When you are pushed too far

I feel I am a fair person. I tend to give the benefit of the doubt, probably more than I should. However, when I have been pushed too far, when I’m “done”- I am DONE! For a while now I have been struggling with the fact that I have had to deal with someone who I not only do not like, but have zero respect for. Because of mutual friends and social ties, I have put my personal feelings on the back burner, spared others the uncomfortable truth of knowing how much I wanted to purge this person from our circle. Part of me know that eventually this person would show his true self  and when that happened, I could be done without walking away from people I do care about and want in my life.

This happened last night. I don’t care how much one has to drink, own your shit. If you screw up, drunk or not, apologize, if you feel you were wrong, of course. Threatening people with attorneys and acting like you have been wronged when you are in fact the problem, this is not how friends and adults behave. The smaller, closer circle has seen him for who and what he is, we are done, however there is a much larger network of friends and while we are going to be adult, be glad to be rid of this negative person and move on, he will not do the same. He will behave in the same way he has that got him to this point- he will lie and bad mouth people who had always been there for him. Some will believe him, in my opinion, good riddance. For me, I hate that others could be affected by this.

And now, we wait. Personally I think he feels we will “get over it”, as we have countless times in the past. We will make more excuses for his behavior: his age, his drinking, stress. No more. We are not the ones burning the bridge, he did this all by himself. When he realizes it, he will look for allies to come to his defense, to paint the picture of innocence in hopes that we look bad or better yet, ask him back before things get too ugly. Too late for that, it got beyond ugly and we are done.

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Life Lessons

I would like to go on record by stating I do not think a child is ever a “mistake”. There are certainly the unplanned pregnancies that challenge parents to make difficult decisions, in many cases at a very early age, when some may argue they are still children themselves.

I do not have children of my own. I do not think this makes me better than those who found themselves in the surprise situation of an unexpected new addition. I have never wanted kids, so this worked out well for me and I do not judge those with kids, regardless of when they had them, planned or not. My sister, who is a few years younger than I am, waited to start her family until after she and her long time boyfriend/husband graduated from college, married and bought their first house. This was not the case with several of her friends. Many of her close friends in high school, who she drifted from after graduation, had children young. I recall when my sister was pregnant with my nephew, ten years after the birth of my niece, when my sister to was knocking on the door marked 40, her friends said she was crazy, why have a baby now- but these were woman who were done raising their kids-they were 18 and graduating high school and picking colleges or job prospects. Life takes us down different paths.

One thing I realized, after reconnecting via the power of social media, in all the cases of the friends who had kids young, there was a struggle. In most cases they didn’t marry or have a long-term relationship with the fathers of their children. They delayed college for themselves or never went at all. In one case drugs became and continues to be a battle, some days she is winning the battle, others days, well, not so much. These are all women who had the same upbringing as my sister. They had the same advantages, the same opportunities yet, they made very different life choices.

My sister and I were raised by a single mother, with a lot of help from our grandparents. As the oldest I knew from a young age I was not planned, even though my parents married, as that is what you did in the late 60’s. Another thing I learned at an early age- I did NOT want to be my mother. I did not want to have kids at an early age, give up my dreams to have them or marry a man I didn’t even like, much less love. I’m sure my mother’s approach to motherhood, at least where I was concerned, formed my decision to never want kids. But my sister had the same upbringing and she always wanted to be a mom, but not OUR mom. She wanted to get her education, to be more prepared than our mother had been and be able to provide for her family when the time came.

Today I saw that one of my sister’s friends posted pictures of her new grandson, her now 20-year-old son was a father. This is the second of my sister’s friends who had kids young to make this kind of post in recent weeks. All I could think was “did you boys not learn a damn thing growing up?”. Both saw their mother’s struggle to provide for them, living much of their early years with grandparents because as single mothers with no financial help or college degrees, they could not support themselves and a child.  Both of these young men were gifted with athletic ability, so much so they had offers to attend college on scholarships I have no idea what will come of that, since child support is not factored into the usual expenses for a college athlete. The babies are healthy, the young parents seem happy and the grandmothers who are younger than me are proudly posting pictures all over social media. Yet, I find myself wondering why: Why now? Why not be more careful? Why not fulfill your dreams? Why not learn the lessons of your mother’s struggle?

It’s a Question Party!!!!

One of the bonuses to starting this blog has been I’ve found some really great blogs that I enjoy reading. One is The Shameful Sheep. She posted a couple of weeks ago an online questionnaire, not the typical questions about your childhood or the vices you dabbled in, just some fun, off the wall questions. At the end of the blog the challenge was put out to answer the questions and post the link, so, here we.

