Addiction – What needs to change?


I’m working through some junk. Guilt. It stinks! I choose to write and share because it helps me. And I know there are so many others…just like me. Addiction stinks! But I already said that.

My heart is struggling. I’d like to say my head is disagreeing with my heart but it’s not. My heart hurts and I find myself frequently and quickly wiping away tears. They come out of nowhere. I’m consumed with thoughts of addiction. Mother’s addiction. And her death. This isn’t me. I prepared for this. I knew it was coming. I’m tough. And I’m strong. But I’m weak. I was powerless to Mother’s addiction and the consequences of her addiction. Just like she was.

Now, I’m consumed with a passion for the very thing I’ve spent my entire life running from. I’ve ran from addiction as if my life depended on it. And it did. Now, I’m reading articles, writing, reading books and thinking about addiction in a crazy way. I feel like a hypocrite.

I ask myself – “Why now? Why are you consumed with it now?”

My heart answers “Because, I should have done more.”

The battle continues “but what?” I continue asking myself.

My heart cries out…”I DON”T KNOW!!!!!!!!!! But more!!! Something!”

I know deep down I did the best I could with what I had. I believe mother did too.

I’m surprised by my tears. Oh, that sounds bad. But if your life has been devastated by addiction – you get it, don’t you? I never really had my mother. She was controlled by drugs and alcohol my entire life. So I’m not grieving a close mother/daughter relationship…or then again, maybe I am. It was confusing and messed up. No, our relationship was a slave to mother’s addiction. Her addiction was always a wedge between us. As far as I know, she only had a few short periods of sobriety during her life. That’s sad, isn’t it? I wasn’t raised with her. Not really. My mother was never my “mom.” I’m sure she wanted to be but she wasn’t. That’s what addiction does. It robs us (and them)… of people we love…our hopes…our dreams and sweet meaningful joys of life. But that’s all I knew – mother the addict. I never knew mother before she was an addict. So my tears surprise me. Why am I struggling? I knew she was killing herself. Someone close to me said this about their own addiction…”If I don’t change my ways I only have three options…locked up, drugged up or covered up.” That makes my heart hurt. That makes me cry. Addiction has stolen so much from so many people. What about all the moms and dads who have lost their children to addiction?  It is a devastating tragedy.  Something as a whole needs to change. But what? I’m not sure yet.

I find myself feeling guilty for not doing better, not doing more, not being better. I’m sure those were the same feelings my mother experienced and contributed to her continued drinking. Now, here I am after her death…experiencing some of those same feelings. Isn’t that crazy? I have this image in my mind – Satan sees our tears and our pain…he sits up straight with excitement and grabs a bowl of popcorn to enjoy. He watches with a big smile on his wicked face. He loves to see people in pain. The image makes me want to throat punch him.

Somewhere in all the hurt, pain and disappointment – I stopped believing in her. I stopped believing mother would ever beat her addiction. I lost hope. That sounds bad too, doesn’t it? It was crushing to experience the excitement and hope that she was changing only to be punched in the gut by her continued drinking and drug use. I built a wall to protect myself from the roller coaster of emotions and disappointments that were constant daggers in my heart. Isn’t that what we do? Protect ourselves?

I didn’t help her as much as I should have but I did as much as I could. I hope that makes sense. People frequently told me, I owed her nothing and I could stop trying to help her because they saw my pain and what it was doing to me. I understood what they were telling me. I got it. But I saw her pain and I felt bad for her. I understood – she not only had a physical addiction but she also dulled her pain and anxiety with the substances. She wasn’t strong enough to face her pain. Or maybe she just didn’t believe she was strong enough. She was alienated. Not because people were mean or bad or didn’t care about her but because of her actions. She was mean and lived a very hard life. We were all at a loss. We didn’t know how to help her and it was too painful to continue watching her spiral out of control, standing by helplessly as she killed herself.

