I have two friends who have completely clutter-free homes. It doesn't matter what time of the day or night you pop in, the house is clean. It's clean because there's no clutter. Zero. Nadda. It's almost scary and a little too sterile. This is something I do not understand. My house has clutter everywhere. And when I say clutter, I don't mean junk or garbage. It's things that don't seem to have a "place" and are laying around. There's mail that needs to be looked over, coupons I have clipped that I may use before they expire, school papers the kids have brought home, grocery list, books, Christmas gifts that need to be exchanged, laundry that just came out of the dryer, items I've laid out to take to work, and some pictures, just to name a few. I had to select this photo because it's quite typical of what I'm talking about. You can see the person has tried to buy a basket and container to keep items organized, but clutter now overflows. Also, if you know anything about me you'll find the humor in the Clorox wipes!
Sometimes clutter overwhelms me. I can only look at it for so long, then I can't take it anymore. On numerous occasions I have put all the papers from the kitchen counters into a box to start fresh. Two days later, it all seems to be back and now I have a box to store! I like to consider myself a fairly organized person, but when it comes to clutter, I'm better at organizing it in to unsightly piles than eliminating it. Also, it's difficult when you share a home with three other people, because not all the clutter belongs to you. You can't just throw it out because it's not yours, and someone else may need it later.
It's even worse when clutter overwhelms my husband, because he gets angry and just starts grabbing things and throwing them into boxes, which makes me insane. Of course that's because I'm not in control of the de-clutterization!!
I always think if I had a bigger house I could eliminate the clutter. More closets, more rooms! But I know this isn't the case. As we begin the new year, I'll write some ideas about getting rid of this problem. Maybe I'll even be able to implement some of them!
By the time our mothers were 40 years old they seemed old. And I don't think it was just because we were young. They dressed differently than young people did, they wore their hair differently, and they did different things for fun. I think it's interesting that has seemed to change over the last generation or two.
Granted, not many people look as good as Demi Moore at 47, but today it's not uncommon at all to see women in their 40's and 50's wearing the same clothes, shoes, and hairstyles as young people. Almost all of them wear blue jeans, which is something my mother never did.
Perhaps it started with the hippies and flower children of the 60's. They decided not to get old. My boss, who is in her late fifties, still rides a Harley, and if she's not at work she is wearing jeans and a t-shirt. My good friend Miss M wears funky boots and a beautiful handmade scarf with her winter coat, that has peace symbols all over it. She's 57.
I'm 46, and it's not unusual at all to find me standing down front at an AC/DC concert, banging my head with all the other old people (and a few young ones)!
From where I sit, there are upsides and downsides to this. On the upside, people are living longer, and they are having more fun in their lives. They don't seem so stuffy, and they are more apt to stay in tune with younger people. It's not unusual for women to be good friends with much younger women.
On the downside, many of us want to continue to treat our bodies the same way we did when we were twenty. Often, we don't eat right or excercise. Soft drinks are more common than water or milk. Fast food is more common than a home cooked meal. Maybe this was fine when our bodies really were 20, but not such a good idea as we age.
Somewhere in the middle, I've noticed people refer to a lot of 40 and even 50 somthing's as "girls" instead of "ladies" or "women"; a title which commands less respect, particularly in the workplace.
I'm not condoning or condeming this shift in the way things have evolved, merely noting the observation. A 40 something woman can look good in "young" clothes, as long as she respects her limitations on bare arms, legs, and midriffs (people don't want to see wrinkles and flab). And I think a young, fresh hairstyle is good for everyone. However we choose to dress or wear our hair, we need to look our best and live our best life at any age.
As of today I am officially done with the overeating and drinking that accompany the Christmas season. Here's the December damage:
7 over the top lunch or dinner parties 1 Italian birthday lunch approximately 10-12 dozen cookies a plate full of birthday caramel cupcakes around 2 dozen coconut balls and peanut butter buckeyes anything you can possibly think of, dipped in chocolate anything you may have left out, smothered in cheese way too much wine, beer, and tequila numerous packets of Alka Seltzer 4 pounds I already shed, back on my ass
Yeah....it's over. Back to business for me now. Biggest Loser starts in a few days and I want to be back in the zone when it does!
I hope everyone had a great Christmas. It was very nice for me; very hectic but very nice. Next year I want to get an earlier start on Christmas shopping and Christmas card sending so I can sit back and enjoy a little more. Yesterday was my birthday. That was great too, and a lot more relaxing! Thanks to all who sent well wishes!
Last night I sat down to watch the movie "Public Enemies" with the irresistible, incredibly delicious Johnny Depp. In case you don't know, "Public Enemies" is the (not entirely accurate) story of the infamous bank robber, John Dillinger. I've written in this journal before that my mother always told me we were related to John Dillinger on her father's side of the family. After watching the movie, I have a real interest in finding out if that is true. Not something to be proud of, but I'd like to clear up the rumor once and for all.
I emailed my aunt today, and contacted three of my cousins through Facebook to see if any of them had ever heard this claim. I'll let you know what I find.
In those days, I knew nothing about alcoholism and addiction. There was never any alcohol in our home growing up, and I was never around anyone who drank until I was grown. My Dad wouldn't even take us to restaurants where beer was served. Not to say there wasn't addiction in our family, I know now there was plenty of it, but those people were not discussed in our household unless they were referred to as "drunks" who were pretty much excommunicated from our lives. At least from mine. I was sheltered from everything.
But I did have one, very surreal experience with the disease. Thinking back now, it almost seems like a dream. Right before I got married to David, some new neighbors moved in next door. They were big time drinkers, and the young lady quickly befriended my mother. My mother started going to their house for visits, and ultimately for a beer. I know it seems impossible, but my 110 pound mother could have two beers and be slurring, staggering drunk. What's worse, is that almost instantly she seemed to be hooked. Within a matter of a couple of months my mother was drunk several times a week. The odd part about it was I never once saw my mother take a drink. But we started finding beer cans hidden everywhere, mostly in her bathroom. During the course of an evening my mother would get up to go to the bathroom every 10 minutes, and every time she'd come back she was in worse condition.
My father was livid. He was absolutely beside himself. This hidden drinking went on for several months, I guess. Maybe a year or so? I honestly don't remember. My mother showed up drunk at a bridal shower given to me by Old Beth and her wonderful, June Cleaver mother. Believe me, there was no drinking allowed in that household either. I was incredibly embarrassed that day.
I was getting married, moving out, and caught up in my own life so I know I missed a great deal of what was happening at home. Years later my sister told me Mom had wrecked her car during that time, and they had hidden the whole thing from me because they didn't want to upset me.
When Dad had all he could take, he checked my mother into a 30 day in-patient rehab facility. To my knowledge, she never drank again after that.
I believe now, that this story explains volumes about how I grew in to the person I became. Even if I suspected someone drank more than I thought they should, why would I worry about it? If it got too bad I would simply do as my father did and put my foot down. I could resort to rehab if needed, and the "problem" would be solved. I could "fix" this if it ever got too far out of hand. From where I stood, curing this issue seemed pretty simple.
I also know now that I am more like my father than I ever wanted to believe. He was attracted to my beautiful, spunky, rule breaking mother the same way I have always been attracted to bad boys. My mother had a life before my Dad, and I have to wonder if he knew she had a problem with drinking when he married her, thus the strict abstinence in our household?
And I keep thinking back to my parents hiding the car crash from me. I was married, for Heaven's sake, and an adult! Yet they didn't think I could handle it? Or maybe just thought it was too scandalous to tell the Golden Child, but not the older, more worldly one? There were so many things that were hidden, not just the crash. My mother hid her drinking, and to the day she died she hid her smoking, because my Dad had forbidden it as it started to kill her. Dad never could get his way with that one, and it killed her anyway. After she died, we found cigarettes hidden everywhere.
My Dad would not be happy if he knew I wrote these secret things for all to see, but maybe if I hadn't been so sheltered, things may have been easier for me later in life. Maybe if I had been invited to family counsel during that 30 day rehab stay I could have learned some facts about the disease of alcoholism instead of just thinking it was something that could easily be fixed if and when it got out of hand.
Once again, this is why I love writing this journal. True, there are some people who don't particularly like it. But inside my mind, there are thousands of puzzle pieces. If I can pull out a few here and there, and see where they fit in, I may one day be able to see the full picture. What's more important, I may be able to stop the cycle from spreading to another generation of our family.
My husband is a very private person. He hates the Internet and the massive invasion of privacy that comes with it. So when I started writing this journal I promised him it would be about me, not him. I promised him I would mention him as little as possible. I've held true to that promise, even going so far as never to have given him a name. I've always referred to him as "my husband". Now that I'm to the point in my "Kiss and Tell" series where he came into my life, I'm going to have to cross that line. But I pledge to do it gently and with the utmost respect.
