Thursday, April 29, 2010

Death is Total Ending

So for us death is total ending, the ending of your attachment - right?-ending all that you have collected. You cannot take it with you. You may like to have it until the last minute, but you cannot possibly take it with you. So please listen.

So we have divided life into dying and living. And this division has brought about great fear. And out of that fear we invent all kinds of theories, very comforting, may be illusory, but it is very comforting, illusions are comfortably neurotic. So is it possible, please I am asking you this question, is it possible, as we live, to die to things that we are attached to?

Do you understand my question? I am attached to my reputation - God forbid - I am attached to it. And death is coming along, because I am getting older and I am frightened, because I am going to lose everything. So can I be totally free of the image, of the reputation that people have given me? Do you understand? So that you are dying as you are living. I wonder if you understand this? So the division between the living and dying is not miles apart, it is together.

I wonder if you understand this please. And if you understand the great beauty of it that each day, or each second there is no accumulation, no psychological accumulation, you have to accumulate clothes with money and so on, that's a different matter, but psychologically there is no accumulation as knowledge, as attachment, saying, `It's mine'. Will you do it?

Will you actually do this thing so that this conflict between death and living with all its pain and fear and anxiety comes totally to an end, so that you are - the brain is incarnated? Do you understand? I wonder if you understand all this. The brain is being reborn afresh, so that it has tremendous freedom.

- J.K., New Delhi 4th Public Talk 13th November, 1983

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Some Thoughts on Death

Another day at the hospital with my grandmother and her death is bringing up so many things for me.

My husband has tried to be very supportive of me and I appreciate that. But I can not help but remember how he responded while my grandpa was dying.

I thought I had gotten over that, but I have not. I still am resentful. I think, why is he suddenly being so nice now when we are nearly divorced? But years ago, when I was his wife, who had been with him through the recent death of his mother, bore him 2 children and suffered a miscarriage - in the midst of caring for my dying grandfather - and he told me to "Get off the cross - someone needed the wood."

Yesterday a woman that I adore from church, who is much older than me and has known my grandparents for 30 years, told a story that also probably brought back that memory.

She talked about how after her second divorce, she decided to rename herself. And she took away her middle and last names, and gave herself the middle name of the daughter she had miscarried and a new last name.

It was a beautiful name.

That resonated so well with me. I still think about that child a lot, and to me, she was a girl, and she would have been named Grace.

My grandmother and I spoke today about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan today and their utter meaninglessness to both of us - and that was another resentment that came up for me strongly. We here in the United States cling on to our own lives so dearly. We will do anything to avoid dying. And yet we seem to have no problem with the deaths of "others" who we perceive to be so different from us.

I remember when I was in Lebanon, one of the hardest things for me to deal with was the death of my first husband's childhood best friend. He was only 8-years-old when the Israeli soldiers killed him.

I will never forget going to his parents home with H. The way his father sobbed. And then I sobbed, and H sobbed. But I could not stop.

I remember that my sister-in-law came to me in my room after hours of this. She took me square by the shoulders, looked me in the eyes, and said, "Everyone dies. Everyone dies."

I have never forgotten those words. I have never forgotten how senseless his death felt. And I think if more Americans saw that, they would realize that war is never a good idea.

My sister-in-law's words have carried me through a lot of deaths though over the years. And she was right about that. We have a culture here in the US that does not acknowledge or accept death. But death is inevitable for all of us.

The combination of the fear of death and medicine for profit is a very bad mix.

I also spoke to my grandma about my other grandma today. I spoke to her at length last night. She told me again that she plans to just be here and happy with all of us one week and be "gone" the next. She refused chemotherapy or any other treatment. She just wants to be as healthy as possible naturally as long as she can and then she will chose her time.

My grandma thought that was horrible, but I relate to that more. I don't want to live on 15 medications on a good day. That is not life. My grandma is nearly 93-years-old. Some of the things they are suggesting for her are insane. That's not even humane in my mind. But she is afraid. And fear makes for good profits.

The only conclusions I can draw is that all of us have worth. And, we all die.

I adore both my grandmothers. I adore that boy that died just from the words of his family and the love of that first husband had for him.

None of us has greater or lesser worth. The death of one person is just as painful for their loved-ones as my grandmothers deaths will be for me.

There is no sense in death. You just have to make peace with it.

And I can accept the deaths of the matriarchs of my family. But I know how hard for me it has been to lose a child that essentially never even existed. I have never been able to make peace with wars that kill children who do.

We are Objects

"The voice of women and the voice of nature have been muted under patriarchy. Women and nature are considered objects under patriarchy, and objects do not speak, objects do not feel, and objects have no needs. Objects exist only to serve the needs of others."

- Marti Kheel

Monday, April 26, 2010

Finalizing my Divorce

We had our last mediation meeting several weeks ago and it went really well. We whizzed through everything rationally and without argument.

We should be finished with the divorce very soon. It seems both fast and slow. We are nearly a year into the process, and there have been a lot of ups and downs. But we are ending on a good note and I have much hope for our future.

