Memorial Service Update


Please see below. if i could fly to CA, i would. Will be wearing blue to support. Thank you.

Originally posted on The Matticus Kingdom:

Rara will be there!

She’ll be shackle and handcuff free, but will still be in her prison blues.

So, if you are coming, to show support for her, wear blue.  Blue scrubs.  Blue shirts.  Blue ties.  Blue anything.  Just wear blue.

She should be showing up around 9:30…

I’ll probably be there around then too.

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Blocked Sun

The following words are from our own DjMatticus and we only echo his sentiments here.

There is a darkness on the horizon, and it blocks the warmth of the rising sun.

These lines came to me this morning on my drive to work. The sun hadn’t risen yet, but with summer fast approaching, it was beginning to warm the horizon of what is usually a dark commute. Still, I couldn’t shake that opening line, “there IS a darkness on the horizon.”
In the past, I would have turned those lines into a work of fiction. Several of my favorite posts have been from driving towards the sunrise (or sunset) on my long daily commutes. But, in this case, that darkness wasn’t a reflection of the view from my windshield, but, rather, the struggles of my heart and mind. And fiction simply would not do.
There is a darkness on the horizon, and it blocks the warmth of the rising sun.
There is nothing to hang my guilt upon, and my grief is nowhere near done.

Before Rara turned herself in, to serve a sentence for a crime she didn’t commit because in our legal system it made more sense for her to serve 18 months and plead guilty, than to fight the charges and serve the four to five years her public defendant said it would take to clear her name, she wrote and share a list of needs for those of us who wanted to help. I can’t seem to find that list anymore… I think it was one of the pages on which was taken down when she went in, but I remember half the list being about her cats, and half the list being about how we could make sure Dave was okay…
And, I know what you all are going to say. I know the words of support and love and understanding you are going to send my direction. I know your arguments and points of view. None of this is my fault. I’ve done more than enough to show my own friendship and love. There was nothing I could have done.
But my heart and mind don’t believe you are right now.
Right now I ache with guilt because I should have done more to stay in regular contact with Dave. I should have visited him. I should have emailed him more than I did. I should have invited him up to spend weekends in the Kingdom, with the Little Prince and the Queen, and to embark on the various adventures we always find ourselves taking. I should have made sure he was okay.
She asked us to watch after him.
She asked us to make sure he was okay.
It was only 18 months…
I have not lived a life free of grief, or sin. I have done things I’m not proud of. I have abused and warred. I have become the bully I was so often the victim of. I have broken laws and hearts. I have lied, cheated, and stolen. I am sorry for these wrongs and have mostly assuaged myself of the resultant guilt. In those cases. For those sins.
But, I have never felt guilt like this…


Featured image courtesy of: CardCastlesIntheSky

Memorial Service Details

Originally posted on The Matticus Kingdom:

Dave’s (Grayson Queen’s) service is going to be this coming Saturday (May 23, 2015) at the Corpus Christi Church in Corona, California at 10 AM PST.

3760 North McKinley Street
Corona, CA 92879-1956

Please help me spread the word again, so those who might be interested in attending have enough warning to make arrangements.  I’ll be there for sure…

And, an update on Rara’s address:

Radhika Jaini WF0124
16756 Chino-Corona Road
Corona, CA 92880

Keep the RawrLove letters headed her direction. Thank you.

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Climbing The Mountain One Last Time

This story was submitted anonymously.

“Just remember that your aunt gets a little…confused. She tells the same stories over and over again.”

Thanks to calendar illiteracy, I was set to fly back from a family Thanksgiving at 7pm on a Monday rather than 7pm on a Sunday like I had planned. This opened up a window of opportunity to visit my great aunt, who lived nearby but had spent turkey day proper with her granddaughter. I remembered the little suburban split-level she inhabited very well; it had been the site of my great aunt’s annual Christmas white elephant gift exchange for many years. At the last such exchange, around 2000 or so, I had contributed a gift and (in my 17-year-old eyes) irrevocably established my status as an adult.

“I wonder if you could help me with this picture; it came down off the wall.”

My dad was always happy to help with chores, having not two weeks previously done a thorough round of maintenance on his mother’s house down south. The two sisters, only 18 months apart, were the last survivors of a large family at 95 and 97 respectively. My great aunt was the baby of the family, and despite their great physical distance her big sister called her nearly every night.

