Aug 252014
 

At a recent speaking event, a brave woman stood up and said to me, “G, can you tell us about your worst mom moment?”

“Shoot. No.” I said. “I can’t. I’d like to, but I really can’t here. I’ll get us in trouble.”

But I can tell you here. I probably shouldn’t- but this story is begging me to tell it so here we are. The stories are the bosses of me.

ONLY READ THIS ESSAY IF:

  1. You do not get upset about accidental swearing at children.
  2. You enjoy essays with absolutely no take away. No lesson, no tips, nothing.
  3. You watched Breaking Bad and maybe had a teeny weeny itty bitty bad boy crush on Jesse – like perhaps you found yourself deciding that meth dealing and repeated murder aren’t TOTAL deal breakers at all, really. Nobody’s perfect, after all.

All right- if you’re still here –  let’s do this.

A few months ago Craig and I started watching Breaking Bad every night. We loved Breaking Bad- even though Craig would often reach over and manually close my mouth which hung wide open in utter shock during all the hours of that series. I found the show to be quite upsetting in all the best ways. So every night we got the kids to bed as quickly as possible and burrowed into our little slice of heaven which is our snuggly green couch and BAM – all the drama would unfold in front of our tired eyes.

One afternoon during that time – I found myself in the family room playing Uno with my daughters. I was there with the girls- but not really there with them- if you know what I mean. Because I was playing Uno. With a kindergartener and a second grader who mostly hate each other because they have not yet discovered that their angsty, conflicted, passionate feelings regarding each other are really love. So they fight and they fight and then when they are done fighting they plan their next fight. I know that there are spiritual people who insist that staying in the moment is heaven but those people have never played Uno with my daughters. Playing Uno with my daughters could certainly be compared to an afterworld, but I might point you towards the other one. The one with the fire and torture and wailing and gnashing of teeth and ruing the day you were born. And so my body was there playing cards but my mind was thinking about Jesse and how on earth this sweet boy was going to get out of these unfortunate meth/murder situations he kept finding himself in due to no fault of his precious own.

All of a sudden, I was snapped out of my daydream and back to my senses by someone tapping me on the leg and saying: “your turn.” Since most of the time I live in my head – this moment is the story of my life. This moment when I’m happily lost inside my mind world and someone in my physical world tries to bring me back to the present – so I have to quickly figure out who I’m with, where I am, and what’s going on. This is why we daydreaming introverts seem constantly dazed and confused. We are like scuba divers who are down in the deep on a quiet treasure hunt but are constantly being yanked back up above water. It takes us some time to surface and reorient.

Searching for a clue- I looked down at my hand and saw one Uno card sitting in my palm. This was a GREAT clue! I was playing Uno, apparently! And Look! I only had one card left! Which meant I was WINNING! Ba-Bam! And before I had any clue what I was doing – I held my card in the air and yelled:

“UNO, BITCHES!”

I yelled Uno, bitches, at my five year old and seven year old daughters. I called my daughters bitches. With great glee and gusto. In the middle of a family card game.

Somehow- I had subconsciously channeled Jesse. Jesse says that, not me. I don’t call people bitches. I do curse, actually. But more like a sailor and less like Paris Hilton. And normally not at my very small, precious, pigtailed children. Maybe AROUND them accidentally- like when I can’t get the front door open or drop something on my toe – but not AT them. Unless they secretly eat my ice cream, of course. But what I’m saying is – barely ever.

You guys. The “UNO BITCHES!” hung in the air like one of those word clouds. It just SAT THERE while we all stared at it silently.

I looked up and Craig was standing in the door jam. This was his face, which I asked him to re-enact for this retelling.

Craig

I stared back at him like this.

Me

And then I forced myself to look at my girls- who were watching me exactly how I watch Breaking Bad- mouths hung open, eyes wide, frozen stiff.

Girls

Sorry, I said.

So sorry.

Sorry about all that.

And that was all. Because I really couldn’t explain Breaking Bad Scuba Diving to them. Couldn’t.

I won Uno.

And we went about our business.

That’s it. I will not be wrapping this story up with a bow and a nice lesson and a take-away. I got nothing for you.

I called my sweet girls bitches. And even so, I’ll have you know that Amazon calls me an official parenting expert. And so here’s the thing: if you do not call your children bitches- I imagine that you must be some sort of parenting GURU. Good for YOU. Really. Well done.

There you go- there’s your take away. You are an AMAZING parent. Go forth today with great parental confidence and dignity, bitches.

