To There and Back Again

Six months ago in the wee hours of a Sunday morning I dreamed about my oldest son. In this dream, a police officer told me that my son had been hurt and was taken to the hospital. I kept asking over and over again, what happened? Was he going to be okay? There was never a response, just a click and then a dial tone on the other end.

A mother’s intuition can sometimes be unsettling and I woke up with a terrible sense of foreboding.

The next morning I received a phone call with the caller I.D. displaying West Virginia. Normally I don’t answer calls from another state because more times than not they are solicitors. However, I knew from the dream that I had that this call was going to be different. From my solar plexus, I knew that it wasn’t about my daughter overdosing again on heroin. I thank my lucky stars every day that she has gotten her life together and our relationship has blossomed because of her recovery. No, this was definitely different and I knew that I wasn’t going to be prepared, dream or not, for the news coming from the other end of the line.

I was relieved to hear that he was fine and that he was going to be okay, but he was in the hospital.

And then the story unfolded with information that I found difficult to process.

It was Two weeks before the incdent that he called me. He didn’t need money or anything, he just wanted to talk. He was living less than an hour away from us in Portland, but his daily life was busy with working full time and going to college.

I knew that he was stressed, his girlfriend of three years went off to college out of state and the long distance thing wasn’t working out too well. It was on again off again for 6 months before they officially ended it. He hated his job and had taken on too many classes. Add to that, he was having to deal with his alcoholic father who called him incessantly, all hours of the day and night while in a drunken stupor asking for favors that my son would inevitably give in to.

This was a 20 year-old who had reached his breaking point, but I never knew just how bad it had gotten for him. Yes, I knew these things were happening in his life, but the more I pried, the less I knew. He was careful to omit the sordid details; details that would eventually be revealed. He was always one who didn’t want to burden others with his problems, so he kept the conversation light, thanked me for listening and told me he loved me.

A few days later he just up and left at 3 a.m. He packed his car and headed to Kentucky of all places, to visit “friends” he had met on an online game. When he called me from Missouri, I was shocked, but he was an adult. As hard as it was, I bit my tongue. I couldn’t very well ask him what the hell was he doing or demand that he come right home. He was in good spirits and sounded happier than he had for several months.However, this journey he was on wasn’t all he had hoped it would be. He realized that no matter how far he went, he wasn’t going to be able to escape his problems.

So he had decided that there was really only one solution to his misery. After some quick research, he found what he was looking for. He got in his car and drove four hours east. With a Sharpie he wrote his first and last name on one arm (to make sure his body could be identified) and the password to his phone and laptop on the other. He then climbed out onto the ledge of a bridge that is known as a hot spot for suicides. People are drawn to this place with its impressive height and view of the Appalachian Mountains. It was a sure thing to extinguish feelings of hopelessness.

It just so happened that on this sunny day a sheriff’s deputy was on patrol and saw a car illegally parked alongside the bridge. This usually meant only thing, and sure enough he was found standing on the 3 foot wide ledge. This situation was very personal to the deputy because she lost her sister to suicide just three weeks prior. She called for backup and they were able to talk him into being helped from the ledge and taken to the psychiatric unit at the hospital.

The next 5 days were a blur as we caught a flight across the country to West Virginia. We got his car out of impound, and met with the doctors at the hospital. The relief that I felt when I saw him walking down the hall overwhelmed me. As hard as I tried, I couldn’t help the tears that flowed. My hands were trembling when I hugged him. Through his own tears, he kept apologizing for what he put us through, just as he had apologized to the sheriff’s deputy for causing a traffic jam on the bridge. At that time, I could only tell him how much he was loved, and how happy I was that he was still “here”.

The drive home was more of a rollercoaster ride for my emotions, and we sought intensive outpatient care as soon as we got home. We also began family counseling, where we learned that he began thinking about self-harm at 11 years-old. By the time he was 12, he was cutting himself on his upper thighs where the wounds would be hidden.

But he seemed so happy! He laughed; a lot. He played with his younger siblings who were 9 and 10 years his junior. He loved sports. He had lots of friends. But deep down, where we couldn’t see, there was a sadness that grew and grew. We have talked about why he didn’t come to us then. He explained that with the chaos and anxiety surrounding his older sister and her addiction, he didn’t want to add more to our stress. So he kept it in. We didn’t see. We never knew. Not until it was almost too late.

Fast forward 6 months and we are still trying to navigate the choppy waters. The treatment is ongoing and he is still living with us. He recently got a new job that he likes and has begun to think about his future in constructive, positive ways. He now will talk honestly about his emotions and we can only take it day by day, dealing with the ups and downs of life. We notice and appreciate the small victories. But then there is the underlying fear that my husband and I share. I’m not sure if it will ever truly go away. It’s a familiar fear, but it’s a different sort of vibe, because each child is unique. Things are far from perfect, but I see subtle changes in all of us and how we connect. There is now hope where once there was only invisible hopelessness.

