Taking the Time to Consider

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I recently read about a 15 year old girl who had a premature baby in her bedroom. The baby was born alive, weighed 2+ pounds and the girl threw the baby out the window. The baby died.

I find myself trying to assess blame. Do I blame the 15 year old girl for being heartless and not taking responsibility for having gotten pregnant? Do I blame the father of the baby for getting a 15 year old girl pregnant? Or, do I blame the parents of the 15 year old girl who had not built a relationship with their daughter based on trust. A relationship that would enable her to turn to them  when she is in trouble. A foundation that would ensure that their daughter would know that though her parents would be disappointed and upset, they would get her through any situation.

The truth is that I don’t know the intimate details of the story or even the parents side. The reporter wasn’t interested in writing about the human side of the story or may have been prevented by the girl’s age. Was the girl molested by an adult, was the father an older boy, were the parents aware that she was pregnant, had plans been made for finding another home for the child, did her parents plan to raise the baby? The publication only seemed to care about the shock factor and I rushed to judgement based on the little information presented. It is good that I waited a couple of days to write this so that I have had time to ask myself the hard questions. Who am I to judge, where is my compassion, what were the circumstances and the really hard one – what made me read the article?

I wish I could tell you that I won’t read such articles in the future but that would not be the truth. I know myself well enough that there is no doubt that I will continue to read articles pertaining to child abuse, neglect and murder. I must admit that the shock value attracts  me as it gives me a thrill and a target for my outrage and anger. But there’s something else it gives me and that is insight and compassion. I come into contact with young girls who desperately need someone to talk to and they are very much afraid. The reasons they are afraid vary but they don’t feel that they can talk to their parents. These girls need encouragement and reassurance that they can get through any situation. Talking with these girls builds compassion and dampens the rage and anger because I can do something to help.

I write a lot about my mother and how her alcoholism affected my life. What may not get across is how very much I appreciate her as a mother. I did not have to hide anything and could always turn to her. Did I know she would be angry and/or disappointed? Yes, but that did not stop me because in the end, I knew that I did not have to go through anything alone. My mother is all about unconditional love and understanding. My parents allowed me to make important decisions about my life even though they did not always agree. They taught me independence and self reliance. My mother worries about me because I am the middle child who expresses her deepest emotions and she sees that as a weakness. She is only late in life coming to understand that emotions are healthier when they don’t have to be hidden. She doesn’t have to worry about me because thanks to her and my dad, my core is solid, emotional but solid.

Stuff I Ate as a Child

 

As I was preparing my breakfast of 12 grain toast with Cheez Whiz spread upon it, it made me think of some of the strange foods and food combinations I ate mostly as snacks as a child.

Unfortunately, my mother never forced me to eat vegetables. I discovered in my early twenties that I love vegetables and will eat a package of frozen cut leaf spinach for lunch or dinner by itself (of course I nuke it and add lemon and butter, spinach in a frozen state doesn’t appeal to me). I will share a few of my faves with you:

  • Cheese Whiz on Toast
  • Braunschweiger (liver pate’ comes in a plastic chub) on crackers.
  • Sugar sandwiches
  • Catsup sandwiches
  • Cheese toast
  • Fried potato sandwiches
  • Canned peas
  • Canned corn
  • Dinner rolls for breakfast
  • Mac and Cheese with catsup
  • Mashed potatoes with catsup
  • Scrambled eggs with catsup
  • Hot dogs with wieners that had been split, cheese inserted and Worchestershire Sauce poured over it.
  • Bologna sandwiches accompanied by any kind of bean
  • Bologna sandwiches, bologna sandwiches, bologna sandwiches
  • Peanut butter and syrup on bread (not my fave, my grandmother served it to us) I shudder to think of it.

I remain a catsup-a-holic to this day but not just any catsup, it has to be “Heines”. However, I no longer eat it on bread, mac and cheese, mashed potatoes or scrambled eggs. I think it was just an excuse to eat catsup.

What kinds of strange foods did you eat as a child?

 

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Marriage Myths Six

MYTH: YOU MAY REPEAT YOUR PARENTS’ RELATIONSHIP PROBLEMS.

How you carry your childhood baggage is more important than the fact that you have any. “Nobody escapes childhood without some crazy buttons and triggers, but it doesn’t mean you can’t have a great relationship,”John Gottman says.

Tom Bradbury, PhD, a psychologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, coined the phrase enduring vulnerabilities for these historical triggers. Certain words and actions might dig up old feelings and provoke a reaction. Make sure you and your partner understand what sets the other off, and avoid those weaknesses.