I really feel like we can be friends and do a good job together as co-parents. I don't see so much of the futility of our relationship anymore. I am starting to see that there were things in my life that I needed to learn during this relationship that will benefit me.

My husband has been very supportive of me during this last week of hospitalization for my grandma. He sent me a very thoughtful card and brought flowers another day. I'm glad that we seem to be through most of the negative emotions now.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Ignorant Men

"The Prophet said that women
totally dominate men of intellect and possessors of hearts,
But ignorant men dominate women,
for they are shackled by the ferocity of animals."


Saturday, April 24, 2010

First Weekend Away from my Kids

Last night was the first time my husband picked up the kids for the weekend. I was headed out and they stopped by to bring my some flowers. It had been a tough week for me.

It was a sweet gesture, but this seemed to upset my daughter quite a bit. I don't think she's ever spent the night with just her dad. She started crying and ended up hysterical, clutching onto even my hair as he pulled her off me.

I think it was upsetting for him too but he dealt with it differently than I would have. I wanted to just stay and talk it out with her until she felt comfortable to leave with him. After 20 minutes of that, he got frustrated and dragged her off screaming. I could hear her crying as they drove off.

I sobbed for nearly an hour. It hit me very hard. I thought about not going out. I cried all the way downtown. But I got composed and luckily I was meeting a group of women who my friend had put together who I had not met yet, so I pulled it together.

My husband texted me several times during the night to let me know she was doing well and having fun, so that put my mind more at ease.

It was good to be with other women and just have fun. We sat and talked for 3-4 hours and then my friend and I left together. She lives in a fun area where we can just walk around, so we went back to her house and ventured off again. I don't like to drink and drive, so I just stayed with her. We stayed up late talking like teenagers and finally went to bed pretty late.

She had to get up early for a run, so I ended up getting up pretty early too. I am having a party at my home later so I need to get ready for that - and get back out to the hospital. I realized yesterday I need to take some time for myself too. I was pretty worn out from being at the hospital all week. I have not had time to exercise or even get groceries.

A friend said something interesting to me yesterday as we were talking about this party. She had met me when my son was a baby, so has never known me as just a woman - not a mother. She said, "Wow, you're actually a person now too - there is a whole other side to you than "mom'!"

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Heavy Heart

I have not had time to write these last few days.

My grandmother has been in the hospital since Monday night. I have been with her most of the days-time hours.

During that time, it seemed that my great-grandmother was also on her death-bed, but then it turned out today it was a misdiagnosis.

My heart has been heavy.

I left at 5 today, as one of my sisters was able to come down from Seattle to be with my grandmother. My dad and I had been with her most of the time until then. I did not want to leave her alone. She is almost 93.

I have been on the fence about what to do about my job for a while. I have known I did not want my current position and met with my Vice President last week. He was very generous with me and I have been weighing what he said since then.

However, this morning, during my grandmother's procedure, I realized my heart is just not there, and I did not want to stay.

I resigned today.

I have been there for nearly 6 years, so it was a hard decision.

Both of my grandmothers and my great-grandmother are now terminal.

My financial position is not great right now - I suppose that is all relative - but I just feel that I need this time with these women who have been so crucial to me in my own life.

Caregiving is not a respected "job" in our society. Much like motherhood, it is not valued, because it is not "profitable". But to me, there is no more important job in the world.

I have had some very intimate moments with my grandmother these last few days. Things that money truly could never buy or even recognize.

This is one area where the Muslim community rises so high above where we are as an American "Christian" society, that I could write a million pages on it and it still would not suffice.

I am very happy with our church. But the church needs to do better in this regard. We are such an individualistic society. We have completely lost our way.

I have been very strong all week. I have tried to be lighthearted and laugh with my grandmother. Tonight, I took a break and took my children to an Earth Day concert with African music. Perhaps that broke me. My children have missed me. My mother and their father have done a good job helping me this week. But the children are used to me. They were needy and did not behave their best. My daughter loved the music, but my son pouted. I did not have my usual patience.

I broke down and cried on the way home. It has been a long week. And I know there is more to come. Both my sisters live in Seattle, so the burden is mostly with my dad and me. I am glad to take it, but it is also exhausting.

I try to express to my children the importance of what I am doing, but I don't think they understand. I realized tonight at the hippie gathering that we were at that my children do not share all of my values. Perhaps I have done a poor job of expressing them, or perhaps there have been too many outside influences. But I really want them to understand that money is not the saviour of the world. Love is. Family is.

In the end, that is all there is. And if you don't know that, you will be lost - they will be lost.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


"Never tell evil of a man, if you do not know it for certainty, and if you know it for a certainty, then ask yourself, 'Why should I tell it?"

- Johann K. Lavater

The Power of Words

Several years ago, I saw something at my son's school that was extremely disturbing to me.

A man was berating his wife on the phone while is son stood there, looking as belittled as his mother must have felt.

