Who Loves You Baby?


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Love, feeling needed, important, appreciated and respected to someone are universal wants for most people. We get into relationships in search of those things and when we find them, then those are the best moments in our lives. For those who have not experienced any of those feelings, then there is an emptiness. A strong emptiness that needs to be filled.

The fortunate group will find this with friends, family and/or a partner. There is nothing more hopeful than listening to someone who has experienced or is still experiencing such a profound connection to someone. It radiates, it seeps out, it is contagious. It is how God intended the world to be and how we should relate to others.

The unfortunate group who have either never had this or have loss this connection to others are plentiful and recognizable through sadness, anger, anxiety, withdrawal, depression, and feels broken. Perpetual disconnection and feeling unloved or unimportant changes people into a shadow of what God intended them to be. Some will give up and others will look for that connection in all the wrong places. We are fallible humans!

Who loves you baby? How do you know when someone has your best interest at heart versus their own interest? How do you know someone is good for you or are you good for them?

1  Growth – Is that person helping you to improve your character? Are you being encouraged to be the best you possible? Does the person help you to feel good or bad about yourself?

2. Boundaries – Does the person respect your rules and not push you do things that may hurt emotionally, spiritually, psychologically or physically? Do they value what is important to you?

3. Listen – Are you being heard? Are your requests and wishes being ignored? Your words falling on ‘deaf ears’? Can you express yourself openly without being made to feel stupid?

4. Honor & Respect – Is that person’s behavior towards you and people you care about honorable? Are you valued as someone important in his/her life? Or are you just the convenient available person or a ‘piece of meat?’ For singles: Are you kept in the shadows, strung along or you are someone’s quiet ‘dirty secret’?

5. Actions – Does that person’s decisions and behaviors lead to hurting you emotionally, physically, psychologically and spiritually while benefiting him/herself?

6. Evasive – Are there things about this person that remains a mystery and s/he does not feel the need to share with you? Are there things that the person avoids? Are you always left wondering?

7. Support – If you need that person, can s/he be there for you when things are going good or bad?

In our search for connection and belonging, we forget that we are fearfully and wonderfully made and it is our responsibility to value ourselves and teach others to do the same.

 

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Marriage in Name Only


On a recent vacation, a friend of mine made a statement that I should not get too jaded. The topic had turned to marriage, well divorce actually her divorce after being married for over 20+ years. Most of the time, we talked about relationships because her situation is still fresh and painful. I did not mind letting her vent but I also noticed that my point of view on marriage was lopsided to the negative side.

My history with marriage. My parents celebrated their 41st wedding anniversary a few weeks ago; my grandparents passed within a year of each other and they were in their 70’s and 80’s and still married. I grew up with married people abound. It never fully dawned on me until high school that not every child grew up with two parents. Despite all that togetherness, that level of commitment to another person was not something I wanted. I wanted my freedom to grow and be my own person without having to share me and make compromises.

For many years, I could not say the word marriage or any derivative because it gave me an anxious feeling of being trapped. Most people would think that I did not understand the intrinsic nature of marriage due to my many years of stating “I don’t want to get married.” On the contrary, the reason I stayed away from it was because I fully understood how much commitment that is required and trading in ‘I’ for ‘We’ was a necessity. I also realized at a young teen years that if you plan to make that commitment to someone, then you better be sure. I saw marriage as a serious life-long willing commitment and divorce did not enter my mind. If I understood the value of marriage back then, how is that so many people seem to completely miss that concept?

