My Memories Of My Father Are Of A Brown Paper Bag

The memories come haunting back to me far more often than I like. I could be doing the dishes, driving, or be mid-sentence and something just triggers them, like a flash of lightning. Sharp and bright, streaking through an otherwise black blank space and shattering that existence with its jagged edges.

It almost always takes a second for me to come around, to refocus, but to me, that second feels like an eternity. A different lifetime that I keep pushing away as if it’s not my own but it keeps emerging at times when I’m not strong enough to keep it buried.

“Mama, what’s wrong?”
“What are you doing?”
“What’s daddy doing?”
“He’s got a gun?”
“He’s drunk???”
“What’s drunk?? ”
“Why is he shooting the stoplight?”

“Oh Mama, Daddy is mad. He’s angry, real angry. He didn’t like that you dumped out his brown paper bag.”

I can still remember crying at the window watching my father run down the city street as my mother screamed she was calling the police. He was my father and I loved him with all the love a 6-year-old little girl could give. When the police arrived, they pulled my tear-streaked face from the window and made sure I was okay. They did the same for my brother as another one inspected my mother’s bruises. They also inspected the half-inch in diameter holes upon the wall, made from the piercing bullets as they ripped into the easily shattered drywall. Not aiming for anyone but my mother’s china cabinet my father had dangerously shot the gun inside in his rage, thankfully missing anyone not made out of porcelain or crystal. Thankfully.

You see, my father was an alcoholic. You may also share this far too familiar story, of a family member afflicted with addiction and the turmoil it has on a family. Alcohol killed my father, but it also consumed all the happiness in his life, killed my life with a loving father. My father loved alcohol too much to love anything else, or perhaps, in the end, my father was too tired to fight against alcohol’s love for him.

My mother divorced my father. I was so angry with her at the time, that it must be her fault that my daddy wasn’t around more often. As I grew older, I eventually came to realize that alcohol was the one to blame, and the hand that was holding the bottle, that hand belonged to my father. Yet how do you explain to your children that their father chose a lifetime of alcohol over his children? That his addiction ran too deep, and that he could not be trusted to keep us safe? My mother certainly didn’t know how to explain it and so we spent a lifetime avoiding talking about it at all.

My mother did set up visitations a couple of times but it was under strict orders that my father could not drink while in supervision of us. I was so excited that first day my father came to pick us up. His eyes lit up when he saw my little brother and me, and he said “I missed ya!” and gathered us in a great big hug, our giggles the very definition of happiness. We jumped in his little blue car and we were off for a fantastic day with our daddy at the turtle ponds. We were so excited and bursting at the seams happy, the anticipation building as my brother and I smiled at each other in the backseat.

“One quick stop and we will be on our way!” Daddy smiled from the rearview window as we pulled up to an Expressmart.

He quick darted into the store as the heat produced sweat along the windows as well as our foreheads but he was back in just a moments time. Yet in his hand, he had with him a brown paper bag. It was a familiar sight and seeing it to this day still puts a pit in my stomach, a wound that just doesn’t seem to heal. Small bag, but its crinkled along the top wrapped around a bottle holding it tight. Covered so you can’t see what’s inside, but I know what it is. It’s the drink. Daddy is drinking. He tells us not to tell mommy and we say that we won’t. My brother and I look at each other with nervous eyes but with a silent promise. We don’t tell mommy because she’d not let us see him anymore and we’ve waited so long.

That promise fell flat for us that day. Daddy’s girlfriend had come up to the turtle ponds and they had gotten into a fight. She was an older lady and she was mean. She was drunk like daddy and she yelled at us and we yelled at her for yelling at our daddy. We were small but we had already spent our entire lives defending our father. She left us on the side of the road, my brother and I, when my father left angrily and she told us to find our own way home.

Alcohol that day took our happiness and like a fire consumed it until nothing was left but ashes. There was nothing left to save. An innocence taken from our lives that day as we saw what happens when addiction drives and it’s you in the backseat.

Live Love Click/Reshot

My mother was furious but I wouldn’t say she seemed surprised. It took some time after that for another visitation to be set up. By “some time,” I mean 5 years.

I was 12 years old and I had just emerged into young adolescence and no longer had that naive innocence of a 6-year-old little girl but I still had some hope. I knew my daddy was a drunk but I missed him and I still loved him. I sat on a hill in front of our house waiting to see that little blue car emerge down the street to come swoop us up. I imagined my dad’s smiling face and those bright eyes as he proclaimed “I missed ya!” and swooped us up again. I could feel the happiness of all of us being together. My mother watched me sitting on that hill from the window probably knowing and hurting. As a mother, I can’t even imagine the pain of watching your child sit on a hill waiting for their daddy to come and watching the disappointment on their face as it grew dark. Daddy never came.

I didn’t see my father again until I was an adult and the circumstances were grim. I used to like to pretend that he had moved out of state or somewhere equally as far but he remained in the same city as I did. I knew the exact trailer park he lived in and it never changed. Every time someone with brown hair and tan skin passed me on the street I’d turn and look but if it had been him what would I have said? As an adult myself, I have had my own trials, my own hardships. Estranged from my step-father and mother at the time, I was a young adult who struggled to make a path for herself. My upbringing certainly didn’t lead me down a path of opportunities and as a young adult I struggled with depression and trying to find a place to belong. This lead to hanging out in the wrong crowds and partying nonstop. I’ve abused alcohol, the very thing that tormented my life from the very beginning. I have found myself using it to cope, to run away from my problems in the same way that my father did. To this day I have to monitor myself, where a good time can quickly develop into a need. However, somewhere along the way, I made a choice. I made a decision that was stronger because I made it stronger. I chose to love


My husband and child are the biggest blessings in my life. I named my son after my husband, my husband being my saving grace. He has been and he is, everything I’ve ever wanted and everything I’ve ever needed. He is a pillar of stability and patience. A man that took on a woman who felt broken and helped her to realize how strong she actually was. He is a man with open arms always willing to hold me. A happiness that never ends and is always giving. That love gave me something, hope and motivation to create a life I wanted instead of the life I was given. I was able to grow as a mother, a wife, and build a career that I could be proud of. There’s something in knowing you can overcome. You can keep going long after you think you can’t.