Circumstances from your past could also prompt what psychologists call projective identification- an example is taking something from your childhood and applying it to your partner. If you had a distant cold parent, for instance, you might assume  your partner is being distant and cold too. Instead of blaming your partner’s character, explain how the actions make you feel and what he or she can do to help you feel better.

I knew a man who was so eat up with his emotional baggage that he ran the gamut from tears to violence. He used braggadocio and alcohol to cover his feelings and built a very high wall believing it would protect him from emotional pain. One never knew what would trigger his anger and/or violence. While I understood how his background played into his emotions and actions, there was nothing I could do to change it. While I was somewhat of a balm for his pain, he often saw me not as myself but as his mother.

When I met Danny, I was shocked to find that he was very much in touch with his emotions. He would let me know when I hurt his feelings rather than do the “macho” thing of acting like nothing bothered him. I fell so in love with this man! I felt safe with him because I didn’t have to guess about how he was feeling and there was no fear that I would unknowingly touch off a spark that would cause him to physically harm me.

Eventually, Danny grew tired of all the analyzing we did through counseling and discussions. That was when I began learning to lighten up in the realization that both of our lives had been so full of drama that it was stifling our relationship. We both still have things that can trigger a negative response but the truth is that we cannot judge each other with our individual pasts.

Enjoy life with your spouse! Don’t judge him/her based on your past, instead see them for the person you know them to be. Look for the good and give him/her a pass when they exhibit human behaviors. No one has a perfect marriage but we can come darn close.

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Marriage Myths Five

MYTH:  GENDER DIFFERENCES ARE BEHIND YOUR MEGA FIGHTS.

Men aren’t from Mars and women aren’t from Venus; we’re all from Earth. As it turns out, “men are just as in touch with their emotions as women,” Julie Gottman says. “On the other hand, some women are very reluctant to express their negative emotions. So it balances out. There are more similarities than the culture generally believes.

A study in Cognition and Emotion found that when women thought long term about their lives, they reported themselves as more emotional than men. But when participants rated their emotions on a moment-to-moment basis, the gender differences disappeared. Your cultural upbringing and family environment have a much bigger influence on your willingness to express your emotions than your X or Y chromosome, the Gottmans say.

When I was single, I fell in with the old double standard that women were sluts if they slept around but men were expected to. However, I had male friends who informed me that men don’t like to wake up alone either.

While my divorce was in progress, I had a situation with a fellow student. I was so angry but when I talked with the instructor about it, I couldn’t stop crying. What I learned that day is that women who have been taught that to show anger will get you labeled as a bitch will cry rather that exhibit anger. I also had a mother who could not deal with emotion so she always said, “Stop crying or don’t cry.”Then when I looked back at my then marriage, I realized that men are taught that it isn’t “manly” to cry so they exorcise their tears with anger.

Thank God both women and men are slowly “coming out” so to speak. Men are claiming the right to be in touch with their emotions and women are claiming the right to show  anger. I have found that I have been saddled with gender beliefs passed down from generation to generation. Its difficult to blame your parents when they were subjected to the same beliefs.  Sometimes I see the roles exhibited by our parents but more I see Danny and I working together for a common goal.

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Daisies and Dad

My favorite flower is the Daisy. One morning I walked out to the creek and this is what I saw…

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Then in a few days, we went for a drive and this is what I found.

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And every day after that until the last week or so, they were everywhere!

The thing is…I have loved daisies since I was in junior high school. All my corsages were daisies and my 9th grade prom dress had daisies around the high waist. But the best thing was that my dad painted a perfect 6′ daisy on my bedroom wall. I didn’t ask him to and he never told me of his idea, he just did it.

Every new experience I have and every family get together, I wish my dad could be there. He never knew Danny or our kids or grand kids. He would have loved them all. And to see Colorado in all its glory…would have been a great gift to him. So every time I saw the daisies, I believe it was a sign that my dad is indeed here in spirit and it brings me comfort. I don’t care that daisies are considered a weed here.

 

 

Unreasonable Fear

I grew up fearing African Americans and before you judge me as a racist, read my story.

When I was in Junior High School, schools became integrated. The African American students would stand in large groups blocking the sidewalk daring whites to try to get though them. I avoided the sidewalk. There was a small girl named Sharon who started making fun of me and I did my best to ignore her. I was not that outcast who gets bullied, I was fortunate to have many friends both male and female.

