Sunday, January 31, 2010

There is enough for all. The earth is a generous mother; she will provide in plentiful abundance food for all her children if they will but cultivate her soil in justice and in peace.

- Boerke Coekran

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Ear Infection

Well, for all my worrying about the memorial service today, it turns out my son woke up at midnight with a terrible ear infection. I almost took him to the ER last night, but I was able to talk to a nurse from our doctor's office a little after 3 and she gave me some remedies so that he could at least sleep. It is really unlike my son to awake in the night - he usually sleeps like a rock. He broke my heart with his crying and I knew it was bad when he said he wanted to go to the doctor.

So, needless to say, we will all be staying home today, and out of the rain. He didn't get much sleep last night so I am hoping he can rest up and not have to go on antibiotics.

Some of my friends threw me a 35th birthday party last night and that was really fun. I really do have a lot of wonderful people surrounding me.

Friday, January 29, 2010


We had dinner as a family last night at one of our favorite old spots. It went very well all things considered.

Today was much more volatile. I rarely ask my husband for help with the kids. But today they did not have school and both my mother and me had appointments. So he said he would be here before 10am and would stay until my mom could come at 11:30. Instead, he came at 10:18.

I was not a happy camper. I was supposed to be across town at 10:30 and I was late.

It seems like nothing that has to do with me or the kids is a priority for him. I can not understand on the one day during this entire school year (and probably beyond) that I ask him to be here, he is so inconsiderately late. And instead of just saying I'm sorry, he just has to get into it.

I feel like he completely de-values all my work with the kids because it is not a "paying" job. And yet, if he had to drive more than an hour each morning to get the kids off to 2 different schools each morning ON-TIME hours before his work day even started - and then had to repeat at night, get them to all their activities and playdates and wash, feed, clean, launder and everything else I do around here - and squish his work day in between all of that -- he would never make it.

If he can't even make one day, how would he deal with the repetition of my life every day?

And yet, he continues to de-value my work. Today, he said AGAIN, "Someone has to make the money around here."

Well great, except I do make money too.

It's hampered by the fact that my children are my first priority, but I do make money too.

Perhaps I don't make as much financially as him anymore (I used to make more). But I have always done at least double my share in this relationship, whether it was about making money, paying bills, housework or taking care of children.

This afternoon, the fighting continued about our court date next week. We can not seem to agree on anything. His commissions have been substantial this month, and I have seen a tiny fraction of them. It angers me that he would try to short us when I am here - and I have been here - doing everything.

I told him today, if both of us behaved the way you have around our children, they would take our kids away from us.

Remembering Family Week

For some reason, I thought back to "Family Week" at Betty Ford (which I usually refer to as "Fuck Family Week") today and an image has been stuck in my head.

There was a beautiful and kind woman there with me, and I grew to love her almost instantly. We still keep in touch, and she is very dear to my heart.

At one point during the week, we were supposed to confront the addict in our lives and express the pain they had caused us. Her husband was not there, so she addressed someone else, or maybe it was a chair - my memory fails me. Her face was so mesmerizing in that moment that I did not really notice anything else.

I do not remember most of the things she said, but I do remember how real and raw her pain felt. I remember thinking, here is this beautiful, amazing, compassionate woman - and she did not deserve any of this.

I do not remember my moment or what was said to my husband. At that point, I think I skipped over a lot of things because I don't like being under pressure or in the spotlight. In some ways, I think it would have been better if he had not been there because I think I tried to spare a lot of his feelings and humiliation instead of getting rid of everything in my heart.

“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

- Maya Angelou
"If you stick a knife in my back nine inches and pull it out six inches, that's not progress. If you pull it all the way out, that's not progress. The progress comes from healing the wound that the blow made. They haven't even begun to pull the knife out. They won't even admit the knife is there.

- Malcolm X

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Happy Birthday Mom

We recently celebrated my mom's birthday and I have been reflecting on her a lot.

I am really glad that my mom is a natural woman. She has long GREY hair and doesn't wear a ton of makeup. No plastic surgery. She is heavy-set but very comfortable in her own skin. I've never known my mom to diet or obsess about her weight. She enjoys her food.

Over the years, I have seen many women that seemed "flashy" beautiful, but when you got to know them, they were deeply insecure and increasingly less beautiful. As my mother has aged, I feel like she only gets more beautiful.

I really hope that I (or my daughter) never get to the point in our life where we are willing to sacrafice our safety or health in the name of beauty. I like to take care of myself, but plastic surgery disgusts me because it has become an industry that preys on the insecurities of women. I find it so sad that women would take any unneccessary risks. All of us have our beauty, and I do believe it comes from within. No matter how hard you strive to be beautiful, the most beautiful sights are usually women who are not trying - and are laughing or smiling.

Happy birthday mom - and thank you for giving me strength by always putting the focus on the inside. Your kindness and light shine through you, and we are all better for it.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

When you Should Hold a Grudge

In 1988 Bette Midler's production company released the film Beaches, a moving homage to friendship and forgiveness. It may seem a bit odd, then, that the Divine Miss M.'s corporate motto was "We hold a grudge." Can love, forgiveness, and holding grudges really go together? Yes, they can—depending on how you define grudge.

Some people will hold a bitter grudge against anyone who looks at them cross-eyed. "Suzy made a 'dumb blonde' joke," a friend fumes. "Well, I'm blonde. As far as she knows. That's it, Suzy is dead to me!"

This is like donning full-on plate armor in response to a playful slap: With anger so heavy and disproportionate, you may end up collapsed on the battlefield wearing an outfit the size, weight, and consistency of a Toyota Yaris. If you're in a constant mouth-foaming rage at someone, get away and get a shrink. But if you simply find your mood dipping whenever you encounter a certain person, I suggest holding a grudge.

A good grudge is simply an acknowledgment of another person's foibles—it keeps you at a safe emotional distance from people who could mess up your life. Depending on the person, you might hold a grudge as light as a parasol or as solid as a titanium shield. Here, in order of severity, are descriptions of people who deserve to be held at bay:

Planarian People

A planarian is a flatworm, one of the lowest life-forms that can be considered an animal. There are—search your mind or your cell phone contact list, and you'll see I'm right—human beings whose EQs stopped evolving at the planarian level. They aren't evil; they're just devoid of emotional intelligence. Once you've identified the planarian people in your life, choosing to bear a very light grudge toward them can spare you immense frustration. I was reminded of this by clients Jody and Ralph, who consulted me as a couple.

"Ralph's so insensitive," Jody complained. "Whenever I'm upset, he just says, 'Harsh, dude' and wanders away."

"What else can I do?" Ralph didn't sound insolent, just puzzled.

"You can talk to me about my feelings," said Jody.

Ralph looked at her as if she'd smacked him with a carp. "I don't understand," he mumbled.

Clearly, he didn't.

Ralph—and I say this lovingly—is a planarian. It isn't his fault, and it's not going to change. You can work a lifetime trying to make flatworms perceptive, intuitive, or wise, but the best they can do is, frankly, pathetic. Bearing this in mind is a form of grudge-holding that actually allows you to interact with them calmly. Instead of feeling towering rage at their emotional clumsiness, roll your eyes, mutter "planarian," and relax. Jody learned to do this with Ralph. They soon broke up but remained golf buddies. When Ralph fails to respond in a sensitive way to her emotions, Jody thinks "planarian," and takes her troubles elsewhere. This tiny semblance of a grudge will keep you from wasting your life in the hopes that people will be more evolved than they are.


My favorite therapist taught me something I call the "three strike" rule: If you not only have a bad experience with a person but also hear worrisome reports about that person from three totally unrelated sources, you need to carry a protective grudge that says, "I don't quite trust you."

For example, I was once approached by a freelance TV producer I'll call Fred, who wanted to create a life-coaching reality show. During a meeting with a network executive, I was startled to hear Fred lie. Later he explained breezily, "You have to say what you have to say." This, as my daughters sometimes put it, did not gruntle me. But despite my disgruntlement, I dismissed the incident.

Within a week, by pure coincidence (or was it?), three people mentioned to me that they knew Fred. One was a woman he'd dated, another a colleague, a third his sister's high school buddy—and all of them delicately mentioned "honesty issues." Three strikes, plus one bad experience of my own, meant I put on a psychological Kevlar vest. I told Fred I'd decided not to work with him, and immediately felt much more relaxed.


