I Saved a Young Man’s Life, But I Cannot Explain How

time_travelWhen I was 17 years old, I saved a young man’s life. But I cannot explain to you how I knew what I needed to do to be there at the right moment to save him. I just knew. My brain works differently than most. Whether it is autism or something else, I just know I have always been “different”.

November 1992

I struggled as a teenager for a lot of reasons. But I was smart, I managed to hold a part time job most of the time, and I had a crap Hyundai to drive. I only got into major trouble once during high school. I lied to my mom about sleeping over at a girlfriend’s house when instead a different group of us girls were hanging at a house of Navy boys renting in town. They were nuke students working at a facility away from the sub base. Uber smart. Nerdy cute. I digress.

It was totally innocent, I think we were all too geeky to get into any real trouble. We picked a movie to watch all together in the living room. The guys had been showing us around the small cape, telling us about its hauntings. Yeah, like ghosts. They told us about glasses of water being moved, doors being opened and closed, that kind of thing. Sounded fascinating, but I don’t think anyone was buying it. Except me. I kind of always kept an open mind about those kinds of things. Who am I to say something does or doesn’t exist? Besides, I had seen things before.

Anyways, I had forgotten to call my mom and tell her I had made it to my girlfriend’s house after work for the sleepover so Mom had gotten worried. Even more worried when she realized I had only been to this girl’s house once before and my mom couldn’t remember exactly which house it was. So by 11pm, my worried and pissed off mother was driving through the streets of the entire town looking for my car. And me.

After about an hour of searching, she found my car. I have no idea how, but this woman found my car on a street hardly ever traveled, miles from home. She wasted no time knocking on the door.

I had been upstairs with two of the boys talking about the ghost activity, one of the other boys had opened the front door as I was coming down the stairs. The look in my mother’s eyes was something otherworldly and I was terrified.

She followed me home and of course she made it clear that I was grounded for life and not to ever EVER EVER go back to that house or see those boys again. She didn’t care that “nothing happened”, this was the first major lie I had told and been caught in the middle of and there was no discussion.

About three weeks later, the day before Thanksgiving, I was at the public library after school. A rare exception to my punishment, but back then we didn’t have the internet for school projects.  My mother had reluctantly allowed me to drive myself to school that day so that I could go downtown to the library before the long holiday weekend. I was told to be home by 5pm or else death. And I believed her.

I was wrapping up with my note cards and a flash went through my head of one of the Navy boys, Drew. I had never really exchanged so much as a word or two with Drew but I had heard he was the only one of the boys not going home for Thanksgiving.  That thought made me sad, but I knew that there was nothing I could do.  I gathered up my backpack and all of my papers and I set out to my car in the parking lot of the library. What happened next, there is no simple explanation.

I was already running late. I was due home at 5pm and my mother did not mince words. If I took the most direct route home I would probably make it with a moment or two to spare. But that’s not what happened. I started driving and I just didn’t go that way. I started driving in the opposite direction toward the Navy boys’ house.  I felt like I had no choice, like I was numb or on autopilot.  In my mind I was terrified of my mother’s response to every action I was taking at this point, but still I could not change course. Though I was scared of getting into trouble with my parents, I was at the same time very calm, my body felt relaxed.

I pulled up to the house where the boys lived and it appeared all dark and quiet.  I went up to the door and knocked, rang the bell, and waited a few long moments. Every moment that passed I was assessing in my mind just how much more pissed my mother was going to be.  No answer.

But I couldn’t leave.  I just couldn’t. I felt I was connected to that space in that moment and I just could not leave.

I stepped back and looked for a light somewhere upstairs.  Nothing.  I walked around the side of the house. Nothing.  I made my way to the back and a light in the upstairs bathroom caught my eye.  I walked up onto the back deck leading to the kitchen slider.  I banged on the glass and grabbed the handle and pulled as hard as I could to see if I could open it.  Nothing.  I stood still and pressed my ear against the glass listening for anything that would tell me if Drew was inside, if he was ok. Because now I knew there was nothing ok here even though I didn’t know why.  Through the glass I could hear music. I banged even harder, I yanked on that door handle with all of my strength. Nothing.

