50 Shades, All Grey: Depression

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cognition / emotional health / human experience / mental health

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EVERYWHERE she looked…grey.  IMG_2147

The sky, an unusually beautiful deep robin’s egg blue…grey. The scarlet roses in the garden that usually gave her so much joy and affirmation…grey. The pink-cheeked family that shared a fondness for laughter and loved her silliness…grey. The home that wrapped her in a yellow glow of warmth felt cold and grey. Her job with people who relied on her fiery red passion and the calming green hued wisdom…all grey. There was no escaping this dull hum of greyness. Of nothingness.
The absolute emptiness was palpable.

“You are so blessed!” They said. True.

“You have everything you could ever need!” They said. Yes, you’re right.

“Just smile!” They exclaimed. Ok.

“Wow! Look at you! You’ve really slimmed down! What’s your secret?” They complimented.  Ummm…not sure really. I don’t feel like eating, I guess?

“Looks like you’re gaining a little weight there, honey.” They warned. Yes. I can feel it. I can’t seem to get enough lately.

“You sleeping okay? You look so tired lately!” They inquired. No. I’m having some trouble sleeping. It’ll be better tonight I bet.

THIS escalated to:                                                      IMG_0181

“What’s wrong with you? You are healthy, you have a family, a great job, people who love you!” They shouted.  Absolutely. I do. You’re right.

“What is it NOW?” They demanded. I don’t know. Nothing maybe. I’m just tired.

“Snap out of it!” They yelled. Ok. You’re right. I will try.

“We all get depressed once in a while, shake it off!” They advised. Right. Of course. I’ll do that.

“We’re sick and tired of you just sitting there doing nothing to help yourself!” They observed. Ok. Me too.

“Just go talk to somebody”. They suggested. You’re right. I’ll do that.

“Enough with the pity party already!”  They warned. You’re right. I’m just feeling sorry for myself. Again.

“You are so selfish! It’s not always about you!” They spat. Yes. I know. I agree.

“Stop crying! You’re just being manipulative…crocodile tears…cut it out!”  They pleaded. I’m sorry. I’m trying to stop.

APATHY. Sadness. Crying jags. Loneliness. Isolation. Irreversible words. Anger. Self-blame. Guilt. Shame. Embarrassment. Hatred. Self-deprecation. Suicidal thoughts. Self-mutilation. Despair. Loss. Inner chaos. Train wreck. Emotional death. Weight gain. Weight loss. Failure.The abyss.

Pain – Everywhere…anywhere…anytime.

WHAT-IS-WRONG-WITH-ME? She finally asked the mirror through mascara stained tears.

I-don’t-know. Came the weak response, I really don’t know.

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Depression. It hurts everyone. It has no boundaries. It knows no class or socioeconomics status. It doesn’t care what race you are or about your religion or what your bias’ might be. How good your story is will not be judged. Everyone is welcome. You could be a blonde, black, brunette, auburn or gray haired man or woman. You might be short or tall, have light or dark skin. Highest one percent income or lowest…smart or dull…and everything in-between.

You might be able to disguise it better with nice clothes or makeup or jewelry, or purchasing things, or using drugs or gambling or karaoke, by dancing until you are ready to puke or being the funniest person in the room; but eventually it catches up no matter your efforts to mask or escape from it. When the clubs go dark and the people go home and the booze runs out there is only one being left to answer to. Yourself.

Go ahead and deny it, it chuckles way back there in the recesses of your mind, I’ve got your number!

It is the bounty hunter of a genetically predestined, traumatized and/or serotonin depleted brain. It lies in wait for the right moment when it might show itself by hijacking your thoughts and actions and wringing out any semblance of joy from your senses. It is heavy like a Mack truck that rams you in the chest while you’re turning to look in the other direction before walking across the street. There is no way out, it seems, from its talon-like grips.

Depression is a tricky character. It is sneaky and always lurking. It is an opportunist. It is a carnivore with a taste for the blood coursing through your veins until you give in at last out of sheer exhaustion. At this point you may also turn a ghastly shade of grey to blend with your world as you see it.

She begins to think that it would be a hell of a lot easier to have a heart attack or a broken hip. At least then people could try to sense the pain she goes through with each cycle of depression. At the very least she’d get flowers or a “get well” card. People appreciate the affliction which is concrete. A Band-Aid or a cast shows proof to people who are so quick to judge. Because she has nothing to show for this emotional turmoil and the ultimate in numbness with the grey decaying shell she sees and feels, she won’t get the help she needs. She will suffer in silence because people don’t believe in mental illness. She will continue to cut herself on the upper arm with lines as straight and narrow as she’d like to believe she is in order to see the blood and feel the pain that she cannot prove is real in her body and mind. She even questions herself at times. I probably just want attention like people are saying…maybe I am just lazy…I wouldn’t invite me either, I’m no fun….yeah, maybe it’s just my period…I’m just a mean person so I deserve this.

Depression will make you doubt yourself and your reality. You will question all your thoughts, words and deeds. You will wonder if you are crazy. You will look at others and wonder why it is that happiness escapes you somehow while the remainder of the world seems so well adjusted and satisfied. You thought you were normal. You thought life wasn’t supposed to be this hard; that it was just that you couldn’t keep up because you were somehow weak, flawed or unworthy.

NO ONE SHOULD HAVE TO WORK THAT HARD TO FEEL JOY OR HAPPINESS IN THEIR LIVES.

This isn’t just “her” problem. It’s OUR problem.

We all need to be walking EACH OTHER home.

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Your Attention Please:

By 2020 depression will be the #2 leading contribution to the global burden of disease. (World Health Organization), save.org/

Major Depressive Disorder is the leading cause of disability in the United States for ages 15 to 44.3. It affects approximately 14.8 million American adults, or about 6.7 percent of the U.S. population aged 18 and over in a given year. This can develop at any age, however, the median age of onset is 32.5. It is more prevalent in women than in men. This is an estimate, as many individuals, particularly males, do not report and ultimately go undiagnosed and untreated. (adaa.org/about-adaa/…/facts-statistics).

Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is a type of depression that occurs during the same season each year, usually in late fall or winter until early to late spring due to light changes in the environment. It’s prevalence in the U.S. ranges from 1.4 percent in Florida, to 9.7 percent in New Hampshire (Friedman, Richard A. (12/18/2007) “Brought on by Darkness, Disorder Needs Light”. New York Times.

For more information on depression or any other mood disorder seek information from reliable sources:

National Alliance of the Mentally Ill: NAMI.org

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance: dbsalliance.org/

Anxiety and Depression Association of America: adaa.org/

Centers for Disease Control: CDC.org

Suicide Awareness Voices of Education: SAVE.org

Freedom from Fear: Anxiety and Depression Resource Organization: freedomfromfear.org/

National Institute of Mental Health: nimh.nih.gov/

the shadow behind the wall…temptation

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cognition / emotional health / human experience / relationships / Uncategorized

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 EMPTY house. Empty bed. Morning shadows peeking in from closed curtains as if to see if he had made a decision regarding his own fate yet.