I've learned through creepy experience that when I start inexplicably doubting myself around a specific person, it's time to hold a good constructive grudge. Me? I doubt myself constantly (rethinking impulse purchases, lying awake listening to myself wrinkle, and so on), but what I'm talking about is a much more unsettling self-doubt: the kind that surfaces when reality seems to bend and sway around a certain someone, when my recollections don't jibe with what that person claims and their stories glide smoothly around any factual inaccuracies I may point out.

Flurries of this dizzy sensation surround individuals who have secrets and hidden agendas. Psychologists use the term gaslighting to describe this type of systematic lying —an allusion to an old movie in which a man drives his wife to question her sanity by telling her odd lies and manipulating the level of gaslight in the house so that she keeps seeing lights dim for no reason.

When this happens to you, you've officially reached a "hard hat" area. If you don't bear a protective grudge against a gaslighter, you really might go nuts.

Consider Cindy. She worked alongside Danielle for months before noticing she felt strangely ungrounded at the office. "I doubted myself in ways I never had before," Cindy told me. "Eventually I realized that I always felt most confused after dealing with Danielle." Things got so bad that Cindy (feeling sheepish and paranoid) called one of Danielle's former employers to ask how he'd interacted with her. Surprise! Cindy discovered that the job on Danielle's résumé never existed. Kicking into sleuth mode, Cindy discovered that much of Danielle's résumé was fiction.

Now, this took place in a corporate environment, which explains what happened next: nothing. Cindy's supervisor, not wanting to admit she'd hired a deceitful loser, advised Cindy to ignore Danielle's flagrant fraud. "Don't hold a grudge," said the boss. Cindy disobeyed. Thenceforth, she worked with Danielle the way a bomb squad works with explosives, always questioning Danielle's fishy-sounding versions of the truth rather than her own sanity. When Danielle (inevitably) did get fired, the manager who hadn't wanted to deal with the problem caught a lot of heat. Cindy, thanks to her light but resilient grudge, was scorch-free.

Les Pitiables

Still wearing that hard hat? It's time to add work gloves and safety goggles, and perhaps jump in the reinforced driver's cage of a bulldozer. We're about to discuss the most dangerous people of all: les pitiables. According to Martha Stout, PhD, an expert on sociopathy who taught at Harvard Medical School for more than two decades, the key to recognizing sociopaths is that they consistently mess up other people's lives while actively soliciting pity. Most people don't want to be pitied, but sociopaths adore it. If you consistently feel pity for someone who causes you many problems, develop and bear a protective grudge. Now.

For example, Lucy's sister Sue was a walking disaster area. When she borrowed Lucy's car, it got rear-ended. When she babysat Lucy's children, the kids set fire to the curtains. When Lucy gave her sister money (Sue was always broke), the cash got lost or stolen. Through it all, Sue's misery made Lucy's heart ache with pity.

Can you say "huge red flag"?

Sue was plying the sociopathic trade of getting Lucy to pity her for the very things she did to mess up Lucy's life. Finally, Lucy learned to hold a healthy grudge: She stopped buying into Sue's woeful stories, leaving children with her, or giving her money. She still loved Sue, but she wasn't willing to risk having her house go up in flames.

The Hyde Transformers

A final reason for holding a grudge is what I call a visit from Mr. Hyde. Your instincts will tell you to react to such events by putting emotional distance between you and any person who displays the capacity to be truly monstrous—even if, most of the time, these people are jovial Dr. Jekylls.

Kelly's new boss, Cheryl, was funny, charismatic, and smart. True, she often showed up late for meetings, or seemed not to remember promises, but Kelly admired Cheryl in spite of those things. So she was shocked—actually, everyone was shocked—when Cheryl suddenly lost it during a staff meeting.

"We were discussing something insignificant," Kelly remembered. "I don't even recall what it was that set her off." But Kelly will never forget Cheryl's behavior. "She started screaming at us, saying we were all working together to 'bring her down.' Her face was bright red. She was sputtering. Then she turned on one woman who'd recently had a miscarriage, and said, 'You put that lump of tissue in your uterus ahead of me.' Our jaws were on the floor. That was just way beyond the pale."

On this bizarre note, Cheryl dismissed the meeting. A few hours later, she walked through the office chatting, so charming and relaxed that Kelly began to wonder if the tantrum really happened.

Kelly tried to rationalize Cheryl's behavior. "I thought maybe she had a brain tumor or something." But Kelly couldn't explain it away. Cheryl hadn't been just moody; she had been extraordinarily cruel. "Even in my worst mood," Kelly told me, "I would never have said something like that."

Wisely, Kelly held a grudge. She regarded Cheryl as she would a wild animal, one that could be calm and playful one moment, savage and destructive the next. There may be infinite explanations for such erratic behavior, but an explanation is not a reason to drop your armor. On most days, for example, Jeffrey Dahmer didn't kill or eat anyone. But the times he did made society hold a grudge against him. Forever. If someone in your life is genuinely monstrous part of the time—even once—be leery all the time. Wear your grudge armor. It could prevent catastrophe.

Having laid out the kinds of people who are best managed with caution, alertness, and the dexterity of a rattlesnake wrangler, I still think unconditional love and forgiveness are saintly qualities, ones we should all cultivate. If you need to be reminded of this, rent Beaches and watch it with your best friend. You'll cry your eyes out. Then dig in and talk about the human planarians in your life, the people who've struck out three times, the gaslighters, the pity mongers, and the Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde transformers. Such talk keeps your grudges light and strong, the way God intended. Or at least how Miss M. intended. Which is divine enough for me.

- Martha Beck, PhD - O Magazine, February 2010

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


I don't have any desire for my kids to be around my husband's family. If I, as a grown woman, have anxiety about being around them, how can my young children be expected to be around them?

For me, it goes back to what my son's counselor said a long time ago. "The way that they have treated both you and your husband is not a good indicator of how they will treat your children, even without the other examples you gave me of their behavior around the children."

I guess what is really bothering me is WHY my husband is pushing for this so hard.

In his own words, they have not even asked to see the kids while they are here this week. Prior to the blow up between me and my in-laws, they didn't see the kids more than 3-4 times a year. They are not like my parents, who see the kids weekly (or nearly daily in my mom's case).

So when I go back over our argument the other day, I can't understand why things escalated to that point when his parents had not even requested to see the kids. It was my husband that wanted them to see the kids. They did not ask to.

When I ask my kids if they would like to see them, 9 times out of 10, they say no.

What is it going to take for my husband to realize who they are? Do they have to physically abuse or hurt the kids first? Or will there still be money dangling out in front of him even then?

Forgive, but don't Forget

I have been sitting here thinking for a long time.

It's getting to be crunch-time for my marriage. We are supposed to see a judge next week. Not sure what will come of that.

I am still very nervous about going to the funeral on Saturday. I spoke to my former husband's wife about it today and she told me to hold my head up high and be proud. I have done nothing wrong.

That said, I still have a lot of angst about being around my husband's family.

I was sitting here trying to think of why it is so hard for me to forgive my father-in-law. With most people, I can see two sides of the story. I have many long-term friendships and relationships, which have had their ups and downs and forgiveness over the years.

But I think what gets me with my father-in-law is that I have forgiven him before, and then he turns around and does the same thing. The only thing I associate to him now is abuse and pain.

I remember one of the Tyler Perry movies, I think Madea's Family Reunion, where Madea tells her granddaughter, "Forgive, but don't forget. Remember, so it doesn't happen to you again."

I wish I could let go of everything, but I guess when it comes down to it, I am afraid to.

I don't have any hopes that he will ever change.

I've run into people like that before, and I have let them go. And the forgiveness has come with time, as I have not had to constantly rub up against them.

But it seems no matter which way my marriage goes, I will always have some tie to my father-in-law. While I can try to minimize it as much as possible, it will never go away completely.
"You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think."

-Christopher Robin

Monday, January 25, 2010

Does Haiti need Chelsea Clinton more than 100 surgeons?

