Thursday, March 31, 2011

Best Kept Secret

In 1997 I still had ten years of drinking left in me, but I didn't know it then.    Drinking hadn't taken over my life, not yet.  It wouldn't develop into a drinking problem until around 2002, after my daughter was born.   It wouldn't develop into a full blown alcoholism until closer to 2006, when my daughter was four and my son was a year old.  

But even in 1997 I knew, somewhere in the depths of me, that I felt differently about alcohol than other people.    I was single (two years from getting married), had a demanding but rewarding job, and lived in a beautiful apartment in a leafy suburb of Boston.    Life was good.  It was really good.   

There were distant alarm bells, though, somewhere in the deeper recesses of my consciousness.   The signs were there: a night here and there where I'd go too far and have to be driven home by a friend or colleague.   A slight quickening of my pulse when the clock neared 5pm, an urge to rally friends to go to a bar after work.   A panicky feeling in my chest when a waitress put only one bottle of wine on the table for three people to share.   

I wondered, sometimes, if how I felt about alcohol was normal.   Not enough to try to cut back, or stop, but sometimes a night of drinking followed by a contrite morning after, the truth would fleetingly peek through.

I was curious enough to read Caroline Knapp's book, Drinking, A Love Story, in 1997.    Knapp's memoir of her drinking and recovery produced the first flash of fear, of understanding, that I was heading into dangerous waters.   After reading it, I wrote this in my journal:   I feel like I'm standing on the edge of something dark and deep, peering into an abyss.  If I'm not careful it will swallow me whole.    I connected with her words, I saw myself in her story.    I resolved not to go as far down the path as she had with my own drinking.   My logic was that I had to be careful, because if I turned into an alcoholic, I'd have to stop drinking.   The mere thought of that made me quake with fear.   

Of course that should have been a sign, and of course it wasn't.   I was much further down the road than I realized.   Social drinkers don't obsess about their drinking.   Period.   I already had a problem.   Knapp's book didn't get me to stop, because I was still in denial.  But nine years later, when I was in the depths of despair, addicted and alone, the first resource I reached for was her book.   I had kept it hidden in my underwear drawer all those years, as if I knew someday I would need it again.    I read it over and over, taking solace in the fact that I wasn't alone, that another successful, smart, funny woman who had it together in her outside world had succumbed to alcoholism.   If she got better, maybe I can better too, I thought.

One piece of my story didn't run parallel to Caroline's, though.   I was a mother.   A mother and a drunk, and the shame of that kept me sick and alone for a long time.   Even as I took comfort from her words, I thought:  but she never had children, so the world was more ready to accept her alcoholism.   How can I reach out for help and admit I drink around my kids?   That my body and mind's need for alcohol has eclipsed everything, even the ability to mother my children?   

The shame of it made me reach for the one thing that was ripping me apart:  alcohol.  Again and again I turned to its numbing comfort to push down the shame, to help prop up the well adjusted veneer I struggled to maintain.   Even when I wanted to stop - and I tried over and over on my own with no success - the thought of asking for help was terrifying to me because of the shame of being an alcoholic mother.   I believed, with my whole heart, that I was simply a terrible mother and a morally corrupt, weak-willed person.

When I finally made it to a recovery meeting and heard my story, my feelings, flow from another woman's lips, I cried tears of relief:   I'm not the only one.    That's when my journey to recovery really began.

I started this blog, and Crying Out Now, because I feel so passionately about helping other women - and other mothers - understand that they are far from alone, and that shame and guilt (something that mothers feel too much of even under the best of circumstances) will keep them sick and alone.   It was the spark of hope I found in Caroline Knapp's book that made me understand the power of words, of truth, of voice.   

And now?   Now there is a new book coming out on June 7th, and it will do for mothers what Caroline Knapp's book did for women back in the 1990s.   A brave, beautiful voice cutting through the darkness and isolation that alcoholic mothers feel, offering comfort and hope.   If this book had been available to me as I was descending into alcoholism, I may have saved myself, and my family, years of pain.  

Best Kept Secret. by Amy Hatvany, is a novel about a mother's struggle with alcoholism and recovery.  Amy is a mother in recovery from alcoholism herself; I have had the pleasure of getting to know her over the past few weeks.  We connected instantly, and I am in awe of her brutal, yet compassionate, honesty and her shared passion of helping other women find their way out of the dark.

The novel is fiction, but it draws from Amy's own experiences and her characters are so full of depth and humanity that I feel as though I know them.   Indeed, the main character's feelings were so familiar to me that there were several times when I had to put the book down for a moment and have a good cry.   The story will touch the heart of any woman struggling with drinking, or addiction, or even with the pitfalls of perfectionism surrounding motherhood.   

You don't need to have first hand experience with drinking or recovery to enjoy this book; any mother who struggles with the inner critic in her head, with juggling work, life, kids, marriage and not losing herself in the process, will see herself in Amy's richly developed main character, Cadence.

Or if you have a friend or loved one who is drinking, or struggling with addiction, you must read this book.   It is so hard to express to people who aren't in recovery, or who have never struggled with alcoholism, what it feels like to be caught in the web of addiction.   How we end up there, what goes on in our heads.    Amy describes this so well that it literally took my breath away.   

Best Kept Secret will be released on June 7th, but I encourage you to secure an advance copy by clicking here.   If you having been reading this blog and feeling any kind of kinship with my words or the stories on Crying Out Now, if you are wondering about your drinking, or feeling desperate and alone, this book is a must read for you.  It could save your life.    I know it will give you hope.

I am not being paid to endorse Amy's book, and she did not ask me to write a review.   I read her post on Stefanie Wilder-Taylor's Don't Get Drunk Fridays, and then asked her to post at Crying Out Now.  When she offered to send me an advanced copy of her book. I jumped at the chance to read it.     I read it in two days, glued to the pages, and saw so much of my own story (and the story of so many other women) in Amy's novel that I couldn't wait to spread the word.

There isn't enough out there about addiction and recovery amongst women - and mothers - and this book will change lives.      Every time I see the chance to spread the word, offer hope and give voice to our struggles, I will shout from the hilltops.    Every time.  

Again, here is the link to preorder your copy: 

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


"No, you're the Twicewatops, Momma!" Finn yells.  "You're coming to get me!"

I form a low growl in my throat and stomp my feet, "Grrrrrrrr!!" I rumble, and curl my fingers into claws.

Tears spring into Finn's eyes. "Twicewatops don't growl, Momma!" he cries in frustration.  "They ROAR!  Like this!"  He screws up his face and lets out a mighty roar.