What female celebrity do you wish was your sister?
Oprah Winfrey. Aside from the obvious amazing gifts she gives, I think she would be a great role model to look up to and we have a lot in common we both like to talk, help people, love dogs, struggle with our weight… basically, I’m the poor, white Oprah.

What would you name your daughter if you had one?
Harlow. I love this name and my next female puppy will be likely be named this, does that count?

What would you name your son if you had one?
Jackson/Jack. It’s the Steel Magnolia in me, I love the name Jack.

What was your favorite TV show when you were a child?
Lost in Space. I loved this show so much when I went in for oral surgery at age 6 they had me think about the last episode I watched as I drifted off to sleep. I remember to this day, some 42 years later, waking up convinced I had been on the show.

What did you dress up as for Halloween when you were eight?
Princess Lea. She was my hero then and now, Carrie Fisher is far more a hero to me.

Have you read any of the Harry Potter, Hunger Games or Twilight Series?
I guess this is where my age shows, no, I have no read any of these series.

Do you know who Kermit the Frog is?
Seriously, how DOESN’T know who Kermit is!?!?!?!?

Have you ever been to Olive Garden?
Yes and up until recently I hadn’t in many years. Last year I went on a road trip with a friend, who promised lunch at Olive Garden as a way to tempt me into going (duh, we were going to look at puppies, no further information needed, I was all in). I have no idea why she thought there was an Olive Garden on the route, but there wasn’t and we didn’t stop and by the time we made it to the destination, loved on adorable puppies and got back on the road, we were starving. When we made the trip at again a few weeks later to bring her new puppy home, we went hundreds of miles our of our way for, you guessed it, Olive Garden. It’s now a running joke.

What would your parents have named you if you were the opposite sex?
No clue. I guess after my father, as he was after his, but it’s a horrible name, Norbert, so let’s all be thankful I’m a girl.

If you have a nickname, what is it?
I have a few, most are a variation on my name, but my first and most annoying is the one my younger sister would “sing” Amos the babous the big fat manous. Made zero sense then, makes even less now.

Would you rather live in a rural area or in the suburbs?
The ‘burbs- while I mostly enjoy being at home with my husband and dogs, I like the option of being close to entertainment, restaurants, shopping and friends.

Where did you buy your jeans?
Yes, the question is worded like that, which is odd, as I’m not wearing jeans right now. But I tend to buy most of my clothes online these days, the last pair I bought was from Old Navy.

How old were you when you found out that Santa wasn’t real?
I honestly don’t recall nor do I recall believing Santa was real. My stepdaughter, just this past weekend, asked why parents feel the need to lie to their kids about Santa. I am not a “parent” so I let her dad field that one. She was 11, she claims she knew younger, but trust me, she had no idea or didn’t want to. Either way, she was 11.

If you would like to check out the Shameful Sheep’s answers or just her witty blog, http://theshamefulsheep.com/2017/08/its-not-easy-being-green/

The painful road to healing

Over the past several days I have been thinking a lot about the path to healing, both physically and emotionally. For me, I have been battling  physical pain, to the point I am seeing a physical therapist to help alleviate or manage my pain. This process very much falls into the “no pain, no gain” category, as I am in more pain now as I am working muscles and pushing myself in ways I’ve avoided for a long time.  I am confident that sticking to the program and trusting in my therapist things will get better.

On the emotional side, over the same few days, the situation with my friend Jane’s stepdaughter Mary has taken a painful turn. As I have talked about in many previous blogs, Mary is not a typical 16-year-old girl. She is very withdrawn, makes no effort to fit in socially and claims she has no need for friends or relationships with anyone who doesn’t share 100% of her interests. She is very artistic and talented, yet prefers to create and keep her work to herself, not share with others, even family. Unlike most girls her age,she has no interest in clothes, opting to wear the same clothes day after day, regardless of how dirty they may be. She will go days without showering and even when she does, usually to appease her father or Jane, it is obvious she has not used soap or washed her hair. To say the girl is a “mess” is both figuratively and literally true and an understatement. Since I have known Jane, Mary has transitioned from family therapy to one-on-one therapy, seeing both a therapist and psychiatrist who prescribed an anti-depressant/anxiety medication to help her manage day-to-day without completely shutting down emotionally. Sadly, these steps have made little to no impact, at least not when Mary is in Dick and Jane’s home.