He stood there screaming at her for being "so stupid", "dumb", etc.

I nearly started crying as I looked at the boy, wondering what to do.

I left my son in the car and went to the boy. I could hear all of his side of the conversation so I knew he was angry because she had not planned for childcare for the boy while they attended his parent-teacher conference.

I gave him some affection and interrupted the father to tell him I could take the boy with me. We had an extra car seat and were headed to the mall and lunch before heading to a class birthday party.

He agreed with little fanfare. I took the boy and got him into the car. I gave him a hug and asked him if he was OK. He looked shaken.

This boy was always the "problem child" in class, and this day confirmed something for me that I have always felt. When children act out, something is going on at home.

I had never seen this side of the boy. I had always seen him as the boy who got into trouble, who often did and said things I did not like.

While he was with me that afternoon, however, he was such a sweet little darling. He took my hand at the mall and seemed to blossom with the attention and kindness.

As soon as his mother joined us for lunch, the boy returned back to his rambunctious self. I was sad to see the other boy leave.

I found out later that the man was a counselor who deals with abused women. I found that extremely ironic.

This morning I got a sweet message from that woman on Facebook. I went to her page, which I had not visited yet. In the "About Me" section, she had written, "I am not very smart, but..."

Some of us as women know our worth and words do not affect us. They may sting when they are voiced by someone we love, but we know they are not true.

It was clear to me this morning that this woman had internalized everything and now believes she is stupid.

I believe we evolve (hopefully) into strong beings that will not tolerate abuse. Eventually we do not attract it anymore, it does not even come into our realm.

But I was also reminded this morning of the importance of words and the importance of using them wisely.

Monday, April 19, 2010

"People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own soul."

- Jung

Sunday, April 18, 2010


Forgiveness is something I have struggled with since I was a child. Growing up as a Fundamentalist Christian, I was always told I had to forgive, but no one told me how. I would beg God to help me forgive, but the hatred would still remain in my heart.

Many years ago, I started reading Louise Hay and she had many forgiveness exercises, many of which helped. But the one thing that she said that stuck with me was that you only have to be willing to forgive and it will come. I held on to that, and there have been several miracles in my life around that lately.

But I have also been thinking and reading a lot these last few months. I feel like this has been a good period of growth for me. Here are a few thoughts I have had lately around forgiveness that have really helped me.

Most of the time I find myself unable to forgive it is because I think "my" sister, husband, friend... should not have treated me that way. I have taken it personally. When you remove the "my" from the equation it is easier to overcome a transgression.

When I view them as just a person instead of a person in my life that I somehow want to control to my liking, the "transgression" seems lesser.

You do not have to maintain a toxic relationship with anyone. In fact, I think it's better if you don't. Close the door to that part of your life. But don't give that person power over you by holding on to a resentment about them.

Release the relationship from your life. View them as simply another person. You may still judge their action as "wrong" but it won't hurt in the same way if it is not a wrong that was committed against you. It is just a wrong. And, perhaps you will be able to see their side a little better.

I remember a woman speaking at church several months ago about forgiveness and specifically turning the other cheek. Her interpretation was not literal. She saw it as turning the other way to see the other person's side of things.

One of the Madea movies also had a good quote about forgiveness (although I haven't been able to remember or google which one it was!). It goes something like will know you have forgiven someone when you have an opportunity to get even with them and you don't take it.

Friday, April 16, 2010

I will not...

"I will not have my life narrowed down. I will not bow down to somebody else's whim or to someone else's ignorance."

- bell hooks

Civilian Casualties in Iraq

I am tired of these wars. These children are no different than my children or any other child.

Images of dead civilians from the war that the US media seems to think it's best you don't see

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Imagine a Woman

Imagine a woman who believes it is right and good she is woman.
A woman who honors her experience and tells her stories.
Who refuses to carry the sins of others within her body and life.

Imagine a woman who has acknowledged the past's influence on the present.
A woman who has walked through her past.
IAW Who has healed into the present.

Imagine a woman in love with her own body.
A woman who believes her body is enough, just as it is.
Who celebrates her body's rhythms and cycles as an exquisite resource.

Imagine a woman who embraces her sexuality as her own.
A woman who delights in pleasuring herself.
Who experiences her erotic sensations without shame or guilt.

Imagine a woman who honors the body of the Goddess in her changing body.
A woman who celebrates the accumulation of her years and her wisdom.
Who refuses to use her precious life-energy disguising the changes in her body and life.

Imagine a woman who has access to the full range of human emotion.
A woman who expresses her feelings clearly and directly.
Who allows them to pass through her as gracefully as the breath.

Imagine a woman who tells the truth.
A woman who trusts her experience of the world and expresses it.
Who refuses to defer to the thoughts, perceptions, and responses of others.

Imagine a woman who follows her creative impulses.
A woman who produces original creations.
Who refuses to color inside someone else's lines.

Imagine a woman who names her own gods.
A woman who imagines the divine in her image and likeness.
Who designs a personal spirituality to inform her daily life.

