Category Archives: featured

The importance of self care

You know self-care is important, right? I mean, it’s on your to-do list and just as soon as you get everything done, you’ll take care of yourself. So why does self-care always seem to be at the bottom of the list?

Self care in Spain with my bestie's.

Self care in Spain with my bestie’s.


I’m a therapist, so I totally get it, I know I need to take care of myself in order to serve others. But as a woman, I can also put my needs way down the list and the next thing I know I am running on empty. The first sign that I need to take care of myself, is when I start snarling at my husband. My husband is lovely, he really is. Incredibly supportive of me, he still thinks I’m the most beautiful woman in the room and just an all round good guy. But when my tank is empty, I’m just mean to him and he doesn’t deserve it.

That’s a red flag. I’ve talked about red flags before. They are important, pay attention to them. The information contained in them could be vital. So after hitting a low point last year, the importance of self-care really came home to me and I’ve made it my top priority.

I’ve just come off the most tremendous week of self care and I feel amazing. Inspired, connected, loved.
After my weekend in NYC at She Recovers I flew to Barcelona, Spain to spend three days with three of my oldest and dearest friends. It was tough. Finding a window in our schedules, arranging childcare, booking flights. Agreeing on where to go. But one of us had just been through a very serious health issue and all of those barriers just melted away. None of them were insurmountable challenges when you focus on what matters.
Friendship. The power of connection, supporting people you love by just being there for them. All of it filled my cups.

I spend most of my days with very small children so just being around adult people feels so enriching to me. And I just really, really needed that last week. I needed the joy and emotion of She Recovers and I needed the love and connection from my bestie’s. I really, really needed some self-care.

This will enrich me for a while, then at some point, if I let it, I’ll find myself running on empty again. But this time I’m not going to let myself get to that point. Self-care transforms me. I am a much better wife and mother when I take care of myself. By getting enough sleep, eating right and scratching out just a little bit of time each week for me. And making that time a priority. Top of the list. Everything flows from that.

What ever stage you are at in your recovery, whether you are early days or 17 years like me. What are you doing to take care of yourself? How high on your to-do list is self-care?

Cadaques, Spain 2017 - the perfect place to relax and unplug.

Cadaques, Spain 2017 – the perfect place to relax and unplug.

She Recovers Day 3 – and when I ugly-cried in front of 500 women

Marianne Williamson and me at She Recovers

Marianne Williamson and me at She Recovers


We have all been to a meeting, an event, to see an acclaimed speaker, and felt that they spoke only to you. That their words were already written on our souls, they just had to call them forth.
That’s what happened to me when I heard Marianne Williamson speak at She Recovers.

This wasn’t why I came. I came because I had the incredible honor of being invited onto the sober blogger team. I came to serve. I had no idea there was so much here that I needed. But my soul knew.

Marianne is the spiritual teacher I had been waiting for, for a long time. A Course in Miracles is my spiritual truth. This is the second time I had heard her and she delivers such a powerful and important message. I love how politically engaged she is. The personal is political, Marianne made that very clear. What we are doing to our planet, how women and children’s voices are silenced. She spoke to me today.

As I wrote yesterday, the theme of this whole event has been about ‘pain.’ Her quote ‘Let me not squander the hour of my pain’ pierced my soul.
I am in pain, but the enormity of it frightened me so much I have been holding it at bay. She Recovers showed me I could no longer do that.
I am a warrior. I have felt deep dark emotional pain before and I can get through anything. Anything. You can throw anything at me and I will get through it. I have done before. But just don’t throw it at my child, ok? Because that is a level of pain I am not prepared for. But it is here and it is mine. And. I. Will. Not. Squander. It.

Because Marianne spoke so passionately about the planet and the political situation we are currently in I wanted to ask her if she was going to run for Congress again. Like many of us, I have felt despair at our current political situation and I want a leader I can believe in.
I wasn’t expecting to full on ugly cry in front of y’all. I wasn’t expecting 500 women to surround me with unconditional love. I wasn’t expecting Marianne Williamson to lead the room in prayer for Luke’s healing from lead poisoning*.
I just wasn’t expecting that.
But my soul thanks you, for grace you extended to me.

This weekend has given me so much to think about. It has deepened my connections with you all. Every time I see you, I love you more. We are all in these incredible process’s, but what matters is we are all in it together.

