sustain a healthy marriage

At the beginning of the pandemic, I heard jokes about how the birth rate would be at an all-time high. For many couples, this was an opportunity to spend time together that normally wasn’t afforded to us. What was fun and roses at first soon turned into annoyance and a deep desire to jump out the window to get some space. The walls seemed to get narrower with each passing day. I still think that there will be an increased birth rate- for people without children. For those of us with children, the coronavirus has truly tested the bonds of matrimony. Having a healthy marriage takes effort from both husband and wife. The pandemic has made that more difficult.

a healthy marriage needs love and work

Relationships need love and work to continue to flourish. The pandemic has put an increased strain on all of us. This strain cannot help but seep into your marriage. Having your children around you 24/7 with nowhere to go will make even the sanest of people go a little crazy. Having to take care of children and put work into your marriage while quarantined together? That’s a whole new ballgame.

I am happy to say that my husband and I have managed to not kill each other thus far. There are several reasons why we have stayed sane during this time and continue to have a healthy marriage:

tips and strategies to survive marriage

(1) You may not be able to go far, but you can still get some space

My husband started working from home at the beginning of the pandemic, as I’m sure many of you have done as well. Even though he is home, he doesn’t have to be around me all the time. He has an office where he stays during the day, so we aren’t together all the time. It’s nice to know that he is there if I need him, but Brielle and I typically keep to ourselves. Being around each other 24/7 isn’t healthy, and there is such a thing as too much time together!

(2) Divide responsibilities and take time for yourself

Whether you are a Stay-at-Home-Mom or a Working-at-Home Mom, the dynamics have changed because the kids are at home during the day. Take turns watching your kids with your spouse so that each of you can get your work done (whether that means job responsibilities or household responsibilities). At night, split up evening duties so you can each take a break. With all of us being in such close quarters, it is essential that we have time to ourselves. You can exercise, journal, meditate, or read a few pages of a book. Do something that is just for you. It will do wonders for your well-being to discuss with your spouse how you can each take a breather.

date night

(3) Have date nights

Remember those? With kids around, we often forget that before we had our children, it was just the two of us. Just because you can’t go to a movie or go bowling doesn’t mean that your marriage goes by the wayside. Plan a date night at home! Every Saturday evening, my husband and I rotate planning a date. One date was listening to music and relaxing, one time we did a logic puzzle together (yes, that is our idea of a good time-don’t judge). One night where we watched a movie together and snuggled on the couch. On another date night we used Alexa and did an Escape the Room Challenge . Think outside the box, and come up with ways to keep the romance alive.

(4) Talk

Now you might think this one is ridiculous because you’re around each other a lot more than usual, so of course you are talking. You might be talking about bills, work, and adult responsibilities, but are you talking about your feelings? Lean on each other during this stressful time. Keep the lines of communication open, and don’t be afraid to tell your partner if you are feeling overwhelmed, sad, or stressed. Keeping those feelings to yourself will cause resentment and tension in your marriage. Be honest with each other about how you are feeling, and don’t be afraid to ask for help (aka strategy #2).

Just as you need to talk about negative emotions, it is equally important that you talk about positive emotions. Acknowledge your partner’s efforts and vocalize your love and appreciation. Talk about lighter subjects too. Tell your spouse about the funny thing your kid did (or annoying thing, which is more probable under these circumstances). If you aren’t around each other all the time (aka strategy #1), there will always be things to share.

(5) A healthy marriage requires friendship

Even with kids around, you can spend time together cooking dinner. Share common interests (such as a board game you both enjoy) as well as supporting each other’s hobbies (listen to your spouse’s favorite band).

keep the spark alive (6) Keep the spark alive

I understand that during a pandemic most of us are living in sweatpants and haven’t put on makeup in months (or is that just me?). Just as you need to continue to have date nights, you need to put in the effort to bring sexy back. Wear a cute outfit, put on some music and slow dance, or take a few seconds to give your spouse a quick kiss in between wrangling your children. Just as friendship is essential for marriage, so is intimacy.

(7) Remember you are both on the same team

Children are great at manipulating their parents. Remember that you need to work together like a well-oiled machine to make life together work. Raising children is HARD. Life is HARD. Marriage is HARD. You need to work together to parent your kids. Being on the same page is important during a pandemic, as well as throughout your marriage. With tensions so high, it is easy for you to turn on one another. At the end of the day, remember that a win for either you or your spouse is a win for both of you. Talk through difficult issues (aka strategy #4), and try to understand and support each other through this stressful time. Conflict is inevitable, but how you resolve conflict can make all the difference.

(8) Forgiveness

This is something that is necessary in all relationships, but especially in your marriage. Stressful times can bring out the worst in all of us. We may say and do things that we regret. We need to have compassion for ourselves and each other during this pandemic. Remember you are a team (aka strategy #7), and that marriage is being there for one another during the best and worst of times.



Keeping your marriage healthy is a challenge under normal circumstances. Now, more than ever, we need to appreciate and support the ones we love. This is essential in any relationship. Implement these suggestions, and there is hope that couples can come out of this pandemic with newfound love and respect for one another.

sleep solutions and tools

Many children need help falling asleep. Bedtime is a particularly difficult time for my daughter. For many years she had no problem falling asleep and staying asleep. As Brielle got older, her mind and body started to get restless due to her Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) and ADHD. What was once a seamless transition turned into evenings filled with tears, anxiety, and fear. I had to research sleep solutions to help my child relax and fall asleep.

sleep solutions and tools to help a child fall asleep

Whether your child is the occasional troubled sleeper or bedtime battles are nightly, this post is full of sleep solutions. As an added bonus, many of them are helpful for adults too!

(1) Brainstorm

Discuss with your child what specifically is bothersome for them about bedtime. Is it the dark? Are they afraid of sleeping in a room by themselves? Is it that they can’t calm their thoughts? Whatever it is, encourage your child to be open and honest about their concerns. Be supportive, and brainstorm together about sleep solutions to help fall asleep.

Some ideas that my daughter and I brainstormed together:

(a) My daughter doesn’t like being by herself at night and is also a restless sleeper. My husband and I each gave her a stuffed animal that we had from our childhood, so she has something tangible to remind her that we are with her while she sleeps in her own room.

(b) We also were gifted a small photo album such as this one. It contains photos of her family that she can look at if she feels sad. I love that the album is small, so she can easily hold it.

(c) Brielle didn’t like the darkness, so she used a light projector that comes in a variety of colors and settings.

(2) Relaxation Techniques

a) I do a visualization with her before bedtime where she imagines a box filled with all her worries and concerns. She tells me what the box looks like, and then she visualizes opening her box and filling it up with every fear and bothersome thought. Next, she imagines closing the box, putting a lock on it (so the worries can’t creep back into her mind), and throwing it where it is impossible to resurface (sometimes it is the bottom of an ocean, other times it is buried underground). This is the only time during our bedtime routine where I allow her to voice her grievances. Once they are put in the box, she waits until the morning to discuss any of her concerns, as needed.

sleep solutions

b) Breathing: there are several breathing techniques we use. She gets to pick which ones she wants to implement each night:

· 4-7-8: Inhale for 4 seconds, hold it for 7 seconds, and exhale for 8 seconds. We do this together several times.