"RRRRAAAAAWWRRR!" I shout.  "I'm coming to GET YOU!!"

"NOOOOOOOO!" Finn says, and starts to cry in earnest.  "Twicewatops don't TALK!  You're not good at this at ALL!"

Tell me about it, kid, I think.   We've been going back and forth like this for over twenty minutes, as I struggle to adhere to the ever-changing rules of his imaginary game.

"How about we play a board game," I sigh, my body tense with frustration.  I try to keep my voice bright, but Finn hangs his head and sniffs loudly.

"Now you're mad at me," he says.  "It's not my fault you are so bad at Dinosaur."    He shuffles off, looking forlorn, leaving me with a stone of guilt in my chest.   I'm aching to get back to my studio, work on jewelry.    I cringe at the pang of excitement I feel that the game is over.

I hear the television click on in the next room as I plunk down at my work station.  My fingers mold the wire, and my body calms from the familiar repetition of doing, of creating, but my mind is reeling.

I hate imaginary play, I think.   It's not like I didn't offer to play with him.  

Twist, twist, twist.  My fingers fly over the wire, bending it into whimsical shapes.  I slide a bead on here and there, and hold my blossoming creation up to the light, admiring the way it is taking shape.

"Mooooooom!" I hear from the next room.   "When are we going to da big playgwound?"

"At eleven o'clock," I reply, striving to keep my voice chipper, acting as if I can't wait to go to the playground.   In anticipation of his next four questions I shout, "that's in one hour, which is sixty minutes, which isn't a long time; it's about as long as two television shows".  

Great, now I'm parceling out time in increments of television shows, I think, silently chastising myself.  

I finish the piece, attach it to some sturdy leather cording, and package it up to mail later this afternoon.   It's a logical time to stop and take Finn to the playground, but every cell in my body aches to keep going, to lose myself in creating.    I peek into the next room, where Finn sits on the floor, slack-jawed, watching Phineas and Ferb

I tiptoe away, hoping he doesn't turn around and see me and ask to go to the playground again.   I feel a twist of guilt in my gut, an old familiar ache.   I'm sneaking around my own house to avoid playing with my kid; the thoughts come, right on schedule.   What kind of mother does this?

I search for my Gentle Observer, the one who assures me that a busy mother sneaks around her own kid; a mother who is juggling a growing business with the demands of raising young kids.    But She is nowhere to be found.  Her silence unnerves me.

I pick up some more wire and search through a pile of colorful stones I keep in a bowl at my desk.  I run my fingers over their cool, smooth surfaces and marvel at the vast array of colors, of textures.    Under my skilled touch, they transform into art.   They always yield to my wishes.

"Ferb! I know what we're going to do today!" Phineas says from the television in the next room.   I think of Finn sitting cross-legged on the floor, bored, and the guilt comes again, stronger this time.  But he's quiet, I think.   Take advantage of his silence, and keep at it.

I select a pretty green stone, one that catches the light in such a way that it glows.   I begin wrapping it in gold wire, pleased at the contrast, and then I sigh and place it back down onto my desk. 

It's no use.  I face the cold reality that I'm never going to want to stop what I'm doing to play Dinosaur, go to the playground or play a board game.    Finally, my Gentle Observer shows up.   They won't be young forever, she reminds me.   The day is right around the corner when you will ache at the memory of your son's upturned face, asking you to play dinosaur.   You'd be wise not to lose sight of that.   

I get down on my hands and knees, a low roar forming in my throat.   "rrrrrraaaaawwWWRRR!" I shout, and Finn flies around the corner, a broad smile on his face.

"MOMMA!!  You're a WEAL TWICEWATOPS!"  he shouts.   He giggles and runs in place.  "Now, COME GET ME!"

As I chase after him on my hands and knees, roaring at the top of my lungs, I watch his little bare feet fly across the floor.   He laughs, his head thrown back, arms waving madly, and I think:   Right now.  Right here.  This is good.

Monday, March 28, 2011

In Which I Ask: Would You Want Help?

After my most recent post, I received a lot of emails, and some very insightful comments, about what the rules are (or should be) for knowing when, if and how to help someone who is struggling with addiction.

I haven't been able to stop thinking about this topic for days.   I've rolled scenarios over and over in my mind, wondering if there is a common thread, a way to help people know what to do when faced with a situation with a stranger or friend who clearly needs help.    I'm not going to touch on what to do when a loved one is struggling.   That is a discussion for another time, and different guidelines apply (in my opinion).

To summarize, in my last post I described a woman I saw in line at a convenience store at 9:15am buying a gallon of cheap white wine.  She was shaking, obviously struggling (but not visibly drunk) and as I went to my car I saw her crying into her hands with the brown bag containing the wine sitting in her lap.    I didn't reach out to help her, although the thought crossed my mind.    I have been sending a lot of prayers her way since.

Many of you wanted to know why?  Why didn't I reach out?   (These questions were asked out of genuine curiosity, and not in a confrontational way.)   People sent emails outlining situations they have been in themselves, and wondering when, or if, they should offer to help.   Or at least point out the problem.

I started thinking about denial, about how hard it is to crack through the wall of lies and rationalizations we use to hang on to behavior that we know, somewhere deep inside, is becoming corrosive in our lives.

It's not just alcohol or drugs that invade our sense of balance and peace.  Many, many people have some thing they cling to that they want to keep hidden from the world, and many times they keep it hidden from themselves as well ... also known as denial.   People use food, shopping, gambling, marital affairs and other self-destructive behaviors as a trapdoor out of reality.  

For many people - women in particular - the problem is food, or issues around food.   Perhaps you struggle with anorexia or bulimia, or you are a secret eater, binging on food at night when nobody is looking.    Food, like alcohol or drugs, provides the illusion of relief from reality, pulls you out of yourself, at least temporarily.   But after the binge, or purge, you are left only with disappointment and self-loathing, thinking: I've done it again.   In this sense, it is very similar to drug or alcohol abuse.

Or perhaps the opposite is true:  you deprive yourself of food to maintain the illusion of control over your life, or to strive for that unachievable perfect body.

Food issues are the best example to use when we're talking about how - or if - to reach out and help someone, because it's something more people can relate to.  If you're struggling with food issues, how would you feel if someone approached you, without being asked, and offered to help?   Like alcohol and drugs, food problems can become obvious to the outside world.   You gain weight (or with anorexia you become alarmingly thin).   If a stranger approached you in a store, as you stood in line with armfuls of snacks, and asked you if you were okay, or handed you a card for Overeaters Anonymous, how would that make you feel?   If a friend kindly asked you if you were okay, because she noticed you were gaining (or losing) too much weight, how would you react?