Yesterday, when Jane went up to turn off lights and shut doors, as the girls are back in school and she wanted make sure the dogs couldn’t get into anything (neither Mary nor her sister Sue are known to keep their rooms clean). On the floor, just inside the door was Mary’s journal. Now, many may say that reading a journal is a huge invasion of privacy and I tend to agree. However, in this case, with the lengthy path to help this girl, with all methods seeming to fail and she seems more miserable than ever, a glimpse into her how she is really feeling could be very beneficial.  Let’s just say there was a lot of insight gained, all sad and tragic. And that is where the pain comes into play.

In my previous posts I’ve focused on Jane and how her relationship, or lack their of, with Mary has affected her. This is because I too am a stepmother, I see things more from Jane’s point of view because it is so similar to my own. But today it’s about Dick, the pain he has experienced trying to help his daughter. I honestly can’t imagine how this man felt seeing his daughter’s feelings in black and white. Some of what she wrote, a few with illustrations to accentuate the emotion, were hard for me to read. How can someone so young, so privileged, so loved feel this way about herself, her family and the world around her? This girl is convinced EVERYONE hates her, that is a failure as a human being and yes, she mentioned on more than one occasion that everyone might be better off if she was gone/dead. Luckily, the suicide of a former classmate in the past few weeks made her realize, sadly for the first time in a year, that dying is not what she wants, so that is good sign, but the fact that she has been harboring these feelings, keeping them a secret from her parents and therapist is disturbing. Just last week her therapist suggested that Mary reduce the frequency of her sessions, that she was improving. Nothing in this journal suggests that and its far more likely that Mary has found a way to convince her doctor that she is better off than she is to avoid therapy.

Dick made a point to talk with Mary last night. He did not tell her he knew about the journal, he was hoping to open a dialogue and touch on topics found within the pages without confessing he had read them. She had no interest in talking or addressing the obvious fact that she is clearly unhappy. This morning, Jane checked and Mary had written in her journal last night, clearly annoyed by Dick’s attempts to talk to her and feeling that it was her responsibility to make everyone feel better when they all hate her. The illustration of a “Happy” Mary saying she was tired or not feeling well along with a “Crazy” Mary who knows she is hated and how life would be better for others without her. This is CLEARLY not a girl who is well-adjusted and “fine”. I feel for Dick, he has tried everything he knows to help, followed through on all the professionals suggestions and yet, the most painful revelation of all is his child is hurting, more than even he realized, and nothing is helping.

I hope this family can gain some peace after all this pain, but my guess is there is more pain to come before it gets better.

The power of a compliment

Yes, I love Prince. Everyone who knows me, even casually, knows I love Prince. However, this blog is not about “The Purple One”- it’s about my purple  hair.

Yes, you read that correctly, my purple hair. A couple of months ago I planned to jump on the trendy colored hair bandwagon when my long time hairdresser posted a picture of a silver and purple color job she had done for a client. But as my appointment got closer and I chickened out- instead opting for dark purple, the actual color was in fact Purple Rain, highlights in my rose gold/light auburn hair. It was fun, but subtle. This past weekend I decided to all in and my pixie cut is now all over Purple Rain with a some lighter lavender throughout. Keep in mind, I’m a woman of a certain age and work in a corporate environment- but what the hell- it’s fun and as people like to say “I can pull it off”.

I have been a bit surprised my the lack of comments around the office. Today a very nice lady I work with came into my office- we chatted briefly about work stuff and as she was leaving she said she liked the purple hair. I smiled and thanked her, but she took it a step further. She said my hair was always fun and bright (very nice of her say), but she added “the purple wasn’t the first thing I noticed when I came in here, because you are always so fun and upbeat, of COURSE you would purple hair”. That really touched me. I try to be a positive person, to make others smile and feel at ease. It’s very nice to know that others actually see me the way strive to be.

I am going to make more of an effort to let those around me know the positive ways they impact my life on a daily basis- no purple hair required.

Holy addiction Batman!!!

Don’t let the photo fool you, this blog is anything but sweet. In one of the many rants I listened to from my good friend Jane this week,  she mentioned that Mary, the older of her two stepdaughters, has a “sugar addiction”.  At first I took this to be Jane exaggerating yet another flaw in Mary’s unpleasant personality, as we have reached a point where Jane can not stand this girl. Everything she says and does sets Jane off and while I do feel much of her frustration is warranted, there are times I just let her vent, say I understand and move on. While I knew that Mary’s diet was less than  ideal, at 16 she has the palette of toddler, living mostly on white foods (pasta, bread, rice) and very little protein aside from hot dogs, but I had never heard of this sugar addiction.