Love,
G (Parenting expert)



Carry On, Warrior
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
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Aug 212014
 

Brave is a DecisionOriginally published August 28, 2011

Hey Baby.

Tomorrow is a big day. Third Grade – wow.

Chase – When I was in third grade, there was a little boy in my class named Adam.

Adam looked a little different and he wore funny clothes and sometimes he even smelled a little bit. Adam didn’t smile. He hung his head low and he never looked at anyone at all. Adam never did his homework. I don’t think his parents reminded him like yours do. The other kids teased Adam a lot. Whenever they did, his head hung lower and lower and lower. I never teased him, but I never told the other kids to stop, either.

And I never talked to Adam, not once. I never invited him to sit next to me at lunch, or to play with me at recess. Instead, he sat and played by himself. He must have been very lonely.

I still think about Adam every day. I wonder if Adam remembers me? Probably not. I bet if I’d asked him to play, just once, he’d still remember me.

I think that God puts people in our lives as gifts to us. The children in your class this year, they are some of God’s gifts to you.

So please treat each one like a gift from God. Every single one.

Baby, if you see a child being left out, or hurt, or teased, a little part of your heart will hurt a little. Your daddy and I want you to trust that heart- ache. Your whole life, we want you to notice and trust your heart-ache. That heart ache is called compassion, and it is God’s signal to you to do something. It is God saying, Chase! Wake up! One of my babies is hurting! Do something to help! Whenever you feel compassion – be thrilled! It means God is speaking to you, and that is magic. It means He trusts you and needs you.

Sometimes the magic of compassion will make you step into the middle of a bad situation right away.

Compassion might lead you to tell a teaser to stop it and then ask the teased kid to play. You might invite a left-out kid to sit next to you at lunch. You might choose a kid for your team first who usually gets chosen last. These things will be hard to do, but you can do hard things.

Sometimes you will feel compassion but you won’t step in right away. That’s okay, too. You might choose instead to tell your teacher and then tell us. We are on your team – we are on your whole class’ team. Asking for help for someone who is hurting is not tattling, it is doing the right thing. If someone in your class needs help, please tell me, baby. We will make a plan to help together.

When God speaks to you by making your heart hurt for another, by giving you compassion, just do something. Please do not ignore God whispering to you. I so wish I had not ignored God when He spoke to me about Adam. I remember Him trying, I remember feeling compassion, but I chose fear over compassion. I wish I hadn’t. Adam could have used a friend and I could have, too.

Chase – We do not care if you are the smartest or fastest or coolest or funniest. There will be lots of contests at school, and we don’t care if you win a single one of them. We don’t care if you get straight As. We don’t care if the girls think you’re cute or whether you’re picked first or last for kickball at recess. We don’t care if you are your teacher’s favorite or not. We don’t care if you have the best clothes or most Pokemon cards or coolest gadgets. We just don’t care.

We don’t send you to school to become the best at anything at all. We already love you as much as we possibly could. You do not have to earn our love or pride and you can’t lose it. That’s done.

We send you to school to practice being brave and kind.

Kind people are brave people. Because brave is not a feeling that you should wait for. It is a decision. It is a decision that compassion is more important than fear, than fitting in, than following the crowd.

Trust me, baby, it is. It is more important.

Don’t try to be the best this year, honey.

Just be grateful and kind and brave. That’s all you ever need to be.

Take care of those classmates of yours, and your teacher, too. You Belong to Each Other. You are one lucky boy . . . with all of these new gifts to unwrap this year.

I love you so much that my heart might explode.

Enjoy and cherish your gifts.

And thank you for being my favorite gift of all time.

Love,
Mama

 ***Each year people ask my permission to substitute their child’s name for Chase’s and read this letter together the night before school begins. YES. Others ask if they might change the word God to their family’s name for love and read it that way. OF COURSE. This letter belongs to all of us. I’d be honored if you took it and made it work for your family. Heck, tell ‘em you wrote it. I’m always picking up pre-made grocery buffet food, throwing it into a casserole dish, placing it triumphantly on the table and then stepping back and smiling as humbly as possible in the wake of such triumph. Same/Same. Love, G



Carry On, Warrior
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
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Aug 132014
 

#thisistheface

[CONTENT WARNING: Contains discussion about suicide, mental illness and addiction that may be triggering to survivors. (Also profanity.)]

It’s embarrassing to write honestly about my response to the death of Robin Williams because it was utterly selfish.

When we mentally ill find out that one of us was taken, we feel sad, yes – but mostly we feel afraid. Monday night I was going about my business and all was well-ish and then I read the news and suddenly fell still and silent with fear. I felt shamed- like the universe had caught me red-handed with too much peace in my grubby little hands. Like I was getting too free and healthy and big for my britches and so I needed to be put in my place.

