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Archive for the ‘Hmm’ Category

Addictions

I’ve been asked to think about my mother’s eulogy. It occurs to me that she might be a “forgivaholic.” Which, if you’re going to be any flavor of “-aholic,” is probably not among the worst you could be. I don’t think God will say to anyone, “You forgave too many times! You gave too many second chances.” That would be a pot and kettle kind of situation. I think.

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Cheatin’ Hearts

bittersweet-hearts

Infidelity. This is not the most romantic post for Valentine’s Day, but I find myself thinking about it (thanks to Oprah) and I decided to query the innernets as a hole for the answer to a question I have long pondered.

Let’s say that one spouse has cheated on another. It could be either gender, but just for ease of discussion, let’s say it is a heterosexual marriage, and it is the male who had an affair. This cheating male comes to couples counseling with his wife, who knows that there are problems, but does not know that her husband has been unfaithful. The husband asks to speak to the counselor alone, during which time he reveals that he has had a sexual relationship outside the marriage. He says (very sincerely and convincingly) that it is 100% over and will never happen again, and that he does not want his wife to know about it, because knowing can only hurt her and can’t possibly help the marriage. He wants to look toward the future, not the past. As the counselor (or even as a friend or family member), do you honor his request not to reveal the infidelity to his wife? (Incidentally, confidentiality is not an issue; both clients have been informed that “the marriage” is the client and that the two partners do not have confidentiality from one another in this setting, the way they would if either of them were coming alone for individual counseling.)

Possible answers:

A. You keep his secret. He makes a valid point — while telling all might relieve his guilt, it would only hurt his wife and the marriage. If he really means that it is over, is truly sorry and is determined that it will never happen again, then no good can come of requiring him to tell his wife. Let his mistake be left in the past while they go forward to improve their marriage.

B. She has to know. They can’t really move forward if there are lies in the past. Besides, if she knew the truth, she might not want to be with him anymore. And she has a right to base her current and future decisions on reality, however hurtful, and not on lies and illusion.

C. Some other answer.

What do you think, oh, wise and powerful innernets?

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Political Commentary

Jif: This is exactly the kind of thing that turns people off from politics.

Susie: Yea, sane people. But it sure fires up the insane ones.

***
(True confession: I have been known to cross the line.)

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I just saw the website of a 25-year-old “Life Coach.”

REALLY? I hope I’m not ageist, but, really? I surely didn’t know enough about life at age 25 to sell coaching services.

The whole life-coaching thing intrigues and annoys me. Some therapists began calling themselves “life coaches” a few years ago. The theory is (so I’ve been told) that it’s what they were doing anyway, and if they marketed themselves as “life coaches,” they might get fewer people with actual mental illness, emotional distress, and more high-functioning, “worried well” types, who demand less and pay more.

Then there are those life coaches with no particular training of any kind in human behavior (or whatever one might need to know about in order to advise on matters of life, love, career, etc.), but who fancy themselves as having their shit together and capable of sharing that shit with others. These people can get a certificate saying they are a “Life Coach” from various groups who offer seminars and certificates, suitable for framing. In my state, and most I’ve researched, there are no laws regulating the marketing of oneself as a “life coach.”

One of my former clients, who was a therapist, who had among the most dysfunctional family and friend relationships I’ve ever seen, is a rather successful life coach. She does have a successful career. She has a lonely, drama-fraught life. She may be a case of “those who can’t do, coach.”

So what about this life-coaching stuff? What should the qualifications be? Does age matter?

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Y’all know I’m a techno-dunce. I didn’t know what a GPS was until my pastor mentioned it in a sermon, many months ago. She said (and I really like this analogy) that God is like a GPS system. God gives us ways to go, provides guidance, and sometimes we miss that guidance. Or sometimes we see it clearly, but choose not to take it. And when that happens, it may take us longer to get where we’re going in life, and we may pass through towns that aren’t on the map, but we can still get where we were meant to go. And, like a GPS, God does not say, “You moron! You were supposed to take that road! Now you can never go where you were meant to go!” No. Like a GPS, after we miss or decline an opportunity, God recalculates and reconfigures and makes a way for us to eventually go in the right direction. Perhaps a bit worse for the wear, but still, a way is made.

