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How Sending my Teens to School in a Pandemic is Destroying their Mental Health, Middle Class Mom Private School Kid CoVid Problems.

My girls have been home sick for almost 2 weeks. We’ve consistently tested negative for CoVid. If we’re being honest, we’ve been sick a lot since the kids have been back in school. We’ve been tested so many times that I’m actually embarrassed to go to our local CVS because they know us by name now. Currently, our school is overrun with Omicron. There are no masks required, no social distancing and they are about to take away the mode 3 learning option for those who are actively sick or quarantined. In essence, they are trying to force everyone to be in person. What am I supposed to do when I know sending my teens to school in a pandemic is destroying their mental health?

Here’s some more truth. I am diabetic. Last year, I kept the girls home, to their detriment. It’s resulted in my efforts to protect our health negatively impacting their mental health and quality of life. For that, I will feel guilt for the rest of my life. Every time they were exposed, I adhered to the testing and quarantine guidelines laid out…while others, from shame, ignored symptoms and even concealed positive results and still attended school. Being of a rational mind, all of this has weighed heavily on me and added to my anxiety. It’s added to our already huge feeling of being unsafe.

Last week, the girls were out for a stomach virus (2 negative tests last week say no CoVid). The principal called to suggest we pull the girls out of their school (the private school I’ve been paying for 3 years/ almost 2 of which my girls were virtual). I won’t lie, I was insulted and I was hurt. They suggested an online academy not associated with the school itself.

I know kids need to be in school. I’ve seen the damage not being there can cause… firsthand. But what about their safety and well-being? “What are you doing to keep them safe?” I asked.

He, literally, changed the subject and asked me if the girls were wearing their masks at school? Switching the onus to them. They do wear their masks but they are in the minority in a school of 1000. They are also a part of the vaccinated and boostered club minority. He did make a point to let me know that soon, he was planning to remove the asynchronous learning option for kids altogether because it is too taxing on the teachers. That was last Friday.

Monday, my girls were still sick. I called the school in tears because my children were obviously still unwell, vomiting, nauseous and having terrible diarrhea but now, I have the threat of expulsion looming. These are good, smart kids who are being threatened with removal because they’ve been heavily sick after almost 2 years of being completely isolated. They catch every virus that comes along now.

I was on the phone in tears asking for permission to let my children stay home from a school overrun with coronavirus. I couldn’t reach the principal so I spoke to the Vice-principal. She said to keep the girls home. She also told me that she had 80 positive cases that morning and was in the process of sending more kids home after she ended our call. Also, the principal that I had spoken with on the previous Friday was now home quarantining because he and his children had been exposed at school and tested positive. As the week has gone on, more and more children and staff have been sent home to isolate themselves after either being exposed or testing positive. My daughters go back today.

Sending my Teens to School in a Pandemic is Destroying their Mental Health

Tomorrow, they are hosting an all-school mass with the Bishop. An all-school mass (for those not in Catholic school) is mass with all 1000 kids together, complete with the Eucharist and the sign of peace (both contact). I think it’s insane for obvious reasons but this is what’s happening. Nothing makes sense to me anymore. I’m going to tell them that my girls are not allowed to attend. The last time I did this, they ignored my email and sent them anyway.

This time, I’m going to call and speak with the vice principal. If need be, I will come to pick them up until the mass is over. Who has an all-school mass during a pandemic surge? Does this make sense to anyone? Am I overreacting? I feel like I’m asking to do an insane thing in a pandemic surge. I’m conflicted because science tells me to be cautious and the school is making me feel like I’m the crazy one.

This morning I woke up and (with my little brother and sister both sick and testing positive for Omicron) thought to myself, is online school really such a bad option? Is my pride worth putting my girl’s health in danger? But can their mental health handle the isolation when everyone else they know is going about their business? I’m watching it happen, Coronavirus is destroying our teens and tweens. It’s too much for their hearts and heads to handle. What do you do when sending your teens to school in a pandemic is destroying their mental health?

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New year resolution to manifest your best life

Estimated reading time: 11 minutes

Good morning and happy new year. Sounds kind of insincere to wish anyone a “happy” anything in the midst of yet another pandemic surge. Thank you Omicron. But I do sincerely wish each and every one of you a magical year filled with happiness; no matter what that may look like. That’s why this year, I’m forgoing the lofty idealistic and mostly unrealistic resolutions of the past in favor of realistic new year resolutions to help you manifest your best life in 2022.

The past 2 years have been hard, like astronomically hard, beyond anything any of us could ever have anticipated at the beginning of this pandemic. Yet here we all are. Certainly worse for the wear; a little humbled, sad and stronger. Yes, we’re surviving. You are stronger because (knock on wood) it hasn’t killed you yet…if you’re reading this. (Sorry about that, my sense of humor has gone a little dark in the past 2 years.)

Anyways, I’m not a self-help guru or someone who’s got all her shit together. I’m struggling but I did have a moment of clarity a few days ago and I came out the other end certain that our life journey is all about the tiny steps (no matter or how hard or easy it is to get to our desired destination in life). You don’t have to run, jump or leap. You just have to step in the direction you want to go. The most important thing is to know where you want to go.

So stop, right now. Stop thinking of where the world has told you that you should want to go or what you should want to be or have or do and ask yourself, “where do I want to go, be, have and do? What makes me happy? Who is worth my time, effort and love?” Then, prioritize.

Here comes the hard part, the people, places, things that don’t make you happy…let them go. I know it’s hard. It can feel almost impossible but hanging on to those things is dead weight around your neck and it’s slowly killing you. Don’t give more weight to people and things that don’t even consider you. Let that shit go.

Stop being so hard on yourself. Give yourself the same grace, love and patience that you afford everyone you love. Be diligent, attentive and proud of yourself. Do your best and be the best version of yourself. That’s it! You don’t owe anyone anything but yourself. You owe yourself happiness, love, laughter, contentment and peace (in whatever form that may be).

Here are my Realistic New Year Resolutions to Help Manifest Your Best Life in 2022

1. Prioritize yourself

For me, I naturally assume the martyr position because I’m a mom. Always putting myself last and everyone else’s needs above mine. They didn’t ask for it. It’s just what I’ve always done. It’s what my mom did. But that doesn’t serve me or my family well. It’s leaving me feeling like a failure as a human because while I’m excelling as a mom, I feel like I’ve lost me in the process. It makes me angry and unfulfilled and, quite frankly, unhappy and a little bitter and that spills over into everything else and taints the joy, bringing down the energy. This year, my family is going to always be the most important thing to me but now, I am going to be as important to myself as I am to them.

2. Move your body for 20 minutes a day

Y’all remember that I was diagnosed with diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol a few months before the pandemic hit? Well, I was and it scared the f*ck out of me. I started watching what I was eating, portion controlling and working out. I was overwhelmed. It was a lot. But in 6 months, I had lost 60 pounds and all my numbers were normal. The pandemic hit and between stress and not going anywhere, I gained 25 pounds back and slowly over the past 2 years my numbers have crept back up. They are still normal but if I don’t take control now, for how long will they stay healthy? I don’t want to find out so, I’m committing to myself to get my heart rate up 20 minutes a day to stay healthy. No lofty weight loss goals or black and white/ this or that/ never or always lines drawn in the sand. Just some prioritization and lots of grace and love for myself.