IT felt almost certainly that it was a one-sided relationship he’d been experiencing these last few years.  Most men might not have noticed; however, he was intuitively keen-sensed and more in touch with feelings than he was able to show overtly. There was some kind of unspoken agreement that he didn’t ever remember being asked his input on, nor was he given an opportunity to consent to. The  S—–P—–A—–C—-E  between them, for lack of better visual, was almost painful in it’s distance that kept him from her.  It created havoc in his emotional wiring, which tended to be fed by reciprocation and validation.  Both of which, he lacked. He felt no telepathic magic going on with this dangerous game anymore.  His powers of intuition were now shot. He’d done what he had never intended to do. He got lost in her. He broke boundaries and probably held court in a person’s head who had no business taking residence in his. In this case he received no comfort or warmth that he generally required of a relationship.

THE mere idea of her gave him such strong longing that, at times, holding back with it’s need for resistance created such pressure, such a sense of tension, that he felt powerless to it. Left alone with his thoughts, he obsessively spent hours second guessing past conversations that he’d assumed meant one thing, and yet maybe they meant something else altogether. He studied everything about her. All of his senses wanted to be around this mysterious being with the dark glances and broodingly quiet presence. He yearned to crack her open to see a beating heart. Surely she had one. Though it was kept hidden deeply inside herself. Buried deep underneath layers and layers of protection, as she’d been burned before, and deeply.

HE knew this about her like he knew her smell and the sound her soft chuckle made when he attempted what now seemed like inappropriate tries at building rapport. The only way he could identify with this type of emotional pain was to hit something and keep hitting it until his hand bled and his knuckles throbbed. His pain was then real to him. If she couldn’t see his genuineness then he would feel it for both of them. It didn’t seem fair and it didn’t feel right…this “thing”, whatever they had.

EACH and every response he got from her, be it verbal or nonverbal was akin to that perfect golf shot one gets; yet these were few and far between. He would think to himself that he must not be doing this right. He was the judge and jury as his motives were constantly being questioned. He sought boundaries and some semblance of a rule that might help him to understand why it wasn’t ok to have these feelings (lust? love?) while in the same breath he could rationalize them as just wanting sex. It was okay. It was normal. It was what guys do.

BUT it wasn’t. He felt more. He wanted more. He felt the need for her presence. There was a connection there. Pheromones? Souls colliding? What. The. Hell. Was. This. Bullshit?   IMG_3218

SO he would stop. He told himself this repeatedly. Historically he had always done whatever he had the urge to do.  He had been gluttonous almost and was able to reconcile that with the fact that he was a good person with all good intent. If there was to be a mess he would be the first there to clean it up. There were no consequences in his mind greater than the desire he felt to have it all. To have her love him. Or maybe need him. Which was it? He demanded of himself to know. He had to know. He had to organize this in his mind.

BOTH.

IN his current situation, though, he constantly questioned whether his good was good enough. He found that it may never be the right time or place for him to get it right with her. His best intentions were making a mess of him.  He’d like to pretend it all didn’t matter, that it would go away with time and distance. He would like very much to think that he didn’t need it in his life.  That there was no place for this one-sided friendship. It was becoming too much work for not nearly enough yield. Or maybe he hadn’t believed in himself and the power and strength that he had over good and evil. Maybe he could fight this magnanimous force with the thousand pound pull. Maybe he didn’t want to.  Wouldn’t it be so much easier to give in to temptation without fear of consequences? Didn’t he deserve to feel a sense of comfort and warmth with each tug and pull at the sleeve of that which provided minimal attention at best?

WHAT made him grab for the steel ring below when the platinum one hung at eyelevel?  He learned in his CCD classes decades ago that a sin was equal to the amount of awareness and  intent present in an action. A mistake, rather, was something that just happened. There was no intention or plan to be deceptive or to be untrustworthy. Therefore, his actions in the form of his feelings toward this woman were merely based on honest compassion and aided by his life circumstances at the time. A millisecond of relief rose in his heart and mind. Until he realized that he’d known all along what he’d been doing. What he didn’t understand was why the pull to her was so strong when there was so much to lose. A temptation that he felt testosterone-driven to acquire? Or a person that he might be able to love deeply. Madly. She, who wrapped around a soul that shared his own?

AND what about this life he already shared with a wife and children who he loved? He buried his head in his hands. The usually loud, vibrant sound of young children weren’t home. His dedicated, unassuming wife was out with them. He’d begun to sob quietly. How could this even have happened? How could he have allowed this to happen? He heard a voice inside himself beg to let it go. Let her go. Make this obsession leave him at peace to focus on his wife. His beautiful children. HIS LIFE.

Shadows fell as the sunlight dimmed in his quiet home where he placed his throbbing head on his office desk to alleviate the pain. He would fix this. He would manage this as he did his 237 employees. He would put this away in a neat, confidential file in his brain. He would attend church more.

He would resist temptation.

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The Flush Heard Around The World

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Humor / relationships

Last you heard, the Stepford Wives were potential conspirators in a murder scheme so sophisticated that, considering their teeny goldfish brain-size (one sixteenth of their actual body size) and their capacity for maintaining information with a memory bank that could hold an estimated half of a thought, (or one verb and one noun respectively) for approximately three months, given they survived that long, it would seem highly unlikely that our heroines of the tank could pull off something like this. Twice.  My ten gallon residential tank, aptly named the Tolerance Tank, had never experienced anything quite like this in it’s five short months of existence. It wasn’t just one beautiful life of a fish snuffed out prematurely, but two. Two innocents taken in a tank full of potentially intolerant, self-involved  goldfish.

Stepford Wives mingle with Pimp Daddy, Creamsickle and Maria prior to..."the event". I cannot go there.

Stepford Wives mingle with Pimp Daddy, Creamsickle and Maria prior to…”the event”. It’s just not right.

We might ask ourselves what our two victims, Maria the speckled, tricolored samba-swimmer and a very flashy, gold colored fish with a penchant for rapping to Frank Sinatra tunes , Pimp Daddy Gangsta, have in common. And why would they threaten a small tank of orange colored goldfish who liked to call themselves the Stepford Wives?

These “Wives” consist of Bobbi, Claire, Sarah, Joanna and Charmaine. None of these femmes fatale have been married or even engaged as far as I know. In the tank among our “wives” remain Thor, an effeminate white bodybuilder fish; and a two-tone fish named for an ice cream treat I had happened to be craving at the time, Creamsickle. I enjoy a good rootbeer float as well, however, it sounded a bit damning as a name for a fish. Each of these fine coldwater loving creatures was relocated from the local Petsmart with dreams of a new life in the suburbs. Feelings of joy shown on their upturned mouths with the thought of fresh flakes of fish food being sprinkled in abundance from somewhere in the sky into the tank daily.  There would be no more of that nasty threat to survival due to the tank of thousands of colorful fish dive bombing eachother in order to get to the meager  pet store morsels, usually ending up with only the bubbles from that small, quick, speckled fish that consistently took more than his fair share of the finite amounts of sustenance.