When Kitty came home for Spring Break, 1992 she asked me to come to her house one evening. Her brother, "G" was there. After three uneventful meetings over the last several months, this would be the night we would finally hit it off. We flirted all evening, building each other pretzels with squirty cheese elaborately sprayed on them, drinking beer and playing some game. When I got ready to leave, G walked me to my car. As I was getting inside I said "So, are you ever going to ask me out?" to which he replied "I was thinking about next Saturday".
It's no wonder I fell in love with G. At three years my junior, he was young, romantic and light hearted. I thought he looked like Steve Perry. He wrote me love letters, and he wrote the most beautiful poetry and songs you can imagine. Every time I saw him he would hand me some little paper on which he'd scratched out something deep and wonderful that melted my heart. I'd never met anyone that creative or talented, who wrote with so much passion. He didn't have much money at the time but he made up for it with his heart and abundant love. G would say the sweetest, most romantic things to me. He treated me like a china doll; a gift that was precious and cherished. I'd never met anyone who seemed so happy to be with me, who seemed so determined to be a devoted, loving partner. With everything in my being I felt I needed to grab hold of him and never let go.
G and I rarely watched television in those days. We listened to music most of the time. One night we listened to Pink Floyd's "The Wall" and spent hours talking about the meaning behind it. We laid in the floor one rainy day playing Beatles songs and trying to decide which Lennon/McCartney songs were written by John, and which ones were written by Paul.
We found a little Mexican restaurant that we loved and we went there every Friday night. We went to concerts, and we traveled. Trips to Chicago, the Cayman Islands, San Diego. G and I had radically different upbringings. I had older, very conservative parents, and G was raised by a much younger, very Liberal mother. Of course this was all very intriguing to me and from early on G and I were opposites who attracted. In those early days we had so much fun. I think back on those days now, and while I'm sad that life decided those uncomplicated, romantic, carefree, no-responsibility days had to eventually come to an end, I'm very thankful that we had them.
When we last left the "Kiss and Tell" series I was about to meet my husband for the first time. Actually, I had three brief encounters with him before we would ever discuss going on a date. Now is when several of the stories you've read will all intertwine like some giant spider web, so try to stay with me here.
It's late summer, 1991. I am 27 years old. I've been divorced from David for well over a year. A few months earlier, Michael suddenly and unexpectedly broke my heart. I am having fun, dating a lot of people. I have reconnected with Chris W, but now he has suddenly stopped taking my calls. I have just moved into my little house and have just started my new job. I am about to go to Atlanta where I will meet Kerry. Kitty and I have been friends for quite awhile now. We spent the summer hanging out at clubs, and having a great time.
Way before I ever got the nerve to leave David, Kitty was telling me about her brother. At the time they were very close, and she had always wanted me to meet him. Now, I finally would. Kitty was about to head back to college for the fall semester, so we were to meet up with her brother and another friend of hers to go out for the evening.
The first encounter I had with Kitty's brother was on that farewell weekend. The four of us went to a club (maybe two). It was an uneventful night but we all had a good time. At the end of the night I said goodbye to Kitty for the semester, and I told her I thought her brother was sweet and I may like to see him again. That would have to wait. I wasn't quite ready to give up on Chris W, and I was about to go to Atlanta (in September) where I would meet and start my relationship with Kerry.
The second encounter would be a couple of months later, in October. I had gone to an outdoor concert. Chris W had stopped calling and wouldn't return my calls to him. I ran smack dab into him at this concert. He was with a girl and he was clearly uncomfortable talking to me. I let him off the hook and went on. A few minutes later I ran into Kitty's brother. He was with friends and so was I. Also, I was rattled from the unexpected brush with Chris W. We said hello to each other, made some small talk, and went our separate ways.
The third encounter was sometime during the winter when I ran into him at a nightclub. He waved to me. I walked up to him and said "I know that I know you from somewhere, but I can't remember where". He seemed a little put out and replied "I'm Kitty's brother!". As I said, it was a wild year. A lot was happening to me. It wasn't the right time for us.
I wouldn't see Kitty's brother again until she came home for Spring Break, 1992. That's when my life would change again. That's where I'll pick up the story next time.
I'm proud of myself today. Someone tried to drag me in the middle of some drama and I didn't allow it. Something that would only frustrate me because there's nothing I can do about it anyway, and even though it affects people I'm close to, it doesn't directly affect me.
If there's one area of codependence where I've made decent strides, it's letting other people's problems roll off my back instead of trying to fix them all. I'll take that.
Several months ago my friend and neighbor turned 50. As instructed by his physician, he went for a complete physical. They checked him out, ran all his numbers, did a colonoscopy; all those good things that come with passing through the gates of 50.
His wife, Sara knew that she would also be turning 50 a few months later and that she was not even close to being ready for this big "Day of Reckoning". This brought about a motivation in Sara. She started eating healthy and exercising. Now Sara walks for about an hour every day, rain or shine, hot or cold. She walks the neighborhood and makes sure to hit every hill; determined that she would be happy to welcome 50, not surrender to senior citizenship, sickness, and a bunch of medications!
Sara celebrated her 50th birthday on Friday. I am happy to report she is 65 pounds lighter than she was in the Spring. She has gone from a size 22 pants, to a size 14 jeans. She has also modernized her hairstyle, which makes her look 10 years younger. I am very proud of Sara. She has been a big part of my motivation to get back on track, and I feel pretty sure she's going to sail through that "50 Physical"!
So when my Dad told me my son's bad test grade was my fault, I held it together and responded to him in an assertive but not aggressive way. Unlike years past, I did not react like a little girl, I stayed a rational adult. I liked it! But then an odd thing happened. The minute I got to the car, the rational adult vanished and the role reversal began. Suddenly I took on the role of a child.
Me: I hope you know, Papaw just ripped me a new one and told me your bad grade was MY fault! I HATE when my Dad yells at me! I am not responsible for your bad grade, YOU ARE! I know you are perfectly capable of doing the work, but because you got a bad grade on this test, I GOT YELLED AT! Don't you know by now that when you do something he thinks is wrong, he holds ME responsible for it?!? My Son: (calmly) Maybe you just shouldn't tell him everything.
Why am I hell bent on passing on these unhealthy behaviors? I should have spent the drive home discussing how my son could improve the grade, and consequences if he doesn't, not how my Dad yelled at me and made me feel bad.
Just as my father apologized to me, I later apologized to my son. Not for being upset about the grade, but for dragging him into a silly cycle my Dad and I have created. This cycle needs to stop with this generation. My kids need to learn that we all need to be responsible and accountable for our own actions, period. Not blaming anyone else when we make a mistake, and also not "rescuing" or taking on the weight of the problems of everyone around us.
Codependence doesn't just happen overnight. The way we are raised plays a major role. Later, throw in a couple of unstable friends, lovers, and family members, and our relationships fuel what's already been planted in us, and the unhealthy behavior grows from there.
Conversation with my father earlier this evening:
Dad: Your son did alright on his Social Studies test. Me: Really? It looks like he got a "D". Dad: What do you mean? I saw a "B". Me: That "B" is something else. It's the answer to the sample question at the top of the page. He got a 64. There's no letter grade, but I'm thinking that's a "D". Dad: He studied so hard. I can't believe this. Me: Well, he's been having a lot of trouble staying focused in class. We're working on it. I just spoke with his teacher on the phone today. Dad: I'm blaming you. Me: What?? Me??? Dad: Yes. You're his mother, I'm blaming you for this. You shouldn't let him go skating every weekend. He needs to be home studying. There's no one else to blame but you! Me: Yes....there is. You need to blame your grandson. He's the one who got the bad grade. He's responsible for his own actions.
Two hours later my Dad called to apologize. He said he should have never blamed me for my son's grade and he felt really bad about it. I told him not to worry, I knew all along it wasn't my fault, it was my son's fault.
Believe it or not, Dad and I have both come a long way. In years past he would not have called to apologize, and I would have agreed it was my fault because I believed I was responsible for everything and everyone around me. Many, MANY times growing up I heard him say similar things to my mother when I did something wrong: "You're too easy on that girl, you spoil her", when in reality it was me that made the bad decision, not my poor mother.
Like my mother, I've taken responsibility for other people's actions for a very long time. I guess I felt it was my duty. At times I've felt like everything in the world was my responsibility. I see now I was conditioned to be that way. Am I going to let the "D" slide by with no consequences or a plan of action? Of course not. But I'm making some real progress in my own journey, and I'm doing better all the time. My 79 year old Dad is even making progress, so I guess we're never too old to grow.
