The Suicide Moms: Not Your Average Heros

Photo Credit: Sarah Jones
In order from left to right: Peggy, Becky, Karen, Mara, Barbara

My mother-in-law is amazing in many ways. She is intelligent, compassionate, driven, and always tries to understand where someone is coming from; even if that someone is different from her. I admire all of these things about her.

I can now add four more people to the list of women I find truly inspirational and admirable, “The Suicide Moms”.

The Suicide Moms consist of a brave group of women who are all survivors of suicide, meaning they each lost a loved one to suicide. However, these incredible women didn’t just lose any loved one, they each lost their child.

It’s unnatural to bury your child, it’s not the way the universe is supposed to work. Our children are supposed to bury us; add suicide to the equation, and the pain these women must feel is completely unimaginable.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019, marked two years since one of The Suicide Moms’ son, Caleb 18, died by suicide. I went to brunch with The Moms to support Karen, (Caleb’s Mom) and to meet the rest of the group.

They are Karen, Barbara, lost her son Keith 36, Mara, lost her daughter Kara 35, Becky lost her son Adam 22, and Peggy who lost her son E.C. 31.

There were a few tears shed, but they didn’t last long due to the support and love these women doled out for each other, no doubt finding strength in each other’s words and simple presence.

Karen’s son Caleb had made oragami figures and passed them out to his friends on a regular basis. Karen brought adorable oragami birds and passed them out to each of us, as well as dragonfly ornaments that hold significance for her. I was very touched by the parallel gifting between mother and son.

After some catching up, the group discussed their advocacy goals. They are advocating for it to be mandatory in the state of Oklahoma for there to be professional mental health staff on-site in our schools.

There are a few mental health related mandates we could be voting on next fall in our state. The Moms consider any progression toward their ultimate goal as a step in the right direction, but they are pushing for action to be taken immediately so tragedies like theirs happen less often.

Barbara wrote a Dr. Suess-like poem about their advocacy and the pressing need our kids have for mental health care in schools. It was amazing. Before the brunch was over the Moms had made plans to recite the poem together and send it to everyone. I offered to be the videographer. I have to get in on the amazing plight these women are undertaking. Their courage and tenacity is contagious.

I feel so privileged to have met all of The Moms, and I’m particularly proud of one. Barbara amazes me all the time, but I went away today super proud to be her daughter-in-law and so grateful to her son, my late husband, for bringing her into my life.

Although the situations in which I came to meet The Suicide Moms is incredibly tragic, I am grateful to have met them. I feel my own children might be safer knowing The Moms are looking out for them and all of our children who are still here, and giving a voice to those whose memories live on in these beautiful, vivacious women… The Suicide Moms.

My mother-in-law Barbara speaking at the Tulsa City Council Meeting advocating for mental health


Love In A Time Of Pure Craziness

There is a lot I can’t say on this platform for various reasons. The most important reason is that my children have access to my blog and I want their innocence to remain intact as long as possible.

I can say though, that I have had a very full and interesting life with so many stages, twists, turns, heartbreak and a lot of love thrown in the mix.

Everyone has been asked at one time or another, if they could live their life over again if they would change anything. I have heard about fifty percent say yes and fifty percent say no.

I am on the fence about that particular question and have gone back and forth on my opinion of it many times over the years.

I have had the same generic answer everyone usually gives when referring to a life of no regrets. It usually goes something like this… “I have no regrets because my mistakes have helped mold me into the person I am today.”

I’m calling bullshit on that whole thing. Okay, it’s not complete bullshit, but come on. Of course we have regret. Of course we wish our lives had been a little easier or we had taken that vacation last summer. Everyone has regret.

Before you argue or dismiss what I’m saying, think about the last time you said, “I wish I had (fill in blank).” Five minutes after I began writing this piece I said, “Man, I wish I had made coffee before I started this.” Regret.

We all regret something, and if we can regret something as small as the route we took to the mall, it’s safe to say we regret some of our past mistakes.

Where I think the “no regrets” speech sort of applies, is within the lessons we learn. I believe we can regret our choices or how some things have played out while still appreciating what we took away from the experience.