Creamsickle...not because she chose that name, but because I was hungry

Creamsickle…not because she chose that name, but because I was hungry; and Thor directly to the right of her. He’s a teeny shy.

•Fun Fact: Recent polls suggest that male goldfish think about food every fifteen seconds.

  • It is no surprise that both Maria and Pimp Daddy were two of the newest of newbies in our Tolerance Tank neighborhood.
  • Each joined the tank with a specialty of sorts, she a samba dancer and he a rapper.
  • Both were minority fish: Maria with her brilliant speckles of color and Pimp Daddy with his flair for fashion and expensive looking exterior. I already mentioned how he’d been mistaken for gold coins by fishermen in his life prior to the unfortunate Petsmart relocation in my last update on our friends.
  • Both came from rough neighborhoods originally, she from Phinny, he from Brookfin. Both neighborhoods were notorious for celebrating various traditions and holidays in flamboyant, joyous ways using lively music and lots of bubbly; gestures that may have ruffled a fin or two of our superstitious and uber controlled “Wives”, preferring to catalog shop, then snail-mail the packages rather than celebrating among anyone other than their safe little clique.

Those being the similarities, what might be possible motives for our “Wives” to want to “off” our then unsuspecting, now deceased friends:

  • Reputation? Money?
  • Did any of these water breathers have a history together?
  • By the way: Where in the hell is Creamsickle? I haven’t seen her/him in quite some time… (and for some reason I’m hungry)
  • And where is CSI when you need them?
  • And we’re up a creek since fish won’t talk….

Besides the disappearance of Creamsickle, the Tolerance Tank has been running pretty smoothly lately. Thor keeps to himself while the “Wives” entertain each other with Bunko every evening after their feeding. Tell me folks, what is wrong with this picture? I shall take my leave to think.

Hours later⇒ ⇒ Holy Mackerel, friends! THIS JUST IN: Creamsickle has been located. I repeat. Creamsickle Has Been Located. ⇐ ⇐

S/He was found lying underneath the gazebo in the far left corner of the Tolerance Tank! How on earth did the gazebo end up ON TOP of my Creamsickle??? Not floating does not mean NOT DEAD apparently. With no pulse all I can surmise is that Creamsickle is victim number three in the Tolerance Tank Serial Killings.

There s/he is…see the white tail looking thing peeking out from the gazebo structural looking contraption? What is wrong with this Tolerance Tank??? “Friends” not looking above or beside him/her! I. AM. APALLED.

This leaves me to wonder still….

  • Because Creamsickle was named for my craving, does that mean I will no longer feel the need for ice cream of the vanilla- orange sherbet kind? Could I ever partake again?!
  • Might this be a copycat crime the likes of which we haven’t seen since The Wizard of Oz? And if so,
  • Are “Little People” involved here as well? And if so,
  • What about witches and flying monkeys? It is close to Halloween after all…

What are we to take away from another ghastly day in the Tolerance Tank?

If you happen to see the ladies pictured here: Bobbie, Joanne, Claire, and Sarah...where's Charmaine?

If you happen to see the ladies pictured here: Bobbie, Joanne, Claire, and Sarah…be frightened…we may be dealing with masterminds here. Although they appear harmless enough, their tiny brains are most likely hatching a plot to take over the Tank. Oh dear, where’s Charmaine? Anyone seen Charmaine? Oh dear God….

A. Something fishy is going on in Tolerance Tank Town.

B. Maria, Pimp Daddy G and Creamsickle were either strategically murdered by a shameless gang of Wives, or our white confection-looking, Thor. Unless, of course, they were simply victims of unpleasant circumstances.

C. Thor is the only minority fish left now shacking up with our Wives; all living separate lives it appears. Either they each have an iron clad alibi or someone’s up a creek without their fins! Tune in next time as we take a peek inside the Tolerance Tank.

RIP Hortense “Creamsickle” McVey, craving-instigator

 You will be missed; the extra pounds will not!

Creamsickle...not because she chose that name, but because I was hungry

Creamsickle…not because s/he chose that name, but because I was hungry. RIP

⇒⇒⇒⇒⇒⇒⇒⇒⇐⇐⇐⇐⇐⇐⇐⇐⇐⇐⇐⇐

CHARMAINE!!!! LIFE SUPPORT! STAT!!!

CHARMAINE!!!! LIFE SUPPORT! STAT!!!

 STAY TUNED……

Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star….aw, bite me.

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emotional health / human experience

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♦ Twinkle twinkle life is hard; you don’t get to choose your hand of cards.

Up above in the heavens and in the spaces down below, people are hurting and dying just to know

Why no one cares or no one who does shows

integrity and grit, only greed and shameless souls. ♦

You see there, I have taken a tired, old nursery rhyme full of fun and wonder and made it work for me. Because I’m bitter, that’s why.  And guess what? Bitter is NOT the new black like the very funny book by Jen Lancaster says it is. Bitter is just ugly and negative and spiteful and NOT what I want to aspire to (or need to aspire to since I am clearly already there.)  I can find nothing redeeming about something that, in it’s adjective form, is defined as:

“characterized by intense antagonism or hostility: bitter hatred; or hard to bear; grievous; distressful: a bitter sorrow.”

How does one live like this for long periods of time? It’s been a week for me and I already feel the need to shoot myself. I remember defining a grandmother as “bitter” because she was someone who liked to put others down a great deal. She would hold grudges and spread rumors and seem genuinely unhappy often times. Because she was resentful toward the other side of my family, a history that went way back to high school for her, my sister and I received one hand towel and one roll of toilet tissue from her at Christmas one year. I was about ten at the time so I don’t quite remember if “hand towel” had been on my short list of Christmas hopefuls or not, but I was gracious and surprised to say the least.

It was at an even earlier age than that when I realized that the world just didn’t operate fairly. While others lived in a reasonably happy home among two doting parents, I had one over-worked, totally stressed out parent and one who thought he was an FBI agent, having already won a gold medal in the Olympics and been drafted by both the Giants AND the Red sox respectively. And forget the “home” part, we moved so often that to this day I can only  define “roots” to you as “belonging to a plant”.

I stress to you, however, that this is not a pity party.  It’s a realization that we have to make something out of what we’ve been given.

Take something and make it beautiful.

How can we not see the beauty in the setting sun, a baby’s sweet smile; rain that produces rainbows; fresh air in your face on a warm day; fresh fallen snow; your proud kid beaming; a new day…and another…and another? I’ll tell you how we lose track of all that good stuff…we get caught up in competing and comparisons and we stop appreciating the simple breaths we take and the very moments we live.  We stop practicing mindfulness.

I feel as though I have lost a week of my life to pettiness and the hope that karma would get a hold of some people’s jugulars and squeeze…s.t.i.l.l…squeezing….no. I am not proud….not done squeezing….ok.

