Monthly Archives: December 2013

Thoughts on Suicide

As we drove under the overpass where she jumped to her death, I could almost hear her thoughts.

There’s too much to overcome. It’s not worth it. There’s no way this pain will go away. Ever. This is the easiest hard way out I know, and it’s the only way to be sure that I won’t have to face these demons anymore.

So many deaths, so little understanding of what goes through their minds. I have personally known at least four people that have taken their own lives. This one is a girl I did not know. But it’s easy enough to get wrapped up in the wondering and the questions when her face and moments of her life are plastered all over Facebook for us all to see. Her life is quite literally flashing before our own eyes. There was no note, and no one offers an explanation as to why she felt that she could not go on. Maybe that knowledge alone is what she brought with her on that fateful and fatal night that she decided that giving up was all she could give.

My first experience with suicide was a good friend of mine back in the 6th grade. With his sick sense of humor in tact, he ironically took his life by ‘kicking a bucket’ and hanging himself from his bedroom ceiling. As we later discovered, Glen had a very violent and abusive childhood, and chose to end his life rather than to endure more disappointment and pain from those who were supposed to love and guide him.

The second was my 2nd cousin, who took her life after learning that her husband of 10 years had been having an affair for at least half of those years. And the third was a girl that had just become a close friend weeks before she shot herself. She was a freshman in high school, and she was being molested by her step-father who was a police officer. Her mom denied her daughter’s allegations, and Lisa gave up hope and ended her life cuddled with a teddy bear to silence the shot. The fourth suicide was within the last couple of months, when my friend Kelly shot himself on the side of the road. No one understands that. He was full of humor, smiles, and gratitude for his vocal talent and his children, who were his life.

I can honestly say that there have been many times in my life where I felt as though I could not go on, especially after my dad died when I was in sixth grade. I believe that what has always been a deal breaker for me regarding suicide is my faith. When I think of being created by God in his image, the last thing I truly want to do is destroy myself. Somehow, I think, that I would also be destroying some part of God. I also reflect on how everyone around me would be impacted by my sudden departure. That stops me in my tracks. And of course, as a mom, the thought has never taken any traction whatsoever. I cannot destroy my children, no matter what I face.

Suicide angers me. I have not walked in their shoes, but I have felt their pain in my own flesh and heart, and I know deep inside that there is always tomorrow. And while we are not promised anything in this life, we are promised that if we keep trying, eventually we will understand all the bad stuff. In the rear-view mirror, the bad stuff was only a fleeting sting – like a shot – and the good stuff eventually takes over, if only we give it time…..


Momentum Monotony


Chills in the air that only hot showers, long treadmill runs, and coffee can defrost, are more than I care to experience this winter. Of course, I shouldn’t complain. I live in East Tennessee, and our cold seasons would be considered balmy tropical fronts compared to Northern climates. Still, the older I get, and the more crotchety my bones grow, the less tolerance I muster in the season of bluster.

After 12 hours of Christmas shopping over the past weekend, and 200 Christmas cards mailed in the last few days, I am feeling a little more Grinch and a little less Tiny Tim than normal. I’ve almost given up my spirit of giving. My patience has become impatient, and Ethan’s elf-on-the-shelf has lost her creativity. In fact, she seems to have forgotten for several nights, that she’s supposed to travel up to Santa and return to our home in a new spot each morning for Ethan’s finding pleasure.

But the momentum of this Christmas adventure began with ambitious intentions. My mom and my mamaw were both Christmas nuts. I don’t mean the kind you eat or the kind found in holiday fruitcakes. They were fruitcakes, but that’s what made Christmas fun. Somehow, without both of them here to motivate me into frosty-rudolph celebration, I felt even more determined to do everything they did for the holidays; to make sure that my children had the same experiences I had as an excited and enthusiastic child. So now with 6 days left to go before Christmas, I am severely and sadly burned out. My twinkle has lots its sparkle, and my spritely spirit has lost its luster. But my favorite Christmas memory keeps me plugging along like the reindeer guiding Santa Claus’s sleigh, and I know that I can’t lose sight with that blinding glow of Rudolph’s red.