3. Eat whatever you want in moderation

Do NOT cut yourself off from the simple joys. I mean, come on, saying you’re never going to eat sugar or carbs again might sound like the answer to your problem of gaining weight but it’s not sustainable. It’s unrealistic. Worse still, it makes food unenjoyable. Honestly, when you live your life with drastic restrictions, are you living a life at all? You’re getting by. Food is not the enemy but it also doesn’t heal your traumas. Eat whatever you want in moderation while being cognizant of your own health, portion control and reality. If you’re drinking alcohol, drink water. If you’re eating garbage, drink water and move your body. The key is balance. But don’t starve yourself or fanatically restrict every calorie that goes into your body, that’s an actual eating disorder. Take it from me, I know.

4. Chase what makes you happy

This can be different for every single person on the earth. For one it might be traveling the world or becoming a doctor, for others, it might be earning a lot of money and living a lavish life and for some, it might mean creating something beautiful or just living peacefully. Guess what? None of them is wrong. Each of them is right. Happiness is derived from many different things in many different ways. Don’t be afraid to chase your happiness because even if you don’t make it to where you want to go on the first try, you’ll be closer and definitely happier and more fulfilled knowing that you went for it. For me, that means creating content that resonates with others and living my life on my own terms. Starting today, I want to post at least 5 days a week. You are my accountability buddy. Don’t let society tell you what to wear, how to look, who to love, what’s cool and what’s not. Do what makes you happy! Periodt. No one else lives in your body, your mind or your soul. Only you can choose your happiness and that starts by stopping taking other people’s opinions into consideration when deciding what makes your heart happy and full.

5. Travel

Wander the world. A change of scenery is good for your soul. Honestly, whether you are going to a cabin in the woods, hiking in the mountains, laying on a beach, or exploring a metropolis traveling is a way to reboot and gives you just enough distance and distraction to forget your worries for a little while and give you a fresh heart and eyes to tackle your woes when you return. My parents taught me from a very young age that travel is an experience that opens your mind and your heart. It makes you more tolerant, understanding and kind. There is no better gift you can give yourself.  So travel everywhere you can any chance you get. It doesn’t matter if it’s 30 minutes from home or a 24-hour flight; walk where you’ve never walked before and try things you’ve never tried before. You won’t believe how your perspective of humans and the world, in general, will change.

6. Be the you that you want to be

This one can be hard because not all of us have taken the time in our lives to even ask ourselves what we want, who we want to be or what that looks like. Many of us have been swept up in our lives; it almost feels as if it happened to us and in some cases, as circumstances were, it did. But it’s never too late to change until you’re dead. Every single day is a new beginning. Every. Single. Day.  So decide who the you is that YOU want to be and be that. Make a list. For example, I want to be a more attentive wife (pandemic has made me in survival mode but I want more. I want slow dancing in the kitchen, hand-holding on walks and snuggles on the couch) I want to be a strong role model for my girls and I also want to be their best friend, I want to evolve my career to the next level (so I’m working my tail off to complete this Masters in Digital Marketing), I want to actively choose the life I live and I want joy and satisfaction to be the guiding factor.

7. Don’t let other people’s actions steal your joy

Only positive vibes this year. It’s an inside joke in my family that I am eternally optimistic. I’ve always been this way. If I weren’t, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be here…or anywhere. I think I just had a hard childhood (like so many of us #generationaltrauma) and I know that worry is a useless emotion and negativity absolutely brings the energy down. If you don’t believe you can, you absolutely won’t so I’m living that MexiCAN (Not MexiCANT) life. All this to say, trust and believe in yourself. You are the master of your own destiny. The only way other people can steal your joy is if you allow them to. Do NOT let those people have that power.

8. Sleep

It sounds super basic. I know. But sleep is the cure-all to life (well, that and water). Sleep is something that has always been a challenge for me (manic bipolar who is clinically diagnosed insomniac) add in some ADHD, perfectionist tendencies and then hit me over the head with the pandemic anxiety. Yes, sleep is absolutely elusive for a lot of adults, especially parents. I am not alone in this but it is a basic need to stay healthy and happy. So do what you need to do to get at least 6-8 hours of sleep. Stop laughing. It is possible. Try relaxing at night, dim the lights, get cozy and turn off the screens. Meditate. Take a warm bath. Don’t drink alcohol or caffeine before bed and rethink those sugar snacks before bed. Get your exercise done earlier in the day so you can benefit from the endorphins without that energy surge at bedtime. Last but not least, make a small to-do list every day in the morning and cross those 5 things off as the day goes and at bedtime, throw it in the garbage. The list could be as simple as drink coffee, pick up kids from school, return books to library, go for a walk and drink water. Then, give yourself permission to rest and forget the rest until tomorrow. Do this every day until it becomes a habit.

9. Drink water

This is so simple and basic that it sounds almost ridiculous to put it on a list but it is very important. Drink your water. Water really is life. It’s great for your skin, your health and your mind. Set a goal to drink at least 64 ounces of water every single day. Staying hydrated can contribute to a general sense of well-being.

10. Get dressed everyday

I get it, it sounds like common sense but let me tell you, as a stay at home mom during a pandemic, I’ve spent a lot of the last two years wearing loungewear, whether that be fuzzy skims, tie-dyed lounge sets, LuLulemons/joggers and sweatshirts or just changing from my night jammies to my day jammies. I have not been dressing in all the cute clothes that I’ve bought to satisfy my pandemic anxiety shopping. Last week, I went to my in-laws for Christmas and I put on a cute sweater dress with knee-high boots and put makeup on and did my hair. It was a game-changer. I felt cute and sexy and human. Never underestimate the power of dressing for yourself and feeling beautiful in your own skin. It absolutely changed my entire outlook on life and my self-confidence.

11. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

You can’t do everything or be everything to everyone. It’s ok to be vulnerable and fragile, let other’s help. Don’t put off medical, mental or spiritual needs. Needing help is not a shortcoming, it is part of being human. We all need help at some time to survive life. No one is an island. If what you’re doing isn’t working don’t be afraid to pivot or change directions entirely.

12. Live everyday like it’s a special ocassion

You do not need to live like you’re dying but, for the love of God, live and love like every day you are alive is a special occasion. Celebrate you. Eat the macarons. Wear that little black dress from Nordstrom. Take the trip to Paris. Tell the people your heart is crushing on that you love them, that they are special and you are glad they are a part of your life. Stop saving shit for someday when today is yesterday’s someday.

These are my realistic new year resolutions to help you manifest your best life in 2022 and every year after that. Choose your own happiness. Choose your own adventure. We only have one life and the time on earth is not that long, so do what you want. Choose you.

In the end, the goal should be to live your life in such a way that even if you die at 99-years-old (like my abuelito and Betty White did) it’s still too soon.

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miscarriage, national pregnancy and infant remembrance day

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Today is national pregnancy and infant loss remembrance day. I knew that I wanted to write about it but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to say. This morning, I heard the song that played as we drove to the hospital for my D & E ( A Thousand Years by Christina Perri). This week my professor assigned this video for my storytelling marketing class and suddenly, it all came flooding back like it was yesterday.

My miscarriage happened on May 1, 2012 but to me it feels like yesterday. I’m sure it’s like that for all moms. It’s a day that we never forget and a child that we think of daily, even when no one else remembers. Just because our children are not in our arms does not mean that they do not live on in our hearts forever. They do.

I would love to say that the pain of missing a lost baby or child gets easier but it doesn’t. It dissipates to a tolerable level of grief but it never goes away. There is always a void because something is missing; a huge part of ourselves, our child. I loved my baby from the first day I knew I was pregnant with him. I loved him as much and as deeply as I love Bella and Gabs, every bit as much.

It didn’t matter if I got to hold him or meet him, he was part of me. He grew inside of me for an entire trimester. He was endless possibilities and promises and then he was gone. Gone.

