Sunday, September 25, 2011


Years ago, my (now ex)husband came upon and began to watch the week-night half-hour sit-coms. He’d watch and laugh with the best of them, but I couldn't.. and he couldn't understand why I wouldn’t join him.
I had realized that they were all the same- same characters, same situation, same plot basics. The husbands were all overgrown children- whiny, lazy, oblivious, and sloppy. The wives were all over-worked/under-appreciated, tired, and short-tempered. Neither was flattering. I just couldn’t see the humor in it.
I pointed out all this to him, that these shows only served to demean both sexes. How is that funny?
Yes there are men who are lazy. So are some women. Some men are utterly oblivious to others’ situations, but there are some women who are just as callous. Some guys are perma-bachelors and utter slobs. Some women can’t keep a reasonably clean home to save their life. There are a lot of women out there who do both the career and the mom thing, leaving them worn out with no reserve. There are also men who run themselves ragged helping others, not taking time for themselves.
Men are the only un-protected demographic. You can’t make fun of women unless you are one. You can’t use the N-word unless you’re Black. You can’t find fault with Latinos if you aren’t one. So why is it ok to demean and diminish men?
It’s not.
As a divorced, middle-aged woman, many people assume that I hate men.
I don’t.
I love men. I cherish the men in my life. I appreciate their time. I value their knowledge. I’m grateful for their sacrifices.
Men- You’re awesome! You’re strong. You’re our knights in shining armor, our heroes! Thank you!
Ladies- tell the men in your life that they’re awesome. Thank them for the things they do for you and your family.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

"You're Better Than That"

We’ve all heard the saying, “A good friend will bail you out of jail, but a really good friend will be sitting beside you.…” While that may be true, I’d like to take it a step further. A truly valuable friend will call you on your shit… and if you’re wise, you heed that call, and choose to learn and grow from it.

It’s not always pleasant getting called on the carpet for your stupid choices. “The wicked take the truth to be hard.” It’s uncomfortable at best. It’s embarrassing, awkward, and often humiliating! But it can also be a humbling and growing experience.

I called a family member on some stuff a while back, “You’re better than this,” on a rather mean-spirited FB thread. I must have offended her. I noticed that I wasn’t seeing posts from her on my wall. I checked, and she’d removed me from her friend list.

So… Should I have said nothing? Should I have allowed her to continue in her downward spiral? Am I still expected to be my “brother’s keeper”…? Maybe I should have said it differently?

Here’s the thing though, when we hear this same sentiment from leaders, we just eat it up-
“We live far beneath our privilege.”
… but when the same message comes from a friend, an equal.. or if the message comes from someone “beneath” us (younger, a subordinate at work, etc), how do we handle it? I know I don’t always handle that with the humility I should. I bristle, “Mind your own business…” or “My life isn’t your stewardship.”

What about you? How do you handle being called out?

Friday, September 2, 2011

Investment, Marriage, and Emptiness

This isn't going to be a particularly clever post. It's not funny, or sweet, or happy. It's about some very personal things. You're gonna learn a lot about me today.. If you don't already know it.

I’ve come to realize recently that the effort you put into your marriage is an investment. If you want your spouse to be there for you, you have to be there for him/her.

I struggled for a long time trying to figure out why I didn’t have that sticking power when the chips were down for my (now)ex-husband. I see so many other couples where this happens- one of them develops a serious health problem- mental, emotional, physical- and their spouse finds it within him/herself to be the rock, to be there, to stay. I didn’t understand why I couldn’t. Why was I so weak that I couldn’t stay? I knew he needed me, but I just couldn’t do it… why?

Recently I was talking with a dear friend whose husband developed debilitating emotional issues during the course of their marriage. She stayed. I asked her these same questions- what gave her the strength to stay when I couldn’t? She shared with me some things that happened when she had her own health crisis. He stayed, he learned, he cared for her. He invested in their relationship. Then, when he needed help, she had the strength within to step up and learn the patience needed to be what he needed his wife to be.

In my own marriage, his struggles weren’t the only problem. There were other issues. I am unable to bare children, and have wanted to be a mom for forever, since I was probably about two. He knew this when we married, and said that he wanted children, too. This journey toward parenthood was going to be a team effort, and we WERE gonna get there!

But then, over the course of the first 5 or 6 years of our marriage, he made choices that made things difficult financially for us. I won’t say I was perfect. I could have been wiser in some of my own choices. I could have been tougher, meaner about his choices. I could have pursued a career to support us (even though I actually wanted to be a stay-at-home mother). I could have demanded greater adherence to the budget. He chose to put his own instant gratification ahead of (what I thought were) our goals. I know now that his mindset and behavior pattern were due to circumstances in his childhood, but it still hurt. Every time evidence came before me of our divergent priorities, it cut a little deeper.

After about 7 years of marriage, I realized that I was dying inside. I began to resign myself to a fate of childlessness. I became resentful, angry, and bitter. I looked for ways to rid our home of the baby-preparations- the stroller/car seat we bought with the tax return, the clothes given to us by a friend, and the blankets I’d been given as hand-me-downs. I intentionally avoided the baby section of the grocery and department stores. I couldn’t even look down those aisles without this big gaping hole opening in my chest. I was hollow inside. My dream was dead.

Then he broke. His depression flared up because of some issues with work, and he needed me- desperately! He needed me to be strong, to be there, to love him, to show confidence and faith in him, to be his cheerleader. But I was empty. I did what I could, I tried, but it was an act. There wasn’t much depth to it, and I see that now. It didn’t even last very long- a couple months, at best. I had nothing inside to give him.

I left for a time. I came back on the condition that he get help. I knew I couldn’t do it- I couldn’t handle the unmanaged problem, and I couldn’t manage it for him. He had to take care of it or I couldn’t stay. We tried a couple options, but because of various reasons, those solutions didn’t pan out… and we were back where we started. His depression wasn’t being managed and I couldn’t hack it. I was still too weak, dead, and empty to endure.

Have you ever been at the end of your rope, had nothing left to give? How did you handle it? Were you able to dig a little deeper and find a reason to hang on? Or were you empty, with nothing left to give?