I never got to say to my father how sad I was that he missed being in my life. How sad I was that he couldn’t choose to fight for us. Maybe he couldn’t, I know how deep alcohol addiction can truly be. Perhaps it was the biggest regret in his life. We could have given him so much love, my brother and I. Grandchildren, with infectious smiles and non-stop energy, could have filled his heart until it felt like bursting. He could have walked me down the aisle when I married the man of my dreams, given me away to a better man. He could have been the man I called when things broke down or taught me how to change a tire. I could have spent my life searching for a man like my daddy, instead of searching for just anyone to show me love. I’m thankful that God sent my husband to me knowing exactly what I needed.

My father died on November 11, 2017 at 57 years old. It is the last time I ever saw him. He was not aware I was there along with my brother, and my father’s entire family. He suffered from liver failure from the damages of a lifelong abuse of alcohol. His body was swollen from the internal bleeding and he was jaundice, a slight yellow tint to his skin. Tubes with blood lead from his body, and ventilators were the only thing at that point keeping him alive and breathing. He was unrecognizable to me as my memory fills me with the memory of brown wavy hair and bright eyes. He died later that day. They gave us condolences and told us that they had done everything that they could do. We all knew silently that there was no way they could have done anything to save him, his life had ended a long time ago, he had just been hanging on.

Toronto Eaters/Stock Snap

With my father’s death came a lot of anger. I was so angry at the way I was feeling. I wasn’t just grieving the loss of my father but I was grieving the loss of a man I didn’t know. That I should have known. I was angry at what alcohol had taken from me, had taken from him. I’m still sorting through these emotions as I think anyone would. It’s taken me a long time to forgive all the people around me and a long time to forgive myself for almost following in the same path. I’m so thankful that I saw a light in the darkness and let it lead me to a life worth living. I did forgive him. The last thing I did before I walked out of the room was I laid my hand on his, and I told him I forgive him and that I love him. My brother looked at me, those eyes that had so badly needed a father, and did the same. At the time I don’t know if I believed it, but it was the only thing at the time that I could give. A lie that eventually turned into truth if not for him, but for myself.

We all need a way to move on and forgiveness is a part of that. We cannot move forward if we are still stuck in the thorns of our past. It may be a part of who we are, like scars from a battlefield, but it need not define our entire lives. It’s just a small part of our story. My husband is the perfect father to our son, his love for him shines like nothing else. My son is blessed to have such a role model in his life, someone whom when he looks back he will remember as funny and providing. A stand-up man. He will always be someone he can reach out too for guidance and for support. Someone that I can lean too when this world sometimes feels too much. I am blessed and despite it all, my memories serve me every now and then that image of a wavy-haired man, bright eyes, big smile. He’s holding a bottle wrapped in a brown paper bag.

My dad, whom I love.

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The Real Reason I Say ‘No’ To Dinner And Drinks

You probably think I have too much going on or that I have something better to do.

Or maybe you worry that I am pulling away from our friendship.

Or you may just think I suck.

There are so many reasons you could come up with as to why I keep saying “no” to your requests for a ladies’ night or an 8 p.m. dinner without kids. You could spend weeks wondering why I went from the person you used to rely on for late night adventures, to the person you have a hard time getting to a 5 p.m. barbeque.

So let me put that wondering mind at ease and just blurt it out – I say no because of sleep.

If you were around me every day, you would see that there is almost a night and day version of myself.

The first version is happy, super talkative, and a genuine people person. She can have full adult conversations with the intelligence of an MIT grad, and she is confident in her stances on anything from reality TV to politics. She eats healthy, exercises, and breathes through most anxious moments. She loves her kids fiercely and can deal with almost every whiny situation. She wears her entire wardrobe with confidence. Her house is (semi) clean and her husband is happy — because who wouldn’t love this version of someone?


The second version is weak and negative. She can’t even think about the day ahead because she is stuck in the moment right now. She stresses and frets over the dumbest things like clothes not fitting or texts not being returned quick enough. She sometimes feels like the whole world hates her. Full sentences and complete thoughts can sometimes get stuck and make her sound out of it or even drunk. She snaps at her children and just wants to lay on the couch. Her worries feel endless and her brain spins in a constant whirl of anxiousness ALL DAY LONG. She counts the minutes ’til bed…

Sleep deprivation triggers anxiety for me, and I can slip into either version strictly based on a few nights of good or bad sleep. There are days I have not a single worrisome thought, but there are also days I am plagued with such body buzzing concern it’s hard to function. And before you ask, yes, I can say confidently it is related to sleep.

It was well before kids that I knew sleep played a huge role in my mental health. Just a few months after our wedding, I had a ruptured ectopic pregnancy that required life-saving surgery. The results left me partially immobile and unable to climb stairs. I slept in my living room on a mattress, and night & day had no meaning. I was slipping as the weeks went by into a deep state of panic. It felt like the walls were closing in on me, and I couldn’t figure out why.

I went to a therapist who gave me the simplest life changing advice: “Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day.”

She stressed the importance of sleep and its contribution to your emotional well-being, and even mentioned medical studies that connect sleep loss and anxiety. I went home with a hunger for a new sleep routine, and I threw myself in head first.

It’s not as easy as it sounds to regulate your sleep schedule. During the week, you go to bed and get up early, so on the weekends you need to do the same thing.

It changes the dynamic of some relationships. There were no more late night dinners and bar escapades or even staying late at a party. In fact, we were typically always the first to leave. I was a 30-year-old with a self-imposed bedtime.

I am lucky to have a husband who changed with me. We got coffee together every morning instead of drinks at night. We ate dinner around 5 p.m. and lights out by 9. I got called “old” more than I would like to admit, but I was sure that this version of me was preferred by everyone.

Two years after our first pregnancy loss, we were blessed with a beautiful baby girl. And as all new mothers know, this blew up my sleep routine and set my world on fire.

She didn’t sleep for six full weeks, and so obviously neither did I. Breastfeeding was painful and mentally complicated. My supply was low, so she was always hungry and restless. I struggled mentally to keep it together, and I could feel those walls closing in once again.

