Archives for August 2010


“The image of myself which I try to create in my own mind in order that I may love myself is very different from the image which I try to create in the minds of others in order that they may love me.” –W. H. Auden

I do not wish for you to know the ugly truth about me and yet I cannot lie to you.  So what to do?  I must not talk, I must not say – anything.

To say anything is to ruin the pristine image that I think that you have of me.  Do you wish to know that I am angry and sad and mean by turn?  Do you wish to know that I can be radically jealous, but will avoid vindictiveness at all costs?  Only to be dimly aware that my frustration slides out of me sideways, instead of straight on, like the words in a verse?

To hide anything feels like betrayal, and yet to reveal me betrays me.


Vaccinations are About PUBLIC Health

Holding you close.  August 2014

Holding you close. August 2010

I’ve been an uninvolved observer to the whole chaotic conversation about vaccinations and their safety for several years now.  The rich and the famous became involved in the diatribe against vaccinations.  While I was aware that the whole star-studded conversation was making me uncomfortable, I stayed away from the conversation because when it is emotional – as has been the case – then I know that any rebuttal becomes nonsensical and is not well received by those with strong opinions.

A public claim was made that vaccinations cause autism.  The kind of science that backs this claim up will not meet the standards of the scientific community.  However research can reflect the opinion of the author and even be re-manufactured into retrospective nonsense.

More importantly, I believe that if a vaccination has a deleterious affect on the body, that that event must be researched, we must know why that vaccine had such an affect.  We must rule out the idea that many chemicals react singularly on a body.  For example, a bee sting can be life threatening to some people, and yet, this is not so for the majority of the population.  The other rule-out that must be researched is the possibility that drug companies change the formulary for any number of reasons.  We could even ask the drug companies, were the vaccines manufactured safely with appropriate quality controls and seek answers here?

To state that vaccinations are unsafe, seems to be the very last thing that our culture would postulate.  Personally, I like vaccines.  I have a good friend who had polio as a child and she remains disabled because of the catastrophic affect that polio had on her body.  We, who were born before 1960, can recall the times and places of devastating illnesses and what that did to our families and our communities.  Epidemics of illnesses have been wiped out with vaccinations.  This is phenomena that has occurred in our life time.

So it appears to me that throwing out the vaccination – in the absence of scientific inquiry – is like throwing out the baby with the bath water.  It’s ridiculous.  There are a lot more questions to ask before we decide that vaccinations are no good.  Let me add that several of these questions have been asked.  Vaccines have been re-manufactured, renamed and reproduced, and theoretically are improved.  But vaccines still receive the blame for autism.  The Centers for Disease Control, the place in America where all health statistics are gathered and analyzed, can find no co-relationship between vaccinations and autism and yet the mindless public panic grinds on.

And now, it’s personal for me, and emotional for me, and here is why:  Whooping cough is back and it’s back in a big way, there are small epidemic outbreaks all over the country.  Now you may say that it is a disease that you can survive, and so it is not that bad…but, what if you are a 5 week-old baby?  If you are five weeks old, then it is a much more serious disease.  How would a five week old baby catch whooping cough?  Well, all of those parents who scoff at vaccinations have caused epidemics of diseases which should be extinct.  This is a strong statement and a true statement.

How about this, if you do not wish to vaccinate your child – that is your choice – but when you put your child into the public and your child spreads a disease – you now put my child in danger.  That is why I say that vaccinations are a public health concern, because an un-vaccinated child spreads disease as surely as typhoid Mary did.  For my five-week-old grandson, who is not OLD enough to be vaccinated, that almost became deadly.  That, I say, is unfair.


The “L Word” – Really?

As a society we do things to words that we do with people.  We add gobs of meaning and innuendo, we add this stuff to little words that can hardly take the weight of our prejudice.

My friend called the other day and at one point said, and I quote “that despicable word love”.  WHAT?  WHY? Not sure I understand why we add so much meaning to this poor little word.  “Love means you don’t have to say you’re sorry…” Love means we have reached a level of intimacy that changes things between us?  What?  We cleanly and easily love children, but for each other – couples – we have only doubt, hesitation and fear.  We don’t want to go there…the dreaded “L” word.

We tip our toe into the “love” pool, all the while hoping and wishing that it washes over us and inundates us with ecstasy and sublime pleasure.  Will love come at us?  Will we trip over it in the street?  This is what I say:  You can have love if you dive in, and you know it when it is happening – because there is this emotional feeling of a kind-of-free-falling.  However, you can only keep love if you get off of the weighted object of your beliefs about love.  Loving someone doesn’t mean that your relationship must change, it doesn’t mean that you have to be different.  Love means – a profoundly, tender, passionate affection for another person. There is nothing in the dictionary that says you have to change your life or your relationship.