My brain knows all the right stuff. I know about boundaries, enabling and codependency. I know she had to want to stop. She had to want to change and she had to do the hard work. But isn’t there more to it? Mother was sick. She had a debilitating chronic disease. A disease we don’t treat like other diseases. Mother had been using for the majority of her life. Not just using here or there…she was controlled. She was powerless for more than forty five years. She had done years and years of damage to her mind, body and soul. Had mother lost purpose for her life? She alienated everyone. Or was it us who alienated her? Is that what we do to addicts? All in the name of saving ourselves and our sanity? She had sweet people who cared about her and helped her…the lady at the library, several neighbors, case managers, family members, the meals on wheels man, the home health nurse (not hers) who saw her crossing the busy road to get to the liquor store – stumbling and dressed in her night gown, she lovingly picked mother up and gave her a ride back to her apartment. There are so many I don’t even know about. I’m so thankful for those who cared for her when I couldn’t or didn’t.

I’m so thankful for all those who cared for me when she couldn’t or didn’t. I think about how much different my life could have been if it weren’t for loving people.

Guilt is a driving force behind addiction. I know my mother was plagued with deep rooted feelings of guilt. She used alcohol and drugs in an attempt to drown out feelings of anxiety, guilt, heartache and everything ugly. I choose to go into the pain and work through it.

I watch and I listen as others respond to addicts and alcoholics with hate filled unforgiveness. I get it. I’ve done it. It makes you bitter. But isn’t there more? How can we so willingly accept God’s forgiveness when we are unwilling to extend it to others? I’m working on this. God can take this tragedy and use it for good.

The truth is…when mother was alive it was hard to do anything because I was always waiting for the next tragic call and I was so busy running…from her addiction. I’m not judging any of you who are enduring this pain with your loved one. I get it. It hurts and it is heartbreaking. I just keep thinking….what needs to change about how we treat addiction?

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” ― Mahatma Gandhi

One last thing…please watch this video Everything you think you know about addiction is wrong.


Finding the sweet side of crazy!


A sweet and a not so sweet memory


Sometimes grief makes no sense. Random memories pop into my mind. But maybe they aren’t random at all. I’m learning there are some memories and feelings I have to work through in order to transition to the next stage. Addiction complicates those memories and feelings. Addiction makes you question everything.

Lately, two childhood memories of mother have been swimming at the forefront of my thoughts. One sweet one and one not so sweet.

My not so sweet memory…

“I love you more than anything in this world,” mother told me. This was something as a child – mother had always told me as far back as I could remember. It made me feel special and loved. I was her only child and I believed her when she said it. In a teeny tiny way I think it helped me look past the hurt she and her drug use spewed all over my young life….if only for a second. It was something she only said to me. Those were words saved just for me. Something special. Because I was special.

On the day mother married her third husband, I asked her… “Do you still love me more than anything in the world?” I’m not sure why I felt the need to ask her the question. I don’t remember ever asking her before. Mother replied, “I love you and ‘B’ more than anything in the world.” When I heard those words, my heart ached and my stomach hurt. I asked, “You love him as much as you love me?” She tried to explain in some sort of logic. But I was too young and far too wounded by a long history of mother’s actions that her explanations didn’t mean much to me. But for some reason those words hurt. How could she love this man – her third husband as much as me? Her first two marriages had already ended. Had she loved them more than anything in the world too? If she passed those words to everyone…they weren’t special. I wasn’t special. I was crushed. All of these years, that moment, that question, her answer – I’ve never forgotten.

My sweet memory…

Mother had just recently completed a treatment program for her addiction. I think I was in around the seventh grade and was on about my fourteenth school move (surviving crazy 15 schools in 9 years) . It didn’t matter that I was comfy and leading a stable life with my aunt and my cousins. My mother thought she could handle being a mother now so she wanted me back. She had a new husband, her fourth. I believe they met in treatment which from what I’ve seen doesn’t always make for the best relationships. I never remember full details only snippets and feelings. I don’t remember the move from my aunts to my mothers. Only that they (mother and her new husband) tried to entice me with a nice big bedroom and the man pretended to be nice. Maybe he was but I didn’t much like him. He seemed fake. Like he talked out of both sides of his mouth. I didn’t want the bedroom, the new school, or a new step-dad. I was tired and emotionally exhausted. I was tired of being the new girl and having to make friends over and over again only to lose them in a few short months. I was tired of having a mother, pretending, believing, hoping things would be different…only to be crushed again.