Would you feel grateful for the kindness of that stranger (or friend)?  Would it crack through your denial, making you finally see what you have been trying not to see:  that your weight (up or down) has become a problem?

Would you feel anger, humiliation and resentment?   Would it drive you deeper into hiding?   Would you think about addressing your food problems head on, or would you simply take more precautions to keep it secret?

Would it prompt you to get help?

I ask these questions with genuine curiosity.   I don't ask them facetiously, or with a sense of what the actual answer is; I'm trying to paint a picture more people can relate to.    I really want to know:   how would it make you feel?

This analogy falls apart on one important level; you can't eat too many tacos and then get into your car and kill yourself or someone else.    When someone is obviously drunk or high and getting behind the wheel of a car, more immediate action is called for.   

But what about the slower degradation of your health, your sense of self-worth, of peace?   

Where is the line?

As I look back over the past three and a half years of recovery, I can't think of a single example of a time I reached out to someone who didn't ask for the help that has been successful.    Because alcohol abuse is more common than people realize, I see examples of people - some of them friends - that I know are in danger of losing themselves to addiction.   The problem is that they don't see it yet.   It is very, very hard to make someone see something in themselves that they have spent years trying not to see.   

Even when people are asking for help many times what they really want is for the bad consequences of their behavior stop, some secret shortcut to being able to keep drinking without the destructiveness.   The same thing applies to food addictions.   Just look at all the "magic cures" for obesity out there:  eat all you want and lose weight!   

Real change only starts to happen when the person surrenders to their problem and understands the destructive behavior (eating, drinking, drugs, starving, gambling, compulsive shopping, etc.) has to stop for any kind of recovery to begin.

So what can you do?    It doesn't feel like much, but you can be ready if and when the time comes and the person wants help.   You can listen without judgment, and act with love.  You can offer your undying support if the person agrees to get help, and you can retract your support if they don't get help.     You can get them talking, help them put a voice to their truth, and listen without reproach.

I want to know what you think.   How would you respond to the scenario I described above?   Have you been in a similar situation with a stranger or friend?  What did you do?   How did it work out? 

This is such an important discussion to have, and the more we share the more we will all learn.

You can comment anonymously, if you'd like.  But please let me know what you think.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Other Me

It's 9:10am on a regular Monday morning, and I scurry into the convenience store to buy milk.

My thoughts are absorbed by the day; it's unusually full with work, customers coming by, a play date, an appointment and kids' activities.  I'm carefully choreographing the timing of everything, how I'm going to fit it all in, when I notice the woman in front of me in the line to pay.

She holds only one item: a gallon of cheap white wine.   She cradles it in the crook of her arm like a baby, and stares steadfastly at the floor.

My heart drops like a stone; thoughts of my day vanish instantly.   There is only one reason to buy a cheap gallon of wine at 9:15am on a Monday, and everyone in line knows it.  

It is her turn to pay, and she plunks the bottle down on the counter, rummaging through her purse with trembling hands.

"Anything else?" the cashier asks in a casual tone, but he is staring intently at her face.

She avoids his gaze and shakes her head.  "No," she replies in a whisper.  "Just this, please."

He places the bottle in a brown paper bag and hands over her change.   Her hands are shaking badly as she stuffs the bills into her purse and three coins fall to the floor.   Without stopping to pick them up she rushes out the door.

The cashier gives me a knowing, sad look as I pay for my milk.   Oh, if you only knew, I think as I give him a polite smile, that woman was me.    That woman still lives in me, just under the surface.     The Other Me.

As I cross the parking lot I notice her sitting behind the wheel of the car parked next to mine.  Her face is pressed into her hands, and her shoulders shake slightly.   I think she might be crying.

I reach for my door handle and sneak a glance her way.   The brown paper bag rests in her lap, and she is crying.    She turns her face away from me as she fumbles for her keys and starts her car.     I don't want to stare, to make her feel more uncomfortable, but it's hard not to look.   I give her a small smile as she looks over my way to back her car out of the parking spot.  I don't think she sees it, and as she pulls away I stand with my hand still resting on my car door handle, lost in thought.

I think about all the times I'd chat nervously with the liquor store cashier as I purchased my nightly supply, waiting until 5pm to keep up appearances:  Oh, ahahaha, do you think this red will go nicely with steak?   Perhaps I should get a white, too?   Or: I'm stocking up for an impromptu dinner party, it would be nice if my husband would give me a little advance warning, you know?     Every day a different liquor store, every time the nervous chatter, thinking my ruse was working.  

And then, towards the end, I was the woman with my eyes glued to the floor, trembling hands handing over crumpled bills, the sun still high in the sky.   I no longer bothered with the inane banter.  I didn't  go to a different liquor store every day.   What was the point?   I just needed my fix, and I knew that the cashiers and everyone in line knew it, too.

As I watch her tail-lights recede down the road, I send up a silent prayer.   Please keep her safe, I think, please let her discover, some day, that there is a way out of that living hell.  

I drive off and go about my day, carrying the woman - and the Other Me - close to my heart.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Line

One of my ongoing struggles, when it comes to blogging, is how much to write about my kids.

Even when they were small I never wrote anything I wasn't prepared for them to read, some day.   I'm careful about what I say and how I say it; I'm not going to put anything here that I'm not willing to talk to them about directly when the time is right.   Someday, I hope, some of my posts could provide a platform for discussions about the tougher stuff, as well as some laughs over those moments that otherwise would have drifted  into oblivion, forgotten in the hustle bustle of daily life.

Recently I blogged about Greta's anxiety, our recognition that we needed to get help for her, and for us.   The decision to put that out there on the internet was a tough one; I spoke to my husband about it at length, and I called a good blogging friend of mine to find out what she thought, too.    It's one thing to put my own thoughts and struggles out there, it's another thing altogether to talk about my kids'.

Acknowledging that she needed help, that we needed help, was a tough thing to digest.   Any time your kid is struggling with something it's hard not to take it on the chin, underwrite your parenting, flip over all the rocks of your own neuroses and wonder if what is happening to them is somehow your fault.   The temptation to keep it close to the vest was huge, but in my gut I knew this was one of those topics, like recovery, that shouldn't be shame inducing (but somehow often is), is a very common problem and that many people existed out there - even within my real life community - who could help.   I just needed to find them.  