***This event made me aware of how preventative measures are desperately needed to close the communication gap. There needs to be a willingness to talk about depression and other mental health issues between parents and children and the teachers that we entrust them to. There also needs to be a willingness to listen and give support. Enough of the avoidance and looking the other way. Uncomfortable as it may be, learning about depression and feelings of self-harm should be just as important as the (sometimes controversial) 5th grade health films they show our kids in school. These issues need to be included in the topics covered in said films to hopefully lessen the stigma for those who reach out for help.***

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Midsummer’s Labyrinth

May You Dance With Laughter!

Circle Dance

The Wheel is turning to its height
Dance, Lord, for the powers of Light.
Dance, Dance for the end of Night
Dance on.

Leaf and bud and branch upthrust,
Dance for the peak of Nature’s lust,
Dance On

Dance, a million petals unfurl
Sunlight, colors, shadows swirl
Dance all, the heady, merry whirl
Dance On

Elderflower, like summer snow,
Dance, for the Sun’s lingering glow
Dance on.

Dance, my Lord, and bow your head,
Roses, Sun and blood are red
Dance on.

Dance, my Lady, all in white
Dance for the dark that hides in the Light
Dance for the first caress of Night
Dance on.

Now Dance All and shed no tear
The young King follows the old King here.
Dance for the merry Wheel of the Year
Dance on.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Nothing is certain. Only change. The basis of all life. The Cycle. The Wheel. As Above So Below.

This is such a beautiful time of year. The lavender is bursting through its buds, silvery and fragrant. The plums are beginning to slowly ripen, surrounded by blooms and fern fronds embracing each other. There is such grace in these moments when I stop and look at the beauty of Midsummer.

We are standing at the crest; this, the high tide of the year. There is warmth and light as the sun stays steady in the sky. The kids run barefoot along the paths beneath the trees, coming in as darkness arrives with filthy feet and faces full of smiles as bright as the noonday sun itself.

Grasp each moment of Every Day. Savor it, because moments are fleeting.

The roses are in bloom and I make it a point to stop and smell them. We have red ones, big yellow ones, and my favorite, a deep coral hue that smells absolutely divine. I have brought a bouquet in and set it on the dining room table. In the bathroom there are lilacs in a jar of water. And beside my bed is a fresh cluster of lavender and rosemary. I think I shall sleep well tonight.

Midsummer, the turning point. The longest day is here and daylight is at the highest peak of its power, and so it is from that moment that darkness now begins to grow.

We have built a small stone labyrinth in a clearing beneath a gathering of cedars. There are just enough rays of sun to ignite the solar lights at every sixth stone. I find the spiral to be mesmerizing, tranquil, and dizzying all at the same time. Tonight I took the journey alone and once I arrived I stood at its center for quite some time looking into my own soul’s eyes.

The center that I cannot find
Is known to my unconscious mind;
I have no reason to despair
Because I am already there

–W.H. Auden

Many Blessings on Your Journey )O(

Weekenders On Our Own; It’s Such Fun

 

I spent this past weekend away at a beach house with 3 of my girlfriends. I’m talking about a real weekend “getaway”- as in a trip without the hubby and kids, whom I love dearly, really I do but…

Aside from me there was no one else to worry about. I packed my weekend satchel, my laptop, a cheesy romance novel, a few bottles of Shiraz and two six packs of Strongbow. Oh, and chocolate; I most definitely didn’t forget the chocolate. And of course a few Tarot decks to read for the gals.

No curfew.

No whining.

The only person I was in charge of was me. However, shortly after arriving I nearly panicked when I found out there was no phone service, no internet (!), not even a t.v. What the hell? (it helped that I could walk down the hill about a quarter mile to get a signal and call my husband and kids when I wanted to touch base).

Well, it ended up being a real blessing. There was plenty to do and time flew by. We hit the pubs indulging in Lemon Drops and/or local ale, walked along the beautiful Oregon beach, went to the movies, visited an art gallery, went wine tasting, ate raw oysters, and slinked into a local dive bar where we sang horrible karaoke. We also played tons of board games, laughing until our sides hurt. (I think Cards Against Humanity is my new favorite game).

It was a weekend to luxuriously soak in the beauty of Sisterhood. It was a celebration of being who we are as women without gimmicks or guises. It was about truly shedding the skin of limiting societal structure. It was liberating. But most of all it was just genuine Fucking Fun. And Fun is one heck of a magickal tool to replenish and raise our vibrational frequency because it touches that tender spot of raw spirituality that lives deep within us all.

