We’ve become quite the pair over the years; you and I. It almost feels like I’ve spent more time with you than anyone else in my life. I’ve visited you again and again. Even when I didn’t want to, I did it; kicking and screaming a lot of that time.
I have to be honest – I don’t like you. No…that’s probably a bit too harsh, but I’m sure that’s the vibe I give off. I feel, saying I don’t enjoy our visits, is probably more appropriate. Because why should I?
That’s the first time I’ve ever said, written, or even acknowledged that fact about myself.
I’ve never been to rehab, although; I probably should have at a couple points in my life. I’ve never been to AA or any recovery program, for me, but I’ve attended a lot for other people. And, I’ve never gotten a single DUI…sadly, not from a lack of trying in my younger days.
But, I have done a lot of damage to other people in my life, including my former marriage, and worse, to myself, because of my issues with alcohol. My ex-wife and I may not agree on much, and we may never see eye-to-eye on most things, but one thing I will never deny, is that I should have gotten help a long time ago, and because I used alcohol to self-medicate a lot of issues from my mental illness; irreparable harm was done…and that’s on me.
If there is one thing that is synonymous with parenting, it’s sleep…or, lack there of to be honest. And while many of us joke how we cope with the loss of sleep, or how much coffee chug just to avoid ending up in a orange jumpsuit – the loss of sleep, and how it effects the body and mind is a serious topic. That’s why I’m happy to have a guest author Sarah Cummings from SleepAdvisor.org to talk about this very issue.
Stress is an inevitable part of modern life. For short periods of time it can be perfectly normal, your body is designed to cope with it and it can even give you the kick up the behind you need to get things done.
I needed you, and you weren’t there for me. I need you…YOU!! I felt all alone. I felt abandoned; when I needed you most.
Have you ever felt this kind of alone before? Alone because, no matter if it’s true or not, you feel those closest to you have abandoned you; left you in your darkest hour. Left you reaching out into the darkness of depression and anxiety; only to find no comfort, no matter how hard you reach. No one to hold you; no one to comfort you. No one to reassure you and tell you things will be ok; that the claims depression make against you are lies. No one to tell you, you are loved…or that you’re even worthy of that love?
I know this feeling all too well…and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. Have you ever…been the person that abandoned someone in need? Refusing to set yourself aside; if for nothing else than because you’re their person? Or the fact that YOU are the one person in this world that can actually make a difference; that can actually help in this situation, but instead, you’re too focused on you.
I know how that feels too…and I will have to live with that; hearing the words that started this post, in my head, for the rest of my life. Six years ago, shortly after my son was born, my wife started showing signs of postpartum depression. I recognized them right away, as depression and I go way back.
The incidents surrounding Harvey Weinstein are sad and disgusting. My heart breaks for the women who are speaking out, and even more for the many I know are still not. Sexual assault and intimidation, sadly, are nothing new to women; within Hollywood and all the way to the suburbs.
But what has come out, as almost a sub topic, is the fact that this is happening to men as well. While speaking about the women coming forward about Weinstein, actor Terry Crews (Brooklyn 99) and James Van Der Beek (Dawson’s Creek and Varsity Blues) both came forward and revealed while the abusive treatment of women is disgusting and rampant, the abuse was not only directed towards female actors. Both actors revealed they too had been groped by older men with influence and power in the entertainment field.
Could you imagine telling your father, or me, telling my father, “I’m struggling. I have postpartum depression.” They would be like, “Suck it up buttercup!” ~ Kirk and Callahan Show (5/22/17, WEEI Boston)
These were just some of the ridiculously moronic words spewed on the May 22, 2017 Kirk and Callahan morning show on WEEI (Boston). I could probably write an entire novel on the absurd, not to mention machismo fueled ignorant behavior the Kirk and Callahan show has been known for over the years. Instead, I’ll sum it up with a quote from ESPN host Paul Finebaum when he said that Kirk and Callahan, “were toxic pieces of waste, who have never accomplished anything in their life.”
Where was I? Ahhh, yes…
Today is the last day of May 2017. The last day of Mental Health Awareness Month. So, I feel it’s only fitting that we talk about the last thing it feels like anyone wants to talk about when it comes to mental health – men. Read more →
Through heavy sobs, the words came spilling out of his mouth. Eyes, red and bloodshot from crying so intensely; even causing him to do that heavy, shortened breath stutter, making his head shake with every gasp for his next breath.