We switched to formula when she was about seven weeks old, and we both started to sleep more. As hard as it was to make that decision, we knew our daughter needed proper nourishment and a mentally healthy mother more than anything.

From there, my husband and I did our best to divide and conquer, trying to split the duties as much as we could. Sleep was a commodity I could not squander, and I re-affirmed with myself that I needed to get back on track as much as possible.

Today, I have a 3- and 5-year-old so every night is like a sleeping game of roulette. We can go two whole weeks with solid blissful rest, and then five nights straight of torturous “nighttime naps” that total one night of sleep.

So, at this point in my life, I need to continue my bedtime, and regrettably say no to things even when I want to say yes. I owe it to myself and my family to remain as mentally healthy as possible.

One day things will change for me, and a late night escapade will not only be wanted but needed. But for now, I must stick to daytime or early evening adventures. I promise you the fun me is still here… just not after 9 p.m.

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Shingles Can Happen In Your 30s And 40s Too

It started with a weird rash. It looked like two clusters of bad acne, honestly, but my husband said it hurt. “Should I go to the doctor?” he asked. Thank God I said yes. He called me two hours later. “You’re not going to believe this,” he said, “but I have shingles.”

We’re in our mid-30s. I thought only old people got shingles. I thought shingles was highly contagious (and subsequently flipped out). I thought shingles went away pretty quickly.

Wrong, wrong, wrongity-wrong.

What shingles is

According to the Centers for Disease Control (the CDC), shingles is caused by the varicella zoster virus, which also causes chicken pox. If you’ve ever had chicken pox, or ever gotten a chicken pox shot, you can get shingles — and 1 in 3 Americans will get it in their lifetimes. The virus goes dormant in your nervous system and becomes active again (scientists aren’t really sure why).

As for it being “an old person disease?” WRONG. Turns out at least two of my friends in their mid-30s have also had the disease. Even children can get shingles, says the CDC. Luckily, you usually only get it once, but some people get it multiple times. There is vaccine available. My husband’s doc said he can get it five years after his infection.

What are shingles symptoms?

My husband started out with some mild nerve pain in the general area where he eventually developed the rash. This is typical. A few days later, he got the typical rash, which in his case, has looked like acne. It can also resemble fluid-filled blisters, and usually only occurs on one side of the body. The kicker, though: it hurts like a bitch, agrees every single medical source and my poor husband. He developed the sometimes-typical “fever, headache, sensitivity to light, and tiredness,” according to the Mayo Clinic. But not only do the blisters hurt. Your nerves hurt. Your muscles hurt. Bear said it felt like he had been scalded with hot water about an hour before, all the time. Yikes.

After about 2-7 days (2 days in his case, as he was immediately treated with heavy-duty antivirals, thanks to me insisting on an immediate visit to the doc), the blisters crusted over. By about a week, the pain had lessened, though he still hurt. 

And about that chicken pox connection …

I had a massive freak-out when I discovered my husband had shingles. Shingles is caused by the same virus that causes chicken pox. Guess who has two kids who aren’t yet fully vaxxed for chicken pox (we thought they were up on all their vaccines … we discovered we were wrong when we called the doc to check). Cue the complete mama meltdown, especially after a brief consult with Dr. Google.

Remember: Dr. Google always gives you the worst case scenario.

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So this has been my last week of life. It’s sucked in ways I can’t quite convey. This is what shingles V2 looks like. I’ll spare you today’s blisters that have opened up. I’m on a bunch of antibiotics and I’m being closely monitored so that my vision isn’t effected. I’m blind as a bat to begin with so please pray for me. It feels like the worst sunburn of my life and I feel like a vampire as I bob and weave to avoid ANY sunlight bc it brings tears to my eyes and said tears make the two blisters on my lids burn! I’m sharing this bc not all shingles look the same. Trust your gut and keep asking questions until you get answers. I earnestly believe the mixture on my face has lessened the amount and severity of my shingles. This mask has gone on my shingles every two hours while awake for 20 minutes at a time. I started this on Saturday. The clay is a detox, ACV is a major astringent and turmeric has wonderful healing advantages too. I just started my viral antibiotics so hopefully I won’t be dealing with this for a full month, praying for a speedy recovery. #shingles ##shinglesvirus #aztecclaymask #thissucks #chickenpoxpart2 #acv #tumeric

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Yes, shingles can communicate chicken pox to those who are not fully vaccinated against the chicken pox. That is, if, according to the CDC, someone who is not immune to the chicken pox comes into direct contact with the fluid from the shingles blisters (ick). You are not infectious before the blisters appear. You are not infectious after the blisters crust over. You are only infectious when the blister actually pop and the fluid comes out and you touch it and then you touch someone who doesn’t have immunity. Ew, ew, ew.

Easily solved: don’t touch your damn rash and wash your fucking hands a lot.

The good news? Dr. William Schaffner, doctor of preventative medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, and a leading infectious disease expert, told Live Science that kids who get the full complement of chicken pox vaccines are at a much lower risk of getting shingles later in life — as in, 99% of kids who get the vaccine won’t get shingles. One more reason to vax your kids, folks.

So how long does shingles last again?

Basically, shingles sucks ass. It’s like this miserable gift that keeps springing new and inventive presents on us regularly.

Most people don’t get antivirals so quickly, or have a weakened immune system, and so have to deal with this shizz for two to four weeks. I might be forced to move out at that point. One side effect of both shingles and the antivirals that we’ve discovered, and which no one really talks much about? Violent fucking mood swings, some of which have to do with your nervous system being out of whack, some of which have to do with being in constant pain. My husband is mostly exhausted and hurt-y. It sucks.

What about complications?

My husband has been super lucky. No complications here. But they exist and they’re awful. 

According to Drug Topics, about 10-15% of people of all ages develop postherpetic neuralgia, which is when severe shingles pain persists for months or even years after the rash disappears. It can be debilitating, and the older you are, the more likely you are to get it. Lucky for my husband, the CDC says it’s rare in people under 40.