Does Haiti need Chelsea Clinton more than 100 surgeons? by Esther Armah

I’m watching CNN; seeing images of traumatized children, dust-covered, eyes glazed and scared; from that to one where a white doctor handles a black patient. Cameras zoom in for close ups of gaping wounds, blood, gore, pain. Media images assault the senses with a barrage of black suffering, neither too graphic nor too horrifying for the intrusive, unapologetic lenses of CNN, NBC, ABC – the mainstream media list is long and relentless. I am exhausted, offended, outraged, but like you cannot turn away from these potent images. In 8 days, Haiti has been transformed into a whore, a media plantation, pimped by her own government, the media and that of the US. Haitian voices have been relegated to a supporting role, secondary to that of the hero anchor riding in, cameras at the ready, shutters clicking madly, as overflowing black suffering means news editors rubbing their hands with glee shouting that well known news media mantra: ‘if it bleeds, it leads.’

How has the visual depiction of Haitians since this disaster shaped the average American’s perspective is what I question and wonder? Are we watching a traumatized people become criminalized under our very gaze? Aren’t we feeding the savior complex of the US courtesy of the cancer of cameras? This nation whose history is drenched in the blood of the defeated French after the Haitian revolution and a republic was founded carved by the hands of freed slaves in 1791. This unbowed, unbossed, unbroken people who paid a heavy price - literally - for their freedom. The French demanded and collected millions, and decades passed as underdevelopment of Haiti followed, a la Walter Rodney’s ‘How Europe Underdeveloped Africa’. A history unknown and untold by lenses and cameras trained on white doctors swooping in offering deliverance from black suffering.

I am a journalist who has worked in radio, television and print across continents. I am a daughter of the Diaspora who has done reportage in South Africa, covered political unrest in Kenya, filmed on the streets of Nigeria and I’ve always been struck by the white cameramen’s lens trained only on black suffering, no matter the alternative images that are right in front of them. With Haiti, I am glued to the small screen, it swallows my sleep and my time with fresh new invasions on Haitians’ dignity and another photo op with a white doctor prodding, poking black bodies. It is not simply that a picture paints a 1000 words, it is that it rewrites an entire history, reduces a people’s humanity to the rubble that is scattered far and wide where buildings stood. It beggars belief and more than once prompted extremes of emotion. I stand in tears and then find myself wanting to scream at the TV as Anderson Cooper plays out his savior complex and assists a boy hit by a brick, and then helps a man protect a building filled with food that could feed the increasingly hungry and hurt people who grab at crumbs seeking to soothe a ravaging hunger and an unquenched thirst due to stockpiles of aid guarded by gun wielding military, who wear dark glasses, stomp about in fatigues and talk security, control and containment. Enter Pat Robertson, a former reverend no less; perched omnipotent and deadly articulating that ‘Haiti is cursed due to a pact with a devil’, a quote picked up and repeated all across the media, untrue but unchallenged, so devastating as it lands in homes all across America.

This language that spews out of the small screen has transformed a humanitarian disaster and a traumatized people into a war scene, of looters, and security, and fear. Language matters, the danger of a single story is that repeated enough it becomes the only truth of that nation for this American public whose only relationship with Haiti is via the tv and due to this disaster. The media doesn’t show bodies of American soldiers returning from war. It offers them dignity in death. No such sentiment is afforded black babies or 70-year-old women or black men. Their wounds, their suffering has become relentless ritual. Every headline delivers fresh visuals of a white doctor saving a black child. Every doctor is white except for CNN’s Dr Sanjay Gupta. Are there no Haitian doctors on the ground? What about Cubans or other Latin American medical personnel? When the US sent 1,000 troops, Cuba sent 100 doctors. I haven’t seen a Haitian doctor save a Haitian life on mainstream media yet? Al Jazeera English once again does better in ensuring the voices of Haitians are heard, and not interpreted or simply ignored by white anchors.

Indeed, thank god for the critical scrutiny of Al Jazeera English, the first outlet to show visuals of American military and explain that it wasn’t aid flowing through the rubble filled streets of Port au Prince, where bodies were piled and rotting but soldiers, in tanks with guns – a vastly different portrait than that depicted on CNN, ABC, MSNBC, and other mainstream outlets. Big ups too for citizen journalism, the blogisphere and social media networks; due to their presence a daily dose of alternative media, voices, and realities come to light. The Haitain blogger, Ansel Herz’s who showed video of Haitians helping themselves, being proactive, community oriented, supportive and sensitive in the aftermath of the disaster. OpEd News which carried the writing of the powerful Haitian writer, Marguerite Laurent; magazines such as The Network Journal that offered an economic and historical focus to the coverage, informing readers of Haiti’s specific economic relationship with the various Western powers. Progressive media outlets like WBAI99.5FM in New York offered Haitian voices, Haitian physicians, historical analysis and context and consistently challenged mainstream’s version of events.

AID has been the huge issue post the disaster. Every mainstream media outlet has partnered with the American Red Cross. First Lady Michelle Obama delivered a PSA requesting Americans give aid to that same organization, the President and First Lady went to their headquarters as TV lenses drummed into the watching audience that this was the organization to donate to. The same American Red Cross who post 9/11 set up the Liberty Fund, raising over $500 million dollars for 9/11 families, but who gave less than a quarter of that to the actual families prompting much criticism, controversy and a formal investigation. The CEO was turfed out on her ear and it was revealed that the American Red Cross turned the money donated for families into a war fund. A war fund! Fast forward to Hurricane Katrina, same organization, same issue – complaints that money was not given to Gulf Coast Communities, that the Red Cross failed to go into The Big Easy. Once again criticism and controversy resulting in a CEO resignation and fat, fat severance checks. And yet, they are the aid organization of choice, as Wyclef Jean’s Yele Haiti faces media scrutiny and its integrity is challenged. That focus stemmed from a story that appeared on a blog called ‘The Smoking Gun’ and spread to, CNN’s money page and beyond, prompting Wyclef to have to refute the allegation. So, American Red Cross has a proven record of scandalous behavior over donated money – not once but twice. While Yele Haiti faces unproven allegations that are scattered like gunfire across all media outlets. This hasn’t stopped millions donating to his charity and applauding his efforts and his humanity for his people.

Why am I being shown President Bill Clinton unpacking bottles of water from a truck that isn’t reaching Haitians on the ground? Why do I see his daughter Chelsea Clinton land safely with the rest of the Clinton entourage but get told that 100 surgeons from the Association of Haitian Physicians Abroad couldn’t get into Port au Prince? Does Haiti really need Chelsea Clinton more than 100 surgeons? How is it the governor of Pennsylvania charters a plane to airlift healthy Haitian children back to the waiting white American arms in tears on tarmacs, but Doctors without Borders whose planes carry mobile hospitals are being told more than once they cannot land? A move that prompted a formal complaint from the United Nations and, ironically given France’s historical relationship with Haiti, from the French.

On my radio show Wake Up Call on Monday to Thursday from 6am to 8am, I host an all women media panel. One regular panelist April Silver said of the media’s depiction of Haiti it offered the best and the worst in its coverage, she continued: “the media is a liar and a thief, it is a betrayer of the people of Haiti”. I watch, I am moved to tears, frustrated beyond language, I want to scream and then it starts all over again and I am glued. It was time to do more than watch, so I’ve put together ‘Haiti: Through The Lens of the Media’, a panel discussion to dissect and discuss the depiction of Haiti by the media and why it matters. Next Wednesday January 27th at 8pm, The Brecht Forum plays host to me, April R Silver, Founder and President of Akila Worksongs; Karen Hunter, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist; Rosalind McLymont, Editor in Chief of The Network Journal and Bhakti Shringarpure, Professor at Hunter College. Step away from the small screen, step away from the relentless ritual, time to heed a call to service, to analyze and move beyond the media’s single story of Haiti whose buildings may be reduced to rubble, but where one statue, a huge, bronze figure called ‘The Unknown Slave’ stands untouched. That is the spirit of the Haitian people; traumatized yes, but unbossed, unbowed, unbroken.

Nothing Has Changed

Things have been going quite a bit better with my husband. The one thing that always fouls us up though is his family.

His dad and the fourth wife will be coming to town in a few days for his aunt's funeral. I have major anxiety about seeing them and have had many nightmares about it. Everyone keeps asking me why I would even put myself through that.

I think for me funerals are just something you go to out of respect. I am not looking forward to seeing them by any means, but I feel that it is something I need to do.

This morning we got in an argument about the kids seeing his parents while they were in town. I still don't want my kids around them, especially without me there to protect them. But I also have no desire to be around them, and don't feel like I should have to do that either at this point.