Now I panicked.  My heart was pounding and I felt time slipping away.  I felt urgency and my entire body was shaking.  I jumped back into my car and drove to a pay phone a half mile away and I called Drew’s number.  Nothing.  I drove back to the house and went next door to get a classmate that I knew was friends with one of the other boys. I told her I thought Drew was in the house and something was wrong. She quickly came with me and as we both walked up onto the back deck I showed her the light in the upstairs bathroom. I was telling her about the slider door being locked as I reached for it one more time in desperation – and it opened.

We ran into the house and flew up the stairs to find Drew on the bathroom floor unconscious. He had taken an entire bottle of sleeping pills. He was still breathing but his pulse was very weak. The other girl dialed 911 while I held Drew’s hand.  EMS was quick to arrive.  We were told Drew likely had only minutes left.  He was lucky.

After Drew was taken by ambulance, I drove myself home. I was exhausted. My mother was bitterly angry and unwilling to listen to this experience that was pulling me apart inside. I didn’t blame her. Who could understand? How could I explain it? I was drowning in the enormity of the sequence of events.  The exact calculations of so many events that made this one, singular outcome possible. It was all I could think of. Over and over.

I was most certainly grounded again. Punished for saving a life. That was so totally aggravating and confusing.  Though the entire circumstance felt out of my hands from the very start to the very end. I begged and begged to go to the hospital to see Drew. To hold his hand. That is all I wanted to do. I just wanted to hold his hand one last time and tell him he is loved.

So I did what I had to do. I skipped school on Monday and went up to the hospital to see Drew.  He was still in ICU so I lied and said I was his sister so that I could see him. He was still unresponsive. I sat beside him and I held his hand. I told him I was so grateful to be there in that moment because he was not supposed to leave then.  I didn’t know why, but I just knew that was the truth.

As I left the ICU wing, walking down the long hospital corridor, a woman had gotten off of the elevator and was making her way toward the ICU.  She looked so very tired and yet relieved at the same time.  We were maybe thirty feet from each other, getting closer, when she just stared at me and said, “You are her.”  She ran to me and threw her arms around me.  “You saved my son.”

I froze.  I could feel her warm hug and all of her emotions enveloping me, but I was suddenly breathless and rigid.  Hours went by, days even, before I felt myself allow my body to soften and accept this woman’s embrace.  It felt like an eternity in what I am sure lasted only a moment.

Drew’s mother and I talked for a little while. Their family was from Pennsylvania and she and Drew’s dad had been by Drew’s side all weekend.  The hospital had only told the family that a young girl had found Drew.  She asked me “how” so many times and I just didn’t know what to say. There were no answers. I just did what I did.  And what I didn’t understand I just knew I had to trust was important.  She told me that Drew’s brother had died the year before in a car accident.  She couldn’t have survived losing another child.

I was able to see Drew one more time after he had recovered and before he was released from the hospital. It was awkward, but it felt right. We didn’t exchange any contact information and I have never heard from him or his family again. But they live in my heart forever.

I have learned to not question these events, or my feelings.  If something is meant to be, so be it. We are all here for many, many reasons. Each day, each action causes a reaction that can have a lasting impact on another person. Make every action a loving one.

Peace, Friends.

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“What you experience on your journey depends greatly upon what you allow your eyes to see.” – Rachel Leslie Kenyon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[If you are experiencing feelings or thoughts of suicide, please know there are people standing at the ready to help you. Contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by clicking HERE or by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255) where you’ll be connected to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area, anytime 24/7. Remember, whether you can feel it in your darkest moments, you are loved, so very loved. *I* LOVE YOU.]

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Save the Date! StimCity Reopens Friday, August 15!

pinkHello, Friends of StimCity!

It’s been a while and I wanted to catch you up on all that’s been happening here in StimCity.

A lot.

SGM left me and the kids last October. It was sudden. Like, he woke up one morning and said he was out after 12 years together. It’s been more than nine months now and I have to tell you, the kids and I are happier than ever. I won’t be discussing anything about the kids or details of the divorce process for obvious reasons.  It’s not been pleasant and I am fighting each day for what is best for my kids.  But outside of that mess I do wish to invite you to the GRAND REOPENING OF STIMCITY, my home, on August 15th. That date is special to me because it is the day we moved into our actual home twelve years ago.  Both are spaces that I have created to be loving, accepting, forgiving, fun, expressive, and open-minded.

