The benefits of transparency are bigger than you can imagine, which is why transparency feels so hard

My son left. He’s in Boston now. My friend Lauren agreed to take care of him.

“Until when?” I said.

“Right now, just get him on the plane. He doesn’t have a cello and he doesn’t have a teacher and he just needs someone to help him. I can help him.”

I want to believe I picked Boston because there is a teacher there who is a good fit. But really I think I picked Boston because I never tell anyone how much I’m failing my kids, but Lauren visits me a lot, so maybe she sort of already knows, because she says things like, “There needs to be a lid on your trash can so the garbage doesn’t make the whole kitchen smell.”

When she could see I was going to lose the cello, she also said, “Why isn’t your family helping you?”

“They think I’m a lost cause.”

She hugged me. And that’s how I knew Boston would be the right place for my son.

When you put an unaccompanied minor on a flight you have to wait at the gate til it takes off. I sat away from the window to make sure my son couldn’t see me from the plane and then I cried. The gate agent brought me a tissue. Then she brought me the whole box of tissues. Then the plane took off.

When you grow up in an abusive household you can be really tight with your siblings, to survive, or you can leave them all behind, to survive. We are tight.

While my brother Mike and I were growing up, my parents tortured me, literally, and my brother watched from the sidelines, terrified and almost invisible. From the time we left college, I took care of our much younger brothers, who were also abused. My brother Mike took care of me and Mike’s wife Rachel took care of Mike.

This is how we got through the next fifteen years. It was the four of us siblings, plus Rachel, who has been with us so long now that my younger brothers can’t even really remember life without her.

My mom would tell people about her kids: an economist, a chemist, an investment banker, and an author. My siblings would tell people: a mental ward, a stint at rehab, a case in court, an accusation of assault.

At least once a month I’m incapacitated by a flashback from my childhood. Sometimes it’s predictable: I’m driving by the ice cream store where we used to go to when we ditched Hebrew school. Sometimes it’s a surprise: my wood floors got refinished in the wrong color and now they look like the wood floors in the house we grew up in.

For me, the flashbacks have the cumulative effect of making me anxious, ashamed, and awake all night. For Mike, the effect is that he always picks up when I call, even when he can’t really talk.

But the last two years I’ve been unraveling. And I wasn’t sharing very much with my brothers because I thought they’d just brush it off. But then I called Mike crying. I told him I wasn’t fit to take care of the kids. And I asked him to take my older son.

He thought it was one of my panic attacks. But the next day I sent my younger son to Boston.

Then I called Mike to arrange sending my older son to him. But Mike said, “Rachel’s coming to Swarthmore.”

Rachel has never visited me.

She sat in my blue chair in my living room and I almost couldn’t believe she was there. She said she was sorry that she had not realized how hard it’s been for me. She didn’t know how long this all had been going on and she’s talked to my brothers and they’re all so sorry they didn’t know how hard it was for me. And she cried as she kept talking. She said they knew something must be very wrong if I am asking people to take my boys.

The thing is, I don’t want them to be sorry. Because I love them so much. I just want them to understand me.

Rachel said, “We see now that we were expecting you to do things you’re not capable of doing. We don’t always understand why you can’t do them. But we understand you need help.”

The blog post where I told you I was falling apart is what saved me. I didn’t know who to tell. So I told you. And when I told you, my siblings listened.

I feel so loved. I want to tell you that I feel so loved. I am not sure I’ve felt this way before. I feel more secure than I’ve felt in my whole life maybe because I feel so understood and cared for by my siblings.

Rachel called Melissa to better understand how to help me. To ask her what I can and can’t do. My three brothers and Rachel are all helping me now — it’s a lot of work to get me back to a stable place, that’s good for me and good for the boys. And now I see that Melissa’s been doing a four-person job by herself for a long while.

One brother said that if I weren’t so good at earning money I’d have been homeless a long time ago. He’s right. But I think it’s not just money that keeps a person from being homeless — it’s love.

