Sing, Sing a song…

I sat beside my Gram and rubbed her forehead with the edge of my thumb. Tears ran down her cheeks as she finally gave in to the weariness and the pain and the frustration of the last 36 hours. She didn’t need my words. She needed love. I had that in abundance.

So we just did that for a while. She needed to feel. I needed to love her. We just were.

“You are better today than you were when I came in here yesterday,” I gently reminded her. “When I come see you tomorrow you are going to be better than you are right now. Give God some time, He’s gonna have you back up and moving again. I know this.” Gently I let my hand trail down her face and find her hands and give it a squeeze. She cried with the name of Jesus on her lips, nodding her head in agreement.

What you need to understand is that this is a woman who always has the name of Jesus on her lips, but not tears. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with tears, it’s just that tears aren’t something she readily allows. She is a strong, hearty, motivated, and fiercely independent woman who’s managed to recover from some pretty significant things in the past. She will again. It isn’t a question. Not for today. Not this time.

“My Tinnie girl, oh how I love you my Tinnie,” Grams cried as she enveloped my hand in both of hers. Tears of my own threatened to spill over.

image2Earlier today she proudly introduced me to the chaplain who stopped in. “This is my favorite granddaughter, Christine. My Tinnie girl.” Then the rest of our treasured joke was explained, how I am also the only girl amongst the boys. I better be the favorite! Over the years the joke has been there, but in the years I’ve been an adult, raising my kids, her great grandkids here in the same town, our relationship has changed into a new one. A precious one.

I began weekly coming for lunches long ago, back when my Grandpa Howard was with us and I would sit and chat with them till Gramps would fall into a post lunch slumber and the two of us would laugh and then slyly turn the channel and watch us some HGTV while he snoozed. After he passed away, going on almost 5 years now, the two of us grew ever so close. I still came weekly for lunch and chats and HGTV, but I went to the grocery and ran errands and did odds and ends around the apartment. We just hung out and I loved on her in ways I knew I could never ever get enough of.

IMG_6029I’ve had friends say, “Oh how I wish I could sit with my Grandma one more time.” I think of it each time I go. Every lunch from Arby’s I bring, I delight in the way her eyes light up as if lit from the place of childhood delight. She loves DQ and the curly Q on the top. She loves a good chocolate chip cookie, and oh how she needs a nice cold Diet Pepsi to wash it down with… and a few salty chips after for that salty bite after the sweet.

I treasure each and every moment because I HAVE it. My Grams is going to be 91 this November. Time is not a given. Some point will come along the way and I too will say to a friend, “Oh how I wish I could sit with my Grams one more time.”  I’ll wish for things… to share a Pepsi, tell her what’s going on in life, and to simply sit and take her in, tears and all, after a fall and illness that put her in the hospital.

When I was a little girl, my Grams would sing to me. She would sing,

Sing, sing a song
Sing out loud
Sing out strong
Sing of good things not bad
Sing of happy not sad.

Sing, sing a song
Make it simple to last
Your whole life long
Don’t worry that it’s not
Good enough for anyone
Else to hear
Just sing, sing a song.

Sing, sing a song
Let the world sing along
Sing of love there could be
Sing for you and for me.

Sing, sing a song
Make it simple to last
Your whole life long
Don’t worry that it’s not

Good enough for anyone
Else to hear
Just sing, sing a song.

image3And so I do. Often. I’m not the best singer in the world. I am no soloist. But the song I sing is loud and clear. It’s full of love, joy, and happiness. It’s not made up of the same words every day, but the song I sing can be known just by knowing me.  At least I hope so. I hope it’s reflected in everything I do and say, what I am and Who’s I am. Love. So much love.

And Grams, I love you.

I’m singing our song, loud, strong, simple, yet enough to last my whole life through, and I’m singing it, Grams, for you and for me.

And so I do. Often. I’m not the best singer in the world. I am no soloist. But the song I sing is loud and clear. It’s full of love, joy, and happiness. It’s not made up of the same words every day, but the song I sing can be known just by knowing me.  At least I hope so. I hope it’s reflected in everything I do and say, what I am and Who’s I am. Love. So much love.


