The Losses, The Advocates, The Hope

This is Mama Penny. I’ve known her since I was 10, when her and my dad began to date. She has been a part of my life for 16 years, and stood with me as “Mother of the Bride” when Daniel and I got married.

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On my way into work, Friday, July 14, 2017, my dad sent me a message. “Call me when you get a chance.” Well it’s pretty odd for my dad to say give me a call when he knows I’m at work. But I really didn’t think anything of it. Most of the time it’s a flat tire or something wrong with this car, to be honest. So I decided, I have a few minutes as I’m walking to the entrance of work. I’ll give him a call now.

“Hey what’s up,” I said. “Penny just called me. (brief silence) Vin died.”

I stopped. I stopped right there in the misty rain. “What?”

“Penny just called me. Jon [Vin’s dad] found him.”  “What?” It was odd. I was taking these like very shallow but very deep breaths. My chest got tight. My mind went blank. My hand went over my mouth and tears rolled down my face. “What?” It was the only thing that was coming out of my mouth. I couldn’t speak. I heard my dad’s voice and disbelief in a similar fashion on the other end. This bomb, this incomprehensible tragedy had just happened and I needed to compose myself for work. What do I say to Penny? What do you say to someone who lost their son? What do I say to Gab? Her little brother is…. I can’t say it… What can I even do? I don’t know how to react. I just want to hug them and be with them and I have to go to work. Should I go to work? I have to go to work. How will I work?

You need to compose yourself, Sam! Compose yourself.

I took a deep breath as I walked to the entrance of work and as I entered, my eyes still watering, I couldn’t stop shaking. Come on Sam, you’ve got patients that are depending on you. Get it together. It took me a good 25 minutes to stop shaking. What the hell do I do? what the hell CAN I do? What can I say? I called Penny when I got the opportunity, but the voice mailbox was full. I sent her a text message pretty much saying just that.

I don’t know what I can say. I don’t know what I can do. Please know I love you and I’m here, whatever you need.

The next day, after work I went to Penny’s house, selfishly terrified of how I would handle everything. I don’t know what will happen when I get to her house. I don’t know what her State of Mind will be like. Will the kids be there? Do they understand what happened? Will Gab be there? How do I watch people that I love hurt so deeply? How do I watch them hurt knowing that I can’t do anything to make it better?

That day and the days following were spent in typical Italian style, the place packed with an assortment of homemade food, mostly carbs, sitting around the table with wine, sharing stories of not just Vin, but everything! Laughing so hard we cried, at times. I sat there, talking with Penny and friends and family and it amazed me, not only just how strong she was, but how much love was in that room.

In the following days, Facebook was flooded with beautiful memories and kind words from friends and family. The day came and I started shaking all over again because, again, I was selfishly terrified of what this day had in store. I hugged the family and I cried with Gab. There was a moment that happened that I don’t even know how to describe. Like, it penetrated the depths of my soul as I watched. I watched my dad extend his hand to shake the hand of Jon’s, Vin’s dad,  as Jon pulled him in for a hug. And he held my dad there. I watched as he tried to speak to my dad in a low voice and he couldn’t get it out. He was choked up and stuttered as he said, “I just wanted to thank you for everything.” I kiss my hand and laid it on Vincent’s urn.

As I waited for the services to begin, I looked around the room seeing familiar faces. None of them the way that I remembered them. Just this look of loss and being lost. The service progressed as usual and, then, came the eulogy. Penny had written it, but a good friend of the family read it for her. It was beautiful. It flooded my mind with memories of Vincent. And, then, it transitioned into why it’s so important that we stand united. That we can’t blame ourselves. That we need to embrace the very few resources that are available, but how God sent those resources are. Penny has allowed me to share her powerful words with you all as we all said “See you later, Vin.”

My dad hides his emotions. The most I ever saw at my nonna’s funeral was him teary-eyed. He never cried in front of me. As the eulogy was read, I held my dad’s hand tight, and would occasionally look at him. There were tears. I could see this raw side of my father as he become entranced by Penny’s words.

I kept looking at Penny and Gab and just wanting to wrap my arms around them. After the services, there was an opportunity to go up and speak or say a few words about Vin and I had a whole list of things in my head, but when I got to the podium, nothing came out the way I wanted it to. I talked about how when he was living with my dad I used to steal his Crunch Berry cereal and Oreos. I talked about how when I was a kid and Penny and my dad first started dating that I was jealous of Vincent. For so long, I was the only person in my Dad’s life. I was daughter and son. I can have a catch. I can watch football. And I remember thinking well, dads going to have a son now… he’s not going to need me. And years went by and then Vincent stayed with my dad, in my old bedroom, as he got back on his feet and started working. It was the cleanest my Dad’s kitchen had been since I had moved out (haha!) and I felt like there was this full circle of events… my dad was alone, and now this kid I was once jealous of, I saw as a blessing… it was like my dad had a new friend. He had someone to keep him company and talk with him and drive him crazy, at times, and I thought that was a blessing. And all of that came out in a very jumbled, very incoherent way through my shaking voice. I looked at Vin’s sister, Gab, niece and nephew, and mother, Penny…told them that I loved them. That they are family. And they’ve got one heck of a guardian angel looking over them.