It wasn’t long after they were married that that man (the fourth husband) in an angry fit – crushed multiple bones in mother’s hand. He was a big man. She had tiny hands. I’m not sure what made him so mad that he would cause such harm to her. Maybe they were both messed up. Thankfully, I wasn’t there. I don’t remember where I was or how I even found out. I just remember I ended back up with my aunt and cousins. Thankfully my aunt was always there to take me back when mother couldn’t do it anymore or got herself in a big mess.  Over the years, mother had multiple surgeries to correct that finger but it was always deformed because of his abuse. Mother wasn’t married to him very long. He just faded back out of my life – the same way he came in. Just like the others. I didn’t like him anyway. Something about him made me nervous. Strangely, he died not long after mother did. He died in prison. He was serving time for drug related crimes – unrelated to the abuse he unleashed on mother. When she died, her little finger was still deformed. A constant reminder of that fourth husband.

Before they divorced and he crushed her hand…soon after starting the new school, report cards came out. I think I only attended that school for a semester or less. It wasn’t long regardless. I opened up the report card to find a “D.” I have no idea which class. My memory fades in and out.

When I brought home the D, I expected to be grounded, scolded or something. I felt bad. My aunt and uncle whom I lived with when I wasn’t with mother expected good grades. I don’t ever remember having grade discussions with my mother. We just never had those talks.  When I showed mother my grades, I had a lump in my throat and a knot in my tummy. I was disappointed in myself. I knew I was better than a “D.” But I had a lot of instability and craziness in my life too. Most days, grades weren’t at the top of my list. When mother saw my D she didn’t scold me or get onto me or anything. She simply looked at the report and comforted me for my own disappointment. She comforted me. Then she asked me if I wanted some ice cream. Her kindness and gentleness eased my tummy and my own disappointment. We drove to Braums and we both got Chocolate Sodas.

I’ve pondered and analyzed why these thoughts are swimming around in my head over thirty years later. The truth is…it was a dumb question. One that mother couldn’t have answered correctly. She was an addict. I was her only child. Of course she loved me more than anything in the world but she didn’t know how to put into words or make me understand how she could love someone else in addition to me without ever taking love away from me. I get it now. She was just trying to answer the question the best she knew how – being true to herself and hopeful in a new marriage. Mother didn’t know how to love herself. How could she truly express love to me when she didn’t truly understand it herself?

I think of that D and the kindness and love my mother showed me. Maybe she felt somehow responsible for the D. But I know this…I appreciated her kindness and I have never forgotten it. That long ago day when a D earned me a chocolate Soda and a sweet memory of my mother.

To this day, Braums is a favorite place. I have taken my boys there many times and sometimes we get a chocolate soda. Every single time I order one…I think of my mother and the sweetness she showed me that day.

Finding the sweet side of crazy!





Pajama Day


Today was Pajama Day! It’s one of my most favorite days. It’s the day I replenish. I’m an introvert and going too much exhausts me.   Some people thrive and excel with busyness. Not me. It drains me…emotionally and physically. Don’t’ get me wrong. I love my friends and family and spending time with them. I just have to have time to catch up with myself and lately my life has been super crazy. Most days, I’m gone from my home more than I am in it. I don’t like that. I like being at home.

So this morning…

I woke up, stumbled in the kitchen, made myself a cup coffee and crawled back in bed to enjoy. Because it was pajama day!!!!! And I love pajama day!

Did you hear a familiar tune in that sentence? It reminded me of an old song I listened to as a child and it made me smile…

“Tumble out of bed and stumble to the kitchen, pour myself a cup of ambition and yawn and stretch and try to come to life. Jump in the shower and the blood starts pumpin’, out on the streets the traffic starts jumpin’ for folks like me on the job from 9 to 5.”

 When I was younger, I used to listen to that song over and over on an old eight track. That seems like light years away.

 Pajama day is the day I don’t leave my home at all…all day long. I claim it! It’s my day and I don’t leave. I don’t fix my hair, put on makeup or get dressed. I shower and put on my very favorite soft comfy pajamas and I do things I need to do to replenish and regroup. I leave my outside self undone to work on my inside self. It’s amazing. It’s the day I try to regain my sanity.