I’ve talked about learning and the evolution of the soul in past posts and this regret thing applies. Why can’t we be all of it? Regretful, yet grateful? It’s ok to have regret. It doesn’t make you a bad person or a weak person. What makes you strong is the presence of gratitude.

You might want to smack the hell out of me right now. I get it. However, in times when we reflect on our lives and feel regret, it’s so important to look at where the choices led you and be grateful you made it through without killing everyone.

It’s ok to regret and wish things had gone differently, just don’t beat yourself up about it. Forgive yourself or others involved, be grateful for what you took away from the experience and move forward. Hopefully not making the same mistake multiple times. Even if you do make the same mistakes again, just know you simply haven’t learned what you’re supposed to yet, so look closer at it. Try something different because the old way doesn’t work, you already know that because of regret.

I choose to be grateful for regret. It reminds me that I’m human and imperfect. It also reminds me that I have a conscience telling me, “Girl, that shit ain’t right.” Embrace your regret and then bury it in the backyard next to your ex-husband. (Just kidding).

I’m going to share my favorite quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson I believe fits well here.

Write it on your heart
that every day is the best day in the year.
He or she is rich who owns the day, and no one owns the day
who allows it to be invaded with fret and anxiety.

Finish each day and be done with it.
You have done what you could.
Some blunders and absurdities, no doubt crept in.
Forget them as soon as you can, tomorrow is a new day;
begin it well and serenely, with too high a spirit
to be encumbered with your old nonsense.

This new day is too dear,
with its hopes and invitations,
to waste a moment on the yesterdays.

Intimate Partner Violence & Mental Health

Photo credit: Adobe Spark Post

Statistics and some paragraphs including relevant information from the American Journal Of Preventative Medicine

I began searching the topic of Intimate Partner Violence or IPV, and was surprised to find very few studies of the effects on a person’s mental health.

I figured this was a no brainer. Of course violence inflicted by a partner is incredibly damaging. Your partner should be your safe zone. Trust and respect should reign over control and abuse. Always.

This subject is close to my heart because I have been abused in the past.

I never thought I would be one of those women. Yet there I was. It’s insane how love and fear can keep a woman holding on.

I read an article in the American Journal Of Preventative Medicine, about a study proclaiming that A total of 28.9% of 6790 women and 22.9% of 7122 men had experienced physical, sexual, or psychological IPV during their lifetime.

The article went on to say that for both men and women, physical IPV victimization was associated with increased risk of current poor health; depressive symptoms; substance use; and developing a chronic disease, chronic mental illness, and injury. In general, abuse of power and control was more strongly associated with these health outcomes than was verbal abuse. When physical and psychological IPV scores were both included in logistic regression models, higher psychological IPV scores were more strongly associated with these health outcomes than were physical IPV scores.

The study concluded that both physical and psychological IPV are associated with significant physical and mental health consequences for both male and female victims.

Luckily there are social service programs that help victims, not only with relocating them to safety, but also with therapy and social groups. Another study I read about in the Journal Of Women’s Health and Gender Based Medicine, addresses the positive effects of social service for abused women.

In Tulsa we have Domestic Violence Intervention Services referred to as DVIS. They provide an amazing service and have an empathetic staff whom many have lived through abuse themselves.

There is help out there if you need it. It’s the hardest part for sure and extremely scary. However, it’s empowering to take control back over your life and make good decisions for yourself. I’m including some links of national resources below. If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse, pass these links on. Be safe ladies, you deserve happiness.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline Big plus, they have an option that helps you hide that you visited their website in case your web activity is being monitored.

U.S. Department of Human Services: Office On Women’s Health they are an amazing resource for finding assistance in your state.

Family and Youth Services Bureau this website helps you browse for help safely. The option is at the top of the page.

HUD Exchange

My Momma, The Fighter

I haven’t written anything recently because my momma got sick. I mean, really sick.

We have known she has COPD from years of smoking cigarettes. She was smoking two packs a day since she was fourteen, with a couple of breaks thrown in there.