My jaded feelings now are not about my inability to commit (I got over that) but seeing how many people take those vows knowing deep in their subconscious that it is not the right decision. I am jaded because I get to see behind the hidden curtains of how some of the married 50% destroy a well-meaning institution. As I listen to my friend go through her hindsight, it is clear that her and her estranged spouse were not compatible. It is also funny that knowing how incompatible and out of sync they were, she would have continued with the charade if he had not left. I have another friend who complains about her spouse incessantly but gives the caveat “don’t get me wrong, I love….”  I was having another conversation  with a Christian family member who is separated and going through a divorce. I made the comment that maybe next time God will…. and her response was ‘I thought God was involved’ in their union. Finally, the jaded nail in the coffin is being aware of a married man who wants to have an affair. Sadly, I have more negative marriage stories in my head than positives,

What’s the point of marriage if it is in name only? I am not in any judgment of anyone’s relationship. People make decisions about their partners based on their feelings and thoughts at the time. I understand that our decision-making can be clouded by hormones and unrealistic fantasies of the future but I am starting to think I am surrounded by people who just make shitty decisions based off of desperation. Yes, I know that my job puts me in a one-down position to hear the worst; however, those handful seem to be representation of a portion of the 50% that are still married.

I do think there is a large aspect of marriage that have lost its intended meaning. In the old days, people were forced to marry by a certain age to conform with society. However, today, people are choosing to make the same mistake to still conform to society – ‘you need to be married by (insert age) and you need to have kids already.’ The church and conservative communities are the worst peer pressure culprit. Pre-marital therapy is designed to be an evaluation period but that is a joke. Many couples do premarital therapy as a check off the list item because they already made up their minds to marry and they already planned their wedding by that time. Even if there were any serious issues that came to light, people would ignore them or find someone else to carry out their plans.

I really do not disagree with people who choose not to marry because they do not see a really good reason for the institution anymore. Even the ones running the country have a difficult time with fidelity and keeping marital promise. The president have been married three times and his interactions with his spouse seems as warm as licking a frozen pole AND he has the full support of the evangelical community. Where are the consistent images of couples who exemplify a good marriage in public and behind closed doors? Where are stories of couples who could teach us a thing or two about smart choices in mate selection.

The consistent theme is commitment. Individuals put more attention and commitment into things, hobbies, other people but cannot muster up a portion of that commitment for their marital commitment. The divorced 50% and the unhappy married all have a few things in common but most importantly their focus was distracted. The distraction is either by something else, someone else or their shattered selfish fantasy in the face of reality. There is no perfect relationship but people believe they will get a 100% out of 50% or have a delusion of 100% are recurring themes. ‘Once we are married it will all be better’ and sadly I have actually heard that before and chuckle to myself. Trying to help people to step back and see before they leap is as helpful as trying to talk reality to someone in a psychotic episode. At least for the psychotic person, there are medications that can help but for the determined but misguided single, there is only time.

I should get a better attitude about this. However, I doubt that it will happen the more I become entrenched in the negative side of people who are married in name only.

Spring Cleaning the Mind


The sun is shining; the temperature is getting warmer (to my liking above 70 degrees) and I have resumed my warm weather goal which is to be outside on every nice weekend. Usually, this is the time of year when people start to reassess and declutter,  for me, that is a must-do with my mind.

Winter has always been my most disliked season, I hate the cold and could never seem to get warm, the early sunset affects my sleeping habits negatively and I am very sedentary. I literally do the human hibernation with the exception for work and grocery shopping, I am inside under the covers. If I should do a self- diagnosis, I would say this winter I was struggling with seasonal affect disorder or exhibiting mild depressive symptoms.

My mood was taking a severe beating these past couple months and it was an immense struggle to use the cognitive interventions i.e. doing therapy on myself 🙂 . So here are my issues: I tend to ruminate on everything. I am solution oriented so when I see problems, then my mind goes to town on finding the solutions. I was ruminating on health issues in my family, being a good daughter, work, finances, my relationship/connectedness with the people in my life and feeling way too involved in people’s lives made extremely easy through Facebook. Coupled with the winter season, the struggle was real!

In the pursuit of practicing good mental hygiene, I decided to make some changes by spring cleaning my mind. Two weeks ago, I decided to cut back on Facebook. This is my only social media connection and over time, I noticed how much time I would spend going through my news feed to see what’s new – marriage, pregnancies, family moments, travel, bitter politics etc. It was all there being absorbed every time I logged on. Frankly, I am happy for other people’s happy moments but I started to notice how much I would compare me and my life even for things I never wanted or in which I have limited interest. Travel has always been a big thing for me so when I see old friends (people with whom I have no real connection besides social media) on vacations, I find myself being a little jealous “I should be doing that.”