· Deep belly breathing: She inhales and fills her tummy with air then exhales and the air leaves her tummy. You can do this while doing the 4-7-8, but I find that it overwhelms her, so we choose one or the other.

·  Tensing and relaxing her body from her head to her toes (aka Progressive Relaxation)- Starting with her face, she tenses/squeezes for 7 seconds while holding a deep breath. Then, she exhales and releases any tension. She continues working her way down her body with her arms, hands, chest, stomach, legs, and feet. This is a favorite of mine, and one which I do on my own as a form of self-care .

· Taking an inhale and then exhaling for as long as she can while vibrating her lips to make a “wwww” or “ommm” sound: According to Neurosculpting Instititue (, “The researchers found that the vibrations from ‘OM’ chanting stimulate the vagus nerve, which then sends out neurotransmitters and electrical signals that reduce activity to key areas of the brain like the amygdala, associated with our flight/fight/freeze response. In addition, the increased oxygenation of the blood from the vibration facilitates feelings of relaxation and release in the muscles and structure of the body.”

(3) Being her own friend

As I mentioned in my article about ways to build your confidence , it is important to treat yourself with the same compassion as you would a friend. If she still feels anxious or sad after using the relaxation techniques, I encourage her to talk to herself and comfort herself just like she would if a friend was upset at bedtime.

(4) Using a sound soother

My husband and I use a sound soother, and our daughter has one in her room as well. We bought her this sound soother almost a decade ago, and it is still going strong!

The sound soother is crucial for her sleep routine. It helps her fall asleep and stay asleep when there is background noise that might wake her up. It also helps calm her mind and body. She uses the rain sound, but all the sounds work very well. This is a great tool to help your child fall asleep.

(5) Weighted blanket

Having that extra pressure on her body when she goes to sleep is extremely helpful in calming and relaxing her. We got her this one because it is budget-friendly, gives just the right amount of support, and has great reviews on Amazon. Weighted blankets are generally considered safe for kids older than 3. However, it’s always a good idea to discuss it with your pediatrician first. Typically, the suggested weight of the blanket should be around 10% of your child’s body weight (, 2021).

(6) Consistency

Keeping a consistent bedtime is crucial for those who need extra support during transitions or don’t like changes in their routine. Life sometimes gets in the way, but I try to have her go to bed at the same time as often as possible.

(7) Books

There are many great books out there about kids who have difficulty sleeping. I chose the book, Orion and the Dark, because it tells the story of a boy who has many fears, particularly the dark, and he discovers that darkness can be his friend. After reading it, we talk about her fears, and how it is okay to feel afraid, but being brave is facing things despite being afraid.

(8) Come up with a bedtime routine

Just as having bedtime at the same time each night is helpful, so is having a consistent routine leading up to saying goodnight. I set aside 15-20 minutes before I leave her room to read books, discuss and implement what sleep solutions and tools she is going to use to aid her with bedtime, and give hugs and kisses.

(9) Alarm clocks

Many younger kids benefit from having an alarm clock with lights to notify them when it is time to wake up (red=sleep and green=wake up), and older kids can have a digital clock that they set. In my daughter’s case, she would wake up hours before the time that we told her. She would then stare at the clock until she was allowed to get up. As a result, we opted to take the clock out of her room and revisit it another time.

(10) Video monitor

We used this video monitor when she was a baby, and it something we still use today. It is very helpful because it reassures her that although she is not with us, we can still see her and hear her.

(11) Transitions

After spending time with her reading and doing relaxation exercises, I noticed that she would get anxious and scared once I left her room. It felt like all the work we had done together vanished as soon as I walked away. As a result, I incorporated a 12-minute period in which she can go to the bathroom, talk to herself, and do the relaxation exercises on her own before she had to lay down. Putting this small window of time in between my leaving her room and her laying down made the transition to sleeping much easier.

We discuss in advance what I will say when the 12 minutes is up. I want to keep the interaction as brief as possible. I speak into the monitor and let her know that her time is up, and she is to lay down. We then tell each other “I love you” and “Goodnight.” At that point, our interaction for the night is over. She knows I will not speak to her again until the morning. At first, she got upset when I would only speak to her once. Through consistency she learned that this is part of our bedtime routine. The structure of it aids in her sleep and helps prevent battles at bedtime.

(12) Melatonin

Melatonin is a natural and non-addictive supplement that can be used to help problematic sleepers. Speak to your pediatrician to discuss what dosage would be best for your child.

(13) Black Out Curtains

Black Out Curtains are a great idea for kids who wake up when the light shines into their room. These have great reviews , come in a variety of colors, and are a great price!



I offer my daughter empathy, support, and compassion, but I cannot force my daughter to feel okay at bedtime. Her perception about bedtime is based on her own inner dialogue. She can choose to see bedtime in a positive way, or she can see bedtime in a negative way. I do everything within my power to aid in that choice. However, she is the one who makes that decision.

These sleep solutions and products have been very helpful for Brielle. With that said, there is no magical wand that can make our children WANT to sleep. Finding tools and strategies to help a child fall asleep is not a one-size-fits-all solution. It is a trial and error process to determine what will work best for each child.

As always, if you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me! Let me know which sleep solutions are helpful for your child!

ungrateful thanksgiving


Thanksgiving is typically a holiday that I look forward to each year. It is a day of slowing down, spending time with those you love, and showing gratitude for the blessings we have in our lives. This year is different. This year was one of loss and loneliness. It is the year of my ungrateful Thanksgiving.  

Life is comprised of a series of responsibilities. Our goal is to do the best for ourselves and the ones we love while keeping our sanity intact. Between taking care of my daughter, tackling household chores, paying the bills, and fulfilling any other life obligations, it is easy to forget to stop and smell the roses. Thanksgiving is a reminder to halt, look around, and breathe.

Although I am always grateful for what I have, this Thanksgiving I cannot stop and force myself to feel gratitude. I am not going to sit with my husband and daughter and act like Thanksgiving 2020 is the same as the one we celebrated the year before and the year before that. That would be a lie, and an insult to all we endured this year.

It is important to note that feelings are fluid. Both loss and gratitude can be felt simultaneously, but sometimes one is more predominant based on life’s circumstances. For those of you who are struggling with embracing your gratitude, I hope my words bring you reassurance.

global coronavirus pandemic

global pandemic

The pandemic caused the world to come to a complete halt. It eviscerated everything that we once considered normal and routine. Schools shut down, people were left without jobs, many got sick, and quarantining became our new reality. COVID-19 has taught me the importance of not taking anyone or anything for granted.

Contracting COVID is like playing a game of Russian Roulette; you simply don’t know what the severity will be and the long-term effects it will have on your body. Despite our masks and safety precautions, I worry that we may unknowingly catch this virus. I worry about my dad who lives in New York and is almost 70. Each time we get a package and each time we bring grocery items into our house I worry. I try to not worry, but to not take this virus seriously is even worse than worrying.

