My Heaven on Earth

This!!!!!!DSC_0850.jpgDSC_0847.jpgDSC_0843.jpg

This was one of the best nights of my life. As you can see I was allowed time to talk with the guys and give them presents and get 3 pictures! ¬†John was so sweet and funny. And damn look at those biceps! ūüėČ ¬†Presales and VIP all the way!! ¬†Also, Warner Brothers Record Company rocks!!!

Totally Loving Life!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

One of the Best Nights of My Life

Hi friends!  So you might remember a post way back in February about how I purchased Goo Goo Dolls tickets, which included a meet and greet and VIP treatment.  Last night was the show.  It was at Mohegan Sun in CT.  A group of 5 of us drove out and had the best time!  Myself and one other friend had the VIP tickets.  I was soooo nervous.  I wrote on my hand each thing I wanted to happen at the meet and greet.  Many meet and greets are quick and you literally say hi, face the camera, and walk away, not my boys.  They are so gracious to their fans, and I know this so I had my plan.

On my hand it said: ¬† Fan (tell him I’m a fan since the 90s and never miss a tour)/ Hugs/ Talk/Pictures and one just with John/kiss/presents. ¬†I am happy to say all of it happened and more. ¬†As I waited on line for my turn I watched him hugging as the girls approached. ¬†Here we go: ¬†I walk up to him; he opens his arms and I tell him I’m Traci; he hugs me and says in my ear: “What’s your name? Traci?” ¬†I say yes. ¬†I tell him I’m a huge fan since the 90’s and I point to my concert buddy and tell him we see them every summer. Then we are face to face and I told him how much I loved his music and one album in particular meant a lot to me. I said it was Something, and I couldn’t get the rest out, and he said, “Something for the rest of us.” ¬†I said I know that was a difficult album for you, and he said it was the worst time of his life. I told him it was my divorce album. I told him I listened to it every night and sobbed for hours; I told him Soldier really hit home, because my world had slipped away. ¬†I said I needed to do that and he said that’s why I wrote it; I needed to do that too. ¬†Then he said but we are here and we’re all good and we did a high 10. ¬†Then I took my picture with both boys and then I turned to Johnny and said can I have one with you and we hugged cheek to cheek for the picture. ¬†Best part……I pointed at my cheek and said, “Can I have a kiss on the cheek?” ¬†He kissed me!

Johnny recently became a dad to an adorable daughter Lili, so I had a shirt made for him that says, “Because I’m the dad and I said so, that’s why.” ¬†He loved it and he put in front of his chest and he said, “Yeah I’m the dad!” ¬†Then we took another picture with the shirt as I leaned on his shoulder. ¬†I gave Robby some cool socks and he gave me the biggest hug. I said thank you and then I went to my seat in the 6th row!!!! ¬†The concert was amazing and there’s nothing like sitting that close. ¬†I jumped up and down for 2 hours and screamed my head off. ¬†My package also included a huge lithograph poster signed by both boys; it is now hanging on my wall. I am still basking in the high of it all; it was surreal.

My friends and I had so much fun too; we had drinks and krispy kreme donughts, oh and dinner…lol. ¬†We stayed at a no frills, yet quite nice hotel a mile away. It came with free breakfast too! ¬†I woke up without a voice and I keep replaying the meet and greet over in my mind, and oh by the way, his eyes are soooo blue!

Life is made of moments and experiences. ¬†Are you putting joyful experiences in your life? ¬†This experience was priceless; better than diamonds (I’ve never really been a big jewelry person), designer clothes, or anything you could buy and bring home and put it in a drawer, or hang up in a closet.

I’m so grateful for last night; I’m so grateful for my friends; I’m so grateful for Johnny and Robby and their time and attention, and the kick ass show they put on!!! ¬†I bounced black balloons and giant white light up beach balls, and the confetti was all around me.

Grateful, oh so grateful.

Self-help Fast

Ever since my 20s I have been on a self help path, sometimes it would feel urgent.  For example, I would see a book and I had to have it immediately even though I had 6 books in my bookcase that I still have not read.  I would think that this is going to be the book that makes everything better; this is going to be the book that brings me answers and peace. I would read the back and the reviews and then bring it up to the counter with this excitement and anticipation.  Then I get home, and do I start the book?  No. I put it on my bookcase.  Then the cycle repeats itself again months later. I buy another self help book and I think this is the one, and it goes on the shelf.  I have read so many self help books and many have helped me; however, after a while you realize they are all starting to sound the same.  They have the same messages and sometimes the same words.  But I still have this part of me that thinks this one is different and maybe I can get some nuggets of information to help me in my life.  I am proud to say I am currently on a self help break.