After my cutback, I definitely noticed a mood change for the better. Two weeks of not being bombarded by people’s lives-fake or real-felt really good. Sadly, last night, I intended to do a quick Facebook check but it lasted over 1hr and the moment I was off, I noticed how much that clutter of seeing everyone’s stuff put me one step back. Behavior modification: I will not close my account right now but I will restrict how often and how much I view. If someone has something important to tell me, then they have my phone number or can messenger me; so everything else is irrelevant because that information was not intended for me.

Mind Spring Cleaning: I want to help fix things or give good guidance to the people who are closest in my life; hence, the reason why mental health was a draw. I will always be a good listener and I have ridged boundaries when it comes to work but not so much for friends and family. I take on their stuff as I perceive it to be an issue and want to reach out to help as much as I can. It is the desire to make sure I am doing my part as a good friend or family member or coworker when the person expresses a problem. However, it is very draining and extremely tiresome because I have my own stuff that I am also addressing but I am not getting that level of investment from others into me. Sure! so I tend to be the listener than the sharer which makes things lopsided. Sure! so I tend to have a barrier in place that limits my desire to share. Sure! so I think it is my responsibility to fix my own stuff. Behavior Modification: I can listen and be in the moment for the person but I will limit how much I take on mentally. Everyone has their own lives and it is not my job to carry their issues with me to the extent it is too much for me. If God is still listening, then I hand it over in prayer and put their stuff on the shelf.

Mind Spring Cleaning: I have certain expectations of myself and I transition them to the people around me. I wrongly expect certain things from others and when they do not come through then it leads to a sense of disappointment and often times feelings of hurt which leads to increasing my relationship barriers. Behavior Modification: I only have control over me. I have decided to adjust my expectations to whatever the person chooses to give. This will improve the relationship I have with the people closest to me. I need to be more aware of when I am starting to ruminate on the situation that led to feeling disappointment, hurt and frustration and redirect.

That is as much as I can work on right now. I am only one person and as a single, I am taking care of everything by myself which includes everything related to me and some issues related to other family members and my aging and ill parents. The reality is I do not have the mental closet space to fit other people’s stuff. It is my responsibility to take care of me in the best way possible. This is not to say that I will neglect my role as friend or family member but I need to limit how much I choose to carry with me.

Silence Is Golden


There are at least 1-2 people in our lives that we put in the important category. Whether it is lovers, friends or family, these are the people that we support and who can be supportive to us in one way or another. You may have heard the concept that honest and effective communication is important and I am sure we all strive to be that open person in those important relationships. However, being honest, when it is not good news, can be difficult to express.I would be lying if I said that I am always straightforward with others. No matter the connection, there is always silence in a relationship. While this is not the best practice, it does seem to happen.

Do I look fat in this dress?” If you say yes even though it is the truth, it can impact the relationship negatively. While one would say that this should not be the case, it is the reality. Sure, we should all be tough adults who can handle the truth or someone else’s thoughts or questions on a matter. However, people tend to take offense and believe that the other party does not have the best intentions. I remember many years ago I raised concerns about the person a friend of mine was dating. Needless to say, I got a lot of pushback and the friendship ended. When I used to do therapy, I would get the same response from some clients.

A 15 year marriage recently ended due to one individual having an affair. Actually, the marriage probably ended long before the affair started but regardless at what point in that relationship did either the couple or the people who cared about them went silent? If a friend is making questionable choices or acting differently, when is it your place to intervene or keep silent?  If a family member is making potentially life altering choices who says you should always speak up?

I keep silent for a number of reasons. I keep silent because I don’t think the person is ready or willing to hear my observations. I keep silent because I believe I have nothing more I can say. I keep silent because the other person may be too sensitive and may perceive my insight as hostile. I keep silent because sometimes I feel too tired to want to deal with the resistance. I keep silent because I take the person’s cue that he is not open to suggestions at all. Frankly, I keep silent because sometimes I just don’t feel like getting involved.

