Thursday, December 31, 2009

Be Drunk....


Here is a poem my sister gave me many years ago that I have always liked:

Be Drunk...

You have to be always drunk. That's all there is to it--it's the only way. So as not to feel the horrible burden of time that breaks your back and bends you to the earth, you have to be continually drunk.

But on what? Wine, poetry or virtue, as you wish. But be
drunk.

And if sometimes, on the steps of a palace or the green grass of
a ditch, in the mournful solitude of your room, you wake again,
drunkenness already diminishing or gone, as the wind, the wave,
the star, the bird, the clock, everything that is flying, everything
that is groaning, everything that is rolling, everything that is
singing, everything that is speaking...ask what time it is and
wind, wave, star, bird, clock will answer you: "It is time to be
drunk! So as not to be the martyred slaves of time, be drunk, be
continually drunk! On wine, poetry or on virtue as you wish."

--Charles Baudelaire


Happy New Year Everyone!!!!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Death in the Family

My husbands aunt just died. We are not sure when exactly as she was alone. One of her friends came to her house and found her dead. She called the police, who called my father-in-law.

I feel very sad that she died alone. That would never happen in my family. Before my grandpa died we were all there nonstop for the last 6 weeks. He had visitors from all over the country. People from church were there. It was tiring but rewarding. I can't imagine it any other way.

I last talked to her on Christmas morning. We called her and woke her up. She had been sleeping a lot and wasn't sure she would make dinner at our house. My last words to her were we love you.

I feel satisfied with that. I did what I could on my end and was always kind to her. She was one of the only people on his dad side that was ever nice to me. And I have always appreciated that about her.

Towards the end it got ugly. She was coming to our house because she was fighting with her other brother about money and her will. Her niece was acting strangely towards all of us. She usually went over there every year for Christmas, but she did not go this year because of the argument.

I told her several times that what she did with her will was her business and no one else should have a say in it. I find it very sad that her last 6 months were filled with so much fighting.

What for?

I had my son call my father-in-law to give him his condolences. I still don't want to talk to him and don't like how he has treated me, but I can't imagine how I would feel if one of my sisters died.

When he called back he made some smart remark to my son about how she was his aunt too and that he probably didn't get to see her very often (because of me). I always keep him on speaker because I never trust him to be on good behavior. I held my tongue.

What he said was not true. I have invited his aunt here many times. She doesn't show most of the time. I have done what I could do given my situation. I wish I could have done more, but I couldn't. My kids always come first. There are numerous people in his family that don't work that could have been there with her. But their priorities are golf, tennis and money. Not family.

Nevertheless I hope that she finds peace now. I hope they all do. This family has been fighting over money for far too long. It's time to realize that money means nothing.

As I always tell my kids, it's only paper. People are our treasures.

Rest in peace Aunt J.

The Gift Basket


I just got a call from my office saying that Y, the father of L (my ex-husband's current wife, lol!) dropped off a box of donuts and a package for me. The kids are off for Winter Break, so we are mostly hanging out. We were at the gym so I decided to stop by and get us all a donut! The kids were ecstatic!

Y had also left an enormous gift basket for me, filled with treats I love from Lebanon (including some of their olive oil, which is my favorite!).

I called him after leaving to say thank you! He is such a happy and sweet man. He wished us all a very happy New Year!

It also just started snowing, so the day has ended up pretty well! The kids and I are headed out for some snowball fights, sledding and perhaps a snowman!

Overnight


We left late afternoon yesterday for the home of my ex-husband. H. is in Africa on business, so we have been spending more time with his family. His children are very similar ages to my children - his youngest and my youngest are only 3 weeks apart, so we were pregnant at the same time together. They are the closest thing to cousins my children have.

His wife is like a sister to me and their children like nephews. I am so fortunate to have them in my lives, which is becoming increasingly hard for my husband and his family to understand.

My husband now thinks that I want my ex-husband back, which could not be further than the truth.

Yes, I will always love H. Deeply. But he is more like a brother to me, and his wife a sister. I have regrets over my own stupidity during our relationship, but I don't have regrets over the friendship I share with him and his family now. Everything is as it should be.

We stayed up late and talked like teenage girls. It was just what I need right now. This is the 4th overnight I have spent with either my sister or friends during break. I realized last night how much I love to have other people around me. I have been so alone and isolated. It has felt so good to hold my girlfriends close to me, instead of having to leave for one reason or another.

It amazes me that H. came here to US with no money and not speaking English. (He speaks Arabic and French). When I met him, he worked at Dunkin Donuts full-time (we actually met there) and worked two other menial jobs. He never took any money from his family - everything he has is from his own two hands.

He started college and several businesses while we were married. While he is not "rich", I'd consider him a complete success. His wife and children want for nothing.

It amazes me that my in-laws look down on Arabs and "poor" people and yet they have no problem with the condition of the lives of their own grandchildren. It's not how much you have, it is how you provide for your family.

I wonder if they know that it was H and his wife that would loan me money when my husband did not provide - while they were out golfing and playing tennis without worries and I was there working 60 hours a week and taking care of a newborn. I wonder if they know how many times H and his wife came to help me in the middle of the night, when I was sobbing. That is no life for a child. I think that without them, many times, I would have completely lost hope.

The way my in-laws and my husband have treated me is inhumane. But my ex-husband, his family, his wife and her entire family have all taken me in and loved me. Her sisters have offered to help, her family supports my business, and they both give me constant encouragement and love. That is family.

Sometimes I think coming from a rich family (especially if it is dysfunctional and addicted) is much more of a hindrance than coming from nothing. When you do it on your own, you appreciate it. And, you don't take your family for granted.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Old Friends....


Just when I was feeling quite depressed, an old friend sent me a message. We were able to chat for a second and decided to meet next week. She reminded me how much fun we had in Italy and it brought a smile to my face. I finished my MBA in Italy with her husband. The two of us had a blast traveling all over Italy, Croatia, Serbia...

I am feeling very stuck. It was good to also be reminded that I do have potential. I did have a profitable career at one point. I can make it. Perhaps it will take time, but I certainly am rich with friends and family. I don't want to sacrifice my children and that's where I'm feeling stuck - but my children are also my greatest joy, so while I am angry at my situation, I am also so grateful for them.

Disgusted


I am getting increasingly disgusted with my husband. It's one thing to go all out on Christmas presents when you have a lot of money. But quite a different thing when you don't. We have stacks of bills here that need attention. After asking numerous times, (and him telling me twice he would take care of it) and telling him we don't even have milk, we now have $10 in our joint account.

Why it was necessary to go overboard with the kids is beyond me. I suppose he thinks it makes him looks like a good father.

Ignoring the basic needs of your family is not being a good father. No matter how many gifts you stack on top of it.

And now he repeatedly just asks me where we are with things? Well where do you think we are when you are acting like a controlling asshole? Do you think that makes me want to be married to you?

He has zero understanding of anything. the kids keep asking for things to eat and I keep telling we don't have money for that now. We will have to make due with what we have.

I Believe in Love

I heard this song for the first time a few weeks ago on one of the personal sites for another woman who lives with an addict in and out of recovery. I thought it was a beautiful song - you can watch the Dixie Chicks perform it live on youtube. (copy and paste the link below.)

I made a promise to myself
Locked it away deep down inside
Told my heart we'd wait it out
Swore we'd never compromise
Oh I'd rather be alone
Like I am tonight
Than settle for the kind of love
That fades before the morning light

Silence stared me in the face
And I finally heard its voice
It seemed to softly say
That in love you have a choice
Today i got the answer
And there's a world of truth behind it
Love is out there waiting somewhere
You just have to go and find it

I believe in love, I believe in love
A love that's real, love that's strong
Love that lives on and on
Yes I believe in love
Yes I believe in love


- Dixie Chicks

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Al3PUZMPicU

Sunday, December 27, 2009

What's in a Name? Big Profits, Apparently

I found this article extremely interesting!


Oh no he didn't! Oh yes she did-- and it worked! You wouldn't think professional gender bias in this century would be much of an issue, but according to an extremely successful female blogger/copywriter who goes by the name of James Chartrand, taking on a male pen name meant the difference between applying for welfare and buying a house.

The single mother of two from a small town in Quebec, Canada, was at wit's end scrambling for writing jobs that would enable her to care for her young daughters. So she decided to take advantage of a perceived bias. "In my own perception of the business world today, I think of men in suits at the top. I think of male CEOs," she explains.

Becoming One of the Boys

Her first step was to create a writing persona that smacked of boys club success--someone those men in suits could easily relate to. She pulled the name 'James Chartrand' out of thin air, and began experimenting by pitching the same job under the same terms, with his name and with her own given name. The results were immediate and surprising. The male pitch outperformed the female pitch in each instance.

"They didn't question me as James," she says. "What struck me most was the instant respect I received. No one asked me about working at home and dealing with kids. They just assumed I worked in a professional office and had the brains, the talent, the ideas and the skills. I expected more money, and I got it."

After testing the waters by submitting proposals under both male and female names, she eventually decided to stick with the masculine moniker, and began blogging under it. When Michael Stelzner listed her on his Top Ten Blogs for Writers, things really took off. Men with Pens was launched, a site that offers "On target web design and copywriting to help you hit the bulls-eye of success." It has been such a hit that she has taken on a partner and brought in the services of other writers as well.

