Archives for September 2009


A Tribute To My Staff

Blame it on my training as a counselor, or call me a wuss, either way, I’m going to say it in a note.  It’s time for me to go, and it’s true, I’m not exactly sure why.  I just KNOW it’s time.  The last four weeks have been painful – to say the least; I’ve often described it as awful.  I am thinking that the pain is worthwhile and it may sound crazy but let me tell you why.  It is my philosophy that we can love as deeply as we are capable of bearing the pain that goes with that love.  It’s like this: love is a joy with an equal capacity for hurt.

My pain brings me back to all of the little moments of joy that I have had with my staff.  I can hardly believe that we could stay together so long.  I’ve even wondered how it is that we became so close over the years – and of course – I have a philosophy about that as well!  As a team we all believe in the same thing: the resiliency and hope of the human condition.  I think that we have suffered many tragedies together and that has made us close.  We are lucky, because we have had enough triumphs to keep us balanced and committed to our mutual cause.

I can recall running down the hallway on 26th Street after announcing to Brian that he wasn’t getting paid because he didn’t turn in his time sheet.  I want you to know that Brian actually chased me.  I was laughing so hard I was out of breath.

We’ve been through alot together.  Our patients passed away, sometimes even when their life was going great and there was no reason for the tragedy.  Those deaths seemed to hurt the worst.  We all celebrated when we could keep a new mother from using drugs and she gave birth to a full-term baby.  We all celebrated when our patients could leave us, healthy and moving forward.  We talked, we argued and we forgave each other for being republicans…Jon.

That’s really what it’s all been about for me, sharing tragedies and triumphs, being together long enough that we could tell each other the truth and appreciating the depth of our contribution to making life and lives better.  We stand between the craziness of the world and our patients.  We support and care for our patients and 99 times out of 100, we are the only ones who stand for our patients. 

I can’t begin to tell you how much I have learned from you and benefited from being with you.

Each of you deserves a hug and a smile.  Each of you deserves acknowledgement for the great work that you have dedicated yourself to.  I want you to know that I just could NOT say goodbye anymore, it was too painful.  I also hope that you will remember why it is so painful – because we got to share a couple of moments in time and were able to touch each other’s spirit.  I can’t ask for anything more from a relationship than that.


You Teach People How to Treat You

Yeah, okay, for most people…But, trust me, there are a couple of breeds of people that you teach nothing to.  For a while I used this little Dr. Phil saying to self-flagellate (ya know, beat up on myself).  If only I was clearer, if only I communicated better, if only, if only, etc., etc., blah, blah, blah.  We’ve heard it all.

Sometimes, there are people for whom you – you – as a human being – do not exist.  These people have a story in their head about your relationship and they live out the relationship with the story that is in their head, NOT with you, the person.  There are some subtle and some not so subtle ways that you can tell that this is going on in your relationship.  If your partner is outraged with your response to a boundary issue, then your partner is living with someone created in his/her head, rather than with you.  “How could you go out with friends, you’re supposed to spend your time with me!”  (Stomping of feet, furrowing of brow.)  This kind of relationship always misses the mark, you will have a discussion and feel lost in it.  You won’t get any validation here either, how can you be validated when you are only a story in someone’s head?  If validation occurs it is because you match the “imaginary” friend in some way, not because of who you are.

The other type of person that you can teach nothing to, is the narcissistic or otherwise personality disordered individual.  This person, while self-centered, is not stupid.  This person is capable of playing the relationship game to a certain extent.  That extension stops as soon as the relationship is not serving their needs and wants.  They will listen and nod their head, but their focus is so entirely pressed inward that it is difficult to hear anything except for their own screaming wants.  Eventually they ruin all relationships because the thin veneer of social affability wears off.  The pressure for them to get their own needs met overrides any petty needs of another.

You can teach either of these people all you wish, but it doesn’t matter because they will never learn.  So next time you start beating yourself up because you are taking all of the blame for your relationship, get real.  Can you really MAKE someone treat you right?  Yeah, yeah I know, you can spoil people or not, but really, can you teach someone to authentically participate in an equal relationship with you?  Nah, I don’t think so.  Be responsible and be careful and don’t let the “imaginators” and the “sociopaths” into your life in the first place.


I Thought Only Adults Did That…

I’m moving to Virginia, for the first time in my life I am leaving Florida.  For several years now, I pick up my granddaughter Cadence on Friday afternoon and spend 24 hours with her.  I don’t know why we started it, but she was barely two at the time.  Now she is past six years old and after September I won’t be able to pick her up after school on Friday.  Her father, who is my son Russell, has custody of her and for this reason and for many other reasons, he is not happy with my decision to move.  He called me yesterday (and we haven’t spoken all week) to tell me that I must speak with Cadence about my decision, inside I am wimpering and I ask him for time.  Russ says to me “I want you to talk to her now mom, so that we can work it all out by the time you move.”  I trust Russell’s intuition particularly as it relates to Cadence, and so I acquiesce.  I am very anxious about talking to her and so I am waiting for her @2:00, even though school does not let out until 2:15.