There was no medical explanation. He wasn’t sick. Everything was normal. He was perfect but his heart stopped beating and on that same day, in many ways, so did my own. I am not the same woman I was on April 30, 2012, and I will never be that woman again. When he died, so did a part of me. If you’re a mom who has experienced a pregnancy or child loss, you know exactly what I mean.

The news was so unexpected that we were completely blind-sighted. There was nothing I could do but cry. I have never felt so helpless, angry and sad in my entire life. There is no other pain like it and I can’t imagine a worse pain for a mother than losing a pregnancy or child. It felt like a betrayal, like the universe and my body cheated me and didn’t keep their end of the bargain. It felt like I was watching the whole thing from outside of my own body.

First, I was so overwhelmed with sadness and despair that I sobbed the most primal howling animalistic cry that I’d ever cried. The sound that emitted from my broken body and heart was pure grief. It was a loss greater than my own death because it was the loss of my baby. It completely broke me. I sobbed in bed for weeks trying to understand how to go on without my child.

Then, I went numb. Numb and quiet like the green sky before a tornado destroys everything in its sight. I had cried so much that I felt weak to my very soul. I became too tired and weary to fight my pain.

I looked into the face of my grief and gave myself over to my fate. I sank so far down into my despair that I thought I would never come out of it nor did I want to. Somehow, moving past it felt like disloyalty to the baby I lost but staying in it felt like a disservice to my daughters. 

So despite the hole in my heart, I lived each day looking for the light in my daughters’ faces. I forced myself to be there for them, even when I had to push myself back together and function in pain. Finally, one day, the pain became tolerable enough to live with.

There is nothing I can do to change what happened. I am not alone and there are so many women who observe national pregnancy and infant loss remembrance day because it is a day to honor the babies we loved and lost. I am writing about my pregnancy loss because it helps me process and it reminds others that my baby was here, he mattered and he is missed. It’s not a dirty secret and I didn’t do anything wrong. We need to remove the taboo of remembering the babies we lost and let moms speak freely about their experiences instead of holding all of that pain and grief inside alone.

Over the years, I’ve written many posts on my experience with my miscarriage. I will list them below:

The Truth about Life after Miscarriage

Surviving the Aftermath of Miscarriage

When a Tattoo Heals Your Heart

Some Things Change You Forever

Lost Baby

Chrissy Tiegen is Every Mother Who Suffered a Miscarriage

Why it’s so Important to Reflect on Loss and Grieve

A Thousand Years

The End of the World as We Know it

Lingering in Loss

An Unexpected Pregnancy at 40

Mommy, I want another Baby

The Worst Day of My Life

How to Survive the Loss of a Pregnancy

The Kindness of Strangers

A Sky Full of Paper Lanterns

I shouldn’t have Looked

For Sale: Baby Shoes, Never Worn

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What happened to those people, marriage in distress

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

This morning, I sent the Big Guy a somewhat racy meme of a pumpkin who looked like she got shot in the eye in one of those sexy accidents that, to be honest, we haven’t had a lot of lately. His response was, instructing me to go look at a photo of us in a shadow box from when we first met and asking, “What happened to those two people ?”

I did as he instructed and a few things happened,

  1. I realized that, damn, we have gained a lot of weight in the past 24 years together.
  2. OH MY DAMN, we’ve been together 24 years. That’s half our lives. In fact, we’ve been together more of his life than we’ve been apart.
  3. Wow. He thinks about these things too? I thought it was just me fixating and overthinking by myself.
  4. Too many things like this pandemic, kids, dog, work, school, bills and responsibilities have made us lose sight of what we wanted from the start, to be together with one another; to be one another’s priority.

I think we’ve both been so tired and worn out from getting through day-to-day life that we haven’t had the energy left to dedicate the time to growing closer.  It’s like we were and still are each other’s best friends, partner but we don’t get to enjoy one another as we used to and I think that is both of our faults. We’ve just been trying to put out the daily fires and that doesn’t leave much time for intimacy, relaxation or talking for just the sake of talking. Now, everything has a purpose, a finish line other than just enjoyment and it’s taking a toll.

What happened to those people, marriage in distress

The pandemic has put us all on edge. All of us have experienced anxiety and panic over the course of this pandemic. The girls are always home; first, they were virtual and now, they are often quarantined from exposure or actually sick with some kind of cold, virus or flu after living their life in masks for the past 19 months and suddenly being thrust into a world without masks or social distancing. I’m back in grad school which is stressful for a 40-something mom who hasn’t been in grad school in 16 years. The Big Guy toils away, in person, at work; braving the coronavirus, since about month 3 of the pandemic, so our bills could be paid and everything all of us do has been under duress. That makes laughing and lighthearted play, as a family and even more so as a couple, nearly impossible. Who can relax when people are literally getting sick and dying all around you?

We don’t look or feel like we did in 1997. What happened to those two people? I hardly ever get ready anymore. I’m usually at home in joggers, a sweatshirt and a top knot. No make-up. No products anywhere to be found. I just shower and moisturize. Hair cuts and color, manicures and pedicures are all luxuries that I can’t afford to do during a pandemic. He only goes to work so he’s not dressing for me either. I used to be the girl who took two hours every day to get ready; full hair and make-up. Exercising used to be a priority. Going out used to be fun. But now, all of those things feel like just one more thing to do on an already infinite to-do list. I’m tired and so is he. Tired of all the things we have to do.

What happened to those two people?

His question this morning made me realize that I want to find my way back to those two people who we unknowingly abandoned along the way. I know people change and relationships evolve but this is not what we both expected our marriage to be. We could just keep moving on this same path, at the same rate on this journey together and die of boredom and old age sometime in the future or we can put in the work to reclaim our passion for one another and ask the hard questions, change what needs to change and be bold. It will be scary as fuck because, 24 years is a long time, but doing nothing and expecting change is ridiculous. We want more together.

It’s going to have to start with talking to each other and discussing what we want, need, like and dislike in our relationship. We know that we love each other but we need to remember what we like about one another. What was it about us that made us inseparable from about day 4 of knowing one another? What was it that made us fall in love and believe we had found our soul mate within that first month? What magic was it that made him ask me to marry him and me say yes after just 4 months? I know that’s rare but it’s what happened. And no matter what we’re going through, even when he’s on my nerves ( or I’m on his), even when we don’t particularly like one another, we always love each other and he’s always my person. I hope I’m still his.

What happened to those people, marriage in distress

We’ve been so busy talking about the craziness of each day that we’ve forgotten to ask about each other’s hopes and dreams for a long time. Those things are important. A marriage can’t survive on autopilot. Yes, comfortable silences are nice and being able to be next to one another and know what the other one is thinking and feeling without saying a word, happy to just be, is wonderful but it’s not enough. We have to be willing to get uncomfortable to unlock that next level of intimacy. Because even though he is my best friend, my ride or die, we both deserve more than just someone to do stuff with. We need someone to look forward to doing things with fueled by a passion for one another and the life we are building together.

We’ve become complacent and comfortable and in doing so, maybe a little annoyed with one another, even though we’ve never said it out loud. We need a marriage reboot. I don’t want a sequel. He is it for me. So, we’re going on a quest to find those people in the shadow box. Has your marriage ever felt like it has become predictable? What did you do, as a couple, to jumpstart your marriage?

What happened to those two people?

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World Mental health day, Mental Health is the Cure to Generational Trauma

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

Today is World Mental Health Day and I’m here for it. I’m here to tell you that I crawled on glass to get mentally healthy so that my girls could casually and nonchalantly get the help they need without stigma or hesitation.  You see, when I was growing up, everything was “rub some dirt on it” and “just calm down” and “ADHD? My kid doesn’t need meds for ADHD, she’ll outgrow it.” No one thought that mental health is the cure to generational trauma. Seeking mental health help was about as taboo as sodomization. Yep, I said that too.