I am still digesting what was said and how I feel. I know there is so much growth that will come from this. But for right now, I’m treasuring that Marianne Williamson came and said exactly what I needed to hear.

My son Luke. He likes mud.

My son Luke. He likes mud.

*If you are interested in learning more about lead poisoning in young children then please check out my friend Tamara Rubin’s website. Tamara is a mom whose children were lead poisoned by the house they were living in. She has since become an ‘unexpected lead expert’ and activist. She has worked tirelessly to help families and raise awareness of the situation and has been a great support to me. Her movie ‘Mislead’ is coming out soon and you can watch the trailer below.


She also has a ‘Go Fund Me’ campaign where she is raising money to buy an XRF machine (the best way to test any object for lead) so she can help more families. If you are able to support her in any way I would be very grateful.

She Recovers NYC – lets meet up

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We are just days away from the She Recovers event in NYC. I will be taking part in the ‘meet the bloggers’ event on Friday night at 5pm. The sober blogging team will be around all weekend and we love to hang out, so please be sure to come and say hi.
I will be giving 5 copies of my best-selling book ‘Why you drink and How to stop’ away to the first 5 readers who come up and introduce themselves.
I will also be celebrating 17 years of recovery with the very lovely Julie Maida from ‘Sober Mommies’. We are sober twins, sharing the exact same sober birthday. I will be blogging, Facebooking, Tweeting and Instagraming live all weekend.
If you can’t come then check out social media and become part of the She Recovers global group.
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Sobriety – what I’ve learned so far….

Image courtesy of Prakairoj / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Prakairoj / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


On May 2nd 2017 I celebrate 17 years of continuous sobriety. This did not come easy. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done and I made some big mistakes along the way. But through these mistakes I learnt some vital lessons that have helped me stay sober and become the best version of myself that I’m capable of being.
Long term recovery means you never stop learning and growing. Here are the things that have helped me learn and grow the most….

1. Just when you think you’ve nailed it…..
More than once I’ve thought ‘I’ve got this!’ ‘I know everything there is to know about recovery and addiction’, ‘I’ve dealt with all my issues…. I don’t really need to do anymore work on myself’. Yep, that usually happens right before I fall flat on my arse.

2. The growth never stops…
Ever. I mean, like never, ever stops. It smooth’s out a lot, things are definitely less bumpy. But there is always more to know and if you think you know, all there is to know, then see above.

3. We teach other people how to treat us.
My behavior will instruct you on whether to walk all over me, abuse me or hurt me. Instead, I can teach you how to treat me, with the boundaries I protect and by saying what I mean.

4. Say what you mean, mean what you say…
People do not need to hear me waffling on about my story, they do not need excuses, they generally just need a truthful ‘yes’ or a ‘no.’ my life became so much similar and calmer when I learnt how to do this.

5. I have to take responsibility for the experience I want to have.
By practicing the above I become responsible for the experience I am having right now. If events or circumstances are out of my control then I always get to choose my response. Therefore, I am responsible for my experience, in all circumstances, without fail.

6. If you don’t do the work, the shine will go off your recovery.
Being sober is just not enough. I need more than that. If I don’t put the work in, then I may stay sober, but I’ll stop feeling comfortable in my own skin. I’ll drift back to being discontent and fearful. Which means I have to keep being accountable and looking and reflecting on my behavior.

7. Give it away to keep it.
When my life came together in sobriety and my career and personal life went well I forgot to work with newcomers. Don’t do that. Giving of yourself is actually what fills your tanks.

8. Does it always need to be said and does it need to be said by you?
Not usually, I have discovered. Only give your opinion if explicitly asked, trust me, it saves a lot of time and trouble.

9. Exercise
Out of everything I have just told you, this is the most important one. Seriously, the benefits of exercising on your emotional well-being outweigh everything else you can possibly do.

10. Practice listening.
None of us listen well. Quiet the noise in your head and really focus on what people are saying. You will be amazed at what you hear.

11. It was never about you
OMG! The relief! It was never about me anyway. What YOU did or said, had bollocks all to do with my life. Everyone else is wrapped up in their own stuff too! Now I can stop worrying what other people think and get on with it!

12. Nothing is ever personal
See above. What other people do, say or think is always about them, not me. Even when it seems like it is, what other people do or say, always without fail, comes through the filters of their own experience, values and judgment. Therefore it is not personal to me but a simple expression of how they feel at that particular time. Took me a while to get that one.

