Fountain of Freedom

 Wildly flying down the street, wind in hair, wheels on fire, 
I knew then that life wouldn’t be easy
with you.
 
Screeching to a sudden stop, tires smoking, mid- construction zone, doors flung wide open,
we laughed as we struggled to shove the heavy, awkward, orange rubber cones
into the white two-door three-cylinder compact car we’d dubbed “the snail.”
 
Water rushing over the bras we left dangling on the fountain statue in the park
declaring our mark of freedom and feminism to the world, 
Jumping the fence to skinny dip under the full moonlight,
holding our breath underwater,
until we felt our lungs would burst,
we waited for the security guard to pass by on his nightly check.

You were the epitome of coolness,
all that I wanted to emulate –
the girl who lived free,
like life wasn’t full of unexpected surprises and bad news waiting around every bend. 

And then you became a statistic.
Teen pregnancy consumed you, swallowed you whole and spit you back out. 
Suddenly you were unrecognizable to me.
Once brazen, emboldened by life
now you seemed humble, meek,
an evening shadow of the girl you used to be.
 
We parted ways, 
you to follow your soul towards the mountains
while I drifted into a community of cult misfits
that would forever change my universe.
 
Much older now, two decades gone by,
I have daughters of my own 
and when I pass by that fountain we adorned with our fiery, unbridled youth, 
I smile and am thankful for those wild days….
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Home Phone Etiquette

Everybody is accessible ALL the time now.  Most of the time, this is a wonderful thing.  My car breaks down? No problem! I just call for a tow truck on my cell.  Late for my dinner engagement?  No worries; I’ll just shoot them a text message.  However, there are those moments (and I know you know what I’m talking about here) when I really wish I was unreachable without having to explain why to the world.  I was reminded of this today while huffing and puffing during my workout, sweat pouring down my back,  as I received a non-emergent text message.   When I didn’t respond to the text within a minute,  I received three more calls in 90 seconds from the same individual.  Of course now I am concerned that this may be urgent, so I  rush to stop the rowing machine and clumsily grab the phone, still wearing my weightlifting gloves.  After the call (which was not an emergency after all), I found myself thinking: “Can we just go back to home phone etiquette, please?!?”

Let’s step back in time to the days when we only had two choices if calling someone: landline phones at our homes or businesses and payphones.  Back then, if someone called you three to four times in a row within a two minute timespan, the caller may have been labeled as overzealous, irritating, clingy, rude, and most definitely uncool.  Calling someone took forethought, consideration, and purposeful action.

For instance, take the time I planned a trip to Atlanta to see the first Lollapalooza when my parents thought I was going to the beach with my friend and her family.  The beach was only two hours away from my hometown, while Atlanta was a five hour drive.  It took a lot of plotting and planning for my teenage brain to remember to stop our car full of highschool rebels half-way through our travels to Hot’Lanta, locate a payphone, and have the necessary change to call home, all while smoothly selling my parents the lie that I was safely enjoying the Gulf with responsible adults.

{Sidebar: Listen to Jane’s Addiction’s “Whores” circs 1991 Lollapalooza}

Now let’s think about that scenario in today’s 24/7 age of constant communication – oh wait – my parents would bust me with the GPS tracking app “Find my iphone” as soon as our car merged onto the I-10 ramp headed north – nevermind.

By this example alone, one could argue that landlines encouraged creativity, organization, and independence in teens in ways that smart phones never will, but I digress…

All I’m asking for is a little consideration from the callers of the world.  Think about what the person may doing when placing your call, accept the silence if the party does not respond right away, leave a message, and give them ample time to contact you in return.   I think Lady Gaga says it best in her song:  “Telephone.”

If all else fails, pretend you are on this payphone:

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and you just used your last quarter.

*This post also appears on the Mom Bloggers Club.

Why I Put Oil in my Coffee & How I Lost 35 Pounds

This morning I brewed my coffee and then poured it in the blender with a tablespoon of organic fair trade extra virgin coconut oil.

“Making your oil slick again, eh?” my husband commented.

If someone had told me a year ago that I’d be drinking coffee with no sugar or half n half, I would’ve scoffed at them.  As a former barista, I have particular taste for certain coffee brews and never would have considered putting oil (gasp!) in coffee.

Why would I do such a crazy thing? Am I a victim of the latest health craze? Have I lost my taste buds or sense of smell? What would possess me to ruin a perfectly good cup of coffee?!?