Growing up the daughter of a depressed, introverted mother with a people-pleasing complex and an alcoholic father prone to fits of rage, tumultuous was an understatement. Most of my childhood felt like I was stuck on a tiny, deserted island prone to excessive erosion and every day was hurricane season and when it wasn’t hurricane season, it was surely typhoon season. Any wrong step in any direction could surely make this house of cards childhood crumble.

I was prone to stomach issues from anxiety, from a very early age. I remember frequenting the pediatrician’s office and even the emergency of our local hospital often because no one could get to the bottom of my constant pain and diarrhea. The kept up until high school and then I fell into a deep, dark hole of depression. Still, with six kids, a raging alcoholic and a depressed mom…no one really noticed and if they did, they chalked it up to teenage angst and hormones. My eating disorders went unnoticed for years, as did my body dysmorphia, depression and subsequent bipolar.

They say that people can be born genetically predisposed to mental illness disorders but without trauma to activate that illness, they may never develop one. I wasn’t that lucky because if there was one thing I had a plenty of, besides brothers and sisters, it was triggering trauma. Most people who know me today, think I am an eternal optimist. In fact, in my house, the Big Guy and my girls think I’m practically delusional with my “where there’s a will, there’s a way” attitude but when you’re raised with so little, you have to believe that you can to survive the despair.

But back to my depression, it was the kind where you feel like you’re so far deep in a hole that even when you’re looking up all you can see is more black. I was suicidal. I don’t say that lightly but with reverence and honesty. It wasn’t a cry for attention or help. I felt so helpless and hopeless and stuck that I really wanted to just go into a deep, dark corner and disappear. I had thought it out thoroughly. I had several ideas of how to do it quietly, without a chance to be caught before I was done and how to make sure that it was final. I wanted to be dead because living was torturous. It was so painful to live that I just couldn’t see enduring it any longer. That was my existence between the ages of 15-17. The only thing that kept me from doing it was my mom. She never intervened, in fact, she had no idea I was even thinking about it but I knew that if I were to kill myself; it was the same as murdering her so I could never go through with it. Her love, literally, saved me from myself.

Fast forward a few years later and at the age of 27-years-old, I was finally diagnosed with Bipolar 1 disorder. I was relieved. I know some people would be embarrassed or ashamed but I was just relieved to give a name to the brokenness I had suffered since I was in my teens because giving it a name, gave me the courage to face it, process it and move through it. My diagnosis was, in a way, the power to heal and the chance to realize that I was not broken, just bent.

It may seem from reading this that I was sick and then I was better. Obviously, that was not the case. The years in between were the things that drug-fueled nightmares are made of. I was out of control of myself and I couldn’t stop any of it. I was just along for the ride, as my brain chemistry held me hostage and nearly killed me in a myriad of ways while destroying many relationships, obliterating opportunities along the way and all I could do was hang on for dear life.

Meanwhile, I had no idea what was happening to me. I just knew I was impulsive, reckless and irrationally irritable and angry. I waxed and waned between manic elation and extreme irritability almost daily. I blew things up in my mind. I cried a lot. I got angry. I hurt the people I loved with my words, actions and deeds. I was selfish but I thought I was magnanimous. I was narcissistic. I was mean when I wasn’t the sweetest person in the room and you never knew who you were going to get. To be honest, neither did I. To the people who knew and loved me through those dark and twisty times, I apologize and for those who remain, words will never be enough to express my love and gratitude for your love and care.

It took multiple diagnoses, years of behavioral therapy, psychiatric care, a cocktail of medications, a lot of education, a handful of clinical psychology classes in grad school, a shit ton of self-acceptance, a healthy devouring of the DSM and learning to let go to become the woman I am today. I have been practically non-episodic for almost 20 years save for a couple of hypomanic episodes, the most recent during this pandemic. The Big Guy and I are constantly monitoring my moods and sleep habits because hormones and big life changes can trigger an episode. I’ll spend the rest of my life being the guard of my own mental health. To be honest, after recently speaking with a therapist, maybe mom should have treated that ADHD because you don’t just grow out of it. But that’s a story still in progress.

My point is that I had to do a lot of work on myself, really look inward, and learn about my illnesses, embrace them in order to become part of the solution. Knowing my own mental health challenges, I have always been very open and honest about mental health with my girls and, I am always looking for the signs because mine was missed for so long. Mental health is just as important as physical health in our family. In fact, in April of 2020 I put both of my girls in therapy because the pandemic was very negatively affecting their mental health and, to be honest, I’ve always thought that every single human being could do with some therapy.

My girls had no qualms about talking to a therapist. Though we are very open, I know that there are things that maybe they would feel more comfortable with, as teens, speaking with a non-biased professional and I’m fine with that because their mental health is more important than my pride. The goal is to be mentally healthy, comfortable in their own skin and happy. I never want them to feel shame and stigma about a very normal issue that so many people are affected by and avoid getting the help they need.

The thought of my girls lying in their bed at night alone in the dark, feeling such despair that it hurts to go on living like I used to, breaks my heart. So I talk to them about their days and their feelings, sometimes more than they want to and reassure them that I am here for them always and if it’s beyond my capabilities to help, I’m willing to do whatever it takes to keep them healthy in every single way.

I believe that mental health is the cure to generational trauma but it takes lots of work. How can we make it easier for our kids, and each other, to get the mental health help we need, when we need it?

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Texas 6-week Abortion Ban is Misogyny Disguised a Pro-Life, pro choice

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

When some people think of Texas 6-week abortion ban, the first thing they think of is the “baby”. They are pro-life for the unborn fetus. They pat themselves on the back for advocating for an unborn child. But who cares about the mother who is carrying that child? Texas, a Republican state that has always tried to keep a stronghold on women’s uteruses, wants to make its own rules; they want to vilify women who choose not to carry their pregnancy to term and the doctors who provide those services safely. They want to criminalize a woman’s right to reproductive autonomy. Texas wants to punish women who dare to think, feel and live for themselves without a man’s permission. As someone born with a uterus, I’d like to say fuck you Texas, with no KY and right up your bum.

Texas’ 6-week abortion ban is misogyny disguised as pro-life. Full stop.

I got my first period when I was 12 years old, the summer before 8th grade. I knew next to nothing about what was happening to me. There I was, trapped in a bathroom stall at McDonald’s, like Carrie White, after a long day playing at the park without any frenemies to throw me, a much-needed, pad. That was the beginning of my journey into womanhood. It was a little traumatic to say the least and has been every day since. But this was just the teaser trailer of what it’s like to have a uterus.

In the beginning, my period was always erratic. I never knew when she was coming or going. Optimistically and quite frankly ridiculously , I kept right on wearing white pants, shorts and skirts. I was a daredevil. I had no older sister to guide me and my mom told me as little as possible about menstruation, reproductive health and sex. I’m not that kind of mom.

While in the meantime, my dad made it very clear that virginity was the only option, whether it rocked or not. Good Catholic girls don’t get pregnant and have babies out of wedlock (that’s what blow jobs, hand jobs and butt sex are for, haven’t you heard? Don’t clutch your pearls at me, you know it’s true. j/k not really, ask your kids if you don’t believe me)

Those that do not agree that virginity rocks, mysteriously fall down steps. As I didn’t particularly want to take my chances with the steps, there was nothing any guy could say to get me to have sex in my teens.

By the time I was in high school, fending off boys trying to dry hump me felt like a full-time job. But still, I maintained my blessed virgin status because, again, those fucking stairs. Of course, as all “good Catholic girls” know, sexuality is full of loopholes and there is no one better at finding those son of a bitches than a good girl trying to maintain a serious relationship while not compromising her morals and the stair abortion she is sure to find herself receiving should she fall off the virginity wagon.

