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People often tell me how “brave” I am for putting stuff out there.

I don’t really see it as brave.

I guess it started out as trying to let moms know they aren’t alone in their struggles with motherhood or depression or marriage or weight loss or whatever.

The more I shared, the more I wanted to be honest not just with other moms, but with myself.

But if I’m really going to be honest, now I also share things for selfish reasons.

Because every time I put something out there that other people might think, Holy shit, I can’t believe she just shared that, I get dozens of emails and messages from people telling me they’ve been in the same exact situation and can totally relate to what I’m going through.

And then I don’t feel alone.

And I just want to share that I have received a whole bunch of messages from people who live in Upstate New York who live very close to where Number 3 is swimming next weekend, and they have all offered me either a place to stay or help if Number 3 has an emergency and some people have even offered to come cheer on Number 3!

And that is why I sometimes put the stuff out there that I do.

How amazing is it that I have support not only for myself, but also my kids!

I am so grateful!

I just wanted to share that.

I just wanted to share that putting myself out there and allowing myself to be vulnerable has not opened me up to judgment and criticism (well it has a little bit but those people are assholes and I don’t give a shit about them) but it has helped me build a strong community and support system around my family.

I don’t know if you remember, but when I was at the Mom Conference in Ottawa, a blog reader who came to hear me speak left an envelope for Jo with a note in it along with $114 US dollars that she had left over from a family trip down to Disney World.

She wrote on her note, “I know you will use this money well — even if that means a family dinner out with your awesome gang…”

Well, you know what? That money is going to allow me to drive the 6 hour trip up to Webster, NY, watch Number 3 swim on Friday, and then stay over that night in a hotel. And I’m going to bring Number 4 with me so we can watch the meet together.

And if any of you up there in that area know of a good (and inexpensive) place to get something to eat that night, I’d love for you to join me and Number 4 for some dinner and a few beers (no beers for Number 4… just for me) where I can thank you in person.

As for those of you who don’t live near there but who are a part of this not-at-all average but awesome and supportive community, well, we’ll just all have to do a virtual cheers next Friday.

Again, thank you all.

Thank you for your support and your encouragement and your prayers and positive thoughts and for, well, just everything.

This is a really great place to be vulnerable.

What the hell? How did I drop down to Number 5???

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If your child has ever had night terrors, READ THIS.

If you are the parent to more than one child, you are well aware of how two children who were both conceived by the same people can be completely different in a multitude of ways.

It doesn’t take long to figure that out.

And just as your children have different personalities, they will also have different bumps and bruises and  illnesses and hurdles with which to deal.

With each child you will become familiar with a growing number of medical and psychological conditions.

There will be rashes and croup and fifth’s disease and allergic reactions and teeth coming in at all sorts of fucked up directions. There will be broken bones and lice and anxiety and OCD and fevers and strep throat and flu and RSV and bronchitis and pneumonia and lots of other stuff.

The more kids you have, the longer it takes for your blood pressure to increase, because you have most likely been there and done that.

We have seen a lot after seven kids.

But every once in a while, one of your kids will get sick or demonstrate some sort of condition that you haven’t experienced before.

We are having one of those situations with Number 4.

And I could use your help.

Number 4 has been experiencing night terrors for the past few days.

This isn’t the first time she’s had them.

But this last round is lasting a little longer than usual.

Tonight she was supposed to sleep over at a friend’s house, and we had to cancel the sleepover part of the get together.

Poor Number 4 was very upset, and I feel terrible for her.

If you’ve never experienced a night terror, they are much different from a nightmare.

Your child often appears to be completely wide awake and coherent. But also completely panic stricken or terrified.

It is not uncommon for kids to get out of bed. To flail their arms. To talk to you very clearly. To attempt to leave the house.

And these night terrors are usually more upsetting for the people witnessing them than they are for the people having them.

Number 4 has no recollection these episodes in the morning.

But Number 3 was pretty freaked out by the one he witnessed two nights ago.

And I knew if Number 4 slept over at her friend’s house and her friend saw her in that state, she’d likely be a little traumatized. And it could be upsetting for her parents, too.

