Sunday, March 26, 2017

Ship Wrecked

The storm was uninviting                                       

Sky turned grey.                                                    

Clouds became ominous.                                      

Chill in the breeze.  

Choppy waves.                                                     

Death was in the air, denial behind it.              

Navigating destruction,                                           

Praying for this surge to pass.                                                 

A wish for miracle.                                                

Sunrise set.                                                                 

Air was calm.                                                       

Still waves.                                                        

Profound freedom in the air.                                    

Vanished life form.                                              

Broken reality.                                                       

You evacuated peacefully. 

My ship submerged.                                                

Life vest is close yet afar. .                                        

Help me stay afloat,                                                

Let me see light, hear subtle tone, feel your presence.                                                                

Heal me from this aftermath.                            

     Dawn Piecham

Dawn is a native of Somerville, Mass. and has earned a bachelors degree in nursing and is currently working on her masters degree in nursing. A natural born caregiver, Dawn is a loving wife and mother of three boys with another on the way! She is proud to be able to say that she simply adores her family. While all of this is very apparent to those who know her, Dawn has been hiding the fact that she is an incredibly talented writer from us for years!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Q + A

Melanie, one of our Storytellers and an open-hearted blogger ( The Addict in My Basement) was approached by a youth group to answer a list of questions about what life is like being the mother of an addict.  
Melanie's honesty cuts through the fog.  She is real. She is raw.  She is a warrior in a fight against an epidemic that touches so many lives.  

When did you find out your daughter was an addict? And what was your reaction?

I found out my daughter was an addict about 6 years ago. Maybe 5 actually. She asked me to meet with her and a therapist she was seeing. I thought she was going to tell me she was pregnant. I had totally prepared myself for that.  I was not prepared to hear that she was a heroin addict. I’m not sure I even processed she was an IV user for some time. And, I don’t think I really reacted, per se. I think I went into problem solving mode. I remember saying ok what do we do now? What is our next step? It took me months before the reality of it hit me.

Now, after so many years, do still have fear of getting the call?