It all began last fall when I took a good hard look at myself in the mirror.  Since the birth of my youngest child three years ago, I’d gained 35 pounds and was a few pounds shy of my full-term pregnancy weight.  I could feel the heavy burden of those extra pounds in everything that I did.  Continue reading “Why I Put Oil in my Coffee & How I Lost 35 Pounds”

Driving Anxiety 101

 

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Illustration Credit: Trinity Moss

First Step: Experience a traumatic event in which you feel you have no control.

When I turned thirty, my world shrunk drastically. I took a road trip with my three year old from North Florida to the Appalachian mountains in my 15 year old crappy Toyota van to visit another single mom friend. We never made it to the mountains. Instead, the van’s electrical system failed on a deserted state road in the pitch black of night at 11pm. This was before the days of affordable smart phones and GPS, so I had no idea exactly where I was. Thankfully, I did have a TracFone with a few minutes on it and was able to call for AAA towing services (Thanks for the membership, Mom!). I had planned to go camping in the mountains, so the van was packed full with coolers of food, futon mattress, tent, etc. My three year old was scared; I was scared. I had only a few hundred dollars in my wallet and no money in my bank account. I was a struggling single mom and nursing student with two jobs. This was supposed to be a vacation for my daughter and I and it was all that we could afford at the time. So we ended up having the van towed to the nearest city around: Charleston, SC. We spent a week in a motel there, cooking outside on my camp stove, while waiting for the mechanic shop to repair my van. I called my parents in Florida and asked to borrow money to pay for the repairs and finance our trip home.

As luck would have it, the van drove its final mile just outside St. Mary’s, FL on the return trip home and my young daughter and I found ourselves stranded again.  My parents came to the rescue, driving us back to our hometown in FL a few hours away, but the trauma of that event scarred my brain forever.

Once we returned home, I eventually secured an old Hyundai two-door sedan with failing brakes, I began to notice that anytime I took highways or the interstate around my town, that I started to breathe a little faster, my peripheral vision darkened, and I would experience a light-headed sensation that I’d never had before. I began to worry that there was something wrong with my body, and for a single mom with no health insurance, this was extraordinarily frightening.

Second Step: Adapt your life to fit the problem.

Rather than face the issue, however, I simply adapted my driving routes to fit my psyche, avoiding large intersections, highways, and the interstate. When I needed to go out of town for fun or for nursing school clinical rotation, I asked another nursing student or family member to drive me. This adaptation worked nicely over the next five years, until shortly after graduation when I was offered a fantastic and well-paying job in a state 2000 miles from home.

With the help of my family, I packed up my household and moved my daughter and I to the Southwest to embark on a new adventure. My mother rented a car and drove my eight-year old daughter and I the 2000 miles to our new destination and helped us settle in for a week before she returned to FL. As I looked around my new surroundings, I was suddenly panic-stricken: how was I going to drive in this large metropolis of over a million people? The new city had two interstates passing right through the middle of it and most roads were at least four lanes, if not six. I was now terrified of the choice I’d made.

I realized that I had to drive outside of my preferred comfort zone to survive in my new town, so I forced myself to navigate the main roads of the city, pulling off of the road every few minutes when my vision was too blurry, my heart rate too fast, my breathing too rapid, and my palms too sweaty to stay in my lane. My young daughter, confused by all the stops, complained and asked when we were going to get to the ice skating rink/pizza place/grocery store/etc.

As I had done in my hometown, I quickly learned to adapt my life to the parameters of my anxiety. I mapped out routes on Google to the closest grocery store, doctor’s office, pharmacy, etc. and limited my entertainment to nearby venues. Luckily, both my daughter’s elementary school and my workplace were located within a couple of miles from our home. Additionally, we were able to walk to restaurants, health food store, local shops, and to rely on public transportation when traveling to places further away in the city, like the zoo.

Each time I did need to drive someplace outside of my comfort zone, I went over the route repeatedly in my head for hours, and sometimes even several days, before the event. I always made sure that I had extra time to travel, as odds were likely that I would need to pull over at least once during the journey due to having a panic attack. I was able to function this way for eight years, minimizing my panic attacks and meeting my the basic needs of my daughter and I. This all changed, however, after I married and became pregnant with my second daughter.