What I told my husband is that he has been talking about his dad making an amends to me for some time. But that has never happened. And, we have also talked about the AA Leader talking to his dad, and that has not happened. I told him I would be foolish to do anything foolish until they make some changes on their part. I said, I don't even think they are nice to you - I think you are just so used to it that you don't notice how bad it is anymore.

I am very frustrated that we are still in this place. No matter what happens between my husband and me, this is something that will have to be resolved. And I am not willing to compromise anymore. There is just too much water under the bridge. The ball is in my father-in-law's court.

Sunday, January 24, 2010


Whatever you give a woman, she will make greater. Give her sperm she will make a baby, give her a house she will give you a home, give her groceries she will give you a meal, give her a smile she will give you her heart. She multiplies and enlarges what she is given. So if you give her any crap, be ready to receive a ton of shit...


Friday, January 22, 2010

Bill left this as a comment but I thought it was worth reposting. Thanks Bill!

“A dog is not considered a good dog because he is a good barker. A man is not considered a good man because he is a good talker.”

- Buddha quote

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Praise Song for the Day

Each day we go about our business,
walking past each other, catching each other’s
eyes or not, about to speak or speaking.

All about us is noise. All about us is
noise and bramble, thorn and din, each
one of our ancestors on our tongues.

Someone is stitching up a hem, darning
a hole in a uniform, patching a tire,
repairing the things in need of repair.

Someone is trying to make music somewhere,
with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum,
with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.

A woman and her son wait for the bus.
A farmer considers the changing sky.
A teacher says, Take out your pencils. Begin.

We encounter each other in words, words
spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed,
words to consider, reconsider.

We cross dirt roads and highways that mark
the will of some one and then others, who said
I need to see what’s on the other side.

I know there’s something better down the road.
We need to find a place where we are safe.
We walk into that which we cannot yet see.

Say it plain: that many have died for this day.
Sing the names of the dead who brought us here,
who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges,

picked the cotton and the lettuce, built
brick by brick the glittering edifices
they would then keep clean and work inside of.

Praise song for struggle, praise song for the day.
Praise song for every hand-lettered sign,
the figuring-it-out at kitchen tables.

Some live by love thy neighbor as thyself,
others by first do no harm or take no more
than you need. What if the mightiest word is love?

Love beyond marital, filial, national,
love that casts a widening pool of light,
love with no need to pre-empt grievance.

In today’s sharp sparkle, this winter air,
any thing can be made, any sentence begun.
On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp,

praise song for walking forward in that light.

-Elizabeth Alexander


The kids have been home nearly all week between sickness and MLK Day. I was anxious to get back to work today but neither of them felt up to school, so I'm trying to juggle taking care of them with working from home.

My son told me while I was making them waffles that I need to work harder so we can get some more money.

I didn't take that very well. I asked him if he'd like me to drop him off at school while he's sick so I can go work.

I told my husband what was said and my resentments about it. It sounds like a comment from his family. I feel like they just want to burn me out and throw me out.

He thinks I'm exaggerating but that's how I feel.

I am very tired and burnt out. Lately I just don't feel like I have energy for anything and it seems I'm sick more often than I'm well. I wish I had something more positive to say, but today I just don't.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Why Should I Care?

Last night after reading the favorite picks of both the kids with them, I pulled out our Qu'ran memorization book. We don't do this every night, but it's something that is important to me that I hope the kids will learn. We recite the verses in Arabic and then I read them the translation so they can learn them. My son used to love doing this but lately he has not been as interested.

He said, Why should I care about God?

I said, "God loves you and takes care of you."

God doesn't take care of me.

Who takes care of you?


I said, "Well who takes care of mommy?"


I didn't push the issue with him, but I went to bed feeling very sad. I felt like between his Episcopalian school, our UCC church and my Muslim beliefs and activities that I had God covered. But perhaps my own disbelief in God's ability to take care of me has rubbed off on my son.

Monday, January 18, 2010

"There is something strangely inconsistent about a nation and a press that will praise you when you say be nonviolent toward Jim Clark, but will curse and damn you when you say be nonviolent toward little brown Vietnamese children."

--Martin Luther King Jr.

Saturday, January 16, 2010


"Do you know what is better than charity and fasting and prayer? It is keeping peace and good relations between people, as quarrels and bad feelings destroy mankind."

--Prophet Mohammad (PBUH)(Narrated by Imam Bukhari and Imam Muslim)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Lessons Learned

I found this excerpt in a magazine and I really identified with the article. It's about a Bernie Madoff victim who lost everything. She wrote a book called The Bag Lady Papers. Here are her lessons learned.

If your worst fears happen, you will live through them. They can be as bad as you imagined them, but somehow you manage.

You will surprise yourself by how well you cope. You have enormous resources you don't know about.

You are in control until you have no mind left.

When you're flooded with anxiety or panic, think; don't feel.

There is such a word as no. Use it to protect yourself.

Indulge your crazy ideas. Just think about the consequences first.

You don't have to love your parents. Honor and respect the institution of parenthood and you will feel no guilt.

There is no thing as human worthlessness. Even Madoff must have some redeeming quality, although I admit I doubt it.

People will always surprise you - with their generosity or their nastiness.

You're sunk if you lose your sense of humor.

Ask for what you want even if you don't think you'll get it. You'll be surprised at the response 60 percent of the time.

It's okay to feel pity for yourself - for a while.

Ranting out loud can make you feel quite a bit better.

Stop negative thinking any way you can. It takes discipline, but you can do it.

Fear has two faces: the good side motivates you' the bad side paralyzes you.

When you have your first sip of coffee in the morning, stop for a full ten seconds and taste how good it is.

Decide on a short-term goal and a long-term goal, and give them your very best shot.

Don't beat yourself up about a decision: it was right at the time you made it.

If you can't make a decision, you can always decide not to decide.

You have a self. Know its strengths and weaknesses.

Fear can make you tougher and stronger.

Evil exists.

Expect the unexpected, but there is no way to prepare for it.

Change is inevitable, but it's an adventure.

Loss happens. Get used to it.

Be a fighter. Life's no fun if you're not one.

- Alexandra Penney

Thursday, January 14, 2010


I got an email this morning from a dear friend, letting me know his brother had died. Years ago the three of us would have so much fun together. He always carried things a bit to far with his drinking and that progressed to the point in recent years where many of us could barely stand to be around him. I saw him less and less over the years but I always cared about him and asked how he was doing. I choose to remember the good years now. It is so tragic to lose a life to alcoholism. He had everything in the world going for him when I met him. Charming, good looking, smart...everyone always liked him. It is so hard for me to understand the whys.

We need to find better solutions to this "disease". No one should die this way. In the midst of everything going on in Haiti that is completely out of anyone's control, it is hard to understand how the simple act of taking a drink can progress to alcoholism and then death. I know people say we can not control alcoholism, but no one "has" to take a drink. It is both baffling and maddening to me.

For whatever reason their mother has been in my heart and mind these past weeks. She died about 4 years ago of cancer. She was a remarkable Irish woman who raised 6 boys. I always felt very close to her although she never expressed much emotion. (Must be the Irish in me.) I remember at her funeral one of the girls they grew up with got up and talked about how she expressed her love for others through the food she would make them. I related well to that.

When I think of his mother and father, I cry. I am grateful that his mother did not live to see this day. That was a grace. No matter how soon her death came, I know as a mother, I would never want to live to see the day my son died. There is no way to make sense of that. I know she loved him dearly and completely.

Today, I came home after my son's field trip and looked at old photos. It was sad to see him in happier years. Sad to see his mother at various milestones, looking so strong and beautiful. I did feel like I have seen better days, and I was grateful for the friends and family that have surrounded me throughout my life.

In any case I am very sad today, mostly because I know that a family that I love is hurting. My loss is insignificant - theirs is so very great. Sending peace and love to my dear friend C and his family.

He Heals Me

I think every girl should grow up hearing this song.