If you get shingles near your face, you can suffer vision loss or encephalitis (swelling of the brain), says the CDC. The Mayo Clinic adds that it can also cause facial paralysis, hearing and balance problems, and skin infections if the blisters aren’t properly cared for.

So how do you treat this misery?

Antivirals, folks. Pill yourself up with some hardcore antivirals — my husband took horse pills five times a day for a week, and a lot of the time, it was hard to tell if his symptoms came from the antivirals or the shingles. You can also take pain meds. While my husband, Bear, stuck to over-the-counter stuff (a magic combo of ibuprofen in addition to prescription Xanax seemed to do it), the Mayo Clinic lists a whole host of other meds for severe pain that your doctor might prescribe.

Thank God we’re on the tail end of this misery. The kids haven’t gotten chicken pox. Bear is still behaving like, well, a bear, but his pain is decreasing and he’s regaining more function, though he still spends a lot of time watching Netflix (he says you know it’s bad when he’s watching the entire Children of Dune series). I’m just grateful I sent him to the doctor when I did. If you ever find yourself with a painful rash, call your doctor. Quick antivirals could make the difference between a week and three weeks of severe pain.

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This Is When Everything Changed For My Daughter

12 years ago, 7 pounds of perfection was placed in my shaky hands. I didn’t know what I was doing but looking into that baby’s eyes I knew I’d do anything for that sweet girl looking back at me. I was but a baby myself. And whether I was brave or naïve, I didn’t hover. I parented with care, but not caution.

I took her hand in mine and for a season we grew together. I nursed her. She nourished me. I taught her to walk and she helped me find my feet. We shared laughter, ice cream cones and moments. We made memories. As she grew, I showed her what life was and she in turn showed me what it was all about.

Then came the season it all changed.

Her body, the one I gave her, attacked her brain. And overnight the life we’d built together was gone. She seized so hard and so long I thought we’d lost her. Her eyes were vacant, she couldn’t speak and a feeding tube nourished her. Helpless as I felt and as weak as she looked, she held on. And I looked into her eyes, as I’d done so many times before, and promised I’d do anything to keep her safe.

She left the hospital immune deficient, physically weak and experiencing seizures at every turn. I left traumatized. Afraid of seeing death through her eyes once more. For a final time. And, again, with a mix of naivety and bravery I vowed to keep her safe.

I tried. I removed extracurricular activities and had a tutor work with her at home for school. She visited with friends on FaceTime, but seldom face to face. She wore a mask to her outpatient therapies five days a week, and even around her brothers. And as it turns out, it still wasn’t enough. I took her out for her birthday to a low key “princess tea.” I called ahead to ask about the presence of lights and sound and sure the menu was gluten free. And with a mask for protection and noise cancelling headphones she met Belle and Moana. Then, a little girl twirled by in light up shoes. And my girl seized. And seized. Until it took her breath away. And for the second time I carried a limp, lifeless daughter through the ER doors.

The shoes caused the seizure. But it could have been anything. Her medication levels were off, ever so slightly. Insurance had delayed treatment and she was “susceptible.” And she had a hint of a cold. It was the perfect storm. And it struck. Again, changing the season.

She spent just a week in ICU that time. Once they stopped the seizures her breathing normalized. And as they pumped chemo through her veins, targeting the b cells attacking her brain, light returned to her eyes.

But this time I didn’t take her home to a bubble. Because the fear I felt changed me. It reminded me how fragile life was and how much she deserved to live it. Because as she stared death down, all I could think is how much she hadn’t done. And I realized her last memory, whenever it may be, shouldn’t be one of captivity.

For most parents, this is natural. We strive to launch our children into the world. With Gracie, it was more complicated. Because letting her live meant risking her life. And that fought against my only instinct as a mama, which is to keep her safe.

But that’s the crux of parenting a medically fragile child. Your desire to protect them is juxtaposed with their desire for life. And it feels incompatible.

Your heart says, “Safety first.”

Theirs says, “Let me live.”

And in the end you must meet in the middle. Because though a child may be sick, they’re alive. And they deserve to live. And life doesn’t always take place between four safe walls. So, if that’s all a child sees, they’re not living. And if they don’t live, they’ll never know what we beg them to fight to live for.

I want my girl to have forever. And I’m going to fight with all I have for her to see it. But now, more than ever, I know the importance of giving her today. And that will never happen if I’m into the “what if’s” tomorrow holds.

So this season we’re weathering the storms. We hunker down when it rains, and we bask in the sun. Because though she fights a relentless disease, it will not take her childhood.

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Snake Massages Are A Thing And We Have So Many Questions

Who doesn’t love a good rubdown? It’s the perfect way to show yourself some relaxing self-love and take a load off as you inhale calming scents and have the knots in your body unwound. Many of us don’t get the chance to indulge in this luxurious service enough, which is why when we do, we feel like a pad of butter sliding down a stack of warm pancakes.

I’ve had some massages in my lifetime and am not too proud to admit I  love them so much I pay my kids to rub my feet to keep me satiated between the few professional massages I do get. They are happy about the money they get to spend, and it really does help calm my nerves even if it’s just a five-minute long session.

I’m sure you are with me here. I have yet to run into too many people throughout my years who would refuse a calming treatment whether it’s performed by an expert at a spa or their partner.

But I was thrown off the rails the other day when I heard people are paying actual dollars (80 of them to be exact) to have giant snakes crawl all over their back and face at a spa. 

Apparently the experience can be very “soothing” and “stress relieving,” but I am wondering how many cocktails I’d have to shove down my throat in order for me to feel like having slithering reptiles slide all over my body parts is the right thing to do.

Actually, this sounds like a punishment for doing bad things and would only perpetuate my already overstressed state.

The snakes used for this are non-venomous varieties, such as the California and Florida king snake, corn snake, and milk snake. However, if that’s not enough to put you in a zen-like state, some locations allow the belly of a python snake slide up and down your spine. But don’t worry! Their mouth is taped shut for your safety.

You can have these cold-blooded serpents that can swallow a rat or whole egg slide in between your toes, on your back, neck, and shoulder area, or even your face, because who doesn’t want a pointy tongue going in and out of their nostril region?