One day as I was walking to my friend’s house after school, a large group of African American students formed a circle around me. I was petrified because it was obvious that something was about to happen. Sharon moved to the center of the circle and started taunting me. She kept saying, “Push me!” over and over. I just stood still knowing that what usually happened in these situation was that if I made a move, the whole group would jump in and attack me. Another reason I wouldn’t make a move besides trying to avoid having my ass kicked was that I was appalled at girls or women fighting though I have to admit that I was a closet bully toward my sister. Luckily, one of the girls who was walking with us lived in the house in front of which I was confronted. Her mother came out and chased the group away. To be honest, I was petrified. I believe this happened because I was the only one small enough for Sharon to pick on.

Moving forward, where my friends and classmates might kid around with African American bully students, I wasn’t friendly or unfriendly toward them which was probably a downfall. In high school, a very large African American girl named Mary grabbed my windbreaker and ripped it off me which was not an easy feat. I said nothing. A small African American girl would tell me things like how she dreamed that my boyfriend’s car would get stuck on a railroad track and he would be killed. One night my best friend’s twin brother was beat with a baseball bat in the boy’s locker room after a baseball game by a group of African American students. I was friendly with some African American students but was still easily intimidated.

I had good experiences when I went into community college with fellow African American students so I started to get past my fear. Unfortunately, when I worked for a police department two African American co-workers claimed racial discrimination because I was transferred to the day watch and her friend was transferred to my previous watch in a move to separate the two friends in hopes of increasing productivity. Since I filled in a lot for people in key positions, it was considered a highly beneficial move by administration. I became stonewalled by the other clerical staff and when I asked someone why, they told me they could not go against these two girls and implied that they were afraid.

Because it was so painful to be ostracized, I requested to remain on my previous watch. The Sgt. was not happy because he told me that I was allowing myself to be bullied. The personnel manager and supervisory staff called a meeting of the clerical staff and a letter was read that one of the girls had written citing favoritism because I was white. They were upset because our administrative Sgt. used my work examples as the quality of work everyone should be putting out. In fairness, I had education and experience that was not the norm for the position. I took the job because it was something I always wanted to do. I never had to defend myself in this meeting because first of all the personnel manager offered to do some testing if they really wanted to know who was the best typist etc. Then one of my supervisors pointed out that I had been transferred from department to department continually and had never complained. There was no discrimination and it became clear in that meeting. After that meeting, things got back on a friendly basis because I didn’t hold a grudge. Shortly thereafter, one of the girls who caused the problem was fired for selling criminal records.

I worked a temp to perm job for a very difficult African American woman. She supervised six white Insurance Agents who had their own agency offices. She referred to them as “my white boys.” When I could no longer put up with her crude and rudeness, I quit though she begged me to stay. She made me uncomfortable by complimenting my looks in a creepy manner. An African American woman who had previously worked for her called me one day and wanted me to help her on her reverse discrimination suit. I declined. The agency had placed temp after temp in this woman’s office because no one would stay but I didn’t want the drama. I could have reported her for her racist remarks but I just wanted out.

These are prime examples of bullying yet I never recognized it as such until now. I saw it as being the target of anger for a past I had no part in. It is possible that these bullies were influenced by anger passed down from generation to generation and I did feel the fear that their forebears felt at being bullied by white slave lords. However, what purpose did any of it serve? It just repeated the same dance in reverse and did not solve anything for either side.

What I am learning today is that I cannot blame an entire race for the actions of some just as I am tired of being blamed for something I was not responsible for. We all just need to stop and do some deep reflection. We are allowing ourselves to be influenced by the hate groups and the support of their actions by the media putting it in our faces over and over again.

What if we just turned off our televisions in protest of being fed negativity hour after hour, day after day? What if  we stop looking at social media for a few days and depend on our own reflections? Its not like we haven’t seen enough to know what is out there. We are all being manipulated! Lets just stand up for ourselves and say, “Enough” at least for now and let things calm down.

PEACE AND LOVE

 

 

A Woman’s Choice

You probably think I am writing about abortion but that’s not what is on my mind today or is it?
I am writing about women choosing a man over their  child. Again, I am not talking about abortion though often it would have been a better choice. I have seen it, read it and heard it over and over again…a child tells their mother that her boyfriend or husband abused or molested them and you would expect her to become protective of her child and take action against the man, wouldn’t you? But what she does all too often is to go into denial or even turn against her child, calling them a liar.

Why? Because she is desperate to have a man. Why? Because family and society said she had to depend emotionally on a man or because she is as addicted to this guy as if he were a drug. So this child who believed his mother loved him or at least cared what happens to him, is dumped on other family members or into the foster care system. He’s thrown away like yesterday’s garbage.

