My Justin: Boy Wonder and Snake Charmer

I have refined the poetry just a bit.

My Justin:  Boy Wonder and Snake Charmer

If you have a child who struggles wtih addiction or mental illness, if you have lost a child to addiction  or mental illness, you will recognize the swirl of love and pain that is introduced through cycles of abuse. I am sharing this for you.  That you will know that all your feelings are normal, that the anger you cannot shed is normal, that you can at once be angry with your child and yet never let go of the love you feel for them.  That you can dislike their behavior and weep bitterly over their decisions.  That is a part of your love for them and your hope for them.   It simply means you are sitting in the pain of their consequences and their decisions, are a betrayal of the hope you hold for them.  Whatever the range of emotions, there is no shame in them.  Love hurts when you have an addicted or mentally ill child.  
I will forever believe my Justin was bi-polar and self medicating, unfortunaltely we were not able to see that in the middle of the storm nor was it as openly addressed as it is now.  Thank God that now many children like my Justin, will be able to receive the care they need.   I am grateful as I watch the narrative of mental illness and addiction change and the stigma and shame beginning to be removed.

I have never shared this because I felt such shame at the depth of diappointment and anger displayed in it.  I felt as though I was betraying his memory in some way or even that it showed too much of my pain.  The thought of sharing it made me feel deeply vulnerable to judgement.  I, like so many of us who have children struggling, was reticent to share my pain out of fear that others would not understand it. That others would offer opinions of what I should have done, could have done, what they would have done, etc.  This side of the story was isolating and shameful.  While my son was alive I had already had someone plant a deep seed of shame in my heart and I had no desire to revisit it.  As a matter of fact I have worked hard to uproot it from my heart.  To rewrite that narrative with the grace it deserves.  Somehow I  wanted to preserve a memory of Justin that portrayed all the good times but the truth is there was a pain that will forever be a part of our story.  That pain does not devalue the love I had for him.

I journaled this a month or so after the death of my son from an accidental overdose.  Please don't allow his death to rob you of hope for your child.  The odds are good for overcoming many addictions especially with all the new treatments available.  Please continue to love big and hold hope in your heart.  Do everything you can each day that is all you can do.  Take care of you, have good boundries but love freely.  Get the help you need to see truth in the situation but never let go of hope.

My hope has always been centered around heaven and I hope you can see that in the midst of this tangled web of emotions.  I hope it honors his goodness and his struggle.  I pray it sheds light on the pain of a mother and her love for her child. I hope somehow it helps someone to let go of shame and step into light.  I pray it brings revelation and a letting go of judgements.

May this bring comfort to your soul and peace in your grief. 

He was a boy wonder and a snake charmer.
He was the first and a superstar.
He was sticky sweet like candy and he was poison.
He was the laughter of thousands and the weeping of a mother.
He was a master magician and a disappearing act.
He was a roller coaster and a sink hole.
He was a lover and a fighter.
He was a little boy and yet a giant.
He was broken and fully functioning.
He was the brightest star and the moonless darkest night.

He was a boy wonder, a manchild and the hope of a mother,
He was the joy of a father, a brother, a grandson and a cousin.
He was my son hard and twisted and light and love,
He was hope and darkness all rolled into one.

He was my baby and my heart shattering pain.
He was my greatest joy and my greatest failure.
He was my hope of victory and the devastation of terrifying nights.
He was struggling imperfection and tormented beyond understanding.

He is perfection and no struggling.
He is every bit of wonderful and no more pain.
He is my longing and my joy.
He is my hope of heaven and my boy.

Be comforted friends in every season with the hope of heaven.  None of us are alone in our pain, but often it can feel that way.  Please share this with those you might know that are struggling with this type of pain.  I long to see my pain redeemed through helping others. 

