Vivid & Brave A Community & Conversation for Creative Women Tue, 20 Oct 2020 20:05:39 +0000 en-US hourly 1 You Can’t Always Get What You Want Sat, 21 Dec 2019 05:44:14 +0000
One of the amazing things I always preach about polyamory is that even when a relationship ends, it doesn’t have to end completely. There are more options to staying friendly with a...

The post You Can’t Always Get What You Want by Jessie Ivanowski appeared first on Vivid & Brave.

One of the amazing things I always preach about polyamory is that even when a relationship ends, it doesn’t have to end completely. There are more options to staying friendly with a person or maintaining some type of romantic relationship even when it’s not the type of “primary” romance that monogamous people may be used to.

You Can't Always Get What You Want
But sometimes, even in polyamory, relationships simply…end. This happens for many reasons, just as many and more so as in a monogamous relationship. Polyamory brings with it many complications, and when people are not on the same page with communication it can account for even more issues.
One of the main things a polyamorous person will tell you is that communication is key. It is essential to a poly lifestyle. You can’t get by healthily without it. When communication fails, the relationship will. This applies to monogamous relationships as well.

But what about when a relationship ends and it’s for the best? Do we feel joy at that? Of course not. Perhaps a sense of relief? Maybe. We all have a logical side to our brains, even if we don’t use it as often as we’d like. Putting that part of us into practice is another story.

As with the title of this article, though, sometimes we end up in a better place than when we started. We can miss the person. We can still love them. We can want what’s best for them. And sometimes part of that, and what’s best for them, is them moving on. Recently I lost someone in my life whom I truly loved and cared about. But I have to believe, I have to, that it’s for the best. Whether that’s for her or me or our other partner… remains to be seen. We can’t be so selfish as to think that it’s always about us. Sometimes it’s a hard thing for us to go through, but it helps another person. Much as we would put our children first, we often end up putting our partners and friends first as well.

I wanted what thеу hаd, bаdlу. I wanted fоr mу children to ѕtіll hаvе twо раrеntѕ whо lоvеd аnd respected еасh оthеr, еvеn if thеу wеrеn’t in lоvе anymore. I wanted thеm to hаvе cool and ассерtіng ѕtер раrеntѕ. I wаntеd blеndеd family vacations and holidays. It all seemed ѕо іdуllіс – thаt even in the mіdѕt of ѕоmеthіng hеаrtbrеаkіng, уоu соuld соmе out оn thе оthеr ѕіdе еvеn bеttеr than bеfоrе. Your kіdѕ could ѕtіll have an intact fаmіlу, уоu соuld ѕраrе them frоm thе hurt of a “brоkеn” fаmіlу.

It wаѕn’t to bе. Mу dіvоrсе was еmоtіоnаllу charged frоm thе ѕtаrt, рерреrеd wіth explosive conflicts and ԛuіеtlу ѕіmmеrіng аngеr. Whаt lіkеlу ѕhоuld hаvе fоrеѕhаdоwеd thаt fоr me іѕ thаt wе’d always bееn thаt wау. The first Chrіѕtmаѕ аftеr wе split wе ѕреnt tоgеthеr with thе kіdѕ, оur jaws сlеnсhеd аnd реrfunсtоrу politeness lосkеd аnd lоаdеd. We dіdn’t fіght untіl 4pm – a hіѕtоrісаl record fоr the hоlіdауѕ wе’d ѕhаrеd since getting together. Let’s bе real – it wаѕ unlіkеlу we were gоіng tо еvеr find that hарру, lоvіng, ѕtіll mу best frіеnd mаgіс, but I wаѕ hеllbеnt аnd determined to trу, insisting on bіrthdауѕ and holidays ѕреnt together аѕ a fаmіlу, tоrturіng bоth оf us, аnd оur kids, wіth tеnѕе, ѕіlеnt dіnnеrѕ, and myself wіth thе glаrіng рrеѕеnсе оf a former ѕроuѕе whо hаd оnсе tоld mе hе wіѕhеd I wаѕ dead.

Mу еx-huѕbаnd’ѕ new gіrlfrіеnd (nоw hіѕ fіаnсее) саmе іntо thе picture wіth аlаrmіng speed. I dіdn’t nееd to mееt hеr, аѕ I’d аlrеаdу knоwn her. (I hаvе a реrѕоnаl commitment tо keep thе wrіtіng I dо about my еx’ѕ nеw partner to a minimum, ѕо thаt’ѕ аll the dеtаіlѕ I’ll share here.) At fіrѕt, I wаntеd nothing аt all tо do with thіѕ wоmаn. But then I rеmеmbеrеd Dеmі and Aѕhtоn. So I kерt trуіng, еxtеndіng іnvіtаtіоnѕ tо family funсtіоnѕ, joint birthday parties, dinners. I offered to share party planning dutіеѕ with her, I tried to hеlр hеr understand whу it was hаrd for mе ѕоmеtіmеѕ, why I ѕоmеtіmеѕ tried to ѕhut her оut. I attended every swimming lеѕѕоn аnd hосkеу gаmе and smiled аnd nоddеd аnd sat beside thеm, but I didn’t fееl lіkе оnе bіg hарру family. I felt lіkе a dеѕреrаtе еx-wіfе trуіng tо wеdgе mуѕеlf іntо thеіr family photo. I wаѕ аnxіоuѕ and rеѕеntful. Friends would sputter “I dоn’t knоw hоw уоu do іt! Yоu’rе a ѕаіnt!” and I’d feel tеmроrаrіlу buoyed. This wаѕ the right thing to do, because it was thе hаrd thing tо do, right?

We may not realize that we’re getting exactly what we need at the time that we are going through it. One of the biggest lessons in life is that we can’t control other people. This goes along with relationships ending, jealousy, being in control of every situation. Whether you believe in God, a higher power, the universe, fate, “meant to be”, etc…. any positive person can try to train their brain to see the best of the situation.

Training your brain to think logically about unpleasant situations is part of growing up. There are sometimes things we just have to do, things we have to get through. Break ups are one of them. No one reaches adulthood without getting their heart broken at least once. Can we see the silver lining in it? Can we find the positive among all the negatives, in my case what help me get over our problems was couples counseling, I think if you are going through a rough patch this will help you. Are willing to train our brains to accept the end of something as being the beginning of something new?

If you try… you might find that you’ll get what you need.

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Inventing Insecurities | No, I Don’t “Need” Eye Cream Fri, 24 Feb 2017 18:28:29 +0000 Several weeks ago, while trying to take a selfie, I noticed a new wrinkle in the oddest of places – my cleavage. Where before my skin had not creased, now I had...

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Several weeks ago, while trying to take a selfie, I noticed a new wrinkle in the oddest of places – my cleavage.

Where before my skin had not creased, now I had a defined, additional line that led from the inner curve of my left breast and up across my breastbone. I poked it. I squinted at it. I tried moving my boob. But it was there. Staring at me, this new wrinkle. You can Check This Out for more about the medical spa.

