A Talk With My Mom

My mom and I were talking today (2/6/19) and we were discussing the death of a soap opera actor that she really liked. It’s been suspected that it was due to alcohol and I told her that I had once been close to, if not, actually had alcohol poisoning.

“Why didn’t you tell me it was that bad?”

I didn’t really have an answer.

I had to think for a minute.

“I don’t know. I already had a lot going on. I was so messed up for a while and I didn’t want you to worry more.”

It’s called shame, y’all. It’s a big topic in recovery.

My mom hit me with that “don’t bullshit me” look that I’ve gotten about a thousand times in my life.

“No, seriously, Wrae. You can come to me with things like that.” She actually looked hurt. My mom’s not much for feelings so that must have really bothered her.

The Sunken Place

When you’re in the deep, dark place that is alcoholism, or even binge drinking, there is not space for telling many people how bad things are. This might even include your mom.

There is mainly room for drinking. The feelings you have go away, at least for a while. The alcohol clears out the pain and if you’re lucky, maybe you won’t remember the dumb things you did.

The emotions you’re trying to drown out are usually big. They feel too big to manage, and sometimes the usual coping skills just don’t work. I drank well before my life took a huge left turn, but Jake’s death destroyed me. The grief was too much to take.

There isn’t much talking. You don’t want to talk about why you drink- but telling someone about a wild night of drinking might be fun. It’s so hard to face up to the damage you are doing to yourself and potentially others. That day does come, however. My day came and went two years ago. You can read that story in Two Years of Sobriety

Since that day, I’ve finished therapy and started going to a Yoga 12 Step for Recovery class on Sundays. It’s one of the best things I do all week. I struggle with reaching out for help when I need to talk.

Writing helps a lot and I am able to get my thoughts that way, but I know talking is better sometimes. Honestly, it gets exhausting. When I get done talking about how I feel, I’m drained. I need a nap. I used to leave therapy tired as hell, especially if I had been crying.

All The Feels

I’m still a work in progress. I know I have a lot of people that I can talk to. It’s just a matter of speaking. Doing so requires lots of feelings- shame for even having this to deal with, guilt for having to unload on people who have dealt with my problems for over so many years, and just having to process whatever might be under the surface.

Can you tell this is not my favorite thing to do?

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The Day Before

*Trigger warning: this post discusses suicide. Please read with this in mind.*

I wrote about “A Million Little Things” when it premiered and thanks to the 1/24/19 episode, it gets another blog post.

This episode discusses the day before John, the main character, completes suicide. His death baffles everyone around him. In the episode, he gets into an argument with one of his friends, Gary and promises his wife, Delilah, that they will have a long-needed talk.

John was freaked out about finances. The walls were closing in on him financially. He told his assistant, Ashley, to take the night off.

I’ll stop there with the spoilers, in case you want to catch up on the episode.

“Call Me Blind/But I Didn’t See it Coming”- P.O.D.

August 31, 2015, was my day before. I went to work at the job I loved- a mental health associate at a mental health facility. I worked on a unit for kids with autism and other developmental disabilities. I was days away from filing for divorce – Matthew and I were barely on speaking terms. Jake had been a bit quieter than usual, but I thought maybe he was just in a depressive episode.

Many people who knew about us have asked if I saw any signs, but I didn’t. I could see many things just by looking into Jake’s eyes. This wasn’t one of them. If I had even thought of him taking his own life, I would have done anything to stop it. It beats the hell out of losing him.

Jake and I texted like usual until he went to bed. He worked third shift and didn’t go to sleep before about 9 am. We made plans to hang out in a few days when our schedules would match up- I didn’t know then that those plans would never go through. I meant to text him later that day, but I got busy after work.

Early the next morning, September 1, 2015, I sent him a picture of Tails. He had blue ink all over him from Cameron picking him up the night before after a pen bled all over his hands. His very last text to me read: “Poor Tails”. He was still awake after not being able to sleep the night before. I had texted him on my way to work.

That was it.

Jake died later that day.

The Worst Phone Call

I’ll never forget the pain in Josh’s voice when he told me about Jake’s death. It is one of the worst phone calls I’ve ever had.

The aftermath of losing someone to suicide is.. shattering. It’s one of the few words I have been able to find to accurately describe how Jake’s loss affected me. This kind of loss will make you question a lot of things– I questioned who my friends really were, my strength and of course, my marriage.

Living without Jake has been difficult- but I am here, living the life he made me strong enough to live and having finished the work he started in 2013. I hope so much that he is proud of me, from wherever his caring spirit is.

There is a post about the day after, and you can find it here

Today’s PSA: If you love someone, tell them. You may lose that chance. The regret is hard to live with.

Pics courtesy of Pinterest

Resources:

AFSP

Thoughts on A Second Diagnosis

I discussed our issues with Lily in Adjusting to A New World and Special Needs Round Two.

The results are back and I wasn’t far off in my thoughts- she has ADHD, the inattentive type. I was so concerned about an autism diagnosis that I barely looked at information on ADHD in girls. The diagnosis itself isn’t a shock, but my thoughts on it are a lot different than I expected.