My Grams and me during one of our lovely Wednesday Lunches

And Grams, I love you.

I’m singing our song, loud, strong, simple, yet enough to last my whole life through, and I’m singing it, Grams, for you and for me.

Sucking at being me

Here’s the thing, I am not all that great at being me. Oh I may fool you well enough, but the fact remains, I’m kinda sucking at it.

Before you go all, “You are NOT sucking at being YOU!” on me, let me just explain. Can you at LEAST let me do that much? I do have a reason for saying it.

I had this delusional assumption that by the age of 40 I would really have a handle on who I was, and I would even be kind of an expert at being this kick ass version of myself. I’d not only feel comfortable being in my own skin, I’d also WANT to be in it. I’d know what I need to do by now, and aside from the fact it may not always be fun, I’d really have no issue getting up each day, do THAT, and be awesome at being me.

These are the facts here: Jr. High is far behind me, I long ago stopped answering that, “what do you want to be when you grow up,” question, (you didn’t seriously just ask yourself what that was did you?) and to top it off, I got a crew of kids of my own, two of whom exited their OWN Jr. High years already. If for no other reason than THAT, being me should be a tad bit easier right? I mean, I’m a full adult, not to be confused with that twenty something period of time where you can kinda get away with still being a kid, nor that early thirty something time where often you get treated like a kid, getting told how to raise your own incessantly, even though you’ve had a lot of life under your belt. Now the 40’s means you just plain are old enough to be, well, old enough for whatever. Name it, you are now old enough. I mean, right?


10406520_10208216250350408_555694893439241058_nI turned 41 in a couple months ago. I have zero “numbered-birthday-issues.” I frankly am proud of my age-to-wrinkle ratio. I’m WINNING at that, and darlings, it really rocks like an old school rockstar.

I just thought, unrealistically, that things got easier the older you got. I thought somehow I would stop feeling like a complete novice at this life thing if I DID add a few wrinkles and stubborn grey hairs. Reality can be harsh.

I am not loving feeling like a newbie parent as my kids turn new corners and I find myself learning anew how to catch up to the crazy kid-rearing-train that isn’t stopping or even slowing down.

I sent two girls off to high school, who both appear for all the world to be women hell bent on breaking the world’s hearts. My baby enters into a Jr High season of his own, manhood lapping at his heels. I just got used to what it meant to be a mom of toddlers and somewhat unwillingly moved on to that of tweens. But hey, I figured it out and I had a real handle on it. Now? It’s all new and I’m back to feeling all thumbs. AGAIN.

I get up every morning, try to arm wrestle an upper hand on the things I’m to do and be, and by the end of the day I, for all the world, feel like I am drowning and flailing around, pretending to be me. I want the world to believe I got it covered, I mask up real good and with enough make up I don’t even appear as tired and haired as I am. It’s all a lie though. I’m faking it. I’m like the live version of photoshop… all pretending and no reality.

Wait. Is that what being a grown up is? Pretending you got this? Do we ALL do this?


Did you just nod your head?

Crap. Well, at least I no longer have to feel like I am sucking at being me. I guess I’m doing pretty well at that. It’s just not the version of me I was hoping for. Maybe someday. Maybe ten years from now? No? Oh, okay.  Well, how about 20 years?

Right. Okay. I’ll stop asking.

I remember that essay I wrote back in high school, “Where I see myself 10 years from now.”  I am laughing at that now. I actually thought I would have my act all together in ten whole years! Like that was enough time to fix my insecurities and get myself into mental shape; figure out what I wanted to do and be and then go DO that. That would have made me a whole 27 years old. I graduated at 17.


I’m sure some people do that. But it’s not me. Know what? That’s okay.

I bet my life is a bit more interesting than the tame life I had thought I’d have. But tame? Who wants that anyway?

Certainly not this redhead, and it wouldn’t suit my curls, quite frankly, either.