Imagine a woman who refuses to surrender to gods, gurus, and higher powers.
A woman who has descended into her own inner life.
Who asserts her will in harmony with its impulses and instincts.

Imagine a woman who is interested in her own life.
A woman who embraces her life as teacher, healer, and challenge.
Who is grateful for the ordinary moments of beauty and grace.

Imagine a woman who authors her own life.
A woman who trusts her inner sense of what is right for her.
Who refuses to twist her life out of shape to meet the expectations of others.

Imagine a woman who participates in her own life.
A woman who meets each challenge with creativity.
Who takes action on her own behalf with clarity and strength.

Imagine a woman who has crafted a fully formed solitude.
A woman who is available to herself.
Who chooses friends and lovers with the capacity to respect her solitude.

Imagine a woman who refuses to diminish her life so others will feel better.
A woman who brings the fullness of her years, experience, and wisdom into each relationship.
Who expects others to be blessed and challenged by her presence in their lives.

Imagine a woman who assumes equality in her relationships.
A woman who no longer believes she is inferior to men and in need of their salvation.
Who has taken her rightful place in the human community.

Imagine a woman who refuses to use her precious life-energy managing crisis and conflict.
A woman whose relationships deepen in satisfaction and contentment without depleting her.
Who chooses friends and lovers with the capacity to navigate the challenges of life.

Imagine a woman who values the women in her life.
A woman who sits in circles of women.
Who is reminded of the truth about herself when she forgets.

Imagine a woman who has relinquished the desire for intellectual safety and approval.
A woman who makes a powerful statement with every word she speaks, every action she takes.
Who asserts to herself the right to reorder the world.

Imagine a woman who has grown in knowledge and love of herself.
A woman who has vowed faithfulness to her own life and capacities.
Who remains loyal to herself. Regardless.

Imagine yourself as this woman.

by Patricia Lynn Reilly

Defending Myself

One thing I learned through my marriage was how to defend myself. I used to sit and cry quietly like a victim. Being with an alcoholic, you have to learn how to fight and stand up for yourself.

But I have also reflected that while I am glad that I learned this skill, it doesn't always suit me.

There was a verse from Isaiah 30 that I always liked growing up - "In quietness and confidence shall be your strength." I think there is a lot of truth to this.

My father and my grandfather rarely get angry or argue. I can remember one time seeing my grandfather enraged, and that was when my sister and I had disobeyed him and did something very dangerous around the water.

My grandmother would nitpick at my grandpa all the time and it would just roll right off him. He would just smile, sometimes giving me a quick wink when she wasn't looking.

I remember once, when I went to court to get a stalking order against a man who had harassed me for nearly a year, at one point breaking my front door down to get into my house - both the stalker and my grandfather arrived at court early. He walked up to my grandpa and asked, "Do you think I am a bad man?"

My grandpa simply looked at him with a smile and said, "Well, I guess we'll see."

After hours of awkward testimony, we broke for lunch. We were all at the elevator, waiting to get on. That was the second time in my life I saw my dad lose his temper. He was about to go in after the stalker. My grandfather simply held my dad back by the seat of his pants, saying nothing. My dad cooled.

What I have learned from both of them is that arguing and anger benefits no one. Most people - and most things for that matter - are just not worth it.

Fight when you need to for what you really believe in - but let the rest go.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Generosity and Pride

"Generosity is giving more than you can, and pride is taking less than you need."

-Kahlil Gibran

My Father-in-Law

The kids are going to see my father-in-law tonight for dinner with my husband. I have been thinking about this since yesterday because this would usually upset me.

But the divorce is nearly over and it seems so is most of the sting of our relationship.

I've realized that the hardest thing for me to accept about my father-in-law was how he treated me as a daughter-in-law.

He didn't treat me the way I would ever want to treat my daughter-in-law. And I had high expectations based on my relationship with my first father-in-law in Lebanon.

But removing this title of "Father-in-Law" from him, seems to have lowered my expectations for him.

I can look at him as just a man, instead of my father-in-law. And somehow, that makes a huge difference for me.

More specifically, he is the grandfather of my children, and that makes me want a better relationship for their sake.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Believe Nothing

"Believe nothing just because a so-called wise person said it. Believe nothing just because a belief is generally held. Believe nothing just because it is said in ancient books. Believe nothing just because it is said to be of divine origin. Believe nothing just because someone else believes it. Believe only what you yourself test and judge to be true."


Monday, April 12, 2010

Where Hearts Lie

"Ah, well, the truth is always one thing, but in a way it's the other thing, the gossip, that counts. It shows where people's hearts lie."

-Paul Scott

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Celebrating Tonight

I was pissed off earlier by some unnameables. I had a 40th birthday party to go to this evening with some dear friends. I almost missed it, but I am so glad I went.

There was a time in my life where I skipped out on a lot of fun times because of drama. I no longer let that dictate my life.

