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Month: March 2006

Part 3- The breakdown of “Birthdays, boxing up and breakdowns”

Part 3- The breakdown of “Birthdays, boxing up and breakdowns”

First, if you are coming here from the Kidd Kraddick in the Morning show after he read my blog online, welcome. I can tell you it was a shock to turn on the radio and hear my own words being read on the air. What an amazing man Kidd is to share that with you all and to show concern about how I am doing now since I never finished the 3-part series updating anyone.  Thank you for coming by to check on me.  I have already been so overwhelmed by your emails of support and encouragement.  It really does mean a lot.  Thank you , Kidd, for asking how I am doing now and for checking on me.  You rock my face off! 

I knew this part of the series of entries would be the hardest to write.  The breakdown.

Everyone has times when they know that they are in a dark place.  A place where they are sad or depressed.  You can see it.  Sometimes you can see your way through it and sometimes you can’t.  It’s like getting sucker punched in the gut and having the wind knocked out of you.  For a moment you can’t breathe and it feels like you never will.  But, someone tells you to throw you arms up in the air, slow down your efforts to breathe and take a breath.  Just breathe.  And slowly the air begins to fill your lungs again and you know you are not dying.  That you will be okay.

Sometimes something happens–like Mom dying– and you have that same feeling.  The wind has been knocked out of you and you wonder if you are dying.  If you will ever breathe again.  But this time, I didn’t even have the strength to throw my arms up and take it slow and breathe.  Just breathe.  Suddenly, the fear, the desperation and the intensity of the helplessness overwhelmed me.  I couldn’t do it.  The wind has been knocked out of me.  I can’t breathe.  I can’t see a way to be able to throw my arms up and just be able to breathe.  I don’t have the strength.  It is terrifying.

It is times like this you wonder how other people do it.  How do they move through the fog and haze that is grief and just breathe?  I have always thought the hardest thing in the world for me was to ask for help.  It still is.  But I learned this week, the hardest part is accepting the help you haven’t asked for but so desperately need to have.

Last Friday I got a call from a friend of mine.  Of course, I ignored it because I was in bed trying to shut the world out.  Something told me to listen to the message.  I have not talked to this woman in a while.  Our children used to be in a playgroup when they were toddlers, but as they grew up, we grew apart.  But her message said she was coming over.  Right then.  I panicked.  I did not want anyone coming into my home.  It was definitely not “company ready.” (You know the difference.  The way your house looks when someone is coming over and how it looks when you know you are going to be alone.  There is a difference.  At least for me.)

Before I knew it, she was at my door telling me she was coming over to help me get up, get going and get to cleaning. 

I looked at her with my fists balled at my sides and told her I was fine and that I had sick kids at home and she really shouldn’t be in the house. 

“I’m a nurse.  I don’t care.  I’ll take my chances.” And she pushed by me and stood and looked at me.  I looked back trying to will her to go away.

I began to become more insistent that she leave.  She became more insistent on staying.  I was literally begging her to go insisting that I was fine and didn’t need anyone’s help.  Somehow I was not convincing through my balled up fists and tears.  It was then that she grabbed me by the shoulders and firmly told me that this bullshit of saying that I was fine was over.  That I was not fine and that I needed to let her help.  In defeat I let her into my home. 

And it was like standing naked in the street.  Exposed.  Ashamed.  Fearful of what she would think.  Afraid to let anyone see that fine was the least accurate description of me.  She was going to see my dark places, the dark corners that I would not let anyone into.  I was humiliated and thankful at the same time.

“We’re going to start cleaning.  You are going to get moving and do something that has physical results that you will see.  You need to get up and be productive or this dark place will swallow you up and you will not be able to get back out again.  Let. Me. Help. You.”


“Let. Me. HELP. You.”


“Jenn, let me help you.”

I gave in and began telling her it was silly and she could only stay a minute and that, really, it was just that the kids were sick and I got a little behind.  I talked and talked about nothing in order to not think about the humiliation I felt at needing someone to help me with the simple act of just getting up and doing something.

So, side by side we began to scrub down my kitchen.  I hated every second of it.  I could not stand accepting help.  Especially when I needed it so badly.  After an hour or more, she stopped what she was doing and looked me in the eye.