Not only was I buying books, but with today’s technology I was watching TED videos and you tube videos and going to events, like Deepak Chopra. To be honest, the event was not helpful and it was confusing. ¬†I did get to meet Deepak for a second. ¬†In addition, I was receiving a weekly email tip from Gabby Bernstain, who I love, and I looked forward to those emails. ¬†Danielle LaPorte is a really cool spiritual guide, and I bought her guide to mapping out your life based on your desires and how you want to feel. ¬†I bought it months ago and got a quarter of the way into it and stopped. ¬†Then I bought this book called Get Your Shit Together and I started that. Then one magical day I happen to come across a video of Danielle saying she was on an input fast. ¬†An input fast is about stopping to look for answers outside yourself, and starting to look for answers within yourself. ¬†This intrigued me. ¬†It meant no self help books, no TED videos, no super soul Sunday, no you tube videos, no reiki healing, no psychic sessions, no going to spiritual guru events, no scheduled email tips, and no more reaching for external help. ¬†I put away my self help books; I stopped Gabby’s emails; I stopped watching super soul Sunday and any self help videos. For the first time in a long time, I am reading a novel and loving it! ¬†I wasn’t sure how an input fast would make me feel. Would I feel lost? ¬†Would I feel that something is missing? ¬†Would I be missing out on helpful information?

I am only 2 weeks into my input fast, and I feel incredible. ¬†I feel lighter and calmer. I like not having all this “stuff” coming at me from all directions. ¬†Also, I feel stronger and more confident in my abilities to be my own guru. ¬†It feels satisfying to reach inside myself and know that I am in control of the trajectory of my life. ¬†I’m not sure how long this input fast will last, probably a few months or several months. It will be interesting to see if and how I return to letting input back into my life. For now, I feel free and I even think perhaps that it’s not necessary to live that way; it may even be harmful.

I always thought I needed the external input to live my best life and to be my best self, and now I know that is not true. I am the expert on me.

Be your own guru!!

Musician Before the Music

“Crawling in my skin, these wounds they will not heal.” ¬†Chester Bennington

“People have to remember we are human beings.” ¬†Chester Bennington

TRIGGER WARNING: post about mental illness and suicide

Lyrics from Heavy off the new album One More Light: ¬†I don’t like my mind right now/ Stacking up problems that are so unnecessary/Wish that I could slow things down/ If I just let go, I’d be set free.” ¬† ¬†Heavy by Linkin Park

Chester’s band mate said Chester was in a bad place the day they wrote this song. Chester actually told the band he wasn’t well and he was feeling like his life was too heavy. He said, “I’m NOT fine. I’m NOT ok. Too much stuff is happening to me. I just feel underwater.”

Album titles from last album One More Light:

Nobody Can Save Me

Good Goodbye

Talking to Myself

Battle Symphony

Invisible

Heavy

Sorry for now

Sharp Edges

Halfway Right

One More Light

Chester was crying for help, but I think everyone was used to him using his writing and music to help them through the tough days. ¬†Here’s the thing: ¬†his music helped countless people feel less alone and it helped them to deal with their demons. ¬†The question is: ¬†Did it help Chester? ¬†Perhaps the writing was temporarily cathartic, but the pain doesn’t go away. ¬†Chester was open about his sexual abuse, his addiction, and he talked about his mental illness freely. I don’t know if he was getting help, but I do know that he was hurting so badly. ¬†I watched an interview he did 4 months ago and he said his head was a dangerous place to be and he shouldn’t spend time there alone. He literally pointed at his head and said, “My skull is a dangerous place.”