It was the conversation I DIDN’T have that terrified me…

Today is National Suicide Prevention Day, Week, Month… It’s a harsh topic. Already some of you are cringing because this is not what you want to be reading about. It’s not fun, fluffy, and I guarantee it wont make you laugh.

Well, man up. It needs discussed.

16920_10207943717737263_5034557815060099013_nThere’s a viper that threatens to convince my daughter that suicide is the only choice that makes sense. She goes to the front lines daily to do battle with it. It’s cruel and mean. For her, she has an invisible illness that brings on her suicide battles. Her illness has a name that makes many flee, almost as much as trying to talk about suicide does. She is a courageous young woman who daily chooses to do one more day, while her mental illness rears up and tries to taunt her, hound her, chase her down and exhaust her.

I can’t prevent the attacks, but I can choose to fight along side her and refuse to let her do it on her own. As hard as the battle here is, it’s frankly the easy kind. Why? Because it’s reared it’s venomous head and shown itself. I know it lurks here. I take precautions. I’m on guard. I fight for her when she is too weak to fight herself.

The kind that’s a real killer is the kind that no one sees coming. I like to call them the “pressure cookers”. A silent, deadly battle is being waged, just like with my daughter, but this time there are no signs, no warning; it’s flat out of the blue. They’re terrifying.

It’s important to talk about suicide, if for no other reason, you never know who is thinking they aren’t worthy of one more day, or who believes they can’t fight the battle one more time… because they think they are alone in it.

Then there’s this kind: The kind where it seems someone is getting help, things are bouncing back, when really it lies hidden, waiting; waiting for the chance to strike.

There is one suicide I think about every single day; my dad’s. I think of it each time I look into my daughter’s eyes.

Oh, no, you’re right…He’s still here. My dad din’t commit suicide. I am one of the lucky ones. I know two friends who were not as lucky as I. Their dads did commit suicide. Watching the hell they went through… geez, there are no words. I had none to give them then, none that worked, nor did anything to dull the pain. I even walked away feeling guilty, in some odd way, because I realized I was thanking God that somehow my dad saw through his pain, to a fraction of a moment of clarity, sought a ragged edge to cling to and held on for dear life.

My dad had a plan of how, and when, he even had a couple plans, but he didn’t go through with it. I thank God for preventing it. I can do that. Really though? Dad had to make that hard choice. He had to choose to do one more day. He had to want it, enough to do it for just a little bit longer.

He doesn’t know it yet, but this tattoo on my left wrist? It’s to honor him as well as my daughter. He’s the period, she’s the comma that makes up the semicolon. (I have my reasons. I never get a tattoo that doesn’t hold great meaning.)

He was one of the lucky ones who had people who heard cues and noticed changes in behavior and were MORE stubborn than he was… and insisted on help.

Not everyone is as lucky as we were. Some people show zero signs. It’s true. Then there are subtle ones that if left alone and unchallenged, to them it looks like that green “go ahead” light when right there on that edge, barely hanging on.

Me age 4 with my dad, 1978

Me age 4 with my dad, 1978

My dad has been a minister all of my life. I am 41 years old. I was born into a life where the phone ringing at 2 am meant a crisis and my dad would be moving in pastor mode instantly. 40 some years of some very intensive situations, counseling, funerals, church politics (every bit as nasty as the government kind), and yes, all the joys thrown in too, it all adds up to some really exhausting mental overwork.

My dad is a chronic workaholic. The good kind in that he is always pushing/needing to do more for people. He sees how he can do one extra thing, so he insists to himself that he do that. Truly it’s wonderful… but intensely taxing. At one point he was so mentally tired he simply burned out. He was so tired he could not even decide what to eat for lunch. It broke him. It broke him in a way that scared the hell out of me.