“Who is this a picture of?” I said. It was a painting of a handsome young woman with prominent cheekbones, piercing eyes, and short wavy hair.

“Why, that’s me,” my great aunt said, delighted. “One of my husband’s bandmates painted that.”

This was a story my parents had heard many times before, but they humored her. I sat patiently on the couch–immaculately maintained for one in a house occupied solely by a 95-year-old–while my great aunt excitedly brought out an old photo album.

“That’s him right there,” she said, pointing out a young man in a circle of young men, together in what looked like a country jug band. “He painted the picture. That’s your great uncle right there next to him.”

My great aunt’s husband had died many years before, in 1992, a bad year for the family overall. Her sister’s husband, my grandfather, had died that same year. Looking at him as a young man was astonishing; the thought of the handsome fellow next to him painting my stooped and grail great aunt as a vibrant young woman was more astonishing still. The part of my brain that instinctively puts together narratives wondered if there hadn’t been something between the two of them long ago, the best friend and the best friend’s wife, a distant dalliance now immortalized as an unfaded square on the wallpaper.

Or perhaps it was just a beautiful painting. If I live to 95, which seems unlikely given that none of my great uncles lived to see 71, I’ll be lucky to have anything half as nice, or half as flattering, on my wall.

We took my great aunt to lunch at her favorite restaurant, the type of mom-and-pop sit-down joint that is often full of seniors on weekday afternoons. She asked after my younger brother, and I related the story of a recent trip we had taken together to France. “Oh, I went to France once, with your uncle,” my great aunt said excitedly. “I took French lessons, you know. My old tutor is still alive, she even came to visit me the other day. Lives just down the street.

“My parents smiled and nodded supportively, but I can tell they’ve heard this story many a time. But it was new to me; I hadn’t seen my great aunt in the flesh for years. The thought of her abroad with her husband in the 1950s, when she would have been in her 30s and the same age I am, was captivating. I could tell that the thought of Paris and the French appealed deeply to her, as did the fond memories of French lessons back when it was a fashionable thing for young women to do.

“Your uncle and I stopped by Glasgow, in Scotland, on that same trip,” she continued. “Do you know, I was able to find the house where your grandmother and I were born! The nice lady there invited us up for tea.”

I knew the story of how the children had been born in Glasgow to a soldier father while the Great War still raged, how they had left for Canada and eventually the United States when both girls were young. But to someone as sentimental as I am, the idea of returning to a nostalgic place like that was deeply appealing.

“Was your son with you?” I asked. As a tot, my own parents had taken me all over the world; the thought of my dad’s cousin undergoing the same experience was another interesting notion to entertain.

That may have just the segue my great aunt was looking for, since it was an opportunity to talk about her only son, her only child, her pride and joy. “I still remember,” she said. “He went into the Air Force during the war, and do you know, he got the highest scores that had ever been recorded? They were so good that he was put into intelligence.”

I thought that might have been a bit of a stretch–it was more likely that my cousin, who was a smart guy, had gotten the highest possible score on a test meant to sort the meatheads from the masterminds. My dad had often told of how his own high score on that test allowed him to serve out Vietnam as an electrician rather than as an infantryman. But she was so proud, her voice swelling with motherly joy, that I simply agree. It is remarkable.

My cousin, and her only child, had been dead for about a year. A heavy smoker and inveterate energy drinker, he had collapsed in their shared kitchen from either a heart attack or a stroke the previous summer, never regaining consciousness. There were signs of his presence all throughout the house, from the phone lines carefully stapled to the wall between the jack and the computer he had used to the piles of magazines that could only have interested a man in his 60s. It had clearly left his mother at loose ends; on the drive down, my dad had reflected on how jealous he had once been of his cousin, who had received everything that my dad had to split with six other siblings.

The story about military aptitude scores soon shaded over into the tale of my great aunt’s late husband, who had shared the same name as their only child. “We were walking home from church one day,” my great aunt remembered, “and he said to me ‘Dear, I’m tired of paddling my own canoe. Will you marry me?'”

It probably sounded more romantic if you’d been there.

“He took me to his family home in West Virginia,” she continued, “to meet his parents. They lived on top of a little mountain, and there were no roads up there. So we had to climb the mountain together.”

“Why did he move so far from West Virginia?” I asked.

