Archives for July 2010


So What Say You?

About the complicated mess that people make out of relationships?  I’m always fascinated by the fact that some people think that they can treat their loved ones badly because they “feel” angry, upset, hurt, etc.  There are millions of people walking around the planet who actually believe that it is okay to be abusive and mean to other people and they justify their behavior with their feelings.  I don’t understand that and maybe I missed the “mean gene”, but still, I just don’t get it.

There is this conflict between satisfaction of self and a willingness to treat the relationship and the other person in the relationship well.  Some people believe that it is more satisfying to keep the ego intact than it is to work things out and keep the relationship they are in, healthy.  In case you think I am speaking to love / partner relationships, I am not.  I am speaking to any relationship that struggles with bad boundaries and bad behavior.  Trust me, that includes ANY relationship: sisters, lovers, bosses and brothers, even your own offspring.

What’s awful about relationships with bad boundaries is that they do not happen over night, they progress through time until one day you wake up and the relationship that you are in, is unrecognizable from the relationship that you began with.  How does this happen?

I say that it does not matter how it happened.  What I say is that if you find yourself in one of these relationships – no matter who it is with – you must choose.  Because:

Love is necessary to maintain a relationship, but it is not sufficient. This is the piece that I struggle with.  While I may love you, I must recognize that love is not enough.  In order to have a relationship we must be capable of mutual respect and honor of each other’s differences and similarities.  And here is where I draw the line – abusive behavior is not to be forgiven.

Regardless of who you are and what you act like, I can maintain my love for you – but I do not need to maintain my relationship with you.  While there is an entire conversation about forgiveness, I say this: Forgiveness is for fools, because an apology is just a request to indulge in bad behavior again.


What About Gossip?

Okay, so normally I believe it is harmless.  I love gossiping, really, it’s fun to hear all the good stuff about the dumb stuff that people are doing.  The reason that I think it is harmless is because I do not believe any of it, nor do I give any of it any credit in my universe.  Gossiping is just an excuse to hang out by the fencepost and talk.

Is gossip truth or is it malice?  Is telling someone in authority about an event, gossip?  How do we tell the difference between malice and disclosure?  What is the “intention” of the teller?  Okay – does intention matter?  Because if you do damage with gossip, does it really matter what your intention was?  If intention matters – how do you get to the truth of intention?  “I intended to be helpful, didn’t mean to tell your wife you’re cheating on her.”   Does that sound valid?

Okay, here it is:  The intention of the disclosure DOES NOT matter, because you can never tell what someone’s true intention is.  So it is the RESULT that matters.  I always move backwards from the result to find out a person’s true intention.

To the question of, is it disclosure or malice: it’s always malice if the gossip is relevant and it stops without an investigation.  Gossip is ONE-SIDED communication and therefore is not to be credited with truth.  All disclosure deserves an investigation.  Particularly disclosure that has an affect.  So to be clear, gossip should be described as I have above; harmless fun out by the fence post with a neighbor. Anything else, should be described for what it is: malice.


“But hope is not as easy an emotion as is surrender.”

R. A. Salvatore, 2009


Well I Say That…

I don’t know much about love and relationships and yet that is the category I write about most often.  How odd is that?


It’s Okay to Change You If…

I was thinking about how young couples are often in a conversation of change.  I’m not sure if it is entirely evident to the couples, but when one is observing it seems clear that is what they are speaking to.  My own interpretation is that there is something inherently wrong with trying to change another.  If you speak with marriage counselors there is this old adage that if you are thinking “this will change after we get married” you are making a mistake.  Folks don’t change or they won’t change.  When I watch my beautiful daughter struggle with dating, there seems to be a similar dynamic in all of her relationships.  It’s almost as if everyone she meets is interested in making her different in some way.  She is so strong and so clear, it is as if her essence challenges the male psyche.  There is so much in relationships that remains unspoken.  The center of power is always an issue that is seldom discussed.  My daughter will not relinquish her power, not with herself and not with her life.  This often seems to be a point of contention in her relationships.  I think that it is a good thing that she maintains her power and I like that she sees herself so clearly.

Isn’t it inherently wrong to try to change another?  Isn’t there some kind of basic rule that is violated when you say to another “change yourself in order to be with me”?  Isn’t finding a partner equivalent to finding someone who actually accepts who you are?  In a successful relationship, you do not need or want pretense, you are comfortable, you are accepted when you are in the presence of another.