In my first trimester of pregnancy, I suddenly started having trouble driving the quarter mile to the grocery store without having a severe anxiety attack. Driving out of my neighborhood brought on intense feelings of panic. I lost all peripheral vision, my heart beat so fast I felt like I was going to have a heart attack, I began to hyperventilate, I felt like I was floating out of my body and as if I no longer had control over the car, I could feel myself drifting into the other lanes and was convinced that I was going to crash into an on-coming vehicle. My palms sweated profusely, making it difficult to grip the wheel, which further induced my sense of panic.

To combat this, I rolled down the window, cranked up the air conditioner, blasted music, drank water, and told myself it wasn’t real, but to no avail. Ultimately, I ended up pulling off the road waiting for the panic to subside. Sometimes I waited for forty-five minutes for my heart rate and breathing to return to normal and for me to work up the courage to start driving again.

The situation got even worse after my second daughter was born. I began to rely on my husband to drive me everywhere and I stopped going out with my friends as often. I became extremely embarrassed about my panic attacks and lack of control over my anxiety. I didn’t want to tell my friends that I was not able to drive to the events they invited me to, and I didn’t like always asking my husband to haul me everywhere all the time. My solution was to become very reclusive. I rarely left the house, except to take walks in my neighborhood; I declined invitations, blaming it on my newborn child. I also was not able to ride on the interstate as a passenger anymore without putting my head between my knees or I would have a panic attack.

Third Step: Attempt to recover.

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Illustration Credit: Trinity Moss

EMDR therapy:

At home with a baby all day and no social outlets, I became depressed. My husband, worried about me, made an appointment with a therapist who specialized in eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). After two sessions with the EMDR therapist, I felt more confident and began driving short distances again. I was able to go to the grocery store, the park, and the coffee shop without panic attacks. I was elated! However, as months wore on, slowly I felt the fingers of anxiety choking my mental balance and one sunny afternoon on my way to the grocery store with my infant and preteen daughters, I suffered another driving anxiety event. It scared me so much that I called my husband away from his job to meet us in the parking lot of the store and drive us home. I felt like a failure. I was too afraid to drive anymore and too embarrassed to reach out for help again. Once more, I became a prisoner of my own mind, cloistered in the safe haven of my home. My friends stopped inviting me to events over time and I felt even more isolated. My oldest daughter had to rely on my husband and other friends’ parents to drive her around to her numerous middle school activities. The sense of shame I had about this continued to grow, as I felt that I was not longer a whole person, capable of meeting my children’s needs. My husband was now tasked with taking me to and from my new job, carting the children to all doctors’ appointments, running errands, etc. My anxiety was placing a huge strain on our marriage. Simultaneously, I felt intense guilt and resentment that I had to rely on him to meet all of our needs.

Medication:

I was convinced that nothing would help me, so I continued to muddle through each day without hope of change. This shifted drastically for me one day, however, while sitting in a mandatory training at my new job. I was in the front row, listening to the instructor describe the goals and objectives of the class when I was overcome with a rush of dizziness and a certainty that I was going to fall out of my chair and pass out on the floor. It took all of my concentration to calm the buzzing sensation in my head and focus my eyes on the instructor until the next fifteen minute break. I did not retain anything the speaker told us and was certain that I was not going to pass the class (thus losing my job). As soon as I had a break, I called my primary care physician (PCP) and made an appointment to discuss medication.

The PCP placed me on Zoloft, which helped calm my mind during work hours, but did not help me with driving at all. I was still having panic attacks while driving but at least I was able to make it through my work day again and focus on my job. The PCP increased the dose of Zoloft, in the hopes that it would help with my driving anxiety too. Instead, it induced different panic attack symptoms: I began to have chest pains and shortness of breath. A medical workup was ordered and deduced that I was not having a heart attack – just experiencing panic in a new and different way. After a year of trial and error with various medications, I was quite frustrated with the medication route and weaned myself off of them completely.

Homeopathy:

My next attempt at handling the anxiety was homeopathy. I went to a homeopathic physician, recommended to me by a friend. After an appointment that was several hours long, in which I gave a thorough family health history and detailed account of my struggle with driving anxiety over the past decade, I was given a little brown glass bottle of small white pellets to dissolve under my tongue three times a day. Dutifully, I took them as suggested, and after two weeks I attempted a solo driving trip to my job, which was less than two miles from my home. As I pressed down on the gas pedal to keep up with the forty-five mile per hour traffic, I felt my face become flushed, my heart beat faster, my breathing increase, my palms sweat, and my vision begin to blur; another panic attack was in full swing.

