“It’s only words, and words are all I have, to take your heart away”

What’s the word I’m looking for…because today I desperately need a word, the right word, a word to hold onto, hide behind, brandish, wear as a mask, breathe in, save me.

I believe utterly in the power of words – I’ve always found  much of my greatest solace, inspiration, expression, sojourn, balance, in words. Words, in all of their iterations, are magic…they have dominion and vivacity and capacity and elegance.  They’re also bad magic – wounding, destroying, and evil.

I do not suffer the loss for words lightly.  Even the phrase “no words” has great impact from me.

Equilibrium…just when you think you have achieved a smidgen of level, another fucking tornado

Perspective…after the past week’s events (Rambo’s (mi esposo) hospitalization and resultant absolute life changes; my beloved district’s continued spin out of control, my own health, and most of all, the newest from this blog’s suck-it-up-buttercup situation), I truly, madly, deeply, no longer give a shit who runs, who wins, who lies,   I just can’t spare the energy

Hope…that’s one elusive butterfly I just can’t chase today

Hostage…the word chasing me with a vengeance

Blessing…perhaps when you least expect one, in a place you would never consider

Responsibility…you can run, but you can’t hide (how pithy)

Control…never had it, not going to get it, suck it up buttercup

Fear…where I live

Love…see all of the above

Peace…somewhere over the damn rainbow, and me, fresh out of red shoes

Words are wishes. And like magic, the word I need has appeared. Today I wish for grace.


power of words.

; (the semicolon project) ;


I discovered the Semicolon Project when I saw a wrist tattoo…of a semicolon.  Being a grammar nerd/English teacher, it popped out at me.  It’s not about your mama’s grammar, though, it’s about the notion that writers use semicolons to indicate that their sentence isn’t yet finished; there’s more to come.

You can google the Semicolon Project…it explains the metaphor idea as one of hope and continuation.  The website says: drawing a “Semicolon” on your wrist can act as a constant reminder and prevention strategy to help you come to your recovery, after all, you are the author of your life and you should choose not to end it.

How dazzling, how simple, how profound is this notion of the semicolon as a symbol of hope, as a promise of unfinished living, as shorthand for” I have more to say, to do, to be”.

My daughter sabotaged her most recent in-patient attempt that I mentioned in  Beware the Walrus, after suffering through detox, again. It’s more the norm than not – we have missed her presence for so long, having only brief reunions with the girl she was, the woman I suspect she is trying to be.  She,too, has missed much- her twenties, the transitions her dear friends and family have made, the holidays, the regular days, the highs and lows, the love of her life, the dog, the cat, her baby niece, her nephews, her own coming-of-age.

For me, there’s always an empty space, always something missing, including every mother-daughter connection we had – clothes, food, gossip, trash TV, inside jokes, pet peeves, eye rolls, raucous laughing – the love and sharing that were the essence of our singular, unique, one-of-a-kind, impossible to replace bond that I took for granted would always be there, every day of my life.   It’s so hard to believe that I’m ten years older than the last time she really knew me, or I her…since she looked long into the abyss, and the bastard looked back.

This simple, but oh so powerful mark is my reminder now, on my wrist, in my heart.  She is still here in my everyday thoughts and hopes, still within reach, and I can wait until she decides to continue her story.


…I miss the air   I miss my friends   I miss my mother   I miss it when life was a party to be thrown but that was a million years ago.

I can’t be the only one who shoves in a cd or i-pods up and sing-sobs every time I’m alone in the car.  Can I?

This week, my symphonious flagellation of choice is Adele’s cd – 25.  I can sing-sob through every stinking song, but A Million Years Ago sticks a knife right through me.  For all the blessings in my life, and there are plenty, I’m here, writing this, because I can’t shake the fear and grief and sense of loss that has turned everything gray.  It’s so selfish and whiny and weak that some days I’m not even speaking to myself over it.  So I drive and sing-sob.

I miss the air – that sensory sweet spot of space and possibility.

I miss my friends – especially those who knew my daughter before, those who are so far away either in time or in distance.  Fact, I miss her friends, and her boyfriend – who has hung in through hell, high water, and beyond endurance, and who probably feels this ache more deeply than anyone but me.

I miss my mother.  June 5 would have been my mother’s 88th birthday.  We buried her ten years ago on June 5th, because she died in February when the ground was solid ice.