Coming Out of the Closet

She kept her little secret under wraps for about three years, until an angry former friend threatened to 'out' her online. She decided to do the honors herself, and wrote an extensive blog on the popular blog site, copyblogger.com, wittily slugged "Why James Chartrand Wears Women's Underpants." The results of her outing were also surprising.

"I'd say it's been about 95% positive, 5% negative," she notes. "Anyone who's ever been discriminated against on a job application because of their name, whether it's Indian, Asian or anything else, certainly understands." But has it affected her work?

"My clients say it changes nothing -- they just want to know if they'll have their copy by Friday." She has decided to continue writing under her masculine pseudonym, more for privacy's sake than for any other reason. She lives in a small town, and is very protective of her children. "Using a man's name seemed to make some people uncomfortable, and they seem to think I'm repressing who I really am" she adds. "But writing as James, I feel liberated, not repressed James is part of who I am." She says she enjoys being free of female stereotypes--and lower female pay.

Prose by Any Other Name

"I'm looking at twitter right now, and people are asking me if I'm going to change my writing style," she laughs, incredulous that people would even wonder such a thing. Besides, going into proverbial closet then coming out may have been one of her most unwittingly strategic moves yet. Since confessing in her blog, she has been besieged by the media: in less than an hour she received a call from Newsweek, a literary agent, and an AOL blogger (that would be me). Do a web search for James Chartrand, and you'll see her story everywhere.

Still, she says she wouldn't advise others to try it. "You face a lot of pressure from other people who question who you are," she says, referring to the fact that the tension inherent in keeping a secret about your identity can be daunting. Although she's received incredible opportunities for having admitted to her transgendered professional personality, she says most people respond with, "Yes, you're a woman, now can we all move on and get back to work?"


By Lisa Johnson Mandell

Walking Away

I'm realizing more and more that I really enjoy the peaceful life without my husband. The times with just me and the kids - or with other friends and family are just relaxing and without any sort of drama. Bring him into the picture, whether it be physically or on the phone, and there is always intense negativity.

I am increasingly certain that what I want is a divorce.

I don't know how to accomplish that financially. I feel overwhelmed with out existing obligations, and I know very well that a lot of that will not be something I can maintain on my own - or even walk away from without a lot of problems.

That said, I also need to finally acknowledge (and accept) that my husband screwed us financially and it has been years of me waiting on him to "fix it", and things keep getting worse.

I'm going to have to walk away from something.

I need to figure out a way to support me and the kids. I don't know what that will be at this point, but there has to be some way.

The Grinch


Apart from my husband, we had a wonderful Christmas. I enjoyed the time so much with my friends and family. It was filled with wonderful food and lots of fun visits.

My husband did not enjoy all the company and began pouting on Christmas Eve. I had cleaned the house for 5 hours that morning, prepped and bought the food, cooked everything...he did the dishes. He told me (and everyone else!) at least 5 times that he spent 2 hours cleaning the dishes. OK, do you want a metal for that?

We had agreed that he would spend Christmas Eve at the house so he could set up the toys and be there first thing for the kids. He always does great with the Christmas gifts for the kids - it's something that he really enjoys. It's a little excessive but the kids are thrilled.

Later that evening, he asked me where everyone was sleeping (we had several people spend the night on Christmas.) He was not happy about it and I told him I had no idea he planned on staying that night too. He became very angry and threw a temper tantrum.

He started clearing out his things, and my friends noted he was taking a really long time clearing out. Even though we had 8 people in the house and he lives alone, he took tons of the food with him. I suppose he felt entitled because he paid for it.

We did not notice until the next day when we began cleaning the house that he had taken all my Christmas presents from him back with him.

He now says that was childish and that he will return the gifts.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas


A friend of mine posted this on facebook a few days ago and I thought it was one of the more beautiful (and perhaps accurate) pictures of Jesus I have ever seen.

Merry Christmas everyone! May we all focus on the true spirit of Christmas instead of getting hung-up on the things that don't matter.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Peace

Just when I was totally aggravated with the Al-Anon stuff, I saw my Mercy Corps Christmas card sitting at the top of the stack. (Mercy Corps is my favorite charity.) I got it with a bunch of other yesterday and I just sort of flipped through them all without really taking them to heart.

I thought this quote on the front of the card was perfection:

"There is no way to peace; peace is the way."

-A.J. Muste

Issues with Al-Anon

Sometimes I feel like Al-Anon is nothing more than a cult that brainwashes its members into staying in bad relationships. Obviously no one directly tells you to stay, but I certainly get that vibe from many, many people through their stories. And when I listen closely to those stories, their staying is concerning to me.

I have seen some people get help through Al-Anon. I know it works for some people. But I see people doing program instead of living life. Where is the joy in that? Where is the living?

"I didn't cause it, can't control it and can't cure it." That may be true for someone married to an alcoholic in terms of keeping the alcoholics blame in check. But I think we know more about alcoholism than when that slogan was created. There are things that directly or indirectly "cause" alcoholism - like sexual abuse, giving children alcohol and drugs at a young age, and raising your children in dysfunctional (and/or alcoholic) homes. If you look at the statistics, these are all known factors.

If we know there are causes to alcoholism, why aren't we doing a better job of protecting our children? I really don't want to just sit things out and wait until my kids are teenagers so they can join Alateen. That is not a solution that I am OK with.

And why aren't we demanding cures?

I for one am tired of alcoholism. I never want my children to become addicts or co-dependents.

I think there are some good points to Al-Anon, but like the Bible, I don't think everything should just be accepted verbatim. I think the organization needs to grow and change with the times.

And I think it should be said that Al-Anon does not work for everyone. It is not the cure-all. To say, "It works when you work it." is once again blaming the victim in my mind. Some people, like my grandma, will never accept the program. She tried it, but it was not for her. That does not make her less of a person. She is actually one of the most amazing people I know. (And she has never once just spurted back a quick slogan to make me feel better - she talks like a real person, without slogans.)

If Al-Anon were truly successful, we would already have generations without co-dependents and alcoholics 50+ years after its creation. But I continually see families who are active in Al-Anon and AA where the cycle continues.

If alcoholism is a "disease", why aren't those of us who have been affected so tremendously not demanding better answers?

I am not satisfied with a plate of platitudes.

I'm not saying I have all the answers, but I do want better ones.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Are you wondering when the pain stops?

I saw this on another site tonight and thought it was wonderful (and true).

The Pain Stops: when you stop looking at the person you love as the person you love, and you begin to see them, not as a partner, a lover, or a best friend, but as a human being with the strengths and weaknesses and even the core of a child.

The Pain Stops: when you begin to accept that what you would do in a circumstance is not what they would do, and that no matter how much you try, they have to learn their own lessons, and they have to touch the stove when it's hot, just as you did, to learn that it is much better when it is cold.

The Pain Stops: when your longing for them gets slowly replaced by a desire to get away, when making love to them no longer makes you feel cherished, when you find yourself tired of waiting for the moments where the good will truly outweigh the bad, and when at the end of the day you can't count on their arms for comfort.

The Pain Stops: when you start to look inward and decide whether their presence is a gift or a curse, and whether when you need them, they cause more heartache than bliss.

The Pain Stops: when you realize that you deserve more than they offer and stop blaming them for being less than you wish. When the smile of a stranger seems more inviting and kind, and you remember what it's like to feel beautiful, and you remember how long it has been since your lover whispered something in your ear that only the two of you would know.

The Pain Stops: when you forgive them for their faults and forgive yourself for staying so long. When you know that you tried harder than you ever tried before, and you know in your heart that love should not be so much work.

The Pain Stops: when you start to look in the mirror and like who you see, and know that leaving them or losing them is no reflection of your beauty or your worth.

The Pain Stops: when the promise of a new tomorrow is just enough to start replacing the emptiness in your heart, and you start dreaming again of who you used to be and who you will become.

The Pain Stops: when you say goodbye to what never really was, and accept that somewhere in the fog you may or may not have been loved back. And you promise yourself never again to lay in arms that don't know how to cherish the kindness in your heart.

The Pain Stops: When you are ready.


- Author unknown

Anonymity


My husband mentioned last night that he wondered if I should take my picture off the blog. He said that does not make it anonymous.

Well, if you stick your face into an Al-Anon or AA meeting, someone might know you as well. Do I need to start wearing a paper bag over my head for fear that someone there might know him or his family and what I say might embarrass them?

Perhaps if they all behaved better, they would have nothing to worry about. I am not going to silence myself for fear of the truth or whatever consequences they may have in store for me.

I think that using a pen name is more than sufficient. I could have just used my first name.

He said he didn't know that people that knew us needed to know all our business.

Do I hear some embarrassment in that? I am past being embarrassed about anything. This is our life.

I'm guessing that very few people that we know socially are going to happen upon my blog. And if they do, they will likely have similar issues to work through.

I'm done hiding.

On the way home I saw two bumper stickers on a car. One said "I love someone with Rett Syndrome" and the other said, "We all have our abilities and disabilities."

I wonder if we will ever get to a point where we have bumper stickers that say, "I love someone who is an alcoholic."

If it is truly a disease, what is the embarrassment about?