“Well, there weren’t a lot of jobs in those days, and he wanted to make something of himself.” I couldn’t help but wonder, as she said this, what his parents had thought. Their only surviving child–a sister had died young, as children often did back then–heading to a strange northern state to find his fortune and returning with a handsome young wife. I wonder what my great aunt had felt, used to the bustle of a northern city but nevertheless stomping though the West Virginia brush.

After lunch, I mentioned the last time I saw her sister, my grandmother, over Labor Day. “I’ve know her for 95 years,” my great aunt said with a laugh, “and you know, she still bosses me around!”

As she served us tea and biscuits in fine but well-worn cups, I thought about my relationship with my own younger brother. More often than not, he was the confident and bossy one; an inversion of our earlier relationship. I got the feeling that my great aunt and my grandmother had a relationship in stasis, unchanged for longer than I had been alive. “When we were in France, he was the one bossing me around,” I said. “He knows the country a lot better than I do.”

“Oh, I went to France once, with your uncle,” my great aunt said. “I wanted to try out the French I learned in lessons. Did you know my old French teacher is still alive? She even paid me a visit the other week.”

Over tea, we heard the same stories. The trip to France, the Glasgow homecoming, her son’s aptitude, her husband’s proposal, meeting the family in West Virginia, her elder sister’s bossiness. She seemed otherwise mentally rather sharp for a 95-year-old, yet the stories repeated.

Hearing them for a second time, I reflected a bit on this. My grandmother had lived a remarkable life, full of international travel. From her first trip abroad to the Holy Land just before the Yom Kippur War to her most recent visit in her 90th decade, she had been a true globetrotter. Her seven children, thirty-plus grandchildren, and thirty-plus great-grandchildren kept her busy with endless proud tales, endless family visits, and endless fodder for the novel-writing that she had taken up at age 90.

My grandmother had always been the plainer daughter who lived a life of the mind, if often a strident one, and embraced her passions for religion, reading, and Republicanism with a fire that impressed despite her age. Her younger sister had been the more conventional who lived a life of the body, very pretty and with a handsome husband and a handsome son. She had worked the same menial job for decades even as her big sister had gone back to school and graduated college as a 40-year-old.

I wondered if she wasn’t repeating the stories out of any twilight clouding of her facilities. I wondered if she was repeating them because they were the only stories she had to tell after a life devoted to supporting a husband and a son who were both now gone.

Before we left for the airport, I asked to take my great aunt’s picture. It would make a nice coda, I supposed, to a memory card otherwise full of feasting and my young niece and nephews. I had also regretted not taking pictures at other family gatherings in the past, leaving those moments to disappear forever.

She was not thrilled about having her picture taken; I suppose the portrait that my dad rehung for her was the mirror she preferred. But she acquiesced, asking only that I get her good side. I took a few snapshots with my parents and handed off the camera to be in a few shots as well. Three hours later, I was on a jet home.

Those were the last photographs ever taken of my great aunt.

I got the call a few days later. She had died peacefully in her sleep one week before Christmas, and thanks to my existing holiday travel plans, I would be present at her funeral–one of only a handful of extended family members who could make it.

I made prints of my photographs, affixed them to the memorial board, and sat among a crowd of mourners overwhelmingly dominated by the children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren of her sister. Part of the eulogy was given by her granddaughter, the last surviving member of my great aunt’s line. Childless herself, there was little prospect of a further generation.

As my dad offered remarks about how his aunt had helped raise him, I wondered anew at the contrast between the sisters. I may never know why my grandmother had so many children and her sister so few, but thinking about it then had only the effect of making me deeply sad. Unmarried myself, childless myself, I could easily envision another casket laid out in forty years’ time. My brothers’ children and their children, distant cousins, eulogies about how I had impacted their lives failing to gloss over the fact that my line was forever ended.

If nothing else, I decided, I would honor my great aunt’s memories by telling the stories that she had repeated so often, that were still fresh in my mind, one last time. So I rose, the last family member to do so, and told the assembled mourners of the French tutor, the trip to Paris. Tea in the little tenement in Glasgow, soaring Air Force aptitude scores. Bossy sisters and dual-paddled canoes.

I ended with this: “My great aunt told us of how she visited her husband’s family in West Virginia, how she climbed a mountain to meet with them. She has climbed another mountain, now, to be with her husband and her son once more. And they will never be apart again.”