The details are long, complicated, and not important. What is important was one conversation he had trouble having. It was a conversation we frankly DIDNT have. It was what wasn’t said that was so terrifying. He took me to lunch one day on a break from my job. Pizza buffet. He didn’t eat. He picked at his food. Stirred his Pepsi with his straw. Swallowed his words. He clawed his way through that conversation, words fleeing in distress. What little he did spit out was fragmented. His eyes were hollow but watery. Haunted. He started and stopped so many times; I already knew. I knew what he couldn’t say. But he NEEDED to say it.

If I can ever give advice, because truly I know nothing, I give this one thing. Just listen. Shut up and listen. Why? Because more times than not it’s what’s NOT said that you need to hear…

“I thought about just getting in the car, just driving. Not stopping.”  I just looked at him. I had no response. I’m not sure if I was supposed to.

“There’s this one bridge…I’ve thought about driving off of it. ”

“Wonder what that would be like, to drive off a bridge.”

Any hunger I had was long gone. Did he know I didn’t know the right words to say? The ones he needed to hear? I was pregnant with my oldest. My redheaded and freckled, Lindsey. My very first baby. I went from the pure joy and happiness of knowing she was there with us, to the thought of my dad never seeing my first child… It nearly undid me.

That moment was the first time suicide touched my life. It was the first time it became real. It wasn’t a statistic, or a story someone told, it was live, before me, and I didn’t have any answers.

I said something ridiculous. I am sure of it. I spent more time internally praying my heart out over my dad than I did voicing words aloud to him. I just let him talk. I don’t know if he walked away that day “feeling” like he could do one more day or not, but he did. Then he did another. Then another.

Later my dad would tell me that it partially was Lindsey coming into this world that saved him. That knowing that he would miss out on being a grandpa, holding that first baby, my newborn child, to look into those brand new eyes and see an untouched soul…he knew he would keep doing one more day till he could do that. Then he would decide from there how to do the rest of the days.

He is still here. It’s now 17 years later, and he is now helping me do battle for my daughter and saving her from herself. Someday I pray we have a story to tell about what her “one more day” moment was.

This tattoo on my wrist? It also has a shadow effect. It has hidden meaning for me. For every person who battles the thought of doing “one more day” and wondering if it’s worth it, there is someone who needs to stand up and say, “I got your back.”  My middle child, and second daughter, Allison and I both have shadows in our tats. Lindsey’s is singular. We have her back. We’ve got her, no matter when she needs us. I had my dad’s back. He knew it, even if it was hard for him to ask for what he needed to hear. He knew just looking into my eyes that I saw him. I don’t know. Maybe that was enough, that day.

If you are ever even considering suicide, I promise you, there is someone who wont want that… someone will have your back too. Don’t tell me I am wrong. Just trust me on this. Reach out, even if it is to an online group, make a phone call to a hotline, or just find someone who has kind eyes, tell them you know this sounds crazy, but you somehow know you are sposed to talk to them. Please just do that first, before you do something else. Okay?

There’s a suicide prevention/awareness group called “To Write Love on Her Arms.” They are a non profit organization that raises awareness for those who self harm and struggle with addiction and thoughts of suicide. My daughter struggles with self harm and in addition to the semi colons we got, we three got tiny hearts on our arms… because I wanted to write LOVE on my girls arms, so that they always knew that no matter where they went, how far they go, my love is always going to be right here for them, never ending, no matter what. I will always have their back. It will NEVER change. I don’t care what they do… They can always depend on me being that one person they can be sure will aways want them around, one more day.

For more information, please check out these amazing organizations:

To Write Love On Her Arms:

Visit their blog over @

The Semicolon Project has gained a huge following. Check them out over @

Check out their blog @:

On being a “TERRIBLY” supportive mother

I’m a terrible mother. Horrible. There, now that we got that out of the way, let me tell you why I am a terrific one.

Our Project Semicolon tattoos

Our Project Semicolon tattoos

Today I took my daughters over to the local tattoo shop and we got matching tattoos. Yes, yes, TERRIBLE mother. I thought we established that already? Sheesh.