Monday, December 21, 2009

Happy Birthday Grandpa J!!


My husband just called me to ask that I have the children call his father tomorrow for his 65th birthday.

LOL

I will do it, but I am not going to talk to him.

He said it would be a nice thing to do.

I asked him when his dad might start doing nice things?

I just told my son he needed to call him tomorrow and he replied, "Why do I have to?"

Good question.

Anger


My husband just called me filled with anger. His dad chewed him out for an hour and a half for needing to borrow more money. Way to berate your son for not having the skills you were too drunk to teach him as a child.

I'm sick of taking the brunt of everything. If you're angry at your father, get pissy with him.

Part of the reasons we are in this mess is because his father backed out of paying our sons $2,000 a month tuition (for a school that was entirely his idea). Try keeping your word for once and see what happens!

The bigger reason is my husbands long relapse which has basically bankrupt us. I blame my father-in-law for that too. When you give your child alcohol and raise them in chaos there is a pretty major chance they will continue the cycle and become addicts.

Why my children and I need to suffer the consequences is beyond me.

My husband wants to come home but it's hard to imagine that happening with these frequent outbursts. I told him the other night I still remember him calling me nasty names and it will be hard to ever get that out of my mind.

"Ungrateful bitch" and "you miserable cunt" hardly describe the woman who has stood by his side after all of this and borne him two children.

Half The Sky


I'm reading Half the Sky. It is a brilliant and important book that I think everyone should read.

I am on an early chapter about keeping girls enslaved as prostitutes by drugging them with meth.

It struck me that my husbands family used this same approach to keep him compliant. I think giving minors drugs or alcohol is the most despicable act I can think of. When money is involved, it is a hard life to get away from.

"Neth and Momm underscore that Many prostitutes are neither acting freely nor enslaved, but living in a world etched by ambiguities somewhere between those two extremes. After her return, Momm was Bound to the brothel by drugs and debts, but the owner let her leave freely with customers, and Momm could have easily escaped if she had wanted to do so." 39

"...so the girls would have to go into debt to the trafficer. That's a classic means of gaining leverage over girls: The debts mount with exorbitant interest rates, and when the girls can't repay the loans, the trafficer sells them to a brothel." p 41

The situations these girls are in are terrible and unimaginable. In any case, reading this book has been empowering to me. I am surprised at how hopeful I feel when I put it down. There are a lot of horrible stories, but overall I feel like this is something we can all tackle.

The big thing that has been coming to my mind is that addiction keeps you centered on yourself. Even if you are the co-dependent, you are centered on the addict and the harm caused to yourself by having them in your life.

The thought that I have is, why aren't we helping people who want to be helped?

I mean really, there are millions of young girls being trapped into slavery around the world. Why not try to help those women who want out of that life?

Adult addicts can step out of their hell anytime they are ready to. But millions of young people do not have such choices.

Instead of spending money on alcohol or things that might enable an addict, why not sponsor a young woman abroad? Many people around the world live for under $2 a day.

So, I am hoping that more of us take back our power by helping those who are truly powerless. I recommend this book to everyone I know. I would highly recommend it to people who have addicts in their lives. Our world is bigger than the small, hellish one we create for ourselves.

www.halftheskymovement.org

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Letting Go of Unavailable People

I found this on Karen Velen's Blog(Thoughts and observations from a recovering codependent) and thought it was a very insightful article.

Letting Go of Unavailable People
By Robert Burney

“In our disease defense system we build up huge walls to protect ourselves and then – as soon as we meet someone who will help us to repeat our patterns of abuse, abandonment, betrayal, and/or deprivation – we lower the drawbridge and invite them in. We, in our Codependence, have radar systems which cause us to be attracted to, and attract to us, the people, who for us personally, are exactly the most untrustworthy (or unavailable or smothering or abusive or whatever we need to repeat our patterns) individuals – exactly the ones who will “push our buttons.”

This happens because those people feel familiar. Unfortunately in childhood the people whom we trusted the most – were the most familiar – hurt us the most. So the effect is that we keep repeating our patterns and being given the reminder that it is not safe to trust ourselves or other people .

Once we begin healing we can see that the Truth is that it is not safe to trust as long as we are reacting out of the emotional wounds and attitudes of our childhoods. Once we start Recovering, then we can begin to see that on a Spiritual level these repeating behavior patterns are opportunities to heal the childhood wounds.”

“I spent most of my life being the victim of my own thoughts, my own emotions, my own behaviors. I was consistently picking untrustworthy people to trust and unavailable people to love. I could not trust my own emotions because I was incapable of being honest with myself emotionally – which made me incapable of Truly being honest on any level.”
(from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls)

Codependency is an incredibly insidious, treacherous dis-ease. It is a compulsively reactive condition in which our ego programming from childhood dictates how we live our lives today. As long as we are not in recovery from our codependency, we are powerless to make clear choices in discerning rather someone we are attracted to is a available for a healthy relationship – we are in fact, doomed to keep repeating patterns.

Emotionally we are drawn to people who feel familiar on an energetic level. That is, people who, on an emotional vibrational level, resonate with us as being familiar. It feels to us as if we have a strong connection to those people. In other words, we have an inner radar system that causes us to be attracted to people who resonate vibrationally in a way that is familiar on an emotionally intimate level. We are attracted to people whose inner emotional dynamic is similar to our most powerful and earliest experience of emotional intimacy and love – our parents.

No matter how much we are making an effort on a conscious level to not pick anyone like our parents, energetically we feel a strong attraction to people whose inner emotional dynamic is similar to our first experience of love. It was very important for me to get aware of the reality that if I met someone who felt like my soul mate, I had better watch out. Those are exactly the people who will fit my patterns – recreate my wounding.

It was very important for me to recognize the power of this type of attraction. And also to realize, that on a Spiritual level, these people were teachers who were in my life to help me get in touch with my childhood wounds. It was vital for me to start being aware that if I met someone who felt like my soul mate it did not mean we were going to live happily ever after. What it meant was that I was being given another wonderful, and painful, opportunity for growth.

Becoming conscious of these emotional energetic dynamics was a very important part of owning my power. My power to make choices, to accept consequences, to take responsibility for my choices and consequences – and to not buy into the belief that I was being victimized by the other person, or my own defectiveness.

Recognizing unavailability in the other person does not mean that I have to let go of the relationship – at least not immediately, it could be something I will decide to do eventually.

What is so important, is to let go of focusing on that person as the cause of, or solution to, my problems. As long as we are focusing on the other person and buying into the illusion that if we just: work a little harder; lose some more weight; make some more money; do and/or say the right things; whatever; that person will change and be everything we want them to be.

Codependents focus on others to keep from looking at self. We need to let go of focusing on the other person and start focusing inside to understand what is happening. Our adult patterns, the people we have been in relationship with, are symptoms – effects of our childhood wounding. We cannot solve a problem without looking at the cause. Focusing on symptoms (which our society is famous for: war on drugs; war on poverty: etc.) will not heal the cause.

The reason that we get involved with people who are unavailable, is because we are unavailable. We are attracted to people who feel familiar because on some level we are still trying to prove our worth by earning the Love and respect of our unavailable parents. We think we are going to rescue the other person which will prove our worth – or that we need them to rescue us because of our lack of worth. The princess will kiss me and turn me from a frog into a prince, the prince will rescue me and take me to live in the castle, syndrome.

We need to own our own worth – our own “Prince or Princess” ness – before we can be available for a healthy relationship with some one who has owned their own worth.

It is not possible to love someone enough to get them to stop hating, and being unavailable, to them self. We need to let go of that delusion. We need to focus on healing our self – on understanding and healing the emotional wounds that have driven us to pick people who could not give us what we want emotionally. We need to develop some healthy emotional intimacy with ourselves before we are capable of being available for a healthy relationships with someone who is also available.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Nana


I realized this morning that this will likely be my last Christmas with my Nana, my Mom's mother.

The thought of this is unbearable to me.

I truly believe that her cancer is a result of dealing with my grandfather's alcoholism, and later my Uncle's addictions. She is 70 years old, and is not someone who should be dying this young. She has always taken very good care of herself, except of course, emotionally.

The two sides of my family are very polarized on the surface. My dad's family goes to church and does not ever curse. My Nana is pretty much an athiest and curses like a sailor. I used to cringe at this, but now I appreciate her honestly.

I used to think it was unkind to say words like Goddamnit and Bitch, but now I see that it can be just as painful (or more) to remain silent and let the person know passively how pissed off you are. When you say the words, you get it out, and it's over with. When you are silent, the anger remains in the air.

I started thinking about what I could possibly get Nana for Christmas. My family does not spend a lot of gifts and she doesn't really need anything. In the past, I would have just rushed out and bought anything (I really don't like to shop). But now I feel this overwhelming weight of wanting to get the right thing: something she can enjoy this last year.

But what?

Several years ago I bought nearly everyone on both sides of our family a book that they can record nearly everything about their life in. No one ever bothered to fill it out, so it seemed like a waste of money. But my Nana pulled it out several months ago after receiving her diagnosis and began to fill it out with my mom's help.

That will be a gift to all of us.

But what can you give to someone who has given you so much - given her family her life - when you know there isn't much time left?