Every time I'm open about something, share honestly about what is going on, my life is enriched with people who understand, who offer words of comfort and advice.    Talking about Greta's anxiety was no exception;  the community I needed to reach found me, and their words of sympathy, advice, wisdom and support are so incredibly helpful.   Thank you to everyone who emailed, called or reached out in some way.     I treasure your input, and all of it helped me feel less alone, less afraid, less fragile.  

Without this blog, I wouldn't have known where to begin; I could have found the right medical community, but what about our support system?  I can't just start calling my friends and asking them, "oh, by the way, does your kid have anxiety?  Any words of wisdom?"   It turned out, though, that some good friends of mine had walked this path before me and had amazing advice and insight.   Without the blog, though, the topic never would have come up.

So we made the decision to share about Greta's anxiety as we embark on this next phase, but I'm not going to keep talking about it here.  We have found help, of all kinds, and feel like we're on a really good path.

All this has got me thinking about where the line is .. when do I stop talking about my kids on this blog?  

At 8 1/2, Greta is getting close to that line, and my days of talking about her here, other than light or funny anecdotes, are likely numbered.   

My kids have an increased awareness of the blog, and now when we snap a picture or share a moment together, one or the other will usually say, "are you going to put this on your blog, Mom?"    Before I share any pictures, I ask them if it is okay.   Usually they say it's okay, but if they aren't comfortable with it, I don't.

It's hard, though, because a lot of what I write about has to do with parenting in general; more than specific stories about one kid or the other, I write about my own journey in parenting - the hard parts, too.       Each and every time I write about the tough stuff I have my kids' well being in the front of my mind.   I always picture them reading my words - when they're old enough - and look for things that could be unnecessarily unkind or hurtful.    I don't want them to read something I have written and think any pain or difficulty I go through is their fault, because it isn't.   But I still want to paint an honest portrait of the trials and triumphs of parenting.

So I don't know where the line is, exactly, but I know it's coming.   Like with so many other things in life, I may not know exactly where it is, but I think I'll know it when I get there.   And with Greta, I'm almost there.

I'd love to hear from other bloggers out there - where is your line?  Do you have one?   What are your thoughts on blogging about parenting, openly and honestly, without crossing into territory that could be hurtful or misconstrued by your children either now or down the road?  

And thank you, again, to everyone who commented or emailed about your own experiences with children and anxiety.  I'm so very grateful for this incredible community.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Look At Me Never Mind Go Away Come Here

I wake on a regular day, a Tuesday perhaps, and press my bare feet to the floor and suddenly I just want to scream LOOK AT ME, I'M HERE! and then the heads swivel and the eyes settle on me and I want to curl up in a ball and whisper: never mind.

Because it's just Tuesday, you see. Another day in a string of days that look alike but somehow are not the same, like cousins.    But I don't want it to be another Tuesday.  I want to soar and sing and CHANGE THE WORLD.   But first?   I have to make breakfast and pack lunches and do dishes and fold laundry and soon the feeling is gone and it's just another day.  

Then the itch comes again, like a balloon inflating deep inside, I scrabble and search and tweet and blog and write and wonder:  can anybody see me?  Hello?  Can anyone save me from Tuesday?

My muse flits just outside of my peripheral vision. I'm over here, she taunts, and I turn my head and poof! she's gone, because I'm busy with the daily-ness of life. 

What came first, I wonder. The blog or the words? Would I have this urge to be seen, to be heard, if I didn't have this little place to come park my thoughts?

Why, I wonder. Why can't I go about my days without the inflating balloon, without the taunting muse, without the pseudo-spotlight of my words being heard.

Because if you go quiet, my muse answers, then it will just be Tuesday.  

Would the outlines of my day-to-day life grow clearer, more present, without the tug of this space?  Or would they fade into a blur of ordinariness, the poignancy of moments left dusty and forgotten without the words to give them life?

Would a moment just be a moment? Would I scramble for my camera, capture scribbled notes on scraps of paper to remember for later if I wasn't crafting the words in my head?  What would Tuesday look like without the pseudo-spotlight?   

So I wake up and press my bare feet to the floor and I let the moments come. I try to let them be, but the muse is always there, taunting me. I try to resist her siren call, but the scraps of paper with scribbled words pile up and the camera snap snaps the pictures and I think:  look at me.  I'm here.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Smart Ass

Finn seems to have an aversion to wearing pants.  And underwear.    Even on the coldest days, it is a common sight to see him streaking through the kitchen, giggling.

Recently, though, he has been unusually modest.    I wake up to find him already dressed for school (something that is usually an epic battle), he's been ordering me out of the bathroom, and getting his jammies on himself without being asked.  I thought he was on a quest for stars (we have a "star board" and award stars for good behavior - each one is worth a quarter and they're saving up to buy a toy), but I should have known something was up.

We've been busy, too, so it has been a little while since he had a bath.   

In other words, I haven't seen him naked in a couple of days.  

Tonight I found him half dressed on the couch, wearing only a shirt, with a blanket wrapped around his midsection. 

"Time for bed, Buddy," I said.  "Let's get your jammies on."

"Okay," he replied.  "But don't look at my butt."

"Why would I look at your butt?  Let's go, it's late."

He pulled his shirt down to his knees and shuffled over to me.    As he bent down to pick up his jammie bottoms, I saw a little flash of green peeking out from under his pulled-down shirt.

"Finn," I said.  "Please turn around."

He gave me a sly grin.  "I don't think I want to," he said. 

"Please turn around, Finn."

He lifted his shirt and turned around, slowly.

Drawn in green marker, with startling clarity, was a bespectacled face with crazy hair and a big grin drawn around puffy, well, cheeks.      As in butt cheeks.

"Do you know who it is?" Finn asked, giggling.

At a loss for when, why and HOW this figure appeared on my son's derriere, I gave up and simply asked, "No.   Who?"

"Albert Einstein!"**

** I cannot tell you how badly I want to post a picture of Albert Einstein drawn on my son's rear end.   Really, the kid's got talent (and world record flexibility, apparently).     But as I laughed and snapped the picture, he said, "Don't you dare put this on your blog, Momma!"  I'm a woman of my word, so your imagination is going to have to suffice.   You're welcome.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Writing On The Wall

Last week Greta had a sore throat that wasn't going away, so we went to the doctor to get a strep test.

We've been at the doctor a lot this winter - recurring sore throats that are sometimes strep, sometimes not.   We have spent a lot of time sitting in the exam room, waiting for the results of the strep culture.