13. The journey is joyous….
It was never the destination. We are always in a state of becoming the best version of ourselves. Uncovering who we really are is the point of it all. All I ever had to do was just keep moving.

14. Be still.
I am a human ‘being’ not a human ‘doing.’ Life is not an never-ending ‘To-do’ list. Sometimes it is in the stillness, or the quiet moments that we feel the most alive.

15. Love well
There was always much love here for me; I just refused to see it for a while. Always choose love, the chooses I have made in my life based on fear have never worked out. If I choose love, then things don’t always work out the way I want or planned but man, is the adventure a good one!

16. Friendships above all else.
At some point you will have cause to regret not making more effort to see your friends. We get busy, life gets in the way. But friendship is the soil your spirit needs to grow in. Good friends are hard to find, which is why treasuring the ones you have is more important that anything.

17. Ask for help
You will always need others to help you, friends (see above), or professionals. No matter how many years sober you have, life willthrough you a curve ball and it will be more than you can handle. Asking for help is skill that you can never forget. No matter how old you are.

The Opiod epidemic is the new AIDS crisis

I was driving the other day when a Prince song came on the radio. I felt so sad listening to him, his death was so unnecessary. Then it struck me, that despite a star of his magnitude dying of an opiate overdose, still, nothing has changed.
His death wasn’t the turning point.
50,000 people die every year from opiate overdoses. We are in the middle of a crisis and we have still no adequate response.

With permission by http://www.liahonaacademy.com/

With permission by http://www.liahonaacademy.com/


Andrew Sullivan wrote this piece on the Opiate epidemic, that it is our generation’s AIDS crisis. He is right and our response should be of the same magnitude.

In the 1980’s no one cared about AIDS. It only affected gay men, and in many people’s eyes they pretty much deserved what they got, with their devious immoral behavior. Communities were just devastated, the number of deaths increasing monthly. But no one did anything. Until a small group of outraged, devastated and determined people got together and started advocating. Motivated by anger, desperation and the inability to just stand by and watch this happen to their community, they started making a nuciense of themselves. They got in people’s faces and they kept demanding help until they got it.
They kept going until momentum started to build. Sure, it took ‘straight’ people dying of HIV for people to realize that this was a potential threat to everyone, to really get things going. But the response to the AIDS crisis really demonstrated what a small determined bunch of advocates can really do. Now AIDS research, prevention and treatment is extremely well-funded and understood. And most importantly the unnecessary deaths have stopped.

Why don’t we care enough about the opioid crisis? Across the country there are groups of angry and determined people who are demanding a response to this epidemic but we still don’t have the momentum and visibility required to really make a difference.
Chris Christie has just been appointed to the White House to tackle this crisis. I hope he succeeds, but it requires an effort on all fronts. More treatment, more education but most of all more regulations on the pharmaceutical companies who are pumping opiate based drugs into (particularly) rural communities. We need to be more angry about this. Because this is the main point, why aren’t the pharmaceutical companies being held accountable?*

I hear about the opiate crisis a lot on the news but what I don’t hear is talk of a plan. ‘We need to do something.’ Yeah, no s**t.
And still the deaths go on. It’s more like Prince and the (complete lack of a drug) Revolution.

*Senator McCaskill is launching an investigation into int the marketing, sales and profits of the largest opioid manufacturers.

Rea Bochner – in recovery from food addiction

Rea Bochner is in recovery from food addiction. I think you will find her story moving and powerful. So many people suffer with food issues but we still don’t talk about it enough.
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Here’s more about the book:
The Cape House is a story both personal and universal, told with fearless honesty and laugh-out-loud humor. It begins on the day that Bochner’s mother, Debbi, tells her that she’s received a prognosis of terminal cancer, and has decided to move to the family’s beloved summer home in Cape Cod to die. Over the next six weeks, as Debbi deteriorates, Bochner writes the story of her family, and looks back on the winding road she trudged with her mother through addiction, recovery, and redemption. Readers travel with the author from Phoenix, Arizona, to a medieval Dutch castle, to the Old City of Jerusalem, where an array of colorful characters shape her destiny in unexpected ways. Meanwhile, Bochner presents a real-life portrait of a family struggling to stay together, even as their personal journeys threaten to tear them apart.