I turned 35 in October. My oldest child is in Grade 7. Certainly, time has marched on, and I’ve gone along with it – my hair starting to grey at my temples, light creases appearing in the corners of my mouth and eyes. I notice my hair was beginning to thin so I got women’s hair replacement systems, its worked wonders. But I’ve never felt old, or like I needed to take up my weapons against ageing. If anything, I’ve observed these changes with interest, like some kind of researcher in my own process of ageing. As per L.A.FACE face lift expert recommendations I moisturize my face after I shower, I usually take off my makeup at night, I wear sunscreen (most of the time!). But a peek in my medicine cabinet won’t reveal an extensive skin care regimen,  creams, potions, lotions and exfoliators. An eye cream I bought nearly two years ago remains nearly full. The sooner you contact Global Genesis, the sooner we will be able to dispatch your wholesale order of N95 respirators in the United States. Our supplies are subject to rigorous quality control in order to provide our customers with high-quality products with reliable and quick shipping and competitive pricing.  We are happy to work with you directly in order to understand and meet your needs for bulk N95 respirator at Global Genesis’s site respirators as soon as you reach out to us.

Yesterday, while scrolling through Instagram, someone I follow who works in the beauty business, selling products through a direct sales/MLM company, had posted a meme – a collage of 80s style high waisted jeans, and a caption:

“If you wore these, it’s time for an eye cream. Call me.”

My eye twitched, but I kept scrolling. But that meme proliferated, and multiplied, as memes are known to do – soon I saw it a half dozen times on Facebook, sometimes with only one pair of jeans, sometimes with a pair of early 90s style sandals, all targeting women in my age demographic – mid to late 30 year olds – all with the same directive “You need to use eye wrinkle creams. Buy it from me!”

Wait, what? I need to use eye cream? I can choose to use an Anti Aging CBD Eye Cream, if I want. If you want to use one, more power to you (I can even connect you with some women who can help!). But is this really the conversation we’re having right now, between women? Are fine lines and wrinkles really that horrible? Why are we putting so much pressure on each other to look young?  But more than that – why are we suggesting to women in their 30s that they “need” to use anti-aging products now?

Let’s set aside the fact that many products that “fight” the signs of aging strip the top layers of the skin off, leaving you more susceptible to sun damage (Found this perfect for skin care). Let’s forget for a minute that the beauty giants have been preying on our insecurities for years. We can even skip over the fact that most of these products are ridiculously expensive and incredibly time-consuming (multi step processes, masks, dermabrasion tools, and so on).

But you know what I hear most often from my MLM consultant friends whenever someone speaks out against the direct sales business model?

“We’re empowering women!”

There’s a big contradiction going on here. This method of marketing is almost more insidious than the method that uses our insecurities to get us to spend money – this one is trying to create them for us. What’s empowering about that? Does anyone feel empowered when our friend or family member tries to hint that we need to fight aging that for most of us, isn’t even really happening yet? Where’s the hidden power in sending all your 30 something friends to the mirror to peer at their eyes, searching for the imperfection there?

It’s not the first time I’ve run into it. After commenting on a Facebook post about a funny exchange I had with a Sephora employee once regarding an age spot on my cheekbone and my need for a moisturizer with sunscreen in it, I found myself on the receiving end of a PM about a product that would make that age spot disappear. Until that moment, I hadn’t felt any desire to minimize it – my trip to Sephora had been an effort to prevent future sun damage.

Since 2000, Botox procedure rates have risen 759%. No, that’s not a typo.  North Americans spend more than $60B a year on beauty products. And increasingly, people under 30 are among the biggest users of anti aging products. Our fear of aging is spilling into the thoughts of ever younger women, women who are the most susceptible to being convinced this is a problem they need to worry about, when in reality it should be the last thing on their mind.

Aging is not a crime. You are allowed to get older. You will be beautiful even with wrinkles. And if you think you need to start fighting aging in your mid 30s, consider the sheer amount of time, money and worry you’re going to expend for the next 50ish years, given that the average life expectancy for a North American woman is 81 years old. And no matter how much you spend on this stuff, you’re still probably going to eventually look like an old(er) woman. Only you get to choose if you want to get there with an acceptance of your inherent beauty, or kicking and screaming every step of the way.

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You Don’t Have to Be Friends With Your Ex (Or His New Wife) Wed, 23 Nov 2016 18:04:53 +0000 When I look back on it, I’m pretty sure it was all Bruce and Demi’s fault. You see, by the time my marriage started to falter and then ended in the middle...

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When I look back on it, I’m pretty sure it was all Bruce and Demi’s fault.

You see, by the time my marriage started to falter and then ended in the middle of 2011, they had been painting a picture of perfect blended family life since 2005, with Bruce Willis attending Demi’s wedding to Ashton Kutcher. Over the years, they fed tantalizing details to the media about their “one big happy family” vacations, their hopes to add even more children to the mix, and their numerous public appearances with everyone in tow – Ashton and Demi, Bruce and his new wife Emma, and their kids.

Yes, I know that Bruce isn't in this photo, but Ashton's abs are. And Demi's too. All the abs.

Yes, I know that Bruce isn’t in this photo, but Ashton’s abs are. And Demi’s too. All the abs.

I wanted what they had, badly. I wanted for my children to still have two parents who loved and respected each other, even if they weren’t in love anymore. I wanted them to have cool and accepting step parents. I wanted blended family vacations and holidays. It all seemed so idyllic – that even in the midst of something heartbreaking, you could come out on the other side even better than before. Your kids could still have an intact family, you could spare them from the hurt of a “broken” family.

It wasn’t to be. My divorce was emotionally charged from the start, peppered with explosive conflicts and quietly simmering anger. What likely should have foreshadowed that for me is that we’d always been that way. The first Christmas after we split we spent together with the kids, our jaws clenched and perfunctory politeness locked and loaded. We didn’t fight until 4pm – a historical record for the holidays we’d shared since getting together. Let’s be real – it was unlikely we were going to ever find that happy, loving, still my best friend magic, but I was hellbent and determined to try, insisting on birthdays and holidays spent together as a family, torturing both of us, and our kids, with tense, silent dinners, and myself with the glaring presence of a former spouse who had once told me he wished I was dead.

My ex-husband’s new girlfriend (now his fiancee) came into the picture with alarming speed. I didn’t need to meet her, as I’d already known her. (I have a personal commitment to keep the writing I do about my ex’s new partner to a minimum, so that’s all the details I’ll share here.) At first, I wanted nothing at all to do with this woman. But then I remembered Demi and Ashton. So I kept trying, extending invitations to family functions, joint birthday parties, dinners. I offered to share party planning duties with her, I tried to help her understand why it was hard for me sometimes, why I sometimes tried to shut her out. I attended every swimming lesson and hockey game and smiled and nodded and sat beside them, but I didn’t feel like one big happy family. I felt like a desperate ex-wife trying to wedge myself into their family photo. I was anxious and resentful. Friends would sputter “I don’t know how you do it! You’re a saint!” and I’d feel temporarily buoyed. This was the right thing to do, because it was the hard thing to do, right?