Friday, December 18, 2009

Circles of Pissyness

Now my husband is in a pissy mood. If I had to bet, I am guessing he is back to reading the blog again (which he continually promises he will not do!).

He makes little comments, vaguely referring to my posts. He is obviously upset and I told him this morning that if he has something to say, he should just come out with it instead of being passive-aggressive about it.

I don't know how to amend this. The blog is a good outlet for me. I am still angry that he snooped around and found it, and I am angry that he continues to break his promises not to read it.

I liken it to him following me to my Al-Anon meeting and hiding in the back where no one can see him. He has no right to be there, and he should not be angry for my anger at situations that he has created. I have a right to voice my feelings without facing repercussions from him.

My husband and I seem to do this little dance we do with each other, and neither of us seems to stay happy with anything for very long. It reminds me of the ending of Sula:

It was a fine cry—loud and long—but it had no bottom and it had no top, just circles and circles of sorrow. –Toni Morrison, Sula

Islam and Alcoholism

I found this article on a Muslim website I was visiting and thought it was interesting. It explains how many Muslims around the world view alcohol, which is very different than how we as Americans do. It explains the mindset that prevents so many people from ever even trying alcohol, which may be a very good thing!

In these days, countries that allow alcohol are suffering from it and the number of alcoholics is increasing rapidly. In the U.S.A., for example, the number of alcoholics has increased from four million in the 1960s to ten million in the 1970s. In Britain, the number of alcoholics has increased from half a million to one million. In some European countries, the percentage of alcoholics is 8% of the population!

Alcoholic drinks are the only poison that is licensed in those countries. However, Islam took a clear attitude towards alcoholic drinks more than 1400 years ago. Islam prohibits such drinks. Any drink that causes drunkenness is prohibited in Islam regardless of the matter it is made from and regardless of the quantity.

According to Islam, if too much of a drink causes drunkenness, then any small quantity of this drink is prohibited, because all alcoholics start with small quantities, then they become the slaves of alcohol.

Islam does not only prohibit drinking alcoholic drinks, but also prohibits making them. Islam also prohibits carrying, selling, or buying such drinks. According to Islam, if something is prohibited, all means to it are also prohibited. The reason is that it is no use to forbid something and allow the means leading to it at the same time. If alcoholic drinks are prohibited, all means to them should be prohibited; Islam prohibits the making, transporting, importing exporting, buying, and selling and selling of such drinks.

However there are some illusions that many people falsely believe about alcohol. In this article we will try to discuss and refute them to show the wisdom of prohibiting alcohol in Islam. We will also prove that Islam does not prohibit a thing unless it is harmful and dangerous.

Illusions and Facts:

1- Alcohol and Appetite: It was believed that alcoholic drink function as appetizers, but this is against confirmed scientific facts. Alcoholic drinks function as appetizers for the first week or month only, then soon the stomach and other parts of the digestive system become inflamed. Infections and ulcers begin to show up; vomiting starts; all appetite is lost.

2- Alcohol and False Warmth: It was also believed that alcoholic drinks cause warmth in the human body. But facts proved that it is only a false warmth caused by the widening of outer blood vessels. But if the drunkard is exposed to cold weather, he loses all his warmth and energy and may die of cold thinking he is enjoying warmth.

3- Alcohol and the sexual drive: Alcoholic drinks increase the sexual desire and thus may lead the drunkard to commit strange crimes under the influence of alcohol because his brain cannot function normally and in this case social values are trespassed. However, continuous drinking of alcoholic drinks ends up with sexual impotency. This shows us the wisdom of prohibiting alcohol in Islam.

Alcohol and Health:

Alcoholic drinks, which are prohibited by Islam, have a destructive effect on the nervous system through the direct toxic effect. Besides, alcohol may lead to alcoholism with its psychological and mental troubles such as convulsions and hallucination. Further, alcohol leads to malnutrition caused by inflammations in the digestive system, repeated vomiting, loss of appetite, and bad absorption in the digestive system. To add, some alcohols may cause complete blindness and heat failure owing to their severe toxicity.

An alcoholic becomes careless, selfish, easily provoked, and suspicious. He may suffer paranoia. He becomes sexually impotent. He is hated by his wife and children. He suffers from melancholy. He may end up committing suicide. An alcoholic may suffer from hallucinations: he may think he sees unreal ghosts or hear unreal voices or smell unreal scents.

Alcohol causes decay in the cells of the brain and the cortex. This may cause alcoholic psychosis and loss of memory. In this stage, an alcoholic loses the ability to distinguish the concrete from the abstract and the real from the unreal. He cannot even know the day or the place. An alcoholic loses the ability to calculate, to add or substract the easiest numbers. An alcoholic cannot remember the most recent incidents in his life.

An alcoholic may become unable to stand up without losing his balance. When he walks, he staggers. When he speaks, he slurs. He may suffer from the clubbing and swelling of his fingers. A male alcoholic develops female qualities and female alcoholic develop male qualities such as the stoppage of menstruation and the complete loss of the sexual motive.

An alcoholic suffers continual nightmares, where he sees and hears terrible things. All his life becomes a series of delusions and hallucinations. He may faint and lose consciousness any time.

The body of an alcoholic soon loses resistance to microbes and thus becomes an easy prey to any microbe. He has troubles in the kidneys, albumin in the urine, fatal blood acidity, which may end tragically with heart failure.

An alcoholic does not usually care for buying food. If he buys food, he has no appetite to eat it. If he eats it, he vomits what he has eaten. If he does not vomit, his digestive system cannot function well or absorb well. Thus an alcoholic soon goes into malnutrition and lack of vitamins; especially vitamin B. further, this Vitamin B is consumed by alcohol in the process of oxidization.

As a result of the lack of Vitamin B and malnutrition, the alcoholic may suffer paralysis in the hands, feet, and legs. He may have infections in the brain. He may have decay in cortex cells, which leads to madness. He may have infection in eye nerves, which ends up with blindness. Alcohol is simply a poison.

A drunkard may fall down under the influence of wine. This fall may cause a brain shock, a brain pressure, and a breakage in the backbone, bone breakage, or bleedings.


-Islamweb.net - 8.9.2009

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Roots and Wings


This morning I saw something that bothered me at my son's school.

We were running late so we went up to the front instead of the drop off. My son was getting out of the car on his own on the other side so he could go straight to the sidewalk without having to be in the parking lot at all, where there were a lot of cars. This other mother ran over and helped him get out of the car, making a big fuss about it.

I was polite about it, but as I drove away, it bugged me.

I hate the way wealthy parents hover over their children, particularly the housewives. I find this very disempowering for children.

My son is nearly 7. He knows how to get out of the car by himself, without fanfare. He knows how to do a lot of things by himself. I encourage him to help around the house every day. He knows how to cook several things mostly on his own (eggs, toast, cookies...) He can get his own cereal in the morning. He has been getting dressed on his own for years.

This is not so different from most of the world, or even my friends who raise their kids on the other side of town. But in my son's school and our surrounding communities, more and more I see mothers doing too much for their kids.

This does not encourage growth.

I noticed about a month ago that the child in my son's class who seems most sure of herself is that one whose mother works. From the looks of it, she has a very successful career. I have never seen her hover and her daughter shines because of it. She is at 6, completely her own person.

I resent the attitude that those of us with money or who have wealthy parents are somehow better than the rest of the world. And I say that because our policies show that. We place more emphasis on the children of the rich - and those with money place more emphasis on their kids. (Or at least the mothers who stay at home do.)

I adore my children, and I can't imagine my life without either of them. But I don't think they are inherently worth more than any other child anywhere else in the world.

There are mothers at our school that volunteer there every day of the week. While this seems nice in and of itself, how is the child developing into their own person with their mother there constantly? Why not volunteer with other children in schools without adequate funding (which includes most schools these days) and really make a difference? Do we really need so many volunteers in a classroom where we are paying $20,000 a year in tuition?

I never see children playing in the street anymore or riding their bikes. We take our kids to every activity and watch them. I think the best I've seen of my son is when we took him camping with the AA group and he was able to freely roam around on his bike. He was never so sure of himself.

I think it's a shame that he can't do this every day. (We live on a hill - and, I am fearful of people texting while driving).

We need stronger families for sure. But there's a quote on my family blog that I love:

"Children need two things: roots and wings."
-Chinese Proverb

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Pissy Mood

I have been in a very pissy mood. Probably because I have my period and everyone has been sick so I have not been able to exercise.

I've come to realize that exercise is not optional for me anymore. My mood sinks without it.

I'm sick of my husband trying to cheer me up. On the surface that seems like a nice thing to do but here's how I see it: piss all over our life for multiple years and then tell me we have a lot to he grateful for.

Well, he may have a lot to be grateful for.
-He is still alive.
-He's not in prison.
-He still has a wife and a family.
-He has a rich and indulgent family that will bail him out of anything.

But I am still dealing with cleaning up with the mess that he created. So while it's great that he appears to be sober and things have turned around for him, for me they still suck.

I do not hedge bets on my family. So I resent him for both the bets and for his yippy skippy attitude.

I don't know how many times he has told me things were going to be OK and we have nothing to worry about. We have not been OK in years. Not even close.

Preferences


Apparently my in laws are upset by a recent blog post to our family blog about my former in-laws. They told my husband that I seem to like this other family better than them.

Well duh!

