Dear America: I Wish We Cared About Solving Addiction as Much As We Care About Kim Kardashian’s Robbery

I can’t sleep thinking about that poor woman whose step daughter posted on the Yard Sale pages looking for a support group for her stepmother who had lost her son to addiction. It’s rampant, it’s growing, it’s everywhere. I’ve written many times about the fact that in Tennessee more people died of heroin overdoses than auto accidents last year.  Yet we force you to wear your seatbelt, but what action are we taking to insulate our population from overdose and to overcome addiction. Why are we still — yes, I’m talking to you Dickson County — covering it up? Why aren’t we talking about it, lecturing about this in our schools and our Sunday School classrooms?

Whether you drink yourself into a stupor;  you are gambling addict, a sex addict, a food addict, or you starve yourself — it’s all the same. Or, perhaps, if you’re not one of those,  you’re maybe one of these people that have $15,000 in credit card debt where you can’t step out of the house every morning without being dressed from head to toe because you’re so darn insecure.  Pick your poison.

Unless and until we fill that hole in our soul with something other than ourselves, we suffer. Where the disease of alcoholism gets you is that not only do we suffer in shame and silence, but our form of coping mechanism kills us.  With increasing frequency.  We have generations brought up under what I call the ‘Mama’s Broken Heart Generation’ — where you don’t feel, you don’t talk, and, God forbid,  you show your crazy, right? You lie to save face and you hide it, and the truth,  at all costs.  That was that generations’ mentality.  It’s also the signature characteristics of families peppered by alcoholism.

That particularly damaging line of thinking — never being able to be honest or be real about what’s going on in our life — is what drives people to seek some sort of solace outside of themselves. But we’ve also got to shatter this long-standing American-held notion that men aren’t allowed to have feelings.

I even had battles with Democrats who criticized President Obama when he shed a tear over not being able to do something about gun laws.

“A president can’t be emotional,” they said.

“Maybe Congress needs to be a bit more emotional, maybe Congress needs to shed some tears their own damn self and something might actually get done,” I said.

“Yeah, but presidents can’t boo hoo.  I mean, is he going to stand there and cry when we.get attacked,”  they said.

“He wasn’t crying when he killed Osama Bin Laden, now — was he?”

I think we know who won that round. 

When 20-something first graders were gunned down in their classroom and nobody gave a damn enough to do something, we have problems as a nation. And when one man can buy a weapon that killed 47 people in nightclub — it IS the damn gun,Conservatives.

We don’t want your handgun;  we don’t want your shotgun, we want to stop psychos from outarming the police, and we want to stop one-man killing crews from being able to slaughter dozens in minutes.

Anyway, this wasn’t a gun control rant,  this was a drug addiction awareness one. I’m simply linking to the fact that so ingrained in American society is the belief that we can’t feel emotions, that the president is not even supposed to give way to human elements of showing the ache that comes from burying babies in double digits.

Chhildren are dying, people are dying, in large numbers due to addiction, and I want to know when we are going to get serious about solving it and stop sweeping it under the rug as something ‘bad’  children do.

Yes, good little girls raised in the Church of Christ who can quote the Bible better than you, drink. And good children from wealthy homes who had every opportunity, try drugs and then wake up dead.

We’ve got to fix this so there are no more mothers like that poor woman on the yard sale page.

It’s time to get serious,  Tennessee!

Dear Pregnant People

Maybe it’s because I have the first name of a stripper or my middle name means “yes” in Spanish, but I learned in college that Candy, Mandy, Sandy, Brandy — no offense if that’s your name, but names from the 70s just suck — are stupid. The most interesting people you meet have family names, names that are important. You want your kid to sound like a corporation. Ex: Avery Hanna is excellent, that sounds like an expensive pocketbook designer.  Emily Reagan: equally excellent, sounds like a congresswoman. Briggs Mathis Albright: perfect, sounds like a law firm. They’re destined for greatness. Or in the South, you can do something fun like a double name: Katie Mae, Kaylee Dawn —  all good choices. It suggest you’ve read Tennessee Williams and know your William Faulkner cause you’re (cue: Mobile, Alabama accent) soooouthern.