As both a eulogy for and a celebration of an exceptional woman, Rea Bochner writes unflinchingly of the powerful bond between a mother and her daughter. The result is a moving book that carries the readers from tears to laughter, from mourning to triumph. The Cape House is a testament to love as a force of nature, and the journey of one woman to discover herself.

Tell me about your own recovery:
I struggled with food from the time I was young. I knew in kindergarten I was different from other kids; no one else dug half-eaten pizza crusts out of the garbage can or stole snacks from other kids’ lunch boxes. By eight, I was very overweight. At ten I started the first of many commercial diets, which I always failed. By fourteen, I weighed well over 200 pounds. At 16, as I approached 250, I tried to curb the weight gain with bulimia, which continued on and off until my early twenties. Around that time I also started experimenting with alcohol; although I never went as far down as I did with food, it was rare that I drank normally – I almost always binge-drank. I walked into my first 12-step meeting at 19 and had no idea what was going on. What was no one weighing me? Where was the food I was supposed to buy? I struggled for two years before I finally surrendered and was willing to do whatever it took to get better. Yesterday, March 29, was my 13th anniversary of the night I got abstinent. The big lie I told myself for years before I got clean was that once I was thin, my life would be perfect. I would be perfect. But lo and behold, a year and a half after I got abstinent, I reached my goal weight and discovered I was crazier than I’d been at 250. After I discovered the pain and loneliness hadn’t gone away, I started working the twelve steps in earnest and had a real spiritual experience. Around that time, I met my husband, who has only ever known me in recovery, with whom I had three boys, who have only ever known a mother in recovery. I’ve since gone through all kinds of ups and downs – financial struggle, job changes, motherhood, moving, the loss of my mother, and many others, without picking up. Underneath, I’ve always known that I’m being carried, that I’m meant for important work in this world. So I hold on and keep moving forward, keep growing, even when it’s difficult.


Why did you decide to write such a personal book?

There were a few reasons. First of all, before she died, my mother asked me to write the book, and I wanted to honor that request. I wanted to pay her the tribute she deserved while giving a real-life picture of what it looks like to help someone die. Many people have never experienced it, and I hope that by sharing mine it will empower people if they should ever have to go through it themselves, or offer solidarity to those who have already gone through it. Also, there was no way to talk about my mother’s and my relationship without talking about my addiction and recovery, because it was so tied up how we related to each other. I was sick and wanted her to save me, and she thought that was her job. It was only when I took responsibility for myself that things changed for both of us. I also wanted to be frank about what food addiction looks like because, despite the awareness of alcohol and drug addiction, there still seems to be stigma and moral judgment about that particular eating disorder. People don’t seem to realize that food addiction is just as real as alcohol and drug addiction. So I wanted to bring some light to that, in case someone struggling with it would see they’re not alone.

So many people suffer from food issues and have no idea how to solve the problem. Could you say more about what you feel was under your food addiction?

I was an imaginative yet anxious kid, very fearful, and I used food to anesthetize that. Fear played a big part in my life and informed almost every decision I made, and food was the only way I could cope. I remember always feeling different from my peers, not just because of my food or my weight, but just a sense, which many addicts have, that everyone but me had read the manual for life. It was a very lonely way to grow up, and again, food became my companion. I also grew up in a Jewish family, and many of our traditions revolve around food, so it was a perfect storm. Turning to food was a habit I integrated very young, to the point where I didn’t even think about it anymore; it was just what I did. There was anger under there, too, though it wasn’t something I recognized until much later, after I’d gotten clean and surprised myself by how rageful I was. Lastly, food was my way to hide from responsibility, and to control my life. If I could hide in my body and keep the parameters of my life small, then I didn’t have to worry about success or failure or getting hurt. Working the twelve steps and developing a relationship with a higher power was really my answer to all of these things; it didn’t wipe out the fear and loneliness, but gave me tools to coexist with them without self-destructing.
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And, what would you say to someone who was struggling the way you were?
It’s not always going to be like this. There is a way out. And when you’re ready for help, there are thousands of us who are ready to show up.

