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June 5, 2001

Ahhhhh.  All is quiet expect my little MP3 song list, playing away solely for my entertainment.  The little boys are sleeping, hardwired into that cosmic little boy consciousness from which their precious little brains are downloading information on new and improved ways to send me to the nuthouse before that all important 40th birthday in September.  WHAT a week and here it’s only Tuesday.  I’m so tired my eyes feel like they are bleeding, but I am determined to get a decent journal entry done while I can.  Didn’t get my walk in tonight because Eric had to work late and by the time dinner was over, it was dark.  I did get to see Dr Phil on Oprah today, so I got my common sense fix for the day.  One thing that has always amazed me is that we can listen to someone else talk about their problems and issues and the answers always seem so clear.  I have been a spiritual counselor for many years, about um, 15 now, I guess.  I don’t do it often because I don’t want to burn out and I don’t often have much to give to others any more with the little ones taking so much of my time and energy, but for all those years, I have found consistently that I can listen to what someone tells me and usually have a pretty clear path of what they should do come to me.  I know it’s like that for a lot of people.  It’s easy to turn that microscope on someone else and see what we think should be painfully obvious to them, but turn it on ourselves and suddenly we are blind as a bat.   

On Oprah, Phil was hard-casing a few people who were brave enough to write to him and ask what to do about this and that.  Some of them amazed me.  One lady was absolutely furious that her husband (a really decent looking man) had gained 30 pounds since they married six years before.  They were in this huge power struggle where she constantly belittled him and pressured him to lose this weight.  He lost 11 of the pounds and was scared to death to slip up on his diet for fear that she’d leave him. She was a slim, attractive, rich-looking sort with a tight little mouth, smooth haircut that dipped under just so at her shoulders.  She looked at him with such disgust, it was really pretty sad.  Phil ripped her a new one and I thought (hoped) he was going to get her to cry.  No such luck.  He told her that she was going to keep nagging and pretty soon, she wasn’t going to have that extra 30 pounds around any more to criticize because he’d be gone.  This guy was totally emasculated and demoralized.  He was a successful doctor, an intern actually, and this *one thing* was breaking him apart and giving her total control over his life.  I thought of all the lonely women out there who would give anything for a nice looking, cuddly, thirty-ish doctor to keep them company, who would put him on a pedestal and show him what it was like to be truly loved and accepted by someone.  She snapped at Phil about how she was no longer attracted to her husband because he now had a bit of a gut.  When she saw that Phil was not buying what she was selling, you could see the shutters and doors slam shut on her head and it was obvious that nothing was going to change for them.  He’d go on being whipped and she’d go on with her love, acceptance and approval all hinging on the numbers on a scale or the number of notches he had in his belt. 

Another man went on and on about how much he adored his wife.  He’d been gifted with a beautiful, exciting, magnificent wife and he was angry that they no longer had sex THREE TIMES A DAY like they did when they first got married.  His wife was heavy, probably about 180 and quite pretty.  She teared up quite a bit while she was talking about the situation.  She said that if she ever said no, he got “forceful” and “wouldn’t take no for an answer.”  He seemed very proud of this fact and when Phil pointed out the contradiction in his statement that he loved his wife so much versus his actions of not caring how she felt about his sexual demands, he glazed over and obviously ignored anything that Phil was saying.  Again, I had the feeling that this was a situation where nothing would change. 

A woman called in and said that she had been dating a married man FOR TWENTY YEARS and wanted to know if Phil thought there was a chance the guy would leave his wife for her.  This man was her ‘soul mate’ and had ‘captured her heart’ when she was in her 20’s.  So here she is in her 40’s, still playing second fiddle to the family he goes home to.  Phil gave her what for and told her she needed to end the relationship immediately and go get someone who would put her first.  One more time, you could here the doors closing. 