So when is it a good time to break that silence? When you notice something is a little off? When there is obvious danger? Or after the person have fallen off the cliff and is broken? For people that you care about, it can be very difficult to keep silent and allow that person to find her own path no matter what the consequence. It is sort of like seeing the issue but quietly praying for the best. Does that make you the bad person in that relationship? I once read a book in which a Christian wife said that she knew her husband was making a mistake but she kept silent because she believed it was God’s role to correct him, no matter the consequence, not her. Yep, I snickered and vehemently disagreed. However, over the years, I have found myself in that silent role praying that God or someone else take the responsibility off my hands to speak up.

So, the worse things than can happen if you speak up is to lose a relationship with the intended audience, hurt feelings, or your assessment of the situation could be wrong. What would Jesus do? Well, He had both direct and indirect ways of passing on his messages. Lucky for Jesus, He knew his time was short and he was not highly dependent on others for a lifetime of relationships so his example may not fit. Exhibiting classic cognitive dissonance, I don’t believe in silence in a relationship; however, I do practice the thing in which I do not believe. Welcome to the complexity of the human nature.

Interestingly, if I were the one making errors, I would want the people closest to me to speak up. Yep, totally hypocritical!  I have had one or two people point out some things to me of which I was not fully aware. I had to take a moment to ponder and acknowledge that they were right. It was a catalyst for change. I appreciated those people’s honesty and criticism of my behavior. I have slowly learn that someone else’s view of me can be critical to my life in various ways. However, I am not dependent on others’ views but it is insightful.

Frankly, I am not sure if I have the balls to always be cold-call honest. However, when given the right circumstances and when I am in the right mood, I tend to break my silence – very directly (I have a hard time beating around the bush). I can admit that I am not holding up my end of the relationship bargain with silence. I can admit that it is not the best practice. Silence is not always golden. For the people who are important in our lives, we have taken the role of being the other person’s keeper. Being confronted  IN LOVE and TRUE CONCERN with  difficult questions, harsh truth or criticism, is not meant to be an attack but can be there to provide you with perspective that is different from your own egocentric tunnel vision views. So what if your ego is bruised, you will recover. Sometimes we just need to get a thicker skin with an open mind.

My Struggle to Emotionally Connect


Happy New Year to everyone and many blessings to you all.

My Christian parents came to visit for the Christmas and while we were driving from NY to MD a very familiar conversation ensued. My father asked why don’t I go back to church?Keep in mind that this has been a repeated question almost EVERY time I am around my parents. I give the same answer in a variety of ways but it is not satisfying. The bottom line is I just feel uncomfortable with strangers or large groups of people.

This is not something new. When I was younger, people used words like quiet and shy to describe me. I never liked large groups of people most of the time and I am ALWAYS uncomfortable around strangers. I am very slow to warm up to people. My mind was always social and exploratory but my body did not follow obediently. Ironically, I grew up with family-cousins, aunt, uncle, siblings, grandparents, parents and I shared a bedroom with my older sister. I left my parents to go away to college and lived in the dorm, I joined the military and had to share space. My only alone moment was in the shower (except in basic training) which is still a peaceful place for me even when I am alone. In a swarm of people, I was always trying to find my quiet place.

As I got older and independent, I made a strategic behavioral change to be more social which was a huge effort. I accomplished that goal but in the last few years, my old personality trait is now more dominant again and I struggle to be engaged with people including in a church. Throughout my life, I never had any issues making friends. I have a great personality with some quirks of course. However, something is very different with me now than I was at least 5+ years ago.

I am finding it nearly impossible to make an deep emotional connection with people. It’s concerning. Being on my own, I have enjoyed my single life. I have done a good amount of things with my singleness, I have made good use of my single time and I will continue to do so. However, after years of being in my personal solitude, it feels like I created a distance with being intimate with others. I may have created an emotional barrier that is now taking a toll when I truly do need that emotional intimate connection and support.