It’s my job to make sure my boys are safe and secure. And to make sure they feel the same kind of love that I feel right now. Because you can’t give it before you can feel it. And you can’t feel it before you make yourself vulnerable enough to receive it.

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  1. Gayle S
    Gayle S says:

    Wow. Makes me sad but also happy for you at the same time. Glad your family is being there for you. Am sending you love too.

  2. ABC
    ABC says:

    surely one of the most powerful blog posts i’ve read from this remarkably direct and insightful woman. Penelope you are truly a hero, shero, whatever you want to label it. To dig this deep and press ‘publish’, is courageous. Hope the only way is up for you now!

  3. Elizabeth
    Elizabeth says:

    I am sitting here and reading your post and bawling my eyes out. So glad that you’re getting the support you deserve. P, ALL of us find ourselves in the situation you’re in. It’s a part of life, of being a human being. You ARE loved – by your siblings AND your readers. Sending you hugs and positive energy.

  4. Rita
    Rita says:

    Penelope, I don’t typically comment on your posts. Maybe it’s because I feel too much when I read them. You are an incredible writer, and I hope you know how gifted you are.

    I didn’t comment on your previous post where you had put all your vulnerabilities aside and had set up a fund page. I felt shame that I coulldn’t help you because I have been reading your posts for 2-3 years now, and I am not saying “thank you.” with a simple gesture. When I have some extra $$, I will get to your page, or send you a gift card so you can go sit at a coffee shop and just write.

    As a mother, I could feel every emotion as you let your son off to Boston. That is the most loving thing you did. I am crying reading this post. I can relate to so much here… family dynamics, shame, pride, confusion… but what gives me peace is knowing that you have your solid rock stars in your corner lifting you, i.e. Melissa.. we all need a Melissa. Rachel is amazing. She is giving you the best gift ever.. telling you it’s ok to let go and have your son come to visit. I also love how your brothers are reaching out. I hope I didn’t misunderstand anything on the post, and I’m not just blabbering.

    You are an incredible person. The tsunami will subside, you will get your strength back, and you will get your self-love, empathy, and resilience back. Be patient. with much love.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Thank you for this comment, Rita. I write the blog to connect with people like you. When I’m trying so hard to communicate, you leaving a comment is a caring form of payment.


  5. Madelyn
    Madelyn says:

    I’m so sorry for the terrible burdens you carry. But I’ so glad to hear that you have real support from your siblings. So important! It’s hard to be vulnerable and to have to admit you need to be on the receiving end of help. It’s hard for all of us! Getting there is the worst but it’s the only way we get the help we need. I will pray for you and your boys.

  6. John
    John says:

    I’m going through a lot of crap now myself, and my counselor/therapist has been oh so helpful. I don’t know if you are getting professional help, but maybe it could help?

  7. sarah Mckinney
    sarah Mckinney says:

    You can totally get through this! We support you and look forward to your victory. You’re a good person and i am glad your family is there for you. Hugs!

  8. Deaven
    Deaven says:

    Your honesty moves me. My dad, like you, was incredible at communicating with people, but struggled with other aspects of his life that came easily to everyone else. Everyone just assumed that because he could use beautiful words in beautiful ways that he would be fine. He lost everything. He needed help, too. It didn’t come soon enough for him. I’m so proud of you for sharing your story. I think people need to hear your voice. Thank you.

  9. Mary Beth Williams
    Mary Beth Williams says:

    This post just made my whole day sweetie – when you posted your last post I wasn’t quite sure what to say more than what your other commenters said – but I just knew something good was going to happen and it did ! You deserve all the love in the world – ❤️❤️my heart breaks at the abuse that you and your siblings endured.😢😢😭 Your vulnerability and courage in opening up to everyone created these authentic genuine connections that you deserve so richly. I wish you and your family all the best in the world because you all deserve it ! 💫✨💫✨🌹🌹Sending you a giant hug precious Penelope. ❤️❤️🌹🌹🌹

  10. Shirley Marshall
    Shirley Marshall says:

    Is that Benjamin Zander with the Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra? I love to watch his master classes! He brings so much joy when he teaches!