Greta was perched on the exam table; the thin paper covering crinkled as she fidgeted nervously.   I was standing in front of her, rubbing her arms to comfort her, when I noticed the posters on the wall of the exam room.   I've been staring at these posters a lot this winter, but for some reason this time I actually read them.  

My eye wandered over bed wetting, ADHD, eyesight problems and immunizations, when a little section in the lower right-hand corner caught my eye.   Generalized Anxiety Disorder in Children and Teens.  I felt a tightening in my gut, a reluctance to read what it said, because somewhere in my heart I knew.
"All children and adolescents experience some anxiety. It is a normal part of growing up. However, when worries and fears do not go away and interfere with a child or adolescent's usual activities, an anxiety disorder may be present. Children of parents with an anxiety disorder are more likely to have an anxiety disorder."
It went on to describe some of the symptoms:
  • many worries about things before they happen
  • many worries about friends, school, or activities
  • constant thoughts and fears about safety of self and/or safety of parents
  • frequent stomach aches, headaches, or other physical complaints
  • muscle aches or tension
  • sleep disturbance
  • feeling as though there is a lump in the throat
  • fatigue

Greta has been experiencing all of these symptoms, to varying degrees.  Lately, though, some of them are getting worse.

She complains of muscle and joint aches in her heel and her knee, and uses these discomforts as reasons to try to avoid activities.    She complains frequently about stomach aches and head aches, and recently she has been talking about a lump in her throat that "feels like it does before I throw up, but I don't need to throw up."    She is full of "what-if" questions, and most of them are geared toward disaster scenarios.   She has been having increased trouble falling asleep, because of fears and anxieties about scary monsters, school, activities, or what will happen if she misses the bus or forgets her homework.

Reading the poster, I could no longer deny what I knew in my heart was happening:   she's struggling with anxiety. 

Steve and I have done a lot of research over the past few days.   We are talking to her pediatrician and getting professional help with what I have discovered is a very common problem among young children and adolescents.   

I have my own fears to conquer, too.    Children with untreated anxiety have alarmingly high rates of substance abuse, eating disorders and self-destructive behaviors as they enter their teens and early adulthood.  Greta has already been dealt a biological card which increases her risk for alcoholism; add anxiety to this mix and you create fertile ground for addiction.

Even more difficult to digest was all the information on children of alcoholics.  Children of an active alcoholic are put at an increased risk for anxiety disorders, especially in their formative years, between the ages of 1 and 5.

I got sober just before Greta turned 5.

I started to fold in on myself, desperate to look away, to not see what I was reading.   I did this to her, I started to think.   She got alcoholism and anxiety from my genes, and my drinking in her formative years has made everything worse.  

Immediately on the heels of this thought, though, came that gentle Inner Voice, the one that I don't control, who sounds a lot like me but who, somehow, isn't me.   

You don't have that kind of power, Ellie, it whispered in my ear.   Don't hijack this situation and make it all about you.  If you lose yourself in regret and guilt you are of no use to anybody.

But I don't want to know this, I thought.  I desperately want this not to be true.   

Don't you see? it replied.  You went through what you did and when you did so you could help her.  You could have lived your whole life never understanding your own anxiety, drinking your way around it, making it worse every step of the way, and never breaking through to the other side. 

Gratitude pushed aside fear and guilt.   I can help her, I thought, because I know how she feels.   I know how to give voice to her problem, how to advocate for her and help her advocate for herself.   I have tools I can show her.    I can't change the past, but I will do everything I can to help today, now.

Last night Steve and Greta went to a father/daughter square dance with her Brownie troop.   She had been withdrawing all afternoon, drawing into herself, complaining of a stomach ache.   She lasted about 20 mins at the square dance before complaining about knee pain that didn't exist, and then tearfully retreating into the corner, telling Steve she wanted to leave but couldn't, because she was afraid the Emcee of the square dance would be "mad at her".    Steve gently persuaded her to leave, and after she was in bed Steve and I talked about how her withdrawing, feeling overwhelmed and "looked at", her fear of doing the wrong thing and complaints of physical ailments have been increasing, so we resolved to start talking to her about her anxiety. 

This morning Greta, Steve and I sat at the kitchen table and talked.   Finn was in the next room, absorbed in Mario Kart.    Our message was simple:   no matter what you're feeling,  no matter what, you can talk to us and we will listen and try to help.   We will never get upset with you for feeling scared or anxious.  Ever.

We explained anxiety to her, that it is something many people have, and that there are ways to help her feel better.   I told her I have anxiety, too, and explained some of the tools I use to overcome fear.  

We could see her body loosen, her face brighten, as she listened.   She saw that she wasn't alone; the relief that there was a name for what she was feeling was palpable.   Anxiety, she said out loud, trying the word on for size.   That's what that funny feeling in my stomach is?  Like butterflies, except I don't know why I'm nervous?   

The temptation to look away is strong.   And the symptoms could be easy to miss, because Greta is thriving in most ways: socially, academically, physically.   She has many friends, loves sports and is doing very well in school.    Ironically, success in school and activities can be driven by anxiety; a gift from our old friend perfectionism.

A lot of Greta's anxiety revolves around fear of making a mistake, doing poorly in school, failing to meet others' expectations or making someone angry.    A primary difference between a child who is hitting a developmental milestone (worrying appropriately), and someone suffering from anxiety, is the inability to stop the ruminating cycle.  This eventually inteferes with sleep, appetite, sociability and enjoyment of day-to-day activities.  Greta is on the very cusp of this; we have caught it early.

"Making mistakes is part of life," I said to her this morning, as she sat on my lap and we gently rocked back and forth.   "It's what we do about them that matters most.   If we never made mistakes, we'd never learn, we'd never grow."   

She drew a deep breath, and nodded once, twice.  "Okay," she said.

"Want to know something else about people who have anxiety?" I whispered in her ear, as we finished up our talk.  "They are smart, imaginative, creative and they love with their whole heart.   They are amazing friends, and incredible daughters."

"Yeah, that does sound like us," she said, and smiled.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Truth Is The New Black

Yesterday my friend Krystal sent me a link to a post by Single Dad Laughing.   The post is entitled The Disease Called Perfection and it is quite simply one the best pieces of writing on shame, perfectionism and truth that I have ever read.    I highly recommend finding a quiet moment and clicking over there to read the post.    It has over four thousand comments.   FOUR THOUSAND.   That's how deeply his words touched people.  

Perfectionism is a word that is tossed around a lot.   Most people, I think, view perfectionism as fairly clear-cut:  the quest to be perfect. 