Those stories, and many others, died with my great aunt. I am happy that I was able to tell them one last time, and to record them here.

Nothing Ever Happened

This story was submitted anonymously.

Nothing ever happened.

Mostly, it was flattering.

Sometimes, it was weird.

And sure, a few times it became uncomfortable.

But he was my coach, my parents’ friend, I had crushes on his sons, I’d known him for most of my life, and that was just how he was. Even my parents knew that he had a penchant for commenting on the girls’ butts–my butt. But it was brushed off, that’s just him, we all said.

When I cried my way through practices and teenage angst he listened. A constant in my life, I turned to him for those first painful steps as I grew from the young girl he first started coaching eight years earlier, into a confident adult. He was my savior, and so I forgave him for telling me I had a nice ass.

Years later a detective called and threw my memories into a turmoil of what ifs.

What if I had responded differently.

What if in that time of early internet chat rooms, I hadn’t told him to go talk to his wife instead of me.
What if I had done something other than laugh and run off when he told me I was making him hard.
What if I hadn’t had any self-confidence.
What if I was joining the sixteen year old in the court case against him.
What if I was the one that would send him to jail and put him on the sexual offender list for life.

Would I have had the courage to do it?

Even now, years and three children since that phone call, I still think of him. Sometimes he invades my dreams and sometimes I see him in the smiling faces of our friends when they talk to my daughters.

And I think, what can I do?

What can I do to instill that kind of self-confidence in my girls?
What can I do to recognize that intent in the adults around me?
What can I do for my girls?

And if the time comes, and I suspect, fear or know, will I have the courage to act?

My biggest hero has turned into my biggest nightmare and nothing ever happened.

Fall Down Seven Times, Get Up Eight

Please welcome Mental Mama from Mental In The Midwest with a story of fierce courage.

I’m one of the lucky ones. My self-destructive streak never achieved full steam in spite of my dual diagnoses of Bipolar Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder. It wasn’t from a lack of trying, I assure you. But hard drugs scared me, pain pills do nothing for me, and booze just wound me up tighter. I experienced more than my share of mornings waking up next to a stranger, convinced he was The One, and then I’d spend the next week crying my eyes out because he never called. That’s when it would get really good and ugly. Rather than see their lack of compassion for what it really was – a reflection of their inhumanity, immaturity, and lack of a heart – I internalized the hurt and convinced myself that I was somehow lacking. I wasn’t enough.

I wasn’t good enough. I wasn’t smart enough. I wasn’t pretty enough. And I sure as fuck wasn’t skinny enough. Never ever enough.

The last time I tried to kill myself I woke up in the ICU. I had overdosed (again) because some jackass decided I was too intense and he couldn’t deal (again). I was handcuffed to the bed because Ativan is no friend of mine and I was just about to be arrested for swinging on a nurse. I was moved to the Special Care Psychiatric Ward after my vitals finally stabilized. That’s where they keep the special little snowflakes like me that aren’t really safe enough to stay on the regular ward.

My shrink was seriously concerned that I had finally managed to do myself some permanent brain damage. I’d taken more pills than ever before and it took longer for anyone to find me than it previously had. By the time the EMTs got me to the ER there was nothing left in my stomach to pump. Nothing.

It took weeks of slow and painstaking work to get my brain back to functioning. I went on FMLA at work (again) so that I could see my therapist three times a week and my shrink once a week and go to a DBT group session once a week. I was kept on a very short leash.

All of that while working on a Master’s degree.

It took every bit of strength I had in my soul to keep going. My family never left me and my work friends stuck with me. I lost all but one of my IRL friends, and honestly I think she only stayed because she has her own Dx. But I was never alone.

While I was trying to survive the worst of my symptoms I had times where suicide honestly seemed like the best solution. I couldn’t see or acknowledge that my life even had the potential to be anything other than a long string of heartaches and disappointments. I thought that throwing in my towel was the only way to deal.

But it wasn’t and I’m here to tell you that it’s not, not for any of us. Suicide might end your pain, but it transfers all that hurt to those who loved you most. It is NOT a solution.

I haven’t been back in the hospital for a psych stay since that last suicide attempt in 2010. I’ve finished my year long stint with DBT. I finished my Master’s degree with 3.8 GPA. I got remarried. I’ve just finished a graduate certificate. I’m taking on more responsibility at work and excelling at it. I’m spending time with the people I love and I’m doing things that I love.