I usually don’t use my blog to get so personal but in this case, I figured people wanted updates.

Ann, the same psychiatric nurse practitioner that sees Julian, did the evaluation. She told me that it isn’t uncommon for siblings to have ADHD, autism and other neurological disorders.

This makes sense- I met quite a few sets of siblings at the mental health facility I worked at. I also know a couple of sets of siblings in which ADHD or autism is involved. For example, Josh has four kids, two of which are on the spectrum. I do not know how he and his wife, Emily, function on a daily basis. Another friend, Lauren, has two sons with ADHD and one of them is also on the spectrum.

Girls with ADHD

So here I am, with not one, but two kids with ADHD. I will be honest here- I would have cried had she been on the spectrum. Handling Julian has not been easy. There have been massive meltdowns and shutdowns and times I just couldn’t reach him no matter what I tried.

It is good that I have some direction now- there is so much we can do to make her life a bit easier. We have made a lot of adjustments for Julian over the years so it’s not a second thought to do the same for Lily. Benny, her therapist, has returned from a 3-month position in Germany so that should be a good place to start.

Lily isn’t a fan of meds when she’s sick, so we are holding off for now. This kid makes all As and Bs even with attention issues. She’s not aggressive or having other issues that require meds immediately so she may not end up on them at all.

I told her to talk to Julian if she wants an idea of what it is like to take meds for ADHD because I am entirely clueless about how those medications make you feel. He has been medicated since shortly after his diagnosis. They have helped greatly and I do not regret that decision. As my mom once said, “We got Julian back.” Meds don’t fix everything, but they certainly help.

I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed. I’m used to that feeling. I wonder if I can really handle this- I have that thought on an almost daily basis. I know I have support, but that thought creeps up a lot more than I would like.

I am, however, glad that I was able to get Lily this evaluation and the therapy she needs. I know not every kid is this fortunate. I have some reading to do and some changes to make. Wish us luck, because we will need it.

Pic courtesy of Pinterest

The Giving Season: Teaching Your Child Empathy

Our children learn a lot from us- how to treat others is one of those lessons. During this time of the year, we remind our children to give back and care about others.

Most kids are pretty good at showing empathy- the ability to understand what it’s like to walk in someone else’s shoes. Some kids need a little extra help in this department, and that’s okay.

Kids on the autism spectrum and those that have other special needs may need help with this. For example, Julian has had serious issues learning empathy and we work on it almost daily.

Empathy is important for a child’s well-being because it helps build happy and healthy relationships. It can also help prevent bullying and other destructive behaviors/relationships.

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Working Towards Empathetic Kids

How can we teach our kids to be more empathetic?

  • By being more empathetic ourselves. This means tuning in to what each of our kids needs, physically and emotionally. It also means cherishing their individual personalities and loving your kids as they are, not what you may want them to be. This also means being showing empathy to others, because our kids watch what we do. They watch how we interact with others in public, our friends and other family members.
  • Make caring for others a priority. This can vary among families, but many families value taking care of family whenever needed however possible. For example, my kids know that my mom has mobility issues because of her knee replacements, so they help her walk down our very steep driveway. They have watched Matthew help his mom’s family numerous time because he’s great with cars and home projects. I try to help my friends as much as possible and the kids have also seen this.
  • Provide opportunities for kids to show empathy. We have done role-playing games with Julian as part of therapy. Over time, those have sunk in a bit, and so has discussing real-life issues in sessions. If you have a kid on the spectrum, you can imagine how difficult this lesson can be to teach. It is starting to get slightly easier. We discuss school and news issues because we are a pretty diverse family and this has created some very interesting discussions. When we took in Miss Purr and Tiger, those were two great times to display empathy, because rescue pets require that. My kids fell in love with both animals instantly. When Tiger’s tumor ruptured, Julian may have been the saddest person in the house. He insisted on sleeping with him the last night before he was put to sleep. When I woke him up for school, he was holding Tiger’s paw. The kids were genuinely worried about Tiger and devastated when he was gone.
  • Teach your child to identify their feelings and how to cope with negative feelings. Kids need to know how to identify how they feel so that they can deal with it. They need to be able to express themselves- it can be confusing to not know how to describe how you feel. It can feel worse to not know how to cope with negative feelings. Let your child know what ways are and are not acceptable to deal with those feelings so that when they are angry, sad or feeling other ways, they don’t have to wonder how they can cope.
  • Ask “How would you feel?” This may sound simple, but it can be effective. I have done this often and it will make a child think a bit deeper than you may think. Let the child pause and reflect for a few minutes (if needed). They may not know how they would feel at first and need the extra time. Maybe they haven’t thought about it before.

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Teaching empathy may take some time, the earlier you start, the better. Have a great holiday season with your family!

How do you encourage your children to care about others? Do you have a favorite story about your child being empathetic to another child? Share if you do!

Information courtesy of Very Well Family

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