Who wouldn't prefer kindness to dry drunks?

Who prefers cheap Indian-givers to generous people who would give anything or do anything for their family?

Who prefers being called poor and stupid to being loved and cherished?

Everything is always about them. Maybe they should realize that aside from their money, they have nothing to offer anyone. If they want people to truly "like" them, they should treat people decently.

Of course I prefer people who have never even tasted alcohol to people who drank away my husbands childhood.

When you are sober you can actually raise 7 amazing children very well, even in a war zone. It's not that hard. Just stay present and put the fucking bottle down.

My former in-laws had their house destroyed, faced constant death, had their son shot at in his school...I could go on and on. They had actual problems that they overcame - and managed to still be amazingly nice people.

(And, no, I do not consider having a lush life in the US and drinking too much to be an actual problem. It causes problems for other people. Addiction it is a chosen problem which the addict can change.)

I have thought through this and none of my former husband's family has ever had a problem with addiction. Not his parents, his 6 brothers and sisters, their children, aunts and uncles... You could go on and on. For the most part, no one has ever even tried alcohol. So this is a shout out to Muslim families. Complete abstinence works. And if you have a strong family it is possible that none of your seven children will be addicts of any sort. (Even after suffering immense hardships that would be hard to fathom in this country.)

Within days of arriving to Lebanon, H's grandma sat me on her lap and told me I love you just as much as I love H. You are now a daughter to me. All of his family treated me that way.

And they still do.

So, YES, I prefer my former in-laws. If you want me to like you better, treat me better!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Alcoholism is like Glue


This past weekend I reconnected with two old friends. One I have known for about 15 years and keep in touch on at least a yearly basis. The other I've known for about 10 but have not talked to in about 6.

The thing that stood out in my mind is that although my friends have moved on and been successful in their lives, I have stayed in the same stuck spot, and even slide back at times.

At first I justified it by saying I have two small children, but then I realized both of them have children.

In fact, one was in prison the last time we spoke. And I was helping care for her 6-year-old daughter.

I was pregnant at the time with my son and the demands on me became too much, which I regret now very much. My former husband's nephew had married a woman with a young daughter who I became very fond of. I would often babysit her, but it never felt much like babysitting - I adored the girl, and I loved to spend time with her.

The problem began when my nephew called me from jail and said that they had been arrested for selling (and later I found out manufacturing) Meth. I had no idea. This was another time in my life when I was completely naive about drugs. I knew he often had a lot of cash, but he told me he was selling cars, and I believed him. Many of the Lebanese I knew often had a lot of cash because they generally don't use credit cards. And no one in my former husband's family used drugs, or really even drank alcohol, so this was not something I would ever expect from him.

So, I was in for the shock of my life - and began visiting him in jail, and later in prison. Those are interesting stories in and of themselves. I never thought I'd find myself visiting jail or prison, especially pregnant. I was very pregnant the last time I visited him with my ex-husband. Then he was deported.

In any case, the girls grandmother and I were appointed to help raise the girl while her mother served her time. The grandmother being the primary guardian and me more as backup. However, "Grandma" wasn't really what this woman wanted to be. She was still partying. She viewed the girl as more of a burden than a granddaughter. It was horrifying.

Looking back, I wish I would have taken the girl in completely on my own. It is a huge regret I have in my life. I was overwhelmed with my own pregnancy and dealing with an alcoholic, which was also something new to me. I finally snapped when her mother called me from prison and told me Grandma needed more time to go out and party. I was asked to give up my plans at the last minute, again, to watch the girl. Looking back, my plans seem insignificant. But at the time, I was pissed and I told her mother no.

I never heard back from them again. I tried calling her at her Grandmother's home, but my calls were never returned.

Over the years, I have thought about the girl often and wondered what became of her. On Saturday, I mentioned her to my husband again. He had spent time with her as well and also had fond memories of her. He told me that God always watches out for children. I told him, that's not true. So many children are molested, raped, killed, abused...

In any case, yesterday, I found her mother on Facebook. She is thriving. She is completing her MBA and JD to become an Attorney. She has travelled all over the world. She looks great. And most important, her daughter looks like she has grown up to be a beautiful girl. She's a cheerleader. She looks happy.

I still haven't filled in all the blanks yet, but I am happy to have found them again. I never would have thought her mother could have gone from where she came from to where she is now, but it was a true lesson in grace and in not judging people based on their past.

But at the same time, it also made me feel like crap.

Once again I gave up something important to me. It reminded me that I have not travelled the world in these 8 years. I have not gone anywhere.

I finished my MBA before I had my son, but I never did a damn thing with it. Aside from raising my children, I have largely stopped living and stopped dreaming.

I am raising children in an environment that places no value on my hard work and the sacrifices I have made. So, while intellectually I believe in the value of raising my children, I don't feel that my time has been valued.

I am stuck like glue to this life that I have created with my husband. And I resent it.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Proper Apologies

I have been reflecting a lot about why the AA sayings get to me so much. And here's why.

When you create a mess, like the financial mess my husband has made for our family, you fix it. My husband hates it when I bring this up, but it is true.

It doesn't matter if you say you are sorry, or how many times you say you are sorry. Sorry doesn't mean anything when someone does something over and over again.

Randy Paush explains this really well in his Last Lecture. The book goes into more detail.

Giving a good apology strengthens relationships and heals wounds. Insincere apologies translate into insults. When we do not apologize for things we have done wrong to people, Pausch compares it to an “infection” that festers in relationships.
-tasithoughts.wordpress.com

Randy Paush says that "proper apologies" have three parts:

What I did was wrong.
I feel badly that I hurt you.
How do I make you feel better?
( pg. 162, The last Lecture, by Randy Pausch, 2008)

In my mind, you make someone feel better by fixing or amending what you did wrong. Sometimes this is not possible (like when you cheat on someone). Other times, it is.

A few Thanksgivings ago, my brother-in-law showed up late with his new dog. He had not asked us if it was OK to bring a dog to our house, and we immediately asked him if it was potty trained yet. He said it was. Then, the dog peed all over our couch.

He did not help clean it up, he did not offer to have the couch cleaned. He may have said he was sorry, but it would not have mattered if he did. It would not have meant a damn thing.

Later, we had to spend $250 to have the couch professionally cleaned.

I often use this as an analogy with my husband, although it must be a bad one because it never seems to sink through.

His family does not know how to apologize. None of them do in my opinion. For all his dad's talk about "making amends", I have yet to see him make any.

So, this is why the AA slogans bug me.

When you fuck up, fix it. Don't come back with some phony saying or slogan. Sometimes there are no words that will fix things. You just have to show with your actions that you are working towards a solution and that it won't happen again.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Things that BUG me about AA and Al-Anon

My husband has been working the steps. I notice when he works the steps, he is a much nicer person. (Maybe I should work the steps, LOL, I stopped on Step 4!)

In any case, we have been getting along very well for the most part.

However, yesterday I spent several hours on our finances and was in a pissy mood and snapped. He tried to say something to make me feel better and I told him not to give me any of that "AA crap."

I should say that I probably don't have the highest opinion of AA because of my father-in-law being involved with it for over 20 years. For someone who is such an ass, I just don't see how that program really transformed him.

He is sober, but he's still an ass. From what I've heard, he has always been an ass and has never really changed. I do know that many people in the program respect him and say that he has helped them, but I can not see where he has taken that to the outside world. In my opinion, he still treats most people, including his family, like shit.

The problem I have with AA and Al-Anon is that they seem to work great while you are working on them. But the minute you step away, you are back to being the same person. I don't see that they are transformative in a lasting way. It seems like something where you are constantly having to attend meetings to reinforce behavior. And honestly, the slogans bug me.

The slogans in and of themselves are great. There are a lot of truths to what is said. But my issue is that people seem to use these as band aids when someone has a problem, instead of saying something more heartfelt and fitting to the occasion. It reminds me of Christians I know that become so indoctrinated that they never actually speak their own words anymore - they simply spat Bible verses at you for whatever your particular problem might be at the moment.

So while this may be an improvement for some people, I am just not fond of robots. I like people who are free thinkers. Perhaps that is just to ingrained in my personality - I take a little of this, and a little of that and mix it all together and use what works. (Which I suppose you can also use an Al-Anon slogan for that - "Take what works, leave the rest.")

I worry that although my husband and I get along well while he is working his program (and he is in all regards now: sponsor, meetings and steps). But, what will happen when this stops or the intensity dies down? Because inevitably, it will. I have been around the ups and downs of drunkenness, sobriety, relapse and redemption all too many times over the last 8 years.

I suppose my issue with AA and Al-Anon is that I think there should be more. Nothing has changed in 50 years, and we know a lot more about addiction and co-dependency now than we did at the start of these programs. I also think that people in AA start to think that their behavior is normal, and it's not to most people.

I remember the Fourth Wife telling me that she thinks all families are dysfunctional. She said something to the effect that some people try to pretend like theirs aren't but they all are.

I couldn't disagree more. No family is perfect, that's for sure. But to say all families are dysfunctional seems like a complete stretch - and a fabrication to make herself feel better.