  11. Erin
    Erin says:

    This resonates with me. I feel we are going thru parallel things. I’ve been begging for help with my kids because I sense I am falling apart under the strain of how much pressure I’m under. I keep reaching out for help. People often don’t listen, but sometimes someone does.

    I love you lots Penelope. That’s never gonna change. And, through all my hardship, you’ve stood by me. I like saying that publicly so that people know, privately, that you’re such a good friend.

    Sometimes I think: I wish my mom was like you, because my mom has rejected and abandoned me so many times, but you saw me when I felt invisible & helped me find my voice & helped me in lots more ways. You have literally changed my life for the better just by being in it.

    Thank you.

  12. D F
    D F says:

    I am glad you seem to be getting help…..I hope this doesn’t come off as mean, as that is not the intent…I think you should consider not writing about your boys now on a public forum, as we all know, what gets published on the internet, stays forever. They may be OK with it now as kids, but as adults, they may regret it.

    • Not That Melissa
      Not That Melissa says:

      Her kids will be part of a generation of people who grew up with people publishing their private stories on the internet. As a culture our mores around privacy, identity, and shame are changing. For the better. That’s part of what this post is about.

      • Penelope Trunk
        Penelope Trunk says:

        I love that you are commenting as Not That Melissa. The comments are my lifeline so many days, and Inalways hope the comments provide a lot for you guys as well. When you are making jokes in the comments the you’d have to read the blog to get — that makes me happy.


      • D F
        D F says:

        It still should be the decision of these 2 kids to have their lives play out in front of so many STRANGERS….this is their lives, their childhood, their private moments – yes, social media is putting peoples lives on the web for all to see, but this is different and should not be played out in front of blog readers

        • SG
          SG says:

          I agree. The kids have enough difficulties going on in their lives. Revealing all the details is not something a parent should do. Let them have their privacy.

  13. Annette Hudson
    Annette Hudson says:

    Wow! Asking for help IS hard. Good for you Penelope. I am learning a lot from your brave posts about my own life. Thank you for allowing us into your life. Sending you high vibrations on your upward journey.

  14. Sandy
    Sandy says:

    Oh Penelope this is such a strong, wonderful post. I’m so glad your brothers and Rachel understand your struggles better now and are helping. I’m so glad that you feel loved by the people who matter most to you. And I’m so glad you have people in your life like Melissa and Lauren. Instead of being in the tunnel alone, now you have people who love you helping you out of the tunnel and into the light. Love and hugs.

  15. Gwen Grabb
    Gwen Grabb says:

    I’m so relieved to read this post. I hope you get some help with your trauma . There are great treatment centers like The Meadows in Arizona and I’m sure others who specialize in trauma. I’m a therapist and have sent many clients there for childhood trauma work and have been impressed with the different modalities of treatment there . Look it up . Take care .

  16. brooklynchick
    brooklynchick says:

    I am SO SO GLAD you are getting help. I’m one of the people who called the police in Wisconsin because I was worried about your safety. Asking for help is SO SO hard and I am so glad you did. Very brave. I am holding you in the light.

  17. Denise in Charlottesville
    Denise in Charlottesville says:

    This time in your life must feel something like 9/11 did, with the buildings coming down and you trying to wipe the grit from your eyes and your mouth, while crawling from behind the cars out of the rubble and get the fuck out and away from it all. Every year I read those posts and cry and this morning I read the post and cried. Enormous layers of pain and suffering and hardship on top of you and therefore your boys–and that’s after coping and dealing with it having been put there by your parents right on top of you and your siblings. So here you are. And they have heard the call. And your people (Melissa and Lauren) are bridging the gap. And that speaks to you and the relationships you’ve built, the love you’ve brought and provided them. So hold on to that in the dark moments. And these comments and the feelings we’re feeling and support we’re offering? Well, that is the same. Peace and love, and hopefully, more light to you and yours, every day.

  18. Sandra
    Sandra says:

    I am crying with sadness and joy. I am speechless. You totally deserve love and understanding.
    I think you are starting a new phase, more positiv, in your life.