I am beginning to see only the good in my life. There is too little time to worry about people who are petty. I have wonderful friends and family, and for that, I am so grateful.

I am finally moving away from every toxic person in my life. There were several I was still clinging on to. I am a sentimental person. But I will not let my sentiments get in the way of my own happiness or that of my children.

Some people are so dysfunctional that they can't let a friendship go without trying to bring down that person. But you can not bring down someone who is deeply rooted in love, spirituality, family and friendship.

You can try to cut down the tree, but the roots remain. Some people never go any deeper than the trunk, and the tree can come down easily with no consequence. They have built their life on nothing and have little to show for themselves. They live off of others. They have nothing left but to try to gossip about and bring other people down to their low level.

Those people no longer exist to me.

I had a wonderful time tonight. And it came prefaced with some tears. But in that time I realized who my friends are. That was a lesson my mother's father told me as a child. But I did not fully see it until tonight. There is nothing like laughter, love, food and wine with those you love, and who love you, as you are.

So tonight I celebrate my dear friend's 40th and my own new journey.


"Gossip is always a personal confession either of malice or imbecility."

-Josiah Gilbert Holland

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Expressing Sexuality to our Children

I have been thinking a great deal about sexuality and what I hope to express to my children these last few days.

Your sexuality belongs to you. No one else.

No one else owns you or determines your pleasure. That is yours alone. If you wish to share it with someone you love, all the better. Be neither selfish nor selfless. The best pleasure is mutual. But this mutual pleasure does not entitle someone else to control you in any way.

Your sexuality does not belong to anyone; even to God.

It is a gift from God, to be cherished. A gift is given, without strings attached. When you realize the enormity of the gift, you will never squander it.

The worst crime against humanity is to force your sexuality upon someone else. Someone may force themselves upon you, especially as a woman, but you can still reclaim your sexuality for yourself. It is a gift that no one can take from you, even by force.

It is not a matter of how many lovers you have had, but that you enjoy each encounter of your own free will. Your sexuality is no one's business but your own. You are not required to give anyone a report.

When you make a commitment to someone, keep it. If you are clear about the boundaries of your relationship, you will have fewer problems. But all relationships have problems. Don't let someone try to make you guilty for something that was within your right and boundary. Avoid jealous people.

"Even little kids get jealous of their toys and then tire of them." - Elegy

It does not matter when you lose your virginity, but it does matter that you do so thoughtfully and purposefully. Do it when you are ready, when you feel love and security within yourself.

Do not let someone else persuade you. Do not do things that feel unnatural to you. If something feels right, enjoy it. Be careful but not fearful; always protect yourself and others.

Do not let anyone else determine what or who you are. You know who you are, and above all else, God knows who you are. It is s/he who created you, beautifully, perfectly and sexually.

Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself.
Love possesses not nor would it be possessed;
For love is sufficient unto love.

-Kahlil Gibran on Love

Friday, April 9, 2010

Beautiful Women

"Beautiful women are invisible. . . . We're blocked by the beauty barrier. . . . No one can see the actual person. . . . We're so dazzled by the outside that we never make it inside."

- Elegy

Sharing our Recovery with Our Children

I just finished this book and I thought it was fantastic. But I was most excited to see a chapter devoted to children, as I don't think this is talked about enough.

Here are a few quotes I liked.

...children need something more. It doesn't do us any good if someone else is recovering and we aren't. If our children have lived with parents with active alcoholism, food, or sex addictions, unresolved adult children issues, or with parents lacking the ability to deal with feelings and be nurturing, then our children may have these problems too. If our kids have lived with parents who have been in pain, then our children are probably in pain too.

Not every child from a dysfunctional family will have troubles in his or her life, but many will. Some will adapt and people please until they bottom out in mid-life. Some won't know they're in trouble until they've had enough time struggling through life and relationships to understand they aren't doing well at either. Some will crash head on at a young age into jails, mental institutions, and morgues.

One of these days, and maybe that day has already arrived, we're going to collectively slap ourselves on our foreheads and wonder why we're waiting for our children to grow up before we give them the hope of healing and recovery.

We don't have to wait until our children are addicted or in trouble to intervene. We don't have to wait until our children hate themselves before we begin to teach them how to love themselves.

What can we do in our families, schools, and communities to reach the children? What do they need? They need the same things we need on an age-appropriate level. The children need to lose their invisibility. They need to be recognized as people who need their own healing process...Children need to know about the effects of alcohol and other drugs, but they also need to learn how to stop their pain. They need to learn how to love, nurture, and accept themselves. They need to know the family problems are not their fault.

We need families, churches, schools, and communities filled with healthy people so our children will have healthy role models and adults to interact with. They need to be surrounded by people who are enjoying life and doing their own recovery work, so they can see what the good life looks and feels like.

...there is hope for our families, our children, and ourselves. I believe in recovery. I believe in changed lives. I believe in children. I even believe in childhood.