There is only so much writing, screaming on stage, alcohol and drugs, and pounding his mic stand into the floor that can keep the demons away. I too connected with Numb and Crawling. Perhaps we are grasping onto the music and its meaning for us, that we are unintentionally not aware of the musician’s suffering and pain. ¬†This is where we need to put the musician before the music. I write poetry and most of it has been depressing and that’s because of my issues. ¬†When someone reads my poetry they love it and feel emotionally connected to it, but I don’t feel better; my demons aren’t gone. Maybe Chester’s band mates and family did everything they could to help him, and it just couldn’t stop his pain. Nobody wants to die; we just want the pain to stop and sometimes suicide seems like the only way out. The pain becomes too unbearable to live with; it reaches a point where you have to stop it, and you truly believe your family will be better without you.

In this case, Chester talked about it all and that is the first step; I don’t know where he was in his recovery or support for his mental illness. ¬†When I saw the news I felt it so hard and deep and I thought, no not another one. I’m sure it was not a coincidence that he killed himself on Chris Cornell’s birthday. And now we will have another funeral of a troubled 41 year old man. ¬†I don’t know how to stop it; I do know there are lots of resources out there, but people have to reach out for help. ¬†If someone really wants to die and there is no part of their brain that says Whoa call someone, then they will succeed. ¬†Whenever I feel suicidal I still have that little part of my brain that says call someone. I know I am at high risk for suicide, and I know that the hotline and the therapy and the meds could one day not work and that scares me.

I’ve been processing this event by talking about it and my good friend asked the right question. ¬†She said, “How has this impacted your mental health? Do you need support?” If you just say, “How are you?” you will usually get a basic answer like fine. It is very easy to hide that you are not fine; I did it years ago in an ER. ¬†The doctor said, “You seem fine,” meanwhile I had just attempted suicide the day before. ¬†Please don’t say that phrase to someone with mental illness. One reason is it’s insulting because yeah I seem fine, but you can’t see inside my head where I’m not fine. ¬†Another reason is because it’s frustrating to hear it and you just want to scream, “I’M NOT FINE!”

This post may seem all over the place, because it is another way for me to process Chester’s death. ¬†I don’t have any answers, but I do think we need to put the musician before the music.

 NATIONAL SUICIDE HOTLINE:  1-800-273-8255  NOTE:  They spend time talking to you about what is going on and try to help you move through it and return to your life.

“If we look outside ourselves to find love and peace we will ultimately fail. ¬†It has to come from within. ¬†Lead by example.” ¬†Tweeted by Chester on May 23rd 2017

 

Epic Night

 

U2 Live at Met Life Stadium Thursday June 29th, 2017

” Our prayer tonight is to have an epic night, one of those nights you hold onto forever.” Bono ¬†*PLEASE CHECK MY NEW DOMAIN NAME AT THE BOTTOM*

I’ve seen U2 every tour since the 80’s and they never disappoint, but this tour was the 30th anniversary of the Joshua Tree Tour. ¬†This full circle moment has a special meaning for me. 30 years ago I went to the concert with a bunch of people all piled into those big old cars; we were teenagers headed to the Meadowlands to rock out to U2. We had on our long coats with the sleeves rolled up, and various buttons on our coats, such as: Why Be Normal turned upside down, U2 buttons, Anarchy buttons, and any other button that said we are different and we like it. In addition, we all had our high top converse on, mine white canvas with writing all over them. We were sitting on laps and drinking tall boys, and Pink Floyd was playing on the radio: ¬†“I need a dirty woman.” ¬†I was sitting on John’s lap and I was in heaven. ¬†At the show whenever U2 played a classic we screamed and hugged each other; this man was my first real boyfriend, and today my child’s father.