He Heals Me

Told him my biggest secret
And he told me four.
He smiled at me and said that makes me love more
And then he made me laugh
And I knew it was a sign
That he was a man,
That I wanted in my life
And with every passing day
I feel more and more of that way

He heals me
He knows the real me
And he accepts me, he never hurts me
He heals me
He knows the real me
And he accepts me, he never hurts me
He heals me,
He heals me

I can play him songs, all through the night,
And he will listen to every line,
And even when I'm wrong, he is still kind
He chooses his words wisely when he tells me I'm not right.
And yes he is a beautiful man,
But he is also a beautiful friend

He heals me
He knows the real me
And he accepts me, he never hurts me
He heals me
He knows the real me
And he accepts me, he never hurts me
He heals me

The moment that we met, he made me smile.
He has so much compassion in his eyes
I have no idea, how long he'll be here
A season or a lifetime, forever or a year
But for the first time in my life I'm not worried about the future
Because we have such a wonderful time when we're together
However things turn out, it's all right
Cause he's already changed my life.

He heals me
He knows the real me
And he accepts me, he never hurts me
He heals me
He knows the real me
And he accepts me, he never hurts me
He heals me..........

-India Arie

To hear this beautiful song:

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


I have been thinking about my birthday, which is in a few weeks. I will be turning 35. My husband mentioned that he and the kids would like to take me out to dinner for my birthday. I said I wasn't sure because it seems like we only fight now when we spend time together and I didn't want to spend my birthday fighting.

I was thinking back to his 37th birthday, the year after he relapsed. We were separated but had decided to go to dinner as a family.

During dinner, my son asked in his little 5-year-old voice, Daddy, why are you an alcoholic?

There was a long awkward pause. My husband's face looked crushed. I can't remember what we said but I remember it did not seem adequate.

I remember my husband later telling me that he cried on the way home.

I thought of all this and felt extremely sad. I don't know if he chose to relapse. I tend to think that because I can't understand taking a drink after years of sobriety. In that moment at least, I know that he felt remorse, which is something I rarely see from him.

I think the hardest thing for me to accept in all of this is that my husband has rarely appeared to be sorry for his actions. And his actions have caused all of us a lot of pain.

People make mistakes. I accept that. But patterns are hard to accept.

I am sad that addiction has taken over his family. I have often thought that he was pretty much destined to be an addict in that family. I also had always hoped things would get better with him. But wishing does not make it so.

God counts her tears

"Be very careful if you make a woman cry, because God counts her tears. The woman came out of a man's rib, not from his feet to be walked on, not from his head to be superior, but from his side to be equal. Under the arm to be protected, and next to the heart to be loved."

- Hebrew Talmud

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Trust in God

The one thing I did get from my Fourth step was a realization about my trust level in God.

I have been thinking about this a lot these last few days. I consider myself a spiritual person and both the Muslim and Christian faiths are very important to me. But I realized that I have not been trusting in God. I think somewhere I have this belief that God will not completely take care of me, and I know that goes back to my childhood.

I have depended too much on my husband to take care of me. I wish I would have taken back the reigns to my life sooner. I think what they say about turning the alcoholic into our god was true for me.

Life was often unpredictable and scary for me. I would stay up all night worrying about what he would do instead of praying to God for guidance and help. I can remember very few times when I prayed and asked God for help. The Serenity Prayer has always worked for me, but I often get out of the habit of using it.

Having my own children was very healing for me. I went to a therapist during my entire pregnancy with my son, and got a lot of issues resolved from childhood. But having children also taught me tremendous grace towards my own parents. I realize now how hard they worked and appreciate their many sacrifices.

I think both of my parents are wonderful and kind people. I believe they truly did the best they could throughout my childhood (sometimes much more).

I had some resentments prior to having my daughter toward my mother that I have since resolved. The conclusion that I have come to on both parents is that they both married way too young and, once divorced, married again way too soon.

After being a single mom, I can understand now why they both remarried again so quickly. It is very, very hard to suddenly do everything (well) on your own. Every day, I feel I have failed my children on some level. I don't believe that raising children is a one-person job.

I do not blame my parents anymore. I do not think I would not make the same choice however.

My relationship with both my step parents was difficult. I do not speak to either step parent anymore, and I have no desire to. Any abuse I suffered as a child was at the hands of a step parent. I used to blame my parents for not protecting me better, but I now know that abusive people conduct their abuse in secret. Silence is their weapon.

I do think that the abuse you suffer as a child sets you up to attract further abuse. I don't think that had my parents stayed together, I would have made the same choices in my marriage. (Neither of my parents were abusive people.) That said, I accept that things are now as they are. I used to dream as a child that my parents would get back together, but as an adult I see that they were never right for each other. I would not have wanted my parents to stay together for my sake and be unhappy. I hope to make good choices from my experience so that my children will have a different experience.

I made the decision long ago that I did not want to have step parents for my children, and that I also did not want to be a step parent myself. I think it is a nearly impossible job. You will never replace the parent, no matter how hard you try. I do have empathy now for both of my step parents and I have forgiven them. But I am also not in a place now where I want to have contact with either of them. I do not want the negative energy in my life.

I realized the other day that I have been very closed-minded about all of this. Even my father-in-law told me several times when things were very bad with my husband that I should remarry and find a nice stepfather for the kids. I told him emphatically that I did not want to do that.

I think I have been living in fear about all the what-ifs that could happen with my kids. They are so precious and I want to protect them - but not smother them.

I think that is one reason I have tried so hard to protect my children and control the outcomes of who can be around them and in what regard. I have this gnawing fear about letting anyone who could possibly hurt my children around them. I know from experience, that unkind words hurt long after they are said.

I think I somehow had the feeling growing up that if I became more and more religious (Christian at that time) that God would protect me. I went to church nearly every day and was always reading my Bible and praying. I thought that the better person or Christian I was, the more God would favor me and protect me.

That did not happen, and as I went into my 20's, I hit a wall with my faith. I could not believe at all. I cried and prayed about it, but I could not believe anymore. I became an atheist for a time.

It was not until I met my first husband that I regained any spirituality. I was so taken with Islam - (secretly at first, as I took pride in being an atheist and not needing God anymore). But as time went on, I decided that I wanted to study Islam, (only intellectually at first) and then it became deeply spiritual for me.

As life progressed, I realized that I was also free to go back to some of my Christian beliefs and services. I do not have to be in a "Muslim" or "Atheist" box. I began to feel very good about my spirituality. I did not feel trapped and I did not have that worry of going to hell that I did growing up.

Children have an innocence about them that is so beautiful. There is no fear in their love or their belief. As life goes on, sometimes that is tainted, and we lose our faith. Or we believe that we have to be "just so" for God to love us. (Or even for us to love ourselves.)

What I like about my current beliefs is that I don't "try" to be a Christian or a Muslim or anything. I just am. And that is good enough.

While I think I have come a long way in my spiritual journey, I have never regained that complete trust in God that I had when I was a kid.

I want to get that back.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Health and Sleep

After 2 nights of not sleeping well again, I have decided that sleep will become my highest priority (for the time being).

I feel like a completely different person with sleep. It messes with me when I don't sleep well or enough.

I am going to continue on with my meditation.

I'm also going to take some suggestions from friends about doing yoga reguarly and taking a quiet time for myself after I put the kids to sleep. I have just been lying there letting my mind wander.

The doctor called me back with good news. All my test results and ultrasound were normal. I feel very happy about this. I'm glad I did not allow myself to worry this weekend.

I went to the chiropractor again this morning as I am still having pain. I feel like someone is inside my rib cage, pinching an organ and twisting it.

I had a rib out again and she adjusted that and gave me some ultrasound and muscle work. I got some good input and explanations from her and I feel at peace with everything. I think my body is working some things out as I work my stuff out.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Does Al-Anon work for Everyone?

I have been spending a lot of time thinking about why Al-Anon does not "work" for me. I don't mean that its a bad program, or that it does not have merit, but I don't think it's a cure-all.

I have been thinking that Al-Anon is a very American program, and although I am an American, I tend not to think like one.

I rarely see anyone but Americans in my meetings. There are occasionally some British and one Russian woman. Obviously all groups have alcoholics in them, so I am wondering what other cultures do. I know that Al-Anon and AA have groups everywhere, but I don't believe either program is as prevalent in any other culture.

I also have been thinking a great deal about religion lately. While Al-Anon is supposed to be vanilla, it seems very Christian to me. It does not mesh culturally or philosophically with what I believe as a Muslim. I suppose I can somewhat relate to it from my Christian upbringing, but I have yet to see another Muslim in any Al-Anon meeting. (I do have one Muslim friend online who attends Al-Anon meetings however, so I plan to ask her for her opinion.)

I talked recently with a Mormon who had tried Al-Anon and she felt similarly.

