The Greatest Generation Part 2

The Greatest Generation Part 2

That’s what he was saying, the civil rights movement – judge me for my character, not how black my skin is, not how yellow my skin is, how short I am, how tall or fat or thin; It’s by my character.
Pam Grier

1960-1969 Dwight D Eisenhower, John F Kennedy, Lyndon B Johnson
Woolworth’s Lunch Counter
Freedom Riders
August 28th, 1963 March on Washington
Martin Luther King Jr. “I Have A Dream Speech”
President John F Kennedy Assassinated
President Lyndon B Johnson
****Civil Rights of 1964
Selma to Montgomery March
Voting Rights Act of 1965
Malcolm X was Assassinated
April 4, 1968 Martin Luther King, Jr was assassinated
Hurricane Camille

malcom-xmartin luther king jr

track camillepresident kennedy

 

1970-1979 Richard Nixon, Gerald R. Ford, Jimmy Carter
May 17, 1970 my parent got married
Antiwar Movement
Women’s Rights Movement
Watergate Scandal
Kent State Shooting
December 4, 1975 I, Dana Landrum-Arnold was born

1980-1989 Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George Bush
Iran-Iraq War (1st Persian Gulf War)
Post IT Notes (Coach!!! They were born for you!!)
John Lennon was killed
Summer Olympic Games were held at Moscow, USSR
**boycotted by over 60 countries
Prince Charles married Lady Diana
Assassination attempt on President Reagan
AIDS were reported
Michael Jackson’s Thriller
Prince William was born
HIV was discovered as the virus behind AIDS
Crack Cocaine was made for the first time in Bahamas
Titanic wreckage was discovered and filmed
US space Shuttle Challenger went up in flames killing entire crew
Oprah Winfrey Show was born
First Conjoined twins were separated
Persian Gulf War came to an end
End of Cold War
Fox TV began regular broadcasting

geroge bushchallenger
mr gorbachev

 

1990-1999 George Bush, Bill Clinton
Impeachment trial of Bill Clinton
Monica Lewinsky Scandal
3-way race for the presidency (Bill Clinton, Georg HW Bush, Ross Perot)
Operation Desert Storm 1.12.91
The Gulf War Ends 2.27.91
World Trade Center is bombed
51 Day Waco Standoff leader David Koresh
The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act
The OJ Simpson Trial
President Clinton signs the Assault Weapons Ban
Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols explode a bomb outside the
*** Murrah Federal Building, OK City 168 killed
Osama Bin Laden announces jihad against Jews and Crusaders.
Columbine High School in Littleton, CO
Killing 12 Students and then killing themselves

TIMOTHY MCVEIGHColumbine

osama bin ladenOJ Simpson At His Criminal Trial

2000-2006 Bill Clinton, George W Bush
September 11 Terrorist Attacks
Saddam Hussein was found hiding in a hole on December 14, 2003.
****He was hanged December 30, 2006
Boxing Day Tsunami
Hurricane Katrina was the 6th strongest hurricane in Atlantic history
***She claimed 1,836 and 705 missing

katrinacasino katrina

september 11george bush 2

Writing this blog post has brought about many different feeling and opinions. Noticing how much my grandmother got to witness and be a part of has left me jealous. She saw the Deep South at its ugliest. And she has saw our country at its strongest even though we had tears in eyes at the reality of life. Some of the hard times I’ve only heard about from her. And at other times I was there with her to witness history in the making. Either way I loved my Nannie regardless of differing opinions. And now I start a list of my own witnessing of history both good and bad. What I wouldn’t give for one more conversation with my ornery grandmother and the stories that taught me lessons.