By the time our second Christmas apart rolled around, I found myself hysterically screaming “And take your skank cookies with you!” while hurling a full container of baked goods my ex’s girlfriend had made at the back of his head as he walked away.

I sought support and found blended family support groups online – support groups to get moms and stepmoms talking and understanding each other. Support groups for moms whose children had a stepparent in their lives. At first I was perplexed – why did so many of these women not want to strive for friendships with their counterparts and exes? Wasn’t that the goal? Wasn’t that the carrot on a stick we were all supposed to be chasing?

Blended Family, Bruce Willis, Demi Moore, Ashton Kutcher

You can find stories like Bruce and Demi’s all over Facebook – this guy who bought his wife flowers and card and cooked his ex-wife breakfast on her birthday, this woman who wrote her ex’s new girlfriend a thank you note on Facebook, and this woman and her open letter to her daughter’s stepmom. They’re praised for their humility, grace, strength, patience, thick skin, understanding, openness, insert glowing adjective here. And their method is touted as “the right way”, and one that we can all get to with a little hard work and elbow grease. The alternative that is insinuated is former spouses in constant, angry fights, kids in tears, and everyone needing family therapy in maple grove mn.

What is lost in this narrative is that you can’t force anyone to be your friend. You can’t strong arm your way into a relationship with someone who doesn’t want one with you. Relationships are not one-sided. It didn’t matter how much I hoped and dreamed to be my ex’s best friend – he didn’t want to be mine. And in truth, I didn’t actually want to be his either. I left him not so I could spend my time with him, but so that we would both get to find actual happiness – apart. And for many big happy blended families, the boundaries get fuzzy, and conflict springs from that lack of clarity. Raise your hand if you want your ex-husband to come into your house and cook you breakfast. I definitely don’t want such a thing, even if he would be “sweet” or “strong” or whatever for him to do that, and then tell the whole world via social media.

I used to find myself very hurt by these posts, because of what was implied. If I couldn’t be my ex’s best friend, then I wasn’t humble, gracious, strong, patient, thickskinned, understanding and open. I was the opposite of that. I was part of the problem. In truth, I am all of those things, and every single woman I’ve met through this journey is, too, no matter what dynamic she and the rest of the adults in her blended family story have chosen. We’re all doing something hard – raising human beings after a fracture in a traditional family. High five yourself, friends.  If you got through today without throwing cookies at the back of your ex’s head, count it as a win, and start again tomorrow.

self five

For some families, the happiest thing they can do is to make their separation clear, concise, and businesslike. You don’t have to be friends with your ex, or his new wife. The BIFF method can be your friend. You’ll love it. My ex and I don’t go out of our way to talk, to spend time together, and we don’t turn to each other for help or advice. He lives his life, I live mine, and sometimes, our paths cross out of necessity – that necessity being our children. The last extended discussion we had was via text message almost 2 weeks ago. Our kids are happy, secure and deeply loved – by me, by my ex-husband, and by his fiancee.

Because as it turns out, there isn’t one right way of doing this, not one approach that is the most noble. Love your kids. If your set up is working for you, keep doing it. If it used to work but isn’t anymore, change it up. If you want to talk to your ex every day, do it. If you want to only ever communicate via email, do that. Do what is working, and forget the rest.






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Grief Doesn’t Get Easier Sat, 08 Oct 2016 21:37:03 +0000 I can still relive that moment like it happened 5 minutes ago. My vision went black. My legs gave out beneath me and I hit the cold ground on that cold October...

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Dee & DanielI can still relive that moment like it happened 5 minutes ago. My vision went black. My legs gave out beneath me and I hit the cold ground on that cold October afternoon. My heart actually stopped for a moment and I struggled to get my lungs to fill with air. 3 words, spoken via telephone from my Mother, changed my entire world forever.

Daniel is dead.

Daniel was my brother. Daniel IS my brother. He was only 3 months older than I and joined my life with my parents adopted him at the age of 19 months. From that first day we were inseparable. My parents called us their twins. In fact, our family Dr was so impressed that we behaved like actual twins without being biologically twins that we had special testing done when we were toddlers. We had our own spoken language and an emotional, almost telepathic connection, that even into adulthood, we could read each other’s thoughts and I knew, intuitively, when he was in trouble and needed me. In the event that somebody is accused of a medication wrongdoing in Boston, the courts will mull over a few components including the kind of medications that were under lock and key, the amount had, why the medication was under lock and key, and if minors were included. You can get redirected here for best advice, with the help of a personal injury lawyer or a wrongful death attorney.

Dee & Daniel

He was my first friend. My best friend. The one person in the world who had lived my history step for step. And yet we were very different, he and I. Daniel was all dare. He ran at life with 150%, full-bore all the time. I am more conservative, more calculated and less impulsive. I played by the rules and coloured inside the lines, while Daniel spent his life breaking rules and smudging lines

At about 15 Daniel started experimenting with drugs and alcohol in a major way. This lead to a downward spiral that lasted almost 20 years. It was the beginning of a dance that he and I performed back and forth for most of our adult lives. He used and I enabled by constantly rescuing. I paid his drug debts (one time at gun point when his dealer came to my home). He stole my jewelry to pawn. I paid for his programs for detox and rehab Costa Rica – I truly lost count but I believe it was at least 6 times. The path to recovery is never easy but admitting you need help is the first step towards sobriety. If you are looking for a rehab center in the United States to help you through the process of recovery, then Drug and Alcohol Rehab Near to Beach Side may be your answer. You can visit website for more about the DRUG CRIMES ATTORNEY.

My addiction to rescuing him was as strong as his addiction to use drugs and alcohol – and both did so to mask our pain. And in the deep recesses of my heart I guess I always knew that things would end up this way. But no matter what it takes, it is my responsibility to look after him and help with addiction he has going into. That is how I value a family. I would ultimately lose him to “the life”, but I battled on, hoping that I could choose the ending to our story.

But it ended with a casket opened to show only his hands. Daniel had been murdered. His death had been so violent that I said my good-byes to his folded hands alone. Hands visibly broken and bruised in the final fight of his life. He died in an abandoned home with $40 in his pockets on October 8, 2011, beaten to death with a table leg.

Grief is powerful son-of-a-bitch, I cannot lie. I have read many articles describing grief like waves of the ocean – tossing you to and fro. I feel like grief is more like an offensive linebacker from the NFL running full force into your chest again and again. You barely catch your breath from the last hit and another comes along.

The months following Dan’s death are a black hole of nothingness for me. My therapist suggests that I have acute PTSD from the trauma. And no matter what terms you use to describe it, this feeling is different than anything else I have ever known. It’s not like depression that makes you feel sort of empty and numb – this is like every feeling that you’ve ever had compacted right into your chest and you have to fight to just stay sane. The world completely changes. You see, feel, taste, smell and hear everything differently.