- Melody Beattie, Beyond Codependency, "Sharing our Recovery with our Children"

Thursday, April 8, 2010


Today was my son's 7th birthday. Once again, it was ruined by my husband, with my son ending up in tears.

My husband decided to bring up a bunch of stuff at my son's birthday dinner about what he imagines my sexual life to be currently.

No thanks to my ex-friend (who is no more or less a "whore" than me), who took it upon herself to supply my soon-to-be-ex-husband with her version of reality.

I only wish I was having as much sex as everyone supposes. Literally, I can think of nothing better.

I am a sexual woman. I always have been. I do not have guilt or shame around that.

I never cheated on my husband while we were together. He did. At least 3 times that I know of, and I'm guessing much more.

But because I am a "woman" there is some bullshit double standard.

And I don't buy into that.

But I also don't think that it is appropriate for him to bring up what he "thinks" I have done - after our relationship is over - in front of our 3- and 7-year-old at our son's birthday dinner.

I have never told my son what my husband did with other women. Why would I??

It has nothing to do with him.

The only aim in that would be to hurt my son. And I would never do that.

Even if I were a "whore", I don't believe that would make me less of a person.

I absolutely do not believe that.

We as woman have intrinsic worth, above and beyond what society labels us. Jesus himself hung out with the prostitutes, which is something "Christians" seem to forget.

I remember as a young girl, my dad's second wife, in a fit of rage, told me that my mother was a whore. I burst into tears. I never got over it until I was in my late twenties. I realized, my mother was no whore. She is the best and kindest woman in the world. I was so sorry I had misjudged her, based on a vindictive and mean-hearted woman. Children are so innocent. God sees that and God makes his own marks.

There is nothing wrong with our sexuality. Nothing. God him/herself created it.

I will not let my son suffer. Perhaps this was a lesson he can learn now - and better for him to learn it now. Women are women. They are not whores or sluts or lesser than any man for having the same sexuality that a man is free to express without question or remark. Our sexuality does not determine who we are as a person.

I took my son aside, held him tight, and told him, YOU KNOW WHO I AM. NEVER FORGET THAT.

Later, my son told my daughter and I, "What daddy called you is something no one should call anyone."

He was right.

This is a poem I wrote when I was 19.

Whoring Lives

You left and suddenly,
you were fucking dad's employee
Wasn't quite appropriate for a Music Minister's wife
Mad, unstable mother -
we lived with dad
Visits were sneaking into a "no kids allowed" shit hole after your lover left you
hiding in the bathroom of a tiny studio inside a cabinet that was of course
That scrawny, bent-over manager tried to bribe you
with a little fix it all in the bathroom talk

we left.

There was an Albertson's dumpster out back
a new apartment for unwed mothers
digging out donuts bread cereal
you'd feed us Tuesday nights,
our nights.

Finally, your friend came back
pregnant mommy got married
"mommy moo moo"
but you were bigger than a cow,

Years later, I heart your mother, a whore
and the weeping never stopped
2 men and a rape were too much
sleeping around for the pretend-to-be-wife
of a Minister of Music
who was really only a daughter
of an alcoholic and a whore.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Transformation of Silence

I have come to believe over and over again that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood. That the speaking profits me, beyond any other effect.

In becoming forcibly and essentially aware of my morality, and what I wished and wanted for my life, however short it might be, priorities and omissions became strongly etched in a merciless light , and what I most regretted were my silences. Of what had I ever been afraid? To question or to speak as I believed could have meant pain, or death. But we all hurt in so many different ways, all the time, and pain will either change or end. Death, on the other hand, is the final silence. And that might be coming quickly, now, without regard for whether I had ever spoken what needed to be said, or had only betrayed myself into small silences, while I planned someday to speak, or waited for someone else's words. And I began to recognize a source of power within myself that comes from the knowledge that while it is most desirable not to be afraid, learning to put fear into a perspective gave me great strength.

I was going to die, if not sooner than later, whether or not I had ever spoken myself. My silences had not protected me. Your silence will not protect you.

For to survive in the mouth of this dragon we call america, we have had to learn this first and most vital lesson - that we were never meant to survive. Not as human beings...Because the machine will try to grind you into dust anyway, whether or not we speak. We can sit in our corners mute forever while our sisters and our selves are wasted, while our children are distorted and destroyed, while our earth is poisoned; we can sit in our safe corners mute as bottles, and we will still be no less afraid.

And it is never without fear - of visibility, of the harsh light of scrutiny and perhaps judgment, of pain, of death. But we have lived through all of those already, in silence, except death. And I remind myself all the time now that if I were to have been born mute, or had maintained an oath of silence my whole life long for safety, I would still have suffered, and I would still die.

We can learn to work and speak when we are afraid in the same way we have learned to work and speak when we are tired For we have been socialized to respect fear more than our own needs for language and definition, and while we wait in silence for that final luxury of fearlessness, the weight of that silence will choke us.

Audre Lorde, The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action

Sexuality for the Single Mom

This is a taboo subject unfortately. It's as if once we leave our marriages we are suddently supposed to have no desire left, except to care for our children. The same stigma is not put on a man who has a girlfriend but it is for mothers.