Psychotherapy:

With three failed therapies behind me, I decided to try psychotherapy. I began sessions with a very skilled therapist that was recommended to me by a family member. After several months of treatment, and very little progress, we mutually decided to take a break from therapy. I was at a complete loss now.

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Photo Credit: Trinity Moss

Exercise and diet:

Finally, I decided to commit to regular cardiovascular exercise and dietary changes. I began reducing my caffeine intake, eliminating refined sugar, and eating smaller meals more frequently throughout the day to balance my blood sugar. Of all the therapies I have tried, this is the only combination that has produced had the best results. After a month of consistent exercise and a healthy diet, I was able to drive five to ten miles from my home without experiencing a panic attack. I was also able to ride on the interstate as a passenger in a car without having a panic attack.

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Illustration Credit: Trinity Moss

Fourth Step: Accept where you are.

Where I am today:

I still have anxiety daily and I do experience the beginnings of panic attacks while driving, but now I am able to manage them and continue on my journey. I’ve learned to keep high protein/low sugar foods available in the car, like almonds, and to not drive on an empty stomach. Limiting my caffeine intake to one cup of coffee in the morning has helped keep my heart rate in a healthy range, as well as exercising for at least thirty minutes a day. I am slowly reestablishing contact with my friends and getting out of the house for social events. I still plan out my driving routes before I leave my home and occasionally I have to call my husband to talk me through an anxious event, but I do not have to pull off  the road and wait it out anymore. I have a long way to go before I am able to drive with confidence across town, and I am not certain that I will ever be able to do that again. I have found when I tell people what I am experiencing, contrary to my fears, they are overwhelmingly sympathetic, and that I am the only one stigmatizing myself. I am trying to forgive myself for not being the anxiety-free person I once was, to deal with the feelings I have now, and to accept that I have an anxiety disorder.

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Photo Credit: Trinity Moss

*All artwork and photos were created by my extremely talented daughter, Trinity Moss.*

This article is also featured in “You and Me” magazine: http://www.youandmemagazine.com/articles/driving-anxiety-thirteen-years-in-the-making

 

 

My Love-Hate Relationship with Breastfeeding (on demand)

O.K., I admit it, sometimes I HATE breastfeeding. There, I said it. At three a.m. when I am awakened for the third time by my sweet eleven month old nuzzling up against my shirt and crying, I have to say that I have bottle-feeding baby envy. I want nothing more than to hand my baby over to my soundly snoring hubby and say, “Baby’s awake. It’s your turn to give her the bottle.” And then roll over and go back to sleep.

Now before the breastfeeding advocates start telling me how “breast is best,” and that “if you co-sleep then you can sleep right through the feedings,” let me be clear here: I am a HUGE advocate of breastfeeding, if it works for your family. In addition to being a mother, I am also a former women’s and children’s nurse who has helped numerous women with breastfeeding those first few precious days of their newborn’s life. I’ve read the statistics about breastfeeding and increased childhood immunity, brain growth, and emotional comfort. I am on board with the benefits of human booby milk.

Personally, I breastfed my first child until the age of three and am planning on breastfeeding my second one as long as she seems interested.  Also, I am no stranger to co-sleeping. My first born was in the family bed until well past toddler hood and my eleven month old is currently sharing a bed with us. Despite the family bed arrangement, however, I STILL am not getting much sleep, as the co-sleeping advocates claim is possible. I am awakened by her every noise, and am awakened at least four times for nighttime feedings. Unfortunately, being a light sleeper, I am not able to sleep through my baby’s gymnastic style feedings, in which nipple pinching, hair pulling, and bladder kicking usually commence. And once my little one is finally sleeping again, inevitably she is cuddled up so closely next to me that I am unable to move without waking her. Naturally, this is when I find the need to use the restroom.

We did try to transition her to a crib a few different times, which simply resulted in me sleeping on the hard floor next to her crib all night long because I had to breastfeed her every three hours or so and then get her back into the crib asleep. This was a parenting “FAIL” for me. I was just as tired as when co-sleeping, but now had sore muscles and back pain from sleeping on the floor.

Daytime naps are even worse. Nine times out of ten my baby will only fall asleep nursing and then refuses to let go of the breast. I have tried a pacifier, which works for a short time, but generally, I spend hours of my life staring at the ceiling, waiting for her to wake up, and desperately needing to pee. Again, at these times I have bottle-fed baby envy.