People use clichés and “sayings” to try to make you feel better. They have told me that “this too shall pass” and “grief is the price of love” and “Maybe this is for the best!” People aren’t trying to be jerks, they just don’t know what to say, so you accept their platitudes and thank them for their thoughts and prayers and move back into the isolated corners of your heart alone to grieve.

It’s true that time helps a bit – 5 years on and I can function to a degree. The overwhelming nightmarish feelings do come at greater intervals now, but they never “pass”. I have gone from quite literally not functioning from the pain to only stopping two or three times each day to lean against a solid object, trying to remain on my feet, for the punch I have just taken to the chest.

Grief arrives in odd packages, too. Sometimes it’s a smell or a song that pulls a memory to the surface. Yesterday, it was an episode of the Muppet Show I watched with my 8 year old son. I remembered watching it with my Daniel – that exact same episode and laughing, innocently, never imagining how our futures would unfold.

And when I started to weep yesterday at Chris Kristofferson singing with Miss Piggy my 8 year old knew why. “Does this remind you of Uncle Dan, Mom?”

That’s what grief does. It attaches to you in ways you can’t imagine. It takes on forms and essence that you can’t predict. It’s a deep, deep wounding of your soul and yes, that wound will eventually scab over and become a scar, but that scar will forever remain. Grief becomes you – a part of you – inside you but separate – almost like an artificial limb. It’s you, but not you. Like barnacles on a ship or moss on a rock – grief is just there, along for the rest of the ride.

Grief, like any injury, changes us. I will never be the same for losing him. Part of who I am – part of my past, part of my future – that all died with him. I saw all our good times and all our struggles laid beside him on the crocheted blanket from my Aunt that day in his casket. I saw the playful antics of our childhood and my hopes of our shared future laying murdered right beside him. Who I was and who I could have been died with him. I saw the brother I nick-named Beaver Boy with his arms sweetly around my neck in my favorite photograph from our childhood. I saw the struggling adolescent who was so bullied in high school that I punched a 6 foot 3 quarterback on the football team trying to come to his aid. I saw the addict, covered in street-sores, with shoes that didn’t fit in filthy clothes detoxing in the living room of my house while I sat up all night watching so he didn’t hurt himself. I saw the man, with demons in his eyes, but tremendous love in his soul, hug me one last time the day I knew in my heart would be the last time I ever saw him. I saw our shared history vanish before my eyes and all I could do was stand there stating out loud for the empty funeral hall to hear that I was sorry, that I had failed him, that I would have traded places, that I would have made him better if I could.

But I couldn’t bring myself to touch him. I wanted to hold his hand just one more time. And I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t bare the thought of lifeless flesh being what I remembered, so I kept his urn in my living room for almost a year. When no one was around I held it, and rocked it and told all that I had left of him how sorry I was that I didn’t touch him just one more time. And finally my family convinced me to place his urn in a niche and “let him go” because holding on is “unhealthy” and “it’s just time Dee, it’s just time.” It didn’t feel like it was time to me.

I have heard it said that what we, as humans, want most in life is someone to validate our existence, to witness our journey for us. Loss robs us of that validation. A witness to my journey is gone and what he took with him will never be restored to me. I can never get back that moment when all I had to do was reach out and touch his hand, but I couldn’t do it.

It’s been 5 years this weekend and here is what I have learned so far: Grief does not get easier. It doesn’t get better. You just eventually get used to the feeling of that linebacker ramming at your chest and you get better able to control your physical response to it. You get used to your chest being ripped open and your soul laid bare. You get used to that mental picture of his battered hands folded neatly on his stomach. And you hold desperately tight to the memory of his voice saying, “I love you, Dippy”

Grief doesn’t get easier. You get tougher.

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Grief & Landlines Tue, 20 Sep 2016 17:25:49 +0000 Monday morning. I allow myself the luxury of sleeping in. When I do wake up, in the late morning, there’s a single text message waiting for me on my phone. It’s from...

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Monday morning.

I allow myself the luxury of sleeping in. When I do wake up, in the late morning, there’s a single text message waiting for me on my phone. It’s from my cousin, and it simply says: “Love you xoxox”.

I know, without knowing, that my beloved Nana has passed away.

This was no surprise, and yet I feel as though all the breath has been stolen out of me. I cry in the way we allow ourselves to cry when no one can hear us – alone in my house, I gulp and choke on sobs that seem to come from the very centre of me, suddenly aware of the clawing empty sensation in my belly that is grief.


The next two days are a whirlwind of travel plans, airplanes, my exhausted children crying in the airport at 1 am while I argue with a rental car company agent, fighting my own tears. Then three more days filled with endless traffic, aunts who punctuate each hug with a kiss high on my cheek bone, and me, delivering a eulogy to an assembly of mourners I can’t see, because my eyes refuse to focus and my heart – well my heart has taken up permanent residence in my throat, a lump that I cannot swallow and cannot spit out.

I wonder if some people lose their grandmothers without all this pain, and envy them a little. As a child my grandparents lived next door to us, assisting my mother while she attended school, a constant, comforting presence just on the other side of the townhouse wall. I find myself missing the feeling of her skin, and quietly telling people that, knowing that it sounds odd, not caring. The skin of her hands was the softest thing I’d ever felt. In the list of things I desperately wish I could feel just one more time, her hands are among them.

And then it’s all over. Less than a week, and we’re back at home. I’m filling lunch bags for my children, and driving through construction zones, and most of the time I’m okay, except for when I’m not. And when I’m not, it’s that exact same feeling as the first day, a gnawing in my gut, and all the words I didn’t get to say stuck in my throat.

I call my mother. Her landline is out of service. I text my brother  that maybe she’s skipped town. I’m half joking. I can only imagine the depth of her pain, given the depth of mine. The thought of losing my mother is unfathomable, but so was the thought of losing my grandmother, and that didn’t keep her alive forever any more than it will my own mother.

Two days later she texts me after midnight. She’s canceled her home phone number. This strikes me as noteworthy only because I’ve been considering doing the same with my own land line. The only person who ever called me on it was Nana, and now, she’s gone. The very thought of it ringing is enough to fill me with a growing sense of sadness.


We hold spaces for our elders in this way – something as simple as a phone number that doesn’t change. But in the raging waters of my grief, I’d been most panicked by the realization that something in my family structure had been irreparably changed. With her passing, thirteen years after my grandfather’s, an entire generation of our family had come to an end, the closing of a chapter that I wasn’t ready to finish reading yet.

It’s selfish, wanting to keep our grandparents around, it’s a form of self preservation that doesn’t really work. I want to ask her more questions, I want to know more about her. All of sudden, old photographs of her with people I don’t recognize have lost all meaning. She provided their definition, illuminated their names, told us their stories. My own children didn’t know her well, growing across the country from where she lived, and I’m suddenly filled with the deep regret that comes from not having visited for a host of reasons, none of them feeling all that valid now.