I wander from inside to the great outdoors to back inside again. I go back to my bed frequently to read, work through things, think, and process. It helps me replenish all that I have poured out in all of my many roles over the last few days, weeks or months since my last pajama day. Lately I’ve been dreaming of escaping to a little cottage by the sea in England or Scotland. Doesn’t that sound dreamy and relaxing? But the truth is my most favorite place on earth is my home.

Today for Pajama day, I worked on catching up with online classes, blogging,  preparing for an oil class I have tomorrow afternoon, thinking and processing through junk.

Then, in the middle of trying to regain my sanity, I was notified of something that I don’t believe was handled in the right way or within policy. I was so frustrated and upset – not for me but because it wasn’t fair for someone else. I sent out a couple of texts to my “crazy whispers” because my crazy was brewing and I needed help. Things that are unfair and unjust seriously make me crazy. I know…that’s life. It’s crazy and it’s just not fair. I understand that really well. But some things are controllable and people just do dumb stuff. That’s the part that irritates me. Especially when their dumb stuff affects others in a negative way. I was frustrated. No, I was beyond frustrated. I was very irritated. It wasn’t handled appropriately. So I made a phone call to find out what the next step was.

I dialed the number. I knew it wasn’t the department I needed to speak with but they could give me guidance. A sweet girl answered the phone. I started explaining the situation. She was kind. I liked her. She was listening. I explained more…bottom line – policy wasn’t followed and a son was separated from his mother in a business (I know this doesn’t make sense but I can’t explain- without sharing too much. Besides – it’s not the point). I asked “Am I making any sense?” She replied with a sweet “yes.” I kept going… Then in the middle of explaining… I started crying. Whoa! Where did that come from? In the middle of explaining to that sweet girl – I was crying. Then out of nowhere I blurted out… “and my mother just died in April.”  Holy Cow! I shocked myself and desperately wanted to scoop those words up and put them back in my mouth where they came from. What the heck did that have to do with anything? That sweet girl was kind and compassionate. She gave me the information I was seeking – about who to contact. I wondered what that sweet girl would have said if I would have told her I have a blog and the name of it included the word crazy. The thought made me laugh. I needed to laugh. I was thankful for that conversation. Even if I was mad.

Unfairness mixed with frustration always make me cry. But just maybe the root of my tears was deeper than this. Maybe me blurting out that awkward statement had to do with my grief. Grief I wasn’t prepared for. My mother and I had been separated by a dumb decision – her dumb decision to begin using drugs and alcohol. And here I was today in a totally unrelated situation that had nothing to do with my mother, my relationship with her or drugs and alcohol. But somehow deep down – I think they were related in my mind. The mind is a powerful thing. It’s deep, I know. It’s pajama day. Pajama day is deep. Really deep.

I vowed not to stop until the wrong was righted. And I won’t. I’m resourceful. That’s something I got from mother. I’m determined and stubborn too.

Grief is a crazy thing. The sadness, guilt and mix of emotions rear their ugly head when you least expect them. And aside from grief – we all have a little crazy. We try hard to push it down and tame it. But sometimes it just creeps out and starts showing itself. It’s important to surround our self with other people who help us through the craziness and don’t fuel it. It’s important to help others through their crazy too. We’ve all got it. It’s the ones who think they are totally sane we should be worried about. They don’t recognize their own crazy. But others do. Because we all have it.

Last week I showed up for a meeting with some girls I love. I started by saying – I shouldn’t be here. I really should be in therapy. I’m seriously losing my mind. They were awesome. They listened. I cried again. The next day, I had a pajama day. I felt totally rejuvenated.

I’m so thankful for pajama days, crazy whisperers, friends, family, sweet compassionate people, humor and tears. Tears are cleansing for the soul you know.

Have yourself a pajama day.

Finding the sweet side of crazy!






I Miss Her


I’ve been too busy. I’ve been going strong for too long. I’m tired. I need to regroup.

My guys are gone. I’m home alone on a beautiful fall day. The windows are open and a cool breeze (60 degrees) is flowing through the house. I’m still in my favorite pajamas. Christmas Spirit, a delightful blend of essential oils is diffusing a cozy scent throughout. I’ve snuggled up with a cup of warm green chia tea with maple syrup (a new favorite) alone with my thoughts. I’ve needed this. I’m in my zone. This is my best way to regroup and recharge. Alone. In my pajamas. Quiet. Cozy. Clean house. Great scent. Great food. Great weather. Alone.