I know firsthand the devastation that this pandemic caused when my husband’s grandmother and parents got COVID-19. His grandmother, my daughter’s Great-Grandma, was one of 250,000 casualties to a virus that shows no mercy. My in-laws are now long haulers who still show symptoms 6+ months later. Our family will never be the same, and what we once had can never again be. I am ungrateful this Thanksgiving for the pain my family has had to endure.

political division in the united states

political division

This is a year also surrounded with hate and ignorance. Too many people of color had their lives ended by those that we trust to protect us.  Too many families had to bury loves ones for no other reason than the color of their skin. Racism continues to shatter an already broken world.  

The political division in this country has torn us apart as well. Instead of the leaders of our country coming together to bring some semblance of stability and safety amidst the fear, there is a civil war among the parties.  There is no bi-partisan agreement to try and help the millions of people that were laid off or furloughed because of the virus.  It is impossible to turn on the TV or watch the news without the constant reminder that our government, like its people, are in shambles.

I cannot exchange lists of gratitude while there is a tornado of fear, hatred, and death that has swept up our nation. Despite my gratitude, I will not do so in the memory of my husband’s grandmother and 250,000 others, and I will not do so when there is so much uncertainty and pain surrounding us. Instead, this Thanksgiving I will embrace my ungratefulness. 


The holidays under normal circumstances can be painful for some, but now those feelings are stronger than ever for even more people. I don’t believe it is helpful to tell others to focus on what they are grateful for if they are overwhelmed with grief and sadness. It makes them feel pressure and shame, and it is okay for gratitude to sometimes take the back burner.

Therefore, this Thanksgiving will be the first time our family will not state our list of gratitude. Instead we will pause and have a moment of silence and prayer. We will reflect upon this year and the loss and loneliness we each feel. We will then each share lists I never dreamt we’d make on Thanksgiving- our lists of sadness, fear, and confusion.

ungrateful thanksgiving

This ungrateful Thanksgiving we will give our daughter an opportunity to express her feelings and voice her concerns.  We will discuss the uncertainty of that day and the days that will follow. We will acknowledge the harsh reality of the world we live, and the harshness people have brought to one another.

As a parent, I want to assuage my daughter’s fears and kiss her pain away. This Thanksgiving I cannot. What I will tell my daughter is that I have faith in humanity.  I believe that there will be a future Thanksgivings where we will celebrate what we are grateful for, and what we will be most grateful for will be the change that finally took place.

self love is so important

Self-love is important for all of us. It is crucial for us to learn how to love ourselves.

Self-Love and acceptance are keys to your mental and emotional wellness

We live in a culture that is obsessed with success. It is a never-ending hamster wheel of doing more, working harder, and being judged by our achievements. It’s no wonder that many of us feel like we are failures when the bar is set higher and higher. 

I know I felt like a failure when I made the decision to stay home with my daughter rather than work. I felt like I needed to provide some sort of explanation/justification as to why I was choosing not to pursue my career.

There’s also a revolution out there of increasing mental awareness. We are not only expected to do it all, we are expected to win the Olympics of mental fortitude.

The truth is, I used to get annoyed when I’d read articles about self-love, self-care, self-help, self-anything. I was barely hanging on by a thread trying to keep my mental faculties somewhat intact. I didn’t need a reminder of the things I wasn’t doing and didn’t feel capable of achieving.

It is the ultimate catch-22; we can’t love ourselves unless we are kind to ourselves, and we can’t be kind to ourselves unless we love ourselves.
This leads to the million dollar question: How can we learn to love and be kind to ourselves?
Answer: Accept that you are a work-in-progress.

we are all a work-in-progress

work in progress

“We’re all a work in progress, and I’m not ashamed to say that I don’t have it all together – I really don’t think anyone does.” (Adrienne Bailon).
We are flawed. Every single one of us. Some might hide it better than others, but there isn’t a single person on the planet who doesn’t struggle about something.

If we can admit we are flawed, then we are one step further in our goal towards self-love.

having a healthy relationship with yourself

love yourself

Self-love is essential because if we don’t have a healthy relationship with ourselves, that opens the door to dysfunctional relationships with others. Relationships with friends, spouses, parents, siblings, and even our children are impacted.

Codependency often is a byproduct of not loving ourselves. Lack of self-love can lead to looking for others to “complete us.” We can shut others out because we are afraid of getting hurt. Letting people in requires true intimacy, and that kind of vulnerability is difficult if we don’t love ourselves.

“You’ve got to love yourself first, and until you value yourself enough and love yourself enough to know that, you can’t really have a healthy relationship.” (Joyce Meyer).

When we don’t love ourselves, we are unable to teach our children how to love themselves. It is our job as parents to set a healthy example for our children. We need to learn how to love ourselves so that our children can love themselves.

self-love is being perfectly imperfect


Self-love is looking at every flaw, every wrinkle, every extra pound, every trigger, every fear, every doubt, and every heartache and knowing that you are exactly who you need to be in that moment. You are perfectly imperfect, and that imperfection is what makes you loveable.
You see, my sweet friends, self-love isn’t about thinking you’ve got it all together, it’s about knowing THAT YOU DON’T.
“Having compassion starts and ends with having compassion for all those unwanted parts of ourselves, all those imperfections that we don’t even want to look at.” (Pema Chodron).
Learning how to love ourselves doesn’t happen overnight. Giving ourselves permission and space to try to love and accept ourselves is a huge first step. Take it day by day, hour by hour, or even minute by minute.
Self-love and self-kindness are both works-in-progress and THAT IS OKAY. What is not okay is giving up on ourselves. Take a chance and invest in yourself. It is the best investment you will ever make.

*To help support your self-love journey, I’ve created a self-love workbook.  To print, click here:

Self-Love Workbook: Support and Maintain Your Self-Love Journey.

its ok to not be ok

I had a topic that I was all set to write about… and then life got in the way. It’s ok to not be okay.

Things were going well in my life. My husband and I were making our daughter nauseous with all of our PDAs, I was getting back into the groove of homeschooling Brielle, my daughter was miraculously complaining less and cooperating more, and I found out another article of mine was getting published in The MIGHTY. I was feeling pretty darn good, folks.

There is a Yiddish proverb, “Man plans, and God laughs.” Well, my plans went right out the window, and I wasn’t laughing. It’s ok to no be okay.

“Life has many ways of testing a person’s will, either by having nothing happen at all or by having everything happen all at once.” (Paolo Coelho).