Over the years Cadence and I have established many rituals.  Sometimes the rituals come and go, for example there was a time when I had to brush her hair every night.  When she was a toddler we took baths together and always on Saturday afternoon we would nap together, after all, who needed a nap more than me?  As she has gotten older the rituals change, now we snack together, now I keep small chocolates in my night stand drawer that she assiduously negotiates for.  Now we “talk” every Friday afternoon on the way home from school.

And so I tell her, “Gramma is moving to Virginia”, she looks a little worried and I am sure that I looked a lot worried, she frowned and asked “How long will it be before I see you again?”  I bald faced lied and said “oh maybe a month.”  Now I know that I am not returning until Christmas and Christmas is almost four months away, but I lied anyway and then I rushed on with “when I come home, I have to sleep in your bed, because I won’t have a house here anymore.”  She shrugged and frowned and then proceeded to argue with me about how big her bed is (full sized).  She shrugged and said “it’s alright Gramma, I’m going to go to my mom’s more and do things with my dad.”

All the way home I was so relieved, I really thought that I was going to cry when we talked about it. As often happens on Friday afternoon, she fell asleep in the back seat of the car, and as is our ritual, I carried her inside and put her on the couch.  Everything was fine for about an hour.  She woke up upset, insisted on taking a bath.  Then she wanted me to take a bath with her – we haven’t done that in a long time.  Then this six year old who always wants to be “thrown” on the bed in her big cuddly towel asked me to just hold her and rock her and so the afternoon went…Cadence hanging on top of me, asking me to brush her hair, pat her back and on and on.

And I guess the thought that hit me was, she is acting like so many adults that I know.  She is holding her hurt feelings inside and communicating in a way that allows HER not to cry.  She is putting on a good front while she processes how our relationship will change.  That little shrug in the car and those words “it’s alright gramma” were all just show.  In the meantime, she is letting me know in her own inimitable way that it hurts.  I thought only adults did that…


The Prime Directive

For purposes of this discussion, the prime directive is that which is true about human behavior that sources from a primal place governed by DNA and God.  My sister and I argued about it for years.  My sister believes that the prime directive explains why we choose the mates that we choose and even why we mate.  Well the part about why we mate, I can agree with – but the part about who we choose to mate with – well that was hard to swallow.  Here’s why, I’ve always been one of those deciders, I decide about my life.  I think long and hard about who to marry, I agonize over it, choose, think and rethink and then when I am done with all of that, I will make a pro and con list.  I will write such a list that it takes pages and pages to include all of the details.  This list making, this deciding has always given me a sense of control over my life.  It’s up to me!  I am the one who decides how I shall live, I am the one who makes up my world, who makes up the universe that I reside in.

Uh, maybe not.

Alright, I’ll try to maintain some anonymity by saying I have three sisters and I won’t say which one I am speaking about.  If you are related to me you know who I am talking about and you are sworn to secrecy.  Here is what my sister and I argued about.  I got a divorce after 20 some odd years of marriage and she stayed in her marriage.  Now she married a big good looking guy and produced some very fine, strong and absolutely beautiful children – as did I.  She would often say that she felt compelled to be with him and that once when they were separated (for a year) the only man that she was attracted to was him.  She explained this phenomenon by saying that there was something primal about her attraction and she had no control over it.  I objected because I had “thought” my way through a divorce and had moved on to a new life.  In other words, for me, there is no attraction that can, could or should define my universe.  Being attracted to a man was not going to define my world, trust me, I was very attracted to my husband – but it couldn’t keep me married to him.

So here we are a decade later and now she is proceeding with changing her universe and no amount of attraction to her mate is going to keep her in place.  In the meantime, I’ve gone and done what she did.  Which is to say, attached myself to a big good looking man and followed my prime directive of attraction.  There are no offspring, indeed, I am done with all of that, but there is this attraction which is reminiscent of the old days.

Now that my sister and I are going through menopause there is a tremendous shift in our bodies which is affecting the brain.  Suddenly, I am willing to see my sister’s point BUT only because the original prime directive is now ABSENT.  I don’t care about mating and neither does she.  I could not admit to the presence of the prime directive because I was IN it.  I am now able to see it, because it clearly recedes from my presence in a physical, mental and emotional way.  I am done with breeding and nurturing, it’s just plain going away.

So does the “prime directive” exist?  That’s my question.  Are we compelled by forces that we do not acknowledge on a “thinking” level?  If so, how does that relate to destiny.  It seems to me that destiny is something different, destiny is when the external universe lines up to push you in a certain direction.  A prime directive seems to be an internal mechanism that pushes you into a certain direction.  So, are you hard wired to go for a certain type of man or certain type of woman?  Are you hard wired to breed, or can you avoid the pitfalls of mating – with those who are incompatible with your psyche?

Go figure, ’cause I’m just not sure…