The day we had returned from her funeral, I dropped exhausted into bed after a late night flight. The deep silence of the house curled around me, and in that silence I found her, and grief, again. These will be the spaces I hold now, the quiet ones I stand in alone, revisiting loss over and over again, gasping for breath and holding memory as tightly as I can.

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But What About the Children? Mon, 28 Mar 2016 16:00:00 +0000 You know those stickers that say “My child is on the honor roll at….” fill in the blank school? I feel as if I should have one that says “My child is...

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You know those stickers that say “My child is on the honor roll at….” fill in the blank school? I feel as if I should have one that says “My child is on the honor roll of life.” A little bit of “mommy-bragging” to follow – my son has been around polyamory nearly all his life. That in itself is nothing to be proud or ashamed about. What I am proud of him for is his ability to have so much room in his heart for everyone he meets, both kind people and … not so kind.

Sadly my son has experienced me being unsafe in my former marriage. He’s lived with people who were not the best due to circumstances from his other side of the family. And through it all, my son has shown kindness and love to everyone he meets. At six years old he understands that people aren’t inherently good or evil; they are all shades of grey. He had sympathy in his heart even for people who have hurt us in his young life.

I do believe part of this is due to the unique relationships he is able to witness. He is of course sheltered from a lot of the relationship aspects that go on and the more adult concepts of sexuality and dating life. But he is aware that there are other people I love and care about besides my live in partner.

My son calls my Anchor “dad”. It was never encouraged or discussed. He has a father, my ex, who is not present in his life at this time, but who does not need to be replaced. No one can “replace” a biological parent. However, my son has come to think of my partner as a dad because of how my partner cares for him and the time they spend together. He decided to call my boyfriend “dad” on his own and said it makes sense to him because his step siblings call him that.

There isn’t much research that’s been done on children growing up in polyamorous families. I am the first to admit that. There are personal accounts of people who have reached adulthood and were perfectly happy and well adjusted. You can find one here. Just as I’m sure you can find negative accounts as well.

Some of the main arguments given about children and poly is that as relationships change and end, they are more likely to lose stable figures in their lives. Another is that children viewing adult concepts such as sexuality, gender identity, etc. is an inappropriate concept. Some critics of it seem unhappy with any answer you give them. I read one article where they said when the children find out later (at an older age) that they are from a polyamorous household, they feel their childhood was a lie and that the adults weren’t telling them that “Uncle Matt” was actually sleeping with Mom. The same article went on to point out that when children are taught the truth from a young age they are essentially “brainwashed” to “believe in” polyamory and will go on to think that is the norm and that they too are polyamorous.

There are some concerns with this reasoning. First, polyamory is not something to “believe in” or not believe. It simply exists. It’s happening every day, all around you. You just don’t know it.

The effect it has on children varies as much as the effect that divorce has, or being raised in a single parent family, or with a stepparent, or with gay parents. The effect also varies depending on the child. While one child may be mature enough at six years old to understand dating and terminology for multiple partners, another at eight or ten may still not care enough to grasp the concept, and that’s exactly when you want to get help from a child psychologist, just so that your kid starts understating why everything is changing.

Since there has not been much study done on poly households, I am linking an article about children of same-sex couples here. Though these two are far from the same, the effects of being raised in a “different than standard” household holds true. The American Academy of Pediatrics agrees that raising children in stable families with adults to support them is a healthy choice, no matter how that family may be comprised.

My mother, who is very religious and is not interested in knowing too much about my polyamorous lifestyle, even has to acknowledge the benefits at times. My out of town boyfriend was visiting for the weekend and I had to run to the store unexpectedly. Little things like having other adults around when your primary partner is at work are some of the tiny benefits to a “more than two” adult household. My mother observed that it was convenient my other boyfriend was there and that I didn’t have to drag three tired kids out with me in the cold.

My son has really struggled lately with his father abandoning him. The reasons are many and some of them are forgivable and some are not. But the results are the same – my son is lost and sad and feels the absence of his father. When I asked him if he could think of other adults in his life who are there for him and love him, while certainly not *replacing* his father, my son was able to name not just me and my partner (his mom and “dad”) but also my other partner as his “uncle” and my girlfriend as “someone like another mom”. He knows I am dating these people. He knows a six year old’s definition of what dating means. And he is happy, healthy, and more stable for having these people in his life.

The same could be argued for family friends, actual blood relatives who step up, grandparents, etc. I am not so naive to believe that polyamory solves all these problems, but in my case they certainly bring more good than harm. My life and the life of my son are filled with love and support. That’s not something I feel I can complain about, nor would I want to.

The truth is, we can’t know the long term effects of polyamorous households on kids until more studies are done and poly is more widely accepted as an option.

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6 Reasons to Love the Magic of Mornings Thu, 24 Mar 2016 16:35:00 +0000 Early mornings. There is just something about them. They are magical. To set the record straight, I have always been a night owl. Never have I considered myself a rise and shine,...

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Early mornings. There is just something about them. They are magical. To set the record straight, I have always been a night owl. Never have I considered myself a rise and shine, early morning go-getter. Most mornings I drag myself out of bed like a zombie. Then there is the mad rush to get ready. Most days if I am lucky I manage to consume a half a cup of coffee before heading out the door. In the midst of the morning chaos I am often yelling at the kids because they are squabbling or running late. That is my life Monday-Friday.

Eventually I need to improve on my week-day morning routine. One thing at a time.

On weekends you will find me rising early naturally. It’s a whole different ball game when I don’t have to rush off to work. In the last few years I have found that I have a difficult time staying up late. Most weekends find me cozying up under a blanket on a Friday or Saturday night, ready for a movie marathon. And then about half way through the first movie I am nodding off. Maybe it is just me getting older, or perhaps it’s my schedule. Either way, it is rare that I get to greet the midnight hour. I’ve naturally morphed into an early morning riser. You don’t have to be a morning person though to enjoy morning.

Morning Magic

The reasons why I have learned to love the magic of mornings:

1. The stillness. The world is still asleep. The people in my world are still asleep. I tip-toe through the house to protect my “me time.” After working all week with people, I need time alone to rejuvenate. I need it like I need air. It is essential.

2. The sunrise. Nothing is more glorious than watching the world wake up and come alive. A bonus for rising early. Sunrises are never the same. I love to watch the canvas sky splashed with nature’s colors.

3. Nature. Sneaking out before the world comes alive is like entering a different universe. Morning is my favorite time to kayak or take a walk. In the winter I love to watch the birds out the window congregating at the feeders. Sometimes I will light candles and sit and watch the snow fall. Mornings are unique to the season.

4. Energy. Put a load of clothes in the washer. You will feel like you have accomplished something before you have even started your day. Be creative. Read and write. Or knit if that is your thing. Take a moment to read a devotion or to journal. Morning is the best time for me to focus and to not become distracted. It is also a good time to exercise, go for MMA near me classes, etc. Mornings are when I have the most energy.