Oh god, yes. More so now. I am more aware of how likely it is to happen than I was back then.  The one thing you can always rely on is that addicts eventually die, if they don’t get clean. So far, that hasn’t happen to my daughter. She uses and uses and uses to the point where she should be dead but isn’t.  I was definitely in the “it won’t happen to me” camp in the beginning. Now, I am considering myself extremely blessed that it hasn’t happened.
How do you live with that fear?
That is a really good question. And the answer is sort of complicated. A parent that has not been dealing with recovery would be terrified to the point of paralysis, as I was at first. But as time goes by things happen and they change the perspective. I know that there are not many parents that will admit it, but there were times when my daughter was not even human anymore, and I would think to myself that she would be better off dead than like this. Those thoughts are normal. Many parents in support groups will tell you that it is normal. It doesn’t mean we hate our children or we want them to die. It simply means that even parents have limits. At this point, if I were to get a call that JoDee had died I would be devastated. I would grieve for the rest of my life. A piece of my soul would be gone. However, I wouldn’t be surprised.  There wouldn’t be shock, just sadness. Parents that lose children to a car accident or to addiction but had no idea they were addicts will be shocked.  There is very little that shocks me now.
Knowing your child is potentially going to die, and not being shocked by it, or thinking they would be better off not on this earth must be difficult as a parent. Do you suffer from guilt?
I suffer. Every day. Guilt is only a piece of that.  Every time my boys, and my husband and my step-daughters are all eating dinner, and laughing, or doing things around the house, or planning something and JoDee isn’t participating either because of active use or being in treatment, it is somber. For me. There isn’t a time that will go by that I won’t think that I wish she was there. I wish she could be there with us, but it has taken me a long time to be able to understand boundaries and why for some people they are more important than others.
What do you mean by that?
I mean that addicts are an entirely different breed of humans. They are a category and a level so completely different from anything I have ever known, it requires its own set of rules.
Are you being evasive on purpose?
No, Sorry. I’m not. It’s hard to explain in a way that non-addict parents would understand. On a normal day, my older son, who is in college, needs my guidance, and help. He might need me to help him with homework, or remind him to get his oil changed in the car, make his bed, typical things a parent would do or say to their semi-adult children.  Adult parenting an addict is the absolute opposite of all other parenting.  I can’t help her. With anything.  Addicts are manipulative and demanding. They believe we (as non-addicts) owe them something.  That doesn’t happen because they are bad people, it happens because that is what becomes of addicts. So, to give her the most help is to not give her money, or a place to live, or enable her in any possible way. That goes against everything I have learned in my 23 years as her mother.  It’s painful.
How do you do that? I imagine that it is hard to do.
Um. I don’t know. Sometimes I don’t do it.  Sometimes my gut is telling me that I should let her suffer in the park at night alone but then I find myself getting in my car and driving to where ever she is saying I won’t ever do it again. I become as much of as an addict to her disease as she does, except I don’t have the moments of complete euphoria or whatever they feel. And I can still live a somewhat normal life, something the addicts can’t do. It’s a weird dynamic.  In the later years I have become able to more frequently say no but it’s hard. And I won’t say I am better at it because no one is good at this. Ever. No one would ever want to be.
What do you tell people?
About her addiction? Or about my family?
Both. When speaking about your family to friends how much do you share? And how much do you share with new acquaintances?
Well, at first I did not tell anyone anything. And I didn’t want too. Not out of embarrassment because it never really occurred to me to be embarrassed but out of protection. I thought I would be able to preserve JoDee’s dignity and reputation and future if I kept it a secret but the truth is that addiction feeds of the lies we tell, or the truths we hold in. I realized that telling the people who love her the most was important so that they could help her when she was clean and support me when she wasn’t. The support of my friends, both the friends I knew pre-addiction and the friends I have made since, have saved my life.  Those who are in the know, so to speak, I am honest with. If they ask, I will tell them. For those that are new friends or someone that won’t be in my life forever, I tell only what I feel I want too. I already put our life on blast with the blog so it’s really not that often someone doesn’t know.
How does your family feel about your life being on blast, as you put it?
Oh. When I was approached about the blog, I spoke with everyone first. I did not just start putting our shit out there for all too see without discussing it with them first. JoDee was supportive because she thought it would help other addicts or their families, and she was right. It has.  My children and I were all on the same page. We agreed to it, and knew what we were getting it too so I use our names. At the time I started the blog I wasn’t married to AC so I didn’t want to use his kids’ real names out of respect for him and their mother. Now, it just sort of stuck.  I actually call AC, AC most of the time.  If I am going to post something that involves someone outside our family, like my son’s girlfriend, Cinderella, I ask first. I never post without consent. Most of my family reads it.  However, there have been some mixed feelings from those outside our circle.  I have had people question my motives, and feel that it could be harmful to JoDee.  Some feel it gives her a platform to misbehave because people read about her misdoings. Some feel that it makes it harder for her to recover because all the things she does in active addiction are aired out like dirty laundry, something many addicts have expressed to me that they would not have had that done to them.  I know that the blog seems all exposing but believe it or not, I do hold back. I do not put out every single thing she has done, sometimes I just allude to something. Or I have skipped things entirely because I know she wouldn’t want them shared. It’s a balance.
Of all the things that have happened, what would you say was the worst?
Definitely the first time she went missing from a rehab out of state.  She went out to a program in Arizona and I was so dumb back then I really thought this was going to be the answer to our prayers. 30 days into the program she ran away. My 18 year old daughter was missing in a state so far from home it could have been on Mars. I had no way to reach her by phone, and no way to tell her it was ok to come home or call me. That was physically paralyzing. Literally. The moment I heard she was missing I locked myself in my bathroom and screamed and cried on the floor. I know that sounds like a reaction most parents would have but that isn’t like me. I’m not a big crier. I was afraid to leave the house, or talk on the phone, or move in case she was to call. It was absolutely awful.  In the end she came home and the cycle continued, so it probably seems strange for that to be the worst when she has nearly died more than once but there was nothing to compare to that. It was …. Shocking.  It changed me. It changed who I am and how I respond to things, and how I see things.
Wow. That must have been intense.  Did that ever happen again?
Oh yes. Two more times. Which really seems ridiculous even to me. I knew she might run when we sent her to Florida. I knew it was a possibility because JoDee is a runner but she really wanted to go to that program so I relented. She was gone in a week. And several months later she wanted to go to a program in California. I was dead set against it but she wanted to go and there was a gentleman helping her from an addiction recovery program who persuaded me to give it a try. She ran after a couple of weeks and stayed out there for several more weeks because I wouldn’t buy her a plane ticket home, though I did eventually.  Once when we were talking about this exact thing she said that being on a run in California was one of the worst for her. By then, I was a pro at her being gone.
What would you say to a parent that just discovered their child was an addict?
I’m sorry. I’m sorry for what is about to happen, what you have already been through, and what could happen. And find a network. Find other parents like you. Meeting mothers that were going through the same thing as me was paramount to me living this long. Even if you only talk to them on line or by phone, it’s a huge relief. To be able to tell someone else how much you hate addiction and possibly your kid that day and know the person on the other end isn’t judging is priceless.  There are often times that two parents aren’t feeling the same or reacting the same. It doesn’t make the other person wrong or bad, just not the person that is going to relate to you the most. Find someone who is like-minded.  And don’t give up. As long as your child is breathing, there is hope for recovery.  And my final piece of advice is to follow your own instincts. When faced with difficult situations and tough choices do what makes YOU feel good or better. Do whatever you think is best without deciding if is best for the addict. Odds are good if the addict is happy with your school of thought, it’s not the right one. If an addict is pissed off at you, you are probably saving their life.
Last question:  What do you want people to know about addicts?
They are people. Before my daughter was stealing your wallet from the purse left in the shopping cart, or stumbling on the street drooling on herself, she was am honor student, a gymnast with a wall of awards, a sister and a daughter. She was someone, just like you and me, and she is still someone. She may be a shell of the person she used to be, but she is in there. She is still a person.  We can hate the things addicts do to us and themselves but we can’t hate the addict. There is no world where hate fixes anything. Being strong, and diligent, and maintaining boundaries are not the same as hate. In fact, it’s the opposite. It is showing them that you care enough to love them.  Stupid junkie, losers, leeches, thieves, bums, dirty, gross, untrustworthy, and on and on are things that they may become during active addiction but it isn’t who they are at their core and the real person can come back. It’s hard. It is not just putting down a needle and walking away. It’s a way of life. It’s an alteration of the brain which lacks the ability to be the person we used to know. But they are in there. We can be mad and angry and I know society as a whole is angry but when people throw hate around and refuse to see addiction as a disease we all suffer. I suffer as a parent, she suffers as the addict, the mental health community is suffering with lack of funds, and programs. It is going to take all of us to fight this disease and stop the epidemic.  In N/A they say if you can’t help an addict don’t hurt one, and the truth is that is great advice.