Listen, I know this place, I know the owner. It’s a clean, decent, reputable establishment that is not in some dark alleyway. Give me some credit will you? Listen to the reason and you will agree with the terrific part, (or not) but it’s what you SHOULD have done if you were me, living my life.

If you haven’t heard of Project Semicolon, then let me educate you. It is quite literally a full out movement of hope, all begun by one woman who was simply intending to honor her dad. It is a tattoo or even just a sharpie marker tattoo of a semicolon on a wrist or other area. Simple, small, and yet crazy powerful. We’ve done the sharpie version. We are ready to commit to a permanent version.

The website says it this way… “A semicolon is used when an author could’ve chosen to end their sentence, but chose not to. The author is you and the sentence is your life.” They are a faith based movement dedicated to presenting hope and love for those who struggle daily with depression, suicide, addiction and self-injury.  Their sole existence is to bring awareness to mental illness and to encourage, love and inspire those who live with it or even just love someone who does.

The semicolon is a conversation starter. You see a tattoo of a semicolon on a wrist and you say, “what’s that about.” The door is now open to discuss what our lives here are filled with. It’s filled with hard things, messy things, scary things, but more than anything else, it’s filled with choices that include getting up each new day, moving forward, pushing on, and knowing that each new day is not a day done alone, but surrounded by a supportive and loving family who “gets it.”

Linds watches as she has her tattoo done. She wanted to be the first to go, since today was for her.

Linds watches as she has her tattoo done. She wanted to be the first to go, since today was for her.

My daughter, Lindsey, struggles and battles Bipolar Disorder and OCD along with some anxiety and a personality disorder. Each day is a hard day. photo 2That’s just a fact. But she is still choosing to get up each day and face it. Her sister and I both love her in ways that only a sis and mom can. It’s a girl thing. We have a wicked tight bond, the three of us, and when I introduced this website to Lindsey her whole face lit up. Her sister was indignant that she was left out and she demanded to be a part of it. I told her I never intended her to be anything but included. I just hadn’t shown her the website yet!

For warriors, support is critical. It’s for important to know someone has their back. Lindsey will never wonder if her sister and I have her back. She will look at her hand and she will see her tattoo and know that the three of us are connected in a special way, remember our day of bonding, needing only to trace it to gain some needed strength.

photo 3Along with the semicolon tattoo, I am gifting each girl with a little heart, about the size of a pinky finger. It is to be placed anywhere they want it, but in a place they can readily see  I used to use a sharpie and pit one on their hand or arm when they were scared about a test, school, or when they just needed a “mom hug” to take with them as they went off on their day. This time we are making it washable and forever. It’s a personal reminder that they ARE my heart; that they carry with them my unconditional love everywhere they go. I love them forever, always, and that there is NOTHING they can ever do that will make me stop loving them. Simply NOTHING.

Alli distracts herself with her phone while she is inked. Nothing compares to broken bones and the pain of soccer injuries and physical therapy. This was nuthin.

Alli distracts herself with her phone while she is inked. Nothing compares to broken bones and the pain of soccer injuries and physical therapy. This was nuthin.

It’s a visual reminder that they can come home, no matter what choices or mistakes they might have made in life, and to know that I’ll have their backs. Life is messy. Choices are hard to make. Sometimes we make the wrong ones. Come home, anyway. I’m always gonna be there. I don’t care if they are 18, 28, or 58. That tattoo won’t wear off and neither will my love for them. If at some point they need me, and I am no longer here residing on this green earth, then they only need look at it to know I’m still only a heartbeat away, loving them from above, still supporting them.

Yes, I took my two daughters, who are 15 and 16, to the tattoo shop and we got tattoos, but the question wasn’t ever, “how could I,” but instead, “how could I NOT?”  My beautiful girls are here and this is not in “memory” of anyone. This is to strengthen us and to empower us to do hard things, because we are still alive to do them.

There is a beautiful song I will play them. An amazing friend sent me the link the other day and I have been in love with it ever since.

The refrain goes like this:

This is not the end of me.

This is the beginning.

Hold on.