On Wednesday I got a rejection letter from an agent I queried regarding the children’s book that I wrote. I really loved what this agent brought to the table, and I spent a month hoping that she would represent me.

i was not okay

My daughter didn’t get enough sleep on Wednesday night, and she acted like she was possessed all day on Thursday. By the end of the day, I was emotionally, psychologically, and physically exhausted.

i was not okay


On Friday, Facebook sent me a notification that they couldn’t recognize the device I was using. I had set up this notification after the last time someone hacked into my Facebook account. The problem was that the device in question was my own cell phone. I confirmed that my phone was an acceptable device. This action clearly annoyed Facebook, and next thing I knew, any comment I made flashed an exclamation mark saying it was denied. I tried to put something on my Surviving Mom Blog Facebook Group. That was also denied. 
Unlike the last time Facebook banned me, this time there was no message sent to my inbox to alert me that I was banned in any way. My account showed that I had full access to Facebook, yet I had restricted access to Facebook.

i was not okay

Social media is very important and necessary when you are in the early stages of creating a blog. I have a Facebook group that I post on nearly everyday to stay connected to my readers. Now what was I supposed to do? My husband had to post on my behalf.

i was not okay

On Saturday evening at approximately 11:45 pm, my husband jumped up and ran to the phone. He got an email from the Apple Store that someone had charged $2200 on our debit card to purchase a laptop. Spoiler Alert- neither one of us had made that purchase.

i was not okay

credit card theft

Two other fraudulent purchases were made to two different credit cards in the past three months. One was to purchase a Groupon, and one was a gas charge at the gas station we always use. Pretty creepy, right? We cancelled our credit cards and got replacements, but our debit account? How is that possible?
Even creepier, the person who used our debit card put down my husband’s email address and my phone number when making the purchase online. You use our debit card, but keep our contact information? What kind of hacker does that?

i was not okay

I have talked about wellness in many of my posts. I’ve given tips on how to boost self-confidence in ourselves and our children, given numerous suggestions for self-care, and written about tools to help with regulating emotions. I have written about ways to improve our relationships  with our significant others through love languages, and given strategies for bedtime and parenting children with special needs.

Those strategies and tools, albeit helpful, were not going to give me a lobotomy. I was not able to alleviate my concerns and fears about someone being able to access thousands of dollars from our debit account by doing deep breathing and journaling.

i was not okay

This is the moment of truth, my friends.
Life is going to throw us a series of curveballs, often when we least expect it. As much as I am a believer of getting up when life throws us down, I am not going to pretend that everything is sunshine and roses.

it is ok to not be okay

its ok to not be okay

“Make room for all emotions – including negative ones. It’s ok not to be happy all the time. Give yourself time to be sad when you are sad, mad when you are mad.” (Heather Schumaker).
One of the biggest lessons I’ve had to learn in life is that there are times when all we can do is hold space for whatever we are feeling and allow ourselves to feel it. Sometimes we need to ride the wave of messiness, anger, hurt, grief, and/or anxiety in order to get through it.

It is crucial to take care of our emotional well-being and implement  strategies and tools. I will use those tools to help me get through difficult moments, not to eradicate my feelings.

it is okay to not be okay

My daughter is not always going to see me smiling and carefree. I want her to understand that life is taking the good with the bad, the hard with the easy, the pain with the joy. She sees that I sometimes struggle, and that it is okay to struggle. I model the coping mechanisms I use to help me during those difficult times so that she can also use coping mechanisms when she is struggling. I will not hide the negatives from her because they are part of life, and to hide that would be doing a huge disservice to her.

she needs to know it is okay to not be ok

it's ok to not be ok


For every mom who is struggling, for every person that is taking one step forward and two steps back, for every person that is feeling frazzled, this post is for you.
Sometimes life is learning how it’s ok not be okay. It is sitting with those negative feelings and accepting that it is okay to feel that way. There is so much pressure out there to do it all, and to be so much to so many, that somewhere along the line we forget that we are human, with feelings, emotions and hardships.
Sometimes we can’t laugh and smile our way through life. There are times when our children are going to frustrate us beyond belief, times when we will have an argument with our spouse, our coworker, or our friend, and times when we will feel sad or lost or unsure.
There will be hard hours, hard days, even hard months. We must give ourselves permission to feel badly and accept that we aren’t failures because of that. Accepting all parts of ourselves means accepting that sometimes we are going to feel like **it, and the only thing that isn’t okay is judging ourselves for it. It’s ok to not be okay.
“You don’t have to be brave all of the time. You are not damaged or defeated. Have patience. Give yourself permission to cry and to heal. Allow a bit of compassion, you’re doing the best that you can.” (Mike Bowman).
I am not okay, and I’m going to allow myself to not feel okay. I will take care of my responsibilities and also give myself the time I need to feel better.
I’m flawed, I’m imperfect, I’m emotional, and I feel deeply.

guess what? that’s okay.

emotional abuse

This post is incredibly hard to write because I am sharing something private and very painful. This is my story of surviving narcissistic emotional and psychological child abuse and stopping the cycle of abuse. 

a cautionary tale about surviving emotional and psychological CHILD abuse

I wish I could say that I had a happy childhood, but that would be the furthest thing from the truth. I grew up with a mentally unstable mom who was narcissistic and had Borderline Personality Disorder.

At a very young age my role was to listen to my mother’s marital problems. She and my dad were always arguing (sometimes physically, but most of the time it was screaming at one another). I developed a very codependent relationship with her. It was my job to listen to her problems, support her emotionally, and take care of her. I did not set any boundaries with her, as I felt my well-being and safety were completely contingent on my mother’s well-being. When she was upset or wanted nothing to do with me, I felt worthless.

I wanted nothing more than my mother’s approval, and as a result I would parrot a lot of what my mother said to me and try to emulate her. My father was very resentful of this, and growing up he was angry at me most of the time.

As a result, I grew up feeling that my father didn’t like me or care about me.


psychologically damaging

At the age of 8, my mother started throwing me out of the house when she felt I misbehaved. The first time this happened it was dark outside, and I walked a block to a nearby park and sat on a bench. I felt helpless, unloved, and discarded. My father came out at some point and told me I could go back inside. The memory of sitting on that bench for the first time will forever be etched in my mind.

This became my mother’s go to way of punishing me. The amount of time I wasn’t allowed inside varied from minutes to many hours. I felt unsafe and incredibly degraded each time I had to leave and then beg to come back inside. It made me view the world as a very scary place. I had nobody to protect me, and I felt very lost and alone. I could not understand why the person who was supposed to look out for me was the one who was hurting me.

My father was complicit and would follow my mom’s instructions.

I always voiced that what was being done to me was wrong, but my mom would tell me that I brought it on myself by not listening to her.

stop the cycle of abuse

My mother was abused as a child, and in turn, my mother abused me. I vowed that the emotional and psychological cycle of child abuse would stop with me. I vowed to give my child the love and support I never got, and make sure she knew she was loved unconditionally. In order to end the cycle of abuse, I had to face all of the horrors I endured so I would know what to never do to my child. I go into more details about how I stopped the cycle of abuse in my post about parenting.

My parents divorced when I was 24, but as an adult, I still had the belief system that it was my job to make my mother happy. I tried to do everything possible to get her love and approval. As a result, I completely enabled her behavior and set no boundaries. This pattern of codependent behavior was so dysfunctional that I spent two hours of my honeymoon trying to calm my mother down due to her recent breakup. Her feelings were always prioritized over mine, and I felt it was my job to make sure she was okay.

We were the definition of codependency.

Shortly after my parents divorced, I met my husband, Matt, on Jdate. He was the first person who I felt loved me unconditionally. With him I finally felt home. We got engaged a year after we met and married the year after that.

A few years into our marriage we decided to start a family. I got pregnant, and my husband became terrified that I would miscarry.

He started drinking heavily, and once I found out about it, he moved onto pills.

Due to my husband’s battles with substance abuse, I spent the first 4 years of my daughter’s life raising her by myself.