One such break lasted six years. She quit when pregnant with Little Sister, and then five years after having her, she was also smoke-free. She was addicted to nicotine gum, however.

It has become increasingly difficult for her to breathe and lately she has been very lethargic and winded more than usual.

My sister took Momma to an urgent care center where she was diagnosed as having stage four COPD. Her oxygen level was low but they were able to get it up to eighty. It’s supposed to be at one hundred, or at least close to it.

The doctor reluctantly allowed Momma to go home. After being home a short while she was beginning to not make sense when speaking and feeling extremely sleepy.

Little Sister checked her oxygen level and she was at a thirty-five. Momma said she only wanted to sleep but Little Sister said, “No, we are going to the hospital, deal with it.”

Poor Little Sister watched as nurses and technicians scurried around Momma, starting I.V.’s and oxygen. ” You saved her life, ” one nurse had said.

The hospital ran test after test and when the doctor entered Momma’s room in the E.R., he gravely told Little Sister that Momma probably wouldn’t make it past a week, she was dying.

She called me hysterical and as luck would have it, my car was broke down, still is. I got to the hospital the following day and my momma was incomprehensible. She made zero sense. She also thought it was nineteen-ninety-one. I wish.

It was scary and I was very upset. Little Sister left and I stayed with Momma. I went home late that night and broke down. I was devastated.

The following day, I returned to stay with Momma all night. The previous day, I had left a sickly, frail-looking, dying woman. The feisty woman sitting up and griping about nurses was way more recognizable.

I was relieved until I found out there was very little improvement. She was simply making more sense due to her body receiving the oxygen it so badly needed.

I’m going to back up a little and tell you something about Momma.

Momma is somewhat of a drama queen. She is also an attention seeker and prefers the spotlight. She is “on stage” most of the time. Take those attributes and combine them with a little hypochondria, and you have my momma. Except this was real.

A day and a half later I arrived to Momma’s room and found her as I did before, sitting up in bed and griping about nurses. They didn’t hop around her and worship her properly, you see. So I thought I had better do it, and fast, or there was no hope for humanity. The world would surely suffer, but I digress. (I’m not a drama queen at all you know)

I was then informed she had improved. They no longer felt she was dying, at least not within a week as originally thought.

I told her, “You know, the mean one’s live forever.” She didn’t laugh. I thought it was quite funny. Sometimes I think I am the only one finding me funny. Oh well.

My aunt came up from Florida to see Momma because she was dying. With her no longer dying, (well at least not dying as soon) my aunt feels she has wasted a trip. She’s the aunt who only comes to Oklahoma when someone dies. She’s hysterical. I spent some time with her today and we have a lot in common it turns out. She may be more of a bitch though. I have much to learn.

So, there you have it. I am stressed, tired, and now dealing with an incredibly difficult patient. If Momma had her way she would fire all of the nurses and only have me and Little Sister nurse her.

I don’t mind helping or taking care of her. She is just a horrible patient. At three in the morning, right as I am drifting off to sleep, she begins to poke me. She also demands ice chips, she is allowed a couple of teaspoons a day. She is very thirsty and I understand that. She can’t have anything by mouth because she is aspirating everything she ingests. So no, Momma, I’m not going to be responsible for killing you, at least not today.

In all seriousness, although she drives me insane, I love her so hard and we are very close. I know someday I will have to live without her, but I’m not ready. I still need her. I suppose I will always feel that way.

We are always our mother’s babies, and they are always our mommies no matter how old we are. I am thirty-seven and when I’m sick I would give anything to feel my mamas cool hand checking my forehead for a temperature, or have the best potato soup ever that she always spent hours making for me when I had strep throat. It would be hard to pick a favorite memory, there are many.

Now I’m going to go fluff her pillows for the millionth time, figure out how to put subtitles on the blaring television, and empty her urine bucket because according to her, that work is too gross for the nurses. I will do all of this with a big smile on my face because one day I will wish she were here to cause me all of this stress. Oh ya, also because I freaking love her so much. She’s nuts, but she’s mine.