“It’s funny how, in this journey of life, even though we may begin at different times and places, our paths cross with others so that we may share our love, compassion, observations, and hope. This is a design of God that I appreciate and cherish.”
― Steve Maraboli, Unapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience

#thispuzzledlife

 

Her Winds Still Blow

Her Winds Still Blow

“You can take the people out of the city, but you can’t take the soul — that remains here.”
― T.J. Fisher, Orleans Embrace with The Secret Gardens of the Vieux Carré

As the official opening day of hurricane season June 1st every year, I can’t help but to remember the wide path of destruction left by Hurricane Katrina on August 29, 2005. Anyone who went through that storm, no matter the location has my deepest sympathies. I also went through that storm and not a day goes by that I don’t remember how scared and awestruck I was at the devastation. Last night I was awakened by a horrible nightmare complete with an ass kicking migraine. I woke up with nausea and last night’s meal gurgling in my stomach. I was also chilled by the sweat on my brow and clothing attempting to dry.
I couldn’t help that I had just had a nightmare, but the vividness of the dream was one that startled me. Hurricane Katrina happened before Mel and I met. I was still married to my ex-husband at the time. And I also can remember my nannie still being her good ole grouchy self. We had a gas grill and each other and that was about all we needed unless you counted the need for air-conditioning. I’m a spoiled kid of the 1980’s and I grew up with air conditioning and desperately need it when it’s hot. People including my mother were sleeping in the beds of pickup trucks rather than in the house because you stuck to everything because of the heat. I slept on the hot wooden floor in the dining room and my 85 years old grandmother and would’ve been sleeping in Heaven with Jesus sooner had it been left up to my mom. My grandmother was being a pill, and everyone heard her. She And her chihuahua were soon taken to a friend who made sure she got in the air conditioning and away from us for a while. Meanwhile for the first few days everyone was eating out of each other’s freezers as the defrosting led to some good eating.

katrina satellite

There were 5 big trees on my parent’s house that were casualties of the storm. Water and sewage were a thing of the past. Gas was being rationed. And how the Mississippi Gulf Coast and New Orleans, Louisiana was doing was a mystery. It was the time when hardship let to sitting under the carport at night with sweat running down the side of our heads and swatting mosquitos and laughing to keep from crying. We knew the devastation in our neighborhood and town and that was all.
What we did learn through all of this was how to help our neighbors. When anyone mentions pulling together resources for something the time when Katrina hit the southern United States always comes to mind. I eventually got to see the hardcore destruction firsthand when I was helping to publish a book by doing some photography from the destruction. But emotionally I was affected in ways that even I don’t know. Exactly 14 years ago today Hurricane Katrina would change life for many people including myself. Because being awaken by a nightmare and a migraine let’s me know that her winds still blow.

“Life is a hurricane, and we board up to save what we can and bow low to the earth to crouch in that small space above the dirt where the wind will not reach.”
–Jesmyn Ward, Men We Reaped

#thispuzzledlife

We Called Him Friend

We Called Him….Friend

“The best way a mentor can prepare another leader is to expose him or her to other great people.”

—John C. Maxwell

I have been asking myself lately why I felt the need to write about these individuals who made such a big impact on my life.  The answer…..I don’t know.  Maybe it’s because I’m finally emotionally able to write about them.  Or maybe now that this big life change has happened I have had the time to do some soul searching about people who have impacted my life both positively and negatively.  Whatever the reason I write to process these feelings in private because I’ve always feared expressing emotions other than anger or laughter.  One man that knew the trauma I was experiencing and that spent a tremendous amount of time talking to me each week was Dr. Charles Holmes.

I first met Dr. Holmes during my undergraduate work.  I took several classes he taught on both the undergraduate and graduate level.  He wasn’t a man that crossed boundaries.  He was simply a man who loved his students almost like that of a father.  The first class I took under him was the History of Psychology.  Honestly, the class couldn’t have been more boring.  I would have random thoughts like, “Oh my God did I remember to put on deodorant?  Do penguins have knees? What did I wear?  I look like I just rolled out of my hamper!”  That was one class I truly had to suffer through not because of the instructor but the material.  I was secretly thinking, “To have lobotomy by a leper wouldn’t be as painful.”

