I’m not well. In so many ways and for the past few days. It seems I have not yet learned how critical it is to put my needs at the top of the very long list.

When my body is screaming at me to stop and be still and take care, I need to listen very very closely. Today, I did not. Today devolved fast and hard and I had an epic unraveling the likes I haven’t subjected my family to in a long time.

It was ugly. Very very ugly.

I hate that this happens. With all the work I’ve been doing, especially lately, I thought I was in a good place. And I was. But I expect that good place to keep me there, to protect me from falling again.

It’s sort of like a relapse in a lot of ways; out of control, painful, and dripping with shame. Just without the dopamine euphoria of addiction.

I’m not addicted to melting down, though. When it happens I feel trapped, I feel powerless, I’m on the defensive and I feel stuck in this caustic, irrational mindset I can’t get out of. I feel like I’m circling the drain. I feel very much out of control. There is zero secondary gain.

I hate it so much.

I hate apologizing. I hate how it brings shame like bile up the back of my throat. I hate struggling so hard to keep myself together only to shatter into a million pieces throwing words like shrapnel.

I feel like I’m never going to be free, no matter how smooth the water seems, it can happen. So when, again, and how to I shield the people around me? How do I shield myself?

I know there are factors (germs, hormones, unrealistic expectations) that were dry brush and made this fire burn fast and hot. I know I deserve grace, too, but all I can seem to lay my hands on is more shame.


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for the beautiful, but destructive, snowfall overnight

for my mothers foresight to cook a majority of the food yesterday so the lack of power today didn’t prevent us from eating a warm, fully cooked meal

oh, and for generators that have the power to run crock pots and microwaves

for my sister and her relationship with my kids; however poorly she’s chosen to treat me, she loves them and they love her 

for the awkward of having to be in the same space with someone who hates me turning out to be not that awkward at all

for the people who have come into my life via the internet and/or who I’ve come to know better via social media; my handful of readers, my little NaBloPoMo group, my partner and a few special friends

for making it 27 days in a row on writing on this little blog; 3 more to go

for Paul Gilmartin and The Mental Illness Happy Hour; for so many reasons

for finding the strength to do the deep, meaningful work I’ve been doing especially this year and

for having a therapist who holds space for me and helps me navigate when I get stuck

for my partner and everything he puts up with (primarily, me); you have no idea

for Hopper and her joy

for Pip and his quick, complex, creative brain 

for Mack and his unbridled enthusiasm for the outdoors – you do not, in fact, need snow pants to roll around in snow, just the promise of a dry pair of pants when your dad finally drags you inside

for my step-father; he is a good soul on a difficult journey through cancer treatment that he is handling with such grace and openness 

for my roof, my walls, the clothing on my body, the food in my cupboards and the pillow on my bed, which I am going to get intimately acquainted with right now

I hope your day was beautiful, your travels safe and your hearts and bellies full

“Hello, how can I help you?”

“I’m going to kill myself, right now”


It’s not often I answer a call at work and this is what I hear right out of the gate.  25% of the people that call are actually having a crisis, the other 25% are regulars for whom we are their primary support network and the other 50% of calls are business (hospitals, workers in the field calling in, etc). A very small percent are actually at the point where they have a plan and intent to follow through.

“Who am I talking to?” I ask, immediately trying to spread the callers attention out a little. The caller tells me first and last name, readily.  The caller also tells me where they are living (with very specific detail).  I have a feeling this is a serious cry for help with no real intent to die, but you never really know.

I ask the caller if they have a plan.  They tell me they have a knife in their hand and plan to eviscerate themselves.

“Can you put the knife somewhere else while we talk?” I ask calmly, my voice has dropped into the low calm tone I get when the caller is especially upset.  It just happens, a dial turns down, unconsciously, my voice even and smooth.

“No, I’m going to do it, I’m going to stab myself”

“Don’t do that,” I say calmly, “let’s talk about this.”

“No one cares about me, they want me to kill myself” the caller says, as I search the phone number in our database.  The caller is familiar, not to me, but to our agency.

“That’s not true, it might feel that way, but it’s not true.  It gets better.  If you kill yourself you take away the option of things ever getting better.”

“No it won’t.”

“A lot of people feel the way you feel now, especially at the holidays.  It can get better, but if you kill yourself, you guarentee it will never get better. You stop having choices.”

“I just want to take away the pain.” the caller says, more angry than sad.

“I’m going to be honest, eviscerating yourself is a terribly painful way to die.  And it takes a long time.” Sometimes honesty can deter them, make them rethink their plan, realize that it’s not the easy out they thought it would be.

The caller distracts easily, but just as easily slips right back into their intent to harm themselves.  I pull the phone away from my ear and cover the mouth piece, I call out to my co-workers to call the police, give them the name, address, situation.

They jump into action, one person calls PD, one person sends the necessary fax, another calls the hospital to let them know they’re going to have an incoming.

Meanwhile, the caller’s voice pitches and they say:

“I’m going to do it, I’m going to do it right now”

“STOP! STOP! Wait.” I yell.  “Please, put the knife down and lets talk about this.” My co-workers later tell me I used my ‘mom’ voice.  I also learn, later, that this person is cognitively limited, something I must have picked up on unconciously when my brain decided to go into ‘mom tone’ in that moment.