Still, saying no and keeping your hymen intact is hard work and not always well received by the opposite sex. You know since men think they are entitled to sexual gratification by all women at all times. It’s no wonder when you consider how the government has one hand in our uterus and the other in our pockets at all times.

It wasn’t until college that I actually had consensual sex with someone I loved for the first time. Well, unless you count being on the receiving end of oral as sex. I’m still not sure where I stand on that. I told my girls if anything is penetrating the other body whether it be tongue, toy, penis or fingers…I think you probably had sex but that definition could be different for everybody. Your body, your choice. It can’t really be all about the hymen. I broke that when I was only 8 years old in the bathtub sliding accident of ‘81. Maybe sex should only count when we say it does. Give us back our power.

Texas 6-week Abortion Ban is Misogyny Disguised a Pro-Life, pro-choice

Why should some asshole who raped, molested, browbeat or begged us into sex get to choose? But that’s the way it’s always been, right? Some men feel entitled and empowered enough to relentlessly approach women for sex via grabbing, pushing, pulling, begging, drugging and forcing without consent. When we say no, we are called teases and sluts. When we say yes too often or too early, we are called easy or whores.

Why is it that in this world, men are free to take as much as they want but we are not allowed to give as freely or as often as we might like. Most importantly, we are not allowed to say no because we should feel flattered by their catcalls and groping but we can’t say yes too fast either, because who wants it if it isn’t a challenge? Where is our choice? Once again, the Texas government is trying to say we should not only lose control over our own reproductive rights but we should be punished for thinking we have equal sexual rights to men. This is America.

If you think that it’s ok to tell women what they can and can’t do with their bodies, maybe you should go get surgery and get your own vagina and then handle it as you’d like. As for me, my body is only my business. What I do or don’t do with it, who I do or don’t do it with, how fast, or slow or many times I do with it…not your fucking business. We girls and women are not put on this planet to just make babies and service men. We are actually, whole human beings who don’t need anyone else’s approval to exist, nor do we need guidance and certainly not rules, regulations and restrictions for how to handle our own bodies. We wrote the owner’s manual. The audacity that you must have to mansplain women things to women is flabbergasting.

6-week abortion ban makes pro choice impossible

Of all the targets of Texas’ hatred, and they sure do hate and discriminate against a wide array of people ( Blacks, Latinos, Indigenous people, Haitians, members of the LGBTQ, people who believe in science, the Holocaust, a man on the moon, Big Bang theory, evolution, dinosaurs, climate change, CoVid and those who get vaccinated and wear masks) people with uteruses have always been at the top of their hit list.

So if you believe that human beings are capable of free thought and intelligence, how could you support a government that seeks to ban and control women’s basic human right to live freely and of her own choice? Even if you don’t approve of abortion for your own personal choice, what right do any of us have to decide what is best for another human being? What makes our morality superior to anyone else’s? Why can’t we live and let other’s live; in the end, their body, their choice.

Update: A federal court has temporarily blocked Texas’ 6-week abortion ban from continuing to wreak havoc on the lives of people who need abortion care.

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Olympic gymnast , GOAT, Simone Biles chose mental health over Olympic glory, lost in air, Tokyo Olympics, pandemic

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

Simone Biles did the unthinkable for an Olympian athlete, she withdrew from the individual all-around competition at the Tokyo Olympics to focus on her mental health just a day after her dramatic withdrawal from the team competition. While I found it initially shocking, not because of why she withdrew but that she chose to walk away at all, especially in a world that marginalizes mental health. Simone Biles chose mental health over Olympic glory. I find her to be incredibly brave and the kind of role model our daughters need. What I really found shocking is some people’s negative reaction to it.

“I have to do what’s right for me and focus on my mental health, and not jeopardize my health and well-being,” the decorated athlete told reporters.

To be clear, putting your mental health first is hard, especially in a society that values being number 1 over almost everything else. Quitting is seen as a weakness. We are taught from birth to work hard to achieve our dreams with no regard to the sacrifice and cost to ourselves. Everyone else in the world is competition and our goal is to win. But when you fight that hard to win, something will get lost, often ourselves.

I was talking to someone and their reaction to the Simone Biles situation was that, “she choked and she is selfish because she chose to quit rather than to continue on as part of the team. She took a spot that could have been given to someone else. She threw away an opportunity. She let her team and America down.” This person was visibly annoyed. This person who is not an Olympic athlete nor a competitive athlete. This person who very single-mindedly admonished her for “giving up.” I was flabbergasted because where I saw strength and courageousness, this person saw weakness.

As someone who struggles with her own mental health, as many of us do especially after this pandemic, I can assure you that Simone Biles choice to withdraw was probably one of the hardest decisions that she’s ever had to make. Gold medals are cool and every Olympic athlete spends their life training, sweating and sacrificing in hopes of winning one and the glory and recognition that it brings in their sport. So for her to choose her mental health over her pride is telling and one of the most mature and mentally healthy things I’ve ever witnessed.

Simone Biles chose mental health over Olympic glory and it’s the bravest thing ever.

In all actuality, Simone put her team first by knowing her own mental and physical limitations. Biles confirmed she was not injured but felt her poor vault would jeopardize the team’s chances for a medal. “I felt like it would be a little better to take a back seat, and work on my mindfulness,” she said. “I didn’t want the team to risk a medal because of my screw up.”

Biles admitted that the stress of competing at the Tokyo Olympics, the mounting burden of competing at a pandemic Olympics after the past 16 months of lockdowns and restrictions, may have finally taken its toll.

According to Time, days after arriving in Tokyo, an alternate on the team tested positive for COVID-19, and another alternate was placed in isolation because she was a close contact. “Today was really stressful,” she said. “The workout this morning went okay, it was just the 5.5-hour wait—I was shaking, and barely napped. I’ve never felt like this going into a competition before. I tried to go out, have fun and after warming up in the back I felt a little better, but once I came out here, I felt, no, the mental is not there. I need to let the girls do it and focus on myself.”

We talk about privilege and as a Mexican American woman I’ve felt how privilege works against those who don’t have it firsthand. It wasn’t until within the last 5 years that it hit me just how different it is to be a white man and a Latina woman. For example, I will never know what it feels like to walk down the street alone at night and not feel afraid.

I had no idea that privilege extended to mental health and those who don’t struggle so easily look at those who do as weak. We are not weak; we are strong we learn to bend as to not be broken. If you are really strong, you fight to be your own advocate and that is exactly what Simone Biles did. Backing out wasn’t giving up, it was standing up for her own well-being.

I struggle with my own mental health issues and I’ve had to do a lot of work since my diagnosis 20 years ago. It’s taken a lot of time, understanding, patience, therapy, education and learning to love myself enough to do what needs to be done in spite of what others expect. Intuitively it feels selfish to choose me over others but if I don’t choose myself, my own health and mental health, as a priority who will? I am my own responsibility and I am responsible for my actions. More importantly, I am responsible for my family and if I can’t take care of myself, how can I take care of them?

The past year has been trying on everyone’s mental health. There has been a shift in the way we think. Everyone is a potentially deadly threat due to CoVid. Being in public is exhausting and it’s impossible to feel safe during a world health crisis. Anxiety and depression are a symptom of the new normal. It’s no one’s fault, it is what it is. It’s lingering after effect of the pandemic that every single one of us has been touched by because it is impossible to be normal when nothing else is.