Is It OK To Be Friends With My Partners Ex?

Is it OK to be friends with your partner’s ex?

This is definitely a classic conundrum in the dating and relationship world.

I say, sure! Especially if there are any children involved. I believe being friends with the ex for both you and your partner, creates a more harmonious environment for everyone.

Children, of course, benefit the most from the friendship(s). I can tell you from experience that it made all the difference my parents being not only friends; but best friends.

You can imagine my surprise when my boyfriend expressed strong feelings about me not being friends with his ex. To me, it’s normal to do that and is encouraged in my family.

I get along great with his ex. I really like her. In fact, I love her. She’s a lot like my boyfriend but in female form, so it’s not a far stretch to see why I would love her.

I fully support a friendship between my boyfriend and his ex as well. Many psychologists say that although you may fall out of love with someone, you can’t love someone day in and day out, and the love just die. It’s not possible.

Even if it’s a minuscule part of you, love is still there. Sometimes when love is repressed, those feelings manifest themselves as anger or other strong emotions. Underneath the exterior however, love is still there.

Those words may upset some people when they think about it, but they give me hope. Undying love makes me feel as if something makes sense in this crazy hate-motivated world.

If you’re having issues with your partner and their relationship with their ex, give yourself a break. It’s normal to have insecure feelings or to be jealous sometimes. Reign in those emotions and look at the bigger picture.

Your partner is with you. Although this is true, they are still going to love their ex to some extent. I don’t mean for anyone to force their partner to see love when they don’t. If your partner does have a good relationship with their ex, try your best to support it.

Get to know the ex. You never know, he/she might be pretty cool. If the opportunity arises for friendship, I say jump on that.

The world could use more love. Spread love around. Love has the ability to change and heal.

Always remember, love will always trump hate.

Maya Angelou Quote

Bob Marley quote about love over hate

Oh, An Epiphany

The thing about epiphanies, is they happen to you when you least expect it. In a matter of moments, you gain clarity and think, “Wow, so I’m an even bigger idiot than I thought!”. Well, that’s usually how mine go.

I would go as far to say that 80% of my epiphanies are actually very geeky moments for me. I’m knocked back by the truth.

First, I lose the ability to speak.

Secondly, all brain function goes into hyper-drive. I’m shocked over the revelation, I’m freaked the fuck out over the revelation, and then the rest is just me being in awe of myself that I didn’t really know this all along. Usually calling myself an idiot over and over. I know it’s not nice to say that to myself, but come on.

Most of the time, these smacks by the universe are crazy. Well, they are only crazy by the way they hurt. Like a bitch. I mean, bad.

We all like to believe we are right. Some of us know for certain we are right all of the time. Upon realizing I am so wrong, this is when mother earth begins the bitch-slapping.

I am referring to the universes special people. The only thing about them is that when they see their error, they feel really fucking stupid. We don’t like feeling stupid. Plus I hear it ages you. We can’t be having that.

I know I’m going to be okay. I know you are going to be ok. How do I know? You are reading this right now and I’m telling you, it’s going to be okay.

Life is so messy and strange. Sometimes I just sit back and think, “holy shit, one thing… just one thing can change it all.”

What if…

Without you

By Sarah Jones

Dedicated to Keith Jones

I thank God

That these tears will fall

All I see

Is that without you, I’m weak

I should have stopped you

I didn’t know, I didn’t know. 

All I see is that without you, I’m lost 

All I know, is that without you, I bleed

I should have known 

The pain you felt

I felt you every second, every minute

How could I not, how could I not know

That day is imprinted inside me 

All I see is that without you, I sing

All I know,  is that these tears will fall 

But I didn’t know, I didn’t know

That you were in pain

All I need is to dream

Then all I see is you

All I know is that these tears will fall 

Until we meet again 

It’s only me…

This song came to me yesterday after a visit from my late husband in a dream. He died by suicide, and this song is about and dedicated to his beautiful memory. I will love him and miss him every day of my life.

Also, a little inside joke for you. The last line , “it’s only me”, was something he always said when I complimented him.