“Jenn, you need to go for a walk.  Get out in the sunshine and leave your house.  Now.  You need to go get some fresh air and be a part of the world for a while.”

For the first time since she arrived, I unclenched my fists, looked her in the eyes and asked her in desperation, “Am I really that bad?  Am I?”

Taking me by the shoulders she looked into my eyes and said the words I did not want to hear.  “Yes, you are, Jenn.  You are that bad right now.”

I began to sob, grabbed my dog and went for a walk.  I had to come to the realization that I was not fine.  That I was not “making it through this” on my own.  I walked and cried and felt so frustrated.  If someone who isn’t super close to me is seeing how deeply dark my life had become, what am I doing to my family and friends?  When they say, ‘How are you?’, do they really want to know or is it just a question you ask someone who has gone through this?  I was confused and terrified.  And still desperately trying to catch my breath.  The wind had definitely been knocked out of me and I had no idea how I would get through this.  Ever.  Would I ever just breathe easily again or am this going to kill my spirit?

I came back home in silence and began to scrub more vigorously.  I would scrub and sweep and dust the pain away.  After 4 hours of working side by side throughout my house, I realized what this amazing friend had done for me.  She showed me that I needed to slow down my efforts to be “fine”.  To ask for and accept help getting through this. 

She did what I couldn’t do myself.  She grabbed my arms that felt so heavy and burdened and lifted them into the air for me so I could take that first breath and know that I would breathe again.  A simple first step.  But a crucial one.  It was all I had to do right now. 

Just breathe.

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A favor for me because we are so tight and all

A favor for me because we are so tight and all

My amazing friends at BlogHer (and trust me they are amazing and are the best of friends) have asked me if I would post a survey for you, my wonderful readers to take.  It is really not hard.  I mean, I did it, so I know you can!  Would you please, as a favor to me, take the time to take this survey.  It would be most excellent if you could do this over the next few days.  I mean, there might even be a reward in it.  (Or not, but people always do things for prizes!)

So just go here or click that button over there to the right and make me the happiest gal EVAH!

Thanks!  Really.  You rock.  You do!  NO, you do!  Really.  YOU!

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What’s caffeine addicted, crazy as a loon and has short red hair?

What’s caffeine addicted, crazy as a loon and has short red hair?

[Editor’s note: We’ve had a lot of the heavy stuff. I need a break and am betting you do, too, from the heavy. No heavy lifting in this post. I do feel I need to share about the breakdown, but that will be soon. Thanks for hanging with me, people. You are better for me than that first cup of coffee…no wait….okay, yeah, you are!]

Last Friday my sister came to town. Yes, if you do the math that is exactly one day after I left her in Houston. Trust me, it was necessary for her to come, but that is a different story all together. As she unloaded all of her ginormous trappings one brings when going out of town, I just sat and watched from my front porch.

“Hey, looks a bit heavy. Need help?” But I was really just that out of it to think to actually get my ass up off of the chair to actually do it. To that she just replied, “No, dude, I am pretty sure this PURSE is the last thing, but the offer was cool.” Then we saw the absurdity of it all and began to giggle.

I would love to tell you the tales of taking the children to the zoo and the museums and the arboretum. I would love to tell you of the movies they saw, the games they played and the amazing meals they ate. I would love to, but I can’t. Because for one entire week, my sister and I sat on the couch and read every trash gossip rag known to man. (Oh, and a few unknown and some that could possibly be called reputable.) The kids played. The dogs played. In fact, while the kids were outside playing at the same time the dogs were outside playing, they all learned a new phrase. If they were all here I would have them recite it in an adorable chorus of cherubic voices, “NO HUMPING! NO NO NO HUMPING!”

From the oldest to the baby, they all had to yell it at the dogs at one time or another. (Yes, my sister and I are so proud!) As we sat on the couch with trash tv (Can someone please just tell Shawn he is the the friggin father or Belle’s baby already??!) and read magazines that made us lose IQ points (Want to know who is expecting, how far along they are and who the Baby Daddy is?), my sister looked up at me and said in a tone that could only be described as mock intimidation, “Oh my god, Supernanny would totally jump our shit for the way we are acting this week!”