He taught many different classes that impacted the lives of so many students.  And then…..I took the Psychology of Addiction and instantly I was in love.  At the time, I had never spoken publicly about the puzzling nature of my life.  When I presented the topic chosen in the class which happened to be about self-harm.  I let my peers into a very small corner of my world and proceeded to throw up after the presentation was complete.  I was also still living with my ex-husband so I was very cautious about telling too much.  But with Dr. Holmes it was just different and you knew that by talking to him. He cared and wanted to know how his students were doing personally not just academically.

dr holmes

March 21, 1941-July 17, 2015

He told us about working with homeless addicts and alcoholics on the streets of New Orleans, LA and I hung onto every word he said.  He knew I was living in an abusive situation but didn’t know the extent.  He didn’t pry but rather just assure me that he was there if I ever needed to talk.  He saw me struggling every day with my personal life of addiction but always had an encouraging word.  He also presented the opportunity to speak to other classes and this continued on into graduate school.  These opportunities were slowly making the shame and guilt dissipate while educating others.

After Hurricane Katrina he told me about some work he was doing in the Pearlington, Waveland and Bay St. Louis areas of Mississippi which were the hardest hit areas.  I was already doing some photography for a book another teacher and I were working on about the devastation.  He invited both Melody and I to help on some rebuilding projects through a Christian organization he was affiliated with.  I can honestly say that the work done in those areas was extremely rewarding.  Not to mention all of the memories that I still have from that.  Here were families broken from the tragedy and I was there to help.  My heart and soul lit up instantly.

I pulled him aside one day before class and said, “Dr. Holmes you’re messing up my theory about men.”  He said, “What are you talking about?”  I said, “Well my experience with men truly exemplifies that all men are pigs and extremely harmful.  Why aren’t you?”  He said, “Dana because I don’t see people in a way as personal property or to make personal gains.”  We hugged and I have never forgotten that.  He would soon make it where all of his classes were required to attend my speaking engagements on campus including the Regional Pine Belt Counseling Association where several professional members of the community also attended.

Once Mel and I moved to Albuquerque life got busy and we spoke every once in a while.  But I did tell him when he asked where I was working that it was with the homeless and how much I appreciated him planting the seed.  I missed him terribly and as my mental health declined all I wanted was to sit down with him and to be told, “It’s going to be ok.”

When we would travel back to Mississippi I would always stop by the college and look up these professors that meant so much to me.  And I could always count on a big hug from Dr. Holmes and occasionally I would help “stomp out stigma and stupidity.”  Whether he was in class or not I would peek around where he could see me and he would excitedly stop his lecture and say, “Come on in, Dana.  Class let me tell you about this former student.” My heart leapt for joy each time and seemed to make it all worth it.

One day while Mel and I were planning a trip back to Mississippi his wife accidentally called me.  It was probably a butt dial.  But I called her back as this was odd.  She told me, “Dana doc isn’t doing well and if you want to see him come on.”  My heart sunk into my stomach and I felt sick.  My beloved professor and friend was dying and there was nothing I could do.

We raced the clock trying to get there before he passed.  Luckily or maybe something granted by the universe, we got there in time.  I walked into his room where he was connected to different medical devices.  I could see he was struggling to breathe and when our eyes met he said, “Dana?”  I said, “Hey doc it’s me. I told you I would be here if you ever needed me.”  He smiled and said, “Are you still cutting?”  I said, “Really that’s your burning question to ask me after this long?”  He and I chuckled and I said, “Yea doc I’m still struggling.” We had a rather short conversation but I told him before I left, “Doc thank you for being such a good man, professor and friend. You really blessed me and it was an honor to have you in my life.”  We told each other “I love you” both with tears in our eyes and hugged.  I left and he soon passed away.

When it was time for his service I saw some William Carey University professors like Dr. Cotten there and I was trying to choke back the tears that were wanting to erupt in my throat.  Then as the service finished and people were mingling a couple walked up to Mel and I and said, “Hey, I think we know you.”  I was scared to death because I couldn’t recall their names or faces.  Ashamed I said, “And who might you guys be?”  They said, “Your name is Dana, right?”  I just knew that they must’ve seen my face on a wanted poster or something.  Reluctantly, I said, “Yes that’s me.”  And they said, “We remember you from helping to rebuild our house after the hurricane with Dr. Holmes.” I was astonished and had a sense of pride as well.  I said, “Yes he was one of my good friends and I’ll miss him dearly.”