If you’ve ever wanted to live out your worst nightmare, I can’t suggest this enough. I don’t know about you, but I’m almost 44 and I still think there is going to be a snake waiting to jump out and lick my butthole when I wake up in the middle of the night to pee, so I have to check the toilet water first to make sure there isn’t a serpent waiting to devour one of my ass cheeks. So I’m having a hard time understanding the draw here.

But let me try and see the other side of this fuckery: Supposedly the weight of a snake gives you a kneading sensation which can bring much pleasure. Can you see the benefits now?

Nope, me neither.

Kesha Kesha/Reshot

I’m still not enticed in any way, shape, or form. I’d rather have someone take the paddle of a bread machine and give me a nice kneading that way. Perhaps a handheld mixer could work out my kinks? Give me an electrical appliance that can’t start hissing near my nether regions, my ears, and along my neck any day of the week.

And what about my openings? Snakes like hot areas and are famous for spreading out on rocks to soak it all in the warmth. I simply cannot risk having a snake nestle between my rocks and settle in hoping to warm up.

You cannot honestly say you are expected to spread out on a table and let a reptile have its way with you, recommending it as a great way to unwind unless you are showing off like you’ve never shown off before. You just cannot.

Maybe this is a contest to see who can think up the most ridiculous way to relax and if it is, I’d like to present the trophy to this fuckery. Because I’ll take some nice lavender oil slathered on my shoulders while Kenny G. plays softly in the background over this nonsense any day. Even if Jason Momoa showed up at my door with millions of dollars claiming to be my love-servant every day of the week for the rest of my life, I wouldn’t pick the snake massage for one moment.

Okay, well maybe I could handle it if that was the payoff, but we all know that’s not going to happen. Really, I just think this whole thing sounds like a form of torture. And after pondering all of the questions this idea has spurred, I’ve got a serious tension headache. Nothing a little massage won’t cure. Just hold the snakes, please.

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I Have A Skin Condition That Makes It Harder For Me To Feel Beautiful

When I was eight years old, the school nurse sent a letter home saying she thought I had ringworm. My parents took me to the pediatrician expecting a simple solution. Just one tube of anti-fungal cream, and the little red patches on my legs would be gone in a week or two. As it turns out, it wasn’t that simple. I didn’t have ringworm after all. A trip to a dermatologist confirmed that I actually had psoriasis.

I’ve been wrestling with my skin ever since.

There are multiple kinds of psoriasis, but the kind I have is called plaque psoriasis. It’s the most common type.

Psoriasis is caused by the immune system, but it shows up as a skin disorder. Essentially, my skin cells reproduce at a highly accelerated rate, which doesn’t allow them to shed properly. This creates red, scaly, flaky patches called plaques. Sometimes they itch, and sometimes they hurt. Because it’s an autoimmune disorder, it can be hard to treat. It’s not as easy as using some lotion or exfoliating. My skin shows the symptoms, but psoriasis is a much more complicated problem.

It’s not contagious, and it’s not a result of anything I did or didn’t do. I can’t use any kind of simple at-home process to eliminate or reduce it, and I can’t cure it with my diet or a home remedy. It’s not a rash, and no, Karen, a paste of turmeric and essential oils won’t give me clear skin, but thanks for the unsolicited advice. This “rash” comes from the inside, and it’s an absolute beast.

To be fair, as far as psoriasis goes, my case is nowhere close to the worst. Some of the other types of psoriasis can be debilitating or even dangerous. Arthritis accompanies psoriasis for some people, and there are types that can even strain a person’s heart. I am grateful for my mostly pain-free life, and the fact that my skin doesn’t put me in danger.

But it still really sucks.

It’s not curable, but the good news is, it’s somewhat treatable. Many of us will never clear up completely, but a lot of people have good results with biologics. I am on one of those right now. Biologics are injectable drugs that affect the immune response that causes psoriasis. I give myself two injections once a month. I have noticed some improvement. The medicine has totally cleared up my face and ears. The spots on my chest have improved. I still have patches on my arms, legs, scalp and stomach, but most of the ones on my arms have faded to light pink. My legs have lost most of the scaly appearance, and are now just bright red. But a few of the patches in each area remain as they were before — red, scaly, itchy and uncomfortable. I don’t know if it will ever clear up all the way.

For me, the physical part of psoriasis is manageable. As long as I work with a dermatologist and use a nice, thick, high quality moisturizer a few times a day, I can stave off most of the itching and pain. I try to gently exfoliate a few times a week, so I don’t flake too badly. I have learned how to live in physical comfort with my scaly skin.

For me, the worst part of psoriasis is how hard it is to feel beautiful when my skin — my largest organ — is covered in red, flaky plaques.

I get really frustrated with myself when I let psoriasis stand in the way of my total confidence.

Scary Mommy and Andrew Morin/Reshot

I am fat, and I always have been. People expect me to be sensitive about my body, but I’m not self-conscious of my size. It took me years to get comfortable with my size and shape, but I did that work. I no longer care what people think then they see me in the world, even in a bathing suit. I’m not ashamed of the space I take up. Don’t like the look of fat people? Don’t look at me. I don’t have time for your body shaming BS. I have shit to do.

Plus, I’m in incredible company. I can open Instagram any time and see thousands of photos gorgeous women in bodies the size of mine, living adventurous lives, wearing what they want, and giving no shits about anyone’s opinion. Finding confidence as a fat woman was a path I didn’t walk alone.

You’d think I could apply the same confidence and screw you attitude to psoriasis, but it’s SO damn hard. I never relate to people who say they are “comfortable in their own skin.” I am comfortable with the size and shape of my body, but I am absolutely not always comfortable in my skin.

When I see a gorgeous model with a toned body and perky boobs, I’m not jealous of her shape. I’m jealous of her skin, smooth and glowing. Last summer, I wore a bikini top for the first time on vacation with a few of my plus-size friends. I felt amazing until I saw one of my friends wading through the water toward me with her beautiful, perfect skin reflecting the sunlight. In that moment, my confidence plummeted. I was so envious of her gorgeous skin, even though I knew she wasn’t judging mine. Her even, smooth skin felt like an unattainable dream to me. It was hard to be reminded of that poolside while my red, spotty stomach was on full display for the first time.