  19. Susan
    Susan says:

    I have never commented before, but like many others I was moved to tears. There is a lot of healing happening now, for you, I think. And i can relate. Your post got me thinking about how powerful transparency is – and then I remembered the very first post I read – years ago now – was about how you’d learned that hiding what’s going on is dangerous- that it always felt dangerous based on how you were raised and the abuse you suffered. So maybe this healing is you taking that to the next level – not just transparency for others but for you too. I am rooting for you and your boys! Thank you for being transparent and inspiring us all.

  20. Bostonian
    Bostonian says:

    Hi PT. I know you feel lousy right now, and probably feel guilty that you are falling apart. But maybe you could feel relieved that you’re not falling apart entirely on your childrens’ shoulders.

    Your siblings have stepped in to support you, your friends have stepped in to support you, and the collapse zone, as it were, has been evacuated. So it’s okay to fall a little now.

    You have not failed your children, you have not abused your children, you have only been imperfect. They will forgive you for that, they will see you pick yourself up from your collapse and get moving again, and they will learn to do so themselves someday when they collapse.

    If there’s anything Zehavi needs in Boston that I can help with, let me know.

    • YesMyKidsAreSocialized
      YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

      I was hoping you would offer and I think that since you know so much about what activities and options are available for homeschoolers in Boston that maybe you could give Lauren a list of options for Z?? We visited over the summer and it’s such a mesmerizing and charming city that I imagine living there to be fascinating and filled with opportunities.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Thank you so much for reframing the situation for me so I can feel confident. Also, thank you for commenting as Bostonian for all these years – because I knew right away who to ask for advice.


  21. B
    B says:

    Here we go. More sympathy for Penelope. Who made her own bed. Many people suggest counseling, she doesn’t even respond. If she got help, she might have to HELP HERSELF and BE ACCOUNTABLE. It’s never her fault. It’s everyone else’s job to raise her kids, make her decisions, give her money….even though she states she is so good at making money. Yet she asked her brother for money and he said no. She says she never tells anyone she is failing her kids. She puts it on this blog ALL THE TIME.
    She wrote me the other day upset that I make posts. This is a public forum asking for feedback. You don’t just get to pick the good feedback.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      I almost never delete comments from people who think I’m an idiot. And sometimes I even learn about myself from those people. (I am not learning about myself from your comments, in case you’re wondering.)

      I let people comment anonymously here because people share such moving and important stories that they might not otherwise share.

      I am affording you the same opportunity to comment anonymously, but you are commenting as different people complaining to me about the same thing over and over again. You need to comment as one person on the post. Otherwise you are the text equivalent of Trump photoshopping people into the innaguration photo to make it look like he’s not standing so alone.


      • Bren
        Bren says:

        I do not post as many people. It’s always the same email. How else would you know it’s me?
        I doubt you can change Penelope. I’m hoping some of the other people getting sucked in by you will learn. Otherwise, I get to provide feedback like everyone else.

    • MBL
      MBL says:

      Oh wow, I posted below before reading this comment. But I did have you and your ilk in mind when I decided to post publicly rather than privately.

      Her vulnerability and willingness to put herself out there in spite of people like you (in particular, a craptastic troll named John from a decade ago) inspires courage in countless lives. You really have no idea. The very fact your comments show up at all is a testament to her strength of character. And your lack of it.

    • Pearl Red Moon
      Pearl Red Moon says:

      B, I think you either forget or overlook that Penelope has Aspergers. Because we often have abilities that are outstanding – such as with mathematics, computers, science, etc – people mistakenly think that we are capable of organising our whole lives with the same model of capability….alas….it does not follow. We have weird cognitive blind spots and strange inabilities. It can often take me days before I can overcome the anxiety about making a necessary telephone call, and despite many attempts at re-programming I refuse to bathe more than once a week….