Apparently Mary drinks nothing but iced tea, very sweet iced tea. Now, I am a Southern girl and sweet tea is the “house wine of the South”, but once I pushed for more details, there is nothing sweet about what is going on here. Seems in a one month period, being at their house every other week, Mary consumed an entire FIVE POUND bag of sugar. Since no one else in the house uses sugar other than to bake or cook, this was not found out until Jane went to bake and found the new bag she bought the month before was empty. Dick had a talk with Mary, who of course denied using that much sugar. Within the next two weeks the brown sugar, coconut sugar and Stevia all depleted as well, as no addition regular sugar was purchased. By any standard this is a HUGE problem. But when you take into consideration this is a girl suffering from depression and anxiety, who has been seeing a therapist and started anti-depressant medications in the past six months, my next question was: has Dick mentioned her sugar addiction to Mary’s doctors/therapist. i was shocked to find the answer was “no”.

I have never been a huge consumer of sugar, not in the way Mary is, I prefer my sweets in the form of a tasty pastry, so looked up just how serious sugar in-take on this level can be.  I found that “Scientists have found that sugar is addictive and stimulates the same pleasure centers of the brain as cocaine or heroin. Just like those hard-core drugs, getting off sugar leads to withdrawal and cravings, requiring an actual detox process to wean off.” (Dailyburn.com). When you pair consuming that much granulated white sugar along with the diet of mostly carbs that also convert to sugar, this girl may be better off sorting coke! Ok, maybe she wouldn’t be “better”, but if she were doing “drugs” her parents would actually work to get her off of them, where as this sugar thing is not being taken as serious as it should, in my opinion.

I asked what they did about this, a I know Dick handles things much differently than my husband does with “the girl”, mostly because his daughters have some pretty big issues that we are lucky not to deal with and my husband is a bit better at the role of parent than Dick. Don’t get me wrong, I adore Dick and I love how much he loves my friend Jane and the four of us have a great time together. However, Dick parents out of fear. Fear of his kids being angry or upset with him and fear he will have to deal with his ex-wife. I asked my hubby how, if this had somehow happened at our house, would he have handled it. He said “no more sugar, period”. I tend to agree, yet Dick went online, looked up what the recommended daily sugar intake was and gave Mary a two month “supply”. Now, keep in mind, he gave her the recommended amount  for ALL sugar in one’s diet, so her mostly carb filled diet, which also is heavy in hidden sugars, was not factored in, so she would still be consuming well over the recommended limit. That two month supply was gone in less than two weeks. Once again other sugar products started disappearing  and the rant about Mary that brought this addiction to light was when Dick took the Splenda away from her and she had a breakdown. And all the while, nothing has been said to her therapist about this, which really shocks me since Dick reports back to the doctor on everything. This could explain why Mary reports she is happier at her mom’s house, where she has unlimited access to all her sugar she wants. She complains that her father “controls her”, well, he certainly attempts to control her sugar intake.

This situation got to me thinking, on a few topics actually. Yes, we all know that American’s face soaring obesity rate, due in large part to the consumption sugar and sugary foods, but many younger people have horrible diets, in my option due to the “chicken nugget” culture. When I was growing up there was not the convenience of chicken nuggets at the ready for every meal. Our parents made dinner and we were expected to eat it or, hold on to your seats, we ate nothing. My grandfather had a rule, you try something before you say you don’t like it. I credit he and my grandmother for my love of all kinds of foods and my love of cooking. However, kids today are given the option of a special, convenient meal to avoid meal time tantrums. Yes, there are more single parent household and yes, everyone is busy. But I was raised by a single mom and she only cooked one meal at a time. Much like Mary, these chicken nugget kids crave  processed foods, well beyond the toddler years. If children are not taught about nutrition and balanced diets at a young age and in their homes, where are they expected to learn? While I have no doubt that at 16 Mary fully knows that consuming BAGS of sugar in a few weeks time is not normal nor healthy, no one until now has told her no or why it should not be an option.

