

 

I celebrated a year sober on May 19th, 2016!!!

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My kids came home full time May 11th, 2016 and on May 19th I celebrated a year sober. As I stood at the podium and the room full of people sang happy birthday to me, my beautiful daughter walked down the long isle with a cupcake and a lit number one candle. I was crying my eyes out. I got a few words out but speaking wasn’t easy as tears of gratitude ran down my face. Makes me so emotional now thinking about it.

 

My recovery Facebook page was page of the day on the SHE RECOVERS page!!

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Holy shitballs is all I have to say about that!! What else is there to say?!?!

 

 

I started a nonprofit!!!

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It’s called Clean Life.Clean Home. and it’s my way of spreading hope and shining the light on the other side of addiction we so rarely see, RECOVERY. I know I’m only one person but I can still make a difference, even a small one. I hope by doing this the stigma around addiction will fade away and people in recovery can hold their heads high instead of hiding in the shadows afraid of being judged. Plus I get to meet some really awesome ladies like Bonnie who is in the picture above. God put her in my life at the exact moment I needed her. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for 2017 and I can’t wait to meet so many more incredible people living life one day at a time.

 

 

I got to go to Austin to meet some really amazing ladies!!

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Recovering out loud and sharing my story has connected me to some really really cool ladies in recovery. Here are some of my new friends that I’ve met on this journey. Love you ladies!!

 

 

I was asked to share my Survivor Story on Addictive Designs 

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Heidi Smith creator of Addictive Designs asked me to be one of the 25 people to share their survivor stories on their page to help raise money for the women and children at the long term facility in Vancouver. 25 stories in the month of December to help provide Christmas gifts for the women and children. What a blessing it is to be apart of an amazing cause. How crazy it is to be asked to apart of something so far away. Just shows you never know who you’ll help by sharing your story.

 

Me and the fosters have a great relationship now!!

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If you had told me a year ago we’d all be taking a picture together I would have said YEAH RIGHT!!  But here we are. All together.  Christmas 2016, fosters, bio, grandmother, boyfriend, and all the kids we all love so dearly. Amazing things can happen when you put your pride to side and work together as a family. The way it should be. Blessed!!

 

 

Well there ya have it!!  My 2016 year end review. When people say don’t leave before the miracle happens, don’t leave before the miracle happens! You have no idea what is in store for you if you choose recovery. It’s so crazy how things can work out.

I hope one of these days my kids will read this and see their mom may have screwed up, she may have screwed up a lot and big time, but she got up and kept going. Most of all, I hope they see how much their mom loved them with all her heart. Here’s to 2017 and all the blessings it has in store!!

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Is Your Child Struggling?

It’s 3am and I am having a difficult time sleeping, I can’t stop thinking about the conversations I had with some friends tonight and over the last month. I’ve had four different people reach out to me wanting to know what to do for their child or to let me know that their child is struggling  just like son has struggled in the past. I have been open about my struggles with alcohol but I have recently spoken out about living with a child that deals with anger issues along with what I believe is severe anxiety. These boys are angry, they are suicidal, they are violent, they are depressed and anxious, they are cutting themselves. And these boys are not even in high school yet. It’s a scary thing to hear your own child say he wants to kill himself. Or as my son has said in the past “I want to run in the street and not look both ways.”

I remember before my kids were taken away in May of 2015, it had gotten to the point one night I told my then sponsor “If my son is awake then I won’t go to sleep” I was literally afraid of what my son would do to me if I was asleep and he was in one of his angry fits. I had pictures in my mind of him stabbing me in my sleep. He was 7. By May of 2015 my son was not allowed to be at the school past 1030am because his fits at seemed to escalate by mid morning and the school he attended wasn’t equipped to deal with his behavior. I was exhausted trying to hold down a job and be at the school every time they called to tell me to come get my kid. I walked around on eggshells trying not to upset him, anything I could do to prevent a fit. Anything would set him off though, it was like a ticking time bomb. I had to take everything out of his room, not to punish him but so that he couldn’t hurt himself with it, sharp items HAD to be taken out. It was insanity. I was doing it alone and I was about to break.