Easier said than done. I shall try again tomorrow. sigh.

♦ Twinkle twinkle angry me. Learn to let go or remain in misery.

There’s too much you miss when you choose to be

so full of disgust and hostility.

Up above let me be free to see

the world in all its tranquility.

With a hopeful heart and a sight for the good,

let me see in others their intentions I mistook. ♦

AMEN.

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She with the stilettos dripping in excrement

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emotional health / human experience / mental health / relationships

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She works alone in the dark, behind dumpsters full from the waste leftover from those who she spit out after she’d won another match.  It’s always in the darkest of night when she caws rather barbarically, throwing caution to the Gods, who she professes to entrust her life to. She’s a hypocrite. She has no conscience. You are nothing but a gateway to what she really wants. She fed you, stroked your ego til you began feeling amazing and powerful and now you are nothing but the urban dust and decay on the tiny heel of her fancy stiletto that gets her from Emotional High Street to Downtown Main Street.

She looks like an innocent. Outside appearances hide the ugliness within her well manicured nails and designer purses that hold her arsenal of influence. She will attempt to buy you. Not your love, but your influence. You won’t have seen it coming. Everyone has a price. She will use you. You will not know how you came to that decision. She will devour you and moments later, she will vomit you back up as she must leave room for more souls. It will be as if you return from the bowels of her very own hell, and in the form of weakness and shame, you limp away before being snatched up and heaved into the dumpster to rot.

If you are spared, She will call your shots. You will open your mouth and speak as if a puppet attached to her golden purse strings. You will be victimized and angry. People will talk about you. They will murmur how shocked they are that you have breached all lines of ethics and morality. You will feel a ting of regret. You won’t always know why though, because the mere peasants that you crap on will be too busy shoveling excrement off their faces to see clearly; they don’t like conflict, you see. That is why She is able to continue to manipulate and take advantage of you.

Your faithful friends will question you behind your back. They will continue on as usual though. No one will stand up for the victims in the dumpster. Why would they? They too, could be eaten up.  What is in it for them? There is nothing but integrity and character to gain from such an act of rebellion. It is far too risky to stand up to She, with the cunning strategy and arsenal of positive appearing reinforcements for her minions to share and, like crack they stow away in corners and smoke of the toxic goodness that makes them forget how unworthy they feel for being paid for their silence.

Even high they know that standing up for something right is too lofty a price to pay for them. The risk does not outweigh the rewards they are receiving for their quiet compliance. Not yet anyway. And the beat goes on until some very brave someone with absolutely everything to lose stands up and murmurs half to herself and half to those who might come up from the excrement,

stop. this is wrong.

At that tiny sound, a person or two  might peek up from the fecal matter and hone their ears to listen.

we are better than this. stand with me. Pleeeeaassse.

Suddenly there will be multitudes of people, shaking the feces out of their ears and listening to this small voice.

Please. Stand up for what is right and good. We are more powerful together!

Please…..show me that human kind is caring and loving and good. I need to see your goodness! Please stand up for what is right! Don’t fall for false idols with stilettos and money! Fight for people! Fight for what is right!……right?…We can do this together…!

Spineless people, afraid of retribution, will scurry back into their comfy holes of shit. It was just safer down there.

Suddenly realizing that maybe nobody actually cared, our very brave someone, now deflated, will wipe the tears from her eyes and face, sit resolutely in place and shout,

THEN DAMMIT, I’LL WAIT!

At this point she silently forgave those who sold out; and prayed for the world, her piece of a very large world, that God would help people see what potential she saw if only they would come together and demand change.

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All You Need Is Denial

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human experience / relationships / Uncategorized

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“Above all, let your love for one another be intense, because love covers a multitude of sins”. I Peter 4:8

I saw this quote today and it stuck with me. I suppose it is love that covers the multitude of flaws people come to us with daily – and we to them. It could be love for mankind in the larger sense, love for a specific cause because we’ve been touched deeply in some way, love for the sake of love, as in “I love the lightheaded feeling of being in love” or just the opposite – seeing so deeply into another being that we only acknowledge the goodness that connects us and draws us ever closer, in spite of the strain that time and life events can have on relationships. At that point all reasonable thought might hypothesize that this thing we call “love” supersedes ego beyond any narcissistic need.  It is hard to put this into rationale wording….we hear things like, “it’s amazing”, “I’m floating on air”, “I can’t think straight”, “light-headed”, “I feel alive”, “colors seem brighter”…good grief. It’s hard to put scientific logic to the depth and sphere of that kind of love. It isn’t rational. What we can measure are dopamine receptors and serotonin quantities in the brain; also, the biofeedback from those who have physical changes going on when a certain person comes into a room. There seem to be an infinite amount of tests, both written and oral to try to explain and examine this phenomenon. Then there are just those who accept, embrace and enjoy the hell out of this feeling.

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It is an emotion that has the power to make us laugh, cry, flirt, turn red, do any number of strange things; feel passionate feelings of anger, jealousy, fear, frustration, joy, happiness, silliness, pain, sorrow, excitement…..you name it. Not being much of a romantic myself. At all (sadly). I have always rather intellectualized this Love Thing. For example, I have gone to bat against getting tattoos between the ages of 18-50 with any semblance of love in the message, suggesting that most people over romanticize the mere idea of love. In reality though, this love thing must be a terribly deep and powerful feeling to be able to say “love conquers all” as ancient Roman Latin poet and author of the epic Aeneid, Virgil, did. I have been too shallow to experience the kind of intensity that would have one dying to or for something/one. Until I had children. Then I began to truly understand it.

And to fear it. “It” was almost too intense. What if my angel fell and hurt herself? Worse, what if she was left at school and felt forgotten because she didn’t have a cell phone, mine died and I was stuck in traffic? What if, God forbid, my beautiful child got kidnapped or tortured somehow and I wasn’t there to save her? Ultimately, WHAT IF I TRULY GAVE MY HEART TO THIS HUMAN BEING AND SHE LEFT ME AND THIS WORLD, THROUGH DEATH?

How could I ever breathe again? And would I even care to?   IMG_1821

So friends, you can see my dilemma. Distance or engulfment. Yikes! to both.

This has taken me well into my almost-golden years to understand. I don’t do things half-way, generally. A self-preservationist at heart, putting myself out there in Vulnerable Land is not where my car is generally headed. So imagine my chagrin when I realized that LOVE is what it is all about.

Raise your glass to love my friends! Relationships are what keep people – the fallible human being kind – moving, growing, living. These connections are critical to how we think, feel and go through our lives in relative harmony. They are the mirrors with which we see ourselves…our worth seen through someone’s eyes that we truly love and respect (you can do one without the other, btw) is both integral to ones ego strength and development as well as catastrophically empty if there is a void there.