I’m not going to tell you that life has been all rainbows and roses since 2010 because that would be a total lie. My father died from an aggressive form of cancer. My husband has been working to deal with alcohol addiction and has been diagnosed with Bipolar and ADD. I’m having to come to terms with needing way more sleep than I thought I did.

But I’m here, and I’m still fighting. Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem, you need to remember that. Temporary problems. Temporary.

There’s no shame in taking some time to hole up and shut out the world for a day. In tactical strategy terms it’s referred to as falling back. Make a temporary retreat so you can rally the troops, get your strength back, and then ATTACK.

Fall down seven times, get up eight.

The Past Lasts A Long Time

This post was submitted anonymously.

I’ve been bullied in school, for several years. Not just by people I knew – some of the bullies recruited others to call me names and act as if I were ridden with some disgusting, contagious disease. There were times when I was hardly able to open up to anyone, as I could not feel safe any longer; everybody could be on their side now.

I was singled out for being a little poorer, a little weirder, a little geekier, a little less pretty, a little more religious. People said I was from Alpha Centauri (which, by the way, is a sun, not a planet). In class people threw more than just words at me – pieces of chestnut, broken ball-point pens, and once, a little rock.

They constantly let me feel I wasn’t worth as much as them, that I didn’t have the right to be wherever I wanted to be. This still haunts me. It took me many years to feel somewhat comfortable walking across an open place, and to this day I struggle with running criss-cross through gym halls. I’m closer to thirty than to twenty and somewhere in the back of my brain subconscious lessons still haunt me.

Back then I felt so helpless I resorted to aggression, trying to hit and kick people. I still have to deal with the residue of this aggression. Fallout lasts a long time.

The fact that I didn’t have a lot of support from family and church “friends” didn’t help. On the contrary, even in youth group I had to deal with people of my age who acted like friends and after two years, suddenly told me how annoying I was. I was told by one person not to talk to them, not to reply to their nasty message. I experienced something neither me nor the other person involved would have labeled abuse back then, but now I do. They held emotional power over me, giving me comfort one day and withdrawing it at will. Combine this with a subtext of gender stereotypes and you end up with a messed up sense of self.

All of these events robbed me of my self-esteem and parts of my future. I’ve made it through, I’ve moved away and will receive the final result of my master’s degree in a few short weeks, but I can’t forget. Sometimes I feel better, thinking I’ve escaped, but then I relapse.

I don’t think I’ll go to our class reunion when our 10th anniversary of finishing school will come up. I didn’t even comfortable congratulating one of the nicer girls via Facebook when she got married, as she married one of my bullies. They had already been together back then, but even though she’s always been kind I just can’t tell her I’m happy she got to marry him. I’m sorry.

Even at university I experienced superficial people. Once I was told to buy myself a less ugly winter anorak. This may seem like a little thing, but to me it was a continuation of the pattern I experienced in school. Luckily things changed when I graduated from the bachelor’s programme and entered a master’s programme. I was surrounded by people who were more like me, who were okay with my geekiness and not fitting in.

At church in this place things are a little better, I even found a few people who really care about me. Some can relate to my troubled mind because their pasts weren’t that glorious and full of happy teenage memories as well. I found a loving husband who doesn’t care I’m a little odd and supports me in my decision to skip make-up and all these things I used to be told I needed to make myself prettier. He is strong enough to deal with my fits of anger.

But what truly is healing me, little by little, is the loving acceptance I experience in capoeira. Instead of belittling me for getting things wrong or breaking down and crying they teach me to become stronger – some gently, some in a well-meaning “get your shit together” attitude. No “girls can’t / aren’t supposed to this or that,” just “what are you waiting for, do it, try harder.” Being with them helped me to improve my usage and reading of body language. Once three of us stood at a train station at night while we waited for the guy in our group to finish smoking his cigarette, and they listened to my rambling. In the last few months, people I got to know in class started to tell me I was a really outgoing person. Yes, I am now, at least when I am in a place where I feel comfortable. But inside I still feel anxious about whether people really like me or whether they pretend and everything will come crashing down someday.

I’m becoming stronger. I’m trying to become kinder as well. Some days I fail, but I won’t give up now that I’ve made it so far.

Don’t Be a Troll

The following story was submitted anonymously.

I cannot tell you much about the person that sent this in. What they asked me to share was they are female, a college student, and someone close to me.