    • Aubrey Caldwell
      Aubrey Caldwell says:

      I have seen many emotions and judgments in response to your post, Penelope. I respect you all the more for choosing to keep them all, when you could easily have deleted the unfavorable remarks. To those judging, you may want to read about the social difficulties of Aspergers and consider the fact that everyone seeks some way or other to meet their social/emotional needs. For some getting those needs met is easier than others. I didn’t know anything about Aspergers until I took a graduate class that drove me to focus on twice-exceptionality among “Gifted” children.

      God loves you! He loves you so much and you can ask him to remove the scales from your eyes so you can see Him. He will soften your heart to love Him more than yourself if you ask Him. He loves our children more than we ever will and He will make a way for them. He does not free us of burdens or hardships. Acts 20:19 “serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials that happened to me through the plots of the Jews” James 1:2 “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds” We can count the trials and hardships of life joy because they draw us closer to God. We lose joy when we let the tough stuff of life draw us deeper into ourselves. I believe Aspergers is a gift because aspies are very self-aware and determined to learn which equips one to clearly research and choose what to do with self, without worrying about how others will be affected by that choice.

      With our “self” we can either fully yield to the flesh or lay it down and fully yield to God. The beautiful thing is that when we fully yield to God, our relationships realign and receive His blessing. When we put Him first, everything else falls into place. Matthew 16:26 “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world [plenty of money and recognition] and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?”

      I love you Penelope! I love what I learned from you over the past 5 years as I have been reading your blogs and sharing posts and ideas with others. Know that I am praying specifically for every person who reads this post and Penelope I am praying for you and your family too.

      With Love in Christ, Aubrey

  22. Celeste
    Celeste says:

    Penelope, your words have provoked me and strengthened me for many years now. I feel often like we are friends and we’ve never spoken directly. It is so courageous for you to be vulnerable, to ask for help, to show yourself needing help. It moves me so much and I want you to know I am thinking about you all the time, hoping you find some help, and relief, and loving support. So glad to read today that some of those things are coming to pass. You are loved, and supported. Keep writing, keep connecting with us!

  23. YesMyKidsAreSocialized
    YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

    I’m so happy to hear about your brothers and Rachel and Lauren and that you have a tribe that is there to help you out and that they know this is a long-term deal. Thank you all so much for being there for Penelope. I rarely get to hear about the brothers or Rachel and I can feel the love and compassion in this post.

  24. karelys
    karelys says:

    I work with the homeless. It’s so obvious to me how trauma derails people’s lives. It’s so obvious to me that some stuck in perpetual homelessness are doing so because they lack the skills and abilities to live in society.

    I am a firm believer in transparency since I started reading your blog in 2008.

    I know what it feels like to feel solid after unraveling. And I am so happy you get that feeling right now.

  25. Jim Grey
    Jim Grey says:

    “Because you can’t give it before you can feel it. And you can’t feel it before you make yourself vulnerable enough to receive it.”

    Such a key, key lesson for us all — but I hate it that you have to go through what you’re going through to be able to write it.

  26. John
    John says:

    That’s Brene Brown caliber vulnerability Penelope. Thanks for sharing. It’s meaningful to me. Wishing you the best through hard times and I’m happy you feel loved by your siblings.

    • MBL
      MBL says:

      Normally I read everything before posting, but am so fired up today that I am commenting as I read stuff. I would like to clarify that you are NOT the craptastic John that I was referencing (in response to B) from something like 12 years ago. Sorry about that!! I will need to think of you as Not That John.

  27. Carol
    Carol says:

    Hanging out with the aunt and uncle in Boston sounds great to me. In some cultures, that’s standard (I’m thinking of the Pacific islands): You send your kids to where they’ll have best opportunities.
    There is a density of music-listening opportunities in the Boston area. There’s Harvard Square to hang out in (OK, it doesn’t have as much character as it used to). Museums. Seashore, mountains, farms, apples, schools. I might move back there soon, because there is more of a labor shortage there than in the SF Bay area. You might consider hanging out there, too.

  28. MBL
    MBL says:

    Penelope, I was going to respond via your Patreon message in which you thanked me for sticking with you over the years. But I think I should post it here instead.

    I haven’t commented much recently, but just want you to know that I have read every single word and every single comment since the end of 2012. And went back and read a significant amount of posts and comments prior to that. Way back.