Aside from the obvious issue of the long term affects of a sugar addiction, the parenting out of fear and adolescents feelings they are in a position of power is wearing thin on me. We faced and addressed this in our home with the girl, but I feel now, at 13, we have it well in hand and the roles are clearly defined and respected. She is a good and respectful young lady, we are very lucky, but even when the child is more of a challenge, a parent can’t just give up and turn the power over to the kids. I see this so often with my fellow step-parents, the struggle to seeing their spouse cower to a child. Jane’s therapist pointed out that seeing Dick emasculated by his daughter must make him very unattractive in Jane’s eyes. She finally admitted that was true, a revelation she was no prepared to make. But it is only logical and can only be ignored for so long.

I hope Mary gets the help she needs, we joke about being sugar sweet in the South, but this is taking it a bit too far.

What is history?

I know I have said in the past I did not intend to write a political “blog”, but with so much going on in our country, one can’t sit quietly by and hope for the best…. at least I can’t. Over this past weekend a group of racists from all sorts of groups (neoNazis, the KKK, white supremacists, white nationalists, etc) descended on Charlottsville, VA to protest the removal of a statue of Confederate General, Robert E. Lee. The protests became violent, as is known to happen when these groups convene. A counter-protester lost her life when a white supremacist ran his car into a crowd, hoping to do as much damage as possible. It is 2017, this is American and yet we see people PROUDLY marching in the streets carrying torches, wearing the white robes of the KKK (sans the hood, as they are proud and want the world to know who they are and what they stand for), waving flags with Nazi symbols and giving Nazi salutes. How did we get here? They say the statue represents our history, that to remove this and similar monument will make the past be forgotten. Well, these protesters currently have their “history”, in the for of their monuments,  yet they seem to have forgotten that all of those which they hold on to, the Klan, Hilter’s Germany, the slave owing Confederacy- they all fell. Right won out over immoral wrongs- so what history are the so proud to uphold?

Many, including the man holding the office President of the United States, want to downplay the events of the weekend, events that have been building in this nation for a very long time. They are saying that to remove these monuments is “sanitizing history”, however the statues, monuments and memorials often leave out the actual history. They paint a picture of Southern pride, that these men were war heroes, to be respected and honored the same as veterans of other wars the U.S. has bravely fought on our soil and that of our allies. This is not the case. The “South” took up arms against the United States. Their main argument was they, the white men, were better than the blacks they had owned as slaves for generations, so they should be able to continue to own other humans. No one is going to forget this horrible time in American history, a statue being removed from a public space or a park being renamed will not sanitize our past.

In my home town we have statues similar to the one that sparked the debate and resulting events in Virginia. One was on the way to school when I was very young. As a kindergartner who was a little afraid of going to school for the first time, I recall looking forward to seeing the “man on the horse” each day. All Kentucky girls love horses and I was sure that each day I saw the beautiful horse move, just a little, as we passed. The man sitting up on him was not dressed as a soldier, so I never knew who he was or why he was there, I only cared to look to see if my horse moved. The man is in fact a general for the Confederacy. After the Civil War he joined the U.S. Army and after retiring came to Kentucky where he worked to create many of the stunning public parks that grace our city- this why the statue, of a man in he riding clothes, entering the park, stands. But the fact remains, he was a Confederate general and many are calling for this and many other statues around the state to be removed. I will not lie, I was torn on the statue that meant so much to me personally, the thought of driving past that corner, not looking to see if the horse would  move, as yes, I still to so to this day over 40+ years later, breaks my heart. But it breaks my heart more to think that anyone of color, any immigrant who fought oppression I will never know to come this country, any member of the LGBTQ community, anyone who worships differently from those who erected this monuments would see this statue as sign that screams you are not welcomed. I can put my personal feelings aside for the greater good and it makes me sad that there are so many who will fight, literally, again the greater good to preserve a hateful reminder of our country’s ugly past.

A key message from the recent presidential election was “Love Trumps Hate”, as a counter to the increasingly brazen public displays of white supremacists/nationalists support for Donald Trump. The sad fact is, love did not trump hate, Trump fuels hate with his pandering to the alt-right. This is nothing new, but what is new is the taking to the streets with pride, much like the lynchings & segregation protests of civil rights movement. For all the strides we thought we had made as a nation, the events that are unfolding under the Trump presidency are a painful reminder that we didn’t make any strides, we simply shamed the haters to hide in the shadows and now, with the what they feel is a beacon of light from the White House, they are taking the streets, to take back their country, to “make America great again”- has his campaign slogan professed.

To me, America is and always has been great. It is great because of  diversity and the fact that so many gave up so much to come to this country, to contribute and be Americans. Our history is written, we will not forget, even if we wanted to, but our future can be better than what our country is facing now, that is what we need to focus on.