I see perfectionism like Single Dad Laughing does:   a disease.   It's a soul sucking, confidence eroding condition that impacts each and every one of us to varying degrees.

Why do we do this?   Why do we resent other people so much when they let us down?   Why do we indulge in self-loathing and avoidance behaviors when we fail to live up to our own unrealistic expectations of ourselves?   Perfectionism is the reason.    We all have a storyline in our heads - a blueprint, if you will - of how we think life should be, and we spend a lot of time ruminating about the ways people (including ourselves), places and things don't measure up.

Dig deeper into perfectionism and you'll find that we don't, for the most part, actually believe we can achieve a perfect life.    We don't think we can actually have that perfect body, more money than we know what to do with, a sparkling clean house, kids that never struggle or fail, and the world's happiest relationship.    

We know, logically, that these goals are unsustainable and unrealistic.   Everyone's weight fluctuates.   Everyone's house gets messy.  Everyone's marriage has ups and downs.   Everyone's kids struggle.  Everyone experiences financial strain of one kind or another.   But when we're stuck in our own perfectionist inner dialogue, we lose sight of our commonalities with other people.  We suffer from terminal uniqueness; we self-select away from empathy and truth.

We know we aren't perfect, and can't be perfect, so what's behind all this?

I think we engage in perfectionism to mask fear.   It's easier to look at how we want things to be than to see how they really are.   It is destructive to view the world through the lens of "should be" or "could be", because that lens will always leave us falling short.   Eventually we are worn down by all the not-measuring-up and the pathology of perfection - the symptoms of this disease- rears its ugly head. 

With the risk of over simplifying a complex issue, let's take an example.   You are trapped in a flat, loveless marriage.    What happens next, usually, is that you start to see happy marriages everywhere.    It's too scary to peel back the layers of your own marriage, your own decisions, your own fears, and so you focus externally and search for ways that your spouse doesn't fit into your vision of marriage.   Everything he or she does becomes an irritant, another example of ways that he or she is ruining your happiness.

Or, and this is even more dangerous, the self-loathing kicks in and you dwell on the ways you don't measure up.   Your inner dialogue takes over:  I'm too fat, my sex drive is gone, I don't keep a neat enough house, I don't contribute financially, (or I work too much).

See how quickly perfectionism - the notion that there is a way your marriage should be, or the way you see everyone else's marriage - can lead to resentments and self-loathing?  

You get discouraged.   A happy marriage seems unattainable, and you feel trapped.  You have kids, a house together, and you feel utterly stuck and alone.  You put on a happy face to mask your pain from the world, fearful of judgment or alienation.   Avoidance behaviors kick-in (the symptoms of the disease of perfection).   You turn to food/alcohol/drugs/the arms of another person to distract yourself from your misery.   Or perhaps you turn your unhappiness in on yourself, and suffer from depression/anxiety/eating disorders.

You become caught in the web of perfectionism, falling into the chasm between what the world sees and how you feel on the inside.

So how do we avoid this trap?   How do we break free from the cycle of perfectionism, denial and shame?

The truth.  Put a voice to the scary truth you seek to avoid.   In the case of the example, perhaps the truth is this:  I don't think I love my husband anymore.  Perhaps the truth is even scarier than that:   my husband abuses/neglects/mistreats me.   Instead of looking at your life from the outside in - what would people think if they knew? - drill down and find your truth.  Separate out the way you think your life should be, or the way you think the world sees your life, from the way you feel on the inside.  Perfectionism is all about the way we think life should be.   Truth is about the way life actually is

Many things prevent us of from facing the truth, but the biggest one, in my opinion, is fear.   Fear of not measuring up to our own expectations, or others' expectations, fear of the unknown, fear of being different.   You lose sight of the fact that whatever you are going through, no matter how bad it is, there are countless others who know exactly how you feel, and that help is available.   For everything.

To get help, though, you need to take that first step and tell yourself the truth, whatever it may be:  I think I have a problem with alcohol, I can't stop eating, I can't stop starving, my marriage is falling apart, my kid is struggling.  

We pour so much energy into striving for the "should be" - perfectionism - that we don't leave enough energy for truth, self-love and acceptance.   

If you have children, think about how much time you spend worrying about them.    How much of that worry is driven by your fear that they won't fit in?  That they will struggle in school?   That they will end up with trouble with addiction, eating disorders, cutting, promiscuity or bullying?

If you're like me, you spend a lot of time worrying about these things.   How can we NOT? 

Worry isn't a bad thing, of course.   It's worry's cousin, perfectionism, that concerns me.  Worry prompts us towards action.  Perfectionism prompts us towards denial.    If you're worried about your kid, you will talk to your kid.   If you're caught up in perfectionism, you will strive to convince yourself and/or other people that everything is okay.

We can't teach our children how to love themselves as they are, forgive themselves for their mistakes and weaknesses, get help when they need it, if we don't learn how to do these things ourselves.

There is an expression I hear a lot in recovery (obviously a knock-off of the standard airline warning):  "Put your own oxygen mask on before assisting others".     I think about this all the time:  I can never love anyone more than I love myself.    It's true.   I cannot give to anyone else a gift I don't give to myself, first.

If I'm caught up in perfectionism, denial and shame, I don't have any energies left for gentle self-acceptance, love and truth. 

Monday, March 7, 2011

Dream Catcher

Last night Finn padded up to me in his little feety pajamas looking anxious.  It was a big night for him; he was getting his own room.

"I'm a little worried, Momma,"  he says, his eyes wide.   "But I think I'm ready.  You got all da spiderwebs out of da room, right?"

We have an extra bedroom upstairs, but it has been used as a little playroom; the kids have been calling it "the relaxing room".    Greta and Finn have preferred to sleep in the same room, in twin beds, and more often than not I find them curled up together in the same bed when I go to wake them up in the morning.

Greta has been asking for her own room for a little while now, and so we decided it was time for the relaxing room to morph into Finn's room.

We built him up to it, telling him he could decorate it any way he wants.   His choice?  "Spongebob and Buddha."   We're still working on the Buddha decorations, but yesterday we went out and shopped for Spongebob paraphernalia.    He changed his mind at the last minute, and now it's the "Mario Kart and Buddha" room.

As the kids brushed their teeth last night, I brought some of his books and favorite stuffed animals into Finn's room and eavesdropped on their conversation.

"You're going to be fine, Finn," Greta said.   "You're five now, and you will start kindergarten soon.   It's time."