#Thispuzzledlife

Winners

Winners

8.14.14

“It isn’t the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it’s the pebble in your shoe.”
-Muhammad Ali

Today is one of those days where I regret being able to open my eyes.  I rolled out of bed this morning and felt like I had been at war all night.  My body feels like I’m detoxing from a chemical that I haven’t taken.  And it’s already begun happening at 6:00am.  I feel the overwhelming sense of sadness mixed with anxiety.  The nausea is hitting like a gulf coast wave from Hurricane Katrina.  I feel that overwhelming sense of needing to vomit.  Halleluer! I must not have eaten before I went to bed last night! I didn’t see any remnants of anything.  So, I grab my cannabis wax pen and take a couple of hits off it to settle my entire system down.  This has also helped to combat a horrible headache that was beginning to hit like a thousand hammers.  Then the diarrhea hits like some kind of ‘shock and awe’ attack on Iraq.  How soon until I have another acupuncture session?

I’m actually catching a break from these symptoms right now.  The medical marijuana is just like any other medication, it too has its limits.  However, the combination between both mmj and acupuncture and a drastic slow down in therapy seems to be slowing everything but my mind.  What was started about a month ago and was exacerbated when we traveled home has continued to plague every inch of my mind.  This blog, no doubt, is an exit for both frustration and education on certain topics.  But, for now, certain things must be kept hidden to ensure safety on several different levels.

Am I just trying to have a “poor, pitful me” moment today? Hell no! You’re just getting a ‘firsthand’ look at what some people’s days are like.   Like I’ve said before, “writing about these topics on my own abuse has had numerous effects on me both mentally and physically.”  Yes, I realize that I had an awesome life up next to others who have had some horrific things happen in their own lives.  I’m not going to compare stories because this blog is not about minimizing anyone’s personal traumas.  Have I cried about feeling so guilty about being upset over seemingly insignificant things? Absolutely!  But, the fact is that things did happen.  I’ve held that shame and guilt so long that my mind and body feels like I’m melting.  And I’ve stuffed and stuffed feelings for so long that I’m not only nervous….I’m terrified to work with them.

The “special” people helping to guide me through this process must either be angels from God or “gluttons for punishment.”  LMAO!!!  I feel like I’m really just beginning this treatment even though, I’ve been in therapy for a few years now.  I just don’t have the ability to keep my defenses up like I use to.

As an athlete, “YOU NEVER GIVE UP!” You play until you hear the whistle blow.  This drive is not one that can be taught. You must be born with a love for the game and the athletic ability to become the best ballplayer you can become.  I got my softball playing nickname ‘Charlie Hustle’ from one of my earliest and dearest coaches assigned to me by Nick Kolinksy.  He always told me that I played a lot like Pete Rose and never gave up.  I smile every time I remember as a kid playing ball for him and always feeling a sense of ‘safety’ around him.  He would tell me sometimes, “Dana, that was a $100 catch and a .10 throw.”  He made his point very clear but didn’t crush my self esteem as a ballplayer or as a person in the process. He and other coaches are on my list of ‘special’ people that had a dramatic and positive impact on my life from a very early age.  I never complained about going to practice or games.  That was a way out for me.  Playing ball was my life.  Pete Rose said it the best way that I know how to describe the love that I had for the game.  

“I’d walk through hell in a gasoline suit to play baseball.”

—Pete Rose

Occasionally, that old, washed up athlete comes alive in me again with reminders about how “putting one foot in front of the other is still considered progress.” I get caught up a lot on what the definition of ‘progress’ or ‘winning’ is about in regards to therapy.  Sometimes, the best I can do for that day is just get out of the bed.  Even doing that means that I made progress because one foot had to be put in front of another foot for that to be accomplished.