Now, here is my question and, unfortunately, I know the answer.  When, WHEN are people going to stop asking questions when they don’t really want to know the answers?  (as I just did, I suppose)  When someone says, “I have this problem and it’s really corrupting my life in X, Y and Z way and I need to fix it.  What do I do?” what they are really saying is, “Please tell me that what I’m doing is OK and if you don’t, I’m going to blow you off.”  I agree with Phil’s immediate retort, “How’s that workin’ for you?”  I think when evaluating a behavior or relationship, it is the foremost concern that we assess if and how it’s working for us.  Obviously, we have our doubts or we wouldn’t be holding it up to scrutiny.  Beyond the initial evaluation, most people will just shut down and not be open to any change unless it involves SOMEONE ELSE changing in some way.  The first woman wanted her husband to lose the weight.  She didn’t really want to talk about her control issues or her need for absolute perfection, she wanted her way, period.  The sex maniac man wanted to fill some void in his life with sex (I’m sorry, there’s no one alive who needs sex three times a day to the point that they get “forceful and won’t take no for an answer” when they don’t get it) and wanted to control his wife by having her bow to his demands whenever he'd spring one.  He didn’t want to look at whatever is creating the emptiness inside of him that is causing him to need to act out like this.  The woman on the phone didn’t want a new life with a person who would treat her with respect and give her a real companion with hope for a future.  She wanted Phil to tell her that she’s an adult and if this makes her happy that sure, she should wait it out for him to outlive his wife and marry her.   

It really pains me to see my really dear friends making the same destructive decisions over and over.  I can’t tell you how many useless Tarot card readings I’ve done for people and endless counseling sessions in which the person had already made up their mind what they would and would not do.  They just wanted me to pat them on the head and feel sorry for them and have a comfort party.  I don’t mind that if the person is indeed working things out for themselves and don’t feel they need any input.  Hey, pass the chocolate syrup and let’s do it!  But when a person comes to me, like they did Phil, and they say, “My life sucks.  I’m not happy.  What should I do?” and I tell them and they blow it off and come back with the same exact complaint three months and six months and nine months later, it really is hurtful.  Why even bother any more?  I have a friend in another state who has been involved in a relationship of several years in which the man is often emotionally and sometimes physically abusive to her.  We talk by phone every 2-3 months and she tells me the latest in the saga of what he has done, then tells me how much she loves him and says, “Kathy [she is one of about 3 people who still call me 'Kathy'], you can’t pick who you love.”  The absolute hell you can’t!!  If you can’t, you can sure pick who smacks you around and leaves you deserted in another state!  What scares me is she asks me to vision for her and I did for a long time and I’ve told her things that will happen and then have happened.  I told her daughter, “If you sleep with your jack-off, low-life ex-boyfriend ONE MORE TIME, you are going to get SO knocked up, so be sure and keep your legs CLAMPED SHUT.”  She did.  Clamped around his waist and now they have a daughter who is 5-6 and her life is coming apart.  I told her (the mom) that her no account abusive boyfriend was going to lose his inheritance because he was going to get in a fight with his father and not reconcile before his father died.  That happened too.  It doesn’t matter how many times I tell her something that is going to happen that ultimately does.  It doesn’t matter that she “ooh’s” and “ahhh’s” over the accuracy of the things I tell her when she asks me to vision for her.  She still totally ignores the one thing I’ve told her that is the most important:  this asshole that she loves so dearly is going to kill her some day and her body is not going to be found for a long time.  People will not look at what they do not want to see and it breaks my heart to talk to her, having that feeling and 'knowing' wash over me again like a sick pall and hear her going on about how she’d leave him if she didn’t love him so much.   I can do nothing more that just cover her with love and protection and hope for the best.