This anniversary brought up so many emotions for everyone. His sister was with us at the original show too; she was 12 and I was 18. ¬†John and I try to keep our relationship only about Maggie; we are not perfect so sometimes we veer off into other topics, but much less than we used to. ¬†I didn’t tell him I was going to the show and I wondered if I would see him and his sister that night. Well sure enough, as I’m tailgating in the parking lot with my friend I get a text of the original ticket stub from 1987 and I say to myself, “Is he here?” ¬†So I text back a picture of the stadium with the word here. ¬†He sends back the same picture and it says, “Same view.” ¬†I begin to feel overwhelmed and excited at the same time. ¬†My friend shows me where their car is based on the photo; we were just aisles apart. ¬†We go back and forth with things like: “Where are you sitting?” ¬†“I’m outside buying my shirt.” ¬†Beth and I have tickets in the 341 section, nosebleeds and we couldn’t see the gigantic screen which is a huge part of a U2 show. After about a half hour I get a text saying, “You want an upgrade?” ¬†Quick note here: John always gets tickets and always gets good seats for all concerts. He tells me to meet him outside my section and as I walk towards him he hands me two tickets and says, “First mezzanine, second row.” I literally said, “What? How?” and my mouth dropped open. ¬†Then he hugged me and kissed me on the cheek and said have fun. ¬†I go back to my friend and tell her where we are going and she is elated. ¬†The Lumineers are still on stage so we run downstairs to our new seats and we are amazed at how close we are. Then John and Dierdre come in front of the mezzanine and say hi; it was so great to see Deirdre. ¬†She and I were yelling “30 years!” ¬†And we blew kisses. ¬†John and I haven’t hugged in probably about a year. Everything was happening so fast and adrenaline was flying. Turns out him and his sister are in the Red Zone, right next to the stage.

When U2 came out I could see Bono and he could see us; it was pure joy. ¬†The band was on fire; they played hit after hit including the entire Joshua Tree album, with lots of visuals and inspiring messages on the screen. ¬†I literally jumped up and down and screamed and sang for almost 3 hours. ¬†80,000 people all singing in unison; it is a spiritual experience. Sometimes Bono would say cut the music and we all just sang together as he watched with admiration. ¬†There was a girl next to me that came from Mexico to see the show; she said it has been her dream since she was 15 years old and tonight her dream came true. I told her I was so happy for her. ¬†We often were jumping up and down and yelling at the same time. ¬†This moment made me stop and think about immigrants; it was very poignant to have this experience with her at a U2 show as we go through these tenuous times in our country. ¬†She was so fun and grateful and I’m glad I was blessed enough to sit next to her. ¬†She taught me a lesson; I’m just like you. I love U2. I love America. ¬†Dreams come true in America.

So now I have my ticket stubs from 1987 and 2017.  My friends were concerned about John and I hugging and I told them it was because of the nostalgia and I felt strong enough to experience it, yet know that he can turn around and be an ass next week. The difference is now I know that; now I know that John who gave me tickets is a good part of John, but the lying and manipulating parts of John are there too.  Being at this show was fantastic, and seeing John and his sister made it even more special.  U2 actually played a song that he and his sister danced to at our wedding.  But I felt no longings, no I miss him, no awww; I just felt grateful. Lately I have been integrating my past into my present life; my therapist says that is healthy and healing.  She says rather than cut things off mentally, it is better to learn how to include them in my life today, and to honor them and understand they are part of the fabric of my life.

Well I definitely fulfilled Bono’s prayer that night; the feelings were visceral and pure bliss. ¬†It was one of those life changing moments in life that I will hold onto forever. Bono also said, “Our prayer tonight is rather than being used or using, that you are useful.” ¬†When he says these prayers, it’s like he is setting an intention for the evening.

The next day I woke up without a voice, the humming still in my ears, and I think I lost 5 pounds! ¬†I went home and I sent John a text thanking him and telling him it was great to see him and his sister. ¬†Bono also said, “So it’s been 30 years and we’ve changed, but we’ve also stayed the same.” ¬†So true. ¬†John and I will go back to our co parenting, and he never texted me back, and I am totally fine with that.

Epic is an understatement. Mind blowing. Inspiring. Freedom. Joy.

IMPORTANT:  NEW DOMAIN NAME:  tracihalpin.blog

My Story

Recently I was encouraged to tell my story. I know I have been open with you about many parts of my life, but I feel the need to tell my story. Buckle up.

My story is that I live with mental illness. I live with bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, and tons of anxiety. ¬†I had anxiety and depression when I was a child, only I didn’t know what that looked like. I used to get anxiety at night when I was in bed; my eyes would pop out and my heart would race, but I didn’t know what was going on, and I didn’t tell anyone. I cried every day of my life until I moved out at 21. At age 14 I attempted suicide by taking a bunch of pills in the cabinet. I got sick during the night and nobody knew what I did. Fast forward a year later, and I had a very bad night with my dad. He was hitting me in the face as I lay balled up in a fetal position on the floor. ¬†The worst part was that he kept moving my hand off the side of my face so he could hit me. ¬†Later that night I told my parents that I had attempted suicide. ¬†They didn’t understand so they did nothing. ¬†I often wonder if my life would be better if they had gotten me help.