If only I could learn to pump. With my first, I tried it once and got so frustrated that I gave up. I have managed it a handful of times since my second babe’s birth, but found it to be a colossal ordeal and extremely time-consuming venture. By the time I gathered all the supplies together, got the baby set up to entertain herself for twenty minutes, used the double pump,  labeled and stored the milk, then washed all the supplies (by this time the baby is screaming for attention, by the way…), I find that an hour has gone by and I only have enough milk for one feeding. Ugh. Honestly, I have no idea how moms working outside the home ever breastfeed past their maternity leave. I have the deepest respect for their dedication, but admit that I probably would not be breastfeeding my little one if I had to return to the workforce right now.

One may ask, after all this inconvenience, exhaustion, and whining, why do I bother to breastfeed at all? Well, as with all parenting choices, I do it because I believe the benefits to my child far outweigh the minor aggravations it causes me. For instance, when she was ill recently and not drinking many fluids, I didn’t have to worry about her getting dehydrated. I just popped a boob in her mouth and “BAM!” she had all the fluids and electrolytes she needed to fight off the virus. When she wakes up in the middle of the night with teething pain that is unrelieved by medications and cold washcloths, “Ta-Da!”  breastfeeding to the rescue again to comfort her back to sleep.  The breastfeeding boob is a superhero that helps my little babe through the daily trials and tribulations of emerging toddler hood, strengthens her immune system against lifelong chronic illnesses like asthma or allergies, and helps her brain development. And in all honesty, there is something so magical about looking into your babe’s sweet face as they roll their eyes back in breastfeeding bliss and knowing that you are providing that comfort for them with your own body.

So, all whining and silliness aside, I have found that deciding to breastfeed, though it is “natural,” is not an easy choice to make in our modern day society, and requires dedication, patience, and community support. Thus far, it has been the right choice for our family, but I know that it is not something that it possible for every family. I am fortunate to be able to stay home with my little one this time, and to have had a flexible work schedule with my older one, and yet, I still find breastfeeding to be a daily challenge. It’s one that I choose, however, because as much as I may hate it sometimes, I find that in the end, I love it even more.

Gunfire, Graffiti, & Baseball Games: Why This Mama Loves her Neighborhood

Informative graffiti along our neighborhood bike trail, complete with suspicious bullet-like hole at top of sign.
Informative graffiti along our neighborhood bike trail, complete with suspicious bullet-like hole above the T. (Photo Credit: Vikki Earley)

In every town, there is a sector known as the “wrong-side-of-the-tracks,” the area that all the local kids are warned to never go into, lest a fate worse than death befall them.  In our small Southern community, the “Southside” is this area, and I was warned my entire childhood to avoid it like the plague.  If not, I was assured by my social circle that I would most certainly be robbed, maimed, gang-raped, and shot.  Then my body would be dumped unceremoniously into one of the local swamps to be eaten by alligators.  So it is with more than just a chuckle that I find myself now, and for the past three years, remarried, and raising my two girls in this notorious territory, the “Southside.”

Rewind: I met my husband in the summer of 2010 and during one of our early phone conversations, he mentioned to me that he lived on the Southside of our humble town. Assuming, like me, that he had been raised to fear this area, I laughed and flippantly replied, “Oh I bet you hear a lot of gunshots at night, ha ha!”   Instead, he sounded genuinely surprised by my comment and in a non-joking manner said that he had been living there for four years, had never heard a single gunshot, nor had any knowledge of illegal activity in his neighborhood.  I immediately felt like a true neighborhood snob, guilty for joking about it, and agreed to come over to his house for dinner.

So, the following week I got in my car and “crossed the tracks” for the first time to have our third date.  As I pulled up alongside his house, I was struck by the quaint mixture of homes surrounding his: older wooden clapboard and rusted tin-roofs side-by-side with modern brick and mortar.  I got out of the car and listened; not a single gunshot.  No creepy characters lurking in the bushes; so far, so good.  I went to his door and knocked.

Hours later, after a home-cooked dinner, we decided to go out and enjoy the crisp night air, when we heard a commotion and a cluster of male voices burst out yelling in the woods across the street.  A rapid and explosive rapport of “BAP! BAP! BAP!” followed, and a young man in a white wife beater undershirt and jeans bolted out of the woods a few yards in front of us, clutching his right shoulder.  He dashed at lightening speed toward us on the dimly-lit street.