I left the podium completely frazzled and disoriented, still shaking. Silly little stories that I wanted to talk about, like when I used to pick up cannolis when Serpes Bakery reopened and bring them over to the apartment for him and my dad, had just completely left my mind .

There are so many things that we want to say or we want to do. There are so many things that we want to experience. But our time is being cut short. The resources are not available and the resources that are are understaffed and under managed for the explosive need in this country. There are so many who want to condemn rather than uplift. I’ve been so frustrated losing people to drug addiction. Vincent was the last straw. I’d lost friends before but now I lost family. I’m very blessed that those in my family who have fought this particular addiction are still here and still fighting. I battled my own addiction  and mental health demons and I continue to battle everyday.  But why couldn’t I get the help that I needed? Why did I have to do it alone, armed with just family and friends, just as uneducated in the topic of recovery as me? Why couldn’t I afford the treatment that every doctor who saw me emphatically voiced that I needed? Was my life not worth saving?

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Please take the time to watch the video, featuring Penny, in the link below, as well as read through the article:

http://www.delawareonline.com/story/news/local/heroindelaware/2017/08/10/delawares-heroin-crisis-federal-state-emergency-could-help-treatment/550869001/?fb_action_ids=10159151609300228&fb_action_types=og.comments

Whether you try marijuana in college or start working out, addiction is something that unconsciously rewires your brain. “When did you become anorexic?” Well, if I knew that I wouldn’t be 95 lb . You are sucked into whatever fixes that desire and you have no idea you’re doing it. Until the reality check happens… The rock bottom. Then, the conscious mind makes the choice to get the help needed to get better.  It’s a rollercoaster. Yes, it hurts the people around you, but you need those strong people in your life to keep you going, from whom to borrow some strength when you have nothing left to keep you driving forward. You are rewiring your brain, again, but on a conscious level. It’s both biological and psychological.  Yes, it is a disease. You would never abandon a chemo patient, would you?

Don’t stay silent. Don’t condemn. Don’t blame yourself. Learn. Educate yourself.  Be compassionate. Be strong and supportive. You and your family are not impenetrable to any addiction. Speak Out. Advocate for your neighbors and the resources your community needs.

atTAcK Addiction

Hope Street

I Choose

Confession:

I have binged and purged for the last 10 days. It amazes me that a streak just can’t continue. That I at some point, unknown to myself, I fall off.

You know that BED (binge eating disorder) causes an almost outer body experience. I may not have consciously chose to binge, but I DO choose RECOVERY.

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In God All Things Are Possible

This is the first post of the new year. Be warned, its a serious one…

Last Sunday was a dark day. I began writing letters to loved ones, making requests, asked for all Christmas presents to be returned and given to those less fortunate…

I was sprawled on my bed, blood dripping from my thigh and arms, bargaining with God to take me to him. You are friends, my confidants, and therefore, I will not and cannot lie to you. I have relapsed. After a series of unfortunate events in my life, I spiraled back into a deep depression. My binging returned, so naturally, the purging did, as well. And while I was at it, so did the cutting. I’ve watched my body gain weight, and no matter how much I thought about working out, or thought about the foods I was eating, nothing gave me the motivation to do anything about it. The feeling of failure from a relapse is unbearable. I didn’t want myself to have a 2015. I didn’t want to have to continue living with this cycle…WP_007508

I woke up from a sound sleep at 3am and suddenly, these lyrics just started running through my head. I couldn’t fall back asleep until I wrote it all down. Now, I’m hiding in a Starbucks, sharing this with you (instead of doing the work I should be doing), hiding from the world, before I need to get to work.

In God All Things Are Possible

By Sammy Bundo

From sound asleep, I awaken

Frantic, Nervous, shaken,

My mind racing a mile a minute

Pumping the brakes, but its in it to in it.

 

Memories of my past mistakes flashing before my eyes

How did I? I could I? How will I survive?

Trembling, ashamed, wanting to cry

This mind fuck is a game, wishing I would die.

 

Take me home, Heavenly Father

I beg of you, please

I’m down here, screaming, crying

Pleading on my knees

 

Swallow another handful to numb myself

Oh God, I’m begging you for your help

This blood I bleed

These scars I see

This pain I feel

Shits getting too real

 

Hearts racing, hearts pounding

All these thoughts, taunting, resounding

Grit my teeth, fists getting tighter

Look out world, I’m a fighter

 

The good I’ve done

The lives I’ve touched

It must outweigh

This hatred of self

 

I am my enemy

Christ, you are my Savior

With your many blessing, Oh Lord

My faith should never waiver

 

I did it once,

I can do it twice

Can’t hold me down

I’m still alive

 

Dear Disease,

You don’t make me

I make me

And your foolish games

Can only strengthen me

 

The marks on my body

I wear them with pride

They’re not a sign of weakness

They’re proof I survived

That I thrive

That I strive

To carry on

Head held high

 

Watching my world around me crumble

You reached out, Lord, grabbed my hand

Pulled me from the rubble

You’re my rock, my hope

The light of my tunnel

The strength getting me through this struggle.