Sometimes people ask me what it’s like to process trauma.  To me it’s all about going to war, except this time, I know what I’ll be faced with.  I have survived it once so, it can be done. Do I have the strength? That remains to be seen.  I relive everything all day everyday anyway. What makes this situation different?  I have actively made a choice to volunteer to go through it again.  The fear can make me angry, frustrated and paralyze me at times.  I must admit that it’s very unfair to be almost 40 years old and still paralyzed in many ways by what others have done.  I can hear some of the old, southern biddies saying, “She made her bed, now, she can lie in it.” And that’s fine, if that’s your reality.  My reality is this….”I don’t care what the circumstances were…No one deserves to be abused in any way….EVER!  My ex-husband, teacher, baby sitters and birth mom didn’t deserve the abuse that they suffered at the hands of their family and people they trusted.  When the effects of the abuse begin affecting them then, the new generation of abuse is born and is taken out on other people who become their victims just like I did.”

This time….”I WILL NOT ONLY SURVIVE, I WILL WIN!”

#thispuzzledlife

 

#Thispuzzledlife

The 9-Year Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina

The 9 Year Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina

8.29.14

“Those who did better were those who didn’t wait idly for help to arrive. In the end, with systems crashing and failing, what mattered most and had the greatest immediate effects were the actions and decisions made in the midst of a crisis by individuals.” 
― Sheri Fink, Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital

I have been working on what I would like to say about a day in history that will once again be topped by another Hurricane Camille, Andrew and/or Katrina.  I’ve tried to wrap my mind around the science and pure ‘fury’ that nature can unleash.  My goal, after listening to my grandmother, parents and others who were around that day during the summer of 1969, was to experience this sheer nightmare dished out by Mother Nature for myself.

On August 29, 2005, I could do nothing but watch and try to stay safe.  Not from someone, but flying debris that was like throwing stars, damaging anything in its path.  We had no idea how the rest of the residents on the coast were doing.  We lived exactly one hour north of the storm surge so, no problems with the Gulf of Mexico threatening our living rooms.

 All of the news channels were talking about us needing to prepare for 3 days without food or water.  The actual preparation should’ve been for several days.  We watched the storm from day one that it began to form because it was ‘Hurricane Season’ and down there you watch the Weather Channel from June-November.   One thing I do know is that the true path of the storm is never a ‘sure thing’ until it settles in the Gulf of Mexico.  And even then, it can turn on a moment’s notice in a completely opposite direction.  So, even when it’s a close call individuals living in the lower, southern states stake their individual claims on bread, water and anything non-perishable.

The last two days prior to Katrina’s arrival were spent filling up cars and grills with fuel.  Tieing everything down in the yard. And just waiting and watching for the ‘witching hour.’  This particular year it looked like the ‘perfect storm’ was being created.  And she was forcasted to make landfall sometime close to high tide.  I wasn’t too concerned but rather intrigued in a weird kind of a way.  Other hurricanes we had planned for, turned at the last minute in a different direction.  But, this year, ‘the wrath of God’ would be upon us.

Ask anyone what they were doing in the days leading up to the storm and they’ll tell you watching storm models and preparing for the worst.  Also, never forget to run water in the bathtub even if you don’t have a stopper because, it’s a rule of surviving  a storm apparently. The water is used for drinking and flushing the toilet.  But there was no need for a toilet with this storm.  All you had to do was check your pants. The younger generations seemed to be just as intrigued as I was.  All we had ever heard of about a major hurricane was Camille and Hurricane Fredrick.  Nothing like the magnitude that was predicted about Hurricane Katrina.  It wasn’t until I saw the models of this storm that was taking the majority of the room in the Gulf of Mexico that I began to get nervous.

The morning she made landfall, I must admit that I was excited to see this for myself.  This time, I could have a story to tell.  Excitement quickly turned into absolute fear for the safety of my animals.  Shingles from the top of the house were flying off like many puzzle pieces at one time.  Bradford Pear trees were tumbling across my yard like a toy truck.