The reason for this is because people need to receive validation from other beings. How good does it feel to receive positive feedback from someone you respect and appreciate or fear even – like a boss or parent. Compare that to the feeling you get from someone you feel deeply enamored by. It is fairly close, but one leaves us feeling like we’re walking on air. Thats the connectedness that comes from depth and the ability to be real and still be accepted. Even older couples can score that kind of magic if they work extremely hard at it.

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I have allowed, even encouraged myself to avoid this at all costs most of my life. It makes perfect sense to me and others like me, who are more comfortable being in their heads than in their hearts. We are the “sensible” ones, the “rational” ones. The “Wow! You have such wisdom!” ones, who won’t follow our hearts if our lives depended on it. Why?

Because messing with emotions is tricky business. It opens up raw feelings that tend to complicate and entangle rather than simplify and tame. Would you wash your hair and NOT use a conditioner to detangle and keep the frizzies out? Thats my pathetic metaphor for getting rid of dry, brittle uncomfortable things akin to raw feelings. It seems to me that a prudent individual would be quick to smooth it over with creme rinse to keep them from experiencing the intensity of dry, brittle split ends feelings. It helps for those in survival mode who cannot tolerate much more drama in their lives so there is some benefit to my denial or condition-it-away process. It has a time and a place. However, if you are looking for a life beyond being on autopilot, might I suggest a wake up call?

Hello?  Your life is calling! You can either answer it or let it go, but love is  maybe possibly probably the answer to the question you were meaning to ask and didn’t. by the way, it’ll be worth it. And so are you.

Bruno Mars wonders: Who would you catch a grenade for? Throw your hand on a blade for? Jump in front of a train for? I’ll get back to you on that one, but I can assure you that I would.

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be like water

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human experience / relationships / Uncategorized

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The first time I’d ever seen the phrase “Be like water” it was scrawled in red spray paint across a section of the Pont’s des Arts footbridge, or “Bridge of Locks” as it’s become known, in Paris, France. It had been written in all caps that must have been at least four to five feet tall and forty feet wide. I found it peculiar at best – a bit puzzling initially.  There was something quite deep philosophically; yet, downright disrespectful to the beautiful Paris attraction at worst. I didn’t have a good camera shot at it as people were in my way while gazing along the famous bridge to the Seine River underneath, along with all the hundreds of thousands of locks that had taken up residence there.

A gorgeous sight, that bridge. A hopeful, inspiring place where one would join with his spouse, companion, lover, and friend then promise forever and click the padlock shut before tossing the key into the Seine. It should be that simple…love I mean. It should be as concrete as purchasing a padlock, attaching it to a chain link fence and making a promise before a lovely scenic river among hoards of tourists all making that same guarantee. For just three euros a couple could pick up a lock and write their names on it with a permanent marker also made available at the kiosk. Forever for three euros! That’s a bargain, friends!

The Bridge of Locks before parts of it broke due to the heavy strain of thousands of padlocks weighed it down, loosening the links. Hopefully it wasn't a metaphor for thousands of hearts broken and promises unkept....

The Bridge of Locks before parts of it broke due to the heavy strain of thousands of padlocks weighing it down, loosening the links. Hopefully it wasn’t a metaphor for thousands of hearts broken and promises not kept….

Eternal love aside, I went back the next day to photograph those words in paint that had haunted me. Three simple words had taken my attention off of the romanticism that has the power to have inspired writers and painters, poets and prophets. That quote  – graffiti really – that, to me, trumped foolhardy love with it’s concrete promises, was quite profound. In fact, love is very difficult to explain and particularly hard to maintain. This quote held with it something more tangible to me than mere promises made with keys and padlocks. So much so that it had remained heavily on my mind ever since I’d happened upon it a day earlier. Unfortunately for me, it had already been painted over, to the point where one wouldn’t have ever known it had existed. I questioned whether I’d actually seen it there or made it up or maybe it was on another bridge overlooking the Seine River with locks attached to it’s chain links? I looked it up on google to see if it even existed outside of my head.

“Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way around or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves.

Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.”  ~Bruce Lee

I’m guessing “Be the water” is a close cousin to “go with the flow”, except it sounds deeper to me. It puts me in charge of how I react to my circumstances. It assigns me a role to play in my life. Beyond going with the flow, it makes me the flow and charges me with personal responsibility for my own peace and harmony. I can fight the crowd or I can be one with the movement of the crowd and eventually get beyond the crowd. Does it say be a chameleon? No. It says to find a way around or through something.

For example, if due to life circumstances I cannot continue in a relationship, be it friend or lover or partner, I must resolve to charge ahead, over, around, and/or through it, to overcome and be my best self. Fluid motion is key. Remaining stuck or stagnant is a form of death. Death of life, death of soul, death of potential, death of joy. Being rigid makes us place obstacles around ourselves and others. It makes seeing clearly almost impossible according to Bruce. If we are rigid we have already decided we know the ending to the story. That being the case, then why continue?  Do we have that much power? We don’t, do we? Young children are often like water. Wide eyed and accepting. Learning and growing with each new experience. It is us, the ones who “know better”, that tend to fight so hard to stay young, maintain the status quo, give in or give up out of fear. Fear changes people. Fear beats down life. It comes in all different sizes, shapes, colors, titles, diagnosis.

I say choose life. Be empowered. Be water, my friend.

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Belle parole non pascon i gatti (or, “fine words don’t feed cats”).

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human experience / Humor / Uncategorized

IMG_2847  Contrary to what some of my less travel-curious friends may think, I got much more than just an apron depicting full-frontal biblical character, David, in all of his marble glory during my eight day stay in one of the most fascinating and historical places on earth. I got a headful of interesting and useful facts that I can use to finally compete in a game of Trivial Pursuit: The Country Version.  Not only that, but Rome, Italy and surrounding cities are everything I’d imagined them to be AND a bag of chips.

  • In a city of approximately three million of the most gracious, benevolent people I may have ever met, it is also home to the smallest country, Vatican City. A country consisting of approximately nine hundred residents and three thousand employees, it is on record as the smallest country on earth, one-eighth the size of Central Park in New York City. I could explain how and why this all happened, as originally, Vatican City was considered a part of Rome, but I’d have to say it in Italian and I’m guessing my audience is not fluent at this time.

    Sistine Chapel, Vatican City

    Sistine Chapel, Vatican City

  • My grasp of the rich and gorgeous Italian language has grown from simply “ciao” (hello, goodbye) and  “toilette” (toilet, bathroom, potty), to “prego” (your welcome), “grazi” (thank you), and “bella” (beautiful). Naturally I heard the latter a great deal while on holiday there. My “fabuloso” (fabulous) new leather purse felt like butter and looks like I spent “mucho denaro” (much money). The Italian people may not have found my face to be awe inspiring, however, I did find an amazing leather store while in Florence to brag about.
  • The aqua there is the most lovely tasting spring water I have ever encountered. According to my sources from YAHOO! Answers, Rome has the best water in all of Europe. So there you go! As a side note, I believe I look years younger as well.