I made some decisions about how I would pursue my sexuality after my husband moved out. I had left a basically sex-less marriage, and I was certain I did not want to waste my sexual prime.

I had toys, lots of them. But that's not the same thing as having a real person. Not even close.

So, I made a commitment to myself that if I had an opportunity, and it was right, I would take it.

By right I mean that I knew the man and his sexual history, we used condoms and my children were in no way involved.

Of course, that often meant sex in bathrooms and cars - and at odd hours of the day...

But I did not want to have a "boyfriend". Coming out of a long relationship that felt stiffling, I did not want anyone else to have any say over me anymore.

I have always had a lot of male friends and I work primarily with men. I had several fun encounters, but not as many as I would have liked over the course of 2 years.

I felt I was being responsible. Afterall, I was putting my children first and I was cautious.

However, I made the mistake of telling one particular friend who took it upon herself to become God after an argument we had. She used the term whore and said I had slept with half our city. I told her I wish.

I thought it would end there, but she also took it upon herself to tell one of my lovers, an old high school sweetheart who I cared deeply for. He did not take the news well, despite our agreement that I would do as I pleased and keep it to myself. He lives in another city and only comes to town once or twice a year.

Then she called my husband, who I was in the process of divorcing.

Mind you, my husband is an alcoholic who brought cocaine into our home and cheated on me numerous times during our marriage. But he is still the father of my children, and this was information he didn't need to have.

To his credit, he didn't use it against me. He said it hurt his feelings and asked a few questions. To which I responded, look, you have your private life and I have mine. It's best to keep some of this stuff to ourselves.

He agreed.

So how do you maintain a fulfilling sexual life as a single mom?

First, I'd advise you to keep it largely to yourself.


"Character can not be developed in ease and quiet."

-Helen Keller

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Different Kinds of Love

"No one told me there are different kinds of love. The kind that starts deep and slowly wears away; that seems you will never use it up and then one day it is finished. Then there is the kind you do not notice at first but which adds a little bit to itself every day like an oyster makes a pearl, grain by grain, a jewel from the sand. That is the kind I have come to know."

- Nazneen Ahmed, Brick Lane

Mothers and Sons

My mother's mom is dying of cancer. And it sounds as if it is getting worse sooner than we had thought.

It was interesting to me that my mom told me she was afraid to leave my uncle.

My grandfather was an alcoholic and they were married for 36 years. They had 5 children. All are alcoholics, except for my mother, who somehow managed to not like to drink.

My uncle injured his back in his twenties and should have been in a wheel chair long ago according to most of his doctors. He is in constant pain, which is unfortunate. But he drinks too much and takes it out on my grandma, who he lives with. My grandma is one of the strongest women I have ever known. But I have seen her reduced to quiet tears by my uncle on a few occassions.

I adore my uncle. He's my favorite too. But it makes me cry just to think about this.

My family is not prone to cruelty. My grandma curses like a sailor but she has never been unkind to me or anyone that I can think of. She is direct - always direct - but never unkind. My uncle has never been cruel to me or my children. He is always kind no matter how intense his pain is on a given day.

I know he loves my grandma more than anything or anyone. He adores and worships her. And yet, somehow, I suppose like most people, when he is angry, his most beloved gets the brunt of it.

I have this theory about women living with alcoholics and the pain it causes them. I know so many who ended up with cancer, like my grandma. They take it and take it. It makes me very sad.

My grandma was not one for religion or Al-Anon. She said she could barely stand all the people in Al-Anon sitting around complaining about their problems. She has no patience for that. She just always got up and did the work that 5 children took. Perhaps she shut off her emotions, but I admire her in so many ways.

She also always took care of herself very well. Walking and swimming every day. Doing all sorts of exercise from Tai Chi to dancing. She ate well and drank moderately. She did smoke, but always disciplined herself to 2 cigarettes a day.

My other grandmother was not nearly as healthy, although they both were avid gardeners, and I think the fresh foods and exercise was great for both of them. But she will be 93 this year, whereas my mom's mother is only 70. Too young to die.

I was thinking the other day that my dad's mom had so much love from my grandpa. So much support. No one thought she would live this long, as she has had a heart condition for nearly 45 years. But love does wonders, whereas abuse kills.

And the difference it comes down to for me is that my dad's mother was able to live her life fully, in love and acceptance. Whereas my other grandma had to struggle every day to carve out a life for herself in spite of her circumstances.

Both managed to have good lives, but it was so much harder for my mom's mother.

I have been trying to make a point to spend more time with her. I stopped by the other day for lunch and headed back out again with my children on Saturday. I feel very fortunate for the love of both my grandmothers. Being a child of divorce myself, I know it was their support that held my life together at times.

I have often thought about my son and my relationship in terms of my grandmother and my uncle.

It is a hard spot to be a single mother. And I think that women married to alcoholics are usually single mothers, whether they are divorced or not.