We talked about it this morning.

Number 4 told me she was embarrassed. She started crying.

What’s wrong with me?, she asked through tears.

And that’s when I told her why I write about stuff here on the blog that people don’t always talk about.

How lots of people are scared to talk about things because they are under the assumption that they are the only people experiencing them.

I told Number 4 how when I write about them I feel better because lots of people tell me how they are going or have gone through the same thing.

And then I don’t feel alone or embarrassed at all.

I did my best to convince Number 4.

You are not the only person who is going through this. And this is not your fault. Sometimes it just happens. This is a phase you are going through, and just as it has come on without warning, at some point it will also go away.

She looked at me like she wanted to believe me.

But I don’t think she really did.

It sucks going through something like this as an adult, feeling like you are fucked up and the only one in the world who is.

But when it’s your eight-year-old daughter, it’s heartbreaking.

So I asked her if I could write about it today.

I promised her that if she let me, I would hear from other parents whose kids are going through or have gone through the same thing.

That other moms and dads would share stories of their kids who also have night terrors.

That if she shared what was going on with her, she wouldn’t feel like more of an outcast.

She would feel like less of one.

I assured her she would go from feeling alone to feeling like lots and lots of other people could understand what she was going through. That she would feel supported. And know there are many kids out there just like her.

Number 4 looked at me and she said, “Okay, Mommy. You can write about it.”

And she looked a little bit relieved.

So if you’ve got any experience with this shitty issue, I’d love to hear about it. And so would Number 4.

I’d love to show her that she’s in good company.

And even more importantly, I’d really love to teach her the lesson that while it can be terrifying to put yourself out there, that when you do,  not only do you realize that you are helping yourself, but you are helping tens, hundreds, or sometimes even thousands of other people.

And that feels pretty awesome.

Thank you for making me Number 1!

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Some scary shit.

I don’t know how many people exactly in town read my blog.

But I think it’s kind of a lot.

I have been in the locker room at the Y and at a 5:30 a.m. spin class and in the grocery store and the liquor store and random parking lots and at baseball games and elementary school open houses and at away swim meets and parties and yoga class and all sorts of other places when people have approached me to tell me that they read it.

And while I’ve developed a reputation for putting it all out there, contrary to popular belief, I’m not always totally comfortable doing that.

But like I said at Not Your Average Weekend and like I’ve said here on the blog over and over again, I believe one of the best things you can do for your own personal growth is to do something outside your comfort zone every day.

Some days you push yourself in bigger ways than others.

Anytime you go to the gym and push yourself physically you are making yourself uncomfortable.

Other days, you do something bigger. Something that scares the shit out of you.

Yesterday was one of those days for me.

Because yesterday I plastered our finances, in detail, all over the internet.

That was scary.

I opened myself up to the potential for lots of judgement.

And like I said, I think quite a few people around town read the blog.

And I know some of them are saying, There she is. That’s the chick on SNAP. Or That’s the chick with the really bad potty mouth. Or That’s the chick who was in the looney bin multiple times.

Or whatever.

And while it is incredibly freeing to just let it all out, I do sometimes wonder when someone looks at me in a strange way if they have read something I’ve written. And if they are judging me.

Today, I got a nice email from someone in town who I think I’ve met, but who I don’t really know. And she’s not a reader. But it started out by saying, I overheard a few women talking about your blog today…

Part of my was like, Hell yeah! People are talking about my blog!

And then part of me was like, Oh shit. People are talking about my blog.

Was it good talk?

Or was it bad talk?

I was definitely uncomfortable. Maybe I had gone too far. Maybe I shouldn’t have put that out there.

But then I also got this email (shared with permission):

I’m a new reader. But thanks to you I did my first yoga class on Tuesday. Holy shit- yoga! Ya. I got a gym membership too. (where I did the yoga) two weeks ago and have been to the gym 12 out of the 14 days I’ve had it. I’ve lost 4lbs…. Because of you, I also just wrote down goals. I’ve never done that, My list is getting long….When I buy 100 acres of land in 2020 you can host your first Canadian “Not your Average Weekend” on our property 🙂 I look forward to coming to bed every night and reading your post- it’s like a reward for getting through bedtime. I’m getting caught up on your life story and previous posts. Wow. Just wow. Woman- is there anything you haven’t done or been through? Anyways, everything you write everyday just always seems to be exactly what   I needed to hear. Like the big sister I never had. So thank you. P.S. Zig Ziglar is currently my lapop desktop screen. Thanks again.