About the author:
Rea Bochner is a writer, speaker, and recovering mother of five. She wrote her first haiku in third grade and has been writing ever since. Known for her witty, honest voice, Rea tackles subjects as disparate as pregnancy and parenting, grief, addiction and recovery, spirituality, and women’s issues. Her work has been featured in a wide variety of print and web media, including the New York Times Bestselling “Small Miracles” series. She holds a BA in Film from Emerson College and an MA in Education from Montclair State University. “The Cape House” is her debut memoir.

You can learn more about the book (and me) by visiting my website: http://reabochner.com.

#ICan’tKeepQuiet

A friend of mine sent me this video. #ICantKeepQuiet by MILCK. The performer is survivor of sex abuse, anorexia and depression and channeled her feelings into music. The song is catching fire and has become an anthem to lots of people.
Great song AND a great message.

How to be invisible.

Image courtesy of Heavypong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Heavypong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A few years ago, the bar owners around the campus of the University of Illinois realized they were missing out on some major revenue because St Patrick’s day fell during Spring Break. Which meant there were no students around and no therefore no partying. Not wishing to miss out on such a lucrative opportunity they created ‘Unofficial.’ Which is ‘unofficial St Patrick’s Day’ to take place the week before. ‘Unofficial’ has since become a huge event with students traveling from other colleges to take part in the, um, ‘celebrations.’

When I lived in Champaign, my husband and I walked around the college bar area checking out what it was like. There is something incredible about being over 25 and being on a college bar scene. It renders you completely invisible.

Drinking is part of the college scene and after finals, a lot of kids need and deserve to cut loose. Partying is fun. I did it.
But then someone dies and the reality of binge drinking at college comes crashing home. Twenty-three year-old Jonathan Morales fell from a balcony to his death during this years ‘Unofficial.’ It is the third student death related to the ‘Unofficial’ event. Morales is just one of an estimated 1825 college students to die of alcohol related causes this year.

What do we do? Ban drinking? Ban ‘Unofficial’? It wouldn’t stop it, it would just drive it under ground. Kids would still die, injuries and sexual abuse would probably go un-reported.
But we have to do something, right? Kids can’t go to college and keep dying this way.
1825 young people is far too high a number for us to feel comfortable with.

My friend Joe Schrank has a rather controversial suggestion and I have to say I think it’s worth considering. Prohibition isn’t the answer, instead, we have to accept that young people want to party we just want to lower the risk of them doing so. Schrank’s suggestion is to ban the sale of hard liquor on college campuses and only sell beer. Of course you can still get very drunk on beer, it’s just really hard to drink lots of it very quickly in the way you can with hard liquor. Second, he suggests the legalization of marijuana, as marijuana is very hard, if not impossible to overdose on.
Of course marijuana comes with risks, there are many mental health problems associated with using it. I don’t want my kids to use it. I don’t want my kids to use anything. But is that realistic? I hope they are going to college and I want them to have fun and I can also remember what it’s like to be young adult with all that freedom and no responsibility. Most of all I want them to be safe. I would at least like a discussion on what we could do to make kids safer when they party at college.

I know there is no perfect solution here. If marijuana is legalized then it is essential that the taxes from it are plowed into drug prevention and treatment. No substance is without risk.
Right now, I’m not seeing a lot of outrage to these events or to the amount of kids who die each year. I believe they are preventable. But right now these deaths are invisible.

Ben Affleck: addiction superhero

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I have to confess I am not a Ben Affleck fan. I tend to avoid movies that have him in it. However, right now I am giving him a standing ovation.

You may have seen his brief, but poignant Facebook statement about his recent stay in rehab. In case you missed it, here it is:

“I have completed treatment for alcohol addiction; something I’ve dealt with in the past and will continue to confront. I want to live life to the fullest and be the best father I can be. I want my kids to know there is no shame in getting help when you need it, and to be a source of strength for anyone out there who needs help but is afraid to take the first step. I’m lucky to have the love of my family and friends, including my co-parent, Jen, who has supported me and cared for our kids as I’ve done the work I set out to do. This was the first of many steps being taken towards a positive recovery”.

This may seem trivial, but what is amazing about his post, is how positive and how lacking in shame it is.