You rely more on your children, which is in some ways unfair to them. I struggle between making sure my children are responsible and contribute to the family - and making sure that they also get to be children and have fun.

With my grandma and my uncle, I see them both rely on each other so much. In some ways, it is so beautiful. In other ways, I am sure it has been hard on both of them.

I wonder what will happen when they both need to die. I know my uncle is in terrible pain. So much so that my mother has told me to prepare myself for the day that he just kills himself.

But somehow, I think he would not do that to my grandma. That would kill her.

By the same token, she is sick and the time will come soon for her to die. And I fear she is holding on for the sake of my uncle.

I used to be so afraid of death and of losing someone that I love. Over the last 4 years or so, I have counted 16 friends and family who have died. It sort of all happened at once and it was hard. But what came out of it was acceptance about death.

"To lose a brother is to lose someone with whom you can share the experience of growing old, who is supposed to bring you a sister-in-law and nieces and nephews, creatures who people the tree of your life and give it new branches. To lose your father is to lose the one whose guidance and help you seek, who supports you like a tree trunk supports its branches. To lose your mother, well, that is like losing the sun above you. It is like losing--I'm sorry, I would rather not go on."

— Yann Martel (Life of Pi)

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Letter

My mom brought over a box of old pictures the other day and told me to take what I wanted. We started to look through them together, but there were a lot and my sister and boyfriend were here from out of town, so I told her I would do it later.

In the box was a letter written by my grandpa to my grandma in 1987, which would have been shortly before he died. I told my mom I did not want to read it. I knew it would be heartbreaking.

Today, I pulled the box out and began to look. Half-way through, I found the letter and decided to read it.

It was 8-pages of his handwriting, expressing his dismay over their marriage.

I am very teary-eyed and sad. The letter could have just as easily been my husband writing to me. I have always felt an affinity to my grandmother but this cements it.

I don't know why my mom has the letter or if my grandmother ever received it. I hope she did not. It was the typical alcoholic woe is me letter.

I have always felt that we attract our past and even our ancestry into our own lives in different ways. I know I have repeated many of the same mistakes my parents made - almost like I needed to try it myself anyway.

As a child, I saw my grandma give everything to her family. To this day, she still does. It is so sad to me that my grandpa didn't see that. It makes me wonder if he died feeling sorry for himself, instead of grateful for the life they had.


I saw this article in O Magazine this month and I thought it had a lot of interesting things to say.

I was taught that women existed to provide a service: to reflect the success of the male. So I did what many women do: I became a walking mirror, choosing men who would see only what I showed them.

Normal has always felt like a lie to me, a too-tight sweater we force ourselves to wear. Normal has never been too kind to women, to children, or to people of color, people mired in poverty, anyone different in any way. Normal is good for no one, really. It is a lie we all decide to believe--after even the most cursory look, no one is actually normal; it is a plastic bag we wrap around our own heads.

Allison Cooper, "The One".

Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Stoning of Soraya M.

This movie really touched me deeply. I have been struck recently by all the posts by fellow Christians this week coming up to Easter. I have felt that I don't know why we focus so much on the suffering of Christ 2000 years ago instead of people who are suffering around us.

Is this really what Christ's message was?

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Starting and Stopping An Argument

I started to have an argument last night with my husband.

It came out of no where it seemed, but looking back I suppose it had been building.

I've noticed that when I stop responding, the argument stops more quickly than when I try to defend myself. And the anger stops for me, quickly. I can read his texts and listen to his voicemails and realize that they are not about me.

He was angry that I was not more empathetic with him about something. To me, it seemed a ridiculous request.

I really hope that we can continue to be friends and grow our relationship. But at the same time, I am not willing to take abuse from him anymore.

I think the Sermon on Abuse from the Buddha teaches a really valuable lesson. We don't have to take abuse personally. We can hand it right back and becomes the property of the one who gave it.

It has become much easier for me to do this now that I see him less frequently. One reason I did not want to stay married is that I feared we would begin to hate each other. I never wanted to hate the father of my children. There has been a lot of wrongdoing, a lot of it. But if I chose to only focus on that, it will hurt me and it will hurt my children.

Friday, April 2, 2010

"I believed what they said and that was my fault. Instead, I should have believed what they did."

-Gene A. Johnson Jr.


"It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men."

-Frederick Douglass

Thursday, April 1, 2010


I've been in sort of a toxic space this week. I realized driving the kids to school this morning that I am still angry and resentful about some financial things with my husband and his father. I try not to think about that aspect very often because it seems to make the day-to-day harder with my husband and my own healing. But at the end of the day, money touches a lot of things in your life too.

I am just trying to acknowledge my feelings and hopefully at some point they will lessen or pass. It seems like whenever you try to cover something up, it pops up anyway.

Mothers (should) have Value

"...when nurturing children is truly valued, mothers who work at home will be economically protected and men will want to join us as equal partners in parenting."

- Harriet Lerner, The Mother Dance