Yesterday at the grocery store I saw something I can't get out of my mind. A young mom who was so overweight and out of breath that she could not pick up her young son to put him in the seat of the basket, so she instructed him to "climb on up". A teenage boy who had just brought the carts in off the lot looked up, just as I did. Both of us had a look of concern but didn't know what to do. The cart boy said "Ooooh, be careful". After watching as the little boy struggled and the cart started to fall with him, I walked over and asked if she would like me to lift him up and put him in the seat.
With our hurried lifesyles, and the food choices we have so readily available on every street corner, it's no wonder 65% of Americans are already overweight or obese, and heart disease is the number one killer in this country. Here's a delicious option when you have a taste for a big, fat bacon burger.
Try something different this week.
A Baconater Triple Burger from Wendy's contains 1330 calories, 86 grams of fat, and 47 grams of carbohydrates. That's as many calories as the average woman should be consuming in an entire day! And that's BEFORE you add the fries and coke!
This is a delicious quarter pound bacon burger alternative from The Biggest Loser Family Cookbook containing 295 calories, 9 grams of fat, and 25 grams of carbs. This recipe makes four burgers:
4 strips extra lean turkey bacon, each cut in half 1 lb 96% lean ground beef 4 whole grain or whole wheat hamburger buns 1 cup chopped fresh spinach leaves 4 large tomato slices 4 Tbls lowfat mayo
Preheat a grill to high heat.
Place a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and add the bacon strips. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes per side, or until crisp. Remove from the pan and cover to keep warm.
Divide the beef into 4 equal portions and shape into balls, packing them tightly as you do. Press each into a patty that is about 1⁄2" larger than the diameter of the buns.
Grill the burgers for about 2 minutes per side for medium rare, or until desired doneness (do not smash the burgers with a spatula). Place the bun halves, cut sides down, on the upper grill rack or away from direct flame until toasted, about 20 seconds.
Place each toasted bun bottom on a plate. Top with the spinach, tomato, patties, then 2 pieces of bacon each. Spread 1 tablespoon mayonnaise evenly on each bun top, flip atop the patties, and serve.
Note: The burgers should be grilled, not fried, and though you may be tempted to use 93% lean ground beef instead of 96% lean, don't. Though they don't sound very different, 93% lean has almost twice the fat as 96% lean, less calories, and less fat.
I was doing so well. I'd followed my plan to the letter all day. Special K with blueberries and skim milk for breakfast, whole wheat crackers with a dab of cream cheese for snack, grilled chicken on a whole wheat tortilla for lunch. I had already brought out the avocado I planned to cut for afternoon snack. Yes, it was a well planned day......until "they" came.
Every year, one of the ladies who used to work at my branch spends what must be an entire weekend baking cookies. Thousands of tiny chocolate chip cookies that she puts into tins and gives to practically everyone. Today everyone in my office was handed a tin full of them.
It took me off guard, just like that carrot cake from a couple of weeks ago; only this time I did not win. I put them under my desk. I couldn't stop thinking about them. I decided not to deprive myself; that one or two of them would be okay. Then I would ration them for the next several days. Yeah, right. After those two, I ate two more. Then two more. Then I lost count. After about ten, maybe twelve of them I realized I had lost control. I felt like an alcoholic with a bottle. I heard one of my coworkers saying how excited her boyfriend would be to eat her tin of cookies. I walked over and gave her the rest of mine for him to enjoy as well.
It's not good for me to be caught off guard. It's not good for anyone with a weakness or addiction to get caught off guard. When there's a food I really like, I can go crazy. I do it with Marie's tiny chocolate chip cookies. I do it with mashed potatoes. I do it with Krispy Kreme doughnuts. I do it with dumplins. It's scary. Many times I've seen my good friend Mystical take a couple of bites of a decadent dessert and push it away saying "that's just too rich for me". I'm doubting that could ever happen to me. The richer, the better.
I think I learned today that while we have to splurge a little here and there, I simply have to have my splurges in a controlled environment, lest I stumble, fall, and screw up my whole day.
"If it grows out of the ground or you can pick it off a tree, chances are it's good for you." -Bob Harper - The Biggest Loser
We all know processed, pre-packaged foods are not good for us. In an attempt to cut even more of them from my diet, I have made an amazing discovery: I actually really like a lot of healthy foods! Fresh avacado, blueberries, raspberries, celery, bananas, tomatoes, and pineapple are my favorites.
This spring I will be doing something I think is very exciting. I am purchasing a "share" in a local farm. Several of the people who work in my building have been doing this for a few years now. The farmers will deliver fresh fruits and vegetables from their farm to my office building once a week for 10 weeks. In addition, they will offer fresh eggs and meats. This is a win/win situation. My family will be eating the freshest foods, free of hormones and chemicals, and we will be supporting a local farm and family.
I am extremely excited about this new venture, and can't wait until my first delivery.
Some of my readers are fortunate enough to have their own very nice vegetable gardens, but if you are like me and have to rely on the grocery store, you may want to check out this site: http://www.mistymeadowsfarm.vpweb.com/CSAInformation.html or contact a farm in your area.
A dear, dear friend of mine seems to be sick a good part of the time these days. Her theory is that she has become immune to the antibiotics the doctor prescribes her for her sinus infections. I was beginning to buy in to her theory when another friend of mine shared with me a very interesting fact.
Friend number two recently had a scare with her heart. Thankfully it turned out to be something minor, but while she was talking with her doctor she learned something that I think is absolutely fascinating. Something I had not heard before. Something I would love to share with my readers! Combine the stress most of us have with the fact that many of us rarely get up off the couch and this may just explain a lot:
Lymphatic System The Lymphatic or “Lymph” System is commonly known as “the garbage disposal system” of the body. It is often referred to as the “second circulatory system” and flows throughout the entire body. The Lymphatic System is a complex network of lymphoid organs, lymph nodes, lymph ducts, lymphatic tissues, lymph capillaries and lymph vessels that produce and transport lymph fluid from tissues to the circulatory system. The Lymphatic System is a major part of the immune system. It is through the Lymphatic System that toxic substances move out of the body through the bloodstream.
Why is it important for your health to maintain your Lymphatic System? When your Lymphatic System is blocked or clogged, this creates a condition of stagnation which promotes fatigue and ill health.
How does the Lymphatic System become clogged or blocked? Unlike the blood circulatory system, the Lymphatic System has no pump to keep fluid flowing. Some causes of a blocked lymph system are due in part to stress, lack of exercise, improper diet and repressed communication. http://www.lymphatichealth.com/lymphatic-system/
Bottom line....if we don't move around enough to get our blood pumping, our lymph system doesn't work, and that means it can't fight off toxins, so we stay sick.
If you would have come to my parents' house for Thanksgiving in the 1970's or 1980's, here's what you would have eaten:
Turkey (sliced by my Dad with the electric knife) Cornbread Dressing (very dry) Giblet Gravy (And there WERE giblets in it) Mashed Potatoes Candied Yams Waldorf Salad (never did like it; still don't) Cranberry Sauce (Jellied, from a can) Rolls (Fleishman's Margarine on top) Fried Apple Pies (little turnovers with icing, made by my mother--very delicious) White Sheet Cake from bakery (We always celebrated my niece's birthday) Iced Tea
Have you ever emailed, phoned, or sent a text message to a close friend or family member just as they are trying to contact you? Or someone you are close with says something just as you are about to say the same thing? Throughout the day when I think about the people I love, I can feel their presence inside me. There's a connection there that is unmistakable. When I think about them, I feel their energy. I believe we all have this ability, but maybe this is a phenomenon not everyone is in tune with, but I've always done it. I'm pretty sure most of my readers have too.
The night my mother died I could no longer "feel" her. I came home from the hospital and sprinted up my street and I just couldn't find her inside my heart. The connection was gone. I even tried going outside my mind and said out loud "Where are you? I can't feel you anymore!!". It was like listening to the radio and the signal goes out. There was just nothing there.
Two days later at the funeral home, my very intuitive little daughter became enchanted with a little feathered bluebird that was wired inside one of the flower arrangements we'd received. She begged and begged to have it. I told her she could get it after the funeral.
With so much on my mind I forgot about it, but on the following day she saw the flower arrangement containing the bird being unloaded at the gravesite. Scarlett offered to go with her to retrieve it. My daughter cradled it in her hand during the service and brought it home. I didn't think much more about it.
Four days later, on a quiet Sunday morning, I kept hearing a noise. It sounded like little pellets hitting the glass door leading to the back yard. After hearing the noise several times I looked out to see two blue birds working diligently to build a nest inside the birdhouse that sits on the rail of my deck! That birdhouse had been sitting there empty for 5 years with not one bird nesting in it because it was so low to the ground and so close to our back door. And other than Blue Jays, I don't ever remember seeing blue birds come around our part of the woods before.