I have so much more to share with you beyond my daughter’s autism, harassing Congress, and fighting her school district.

So I hope you’ll join me on this new journey as I share with you some of the more intimate parts of me as an autistic woman, mother, and crazy, happy human.

“We’re all a little weird. And life is a little weird. And when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall into mutually satisfying weirdness—and call it love—true love.”
Robert Fulghum, True Love


StimCity Kids – A New Leash on Life?

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After completing the application and interview process, Rachel Margaret has been approved by North Star Foundation to receive a companion service dog specially trained for her unique challenges. But we have a long way to go and WE NEED YOUR HELP!

What can YOU do to make a difference in Rachel Margaret’s life?

DONATE NOW directly to North Star Foundation!

donations

The cost to place an Autism Service Companion Dog to Rachel Margaret is $15,000.

Families are asked to fundraise HALF of that amount, a total of $7,500.

The cost includes the specially bred pup, surrogate boarding and training, all veterinary care and professional in-home training until the pup is permanently placed with Rachel Margaret (usually at about one year old).

So EASY!!! North Star Foundation has partnered with PayPal for quick, secure donations without a processing fee.  Just click the PayPal – North Star link above and use any major credit card or checking account. Be sure to put “Rachel Margaret” under “Note to seller” on your PayPal payment. Don’t worry if you forget, Patty of North Star Foundation will send you a thank you note and confirmation of your gift.

Not a PayPal pal? NO PROBLEM!

Please make your check or money order out to North Star Foundation, and send it to the following address:

North Star Foundation
c/o Patty Dobbs Gross
20 Deerfield Lane
Storrs, CT 06268

You can put “Rachel Margaret” in the Memo field and Patty will know just what to do!

DON’T FORGET! Your loving donation is TAX DEDUCTIBLE – North Star Foundation’s tax ID number is: EIN # 06-1589586.

We appreciate your support!

North Star Foundation operates on 100% donations and your contribution toward a placement for Rachel Margaret is the only way she can see this gift come to fruition. We are so grateful that you are here today, supporting RM and contributing to her bright and promising future with an autism pup.

Rachel Margaret is now 8 years old. She was born with 4q Deletion Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that has contributed to multiple challenges for RM, both medically and developmentally. She had less than a 30% chance of survival to the age of two years old but she is a fighter.  With hard work and a smile she continues to fight today. While many of her struggles revolve around managing her autism, Rachel Margaret still faces enormous medical challenges ahead as well. She typically spends at least a couple of days a year in the operating room and dozens more receiving care from several medical specialists.

Why a dog from North Star Foundation?

Northstar logoNorth Star Foundation has been operating since 2000, placing its specially trained pups into the lives of children with special needs. Unlike traditional service dogs, North Star facilitates placement in the home early while the pups are young and can form a loving and personable bond with their child. For kids like Rachel Margaret who live with autism, this is especially so important. RM needs a companion dog whose training is based on her personality and her specific emotional needs.

Family Inclusion. North Star Foundation is committed to their placements being equally beneficial for siblings, too! Rachel Margaret and her brother Will (10) live this life side by side. Many of you can attest to the strong bond these two share and the depth of love that connects them. Both of the kids are not only living this unique life with Rachel Margaret’s challenges, but both have lived through their father’s two Afghanistan deployments and now his departure from the family home as he seeks divorce. Patty Dobbs Gross, Founder of North Star Foundation, believes wholeheartedly that our placement is as much for Will as it is for RM. I couldn’t agree more.

A New Life for Rachel Margaret…

North Star dogs are trained as pups both in the home and by a North Star partnering surrogate who supervises the placement process. The pup’s training will be tailored to Rachel Margaret’s needs right from the start! For RM, that means a dog that will allow her to remain calm in otherwise stressful and unfamiliar situations, giving her the ability to feel confident and secure during times of transition – a particularly difficult task for kids (and adults) with autism. Unlike most kids, Rachel Margaret is unable to access the community in ways most of us take for granted. Going to a public playground is not always fun for her. The chaos, unfamiliar faces, sights, sounds, smells, etc., of everyday outings can be physically painful. A North Star companion trained to assist Rachel Margaret can alleviate the anxiety associated with these situations. And that, my friends, would be LIFE. CHANGING. (For all of us.)

THANK YOU!