Another of my friends FINALLY got out of a really awful marriage.  Her husband had been unemployed for almost their entire marriage of 12 years.  She is a successful middle school teacher making about $65,000 a year.  Not too bad.  She owned a beautiful home and had raised the 6 children by her first marriage and all but one had left home.  Her husband was a retired Air Force master sergeant.  He had a pension of about $1000 a month.  He never contributed a penny to the upkeep of the family.  That money was HIS.  He spent his days sleeping and his nights at the bars, blowing his pension money the week it arrived and then asking her for more, which she always gave him.  He floated checks between payday advance joints, several at a time.  He was abusive to her children, who, of course, despised him.  He was also a 4th degree double black belt in TKD.  She caught him cheating on her many times.  When she came home from a teacher’s conference, there were used condoms in her bed, another woman’s panties in her drawer and foreign pubes in the bathroom.  He gave her numerous sexually transmitted diseases.  They split up 4-5 times that I know of and the last one seems to have taken.  It’s been almost a year since they lived together.  He still hits on her all the time for money and to her knowledge, lives in his car.  She feels sad and sorry for him.  She has grown in leaps and bounds in the past year and has worked very hard to get used to the silence that is created both in your home and your heart when you’re partner is not there any more.  I know that silence well and it can make you do some strange things.  It can make you feel white hot hate for people who have someone to hold hands with and exchange meaningful glances.  It can make you want to take back the wrong person.  It can make you absolutely desperate to find someone else to go into that empty space.  It makes my friend meet men on the internet and invite them to her home for the weekend where she lives with her 17-year-old daughter.  It makes her go out to the bars and pick up men and bring them back home to talk and have a drink.  I am scared to death for her.  Unlike my first friend, this one knows this bothers me and doesn’t mention it any more.  I can feel it happening, but it hurts and scares me too much to actually know about it. 

When I was talking about that microscope, man, I can say that it’s true for me as well.  I can look at these people and note the obvious:  you shouldn’t be with someone who abuses you.  You shouldn’t be with a user like my friend’s ex.  You shouldn’t pick up strange men, internet buds or not, and bring them to your home when you have not spent time with them in person.  All of these things are dangerous.  My life is fairly innocuous right now.  I’m a stay at home mom with a handsome husband who makes good money, nice house, nice car, batshit kids (but sweet as the dickens), a hokey little internet site and very few contacts in the real, noninternet world.  There’s not a lot to throw stones at except my weight, my age versus my husband’s age, my plethora of kids and my judgmental attitude.  Believe me, this piousness was hard won.  I come from a life that would make a lot of people duck and cover.  I have done a lot of really, really, really stupid things and ignored a lot of really wise advice in my time.  As it seems to happen, I had to learn the lessons the hard way that I could have learned more easily had my mind and ears been a little more open and my heart and mind more willing to entertain the idea of change.  I wish I had learned earlier in life to stop cold the behaviors and situations that were just not working for me and to have started taking care of myself first sooner.  I thought I was being a good, nice person by putting the needs of other people first.  I thought that if I had faith in others, they would change into good people because I believed in them.  Instead, I had to learn to put faith in myself to distinguish the good people from the bad people and pick better company.  I had to decide that I was worth more than the way these people were treating me, others and themselves.   

One of the things that Phil pushes is that we teach people how to treat us by rewarding certain behaviors with a payoff or by allowing them to continue.  I know this to be absolutely, 100% true.  Often, a man or woman treats their spouse or partner in ways that they would never dream of treating their boss at work (for instance) SIMPLY BECAUSE THEY CAN GET AWAY WITH IT.  We often treat complete strangers with more dignity and respect than we do the person we intend to spend the rest of our lives with.  I’m a big proponent of self-accountability and owning our own part of any circumstance.  I won’t ever carry anyone else’s responsibility again.  I did that and made excuses to me and the world for 20 years and then I was done with that.  I do not ever intend to hesitate again in owning my own responsibility, however.   

Part of that responsibility is knowing where to invest the (limited) energy I have.  My family takes up a lot of my time, as does the website (which I really cherish).  That doesn’t leave me much time to give to friends and nonfamily loved ones, so I have learned that this is a time in my life where I have to be very selective about the company I keep.  I have net friends, which works well for me because I can work e-mail correspondence around just about any schedule (like now, writing letters at 11pm).  I only have a couple of friends in real local life, but the one thing I have noticed that has changed about them versus friends I have had in the past is that they are all movers and shakers.  They are damaged folk, like me, who are working very hard for self-betterment on a number of different levels.  They are utterly unwilling to sit in the mud puddle, cry about being messy and expect that I will plop down in the mud with them, have a beer and cry right along.  When they have a problem, they talk to me about it and say, “OK, what do you think.”  I tell them and I can see the gears clicking away in their head and I can tell that they are really hearing what I’m saying and giving it consideration.  It’s OK if they choose another path than what I’ve suggested, because I know mine was one of many smart alternatives they are considering.  The point is that they are taking action and refusing to allow themselves to just sit and be miserable.  Sometimes they say, “I don’t need help.  I can fix this on my own, but dammit, I need to rant!”  Then we bitch and gripe together and a week or so afterward, I say, “Hey, what’d you ever do about that?” and they’ll tell me and that’s that.  One of my friends has been trying for years to lose what she calls her “fat suit” and is absolutely busting her ass to do it now.  I look at her exercise journals and can’t believe it’s really her doing all this stuff.  She’s always been very alive and vibrant and vivacious of spirit and now her body is catching up.  I am immensely proud of her because failure absolutely is not an option for her.  Another of my friends is determined to find a way to work around a LOT of pain from fibromyalgia that meds don’t even start to cut and get the life she wants.  She has just started down a path of learning to set boundaries and stand up for what she wants and she’s working hard to be true to herself and find out what that’s all about.  I’m very, very proud of her as well.   