Many many years ago, my parents and I took a trip, as we traditionally did, up North to visit my grandparents. On our journey, we encountered a blizzard like I had never seen. I remember that the world was white, even though the night was dark. I couldn’t see my mittens or my boots for the creamy drifts that buried my seven-year-old self. The interstate closed, and we were forced to spend Christmas eve in a tiny little hotel room.

All I could think about was how would Santa ever find me there. My determined father hung one of his tube socks, white with two red stripes, from a shelf in our room. I left a couple of twinkies, and a cup of water, complete with a hand-written letter telling Santa exactly what I wanted. I remember lying there, waiting for sleep to carry me away, and wondering if this magical man would know that we were stranded, and that this was the best I could do.

To my surprise, when I awakened the next morning, I found every single gift I had asked for, along with a stuffed tube sock still hanging with bulging candy, oranges, and hairbows. I was ecstatic. Although we had no tree in that cold dark room, the spirit of Christmas filled the air, and overflowed into my little doubtful heart in a way that still moves me to this day. I still have no idea how they pulled it off, but it doesn’t matter. They did pull it off, and my faith in Christmas was restored.

My wish this Christmas is that my childrens’ faith is restored the same as mine was so long ago; that they understand that, while obstacles can and will try and crush our faith, miracles can and do happen. After a year of losing ‘grandma’, and missing out on summer travels and fun, their spirit of Christmas carries me through just as my parents’ spirit did on that stranded Christmas morning, and it was restored entirely in that crazy eighties tube sock.





Under the Influence of Estrogen

So many things can happen under the influence of estrogen. Of course, one can behave like a woman, and that’s bad enough. But too much estrogen, and one woman can resemble those snickers commercials. Yes, she can turn into a completely different actress…or actor…or a different vicious animal altogether. And I know. I was there.

I wanted an IUD because I have had pretty severe emotional issues with birth control pills. I had heard, and had read that the occurrence of such issues with these magical inserts was a rare and unique thing. Call me rare and unique. I got to be part of the 1% that gets to experience IUD craziness, and I came very close to ‘inserting’ myself straight into a padded room,  or maybe even a ‘straight’ jacket. There was nothing straight about my thinking whatsoever.

For some, it’s a God-send, for others of us though, it’s a send-straight-to-hell.  And for those that must experience us rare and unique cases, it’s as if someone else, with a leaky faucet & puffy eyes, has morphed into our bodies and taken over. I have a very clear vision of Whoopi Goldberg in Ghost in mind. I also see the girl from the Exorcist, head spinning, vile green chunks spewing from chapped lips. It ain’t pretty.  I couldn’t watch children playing at the mall playground, hear a Christmas song, or read a goofy children’s book to my son. I also couldn’t take a shower, blow dry my hair, or stick my pinky toe outside of my sheets in the morning without cleansing my cheeks with sludgy estrogen induced teardrops.

And while this alien has since been removed from my body, I’m still in awe of it’s ability to transform me into mush so easily. Does that make me weak, or too impressionable? Whatever bad things you can say about such birth control, you can’t say that it doesn’t work. I never was off of my period during its five week stay. The only thing I enjoyed was crying the last few days, and I was more wishy-washy about personal relationships than I had been as a teenager.

Talk about wreaking havoc on your own life, with your own consent! Who needs alcohol, when you can have teenage-raging hormones, after all? Yes, it was effective. I didn’t want sex. And that is its secret ingredient – a built-in psychological corset. Good stuff.

If you hear of anyone experiencing these issues, and they have an IUD of any kind that includes hormones, pass it on. There is a priest disguised as a doctor, complete with a white jacket and stethoscope. She can turn back to her doctor. The same one that gave her the ‘possession’ can also take it away. And he/ she will certainly argue that it’s probably NOT the IUD. Remember,  you know your body better than any doctor or exorcist out there, and you’re not leaving till the demon has left the stage!





Finding Bottom

“I am not a saint, unless you think of a saint as a sinner that keeps on trying.”  Nelson Mandela

What makes you try? What is it in you that lights your soul on fire and sparks your motivation when you’ve been knocked down time after time?

We’ve all known people who seem to take all of life’s punches with dignity, and keep getting back on their feet. Nothing stands in their way. Period. And just when you think they can take no more, they do.