I am still alive…

As long as we are alive, we are going to live like it. We are going to remember that this is just the beginning, choose to not end our sentences, to just hold on tight, get through the night, and believe that this is not the end. No one has to get it all perfect, or get it all right, we just have to get up each day and try. Put one foot in front of the other, hold on tight, ride the ride, let the day have it’s way, and best of all…come home again.

I love you girls. We can do this. We’ve got this!

First World Probs

First World ProbsI found myself with a couple of days that were not slammed with a bunch of Mama To-Do’s, errands, or work. Before life could come and snatch them up for the mistake, I quickly penciled in some massive time blocks for ME time. I declared a good choice simply because it was good for my mental health.

To be fair, this time was not to be used frivolously, but instead carefully for planning and actual writing of assignments and articles, and to work on upcoming projects and even that book that I’ve had on the back burner for months… that stretched into a full year now. Two days with five hour time blocks. It felt like a retreat while never leaving town. All I had to do was to get up and manage to get out of the house.

Ah! There’s the kicker usually. That’s usually my hang up, even though my kids are teens, not toddlers. So when I got away scott-free? I was lulled into the assumption that I was home free! It was THEN that the chaos began. It followed me. It nipped at my heels, attempting to throw me off my mission. But I am not easily tossed, my foul and trip-happy friend. I will fight for my writing days at every turn. They just don’t come around often enough to let them go so easily.

I had headed out to my favorite local coffee hub and after circling the parking lot twice, longingly looking into the windows like a reverse pet shop puppy. I told myself unconvincingly that I didn’t really want to be there anyway. It was busy and crowded and would be full of glorious chatter, I mean distracting chatter, and I was better off somewhere quiet. Yes. I would find the quiet.

I turned into traffic and thought of the next closest place I still loved. I mentally crossed off a spot I had already passed that was packed with tot totting mommas and their sanity dates. It was pouring down rain and the sunny spots outdoors that I could use other days would be off limits this day.

I went past a tiny Starbucks, knowing that the few seats it had would be more than filled with the people in the parking lot and in line. A sudden thought of inspiration hit. The bookstore! I swung around, parked, and dashed into the wonderful aroma of new books and music swirling overhead. Yes. This would do.

With my pick of the entire seating area in the coffee nook, I choose a little table out of the way. I set up shop and congratulated myself. This was gonna be a great day! I got started and began the planning. I wanted all the assignments on a calendar. I have a habit of not noticing them when left to my phone’s list. I was feeling proud of my organizational awesomeness when I was rudely disrupted by two men talking loudly. They decided to plant themselves at the table next to me.

I am not sure how I manage to be a magnet, but seriously, I could have chosen any seat in that place and they would’ve sat next to me sure as anything. I’m sorry, sir, but you and your conversations are not interesting to me nor do I want to nod your direction in camaraderie. Sorry to disappoint.

They proceeded to make business calls loudly, clear their throats as with an annoying vocal tic vs cold need. I wasn’t sure I had the ability to be boldly rude and move to the other side of the cafe. I dreamed of doing so, since I’d forgotten my headphones. I sat with my fingers quite literally in my ears, hair draped over my face like a curtain, attempting to block it all out.

I was set to move, to actually do it after a long, slow, steamy burn when a frazzled mom and three kids plopped down in the middle of the cafe and took up residence. She’d had her limit; they’d reached theirs an hour ago from the look, but by God, they’d come for story time and they were gonna stay and do it, or else Mama would be joining her kids for a hearty meltdown.

Listen, I get it. Okay? I got three kids who used to drive me to frazzle daily, and while I wanted to send sweet smiles of understanding her way, well, for once this patient and usually understanding woman had had her own personal limit and needed her alone time, alright? So NO. I ignored them and did not send her sweet “I get you” looks; instead letting my burn become a blaze.