From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you for taking the time to join with us in this endeavor for Rachel Margaret. We do hope that this is only the beginning of a truly remarkable relationship between RM and whoever her furball-to-be will be.

Blessings,

Rachel Kenyon, Proud Mama

She inspired a Nation…CMKAA FB LOGO

Rachel Margaret was the inspiration for the first Congressional legislation ever passed designed to require health benefits coverage of treatments for all military families with autism. It has been an honor for our family to have met so many of you along our quest for better care for all. We continue to be inspired by those who have taken the torch and created a stronger, more inspiring community of many thousands while our family transitions through an unexpected divorce and the continuing special needs of Rachel Margaret.


I Forgive You

I forgive you.

The most powerful words we have in our hearts.  They embody Love in its most defining and intimate moment.  Forgiveness is Love – the most powerful, the essential energy of life – and with three simple words, “I forgive you,” we can experience and share the absolute of Love.  Fear is the only antagonist of Love.  It is the only thought process that obstructs us from experiencing Love and prevents us from forgiving others and moving on.  We create our own thoughts, so it is our own will to exist in Love or to live in fear.

February 2, 2010, my daughter was diagnosed with autism.  My husband was in Afghanistan fighting in a war.  I was home raising a teenage stepdaughter and a six-year-old son.  I was scared.  I felt alone.  It was my job to fight for my daughter’s educational rights because our school district did not have an appropriate autism program.  I also learned that our military insurance, TRICARE, did not cover autism treatments for our military children and that made me very angry.  So I fought everybody.  I spent many years fighting.  I blamed the district that would not educate my daughter.  I blamed TRICARE for not caring for military children.  I blamed government for not working.  I blamed families for not speaking up.  I blamed society for not being aware.  As you can imagine, it was exhausting and it took all of my energy just to survive all of that fighting.  There were good moments in between, of course.  I loved my children and husband, of course.  We had good times, of course.  But I was not focused on those.  I was focused on attacking those who had done my family and my daughter an injustice. I lived in constant fear of losing.

December 31st, 2013, I received a letter in the mail from the State of Connecticut Department of Education stating that our complaint against our school district had been satisfied and after several months, it was now closed.  Another fight was over.  On January 6, 2014, (ironically on Epiphany) we went to our yearly Individualized Education Plan (IEP) meeting at our daughter’s autism school and without any fuss, signed an agreement for another year of excellent programming where she is making progress and she is thriving.  Another fight was over.

So there was only one thing left for me to do, Friends.

This is my gift to you.  I am sharing with you what was the most intimate act of Love I have ever committed and I pray that you will find this same Love in your heart and mind in your life, too:

I forgive you

I sent a note each to the Special Education Director and Outplacement Supervisor in our district that I have been “fighting” for over five years.  Because I had to learn that advocating for my daughter didn’t mean it had to be a war.  Oh, I will always get her what she needs, but I will do so in the name of Love, not in angry energy spent on people who make their own choices.  I choose me.  I choose Love.  Forgiving does not lay me in harm’s way to be victim, but rather it places me in a position to never fall victim again. Love is letting go

Thanks to this book, Love is Letting Go of Fear, I am free.  I am living my life with Love and I am no longer in fear.  Of anything.  Or anyone.

I have learned the greatest lesson life has to teach us:  With every action, with every word, first ask yourself, “Am I doing this for Love?”  If not, my Friends, do not waste your time.  Love yourself first, forgive yourself first.  Recognize that the person in front of you is made of the same screwy stuff as you and we’re all just trying to get a little Love around here.

Don’t be afraid anymore.

I love you.

Rachel


I Choose Love

This is for my husband.

Forever and always.  Through any storm.  I’ve got your back.
This is me singing “The Great Escape” by P!nk:

I can understand how
When the edges are rough
And they cut you like the tiniest slivers of glass.
And you feel too much,
And you don’t know how long you’re gonna last.

Everyone you know is trying to smooth it over.
Find a way to make the hurt go away.
Everyone you know is trying to smooth it over.
Like you’re trying to scream underwater.

But I won’t let you make the great escape.
I’m never gonna watch you checkin’ out of this place.
I’m not gonna lose you, ‘cause the passion and pain
Are gonna keep you alive someday.
Gonna keep you alive someday.

