Monday, February 8, 2016

Slammin' the Cam

Today my Facebook feed is flooded with lots of chatter about Cam Newton and his postgame interview. I was cheering for the Panthers because they are a Carolina team and have had an awesome season. Yes, I was rooting for my home-state team, but I wouldn’t consider myself a diehard fan. I don’t love Cam (sorry, Carolina fans!), nor do I own a Panthers sweatshirt or a koozie or a flaggy thing for my car. But since my team wasn’t in the Super Bowl ::cough-sputter-SKINS-cough::: then I was hoping the Panthers would win their first Super Bowl.

The game left a lot to be desired. It didn’t really matter which team you were cheering for, it was a snooze-fest. I kept thinking one negative turn of events for the Broncos would lead to the Panthers going on a run, but no such luck. As Cam said in his postgame interview, they got outplayed. The end. Which brings me to the point of my blog today… Cam and his postgame interview:
I have to say, ENOUGH ALREADY!! Listen, I’m not a professional athlete. (although I have mad skills on the hoop hanging on the back of my 12 year old’s bedroom door), but let’s put it in perspective. He just played the pinnacle of all games, the Super Bowl. And he lost. That sucks. As part of his job, he has to sit there and answer the media’s questions with grace and a smile. After all, he makes MILLIONS, this is part of being in the spotlight and the least he can do is fake it. There’s a minor detail we forget; he’s human. Think about having to deal with the biggest disappointment in your career or life for that matter. Then imagine cameras and microphones in your face and some dimwit asking for you to put into words your disappointment. Those who already have a bad taste in their mouth about you are going to find something, ANYTHING to continue to hate you. Had he broken down and cried, he would’ve been a wuss. Had he said he was disappointed and listed all the reasons why, he would’ve been a whiney baby. Had he put a pretty bow on losing, he would’ve been fake. Despite his answer, he couldn’t win…. after not winning.

America loves to hate someone. Today it’s Cam. Tomorrow it’ll be someone else. Could he have handled himself differently? Sure. Would it have made a difference for those who already hate him? Probably not. At the end of the day, he’s a millionaire, a professional athlete who is in his prime and just played in the Super Bowl in front of millions, and will return with a vengeance next season. We shouldn’t feel sorry for him. And I don’t. He’ll fly home in a jet to his mansion and his fancy car worth more than my house. But remember, last night and probably nights if not weeks to follow he will lie in bed wide awake, going through play by plays of the “big game”, internalizing and processing his own disappointment and frustration, warding off the “what ifs” and “woulda-coulda-shouldas”. You know……human-stuff. 

The world, as a whole, has a lot more to be irritated with than an NFL player walking out on an interview. Seems kind of silly in the big scheme of things. Then again, what do I know? I’m just a human too.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

BPD - The Family Secret

2016 will be the first year I’ve lived without a parent.  There is a definite void and a sense of feeling lost without my foundation. Despite the challenging relationship my mother and I had the last few years, I miss her deeply. There was a time we were very close and that is the mom I miss to my core. I haven’t spoken of this except to those whom I am closest to, but my family had a secret. Our mom suffered from Borderline Personality Disorder*** for many years. Hindsight, I believe she always did, but the symptoms certainly got worse the older she got. As a result, my siblings and I had a very difficult time dealing with her mood swings and the wrath that would be bestowed upon us if we did not meet one of her expectations. At times, she was impossible to be around which would blanket my soul with guilt. After all, THIS IS MY MOTHER! Yet I had to protect myself and the only way I knew how was distance.
I sought professional help for answers to help me cope with the internal battle that began to break me. For the first few years, I blamed myself. Despite her hurtful actions and words, I felt I must deserve it. Why else would she act this way? One day my therapist introduced me to Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and handed me the book “Stop Walking on Eggshells”. 5 pages in, I was sobbing. The words that my mind began to process paralleled the life I had been leading with my mom. There was a pinnacle moment when I stopped blaming myself. I felt an overwhelming sense of relief for myself and, equally, an overwhelming sense of sadness that this was something I knew my mother would refuse to acknowledge. It was up to me to change how I reacted, how I handled her moments of rage… this sensitive girl must learn to desensitize in regard to her mom; a nearly impossible task for someone who had spent her life trying to please her mother. There were times I was able to achieve my emotional tough skin, but there was a price. Now suddenly, I was her cold and callous daughter. No matter what I did, I could not win. My new coping mechanism only sent her into more rage and emotional manipulation.  I was left with no choice, but more distance, in turn, resulting in more guilt. This was a cycle that would continue for the last years of her life. Instead of talking every day, it became a couple times a week, then once a week, then a couple times a month. My heart was heavy because I missed her, but the distance also saved me from inevitable heartbreak. When she wrote me once stating “I always knew you wished it was me that died instead of your father”, the cold and callous daughter was there to stay. How does one recover from that? I can tell you……