We moved to Atlanta to get a fresh start, but soon after I realized he was abusing drugs again. I reached out to a therapist that specialized in addiction. I didn’t want my child growing up in that kind of environment.

My husband and I went to the therapist together, and for the first time someone besides me told him that he was an addict and needed to get help. It was the wake up call he needed, and he bravely made the decision to seek treatment. My husband checked himself into an outpatient rehab center. He received individual and family counseling and learned heathy coping strategies. He has been clean and sober for the last four years. You can read more about my story of loving an addict here.

I have a wonderful daughter who I love more than life itself.

I have been a Stay-at-Home-Mom since my daughter was born. In school I advocated for my daughter to get a full assessment (and subsequently, an IEP) due to numerous symptoms including inattentive behavior, difficulty processing instructions, and poor short term memory. Brielle was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). I decided to homeschool her to give her the support that she needs. My daughter has made huge strides, and I’m so proud to be her mother. I’m proud to say that I kept my promise to end the cycle of abuse.

I went no contact with my mother two years ago. I did not want to subject my daughter to the same pain, confusion, and heartbreak that I went through. Brielle needs to know that love isn’t something that ebbs and flows based on a person’s whim. It is something that is everlasting, and a mother’s love should be unconditional.

My entire childhood was spent feeling my identity was taking care of my mother.

I managed to break free from that, but somewhere along the way I forgot who I was besides being a wife and mother. I wanted to have something that I did which was separate from those two roles and just for me.

not all scars are physical

Very few people knew about my abuse, and it was typically glossed over because people felt uncomfortable about it. I decided that I wanted to reach out to foundations for abuse survivors and use my love of writing to try and help others. What started out as writing about abuse for monthly newsletters soon turned into my blog.

I always felt that what my mom did to me was wrong. It took adulthood to grasp that what she was doing was emotional child abuse.

Emotional/psychological abuse is often taboo and harder to recognize by others because the scars are internal.

There needs to be more light shined on emotional and psychological child abuse. The lack of openness and education about this made it easier to see my mother as a wacko rather than to see her as abusive. There isn’t enough widespread knowledge about the various cycles of abuse. There are numerous ways abuse can rear its ugly head.

For most of my life, I felt intense shame about what happened to me. I felt scared and anxious all the time. I went to numerous therapists to figure out how to get “fixed.” I tried medication, hypnosis, brainspotting, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Somatic Experiencing.

Different therapists told me that I needed to accept myself to heal and grow. This made no sense to me, and I felt frustrated and confused. How could I accept myself and change at the same time?

One day a lightbulb went off in my head.

I realized that I needed to show compassion to all parts of myself and accept that the damage that was done to me was not my fault. I finally understood that anxiety and fear does not define me. Just as my daughter’s ADHD and SPD do not define her, my anxiety and fears do not define me. I am defined by the person that I am. I am proud of the person that I am. That is something that can never be taken away from me.

I am sharing my story because I want to take my horrific past and use it to support and help others. My hope is that something good can come out of something terrible. It doesn’t make what happened to me any better. I am taking control over my life by speaking about it.

Many cannot relate to what I endured, and I am glad for those who are unable to do so. That said, all of us have gone through some sort of trauma. I want you to know that you aren’t alone. We don’t get to rewrite our past, but we get to decide our present and future.

Emotional and psychological abuse leave scars that only their victims can see. They are there nonetheless. I hope reading my story will encourage you to reach out and tell someone yours. With advocacy and awareness, we can give a voice to those invisible scars.

personalized placemat craft

Now that the weather is getting chillier, I wanted to share a fun craft for your kids.

Drumroll please….it’s a personalized placemat!

I LOVE this personalized placemat craft for so many reasons!

1-It can be modified for nearly every age and ability. I first did this project with Brielle when she was two, and at 8 she is still excited to make them (the picture above is her latest one).

2- For those of you that have young kids or kids with a limited attention span, you know you’ve hit the craft jackpot when your child actually WANTS to focus on an activity for more than five minutes. It’s like a breath of fresh air to see your child eagerly working on something!

3- It is SO easy to do. Your can put more or less detail into it based on your child’s preference, but the basic directions are super simple to follow.

4- It is something they/you can keep for years to come (just make sure to clean it regularly), and it is a wonderful gift for grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc.

I can continue to ramble about why this art project is a favorite of mine, or I can cut to the chase and start explaining it! Without further ado, here is what you will need to make your personalized placemat:


1- Clear contact paper

2- Construction paper

3- Scissors

4- Markers, crayons, colored pencils, and/or paints

5- Stickers (optional)

6- Glitter (optional)

7- Wasabi tape (optional)

8- Buttons, confetti paper, or anything small and relatively flat that your child would like to include

9- Fake maple leaves (optional)

10- Fake snowflakes (optional)

11- Fake flowers (optional)

12- Glue or tape

Most of the materials are optional, which is fantastic because you can basically use whatever craft supplies you have around your house!

The first few times my daughter made her personalized placemat, she only used leaves and stickers. This time she decided to use snowflakes, leaves, and flowers to represent all the seasons. Of course, the placemats don’t have to have any seasonal theme at all. It is completely up to your kids and their imaginations!

directions to make a personalized placemat

1- Cut two pieces of contact paper per placement. It can be cut based on whatever size your kids prefer, but ours is 11×18 inches.

2- Unpeel one sheet of paper, and leave the sticky side up. This will be where you stick your materials.

3- Modify the project based on age and ability. If they are too small to use scissors, they can rip construction paper or confetti tissue paper into pieces and scatter it across the contact paper. Another option is you can cut shapes for them, and they can decide where to place it. There is no right and wrong way to do this. It is whatever works best for your child!

4- Your child can scribble, color, paint, write or design the cut-outs. They can use stickers or any item of their choosing as well.

Here are some shapes and decorations she used when she was younger:

Below are some of the designs she used for the placemat she made a few weeks ago. She decided to use flowers, leaves (cut outs and fake), and snowflakes (I drew the snowflake, and she colored it in). Some she painted and others she colored in with crayons.

5- Once your child finishes designing and picking items, it’s time to decide where to place them. Let your child spread them around the contact paper.

Brielle designed and spread these out when she was younger, and she asked me to write her name on one of the leaves so this would be her designated placemat:

7- Unpeel the second piece of contact paper and place the sticky side on top of the objects so that the objects are enclosed on both sides by the sticky part of the contact paper.

8- If necessary, trim the edges to make sure both sides are even.

9- Measure the wasabi tape so it goes around each of the edges to adhere them .

Another option is to glue or tape the edges to ensure they don’t unravel with time.

That’s it! Let your kid take a step back and admire their handiwork!

It’s the simple projects that are the most fun for the kids AND the parents! I love that this is something Brielle can mostly do on her own, with minimal input from me (I trim the edges and the wasabi tape).

She can take pride in knowing that she decided what to use, as well as the design and placement. It gives her a huge sense of accomplishment that she is responsible for the final result!

I can’t wait for your kids to design them. I would love to see your personalized placemats. Post and tag me on Instagram @survivingmomblog with the hashtag #survivingmomblogcraft.