I looked over and saw the little feathered bird laying on the kitchen counter. I looked out and saw the real birds building new life right outside my window. I knew right then that my mother was sending me a message. She was fine. Everything was okay, and she knew I needed to have a sign to prove it. Right then, I placed the little feathered bird up on top of my cabinet inside a plant so I could see it every day.
Ever since that day I feel my mother inside my heart again. That empty signal is gone and we are back on the air. The birds raised three babies in that house and it was a treat to watch them grow and finally fly away. I am happy to say they returned this past spring and raised a second set of babies. Hopefully their young will return next year and the bluebirds will keep coming back.
Some strange things have happened since that day. I got up one morning to find the toy bird laying in the middle of the kitchen floor. Not so odd that it fell off the top of the cabinet, but maybe a little odd that it happened to be Mother's Day. Other things have happened as well, with mysterious little bluebirds turning up here and there.
Thanks Mom, for sending me a sign. And thanks for being back inside my heart where you belong.
My husband has a wonderful sister. She's my sister too. I wear jeans, she wears silk, and we don't always listen to the same music, but when it comes to the things in life that count--we pretty much see eye to eye on everything. We always have.
A long time ago Kitty and I decided that our lives were on a path, and being 9 years older than her, I felt like I was just a step ahead of her on that path. I'm far enough ahead that I'm able to yell back and warn her when I've just slipped in a pile of something foul, or when I've twisted my ankle by stepping in a big mud hole, hoping she'll be able to dodge those hazards and avoid them all together. Lucky for me, she's always been right behind me to help me up, dust me off, and get me going again.
Kitty has made some very, very good decisions in her life. She's a positive thinker, always trying to find the good in a situation, and never feeling sorry for herself. She is well educated and has a great job. Kitty has picked a wonderful husband who has fit in to our little family better than anyone could have imagined. No one can take credit for those things except her. So does she need me carrying on, telling her what to do? No. But it's nice to know she's still listening when I yell back and warn her about the upcoming snake on the path.
Come on Kitty, there's a long road ahead. Let's keep going!
Aside from a little cardiovascular excercise from walking, I have truly not "worked out" since I terminated my gym membership in 1997, when I was pregnant with my first child.
Today I did my first "Biggest Loser" workout and it was hard. The fun part was that I did it with my husband. Since he's no stranger to work outs, he guided me through the proper way to perform these excercises. I worked every muscle group I had and believe me when I say I had forgotten about most of them. The thing that shocked me the most was my pathetic lack of upper body strength.
I am scheduled to do this workout three times a week. My goal is to be able to hold myself up with my arms longer than 5 seconds. I'm supposed to do it for a minute!!
I know I'll be sore tomorrow but it felt good to move my body and get my heart rate up a little. Tonight I am proud of myself!
In the Fall of 1991 I was trying to get over Michael. I was doing a decent job of it. I had dates all the time. I was single and free and having a ball. About this time I was sent to Atlanta for a week of training for my new job. An old friend from work told me that his best friend's son lived in Atlanta and he thought we should meet up while I was there. I talked to the young man, Kerry a couple of times on the phone before I went. He seemed nice but I could tell he was just doing this out of obligation to his Dad's friend.
Kerry was a cop. He worked for a drug unit in Atlanta and he worked nights. We had agreed to meet in the lounge of the hotel where I was staying. He was to take me out to dinner. I was rooming with a girl from Pennsylvania who was attending the same classes and whom I had immediately liked (and with whom I still have contact). I asked her to walk down with me so she could identify the guy in case I never made it back. Plus, she wanted to see if he was cute. We walked into the lounge and took a seat. When Kerry walked in my roommate said "Oh God, please let that be him". Lucky for me, it was. Kerry was probably the best looking guy I ever dated. He was a bigger, better looking Matt LeBlanc. He was about 6'3, had a mouthful of perfect white teeth, a fantastic body, great hair, and the face of a greek god.
We went to a great restaurant where I ordered a steak and a beer. Kerry was laughing at that because most girls usually order salad and water on a first date. We immediately hit it off. We left the restaurant and went to a comedy club. I laughed so hard I embarrassed myself. I made it back to the hotel room just in time to sleep about two hours then get up and go to class. It was an incredible date.
We saw each other one other time while I was in Atlanta but we immediately decided we would try to get together when he was in town visiting his family. We started talking on the phone quite often, which was expensive back in those days. Now that I had my own house, Kerry stayed with me every time he was in town, and I made a couple more trips back to Atlanta.
My mother loved Kerry. She thought he was so good looking, and he didn't seem to be...well, "bad" in any way. But Kerry was a a risk taker. He had a dangerous job, busting up drug rings in the bad parts of Atlanta, and he liked to drive very, very fast.
But Kerry and I weren't able to be together all the time and a funny thing happened on one of the nights we weren't. My doorbell rang at about 2:00 in the morning one night. I peeked out my bedroom window to see Michael standing on my porch. Of course I let him in. This would be the first of several times this would happen. He didn't want to get back together again, he just wanted to ring my bell whenever he was out late and didn't want to drive all the way back out to his house. Michael would crawl in bed with me and go to sleep. As much as I loved having him close to me again, this was very cruel to me. I still loved Michael very much. I knew we weren't getting back together, but him coming around wasn't giving me time to get over him. Kerry and I weren't officially exclusive but I'm pretty sure he wasn't dating anyone else so I doubt he'd have liked the idea of Michael's late night calls.
I had a lot to work out at that time in my life. Despite my nocturnal visits with Michael, I was starting to screw things up with Kerry by trying to control him and by being jealous of an ex-girlfriend he mentioned from time to time.
I was a loose cannon during that fall and winter. I was all over the map. It was a wonderful time in my life but it was also exhausting and confusing. It was like one of those sitcoms where there's a hallway with a lot of doors and people keep running in one door in fast motion and out the other and they always barely miss each other.
It's very hard to have a long distance relationship. As spring began to spring Kerry was getting sick of my games. Hell, I was getting sick of my games. I was even getting sick of Michael's visits. Something had to give. Then Kitty came home from college for spring break. She told me she wanted to see me and invited me over one evening. She told me her brother was going to be there. I really wanted to see Kitty and I also wanted to talk to her brother. Little did I know I was about to break things off with Kerry, finally find the balls to end things with Michael, and meet my future husband.
I believe the television series Desperate Housewives has been so successful because women can relate themselves in ways to each and every housewife. There's always one however, that you feel most connected to. Mine is Bree Hodge. Bree wants so desperately for everything to be perfect, and she's often weilding firearms. So it shouldn't come as any surprise that the current Mary's MILF is playing Bree's lover on the popular series.
Karl, played by 51 year old Richard Burgi, is the cheating ex-husband of Bree's friend Susan. Karl is a shark of an attorney. He is a womanizer and makes no attempt to hide that fact. He's bad and he lies. He's also dreadfully sexy. So it's only natural Bree would fall for him, which puts her in the situation of having an affair on her husband with her dear friend's naughty ex. In this week's episode, Karl promised that he would change his ways if Bree would marry him. Move over Mike Delfino. The current Desperate Housewives Mary's MILF Award goes to Karl Mayer.
First, I apologize for the lack of posts recently. I've been preoccupied with something for the past several days. You see, I've been trying for months to get back "in the zone". Back to that place where I am conscious of my eating, I'm drinking water, and getting exercise. Once I fall out of the zone it's very, very difficult for me to get back in.
Someone found an old picture of me a couple of weeks ago and brought it to me. I was about 50 pounds lighter than I am now. In fact, there were five of us in that photo and at least three of us are now overweight. I've lost track of the other two! If thinking about that photo wasn't enough, I saw a news story several days ago that gave me the final motivation I needed, so I have spent the last week planning meals, grocery shopping, and packing lunches. It feels good to be back. I have more energy, I don't feel sick at my stomach, and I've already lost a few pounds.
With the United States being the fattest country in the world and my home state boasting the most obese kids in the nation, I thought I'd print the story that got me back on track. Please take a moment to read it.
(CNN) -- More than 100,000 cases of cancer each year are caused by excess body fat, according to a report released Thursday in Washington.
Researchers with the American Institute for Cancer Research looked at seven cancers with known links to obesity and calculated actual case counts that were likely to have been caused by obesity.
Specifically, the report says that 49 percent of endometrial cancers are caused by excess body fat. That number is followed by 35 percent of esophageal cancer cases; 28 percent of pancreatic cancer cases; 24 percent of kidney cancer cases; 21 percent of gallbladder cancer cases; 17 percent of breast cancer cases; and 9 percent of colorectal cancer cases.
