You Can Catch Lonely

It’s like I told you
Only the lonely can play
Only the lonely
Only the lonely can play – The Motels

I was embarrassed because she did it in front of my co-workers. Standing on her tippy toes she pulled the magnets down one by one, saying the description written underneath each face aloud as she placed them underneath my name.

“You are cheerful, confident, happy…” She paused while her eyes scanned the board, “And… ” she pulls the last magnet down. “There. Lonely.”

“Lonely?” I asked. “Really?” My co-worker tittered nervously. I chuckled too.

“Why would you say that?” I asked.

“Because that’s what I see,” she answered.

According to the December Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, loneliness is catching. The report goes on to say the one in five Americans experiences loneliness and that feeling lonely doesn’t mean you have no connections, it only means that those connections aren’t satisfying enough.”

Someone please dial up the folks at Twitter and Facebook.

Though we stay connected through the cyber channels of these social connection giants, I would argue the connection is mostly false and does little to alleviate loneliness. In my ever so humble opinion the only social network that fosters a true sense of community is Meet Up, which encourages folks to get from in front of their flat screens and meet each other face to face around shared interests.

John Cacioppo, one of the nations leading scholars on loneliness maintains that staying socially connected may just be as important for public health as washing your hands or covering your cough.

Hmm… perhaps at your next visit, the doctor will tell you to take two meet and greets and call her in the morning.

– Aunt B

And What If They Are Experimenting With Drugs…

The worst drugs are as bad as anybody’s told you.
It’s just a dumb trip, which I can’t condemn people if they get into it,
because one gets into it for one’s own personal, social, emotional reasons.
It’s something to be avoided if one can help it.

~John Lennon

Just last weekend while in the midst of all that warm and fuzzy gratitude…

“Uhm, Mr. V- can you come downstairs,” the young man talking sounds desperate, a teen all arms and legs and acne, his voice wobbles between boy and man, “Tyler and Kevin were doing ecstasy and Kevin isn’t doing so well.”

Mr. V was watching a “Bobby Flay Throwdown,” his daughter all curls and freshly showered cuddled next to him. This is his custodial weekend.

Mr. V races downstairs to his 15-year-old son’s bedroom and sees his son’s friend breathing heavily, his hand to his heart, which was racing when he placed his palm on the boy’s chest, his legs shaking.

It was supposed to be a sleepover, three guys, a movie, burgers and fries; these were good boys, the honor students, the geeks. And there was Kevin, shaking, sweating.

Single parents have it hard when there’s no drama, day-to-day can sometimes break you down, but when something like this happens…

Mr. V and I are friends and he called late that night, wondering how he missed the signs, how his son could break his trust, what should he do now? I didn’t have the answers but I listened.

I also went over to the American Academy of Pediatrics to see what they had to say, here it goes:

  • Tell your son or daughter you LOVE him/her and that you are worried that he/she might be using drugs or alcohol.
  • Say that: You KNOW that drugs may seem like the thing to do, but doing drugs can have serious consequences;
  • It makes you FEEL worried and concerned about them when they do drugs;
  • You are there to LISTEN to them;
  • You WANT them to be a part of the solution;
  • What you will do to HELP them.

While those suggestions are a good start I had some thoughts.

To be continued.

– Aunt B

Eating disorder: my struggle to stay alive

Every Tuesday Mama shares a personal story.
This week’s story was written by Kristen

My name is Kristen, I am 15 years old. If someone were to describe me they would probably say something like she’s nice, funny, and crazy. But people who know me better would not go with those words at all. Maybe that’s what I was two years ago, but now I’m far from those things.

I am suffering with an eating disorder. Over these two years that I have been struggling with this, they have been the most depressing, terrible years of my life. The problems started when I was in the 8th grade, that’s when I started puberty. I would notice things about myself and other girls that normally, I would have never paid attention to.

I was comparing myself to other girls and wishing that I could have what they had. But in 8th grade, I was so thin. I started to question that. I became obsessed with watching what girls around me would eat. I would go online and look up pictures of girls who were thin. I would hang out with my best friend and just admire the great things about her that she had that I didn’t. I would watch her eat, notice how much she would take-in and I would try to control what I ate but I would always out-eat her. But, what I couldn’t see, was that I just had a larger appetite.