I knew this day would come…and admittedly, selfishly, avoiding this day is one of the reasons I once said I never wanted to have kids.
The day he finally put it all together; solving the Rubik’s cube of emotions he lives with; the reason he had always felt different from other kids; from other boys. The day he realized why, when it seemed like all the other kids were jumping into adolescence with both feet, without regard, all the while he only knew hesitation; questioning every choice to death. The day he realized that when he found his “thing” that made him feel truly alive for the first time, only to have his first reaction to put it away; hide it from others, convinced people would laugh at him if he told them about it. The day he realized that voice in his head – the one telling him he wasn’t good enough to make it, or not smart enough to try, or that person isn’t going to like him back, so don’t bother asking them out; he would realize where that voice originated from, and how it got in his head. The day he realized, all those roads filled with fear and doubt, and the many still left to travel; they all lead back to me, his father, and the gift; the curse, I passed down to him at birth.
I don’t actually how to start this story. How do I tell the story of someone I admire, but also a person I know little to nothing about them? Will I be able to write that story? Will people even believe me, or with they think I’m just making it up or trying to fill space? Will anyone even read that story?
Sure, those are all things I could, and maybe still do, worry about, but the real question I have is, will I be able to do this story justice with what little I factually know? Will I be able to tell this person’s story to the level that they deserve? Will they even read it? I guess there’s only one way to find out. Read more →
Friendship is an interesting thing. The older I get, the more I think about the concept of friendship, and what it really means to be someone’s friend. It feels as though the more I look around, society continues to bastardize the word friend, almost rendering it meaningless. Through the advent of social media, everyone is your friend now, even people you’ve never, and probably will never meet in real life.
I’m sure some will brush this off and say that there’s clearly a difference between OLF (On-Line Friends) and IRLF (In Real Life Friends), and we should all know the difference. But do we know the difference? And furthermore; do we tell those that we hold so close in our hearts as to call them friend, exactly how much they really mean to us? To me, the word friend is power, and should be treated as such..
I’ve been thinking a lot about my life-long friends lately. Friends I met when I was a kid. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older and finding it harder to make friends as an adult. Maybe it’s because I live across the country now, over 3000 miles from those that mean the world to me. Or maybe it’s because I’ve come to realize how little I’ve told my friends how much they mean to me, and have simply taken it for granted in a way. I mean, they’re always going to be there, right…right???
I couldn’t really think of a clever way to segway into the rest of this story, so being the clumsy ass I am, I’m just going to push on through. I want to tell you a story about a dear friend of mine; Tim, or as I’ve always called him, Timmy.
Timmy and I met in 2nd grade. While Timmy and I never really ran in the same circles, life always brought us back to each other from time to time, and we were always very close. I consider Timmy one of the best friends I ever had.
The sad thing is, like most friends in my life, I don’t think I ever told Timmy how I felt about him. Well, I think it’s high time I change that. So, here is my letter to Timmy:
You know, it’s funny man, for as long as we’ve known each other, we’ve spent very little time actually around each other. But I really wanted to tell you how much the time we have spent together has meant to me, and I also wanted to say thank you.
We don’t really think about it much, but the words thank you can accomplish so much, and can convey more than one could possibly imagine.
Thank you for being one of the first people to be nice to me in elementary school. I think you saw the fear in my eyes when I showed up at a new school where most of you had kind of grown up around each other. You hung out with me on the playground and would always invite me to play games with you at recess.
Thank you for always being the same back then, no matter what. I sadly hit my popular peak in 5th grade, and even though we were in the same class, we didn’t talk so much – that was my fault and I’m sorry.
While I was feeling the joy of being popular you were being labeled as trouble maker, and worse, a lost cause, by the very adults that were supposed to be guiding us, teaching us, nurturing us. No child should be made to feel that way. You would act out in class and had anger issues, but what those adults never understood was all that anger was actually a cry for help. A cry to let others know about the abuse you were seeing at home. The drugs, the alcohol, and worst of all the violence. I knew, because you told me about it when you noticed the telltale signs I tried hard to hide from my own abusive mother.