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    People drink and fill cups at these fountains. It’s a beautiful thing, I tell you!

  • The people are passionate about their art, food, wine and driving. Yikes. Art is just phenomenal…one cannot be skittish either, as the human body is most assuredly art. I can say I learned a thing or two about the male mind AND body. The food is fantastic from the most plain of  salads with lettuce, tomatoes, olives and mozzarella to the more intricate raviolis with squid ink ricotta cheese and prosciutto. The wine is also incredible, and I don’t typically love wine. A five euro bottle of wine will not only get you pleasantly drunk, but in an emotional state I like to call heaven on earth. It’s that wonderful. The driving…well, let’s just say each person I was fortunate enough to drive with knew the size of their vehicles extremely well.  Also, painted lines on roadways, AKA lanes, aren’t necessarily used as boundaries between vehicles, and definitely not for motorcycles, who go wherever, whenever they fit.
  • No one is shy about the penis – whether in a conversation, amid the architecture, displayed on paintings, on the streets or in the museums of Rome and Florence, the beat goes on. However, while in the churches, cathedrals and Vatican City there are dress codes. Bare shoulders and any skin above knees must be covered. Shawl and scarf vendors have a niche beside the more famous of these. Genius, I tell you.

    ...one of the many...

    …one of the many…

  • Michelangelo’s “David”, of David and Goliath fame, hangs out in the Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence (less than two hour train ride from Rome). NOW THAT’S A MAN! Or a work of unbelievable artistic genius, rather…I meant. And I’m not just talking about size here. Regardless, I shall be weary about bringing my souvenir apron to show my second grade CCD classes when we cover David and Goliath during our Bible story time.
  • Here’s a fun fact: Women’s lines to the toilette are just as long, if not longer, in Rome. The men whiz in and out as usual while we, the child containers, resulting in heavily-bladder-affected women must simply stand and move slowly. Much like cows to milking we shuffle to a small room with maybe two stalls. Each appears made for a fit, petite woman. Seat covers? Ha. Squat or get wet with unidentifiable urine. Half the time there are no seats with which to sit, if you do that sort of thing. Great for your thighs though!

    Bathroom line at Vatican City...oi vey!

    Bathroom line at Vatican City…oi vey!

  • St. Ignatius is AWESOME. And so is his church. The frescos there are unbelievable. They appear to be coming straight off the ceilings as the 3-D effect painted by Andrea Pozzo is no less than astounding. His illusionistic technique will blow your mind. A Jesuit himself, he made legendary Jesuits, along with biblical stories come to life on the ceiling of this historic church. I’m in love, yet again!
    St. Ignatius church fresco...I'm sure I'm in there among the saints...

    St. Ignatius church fresco…I’m sure I’m in there among the saints…

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  • And Pompeii! Holy volcano, Batman! This place is archeologically, structurally and socioeconomically so significant, not to mention very cool. These Romans knew several things: how to party, how to build shit and how to care for ALL people, not just the more well off citizens. These ruins show civilization far advanced than that of ours in ways I don’t even have words for. (Strange, I have so many words usually…and prego). When Mt. Vesuvius erupted in A.D. 79 it completely destroyed the largely seaside vacation city of Pompeii, covering it with volcanic ash while moving the body of water south two miles. What remains is the shell of what defined life in those times. From brothels to farms to homes with prominent wealth and the more common folk, Pompeii represents all that was decent about humanity while fitting in what was seen as okay in a civilization that looked at men and their needs as not so terribly different than they do even today. The brothel had a fresco menu showing sexual position selections, much like Burger King, so men could literally have it their way. I kid you not! On another note, there are actual people and animals found in positions befitting the panic and fear of this eruption just prior to them being covered and burned with this deadly volcanic ash. Pompeii is still half covered with volcanic ash, which they have left for future generations to uncover. History came alive for me in Pompeii.
    You didn't think I was kidding, did you?

    You didn’t think I was kidding, did you?

    Pompeii ruins

    Pompeii ruins

  • I went through my own personal hell to be able to pass through heaven. Yes, I did. The Amalfi Coast and Positano are the most gorgeous sites I may ever see with my eyes half shut, while praying to God that I can hold down my breakfast. This is an area built literally along the Mediterranean Sea amid the cliffs above. It was as breathtaking on the eyes as it was ruthless on my stomach. It took major maneuvering to conquer this  raw, beautiful land via van. Our driver was an expert, for sure. I only threw up four times. I’m afraid it could have been worse with a mere novice at the wheel. Next time, rather than omit this heavenly paradise from my list, I shall be airdropped directly to Positano’s beach front, preferably in a lounge chair with a limoncello in wait.
    Positano

    Positano

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    not-so-fun fact: while my comrades were out of the van taking pictures such as this, I was along the side of the road barfing…see those hills people?….oi vey…. I take pride, however, as I am one with the Southern Italian earth.

Those who know me even a tiny bit, know there is probably so much more I have to say, yet I shall cease for now. Jet lag is a curse that compels me to eat carbs in the form of bread and chocolate. Just let it be known that the world is a vast and magical place. As my friend, Michelangelo said, “I am still learning”. We are but a grain of sand to the whole of it. You may quote me.

Ciao babies!

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Impure Thoughts: The story of my life…

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human experience / Humor / Uncategorized

 

Thank you Dave Matthews for the interesting cover. One question - where you he get my picture? I am center, far right.

Thank you Dave Matthews for the interesting cover. One question – where in the world did you get my picture? I am center, far right.

To wake up and immediately go for the salt and vinegar kettle cooked chips on the corian countertop in the kitchen was naturally a bad idea. The message I received from that small gesture of self-destruction was clear however. I was overwhelmed. It would become that kind of day. A day full of fat-fueled bad ideas. A self-pitying, guilt-induced angry “bite me.”- “what are you looking at?!” kind of day. But it wasn’t supposed to be that kind of day. I was supposed to be efficient and focused and organized. I realize you’ve heard this from me before. But I wasn’t prepping for anything like this before!  I was supposed to keep my eye on the prize….in less than a week I would be in Rome. The Rome in Italy. Rome-fricken-Italy people! Not only does that sound farfetched for a gal from the trailer park like myself, but it is surreal and I’ve been in total denial.

What if the Pope (THE fricken POPE!) thinks I am a blundering idiot? What if this beautiful, holy man sends word directly to God that I am not worthy for some reason? What if saying “fricken” in between “THE” and “POPE” is a sin?!!! Oh dear Lord, you know I love that man, don’t let me blow it now. And why didn’t I study for this?!  I’m picturing myself being escorted out of St. Peter’s Square by Armed Pope Guards just based on my thoughts lately.

It goes down like this. Suddenly, just as I pick up my phone to take a selfie while in St. Peter’s Square, I would see fellows in snappy black uniforms marching up toward my rear end (granted, not my best side) with grand head gear like maybe the 4th degreed Knights of Columbus wear at funerals – fancy, like a pirates hat sort of – that displays their Pope Police emblem (I’m picturing a cross with some kind of sword. Oh, and an icon for handcuffs too).