5. New Start. Mornings promise a new start. I am less likely to be stressed out like I am at the end of the day or consumed by my troubles. Mornings bring hope. We all need a little hope.

6. Coffee. What is it about that first cup of coffee each day? Let’s be honest. The second cup is just not the same. And the smell! It is proven that the smell helps us wake up. Morning coffee is a ritual for me. Some mornings I like to go the extra mile and make a cup of French Press. Did you know that women who drink coffee may be at lower risk of depression? That is what the Harvard School of Public Health found. If you don’t drink coffee, try tea. We all need a morning ritual. It is something to look forward to. Grab a cup!

The thing about mornings is that they don’t last. The time between dusk and when the rest of the world rises is temporary. It is a time to be grasped and appreciated because it only holds so long. It will begin to fade. All of a sudden it is gone. Enjoy the magic while it lasts.

“So dawn goes down to day. Nothing gold can stay.” – Robert Frost

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The Real Reason Your Baby Wakes at Night Wed, 16 Mar 2016 16:00:00 +0000 As a motherhood specialist and photographer working with new mothers and infant one of the main topics of conversations I hear all the time is infant sleep. What is normal? Why does...

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As a motherhood specialist and photographer working with new mothers and infant one of the main topics of conversations I hear all the time is infant sleep. What is normal? Why does my baby wake up so frequently? Is something wrong? Will I ever sleep again?

The real reason your baby wakes at night

The first year of life is incredibly taxing on a new parent and sleep deprivation is real. Those first three months, the fourth trimester, is a blur to most parents because of this sleep deprivation. Because of this I often see many mothers advising other moms to “sleep train” their infants at a very early age, that they should “Be sleeping through the night” by three months and that its ok to let them cry, they need to self soothe. That’s why I recommend this review of reading head start if you’re starting parenting.

As a mother myself, having had two daughters and still in the midst of night wakings my heart hurts at these responses. Academically, knowing about infant physiology and normal sleep patterns I’m actually very angered by these responses but realize that many of them are based on a lack of education on what is normal.

The real reason your baby wakes at night

So lets talk about normal sleep first. In order for us to breathe there must be a balance of oxygen (what we take in) and carbon dioxide (what we breathe out). This balance is maintained by small cells called Chemoreceptors that are located in the major blood vessels. While we are sleeping, these chemoreceptors measure levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide and instruct the brain to breathe.

Newborns are born biologically immature with still developing nervous systems including an underdeveloped breathing mechanism. If you have ever watched a newborn sleep you will notice that their breathing has no real set patterns and at times they actually appear to stop breathing anywhere from 10-15 seconds. This is called periodic breathing and is actually normal for an infant. The younger and more premature the baby, the more irregular the breathing pattern. Around 6 months of age breathing patterns develop and you will see periodic breathing start to diminish.
Apnea is an episode when a baby stops breathing. Sometimes, if its long enough 15-20 seconds the heart rate will drop and signal to the brain that something is happening and either automatic start mechanisms kick in or the infant wakes up and then normal breathing resumes. Sometimes, if the apnea occurs for a prolonged period of time and if breathing does not start again oxygen levels will fall, the heart rate will become very low and if there is no one present to arouse the baby who will sometimes even need mouth to mouth resuscitation these infants will succumb to SIDS.

The peak incidence of SIDS is around 3 months when babies begin to have longer stretches of deep sleep and many people say, the baby is finally starting to sleep better you might also want to get him some baby gift hampers‌‌ so he can play and get more tired. During this deep sleep babies are less responsive to the breathing-stimulating effects of low oxygen and increase carbon dioxide. Studies of near-miss death of SIDS and siblings of SIDS infants show that these babies wake fewer times at night.

The real reason your baby wakes at night

During the first few months infants go from deep sleep to light sleep and back and forth. Researchers believe that the arousal from deep sleep into light sleep is essential for babies to resume breathing in those babies who have less effective self starting mechanisms.

A baby who is difficult to wake is at a higher risk for SIDS. Infants who are a high risk for SIDS also show more episodes of apnea and periodic breathing. This apnea most frequently occur between 1:00am and 6:00am and within 10 minute of wakening.

Infants who wake frequently at night have fewer episodes of apnea. Sleep studies have shown that REM sleep stimulates breathing and heart rate. Based on these studies it is thought that REM sleep protects infants from SIDS. The peak risk period for SIDS coincides with the rapid decrease of REM sleep that occurs between 2 and three months of age. By 6 months of age cardiopulmonary compensatory mechanisms in deep sleep are more mature and the risk of death from failure of these mechanisms decreases.

So basically, infants are not designed to sleep through the night until their bodies are physically developed and matured enough to do so. This is why its important to not try and “sleep train” or attempt to alter a newborns own clock and sleep wake cycles because Mother Nature has designed it to protect them from SIDS.

Reference: NIGHTTIME PARENTING by Dr. William Sears,

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Unicorn Hunting Tue, 23 Feb 2016 17:00:00 +0000 We all know the typical definition of “unicorn”. It’s that mythical creature we saw in movies as kids. It’s rare and special and carries with it a certain thought of something we’ll...

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We all know the typical definition of “unicorn”. It’s that mythical creature we saw in movies as kids. It’s rare and special and carries with it a certain thought of something we’ll never be able to actually see. In the polyamorous community “unicorn” is a negative term. If you’ve ever looked at any type of personal ads you’ll sometimes see the letters “HBB”, which stand for “hot bi babe”. This is, essentially, a unicorn.


When someone is “unicorn hunting” it’s usually an established couple. This is what starts the negative connotations of the word. I will use words like “usually” and “typically” because there are people out there who don’t relate to this definition at all. I’ll get to them in a moment. Typically this established couple is searching for a woman to date both of them. In this manner they are quietly hoping for a woman who will blend in with their already existing relationship without much fuss and won’t have many thoughts or ideas of her own.

Post in any polyamorous forum about searching for “our third” and you will be shouted down as unicorn hunters and horrible people. To many, that means that you are looking for a woman who will do as you say and if she interferes with the “real relationship” between the two people in the couple, she will be dropped quicker than you can say “bisexual isn’t a real thing”.

There is another view on unicorns and that is more positive. I view myself as a unicorn. I am a bisexual woman who would be *willing* to date a man and a woman who are already a couple. That does not mean I would be willing to give up my thoughts, hopes, dreams, desires, and needs for this couple. Nor would I expect to be dumped as soon as there was a bump in the road.

Currently I’m involved in a triad relationship with my anchor partner and “our” girlfriend. I put “our” in quotes because of the negative feelings that can sometimes go along with that due to “typical unicorn hunters”. My boyfriend and I were not looking for a triad situation. We met a woman and *her* live in partner over the summer and my boyfriend struck up a rather flirtatious relationship with her. At first I thought maybe the two of them would date, but one night the three of us had some time to spend together and everything seemed right to strike up a relationship among the three of us.