At age 20 I attempt suicide again while I am away at SUNY Cortland. I was home for break and I planned it ahead of time, so I took all the Tylenol I could find in the house. When I got back to school that day I started taking the pills by the handful. The ironic thing is that I was walking around talking to people as I was swallowing the pills. I went to bed and expected to die. I woke up hours later with severe stomach pains and then I started throwing up. I told my roommate what I did and she called the EMT. I locked myself in the bathroom and I kept vomiting. They kept trying to get me to come out and I told them to leave me alone; I just wanted to throw up in peace. ¬†I heard them say they were going to take the door off, so I opened the door. ¬†I was put on a stretcher and transported to the local hospital. I remember all the students standing in the hallway as I was wheeled into the elevator. ¬†Too much time had passed so my stomach couldn’t be pumped. ¬†They put a tube in my nose and down into my stomach to give me medicine to counteract the harmful effects of the Tylenol. ¬†It hurt so badly that I dug my nails into the nurse’s hand; ¬†I remember her recoiling back in pain. ¬† I spent a few days in ICU, and then they put me in the locked psychiatric unit. My friends came to visit me, which was nice. ¬†My parents got me transferred to a psychiatric hospital at home. I was taken in an ambulance; it was a 3 hour drive. ¬†Later I found out my mom and my boyfriend at the time packed up my room and brought my stuff home. ¬†I stayed for a few days and then I did outpatient therapy for a year.

I went back to school near my home and I got my teaching degree. I was an awesome teacher. I worked in the inner city schools for 5 years; those were the best and most difficult 5 years out of my 20 year career, which came to an end in 2014.  I had a nervous breakdown and entered the hospital the next day.  I learned coping skills like DBT and they put me on lithium. I slowly started to feel better.  Some days we got to go outside; it felt so good to feel the wind on my face and the warmth of the sun. I would take the soft green felt blanket, they gave us, and wrap myself in it and sit down in a lawn chair and just take it all in; after a bit we would get the wave from the nurse that it was time to head inside.  I spent 9 days in this hospital and I was lucky because it was a top psychiatric hospital and my insurance covered all expenses.

I tried to go back to teaching, but I relapsed, so I had to take an early retirement. ¬†I have not been working and it is very hard some days; I miss my old life. I miss my home and my career; I miss who I used to be. I’m living with my parents while I wait for my case to be heard again. ¬†In the meantime, I have become a mental health advocate. I went back to my college and spoke to the students. I went to the state capital last year and spoke to congressmen, and lobbied for mental health bills. ¬†I am a volunteer for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. I am part of the committee that plans the out of the darkness walks. In addition, I make phone calls to my senators and send emails to my representatives. I have also had an op ed piece about mental health published in the local paper.

My doctor does her best to keep me stable, but bipolar is a moving target. I just had a manic episode. Do you know what it’s like to want sex so badly that you are thinking of going to pick up a stranger? ¬†It is hell. Bipolar and hypersexuality go hand in hand. ¬†Not everyone talks about the sex part, but I’m an open book. ¬† I usually know when it’s coming because I can’t stop thinking about the cute guy at the store, or I cannot focus on anything because I am fantasizing scenes in my head. Usually I take extra medicine and it goes away, but the last one was a tough one. I had to take lots of extra medicine to squash it, which it did, but it left me like a zombie the ¬†next day. ¬†Then I saw my dr and she made some med adjustments. ¬†Med adjustments are the worst because you don’t know if they are going to help you or hurt you. ¬†Well this time it was the latter; I was dropped so low that I couldn’t function and while walking down the road, I thought I could just walk in front of a car and all this pain will be over. ¬†My daughter is the only thing that keeps me alive some days.

Right now I’m okay. ¬†I am using my tools; in the hospital they taught us to carry a tool set with us, like stones, or messages, or pictures etc. ¬†Mine has roll on Nag Champa to quell my anxiety, a picture of my daughter when she was 5, a cross, stones, a prayer, and a crayon because I love the smell of crayons. ¬†I meditate every day and that really helps with my anxiety. ¬†Meditation helps me to feel grounded and focused. I have been doing lots of guided meditations on you tube and kundalini meditations. I take classes and I write and I read lots.