Give your kids last names as first names and make them long. If they sound important, they’ll seem important, and then they’ll be important.   A  name like Candi — it’s a wonder I’m not on a pole somewhere. (Although that’s not actually my real name.)

And most importantly, don’t give your kid a name everybody else has and jack the spelling all crazy trying to be different or unique. This is ridiculous. As Candi with with an I, I’ve had to correct it from Candy my whole life.  That’s annoying enough, but necessary. However if you name your kid after Elvis Presley or John F Kennedy and spell it all crazy trying to pretend you didn’t, expect it to be misspelled their whole life.

In short,  when I adopt children from Syria and Africa, look for some variation of Roosevelt, Summitt, Manning, Chesney, Mandela, Clara. Like Ella or Rose — but the real name as Mandela or Roosevelt.

Get it?

Heed my warning, pregnant people: give your kids names with meaning or solid names. They’ll thank you for it.

If you’ve ever been to a frat party, you understand that.

The Only Painful Part About Being Single Is Other People’s Stupidity

It always angers me when people act like just because I don’t have a family now that I ‘ll never have one. When you see people and they say, “Won’t you regret not having kids?” or you talk about one day adopting them and they act like, “Oh that’s cute,  but dumb little Candi,  you will never have a family.”  In fact, my brother even told me one day at my Memaw’s, “Oh, you will never get married, you might as well give that up.”  Well, and you’ll never be smarter than me so give that up, too.

I always wanted to be somebody before I was somebody’s wife. Or somebody’s mother. I always wanted to write a book, speak fluent Spanish, before I had kids. And I always wanted to adopt them. Who’s to say I still won’t? I hate it when people treat me like my life is over or my dreams are over — because they’re not to me — just because you hadn’t popped out children by 26.

Which seems to be a small town requirement.

So, stop saying stupid stuff to single people just because they chose a different life than you.

My whole point of this wasn’t to rant at stupid questions asked at Dunkin Donuts, but to make a declaration.  When you get my age, you’ve seen people name  their kids just about every name that you have ever liked. And since people keep having kids in my family, these are my names for my adopted children that you will never ever steal (or I will cut you)  — since you’ve taken so many other ones.

Ahhhm, Kennedy, Katherine — which I’m glad about because they’re perfect.

Since nobody else wants these anyway, I think they’re safe, but still… this is my declaration. You cannot have my names!

Chesney, Manning, Roosevelt, Summitt, Mandela, McNair.

Maybe, Clara or Coretta.

They all have a back story of perseverance behind the name of the inspiration. (Except Clara, it’s family.)  And they are all mine.

Mine!!

As you now were, married people…

Candice Mathis
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Candi is a lifelong reader, writer, Democrat, and kid keeper. She drinks coffee at midnight and schools men on sports. Follow her @CandiMathis on Twitter.

Having A Brother Isn’t So Bad.

You know… when I was little girl,  if a fairy would would have come with a magic wand,
you would have thought I would have said:  “Can I be tall?”

Or, “Can I have 5 toes?”

(I have six — on one foot. No, not kidding. No, you can’t see them.)

But, no. I would have said, “Can I trade my brother in for a sister?”

But since I’ve been taking care of my Memaw as she’s gotten older, she has 3 daughters, and I’ve kinda realized — sisters aren’t really that great.

They’re kind of a lot of drama. And they usually all think they’re the boss. At least my brother would just, like, punch me in the face or put something high enough  I couldn’t reach it, and we would get on with it when we were kids.  And having a brother is the reason that I can hang with (or beat, actually) just about anybody on Sports Jeopardy — well, anybody but him and my cousin Tracy.

It’s the golf. I don’t know a thing about golf. Or hockey. Or OK, anything really played by white people. And I’d still totally kick anybody in the family’s arse on the real Jeopardy.

I guess having a brother isn’t so bad.

So cheer up, little girls out there wishing you had a sister.  You’ll be glad for like 5 minutes one day when you’re almost 40.

Feel better?

Candice Mathis

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Candi is a lifelong reader, writer, Democrat, and kid keeper. She lives in Middle Tennessee and rants coast to coast.

The Best Sobriety Present I Ever Received: My Twinkie Loves.

