Life is Short

This is not the post I intended to write. I was going to jump on here and give you some Diva updates. But there is something else that came to me as I began to write and I know I must share this with you. (And you can edit this in your head if you want, my friends, but I do not have time right now to do so and I want to get this information out ASAP šŸ™‚ )

I have had some heavy past few months. As you know from being a part of my life, a very close friend of mine is in her last days of life. She hasn’t even reached the age of 60 but it looks like her time is coming, whether I like it or not. We have spent the past months making big end-of-life decisions together and holding each other’s hands with our heads together sobbing, knowing that when she went off to Texas to an Assisted Living facility near her only family, that everything was our “last” together. The last hug was the hardest. For a short while after her move, she was able to send me a few lines via the internet here and there on how things were going but she was so exhausted that it would drain her. We knew we had to move her soon before she didn’t have it in her to physically ride across the country. It is so hard helplessly seeing the physical break down of her body. Her last message to me was that she finally gave in and allowed Hospice to come (my tough warrior was holding off until the very last minute and has been turning them down for a few months already). I called her the other day and knew it took everything in her to answer. It broke my heart to even smaller pieces, hearing her weak voice and her laughs at my silly life antics. The Evil has gotten into her brain again and she is having difficulty communicating. Her brother has been keeping me updated at this point. The thought is that she will not be seeing next month. Lord, help me. I am shaking and can barely see the screen through my tears.

Then I had another surprise. My niece who is 18 came over the other night, so excited to tell me about her first date. She was showing me the cute messages they were sending back and forth via FB messenger, etc. and we were pondering those fun teenage jitter questions like, “Is this a date?” ā€¦”Will he try to hold my hand… or kiss me?!”… “Will he buy the tickets?”… “Will we get our own popcorn or share one?” Her adorable excitement about this cute boy who likes her and thinks she’s awesome was creating those fun butterflies in her stomach that we all remember from days gone by.

This conversation got me to thinking about who I was dating at 18. Back in those days, we communicated by phone (GASP!), e-mail, or by making plans to get online (dial up) at the same time so we could talk on AIM (AOL Instant Messenger). šŸ™‚ I still have my very first email address that my dad set up for me when I was 15 and I don’t delete anything from my email, because… what a waste of time šŸ™‚Ā  (I know, some of you are cringing right now. Sorry my Type A friends, love ya!).

I pulled up some emails from a boy I went out with when I was her age, and read her a few of our “flutter” messages such as him saying, “I miss you sooooooo much. T-7 hours [until we saw each other again] TTYL hun” ā€¦ “Hey Shawty, I can’t wait to see you. In school today we ā€¦.” etc. etc. I bought a car while we were dating and named it after one of the things he would say to me, that I was “The Shizzle to his Nizzle.” (What does that even mean? LOL. Who cares! In 18 year old world, it was goose bumps!) I named my car Shizzle. Maybe it had something to do with his favorite candy being Skittles? haha who knows šŸ™‚

After my niece went home and my own cute memories of innocence and excitement were flying back to me at rapid pace, I began to wonder what he was up to today. We hadn’t talked or even seen each other since we were 18. So of course I do what we do in today’s world: I typed his name into the FB search bar. The only thing that came up with his description was an obituary someone posted in 2012.Ā No way, I thought, that can’t be him. With a sinking feeling in my gut, I opened the page. There was his picture right on top of the obituary. All the information listed matched that boy that I had many fond childhood memories with. We were the same age. But he died at age 25. 25!!! I reached out to some people that were mutual friends of ours (and set us up). I find out from his past best friend what happened as the pit in my stomach grows deeper. He took his own life.

I just sat there crying, with these ridiculous thoughts of wishing I could have done something; wishing I could have “fixed” someone I haven’t seen or talked to in 15 years.Ā  As if we can help anyone who doesn’t reach out for it (and I have no idea on those details when it comes to him).

I have felt so blessed these past 10+ years of being in the counseling field, having the opportunity to help people find a way out of the dark by walking beside them in the deep pits of pain and hearing them- really hearing them. And showing them a process of how to get out of the pitch dark woods. My heart bursts every time I see another person in my office find healing, freedom, empowerment, peace in their minds and excitement for life again.