I also talked to another friend who does not like Al-Anon at all because she is an atheist and it is "too Christian" for her. We talked about another friend who was Jewish who had similar sentiments. I am very interested to look into a Jewish perspective on this. I can't think of any Jewish alcoholics I know of. I am going to start asking around.

I think the similarities that I see between these other religions is that they tend to be VERY family and group oriented. Whereas traditional Christianity encourages forgiveness and more of an individual, personal relationship with God or Jesus, these other groups tend to emphasis personal responsibility to the group. They do not believe it is OK for an individual to behave poorly or blame the "victim". The victim is given assistance by the group.

A Muslim man who did not take care of his family because of alcoholism would be shamed. Shaming may not be ideal for the alcoholic, but I sure don't know many Muslim alcoholics. What is better for the family and the community as a whole is what is most important - not so much the individual (also an American thing in my opinion). If someone strays from that, they are taken aside and held to account. If they still can not behave, they would be shunned from the group. Thus, you do not often see this behavior.

I do not think we would ask someone in a concentration camp what their part in it was. I think we would say, ESCAPE! GET OUT! RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!

Similarly, as someone who really did not grow up this way, I find the conditions of living in an alcoholic home to be completely inhumane. I think Al-Anon sometimes encourages us (perhaps inadvertently) to stay in bad situations and "look at our part" instead of getting out.

I remember when I was at a Betty Ford workshop for married couples listening to so many stories I did not agree with. The facilitators were telling us that we had basically equal responsibility in the relationship. (Ironically, both facilitators were addicts in recovery.)

One woman was with an alcoholic who treated her horribly and cheated on her. To this day, I still can not see her equal part in this. She was a very kind woman. Every time her husband spoke, I could not believe the justifications that were coming out of his mouth for his continually poor behavior. If I could go back, I would tell all of those women to get the hell out of the relationship - and then look at their part, if they had any. Their part perhaps was choosing an unsuitable mate.

Al-Anon often seems rather cult-like to me in that (especially the online community) is always trying to convince you how well it works. To me, if it worked that well, we would not hear the continual problems stemming from the alcoholic. One of the things that attracted me to Islam is that no one ever tried to recruit me. I just watched people who I thought were beautiful inside and wanted to learn more.

I also find it strange when people in "recovery" encourage you to only talk to other people in "recovery" and insinuate that everyone else is somehow emotionally unhealthy. I understand that people in the program have been through similar circumstances, but most of the people I meet in program seem to have significantly more problems than people out of program. It seems to me that if you want to find answers in your life, you should look to people who are living in healthy situations. I have seen several people who seem sage-like in Al-Anon, but the proportion of healthy people outside of Al-Anon and AA seems much greater to me.

The slogan it works if you work it reminds me of growing up as a fundamentalist Christian. Like the faith healers who tell people they would be healed if they only believed enough, I think that slogan places unjust emphasis on the believer.

I always find it sort of insulting when someone tries to convince me that their religion is the only right one and mine is wrong. (Or worse yet, that I am going to hell because I don't believe as they do - although that really just makes me laugh at this point.) I don't mind discussing or debating religion at all, but I like to do so with an open mind and hope that the other person also has an open mind.

Similarly, I find it offensive when people in Al-Anon think that their method is the only one that works. It may be the only program, but I think saying that it should work for all people is like saying Christianity is the only "right" religion. My perspective on religion is that God created many types of people and hence there is a religion (or not) that works for everyone.

I started as a Religion major in college and have always been very fascinated by this topic, so I'd love to hear more input. This is definitely something I want to look into further.

4th Step

I finally finished my fourth step in the Blueprint for Progress workbook. Honestly, I found it a bit mundane. I did not find out anything I did not already know about myself. I'm glad I did it because it was hanging over my head. (I hate to leave things unfinished.)

But I don't find the 12 steps all that groundbreaking for me. I was already raised to do those things. Perhaps because I did not fully grow up in an alcoholic home and the damage was less severe to me. My step dad was likely an alcoholic, but he was functioning and always kept a job and supported the family.

My experience with my husband has been completely different. I don't think I ever completely internalized it as being OK or normal. It seems that a lot of this is stuff that I dealt with in therapy when I was pregnant with my son. I feel largely at peace with myself. I think I stayed too long in a bad situation but I have young children, and I do not blame myself for that. I think I have always done the best I could.

I have read over the 12 steps again and again over the years and I don't feel there is anything else for me to do at this point. I don't believe that Al-Anon is for everyone. I tried it. It was good to know that I am not alone. Beyond that I think it has served it's purpose with me.

Sleep = A Clear Mind, finally

I finally got a full night of uninterrupted sleep and am thinking much clearer. It has been months since this has happened. I usually take hours to get to sleep and wake up 4-5 times during the night. My mother talked to me yesterday about how important it is for me to sleep well, and she was right.

If nothing else has come out of these stomach pains, it is the realization that I have not been taking good enough care of myself. I have told myself I am doing better than most under the circumstances, but I was comparing myself to other Al-anon-ers - not most normal people. I am going to take a look at how I can do a better job.

My mind has been wandering with all these scenarios that "might" happen. I realized this morning that it really is not up to me. I have children. And, as my husband likes to remind me, he has "rights" as their father.

I can control the situation somewhat with my children now because my husband has not been an active participant in our lives. But ultimately, if we divorce, a judge will decide everything.

I have given my husband a guilty verdict in my head again and again. But ultimately, it will not matter what I think. Only the facts will matter.

I can present my truth to a judge, and it may or may not matter. Some things are undisputed. My husband has a felony conviction for cocaine possession. My husband has been in rehab twice for a total over 5 months during the span of our relationship. My husband has relapsed or "slipped" (as he likes to call it) several times since then. My husband has driven drunk with us in the car. My husband slept with 3 women without a condom. All of these things I have proof of. The rest, all the little bitty things that I have been fixated on, are not going to be relevant in court.

The judge can subpoena my husband's bank records and he can explain where the money has gone. He can give an account line by line. And I can explain all the sacrifices we have made and how many times I have had to make his children pasta or macaroni and cheese. I can show the 401ks that I had to liquidate to stay afloat. S/he can look at my bank records and see that we were left with nothing.

A judge can talk to the school. S/he can talk to the teachers. S/he can talk to my son's counselor. S/he can talk to the people at our church and in the Muslim community. S/he can talk to anyone and see what the patterns have been over the years and what the effects have been on our children.

A judge can look at all of this and make his (or her) verdict. And that will dictate what happens from here on out. If my husband does not pay support, he will go to jail. Our State is very tough on this. All of this is very simple. I have been making it hard, but it is very simple.

And once that happens, we can move on with our lives. There will be no more "what ifs". We won't have to wait for him to pay the bills or beg for money. We will know what the law allows for every month and the State can take it straight out of his check.

If my husband continues to read my blog and harass me about it, a judge can address that as well. If my husband verbally abuses me, sends me menacing text messages and/or voicemails, or physically attacks me again, there are measures a judge can take about that as well. I do not have to just sit here and continue to take it, and I won't.

It can only get better from here.
"When a parent mentally hurts their child, the wounds can not be healed."

-Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

Friday, January 8, 2010

What is Reality?

The ultrasound has come and gone. It was odd going there and checking in. I am still on my husband's insurance but I don't feel like he is my husband anymore. The receptionist was asking questions about my husband's place of employment and date of birth. She asked for an emergency contact person and I gave her my mother's name.

This morning my mother noticed alarmingly that our downstairs toilet is leaking and needs to be repaired immediately or the wood would be damaged. I told my husband, but he has not reponded. I guess I should get used to the fact that we are on our own now. But it is a hard thing to sink in.

I suppose we have been on our own for a long time, but I could usually count on help with at least some of the big things.

It sounds like I will not hear anything back from the doctor until Monday. I am a little nervous but I decided on my way back from the clinic that I am just going to assume everything is OK until I hear otherwise. It won't help me to worry.

Last night, my husband read the blog again and sent me a 7-point response, defending himself. It is clear that we both have completely different versions of reality. My husband does not even pretend to be his nice-guy persona anymore around other people, so that at least is a little more comforting. Sometimes I think it was hard for people to envision the things that he said to me. No longer.

A friend told me the other day that when he called me a cunt, that's when it would have been over for her. It's funny how you try to remove these things from your mind, but when you finally tell people what has happened and they remind you of them, you are not able to create your own (better) reality anymore. Hearing her say it made me realize how awful things have been.