I think you told me as a way to help me not feel alone, and maybe (hopefully) it helped you too to know you weren’t alone either. You were the only one that knew about my home situation for so many years. You saw me cry. You hugged me when no one was looking, and most of all you helped a weak kid discover some sense of bravery when he desperately needed it the most.
Even at the young age we were then you were so smart. At times it felt like you were a grown up with the way you talked about life. But I guess that happens when you’re forced to grow up the way you did. It’s like you knew life wasn’t going to get any easier for you, and you also knew there was no way I would hack it the way you had to, so you made sure I kept smiling. At least one of us would be able to maintain some sense of youthful joy during our childhood.
Our teen years could not have been more different. My popularity from elementary school gave way to chubby teenage nerdum. I enjoyed acting and performing in drama classes, pretending to be someone else, while you probably wished to be someone else every day. Sure, I had sadness and angst like any other teenager, but nothing compared to what you were going through.
I think the memories of 1995-1997 stand out the most when I think of you. That’s because we saw each other a lot during that time. A friend of yours lived in the same apartment complex as I did, so you were there a lot to hang out or when you and your younger brother needed a place to crash for a while.
We would hang out in the complex courtyard and just talk, sometimes well into the night. You always asked me about me. How I was doing, what my new interests were, who I was hanging out with, making sure I was surrounding myself with the right people. But I was always more fascinated with you. I would sit in awe when listening about all your experiences of living on the streets. But any time I would express any sort of admiration or envy you quickly shut it down, telling me not to envy your life. In reality, I think it was you who envied my boring life.
I remember one of the last late night conversations we had, I shared with you about my depression. You were the first person I ever told. You listened to me talk about my feelings, asked me questions, and gave supportive counsel. But when I shared with you that I been having thoughts about committing suicide you became very stern, almost like an older brother, or father, and said, “Don’t ever talk like that. That’s not you. You have to keep going. Don’t let the bad shit win.” I responded with, “Thanks Timmy.” You always told me you hated it when I called you Timmy, you were Tim. But I think you secretly like it, because it reminded you of where we started our journey, as two little kids. Nevertheless you told me if I called you Timmy again you would beat the shit out of me, almost daring me to do it. I knew you could too. Your hulking muscular frame could have easily destroyed me in seconds, but I said, “Ok….Timmy.”
You just smiled and said, “Good…don’t ever back down.” Then you proceeded to punch me in the arm over and over, all the while laughing while you made my arm feel like hamburger meat. That’s one of the last times I saw you. I left San Diego and joined the Army shortly after. It wouldn’t be until the winter of 1999 that we would connect again; just not the way I would have thought.
I received a letter from my mom one day. In the envelope it contained a newspaper clipping along with a handwritten note that read, “I’m sorry.” The newspaper clipping was a short, throw-away story about a young man who, during the very early morning hours before the daily work commute would start, stepped onto the trolley tracks in Lemon Grove, where he was struck by oncoming trolley, and died instantly. They ruled it a suicide. That young man was you.
I collapsed to the floor after reading the article. I couldn’t believe you were gone. It just didn’t seem real. I didn’t want to believe it. How could you do that after telling me so harshly not to ever give up? How could you stop moving forward? It took me a while, but I eventually realized, just like when we were small, you were telling me the things you wished someone would tell you. I just wish I had known.
I was talking with our friend Sara the other day. I told her I was going to write this. We both talked about how much we loved you, and how special you are to us, and most of all how much we miss you. We both shared our regrets of not focusing on you more, asking you how you felt, what you needed. My biggest regret though is that I never told you any of this. I never told you what you mean to me, or what a good friend you were. I’m not naive to think it would have changed what happened, but I just wish I would have let you know. And for that I am forever sorry my friend. From the bottom of my heart, thank you,and I will always miss you. Love, Mike
To all my friends, I love you so very much. You are some of the most valuable parts of my life. I promise I will do a better job at telling you…because you deserve to know how valued you are.
September is National Suicide Awareness and Prevention Month. If you or someone you know is possibly in danger of committing suicide, PLEASE, reach out for help. The national hotline number is: 1 (800) 273-8255 and website is:www.SuicidePreventionLifeline.org