If you or someone you love suffers from addiction there are programs, people and communities out there to help.

Melanie Brayden-Cortes

Melanie lives in Danvers, MA with her life partner, her three kids, 

his two kids, two cats Diego and Blu and their dog Bud. 
Her oldest child, her daughter, is a heroin addict. 

Melanie began a blog, The Addict in My Basement
to chronicle her struggles as the mother of an addict. 

Monday, March 13, 2017

The Devil's Grip Tightens

The devils grip tightens.
The darkness is rising.
The light is dimming.
Weakness is the vulnerability.
The angels light is essential.
Help me find tranquility and freedom from this sorrow.
You left and found serenity.
I turned and found anguish.
The flames and clouds battle.
Strength is lost in smoke.
The light is nudging down.
My heart and soul is twisted.
The dark and light brawl with grief.
The devil and angel continue to play.
My heart is burning.
My soul wants calm.

Dawn Piecham

Dawn is a native of Somerville, Mass. and has earned a bachelors degree in nursing and is currently working on her masters degree in nursing. A natural born caregiver, Dawn is a loving wife and mother of three boys with another on the way! She is proud to be able to say that she simply adores her family. While all of this is very apparent to those who know her, Dawn has been hiding the fact that she is an incredibly talented writer from us for years!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

A Friendship's Conscious End

Back in March, I made a Facebook post about possibly ending a friendship because of what I was observing in someone I thought I knew better.  It boiled down to that person having shown some of their true colors and my struggle with what to do about it.  My friends were wonderful, giving me oodles of insightful advice.  At that point in time, I decided to have a conversation with the person in question which resulted in us remaining friends. Albeit myself truthfully still having plenty of doubts about it all.

Today, the proverbial straw hit the already weighed-down camel’s back.

Another of this person’s posts popped up on my feed, and I went down the rabbit hole of reading their wall again.  I even commented on said post, asking for clarification as to why they said what they said.  All that happened was that they confirmed my suspicions that, if I were a praying kind of person, I’d have been praying weren’t correct.

So I decided to finally end it once and for all.