Not as funny in the retelling, but the way the conversation went and the mimicked proclamations of poor parenting and reprimands from JoJo about what lazy mothers we were, we were laughing ourselves silly. We both needed it.

At one point, I was totally interrupted from my OK! magazine with the immediate need to check the mail. (No, I have no idea why. But when you have the immediate need to check the mail, you do it. Trust me. Don’t question crazy.) So mindlessly I opened my front door.

There stood a man who to the best of my ability to guess these things, had not shaved since Nixon was in office and wore clothes that had seen better days. Let me just say he shocked the shit out of me! I screamed the scream of a woman about to be murdered on her front door step, danced the “Oh-my-god-who-are-you-and-why-are-you-standing-at-my-door-don’t-kill-me” dance while trying so hard not to pee my pants then slammed the door in his face.

My sister casually looked up from her magazine and said, “Mail not here yet or is someone about to bludgeon you because that was one scary ass scream!”

I peeked out the peephole to see the man still standing there. I slowly opened the door when I realized all he was doing was putting flyer on my door. Making an honest living and this crazy woman SCREAMS right into his face and slams the door. I am lucky I did not give him a heart attack. He just put on hand over his heart and the other hand up towards me as if to ward off my insanity and keep ME from hurting HIM. I took his flyer. I think I may now have to have my entire yard landscaped in order to appease my guilt of nearly killing an innocent man with my SCREAM OF DOOM AND DEATH.

Another afternoon I told my sister to just go get pampered. The sentence was not quite out of my mouth before she was sprinting toward the van shouting out lunchtimes and nap-times. The day went well. I think. The kids all took care of themselves and I caught up on magazine gossip and still sat screaming that “Dammit someone better tell Shawn that is the father of Belle’s baby for the love of dragging a story line on too long to do anything but make people yell at their television set.” But when my sister got home, she had a gorgeous hair cut.

I was green with envy. “I want one!” I whined.

So (the real reason for this entire long winded babble-assing post), I got my hair cut off. Short. It was below the middle of my back and a sable-ish color. A hint of possible red, but not really.

I am guessing at this point you want to see it? Are you sure? Okay, here is one sneak peek:


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Part 2-The boxing up part of “Birthdays, boxing up and breakdowns”

Part 2-The boxing up part of “Birthdays, boxing up and breakdowns”

Over the kids’ Spring Break, I decided it was time to go back to Houston.  I knew Dad was ready to take care of some of Mom’s things and I felt I was ready to help him.  So we loaded up the kids, the dog and every electronic device I could get my hands on to entertain the kids on the road and we headed to Houston.  Never in my worst fears did I imagine how much of a punch in the gut it would be to drive into Houston.  Never in my life had I ever gone there and not seen my Mom.  Never.  Even in the last 6 months when she was so sick, my first stop was the hospital.  Being home meant seeing Mom.  It was what home meant.  As soon as I hit the outskirts of Houston I began to cry.  As I passed the cemetery where she is buried, I began to bawl.  By the time I pulled into my Daddy’s driveway, I was a sobbing mess.  It was all I could do to get out of the van and cling to him crying.  I kept apologizing for it and for not being stronger.  (Much to his hushing me for saying such nonsense.) All I could sputter through my sobs was, “But home means seeing Mom.  I can’t see Mom.  I need to see Mom.” The kids were wonderful.  They went in and let the dogs play.  The called my sister to let her know that I was there.  As my Daddy and I stood in driveway and I let the flood of tears flow and drench his shoulder.  I had no idea that going back home would be so hard.

Home is where you go when you need to recharge.  Home is where your compass is when you have lost your way.  Home is where you get wrapped in the warmth that is your childhood and everything is okay…if for only a moment.  But this was this first time in my life that Home didn’t include Mom.  And I felt as if a cannon had ripped through my heart.

I got through that first day.  I was apathetic and numb and spent a lot of time just sitting with Dad and not talking.  Just being there.  Just feeling the absence of part of Home.  It was feeling her presence and her absence all at once.