There are two sides to this phenomenon, at least from my perspective. The first side is that you have to wonder, why must they have to keep overcoming obstacles? Why must some people face so much adversity, when others of us face so little? Where is the justice? Of course, that question comes from a very concrete and human place. When things aren’t neatly tied up with a pretty silver bow like Hollywood would have us believe, we become disgruntled. Things should make sense. Everyone, at some point, asks ‘why do bad things happen to good people?’. But good things also happen to bad people. So, while there is balance, it isn’t the kind of balance that makes logical and judicial sense. Quite simply, we believe that ‘good’ people shouldn’t be punished and ‘bad’ people shouldn’t be rewarded.

The key to understanding this is to not understand it at all, but to (in a sense) give it to God. There is a reason for everything. There is always a reason. If we’re drowning in the details of our mess, we never seem to notice that we can actually touch the bottom and stand if only we stop flailing around, out of control. It isn’t until long after we’ve recovered sometimes that we notice the bottom was there all along, and so was the security. Sometimes we need to get shaken up just to balance out. Yes. We’re like juice…shake before opening!

The other side to this is the resiliency of some people. This has everything to do with that first side, because it has to do with Faith. Have you ever been enraged by something that’s been ‘done to you’ only to realize minutes later that if you had been in their shoes, you may have reacted the same way? Self-awareness makes Faith an easier thing to grasp. But Faith also means understanding that, though you may not feel you deserve what you’re going through, there is a reason. Just like there’s a reason that you’ve been through everything you have before, and survived it.

When I was a Senior in high school, my least favorite english teacher gave us one of the most interesting assignments. She said for each of us to prepare a Valedictorian speech. I would’ve been the Valedictorian too, if it weren’t for the good grades part. But I remember it clearly. My theme was that ‘hope is survival, and survival is hope’. Even as a 17 year-old girl with terrible grades, no motivation, and no prom date, I grasped a bit of this Faith thing. I had survived the death of my father, countless broken hearts, a heaping helping of disappointments, and constellations of pimples, but I still managed to cry myself to sleep only to awaken the next day with hope and a smile.

While that was (sadly) 20 years ago, I’ve learned that my resilience pales in comparison to so many people I’ve had the pleasure of encountering. Yet, in each and every case, the one constant has been Faith. None of these people have been perfect, all have been sinners, but not one of them surrenders to adversity. Faith is contagious. Resiliency is the badge of Faith, but when it’s all said and done it’s the waking up that matters and builds strength. And realizing that you don’t have to hit bottom to know there is one, is reason enough to keep on trying.

Holy Snowballs

Snowballs.They were so fun as kids.You could smoosh the snow, pack it into the perfect golf ball, softball, bowling ball & clobber your friends until they were dripping wet with so many icicles hanging from their nostrils that only hot cocoa or Campbell’s soup could melt.  Image

Snowballs are so much colder and unfriendly as we get older. I like to think of my own lonely self-pity parties as snowball fights. One little snowball the size of a peanut (in other words…um, hail), can turn into a glacier in the blink of an eye. Sometimes, nothing but sleep can melt that one. Surrender. Because sometimes you should just give in and let the snowballs have their way with you in order to heal. Goodness gracious, great balls of PITY…I embrace you.

So here’s my list of the absolute worst-best songs to listen to when you feel like your pitiful-heartbreak-snowball is eating you alive, feel free to add your own. It is after all only a snowball fight if there are other fighters.

1)     With or Without You – U2

2)     Lovesong – The Cure

3)     Time after Time – Cyndi Lauper

4)     Break Even – The Script

5)     Fire and Rain – James Taylor

6)     One Moment More – Mindy Smith

7)     Black – Pear Jam

8)     Yesterday – the Beatles

9)     Poison & Wine – Civil Wars

10)   Not Over You – Gavin DeGraw

11)   Every Breath You Take – the Police

12)   My Immortal – Evanescence

13)   Marry Me – Train

14)   Danny’s Song – Anne Murray

15)   You Needed Me – Anne Murray

16)   Alone – Heart

17)   Don’t You Remember – Adele

18)   Tell You Something – Alicia Keys

19)   The Dance – Garth Brooks

20)   Black River – Amos Lee

21)   Fix You – Coldplay

22)   Little Sparrow – Dolly Parton

23)   Blood and Fire – Indigo Girls

24)   Every Rose Has its Thorn – Poison

25)   Foolish Games – Jewel