“Hey! You in the red tank top and skinny jeans!” One large, muscular Italian man in Pope Police uniform would bellow in Italian while pointing at me, “Clean up your thoughts or get out of this area!”

I would then smile and give a teeny wave before turning more red than my “Totally-Really-Red” fingernail polish.  First off, I know not what he’s said and therefore would probably imagine it was something quite complimentary, as I am narcissistic like that. Second, how would I clean my thoughts anyway, even if I were able to speak any Italian?  His critique of my mind-matter would really just serve to make me obsess about such thoughts further, wondering, for example, how on earth the Pope Policeman knew who or what impure thoughts I may or may not have been thinking. Surely I wasn’t naming names or positions or such nastiness. NOT AT THE VATICAN for God’s sake!

“This area is for pure thoughts only! And by the way, you have no business wearing skinny jeans!” Another burly Italian man with Ray Bans befitting a secret service agent, spouts off, also in his beautiful Italian language; which, of course, is incongruent from the actual message. Which I would not at all find beautiful. In fact, had I known (still in my fantasy) that he was being insulting I would have…why, I would have…probably cried.  Out of embarrassment as well as the money spent on said skinny jeans.

Then, just as he was leaving he would point rather decisively at my bare shoulders. Naturally I could only continue to assume that this was playful flirtation. This man couldn’t quite get enough of me. So I would bat my eyelashes in response, maybe swish back my hair for kicks. Thank goodness I was protected by my ignorance of the Italian language, as I was spared the entire insulting mess.

What I didn’t know that I needed to know, however, was that wearing a tank top to St. Peters Square sans the shoulder-covering tres chic black blazer (Italians like black, it’s classier, I hear) was a distinctly huge no-no. A tourist would then look at me and point to a sign that read, “COVER YOUR SHOULDERS prior to entering the Vatican!”  I would, of course, nod in response and mumble something about her “probably being a hall monitor in middle school” and hope to hell the spiteful words didn’t get past my lips and out to Pope Police ears.

And yet, here I am in my office in the USA. My busy fantasy life is not going to get my bags packed, now will it?

There was only one other time when I was in denial this deep. It was when I was pregnant with #4. I may still be (in denial, not pregnant with #4 child) and that would explain a lot, but that’s for another day. Right here and now I am going to explore with you how and why a person can actually rationalize away almost anything. I will attempt to do this using a male voice (could be tricky) and a female voice (got this one nailed!). “Manage Your Now” creator, Michael Linenberger, organizer, motivator extraordinaire will be disgusted but I’m sure he’ll manage.

MALE THOUGHT:

Hurry up! It’s time to go!

FEMALE THOUGHT:

I’ll be down in a minute or make that five. While your goal is to get there, mine is to eventually be there smelling amazing and looking fabulous.

MALE THOUGHT:

It’s so simple, just prioritize and follow your list.

MY THOUGHT: (you’ll notice I switched over from “WOMEN” to “MY” to take full responsibility for my poor attitude around keeping irresponsibility alive and well. All women aren’t this, um, “disorganized with purpose”, I guess I’d say).

You. Are. Simple…. if you think I will just write a list and actually follow it! What if I lose my list? I already have seven going so far! No, my way is better. I will get to it when I’m done figuring out how to untangle this necklace. It’ll look stunning with my black tank and that maxi skirt, you know the one. I got it the day I suggested you relax and let me take over the finances and you made some snarky control-freak face and….remember??….where’d you go?  Hello?????….

MALE THOUGHT:

I asked you to do one thing. Pick up my dry cleaning so I can pack.

MY THOUGHT:

I asked you to do one thing last week. Make dinner for six people, keeping in mind that you helped make four of them, one of which will only eat bagels with cream cheese. Did that happen? I ended up working all day, coming home to the aroma of what? Dog pee. You forgot to let the dog out too. Did you ever hear me complain? No. There I was scrambling around looking for what to make while mopping up urine from a 160 pound dog who drinks two gallons of water per day…wait…are you there?…hello? Are you even listening?

(I put a bowl of chips out! he yells from the nether regions of the house.)

MALE THOUGHT:

You don’t need to pack that much stuff.

MY THOUGHT:

How often does one go to Italy? How am I supposed to know what the weather will do?

(look it up, he says)

That was hypothetical, I know what it says, what I don’t know is what it MIGHT do if it doesn’t do what it says it will do. A girl needs backup clothes. You know, clothes for the clothes that are inappropriate somehow or get a spaghetti stain on them or God forbid we get our periods! After all, weather, though fairly predictable at various times of the year as a whole, is not an exact science on a day to day basis. Sure, Doppler weather predicting is much more accurate than it used to be, but….hey, where are you going? I’m still talking here! RUDE.

MALE THOUGHT:

Yes. Just wear that. (he says while working on his computer)

MY THOUGHT:

Ah….so you like my new skinny jeans with this red tank top? You’re sure it looks ok to wear to Rome? I figure I’ll pair it with my tres chic black blazer. I hear that Italian’s adore black. It’s classy. Don’t you think?

 

THE MORAL OF THE STORY:

  • Do NOT wear sleeveless shirts to the Vatican.
  • Learn the language of the country you decide to venture to.
  • Skinny jeans apparently aren’t for everyone…sigh…
  • Spanx can hide a myriad of unpleasant sights.
  • Men and women tend to speak different languages even though they come from the same country, state, city, street, house.
  • High fat, greasy snack foods are not a good way to begin one’s day unless one is in college and hungover.
  • A pure mind is a…well, I don’t know, I’m not sure I’ve ever had one…
  • When in Rome…(I’ll let you know upon my return!)

 

Many thanks are in order to Ralph Waldo Emerson. Can I get an "Amen!"?

Many thanks are in order to Ralph Waldo Emerson. Can I get an “Amen!”?

Transitioning with Joy, the noun

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emotional health / human experience / Humor / relationships / Uncategorized

IMG_2605 “Once upon a time there was a beautiful, smart woman and her handsome, intelligent husband who’d had a sweet little princess, who we’ll call “Joy”(because I want to and it’s my damn story). Life was good. Joy was happy initially, however as she neared her 2nd birthday she seemed bored with her doting mother and indifferent to her father who worked long hours at his job. The mother suggested that they have another baby. After all, they had so much more love to give, and wouldn’t Joy just love a sibling! It was decided. They would have another child to occupy Joy’s unfulfilling two year old days. To everyone’s, well, joy, this lovely family had a beautiful son! They named him Tom (because next to Dave Matthews, I adore Tom Brady, that’s why).

Tom was the light of little Joy’s eye. She would be Tom’s first unofficial teacher, friend, swimming instructor, craft organizer, opponent in matchbox car racing; Tom’s big, loving sister. Sure she was bossy and overprotective, but she was as much a part of him as he was a part of her from the moment the family brought him home from the hospital.