I have been living my life and doing things I enjoy. I go hiking now and it feels so renewing; I actually start to crave nature. ¬†I just went to a concert last night (Rise ¬†Against), and I have 3 more coming up (U2, Dalton, and the Goo Goo Dolls). ¬† ¬†I struggled a lot with the recent terrorism; I cried hysterically for hours after the Ariana Grande bombing. ¬†My daughter and I have seen her twice. ¬†The benefit concert was so healing for me; I know it may sound strange that I felt so upset but I tend to be an empath and take in all the emotions. I responded as if I was there, which my therapist helped me get through, and now I feel empowered rather than scared. ¬†I am not going to let anyone change how I live my life; I decided I will not live in fear. ¬†Somehow I am slowly starting to accept this new world and I am choosing to spread love and kindness. ¬†At the concert venue last night the whole place was different. They gated in the entire venue, which is outside by the ocean, and there was only one line for everyone to wait on, so you needed to line up early. ¬†They had us empty our pockets and put the stuff on the table like at the airport. ¬†We had the wand go over the front of us with arms out and then the back of us; the guy asked me if I had a belt on because it beeped. I said no and I lifted my shirt, and he said Oh a button! ¬†So I flashed security my stomach…lol ¬† Men had to take off their hats, our bags were searched and there was security and cops everywhere. ¬†It felt scary yet empowering at the same time. I have been checked at a concert before, but the visual of the gates and the change of how we go inside and being checked this time, was a reminder of why we are being checked this time, and why everything is gated in, and why everyone has to line up in one line for the entire venue. ¬†Actually, I was impressed with the changes they put in place. ¬†The show was amazing and I felt so alive.

Well my story is not over, thank God (literally), but hopefully with my choices and decisions it is just a bend in the road. Living a life with uncertainty lurking in the background is challenging, but what else can I do but live my life? So that is what I am doing.

Thanks for reading my story. I hope you are all well. As soon as I get the chance I will catch up on your posts!

Everyone has a story. What is your story?

Long Way Home

screenshot_2017-03-15-10-16-47.pngHere we go again!!! ¬†Goo Goo Dolls are touring this summer with Philip Phillips. I usually go to Jones Beach with my friends, but this year we are going to Mohegan Sun. I am so excited; I’m always excited, but this time is really going to rock. I joined the fan club which gave me access to pre sales. The first day the tickets went on sale for fan club members I was able to get my tickets in 5 minutes. Some people had trouble with their code and getting locked out of ticketmaster. When I put my code in I crossed my fingers, and then it said, You now have access to the pre sale. I breathed a sigh of relief.

This show is also really special because for the first time I bought VIP tickets!! VIP tickets gives us a bunch of stuff, like a water bottle, a signed lithograph, a VIP laminate, and wait for it……….. seats in the 6th row, and……….a meet and greet!! ¬†Woo hoo!! ¬†I am so excited to meet Johnny again. Hopefully he won’t remember me from 2011 when I was creeping on him backstage…lol. ¬†I keep having imaginary conversations with him in my head so I don’t ramble, again. ¬†I’m planning my outfit, hair, presents, hug, pic pose, and what I am going to say. Oh, and I am going to ask for a kiss on the cheek. My friend got one last year; she asked him. I figure if he says no that’s fine, but I can’t let this possible opportunity go by without trying.

The tour is called Long Way Home, which is the last song on Boxes, and they usually close the show with that as an encore. My show is August 9th; it seems so far away. I remember I bought tickets this time last February for last year’s summer tour. I surprised my friend with the VIP tickets; she had no idea I was buying them. I texted her after I got the tickets, and I sent another text, Oh btw I got VIP tickets. She was pleasantly surprised. She kept saying, “We are going to meet them?” ¬†I said yes!!!

I don’t buy clothes or go on trips. I do my own nails and color my own hair. I stopped ¬†going to Starbucks. ¬†Experiences, not things are what make people happy. Concerts and meeting authors and learning new things, and books fill me with joy. Yes I spent a lot of money, and I probably won’t do it again, but it’s worth it. I’ll eat soup and sandwiches for dinner for weeks!

Oh I forgot to tell you, the band is coming out with a new EP on May 12th called You Should Be Happy. The first single is going to drop, as the kids say, March 21st.

Is it August yet???