Yet, for the last fifteen years my profession is changing people.  I work in substance abuse treatment – and I could say – well yes I am just looking to change peoples’ behavior, but I know that is not true.  What I have found to be true in my work is that people do not stop self destructive behavior until something inside of them changes.  It is an internal change and while I cannot name the internal shift that occurs, I do know that it must occur for the behavior to change.

Why is a profession of change okay and the changes demanded by a relationship not okay?  Why are some behavior traits a bad thing, and some behavior traits a good thing – I mean outside of the obvious?  Well, there are two ways of identifying whether a change you want in another is appropriate:  1) it’s a change that your entire society endorses, such as quitting smoking or drinking or drugging; but the most difficult identification of all is:  2) the change you are requesting is not about your ego and it’s not about making yourself comfortable at the expense of another (the one you wish to change).

The new research says that people will change.  What kind of changes do you want in your partner?  Do you wish for your partner to think and act like you, thus sacrificing all that makes them who they are and wish to be?  Do you wish for your partner to be better and different, someone that perhaps you have never met, just a vision in your head?

There is something about my daughter that reminds me of a warrior princess, strong, free and proud.  Because she is intense, loving and beautiful there is no lack of men who wish to be part of her life.  My daughter is the ultimate alpha female.  When she enters a space, she is the center of the universe, all eyes are on her.  She has very little awareness of this dynamic, it doesn’t occur to her that she “centers” her world; it is just who she is.  Yet there is something about all of that – the warrior princess – that men inherently want to change.  Not sure why that dynamic sets up the conflict and I am not even sure if that is the dynamic that does set up the conflict.  I do know this.  My daughter will do as she wishes.  There is no someone who will convince her to be different than who she truly is.  Trust me, I’m her mother and have worked on it for 27 years.  If she decides she will change, then she will.  But, she will always be the warrior princess and she will always be the center of her pack.


“Our Relationship is Changing”

This is what I said to my daughter, Rhea, yesterday.  As wonderful as this week has been, it’s also been emotionally dramatic for me.  You see, I have to move over.  Yes, I knew this, yes, it’s past time, but this week, it became real.  For all of my daughters’ lives, I have been the primary caregiver, worrier, nurturer.  It puts me center stage in their lives…

Not any more.  My son-in-law is very serious about taking care of his wife and new son.  His focus does not alter from the task at hand.  Throughout this journey, his steadfast attention is on his wife and her comfort.  He does whatever it takes to give care, nurture and yes…worry.  I can relinquish my tasks.  While it is cause for celebration, there is a certain sadness in giving her up to him.

Of course, my daughter and I will always have the feminine intimacy that we have always shared.  All of the relationship history that belongs to us will never change.  It is our future that changes.  Through the sadness, I recall my faith in the perfection of life – which always changes, and always gives us joy.


Irony a Result of My Luxury?

I find it utterly ironic, that me, the one person in America who does NOT like traveling, has to travel.  First it was my job and now it is my children.  Today, I get on a plane and travel to Norfolk.  I spent 7 months in Norfolk and when I returned here to home, my daughters stayed there.  My daughters are women who make their own choices about what kind of life to have and who to live it with.  There is this great anxiety within me that they will wander off freely and that I will miss their lives.  And of course, if they do wander off, then I will have to travel some more…

Most of all, I want great happiness for them.  Now that they are adults, I dare to be selfish and I also want great happiness for myself – which means that I would like for both of them to live right next door with their husbands and my grandchildren.  So sometimes the great anxiety actually becomes fear and I think that I will not have them close and I will feel very sad.

I could move back to Norfolk – yes – but then I will miss my sons and my granddaughters.  So I cannot find any way to NOT travel.

I wonder if we speak from the luxury of who we are.  What I mean by that is that if I could not travel, would I yearn for traveling?

So, is irony just a means for us to express what is present within us?  Ostensibly we are opposed to something which is exactly what we wish for?  Or is it an indicator of how life sometimes pushes us around, making us think, making us look at the possibilities that are beyond our present thinking?  Like, here is the way the universe is supposed to operate, but guess what, you’ve just been quarked on!  You want X, but now you get Y!  HAHA.


Romance is the Freedom to Love Vehemently

And, you must be here now…or you will miss it.