Some might consider my girlfriend to be a unicorn. Some might not because of the circumstances and reasons for which our relationship started. Maybe some might view her and our boyfriend as the couple and me as “the third” or the unicorn. I’m fine with any of these scenarios. At the end of the day labels have very little say in my life, and polyamory is a custom job anyway. No two monogamous relationships are the same, so why would polyamorous ones be the same? Everyone is different. You can choose what type of relationship you want, with how many people, and how those dynamics will work.

Not only am I involved in a triad, I also have my own relationship with my anchor partner, another boyfriend whom I’m seeing long distance right now, and my separate relationship with my girlfriend since she and I spend a lot of time together on our own. There isn’t a “one size fits all” poly scenario, nor should there be.

So I’m officially taking back the “unicorn” term. I’m taking it back! I am a unicorn. I am fun and awesome and secure in who I am. It fits me, it works for me, and I like it. Others may not and I won’t judge them for that.

No matter which connotation you choose to identify with or define the term as, no one should be judged for either. Customize your life!

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It’s Not ‘Just’ A Concussion Fri, 19 Feb 2016 17:00:00 +0000 In a society where the result of a severe bump on the head is often overlooked, misdiagnosed, and misunderstood, the word “concussion” should NOT be taken lightly. Every concussion is a traumatic...

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In a society where the result of a severe bump on the head is often overlooked, misdiagnosed, and misunderstood, the word “concussion” should NOT be taken lightly. Every concussion is a traumatic brain injury and needs to be taken seriously — as it is a leading cause of death for children and adults ages 1 to 44 in the United States and occurs every 13 seconds, according to Munley Lawyers Alabama personal injury lawyers.

A victim of an accident or other mishap must get the legal representation of a personal injury lawyer in New York City in order to help him or her file the appropriate personal injury lawsuit against the person who caused the accident. If you have been victimized by the negligent conduct of another, getting the services of a personal injury lawyer in New York City must be one of your primary concerns. Personal injury lawyer New York City knows the intricacies pertaining to a personal injury lawsuit. He or she through long years of studies knows what to do, what to file, and what you are legally entitled to under our laws. However, one may ask where can I get a competent personal injury lawyer New York City who can assist me or an injured person throughout an injury lawsuit? Isn’t getting one a hard thing to do? How can I find a personal injury lawyer in New York City who is reliable, trustworthy and intelligent? Well, do not worry anymore, as personal injury lawyer in New York City is at your service and will take good care of you or your loved one. The accident that a person may be involved in would vary from a vehicular accident, a slip and fall accident, a construction site accident, an animal attack accident, a medical malpractice, a work-related accident, or a construction site accident and a personal injury lawyer undertakes these services for its clients. It also processes information on various accidental or personal injuries. Click here to know more about Brooklyn Personal Injury Attorneys.

When injured in an auto accident be sure to get documentation of your injuries and secure a car accident injury attorney. The pain and suffering endured as a result of being hit by an automobile can last for a long time. Even once the physical wounds have healed and the scars have faded there is often residual emotional damage. This is particularly the case in instances where the damage is as a result of the negligence of someone else. Fortunately in these instances it is possible to seek restitution from the other person and it can do a lot in reducing the financial toll of coping with an incident. In order to be able to receive the most you can in compensation it is important to hire a car accident injury attorney that specializes in helping victims get the money they deserve. They will help determine who to sue, for what sort of damage, and for how much. For more details about Brooklyn UBER and Lyft Accident Injury Attorney, click here now.

The most important thing to do immediately after being in a wreck is to go to the doctor. Even if you do not feel like there is anything the matter it is imperative that you check with a doctor and get fully examined. Some injuries will not manifest themselves for several days or even weeks after they happen and if this is the case it is necessary to have a paper trail that shows that you have been proactively seeking medical care. Your personal car accident injury attorney will have a much easier time of pursuing your claim if there is this kind of documentation beginning with the incident and going forward. This is the single most important thing that can be done in minimizing the time and stress it will take to sue.

A trauma need not be debilitating or even physical to qualify you for compensation. In many instances the damage that has been done has been largely mental or emotional. Many people after being in a terrible wreck find it difficult to continue the day-to-day business of life and will lose jobs and damage interpersonal relationships. Emotional hardship is absolutely worthy of restitution. Whether it is whiplash, a broken foot, or the inability to drive a car or maintain employment do not hesitate to call a car accident injury attorney to help remediate your financial troubles.

The loss of employment and wounds to the body are just the start of the items in need of compensation. A good car accident injury attorney will also seek restitution for your vehicle and the property inside of it. It is often difficult to determine fault in these instances and insurance companies do not hesitate to pass on filling a claim. A successful win in a court case will help in showing fault and can be of great aid in receiving compensation for the vehicle. Travelling is a good experience one can have in his lifetime. Most travelers opt to buy a travel insurance coverage to be “safe and secured” when something does not go according to plan or something unexpected happens. Before buying a travel insurance, it is very crucial for customers to understand first what the insurance does and does not cover. It is not guaranteed that you’ll be inevitably covered when anything goes wrong. Misinterpretation of an insurance policy can lead you disappointed when your travel insurance claim is denied in time that you most need it, hop over to this site for further details. What if your travel insurance claim gets rejected in time that you most need it? The following are the most common reasons why your claim can get rejected:

Undeclared pre-existing conditions

When buying a travel insurance, state if you have a pre-existing medical condition. Some insurers will cover medical conditions for an additional cost while others may not. If you fail to disclose this info, then your attempt to make a travel insurance claim will be possibly denied when your medical records are consulted. Check and comply with all the rules set by the provider. Remember this particular insurance coverage is intended for unexpected injury and illness only.

Incomplete forms and documentation

Another reason why your travel insurance claim can be denied is simply that of an incomplete form, missing important information or are filled out incorrectly. Always make sure that your form is filled out properly and completely. All the necessary attachments are included before you send off your claims such as doctors’ certificate, police report (for theft or loss of item), purchase receipts for your valuables or even the travel delay confirmation from the carrier.

Personal injury lawyer New York City additionally offers assistance on car accidents, catastrophic, celebrex, dog bites, head and brain, malpractice, nursing home abuse, vioxx, whiplash, worker compensation, workplace, wrongful death and other serious injuries to its clients. The accident lawyer understands the complexities that auto accidents entail, including both legal and insurance matters. Determining who is at fault for an automobile accident can be difficult do to the many factors an auto accident can involve but the personal injury lawyer will assist you in the findings.

In a negligence case action, personal injury is described as any harm caused to a person, such as a broken bone, a cut, or a bruise and bodily injury. It also refers to any invasion of a personal right, including mental suffering and false imprisonment. For purposes of workers’ compensation, any harm, including a worsened preexisting condition that arises in the scope of employment can be referred to as personal injury. There is a very wide range of situations that can come under this area of law.

