Tuesday, February 19, 2013

How Do I Do It?

The Courage to Be a Stepmom, by Sue Patton Thoele was a book recommended to me many years ago when I first started this blog. I will admit to buying it, and reading *some* of it. I never finished it, but what I did read was pure genius and offered me just the right amount of insight I needed to trudge through the feelings I was experiencing at the time - the feelings expressed in this post, which continues to get feedback and comments more than any other post...five years after it was first published.

So... you want to know how I've done it? Try this book. And if you have other recommendations for the small community of fellow Stepmoms that I am blessed to have here, please share in the comments section.

Monday, February 4, 2013

A New Normal?

Cinderella is home (YAY!)...with bright shiny new meds and a 60 year old psychiatrist with tattoos, piercings and gauges in his ears (Eww...but, KEWL!).

My butterfly has now faded and I am hopeful that I won't have to draw another one.

(HOWEVER, I am considering getting one TATTOO'd on my arm for her. I owe her a tattoo after getting an ambigram for her brother and sister after Prince Charming and I separated, and the symbolism of TRANSFORMATION seems fitting.)

In the meantime, I have hidden all of the Tylenol, Advil, cold medications and razors in the house.

This is normal, right? A new normal that the parent of a suicidal teen should expect?

And...MORE IMPORTANTLY...these fears will fade.


Friday, February 1, 2013

The Butterfly Project

Last week, I drew a butterfly on my arm in support of Cinderella, courtesy of The Butterfly Project.

While it may not have stopped her from cutting THIS TIME, I believe it did reinforce the message of my unwavering support of her struggles...which is what ultimately allowed her to confide that she tried to commit suicide days earlier. And why she was brave enough to tell me that SHE NEEDED HELP and wanted to be hospitalized because she felt she was at risk of harming herself even more.

There is no ONE solution to the issues of teen depression, suicide and self-harming behaviors. The Butterfly Project is just one resource. All we can do as parents is to remain diligent in our research, finding new ways of educating ourselves and our teens, loving them IN SPITE OF their struggles. Of helping them to take flight ABOVE their challenges.

If you, or someone you know, is carving, scratching or cutting to cope with their INTERNAL pain... please know there is support and help available. Or you could try calling an information only line at 1-800-DONT-CUT.

And then maybe, draw a butterfly or two on your own arm as a show of support.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Slaying the Dragon

We're our own dragons as well as our own heroes, and we have to rescue ourselves from ourselves. -Tom Robbins
I could attempt to write a more eloquent blog post, but there is no poetic way of discussing depression, self-mutilation and attempted suicide in teens.


Cinderella is back in the hospital, people.

She's struggling as so many teens (and adults) do. Trying to slay her own dragons. These dragons have resulted in two failed attempts at OD'ing  in the last week and NEW battle wounds along her arms and legs.

In the past four months since moving in with me, there is NO DOUBT that Cinderella has grown stronger. So much stronger than she was here and here. I'm infinitely proud of my big girl - of her strength, her grace and her hard-earned wisdom about life. I've tried reminding her that she's not alone and make a home for her where she can feel safe to just... BE.

But it's just not enough. Not yet. Not completely. The dragons keep telling Cinderella LIES. Lies that have her believing she's not worthy and unlovable and carving her own scarlet letters of self-loathing into her beautiful skin.

Cinderella is in a safe place now where she can gain even more strength to slay her dragons and rescue herself FROM herself. While driving home from visiting her last night, this song came on the radio...it's sort of become the soundtrack to this new chapter in our fairytale...it's so poignantly PERFECT:

I have no doubt that she will make it. I have to believe that, for the alternative is...well, NOT AN OPTION. Not in this fairytale.

In the meantime, I continue to surround her with love, encouragement, positive thinking and reminders that she is NOT ALONE. She and I are so very blessed to have friends who love her as much as I do and who do amazing things like devote a blog post to her. Please read it, and then follow the links to The Blogess' post on National Suicide Prevention Day. And then, please, SHARE IT so we can help others to slay their own dragons.

If you, or someone you know is in need of help, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). And visit the National Council for Suicide Prevention for additional resources.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Coming Out

I'm bisexual.
She tells me as only a teen can. No segues, just a random let's-put-it-out-there-before-I-lose-my-courage kind of way.
Oh, and did I mention I WAS DRIVING AT THE TIME???
Seriously, Cinderella. Could you have picked a more dangerous tactic???
My mind swirled, the car swerved a bit.
I quickly re-gained control over both.
I asked her how she knew.
Maybe that's a naive question, but it's a valid one that any parent would ask when their child comes out to them. Right??
"Have you ever kissed a girl before?"
[A-HA! Now you see my point as to why I had to ask if she were sure????]

"Ok. And what about boys? Have you ever kissed one?"
Oh sure. Yeah.

[Wait... WHAT?????!!!!! I missed her first kiss? How the-fuck-come didn't she tell me????
Oh. Right. Ok. This isn't about me right now. *ahem*]

Again, I asked if she were sure she were bisexual.
Let's be clear. I am not homophobic. I want her to be happy. No matter what. And I don't want her to miss out on enjoying a meaningful relationship with either sex by getting caught up in some self-imposed label.
Being a teen is all about experimentation. Trying on different personalities, friends, and nowadays - sexual orientations. Boy. Girl. Or...whatever.
I don't care either way. As long as she is safe, and makes smart decisions, and is mindful of her behavior and her choices.
And this is what I tell her.
"Screw the labels. Have fun. Enjoy being a teen. Experiment. Try things on for size."
I don't think she was expecting me to say that.
But she was relieved...and a bit shocked.