This is the note I wrote to the person:

“Dear [Ex-Friend]:

I am a stronger and more confident person (literally and figuratively) than I was when I walked into [your life] many years ago.   You taught me a lot, honed my skills, and therefore made me feel safer walking around the world as a woman.  We also had many laughs and good times together, both inside and outside of [the place we saw each other most].  For all of this, I am thankful.

More recently, however, you and I have been discovering that we view a lot of things quite differently.  We talked about some of those issues and even sort of solved a few.  But today was the last straw.  I just can’t do it anymore.

The recent political and social climate in America, and your many Facebook postings and comments surrounding it, have made it clear to me that we just don’t see eye to eye on enough topics that I wish to continue our association.  What I see more often than not now is disrespectfulness, ignorance, and hate.  It hurts my heart.

I’m not writing this letter to change your mind or debate about anything.  Everyone is entitled to their thoughts, opinions, and feelings.  I am just telling you mine.  Maybe you care.  Maybe you don’t.  It really doesn’t matter.  Either way, I wanted to give you the courtesy of explaining why I am choosing to end our friendship today.  I owe you at least that much.

The bottom line is that I would not feel safe in the kind of world you currently espouse, and I’m tired of trying to justify to myself why I remain connected to you.  It saddens me greatly to say this, but I am done.

I wish you well.



I hit Send.


This storytellers collective is about moments of impact, and this was the moment of impact I created and experienced today.  It left me feeling relieved and liberated and sad and disappointed, all at the same time.

So while I can certainly appreciate whatever jokes and memes and satire and sarcasm that people may propagate about current events, even if what they say is false -- I wish so much that if they actually, truly, and honestly held beliefs and/or opinions that are staunchly opposed to mine, they would be able to have conversations in which they are willing to politely and intelligently discuss these issues and within which they’d at least be willing to have their minds changed.  But if they aren’t capable of or interested in doing that, they can go fuck right the fuck off, because I am



Look, it’s my Facebook account.  My wall.  My feed.  My own personal social media experience.  I will make of it what I want to make of it.  I don’t have to tolerate hatred, ignorance, disrespect, or anything else I don’t like.  Not in my house, not on my page.  I am well aware of all the horrible things going on in the world these days, and am not hiding from nor ignoring any of it; but if I want to have a happy little echo chamber over there in Facebook-land, I am entitled to that and there’s nothing wrong with choosing to create one so long as I don’t do so in my life as a whole.

I posted all of this, with additional detail about the particular social and political views I personally support, and said that if someone is upset or offended because of who I called out, or if they wish to align themselves with that person, that’s fine.  I get it.  I really do.  Because I believe that everyone is entitled to their own choices for whatever reasons they see fit as long as they aren’t actively or purposefully hurting others.  If it caused someone to unfriend me in favor of that other person, while I will be sad to someone go, I can’t say that I am sorry to have made them make that decision.  Because it tells me something relevant about them that I didn’t know before.

And the garden shall continue weeding itself.

Robin Donoghue

The sly and trusty Robinator is a square peg – 
not fitting easily into any single category, living not just inside and outside of the box, 
but all mixed up in a pile of them. She’s a walking contradiction  (in the good way) – 
having a wide, diverse range of interests, not being defined by any one thing, 
and willing to try pretty much anything at least once. 

Born and raised in Somerville, this lifelong athlete, foodie who almost always ends up with 
pasta sauce on her (especially when it’s white) shirt, mother of two cats, free-spirited hippie at heart whose socks never match, is socially awkward, yet a flirt, too.  She enjoys photography, traveling, generally being creative, and practically requires having pockets.  When she grows up, she wants to get an RV and be a nomad with her dear husband, or live on a self-sustaining intentional community with all the best people she knows and loves.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Love. Peace. Hate. War.





My blood

My familiarity

Rock N Roll

Heaven and Angel


Of growth

And wisdom


Of happiness

And laughter

Healing the sadness

And sobbing

Unwanted interference

Bawling words

Of worry

Protecting the path

Of unsound doom

Anger shielding

Possible truth

Storming off


With doubt

And a whirlwind

Of lucidity

From outspoken truth

You are

My strength



And flare

Together our lives

Are intertwined

With fucking emotion




And ugly

We each salute

For our love

And peace

And wait

By the wings

For hate

And war


We stand

Without prospect

Of fracture

We are a tribe

Of essence

We are our family

Dawn Piecham

Dawn is a native of Somerville, Mass. and has earned a bachelors degree in nursing and is currently working on her masters degree in nursing. A natural born caregiver, Dawn is a loving wife and mother of three boys with another on the way! She is proud to be able to say that she simply adores her family. While all of this is very apparent to those who know her, Dawn has been hiding the fact that she is an incredibly talented writer from us for years! We are so happy to welcome Dawn to our ever-growing Storytellers family. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Pickup Artist's Apprentice

Holy crap, she’s hot. She would never give you her number. 