It is counterintuitive for us to choose ourselves over society’s expectations. As humans, especially as Americans, our default setting is that we choose glory over our own good. We choose to push through over sitting with. We want to be the best at all costs. To save ourselves, we have to unlearn all of this to be the stronger and better version of ourselves because, to be honest, the default settings suck. They only work if you want to be a basic bitch with no free will of your own; no responsibility for yourself. It’s brave to choose you. It took a lot of courage for Simone Biles to recognize her limits and withdraw from the competition. She didn’t give up. She did the hardest thing possible, she publicly chose her mental health over what other people perceive as her responsibility.

As a society, we need to change the narrative. Choosing your own health, mental or physical, or your own dreams over the limited expectations that the world holds for you is good. It’s the hard decisions that make us who we are. Going along with something that is detrimental to your health and mental well-being is the most insane thing you can do. If you’re doing that, stop it.

If she had continued on in the Olympics and ended up having a full breakdown, the world would have gasped and said, she should have told someone and withdrew, the Olympics are not worth her sanity. She would have been embraced with empathy but since she made the brave decision to know her own limitations and quit before she was broken, she is being criticized for letting her team down.

The world is a duplicitous place and the people who cry when someone commits suicide and asks why they did it are the same people who mock those who set boundaries they don’t understand. Simone Biles didn’t do a selfish thing and choose herself, she chose the right thing for her and her teammates. She made the hard choice for the right reasons. We should all take a lesson from Simone Biles and choose our health over what other people expect of us. I’m glad our sons and daughters get to see her choose her mental health over a gold medal because that’s much more important than winning. You don’t get to be GOAT without being a trailblazer and she is without a doubt GOAT for life.

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Ways to grow closer to your spouse, ways to grow stronger as a family

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

It’s a little frightening how many people I know my age have gotten divorced recently. I’m sure the pandemic didn’t help. You really get to know someone when you’re trapped in a house with them for 16 months. CoVid was a marital stress of epic proportions. I’m sure even the healthiest couples thought about it at least once during the past few months.

This is why I am constantly trying to think of ways to grow closer to my spouse and ways to grow stronger as a family.

Some of the couples I thought were perfect for one another, called it quits quietly. Divorce is, unfortunately, pretty prevalent these days with about 39% of all marriages ending in an uncoupling. Let’s be honest, no one gets married to get divorced but no one gets married to be unhappy either. Honestly, if the marriage isn’t working out, there are only 3 ways it can go 1) work together to grow together and hope it’s enough 2) do nothing and stay in a miserable marriage (this shouldn’t even be an option) 3) divorce and move on with your life.

The thing is sometimes there is someone to blame, sometimes people just fall out of love and sometimes people grow apart. It’s not a crime but it’s not exactly the happily ever after any of us dreamed of. People are busier than ever before; kids are overscheduled, parents are overworked, overwhelmed and exhausted and no one has time to just be present anymore. This is where things can start to slowly fall through the cracks and no one even notice it.

The best thing we can do as couples is spending quality time together; one-on-one facetime, listening and touching. Hugs, holding hands, kissing and saying I love you may seem trivial because you assume the other person just knows but they don’t. Words and actions matter. It never hurts to speak it into existence. Take the time, say it and do it. It can mean the difference between 2 months and 20 years. This applies to building relationships with your children too.

9 ways to grow closer to your spouse and ways to grow stronger as a family

Eat Together

Every day, everyone is in a hurry to get to work or school. Usually, breakfast is hurried, lunch is spent at work or school so make dinner count. This is something my parents do and something, the Big Guy and I have made a point of doing. Dinner every night at 5, unless there is an extracurricular, in which case, we all wait until we’re all there. Sharing meals is one of the best ways to come together as a family and check in with one another.

Whenever you share a meal, stay focused by implementing a no phone and no television rule. Instead, be present and talk to one another.  

Do the boring stuff together

Chores and errands often feel like a lot of work and no fun. Obviously, kids (and adults alike) would rather spend their days with friends, relaxing, watching movies or doing anything else other than the menial stuff. Everyone who lives in the house should be responsible for doing their part of the chores and if you do it right (we add loud Latin music, lots of dancing and laughing and a definite start and end time) it can be a great way to bond as a family. Have a list of tasks ready and assign them accordingly; you can perform them together at a set time during the week or weekend when you all can do them together.

Doing chores together fosters teamwork; if one experiences a difficult time, those who complete their tasks first can help and that tiny act shows love. If your kids have demanding schedules, give them deadlines to complete their chores. They’ll soon learn that performing duties together makes it more fun and fast than doing them alone. To make it more rewarding, have something to look forward to afterward, like enjoying a special meal or going out to the movies.

One-on-one time

Spending time as a family is great, but don’t forget to have one-on-ones with each other. It’s about quality not quantity. You can spend half an hour with each of your family members on different days. It’s as simple as asking what they’d like to do. Having one-on-ones with parents is crucial for kids; you get to discover what’s going on in their life away from home and their needs or troubles. One-on-ones with your partner is what feeds the intimacy that will get you through the hard times. Give your partner your full attention when there are no distractions; you can discuss issues to do with family and individual hopes, dreams, and aspirations.

Laugh together

Laughter is said to be food for the soul; it makes a bad day better and helps you bond as a family. Laughing stimulates your immune system and reduces stress; it has been proven to actually add to one’s life. Enjoy every moment you get to share in laughter, whether your husband ripped his pants showing off his killer dance moves at an impromptu kitchen dance party or you’re watching funny TikToks with your family (something we do often as an after-dinner activity). Whenever possible, create time to share stories, play games, or just cut up and laugh together. It relieves tensions and models to not take yourself too seriously to your children.

Attitude of gratitude

Family members do a lot for each other without expecting anything in return; saying thank you after a good deed can go a long way in making someone feel valued. Be appreciative by taking the time to surprise a family member with a gift, note of gratitude, or simply say “thank you” when one does something for you. It teaches respect and instills an attitude of gratitude.

Create family traditions

Family traditions and rituals enable you to create time for each other and memories; they shouldn’t just be for the holidays. Create routines like family movie nights, carving out pumpkins, game nights and baking days, weekly or monthly. Suppose there is an activity that you all enjoy doing, such as playing soccer, attending festivals, or picking strawberries during summer, do them together. These traditions ensure that even when the kids move away, they’ll want to make time to attend and be together with the rest of the family because of the fond memories they have of doing them in the past.

Family vacations

For us, travel is top of the list of things to do to ensure our family grows together. Going away on regular trips gives you quality time as a family, away from busy schedules and school. It allows you the space and time to be present with one another while making new memories together. Include everyone in the planning so that no one feels left out, including the kids. If going away on vacation sounds like fun, start planning, say a month earlier. Include it in the family calendar and inform everyone. Weekend getaways with your spouse can really reignite the fires of romance too and it doesn’t have to be far, just a local hotel will do where you can be man and woman and not just mom and dad.

Exercise as a family

Exercise is personal and I love my time alone, if I’m being honest but other times, I love long walks with my husband, bike rides as a family or a fun HIIT dance workout with my teen girls. If your family is into fitness, working up a sweat together is a healthy and fun way to spend time and bond with each other. Exercising together doesn’t require you to sign up for a boot camp, though that’s also a viable idea. Find simple ways to stay active while outdoors or indoors. When it’s warm, take a walk, run or bike around the block or to the park, create an indoor gym or plan workouts and do them together. If you have a furry friend, take him out for a walk together. It’s not about what you do, it’s about moving and being together.

Make time for family meetings

Meeting as a family is essential for you to check in with each other, discuss plans, or air grievances. We do this daily at dinner time. Family meetings also create an excellent time to discuss upcoming events like chores to perform during the weekend, day trips, or vacations. Schedule meetings on your calendar or check in with everyone to know their availability if it’s impromptu. Let everyone send in their items or issues for the agenda so that all grievances are discussed. To make these meetings effective, establish some guidelines.