"This is the first time that we've put real, quantifiable case numbers on obesity-related cancers," said Glen Weldon, the American Institute for Cancer Research educational director. In addition, he said, it's not just causing cancer that's an issue.
"Obesity not only raises the risk for getting cancer," Weldon said. "It also has a negative effect on survival and can make treatment more difficult."
Although there is no concrete science on why obesity increases a person's risk for cancer, scientists hypothesize that excess estrogen released by body fat could be the culprit in cancers such as estrogen-receptor positive breast cancers.
Studies have also shown that increased body fat can lead to increased levels of oxidative stress and inflammatory compounds in the blood, which are linked to DNA mutation and diseased cell growth, as is seen in many cancers.
The American Cancer Society applauded the new research, but said the report is only the first step.
"This helps to communicate the magnitude of the problem," said Dr. Michael Thun, vice president emeritus at the American Cancer Society.
"While the study addresses the magnitude of the problem, it does not propose potential solutions. The bottom line for people concerned about this issue is to try to balance the calories you take in with those your body expends every day."
In addition to cancer, obesity is a known cause of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and strokes.
With the one year anniversary of "Detach" passing, I think it would be a good time to revisit the term "detach".
Detaching does not mean we don't care. It means we learn to love, care, and be involved without going crazy. We stop creating all this chaos in our minds and environments. When we are not anxiously and compulsively thrashing about, we become able to make good decisions about how to love people, and how to solve our problems. We become free to care and to love in ways that help others and don't hurt ourselves.
The rewards from detachment are great: serenity; a deep sense of peace; the ability to give and receive love in self-enhancing, energizing ways; and the freedom to find real solutions to our problems. We find the freedom to live our own lives without excessive feelings of guilt about, or responsibility toward others. Sometimes detachment even motivates and frees people around us to begin to solve their problems. We stop worrying about them, and they pick up the slack and finally start worrying about themselves. What a grand plan! We each mind our own business. -Melody Beattie Codependent No More
I still have alot of anxiety sometimes. I still have irrational thoughts about things that make me crazy. But in the year since I started writing this journal I have come a long, long way in the way I interact with my husband. Much of the anxiety I have now is due to my job, and aside from Derby time, I worry much, much less about my husband's drinking. I'm doing much better about interrogating him and trying to predict, and ultimately control his behavior. In return, he truly has become more conscious of his own actions, and our marriage is in a pretty good place right now. I want to continue on this path. I don't want to make myself sick with worry when the neighbors are having a party or when we are invited to a wedding reception. What good does this do anyway? Ironically, I find the less I worry and obsess about things, the less I have to worry about. Detachment. It's a powerful word.
Detach has just celebrated it's one year anniversary. It's been therapeutic and enlighteneing to write this journal the past year. Thank you for tuning in and for supporting me. I hope I'll be able to keep your attention for awhile to come.
Yesterday was Halloween. We were also celebrating my son's twelfth birthday. A bunch of kids were planning to spend the weekend here. By Friday night I found myself caught in a web of anxiety. Too much stress at work, too many things to do.
I had to work on Halloween and by the time I got home it was time to order pizza and start helping the kids with their costumes. In addition to my two kids, there were four other boys who had spent the night here, trying to get ready at my house. At first my head started to spin, but then something just kicked in and it got fun. Really, really fun! It occurred to me that my kids are pretty much at the end of their trick-or-treating years and that even though it can be stressful, it's also a hoot. I applied grey makeup and dreadful scars to two of the boys' faces, adjusted masks and clothes for the alien and the werewolf, and helped The Cat In The Hat and Thing One put the finishing touches on their outfits. This included spraying Thing One's hair blue.
The boys went off on their own, but I walked with the girls. I've always loved Halloween and Fall is by far my favorite season. Last night I saw some of the cutest little kids out trick-or-treating. It was nice and crisp outside, leaves were blowing around, and people were sitting out with their fire pits blazing. I could smell the wood burning. The whole neighborhood felt alive.
My husband changed into three or four different costumes throughout the evening and had decorated our house so beautifully. He carved three spectacular jack-o-lanterns. He had also made up special treat bags for the little ones we know.
I'm glad I let the stress go and was able to relax and enjoy this day with my family. We've talked about signs lately, and I do feel like I've been getting them for some time now regarding my job. I'm not happy there and the stress of that place is spilling over into all aspects of my life. I don't know where I'm supposed to go, or what I'm supposed to do. I haven't figured that out yet. But for this day, I'm happy. I love my family and I'm glad we had a fat houseful of kids all weekend. I wouldn't have wanted it any other way.
My good friend and faithful reader, Sally was driving down a busy local road that was covered with wet leaves earlier this week. A voice in her head told her to slow down and she did. The car next to her did not. That car slid on the leaves and hit two oncoming cars head on. Needless to say, Sally was quite rattled by this experience.
I believe we receive signs all the time. I also believe many times we choose not to heed those signs; we choose not to listen to that voice in our head. Often we are so busy we may not even realize we're being given a sign. If God is trying to tell us something big, he may present us with a whole series of signs. If we resist what He is trying to tell us, we'll probably get a bigger sign that is harder to ignore.
Sally drove on that day and picked up her two children. She gave them both a tight hug. Since Sally is probably the most intuitive person I know, she shouldn't have much trouble figuring out what that sign meant to her. It may have meant something different to the guy driving the car; and something else to the woman who was walking down the street and wittnessed the whole thing. One sign may mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people who receive it.
Stay in tune with your body, mind, and spirit. Listen to the messages you are being given. When you are spared from tragedy, embrace it and learn from it.
Well, back to work tomorrow, but it's been a great two weeks off. I got my house in order, I did some shopping, I took some naps, I spent two Fridays with my husband! It was just what I needed.
Yesterday I caught a movie just coming on and had to watch it because it has some classic, classic scenes; City Slickers with Billy Crystal. He and his two buddies take a guys trip every year to unwind and cut loose. Billy's character hates his job, and is having a mid-life crisis. One day he goes to his son's school for career day. As he stands in front of the room of elementary school kids this is what he says:
"Value this time in your life kids. Cause this is the time in your life when you still have your choices. And it goes by so fast. When you're a teenager you think you can do anything and you do. Your 20's are a blur. 30's you raise your family, you make a little money, and you think to yourself "what happened to my 20's?" 40's you grow a little pot belly, you grow another chin. The music starts to get too loud, one of your old girlfriends from high school becomes a grandmother. 50's you have a minor surgery. You'll call it a procedure but it's a surgery. 60's you'll have a major surgery--the music's still too loud but it doesn't matter because you can't hear it anyway. 70's you and the wife retire to Ft. Lauderdale. You start eating dinner at 2:00 in the afternoon. You have lunch around 10:00, and breakfast the night before. You spend most of your time wandering around the mall looking for the ultimate soft yogurt, muttering "How come the kids don't call? How come the kids don't call?" The 80's you'll have a major stroke. You end up babbling to some Jamaican nurse your wife can't stand but you end up calling Mama. Any questions?"
In the summer of 1991 I was 27 years old. I had been divorced for a year. I had been living back home with my parents during that year and I was in the process of buying a little house of my own. My relationship with Michael had just ended. I was offered a promotion at work which would require moving from our main office and managing a branch office near my home. The stress of moving out on my own for the first time in my life, starting a new job, and not having a steady man in my life was both very thrilling and very stressful at first. Then I got the knack of it.
This is about the time my short-lived second round with Chris W. occurred. Remember, I mentioned he helped me move into my little house. I was going out on casual dates with assorted people who asked me out or who I was "fixed up" with. Nothing serious. This would be the start of a wonderful time in my life. I was independent for the first time. I had a decent paying job, my own little house, and a nice car. I was beautiful. I was in the prime of my life. Thin, with long blonde hair. I was confident, and I didn't "need" anyone.
I've never thrown out my calendar from 1991. Still have it. I wrote all my dates on there, and all the fun things I was doing with my girlfriends too. I started going to bars for the first time in my life. Forget the dance clubs, I loved going out to see bands. I usually hung out with girlfriends on Thursday and Friday nights, and had dates on Saturdays. It was a great year. Everyone should have that much fun in their lives, at least for awhile.
Kitty and I had known each other for a couple of years by this point, but we bonded during that time. We ran around all summer, just having fun. The nine year age difference between us was quite appropriate because I had missed out on a lot of years, so socially we were in the same place. At the end of that summer she introduced me to her brother who of course is now my husband. Life knew it wasn't quite the right time for us though, and it would be several months before we would get together.
I dated a lot of people between Summer 1991 and Summer 1992. A couple that were noteworthy. I'll save those stories for later.