Dear Glennon- Look what happened tonight. That’s right. Don’t you go getting too comfortable there, sweetheart. Love, Your Asshole Brain.

I felt like I needed to slink, cower, tiptoe around my home because the monster was still out there – prowling, picking us off, one by one. And so I needed, really, just to be as tiny as possible and not draw any attention to myself. And so that’s what I did until that awful remembering set in like a slinky, foggy cartoon ghost. It tapped me on the inside and said- but the monster’s not out there, honey – it’s in here. It’s in here with you. It IS you.” Where do you hide when the deadly monster is inside of you?

There is nowhere to hide from yourself. Except, of course, inside of death. People who get that – GET THAT and so that is why you’ll never hear a fellow addict saying wide-eyed: “how could he do that?” And why you only hear non-addicts saying:” My God, I can’t even IMAGINE.” Because addicts can. We can imagine.

Well, yes- I guess a person without a monster living inside of them would not be able to imagine the need to hide from one. But we do. And so we’d never suggest that an addict died of a lack of courage or love any faster than we’d suggest a diabetic died of a lack of courage or love. We don’t say much at all in the wake of it all- we’re just quiet and we hang our head in reverence for our brother or sister’s suffering and we hold our hat in our hand and clench our fists in solidarity and we wonder who’s next.

But of course I said none of this to Craig Monday night. I just stared at a few pictures of Robin Williams thinking: Of course. It’s always the smiling, laughing ones, dancing so hard to convince the world and themselves that all is well. Making it all better with nothing but the sheer force of our wish that it was better. And I just pointed at an article and Craig said, “Oh, SHIT” and then we closed the computer to make dinner for the kids.

And then later, we were on the couch watching all the ridiculous “news” shows that were interviewing every mental health expert on the planet and every human who once caught a glimpse of Robin Williams on a sidewalk, and Craig looked at me sideways and said, “That’s not going to be you, you know.” And I didn’t look at him at all, I just stayed in my roly-poly ball in the corner of our couch and I said, “Oh, I know. I know that.”

Because what else are we going to tell them? The truth? Which is: How the hell can you know that? How do you know that’s not going to be me? How am I going to fare better than Robin Williams did? Because I have so many more resources? Because I’m so much more talented, smart, wise than he??? Because I have access to better information, treatment, drugs? Because there will be more light shined on me? On what is this optimistic prediction based?

We don’t know who lives or dies from this disease. We don’t know. We can’t know. This monster is relentless and arbitrary and ever-present and so even in the best of times, when we’re on top of the world and laughing and dancing and flying – we laugh and sing and dance with the realization that we are doing these things with a ticking time bomb lodged permanently inside of us. Tick, tick, tick.

“That’s not going to be you, honey.” But it already IS me, honey.

To my fellow Bad Ass Survivors: Take your goddamn meds and don’t listen to anybody who tries to shame you out of them. They just don’t know- because they don’t have to know. They are two-legged men calling prostheses a crutch. They will not be there in the dark with you. They won’t. You can choose to ignore their reckless voices now or the monster’s voice later. Bite the freaking bullet and swallow the damn pills. I think of my medicine like I do my faith- if I find out one day that it’s all bullshit- oh, well. It made me happy and helped me love life and my people better.

If you are in the dark right now- if you are in the clutches of the monster today: Call someone for help (1-800-273-TALK (8255)). Tell them the truth. TELL YOURSELF THE TRUTH. This is the lie the monster tells us: THERE IS NO HOPE. IT WILL NEVER GET BETTER. IT IS PITCH BLACK DARK AND IT WILL NEVER BE LIGHT AGAIN.

Here is the truth we yell back at the monster: LIAR!!! THERE IS HOPE. IT WILL GET BETTER. IT IS NOT PITCH BLACK NOW. THERE IS LIGHT AND THAT LIGHT IS THE KNOWLEDGE THAT IF I WAIT WELL, YOU WILL TIRE AND MOVE ON. I CAN WAIT YOU OUT BECAUSE YOU ARE SCARIER BUT I AM STRONGER.

Not dying is sometimes just a matter of waiting the monster out.

We are here. We are still here. #ThisIsTheFace

We’ve gotta stay in the light. The only thing the dark cannot overcome is the freaking light. STAY OUT.

Love.
G



Carry On, Warrior
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
Join the Momastery on-line community on Facebook, Twitter & Pinterest