I'm headed into the clinic to get the ultrasound. I didn't sleep great, but I did get a few solid hours in there, so I am happy for that. I don't do well without sleep - never have.

I was glad to have my mom here last night in case anything happened. My mom is worried that I will have to have surgery and we talked about the plans last night at length just in case.

I am really hoping that this is just stress.

I can't really see how I will manage a hospital stay with my kids and job.

Either way, I have said this many times - all of this is TOO MUCH for one person. It would be one thing if it were just me and the kids and my husband had not ruined our finances. I think I could manage. I did when my son was a baby. Two young children at different schools is more challenging, but it can be done.

Dealing with alcoholic behavior is too much for me to deal with on top of everything else. The stress for me is overwhelming. He is verbally abusive and I can not depend on him, financially or otherwise.

All this time I have been thinking that I could convince my husband and his family somehow that I do have worth. But I will never have worth to them. If their own blood does not have value, how can I expect to?

I am fortunate to have my family and wonderful friends - and I know that my worth comes from me. But somehow knowing that made it more maddening when I did not feel the respect and love from them.

It was really good for me to see my friend the other day. She has not seen me since we were both pregnant with our sons. She had spent a lot of time with me before that, but with young children and living in different parts of town, we lost touch. I was almost embarrassed to tell her about my life now. She knew me when...

For her it was simple. "He is an idiot. He does not deserve you. Do you have any idea what an amazing woman you are? Divorce him! He is never going to get it."

Thursday, January 7, 2010


I am in such hell right now.

I have been having really bad stomach pains for 4-5 days. I finally went to the doctor today and then came home to rest. I have to go back in the morning for an ultrasound, as I needed to fast 10+ hours first.

My husband picked my daughter up from school for the first time in months. They came in and he finally brought back all my Christmas gifts. He had bought me some perfume and it was still in a box to my daughter was puzzled by it. She asked what it was. He said, that's what your mom puts on when she puts on her lingerie.

I looked at him puzzled and asked him if it was really necessary to say that in front of her.

He had offered to bring a pizza, but I felt worse just sitting here (and love to cook) so I told him I would just cook what I bought at the market yesterday. Funny, before they got here I was thinking to myself how much I had enjoyed just being a housewife and taking care of the house and family. I made a roast chicken, my favorite potatoes, garlic bread and a salad. I felt very satisfied with the meal.

My mom had picked my son up from school and brought him home. My husband started a huge fight with me in front of my mom and kids. He was supposed to come here tomorrow morning to take the kids to school so I could go back to the doctor and I think that's why he started it. (He has NEVER taken the kids to school before.) I had asked him to spend the night because the other night the pain was so bad and I wanted to go to the doctor but I had no one here and it was the middle of the night. He said he would come in the morning.

He took my perfume and threatened to throw it out into the back yard (which is like a huge forest or something with all these trees - we never would have found it, at least easily). He started talking about "my boyfriend" in front of the kids. I was like, I don't have a "boyfriend."

I told him to leave. He took my wedding rings again. (I always take them off when I cook or clean because they are nice rings.) Luckily I noticed before he left and threatened to call the police. He finally took them out of his pocket after telling me that they would do nothing because I'm his wife.

I screamed back at him I AM NOT Y0UR WIFE!!!!

He sat there and held up his middle finger to me for an extended period of time and kept saying, "I'm done with you. I'm done with you."

He said he would be back in the morning, but I don't want to fight with him and I certainly can not depend on him. How many times has he let me down before? I told him he would probably just leave me here dead like his aunt.

My mom is going to spend the night. She left with my daughter to get some stuff. I can't stop crying. I can't believe, after so many sacrifices all these years, sobriety, rehab and more rehab, abuse, bullshit, verbal abuse, women and expensive hotel rooms, depleting our finances...all of it...that this is where we have ended up.

My mistake for ever thinking shit could turn into pudding.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010



For those of us who live at the shoreline
standing upon the constant edges of decision
crucial and alone
for those of us who cannot indulge
the passing dreams of choice
who love in doorways coming and going
in the hours between dawns
looking inward and outward
at once before and after
seeking a now that can breed
like bread in our children's mouths
so their dreams will not reflect the death of ours:

For those of us
who were imprinted with fear
like a faint line in the center of our foreheads
learning to be afraid with our mother's milk
for by this weapon
this illusion of some safety to be found
the heavy-footed hoped to silence us
For all of us
this instant and this triumph
We were never meant to survive.

And when the sun rises we are afraid
it might not remain
when the sun sets we are afraid
it might not rise in the morning
when our stomachs are full we are afraid
of indigestion
when our stomachs are empty we are afraid
we may never eat again
when we are loved we are afraid
love will vanish
when we are alone we are afraid
love will never return
and when we speak we are afraid
our words will not be heard
nor welcomed
but when we are silent
we are still afraid

So it is better to speak
we were never meant to survive

- Audre Lorde, The Black Unicorn

Aunt's Memorial

My husband's family has been trying to figure out what to do about his Aunt's memorial.

The first idea was that we would all take a weekend trip to the beach together.

This sounded completely insane to me. First of all, no one was getting along when my father-in-law was in a completely different state. I did not think that putting him together with his brother, who still drinks, was a good idea.

I also am not excited to see anyone. I have not seen my father-in-law for a nearly a year. I have not seen his wife in 2-and-a-half years.

I've decided to just suck it up for the service. I had thought about not going, but I don't think I would feel good about that.

It sounds like we will just take a day trip down to a river and spread her ashes. And they will have the memorial service at my in-law's country club. I am sadened by that, as I believe life is sacred, but that is not my decision.

I am hoping everyone can be on their best behavior. I'm not in a good spot to be provoked right now, and I'm not sure how much tongue biting I can do.

But I will try my best.

Hating Myself

I had another mostly sleepless night last night. I am back to listening to a lot of my New Age tapes - Louise Hay right now. I started doing some affirmations and meditations to help me sleep. I realized last night how hard it has become - my mind wanders almost immediately.

I think I have really begun to hate myself. I thought I just hated what my life (for the most part) has become and the actions of my husband and his family. But it became apparent last night that that has transferred to me too.

I think it's hard for me to forgive now because I did all this when my husband went to rehab the first time. I wasn't sure I should continue on in the relationship. But I decided it was better for my son and I worked on myself while he was at rehab for 2 months.

I felt at that time, that all was forgiven. We had a few good years together in there. I did not bring up the past. We had our daughter, which was a very joyous time for me.

But then, he relapsed - and now I almost feel foolish for not believing that he would. It seems now it would have been easier to leave that wall up and move on at the time of the first rehab.

But now I am two kids in and many more years. I don't know where this relationship will end up. But I don't want to keep feeling this way.


"The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other's life."

- Richard Bach

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Hauling out the Christmas Tree

This year, I hauled the Christmas tree out by myself with some help from my 6-year-old son.

It was a huge tree and really needed two adults, but my dad has done this for me for the last 2 years and I couldn't see asking him again. I know he would do it and say nothing but it was not worth seeing the look of total disgust in his eyes.

I come from a family (on both sides) where the men do these things. Odd for me to say this as a feminist, but I like it this way.

My husband reminded me when I told him that I chose to live alone.

No, I chose to be marry a sober man. I chose to have the relationship that we agreed on in advance.

In Islam, you agree on the parameters of the marriage beforehand, much like a business agreement. If either partner does not keep their end of the bargain, the other party is free to divorce.

Islam was the first religion that gave women the right to divorce, among other things. It was a very progressive and feminist religion from the get-go. Women actually have rights. For all the "progressiveness" of the US, I'd say that the intention (at least) of Islam was to give women more rights and more choices. Women are not expected to just suck it in when their rights are violated.

In our case, I told my husband if he relapses I would leave him. He chose to drink anyway, after 3 years of sobriety.

He said he would follow my religion and that I could raise the children while he supported the family.

In Islam, any money a woman makes is hers to spend as she wishes. The man supports the family. The woman's primary responsibility is to the children and to the family. Not to say that the woman can not do anything (there have been far more Islamic countries with female Presidents than we have ever seen in the US!) But, I think it is a common sense religion, in the sense that throughout the world, women take on the bulk of responsibility for house and home - and they are honored for that - not forced to take on a double work-load.