I always said that I would wait until the right moment to leave my first husband. I said I never wanted to look back and have regrets. But at that point in my life, no matter how miserable I'd become, I wasn't ready to jump without a safety net. Enter into my life Michael.
Michael and I worked together. He was 19 years old when I first met him. I was 25 and in the throws of a miserable marriage. Michael and I became friends but as my marriage began to crumble before my eyes I started to feel more. We'd go to lunch and Michael would tell me how beautiful I was. He told me how I didn't deserve the punishment that I was living. This eventually gave me the strength I needed to make that final decision to end my marriage.
Michael and I started seeing each other....alot. By now he was 20 and I was 26. Dating a young man who was 6 years my junior was just exactly what the doctor ordered. Every time Michael saw me or called me on the phone he said "Hey Beautiful!" And the sex....well, I've purposely avoided discussing that topic in this "Kiss and Tell" series, but it would be completely impossible for me to tell the Michael Story and not mention it. I shall try to refrain from mentioning it with any other man I discuss, but for this story I have to. The sex was insane. Bodies sweating, shit flying off the walls, knock-everything-off-a-desk kind of sex. I'm quite sure we'd have both gotten fired if we'd been caught doing some of the things we did at work. I had seven years of repressed emotions inside me. Four of which I spent thinking I was inadequate and undesirable. Thinking I was a bad wife. Thinking I didn't deserve happiness. Well, Michael was a passionate young man and the year I spent with him erased all that. I was becoming confident and Mary came back to life!
Michael and I spent one wonderful year together. Shortly after a long weekend in St. Louis he suddenly broke things off with me. No warning at all--just broke it off. He had turned 21 and wanted to go out to the bars with his friends and just didn't want to have to "ask permission" or answer to anyone. Because of how unexpected this was, it was probably the worst my heart has ever been broken. I didn't see it coming. I had unwisely put all my eggs in Michael's basket and for the first time in my life I found myself without a safety net. No one waiting in the wings to catch me. Mary Bailey was a free, single woman. And she was scared to death.
Michael was the best thing that could have possibly happened to me at that particular time in my life. We could never have made a life together, really, but I will always love him. He picked me up and flew me to the moon when I needed it most. The confidence I found in myself the year I spent with Michael would stay with me forever.
It was a pretty Spring Saturday morning. I was making out a grocery list and planning out my day when my Dad called. I answered the phone and he said "I just came home and found your mother in the floor. I've called 911. I don't know what to do". I asked my Dad if she was breathing, he said yes. I said "I'm on my way" and I grabbed my keys and hopped in the car.
During the 5 minute drive to my parent's house I somehow knew this was going to be "it". My mother had been plagued for more than 20 years (since her early 50's) with one thing after another. She had survived not one, but two brain aneurysms requiring two brain surgeries, two heart attacks requiring two open heart surgeries, and an injury from a fall which developed into a large hematoma on her back that kept her in the hospital for about 6 weeks. I started leaving voice messages for my sister and I just kept driving.
When I got to the house, the ambulance was already there. I went in and found the EMTs working on my mother who was laying in the floor in her housecoat, partly in the hallway, partly in the bathroom. She was unresponsive but still alive. She had a wet wash cloth next to her. They kept asking us if she could have overdosed on her meds because her vitals were good. Somehow Dad and I both knew it was her brain.
Dad had only been gone about 15 minutes. He had gone to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription. When he got back he rang the doorbell but she didn't come. He started calling the house from his cell phone and she didn't answer so he broke in. He'd always said his worst fear was to come home one day and find her like this and it had happened.
They took mom to the hospital where she'd gone so many times before. Dad insisted on driving himself and I followed. We didn't drive fast, just regular. There wasn't anything we could do.
They got her in a bed at the ER and while we were waiting for tests to come back the EMT driver approached us with some papers to sign. When he walked away he said "I'm sorry". I guess he knew too.
The neurologist assigned to my mother told us she had a blood clot in her brain. It measured 3 cm. They were going to start her on meds to see if they could shrink the clot. Even if they were successful they said she would likely have brain damage but it was possible she could survive. They said they would scan her again the next morning to see if they had any luck.
The rest of that day we had visitors; friends and family who came to comfort us. I remember some of it but not everything. Scarlett was there. Kitty brought a bag full of provisions, Kleenex, notepad and pen, yummy snacks. My cousins from the country came up. I guess I was on auto pilot.
I knew my mom didn't want to die but I also knew she was at peace with dying. She had told me that a year before when she had her second bypass surgery following her second heart attack. But she wanted to live to see her great grandson be born, which she did. She had told me then that if anything happened to her she wanted me to look out for Dad. I promised her I would. She also told me that under no circumstances should she be buried wearing anything pink. I assured her it would be my priority for her to look good.
We all went home that night to sleep. When we came in the next morning they had already scanned her. The medication had not worked. The clot had grown from 3 cm to 9 cm. They told us at that point there was no hope and that Mom would die in the next few hours. Mom's longtime doctor came in to see us. I told him how much she loved him. All Mom's friends came to see her one last time. She had never regained consciousness, but they all talked to her, they held her hand, they cried. I told her I remembered everything she had told me and not to worry; I would take care of Daddy. I told her how much I loved her and that she was a good mother. I told her it was okay to go. Just go be at peace. It was a long, hard day.
Night time came and my Dad insisted we all go home to rest. My sister was staying at my house. About an hour after we got home my Dad called to say he had received a call from the hospital. There had been a change and they thought we should all come back. I asked Dad if he wanted my sister and me to come by to get him. Once again, he wanted to drive himself. I remember the drive back over there. My sister and I didn't say much. I kept telling her we would get through this together. It would be okay.
We got there first and waited for Dad to pull in. The three of us walked in together. As we approached Mom's room we noticed the door was closed. Mom's nurse stopped us and told us that she was gone.
The three of us entered the room. She was laying there with no tubes, no machines, no nothing. Just laying there. I kissed her forehead. The three of us held hands and prayed over her, asking God to accept her into his kingdom and to watch over her. Then, my sister and I left the room so Dad could say his goodbyes in private.
We all went to sit in the waiting area one last time. I don't know why we did that. We really just didn't know what to do I guess. We sat there for a little while then we all went home. Once again, Dad drove himself.
When we got home I remember getting out of the car. I wanted to walk. I walked up my street, tears streaming down my face. I remember saying out loud "Mama, I can't feel you anymore! Where are you? I can't feel you anymore!".
The next time I saw my mother was at the funeral home, two days later. I couldn't remember the last time I had seen my mother look so beautiful. I truly mean that. She looked beautiful. Everyone said it was because she was finally free from her broken down body and at peace. She was wearing a powder blue dress. Her fingernails we painted a rosy shade and she had on blue eyeshadow. Her hair looked so pretty. Before everyone started arriving I saw my Dad at the casket. He was talking out loud to my mother and he was crying. I blocked the door way and let him have his time with her.
It's been a year and a half since all that happened and I still think of my mom often. But now when I think of her I try to remember happy times like the restaurant incident, the Sicilian Hex, or my mother's quick wit. I'm slowly letting go of so much sadness, but it is a long process. Writing about her in this journal is part of that process.
I won't lie...sometimes my mother drove me crazy. We didn't always see eye to eye, but I loved my mother very much. Everyone who knew her tells me she adored me. I could do no wrong in my mother's eyes. About three months after she died we went to California to visit my Mom's brother and his wife. They gave me a photo of myself that was taken on the beach when I was about 16. I turned it over and on the back in my mother's handwriting it read "Silhouette of a beautiful girl". That's how my mother felt about me.
Losing a parent is one of the oddest experiences I've ever had. One day I can talk about Mom and laugh, the next day something comes up and I cry. I think back to the last time I saw her and spoke with her, two days before she died. If I'd known I was never going to talk with her again would I have said or done anything differently that day? Happily, I don't think so. There's an empty space in my heart that will never, ever be filled. If you are lucky enough to still have your parents, don't take them for granted. Say what you want to say now. Live each day to the fullest because you just never know when it's your day to get that call.
When you love and live with an addict you find yourself running around desperately looking for an answer. The more you have invested in the relationship, the more you want it to work. Throw in a couple of kids and a mortgage and yeah....you want this to work.
You will probably enlist the help of others....the addict's friends, family members, anyone who will listen to you. You will find yourself trying to call the addict's bluff, "I'll leave if you don't stop!" but then you don't, because that's not really what you want to do. Not yet anyway.
As time goes on, things get worse. You become a detective; carefully skimming over phone records, bank statements, even store receipts. You may find yourself following the addict. I knew a girl once who actually put on a disguise and rented a car to follow someone she thought was in trouble.
