Thursday, April 11, 2013

Humor Break... Ah... Testicles

I've been writing. You just don't know it. Remnants of my thoughts, experiences, highs and lows sit as "draft" in a cyber holding cell.

I haven't hit "send" on my latest posts. I'm struggling with the closing... I'm struggling with the "message"... as if, like a sitcom, a challenge in life can be resolved in a single 1/2 hour - or blog post if you will.

Things are fabulous for me right now in terms of how I relate to others and how I related to myself. This includes mom, which is another tale that sits as a "draft." As I continue the good fight of finishing a darned post, here's something that actually made me LOL: 


A male patient is lying in bed in the hospital, wearing an oxygen mask over his mouth and nose. A young student nurse appears and gives him a partial sponge bath.

"Nurse,"' he mumbles from behind the mask, "are my testicles black?"

Embarrassed, the young nurse replies, "I don't know, Sir. I'm only here to wash your upper body and feet."

He struggles to ask again, "Nurse, please check for me. Are my testicles black?"

Concerned that he might elevate his blood pressure and heart rate from worrying about his testicles, she overcomes her embarrassment and pulls back the covers. She raises his gown, holds his manhood in one hand and his testicles gently in the other.

She looks very closely and says, "There's nothing wrong with them, Sir. They look fine."

The man slowly pulls off his oxygen mask, smiles at her, and says very slowly, "Thank you very much. That was wonderful. Now listen very, very closely:

"Are - my - test - results - back?"

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Difficult Work of Acceptance when it Comes to Abusive Mothers

I never considered myself slow to accept the curveballs that life often throws my way. I smiled through my recent bout with Pulmonary Embolism, I adjusted to this extended period of unemployment, and I walked away from His Side with a clear conscience.

Yet the more I find support and comfort in the presence of other adult children with a narcissistic/abusive parent, the more I continue to struggle with my membership in that group.

I can't pin this struggle on pride or embarrassment, which would seem like natural reactions to such a broken relationship with the one who is supposed to love me the most. As I dig deep to understand "why," I only find one nugget: By most accounts, the pattern I've experienced with my mother (who refuses to admit any wrongdoing) does not result in a path to reconciliation.

In effect, I lost my mother although she continues to walk this earth. This death of our relationship encompasses the death of my fantasy of what - and who - a mother should be to her adult daughter. Essentially, the death of this fantasy represents the death of my hope.

My ability to hope in the goodness of others remains important to me, yet I have to let it go when it comes to the larger-than-life presence called "mother."

I clearly remember the day, many years ago, she wanted to go to counseling with my father as she lamented over his possible denial that counseling was in order. As a young adult, I was elated over her willingness to start addressing our family problems. "If he won't go, you and I can still go and get help with our family issues.

I stood broken-hearted as her body language indicated that our relationship wasn't important enough for such a measure. Looking back, I believe she likely wanted a counselor to "whip him into shape." I doubt she wanted anything to do with taking any responsibility for her own actions.

So here I am, elated about my new freedom that comes with setting boundaries against anybody who desires to abuse me, yet surprisingly sad about accepting the death of a fantasy. There's nowhere but up from this bittersweet place...

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Mothers and Daughters: Emotional Knifepoint and Bitter Standoffs (Part 1 of 2)

I recently severed ties with my mother. Back in May, after a comforting period of silence followed by a stiff Mothers' Day family dinner, she called my home with another unexpected emotional tirade that left me virtually in shock. I ended that tirade with a request that she doesn't "call my house yelling at me again." She promptly responded, "Don't call your house????" and hung up on me. I was mildly amused by her translation, and her response to my heartfelt request to please talk to me before escalating her vague criticisms: "Well you dont' want to hear the truth." (Really??? The truth about what???) We haven't talked since, which represents a bittersweet outcome for me.

I immediately went into "diagnosis" mode. What had I done wrong? My only conclusion: I called another woman "mom" during Mothers' Day dinner, which is a big no-no. My mother practically needed a therapist when I called my ex-mother-in-law "mom" shortly after my marriage. But once again, I was on the wrong path. Her random triggers aren't my responsibility.