    Your posts have informed my thinking in ways that I can’t possibly explain or, perhaps, even fully understand.

    Numerous times a day every day I think about things that have been prompted by your blog–posts and comments. Many, many times I spend so much time thinking about them that I don’t have the energy to craft a comment that will fully convey my “position.” As an INFP, my greatest fear–hands down–is being misinterpreted. So it can be overwhelming to respond to the posts that resonate the most.

    Some of the things you have written have sparked paradigm shifts. Sometimes they cement current beliefs that I have–whether that is a negative or a positive reaction to your thoughts. Sometimes they come from links that have sent me down rabbit holes that were life altering.

    There a couple of posts that I will never, ever “forgive” you for. I am a “you are dead to me” kind of person when pushed too hard. That hasn’t happened with you. If I could stick with you after the Secretly Vote for trump post, I feel certain I will be there until the very end.

    All of this to say, you are loved, valued, appreciated, and needed.

    PS, I mentioned this years ago, but I still think you should have an affiliate link to amazon so that people could passively support you. I don’t know the specifics of how it works and know the amounts are miniscule, but they may add up. And it would have the Liz Level feel to it.

  29. Regular lurker
    Regular lurker says:

    I’m glad you’re expanding your support network, Penelope! Melissa sounds like an amazing friend, but one can’t rely exclusively on a single friend for things like bailing you out when you need money to pay a Uber to get home…

    One day she may become too busy with other emergencies in her life. Not to mention it’s unfair to expect someone to be constantly helping us with the things we have difficulty with. I’m here hoping you’ll get enough Patreon money for a good assistant to complement the help from friends and family you’re currently getting. I feel things will only get better from here on, and am very happy for you. Take care!

  30. DL
    DL says:

    I grew up in a very stable home with parents who loved each other and their houseful of kids. I was also taught of God’s unfailing love for me. The words warmth and security don’t begin to describe my childhood, it was so much more. So Penelope, I obviously can’t begin to understand your upbringing or the backlash it causes you now. I have great compassion for you, but certainly can’t understand. Instead, let me tell you about my dad (stories my dad never talked about, but his siblings did).

    My dad grew up in the 30-40s and his parents didn’t/couldn’t provide a good home. His father was always running around, supposedly looking for work but in reality seeking romance and adventure. His mother bore all responsibility for the kids while trying to work wherever she could – remember, this was the depression, no child or government support. There were several times she packed the kids up in the middle of the night and snuck away from their apartment because they were behind in rent. She too had to send her kids off to other families because she was unable to care for them, often dividing the siblings. In spite of this, my dad and his siblings grew up to be wonderful human beings, spouses and parents. They’ve led good lives and found plenty of happiness. They loved their mother dearly and established a good relationship with their father as adults. And, like I said, they provided wonderful homes for their children.

    Just like my grandmother, you’re doing the very best you can. Your kids will be fine. They know you love them and that gives them the resilience to go forward in life with gusto. Remember, there are always people that have it much, much worse. Hang in there.

  31. Mike
    Mike says:

    Sounds like you are taking some big steps. They aren’t easy. Pride may be something you feel like you’re fighting, but actually you should be proud of yourself.

  32. MJ
    MJ says:

    You’re doing what a lot of immigrant parents do, hoping for something better for their children. Not having your children live with you is not the norm in America. In some spaces it’s even criminal. In my culture families sometimes separate voluntarily for months or years because there are better opportunities for survival elsewhere. You are surviving. Like so many who come to this country for a better life leaving their loved ones behind. You are not alone. It takes a village. You can do this.

  33. Denise
    Denise says:

    You write the most beautiful things. You are amazing. I am so glad you asked for help. We are all thinking of you.