I’ll keep working on it. I actively choose not to cover my plaques, just like I actively choose not to hide my body in shame. It’s not my choice to have psoriasis, and it’s not easily changed, so I don’t let it force me into long sleeves or pants. I try so hard not to let it hold me back.

Scary Mommy and Alexander Krivitski/Pexel

But I think about it A LOT. I can’t imagine a world where I’m not really, really self-conscious about my skin. It’s an insecurity I just can’t easily shake.

I know nobody else is analyzing my skin as hard as I am. Honestly, nobody has ever said anything intentionally rude to me about my skin. Most people who mention it are genuinely concerned about whether I’m in pain.

But this isn’t about other people; insecure is just how my imperfect skin makes me feel.

I know I’m not alone. There are millions of other people that share my skin disorder. Even people who don’t have psoriasis can relate to feeling different or less. It’s part of being human.

I cross my fingers that someday I’ll be able to totally clear up my psoriasis with medicine and treatment. I still dream of having beautiful, glistening skin. Until then, I’ll be out here just trying to live my best life with the skin I have.

I haven’t let my fat body stop me, and I won’t let my skin disorder stop me, either.

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When Your Mom Is An Alcoholic

For the past few years, my relationship with my mother has been nonexistent. As long as I can remember, something has been off with her. As a child, I remember her spending a lot of time in bed, flying off the handle easily, expecting a lot while giving the minimum out of everyone around her. There was support in my home that was used against me at opportune moments, no “I love yous,” and complete rage if alcohol or drug use was questioned. My mom was always quick to anger and isolated herself from her friends and family.

Fast forward to my early 30’s and this “off” behavior seemed to evolve quickly.

At that time, I made the decision to keep my mom at an arm’s distance. We no longer spoke on the phone, only saw each other at large family get-togethers. We simply didn’t have a relationship. I made the decision to cut my mom out of my life to avoid her outbursts of anger, manipulation and lies. I begged for answers. I begged to help fix whatever problem there was. My pleading was greeted with twisting reality… making it seem like something was wrong with me for insinuating there could be a problem.

See, I knew there was something wrong, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. Was she a drug addict? Alcoholic? Had psychiatric problems? Or, was she just a bad person? My mom frequently lashed out. She was never the nurturing type, and only told me she loved me when I became an adult. She was almost childlike — someone who needed to be taken care of while she called the shots in her own offensive way. My dad was and is her biggest supporter, protector, enabler and punching-bag.

When I had heard my mom was unable to walk, I decided to intervene as my dad made excuses about why she couldn’t go to the hospital. What is this secret that was being kept? She couldn’t walk but she wouldn’t go to the hospital? After much back and forth, threats of calling an ambulance myself, and convincing, my mom was on her way to our local hospital. Countless tests later, and (of course) lies about her alcohol use, it was determined that my mom’s body was beginning to shut down due to severe and prolonged alcoholism.

It was a lightbulb moment. All of my childhood memories, the fights, the drunken rages, the bad decisions, the excuses, the (obvious) lies — it ALL finally made sense. Unfortunately, this was not a lightbulb moment for either of my parents. The next day I visited my mom as she was detoxing. Her ridiculous arguments intensified, and I left when she told me she had “rights” to see my children that she would pursue. My dad also would spend the following weeks protecting my mom, downplaying her alcoholism, and focusing on the other ailments the hospital found while she was there.

I’ve been hopeful all my life to have a relationship with my mother like I’ve seen from others. I wish she could have told me she loved me growing up. I wish she was more involved with my life. I wish our happy moments were not calculated — ammo ready to be used against me at a later date. I wish that when I got married, she wasn’t at war with the rest of our family and it could have been more of an enjoyable time. I wish my memories were joyful rather than painful. And, I wish that pain didn’t follow me around.

Now that I’m a mother, I wish she was there to guide me. I wish my children knew her and were close with her as I am with my grandmother. I wish we could have become friends in these older years- appreciating our time together. I wish I wasn’t writing this blog. However, I know my mom won’t change. I know that when her hospital stay is over, she will go back to her old ways… this can only carry on for so long. I’ll be here if and when she’s ready to get help.

Until then, I continue to keep my distance and vow to give my children everything my mom could not give me.

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When You Love An Alcoholic

I met my husband in the fall of 1996. We were young. Very young. (He was 11 and I — six months his senior — had recently turned 12.) And we were innocent. Life was carefree. But over the years, things changed. We changed, and the boy I met in art class became an alcoholic. A drink ‘til you pass out or blackout alcoholic.

Make no mistake: He was functional. During this time, he held down numerous jobs and received several promotions. He completed an Associate’s degree, a Bachelor’s degree and graduated from both programs with high honors. And we got married. During these years, we welcomed the first of two children. But he lost days and weeks to his disease.

He became hollow, and I shut down. In an effort to save myself and our marriage, I shut up and checked out.

Sérgio Alves Santos/Unsplash

The good news is that (eventually) he dried out. He sobered up and got help. And, God willing, this September we will celebrate five years sans booze. But over the course of our 20-plus year relationship I’ve learned a few things about loving an alcoholic, and since alcoholism affects more than 15 million Americans each year, these are lessons that should be shared.

Before I get into nitty gritty, let me say: whether the alcoholic in your life is your mother, your father, your spouse, your child, or a dear friend, their illness is not your problem. It is not caused by something you did or did not do, and it is not your fault. It is also not a reflection of the alcoholic’s feelings towards you, i.e. too often those left in the wake of addiction think “if he only loved me enough” or “if we only had enough.” But stop. That line of thinking is toxic. Your partner and/or loved one’s inability to stop drinking has nothing to do with you — or how much they love you — and succumbing to those beliefs will only harm you.

It will destroy you in the same way liquor is destroying your loved one.

So keep yourself healthy by considering these facts and by remembering that — in spite of their illness — you can (and should) put yourself first.

1. Alcoholism is a disease, not a choice.

I know what you’re thinking; you just said that, and you’re right. This piggybacks on my previous point, but it bears repeating. Why? Because alcoholism is a complex disease. It is a confusing disease, and it is a painful disease. But most importantly? It is a disease, one which your loved one cannot will their way out of.