That’s if the mother hasn’t joined in the fun. When she does, the child lives from day to day wishing someone would see him, really see his pain inside and out. If they tell, they will have no one or at least that is what they believe.

Would it have been better if they had not been born? That is what that child thinks they want…never to have been born.

Infidelity Part Three

While I would like to make excuses for them, their actions affected my life. When I look at my early adulthood, I know that I also grabbed excitement over good judgment. I can blame my parents lack of boundaries and disregard for their moral upbringing as setting a poor example for me to follow. I could say that their parents were too strict so that the taste of freedom was overpowering. But what of me, I knew right from wrong no matter how I try to spin it. My parents were not strict and they always allowed us to voice our beliefs and position in any given situation. Infidelity on my part has not been one of my transgressions but what of my other transgressions? As long as I know right from wrong, I have to take responsibility for my mistakes. However, I strive to remember that though I make mistakes, I am not a mistake.

The thing is, these people were not down in the dirt, classless people. Too many people believe that to cheat you have to be low class, to be an alcoholic you have to be non-productive and passing out in the gutter, to be an domestic violence abuser you have to be a blue collar worker. Bullshit. Regardless, this was a most embarrassing and painful time in my life and when I learned to emotionally detach in order not to feel. I have been cheated on and I was so detached that I am not sure I even cared. Perhaps I didn’t care enough about the person but I think it was more “love or a relationship at all cost”. When I had enough I just walked away and looked forward to a new start, not letting myself feel anything. You see, anyone who cheated on me believed that I would always be there when they were through “sport fucking”. I could tell  you that they didn’t care about me but that would not be true, they always wanted me to be there when they wanted more than just a “lay”.  I would make myself stay until I was sure I wouldn’t go back. I tortured myself in order to see the ugly truth. If it happened to me today after learning a lot about how I got to be the way I am, I would be destroyed emotionally but I would walk away because I deserve better.

 

 

Infidelity Part Two

When I was in my late twenties, my father went through what I would have to call “the middle-age crazies”. There was a young girl who was living with an older man in the neighborhood. My dad hired her to do some work for him in his remodeling business. She claimed her significant other was abusing her so my dad talked my mother into letting her stay with them. My dad started to stay up talking with this girl late into the night. The thing about my dad was, like me, he was very friendly and never met a stranger. We all thought he was so innocent that he didn’t realize how things looked to the rest of the world. I cannot tell you now how innocent he was or wasn’t, not after this incident. But let me give you an example: My mom came home from an out-of-town convention. She rode with some members and co-workers so when they brought her home, they came in to say hello to my dad. There was this early twenties girl having a drink and my dad was in the shower. As the story goes, my dad picked up this girl hitch-hiking and agreed to take her to the next town that was about 20 minutes away. He told her that his wife was on her way home so he needed to wait until she got there and they would both take her. He brought her to the house and fixed her a drink and went to take a shower. My mother believed this story because Dad always appeared to be so naïve and goodhearted.

My dad continued to commiserate with this young woman night after night regardless of my mother’s anger, she told him that the girl had to go. She went and my dad went with her saying that they were in love and eventually even saying they were going to have more children. OMG! My brother and I tried to talk sense into him but he was insulted that we didn’t think a young girl could be in love with him. He was offended that we were siding with my mother and wanted nothing to do with this girl, after what my mother had done to him. I was very emotional over their impending divorce. My mother was actually distraught and her drinking escalated. I received many drunken crying calls until I started ending the call as soon as I discovered she was drunk. You can’t reason with a drunk. During this time, my mother showed more emotion than I had ever known her to have.

Mom found out that the girl had a hysterectomy and couldn’t even have children. Mom tried to talk to my dad about it but he wouldn’t believe her. She talked to the girl and she told my mom that “they” didn’t want my parents’ home that “they” only wanted his business. My mom told her that she had better not hurt my dad. That was when I discovered that my mother was all about unconditional love. She insisted that my aunt, my mom and I go visit my dad at his apartment one night. The girl had split by then after finding out that my dad didn’t have any money. Somehow my dad ended up coming back to my parent’s  house for the night. Now I know that this part is crazy but as I told you, I was emotionally stunted. I actually cried because my mother wouldn’t let my dad sleep in their bed. I felt really sorry for him. My mom had to talk me down, it was ridiculous but I can still remember how it felt.

My dad and mom reconciled and were very close. They finally realized that neither of them wanted anyone else to be parent to their children or grandparent to their grandchildren. Dad had a major heart attack and mom spent every moment she could with him, even staying with him at the hospital and driving to work an hour and a half away. She took care of him and they were happy until he died.

Continued Part Three