My husband said he would honor my religion. Without these promises, I would not have married him.

I certainly would not have lived through another relapse. Had I known he would chose to drink again, I never would have married him.

I thought I made myself clear before we were married what the parameters would be. He reminds me now that marriage is for better or worse. Perhaps he's right. But I did not sign up for worse and worser.

He chose to drink. He chose to cheat. He chose to squander all our money until we were broke. He chose many things that I never would have chosen for us.

I chose to stick up for myself, kick his cocaine-head, alcoholic self out of this house and take care of our children.

I suppose I could have chosen to move on and move another man in to take care of us and all the things that go along with a house, but I didn't think that would be good for my kids.

So I suppose I chose our kids. I just did not expect that I would get fucked again and again because of it.


"Kindness is a mark of faith, and whoever is not kind has no faith."

- Prophet Mohammad (Sahih Imam Muslim)

Monday, January 4, 2010


I'm feeling much, much better...amazing what taking care of yourself will do!

I went to the chiropractor and got adjusted - that helped immensely.

My ex-husband's wife treated me a to gluttonous lunch at our favorite Moroccan restaurant. She is so great to be around because she is always so happy and positive.

I took a walk in the rain. Lots of hills, so that got out some of my negative thoughts.

And I hung upside down for a while to stretch my back out - and then did some yoga poses.

I had a somewhat-productive day at work after I got out of my rut. My mom took the kids to my son's Taekwondo class so I have a bit of a break to shower before my "second shift"!


I feel deeply sad today. My daughter had a breakdown last night like she has not had for a long time. I couldn't help thinking it was about her dad. It came out of no where. She just errupted into a fit of rage at the end of the day that I could not help or control. She fell asleep sobbing and heaving hard. I just laid there with her and rubbed her head and told her I love her.

I couldn't sleep last night and I woke up knowing that I needed some inspiration. I listened to a chakra alignment CD while I was getting ready and then another motivational CD of Abraham Hicks in the car for the long drive to my son's school. I think they helped but I also think that sometimes you can cover up and cover up with positive affirmations but at the end of the day, you are still where you're at.

In the lull between the start times for school I took my daughter to Starbucks with all the familiar faces. We saw my daughter's sweet friend that she loves so much, and it was nice to see her light up on his presense.

I kept hearing the AA table erupt in gregarious laughter and I felt annoyed. I felt bad about that, even as I was feeling it. These are good guys, with long-term sobriety. They are always kind to me and my daughter.

But I felt like it is always the alcoholics that are laughing and happy, while the rest of us pick of the pieces.

Another sponsor and sponsee happened to be sitting behind us, talking loudly. At first that annoyed me too, but then I realized it was a grace, because I was inadvertently hearing one of the man's story about growing up with an alcoholic father. It was good to remember that the alcoholic has often suffered too. It is sad that the cycle of addiction continues and perpetuates itself.

I don't want that for my children. I just feel crying. I have not been going to the chiropractor because I am trying not to spend money. But I now have a rib that is out and it is sticking into me and it hurts like hell. So I made an appointment anyway and am headed there in a couple hours. I'm sure I will feel better then, but for now, I am just in a bad spot.

I have chronic back problems and I need to start taking better care of myself. It was easier before when we had money and I could afford massage, accupuncture and chiropractic on a weekly basis, but I need to start doing something within my means - like more stretching and yoga to help alleviate some of this. I know I need to change my life on many levels. I can't keep living this way.

Sunday, January 3, 2010


The Pastor ended the service today with this poem. I had not heard it before, but I thought it held a lot of wisdom.


Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others,
even to the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter,
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals,
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life,
keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

- Max Ehrmann

Great Quote

The pastor started the sermon today with this quote, and it has been on my mind ever since.

The important thing is this: To be able at any moment to sacrifice what we are for what we could become.

-Charles DuBois


My husband hasn't seen the kids much these last few weeks.

Last night we all had dinner together for about an hour at the Spaghetti factory. But there wasn't a lot of quality time and things between us are very strained.

He was supposed to come today at 12:30 when we came back from church to do something special with the kids on his own.

I had missed a call from him at church but called him back to let him know that we would be back home by 12:30, as planned. He sorta paused so I said, are we still on?

He said I think I'll come at 2:30. I asked him what was up and he said he was getting a lot done at his house. I told him that time wasn't going to work but he could come for dinner and that I was making fried chicken. (which we all love.)

I stayed calm and got off the phone. My daughter is not at an age where she cares much but my son burst into years. He had heard us on the phone. He asked, why isn't my dad going to do what he said? I thought he was going to do something fun with me.

I really didn't know what to say to that. He's right. I can never remember my dad not showing up or not keeping his word. I can't imagine what he is feeling. It breaks my heart to see his face drop like that. His head literally sunk.

I sat with him on the stairs for a while and held him. I don't think I can justify or defend his dad anymore but I also hate to see him feel bad.

I told him how special and loved he is. I said, do you know how many people would love to spend the day with you?

I said how about if we do something special? He remembered something he needed help with on the computer and we tried to figure that out for a bit.

I texted my husband and told him what our son said. He said he would come right over.

We talked and I told him he needs to keep his word to the kids. I told him this wasn't fair to our son. He told me this was "hard for all of us.".

I said he's 6! Imagine how he feels?

Over an hour later, he still was not here. I was trying to put my daughter down for a nap and feel stressed about everything we need to get ready to start school again tomorrow.

My husband said the way things are set up make it difficult sometimes.

I asked him, "It is difficult for you to show up on time for the 2 times a week you see your children?" I told him to forget it. I'm done talking to him. I've already done damage control for today with the kids and we don't need him showing up here late later (if at all).

I wonder if he ever thinks about the long-term damage this will cause his children. Kids need consistency. They need honesty. Somehow I manage to be on time for both the kids 99% of the time will 2 schools, hectic extra-curricular schedules, play-dates, birthday parties, a house to run, a job and everything else. It is not easy, but I do it.

I am not happy. I don't know if I should have told my husband or not. It just turned into an argument and more justifications from him. The end result is that he still is not here. I don't know what the answer is with my children and their dad. All I can try to do is be the best mother I can and keep other positive men in their lives.

Church is also great. They did not want to leave today. We stayed in the fellowship hall for nearly an hour after church ended talking to people. I am grateful for that church. I feel very tired and emotional today and cried several times during the service. A teenager sang Ave Maria beautifully and I could not stop the tears from coming.

Sometimes it is hard for me to sit alone but I am always glad that I went instead of sitting at home.

The kids enjoyed their time in Sunday school and joined me later for communion. I am very happy that they have also found joy and comfort in church. Many people commented to me that they love the energy my children bring to the church. I'm glad they have a place where they are loved and cherished.

So many people have taken interest in the kids at church. Today, a man who is an engineer (and seems to be about the kindest man I've ever met) invited us to come to his home and see the robots he makes. He runs a program for older kids where theiy build robots. He sat down with him and let him explain all his Pokemon cards to him. He was very sincere and genuine with him, asking a lot of questions.

There are so many members there that are so engaged in meaningful projects and service-work and have some wonderful interests. This man has 3 kids and a wife of his own, but here he is offering to teach my son something he would really enjoy.

And his own father can't even make it on time? His own father can't manage to show up in over a week.

I didn't grow up this way so this is something that is impossible for me to fathom. My kids are amazing and precious. It is very hard to forgive someone for (continually) hurting your children.

I don't know if I ever can.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Quiet New Years

I decided to stay in last night in lieu of going out. I have really enjoyed this more relaxed Winter Break with my children, which will soon be over. One of the nights my sister spent the night here, the kids fell asleep on the couch and she helped me carry them upstairs to bed. We looked at how big they both looked. Time has passed quickly. It makes me sad.

We had my mom over for dinner and had a simple but delicious meal. I am so grateful for all the support my mom gives me with the kids.

My husband called several times during the evening. It seems there can be no peace between us. Sometimes I feel like he takes every little thing I say and turns it into an argument. Lately, I just end the conversation early when the accusations and cussing start. But then he begins texting me. I'm trying to ignore those too, but sometimes I feel the need to defend myself and text back. I realized last night that I really have nothing to defend myself against. I told him last night that next time, I just won't answer my phone. I'm tired of the fighting.

My husband has not seen the children since Christmas and we have several times planned over the weekend. Today, I just want to relax and keep things simple and peaceful.