What a cool thing a GPS would be, I thought. To gently guide us around, not getting cross with us when we screwed up and went down a wrong road. I decided to get Jif one for Christmas. And he really likes it. On the way home from our recent road trip to meet my brother and his family for lunch, he showed me how it works.

The thing said, “Drive 1.9 miles, then exit right.” In a very feminine, sophisticated, gentle, but firm voice. Nice. But then Jif didn’t do what she said! He wanted to go a different way.

So I asked him, “What will she say if you don’t obey her?! Will she say, ‘Shit! You missed it! Now look what you’ve done…'”

He said, “No. I’d love it if she would say that. She’ll just come up with another plan for me . . . ”

And after a couple more times of Jif’s not taking Sasha’s advice (oh, LG named the GPS “Sasha” at some point during this part of the journey, before she retreated into iPodville), we started imagining what Sasha might say, in her feminine, sophisticated, gentle but firm voice:

Drive 1.9 miles, then exit right.
SHIT! You missed it.
Drive .6 miles, then exit right.
What are you, DEAF?
Don’t make me stop this car.
Don’t make me stop this car.
Drive .5 miles, then turn right.
YOU ASS!
Now you did it.
You cannot get there from here.
Stop this car.
Stop this car.
You are hopelessly lost.
I’m calling a cab.

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I’ve been thinking again. Here’s a sneak peek inside my head. It ain’t always pretty. But keep in mind, you’re just visiting, and I have to live in here!:

  • I don’t often (have I ever? not certain) espouse a political position here. Indeed, at least half of you might be surprised to learn of my political affiliation and my voting record. I cast my votes “per person,” not per party. As I’ve said to a friend, no political party would touch me with a ten-foot pole if I were to speak freely about my various beliefs, values, positions, and the like. I don’t fit in anywhere. But government is interesting and important to me. So I am looking as thoroughly as I’m able, at all major candidates in all major parties.

    In the last presidential election, someone accused me of voting for the person that I’d most like to have dinner with. That is, voting for the personality of the candidate. Since I had reservations about all the candidates’ political ideologies, I can’t really deny the charge. I am more likely to vote for people that I like, or imagine that I would like. There is one major candidate (I won’t say the name) for whom I will not be casting a vote. And yes, it’s not because of policy, it’s because of personality. I know people who have worked for this person. And those people have been cursed, screamed at and verbally abused, routinely, by this person. No votes for you! Then there’s another candidate, whom I thought was very promising, but when I went to the candidate’s website to read about policies, positions, ideas, I found a movement underway to write mean letters to a government official. It wasn’t a petition to get rid of that person; it was after the person had already resigned and packed up. The invitation was to write a “good-bye and good riddance” type of message. At first, I thought, well, I won’t hold it against the candidate, this must be a fansite, and not the official website. But no, it was the official website. I’m sick to death of public nastiness and incivility. From my perspective, a candidate loses respect, credibility, and certainly, any chance at my vote, when he or she chooses to go there. You can be happy about someone leaving without encouraging people to write hateful letters to them. I hope, wish, pray, we can do better than that.