Family is the most important thing in life, couples, siblings and parents are all a vital role in it. It takes a lot of time and effort to keep everyone together and thriving. We intentionally set an example early on so that our girls would grow up placing a high value on family. The bottom line is that family is everything so enjoy and cherish your family in all the ways. Never lose sight of the fact that marriage and parenting take effort and don’t just happen. Remember to not take one another for granted and tell people how you feel, happy or sad, before things go left unsaid and unheard for too long.

These are just a few of the ways, I work on my family and my marriage every day. It’s not the only way but it is the way that works for us. What are your best tips for ways to grow closer to your family and ways to grow stronger as a family?

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Why You Should Care about the Mysterious Death of Marine Corporal Brandon Javier Alvarez , Corporal Brandon Javier Alvarez, #Justice4cplbrandonjavieralvarez, Thousands Oak marine found dead in Manama Bahrain, non-combat incident, a life stolen, Why Marine Cpl Brandon Javier Alvarez Life and Mysterious Death Matter

Yesterday, June 24, 2021, our family laid to eternal rest one of our very own, Marine Corporal Brandon Javier Alvarez and no one is okay. His death was dubious, untimely, inexplicable and there are no answers being provided by those who were charged with keeping him safe while he kept the nation safe. His life was stolen. There is no accountability. This is why you should care about the sudden, non-combat death of Marine Corporal Brandon Javier Alvarez. What’s insures your child’s safety and not his? He was here and now he’s just gone. Broken hearts and empty arms longing for one more hug with no reasonable explanation given. This makes closure impossible for his family and friends. Choking back emotions in order to share his story is all that we can do now. Helpless, distraught, devastated and angry not knowing what really happened to Brandon.

Brandon, like all young men his age, had his entire life ahead of him. He had a beautiful, smart girlfriend who he loved like you do when you’re 22-years-old, big and beautifully. He adored his mother and his siblings were his best friends, confidants and his ride or dies. You see, I know this life because this is how our family is at its root. Family and God are always first, with country close behind in our lives. We are raised that when you have nothing else in this world, you have your family and they have you and together everything is possible. We are strong, resilient, passionate and born of immigrants. We don’t quit, we work hard and we dream BIG. This is how we survive but the world can be cruel. It’s been particularly cruel these past few weeks.

Corporal Brandon Javier Alvarez, #Justice4cplbrandonjavieralvarez, Thousands Oak marine found dead in Manama Bahrain, non-combat incident, a life stolen

Brandon joined the United States Marine Corp as part of his American dream and he was on his way to realizing his dreams of marrying the girl he loved, giving his mother a house of her own and becoming the man he wanted to be; living the life he dreamed of with the people he loved. He knew to do that, he had to do the work and make the sacrifices to get where he wanted to be.

Why Marine Cpl Brandon Javier Alvarez Life and Mysterious Death Matter

Why you should care about the sudden, non-combat death of Marine Corporal Brandon Javier Alvarez

A few weeks ago a happy, healthy young 22-year-old man made the ultimate sacrifice of leaving the family, girlfriend and home he loved to serve the people of the United States of America in Manama Bahrain. No one thought the last time they saw him would be the last time they ever say him.

Why Marine Cpl Brandon Javier Alvarez Life and Mysterious Death Matter

It was the first time he’d been so far away from home alone but he eagerly accepted the assignment because he knew what came next would mean he could provide the kind of life he wanted to give to his family. His beautiful, big and closely knit family who kept in contact daily even though separated continents apart. Time and space are irrelevant when it comes to family, at least in our family. Our parents instill this into us as tiny children and it sticks because family really is everything. We know that in our bones.

Corporal Brandon Javier Alvarez, #Justice4cplbrandonjavieralvarez, Thousands Oak marine found dead in Manama Bahrain, non-combat incident

One night, two weeks after arriving in Bahrain, after a phone call with his brother and before his daily phone call with his beloved girlfriend, his life was stolen. Where a kind, caring, loving son/ brother/ uncle/ boyfriend was just a few minutes previous, he was no longer. That quickly, the world was flipped upside down and inside out.

This isn’t the first time a sudden, non-combat death with no reasonable explanation to the family has happened and if we don’t get justice for Brandon, it will happen again

Two marines arrived at his mother’s house to inform her that her son was gone. Just that quickly a family was shattered, changed forever, unimaginable pain, sorrow and anger left where all that love once was; all that promise now a life unrealized and there was nothing they could do to undo it.

Corporal Brandon Javier Alvarez, #Justice4cplbrandonjavieralvarez, Thousands Oak marine found dead in Manama Bahrain, non-combat incident

The thing is Brandon’s life was precious to so many people. People who are not afraid to be loud and speak out. We’re not the type to just accept that one of our children is dead without explanation and that be the end of it. There has to be an explanation. No human being can just disappear from this earth and those who loved him or her just nod their heads, cry and get over it. There is no “getting over” losing a child, a brother, a sister, a mother, a father, an uncle, an aunt or a husband or partner. Life is precious and we know that to our core. We’ve lost people before and we hold tight to one another.

Corporal Brandon Javier Alvarez, #Justice4cplbrandonjavieralvarez, Thousands Oak marine found dead in Manama Bahrain, non-combat incident, a life stolen, Why Marine Cpl Brandon Javier Alvarez Life and Mysterious Death Matter

To the military Brandon may have been just another soldier. A young, Mexican-American man willing to give his life to protect this country that our parents came to to give their children a promise of a better future. This country that they are so thankful and grateful to have the opportunity to live in. But to his family and those who knew and loved him, we can’t let it go. We demand and deserve to have the truth.

Corporal Brandon Javier Alvarez, #Justice4cplbrandonjavieralvarez, Thousands Oak marine found dead in Manama Bahrain, non-combat incident, a life stolen

All of my aunt’s tears will never bring him back into her arms. This immeasurable loss can never be recouped. The emptiness that lurks beneath the sadness and anger is just waiting to swallow her whole because in the end, Brandon is gone. No one knows that more astutely than a mother.

He’ll never get to grow up. Never get to marry his beautiful girlfriend and start the family he dreamed of. He’ll never get to dance with his baby sister at her quinceañera. He’ll never get to be the best man at his brothers’ weddings. Brandon won’t be around to give his little sister brotherly advice or joke and laugh with his oldest sister. He’ll never get to see his nephew graduate high school.

Why Marine Cpl Brandon Javier Alvarez Life and Mysterious Death Matter

He’ll never walk into a room and grab his mother and dance cumbia with her just because and she’ll never get to hear his laugh or see his dimples ever again. When he died, all of those possibilities died with him; a part of everyone who loved him died on June 6th in Bahrain too. I know this because we are from the same people. I too am 1 of 6 children and I know how close that bond is, sometimes it’s hard to tell where you end and your brother/sister begins.

To the marines, he may have been “government property” but to those who knew and loved him, he was a light. He is a hero whose life was stolen. The investigation is ongoing.

Corporal Brandon Javier Alvarez, #Justice4cplbrandonjavieralvarez, Thousands Oak marine found dead in Manama Bahrain, non-combat incident

The only information that the Marine Corps is providing is:

Rank: Corporal

Name: Brandon J. Alvarez

Unit: Fleet Anti-Terrorism Support Team Central Command

(FASTCENT), NSA Manama Bahrain, Marine Corps Security

Force Regiment

Dates of Service: November 26, 2018- Service Join Date

May 21, 2021- June 6, 2021- Assigned FASTCENT NSA, Manama Bahrain.