Finn was silent for a moment.  "But I'll miss you, sissy," he replied, solemnly.

"I'll be right across the hall," she said.  "If you need anything at all, just call out and I can be there in two seconds."

I stood listening in the hallway, my arms full of stuffed animals, and my heart swelled.  

We read a story in Finn's new room, the three of us nestled together.    I tucked Finn into his new Mario Kart sheets, and gave him a kiss on the forehead.   "Sweet dreams," I whispered.

Greta's eye lit up.  "OH!"  she said.  "That gives me an idea!"

She scurried across the hall to her room, and came back with one of her favorite belongings:  a dream catcher Steve brought home from a business trip.   

"This will help you if you have bad dreams, Finn," she said.  "It's really special to  me, so you can borrow it until we can get one for you, too.  It totally works."  

She hung the dream catcher carefully from a knob on the bedside table next to Finn's bed.   "It catches any scary thoughts or bad dreams.   So you don't need to worry."

She kissed Finn on the forehead, and he smiled up at her.   "Okay," he said,  "Thank you, Sissy."

As I tucked Greta into her bed, she gave me a knowing smile.   "Do you think he's going to make it all night?  Or do you think we'll find him in his old bed in the morning?"

"I don't know," I admitted.  "How would you feel if he came into his old bed?  Do you want me to tell him not to?"

"NO!" she said, quickly.   "I mean, I'm totally okay with it.   It feels weird not having him here.   Kinda good, but mostly weird."

About half an hour later I tiptoed upstairs to check on them.   I heard murmuring coming from behind the door to Finn's room, which was cracked open about an inch. 

I peeked in, and saw Greta perched on the side of Finn's bed.  Finn's eyes were closed, a little smile played across his face.   Greta was rubbing his back and telling him a made-up story. 

I tiptoed back downstairs.  I was not needed.   They were doing fine all on their own.


Saturday, March 5, 2011

Mental Waiting Room

When the days get long and hard, my mind clicks off.

I go into a kind of suspended animation, a mental purgatory.    The hyperactive squirrel in my brain curls up, tucks his head under his tail, and dozes.

There are several reasons why the past couple of weeks have been harder than usual:  a husband working late most nights.  Cold, bitter, unwelcoming weather.   Financial strain.   Restless kids deprived of the invigorating outdoors.  

Typing those reasons down, looking at them in print, makes them seem small, insignificant.   Sounds a lot like life, Ellie, my mind admonishes me. 

It doesn't matter that individually these things seem manageable.   Add them all up, combine them with my own deep restlessness, profound boredom and cabin fever induced sadness, and you have a recipe for disaster. 

At least it would have been a recipe for disaster, in the past.   


Any one of those five things used to be a huge trigger for me.    When I was drinking, the days seemed more survivable, somehow, because eventually the clock would roll around to 5pm and I could have that first drink.   Just the anticipation of a numbing escape would put a little spring in my step in the afternoon.

In early sobriety (and by early sobriety I'm talking about the whole first year) stretches of time like the past couple of weeks were excruciating, as I adjusted to life without my escape hatch.    The hours of 4-7pm seemed to take forever.   I was angry, anxious, and grieving the loss of the friend who had become my worst enemy.  


By 3pm most days I feel like I'm moving underwater, my limbs sluggish, my words slow, measured and flat.

Yesterday afternoon I was watching the clock again, but not in anticipation of a drink.   I was patiently waiting out the minutes until the kids would go to bed and the house would finally be bathed in silence.

My mind was full of white noise.   Putting one foot in front of the other was all I could manage.    I plugged the kids into a movie, lay down on the couch, and closed my eyes.    I wasn't thinking about anything.  I wasn't sleepy.  

I stepped into my mental waiting room, and I waited.

I wait a lot these days.   I'm waiting for warm, sunny days.   I'm waiting for my husband's work schedule to calm down.   I'm waiting for the kids' spring activities to start up and fill our days.  I'm waiting to feel


At three and a half years sober, sometimes I think that I should be able to cope better.   Fingers of guilt tickle at my subconscious mind.   

I know those fingers.   They are my disease sneaking up on me, creeping through a back door left ajar.

I squash the guilt by remembering that my mental waiting room is a safe place.    It is here where I perfect the art of the non-reaction, the ability to pause when agitated, to breathe through the hard stuff.

Even though it doesn't feel like it, I have made progress.    Suspended animation is an improvement over anger, anxiety and grief.

Waiting is a form of healing, a nod to life on life's terms, a growing understanding that negative emotions are only as dangerous as I let them become.  

Instead of letting the guilt gain a foothold, I hang posters on the wall of my mental waiting room, and as I sit in suspended animation I read them over and over:

I am okay.

I am sober.

I am worthy.


When I was drinking - even before drinking became a problem for me - negative emotions like boredom, anger or sadness provoked a fight or flight response in me, and I chose flight almost every time.   I didn't know how to wait, because I was accustomed to altering my mood at will.    I couldn't wait out a hard thought, let alone a long stretch of days.

Spring will come.   The dark, flat days will pass.   Color will return to my internal and external world.    That first warm day, as we play outside with the sun on our face and the first flower buds bursting forth, these long days will seem far away indeed.

And I?  I can wait.   Finally. 

Thursday, March 3, 2011

My Thoughts On Charlie Sheen. Sort Of.

On one of Charlie Sheen's recent rambling rants, he was questioned about Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).   His response was to call it a "bootleg cult" and claim it had only a "5% success rate".

Dr. Drew Pinksy (of Celebrity Rehab) was questioned about Sheen's claim, and his response was, "He's got a point. "[AA's] success rates aren't that great. But the fact is, it does work when people do it."

I'm not going to address Charlie Sheen's credibility, but the fact is that all this recent press has people talking about Alcoholics Anonymous.   I find it all fascinating.

The recent press about AA has got me thinking.   If you're looking closely you will note that I've never even typed 'AA' in any post on this blog.   This will likely be the only post where AA is mentioned.

The reason I don't speak publicly about AA is that I believe - strongly - that no individual should present themselves as a representative or spokesperson for AA.   This issue is addressed directly in AA's traditions (operating guidelines) that members shall "maintain anonymity at the level of press, radio and films", and that "anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our Traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities".

I agree with the intent behind these traditions, and I believe vigorously that anonymity is the cornerstone to AA's program of recovery.   Every individual who walks into an AA meeting deserves to feel safe, and their identity should be protected.   