When Tom cried, it was Joy who placed his pacifier lovingly in his mouth, as much to shut him up so she could watch “Dora The Explorer” as to see him contented. She did not want to see this round, cuddly little infant sad, plus he was drowning out her Spanish lesson with Dora! When Tom was taken on outings he had both a pacifier (binki, sucker, paccie, whatever) and a small blue blanket that he liked to rub between his thumb and forefinger. These he used to soothe himself, especially when Joy was not there with him. Because she was over two years older than her baby brother (two years and eight months she would tell you) she began to spread out her little wings further and further.

At three she joined Gymboree and made several new friends. At four, when Tom was not yet two, Joy began a preschool program where she learned all kinds of things to stimulate a little girls mind. Excited and out of breath, she would race back home to teach little Tom about all sorts of letters that made actual words! Moments later she would leave her brother sprawled out on the floor in a tense fit of anger while screaming “no, no!” at his sister for taking her crayon out of his mouth.

Joy had become overly frustrated and very often emotionally drained due to her brother’s lack of attention to the curvature of the “J” or the perfect roundness of the “O”. In fact, Tom consistently saw the crayons or chalk as fun, colorful objects to be ingested or tossed. She tired of his immaturity. She soon began to desire playdates with peers who could reciprocate in stimulating games of charades, dressing up and building castles with intricate little blocks that poor Tom’s lack of fine motor skills could not adapt to.  Tom just seemed like a baby to her now. Although he was super cute, he often smelled, needed diapers changed and threw objects at her when she attempted to teach him “even simple things”, like how to macramé a bracelet. She needed more fulfillment from her relationships than just the caretaking responsibilities that Tom required.

One evening after peewee soccer practice, Joy sat three year old Tom down in his booster seat at the kitchen table. She explained that their relationship just wasn’t satisfying to her anymore. She stated that, although she adored her baby brother, it was time for her to expand her social horizons. He was holding her back, she added. It wasn’t his fault, but she was super smart and oh so popular among her kindergarten friends. A fellow named Nathan, a first grader actually, was interested in playing with her at recess and….*enter a handful of Cheerios flying directly at Joy’s face*…OMG, you’re IMPOSSIBLE!!  MMMMOOOOOOOM!

Needless to say, Tom was left at the mercy of his mother and whatever drippings of time his older sister could give him when she was able to lower herself to his level (i.e. her peers were busy). Not only was this little “break up” strange and somewhat hurtful to three year old Tom, but he really didn’t understand how come his sister didn’t want to spend time with him anymore. She used to be so pleasant and fun. He was confused, being a boy however, he could easily be redirected onto other things. So he put much investment in his “blankie” and was able to transition from his pacifier. Joy felt a modicum of respect toward her brother for that gesture of maturity while continuing in her pursuit of older, more interesting people and places and things…”nouns, Tom, nouns…can you say ‘noun’?”

“No!”

“Gah! Mooooooooom! Watch your son please!”

Well, time passed. Tom got older and bigger. At seven he traded in his “blankie” for a baseball glove that accompanied him everywhere. It felt good to him…the feel and smell of worn leather…the way it was grooved to fit his right hand tightly…the autograph from his favorite Phillies first baseman, Ryan Howard…plus it was socially acceptable no matter where he went. He didn’t have to feel embarrassed by having a dirty, ripped up old “blankie” for comfort anymore. He would be the first to admit though, it was a tough transition for him. The battered blue blanket had been his “Transitional Object” for his whole lifetime until his father introduced the mitt. Maybe it was also special because it was his dad who gave it to him.

The mitt, though still beloved, was exchanged for a lacrosse stick in middle school. It kept his hands and his mind busy. He didn’t need to think about tests or social pressures or issues at home or watching his sister take over her world in high school. Lacrosse was cool. You don’t get asked how your grades are when you have the stick in your hand. You don’t get awkward “hellos” from girls, you get dudes respecting with a nudge and a nod, and moms quiet cause you excel at something that’s keeping you busy enough that she’s not afraid of you getting into trouble yet. No questions asked. All good.

In high school Tom flirted with all kinds of potentially harmful things, places, people…nouns. When all was said and done though, he’d hear his sister’s words in his ears about wanting him to be making good choices and loving him regardless. That was soothing to him, as was the baseball mitt he kept in a drawer in his bedroom.  It represented a solid, firm foundation to him.

In college he met the love of his life. They married. They had a family with beautiful children. They eventually divorced. He was devastated. This was not the way it was supposed to be. He needed comfort. He needed to be soothed. He brought women home for sex. Thank you, he would say politely. Later gator, he would think to himself. This is not who I am, he would feel at his core.

Shortly thereafter he met a woman who seemed compatible. They enjoyed each other’s company. He liked her, more than just for the sex. He needed this to work. He needed another transitional object to soothe him, bring him back to the man he used to be. He wanted it to fit badly so he wouldn’t have to be alone. With himself. Without a companion to tell him he was successful and a good provider. Lonely. Alone was okay. Lonely was not okay.

This woman became the transitional (rebound) relationship for Tom. She was soothing as a distraction from what he needed to get back to, which was his core. This core consisted of the child, then the teenage boy, then the adult male that he had been even before the marriage, but to include the time of marriage as his personality was continually being shaped. Add to that his habits and needs. Maybe she could cover over the pain of his last relationship. Maybe she could get him back to HIM.

◊♦◊ Okay. STOP RIGHT THERE! ◊♦◊

Now I’m sad. Had he asked for MY humble opinion, I would have told Tom to invest in himself first and foremost. The odds of the first serious relationship working perfectly after the long term marriage ending in pain, are slim. I say this because he is seeking that comfort and soothing from another human being, no doubt with baggage of her own to bring to the party eventually. What he needs to do is to make things right with himself. Let go of grudges, painful childhood whatevers, choose forgiveness. Take some time to shut some of these emotional doors before opening up another. That is why the redivorce rate is about twenty percent more than the divorce rate (65-70% vs. 45-50% for first divorce), according to Ron L. Deal, President, SmartStepfamilies.com.  It’s like a group of people so excited to jump back into the same pool that they completely forgot that the pool was closed for renovations. They jump rather enthusiastically into an empty pool. Ouch.

Here’s how I’d like to see this story end: Tom spends time with his male friends and makes the time for his beautiful children, who have also “rediscovered” a father they didn’t always get to spend quality time with when he was married to their mother. For himself, he gives the gift of time. He learns to love himself for more than what he can offer others in the form of material objects.  He mourns the old life and embraces the new one. He discovers he is loved, loving and lovable. He has a great deal more to give and it had begun from the first day of his birth. A kiss from his mother, a tear from his dad and Joy.

AND THE MORAL OF THIS STORY IS: Clean your house thoroughly before you invite others over to eat, OR; Don’t swim in an empty  pool. Wait to fill it up with water, then balance the chemicals.  OR, get some therapy would you?!

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