It’s been just over seven months since I received the call informing me my mother was found dead. Alone. In her apartment. After repeated uncontrollable drinking binges, she bled out. She couldn’t stop herself. She drank herself to death. She knew it was killing her. She would call me crying and tell me she was scared because she was bleeding again. But yet, she couldn’t stop herself. She refused to go to treatment. She hated the things she did when she had been drinking or using. Sometimes I wonder if she really hated herself. Maybe she wasn’t able to separate the things she did under the influence from the person she really was…her sober clean self. Or maybe she no longer knew the real her. Maybe it had been too long and the real her had been destroyed by the devastating disease. I really never knew her. Not like most people know their moms. She was Mother. She had never really been mom.

My family says I grieve late. When my Papa died it took me almost 10 years to deal with it.  Because of mother’s addiction I learned how to compartmentalize and box up my feelings. When bad things happened, I didn’t have the ability to deal with the hard heartbreaking feelings at the time things occurred. I had to parent my parent who had a chronic debilitating disease and made bad decisions. I had to box up those tough feelings and put them away until later…when I had the time, energy and resources to deal with them. When Papa died, I boxed up my feelings. It was too much for me. He was my everything.  I was young and didn’t understand compartmentalizing or have any idea I even did it. One random day, in my early twenty’s the box which held all my emotions and feelings from Papa’s death exploded. Almost ten years later. It couldn’t be contained anymore. One minute, I sat talking and doing life with those close to me and the next I was crying like he had just died. It was crazy. Since then, I’ve tried to be aware of my compartmentalizing. I try to open those boxes a little at a time and deal with things so I don’t have another explosion. My family and I laugh (because that’s what we do at hard stuff) and say – don’t worry – she’ll (me) deal with it in a couple of years.

I’ve done the same thing with mother’s death. I’ve put my feelings in a box. But it’s different. Before Papa died, I had never thought about death. But since his death – I think about it often. His life and death made a great impact on me and how I live. I never expected my Papa to die. Not really. But because of Mother’s addiction, I expected her to die. I tried to prepare myself for her death for years. I knew she was dying. The truth is…it was shocking that she managed to stay alive for so long because of the way she lived. I know that sounds mean and cruel but if you’ve loved an addict – you get it. They live such a hard lifestyle that most days you wake up thinking…I can’t believe she is still alive. Then you feel guilty. Because feeling guilty and loving and addict go hand in hand.

I can feel myself avoiding thoughts and feelings related to mother’s death.  I find myself crying a lot lately. As cruel as it sounds…my feelings and tears surprise me. I thought I had done well to prepare myself for this. But you can’t ever prepare yourself for the feeling’s you experience after someone’s death. Not really. Thoughts of her pop into my head at random times. When I’m traveling several hours in the car for work, I think of calling mother because that’s when I would call her. When I’m in a hotel, I catch myself packing up the little shampoo, conditioner and other bath products to give her. When I hear something about a drug, I want to call her and ask her about it. When I have leftovers, I catch myself thinking I need to freeze them for her. The other day when I listened to “Gone” by Meagan White, I cried. I thought of my new friend who lost her mom to suicide/addiction only 3 months after I lost mother. I cried for her and I cried for me.

When mother was alive, I wanted all the phone calls and the pain and the heartache to stop. For me and for her. I wanted to find some peace and not have to worry about the constant phone calls from her and others. I wanted to be able to stop worrying if she was safe, had food or if she had been beat up again. I wanted to be able to wake up in the morning without 7 million voice mails about mother. Her life was out of control. I wanted some relief from the burden her addiction had placed on my life and my heart. And hers. I tried to prepare myself for her death but I never prepared myself that I’d miss her. But I do.

I miss her.

I miss her humor.

I miss listening to her laugh.

I miss the answers I never got to the questions I never asked.

I miss listening to her say Kandy Lyn real fast.

I miss listening to her say “you listen here SCCCCCCCCOTTYYY” when she was mad at him.

I miss knowing I could pick up the phone and hear her voice and hang up really quickly if she was drunk.