I hope your kids enjoy this personalized placemat craft for years to come!

tricky people

As a former New Yorker, I am always cautious when it comes to strangers. We learned about stranger danger growing up, but the tricky people concept can be a better way to teach kids to stay away from sketchy adults.

I’m a very petite female, so I understand others can pose a threat to me. That said, the most important people in my life were once strangers. My husband was once a stranger, and his family (now my family) were once strangers. One might say that strangers are friends you haven’t met yet. 

my daughter’s numerous encounters with strangers

My daughter absolutely subscribes to this way of thinking. When she was very young, she would smile and wave to everyone she saw at the grocery store. It made a quick trip to the supermarket a huge ordeal as everyone would smile back and begin to chat with her/me. As she got older, a greeting followed suit. I explained to her that we shouldn’t start up a conversation with people we don’t know, but she looked at me baffled. In her mind, it was an opportunity to meet and engage with new people.

my daughters encounters with strangers

When Brielle was 3 years old, we went to a neighborhood park with my husband and my in-laws. Brielle was (and still is) a bundle of energy, and there was a big field where she could run around. It was deserted until a couple of well-dressed men in suits showed up. I was speaking to my in-laws when my husband tapped me on the shoulder. To my horror, Brielle had gone over to these men and interrupted their conversation. The men were smiling at her and clearly found her amusing. Before my husband could stop me, I ran over and apologized for the intrusion and dragged her away. My husband informed me after the fact that these well-dressed men were doing a drug exchange when Brielle ran over. I aged 10 years in that moment.

I explained to Brielle the importance of 911, and she was told to only dial those numbers if the person with her is unresponsive and/or she is in danger. She knows our phone number and address in case of an emergency. To my shock and terror, she started telling cashiers at the supermarket our phone number and address. That incident aged me another 20 years. Luckily after another conversation about privacy and the importance of keeping contact information to ourselves, she no longer did that again.

i had to teach my daughter how to be safe

I wish I could say that those were the last times Brielle put herself in harm’s way, but that would be a lie. When Brielle was 5, Matt went across the street to ask our neighbors a question, and I told Brielle to go into her playroom so I could take a quick shower.

I went into the bathroom and turned the shower on. At that point, a feeling of doom came over me. I don’t know if it was maternal instinct or divine intervention, but somehow, I knew something was wrong.

I immediately ran out of the bathroom to check on Brielle. She wasn’t there. I screamed her name, but there was no answer. At this point I opened the door and started screaming on the top of my lungs for her. To my relief, I heard Brielle come to the front porch. After I gave her a huge hug and composed myself, I asked her where she had gone. She told me she went outside to find Matt, and she heard my voice right before she left our driveway.

I knew I had to instill in Brielle an awareness that it is not okay to wander outside or talk to strangers. However, there is a fine line between being cautious and being fearful, and I wanted to make sure that I treaded that line carefully. It was at that point that I spoke to her about “tricky people”.

teaching kids about tricky people

teach kids to identify tricky people

Pattie Fitzgerald, the creator of the website Safely Ever After, Inc., came up with the concept of tricky people. I know some people explain it as “stranger danger”, but I feared that explaining it in that way would make my daughter feel that all strangers are dangerous.

I told Brielle that a grownup is trying to trick her if she is approached by one for help. If a safe adult needs help, they will ask another adult, not a kid. Pattie explains, “Instead of looking for the boogie man, a child should look for the person asking them to do something that doesn’t sound right or ask if the adult is trying to get them to break one of their family’s safety rules or trick them.” She lists her “Super 10, Play-It-Safe Rules for Kids and Grownups” here:

how i teach my daughter the tricky people concept

I informed Brielle that most people are not a threat, but it is important to understand the concept of tricky people. I explained that tricky people are the ones who try to trick you into doing something you shouldn’t do, such as getting into their car, or telling her they have a toy/animal in order to take her. She knows that I would never tell someone to pick her up or ask her to leave without talking with her about it in advance, and in the case of an emergency I would tell this person the password.

The password is a word I thought up as a code word that only my daughter and I know. She is not allowed to tell anyone the password, and only someone who received my permission to take her would know it. We have acted out different scenes of what a “tricky person” might say to try to convince her to go with him/her, and how she should handle herself in those situations. As much as I have tried to drill this awareness into her, she still is very trusting, and I worry.

internet predators and teaching kids about other types of tricky people

internet predators

Brielle uses the iPad on weekends to watch pre-selected shows. I discovered that she was going onto fan groups for these actors, and chatting with others on a fan board. When I tried to discuss the dangers of speaking with strangers online, she was puzzled. She didn’t understand how anyone could hurt her when the only interaction was from a computer. She said that they can’t jump out of the screen; therefore, she was in no imminent danger.

I looked up different tricky people scenarios that are meant for children and showed it to Brielle. I explained to her that tricky people can be on the computer as well. Her IPad usage is closely monitored, but I know I can’t monitor every action that she makes.

it’s our job as parents to teach kids about tricky people and to be cautious, not fearful 

It seems like life is an endless game of whack-a-mole. Every single time I discuss the dangers of one situation, another one pops up. It makes me want to lock my daughter in our house and throw away the key.

It is our job as parents to teach and guide our children. Despite all our best efforts, there are still monsters out there. Some are in the playground, others in a car, and some are on the computer. The world is a scary place, but being scared of everything isn’t a way to live. Ignoring harsh realities aren’t okay either.

I will continue to try to instill in her that although there are many kind people, there are also some whose intentions aren’t pure. Tricky people can be anywhere – from the grocery store to an online chat room or kids game. It is my job to protect her from the tricky people in the world, but it is also her job to be mindful of those people and to not put herself in harm’s way.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to this problem. The world is a better place because of our children’s trust in the good of people. All we can do as parents is keep pointing our kids in the right direction, be diligent about their safety, and teach them to be cautious, not fearful.

Jdate (a Jewish online dating site) is full of success stories. I’m a Jdate online dating success story, after all. That said, I had to meet many-a-frog before I met my handsome prince. I felt it was only right to share with you my greatest Jdate online dating flops so you could get a full picture of what I went through to meet Matt. It is also worth noting that I was the first person that Matt met on Jdate. He had no idea what I went through to meet him, but he does now…

My JDate Online Dating Disaster Stories


evan and little evan – a psychologist’s dream

Don’t worry, it’s not that kind of story (get your minds out of the gutter!).

Evan was the first guy I met on Jdate that I actually liked. He came to my house to pick me up and say hello to my parents (I would never get into a guy’s car that I didn’t know without having my parents meet him first). My mom didn’t like that he wore a pink shirt (I thought he pulled it off quite well). He was charming, attractive, and seemed to have his act together. He was only 24 and had his own apartment in Brooklyn Heights. I don’t recall what he did for a living, but I believe it was something in finance.

evan and little evan

Our first few dates went quite well. He informed me that his last girlfriend was very attractive, but not the brightest bulb in the box. What concerned me was that he said that was the type of girl he typically dated. I’m no Albert Einstein, but I’d like to think of myself as a fairly intelligent person.

After several weeks of dating we went to his apartment to watch a movie. We actually did watch the movie, for what it’s worth. Afterwards, he started talking about himself, his life, and what makes him happy.