No, remember what Dane said. It’s not rejection, it is redirection. C’mon Jake. You can do it. You didn’t pay $1500 to not listen to him. Make eye contact, be confident. 

Ugh, confident. Bullshit. She won’t like you. Loser. No Jake, get back on track. You can do this. Breathe deep…Okay. Now approach, make eye contact, compliment her and go from there. Simple.

Oh god, not simple. She’s looking back at you. Dude, you’re such a loser. She’s gonna say no. You can’t do it…you already started walking toward her idiot…it’s now or never.

“Hey girlie. I don’t know you, but I just had to tell you that you are simply adorable. I’m Jake. What’s your name?”

Holy crap, she’s smiling. You can do this.

“I’m Alexa. Do you say that to every girl you hit on?”

“Just the ones that look like you,”

Oh my god, Jake, are you shitting me? That’s the best you could do? You blew it. Good job."

“Ha! You’re hilarious Jake. Want to go grab a drink?”

“How could I say no you Alexa?”

You did it big guy. Thank you Dane.

By: Melissa Vieira - co-founder & weirdo

Wednesday, May 11, 2016


I may be in the minority here, and I guess I'm okay with that. I know deep down that I'm a good person. Am I perfect? Far from it. I have my flaws. I can be an asshole at certain times, I can be standoffish at others, but if I consider you a friend of mine, there isn't much I wouldn't do for you. There's one issue that I have come to realize over time, and it's becoming more and more evident as I age:

I'm an afterthought in most people's minds. 

Now, I'm not looking for pity. Not in the least. Hell, by all accounts you probably won't even be able to tell who wrote this. However, if reading this gets you to take that "friend" who's an afterthought, reach out to them and go to a sporting event, movie, dinner or even make a good old phone conversation, then this is worth every second I spent writing it. 

It's not like I'm sitting at home waiting for someone to call me. I have a life that consumes much of my time. I am successful in my chosen career, I have a family with children that keep me busy, and other things that keep my attention. But with what very little free time that I may have, it seems like whenever I try to make plans, the excuse train comes barreling by.

Now granted, I understand that sometimes last minute plans cannot happen, but the law of averages would make you believe that if you called ten people to do something in a single night, at least ONE of them would say yes. You can guess how successful my stats were: 

One out of ten.

I conducted a little test for myself over the last week just to see if I was overthinking this whole thing. In the time I didn't reach out to anyone other than family or business matters and I don't recall one person reaching out. Not via phone, text, Facebook, Twitter. Nothing. Not. A. Soul. 

What am I supposed to think? Is this Karma for all the shitty things that I've done in the past? Some kind of retribution from a higher power? 

I don't really know. For all I know, I just have a really shitty core group of people in my life, yet they still talk to each other. Either way, it's a dejecting feeling knowing that the people you hold in close regard clearly don't care enough about you to make the slightest of efforts. One of few things can come of this. I accept the fact that I'm obviously not the person I thought I was: 

The kind, caring, funny person that everyone wants to be around.

I find new people to surround myself with who actually give a shit about me. I could do nothing, still be the guy reaches out to everyone, getting shot down every time I lay out an idea to do something, but I will always accept an offer when it's given to me.  Or could it all change? Who knows?

I'm sure some of you that read this would know me if I actually put my name in the submission and think:

"Oh Jesus, I had no idea so and so felt like this."

But then, I would always think that anytime someone DID call, it was out of pity and that's worse than not calling at all. 

At the end of the day, I know for a fact that I'll be okay. I've overcome a lot worse than this, believe me! This post may seem sad to some and a cry for help to others, but I just wanted to vent, say my piece and get everyone to think about how they act in their lives. 

I truly do love my life, I have a ton of things to be grateful for, so do not take this for anything more than me letting my thoughts and feelings flow into tangible words. My kids make me happy, my significant other makes me happy and I truly do enjoy spending every second that I am able to with them. 

They are my heart and my world! 

But it would be nice to go see that new action movie, comedy show or U.F.C. fight with a buddy once in a while. I'd say I'll hold my breath, but if the experiment I ran is any indication, I'd need CPR before that happened.