No man is an island. I now fully understand that phrase. I find myself being nostalgic of the days when I had my family around me and the strong relationship I had with others. I miss the ability to feel a deep connected love. I miss that support. I was watching My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 and I envied the main character. I have inadvertently created an emotional island with no easy means of allowing people to share it with me. Interestingly, my mother has a similar personality (she admitted to never having friends, she keeps to herself and socialize when needed, she has always taken care of herself and others) but the difference is she has had my father for over 48 years. I have my island.

Over the years, I have inadvertently created loneliness for myself and I am now feeling the side effects. This is not to say that you cannot be independent and enjoy single life. This is to say that throughout each aspect of our lives we need to stay intimately connected to someone. I did not realize that I was breaking those connections with the people in my life. I can admit that I am emotionally distant, I have walls with reinforced steel and a moat with piranhas swimming below.  I look at the relationship I have with people who are physically in my presence (versus friends and family far away) and I know that I am missing that connection – the connection I was once able to make. I have sat in churches and felt nothing as if I was in an empty sanctuary.

At this age, I do not want to intrude on other people’s lives. They have kids, spouses and other responsibilities that takes priority over me. I know that if I really needed help there are people I can call without hesitation but due to my emotional barrier, I have a hard time making a connection. My emotional health is not heading in the right direction because I can see a life of perpetual loneliness and emptiness. Don’t get me wrong, I will always crave and enjoy those solitary moments and doing things on my own – that is just a part of my personality because yes, I am 90% introvert. However, I am talking about having balance.

Our society now encourages isolation and there are more lonely people than we can imagine. For example, I do not know anyone in the complex I have lived in for over 2 years. I may be able to recognize two people and I have said no more than good morning to a handful. People make friends, date, and live virtually which is something  that offends my old school nature. I briefly dated someone who believed it was better and easier to text than to talk (hence briefly). So, how does someone connect when the world is disconnecting?

I would love to say I found an answer. This lack of intimate connection becomes painfully obvious when going through personal difficulties. The things I used to be able to manage on my own are now overwhelming at times. I become emotionally tired having to be 100% in charge all the time. I have worn myself out by systematically doing everything on my own all the time. I did not create a balance. I have allowed my emotional connection to become tenuous from building a protective wall without incorporating a flexible gateway. My goal is to try to fix the damage I have created. I am not sure what that is going to look like but I have to start somewhere-anywhere.

I am alone path


These past few weeks I have had more patients on my schedule for short term ‘lite therapy.’ It has been a few years since my schedule have back to back patients for behavioral health since I left full time therapy. God gave me what I asked for ‘to be a little more busy at work’ LOL maybe I should have been a little more specific in what I meant. So, the recurring theme with the patients is about them going their paths alone ie. withdrawal from others due to a desire to feel emotionally safe and lack of trust in others. I do understand and recognize how easy it is to push one’s self into the ‘I am alone’ path.

Here is why I understand that behavior:
1. When I was younger, I always asked my mother to go places with me because I was afraid of getting lost. A few times my mother would jokingly respond with “you were born alone” but she would still accompany me. When I was older and out on my own, I came to realize what that meant. I quickly learn that I had to do things by myself and not rely on others for everything.

2. The life of a single person is primarily alone no matter how many friends or family are in your life. As much as people say they will always be there for you, their lives/family always comes first and you are not their primary priority. This is especially true when those friends and family have intimate relationship/spouses/children.

3. When you truly need someone by your side for an extended time, your support system are only obligated to help you for a finite period of time. After that threshold has been breached, then you can be seen as a burden.

4. As a single, you can feel used. People rely on you to give them support whenever they need it. They assume that you can shoulder their stressors or be their entertainment guide. However, you have to take a number when you need their support, your issues are not as dire as theirs (because single people don’t have issues) and you are not on their speed dial for their entertainment plans (unless they happen to be alone and want your company).

Even though being single is not considered a good thing, I have come to realize that functioning and mostly contented singles need to be strong, resilient and self-sufficient or we can easily sink into perpetual feelings of loneliness, despair, desperation, depression, isolation etc. We can sink into and believe in the ‘I am alone path.’ It is so easy to be suckered into that false sense of emotional safety because you experience people come in and out of your lives, you experience your relationship with family and friends change, you experience the feeling and behavior of no longer being important to the people who were your greatest cheerleaders and confidant, and you are not sure where you stand with others anymore.