My heart hurts for the things she never got to know and enjoy. My heart hurts for the things I was robbed of because of her addiction. My heart hurts for the things I never wrote to her but wish I had.

My heart hurts that she died. Alone. In a nasty little apartment that smelled.

I’m mad. I’m mad at her. I’m mad at addiction. I’m mad at how we treat and view addiction. I’m mad that I deleted all of the voicemails before she died. I long to listen to hear her voice and some of the voicemails that made me laugh. I’m mad at myself for not taking extra time with her or for not hugging her a little tighter the last time I saw her. I’m mad that she didn’t go to treatment and work through the hard stuff.

But mainly my heart just hurts. For mother. For me. For my boys. For her brothers and sisters. For her mom and dad. And for everyone else who is experiencing, will experience and has experienced this terrible heartbreaking devastating disease.

Addiction sucks!

I’m so thankful for all of the positive wonderful people God has strategically placed in my life. I’m so thankful I somehow by the grace of God ended up on a completely different path than mother.

I’m thankful for all the hard lessons I learned that taught me to live intentionally and with purpose.

Today, I’m especially thankful for the small things…quiet alone time; my favorite pajamas; a much needed day where I didn’t leave my cozy, clean home; great food; great weather and great scents.

I miss her…and I never prepared for that.

Finding the sweet side of crazy!


Because life is brutiful I got siblings


I wasn’t born with siblings. But because life is brutiful (like Glennon says) God gave me a brother and two sisters.

Through the ugly craziness of addiction I gained the sweetness of J., T. and D.  My first cousins became my siblings. My mother and their mother were sisters. My aunt along with my grandparents helped raise me. She took me in and raised me like I was hers. I am blessed.

I love my J., T. and D.  During the darkest, hardest, brightest and best days of my life, they are always there. ALWAYS. Even when we are mad at each other. We are always there for each other. We tell each other exactly what we think. For real. We do dumb and crazy things sometimes. Or often. Like really crazy. One time we had a little impromptu wrestling match in the middle of the night. It was super crazy. One of us had lost our mind and the rest of us showed up to help them find it. Because that’s what we do. We show up. When one of us is going through something – we are always there for each other. Sometimes in person, sometimes on the phone, sometimes it’s in prayer but we are always there. Sometimes when things get really crazy some of us hide out until some of the crazy is gone. We fuss at each other. We tell each other when our crazy is showing or when we are acting ugly. We get each other’s dumb jokes and laugh at crazy stuff together. We fight. We talk to each other. Real talk. We laugh at each other. We get mad at each other. We cry with each other. We do really dumb stuff and then we laugh. We get real. I mean really real. I love them.

The truth is…I wouldn’t make it in this old world without them. We all know no matter what – we always have each other’s back.

D. has a heart of gold. She is the momma hen. You mess with any of us – she’ll get you. She doesn’t care if she’s just cussed us out herself. If you do something to one of us or our families…she will let you have it. She doesn’t care if we are wrong. We are hers and she’s not going to let anyone mess with us. But she’s quick to apologize too. We love her. Once, when we were young…after she had had enough of someone who wasn’t acting very nice toward us…D. chased the girl outside. When the girl got in her truck and locked the doors…D. jumped in the back of the truck, busted open the window with her fist and grabbed that girl by the hair. I sat there with my jaw down to my knees.    D. hates it when I tell that story but I was so proud of her. That girl was mean and hateful and she was hurting someone we loved. I’m still proud of her. Secretly – sometimes I wish I’d handle mean people a little more like D. did.

J. is spontaneous, easy going and fun loving. He is protective of us girls. He doesn’t like too many plans. He doesn’t stay anywhere to long. He likes to move quickly. I think us three girls drive him nuts and he tries to keep his sanity – being the only guy…can you imagine? We girls got/get on his nerves. He’s like most guys and doesn’t like to talk a whole bunch and certainly not about feelings and junk. When we were little, us girls were always asking him all kinds of questions that guys hate. Like – did so and so say anything about me? Do you think he likes me? Should I wear this? Should I say this? Guys don’t like those kind of questions. He had to endure it on his own against us three girls. Poor guy. J. was a great wrestler. Once when he was little, we were at a wrestling tournament. There was one kid who was his biggest rival. T. and I found that little boy. We wanted to scare him so we told him our brother was going to pin him in nothing flat. We gave him a good earful. T. and I were so proud of ourselves for scaring that boy. When the time came for the match, T. and I watched in horror as the little boy we had just unknowingly pumped up pinned J. in nothing flat. After the match, being clueless – we told J. about our conversation with the kid. He was so mad at us. I mean really mad. We didn’t do that again.