Wow is right.

Getting an email like that makes all that doubt disappear.

Thank you.

So. Much.

And thank you to everyone for all the supportive comments after yesterday’s post.

I am so grateful, and I really appreciate them. A lot.

Thank you all for taking this journey with me.

I never know which way I’m gonna go, but whichever direction I turn, I know I’m not going alone.

And that makes everything much less scary.

 

Thank you for making me Number 1!

PLEASE KEEP VOTING!!!!

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Don’t wait for Stage 4.

If you are living down in the depths of depression, do me a favor.

Don’t read all the comments that people are leaving in response to the articles written about Robin Williams’death.

Sure, there are many compassionate and supportive comments out there.

But there are also some very ignorant ones.

And if you are teetering on the edge of the fucking rabbit hole, one stupid comment can push you over the edge.

I have been down in that goddamned hole more than once.

It sucks.

So let’s clarify something.

If you want to call depression an illness, go for it.

If you want to call it a disease, that’s fine too.

Let’s not argue over semantics.

It doesn’t really matter what label you put on it.

Depression is no joke and it’s a big fucking deal.

And while there may be some people who are lucky enough to never have to deal with it themselves, I bet you’d have a hard time finding someone who hasn’t been at least indirectly affected by it.

There is usually only, at most, one degree of separation where depression is concerned.

So let’s say you are sitting down in the sludge of the rabbit hole and nobody knows.

You are afraid to tell anyone.

You think people will judge you.

Or not understand.

Well,

you might be right.

There may be some people who don’t understand.

There may also be some completely ignorant assholes who tell you to just suck it up.

You can’t just suck it up.

I know.

I get it.

And many, many other people know it.

Don’t listen to the ignorant assholes.

Listen to me.

Yesterday I wrote a post about unloading your Fucked Up Shit (FUS).

I have always been a sensitive person.

Ever since I can remember.

I know I’m genetically predisposed to depression.

Then, things happened.

Varying degrees of fucked up shit piled on fucked up shit.

Eventually you have layer upon layer upon layer and it just feels too heavy.

You don’t want to tell anyone because you are embarrassed.

Or you feel weak.

Like you should be able to handle it.

Or maybe you feel like your depression, or the things that caused you to feel depressed aren’t major enough to warrant you wanting to curl up in the fetal position in a corner of your room and stay there.

Forever.

Stop comparing your shit to everyone else’s shit.

Your depressed doesn’t need to be as severe as someone else’s to be serious.

If you found out you had stage one breast cancer you wouldn’t wait until it became stage four to get treatment, would you?

You would take care of that shit before it got worse.

So like I said before, I have always been a little extra sensitive.

And I had very little self-confidence when I was little.

Like, none.

I made a big deal yesterday about unloading FUS.

Well, I’ve still got some that I’ve never unloaded.

Ever.

I have never told one single person.

Not my parents.

Not my husband.

Not any of my eleventy-skillion therapists.

Because I’ve felt like maybe this FUS was my fault.

Or like it wasn’t fucked up enough to be FUS.

But it fucked me up.

Badly.

And I have been carrying this FUS around for almost 40 years.

It’s time to unload.

So here goes.

Like I said before, I was an overly sensitive kid with very little self confidence or self esteem.

I was extremely shy.

And there was a person in my life who I pretty much worshipped.

She was only a couple years older than me.

But she was everything I was not.

Bold and seemingly fearless and outspoken.

I wanted to be just like her.

I idolized her.

One day around the time I was five years old, she asked me to take off my shirt.

I knew it wasn’t okay.

I knew it was wrong.

If felt all wrong.

But I wanted so badly to be accepted and liked by this person, that I couldn’t bring myself to say no.