She asked that I add she is not a WordPress user or a writer. She is simply someone passionate about suicide prevention and anti-bullying.

I knew a lot of girls in high school that had problems with people online.  My best friend talked about killing herself once after someone bullied her on Facebook. I asked her to tell me what happened, but she didn’t want to talk about it.

Three months later my friend tried to commit suicide. I felt like I should have asked her more questions. I should have done more. There was nothing I could do. She still gets therapy for this incident now.

Last year there were five kids in my town that committed suicide because of bullies online. Internet bullying needs to stop now more than ever. It’s getting worse. No one seems to be doing anything about it in the schools. People are dying. It all upsets me so much.

We have to do something before it’s too late.

STMND Notes from: Daydreams

I’ve heard these stories from our anonymous poster before. Like I said, this is someone close to me. We’ve often exchanged these horror stories over the phone and in person.

Some of you may know I’ve had my own experiences with internet bullying. Some of you may not. What I can tell you about it is it’s one of the chief reasons I remain semi-anonymous online.

What happened to me a few years back changed my life and taught me a valuable lesson. Not only do words hurt, but they could quite possibly push someone way over the edge. Perhaps, even towards suicide. This wasn’t the case for me, but I certainly came close.

Before Rara left, I remember her doing a story about internet trolls. For those of you that aren’t familiar with the term, an internet troll is someone who belittles, bullies, or just bothers someone else online simply for their own amusement or attention-seeking behavior. They are often lonely people that would never say these horrible things to anyone in real life. They feel strong behind the safety of a computer screen.

These are the bullies a lot of the time. They are the reason some of these teens and young adults go through with this. Other times, it is someone close to the person being bullied, and they simply “hide” under a false name online. Whatever the case, our anonymous poster is right – this needs to stop.

If you or anyone you know is being harassed or bullied online, contact your local law enforcement to take the proper steps first.

Then, please browse through our updated Resources page here on STMND. You will find helpful links for suicide prevention and much more.

Anger Pangs

The Comfort of Home

On Thursday, you sat down for a story that mentioned being a terrible friend. Today, I’m going to share the events that lead up to why.


I’ve vented about the conditions where I live before. That was only the tip of the iceberg. If there was a list of the chaos, we would be here all day reading it.

The Backlog

Since we’ve moved here, it’s been issue after mind-numbing issue. Termites, flooding, broken appliances, failing utilities, you name it – we’ve probably dealt with it. Everything I can think of (short of the roof collapsing) has occurred here at some point. Why not just leave? People say to us over and over. See the referenced link above for my thoughts on that.

The Current State

Recently, our landlord fell ill. The future of this place has been in limbo. We were told they’ve discovered end-stage lung cancer in him and he will never set foot on these grounds again. His children have been handling some of the maintenance here (poorly) and as of recently, have barely set foot here themselves.

Flash forward to this morning. As I rushed to get our son ready for school, we discovered termites again. They were destroying our bedroom windowsill. I was livid and immediately started to enter high blood pressure panic mode. I couldn’t tend to them right away because our son would have missed the school bus.Forget Her Not

I despise insects. It’s a guaranteed source of anxiety for me but, we had to continue our day. So we finished getting ready and bolted out the door.

Upon my return, I sobbed as I vacuumed up countless termites. You may be wondering “Why didn’t she call someone in charge?” Well the answer to that is simple. We’ve been through this so many times before with other problems here that we know no one will show. (Or if they do show, they will do an incomplete job and the issue will arise again.)

We just have to go. This urgency is becoming clearer every day.


Home is supposed to be a place of comfort. A place where when you come home from a long day, you can relax. We cannot do that here anymore. This is no longer home. This is just a place where we put our belongings and sleep.

Dealing with this current situation, it brought me back to thinking of our friend, Rara. She must be so far out of her comfort zone as well. When you’re institutionalized, albeit jail, prison, or mental hospital, everything is very much about routine. It’s becomes difficult (if not impossible) to feel any sense of home. It made me realize just how important the proper living situation is to our mental health. Now the question is just how. How on earth are we going to up and move out of here by summer? (We’d like to be out of here before our son starts a new school year in September.) How will we do it with our limited funds? Ever since my gallery closing and the long list of expenses that seem to keep racking up, it seems unreachable.