As time went on, I would routinely be checking my calories. I didn’t even understand what was too much and what was good for me. I became obsessed with looking at myself in the mirror and criticizing myself and tearing myself apart. I began dieting, taking diet pills. Checking my weight many times a day. When I couldn’t lose the weight I started to become really down on myself thinking I couldn’t do anything right. I would hate myself for not being able to lose weight.

That’s when I started making myself throw up, not too much, but at least once a day. I didn’t lose weight, but it gave me a little bit of relief. At some point between the 8th and 9th grade, friends would tell me I was looking really thin. But, that was because I was thin to begin with and loosing three pounds was noticeable.

Towards the end of 9th grade, my best friend and I would start fighting a lot because she hated my boyfriend. I loved him, but this caused a lot of problems with me and her. This put so much stress on my shoulders and I stopped eating. Before summer me and my boyfriend went on a “break” and things were a little better, but things with my best friend were still not the same.

She went away in the summer to go to her beach house. I was alone at home and I started hanging out with different people, because I didn’t really have anyone to hang out with.

One day I was hanging out with one of my old friends, and she looked really thin, she told me that she was taking some new diet pills that had made her lose a lot of weight. I asked her what they were, she told me, and I went out and got them. They worked like magic. I swear I lost a pound every day. I was never hungry. It surprised me so much, because never have I ever been able to restrict food so much.

I went days without food and I felt amazing. I saw the change in my body and I loved it. I lost eight pounds and I thought it was pretty noticeable, but what really bothered me was that my mom didn’t say anything to me. She didn’t care, and she didn’t worry. That’s what I was working on, and I don’t know why, making my mom worry. For some reason I wanted her too. And when she did we began to clash. My mom was so worried, and so were all my friends and family members. I hated it, everyone would try and make me eat and I just wanted everyone to leave me alone. No one could control me, I didn’t eat and everyone knew I wouldn’t.

After about a week of my mom nagging me about eating, my family went on a vacation to New Jersey for a week. It was with my cousins, my family, and family friends. I was so excited, I thought it would be fun. It was a disaster. No one could be around me Everyone was mad at me. People were worried, and crying, hating me, and criticizing me. While in New Jersey, I fainted almost three times. I couldn’t move without everything in my vision going black. My body felt like it was heavy and dying.

When I came back from New Jersey, I immediately went to my best friend’s house, who was now home. One look at me and her eyes filled up with tears, she looked at me with surprise and fright. We sat on her couch and just talked and cried. She could feel my pain, and I could tell. But being with her made me feel comfortable.

We all decided to go out for dinner (me, her, her mom, and her sister) we got there and as I was about to order, I started crying. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t eat. I hadn’t noticed that I had got to the point that I was afraid to eat. I could not force myself to eat anything. I was scared, and I knew that I was in serious trouble.

I slept at her house that night and the next day my mom came over and told me she wanted to take me to the hospital. I laughed in her face and said no way. But, I went because everyone was insisting that I go. On the way there, I knew that this wasn’t going to be good. I knew even thought I denied it, I was not okay. We got to the hospital and they admitted me into the ER.

I had lost over twenty pounds and was less then 80 percent of my recommended body weight. I was 5’5 and I weighed 97 pounds. The doctors told me I almost died, that my pulse was so low that if I hadn’t come to the hospital that day I would have had heart failure.

I was on feeding tubes for three days untill I was moved to the rehab in the hospital. There I stayed for three weeks and I gained 6 pounds. I had to leave because my parents insurance wouldn’t pay for it anymore. I went home and the first meal I had in front of me I cried. I cried and cried for the next month.

School came and I thought people were going to think I was fat, but they didn’t. It’s been a month and a half since summer and I weight 103 pounds.

I go to therapy twice a week and to a nurse practitioner where they weigh me and check my heart and everything else. My eating disorder has almost destroyed me; it has almost killed me and I have lost almost all my friends. It is a battle everyday, but I still fight.

Dating in the dark: take the dating experience to a new level

Looking for true love and can’t find it? People who have tried and liked “Dating in the Dark” says it take out the prejudices that occur when you judge someone based on what they look like.