The usual 5-10 minute drive to my parents house, now took 2 hours.  The debris on the roads was like nothing I have ever seen.  It literally looked like the beautiful, big pine trees and oak trees were toppled like dominoes.  My dogs, at the time, were tied to the axles of my husband’s truck.  I watched a beautiful, old barn collapse like it was made from a deck of cards.

Gas was rationed. Tons of debris was all over the roads and on top of houses and vehicles.  I remember thinking, “We are located an hour inland. What does the MS Gulf Coast look like?”  At this point, all highways, interstates, ATMs, grocery stores, cell phones, most gas stations, banks and many other things were out of commission.  Suddenly, everyone was at the same exact economic level.  Everyone was now forced to get to know their neighbors, which was not necessarily a bad thing.

The first couple of days were difficult but ok.  Damage had already begun being assessed.  But, the freezers were filled with some of the best food I’ve ever put in my mouth.  We were eating ‘high on the hog’ for a couple of days.  Then, food began to spoil and it was sandwiches, crackers, chips or a pizza on the grill that was partially defrosted.

The heat in the middle of August in the southern United States must’ve come from Satan’s armpit.  Everyone smelled like chili and onions because we weren’t able to take showers.  If you just get fed up with the heat, mosquitoes and the lack of showering facilities well, you used the water hose in the front yard.  Remember, the bathtubs were filled with sacred water that no one must touch. The mosquitoes were the size of house cats.  I remember every night deciding on whether or not to sleep indoors where even the floors were a piping 90 degrees or risk getting the West Nile virus.  Decisions, decisions, decisions.

Where exactly was FEMA? Yea, we’re still waiting on those bastards to get through the red bureaucratic tape.  The term FEMA which was meant stand for the “Federal Emergency Management Agency” soon became “Fix Everything My Ass!”  I couldn’t agree more.  We did manage to get a blue tarp to cover the roof, but we didn’t start meth labs in FEMA trailers which seem to be some individual’s way of excelling at chemistry until you heard the loud BANG of a trailer exploding.

It wasn’t the storm that was the issue.  It was the lack of federal help that wasn’t available to those in need.  It was the babies that didn’t have formula.  The elderly without access to insulin or other medications because there wasn’t a way to keep things cool unless, of course, you were one of the few that were able to find a bag of ice and make it last 2 days.  Plus, at the time, my 85 year old grandmother was just as grouchy as ‘an old wet setting hen.’  It was annoying at times to hear her incessant bitching about how hot it was.  But, I would give anything to hear her gripe about anything now.

                                 


The above pictures were common sites along the MS Gulf Coast.  The middle picture is an aerial photo of one of the casinos that was tossed across Hwy 90, which runs along the beach, onto the other side of the highway.  I was either fortunate or unfortunate to have access to Hwy 90 because William Carey University’s gulf coast campus was located directly off Hwy 90 in Gulfport, MS.

The reason I say that I was fortunate to have access is due to several reasons.  I was currently attending the Hattiesburg, MS campus and also worked in the financial aid office as work study.  Also, the National Guard had shut down parts of Hwy 90 because well…..there were pieces missing.  So, I was able to navigate into areas that most didn’t dare go.  I didn’t count on one thing….no landmarks.  Basically, everything was gone or damaged beyond recognition.  The Biloxi lighthouse that has now survived both Hurricanes Camille and Katrina was one of the only landmarks that made it.  I’m pretty sure that it will survive the second coming of Christ too.

Not only did I get to see, feel and smell the utter devastation, I met some amazingly resilient people along the way.  The scenes of the biohazard waste removal teams attempting to deal with both the raw sewage that smelled like a turd sandwich and the rotting fish from several destroyed refrigerated trucks are one thing.  But, what happened along the way is why I’ll never forget that storm.  The people that I encountered were beyond devastated.  All along the coast was the scenes of people rummaging through the rubble of their once home.  Amid the tears, were the robotic type movements that I observed that resembled something like unmotivated zombies.  Their lives had just been shattered into a million pieces.  The amount of grief and loss that these people suffered was more than I could comprehend.  My heart hurt and cried for these people that had their comforts and now it was all gone including some family members.  However, I couldn’t get enough of the damage.  I was down there just about every weekend for a couple of months taking pictures.  I never saw it as a ‘gawking’ session.  I was fascinated by the science behind this beast.