The screaming, quite simply, broke me. It fueled my ability to pack up my crap and reprimand myself for such an early celebration, and make my exit. I gunned it over to the target across the street and entered the empty Starbucks outlet; planting myself again. There I made it a whole ten blissful minutes before being found by the retail-therapy shopping moms. An ankle-biter sized foot race path was apparently plotted along my table side, unbeknownst to me, and again, I packed it up after trying to outlast them. Once a third mom joined an already crowded table, I realized this was not going to be a quick stop for mom’s caffeinated cleanser.

I plopped down across this latest parking lot in an Arby’s, bought a drink so I could use the booth without guilt, and finished the last piece I was trying to get out of my head before heading home. Instead of refreshed, I felt like I’d just run a half marathon in an attempt to get my 500 words out.

Truth be told, I accomplished a lot, I actually slugged out three of those, but I wanted more. I had so much more in me to do. But hey, tomorrow was another day and I’d have another try at this. Take heart, girl.

So, seriously, if you’re still ready my rant, you’ll laugh at this …

On the advice of a friend about their past favorite writing spot, I decided to begin today there. “Oh there’s never anyone there, so it’s really quiet.” Here’s the thing about quiet spots no one is ever at…they go out of business. I sat in the parking lot and was forced to laugh at the stupidity of it all.

I am now sitting in the McDonald’s across the street from the would be wonderful place and writing a rant.

Next up? The library. I know, I know. Why not just START there? Well because I love coffee houses, and out of the way spots. I love to sip on a beverage and think while looking out a window at the world passing by. If you are local, and you love coffee houses, tell me your favorite, because I plan to look up a lot of new ones this summer and fall. Hopefully my old favorites are not overloaded every free day I have, but in case they are, I’ll have some back up plans!

I know, I know… first world problems.

Never, EVER, give up. EVER.

I spent most of this week in utter despair. I felt lost and confused and as close as I’ve ever been to hopeless in my life. The parenting gauntlet was brutal and I was not sure I was really capable of standing up to the oncoming onslaught that was coming in wave after wave.

My assumption in having a child was that, no matter WHAT issues, challenges, or problems that arose, I would somehow be the perfect match for them. I assumed that kids were matched up to parents somewhere in the sky so that the parents were equipped to handle and help each child perfectly.  Yeah, I know, wake up kid, that isn’t how it works.

Successful parents have one very distinct difference from ones who aren’t… they simply refuse to give up on their kid. Period. They learn what they have to know, go where they must go, do what needs done, but they NEVER, EVER, GIVE UP.

LindsMy daughter, now 16, battles a daily war against her genes and physical chemical make up. She has been blessed/cursed with genes from both sides of the family which give her the level of Bipolar Disorder she deals with. She has OCD issues and struggles with Avoidant Personality Disorder. She has a host of anxiety disorders and she finds it a struggle to just leave home. While all of this is hard, the thing I’ve found the hardest is her way of venting it, releasing the pressure valve, her way of punishing herself for being who she is… self harm.

Of all the things that I do, correctly responding to self harm is the hardest. I must say I didn’t do a great job one recent past weekend. I am ashamed to say I kinda lost it. Maybe it’s what needed to happen, I don’t know, but regardless, it’s harder than hell to do it without guilt in the end. It’s an obvious cry for help, but I find it makes me intensely angry. I want to just say, “TELL me whats going on.  ASK for help.  DONT mutilate your beautiful self!  PLEASE!!”

I found the word “HORRIBLE” carved into the flesh on her arm. She’s carved HELP before. The words are even more upsetting than the act. You are NOT horrible, my beautiful child. I am RIGHT HERE; just come to me for the help you are asking for by carving into your flesh. I am not a parent who is distant, who is absent, who is unreachable. I am here at every single turn.

The Avoidant Personality Disorder is the only clue I have as to why she continues to avoid the one person who is most plugged into her every mood and cares most deeply about them. Per, “In avoidant personality disorder, the person is persistently tense because he or she believes that he or she is socially inept, unappealing, or inferior, and as a result fears being embarrassed, criticised, or rejected. He or she avoids meeting people unless he or she is certain of being liked, is restrained even in his or her intimate relationships, and avoids taking risks. Avoidant personality disorder is strongly associated with anxiety disorders, and may also be associated with actual or perceived rejection by parents or peers during childhood.”  