Previous Command: July 18, 2019- May 20, 2021- Marine Corps Air Station Miramar San Diego

But Marine Cpl Brandon Javier Alvarez was so much more than that to those who loved him.

Corporal Brandon Javier Alvarez, #Justice4cplbrandonjavieralvarez, Thousands Oak marine found dead in Manama Bahrain, non-combat incident, a life stolen

I watched his funeral live-streamed from 2000 miles away, I watched as my Tia, cousins and all those who loved him were brought to their knees at this loss. It’s devastating to see my family in so much pain and I am angry that they are going through this. I’m angry that they are being given no answers. Mostly, I’m mad that Brandon is no longer here to live the big, full, beautiful life he had planned. None of this makes any sense.

Why Marine Cpl Brandon Javier Alvarez Life and Mysterious Death Matter

Please keep sharing his story and help us get the truth and justice that he deserves. #Justice4CplBrandonJavierAlvarez

Click Here to help the family find justice for CPL Brandon Javier Alvarez and prevent other military families from going through this.

Why You Should Care about the Mysterious Death of Marine Corporal Brandon Javier Alvarez

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Corporal Brandon Javier Alvarez, #Justice4cplbrandonjavieralvarez, Thousands Oak marine found dead in Manama Bahrain, non-combat incident

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

The blurb read, “A U.S. Marine Corps carry team transfers the remains of Marine Cpl. Brandon Javier Alvarez of Newbury Park, California, June 10, 2021 at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware. Alvarez was assigned to FAST Co., Central Marine Corps Security Force Regiment, Bahrain.” that was all that was written. But he was so much more than just that…just remains. He was everything to the people who knew and loved him.

Who was Brandon Javier Alvarez?

Brandon Javier Alvarez was born on January 31, 1999, in Thousand Oaks, California. He is the beloved son of my Tia Suzy. He is one of three sons in a family of six children, a devoted boyfriend and a doting uncle. He loved and in return was loved by so many.

Corporal Brandon Javier Alvarez, #Justice4cplbrandonjavieralvarez, Thousands Oak marine found dead in Manama Bahrain, non-combat incident

Nobody deserves to die far away from home, alone under dubious circumstances. My cousin, Corporal Brandon Javier Alvarez, was a good man. He was a bright young man, who loved his country, loved his family and friends and was excited about the future that he was building for himself and his loved ones. Brandon’s sudden and unexplained death has implications that go way beyond just how it affects our family, this could happen to any son or daughter serving in the military.

Corporal Brandon Javier Alvarez, #Justice4cplbrandonjavieralvarez, Thousands Oak marine found dead in Manama Bahrain, non-combat incident

Brandon was only 22-years-old on June 6, 2021 when he was found dead in a non-combat-related incident (his nose appeared broken and there were marks on his neck) while serving in the U.S. marines in Manama Bahrain. He was a brother, a son, a boyfriend, a friend, a nephew, a cousin, an uncle and a proud United States Marine. He was not disposable. He was loved. He is missed. The hole left behind in the heart of those who knew and loved him can never be filled. The loss of a child is insurmountable and unfathomable and his life deserves better than to just be discarded.

Corporal Brandon Javier Alvarez, #Justice4cplbrandonjavieralvarez, Thousands Oak marine found dead in Manama Bahrain, non-combat incident

His family deserves to know what really happened. They don’t deserve to be ignored and pushed aside when they want to know what happened. At the very least, they deserve the truth. Instead, they are be parceled out very little information. But how can they grieve and mourn their loss when it is so abrupt and unexplained?

What happened to Brandon?

My cousin, Corporal Brandon Javier Alvarez, was a 22-year-old, healthy and happy United States Marine serving in Manama Bahrain. He was found dead in his room on June 6, 2021. It is being referred to as a “non-combat incident”. His family is devastated. They sent him to Bahrain 2 weeks previous, with his entire future ahead of him. Only to have him returned to them in a casket draped with the American flag, no explanation and no answers.

His body was returned to American soil on June 10, 2021. Family members flew across the country from California to Delaware just to meet the body with plans to identify him. They were refused and restricted to stay 40 yards away from the casket. They were refused the right to identify his body.

This video is Brandon returning home to California on June 17, 2021. This is the first time his family is allowed to receive him, 11 days after two Marines came to my aunt’s house in the early morning hours to inform her that her son had been found dead during the night, while she slept. At minute 9:51 you can see the reality of a mother’s pain.

Corporal Brandon Javier Alvarez, #Justice4cplbrandonjavieralvarez, Thousands Oak marine found dead in Manama Bahrain, non-combat incident

No family should have to go through this. No mother should ever have to bury her son and endure this kind of pain and loss. As parents and family members of men and women in the military, we understand that when our sons, daughters and beloved family members volunteer to join the military and dedicate their lives to serving and protecting the lives and freedoms of the American People, there are implied risks. But no family, expects their child to return in a casket from a non-combat incident. No family expects to be kept in the dark.

Corporal Brandon Javier Alvarez, #Justice4cplbrandonjavieralvarez, Thousands Oak marine found dead in Manama Bahrain, non-combat incident

Everybody who knew Brandon loved him. He was kind, warm, funny with a verve for life. His joy was infectious. He loved to to laugh and brighten the atmosphere. He was a loyal son, a loving boyfriend and a beloved brother and friend. Brandon was the kind of man who inspired others to be and do better. He loved his country and had big dreams and aspirations. He just wanted to do better and give a better life to the people he loved. That was his American dream.

Corporal Brandon Javier Alvarez, #Justice4cplbrandonjavieralvarez, Thousands Oak marine found dead in Manama Bahrain, non-combat incident

He’s gone and the family left behind to mourn him is being kept in the dark as to the circumstances of what actually happened. This is not okay, not in any way. We need answers. Nothing will bring Brandon back but at the very least, we need the truth. His mother needs justice for her son. We cannot forget.

Say his name… Corporal Brandon Javier Alvarez

Corporal Brandon Javier Alvarez, #Justice4cplbrandonjavieralvarez, Thousands Oak marine found dead in Manama Bahrain, non-combat incident

The military can’t just make this go away. We need explanations and proof. It took almost 2 weeks for Brandon’s family to be allowed access to his body. Maybe this would pacify some families. Maybe blind faith in the system would be enough for some but not this family. But Brandon was in constant contact with is family. People checked in on him daily, even in Bahrain. Our family will not quit. Brandon deserves more. Those who loved him are now tasked with being the protectors of his legacy and the seekers of justice in his name.

Corporal Brandon Javier Alvarez, #Justice4cplbrandonjavieralvarez, Thousands Oak marine found dead in Manama Bahrain, non-combat incident

The bottom line is that my cousin is dead. Something uncertain happened the night of June 6th, 2021 in his room and someone has answers. We need those answers. A healthy, happy 22-year-old marine went overseas to protect the people of this country and in return he was found dead in his room. Don’t let his death get swept under the rug. Help us find #justice4cplBrandonJavierAlvarez and for the next son or daughter serving who could be in danger of never coming home to their mothers and fathers. Share his story and use the hashtag.

#Justice4CPLBrandonJavierAlvarez

Corporal Brandon Javier Alvarez, #Justice4cplbrandonjavieralvarez, Thousands Oak marine found dead in Manama Bahrain, non-combat incident

Rest easy, primo and know that everyone who knew and loved you won’t stop until we know what really happened to you and get the justice you deserve. You mattered Brandon Javier Alvarez and your life was not disposable. We will find the answers, someone will be held accountable and you will get justice.

If you would like to help the family get to the bottom of this and help get justice for Brandon Javier Alvarez there is a Go Fund Me page set up in his memory.

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