I think there should be more integration between AA and Al-Anon - and I think we should be more integrated within society as a whole. There is still this secrecy around addiction that keeps it more dysfunctional.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Sick Reflections

I have been sick since Saturday, and my son threw up last night, so I'm home with both kids today. I realized today that more than anything else, I have been upset with my husband about our financial situation because I have not had the time with the kids that I want. The happiest times for me are just being with my children. Even if I'm just at home doing the laundry, with them playing in the background - I love their sounds.

Going back to work has been frustrating. It's not the same market it used to be. There are all new rules, regulations and paperwork. And, business is hard to come by. I feel like I am hitting my head against the wall all day, and then I have to come home to the housework, which always seems ahead of me. My time with the kids seems short and rushed. I enjoy my co-workers and my cliens, but I hate my "job".

I also noticed that my husband and I have been getting along better. And mostly I think when I'm nice to him, he reacts nice. When I act angry, he reacts the same way. And vice versa. So I need to pay more attention to that. Because this is a much better way to live.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Happiness

"Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony."

Gandhi

Sunday, December 6, 2009

New Pastor

We voted in a new Pastor at church this morning. I am very excited about things to come there. He also has young children, and seems very dynamic. The church was packed and the enthusiasm throughout was inspiring.

This was our first scripture reading this morning, and it has stayed with me throughout the day.

"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me-put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you."

Phillippians 4:8-9

Love and Power

Where love rules, there is no will to power; and where power predominates, there love is lacking. The one is the shadow of the other."

- Carl Jung

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Life Lessons

I came across this list of Life Lessons in Real Simple Magazine, and I thought they were really great.

1 Events reveal people's characters; they don't determine them. Not everyone with divorced parents has terrible relationships. If two people are ht by a bus and crippled for life, one will become a bitter shut-in; the other, the kind of warm, outgoing person (cheerful despite everything) whom everyone loves to be with. It's not about the bus, and a dreadful childhood is no excuse. You have the chance to be the person you wish to be, until you die.

2 Lying, by omission or commission, is a bad idea. I cannot shake my dependency on the white lie, because I was brought up to be nice. And I've never figured out the nice way to say "I'd rather stick a fork in my eye than come to your house for dinner."But the meaningful lie, the kind that involves being untruthful or deceitful about important stuff to those you love, is like poison. Telling the truth hurts, but it doesn't kill. Lying kills love.

3 Sex always gives you an answer, although not necessarily the one you want. It's possible to have very good sex, a few times, with a person who shouldn't be in your life at all. Have fun, and hide your wallet and your BlackBerry. On the other hand, it's unlikely that a grown man, however nice, will become much, much better in bed than he was the first five times you slept with him. And if you sleep with a man who is unkind to you, there will be more of that; long after the sex is humdrum, the cruelty will be vivid.

4 Most talents are transferable. If you can raise toddlers and teenagers with relative calm, you can be a CEO. If you're a good driver, you can probably steer a cab, fly a plane, captain a boat. My hears as a waitress-servicing food to demanding people in a high-stress environment without losing my temper-served me equally well as a mother, a wife, and a short-order cook for my family. And if you have the teaching gene, you can teach anything.

5 Fashions fades; style is eternal. Not only do you not have to wear torn jeans, a barely-there tank top, and a fedora, but you probably shouldn't. The point of fashion is to indulge briefly in something fun. The point of style is to have one-whether that's a sheath and spike heels or slouchy jeans and your husband's T-shirt - and it should last you a lifetime. All you have to do is think you deserve to look and feel your best and spend some time figuring out how to do it.

6 You can't fake love. Staying in a love relationship when love is not what you feel isn't likely to end well. If you know that what you crave is security/disposable income/child care and not the person next to you in bed, do the right thing. It's true that one can learn to love someone over time and often through difficult circumstances. But unless the two of you agree to wait until you're old and all the storms have passed, in the hope that love will kick in, it's better to bail sooner than later.

7 Mean doesn't go away. Some people get better looking with age; some don't. Some people soften; some toughen up. Mean streaks tend not to disappear. A person who demeans and belittles you and speaks of you with contempt to others is probably going to be that way for years. The first time it happens, take note. The second time, take your coat and go.

8 No one's perfect.I knew that I wasn't perfect; I just didn't realize that this also applied to the people I fell in love with. The object of your affection will always turn out to have huge and varied faults. The smart thing is not to look for someone flawless (which is why Elizabeth Taylor married eight times), but to look for someone whose mix of strengths and liabilities appeals to you (whihc is why she married Richard Burton twice).

9 Ask for help. It's possible you'll get turned down. It's even more likely that you'll feel vulnerable and exposed. Do it anyway, especially if you are the helpful sort yourself. Those of us who like to offer assistance and hate to take any are depriving other people of the opportunity to be generous and kind; we are also blinding ourselves to the reality of mutual dependence. You wouldn't wear pink hot pants and pretend they were flattering. Don't pretend you don't need help.

10 Keep your eye on the prize and your hand on the plow. It's easy to lose sight of what you want, especially if you haven't gotten it. I know it's less work to put the wish away, to pretned that the wish itself has disappeared. But it's important to know what your prize is, because that is part of who you are. Whether it's financial stability, two children, a collection of poetry, or a happy marriage, take Winston Churchill's advice and never give in. Never give in. Never give in.


- Amy Bloom

Custody

My husband now says he wants to take the kids every other weekend. I don't think how he can possibly think that is a serious request. I don't think he actually wants to do this, I think he just knows the kids are my soft spot and he's trying to get to me.

He also said he wants every other Thanksgiving and a week Christmas break and time during the summer.

What does he think he is going to do with the kids? I can't imagine. He has never taken the kids overnight by himself. He spends more time with the kids now than he ever did when we were living together. At least quality time. When he was here in the house, I was the one caring for the kids, not him.

He said if I want a divorce I am going to have to get used to this anyway. I told him he was delusional if he thinks a judge is going to award any sort of custody to a convicted felon, drug addict, alcoholic.

He said, "but I'm in recovery!"

I said, "Yeah, for the moment."

How many times has he relapsed or "Slipped" in the last year alone? He admits to driving drunk with all of us in the car. My husband has rarely been a fall-down drunk. It is very hard for me to tell when he is using. He hides it well. How on earth does he think I would ever put my kids in that situation?

My husband has been drinking since he was 12-years-old, thanks to his wonderful parents who brilliantly gave him alcohol and continued to do so through his teenage years. He started doing drugs a few years after that. How many rehabs is it going to take this 38-year-old to finally get it? Will he ever get it? He's been to rehab twice for a total of over 5 months since we have been together, and it just doesn't seem to take.

Once again, it's threats. And no money or financial support for us while I "disagree" with him. Yeah, that sounds like someone who is just full of sobriety.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Dr. Seuss Says....

I loved this quote! Oh the places you will go is one of my all-time favorite books. At one point, my son, who was about 3 at the time had it memorized because we were reading it so much! One of my dear friends had it read at his wedding, and my son was to be their ring-bearer. They came over for dinner shortly before their wedding and he mentioned using the book. I surprised them by letting my son recite some of it.

"Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."

-Dr. Seuss

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Happy Holidays

If you have not heard this yet, it is worth checking out. The song doesn't start for about a minute, but it is truly beautiful and will lift your spirits. Both Mary J. and Andrea Bocelli gave a phenomenal performance.

Andrea Bocelli and Mary J. Blige sing What Child is This
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rfesjtNUyEI

Remembering Lebanon


I just got off the phone with my ex-husband's wife. We talked for more than an hour. My daughter fell asleep on the way to school this morning, so I turned around and went home after we dropped my son off. Turns out that was a good choice. She obviously does not feel well. We are spending a quiet day together.

My ex-husband and his wife just came back from a long trip to Lebanon, where they are both originally from. Her parents had come to my office yesterday and told me they were back, so I decided to check on them.

It sounds like they had a wonderful trip. I wish I had been able to go with them. Yesterday, her parents offered to take me, and today she offered me to come with her this summer.

How I miss Lebanon.

Americans seem to wonder why the Lebanese and the Palestinians fight so hard for their land. If they had been there, they would know.

It is beautiful in Lebanon. And the people are the best of the best. There is no place more hospitable, filled with love and laughter. I have never seen children so happy and well-behaved. They are free to run around the village without care, because everyone watches out for everyone else. The high school kids are smarter than most college graduates I know. Most people speak Arabic, French and English, and the children study psychology, literature, mathematics in all three languages, which is different than just taking a French or English class.

The people of Lebanon are very present. Perhaps because they have lost so much. When I went in '95-'96, Israel was still bombing nearby. My ex-husband is from a small village in the South of Lebanon. I remember being scared many times, but after a while, you get used to it. There is no place I have enjoyed traveling to more than Lebanon. It touched my soul.

I have noted to myself many times lately that since I met my current husband, I have essentially stopped traveling - at least abroad. I really want to change that. There is always so much drama involved in alcoholic families. I feel like I have missed many things. My ex-husband's 40th birthday party. A retirement party for my greatest mentor. Party after party that I was too emotionally exhausted to attend. Looking back, I wish I would have done all of it anyway. What was accomplished by me staying home, besides another defeat?

I enjoyed hearing all the stories of the people I love back in Lebanon. My sister-in-law just lost her husband. I remember them well from when I was there. He had a brain tumor then. It is amazing, really, that he made it this long. They have 7 or 8 children. Most people in Lebanon have big families. Family is everything.