“Dating in the Dark” not for you? Maybe can help you find love.

He growls at her and she leaves him alone

I have two dogs. Timber is a 7 year old golden retriever mix. He is the most handsome, obedient, and independent dog I’ve ever seen. I also have a 1.5 year old purebred golden retriever. Bella is very sweet, disobedient, and very playful.

Timber and Bella get along very well. They chase each other in the yard, share toys, and play tug of war. They even drink from the same water bowl at the same time. Belle, my disobedient little girl is so cute, she likes to move her butt from side to side while drinking water. She also likes to leave a trail of water behind so everyone knows that she has quenched her thirst.

Every once in a while, Timber doesn’t want to play with Bella. When she tries to get him to play, he growls soflty and she leaves him alone.

I wished the ‘growl’ technique worked with other humans…

– Mama

Bully, Bully, Go Away

“No one plays with me at lunchtime Mom.”

Cue the scary music complete with a circle of children teasing laughter and finger pointing. We’re talking about her day at school and when she mentions this, I take a deep breath and keep my voice calm.

“What do you mean, no one plays with you?” My daughter is the only one (insert whichever race/religion/orientation you want, because does it really matter?) in her class and so far (we’re in third grade) things have been great.

“What do you do during lunchtime sweetheart?”

“Walk around by myself.”

She’s such a Chatty Cathy; I can’t imagine her flying solo at lunch.

“Why do you think no one is playing with you?”

“Well Jennifer told them not to talk to me and now they don’t. So after I eat lunch, I just walk around.”

My brain is sizzling now. Jennifer is the class diva, fortunately in the short eight years of her life she has mastered ‘how to win friends and influence people’ and unfortunately she doesn’t use her powers for good.

My Mama Lion instinct is to walk up to that little girl and give her a thing to two to think about. Or maybe call her mom. Tell the teacher? I’m not prepared for this.

What do the experts say if this is happening to your kid? Have them join a club, make different friends. And that leaving someone out of the “group” is a common form of bullying.

And about Jennifer? I’m going to have a chat… with the teacher.

– Serena

Ask and you shall receive or offend?

As the economic crisis worsens, I am surprised at the questions people ask and the requests they make. A few days ago, I received an email from a friend asking me if she, her boyfriend, and 8 year old son could park their trailer in my driveway and live in it until the economy gets better. She said they would need access to my bathroom. My friend plans on moving from Montana to escape the brutal, snowy, winter and “camp out” in California in my driveway (in their old trailer) indefinitely. My mouth dropped open midway through the email and I had to use a shovel to scoop my chin off the ground after I finished reading the email. I am saddened by what my friend and her family are experiencing, but thought it was ‘a bit much’ to let them live in my driveway. I offered to help her find a job, but I declined the request to turn my driveway into “Mama’s bed and breakfast”.

Do you think my friend over-stepped her limits?

– Mama

On love and fear

“I want to get back with my ex.”

“The one that used to make you cry? The one that talked down to you and you said made you feel stupid?”

“I know how it sounds,” she squeezed her hands together in her lap, “but yes, him.”

“He says he loves me and he’s ready to begin something with me that is real.”

“Has he addressed his issues? Have you set down boundaries in regards to how he talks to you?”

There is silence. I’m pretty comfortable with silence. So I let my friend simmer for a minute. Not that I’m being judgmental because to be frank, I’ve been in the same boat and can’t say that it won’t happen again, but I hope not.

“I slept with him again and he said such sweet things.” She blurts this out as if the physical act means he’s changed how he relates to her or her to him.

“Tell me what your gut says.” I say this while I motioned for her to put her hand on her stomach, “Speak from right there.”

“It says I’m scared, I want to love him, but I’m scared too.”

Can I just tell you that she’s a regular woman like you and me. She goes to work because no one is paying her bills but her. She rocks her creative side. When she’s not with him she glitters. When he is around she dims her light and lets him take all the shine.

“You know, love and fear can’t live in the same place. If you’re scared of him, if you’re scared he will yell at you or call you stupid like he used to, I just have to wonder how you can love him too?”

Love healthy.

– Aunt B

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