Sometimes I wish life could be more often like a Hallmark movie, you know? Here’s what my 18 year old boyfriend’s story would have looked like if I could rewrite it. We would be walking down the street and randomly run into each other. We would begin catching up and I would be able to pick up on his emotional state and would point him in the direction of help. And of course he would take the help with little resistance because it’s the Hallmark channel. He would find healing in the core of his being and from all the pain inside. He would be truly happy. He would marry a cute “girl next door” type that was sweet and kind. They would start Christmas morning by having an adorable, fluffy puppy with a red bow on, playing excitedly between the happy couple, while they sat in front of the tree, with their hand entwined, a look of love and contentment on their faces. And when we passed each other on the street, we would give each other a wave and a big, genuine smile because we both found true happiness in our lives.

In our Western world 1 out of every 4 people have depression or anxiety (and the other 3 are lying šŸ™‚ ). But we put this stigma on it such as, we just need to be “strong enough….” HOG WASH! We need to have the courage (and it takes a lot to admit we need help!!!) to reach out and get our butts in counseling with a great therapist!

No one would EVER tell a diabetic that depends on insulin for their life survival that if only they were “strong enough” or just “shook it off” they wouldn’t need that medication… BULL HOGIE!!

We don’t tell Cancer patients that if they just tried harder …. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!?

Mental illness is just as real as diabetes, cancer, broken bones and autoimmune disorders. And guess what? They are just as catastrophic because we receive the message that “just need to be stronger”… or that getting help is for the weak and getting help for this area of our lives is embarrassing… psssh, we women let doctors stick tools up our vaginas and men let doctors do the “cough and grab” on their gentlemen bits. And don’t even get me started on Colonoscopies… yes, if you can do those things, you can come TALK to someone about what’s going on emotionally.

Mental illness is just as debilitating as physical illness, just in other torturous ways. And the saddest part of all? They can both end in premature death. Pretending we have it all together, you know what that is? A death sentence. Get help. I don’t care if it is for a lump you want to pretend isn’t there of a feeling of hopelessness that you tell yourself is normal. Yeah, right.

My heart reaches out to you in this last statement: Get help. There are hotlines everywhere that can be found with a quick google search on your phone. Just call a random counselor. Or you know what? Just show up at the ER. Or a counseling office. I don’t care. JUST. GET. HELP. And don’t accept NO for an answer. If the person you turn to doesn’t have the expertise to realize what’s going on, don’t minimize what is happening inside. Go to the next professional.

You all know that my office is in Roanoke. I’m real, I’m fun and I’ve been through a lot so I may just be able understand more than you might initially think. I would be honored if you would let me walk with you down this dark road and travel together to happier times. Trust that it can get better. BECAUSE IT CAN.

Here is my office number 1-434-237-2655. It is a Lynchburg number but I am based in downtown Roanoke. And it doesn’t have to me that you see. I just want you to reach out to someone and don’t stop reaching out until you get what the help you need. You’re worth it.

Love and Hugs,

Bobbie-jo Hurt, The Mason-Dixon DIY Diva & Mental Health and Addictions Therapist, who truly, sincerely, cares about you.

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The Signs Are Unclear (to say the least)

I am pretty sure I talked in my sleep last night- and by talked, I mean urgent yelling. I had a dream that I was on my way to the airport. I kept trying to tell Google the address so I could get the directions, as I knew I was drawing closer to my exit but I wasn’t sure which one it was. Every time Google would repeat back to me what I said, “OK, find the airport…” it would be full of fuzzy background noise like a radio station that isn’t tuned and it would give me the address to someplace with a similar name but in the wrong state.

Since GPS was letting me down, I knew I had to figure this one out on my own. I was almost certain that last time I drove to this airport, there was a sign off the interstate indicating which exit to get off for the airport. Well surprise, it wasn’t there anymore. All the signs seemed to be in the wrong places.

I ended up having to turn around in some busy parking lot and backtrack when I figured out that the signs were nowhere to be found. I go up this hill and there it is- finally I find the airport. It is a hot mess. People everywhere, all with somewhere to be. The airlines are in alphabetical order- easy enough, right? Yes, if they were in a straight line. But instead they sort of zig-zagged throughout the parking lot.