It started off fine, but somewhere it took a turn to Crazyville.

He started explaining that it was his job to make Little Evan happy. I admit I’m a complete hypocrite because my mind went exactly where I told you not to go. He explained that Little Evan is his inner child. He then said he asks Little Evan what he should do all the time. For example, if Evan wanted a sandwich, he needed to first consult with Little Evan to find out what kind of sandwich. If he wanted to watch a movie, he’d check in with Little Evan.

This monologue went on for about 5 minutes, most of which I spent trying to hold in my laughter. I’m all for taking care of your inner child, but hearing someone refer to themselves and their inner child in third person regarding every decision under the sun was more information than I cared to know.

After he finished his speech Evan and Little Evan got me a cab. I was told that next time I came over he’d get some sour pickles because he knew how much I loved them. I’m unsure which Evan relayed that information, but I never heard from either one again. I do send both Evans well wishes.

the jdate online dating therapy session

the therapy session

I agreed to meet a guy in Sheepshead Bay (for those of you that have no idea where that is, it’s an area in Brooklyn). He seemed fairly nice based on the few exchanges we’d had. I stood outside the train station at our agreed upon location and waited. A few minutes later a guy started towards me. I am a firm believer that the kind of person you are is far more important than your looks, but the guy in front of me bore no resemblance whatsoever to his profile picture.

We agreed to walk around the bay because it was such a lovely day. Some guys are shy at first. That most certainly was not this guy. He immediately started talking. Normally I would say that was a good thing. I want to get to know the guy I date, after all. However, his topic of conversation was not one I expected to hear mere minutes after meeting him.

He started telling me that he just went through a breakup. Before I could even respond, he started telling me all about their relationship. He spoke of how long they dated, what she looked like, how much he loved her, and how much he missed her. Next thing I knew he was crying on the sidewalk with people staring at us quite strangely.

I wasn’t sure what to do, so I gave him a tissue and patted him on his back while he continued to blubber about his misfortunes.

Each time I would try to intercede, he would talk over me. I spent 45 minutes listening to his life, his woes, his failures, and mostly about his ex. I wanted to put in earplugs, but I didn’t have any on me. Lesson learned.

When he came up for air I told him that it was getting late, and I should probably head home. I told him how sorry I was about his breakup. To my utter amazement he asked me if we could go out again. The only explanation I could fathom was that he was looking for another free therapy session. I was tempted to tell him he owed me money; instead I told him that I got the impression that he wasn’t over his ex ,and he should probably hold off dating anyone until he was able to move on. He looked at me quite perplexed as if he had no recollection of his emotional breakdown. I wished him the best of luck and ran away quickly before he could confide in me about anything else.

the psoriasis, racist guy

I know this one sounds like quite the catch.

I met this gem of a man at a local diner after receiving an instant messaging from him through the jdate online dating site. He seemed nice enough at first, and he told me he liked my pedicure. Most guys don’t even know what a pedicure is, let alone notice one, but I thought it was nice that he paid attention to detail. I thanked him and we sat down.

I had become a pro at small talk from the unimaginable number of online dates I had gone on. We talked about ourselves and had some friendly banter. I soon noticed that when he shook or moved his head, white stuff fell out. I tried not to stare, but it was quite the scene. As he told me about his hobbies I pretended to listen.

What I was actually doing was stare at the pile of flakes that were on his shirt as well as the table.

It was too big to be lice or dandruff. I had no idea what was falling out from this guy’s hair, and frankly it was started to freak me out. He noticed I was staring (I’m sorry, but it had landed in clumps on the table!), and he told me that he had psoriasis. I asked him if it was painful, and he said that it was mostly itchy and uncomfortable, but not painful. Mystery solved.

Our food was taking awhile to arrive, and he was getting noticeably upset. He started complaining to me that obviously this place was run by minorities, because white people would be smart enough to have their act together. If he saw my look of disgust, it clearly was not a deterrent. He then complained that he couldn’t stand fat people, and they probably were probably responsible for the delay as well.

I told him that his comments were offensive and terrible, and I was taking my food to go. I walked out the door, and luckily never saw him again. Psoriasis was one thing, but ignorance and prejudice are always deal breakers.

the silent, creepy guy

I met this man at a coffee shop. Again, he stole someone else’s profile picture, but by this point I would have been shocked if someone actually looked like their picture. We sat down and began to talk.

To be more accurate, I should say that I began to talk. He simply looked at me as if I was speaking another language. When I asked questions, he gave one-word answers. I was a Jdate veteran, but even I didn’t know how to have a one-person conversation.

What baffled me the most was that he wasn’t giving off the shy vibe. Not only was he not talking, but as I spoke he kept staring me up and down. Frankly, he was giving me the creeps. When I didn’t speak the staring intensified. I felt like a deer about to get pounced on by a lion.

Warning bells went off in my head.

I basically threw the coffee down my throat and told him that I should be getting home.

He texted me later that evening that he really enjoyed our conversation (say what?!) and that he’d love to take me to his place next time. I felt like responding, “Over my dead body”, but I feared that might be what he had in mind.

last but not least, the mental patient

jdate online dating

I decided to save my best one for last.

Scott was a guy who lived in New Jersey about 2 hours from where I lived in Brooklyn. He was very outgoing and offered to drive the 2 hours to meet me in my area.

On our first date we had a seamless conversation. He was a good listener, had a good sense of humor, and seemed very sweet. The only caveat was that he had recently gotten out of a relationship.

I already had my share of encounters with guys who hadn’t gotten over their ex-girlfriends (Guy #2, Guy #2!), so I was cautiously optimistic about him. He had a job, but still lived with his parents, which was understandable given that he was only in his early 20s. No red flags yet.

After about a month of dating, we discussed going on a trip together.

In retrospect, I probably should have gotten to know him longer before making travel plans with him. My rationalization was that we spoke on the phone for hours everyday, and he already had told me he loved me. That was probably a red flag, but I optimistically told myself that perhaps I was just that loveable.

I payed for half of the trip, and he payed for the other half. Everything was booked, set and ready to go. That is, until I received a phone call. Scott informed me that he had done some thinking and realized he needed to get intensive professional help. He still was thinking about his ex as well as a lot of other things, and he wanted me to wait for him until he was ready to date again. To quote a line from Sex and the City, “I wanted a guy that would commit, not a guy that was committed.”

I honestly didn’t know what to say to him. Besides the mention of his ex on the first date, he never brought her up again. I told him that I had paid for half of a trip and that If he wanted to back out of the trip, I deserved to get reimbursed for my half.

There was radio silence for four months until he reached out to ask me out again.

I told him to contact me when he had my half of the money. Shockingly I never heard from him again.


My dear readers, you now have gotten a mere glimpse of the awful, the terrible, and the very, very painful online dates I endured. Some I’ve actually blocked out of my mind because they were so horrible. Many I wish I could block out, but alas, I cannot.

To anyone who is dating online, I wish you the very best as you go into battle. Some dates will make you want to run and hide under the covers. Others will make you question if putting yourself through the first circle of hell is worth it. Others may offer glimpses of hope, only to have the door slammed in your face (or in my case, the door of an outpatient psychiatric hospital).