I feel like I could wave my fist in front of your face.
And you wouldn’t flinch or even feel a thing.
You’ve retreated to your silent corner,
Like you decided the fight was over for ya.

Everyone you know is trying to smooth it over.
Find a way to make the hurt go away.
Everyone you know is trying to smooth it over.
Everyone needs a floor they can fall through.

I won’t let you make the great escape.
I’m never gonna watch you checkin’ out of this place.
I’m not gonna lose you, cause the passion and the pain
Are gonna keep you alive someday.
Gonna keep you alive someday.

Terrified of the dark, but not if you go with me.
And I don’t need a pill to make me numb.
And I wrote the book on running,
But that chapter of my life will soon be done.

I’m the King of the great escape.
You’re not going to watch me checkin’ out of this place.
You’re not going to lose me, cause the passion and the pain
Are going to keep us alive someday.
Yeah the passion and the pain
Are going to keep us alive, someday.
Someday.


900 Mass Shooting Victims; WHAT Mental Illness???

[Ed note: This is the somewhat cleaner version of my previous post for those who can't stomach so much of my potty mouth.]

I hate to add to your Case of The Mondays with this news, but since it seems to have escaped most everyone’s attention, I felt it was my absolute duty to advise you that we are all – in fact – CRAZY.

You see, our great American society is not only fat and in debt up to our eyeballs, our brother’s eyeballs, and China’s eyeballs, we are so messed up in the head we have no idea how to be human anymore.  We are KILLING OURSELVES AND EACH OTHER.

The United States is ranked 30th in the world in infant mortality.  Your baby has a better chance of seeing the light of day in TWENTY-NINE other countries.  But here it’s a total crap shoot depending upon whether the birth takes place at Boston General or a smack house. What are we doing about that?

Once a child is born here in the Land of the Free, he or she has a one in five chance of living in oppressive poverty.  Our government defines poverty as an annual income below $23,492 for an average family of four.  Seriously?  Let’s be honest and say any family of four making twice that much is struggling in this country.  We have an epidemic of working poor yet we ignore what that even means.  There are several other federal programs acknowledging that “poverty” (or at least the real-world threshold for needing help) is at a much higher income level.  For example, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) caps assistance at $43,568 annually for a family of four.  The school lunch program caps the same at $29,055 for free lunch and $41,348 for reduced.  So are we saying that you’re only really poor in this country if you’re hungry AND unemployed?  What are we doing about that?

And hello, America, we are diverse from sea to shining sea.  Maybe that $23K plus some Food Stamps is kickin’ in your little cabin in Alaska.  Though if you’re a family of four living in Stamford, Connecticut, where the cost of living is 63% higher than the U.S. average, you guessed it – you, your infants, and your children are out of luck.  What are we doing about that?

But hey, the good news is that if you don’t have a job or healthcare, we’ve got government programs that have your back.  They may not work so well for the people who actually need them, but there are folks out there making a sweet living riding one loophole after another while you find yourself on a waitlist for the third year.  Meanwhile, none of the agencies charged with assisting good folks like yourself actually coordinate with each other, so while you were waitlisted for Medicaid, your Section 8 Housing request was denied.  Apparently, page 5 of 7 in your application was missing.  In other words, COME BACK NEXT MONTH, ASSHOLE.  No one cares if you and your kids are homeless.  What are we going to do about that?

I just read in a local paper that our soup kitchen is completely overwhelmed.  Instead of 80 folks for lunch, they are feeding anywhere from 100 to 150 per day.  Families are lined up at 9:30 in the morning for a free meal served at 11am.  What the hell are we doing about that?

Here’s the real deal, friends.  People are CRAY CRAY.  Myself included.  Mental healthcare in this country is as much of a joke and an insult as Rosanne Barr singing the National Anthem.  People are under enormous strain in a schizophrenic economy with inflated gas prices, crappy employment, and John Boehner’s stronghold on the tanning industry.

Just WHAT are we going to do about that?

People are in tremendous pain.  No one is listening.  This cycle of drudgery and stagnation in our society is making country music sound like our happy opus.  Priorities are insanely inverted and Minecraft is not a religion, for the record.  Facebook isn’t real and you can drink a lot and still wake up with the same problems plus less cash.