We live in hope,

I am Loathe


I am loathe to write this, loathe to put myself out there in the middle of hated debate and horrendous division.  Yet, I feel to be true to myself I must.  To be true to you, I must.  Not because I am a great writer or have a huge following but because my responsibility is to my circle of influence, my circle of love, my circle of hope gatherers and truth tellers.

I watched as Dr. Ford shared her story, I watched with a knot in the pit of my stomach and tears welling in my eyes.  I believed her.  Because I have stories of not reporting myself. I watched with an open mind as Judge Kavanaugh defended himself. I believe him to be a good man but I do believe that it is possible he committed this act against Dr. Ford.  Yes, there are inconsistencies in her story and proof is not there.  Believing something happened (I find her very credible) and wanting Kavanaugh destroyed are two very different things.

I do believe that thirty-five years ago boys, and make no mistake he was a boy with an immature brain growing up in a culture of misogyny.  Where 'boys will be boys" was a common excuse for horrible behavior.  Where that type of behavior among star athletes and the popular crowd in high school was not uncommon.  Where boys believe that they are entitled to what they want and that “no really means yes.”  They manipulate the facts to interpret their own truth.  She was a slut, she wanted it.   I do not believe it is any different today.  I have cried a river with the #metoo movement as I have come to realize little has changed in the last thirty-five years. 

As a ten year old girl I was molested by a stranger.  I told no one.  I had left a slumber party when I had been told not to, it was clearly my fault - at least that was my assumption.  My family was already in what felt to me to be turmoil.   I didn't want to add to that.  So I suffered quietly and threw my Holly Hobby pants away.  It haunted me and affected me in ways that I have fought hard to eradicate from my lifeHow can you really ever remove the stain of something ingrained in your mind for 5 years before you ever even spoke of it?  

In College as a young, impressionable girl I was thrilled to go out with a Senior "Fraternity" boy.  In borrowed clothes and fancy shoes I went with high hopes of finding a place of belonging among the "little sisters" of the fraternity.  Instead I found out that no, doesn't really mean no, to a young man. Afterward he unceremoniously dropped me at my dorm where I stumbled in the doors. I was shocked and confused.   I did not report, I was ashamed. I was embarrassed that someone I saw as so charming would treat me with such aggression and lack of concern.  I felt I didn't fight hard enough, and it is true that at some point his 175 pounds was too much for my 105 pounds. In my shock and my horror I went numb and still.  Tears ran down my face but obviously to him, I wanted it.  Fear of my word against his word, fear of being "that girl", fear of being kicked off my dance team and fear of retaliation paralyzed me.  I did not report.  He however did. He reported that I was a slut  who slept with guys on the first date.  I was an easy one night stand, he reported.  I did not. I held my head up and proved him wrong, but not without my own inner turmoil and torment.   I think he was a stupid awful boy, I can't begin to understand why he thought it was okay or what his perception was and is even today.  

I now hear that he is a good man, a family man.  

Throughout my life I have heard men say inappropriate things, bosses make passes at me and even just recently caught someone taking a picture of my ass.  I don't understand. I myself married a man who was a sexual predator(my opinion his diagnosis was "love addict"), using his position and power to manipulate women into bed with him. Saying wildly inappropriate things and using them as bait on a fish hook.  People knew but did nothing.  I believed his indignation and stood by him.  The power of a convincing liar and narcissist is hard to see.Even now I still feel that familiar shame that I allowed myself to become powerless and manipulated by him.  

I regret my powerlessness but still can see that there was also good in the man I married.  It is almost impossible for us to conceive of such evil among such good and yet it is there.  Sin and evil exist in each of us and if given space, gives birth to the unspeakable.  

Good men learn to not give into that evil. Good men grow from boys that have often made mistakes, I do believe that.  We all fall short and none of us are without sin.  