They don’t.

While I KNEW it was the BPD talking, the vessel in which these hurtful messages were delivered was from the one person whom I adored, who once nurtured, loved and protected me. My mind tried so hard to adjust to her seesaw of “I love you. I hate you. I love you. I hate you” but inevitably, I gave up trying because, well…. I had no choice. When she started displaying BPD tendencies toward my boys, I had to draw a line in the sand. They were too young to fully process the whirlwind of confusion that came with a Nana’s love “with emotional strings attached”.

Now that she has passed, I see more clearly the personality disorder that took my loving, vivacious mom away from me years before she left this earth. It was difficult to completely comprehend while she was here, because I was too busy building walls and dodging bullets. My defensive mode overrode any sense of empathy toward her suffering. My reaction was 100% selfish, I know that. But I had begged her to seek an understanding of what she was doing to her family, to comprehend how her words and actions hurt those around her. My words only made her angrier, more defensive, sending her deeper into a mindset of emotional warfare. She held me in contempt and ridicule. The emotional tug of war was more than I could bear at times. And the guilt began to bury me. I knew the pain she inflicted on others was the result of a mental illness that left her feeling empty, neglected, lonely and sad. As hard as I tried to fix it, she was the only one who could truly fix herself.

It’s been nine months since mom left us suddenly. Thankfully I was still able to say goodbye, to find closure, to hug and kiss her, to tell her how much I loved her. I understand and fully realize that Borderline Personality Disorder had my outgoing, full of life mom trapped in a mind and body she had no control over. I mourn the good years with my mom and feel an immense amount of guilt for the years I had to push her away to save myself and, eventually, my kids.

Today, my siblings and I continue to clean up the debris left behind by BPD’s destruction. I find that I still continue to struggle with anger toward her for the emotional mess she left us with despite a full understanding that she had a mental illness. My brain knows she could not help it. I just wish it would communicate that to my heart so it could heal.

Mom, I am sorry for hurting you, for pulling away these last years. I did what I had to do to survive emotionally and to salvage our relationship. As I write this, I want you to know that when I find myself in deep thought about you and how much I miss you, BPD never crosses my mind. I remember ever so fondly, JoAnne, the mom who loved cooking Christmas dinner.
The mom who traveled around the world on church mission trips.
The mom that took care of me when I was sick.
The mom who got more excited about a chance of snow than us kids.
The mom who once got pulled for speeding leaving Disney World (and somehow got out of the ticket).
The mom who, without question, opened the car door for my invisible friend, Jimmy.
The mom who unapologetically screamed at her grandsons' games.
The mom with a contagious smile and spirit.
The mom who loved her family with her entire being.

That is the mom I look forward to greeting me at heaven's gate.

I love and miss you so very much.
***Borderline Personality Disorder: A serious mental illness that causes unstable moods, behavior, and relationships. It usually begins during adolescence or early childhood. Most people with BPD suffer from problems regulated their emotions and thoughts, impulsive and sometimes reckless behavior, and unstable relationships. They typically display 5 or more symptoms below:
  • Fear of abandonment
  • Unstable relationships
  • Unstable self image; struggles with identity or sense of self
  • Impulsive or self-damaging behaviors
  • Suicidal behaviors or self-injury
  • Varied or random mood swings
  • Constant feelings of worthlessness or sadness
  • Problems with anger; including loss of temper or physical fights
  • Stress related paranoia or loss of contact with reality

Research has shown the outcomes can be quite good for people with BPD, particularly if they are engaged in treatment. With specialized therapy, most people with BPD find their symptoms are reduced and their lives are improved.