Truly, love is NOT a despicable word, it is, in fact, what it is.  Love is a word that describes how people feel about each other and it does not respect what we believe about it, because, after all, it is an emotional response to closeness and intimacy.  So, love will not wait until you THINK it should be, nor will it wait until your world is perfect, it just happens.  I think that is a very good thing, because some people would just think it away and never actually feel it…


The In-Between-Place

As I watch my five week old grandson struggle to breathe, I am reminded of the paradox of love.  To love my grandson (or indeed, any of my grandchildren) is a joyful experience.   Yet, this love I feel for my grandson, right now, today, is terribly painful.  So my grandson is all of each experience, joy and pain.

There is something infinite / timeless about the kind of love that parents have for their children.  There are no boundaries to this kind of love, it endures, no matter what the challenge is.  It is deeply sweet and profoundly sustaining.  This love also holds the deepest of fears and some of the most difficult moments of pain.

As I sit here in PI-15 (Pediatric Intensive Care-Isolation room), I am reflecting on love and the price of such love.  My five week old grandson who is loved by his entire family, has stopped our universe from spinning around in lazy, happy orbits.  He is very sick, diagnosed with whooping cough, and he must remain here in this hospital so that machines and alarms and nurses and his parents can guard his life. There is no easy exit from this place and it’s somberness sinks into your muscles like rain on thirsty ground.

There is an edginess to each person who loves this child.  Each holds a piece of anxiety close to the heart and normal does not return until he is well.  And so my grandson stops his family’s universe, as we wait, as we stand vigil, as we pray and as we wish for his health.

His mother and father sit on the very worst precipice of fear – and as long as we are here, in this place, they linger on this dark precipice.  Each day so far, my grandson’s breath is a gift that is prayed for, and silent wishes linger in the space between now and then.  Then was the time when we knew that this sweet boy would breathe effortlessly.

I do not like hospitals as they are the in-between-place, where all is not well and your life and your love can change in a moment.  Here in this place, families are revived and families are destroyed.  As I walk the halls of this place and I am aware of others who travel here, I see that there are so many shades of panic it is hardly imaginable.

To get back to the beginning, as I reflect on love, this is the price that must be paid:  To love, one must be willing to be hurt and to hurt profoundly.  As I sit with my grandson in this alien and in-between-place, I know that every bit of it all, is worth it.  I don’t know why and I don’t know how, but I know that loving is worth this price of fear and more.  I also know that this fear changes us, traumatizes us and makes us hesitate to love.  I know that once traumatized, we must have a brave heart to love completely once more, to open ourselves by adding another love to our lives.  And still, we will and we do add love over and over again.  Brave Hearts.


Betrayal is Not a “Mistake”

And that is why I say forgiveness is for fools.  Forgiveness is defined as allowing your betrayer to repeat actions that have harmed you.  If you have been betrayed it is because someone has willfully hurt you, abandoned you or tricked you in some way.

Mistakes are real and they are not betrayals.  Mistakes may be forgiven, because you realize and you do not repeat.


The Construct that People Make for Me

In reference to the rose colored glasses, there are brown colored glasses as well.  People make up their mind about other people and that mind set becomes a filtering system for all information that comes in. What happens is that the construct becomes more real than any other thing, including facts.  The filtering system takes over the information that comes in and assures that the information that comes in fits within the construct or the mind set.

We make up our mind about someone, let’s say that what we have decided is that the person is a “no good criminal”.  Many facts may come into our processing system about that person, but the only facts that we will grasp are those facts which serve our mind and our construct.  Only facts that confirm our conviction about the “no good criminal” will be saved, any other fact that suggests a redeeming quality will be discarded.

This is in direct opposition to “be here now”.  If we be here now then we are capable of receiving all information that is available to us in the moment.  If we do not respond to our belief system and instead be available to what is present, then we are capable of “be here now”.  Responding to the belief system is agreeing with “construct”.  Any belief is a decision that you have made in the past and pulls you out of this moment.

So here is the thing, when you make up a construct about me, good, bad or indifferent, it is not me, because who I am is right here, right now.  I am often constructed, most often it is a good construct, and of course, I like that.  Sometimes it is a not-so-good construct.  When it is a not so good construct, I become hyper-vigilant and I watch the process.  I am interested in how any new information comes in and gets processed.  So in watching the process, if the new information does not fit the negative construct, you will dismiss the new information, it is not relevant because it does not fit the negative construct.  This can occur, even when your construct about me is good.  But again, whatever your construct, it is not me.

So when I change, you may not be available to feel or see the change because you are in your construct of me rather than with me.  My change is present, but you will feel and see what you felt and saw yesterday and the day before.  You will not feel and see me, who is now changed.

All dilemmas lead back to the same resolve, “Be here now”.  Only by being here now are we capable of fully experiencing ourselves and each other.  In any relationship it’s crucial stuff.  My kids have done a good job of this.  As I have fluttered through my soul searching life, they absolutely get that there is no social construct that I quite fit into.  They don’t try to tie me down with “All mothers cook Sunday dinner.”  They don’t try to make me be the “gramma from Betty Crocker”.  I appreciate that and I appreciate them for who they really are now.