The fact that on the floor of the senate someone would say, this deviant behavior would have been a repeated pattern in Kavanaugh's life, is ridiculous and demonstrates his lack of understanding of these types of situations. Yes, there are serial rapist but there are also boys and men that are one time rapist/abusers walking among us.  They were good boys that did a bad thing.  Or that any Senator would comment on Dr. Fords attractiveness is beyond absurd.  There is a problem people and it is not just our boys.  It is a systemic problem rooted in culture and driven by hormones, sexism, entitlement and evil.  
I make no excuses for it only to say, what will it take to change it?  

Our boys sometimes make mistakes, sometimes become abusers, even though they have been loved their entire lives by a woman.  Even though they would say they respect women.  We cannot believe that this is not a serious problem when one in three women will be sexually assaulted according to the CDC.  Of those one in three, currently only 60% report.  If one in three will be assaulted, then how many boys and men are the abusers?  Statistically they are typically someone the girl or woman already knows.  I would assume if the statistic is one in three for the women then maybe one in six are abusers? Just my personal opinion.  I would also add that many of those men do not even realize or would categorize their behavior as sexual abuse.  How scary is that? 

I don't know how to change the "rape" culture.  I don't believe anyone deserves to be assaulted, male or female.  I don't believe that just because someone is drunk, they asked for it.  I don't believe clothes create the problem.  I do believe alcohol plays a role on both sides.  I can think of many occassions where I heard stories of many boys joining in on a girl too drunk to really know what was going on. I have been privy to even seeing pictures of such behavior because of a position I held in college.   Is that a mob mentality? It is disgusting.   I don't know or understand why this is happening.  

I want to, I really do because maybe if we can understand we could begin to fix the problem. I understand that women can be abusers as well but what is permeating our society currently is the onslaught of women finding their voice and speaking out finally about their stories of abuse.  I personally believe them, I personally am one of them and I personally celebrate their bravery.  We are not hysterical nor are we just joining in to join in, we are finding our power in our collective stories and longing for change. 

Yes, in every movement there will be some who capitalize on the frenzy by bringing false reports.  It is that way in every segment of life.  That is why it is so critical to teach reporting, to end slut shaming and to teach strength, dignity and honor to one another.  We must have ways to prove behavior and protect the falsley accused. 

I am in the middle.  I believe the totality of someone’s life should not be judged on mistakes made in High School or College.  I certainly don't want someone judging me on my High School and College years or looking at my yearbook to determine my integrity.  I am frightened that unsubstantiated assaults from 35 years ago can destroy a career and a life. What if that was one of my sons? 

I believe Dr. Ford. Something traumatic happened to her, as has happened to so many of us. Yes, over time memories can be dimmed, some parts confused, over time on both sides.  Perception is definitely interpretive for each individual.  This will always be part of the problem.  He said, she said. 

But, when will we address the real issue?  When will there be a national outcry to investigate the root causes and make systemic changes in a society that degrades women yet also loves women.  I believe in good men, I believe people make mistakes, but when will our girls learn to yell, learn to fight back, learn to not give in, unless we speak up and show them how to be brave. 

I am not trying to bash men here, I am simply saying I am in the middle.  As a mother of young men, as a women who has been abused, as a woman who has had to fight to not carry shame and self-loathing into her future, I say....When will it change?  I love men.  I believe in the power of redemption and I believe in good men because I know good men.  

I am terrified that if we as women swing too far in our indignation and hatred we will not find the truth and change we hope for. Polarizing ourselves will lead to discrediting our true desire for change.   Rage rarely produces change.  We should continue to share our stories and our indignation, but let us do so with hearts that are righteous and seeking good, not exacting revenge.  

I long for both sides to win in this battle against humanity.  That is the only chance for true change.  I pray for our country to quit warring within and fight a battle against this evil.  Divided we will always fall. Our country is at war against itself and it is a disgrace.  Our battle is not between parties our battle is against evil and on that we can all stand together.  

Let us care more about each other than we do about politics.  Let us be those who carry a banner for change with a heart of love.  

We live in hope and belong to one another,

P.S. Please don't bother putting up shitty comments.  If you don't like it, don't read it. 

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