But what else can you do?  Who the hell would you trust to share your scary self with?  When you are in your darkest moments, can you even form the words?  Would you risk your job?  Your marriage?  The custody of your children?

Because let’s once again ask ourselves to be brutally honest – our society is not a forgiving one when it comes to mental illness.  One whiff of crazy and people are OUT.  The stigma is permanent dog shit stuck to your shoe.

And SCREW insurance.  I mean I have been to therapy, kids.  Six visits barely gets us to my favorite color.  I don’t know too many folks who have the $175 cash per hour for the next 40 sessions that will get us to second grade and why I have an aversion to Barry Manilow.

36,000 people commit suicide in this country each year.  Please stop and read that again.  (I’ll wait.)

You have to ask yourself, how could it get so bad for so many people that they saw no other way out?

And for those who felt disenfranchised and marginalized – or simply INVISIBLE – why do think they chose a mass shooting as their last act on this earth?  Too many video games?  HELL.  NO.  Because they had a bone to pick with their neighbors, with us, with our society.  We failed them.  All of them.  Some were bullied.  Some were fired.  Some were discriminated against.  Some had fallen on tough times and been abandoned.  All suffered a mental breakdown.  All were broken.  All needed our help.  We failed them.  As a nation, we failed them.

In 1999, right here in this country, somebody thought it crass to throw perfectly good babies away in dumpsters, that the practice had been going on for far too long.  It was shocking and messy and it made enough people pissy to do something about it.  Thus, within a few short years, all 50 of these United States had adopted some form of Safe Haven law so that idiots would stop doing that.  It’s worked pretty damn well, too.  Unlike mass shootings, I don’t hear about dead babies in dumpsters as often as there used to be.  Score one for using the ol’ thinking cap.

I’m wondering why we’ve kind of just sat back and watched the news footage roll of the last NINE HUNDRED PEOPLE KILLED BY MASS SHOOTINGS IN THIS COUNTRY.  Because if you think for one minute this is a gun debate – you are wrong.  This is about mental illness and why those who have it are invisible in this country until they whack a few dozen people.

Don’t we have at least one or two smarty pants up for the challenge here?  You know, to fix this?  Snap us out of it?  Remind us how to be human again?  Make us RESPONSIBLE to each other?

This country isn’t working, if you haven’t noticed.  Like literally, it is SHUT DOWN.  WHAT are we going to do about that?

I’m going to start by being honest with myself and my family.  There are days when I am more than capable of doing more for others than I have been.  There are also days when I need to speak up and say, “I need help.”  I want to get better at both.

Then I am going to start paying better attention to the needs of my neighbors and my community.  And I will open my heart, reach out my hand and ask, “What can I do about that?”

mental


We. Are. Fucked.

I hate to interrupt your burgeoning weekend plans with this news, but in case it has escaped your attention, I felt it was my absolute duty to advise you that we are all – in fact – FUCKED.

You see, our great American society is not only fat and in debt up to our eyeballs, our brother’s eyeballs, and China’s eyeballs, we are so fucked up in the head we have no idea how to be human anymore.  We are KILLING OURSELVES AND EACH OTHER.

The United States is ranked 30th in the world in infant mortality.  Your baby has a better chance of seeing the light of day in TWENTY-NINE other countries.  But here it’s a total crap shoot depending upon whether the birth takes place at Boston General or a smack house. What are we doing about that?

Once a child is born here in the Land of the Free, he or she has a one in five chance of living in oppressive poverty.  Our government defines poverty as an annual income below $23,492 for an average family of four.  WTF.  Let’s be honest and say any family of four making twice that much is struggling in this country.  We have an epidemic of working poor in this country yet we ignore what that even means.  There are several other federal programs acknowledging that “poverty” (or at least the real-world threshold for needing help) is at a much higher income level.  For example, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) caps assistance at $43,568 annually for a family of four.  The school lunch program caps the same at $29,055 for free lunch and $41,348 for reduced.  So are we saying that you’re only really poor in this country if you’re hungry AND unemployed?  What the fuck are we doing about that?

And hello, America, we are fucking diverse from sea to shining sea.  Maybe that $23K plus some Food Stamps is kickin’ in your little cabin in Alaska.  Though if you’re a family of four living in Stamford, Connecticut, where the cost of living is 63% higher than the U.S. average, you guessed it – you, your infants, and your children are fucked.  What the fuck are we doing about that?