I’m so tired of the celebrity rock bottom/rehab/trite confession to Opera cycle. Addiction is a medical issue, a disease of the brain and a mental health problem. It is not a moral issue and we really need to stop treating it like one. This is not unlike other celebrities issuing statements to let people know have sought treatment for Lupus/breast cancer/Diabetes. But when it comes to addiction, celebrities are usually hounded and shamed into admitting they have an alcohol/drug problem. This has not been helpful to ordinary people who suffer from the same illness. Shame stops people seeking treatment when they need it. Hiding our disease in the myth of anonymity/secrecy keeps everyone sick. His honesty, straightforwardness and lack of shame, gives everyone else permission to do the same.
Ben Affleck has treated addiction like the disease it is, may others follow.

His name is Luke……

Image courtesy of chrisroll at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of chrisroll at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


I was sent this very moving essay by a mother in Illinois. It moved me greatly. It is about her son Luke who is struggling with addiction.

“I am here to see my son Luke.
What is his number?
His name is Luke.
Mam, what is his number?
His name is Luke. Luke…Luke.
Lady, if you don’t give us his number, you will have to leave.
But his name is Luke………………
And his number is M164874”.

John Mayer has a song that says:

When you’re dreaming with a broken heart
The waking up is the hardest part
You roll outta bed and down on your knees
And for a moment you can hardly breathe

But I wasn’t dreaming…I was talking to the guards at Statesville Prison in Joliet, Illinois. Luke had barely turned 21. He was sentenced to two years in prison for criminal destruction to property over $300. His probation was revoked because he didn’t do what was mandated. They put a warrant out for his arrest. I remember the day he called to tell me was running because he couldn’t go back behind bars. He had spent two weeks in the county jail before his hearing, and he was like a trapped animal. I would visit him at the county and talk to him on a phone with glass in between us. Just like you see on TV folks. And I would put my hand on the glass and he would put his hand on the glass and I knew my heart was never going to beat the same. Luke has always been a free and creative spirit. When he told me that he was going to run, the fear took my breath away, but I also couldn’t tell him not to do it. We met on the sly for lunch a couple of times. I could have turned him in. I should have turned him in. Instead I would give him a hug and watch him walk away down an alley never sure if I would see him again. I knew he’d get caught, and he did.

Enter Statesville Prison in Joliet. Two hours drive there, two-hour visit, two hours drive back home. Every single week-end. They would call him up from his cell. His room was in a huge building at the end of a courtyard the length of a football field. I would hurry into the visiting room and go to the window so I could watch him walk across the courtyard. I watched every single step he took. My baby. And I would try to get my tears out before he entered the room. But I also knew that before he could enter that room, he would first have to go into the guard station to take down his pants, bend over, raise his balls. And after I left from the visit, he would again have to take down his pants to bend over, raise his balls.

He would call me non-stop during the week. Sometimes we’d only say a few words. But he needed to hear my voice and I needed to hear his. On my visits on the week-ends, the first time we talked and talked. But with each visit, the talking became strained….his world never changed, and it was difficult for me to talk about the world outside that he was missing.

I could purchase a card to get food out of a vending machine for Luke when I was visiting. I know it sounds so minor, but it was a major event and one of the things that would make me cry. Momma bear knowing that food was a comfort. Luke longed for the food…crappy microwave sandwiches and Mountain Dew and some chips. But half the time the card machine was broken or the vending machines were empty. And I would sit there and cry because it meant something, and Luke would look at me and say “Mom, don’t worry about it, just please don’t cry.

As time went on, I continued to be a mess on the inside. Some friends and family changed the subject if I mentioned his name. It was awkward to talk about my son being in prison. I became two different people…I went through my days as normally as I could, but I was also heart broken by his imprisonment and by the system. And I knew the importance of visiting each weekend, but it was SO difficult to get into my car and drive the long drive and endure the pain of seeing him in his prison jump suit, losing weight, and losing touch with the outside world. And Statesville…it’s like an Alcatraz in Illinois. Frightening.