Do you have a loved one with Borderline Personality Disorder? I highly recommend the books:
“Stop Walking on Eggshells”  
“I Hate You. Don’t Leave Me”
“Understanding a Borderline Mother”

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Sports Mom: It's an Acquired Taste.

Being a sports mom, I find myself sitting in the most extreme of conditions in situations that tear my nerves apart, almost nightly. It is not for the faint of heart. I work all day and rush home to a game that will, inevitably, send me nearly into heart failure. Why would I encourage this chaos in a life with four boys? I know it may come as a shock, but it’s by choice! They love this life. And I happen to love watching them do what they love to do. But, I tell them often, if/when the time comes they stop loving it, it’s time to make a change. For now, this is this mom’s Sunday through Saturday and I’m okay with that.

Currently I am gearing up for what may be the busiest basketball season yet with all four boys playing.  The 21 year old is playing college basketball. The 18 year old, who recently wrapped up soccer, will now gear up for his last year of high school varsity basketball. The 15 year old is in the playoffs for football and will transition right into varsity basketball with his brother. The 12 year old is getting ready for his first year of middle school basketball. I think it goes without saying; I will live off popcorn and bottle waters, reek of sweaty gymnasiums and suffer from a severe case of bleacher butt from the end of November until February/March. Yep, it’s ridiculous. Go ahead and say it. I understand your concerns, your opinions, and the chatter of overscheduling.

It won’t be unusual for me to be tuned into college basketball on my phone while running between middle and high school games. If I don’t speak to you, don’t take it personally. I may not even know my name that day. If I look frazzled, it’s because I am. Didn’t you hear? Frazzled is the new glam. If my hair is gray, it’s best not to bring it to my attention. More than likely, I haven’t had time to color it, nor the money, because I was too busy robbing my car cup holders for loose change to get into games because I didn’t have time to go by the ATM.  If you see me in the same shirt two games in a row, just roll with it. I can be superstitious, finding the need to wear the green jacket that brought us luck during the game two days prior. If I look tired, I am. Everydamnday.

You read this and judge me in my choices and that’s ok. I will take time off for myself; sanity breaks if you will. The problem is I hate to miss. Witnessing my kids enjoy doing something so much is priceless to me. This is a window of opportunity that I want to experience and enjoy, because soon it will close. This crazy time, this crazy life of mine is not forever. One by one, the sports seasons will end. One day I will look back with a fondness and miss the chaos. As difficult as it may be for me to see that now when things are at their craziest, I know for certain, I am going to miss these days. So for now, I savor them. I will revel in my frazzled forgetfulness all the while suffering from near heart failure. I will yell and cheer with the intention of supporting my kids, enjoying the double bonus of embarrassing them. I will be okay in my mom sportswear and not dressed to the nines. Do you know how hard it is to climb bleachers in heels? I will spread myself as thin as I possibly can, because that’s what I choose to do. So yeah, it’s a life of sports chaos and I’m living it to the fullest right now.

I type this just one day after watching my 18 year old’s high school soccer team lose in their state semifinals. As the time began to close in on them and defeat was on the horizon, I watched him collapse into a sitting position on the field once 0:00 lit the board. A knot developed in my stomach for him and his teammates who were visibly devastated over the tough loss. I thought to myself, “If my kid is crying, I’m going to cry with him!” But something happened that surprised me. He sat there silent for a minute watching as the other team celebrated on the field beside him. He then stood up and walked over to his teammates who were in tears. He patted them on the back, he hugged them, he shook their hands. Even after the game, he took his role as a captain to heart and offered encouragement and support when it certainly would have been okay for him to be upset alongside them. In that moment, I could not have been more proud of him. Minutes after the game ended, as he approached me waiting by the fence, he greeted me with a hug and a smile. Sure a win would’ve been great, but this was greater.

And, THAT, my friends, makes it all worth it.


The Sports Mom

Friday, October 9, 2015

Be THAT Person

As I was exiting the interstate on my lunch hour the other day, there was a gentleman standing on the side of the road holding a cardboard sign. The sign stated he was homeless and in search of food. More times than not, I am the person that gets in the other lane to avoid him walking past my window. I am the person who doesn't make eye contact. I am the person who pretends to be on the phone. This particular day, I saw him from a distance and purposely switched to his lane. As I approached him, the stoplight turned red. I opened my window and called him over and handed him 4 dollars. It's all I had in my wallet. I looked him in the eyes as I handed him the dollar bills and he smiled graciously. During the time that it took for him to walk to my car, the light turned green and there was a row of cars behind me. On this particular day, I was THAT person. I was the person who held you up an extra 12 seconds. I was the person who made you angry. I was the person who made you lay on your horn.