  34. Susan from Missouri
    Susan from Missouri says:

    Penelope, I read this post and the links to older posts (even though I had read them before) on our drive from Missouri to Virginia. I pondered what I wanted to say to you. So here goes. Thank you for your complete honesty and vulnerability. Your vulnerability shows me you have trusted us, your readers, with your heart. That is so VERY brave. I’m honored to have shared that with you. You are so very brave to ask others who care for you and your boys for help. I’m thankful Lauren and Melissa have been there for you and even more thankful your siblings and Rachel have now rallied around you. We all feel we have failed our children. I believe it’s part of being a parent. You have not failed them. Your boys are smart enough to know how much you truly love them. You want the best for them and deep down they know it. Chin up, Penelope. I’d give you a hug if I were in Swarthmore. Looking forward to the better days ahead of you.

  35. jessica
    jessica says:

    Here’s my thoughts:

    Your kids are on an adventure and that is fun for kids their age. They will have some self discovery and develop more independence and resiliency. They have a lot of academic/musical routine and hold themselves to a high standard. This adventure will be like ‘camp’ to give them a time-out and re-engage themselves to explore new environments.

    Parents send their kids away all the time for myriad reasons: camp (enrichment, activities, social), boarding school (academic, financial ability, elite club status), grandparents for the summer (Bezos spent every single summer away from his parents), family bonding, and learning from other wise adults.

    There are so many reasons that you do not, in any way, need to frame this as being about you or because of your health and wellbeing. This is a group effort. A family cannot thrive in isolation, especially in struggling times. The positives are truly beneficial. Keep that in mind. And it’s not just about you. Keep that in mind to take the pressure off. Your kids are going to have a good time and you will get whatever you need to recharge, revamp, and redirect.

    I think the past men in your lives are several explicative nouns, although I’m not close to the situation. Who leaves a woman with kids in this state is beyond me and totally unnecessary, but that is just gossip and judgement. The last thing you need right now. I think the others closer to you can more accurately assess that and advise who should be in your life moving forward.

    Right now you’re making some great decisions for your family. I wish I had the courage you have.

  36. J
    J says:

    wow this post made me well up.
    I’m so glad you have gotten help from rallying friends and family.

    Sending your kids away is hard no matter what the situation. My parents sent me to study abroad UK at 18/19 and even though that no way compares to this, it was equally emotional for my mom. She cried a lot. But for your kid it may be a great adventure (even if its strange for a few months)

    It’ll be ok and they’ll be ok, especially if you are ok.

    xxxx Lots of love. (That’s a weird sign off but I think you need a digital hug)

  37. jessica
    jessica says:

    Also, besides Patreon, what about crowd funding his Cello?

    What does the family think in regards to the cello situation?

  38. Coriander
    Coriander says:

    Hugs and love! I am so glad that you reached out, and that your family is helping you. This is temporary. Everyone needs help sometimes.

  39. Jennifer
    Jennifer says:


    You are loved, just as you are. Your courage and insight changed my life and just this week, I could hear your voice in my head as I resigned from a current position. Please know how much you are valued and these challenges are just for a season. I promise you it will get better. You are not alone. We love you.

  40. JDVT
    JDVT says:

    Speechless because of your courage. Weeping because oh your boys are gone (to good places). Sending you love because. Thank you for writing.

  41. EA
    EA says:

    I am glad you and your sons are getting the help they need. But if this separation is going to be semi longterm, I think your sons will be much better off together. They have lived through a fairly tumultuous period: violence/fighting in the home, a cross country move, a struggling mother. And on top of that, they have been homeschooled so they are each others most stable “peer group”. Your sons probably have a whole understanding, world view, and language that only they understand.I would venture to guess that they miss each other more keenly than they miss you. I would also guess that they are worried about you, longing for some stability, and not really expressing their needs right now. Forget the cello and science for a bit. They need each other to process this trauma.

  42. harris497
    harris497 says:

    Your lemons are going to be lemonade for those of us who are having a hard time but not talking to anyone… Hopefully as you lead, others (myself included) will find the courage to follow and therefore help ourselves.

    P.S. As so many others have said before, it will get better. Life sucks… and then it doesn’t… rinse and repeat:) Peace.

    • harris497
      harris497 says:

      Also, family is the most undervalued resource on earth. There are usually some who will help once there has been any kind of love exchanged.

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