And Love Is… And Relationships Are…

Carl Rogers said that counselors must develop “unconditional positive regard” for clients.  I think that is a very good definition of love.  I don’t think the dictionary quite does it:  a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person.

The dictionary is accurate with the descriptive word profound, but passionate affection is not enough to describe all of love.  There is a feature of love that is unconditional.  What I mean by that is that once our heart feels that emotion, our thinking follows our heart and our thinking will remove any negativity associated with the object of our affection.  This is the process of “unconditional”.  For example, when we fall in love with our infant offspring, the love is not conditioned on how our infant behaves.  If our child is fussy or has unpredictable bowel movements it is of no matter to our love and affection for the child.  We will pace, patiently cradling our child to calm whatever makes them cry.  Our love for our children is the easiest of all to describe because it is resoundingly true for almost all parents and thus is a point in common for discussion.  It is unfortunate that adult to adult relationships are less primal and thus filled with all of the baggage that brings evaluation and judgment into new relationships.  Would that we could pronounce our love and be done with it, unconditionally accepting the object of our affection and all of their faults with one declaration.

“Positive” is the rose-colored glasses that we view our loved ones from.  We color our loved ones with our wishes and dreams and this is always an appealing way to see someone.  It does not necessarily mean illusion either.  It can also mean that we have acceptance for all of who the other person is.  It can reflect a mature love, either because the participants are mature, or because the love has matured.  What comes to mind, is my relationship with my first-born daughter; our history is intense.  As we fumbled through her teen years, neither of us mature, our acceptance of each other was guarded.  I am not saying that our love for each other was less than it could be, but our regard for each other was seldom positive.  We tumbled into her early twenties barely coherent with each other.  Because our love is unconditional, we were able to keep our relationship intact.  As inadequate as I felt as a mother and as frustrated as she felt as a daughter, we were somehow able to work through that tumultuous time.  Now, we experience a mature love that is grounded in a complete acceptance of all of who the other woman is.  Whatever imaginary dreams I harbored for her lifetime are all gone.  And vice-versa, whatever imaginary mother she had conceived in her mind, is all gone.  What remains for both of us is a positive regard for the real women that we both are.  I honor her choices, her ideas and her life, she honors the me that I am.  We are very different women. She is not the mischief-maker and yet she makes the most mischief.  She is not hard-headed and yet, is a decade of stubborn.  She, who is so child-like is all woman. Acceptance allows that which is different from myself, be what it is.

And lastly, I come to “regard”: to look upon or think of with a particular feeling.  The last of the equation “unconditional positive regard”.  Because the bottom of the discussion is this, unconditional positive regard is a goal and a guidepost, not so much the reality.  To love is to experience a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person and yet that is not enough if you wish to have a relationship.  Of course I am speaking to a relationship that is deeply satisfying, that continues through hardship, that stands the test of time and keeps you alive.  To have love and a relationship, you need unconditional positive regard, because we are human, because life can be difficult and because acceptance is as good as it gets…



I realize that I am repeating a lesson that I have learned earlier in my life, but here goes:  In my mind forgiveness is attached to an ongoing relationship.  And certainly forgiveness is part and parcel of each and every ongoing relationship.  It is the way that I see it in the relationship that is mistaken.  I thought that if I give forgiveness it is the same as letting the other person back into my vulnerable space to wreak havoc once again.  Though I am mistaken, I would keep my definition as it serves me well… states “to cease to feel resentment against”.  Of course, I already knew this, years ago as I was reading Emmet Fox’s interpretation of Sermon on the Mount I came across the following passage:  It cannot be too often repeated that to entertain feelings of anger, resentment, jealousy, spite, and so forth, is certain to damage your health in some way or other, and quite likely to damage it very severely indeed.  Remember that the question of the justification or otherwise for such feelings does not arise at all.  It has absolutely nothing to do with the results, for the thing is a matter of natural law.  A woman said: ‘I have a right to be angry,’ meaning that she had been the victim of very shabby treatment, and that she consequently possessed a kind of license or special permit to hold angry feelings without their natural consequences upon the body following.  This, of course, is absurd.  There is no one to give such a permit, and if it could be done- if general laws could ever be set aside in special instances – we should have, not a universe, but a chaos.  If you press the button, from no matter what motive, good or bad – to save a man’s life or to murder him – the electric bell will ring; because that is the law of electricity.  If you drank a deadly poison inadvertently, you would die or at least seriously damage your body, because such is the law.  You may have mistakenly supposed it to be a harmless fluid, but that would make no difference because the law takes no account of intentions.”

While I am not feeling resentment, anger and all of the other stuff, I hold my un-forgiveness like a shield to protect me from further chaos.  Releasing the resentment, the anguish, these things are not my chores, these things I have accomplished.  And so, I say again, forgiveness is for fools. We must, beyond a shadow of a doubt, be capable of releasing all of the hurt and the pain that relationships and life will accrue to us.  We must also be capable and willing to protect ourself from that which intends to harm us.  It is not always easy or clear to tell what will harm us and what will not.  I have no answers for this, the question in the middle…