But maybe, just maybe I was also the person who planted a small seed, so that next time you find yourself stopped at that intersection (or another one), you reach out and give someone in need a hand full of change or a couple dollars for a smile in return. We could question whether he is really homeless. I guess I'll never know, nor do I care. He was geniunely gracious. Isn't that all that matters anyway?

I am grateful that, at some point (as irritated as I probably was at the time), someone planted the seed for me to be THAT person.

Now I challenge you! Go be THAT person.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The House with the Red Door

Mothers Day 2010
Today I sit at my desk waiting with baited breath over some news; hoping, praying for a chapter in this book of grief to close. After months of trials and tribulations to sell my moms house, it closes today.

"Praise the Lord!" and "Oh My lord!" all at once.

My 15 year old and I went by the house last week to drop off the keys. The house still smells like her. He asked if we could walk around one last time and so we did. I made my way to back to her bathroom, he stood in the bedroom, our eyes met, both full of tears, still in disbelief that she is gone. Her birthday approaches and she isn't here. Then Thanksgiving. She's gone. And then Christmas. No Nana. I feel like the air has been deflated from my lungs. I find that the roller coaster of emotions makes me motion sick - sadness, anger, disbelief, immense grief, more anger. I don't know which way is up. The natural cycle of grief controls my emotions of the day and, while I can push much of it away, it has it's way of creeping back and punching me right in the gut when I least expect it. My head and heart are in constant battle as my head says "it's just a building with walls and a roof". My heart says "It was her home".

Mothers Day 2015
Today, I will rejoice when I hear the words that the closing is complete. And then I will sob; happy that we can close a very stressful chapter, devastated that the chapter even exists.
But that's life.

Until we meet again, Mom.


Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Attention Parents of Teens: DECOY APPS, Ever Heard of 'Em? Step 1: Educate.

Ok parents, it's that time again! Two years ago, I wrote Wake Up and Smell the Sexting about Apps for parents to keep their eyes out for. Two years later, these companies have gotten more clever now suddenly coming up with ways to hide the intent of certain apps. Unfortunately, many of our teens have caught on to this as well! Trying to stay one step ahead of them is tough, so I hope this tidbit of information is useful. Our parental technology nemesis goes by the name of DECOY APPS! Google them! And, guess what?

They're free!

These apps look harmless enough. Some have cutesy little icons, some are boring ole calculators, some are flowers, rainbows, and cool designs. The problem? Mom and Dad see them on their kids iPods or iPhones and think nothing of them. In our defense, it isn't like the icon screams "I'm hiding innappropriate photos from you, woman!!!" Who would think a cute little umbrella could be so deceiving?

Enter decoy apps. 

Decoy: "to lure or entice a person away from the intended course"

Keep an eye out for these icons on your kids Smartphones and iPods.

Private Photo Vault: “The Best and Most Private Photo and Video App for iPhone/iPad/iPod touch. Over 3,000,000 people trust Private Photo Vault to keep information hidden”. Is your kid one of them? Rated #1 in Decoy Feature

Private Pics FREE: “The perfect app to keep people from accidentally seeing their private pictures."

Don’t Touch My Pics FREE: “Keep your private and incriminating photos away from prying eyes.”

Unless your Calculator App icon looks like this:

It’s a decoy app!!! Even if you open the app, it looks and works just like a calculator but a code will activate the app to take you to another screen revealing hidden pics and videos that are not shown in the regular iPhone album!

Steer clear of these:

Hi Calculator: Private Album.

Private Calculator: File Hider and Secret Photo/Video vault.

Secret Photo & Video Calculator:  Private storage for videos and pics.

Private Photo: “App is private photos and videos hidden behind a calculator”

And those are just a FEW of the calculator decoy apps!

Continued decoy app icons:

Dot Lock My Data Lite: “Security Protection suite for secret photos, videos, notes, and folders”

Private Photo: “The perfect application for anyone who wants to keep people from accidentally seeing their private photos and videos.”