I say the callers name 2 or 3 times, finally they respond.  I exhale. I offer the caller an opportunity to meet with one of us in person.  The caller refuses, keeps escalating, threatening to stab themselves.

I say the callers name firmly, “just put the knife down until we can figure this out.”

“I did it”

“You did what?” I hear a thud.

“I threw the knife across the room.”

I exhale again.  My brain downshifts and things blur, my adrenaline starts to disipate. I don’t remember what we talked about while I tried to fill the space until the police arrive on scene.  My co-worker on the line with the police asks me to have the caller open the door.

“Can you open your door, the police are there to get you some help.”

“It’s unlocked” the caller says.

“It’s unlocked” I call across the room. I hear, through the phone, the voices of the officers that are now with the caller.

“I’m going to go now,” I say, “We’ll see you soon.”

The caller says nothing.  The line goes dead.


If you or someone you know is in crisis or is suicidal, please call 1-800-273-8255. Military Veterans press 1 to be directed to services specific to the needs of the military.  

Your national and local crisis hotlines are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year.  There is always someone there ready to listen.


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Let Me Fall


The work thing is still unresolved.  One supervisor called (the one who does the schedule) to get clarity on what my decision was and talk about what hours I want and am able to work.  The supervisor I was talking to Friday then e-mailed me to tell me to call the scheduling supervisor, which I had already done, so they could announce the decision.  I wanted to e-mail back and say “you guys need to talk to each other, you share an office ferchrisakes”.  But I didn’t.

When I talked to the scheduling supervisor, I stumbled a bit, tripping in my co-narcissism shoes.  My brain was itching as I spoke to her; I was trying to balance being accommodating while advocating for myself and I was doing a terrible job.  I couldn’t bring myself to say what I really wanted for fear of being seen as ungrateful for them giving me not only a set schedule as a per diem, but giving me a say in those hours.  Both of those are exceedingly rare.

I noticed that I get confused when I’m grateful – I have convinced myself that if I am grateful to another person for doing something for me, that negates my right to stand up for myself. I’ve gotten the message, somewhere, that if I am assertive and if I put my needs first, then I am actually being UNgrateful. That’s some screwed up math right there.

So after our call, I e-mailed her and told her two of the days she was thinking about giving me wouldn’t really work.  I could do one, or the other, but not both. I told her which days I preferred to work. She e-mailed me back and what she had to offer really didn’t work well either.  So I told her so.

Do you know how huge that was for me?

The Man did not.  When I told him about it, he started to get indignant – he’s already a bit miffed that I didn’t stand my ground about the position I wanted.  He said a lot of “you should” at the beginning of his sentences.  At this point in my healing from the effects of a narcissistic parent, being told what to do is a GIANT trigger.  I had to end our phone call because I was about to lose it.

I am acutely aware of what I “should” be doing.  All. The. Time.

I don’t need other people to tell me what I “should” be doing.  Not. Your. Job.

I don’t need any coaches yelling at me from the sidelines of my life.  My. Life.

I don’t need anyone to teach me how to stand up for myself.  I. Need. To. Learn.

It’s through these experiences I learn.  It’s through the discomfort of knowing when I’m not standing up for what I want, for my values, for my beliefs – that discomfort tells me to pay attention, that discomfort shows me where I can make better choices.

You can’t teach a person how to ride a bike by riding it for them or screaming at them from the side of the road.  They have to get on the bike, learn how to put just the right amount of pressure on the pedals to move forward, learn to keep that front wheel from wobbling, and learn how to come to a stop without skidding.

I’m on the bike.  I’m pedaling.  I’m still pretty wobbly.  I’m hitting potholes and soft stand.  I’m getting skinned knees.  But I’m learning.  Help me up.  Help me clean and bandage my wounds.  But don’t point out the pot holes, I know I hit them.  I know I fell down.  I know I have gravel mixed in with the torn tissue on my knee caps and the heels of my hands; I don’t need you to point out all the ways I could have prevented that from happening.

I know. This is how I learn. Let me do it.


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Witch in the Kitchen

The Man is off with the boy to get the studded snow tires put on our car because Maine and because Winter.  I have a little list of things that need doing today, several of them set to occur our teeny tiny kitchen.

It’s one of those days I feel like a Kitchen Witch, manifesting, concoting, creating. I revel in the moments when I can do this without the demands of a three year old (or his father), the house is quiet, and no one is underfoot.


~ Brewing elderberry syrup in my cauldron (aka sauce pan) – a big batch today, some for us, some for family, some for friends – infused with love and healing.

~ Tending to my microbiotic garden of water kefir and kombucha, their light tickling bubbles seem to have been been magicked into the sweet tart liquid.


~ Banana chocolate chip muffins for Mack, upon emphatic request.

~ Next up, the miraculous wonder that is gluten free, egg/dairy free homemade bread.

The bread might get made, it might not.  Other things might get done, they might not.  I’m just going to float through this day (on my broom) and see where it takes us.  I love Saturdays like this.