We talked about the traditions of death in Lebanon. I remember going to a funeral while I was there. A young boy was killed by Israel during my stay. Nearly everyone from all surrounding villages stopped what they were doing and drove to his village for the funeral. There must have been thousands of people there. I will never forget the sound of the women wailing, screaming really, at the top of their lungs, with all of their hearts and souls.

I think I understand those screams even more now that I have my own children. The grief is unimaginable.

But I think that wailing is good for the soul. In America, death is often skipped over. In Lebanon, the family is in mourning for 40 days. The widow is never left alone. There are usually about 10 people with her at all time, to care for her needs and give her company. Every day, the entire family visits the graveside for 40 days.

I think that is beautiful. His wife told me, "one of the things I like most about our culture is that we make everyone feel so special." I think she really nailed it on the head.

Yesterday, her parents visited me at my office and brought donuts and special Lebanese pastries. My entire office was thrilled.

My daughter's namesake lives in the South of Lebanon. She is one of my ex-husband's many aunts. I remember being instantly taken with her. She is everything I would want my daughter to be - smart, always laughing, and has a very strong sense of self. Her spirit was beautiful and amazing.

I decided when I met her that I would name my daughter after her - even though I was no where close to having a daughter then. I married my first husband very young. I was still in college and wanted to finish my Masters degree first. The Masters degree was one of several things that killed our marriage - but primarily, it was my youth.

My ex-husband handled our divorce with so much grace. One of the best gifts that he ever gave to me, when I was feeling guilty about many things, was to tell me, "Despite everything, you are still the best person I have ever known." I will never forget those words, and he will never know how much they meant to me coming from him. When I am feeling low, I still can hear him telling me that, and it still helps tremendously.

I sent pictures of my daughter to show the family and especially her namesake. She was very pleased with them and sent my daughter back a dress. On Saturday we will go visit them and get it. It sounds like they brought back many gifts, which is traditional. I am looking forward to seeing their entire family. I miss all of them. They will always be my family.

The wife asked about my marriage and I told her. She said, I will never get over the time we came to your house in the middle of the night after your son was born. Right then I knew it was bad, and I wondered what was wrong with him.

I remember that night well. My son and I had just came home from the hospital. He started crying, sometimes screaming, non stop for hours. I was exhausted and did not know what to do. My husband was no where to be found. He would not return calls. Finally I called my ex-husband and his wife, who just lived down the street at the time. By then it was close to mid-night, but they came over immediately anyway. They stayed with me for hours until my son was settled and back to sleep. I will always be grateful to both of them for that. It was one of the worst and loneliest nights of my life.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

What's the Point?

So, I finally said something to my husband about the other woman. We were discussing money and how there doesn't seem to be enough for us. I told him perhaps he should spend the money we do have on this family instead of lushes in bars.

Of course, he denied it.

He now says that my co-worker only told me this because he wants to "screw" me and that he's lying.

Um, what about the rumors about his indiscretions while I was pregnant with our son? What about the 3 confirmed women that I already know about.

And he wonders why I have no respect for him anymore.

Just tell the truth for once!

I told him I want a divorce.

He told me I was making a really bad decision based on bad information.

I told him I have 7+ years of information.

And now he keeps bugging me to "talk" about it. What's the point? What is there to talk about? Why would I continue to waste my time so he can give me the runaround and a bunch of bullshit answers.

I know what I know.

Good Woman


I was talking to a girlfriend just the other day
Hadn't seen her in a while
But I recognized the look on her face
She said I work hard all day
I rush home to fix his meals
I live to please this man
But still his love he won't give

And I looked at her and said
If you're a good woman
Then I'm not
I won't be mistreated for nothin he's got
I need my respect and I mean a lot
If you're a good woman
Then I'm not.

She smiled at me and said, "I've had a good life
Sometimes you've got to take the bitter
And add your own little spice
It takes something to be a good woman
In these trying times
Even if it means no kiss in the morning and another woman in his head while he makes love to me at night."

She kept on talking about her love
"Oh girl, he's really a good man
He doesn't mean no harm
You see
When he tucks me in anger, I didn't call the police, I just held him in.
I said baby I love you
And I'm here for you dear."

And I just shook my head
If you're a good woman, then I'm not.
I won't be beat up, mistreated, stepped on, dogged-
For nothing of nobody he's got.
I demand my respect. Not a little, but a lot.
If you're a good woman, than I'm not.

You see there's no reward for being beat up. You don't get a badge for a black eye.
If you're a good woman,
then I'm not.

-EC Scott


This is one of my favorite blues CD's. I have an autographed copy at home that I received after hearing EC sing live at a Blues Festival. The lyrics instantly stayed in my head. This song is off her Hard Act to Follow CD. I tried to post a link here, but she is not very well known. I did see you can buy the CD on Amazon.com.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Dominoes


My daughter and I have a gap between when I drop my son off at school and when her school starts. We have started to go to a Starbucks near her school to play Dominoes. At first, she didn't really understand the game (she's three-and-a-half). She would put random sides together that didn't really match. But she is starting to be able to do the entire thing herself.

It's funny how I still want to direct her choices, and I have to hold myself back.

I remember hearing somewhere that there are over 400 different ways of doing dishes - and everyone thinks their way is right.

So it is with the Dominoes. I often think I know where she should put something, and she finds another suitable choice.

I hope I can remember this as she grows up.

There is a Spanish man who also goes in the same time every morning that my daughter was instantly attracted to. Kids know a genuine spirit when they see it. This morning, I saw him walk in and told her Miguel was coming in. She lit up, turned around, and started waiving her arms around to make sure he saw her. Then she grabbed her lipstick out of her pocket and started applying it, again.

He came over and patted her head very gently, looked her into her eyes and said hello.

It is these small moments that make me very happy.

I don't remember the last time my husband actually saw us.

My daughter, for the most part, refuses to talk to her dad. And to me this is why. She knows that he doesn't see us. It's not so much about him missing her birthday party like I previously thought. It is the every day acts of neglect.

Monday, November 30, 2009

The Lush


My company Christmas party is coming up soon. I had arranged to go with one of my female friends in the office since neither of us have dates. Some of the guys in my office were teasing me about going out with a group of people afterwards. I told them I would if someone else drives. I don't like drinking and driving.

One of them offered to pick me up at my house and I said, No way!! My husband has been following me. He won't admit to it, but he certainly seems to be there at odd times and snooping around.

Another guy jumped in and joked that he could just pretend to be the gardener (he's Mexican). Still another said that's bullshit. He better not start anything with me. I've seen him out. He proceeded to tell me about seeing my husband out with a tall, ugly, blond, who spilled her drink on him.

I can't believe what a hypocrite my husband is. Really it should be no surprise at this point. But nearly every day he tries to make me feel bad about the alleged lovers he thinks I've had since we've been apart. Now I see that he's just been trying to make himself feel better.

What was telling is that I am not jealous about him being with another woman. I'm mad about him being such a hypocrite and trying to make me feel bad.

And, I'm wondering what a "sober" guy is doing out at a bar with a woman that sounds like a lush.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving Day


My mom took the kids the night before Thanksgiving so I could get things done. I had a feeling my husband would take issue with that, so I didn't tell him. Lately he always assumes when I have a free night that I am with someone else.

I felt very depressed and didn't get much done, except for moping around. I watched an OK movie and did a little here and there to get ready for the next day.

Thursday morning I woke up and took a walk, which was nice. I rarely have time for that on Thanksgiving Day, and usually I have both my kids, who can't do the big hills by our house very well.

My sister came around noon to help, and my mom brought the kids back a little before that. The best part of my day was the time I spent with my sister. We don't have as much time together lately and I have missed her. We are always silly and light-hearted together.

We decided to sneak out for an hour and go see both of our grandmas. My mom's mom has cancer and it really isn't treatable. She's opted to go out pretty naturally, which I respect. I think I would want the same thing. She's still pretty young to be a great-grandma (early 70's) and it does seem like she's too young to die. She has always been very strong and not very emotional. I've only seen her cry a few times, and I remember each scene vividly. It was like something breaking this strong foundation that I love so much. I cry just thinking about it.

She has become slightly more emotional lately - and more into seeing everyone. In the past she was happy to just stay at her house alone. I see a lot of myself in her. Perhaps it is being with an alcoholic for a long time (36 years for my grandma) that wears you down until you just can't show any sign of emotion.

Two of my uncles were over there, and so was my mom. We had a nice visit and I'm glad we went, even though we had the food in the oven and no one was there to watch it, lol!

Then we went over to see my dad's mom, which was a little more difficult. She has always been very clingy, and now moves very slow, so it was difficult to do a quick hello. But as we were leaving my sister said, that was probably the highlight of her week. She loves to see my kids, and I love to see her too. I just have felt very tired and depressed lately, so I don't go lately. Now that I'm back at work, there is little time between that and the kids to just go visit someone.

We rushed to finish everything once we got home, and my husband came, bringing my dear friend T, who does not drive. His partner used to drive him or he would take a bus. Our house is not easy to get to with out a car, so I was grateful to my husband for getting him. He's had a hard year between caring for his sick partner, and then losing him. I love to see T. He is someone who always says exactly what is on his mind, and he always makes me smile. Sometimes he offends people, but I love that about him too. He doesn't tip-toe around anyone. He is fully himself - and there are too few people like that.