*Copyright in process

I made this collage of things that make me smile, in hopes it will keep giving me inspiration to carry on and stay focused.

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Back on Track

My last post was a bit all over the place. It was very manic-depressive. I’m sorry about that… like I said, “PMS… What a bitch!” Darn mood swings…

Set backs happen. How will I deal with it?

Listening to my body cues

“Theres scrapple in the fridge,” dad said to me as he left for work. I spent the night at dad house, last night, to complete our awesome DDDD (Daddy-Daughter Date Day). I wasn’t sure if I was hungry this morning, so I made a big cup of coffee to see if I was actually hungry or just thirsty. My large mug did a great job of curbing my appetite! I enjoyed the french vanilla coffee, while catching up on Spice Goddess. I love that show! Bal is really pleasant and bubbly and passionate about her native spices and traditions! Plus, I’ve really been interested in Indian cooking techniques, foods, and spices, and found a few things she made that I can’t wait to try my hands at!

Resuming my normal meals

Following the show and ignoring my inner scrapple-lover, I headed back to my mom’s house, where I enjoyed a refreshing Banana Cream Dannon Light & Fit Greek yogurt Blend, sprinkled with 1/2 tsp Chocolate PB2, and about 6 broken fat free pretzel sticks. I enjoyed the sweet and salty crunch that my PMS craves, and loved that it was filling and healthy.

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For a mid-day snack, a 90 calorie Fiber One Lemon bar did the trick, as did a mug of peppermint tea.

WP_003195Today it National Hot Dog Day! I’m a little excited about this because I’ve really been wanting hot dogs and baked beans! Ironically, I had planned on taking this as a meal to work tomorrow night, but no sense in denying this “holiday”! I pulled out a Hebrew National 97% fat free frank and a small can of fat free baked beans and ate mine in a bowl topped with chopped onion.

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Go to Zumba

Following dinner, I had a bit of unsweetened applesauce and met my girlfriend, Maggie, at Zumba. I did not attend Zumba at all last week, and it makes me feel lost. I need it in my life. I also enjoy leading Zumba, as I did a few dances tonight. I love to look at their faces and I love knowing that my enthusiasm can power them through a workout, too!

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It was one humid hour, tonight! The AC is broke! We were drenched in sweat after the first dance. We looked like steamed lobsters by the end of the class. But, boy, were we feeling great!

Surround myself with positivety

Why else is today special? Not just because its National Hot Dog Day… Not just because its National Vanilla Ice Cream Day…. But because its Frank’s 56th Birthday! Before I left for Zumba, I whipped up a cake mug for him! Yay, Hungry-girl, for teaching me about cake mugs! I made a Raspberry Chocolate Chip Cake mug (recipe below).

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Zumba releases endorphins, which makes me happy. As does being with my friends. After sweating it out, I met Barry to do a little grocery shopping for the house, took a shower, and am currently in the midst of attempting some sleep. Surround yourself with positive people, places, events, and you’ll be positive too! Things just start to fall into place.

I typically do not eat after Zumba, but PMS was rearing its head. The entire trip to ShopRite I was thinking about peanut M&Ms. I resisted. We swung by 7 Eleven on the way home to down another bottle of water and while I was there, a light bulb went off! Special K Chocolatey Pretzel cereal bar! 90 calories, salty, sweet, crunchy…. Perfect!

Raspberry Chip Cake Mug

3 Tbsp yellow moist cake mix

1 Tbsp liquid egg substitute

1 1/2 Tbsp water

1/2 Tbsp Nestle mini semi-sweet morsels, or semi-sweet morsels, chopped

5 raspberries, sliced in half

2 Tbsp fat free Cool Whip, thawed

1/2 tsp sugar free, fat free Chocolate pudding mix

Combine everything except cool whip and pudding mix, and mix well. Spray mug or ramekin with nonstick cooking spray and pour cake mix in. Microwave for 1 minute and 15 seconds, or so*. Allow mug to cool, as it will be hot! Meanwhile, combine cool whip and pudding mix. Spread over cooled cake mug and enjoy!

*Microwaving chocolate chips is tricky business, as they tend to burn.

Calories: 179,  Fat: 3.1g, Sat. Fat: 1.9g, Cholesterol: 0mg, Sodium: 270mg, Carbs: 35.2g, Fiber: 0g, Sugar: 18.9g, Protein: 3g

Idea: White Chocolate Chips, instead!

Happy Birthday, Frank!

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