My sobriety date is August 15th. The year doesn’t matter. But let’s say, it’s been a few.

That was a day — coming to in a  jail cell I don’t remember ending up in,  being told that I was arrested for DUI and trespassing, when I wasn’t trying to get arrested for trespassing, I was trying to get arrested for assault and battery but the cheating son of a bitch wouldn’t open the door — I entered into an agreement with God.  Where he told me that if I would surrender to him — regardless of what comes; regardless of how hard it is; regardless of what I would lose; regardless of how lost I felt, how much I missed my life or who would leave me; regardless of how much it hurts, of how they persecute me; no matter what they say about me;  no matter what life does; and, the big one, no matter who dies — that one vice that carried me through it all, alcohol, then He would bring things to pass that I never imagined. That I would see dreams come true that I couldn’t wrap my mind around. Miracles I couldn’t measure. A future I couldn’t fathom.

Some years, to me,  that meant Kenny Chesney.  Others, it was a Sony writing contract. Some, like today,  it’s Matt Kemp or Cory Booker. But  mostly, on the sane days, it’s simply my own success with something as simple as peace of mind.

Still, the years came and went, the book deal — or even the clarity of mind — didn’t, but I clung hard to the promise that God made me that no matter what came at me, if I would hold up my end of the deal,  I would have treasures untold.

Four years ago, those treasures came to me in a set of twins that made my life worthwhile.  They were born on the same day, but years after, their Can Can gave up alcohol. I will never be able to repay or to express what those sweet babies mean to me. No matter how tired, no matter how far down, no matter what they put me through the week before — twinkie love hell! — I always got up (at 6 a.m.) with gratitude in my heart because of their faces.

They were — are — the joy in my life and the song in my heart.

Happy 4th birthday to one of the many reasons I know that God never gave up on me, and to a gift that I will never be able to repay — the joy of spending everyday with my twin lovies, Avery and Emily.

And, thank you to their mommy and daddy for sharing their lives with me. I don’t know that I will ever be able to say what they mean to me.

Only that when I used to look in over their cribs and sing, “Baby, you a song, you make me wanna roll my windows down and crooooouise…” and watch their sweet little faces smile and their little legs kick, I knew that God had made good on his promise to give me things that I could not see.

The day Emily, barely able to say a few words at all, toddled up to me, pointed her sweet little finger at my t-shirt, looked up with those big cheeks and eyes and sounded out “O-bam-a!” and the days Avery pointed at every football player she’d see and shout, “Jalen Hurd!” were days my life got good.

I may never see the Senate, the New York Times Best Sellers list, or the top of the BillBoard charts. Clay Matthews may never come calling — but this Can Can is cool with that. In “my” many children, I’ve been blessed more than anyone deserves.

Happy Fourth Birthday to Can Can’s heart!

“Touchdown, Big Orange!”  to Avery and “Go, Cardinal Birds, Em!”

Cousins Are For Keeps.

This will probably get me in trouble, but I’m used to being the designated asshole. I know what it’s like to be shunned. To be the target of passive aggressive emotional manipulation where someone uses social media as a tool of emotional abuse. In a manner of exiling the intended target. Examples are as follows, but not limited:  Allowing their children to obtain Facebook accounts and sending friend requests to YOUR friends — that they have no reason sending friend requests to — as if to say: see, there, the problem is you and  “Look at me, I’m hurting you!” Or not allowing your own family members to even follow you on Twitter. Blocking you, deleting you, when you express an opinion that’s different than theirs — or, particularly, expressing one which makes them look bad.

It’s a form of abuse. And it’s the most cowardly kind.

Worst of all, I know what it’s like to have no one stick up for you. For the people you love the most to just allow it to happen — that’s the part that hurts. Not that people still conduct themselves in manipulative, adolescent acts of intimidation like that, but that others that you love most ignore it, allow it, and enable it.

I refuse to make that mistake.

I have to stand up for all that I love — which is all kids — and social media has taken simplistic beauty of childhood and turned it into troubling and disturbingly adult-like forms of gaslighting and manipulation. I mean, I read. I know what social media and social media bullying is doing to children. I’ve been the target of it from those that are related to me, and then I’ve been cyberbullied by those I don’t even know.