Eventually you become consumed with controlling the addict's behavior. This does not happen overnight, but trust me....it does happen. You begin to feel obsessed with the thought that you have to get things under control...YOUR CONTROL!
The question is this: Who's controlling whom?
Eventually you learn the hard way that you are not controlling the addict, or his using. He and his using are controlling you!
So what do you do? The first thing you do is start taking control of the one thing you have any control over; yourself. You may be amazed at what happens when the addict sees you stop obsessing over his behavior and start working on yourself. Get yourself educated about addiction. Next, take a look back at your own history. If you grew up in a home with substance abusers you just may be codependent. If you have a previous history of relationships with other addicts or abusers, you probably are codependent. Educate yourself about this subject, and fast! I recommend "Codependent No More" by Melody Beattie.
You have some big decisions to make and no matter if you stay or if you go, things probably won't be easy. But the number one most important thing you can remember is that we are all responsible for ourselves...period. Nothing you can do will change the addict's behavior. He must do that for himself, and he likely won't be motivated enough to make any changes until he's hit rock bottom. But you don't have to hit rock bottom with him. Do what you need to do to ensure the health and well being of yourself and your family. Break the cycle for the next generation by letting them grow up in a peaceful, worry-free home, and letting them see you as a strong and healthy individual.
The other day I made the comment to Scarlett that "God laughs at our plans", meaning just when we think we've got everything figured out, we discover there's another plan in place for us. I got a dose of that today.
My aunt & uncle are visiting from California and have taken a road trip with my Dad. My Dad had his regular 6 month check up appointment this morning before they got started. They called from the road to tell me that my Dad's doctor has scheduled a stress test for him this Friday. I was not expecting that. He wants me to be there with him. I was not expecting that either.
My initial reaction was confusion, because my Dad had not mentioned feeling bad. The good news is that the doctor is mostly doing this as a precaution and believes he probably won't find anything. He thinks the discomfort is being brought on by something else. So at that point, I must admit I began to feel a bit sorry for myself because I happen to be on a "ME" vacation right now. That is very selfish, I know. I'm just being honest with my readers as always.
After all this swirl of emotion I had a harsh realization about something. My Dad is alone now so if he has to be hospitalized, has surgery, or becomes ill, I'm pretty much going to be his primary caregiver. How the hell I'm going to pull that off while working full time and taking care of my own family, I don't know. My sister lives out of town and has a barrage of health problems herself, so I guess it's going to be me. My Dad has always been so healthy and active that I just haven't given this much thought. Until today, that is.
If you've never had a sick parent you are lucky. I watched my poor Mother go through many illnesses and surgeries. I visited her often, but let's face it....my Dad was her caregiver. He sat with her day after day, week after week in the hospital, he changed her bandages, he administered her medicine, he bathed her. I've never had to care for a sick adult who needs someone to be there every day. It terrifies me. I don't think I even know how to do it.
God won't give us more than we can handle and none of us know what tomorrow will bring, so I'll try not to worry too much about this. I will try to take life one day at a time. Tonight I am going to help my kids with homework and spend some relaxing time with my family. That's what I'm going to do today. I'll worry about tomorrow....tomorrow.
In the late 1980's I became friends with a girl I worked with. Her name is Carolyn. We were very close. I was maid of honor in her wedding and she was in my (second) wedding. In early 1992 Carolyn's husband got a good job offer in another state so they moved. For several years we maintained very regular contact with each other. I went out there a couple of times and she came home fairly regularly for visits. Then, life started getting busier and we just naturally drifted apart.
I usually get a Christmas card from Carolyn, but a few years back she started writing a lengthy Christmas letter. With each passing year I noticed her letters got more and more religious. The last two or three have used the term "bless the Lord" or something like that probably a dozen times each. They also now contain scriptures and a call to action for anyone who isn't saved.
Carolyn didn't even go to church back in the day but now she is quite active in the Assemblies of God church and has apparently become quite conservative. Well, this week Carolyn found me on Facebook (have I mentioned love it / hate it?). I rarely post anything about myself of Facebook anymore but I suddenly found myself thinking I'd better be careful what I post because Carolyn might think less of me if I talk about rock bands or tattoos or use foul language. Not to worry, I got over that pretty quickly.
I won't get in to a discussion about why I don't currently attend church or why I feel people have made religion much, MUCH more complicated than it needs to be. I am who I am, just as Carolyn is who she is. I guess we all have to decide what's right for us religion-wise. I'm quite happy where I'm at and I guess she is too. It just happens we probably won't see eye to eye on much anymore.
So I guess my point is that it intrigues me how many different views people have on what is right and wrong and how one should worship, and how most people believe only their way is the right way. We can't all be right on that one, can we?
I'll just keep being me and keep believing the way I feel comfortable. I guess we all should.
Today was an interesting day. I spent my lunch hour with Chris W's best friend from high school. We've been communicating for months now via Facebook (love it / hate it) and he happened to be in town for a couple of days so we met up.
I could have talked to TJ for hours. It's very hard to catch up on nearly thirty years of life in just an hour, but we made the most of it. TJ and his wife live in England and he has graciously extended an open invitation to my husband and me whenever we like. I'm quite certain we will take them up on the offer at some point in time. My husband is very much on board with a visit abroad. I'm pretty sure he and TJ would get along very well.
I toiled over this, but after I wrote the Chris W Story I decided to forward the entries to TJ. He now has the link to Detach and will hopefully be a new faithful reader. Like me, TJ hasn't heard from Chris in many years, plus he was right there along side us as it happened, so he enjoyed reading the story. I asked him not to tell me if I got any of the details wrong because I didn't really want to know--particularly if there were anything bad!
TJ did tell me today that he and Chris W had talked way back when and said that they both felt I was trying to change Chris. Imagine that? Me? Trying to change someone? I was aghast....I told him about Mary's MILFs (Men I'd Like To Fix). Chris W. was surely a founding father.
Anyway, welcome TJ. I hope you'll enjoy this journal. It is lessons in codependence, coupled with stories of most any types of self improvement, all wrapped up in my memoirs and the sordid story of my life. Happy Reading.
So if I vowed never to lose control again, never to let things around me get so OUT of control, how did I end up in such a mess later on? Why didn't I take the reigns and never let go? The answer is easy. In my attempt to take full control, I mistakenly tried to take charge of everyone and everything around me rather than trying to control the one thing I could actually have power over....myself.
The next four years of my life were bad. I spent most of it trying to catch David in the act. I had periods of time when I thought I was crazy, that I was imagining everything. This was back in the day before caller ID or call blocking or pretty much any technology. Every night there were hang up calls. Often David would need to run an errand after we received them. I would check times on receipts, I would try to interrogate his friends, I involved his parents and his brother.
Once we were in Gatlinburg, TN when one of his "ex" mistresses unknowingly boarded the trolley we were on. She nearly fainted when she saw us sitting there.
Once a mysterious woman called me in the middle of Bunco when I had eleven friends over and asked me if I knew where my husband was. She said he was with her best friend and she thought I should know about it.
Once I spent an hour and a half talking on the phone with the woman he is now married to. She told me they'd been dating for nearly two years and that David had told her he and I hadn't slept together in years. He told her he was waiting for the right time to leave.
I'll swear to you I could go on and on and on about the horrible things I endured during those four years. The constant lies, the mind games, the sadness, the manipulation. I have no idea how many women he cheated with. There were a lot. Working at a college is just too much temptation. Lots of willing young women who don't think twice about what they're doing or whom they are doing it to.
Much of the codependent behaviors I have today were born during those four years, I firmly believe that. I had no control whatsoever over my life or what happened to me and I vowed that would never happen again. I swore I'd never lose control like that again. I needed to take control and fast.
I moved out of my home in August of 1990, just shy of our 7th wedding anniversary. Our divorce was final in January of 1991. David married the woman mentioned above almost immediately after the divorce was final. They are still married today and have three grown children.
I would be a very different person today if I hadn't endured that marriage. I don't know whether that is a good thing or a bad thing. I have to think it's good because the thought that those years were wasted is too much to bear. I have absolutely no fond memories of David at all. I get angry when I think too much about him. Seven or eight years ago David and his wife were in a terrible car accident. He was in the hospital for months. I didn't feel anything when I heard the news. I remember feeling sad for his parents and thinking how upset they must be. Several weeks after the accident I called his mom to tell her I'd seen them on the news and to ask how David was doing. While we were talking she told me that one of David's nurses was apparently an old friend that she thought I might know. Her name was Kim and she had red hair. David was unable to speak at that time and she thought I might be able to tell her who this girl was. I said I didn't know her, but that was a lie. Kim was the girl who got on the trolley in Gatlinburg that day. She was a nursing student at the college back then. What would have been the use in telling her? I didn't.