I sat and cried with some of the individuals that I met.  I didn’t see it as important to know their names.  I knew that they were a human being that was in immense pain that I could do nothing about but listen.  All some could do was just point at their surroundings.  Others began crying, when asked how they were doing.  The suicide rates soon increased not only within citizens, but also within the law enforcement community.  There was just too much that couldn’t be done.  Bodies lying on the streets were mostly seen in New Orleans, LA.  But, dammit, Mississippi was also heavily damaged.  As I looked out into the Gulf of Mexico, I saw cars, lawnmowers, etc. In the trees I saw, boats, vehicles, wooden fences that were impaled, clothes and bed linens.  In recent years, the state has not only continued to be overlooked.  But, now it’s simply known as the ‘landmass between Louisiana and Alabama.’

Even today, just mentioning Hurricane Katrina can make all the hair stand up on the back of my neck.  Each year, I shed tears for the ones that lost all they had including the ones they loved.  The energy of the people that I met continues to plague me today.  Where I once loved bad weather, I now fear the wind.  When it floods, and it does in the desert, I begin getting nauseous and scared. But, rest assured knowing that June 1st every year (which signifies the start of hurricane season), I am constantly aware of what’s happening with the weather in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico.  Luckily, I have yet to see a hurricane in New Mexico.

August 29th has become like a national day of mourning for me.  So many memories that were not all bad, I smile about. But, most of the time, I still shed just one more tear on that date for the heartache of the thousands of people’s lives that were touched in both positive and negative ways.

“I’ll never forget Hurricane Katrina – the mix of a natural and a man-made catastrophe that resulted in the death of over 1,500 of our neighbors. Millions of folks were marked by the tragedy.”

Cedric Richmond

#thispuzzledlife

Hello world!

I initially started blogging about 5 years ago.  I’m originally from the deep south in Petal, MS.  It’s exactly half way between Gulfport, MS and Jackson, MS and just across the bridge from Hattiesburg, MS.  Petal has a population around 11,000 now but growing up as a small child and teenager there were significantly less people.  Small town USA complete with the noisiness, conservative politics, religion, strong beliefs, great food, respect taught through the generations, southern hospitality, friendly neighbors who are loyal as family, resilient, head strong and loyalties within a “good ole’ boy network.”  No more loyalties than any other small town I’m sure.  But this “loyalty” hurt me and changed the course of my life forever.

Me and my wife completed Master’s degree in Couseling and then moved to Albuquerque, NM to begin our careers and start a family.  But as life would have it, Mental Illness began to effect our hopes and dreams one day at a time. A few years later I would be diagnosed correctly….finally…with Dissociaitve Identity Disorder.  We would eventually have two little boys that we adore and make you want to keep going with things get difficult.

puzzlepieces2

My writing is about the struggles of living as an individual and LGBT family with a parent with severe mental illness. The sometimes the humor of it all and the often heartbreaking reality of the effects of abuse and mental illness on the indivial and family unit as a whole will keep those that struggle from feeling that you live on an island.  And the families will see that you can love someone with a mental illness without becoming a prisoner to their behaviors.  And maybe you will also see that the struggle for us as your family memeber have more struggles then what we let on at times.

Anyway, enjoy the laughs and tears with our family as they support me while I search for the puzzle pieces of an abusive life.  I will say this…I don’t sugar coat anything.  Sometimes my blogs can be graphic but abuse isn’t pretty.  I’m in the process of healing so topics are frequently repeated and attitudes change from positive to dark.  Either way, this is MY life and MY therapeutic journey towards healing.  Hold on because this ride is bumpy.

Hit the “Follow” button and watch us grow. I don’t write every day because my functionality can change on a dime.  I cover many different topics related to abuse and mental illness.  This blog builds so read from the beginning and see Where we were. Where we are now. And where we are going.  Happy Reading!

#thispuzzledlife