It’s Not ’Just’ A Concussion

With the movie “Concussion” starring Will Smith, we are finally starting to talk about it. While the movie is about NFL players and their concussions, I understood every word — every nuance of how these guys felt. I understood their frustration when nobody would listen to them, or take them seriously when their MRIs came back clear. Larceny theft could be a small or big concern depending on the severity of the crime committed. Hiring the right bond company to post bail on a Larceny can be the difference between having financial difficulties and holding a strong case during arraignment. Here at Connecticut Bail Bonds Group, we will go the extra mile so you can get the bail you are looking for. If you are looking for a quote on a Theft/Larcey bail bond from a crime committed in Connecticut, we can help. You will get a free consultation quote from us over the phone. Our professional staff will go above and beyond to exceed your expectations, and they will design the right payment plans right away. Getting a reliable, fast service is easy when you hire us today. You will just have to pay a low down payment as small as 7% so that you can get the coverage that you want.

You don’t have to be in a serious car accident or injured playing sports. Simply slipping on a patch of ice can change your life in the blink of an eye, which is exactly what happened to me. Although very unfortunate, car accidents can happen to anybody anytime. Most people are emotionally disturbed and are at a loss with the various proceedings like looking for a lawyer. Car accident lawyers are very much in demand since they are required to file your insurance claims and help in other legal proceedings. These lawyers are also required in cases where the driver maybe be arrested for drunken driving or other offences. Go trough site for Louisiana traffic ticket lawyer. Whether the situation is simple or very serious, you must be careful when choosing your lawyer, since only an experienced lawyer would be resourceful enough to guide you through the situation. You will find various accident lawyers in your area, but you must always go for someone who specializes in auto accident cases. Auto accident cases involve a lot of technical knowledge and up-to-date information. For this reason it is important that you choose car accident lawyers who specializes in this field, who has enough experience and exposure in handling such cases. You will find out that they are aware of the latest law amendments, are well researched on the topic, and thus would be able to guide you better than an ordinary lawyer.

It was a very cold February morning when I slipped and fell on a patch of sheer ice while walking down my building’s driveway. I remember my feet flying out from under me, in true Charlie Brown fashion, and I was unable to do anything about it. I can still hear the god-awful “thunk” as my head made contact with the asphalt. My skull had taken the full impact of the fall, knocking me unconscious for a few minutes.

When I came to, I immediately knew something was wrong. The pain in my skull was excruciating, and I was seeing whirly stars out of my left eyei learned I had some retina problems that need it to be treated. Once back in the safety of my apartment, I attempted to look up emergency rooms on Google. Then I realized I couldn’t read my computer screen — it was a blur because my eyes wouldn’t focus. Calling 911 hadn’t even occurred to me! Because I had clearly knocked myself silly, I decided I would drive myself to the clinic. A decision I look back on and realize it probably wasn’t a good one. I was very worried because I didn’t want to be one of those Mom’s who need help with Alzeimer’s care.

After a thorough exam, my doctor told me that I had suffered a severe concussion, along with major whiplash, C4/5 damage to my spine, and a dislocated sternum. He stated that my concussion symptoms should start getting better in about 6-8 weeks. Before releasing me to go home, I was instructed to cancel all of my appointments for the week, and to avoid all stimulation, including TV, radio, reading, etc. I was to return to the doctor later that evening to ensure I was still doing okay — you know, not dying from a brain bleed or anything.

As weeks, then months, went on, I was still not feeling any better, and in fact, my symptoms were becoming worse. I was living with a constant fogginess in my head, a perpetual headache, and my short-term memory was practically non-existent. And at times I could not find home from the neighborhood store or my best friend’s house, or remember how to run my microwave. I had trouble finding words when I spoke, I was suffering from dizziness and balance issues, and my vision wasn’t quite right, even though eye exams showed everything was “fine.”

Friends started to drift away, telling me I should “get over it because it was ‘just’ a concussion.” While I was living with this hell inside my head, others thought I should “get over it.” One former friend even said I should be thankful it’s “just a concussion,” and not something far worse, like cancer.

I would eventually come to understand a term I had never heard before: “traumatic brain injury” or TBI for short. Every concussion is a TBI, yet when people hear about TBI, they tend to think of the worst-case scenarios. Because I looked seemingly fine, and could walk and talk, people thought I must be okay. I think some people even went so far as to assume I was faking or exaggerating; yet if they had spent even an hour with me, they would realize I wasn’t the same person I was before my fall.

The stigma of a concussion in our society is that it is “no big deal.” We watch professional athletes get back in the game after taking a major blow to the head, and we expect the same of our youth. We watch actors like Tracy Morgan, who suffered a major TBI after an awful accident involving his tour bus and a semi truck, tell us a year later that he’s 100 percent recovered… which I am grateful to hear he’s doing so well, but I don’t buy the “100 percent recovered” part one bit.

In the movie “Concussion,” we start to garner an understanding that concussions are much more serious than originally thought. We get a glimpse inside the severity of repetitive head trauma, and how it can hide invisibly inside our brains, while wreaking havoc on our lives.

My accident was two years ago, and I am still not completely recovered. I have accepted the reality that I may never be 100 percent the same as I was before, and have adapted coping mechanisms to help me with my short-term memory loss and aphasia (the inability to come up with words, or saying the wrong word). I continue to deal with neuro-fatigue and occasional confusion.

Parents, go see the movie “Concussion,” and if your son or daughter takes a physical hit in sports or other activities — monitor them closely, and then don’t allow them back in the game until they have been cleared by a medical professional. Continue to watch your children at home, and if they don’t seem like themselves, or are exhibiting other unusual symptoms, take them in for reevaluation, and don’t let them continue to play until you’re certain they are 100 percent okay.

We must realize children also hit their heads riding a bike or playing on the playground, and with little ones, starting at age 1, hitting glass doors and walls as they begin to learn how to walk. We can’t keep them and ourselves in a perpetual safety bubble, but we do need to be aware of signs and symptoms. As we learn in the movie, repetitive hits to the head can cause very serious long-term, invisible issues.

Now instead of hearing “it’s ‘just’ a concussion,” I hear “you look great; you must be recovered.” That’s a whole other story for another day. Until you suffer a life-altering brain injury, you will never be able to understand what the other person is going through, I know I sure didn’t. It is a long, lonely road to recovery.

When I think back to when I was first going through this, I still shake my head at the ignorance of some people. I am thankful to the help and advice i got from David W. Lipcon.  Actually, I have since learned, most people have no idea of the complexities of a TBI. My hope is to help raise awareness about traumatic brain injury, and just how serious a concussion really is. We only get one brain — it’s our job to protect it!!

If you are a TBI survivor, caregiver, or loved one, you are invited to join The TBI Tribe on Facebook. Find the group here.

The post It’s Not ‘Just’ A Concussion by Amy Zellmer appeared first on Vivid & Brave.

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