2. Don’t accept unacceptable behavior.

We’ve all said or done things we regret while under the influence. I have cried and screamed about nonsensical bullshit. On numerous occasions, I’ve demanded a divorce. But that does not mean you should allow yourself to be stomped on or beat up. You shouldn’t be a proverbial punching bag or doormat, and being victimized on a regular basis — physically, mentally, emotionally, or verbally — is a problem. Full stop. So set boundaries because YOU ARE WORTH IT.

Roberto Roman/Unsplash

3. Put yourself first.

Focusing on your health and well-being may seem counterintuitive, especially when the alcoholic in your life is so very sick; however, it is imperative you take care of yourself. I mean, you can’t pour from an empty cup, right? Also, addicts and alcoholics thrive on codependency, so if you want to help your loved one, help yourself.

4. Ask for help.

I know, when I said “help yourself,” you were wondering how. And I get it. I’ve been there. It seems like there are endless resources available to (and for) alcoholics, but those in relationships with addicts or alcoholics seem to be left behind. But fear not, there really is help — and hope. Al-Anon, a program for those “worried about someone with a drinking problem,” hosts meetings in all 50 states and dozens of countries. Substance abuse counselors can be found in Asia, Europe, North America, South America, Australia and Africa and online support groups are accessible to anyone with internet access.

Kaley Dykstrra/Unsplash

5. Find “your line” (and draw it in concrete).

Boundaries are important in every relationship, but they are particularly important when you are dealing with an addict or alcoholic. Addicts are master manipulators, after all. Of course, only you know what your limitations are. (I stayed in spite of verbal abuse, physical abuse, and emotional abuse, but you don’t have to.) Decide what you are willing to handle and/or can handle and then set hard, fast lines, i.e. “I’m not going to drink with you… or buy drinks for you,” “I’m not going to give money to you,” and “I’m not going to live with you unless/until you get help.”

6. And finally, remember “The Three Cs.”

You didn’t cause it. You can’t control it, and you can’t cure it. Period. End of freakin’ discussion.


For more information about loving an alcoholic, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or find anAl-Anon meeting in your area.

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Why Some Moms Are Microdosing LSD And Mushrooms

It’s difficult to gage exactly how many mothers are microdosing LSD and mushrooms considering both substances are predominantly illegal. However, those who are using these substances aren’t doing it to get high. This isn’t a recreational thing. This isn’t the Kool-Aid of the ’60s. More or less, this is the trend of mothers struggling with anxiety, depression, and exhaustion, who have found prescription medication ineffective, and are now attempting something non-traditional to manage their stress and mental illness.

Now keep in mind, microdosing psychedelics isn’t a new thing. The term was actually coined in James Fadiman Ph. D. book The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide: Safe, Therapeutic, and Sacred Journeys almost 10 years ago. Here’s how it work. Let’s use LSD, for example. To get yourself full-on, walls melting tripped out, you would need to take around 100 micrograms of LSD. Microdosing, in contrast, is taking 10 to 20 micrograms every few days. In fact, to get it right, most microdosing parents use specialized scales that are intended to measure jewelry and other valuable metals. Rest assured, this isn’t about getting high.

So what are the benefits? Well, The Guardian interviewed a UK mother named “Rosie” who said, “You don’t feel high, just… better.” In fact, her story reminded me a lot of those who, 10 years ago, discussed the benefits of using marijuana in small doses to help treat depression and anxiety. Now CBD oil is all the rage. After the birth of Rosie’s child, she struggled with depression and anxiety. She went to doctors, but medication wasn’t working, so she turned to alcohol.

“I wasn’t getting blind drunk and peeling myself off pavements,” she says. “But if I felt bad, my mind would immediately travel to the next drink I could have. It was the only thing that helped block out the sadness.” This all changed when she switched to microdosing psychedelic mushrooms.

Scary Mommy and

She found a kit and guide on how to grow them online, and it proved to be a game changer. She feels more confident, happier, and more focused. She says she’s very careful to keep her mushrooms far out of the reach of her pre-teen children. “But it definitely doesn’t impair my ability to parent,” she says. “If anything, my awareness is sharpened.”

I can’t help but feel sympathy for Rosie’s situation. I’m a father of three, and I have run the gamut when it comes to medications to treat my anxiety and depression. And I will admit, I have a pretty good mix at the moment. But it’s a daily struggle that I have accepted as part of my life. There are good times and bad times, and there are times when, if it weren’t for the support of my wife and the love I have for my children, I don’t know if I’d make it to the next sunrise. Microdosing does sound appealing, but I’m not sure if I’m to the point of growing illegal mushrooms in my home or seeking out an LSD dealer.

But honestly, therein lies the rock and hard place when it comes to seeking out non-traditional medications. Sure, mothers post online about essential oils and the life-changing magic of tidying up, but frankly, when you are living with full blown anxiety attacks and crippling depression, a yard sale, yoga, or a diffuser just isn’t going to cut it. Obviously Rosie and others have had to say to themselves, “I’m so miserable that I’m going to risk jail time to make myself better.” And let’s be honest here, microdosing isn’t about getting high. It’s about trying to stay sane.

Not surprisingly, there aren’t a lot of actual scientific studies on the subject. Frankly, mushrooms and LSD are as taboo in the medical industry as they are in kitchen. The most recent study of note was reported by the Department of Cognitive Science at Macquarie University it Sydney, Australia in February 2019. Ninety-eight participants tried microdosing LSD and psilocybin (the active ingredient in psychedelic mushrooms), and after six weeks of microdosing, participants noticed a small increase in neuroticism, along with lower levels of stress and depression.

Sounds pretty promising to me.

Of course, there are risks. Rosie mentioned that once her mushrooms developed blue streaks and she became terrified that she was about to kill herself. I’m sure she would have felt a lot safer microdosing under the care of a professional, however, that isn’t an option.