I don’t even know which plane I’m on or where I’m going at first but as I’m running through the zig-zagged airline portals, it comes back to me that I am looking for United Airlines and I am heading to Hawaii- no wait, San Francisco. Yes, that’s where I am going. San Francisco. (Though I have no idea why I am going there and I am pretty sure I would prefer Hawaii…) I do know, however, that I have 30 minutes before my flight boards. For some reason my parents are suddenly at my vehicle (well hello there, how did you sneak up on me again? šŸ™‚ )Ā  when I arrive to the airport and as I take off into a run to find the airline, my parents are supposed to be getting things settled with the car and bringing me my luggage.

So there I am at United’s counter, and the lady is trying to sell me this one-way ticket that is way over my price range. I’m racking my brain thinking, didn’t I already buy one- a round-trip one?! Finally she finds my ticket and I am paying to stow my bag. As I am leaving the Kiosk, my father comes up with a smaller version of my purple Liz Claiborne suitcase that could easily be stored on the plane. Thinking that he must have put it all in an easier-to-manage bag for me, I feel filled with good feelings of the cozy sort that someone is taking care of me, and I run back to the counter and tell the lady that I won’t be needing to stow my bag after all. She says no problem and begins typing on her computer to get things switched. I unzip the bag and find all my husband’s dirty clothes and shoes in my bag.Ā Dang it, dad. Didn’t you even look?? It seemed like such an easy task- just bring me my suitcase. Sending my dad back again to the vehicle with those instructions, I head toward my gate.

Remembering I still need my bag as I arrive to the gate and the airline attendant begins boarding call, I run to the escalator and look down to see if my dad is there with my luggage. IĀ  know I can’t go down there or I will have to re-go through TSA and there is no time. I see my dad and I yell to him. He is waving a turquoise cooking pan that looks like a Rachel Ray. Though a nice cooking utensil, it is NOT my suitcase! At this point, the frustration builds to explosive emotions and I begin yelling that the pan is NOT my suitcase and I have to board NOW!

I am pretty sure I yelled this into the real world because my kids are suddenly waking me up in real life and asking me if it is time to get up. My voice fells a little hoarse. I feel exhausted. Tired. My body feels like lead. And I’m irritated.

Getting up, my focus turns to the kids and getting them ready for school, though in the back of my mind, I am feeling pretty dazed and feel like I need to go back to sleep since that entire dream felt like pure stress, extreme pressure and nonstop running.

The signs are all so unclear. The road signs are not in the right places. The Kiosks are in some semblance of order but not really. Everyone around me is doing something but seemingly having trouble getting it right. I am getting through by the skin of my teeth but I don’t have what I need.

In my rational, awake mind, I know I can’t blame anyone for me not having my suitcase or being late to the airport or even the airport’s crazy set-up. It is my life to live and if my father brings me my husband’s dirty work clothing and then a cooking pot as luggage and the airport is set up in cartoon proportions, I should have planned for that… right? I should have just brought my bag with me instead of trying to save time, right? I should have planned for missing signs and crazy airports… right? But… can you ever really plan for some of these things?

But on the other hand of that same statement is the insinuation that you can only trust yourself to get it right and that somehow there is a way to get things “perfect.” And we all know that’s a farce because none of us get it right all the time. And if we think we do, then we are wrong a whole lot more than we realize. Thinking only we can get it right is like having mud all over our face and thinking that we look amazing. The only person we are fooling is ourselves.

What a dream. Missing signs. Stress. Oddness. Unplanned craziness. People who let you down. Letting yourself down. Maybe I made the flight or maybe I didn’t. I don’t think the flight was ever the point. The process was.

Life is unpredictable. Sometimes stressful. Definitely crazy. Sometimes the path we are on makes complete sense and we are filled with such clarity. And sometimes we can’t find any signs, we can’t find the road, everything is zig-zagged, out of place and we don’t feel like we have what we need for the journey ahead of us.

Sometimes the path will be smooth and it will feel like we are gliding- maybe even gracefully waltzing, through life.

Other times we will be at an airport with a pan and no plan. I think it’s fairly easy to see which path I am on right now. šŸ™‚

I suppose I could always find the courage to put that pan on my head (without being mad at those around me for “getting it wrong”) and waltz my way onto the plane, where I will fly into the unknown with grace and humor. It would be way more fun than grumbling and being stressed. And it looks like I’m going for a ride either way…

šŸ™‚

Path splits two directions, fork in the road