It is always so rewarding when you see a person stand up, say, “What the hell was I doing in that mud puddle?” and start crawling out.  You can see in their eyes that they’ve just had enough mud and are ready to start walking again, maybe even for the first time in their lives.  Another thing that Phil instructs is, “There are some people who get it and some who don’t; be one of the ones who gets it.”  When they are coming up out of that mud puddle, you can see in their eyes that they suddenly “get it.”  It all starts to make sense, the pieces fall into place and they see that as long as they are sitting in that mud, they aren’t moving.   

“Analysis is paralysis” is another Philism and I fall victim to that sometimes.  I am the queen of overanalyzing and used to need to understand every nuance of WHY something happened HOW someone could do that to me and on and on.  It took a long time to figure out that the how’s and why’s are less important than the IS.  Regardless of how or why, regardless of whether it’s fair, if the situation IS, then we have to deal with it, whatever it IS.  Deal with it first, then figure it out later.  I also had to accept (*gulp*) that sometimes, I just never will know the WHY and HOW.  That was the hardest part because no matter what it was, I felt I deserved to know.  I’ve had to put a lid on my analysis and learn to move first and think later.  Cure the disease, then sit and figure out how you may have contracted it. 

As I said, I have wallowed in my share of mud puddles while people tried to coax me out.  I have lived in a constant state of crisis for years on end, to the point that I couldn’t see my way out and couldn’t imagine any other way of living.  The thing is, and this is really sad, but anyone who has experienced it can vouch for it, that once you “get it” and break the code about mud puddles, you can’t NOT see it again.  You might slip for an hour or two, but then your going to get so fed up with your own whininess and complaining that you will be forced to take action.  You will never again be able to wallow for years.  The problem is that the same piousness that you direct toward yourself in those mud puddle moments that you allow yourself is often transferred out into the world as well.  I try to be generous of nature, but I have a hard time standing around other people’s mud puddles any more.  I’ll throw a rope, offer a hand up, chat for a while, but beyond that, they’re on their own.  If I stop to hang around and wait for the moment that the scales fall from their eyes and they finally get it, who knows how long I’ll be immobilized myself?  Nope, if you’re going to walk with me, you’ve got to walk.  Sure, we can sit for a while and if you fall into a big whopper of a puddle, you can believe, I’ll be there with ready advice and cross my arms and tap my foot for a while until you cipher your way out of it.  I’ll help if I can, but don’t expect me to pull up a chair and stay a while.  I gots places to go!  I expect the same in return from my traveling companions. 

It may seem heartless, but life is too short to hinge your happiness on waiting for people to change and to “get it.”  I can guarantee you that the lady with the tight little lips and the fluffy doctor husband doesn’t get that.  Neither does the sex addict guy who loves his wife into basically raping her and neither does the ‘other woman’ of 20 years.  All we can control is our own direction, our own reactions and that is where our joy lies.  If we empower other people to be the ones to give us joy and happiness, we can never relax, never be secure in our joy, because they are equally empowered to take it away.  Then we are back to joyless and unhappy.  We can’t have our happiness pending an action from someone other than ourselves.  True joy had to come from inside US because that is all we can really control.  Once we take the burden of making us happy off of other people and empower ourselves to do that, there is no limits to the joy we can experience and the security we can feel in that joy.  This allows other to just “be.”  We can appreciate their presence so much more in our lives when we aren’t saddling them with our own responsibility for making us happy.  Once we disengage from that weird struggle, we are often able to see the people for individuals again, rather than an extension of ourselves.  The empowerment that come from accepting responsibility for our own happiness and our own life is heady and immediately takes away the victim aspect of almost anything.  Once a person becomes responsible for themselves, no one else can ever let them down again. 