HiFolder: “Hidden Private Photo Albums and Secrets”

HiDisk: “If you have a chance to possess a cool app that can secure your privacy, save time, and enrich your life, will you allow yourself to miss it?” –Photo and video vault

Your secret folder:  “You can create, organize, and protect private folders, albums, photos, and videos. Bonus: Discreet icon!”

Lock Photo and Video Vault: “Great app to hide pics and videos from unwanted guests. Rated #1 in hiding pics!

Best Secret Folder: “Best place to hide passwords and dirty pics”

And notice "Hottest in iTunes Sync Right Now"! And, again, it's FREE.

Do with the info what you may. Maybe you're the parent who wants to give them their privacy and feels this is too "stalkerish". Maybe you're the parent who opted not to let your teen have a iPod or SmartPhone (I applaud you!). 

I happen to be the parent somewhere in between. I let my kids have these devices with stipulations, that, if not met, the phone is mine.

Our kids may resent our rules for now, but remember we aren't here to be #friends #instacool #fun

We are #family. 

A few years down the road, they'll understand that hashtag is the one that's always mattered most and they will appreciate the boundaries and rules given to help them get through their technologically-way-too-advanced-teen years.

In the meantime, it is definitely going to take a village.....

A great source of information on Apps:

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Volunteer Schmolunteer

There it was, the email asking for parent volunteers. Guilt ensued. My kid is a senior and the least I could do is sign myself up for something to help out his soccer team. So I did it. I bit the bullet. I was now deemed the writer for our local small town newspaper for articles on our games. I figured I love to write and I will be at the games anyway, so why not. It seemed like the perfect fit until I attended the first game.

I don’t think I realized how much I don’t pay attention to the details of the game, until it was my parental/team volunteer duty to do so. Instead of jotting down notes of who scored left footed with perfect placement in the corner of the goal assisted by John Doe who passed it from the 18 avoiding the slide tackle from the defender, I was thinking about laundry. And 10 million other things. Had I written the article from the thoughts in my mom brain infested by attention deficit disorder it would’ve gone something like this:

Eight and half minutes into the game, I regretted my decision to wear long sleeves in 85 degree heat. Sure, it was my awesome new shirt supporting our team, but it would’ve been more appropriate for cooler weather. YES, we scored! Who passed that? Thirteen minutes into the first half I realized that I desperately need a printed roster of our team. Who are these new kids? I’m going to need a cheat sheet. Maybe I can print one tomorrow. I wonder if the coach has loaded it on That #14 is fast. Sweet, another goal! Nineteen minutes in, it hit me that I forgot to start the dryer. Will those clothes be musty by the time I get home? I’m going to be up half the night doing laundry now. Just great. Twenty eight minutes in, my exhausted brain zoned out as we scored another goal. Not a clue who it was or who passed it, but those hot dogs sure do smell yummy. I miss hot dogs. Damn diet has me craving random bits and pieces of animal crushed into a weiner. Nevermind, I don’ t miss hot dogs. The other team is going crazy. They scored. I better write that down. Sometime later in the first half after planning out my work week, writing a list of school supplies to be purchased, and sweating profusely because of this gosh darn long sleeve shirt, the game stopped. Man down. It appeared one of the kids from the other team got smashed in the nose. Do I add that to the article? Probably not a good idea. But there is so much blood! It kind of brings an excitement level to it, don’t you think? However, I feel for the parents. I am going to be pissed if my kid gets hurt and I have to spend six hours in the ER tonight. I don’t have time for that AND I have this article to write. And laundry to do. And school supplies to buy. Halftime. Whew. I am exhausted. This paying attention thing is hard.

The moral of this story is don’t volunteer. It’s too much pressure. I am certain to spell someone’s name wrong, give the wrong stat or, commit the worst high school sports article faux pas ever, call them a Freshman when they’re really a Sophomore.

So I apologize in advance Mebane Enterprise readers for my super vague articles that are really just a list of stats from the games. You get what you pay for! AND be thankful I didn't sign up to announce the games. Crisis averted for all. Now I’m off to wash a uniform that smells like my kid murdered a family of skunks. I miss hot dogs.

Over and out……..