As the days wore on, I knew I had to take care of the task I came to do.  Boxing up all of Mom’s clothes, purses, shoes etc.  My sister and I decided to just jump into it.  To take as much emotion out of it as we could and just objectively look at outfits as if we were shopping.  It worked for some items.  But for many outfits, it would evoke a memory or emotion that we could not separate ourselves from.  We made 4 piles.  One for me. One for my sister.  One for my aunt and cousins.  And one to give away.  Guess which one was the smallest.  The give away.  I could not imagine a stranger wearing Mom’s clothes.  They were Mom’s.  Because I am the same size as many of Mom’s outfits, I would continually put things into my pile.  My sister would look at me and shake her head.

“Jenn,” she would say, “That is butt-ugly and out of style.  Put it in the give away pile.”

“But I remember…”

“No.  You just can’t take all of it.  You know you have to do this.” She would gently remind me.

Even so, I managed to come home with 4 full bags of clothes.  Many of which I will probably never wear. But for now, I can pull them out and hold them close and still smell her perfume.  In time, I will have to go through the whole process again and give many of these things away.  But I needed to hold onto so much still.  I suppose Dad was ready.  It looks like it was the little girl in me that was not.

But if I thought clothes were hard, they were nothing compared to purses.  Ladies, are you with me on this one?  Our purses hold a multitude of secrets and gems.  My Mom’s were no different.  So many things in her purses would bring me to tears.  Many times laughter through those tears.  I found things that I knew would immediately be transferred to my purse and probably not be pulled out until my own children are going through them.  And then they will laugh through their tears at the very same items.  It was heart wrenching.  It was touching.  It was hell.  It was healing.  It was something I would not wish on my worst enemy, yet something I was honored to be able to do.  A contradiction in emotions and actions.  Getting rid of things and growing closer to her.  Finding things that showed me how similar she and I really were.

I can honestly say that week was one of the hardest weeks on me emotionally.  I broke.  I don’t mean I cried alot and came home sad.  It broke me.  It shattered me.  It immobilized me.  It took my sanity and slammed it against the wall to see if it would stick.  As I slowly watched it slide down, I knew this was more than being sad.  More than being depressed.  This was that time in your life when you either cry uncle and get help or you go down in the depths of that darkness and possibly never return.

I cried uncle.

That is the breakdown.  I will tell you about that next time. 

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Birthdays, boxing up and breakdowns. Part 1

Birthdays, boxing up and breakdowns. Part 1

Let’s start with the easy one.  Well, the one that is easiest to talk about, actually.  I will tell you the heartbreak of boxing up and the terror of breakdowns in the next entry (or two).

With one of my last entries being about how hard it is to be jonesing for a fix when I am hurting so badly, I wanted to share the good stuff.  I am proud to tell you that on March 6, 2006, I celebrated my 6th “birthday” in recovery.  That’s right.  6 years clean.  Let me tell you something about how hard it was to hit 6 years.  I really didn’t think I would make it this time.  I mean, why would I?  Why should I?  What did it matter? Those were all of the thoughts that ran rampant in my mind when we knew we were losing Mom and after her death.  A pill?  It couldn’t hurt.  I would make me feel so much better!

I had opportunity.  I had means.  And I had a lack of my normal support system that gets me through these times.  No meetings or sponsors or anyone who gets it and would keep my ass accountable.  But I made it through.  I resisted.  (And was quite the bitch for it, let me just be clear on that.  A clean addict who is fighting and not caring if she is clean is not a fun person to be around.)

But I did it.  I am officially clean 6 years.  And damn proud of it!


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The one where I pretend to post but it really doesn’t count as a post

The one where I pretend to post but it really doesn’t count as a post

A real update is coming soon.  Honest.  I have just received so many amazing emails from people checking on me that I wanted to let you all know that I really am okay am here.  Things are just really, really hard right now.  I will be back in a day or two. I promise.  Just give me a bit to try to get “the mental” back.  Because sometimes life can just be too much and you need to have the help of those you love to get you through.  Thanks to friends who have understood even when I let them down this past weekend (I am so sorry!) and to friends who take panicked phone calls while I babble incoherently (and hearing what I am not saying!) and to my sister who made that horrific drive from Houston to Dallas just to help me out of this black hole.

I do have updates on birthdays, goodbyes and breakdowns.  Soon.  I promise.

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