In the instance of my friends, that leave ME responsible for deciding where I will put my energy and how much it does or doesn’t hurt me to see them continually putting their safety at risk.  I can distance myself as much as I need to in order to find a comfort zone in the relationship and accept that they are free to make their own choices, whether I think they are dumb or not.  The idea of self-empowerment and responsibility sounds so scary and complicated, but it really makes things very, very simple.  That’s part of ‘getting it.’ 

Piously yours,


June 5, 2001

Sssssh.  They might hear you.   

I haven’t journaled in a long time and there’s a really good reason for it.  I miss it.  I really do.  There is so much therapy to be found in purging one’s thoughts into cyberspace and it really helps me to sort out that junkpile of a brain of mine to write them out.  In fact, sometimes I can feel the greedy tentacles of madness snaking out of the closet to get me when I’m not able to have a good writing purge (like now).  

The reason I haven’t is that my sons have lost their minds.  The little sons, I mean.  The older ones are doing OK, as far as I can tell.  The little two are absolutely batshit.  For example, this morning, in the span of a half hour, Nathan threw a dozen eggs and a 10 pound bag of potatoes on the floor, one at a time.  I had the misfortune of going to the bathroom.  While I was cleaning up the eggs, he went into the bedroom, stripped all the linens off my bed and snagged a full tube of Crest blue gel toothpaste and rubbed it in his hair, on my mattress, in the carpet and in Dylan’s eyes.  Poor Dylan is just an accomplice most of the time and sometimes even the victim.  I put the boys in the bathtub and tried to clean up the mess on the carpet, but because toothpaste is basically sticky soap, it just foamed and foamed and foamed and pretty much stayed blue.  I hear screams from the tub, went in and found that the boys had experienced the same results with the toothpaste and their tub was aslime with soapy, yucky stuff.  Got them hosed down and Nathan’s head under the faucet for many minutes and his hair is STILL minty fresh. He slept for a very short hour and that gave me time to use the carpet cleaner and the last of the carpet soap stuff (as if it needed more soap, I should have used Bissel Carpet Acid or something).  My whole day is going from one thing to the next to the next any more.  I feel for poor Dylan who gets pulled along with Nathan's destructo mission.  In Idaho, I helped run a preschool that had 96 3-4-year-olds enrolled.  I've never seen anything like this.  

Nathan is now standing at the child gate to my office, taking off his clothes and screaming like a banshee.  I took them off of all refined sugar and dairy products days ago, hoping that would mellow them out some.  They aren’t on any kind of medication (unfortunately, although I’m considering spiking their juice with valerian).  Oh God.  He just broke through the child gate.  

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Thank God.  He found the bird and is screaming it's feathers off.  A moment of peace.  *sigh*  

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I must.  get.  off.  this.  planet.  Natives.  are.  hostile.  Send help.  Must have. . .liquor.

I'll try to find a quiet moment to write tonight after they fall in their tracks to reset for tomorrow's attack.


June 1, 2001

What a day I had yesterday! 

I took my son to visit his girlfriend in a town about a half hour north of here.  I drive a 69 VW hippie bus that normally does OK, but has had some minor gear linkage problems lately. 