JDate Online dating is not for the faint of heart. It is frustrating, annoying and exhausting. That said, I would do it all over again because it led me to Matt. I wouldn’t wish those kind of dates on anyone else (except maybe my husband so he could experience the horrors that I endured), but all in all, everything worked out in the end. If you are willing to persevere, you too will be able to look back and laugh (and cry) at all you went through to find the person you love.

firsthand account of COVID-19 and long hauler effects

covid-19 has caused a world of chaos and fear

This is an exceedingly difficult time. I have put this topic off for awhile now, but I have come to the realization that burying my head in the sand will not make it go away. We are living in a world of chaos and fear due to COVID-19. Things that I never would have imagined in my wildest dreams are now our harsh reality.

A few weeks ago, I sat with my daughter in a Trader Joe’s parking lot while my husband picked up a few items. People were walking around, faces hidden behind masks. I watched the employee at Trader Joe’s give each person that entered and exited some hand sanitizer and hand out masks to the customers without one.

I watched all of this and sadness flooded over me. Sadness that this is the world we must live in and a world my 8-year-old daughter now sees as normal. I am still at a loss that a pandemic has turned our world upside down, and there is no end in sight.

Each of us has been impacted by the pandemic. The changes in our lives are undeniable. My family and I have experienced firsthand the pain that this virus has caused.

a firsthand account of how the coronavirus destroyed my family

My husband’s grandmother and parents all got sick from COVID-19. His grandmother unknowingly exposed his parents to it when they brought her into their house. Since that day at the end of March, our lives have not been the same. I asked my mother-in-law and father-in-law to write about the horrors that this virus has caused them. This is their story:

On March 24th, my mother suddenly got very sick from what was called at the time a “no big deal” virus. She had to be sent in an ambulance to St. Barnabas Hospital after deteriorating within a span of 24 hours. Before she got into the ambulance, her last words to me were, “You’re not going to leave me alone?” I had to lie to her because we were explicitly told that we were not allowed to go to the hospital to see her. Nobody was able to.

My wife and I knew that we were also positive for COVID-19, and my mother was left alone in a strange hospital without any family by her side. 36 hours later she passed away. Every day since, and probably for the rest of our lives, we will hear my mother’s last words and my lie back to her.

To make matters worse, we couldn’t attend her funeral. My sister, brother-in-law, son and Rabbi were the only ones allowed to be there.

long hauler after effects

covid long hauler effects

It has been exactly 6 months since that harrowing day, and my wife continues to have lingering, sometimes debilitating health problems due to COVID-19. These problems consist of severe nausea, extreme fatigue, chest pains, and headaches. Some days she only has one, other days she has them all. There hasn’t been one day in the past 6 months where she has felt 100% “normal.”

Since testing positive and quarantining, my wife has gone to almost every specialist out there. She has also had almost every test currently available to diagnose what is truly going on. All have come back negative. We are consistently being told that these are lingering effects from COVID-19, and with time things may improve.

I also have daily problems that began since I contracted COVID-19; fatigue, sensitivity to light, headaches, and the most frustrating one of all, something I can only describe as “brain fog.” That “brain fog” turned out to be Focal Onset Seizures located in the left side of my brain, most likely caused by the lingering effects of COVID-19.

My concern right now is for our “long haul” effects. My wife and I are far from alone with this Long Hauler syndrome. Tens of thousands of people, collectively known as “long haulers,” have similar stories to ours. They have also been suffering for multiple months, alone, unheard, and pummeled by the unrelenting and unpredictable symptoms that COVID can cause. “It’s like every day, you reach your hand into a bucket of symptoms, throw some on the table, and say ‘this is you for today,’ says David Putrino, a Neuroscientist and Rehabilitation Specialist at Mount Sinai Hospital who has cared for many long haulers. Of the long haulers Petrino has surveyed, most are women. Their average age is 44. Most were formerly fit and healthy.” (The Atlantic, August 19, 2020)

long haulers paying the price for early pandemic failures 

It has been suggested that in the United States alone, which currently has almost 7 million confirmed COVID-19 cases, there are probably hundreds of thousands (potentially more) Long Haulers. These people are still paying the price for early pandemic failures.

Many Long Haulers couldn’t get tested when they first felt sick because at the time tests were scarce. Others were denied testing because their symptoms didn’t conform to a list that we now know was incomplete.

living in a world of uncertainty

Please understand that COVID-19 patients can potentially experience long-term damage. That damage is not confined to just their lungs, but also their heart, immune system, brain, and elsewhere. These long-haul cases and their effects might last for years, whether they were originally mild or severe.

Yes, age can and does play a role into the severity of COVID-19, but it does not discriminate because you are younger. If you are young and get a milder form of COVID, that does not mean that you will not suffer long term effects, maybe for the rest of your life. We must continue to take this virus seriously, because even if you get a mild form or are asymptomatic, you can pass it along to someone who might react to it much differently. My wife and I contracted the same strain, yet exhibit completely different symptoms.

Wear a mask, socially distance yourself from others, and wash and sanitize your hands. Doing these few basic, medically proven tasks will save lives while keeping yourselves and your loved ones safer.

living in a world of uncertainty from covid-19

Their story is a mere glimpse of the horrors of COVID-19. As a result of this pandemic, I have had to explain to my child why her Great-Grandma was suddenly taken away from us and why her Grandparents are sick from their long hauler symptoms. I have had to explain why she can’t have playdates and why we must be diligent about washing our hands. I have had to remind her to pull her mask up and cover her nose the few instances where we have been around others.  We have a responsibility to keep ourselves safe because not everyone is able to do so.

uncertainty and confusion

My heart breaks for my daughter and for all of us. The isolation and fear are crippling. The one thing that is certain is that we are living in a world of uncertainty.

My daughter asks me so many questions, and I don’t have all the answers. Nobody does. With all this tragedy and fear, I have also learned an unspoken truth. We literally do not know what tomorrow will bring. This pandemic is bigger than any of us, and it is humbling, so very humbling.

I wish I could write something that would bring meaning to all of this, but I cannot. I am at a loss for words as much as each of you. Nothing I do or say can make the fear and confusion go away. I hope my in-laws’ devastations can bring some perspective.

i will no longer take anything for granted

Love may not be enough, but it is what I cling to now more than ever. We cannot take anyone or anything for granted. It is the only truth I can give; the one lesson that I have learned from all of this loss due to COVID-19

Remember what matters before you kiss your children goodnight. Spend one more minute reading that book you enjoy. Give your spouse one more hug, and let your loved ones know how much you cherish them.

The problems we once thought were insurmountable are now insignificant in comparison. I hope that something good can come out of all this pain and fear. I pray that we can remember what truly matters and keep this newfound knowledge in our hearts and minds when the dust settles.

We have no choice but to accept that this is our new reality. Therefore, I am going to let my load of dirty clothes get a bit larger, I am going to reach for my husband’s hand instead of the broom, and I am going to snuggle with my daughter passed her bedtime. In our world of endless questions, love is my only answer. That is the only certainty that gives me light during this darkness. I hope it brings some light to each of you too.