My children told their dad about spending the night with their grandma and he came over and asked me about it. It felt more like an accusation than a question. I asked him, "Have you ever made a Thanksgiving dinner with 2 little children around? It's a lot of work."

I resent him even questioning me. He has every night to spend as he wishes. I don't get into his business. He is the one who stepped out of our marriage 3 times, and now he wants to question me? When I'm making a fucking Thanksgiving Dinner??!! I started venting to my mom about it in the kitchen. I thought he had stepped outside, but it turns out he had come back in and probably heard me.

Things were tense. He carved the turkey. We all got our food and sat down to eat. I just started eating.

T. surprised me by asking to say a prayer before dinner. I'm not feeling super religious, so I asked him to do it. It was beautiful.

During dinner, my sister and T made a toast, more to each other than anything, to past, current and future lovers. We all raised our glasses. I actually thought it was a great toast. I could see my husband was visually upset however.

He sort of sulked through the rest of the dinner. My sister ended up taking T home and he stayed and washed most of the dishes. It was nice of him to wash the dishes, but I hate that negative energy there when you know there is something wrong and the person won't just come out with it.

After he left, he texted me about it.

I felt like it was not the Thanksgiving I hoped for, at least not the dinner. The food did not taste especially good to me, and I ended up eating only about half of what I take. Usually I take pride in my cooking and love to eat, but I didn't enjoy the meal the way I had hoped.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Problem

The following is taken directly from the ACOA webpage. (Adult Children of Alcoholics) I thought it was very interesting....


Many of us found that we had several characteristics in common as a result of being brought up in an alcoholic or other dysfunctional households.

We had come to feel isolated, and uneasy with other people, especially authority figures. To protect ourselves, we became people pleasers, even though we lost our own identities in the process. All the same we would mistake any personal criticism as a threat.

We either became alcoholics ourselves, married them, or both. Failing that, we found other compulsive personalities, such as a workaholic, to fulfill our sick need for abandonment.

We lived life from the standpoint of victims. Having an over developed sense of responsibility, we preferred to be concerned with others rather than ourselves. We got guilt feelings when we trusted ourselves, giving in to others. We became reactors rather than actors, letting others take the initiative.

We were dependent personalities, terrified of abandonment, willing to do almost anything to hold on to a relationship in order not to be abandoned emotionally. We keep choosing insecure relationships because they matched our childhood relationship with alcoholic or dysfunctional parents.

These symptoms of the family disease of alcoholism or other dysfunction made us ‘co-victims’, those who take on the characteristics of the disease without necessarily ever taking a drink. We learned to keep our feelings down as children and keep them buried as adults. As a result of this conditioning, we often confused love with pity, tending to love those we could rescue.

Even more self-defeating, we became addicted to excitement in all our affairs, preferring constant upset to workable solutions.

This is a description, not an indictment.

Like Alcohol, Religion Disinhibits Violence, Doesn’t Cause It

My wonderful athiest friend B posted this the other day and I thought it was a very interesting article. The author is also an athiest, and as a Mustlim-Christian I thought it was very fair.


On November 5, a Muslim US army psychiatrist, Nidal Malik Hasan, shot and killed thirteen of his fellow soldiers on the Fort Hood military base, injuring another thirty. In response to the Fort Hood shootings, some people are blaming Islam. Others are saying Islam had nothing to do with it, that the problem is our war of aggression or failure to care for psychologically wounded soldiers. I believe both are wrong.

The relationship of religion to violence is complicated. With the possible exception of Buddhism, the world’s most powerful religions give wildly contradictory messages about violence. The Christian Bible is full of exhortations to kindness, compassion, humility, mercy and justice. It is also full of exhortations to stoning, burning, slavery and slaughter. The same can be said of the Koran. The same can be said of the Torah. Believers who claim that Islam or Christianity or Judaism is a religion of peace are speaking a half truth—and a naive falsehood.

The human inclination toward peacemaking or violence exists on a continuum. Happy, healthy people who are inherently inclined toward peacemaking focus on sacred texts and spiritual practices that encourage peace. Those who are bitter, angry, fearful or prone to self-righteousness are attracted to texts that sanction violence and teachers who encourage the same. People along the middle of this continuum can be drawn in either direction by charismatic religious leaders who selectively focus on one or the other.

Each person’s individual violence risk is shaped by a host of factors: genetics, early learning, health, culture, social networks, life circumstances, and acute triggers. To blame any act of violence on religion is as silly as blaming an act of violence on guns or alcohol. But to deny that religion plays a role is as silly as denying that alcohol and guns play a role. It is to pretend that religions are inert, that our deepest values and beliefs about reality and morality have no impact on our behavior.

From a psychological standpoint, religions often put a god’s name on impulses that have subconscious, pre-verbal roots. They elicit peak experiences like mystic euphoria, dominance, submission, love and joy. They claim credit for the moral emotions (e.g. shame, guilt, disgust and empathy) that incline us toward fair play and altruism, and they direct these emotions toward specific persons or activities. In a similar way, religions elicit and channel protective reactions like anger and fear, the emotions most likely to underlie violence.

What is the role of religion in a tragedy like the Fort Hood shootings? The answer isn’t simple. From the swirl of conjecture and hype is emerging the image of a man who was lonely, who couldn’t quite seem to win at love, and who was profoundly troubled by the horror stories brought home by his soldier clients. Do therapists experience vicarious trauma? Absolutely. Does this trauma put their own mental health at risk? Absolutely. Many of them deal with this risk by seeking professional consultation, asking for support from loving family and friends, and limiting the number of post-traumatic clients that they see. It appears that Hasan made at least tentative attempts in several of these directions. But primarily he turned to forms of Islam that only deepened his sense of alienation and anger. In what must have been an anguishing conflict of loyalties, piety helped him to resolve the conflict in favor of co-religionists over compatriots. Ultimately, rage won out—righteous, sanctified rage—which came to matter more than any value he as a healer placed on his own life or the lives of his colleagues and clients.

I would argue that, like alcohol, religion disinhibits violence rather than causing it, and that it does so only when other factors have created conditions favorable toward aggression. I might also argue that under better circumstances religion disinhibits generosity and compassion increasing prosocial behavior. Religion often is centered around authority and text worship ( aka “bibliolatry”). Because of this, it has the power to lower the threshold on any behavior sanctioned by either a sacred text or a trusted religious leader and is at its most powerful when one is echoed by the other.

As many have pointed out, thousands of Muslim servicemen in the U.S. military shot no-one last week, nor will they unless they find themselves assigned to combat. Similarly, millions of people consume alcohol without insulting, hitting, kicking, stabbing or shooting anyone. Most of us are peaceful drinkers and peaceful believers. Yet, statistically we know that without alcohol assaults would be less common. So too, we all know that when suicide bombings happen, Islam is likely to be involved. And, I would add, when we hear that an obstetrics doctor has been shot or a gay teen beaten and left to die, or a U.S. president has announced a “crusade”, we know that Christianity was likely a part of the mix.

In general, as the gospel writer said, it is far easier to see the mote in our brother’s eye than the log in our own. American culture is bathed in Christianity, and even for most secular Americans, is easy to see Islam’s role in violence while missing the times when Christianity plays the same role. But the rest of the world doesn’t see us through our own rose colored glasses, and under a bare light bulb, American Christianity retains shadows of the inquisitor’s hood and implements of torture.

In recent years, the European and Australian press repeatedly have called attention to horrors being perpetrated in Africa thanks to American missionary dollars, a story that has been slow to get mainstream American press coverage. As Evangelical and Pentecostal Christianity spread across Nigeria and Congo, thousands of children are being beaten or burned or disfigured with acid after being condemned by Christian ministers as “witches.” After all, the American missionaries teach that the Bible is the literally perfect word of God, and the Bible says, “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live” (Exodus 22:18). When children are condemned by pastors and priests, exposed in the name of Jesus by the Holy Spirit himself, parents abandon them and their villages drive them out. The lucky ones find refuge in shelters. (For photos click here.)

Meanwhile in Uganda, American Evangelicals have helped to advance prison terms and death penalties for African gays. The Family, an American Christian organization with members in congress helped to convert Uganda’s president to their form of politicized Christianity. American activists attended a conference last March aimed at “wiping out” homosexuality. By this fall, a bill had been introduced that would allow the death penalty for gays with AIDS and institute jail time for parents who fail to turn in their homosexual teens. Horrors such as these don’t seem to have abated the flow of salvific dollars, Bibles, and earnest missionaries eager for converts any more than suicide bombings have dried up support for madrasas.

Was the Fort Hood murder spree caused by Islam? Are the African murder sprees caused by Christianity? A yes answer is far too simple. But the fact is that religion in America and around the world continues to disinhibit lethal violence. For us to vilify Muslims or Christians or any group of believers collectively is to engage in the familiar act of cowardice we call scapegoating. It means, ever and always, that we end up sacrificing innocents to appease our own fear, anger and thirst for vengeance. But for us to ignore the complicated role of religion in violence is a different kind of cowardice, one that has been indulged by peace-lovers among the faithful for far too long.


-Valerie TaricoShare