I did whatever it was that she told me to do.

No matter how wrong I knew it was.

When she told me that she would never talk to me again if I ever told anyone, I sealed my lips shut tight.

I never told.

I so badly needed her to approve of me.

At any cost.

Over the next few years, the things she would tell me to do became increasingly explicit.

I knew they were wrong.

But some of them felt good.

And that really made me feel bad.

I had opportunities to tell someone.

I came close many times.

But I never did.

Eventually, once she was old enough to start dating boys, the encounters stopped.

I was left in this limbo.

Happy that I wasn’t being manipulated into situations that I knew were wrong, but still carrying around tremendous feelings of guilt.

Shame.

Always wanting to tell someone but scared to death I’d be told that it was my fault.

That I should have said something.

That I knew better.

That I must have asked for it.

And then there has been the comparison of my FUS to other peoples’ FUS.

It’s not like I was molested by a step father or a priest.

Or held captive in a basement for fourteen years.

It doesn’t matter.

It fucked me up.

And it’s called child-on-child sexual abuse.

Then, about six years after all that ended, my baby brother was diagnosed with leukemia.

And a year and a half later, he died.

More FUS.

My family never talked about it.

More FUS.

I went to college and sought validation and acceptance the way I had learned to when I was little.

I let people take advantage of me.

I cheated on boyfriends.

Eventually getting guys to sleep with me became a challenge.

During the chase, I felt empowered.

Finally I was the one in control.

In reality, I was completely out of control.

And the next day, I would wake up feeling dirty.

Disgusting.

Empty.

Depressed.

I’d vow never to do that again.

And then, inevitably, I’d break the vow a couple days later.

More layers of FUS.

With each layer, I became more and more depressed.

Eventually one of the guys who I cheated on a boyfriend with got me pregnant.

More FUS.

We got engaged.

3 weeks before the wedding I had a miscarriage.

More FUS.

We still got married.

And then a year later we got divorced.

More FUS.

Around this time I started doing drugs.

More FUS.

I dove back into sleeping with anyone and everyone to make myself feel better.

But it only made things worse.

The depression got worse.

More FUS.

I got engaged again.

I was able to break it off before I made another mistake.

I went back to sleeping around.

More FUS.

Then, I ended up in an abusive relationship.

I wasn’t able to remove myself from it for quite some time.

More FUS.

I got out of that and started dating a guy who was seriously loaded.

I moved in with him.

He was a major pothead.

I became addicted to smoking weed.

Yes, they say it’s not addictive.

It was for me.

I was a fourth grade teacher who was smoking pot almost 24/7.

More guilt.

More shame.

More FUS.

Eventually, one day, I just started crying and I couldn’t stop.

I ended up in the nuthouse.

When I got out my potsmoking boyfriend dumped me.

More depression.

More FUS.

More sleeping around.

Eventually, I met my husband.

We got married.

Very soon after the wedding, I got pregnant.

And then I got pregnant again.

I loved being a mom.

But I was still fucked up.

And one night, after a couple glasses wine,

and a big fight with my husband,

I took an entire bottle of Xanax.

I don’t remember much of what happened after that.

But let me tell you something.

If you think admitting to someone that you are depressed or that you don’t think you can handle your life or that you cheated on your boyfriend or that you’re addicted to drugs or whatever else is embarrassing,

it’s not near as embarrassing as getting wheeled out of your house on a stretcher and into the back of an ambulance and then sitting in the ER or the fucking psych ward, with dark black stains down your chin and the front of your hospital gown after you’ve repeatedly puked up the charcoal concoction the EMT’s made you drink.

I know hindsight is twenty twenty.

And I like to think that everything I went through I went through for a reason.

But I sure do wish I had shared that first round of FUS way back when.

It might have saved me a couple trips down the fucking rabbit hole.

Or at least that last one in the ambulance.

So don’t wait for Stage 4.

Say something now.

I just unloaded a 40-year-old dish of secret with a huge side of shame.

And I feel better already.

Now it’s your turn to feel better.

 

If you need someone to talk to, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

 

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