I was tired. I was exhausted:mentally, physically, and emotionally. I hit a wall and I relapsed. My kids were taken to live with a foster family while I put my life and myself back together. My kids came back home full time in May of 2016 and I thought that things were going to be great this time, that we had worked out our issues and that this time would be different. I had worked hard to build up my self esteem so that if there were any issues I’d be able to handle it. Five months later I was having a breakdown outside a mental hospital on the phone with my caseworker wondering how the hell we got here again. “I am only one person” I remember saying while hysterically crying to her as my son sat in my car refusing to get out, strapping himself to the seat yelling to me how much he hated me and wanted me to die. You can only hear “I hate you” and “I want to kill you” so many times before you breakdown. All my hard work on self esteem destroyed by an 8 year old.

I can’t help but wonder what is going on with our children that causes them to act out in such hurtful ways, is it the schools and the way we expect all kids to fit into a one size fits all box? I believe it has something to do with it. In this article Schools Putting Too Much Pressure On Kids, Kay Mcspadden says “Sadly, the rewrite of NCLB rushing through Congress reaffirms that commitment to testing. Despite the harm to our children, as long as the education reformers – and the testing industry – have a heavy hand in influencing public policy, time for play will be all too rare.”

What I do know is if you live with a child that is struggling I promise you aren’t the only parent going through it. I felt so alone before, I felt like I was the only one that had a child that behaved this way. I am grateful I know different now. A few things you can do if you’re child is displaying some of the behavior I am speaking about:

  • Ask For Help

    This is huge! Asking for help in this situation could mean the difference between sanity and a mental breakdown. Trust me I’ve been there! You don’t have to lose your damn mind before people finally see that you need help and are struggling, you can ask for it before shit hits the fan. If you ask someone for help and the answer is no, it doesn’t mean that the answer is ALWAYS no, keep asking! I tend to forget that everyone is fighting a battle we know nothing about so I don’t need take everything so personal. One NO doesn’t mean always a NO. That make sense?

 

  • Take Care Of Yourself First

    Have you heard the saying, when the plane is going down you put the oxygen mask on yourself first, otherwise there is no way you can help anyone else? Especially if you are in recovery and dealing with child that has special needs, you HAVE to take care of yourself and your sobriety first before you are any good to your child. If I’m not careful I will push everything to the side to focus on my son and his needs, even my other child. I will put everything on hold just to make sure he is fine and his needs are met. Not a good idea!! I have to put myself in check sometimes when I feel the tunnel vision creeping up.

 

  • Search For A Meeting

    There is a meeting for everything these days, it’s a good way to get out of your head and build your support system. Find support in your area on the National Parent Helpline and Mental Health America. I have attended multiple meetings for parents that have loved ones that suffer mental illness and I’ve made some friends that I can contact when I need help, I know they “get it” when I tell them what’s going on. It helps.

 

  • Have A Support System

    You need to have at least four people you can call on when trouble hits. These people need to know what’s going on and I recommend they be close by. Obviously the more people in your support group the better but have a few that are close by and can be there quickly if an emergency arises. I have at least three to four people in my neighborhood that could be at my in minutes if I need them. I am blessed to have people that have seen what happens when things get crazy and are willing to be there if and when I need help. Like I said asking for help isn’t easy but worth it. Attending local meetings with people that understand is a great way to build that support system. Situations get real ugly real quick (at least in my house) and having people close by could be a life saver.

 

  • Call Local Mental Hospitals

    I know the thought of having your child go inpatient is scary but it could be what saves their life. Know where your local hospitals are and have their numbers saved in your phone. When it’s your child’s life that is on the line you can never be too safe. If your child says he wants to kill himself ,BELIEVE THEM! Maybe it’s out of anger and frustration. Maybe they mean it. Do you really want to take that chance? Let the hospital know exactly what’s going on, if they know the whole truth then your child can get the help they need.

 

  • Guilt And Shame Won’t Help Your Child

    Maybe  your child has been through a lot with your addiction, but beating yourself up for the past does no good for you or your child. Forgive yourself and move forward. Easier said than done I totally get it. But in order for the family to heal, guilt and shame can not be control.

I understand the pain a parent is feeling when they reach out and tell me their child is hurting themselves. It’s a pain I would never wish on anyone. Knowing you’re not alone is a big deal. I wish I had known before I hit bottom that there were other parents out there dealing with the same thing I was, maybe speaking out will help another parent from hitting rock bottom. If you’re child is struggling and you need someone to talk to I am here for you. I understand. I get it.

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Me and my daughter hugging on my son after his basketball team lost their last game.