Wheel of Overwhelm

I know somehow we’ll figure out a way. We always do. But I worry. I worry for our future and I worry about our health. You already know what I deal with if you’ve read my posts here, but I worry for my other half and our son as well. I stress that our son who already has a lot to deal with, is starting to show signs of anxiety. As much as we try to shield him from all the crap in the world, he is smart. He sees everything and is starting to become effected by it.

We had a health scare a few months back and it got me concerned for all of us. Conditions like this, if dealt with for too long, can have adverse effects on our overall physical health as well. We are a resilient bunch, but more than the physical, I am concerned for our mental well-being in the long run.

If home is where the heart is, mine is broken.

Author’s Notes:

If you or anyone you know is dealing with severe anxiety, we have some new resources that may be of some help. Please visit our Resources page for the updated sections and links under the “Anxiety/Stress” sub-category.


Nurtured by Them

“I love you, too! And I’m so bummed that I won’t be there to see you blossom in the care of and caring of the others. I know you will nurture the group, tending to them as individuals and the whole.”

When I opened this letter and began to read, I slowly started to sob.

Rara has been one of my closer friends online since I started CardCastles in 2012. She entered my life as a fan of my artwork. Once I did a little digging, I was astonished at what a blogging celebrity Rara was, and even more so that she liked my work. We became like family over the years and when I first heard the news, I was saddened to the deepest parts of me.

That same morning we all heard, I received an invitation in my e-mailbox. It said that I was invited to be an administrator over at Stories That Must Not Die, a new site that Rara had created. Clearly, our girl had something up her sleeve. I was a little busy at the time and knew it would be a challenge, but I accepted. I would have done anything in my power for Rara, especially now.

In our first few weeks, the team here was all in shock. Some of us were grieving. Some of us were angry. All of us wanted answers. And then something “wondrous” began to happen.

We became friends. We started to function as a unit. We helped heal each other.

“- and I’m hoping you will allow yourself to be nurtured BY them. There’s so much wisdom, strength, compassion, and drive in the group and I am (all at once) excited for the future of y’all and sad I will be missing it.”

She couldn’t be more correct. We’ve said many times amongst one another, that Rara knew exactly what she was doing when she brought us together.

I sobbed as I read her words because I just couldn’t conceive how a soul as bright as hers could be all caged up in some dingy, dreary place. When I first wrote her, I sensed something, and I let her know all about it. I drew her rough sketches of something only she would understand at the time. It was a picture of a sun and a moon with faces. The significance of it all had to do with a children’s story I wrote and illustrated a while back. Rara loved that story and I knew it would bring her some calm in a bad situation.

My senses hadn’t failed me. I knew Rara would receive my letter when she was having a particularly difficult day.

“Your intuition did not fail you. Your letter arrived on MY HARDEST DAY HERE. We were moved from 2-man cells to what they call “the tank” – a 40-man dorm. It’s loud and unruly and happened after my court date where I stressed all day about the 3-year sentence term. At least 5 panic attacks were pushed back that day, but the smile you sent me pushed it away for good. I slept easy that night, with my sunshine and moon in my hands.”

I’ve been a terrible friend. After that, Rara asked how I’ve been. I wanted to say “terrible dear, my world keeps falling apart…” but how could I? My constant, unrelenting issues seemed like not as much compared to what she was going through. How could I sit there and unload when she was the one who should be unloading on me. Then I remembered something Goldfish said about trying not to always “measure the bad” and instead just realizing that all pain is pain.

A lot has happened since February. So many more unfortunate events and it seems like every time I get the spare time to write something heartfelt back to my friend, another major catastrophe takes place. Still, I made a promise to her, that I would care and look after this place while making sure all of us are okay. I haven’t broken that promise.

If all goes well, Rara will be home by summer.  I miss my friend. I cannot wait for her to be back here with us where she belongs.

I’d like to leave a message here for her for when she gets out: I have a confession. I was institutionalized at one time around 2007. This was two years before I had my son. I know I hinted this to you before. It was like hell on Earth. Even though it was a life-altering experience, I grew from it. I became stronger. One of the friends I made inside there said something on one of those darker nights that stayed with me. “Sometimes when you’ve had so much bad, the bad doesn’t seem so bad after all.”

What they were basically trying to say was, time eventually softens the blows. I know you may need some adjusting when you read this, and your heart may be a little sore, but you’ve nurtured us too. Now let us nurture you.