As I became a very guarded introvert over the years, I am a prime example of the erroneous belief of the I am alone path. I use every minor negative experiences with people to push myself back on that path. This further solidify why that belief and withdrawal behaviors are sound and just. However, it is a destructive lie in the long run.  I have added that to the short list of things I need to work on about myself.

I had a brief grief moment at work two weeks ago and instead of seeking support I went into rock mode. Interestingly a coworker, who has shown support to me in small ways did a quick check. As usual, in rock mode, I said I was fine and all was well (which I was not because grief has no timetable).  However, with amazing intuitiveness, I was given a surprise hug (I initially refused it due to being in rock mode) and was asked the question “you take care of everyone else but who takes care of you?” My rock mode response “I take care of me.” While that response is true, I make it true because I do not trust enough to allow others to take me off my I am alone path.

I would be lying if I said I do not have support and people who care about me. However, it is so easy to ignore that when something minor goes wrong. My patients who have had negative things in their lives retreated to the false safety of the I am lone path. We hide, we avoid, we pretend.

Of course there will be people who will walk away from you, hurt you, change in a close relationship, betray you or there will be a natural separation due to life. We change, they change, life change. The one truth that I can attest to in my life is when one support door closes I find a way to open another. People have come in and out of my life and I have done the same to others too. I make friends easily and for whatever reason, even with my straight forward personality, I have people who care about me. I really do have people I can call on for help if I choose to make the call. How do I find supports? I have come to realize it is all about how I treat them. I have been a rock and support for them at one moment or another.

Yes as a single I will have to walk the road alone for the most part but my road is not without supports along the sides. I can get so caught up in looking at the journey ahead or even what is directly in from of me and not see the people by my side who are there if I need them. I like being in rock mode, that’s my comfort zone; however, I just need to realize that I do not need to be there all the time and my path is not always alone. It is harder said than done but it is worth the try.

 

 

Refresh Button


Life can be an inexplicable bitch! Whether you are a Christian, heathen, or on the fence etc. The unpredictable nature and the unforeseen obstacles can create a hazardous condition to navigate and figure out your path. This craziness can push you to the edge, break you, destroy you  and or become a challenge to fight through and learn to manage.

When you were born no one gave  your parents a child rearing manual. When we became of age, no one gave us a life as an adult manual. I have to admit that at times I could use one that is written in clear language with bright coloured pictures showing me the way. I know that the Christians will say ‘God is my guide; and the Bible will show us the way.’ Well, if you are to be honest with yourself, then that statement is not always true. God’s picture is like the Ikea instructions which are minimal and it takes a few wrong steps before it becomes clearer.

This year has both been rewarding and challenging. The rewards  are from impromptu personal goals: One was to enjoy my weekends whenever the weather was good and the sun was shinning and another was to get my body into shape. I can tell  you that almost every beautiful weekend I was out, about and loving it. I am also into my 2nd month of my fitness challenge with obvious progress. The challenges on the other hand seem to threaten to defeat the joy of my rewards.

The negative aspects of life weight so much more and last much longer than the peace of life. Between death, family health, family stressors, financial obligations and personal life/choice snafus, I feel like I am desperately longing for the moment I can empty my cache and press the refresh button (computer metaphor for those non savvy techies like myself). I would love to clear out the sludge and refresh the future to something either obstacle free or more manageable. I want a do over with ample warning, an avoidance route and navigation to a better road ahead.

Yeah, I know, I want a lot :-). The problem is (and this is something I always say) “what I want and what is are never the same.” Oh and please spare me the religious rhetoric, I have heard them all-the biblical ones and the stuff people made up. I prefer honesty and reality-an armour, a sword and a shield (The bible readers should understand that reference). I know that I cannot change my past, the rewards or the challenges, and I know experiences are there to helps us learn and become stronger. I get all that quite well. It is just that at times it would be nice if the glitches in the system were so much less and have limited impact in the navigation of one’s life.