 

Paying It Forward

Every month I go to court for the program that I am in called community sentencing. It’s basically like drug court but I only have to go to court once a month instead of once a week. It’s a pretty simple program as long as you do what you follow the rules. Don’t drink or do drugs, pass your UA’s, don’t miss any of your therapy appointments, show up to court and office visits. Simple, yet so many people have a difficult time with it and end up back in jail. I’ve been in the program a year now and have had no sanctions. Less than a year to go!

Today I had court. 575 days sober, the judge always asks when we go to the podium how many days we have sober so I have to check my sober app before I go in. I don’t keep track of the days anymore. I don’t count the days, I make the days count. Cheesy but true! Anyway the judge called me up to the podium and says “So I hear you’re famous! I saw you were in the paper!” I just laughed and he told me to talk about my nonprofit Clean Life.Clean Home. I told the judge and everyone in the court room all about my nonprofit I started back in May of 2016. Talked about how I clean for moms and dads in recovery as a way to give back and to shed some light on the other side of addiction people rarely see, RECOVERY.

My probation officer and the judge gave me a gift card to Walmart for all my hard work. It was a proud moment for me. Just a year ago I stood in front of the same judge while he explained to me that I had run out of chances and that if I screwed up again I would without a doubt spend some time in prison. Years! And there I was today being congratulated and rewarded. What a great moment! I am proud of myself!

I had no idea what starting this nonprofit would be like and I’m still kind of going with the flow. I’m super excited to see what 2017 has in store. It’s a really good feeling to be giving back to other parents in recovery. It’s just a good feeling overall to be doing something nice for someone else. Plus I am meeting some super amazing women that are kicking addictions ass! I don’t know if I would have met these women had it not been for sharing my story out loud and starting CLCH. Grateful for all these new friendships.

Sobriety delivers all the things alcohol promised. Happiness, inner peace, self respect. All the things I searched for many years in the bottom of a bottle. Life is good today. Happy.

This is Lori, she’s the sober mommy I cleaned for this morning. I absolutely love her! Here’s her story shared on the website and on Facebook

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“This is Lori. She is the next person in recovery to receive a clean home. I had the privilege of sitting down with her this evening to hear her testimony of redemption. Her story breaks my heart and inspires me at the same time. After a long horrific addiction to meth she is now five years clean. In the middle of her addiction she became pregnant by the man she is newly married to, but at that time she had only just met him and was still heavily addicted to meth. She decided to give her baby up for adoption. She cries as she tells me about her daughter who she has only seen five times but never sober. Lori says “I broke my heart so I didn’t have to break hers”. She knew she wasn’t ready to give up the drugs and didn’t want to expose her daughter to that kind of life so she gave her baby up to a very loving and forgiving couple who still lets Lori have contact, even though Lori has decided to let them live their lives and let God decide when the time is right for her to see her daughter. Lori is now an active member in NA and sponsors 4 women. Her and her husband just got married October 30th. She works with the homeless, helping them get benefits and she is working to fight stigma on #mentalillness Her husband owns his own business and has been sober for over five years too. Jail, prostitution, meth, abusive ex husband, giving up her daughter.. but an unwavering faith in God has brought her to where she is now. Sober, happy, and full of hope. Lori is a beautiful soul and I’m so grateful to have met her. She is a true example of what recovery can be if you just give it a chance. Doesn’t matter how far you’ve gone down, #recoveryispossible

Dear God, Help Me. My Son Is Just Like Me!

image10:30am this morning I look at my phone, it’s ringing, it’s my sons school again. My heart sinks into my stomach. I sigh as a wave of anxiety comes over me. Again?!? I answer it and it’s his teacher, one of his teachers. He’s throwing things and threatening to run away from the school. The principal is not there and they need me to come asap. I say I’ll be right there. I’m working. I clean houses part time during the week, I work for myself, so I can just leave when the school calls me. I look around at what is left to be done and for a moment I think to myself “maybe he can go back to the fosters parents home, I’m sick of him.” I don’t mean it. I clean up a few things and load up my van and head to the school.

I’m pissed. I’m so over it. I’m exhausted. It’s only been three days since the last call from the school. Why is this happening again? I text a few close people to let them know what’s going on. And I say a prayer that one of them has suggested I say. I say it loud as I hold back the tears.