I still get a Christmas card from his mother every year. She never mentions him. I loved her very much and look forward to her card.
With that chapter of my life finally over I was ready to start living my life as an independent, single person. 1991 would be one of the craziest years of my entire life. I can't wait to write about it.
In order to finish the Chris W. story, I had to jump ahead a few years. Now, let's go back into time to fill in the missing pieces. I was a freshman at community college and finding myself available for the first time in awhile. I don't know why I didn't set my standards higher. I don't know why I didn't try to meet some smart student with a bright future, but I didn't. I had my eye on a maintenance man at campus. That's right....a maintenance man. I saw him driving around on his little cart every day and I thought he was a doll. He had big dimples, and twinkly eyes. I was smitten.
After awhile I got up the nerve to meet him. His name was David. He was the same age as I was and hadn't been employed there too long. David was a clown. He was always smiling and always making people laugh. He was very funny and very charming. There was just one problem....he was married. He had married his high school sweetheart immediately after graduation. He told me what a mistake that was, that everyone had tried to talk them out of getting married. He told me what a bitch she was and that he was miserable. I was 18 years old; I ate up every word of it.
I'll never forget sitting in my friend Mark's car one night. We were in front of my parents' house. Mark said to me "Mary....if he'll cheat WITH you, he'll cheat ON you". Mark begged me not to get involved with this guy. I didn't listen.
Less than a year after he'd married her, David was divorced from his young bride and dating me. I thought he was the greatest thing ever. He was handy and could fix just about anything. He could charm the pants off of just about anyone. He had the most wonderful parents and three great brothers. Before anyone could blink an eye I was part of his family.
David and I were married in October, 1983, less than two years after meeting. I was 19 years old and thought I knew everything. After all, my sister had been married at 17! I was two years older than that. I knew it all.
Things were like a story book for the first three years. We lived in a one bedroom apartment with a galley kitchen. We didn't need money, we had love. By now, my parents and my sister had grown very fond of David. All was right with the world until one day when I was making the bed in our apartment. I'll never forget it. I was just making the bed when suddenly I thought "Something doesn't add up. Surely he's not cheating on me?"
You've already read some of the stories about the things this man did to me. He would cheat and lie to me non stop for the next 4 years. It's funny--when I began writing the Mike Brown story and the Chris W. story I felt really different than I do tonight. I felt young and in love just remembering those stories. I cried alot while writing the Chris W. story--happy tears. But writing about my ex-husband, David is totally different. I don't feel warm and fuzzy at all. In fact, it's hard for me to write that I was head over heels for him. It's hard for me to type how good looking or funny he was because I can't stand the thought of him. He robbed me. David took alot of things away from me; mainly my trust in people. I feel bitter when I think of him.
Tonight I'll just stop right there in the bedroom, making the bed. I'll just stop with that life changing thought that ran through me head. Yeah....that's where I'll stop for now.
It's rare that I ever get alone time. Tonight everyone is out for a couple of hours and it's quiet. No radio, no T.V., no voices. Just quiet. Time to think. Hmmmmm......I think I'll just write random thoughts as they come to mind:
Mystical deserves a big pat on the back for all her hard work these past few weeks. I know she exhausted. She did a great job.
Today at work wasn't as bad as I had dreaded. It was hectic, but not as bad as I'd feared.
I've been stress eating. I have to stop. I'm glad The Biggest Loser is back on the air, maybe I'll get inspired.
I hope Madison made it to class on time and did well on her quiz.
The kids got good report cards. Awesome. I'm glad they are out of school for a few days--I need the break.
My husband and I have been getting along remarkably well lately. That's cool.
I heard that (the legendary, Mustang driving) Mike Brown is going to be a grandfather. That struck me as funny for some reason.
Feeling relieved the dog wasn't waiting for me to let her out when I got home. We made the right decision in not adopting her.
Looking forward to grilled chicken burritos at work tomorrow...and it's jeans day.
I'm sick of Facebook.
I hope no one in my family gets the flu. I vote we all stay home for a month.
Can't wait til it's time to build a fire in the fireplace!
I hope the concert I was supposed to go to gets rescheduled soon.
I can't flippin' wait for my upcoming two week fall vacation. I'm going to get my house organized, pamper myself a little, and take some naps.
My daughter has been asking for a dog for a long time now. A very long time. Neither my husband or I are big pet lovers, but after years of begging and writing persuasive letters at school, we decided maybe we should give it some thought.
I recently met a lady who has two retired racing greyhounds. I instantly fell in love with them. I started doing mounds of research on these dogs and everything I read sounded perfect for us. They sleep about 75% - 80% of the time, they are very gentle and non aggressive, they don't jump on furniture, and are quite respectful of socks, shoes, and other items left in the floor. The family attended greyhound meet & greets, we went to a greyhound party, we researched and researched and finally decided we may want to adopt.
The adoption process is quite intense. First you fill out a very lengthy written application. The next step is a 30 minute phone interview. After that, an in person interview where they inspect your home, actually bring a hound to your house, and go over a ton of information and facts about these dogs. The home interview lasts about 90 minutes. Finally, a week and a half ago, we got a call that a dog was coming in to the program the next day. They asked if we would consider fostering her for one week, just to see if she fit into our family. We agreed.
We found the dog to be very well behaved and very laid back, just as we expected. This dog did not, however "take" to my kids. She tolerated them, but the whole purpose of having the dog was to make them (especially my daughter) happy. Turns out we were working ourselves to death taking care of the dog, but no return on our investment. She just wouldn't have anything at all to do with our kids, which was the whole purpose of getting her.
Fast forward to today. The greyhound people came to get her. I have lots of emotions, but have to admit I feel a little relieved she's gone. I don't think we'll take another grey, at least right now, and I don't know if we'll take any other dog for that matter. Part of me would love to have one, part of me....not so much.
The greyhound rescue organizations are great. I learned a tremendous amount about these odd and wonderful animals. These are terrific dogs, but not for everyone. I plan to support the organization in the future because they do good things for great dogs.
I hope our foster dog will get placed into a wonderful, loving home...she deserves it, she's a good dog. As for me, I think I'm going to go finish bleaching my kitchen floor.
Seems like all the women in my life are beat down right now. My daughter just came back from a two day camp and she's exhausted, with legs aching. Another good friend is beat down from life--her dead end job, being a single mom, making all the ends in life meet. One friend is beat down sick with a bad cold. Someone actually told her today that she "looked tired". Another friend is beat down from weeks of training and preparing to roll out a new program at work. I believe every woman I know who works outside the home is beat down by their job right now; whether they make a little money or a lot of money--all beat down.
Throughout history women have always had to be strong. They nursed sick family members, many of whom died. They plowed across the west in wagon trains, searching for a better way of life. They endure child birth, they watch their men go off to war. They cook and clean and help with homework, all for little or no recognition. We are nurturers, we are peacemakers.
Women are strong. God made us that way. We just have to remember to breathe once in awhile and take a little time for ourselves in between.
Last night I watched a very interesting show on NatGeo. It was about this guy who has been studying stress in baboons for 30 years. Baboons have quite a hierarchy in their colonies and the big dominant males keep everyone else in the colony upset and stressed out all the time. The stressed out ones die young, are overweight, and basically are a big mess.
So ten years into the study, some people left some food where the baboons could get it. The food was infected with a disease. Of course the strong, dominant males are the ones that ate the food. They all died. In fact, about half the colony died. Only females and passive males survived.
A fascinating thing occurred next. With the bullies out of the picture, the whole colony relaxed and calmed down. The males were kind to the females and for the next 20 years they have maintained this way of life.
I'm not suggesting we poison all our bullies, but you do have to admit it's fascinating.
A codependent person is one who has let another person's behavior affect him or her, and who is obsessed with controlling that person's behavior.
The following two "Detach" journal entries will give you a crash course:
"An Answer to a Prayer" dated Nov 1, 2008 "How Did We Wind Up Here?" dated Nov 2, 2008
About This Journal
In 2008 I had the life changing realization that there was a name for what I'd always felt was "wrong" with me. After 20 years of thumbing through various self-help books. I learned about codependence.
I began writing this journal to document my journey out. Over time, it's evolved into something more. While I still talk about codependence (I know now, it will never totally leave me), this blog has turned into the thumbprint of my life; a therapeutic journal for me to sort out a lifetime of thoughts and memories. I believe in being honest with myself and others, and when something is bothering me, I reach out. With a support team of strong, smart women surrounding us, we can all continue to grow. I'm trying to live my best life, in pursuit of a Healthy Mind, a Healthy Body.