The challenges take away the innocence. David started out as a shepherd and after becoming a soldier, his hands were too bloody to build God’s temple. Challenges create scars and it is so hard to go back pre injury. Your life is forever affected and it takes so much energy to figure out which is a good path and how to get  on it. God truly blessed those who have been able to avoid major challenges or who have overcome and life is easier. Whether you are single, married, Christian, on sabbatical or whatever, we all have our challenges. I sit and I listen to people’s issues everyday and recognize that most people carry their challenges in silence. There is no easy road.  However, what we do have is finding a way to survive, live and enjoy life with the tools we have and pray (and pray some more) that our choices are the right ones or our choices will get better the next time we refresh.

A Child Is A Blessing But…


When I was 16, my older sister gave birth to my niece, who passed away recently, and I was over joyed to be an auntie. I am from one of the Caribbean Islands so it is not uncommon for families to live close to each other or live together in a large home. In this situation, we lived at the same residence. When my older sister went back to work, I, a recent high school graduate with no job, became the auntie and full-time babysitter for over 1yr of her life. This was my first close encounter of the parenting kind.

The things I discovered was a baby is cute, smells good, and needs to be protected. The other things I discovered was that a baby/toddler is demanding, needs constant supervision and can be extremely annoying and exhausting. As soon as my sister got home each day, I was waiting at the door with her bundle of joy because I needed a long break. Years later, I did the same thing for another sister during my between college take-a-break transition period. So, I have empathy for stay-at-home mothers and fathers.

Being the youngest child, with many siblings and therefore many nieces and nephews of varying ages, I have had a wealth of experience with kids that most parents have yet to encounter. I used to work in a child behavioral health clinic for a number of years which showed me the not so sweet side of children and bad parenting. I seem to have been saturated with all things children for most of my life. I should have been overjoyed at wanting my own little blessing. On the contrary, I decided during my early teens  that I never voluntarily wanted to be pregnant and gave birth to anything. At one point in my life, I thought adopting was a good idea because there are so many children who could use a good home and I also knew that I would be a good mother if the opportunity every arises.

However, at the age of 40, I still do not want kids. This was clearly re-enforced a few days ago at a family event in which 3 people I knew had kids under 2y/o. Again, they are cute, they are funny, they are a blessing but they are annoying and exhausting over an extended period of time. I had to briefly watch two of those munchkins while Elmo was playing on the computer screen. After 15 minutes, I was anxious for the parents to come get their little blessings so I could enjoy some adult time.

I am very happy for the families or singles who choose to be parents. It is hard work and one of the most important tasks to choose in life. However, children are not for everyone. Those of us who know what we don’t want are perfectly happy with that choice. Yet, those with kids seem to feel the need to dictate to others about their reproductive rights. I witnessed an uncomfortable conversation in which a friend who has one 2y/o was being told she needs to have another because the child needs a sibling.  I know people are not intentionally trying to be rude but there is a prevailing idea that ‘what is good for the goose is good for the gander.’

Kids are life altering. Unless you have a 24/7 nanny or you are a bad neglectful parent, then the burden of responsibility is always on the parent to take care of your child/ren. This is not a burden that everyone wants or is suited to handle. Those little buggers demand your attention, energy, sleep time, constant direction and instruction, you as an adult who knows children shows and songs by heart, they can be frustrating, irritating, and aggravating. They are sweet and sour all wrapped up in one cute body. A parent made a bargain to take on the good and cute with the bad and smelly when it comes to parenting. That is your choice! So, while a child is a wonderful blessing, it is a choice that some made and others rejected.

No More Tears – Processing Loss


On Sunday, 19 June, Father’s Day, I was going about my life with a friend as we were enjoying a wine and music festival. I received a missed call and eventually listened to the message a bit later. The message (yes, I do have my cell phone message set up and I do listen to messages) was short and blunt that one of my nieces had died. She was a pregnant 23-year-old.

Please note that this blog entry is not about soliciting sympathy but processing loss from my view.