 Dear God, I don’t know how to help J, but I know that you do. So I now ask for you to intervene on my behalf. I ask that you give me the words and the actions that are in his highest good so   that I may guide him to a place of well-being. I now see J as emotionally healthy and happy. I see him thriving, smiling, and joyful. I know that he is safe and he is well. And so it is. Amen”                       

I get to the school and it’s the same scene as it has been over the last few years. He’s angry. He’s defiant. He’s refusing to do anything asked of him. He’s destroying school property.  But, I have decided before I enter the school that I will not let him and his emotions inside my personal bubble. Easier said than done, but I’m able to do it. He refuses to get in the car and refuses to go in the school.  So instead of leaving with him we come to the decision that I will stay at the school.   For the next 3 hours I stay with him through lunch, recess, and we get lots of his work done. The sweet little boy is back and when we are finished I check him out of school. I feel drained, but grateful it all ended well.

These types of episodes happened daily before my kids were removed from my home in May of 2015. Although they aren’t as often now as they were back then, they are still as exhausting and emotionally draining as I remember. I cried in front of his school just last week to a group of amazing ladies at his school. I cried to the foster dad. I told him I didn’t like my son. The truth is I DON”T like him sometimes! He makes me want to pull my hair out. He makes me want to pull his hair out!!! How can an 8 year old be so freaking exhausting? How am I going to stay sane while trying to raise this child that is fighting me every step of the way?!?!

How do I raise a child that is exactly like me?!? 

I remember being picked up in Louisiana, many miles from my north Texas home, a teenage runaway. Me and a girlfriend of mine had hitchhiked, yes I said hitchhiked from north Texas to Louisiana so I could see “the love of my life” we were picked up at a truck stop, thank goodness we weren’t killed. We were sent to a girls home where we were stripped searched and waited for our parents to pick us up. I understandably was sent off to live with my dad in Oklahoma, hopefully they could handle me there. My mom looked at me and said she loved me but she didn’t like me. It hurt to hear those words. But the truth is, I wasn’t likable. Honestly I don’t see how I was at all lovable. I hated myself. I wouldn’t be able to begin trying to love myself until many years later after many more self-sabatoging decisions. It would be years before I felt my mom loved me, let alone liked me.

 Now here I am years later with a child just like me. He is entitled, he is anxiety filled, he is easily overwhelmed, he is easily angered, he’s manipulative, he’s full of self doubt and self pity. He’s defiant, he doesn’t think the rules apply to him.

He’s ME to the T. Although I pray he doesn’t make the same bad choices I made in the past. Time will tell. 

In the meantime I have to figure out how to raise a mini me. Like wtf??

 After I had my kids were removed from my home for the second time, a friend of mine who is also in recovery, asked me if I was relieved that my kids were gone. This may seem like a strange question to ask, but he knew all the details of the previous months leading up to my relapse and knew how much I had been struggling. It was an honest question. My answer? YES!!! Yes, I was relieved they were gone! I felt like I could breathe again. I felt like I could sleep again. I felt like the sun shined brighter and the stars twinkled so much prettier since they were gone. I felt a huge weight off my shoulders. I felt lighter. I was more than relieved, I was ecstatic. How can a mother say such things?!? At least, how can a mother say those things out loud, right? Moms aren’t supposed to feel that way and they sure as hell aren’t supposed to say those things out loud. What kind of mom are we if we actually admitted that sometimes we do NOT like our kids and the thought of them going to live somewhere else sounds like heaven? What kind of mom am I for feeling that way? NORMAL?

I wish I had some amazing check list of what to do when dealing with a difficult child. I wish that there was some happy ending to all of this and I could say that my pity party and my anxiety is suddenly gone. But I have no answers. NONE. I can cry. I can breathe. I can call every single person that can offer some kind and helpful words but the truth is, this is fucking hard! I feel alone sometimes. I feel like staying in bed somedays. I feel like every other mom out there has it figured out and I’m here just waiting for the school to call again telling me to come get my child. I love my kids. I freaking adore them. I’m so grateful they are home. I wouldn’t change that for the world. I refuse to ever do anything that would have them taken away again. Doesn’t make any of this less difficult.

Florence Shovel Shinn’s words from her book “The Game Of Life And How To Play It”  ring in my head constantly,

No man is your friend, no man is your enemy, every man is your teacher” 

If I can look at my son as my teacher and figure out what it is that I’m supposed to be learning instead of wallowing in self pity and stop feeling like a failure of a mother, maybe it would make this a little easier. I wish I had the answers.

For now I will go make dinner. I will go to bed knowing that I did the best that I could today and that is all I can do. Tomorrow is always a new day.

 

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