T. is smart, thoughtful and kind. She is the baby. Although you wouldn’t know it. She’s kind of bossy like she’s the oldest. I mean…she’s a leader. She keeps us in line. We used to accuse her of tattling on us when we were younger. She never really got in trouble…not like the rest of us. I guess she was smart enough to learn from us and our mistakes. In middle school, there was a girl on the bus that was giving T. a hard time. She was being really mean to her. It made me mad. So I decided to write a note and leave it on the bus for that little girl to find. I was going to teach her a lesson. Don’t mess with my sister. I wrote…”Rosanna is a…” and then I just scribbled. A bunch. I was always scared to get into too much trouble. But I wanted to scare that girl. She found the letter. And she took it to her momma. My aunt who worked nights got woke up by a phone call from Rosanna’s very mad mom. My aunt wasn’t happy. She called me in there and asked me if I wrote a cuss word on a piece of paper. I told her no because I didn’t. I explained what I did. My aunt was furious. We loaded up in the car and drove to that little girl’s house. Her mom came out and was as white as a ghost. I don’t think she expected visitors. I was scared and felt bad for all the confusion my note had created. My aunt gave her the what for. That lady was shaking. We got back in the car and drove back home. I never did do that again.

I love them just like they truly are my blood siblings. We make each other crazy, furious, and want to pull our hair out. Like most brothers and sisters – we have pulled hair, punched, cursed, spit, wrestled and said hateful words. But you mess with any of us and we’ll all get you. We tell each other things flat out. We call each other out when we are doing crazy things. We hold each other accountable…trying never to let any one of us become a victim. We get mad at each other but no matter what…we love each other. We can say anything to each other and we do. We are real and we tell each other like it is. But we like that. I know when my crazy comes out – one of them will quickly let me know. When I’m quick to become fixated or upset about something – they’ll listen and talk me down. They help keep me straight. They help me be the best me I can be. No competition. Just love. They love me. And I love them.

I know I’m blessed. But I haven’t always known it and took it for granted for a lot of years.

As I thought about my relationship with them…I realized in their younger years…my mother’s siblings were a great example for us kids. They taught us a lot. They showed us how to be siblings. For most of their lives they had been close. They showed us how to stick together and how to call each other out. They showed us how to show up. There were six of them and they were a tight group. We spent a lot of time together…weekends, family reunions, talking on the phone, holidays and any chance we got we were all together.

When one of them was in trouble – all or some of them showed up to help whether it was going through a divorce, financial trouble, loss of a loved one, their own end of life diagnosis…they always showed up. When my uncle was on his death bed, my other uncle brought him to his house to be cared for during his last days. His family – his wife, children, grandkids and the rest of us, gathered around him and listened to his brilliantly funny stories. Many were there when he passed over into Heaven.

That’s the kind of relationship I want my boys to have. I want them to be close and always have each other’s back. I want them to be real with each other. I want them to be able to tell each other the hard stuff. I want them to hold each other accountable – to keep each other in check. If one was acting crazy – I want the other to be able to tell him. You need someone who you know will always tell you the truth and not just what you want to hear. I want them to show each other kindness and love and do good for each other.

When they were little we told them not to tell on each other unless it was something really important…like if they were doing something that could hurt them or someone else. We wanted them to have each other’s back and take care of each other.   We also said … Madden – if you want your brother to want to be around you and take you places – you have to be a good little brother. Don’t be annoying and don’t tattle on him all the time. Mason – you need to be a good big brother. Include him and take care of him. Look after him. I’ll never forget Mason being around 8 and Madden 4. I looked out the window to see Madden chasing and hitting a kid who was about 13 with a plastic bat for “being mean to my bub.” To this day – it still makes me laugh.

Life is brutiful. Because of the ugliness of addiction, I gained a brother and two sisters and another mother. I am blessed!

Finding the sweet side of crazy!