All of this makes me want to urge doctors to break down the taboos around psychedelic drugs to see what benefits they might contain. I don’t want to speak for all parents struggling with anxiety and depression, but I’m not looking to hallucinate. I’m already borderline eye twitching most days caring for my three young children. I would, however, like to find something that can help me reduce or eliminate the pit in my stomach and the perpetual feelings of dread and failure that I fight with each and every day. And if microdosing is a way to fix that, let’s bring down the taboos around it, test it, and package it in a regulated and safe way so that professionals can over see it’s use.

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We’ve Got To Change The Way We Talk (Or Don’t Talk) About Periods

People, let’s stop whispering about periods. We all do it. I’ll be the first to admit that there is nothing more annoying than hearing some person say, “Ew, gross,” because someone says they are on their period. News flash: Half of the population deals with periods! I grew up in a household of girls–periods were a normal occurrence. When that time of the month came and the cramps and mood swings (and occasionally, the chocolate cravings) arrived, the world didn’t stop spinning. Shocking, right?

In fact, I was so used to being casual about my period that it wasn’t until I had someone in high school ask to borrow a tampon in the smallest whisper ever that I realized some people aren’t casual about periods. I started watching every time “periods” were mentioned, and it was always talked about in a hushed whisper. So frustrating. Eventually, I got in the habit of whispering about periods too because I wanted others to feel comfortable. But as I lowered my voice to talk about blood and tampons, I internally rolled my eyes.

Then I met my husband. When I mentioned something about being on my period, it was no big deal. He’d happily pick up a box of tampons or pads, whatever it was that I needed. There was nothing about a period that made him pause or say something uncalled for. And forget queasy, they seriously didn’t faze him. It was a breath of fresh air. Is it because he grew up with a sister? Maybe. Or maybe it’s because he’s a mature guy who realizes that people get periods. Here’s the thing: All men should be perfectly fine with them.

Periods are messy. Periods suck. Sometimes, periods leak or surprise you. This is especially true when it’s your very first one. We’re in the 21st century people, why are period sufferers still scared to talk about Aunt Flo? Do men not realize that they are here on this earth because of a period? Well, the beginning stages, or the lack of a period. Whatever, you know what I mean.

I don’t know about you, but I’m sick of blue water mimicking our blood. If I’m leaking blue water, you’d be seeing me in the emergency room stat. I’m sick of the whispers and clever names, the hiding during cramps and the countless trips to the bathroom with a tampon tucked in our sleeve. It’d be a lot easier to say, “Yep, I’m on my period. Cramps are a killer, am I right?” All other period sufferers would give you the Hunger Games salute and cis-men would silently praise whatever they believe in that they don’t have to experience the horrid stomach pains on a monthly basis.

Wouldn’t that be nice?

Scary Mommy and PeopleImages/Getty

I think it’s time to stop censoring our periods. But seriously, think about it. If you get a little blood on your shirt when you get a papercut, do you hide away and beg all your coworkers to borrow one of their shirts? Would you go around and whisper in every person’s ear asking them for a Band-Aid? If you would, it’s probably time to get cooler coworkers or a better job. Most people who cut their finger would wince and ask in a regular tone, “Hey, anyone have a Band-Aid?” Then, maybe they’d go to the bathroom and try to get the bloodstain out of their white tee before going right back to their desk and doing work. They could freely complain about typing with the sore finger and about how much the papercut sucks. No one would bat an eye. There would probably even be some office solidarity. Something like, “We’ve all been there. It does suck.”

Why are periods any different? Half of us get them! And we get them 12+ times a year! I can’t even remember the last time I cut my finger, but I can definitely remember my last period. I’d bet that you could, too.

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thank you @instagram for providing me with the exact response my work was created to critique. you deleted a photo of a woman who is fully covered and menstruating stating that it goes against community guidelines when your guidelines outline that it is nothing but acceptable. the girl is fully clothed. the photo is mine. it is not attacking a certain group. nor is it spam. and because it does not break those guidelines i will repost it again. i will not apologize for not feeding the ego and pride of misogynist society that will have my body in an underwear but not be okay with a small leak. when your pages are filled with countless photos/accounts where women (so many who are underage) are objectified. pornified. and treated less than human. thank you. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀ ⠀⠀⠀ ⠀ this image is a part of my photoseries project for my visual rhetoric course. you can view the full series at the photos were shot by myself and @prabhkaur1 ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀ i bleed each month to help make humankind a possibility. my womb is home to the divine. a source of life for our species. whether i choose to create or not. but very few times it is seen that way. in older civilizations this blood was considered holy. in some it still is. but a majority of people. societies. and communities shun this natural process. some are more comfortable with the pornification of women. the sexualization of women. the violence and degradation of women than this. they cannot be bothered to express their disgust about all that. but will be angered and bothered by this. we menstruate and they see it as dirty. attention seeking. sick. a burden. as if this process is less natural than breathing. as if it is not a bridge between this universe and the last. as if this process is not love. labour. life. selfless and strikingly beautiful.

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It’s 2019, and we’ve made some pretty hefty strides for our monthlies. We’ve got lifesaving period underwear, a multitude of period essentials to choose from, and awesome people who are breaking barriers with things like period photoshoots. But, those people aren’t enough. We need the average Janes and Joes of the world to commit to casting aside the taboo that surrounds periods. Seriously, it’s just blood! Periods aren’t dirty, they aren’t embarrassing, and they definitely aren’t a “weak” women’s issue. With both women and men bleeding from periods, it’s important to grow up and stop making a regular bodily function something obscure or strange.

I think it’s time to remind people everywhere that they wouldn’t be alive without periods. That to bring a person into the world, we have to endure a nearly lifelong struggle of bleeding every month for a week or so. Maybe it’s time we start embracing periods. I’m ready for the day that I can raise my hand and say, “Any of you have a tampon? Pad? Cup? I’m on my period.” Sure, I can say it now, and I happily will, but I’d like to say it without a few gasps or widened eyes throughout the room. We have enough to worry about between the painful cramping, headaches, and sore backs. Yeah, periods suck. But the last thing we need is some person’s unwarranted opinion of the best thing to happen to the human race.

Let’s make the world a constant period support group. There’s strength in numbers. I’m done censoring my period. Care to join?

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