And it’s not cool. And any bullying — coming from anybody, any time — is not ok.

Family is forever. Friends come and go. Boys come and go. Family is, or should be, forever. Cousins are the first friends you ever have, and when done well, may be the last. Cousins grow up and have twins and give you a reason to love life again. Cousins grow up and keep those twins so you can go to work knowing your kids are being bribed with Whoppers to say, “Touchdown Big Orange!” That’s what cousins do.

They fight. They make up. They don’t always have friends or significant others that you always like (remember the ferret, Jessica?) and that’s okay. Growing up, Jennifer (who wasn’t really a cousin, but still…kinda counts as one) didn’t like a lot of my “stuck up” friends, and in high school, she had one friend who really didn’t like me.

She didn’t have to. I didn’t like her either.

If every time we did something that wasn’t right — or not nice — when we were growing up, if someone’s parents ordered their kids to never speak to us again, we’d all be out of friends by third grade. Kids do bad stuff. They hurt each others feelings. They say mean things. Weren’t we all told to hug, kiss (Wanda Patton) and work it out?  I’m glad people’s parents didn’t shun me for doing something wrong.

Or else Jessica Robinson would have never been able to speak to me again when her mother picked us up from a party in ninth grade and I (and others) was falling down drunk. She never told on us,but good gosh, Mrs Esther gave us a guilt ridden lecture that was even worse than ratting us out to our Moms.

There were multiple parents who probably knew I would end up in A.A. long before I did, but they never once demanded their kids write me off. They believed in me.

That’s grace.

And if there’s any legacy that my Uncle Chunky left in me with the responsibility of passing it on to the next generation, I hope it’s that:  grace.

And grace means forgiving even when THEY don’t deserve it — not for them, but for you.

In fact, that’s probably the only thing that has saved some of those aforementioned cyberbullies from a real life butt whooping — the lessons of friendship we were all taught, and forced to sustain, as kids.

Then, there are some times that the only example of kindness that some children will ever see are you or your children. My Uncle Chunky always told  me that, maybe, they — the “mean” kid — don’t have any examples of kindness at home.  You be the example for them. You be the one that shows them forgiveness.  You be the one that teaches them how to be strong enough to move on from a slight. If I wrote everybody off that posed an offensive question — like,  How come you didn’t grow any bigger? — I would have ran out of people to talk to in  elementary school.

Sometimes I feel like my time with my twins taught me how to be a professional referee, because somebody’s always doing something to the other one.

Sissy is touching me, sissy has it, sissy do it, sissy is looking at me!

I know every parent reading this is shouting:  “Welcome to my world, girl!”

It was the first time I ever found myself thinking…. wow, this is what a teacher must feel like — and she has a whole classroom of this!

I’m so used to always being in the doghouse and ignored that I figured I might as well say what I think, because I can take it. I can take the abuse. But as someone who’s been the recipient of that type of passive aggressive anger, I know how it hurts. So I can only imagine how it feels to a child — it’s just not cool.

Cousins are forever. And kids should be taught resilience and forgiveness — not shunning, manipulation, and overbearing demands. No one is perfect. No one!

And no one is ever right all the time.

Thank God that isn’t required or Jennifer Patton would have wrote me off a long time ago. And if we walked away from the idea that family must, always, love each other — me and Jessica Smithson might have never made up. We fought over Barbies every week. (She stole mine.)

But we did. And that’s cousins.

And this cyber abuse and bullying that kids are hit with now — from ALL sides — saddens me.

Barbies were soooooo much easier.

*Note:

I guess since the only people that are related to me, and the ones who aren’t, who take issue with every single thing I say, have blocked me or are not allowed to be “friends” with me, I can express myself freely without fear of retaliation. Even though doing so before, oddly enough, has brought blowback from those not even on my friend’s list who deleted and blocked me for that very reason.

I’ve never been able to win. So, might as well do what I’ve always done.

Just write what I think. It’s what I do. It’s all I know.

As Maya Angelou once wrote: You may write me down in history with your bitter, twisted lies, you may trod me in the very dirt, but still, like dust — I rise.

I love that poem. And…

I love you all… family, friends, and people not voting for Trump.

Hee hee. 😉