But hey, the good news is that if you don’t have a job or healthcare, we’ve got government programs that have your back.  They may not work so well for the people who actually need them, but there are folks out there making one sweet living riding one loophole after another while you find yourself on a waitlist for the third year.  Meanwhile, none of the agencies charged with assisting good folks like yourself actually coordinate with each other, so while you were waitlisted for Medicaid, your Section 8 Housing request was denied.  Apparently, page 5 of 7 in your application was missing.  In other words, GO FUCK YOURSELF.  No one cares if you and your kids are homeless.  What the fuck are we going to do about that?

I just read in a local paper that our soup kitchen is fucking overwhelmed.  Instead of 80 folks for lunch, they are feeding anywhere from 100 to 150 per day.  Families are lined up at 9:30 in the morning for a free meal served at 11am.  What the FUCK are we doing about that?

Here’s the real deal, friends.  People are CRAY CRAY.  Myself included.  Mental healthcare in this country is as much of a joke and an insult as Rosanne Barr singing the National Anthem.  Shit. Ain’t. Right.  People are under enormous strain in a fucked up economy with shitty gas prices, crappy employment, and John Boehner’s stronghold on the tanning industry.

What the fuck are we going to do about that?

People are in tremendous pain.  No one is listening.  This cycle of drudgery and stagnation in our society is making country music sound like our happy opus.  Priorities are insanely inverted and Minecraft is not a religion, for the record.  Facebook isn’t real and you can drink a lot and still wake up with the same problems plus less cash.

But what else can you do?  Who the hell would you trust to share your scary self with?  When you are in your darkest moments, can you even form the words?  Would you risk your job?  Your marriage?  The custody of your children?

Because let’s once again ask ourselves to be brutally honest – our society is not a forgiving one when it comes to mental illness.  One whiff of crazy and people are OUT.  The stigma is permanent dog shit stuck to your shoe.

And FUCK insurance.  I mean I have been to therapy, kids.  Six visits barely gets us to my favorite color.  I don’t know too many folks who have the $175 cash per hour for the next 40 sessions that will get us to second grade and why I have an aversion to Barry Manilow.

36,000 people commit suicide in this country each year.  Please stop and read that again.  (I’ll wait.)

You have to ask yourself, how could it get so bad for so many people that they saw no other way out?

And for those who felt disenfranchised and marginalized – or simply FUCKED – why do think they chose a mass fucking shooting as their last act on this earth?  Too many video games?  FUCK.  NO.  Because they had a fucking bone to pick with their neighbors, with us, with our society.  We failed them.  All of them.  Some were bullied.  Some were fired.  Some were discriminated against.  Some had fallen on tough times and been abandoned.  All suffered a mental breakdown.  All were broken.  All needed our help.  We failed them.  As a nation, we failed them.

In 1999, right here in this country, somebody thought it crass to throw perfectly good babies away in dumpsters, that the practice had been going on for far too long.  It was shocking and messy and it made enough people pissy to do something about it.  Thus, within a few short years, all 50 of these United States had adopted some form of Safe Haven law so that idiots would stop that shit.  It’s worked pretty damn well, too.  Unlike mass fucking shootings, I don’t hear about dead babies in dumpsters as often as there used to be.  Score one for using the ol’ thinking cap.

I’m wondering why we’ve kind of just sat back and watched the news footage roll of the last NINE HUNDRED PEOPLE KILLED BY MASS SHOOTINGS IN THIS COUNTRY.  Because if you think for one minute this is a gun debate – you are wrong.  This is about mental illness and why those who have it are invisible in this country until they whack a few dozen people.

Don’t we have at least one or two smarty pants up for the challenge here?  You know, to fix this shit?  Snap us the FUCK out of it?  Remind us how to be human again?  Make us RESPONSIBLE to each other?

This country isn’t working, if you haven’t noticed.  Like literally, it is SHUT THE FUCK DOWN.  What the fuck are we going to do about that?

I’m going to start by being honest with myself and my family.  There are days when I am more than capable of doing more for others than I have been.  There are also days when I need to speak up and say, “I need help.”  I want to get better at both.

Then I am going to start paying better attention to the needs of my neighbors and my community.  And I will open my heart, reach out my hand and ask, “What can I do about that?”

 


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