I also believe, though, that the Traditions were developed when the existence of the internet and the pervasiveness of television couldn't have been imagined.    The world is seeing a LOT about addiction (reality TV shows, celebrity train wrecks, news coverage of the detritus of addiction - car accidents, suicides, broken families, crime) but how much are we seeing about recovery

So Charlie Sheen goes on a rant, spouts off a statistic about AA (which nobody will ever be able to verify or deny), calls it a cult, and overnight AA is being mentioned at the level of press and radio - thrust into the spotlight due to the media storm surrounding Sheen.  

People had really strong reactions to Sheen's statements, whether in agreement or disagreement.    Debates raged online about AA's effectiveness, and many people took it personally, regardless of which side of the debate they were on.

When asked what I think of all this, my response is this:   It doesn't matter.  

It doesn't matter what Charlie Sheen, Dr. Drew, or anyone thinks about AA's effectiveness.  It doesn't matter if anyone thinks it is a cult.    My opinion?  If AA doesn't work for you, that's okay.   If it does work for you, that's great.   Whatever helps you stay sober, and experience personal growth and peace of mind is awesome.   Whatever way fills up your mind, body and spirit with truth, compassion and forgiveness and removes your obsession to drink or use drugs - that is a good way.

But here is what Sheen's recent escapades really got me thinking about:  I believe a big problem we have today is a lack of discourse and understanding about recovery.  

All too often, the world's exposure to addiction is limited to when a celebrity publicly implodes and is hauled off to rehab.   The media swarms around a train wreck (and we watch... I do it, too) and then falls away when the antics die down.   If the person gets sober there isn't a juicy story anymore.

What happens after all the ugliness?   What is their life like on the other side of addiction?    You won't see much about that in the National Inquirer or splashed across TMZ.  

If they don't stay sober, though, we're going to hear all about it.  Train wrecks and relapses are great for ratings. 

The media is peppering us with images of addiction, but where is the counterbalancing point?  Where are the stories about recovery? 

Many people in recovery are reluctant to talk openly about it. They fear judgment and reprisal, and for good reason.     The stigma of alcoholism and addiction remains strong.    Please note: Breaking your own anonymity is a personal choice.  I know that many people can't, or won't, and I completely respect and understand this decision. 

Back to AA's traditions, and the concept of maintaining anonymity at the level of press, radio and film, and not putting personalities before principals.   The founders of AA knew what they were doing, and I believe their intent is clear:  don't speak for AA, and don't jeopardize anyone else's anonymity.  Ever.

However, I feel strongly that there needs to be more discourse about recovery.   All kinds of recovery.     The more the topic is discussed - without jeopardizing anyone's sobriety or anonymity - the more the stigma will be chipped away, the more the silent suffering will feel they can find help, and hope.

I believe a person can be a member of AA and still talk openly about addiction and recovery without running afoul of AA's traditions.     How are people in recovery - any kind of recovery - ever going to help other suffering addicts or alcoholics if we can't speak about our journeys?  

AA also states it is a program of "attraction, not promotion".     I can help attract people to recovery without attracting them to my particular program, and certainly without promoting it.

What works for me may not work for someone else.  It's a personal choice when, if and how someone decides to get help.   What program I follow doesn't matter at all to someone who doesn't want to get sober.   What does matter, in my opinion, is helping someone understand that recovery is possible, if they want it.   And that they get to choose how they go about it. 

I hope that is what I'm doing here on my little acre of the internet.    I will never preach any particular program of recovery.  Heck, I won't even tell someone they need to get sober, let alone tell them how to stay sober.  

My dream is that there is as much dialogue about recovery, some day, as there currently is about train wrecks.   I know - it's a pipe dream.

But I can dream.  And I will.

Crying Out Now One Year Anniversary Video

I launched Crying Out Now one year ago today.

When I was struggling with alcoholism, I thought I was the only one who felt the way I felt, did the things I did.  When I finally dragged myself into a recovery meeting - broken, scared and alone - and heard someone else tell their story and it was my story, too, I felt comfort and relief for the first time in a very, very long time.

The mission of Crying Out Now is to help other women who are struggling know they aren't alone, and to provide community and support to women in recovery.   It isn't about telling people they need to get sober; some of the women who post there are still wondering about their drinking, or striving to stop.   It isn't about telling anyone how to get or stay sober, either.

Crying Out Now is about one simple thing:   the truth.

Every journey into self-love and freedom begins with the truth.  Addiction is wrapped in shame, and this keeps us from raising our voice, from taking that first and most important step towards healing, because we fear judgment.   We are scared that people won't understand, and so we keep our dark secrets to ourselves.    Shame feeds on silence, and keeps us stuck and alone.

The truth breaks through the silence.   Shame and fear hate the truth.

Over the past year women have come to Crying Out Now and told their truths, shed a light into the darkness and isolation of addiction.   Some of the women posting there told their story for the very first time.   I am awed, humbled and inspired by everyone's courage and grace.

To celebrate Crying Out Now's one year anniversary, I made a video honoring these brave women.   Please help me spread the word about the video, and help give these women the respect and recognition they so deserve.   

To all of you who tweet, facebook and put Crying Out Now on your sidebar:   THANK YOU.    You are helping to reach other women who may be struggling, and for this I am so grateful.

To all the brave, honest and graceful women who told their stories, and to all of you who offer words of encouragement and support in your comments, I offer my heartfelt gratitude. I wish I could share all the emails I get from women who are out there quietly reading, drawing inspiration and hope from your words. You are reaching thousands of people, many of whom will never comment or post, but who are feeling comfort and kinship, sometimes for the first time ever.

And to all the women who are quietly reading along, please keep coming.   If you are struggling, please know you aren't alone.   We are here to offer support, empathy and love. 

This video is dedicated to you:

You can also click here to see the video on YouTube.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Monthly Giveaway - New Item!

Congratulations to nestlake1, who won the name disc necklace from last month's giveaway!   Thank you to everyone who entered.

I'm keeping with the hand stamped theme, and also I'm celebrating Crying Out Now's one year anniversary this week, so I'm doing a recovery/inspirational themed giveaway.  

The Experience, Strength and Hope Necklace:

Click here to see this item in my Etsy shop

The necklace is made with three sterling silver hand stamped discs, and hangs on an 18" sterling silver chain.

The winner will be chosen at random on April 1st (my daughter picks a name from a hat).

To enter, please leave a comment below saying you would like to be entered in the giveaway, and please provide your email so I know how to contact you if you're the winner!   If you'd prefer to send me an email directly, please do so at:

This giveaway is open internationally.

Thank you!!