I dreamed of Mom last week.  I often do, but she has never appeared to me in a dream as she did last week – she was exactly as the final time I saw her face – in the ER, disoriented, debilitated, wide-eyed with confusion and terror, unable to speak. It was just as gut-wrenching ten years later in my dream.  Worse, she was crying silent tears, and I couldn’t get her to tell me what was wrong.  When I woke up, I knew what was wrong…what is wrong.  One of her daughters (my sister), and two of her granddaughters are in extreme and deadly crisis.  This dream utterly deep-sixed the small comfort I’ve drawn from thinking “thank goodness, my Mother never had to know any of this”.  Who was I kidding – Mom knows, oh sweet Lord, she knows.

I miss it when life was a party to be thrown…  Raising the kids was the most incredible, happiest time of my life…every day was intoxicating in its possibility.  For all the seasons of life and glorious transitions that I, her father, her step father and step mother, my sons, daughter-in-law, granddaughter, niece, twin nephews, family, her Greek sisters and friends, and her long-devoted boyfriend have experienced, my girl, our girl,  has been frozen since her late teens in the see-saw cycle of addiction.  I’ve only had brief glimpses,  but I swear on my life, there is, within her, the bright, effervescent young adult woman, daughter, sister, aunt, girlfriend with a strong, confident, compassionate, outgoing joie de vivre fighting to be free,  to live, to overcome this  ruthless life-sucking soul-stealing relentless bastard disease.

I miss her most of all.

beware the walrus..

Two years ago, my daughter was admitted to the psych ward, where she stayed a couple of weeks before she was well enough to transfer to an inpatient facility.  Sometime in the first couple of days, she was taken to the Sun Room, and she drew, with chalk, what you see below, and gave it to me.  She has no memory of doing so, or of those lost days.

Though she’s always been a Beatle lover, she’s never mentioned this album or song.  The word balloon from the submarine may have been an afterthought – it’s the only thing in pencil. McCartney has always said it was a light-hearted song (hence Ringo singing), not remotely about drugs, and that yellow is a happy color – it’s a psychedelic ode to silliness.

I’ve wondered and wondered about her subconscious (then and now), and what’s up with the walrus warning. God knows her music collection is over ripe with vein opening, angst ridden,  write-love-on-her-arms images.  Why this silly, innocent picture?

yellow sub

I love this kid more than my life.

(15 minutes later) Cue the time-space continuum. As I typed those words, my phone rang and I answered it without looking.  I have not been answering “restricted” calls for many weeks…as she was in and out of emergency rooms, and then back in detox, and there’s not a damn thing I could do except decide not to listen to her vitriolic rage and hate filled diatribes.  And you guessed it, it was her, except what we call the “old” her was speaking to me in that articulate, fluid, lyrical voice I’ve missed.    How fucking ironic is this…do I buy a ticket to ride, again?

writing out loud

Why the hell am I writing this? shutterstock_122485786-1024x640

First, spare me and yourself the it’s so sad, how did this happen garbage.

Second, there is no shame, no blame, no hate, no embarrassment, no resentment that I bear my daughter.  On the contrary, my love for her is immeasurable, my respect for her immense, she is in my heart and soul, unconditionally.  She has a disease.  I am humbled at how she continues to endure what is a life-long hell on earth.  She is a beautiful, artistic, graceful, fragile creature of air and light who didn’t choose bi-polar, heroin addiction as a life path.  She has a disease, for which this country offers jail, institutions, or death as the treatments of choice.

Third, I, we, her family, finally have our backs against the wall;  the only way we can help her now is to deliberately, even callously,  leave her to her own devices.  And baby, that sucks every ounce of strength I have.  So I thought, write.  I know there are so many people out there in the same stinking boat, feeling the same stinking way, so I thought, write it out loud, write the truth, because it’s not just about me anymore.  And maybe, somewhere in these words, I’ll find some peace of mind, some piece of my mind. And maybe more people will realize that her disease is not a crime, not a choice, and that families are no more equipped to treat this disease on our own than we could cancer.

Fourth, and utterly essential to my survival, is because if she can suffer this, I can goddamn well be her mother through it, even if it’s from a self-imposed, soul-tearing distance, and I can goddamn well not pretend she doesn’t exist, or that everything’s peachy-keen, or that I have a clue how to keep it together.