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 As we were getting onto the freeway from the town where I had to drop Josh, I lost all but 4th gear.  I was able to get the bus up to cruising speed (in the emergency lane) until I could join traffic.  I knew I’d be OK until I got to the offramp I needed to get to our street.  It’s uphill and I’d have to wait and hope I could get the bus to take off uphill in 4th gear.  I prayed the light would be green when I got to it and I prayed no one would be behind me.  My connection must have been off, because the light was a solid red and a line of traffic formed behind me.  That was the longest light I’ve ever had to wait.  The bus has no AC and the boys were already warm from the102 degree weather, but there were open windows all along the side of the bus, so while we were moving, it was very pleasant, but once we stopped, it heated up quickly.  When the light turned green, there were no gears, not even 4th.  The stick shift refused to go into any gear.  Trying to find one, the bus stalled.  It did that about 4-5 times, then it stopped even trying to start up and the key was like it was turning in a stick of butter.  Horns were blaring, the light changed about 10 times, the kids were getting hotter and hotter.  Finally, I realized it just was not going to move, so I assessed the situation.  People were still pissed that this behemoth bus was parked in the left turning lane like it was waiting for the light, but wasn’t moving. To the left, I had a drop off into the eastbound Interstate 80 traffic. To the right, three lanes of busy (honking) traffic.  The bus was on an incline and there was no where to push it to if I even could with a 20 month old and a three year old.  I took anything valuable out of the bus (that amounted to the two Pokemon videos I’d rented for Dyl and the paperwork for Josh’s recruiter), scooped up the boys and abandoned ship.  I left notes all over the bus for the cops and started walking.  We made it to a movie theater that is past the freeway and about half way to our house.  Inside, we grabbed some air conditioning and gave Eric a call and he called a tow truck.  We were on our way back home, walking again, when Dylan said, “Stop, stop!”  I was eager to get home, so I asked him, “What?” on the move and he asked, “Our bus broke?”  I told him it had and he didn’t say anything for a minute, then said, “I need a hug.”  Until then, it hadn’t occurred to me that he might have been frightened, leaving our bus behind like that.  I gave him big cuddles and then he said he wanted to go home.  By then, we had made it to the edge of the theater parking lot and he found a penny on the ground.  I told him to pick it up, because we sure needed some luck!  Just around the corner, parked in the shade, I found a mint condition Albertson’s (west coast grocery store) shopping cart (!!).  Thankfully to my aching arms, I unloaded Nathan into it, jumped Dylan into the basket part and we sailed home in half the time.  Poor Dylan was wearing sandals and he feet were killing him from the walking.  We made it home an hour after the bus died. I put the boys to bed with water bottles and videos. 

Eric called and said that the tow truck would have the bus there within a half hour.  An hour later, he called to say that the tow truck had called him and said the bus wasn’t there.  He called the Highway Patrol and they said it hadn’t been towed and wasn’t there.  They filled out a stolen vehicle report on it.  *sigh*  I figured someone with a wench had pulled it (I knew it could not be driven without the key because the steering column locks) either to their house (stolen) or to a nearby parking lot out of harm’s way (good Samaritan).   Then, the Highway Patrol called Eric back and said, “Are you SURE it was the Eastbound Highway 80 cause we have MAD traffic backing up on Westbound 80 at the Elkhorn off ramp.”  Yep, he’d told them Westbound.  So the bus had never left and the tow truck got there just as the nice city cop was writing up the impound ticket.  The cop tore up the ticket, the towman dragged the bus to my house and lightened my checkbook by $60 and the drama was ended three hours after it began.  It could have gone MUCH worse.  The shopping cart might not have been there.  The temperature could have been 110 degrees instead of 102 degrees.  The tow truck could have arrived 5 minutes and mucho impound fees later.  It could have died MUCH further from my house instead of maybe 1.5-2 miles away.  Nathan could have taken a dump on the way home. There are a jillion ways this could have been more screwed up than it was.   

There was a time when something like this would have jacked my whole day, but it was only one challenging part of my day.  I had been walking with Dr Phil the night before and he had been talking about perception and how events are just that, events, and the critical issue is the power that we give the event over our lives, our day or our mood.  If I am running a baseline of joy, then this was just an unfortunate, frustrating thing that happened as one of those life glitches.  None of us can live a totally unruffled life, so when things happen, we have to recognize the incredible control we have to not slip into the victim mentality.  This is one of my first times to let something like this just wash away and not feel persecuted because of it.  A situation occurred, I evaluated it carefully and did what I could do.  It doesn’t have the power to take my joy away or even ruin my day.  There were 21 other wonderful hours in the day (well, let’s go with 19 because there were some other pretty rotten things that happened, but that was OK too) and that still means that the majority of life is good.  I am determined to keep it that way or better.   

Also, if you see a lady stranded along the road with two little kids and a piece of shit VW bus, it really is OK to stop and help instead of honking, looking pissed and driving off.

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