To Simply Smile

It was around the time of Imbolc that I unplugged. During that time I used my laptop strictly for daily writing and for checking emails every other day or so. I even remained unplugged quite a bit longer than I had planned on because after the first week I realized just how badly I needed it. I politely requested for my friends and family to not mention news topics (such as all things political, disastrous, entertainment, gossip of any kind, etc..) for one week. Just one week was all I asked for. I knew I might be tempted like I am with sweets, but I also knew that ignoring trivial things like Facebook would be a breeze. I barely spent time there as it was, infrequently checking in with the one small local Sisterly Tribe “secret” group I am a part of.

Most of those who knew of my intentions were shocked, some were appalled, and many simply told me I couldn’t do it for a whole week. It was crazy. Weird. There was just too much juicy info out there, loads of yucky stuff to feed off of. And what if they really needed to get a hold of me? Like what if the world was actually coming to an end, a family tragedy occurred, or the zombie apocalypse had commenced? I told them that of course those things were important to me, so please, by all means tell me! (duh!) But please call me. Don’t send me an email, or tweet it. And don’t text me to give me the news. I want a real phone call, you know, where you can actually hear my voice and I can hear yours in real time.

I will say that the time has flown by. I’ve been busy writing, painting, sketching, and madly creating some crazy stuff that I absolutely adore. I’ve carved out time for Tarot readings and tea with friends, both of which I cherish. I’ve been busy working on different areas of my life and am spending more time than ever with my husband and kids. My daughter and I are currently making our own Spirit Dolls and I have enjoyed our special time in the studio.

I have been practicing yoga 5 days a week and am thrilled to write that I have stepped down further on my pain meds. If all goes as planned, I will be completely done with the fentanyl and taking a fraction of the breakthrough medication by June, two months before my personal goal.

I thought that now I’m back on the grid I should probably catch up on some things I’ve missed out on, but the more I think about it the more I realize that I’m much more interested in enjoying the fresh Spring strawberries. They are way juicier, much easier to swallow, and truly make me smile. 

May Spring bring you new, deliciously juicy experiences that make you smile too!

Many Blessings on your Journey )O(

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Day by Day

My husband went away on business today. He’ll be gone for two weeks; same as last year. That first time was pretty rough because we had never spent more than two nights apart in 14 years. It was really strange having him gone so long. He will be in intensive training all day, every day and then there’s 2-3 hours of homework every night plus projects on the weekends. Quite frankly we won’t be talking a whole lot. I’ll miss his calls and texts. But I’ll really just miss him. His soft kisses and big strong bear hugs.

He warmed our hearts today (mine actually melted) when after giving us goodbye hugs and kisses, he handed each of us a small notebook. These little notebooks had handwritten messages for each day. We were told not to look ahead, just read each entry for that day and then do our part. I was good, I only looked through the kid’s books because he whispered in my ear that I could, but he stressed the fact that I was not to look all the way through mine. “Day by Day” he says, “and when I read them when I get home I will savor your responses just as much as your curiosity tempts you to look ahead.” Then he kissed me again; a long languorous kiss that sealed the deal. I swooned over my big, burly, Irish Druid. And said goodbye.

He wrote personal little messages for each day he’ll be gone. For the kid’s books, he created tasks for them to complete and sometimes asks them questions about their day. For example, a couple of our daughter’s things to do is, “If you could be any animal real or mythical what would you be? Write me a story about a banana eating a monkey.”

For our son, “Draw your favorite food being eaten by a bug; Tell me a story about a boy that couldn’t stop farting… And then he threw in a few math problems for the both of them; what a meanie, right?

My notebook’s first task was to listen to a song that reminded me of him and then text him the song. What a brilliant way to check and make sure I was doing my mini journal. He’s smart like that. I’m so glad I didn’t forget to look at my notebook!

So I’m alone. Sort of. I’ve got my kids and dog so I’m doing okay tonight. In fact, I will be fine for the first 3 or 4 days before those pesky little pangs of loneliness and longing start creeping their way in. I plan on being busy doing activities with the kids to make the time go by faster. A trip to the science museum, see a movie, visit the library, go to the pool, and then the yogurt shop where we can create our own frozen yogurt with mountains of toppings….

As much as I will miss my husband, there’s also a few advantages to my alone time too. I’ll get to stay up as late as I want reading a book. I’ll have Alexa all to myself (Amazon Echo was my birthday gift last week) and I’ll be tempted to eat cookies in bed and allow the crumbs to fall on his side….just tempted though because I know I’ll probably end up over there in the scratchy crumbs at some point. So I shall save my wild woman ways for the upcoming weekend….

Which brings me to something fun for just me. I’ll be kid-less this weekend thanks to my mom and dad and I’ll be spending the Lammas weekend away in the forest with my Sisters in Spirit. And oh my, will I ever be a wild woman wandering through the trees, luxuriating in the beauty of nature and reveling in the powerful magick of the old growth forest. My feet will be dirty, my hair tangled, and I will be wearing a big smile on my face.

Those are the things that will get me through the first week. The second week is still a blank page full of magickal possibilities.

Many Blessings on your Journey )O(