Last week, I spent a little time with Iyanla Vanzant, first on her new show Fix My Life and then in Oprah's Lifeclass. These resources flickered across my life in a spark of divine and unexpected opportunity. I try not to ignore the times God whispers a chance for growth into my life.

Since that time, I came to a new understanding - or so I thought - of my mother's behavior. Without a doubt, she is unhappy, wounded, and seeks to find comfort by controlling the lives of those close to her. She gives hell for any life motion that doesn't fit her mold - including the time I got cussed out for not paying for braces for my son's lovely teeth - another classic moment that left me hurt and shocked. Apparently, the tiny spaces between his teeth (which the human eye truly can't see) bothered her. She wanted his teeth so close in his mouth that his wisdom teeth would probably cause a dental problem (which mine nearly did after my braces left my teeth almost too close for floss.)  For a moment, I grieved her pain with an understanding that even my "perfect compliance" would never heal her inner agonies. I have a sincere concern that she will live her entire life attempting to control others to heal her own inner rifts. I quickly named this phenomenon Emotional Knifepoint.

Like a thief who holds-up a victim at knifepoint to meet their own financial needs, Emotional Knifepoint involves the attempt to steal from another what one should really provide for self. And just like the thief who doesn't take the time to explain why they're committing the crime (does baby need a new pair of shoes?), Emotional Knifepoint leaves the victim confused about how and why they're supposed to meet the thief's emotional needs. I can find no better way to describe my deeply personal experience of betrayal when it comes to missing the mother/daughter relationship I may never experience with my own biological mother.

As I went to pat myself on the back for coining a term and solving the riddle (yeah... right), I felt a pain. As I looked to my hand for the answer, I found myself clutching my own knife. I realized with painful certainty that I wield my own knife at my mother. There are no total victims here, because we're in a bitter standoff - face to face - heart to heart - knife to knife. When did I become a criminal in my own story? I can certainly acknowledge the pain of withstanding her behavior as a child in her care, but nothing justifies how long I stayed in this game after reaching adulthood.

I'll explain in Part 2...

Thursday, December 8, 2011

His Side has left the building

... along with Elvis and my battle to balance hope and disappointment.

As an overachiever, I didn't end this battle after quiet contemplation. That's too simple. ::eyeroll:: There were neighbors... and cops... and domestic violence papers... and changed locks. Thankfully, two guests didn't show up to the party: Tears and Regret.

Lemme go back. His Side recently made a remarkable move. He reached out to medical professionals for the help he needed to fight his formidable demons. I supported him as a friend, allowed him to remain in my home, and actually witnessed a marked improvement. He stopped drinking, gave up his tendency to try and control everyone (but himself), and conducted himself like a rational person experiencing a prolonged moment of clarity.

Then came the lapse. The meltdown.

He decided to get drunk on the vodka we purchased for friends and lost his damn mind. Seriously. And literally. He went to that place where the light behind his eyes go dark, reality escapes him, and a target must be sought. As I sat silently waiting for the storm to end, he couldn't stand my unwillingness to engage... so he threw me to the floor. By. My. FACE. It was the mush heard round the world. I hit the floor like a rock and went straight for the phone to call the police. He twisted my arm until I let go the house phone and took my cell. I got my son out of bed, went to the neighbors, and called the cops.

To make a long story short, I opted not to press charges so long as he was removed from the home. To his cousin's he went in a police car, as I stared at the police report - wondering how I endured the patience and longsuffering of hope.

Even as I sit here, 3 weeks later, I have trouble finding the words to express how this has changed my life. I am so satisfied that my daily energy isn't spent trying to help somebody who floats in and out of helping themselves. I cook more, relax more, and enjoy the slow process of getting my house back into order. Yet somehow, I don't regret the time I spent loving His Side and hoping he would win the fight against his heavy baggage. Hell, I still love him, but from AFAR.

Even though his apologies have been heartfelt and sincere, I was relieved to see the moment he realized there is no way back into my life. While he fights a new demon - the weight of regret - I relish the freedom of releasing all of his baggage back into his care. Unlike the past, I don't feel concerned that he may not make it. I'm alright with his success or his failure because I let it go without the remnant of feeling any responsibility.

Sadness, embarrassment, and lonliness were fleeting feelings. But this satisfaction I'm feeling is permanent.