I had flashbacks from being the victim of a mugging more than a decade before and my instincts instantly took over.  Thinking of my ten year-old daughter and how she needed her mother alive, I quickly dropped to the ground.  In the same swift motion, I grabbed my future husband by the shirt, hissed “get down,” and yanked him silently onto the wet grass with me.  Simultaneously, the young man, whom appeared to be bleeding, raced past us and onto the neighbor’s lawn, where he collapsed onto his belly. Immediately my husband began dialing 9-1-1, as we rushed towards his house to avoid any possible gunfire.   Angry voices called out from the trees. Then we heard tires squeal and a car peeling off into the night.

Within three minutes, the ambulance and police had arrived, whisked the young man off to the hospital and finished interviewing us.  Later in the week, we heard a news report that, tragically, the young man passed away and that the incident was believed to be a drug deal that turned violent.  My husband told me this was the first time he had ever heard gun shots in his neighborhood.

This terrible tragedy was no deterrent for true love, however, and by the end of the year my first-born daughter and I had moved in with my husband and were full-fledged residents of the Southside.  My daughter loved the playground and baseball field within walking distance, and within a couple of months after we’d settled into the house, the City sent notices out that they were building a bike trail extension across the street.  The woods of the crime scene were cut down and a paved walking/bicycle trail was installed.

Spring arrived and in the evenings we could hear the crack of baseball bats from the little league games across the road, held at the very same park where the shooting took place months before.  Delighted cries of children playing on the playground and encouraging yells from parents and coaches filled the night air.  Residents walked their dogs on the new bike path across the street.  Our notorious neighborhood was transformed into an idyllic 1950’s village of family fun and neighborly love.

Found posted in one of our neighborhood gas stations.
Found posted in one of our neighborhood gas stations. (Photo Credit: Vikki Earley)

Fast forward to three years after the shooting incident, and we are still living on the “wrong side of the tracks.”  We love seeing the hawks swoop down along the bike trail on our daily walks, swinging our hearts out on the playground, and watching the little league baseball games in the park.  From our house we enjoy hearing the sounds of our thriving and diverse neighborhood: the local high school’s marching band music from Friday night football games, the loud “BOOM BOOM” bass of a car stereo cruising by, the vivid array of expletives from a neighbor’s girlfriend arguing with him on their front lawn, and the happy cries of children racing their bikes on the trail after school.  Occasionally our daytime entertainment consists of leaning against our chain link fence and watching the local sheriff evict the newest renters from the property across the street – again.  On the weekends, we like to walk to our locally-owned neighborhood gas station to shoot the breeze with the owners, buy a cup of coffee and pick up some candy for our teen girl.  And don’t let me forget to mention “singing man,” who walks through the neighborhood all hours of the night with his headphones on, belting out rap and hip-hop at the top of his lungs; or “Miss Mary” who stopped to talk with me on the bike trail about the blessings of life and the love of Jesus Christ, our Savior, and invited me to walk with her.  Our notorious neighborhood is filled with heart, spirit, and love, a place where people still look out for one another and the selfish isolation of the suburbs has yet to infiltrate.  I am proud to be a resident on the “wrong” side of town.   Yes, we are officially real residents of the Southside and loving every minute of it!

War Against Complacency

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Recently, I became aware of a deep betrayal by a person very close to me. A betrayal that spans the entire relationship with this individual and has been the root of several years of confusion, anger, tears, and anguish. In coming to terms with this, I have discovered that key members of my social group were aware of the deceit and chose to remain silent. When I confronted this circle of “friends,” and inquired why they did not approach me with the information, I was told that they assumed that I knew already. None of them, however, had ever called me before and expressed any concern or knowledge about what they witnessed happening. They stated this was because they didn’t know what to do, to which I responded that I would appreciate, for the safety of myself and my children if they would let me know in the future if they noticed something amiss. During that conversation,  I was under the impression that they wanted to be helpful. So it was with great shock to me when this past week, I found out that they have been aiding & abetting the person in question, and even assisting in the lies and betrayal. In light of this new information, the only thing that I can surmise is that they are afraid of facing their own demons of self-destruction if they turn in the perpetrator, so instead they choose to remain complacent.

Here’s the thing, folks: If you see a friend hurting and you have the power to help them and choose to do nothing, then you are hurting yourselves too. We are all here to help one another. It is that basic component of compassion and willingness to act on behalf of those who need help that sets us apart from animals. Those who fail to act are rejecting their own humanity and all that is good in life. Period. Stand up for each other. Do not let fear win, lest you be imprisoned by your own shortcomings and find yourself alone. I think Martin Niemoller said it best:

“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me–and there was no one left to speak for me.”
-Martin Niemoller