Reality isn’t the focus here. Her version of it is. All I can do is love her and show her that I’m here and loving her, and consistently do this till she believes it, I guess.

This last weekend, over Father’s Day, we went to a RibFest downtown because the thing my husband loves most is Ribs. Then we went to a movie at a theater the kids had yet to enjoy, one with recliners for every seat. She wanted to do this. She wanted the family outing. She is very much trying to be a part of the family and wants to be with us.

The stress of the bajillion people who attended RibFest heaped a layer of anxiety upon her that she wore like a 120 lb rucksack on a trek through the desert, uphill. By the time we were seated in the theater, 30 minutes into our movie, her body gave into the stress fully. It didn’t matter the stress of the RibFest was over and we were in a dark theater, essentially alone. Stress works itself out whenever it chooses, and it doesn’t choose perfect timing as a rule.

“Mom, Sis is crying and she’s having trouble breathing.” My middle daughter had come over to my seat and interrupted my movie viewing. We were seeing the new Jurassic Movie. It was LOUD, and therefore I heard none of my daughter’s distress three large, reclined seats over. I traded seats with my son.

“Breathe baby, breathe…be calm. It’s gonna be okay. Tell me what’s going on. No, breathe in slowly, tiny breaths. Now relax your muscles.” I put my hands on her stiff limbs and tried to make them still. Her arms were stretched out hard as boards and her legs were moving on their own in spasms. It wasn’t a seizure. It was a mass panic attack. Her body was attacking her and it was without a trigger this time around. Well, the trigger was not present anyway; it was long gone.

She was flushed hot inside but clammy to the touch, she had a headache, felt like her body was shivering/shaking, and as if millions of ants were crawling through her veins. She was more scared by her body’s reaction by the minute. She was breathing in bursts and not being able to breathe made her able to breathe even less. The panic rolled like a snowball downhill, gaining size and speed. Calming her was critical or we’d escalate and need emergency care right here and now.

Slowly I was able to calm her and as I rubbed her arm we sat together and let the movie end and the guests leave. We dropped the kids off at home, a friend, who may as well be family, came and stayed with them while my husband and I took her to the ER for rounds of tests to rule out anything physical. In my heart I knew it was the last draw.

This has been building for weeks. Over little or nothing my daughter would stress out and panic, be unable to make simple choices, and just getting dressed would take her eons, in a completely different way than the normal teen, “I don’t know what to wear,” way. It was more. A kind of more that I can’t give you words for. You’ll just have to trust me. She has a 15 year old sister and I get the differences, okay?

My daughter’s body had been having medicine issues and reactions, and she’d been mucking around with not taking them because she hated how they made her feel; then not eating and taking meds on an empty stomach if I forced the issue… it all landed us where we were right then.

It was time to deal with it. It was past time. And if we truly loved this kid, we’d do what was right and say enough was enough and we’d not only figure out the ER visit issue, but deal with the meds and deal with the core issues and the reasons behind needing the meds.

So we admitted our daughter to the Behavioral Health Hospital that night, against her will, and walked away. We loved her enough to make her stay. We love her enough to insist on her working through the tough things she needs to address in order to get well. We know she CAN do it if she decides she wants to. The key is to WANT to. Sometimes if you love your kid enough, you will do what is best, not what feels good.

And I’ve never been more broken in my entire life. Day after day I lay fractured, in pieces, trying to put myself back together and be a parent to my other two kids. An amazing set of friends stepped in and took our kids, so we didn’t have to be parents at all. We could just fall apart. And so we did. A lot.

And now? Now we are getting stronger. A little more each day. And with God’s help, the love of our friends and family, and supportive staff and doctors, our kid is gonna come home and we are gonna try this again, and this time we are gonna make it work.

Why am I so sure? Because I refuse to FAIL.

I will never, ever give up.