The first emotion was distress due to shock and the first thought was disbelief. I, as the auntie, who took care of her from a few days old to her earlier years expected that she would out-live me. I was expecting that she would have fond memories of me when I died not the other way around. I speak so casually of my death because I have had occasional thoughts about dying and death. It is an inevitable part of life and to ignore it is naïve. In this crazy world, here today and gone tomorrow is such a frequent recurring concept.

My place to be was with my family in order to share and support each other in this unfair and miserable situation. My distress was not comparable to that of my sister who loss her first-born and first grandchild. I felt helpless for her – my grief was pushed aside for her. Sadly, my sister and I had a tiff a few days before but in that moment, it was not about my loss but hers. It was an automatic response. As another sister said, we are family no matter the disagreement we had in the past.

My darling niece had a Facebook account so her younger sister and I used that medium to pass on the news. I made a subtle tribute to her and ever so slowly people started catching on that my family had a loss. My parents and her parents were fielding a stream of phone calls while her younger sister managed the Facebook inquiries. There is not much to explain when a seemingly healthy young woman suddenly dies.

I appreciate people’s condolences. I have always been a solitary person so, I am not comfortable with letting other’s know I had a death in the family. I prefer to grieve in isolation and letting a select few aware of what’s happening. However, what I prefer is in conflict  with what is the socially right thing to do so, in such instances, I defer to the latter.

I find myself being egocentric in this process. For me and my family, the loss and everything following is the most important thing now. For some ridiculous reason, I expect others to see their lives from our point of view. For example, I went on Facebook and was slightly bothered that some of the people who made condolences had already moved on to their regular lives. People were posting happy pictures (this was Father’s day weekend), funny jokes, political stuff etc. My tragedy was but a blip for them. The last time I was on Facebook before this tragedy, I would read and ‘like’ people’s pictures and posts. However, after the tragedy, I find most of those posts frivolous. I was not capable of extending myself to see their point of view about what was important in their Facebook sharing lives.

I am aware that life does not stop even for our family. I became more aware listening to the news about the people who died in freak accidents etc. I wondered what their families were experiencing at this ‘here today gone in a second’ event in their lives. I imagined the shock and disbelief, the notification to family and friends, the condolences phone calls, the explanation of what happened, the dealing with never seeing that person again, and the funeral arrangements. Interestingly, I somehow could not fully grasp what those families are experiencing even though I and my family are going through a similar situation.

The passing made mortality the forefront of my thoughts. Despite my tenuous relationship with God and Christianity, I never once thought of blaming God. I never thought of why us, why God allowed this to happen or any such things. “Shit happens” whether I like it or not and God already knows I don’t like this shit happening to us. People said they would pray for my family. Funny thing is I have not said a prayer in regards to this situation. It’s like an avoidance of this issue with God. Maybe I am expecting the prayer of the faithful to have more weight than mine. I really am not sure why I have not addressed this issue with God.

What does play in my mind are the what ifs. What if the hospital staff had done a better job when she was there a few days earlier. What would have happened if…? Did she pass peacefully? Did she know she was dying? What were her last thoughts in her last moments? Was there anything that could have been done differently? When I see the face  my  darling niece, the disbelieve comes rushing back. My sister wailed “she is never coming back” repeatedly and that was the kicker. The next time the family sees my darling she will be in a coffin-the breath of life gone. A shell of the person she used to be. I remembered that coffin view with my grandmother and it was a very difficult moment. The thought of her lifeless body is exceedingly distressing. I can’t imagine…

I am still in the early stages. My whole family is in the early stages. My sister, her husband, the remaining children, and not to forget my darling’s significant other will have a much more difficult time than I in the days, months, and years to come. I know there are more tears to shed and more disbelief and feelings of emptiness in the future. I will eventually come to an emotional peace that life continues for everyone. However, for myself and family who had a loss, life will go on outwardly as we learn to deal with the absence of one member of our family. The positive from all this is that I hugged tighter and said more “I love you” than I ever uttered in my 40 years and meant every word. Loss can either destroy or bring others together.