So with each visit I became more and more agitated. The guards sitting at the front desk, watching every move we made in the visiting room while they sat there with their feet on the desk, eating food and tapping on the window if I got too close to Luke. It got to the point where I felt like the scene in Terms of Endearment when Shirley McClaine becomes a maniac when her daughter, dying of cancer, needs pain medicine. If you haven’t seen the movie, she screams at the nurses “I don’t see why she has to have this pain it’s time for her shot, do you understand? Do something…my daughter is in pain! Give her the shot, do you understand me? GIVE MY DAUGHTER THE SHOT!!! Just like that, I wanted to scream:

WHY IS THE CARD MACHINE BROKEN AGAIN AND WHY AREN’T THERE CHIPS IN THE VENDING MACHINE, AND WHY CAN’T I TOUCH MY SON, AND WHY ARE YOU TURNING AWAY LOVED ONES WHEN THEY HAVE A SHIRT THAT’S TWO LOW CUT, AND WHY DO YOU KEEP POUNDING ON THE WINDOW IF I REACH TO TOUCH HIM, AND HOW DARE YOU MAKE ME TAKE MY TWO YEAR OLD GRANDSON’S DIAPER OFF TO “SEARCH” HIM BEFORE HE CAN SEE HIS DAD, AND WHY DID YOU TEAR MY SON’S CELL APART BECAUSE HE SNUCK A COOKIE FROM THE LUNCH ROOM BECAUSE HE WAS HUNGRY…HE WAS HUNGRY!!! AND WHY DO YOU INSIST HE IS JUST A NUMBER???

The Dalai Lama once said “Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.” I wish I could post that at the guard station at Statesville. But this isn’t about the prison system per se, it’s about the understanding of pain which is always trumped by love.


Where he is today:

That was in 2011-2012. Luke did really well the first year and a half out of prison. Fast forward to today, 2017. Luke is a mess. He is probably the worst I have ever seen him. He admits he is addicted to drugs and alcohol, so much so that without either in just a day’s time, he begins shaking and having withdrawal. He refuses to get the help he needs. He recently went for an involuntary evaluation prompted by the police, but within 4 hours he was released.

He has five felonies, two active. He also has two Orders of Protection against him. He will most likely be sentenced back to prison. That’s if it even gets that far….because, as in the past, he’ll run. He’s like a wild animal that can’t be caged. And if he does run, he will end up dead because he can’t keep doing the abuse over and over again to his body. And how will I know where he is? And how will I know if he is dying?

This was his latest text message to me from last week:

“You are fucking stupid.
You’re the worst mom ever.
Fuck you.
I hate that you’re my mom.
I hate you.
I FUCKING HATE YOU.”

And an hour later:

“I don’t hate you.
I am going to kill myself.
I am going to kill Rachel.
I wish my son would die so you all know how it feels to miss someone.
Good-bye mom.
I’m going to fucking kill myself and you all have yourselves to blame.“

He is terrorizing every one that he loves. You are watching him terrorize himself. You take him for food because he is hungry. You drive around for hours listening to him talk, watch him cry, then watch the anger return, and you’re paralyzed when he pounds the dashboard, pounds his own head, and pulls at his hair. You give him a hug and he is filthy…that smell of alcohol, BO and cigarettes. And you actually go home and don’t want to take a shower because that disgusting smell is all you have of him.

Mental illness and drug abuse. I don’t even know how to begin to understand it. But it is the devil. I don’t know how to kill it. I don’t know how to help my son. I don’t know…and I am exhausted and terrified.

I attend a support group. I listen to similar stories. These complete strangers instantly become your life line. They tell their stories and it somehow gives you comfort that you aren’t alone. You cling to their every word. You hug, you cry, you exchange emails, you give fake smiles, and you tell each other that it will all be okay. And you walk out the door believing that.

For a moment. For a moment.

But then you get in your car to drive home, and the pain returns immediately. The fear returns. The hopelessness returns. You hear a siren and wonder where your son is. You get in bed and toss and turn. You fear your phone will ring in the middle of the night. You wake up the next day and he is the first thing that enters your mind.

Every once in a while you see him and he looks healthy and he is smiling. Or you get a nice text. And he tries to say something meaningful and thoughtful because he knows his own mom is afraid of him. And just when you are feeling calm, you get a text from the demons inside his head and the euphoria-hope-please dear God moment you had comes crashing down.

Shadow of Hand in jail by Sakhorn38 curtsy of Freedigitalphotos.net

Shadow of Hand in jail by Sakhorn38 curtsy of Freedigitalphotos.net


Lyrics from Hate Me by Blue October about a son singing to his mom so she will hate him and it will take her pain away.

“Hate me today
Hate me tomorrow
Hate me for all the things I didn’t do for you
Hate me in ways
Yeah, ways hard to swallow
Hate me so you can finally see what’s good for you.”

But it doesn’t work that way.

The pain never goes away.

And neither does the love.