  • I don’t know how to put the “rat’s ass” on this sidebar. I will one day. But it still makes me smile when I see it out there in blogworld somewhere. That’s one of those things that’s hard to explain to those unfamiliar with blogging: “And it is the sweetest, dearest thing; they put little rat asses on their websites, for me (*sniff*) . . . ” But you guys know. xxx
  • Oh, that reminds me. See those three Xs above? They’re hugs. I’ve been putting Xs on here for hugs for a couple of years now. But then someone told me they’re not hugs, they’re kisses. And I was all, “Well, cheez, it’s no wonder I’ve contracted WTF disease if I’m kissing strangers all over the place!” But really, an X represents the arms, crossing around you for a hug. An O represents puckered lips for a kiss. This makes perfect sense to me, and these are the symbols I’ve used ever since . . . 5th grade. Then after that someone called me out on it, I went looking on the innernets as a hole, and it seems that while I am not alone in my usage of the Xs and Os, I am in the minority. Like, 12% see it my way and 88% see it her way. Craziness. I defy you to make an X with your lips (although she did send me a photograph depicting such perversion), AND, if you make a circle with your arms, well wtf kind of hug is that? That’s a ballet position, not a hug. Won’t you cross over to my side?
  • Oh, and while we’re kissing and hugging (vice versa, or not), which internet dating service are you going to use? I’m not going to use one, of course, being all married and whatnot. But I see these TV commercials. The one that says they will accept you as you are, and criticizes that other one that rejects 9 million people a year, or something like that. But if I were going to choose one of those two, I’d try the one that turns some people down, rather than the one that accepts absolutely everydamnbody. Wouldn’t you?
  • Why is it that whenever someone gets emotional, cries, on TV, the reporters and such say that the person “broke down”? The person didn’t suddenly sputter to a halt. Didn’t have steam coming from the hood. No one called Triple-A. A person breaking down . . . maybe a stroke or a heart-attack would be a human “break-down,” but crying? I don’t think so.
  • Wind chimes. I have always wanted some. I was thinking of putting them on my Christmas wish list. I especially like the ones that purport to play a song — Amazing Grace, specifically. I realize it probably doesn’t really play the song, but supposedly, the chimes are in the notes of the song and perhaps by some wind miracle they could align from time to time for a verse or two. But I hesitate. I worry about other people. Do wind chimes bug neighbors? When we have lived near people with them, I have always found them pleasant. But I don’t know if everyone would. Where do you stand on neighbors with wind chimes?
  • Just today, I read the horrific story of two separate incidents of “armed gunmen” (don’t get me started) shooting up the congregants in places of worship in Colorado. Terrible, right? But somehow, the most disturbing line of the article I read was, “The gunman was killed by a member of the church’s armed security staff before police arrived.” Since when do churches have armed security staff? Is this something Jif should bring up at the session meeting tonight? Lord, have mercy.

That’s enough thinking for me, for now. So what have you been thinking?

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“Spears arrived at the courthouse eating cheese puffs in her white Mercedes-Benz convertible.”

Sorry. I just read that on a “news” site and really felt compelled to share it with someone.

That is all.

As you were.

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When the Miss Teen USA Pageant began the other night, I had to change the channel, against LG’s protests. I couldn’t take it. I couldn’t take the too-short shorts, the too-cheesy dancing . . . the over-sexualization of teenage girls, the whole plasticity of the thing. Today, I see what we missed by changing the channel.

I saw Miss Teen South Carolina on the Today Show this morning, and I must give her props. When you see the video, you will marvel at the fact that she is willing to be seen and to speak in public after this debacle. Bless her heart. She’s not a fool. She’s just an overwhelmed kid. Clearly, she didn’t hear and/or comprehend the question she was asked, about U.S. citizens not being able to locate our country on a map. She had probably anticipated and prepped for a question about South Africa or “D’Iraq.” Like I said, gotta give her props for showing up and trying again. When the morning show people gave her another chance, she said something about that we need more geography education. There you go, kid. Good answer! Good answer!

Of course, my compassion for her public humiliation doesn’t prevent me from laughing at her*, especially when I found this version in which someone has brilliantly added a commentary to the end:

Like, such as, may God have mercy on our souls, U.S. Americans, so that we will be able to build up our future. Thank you.

*If I hadn’t seen that she is willing to laugh at herself, and that she is being a good sport about it, I wouldn’t have made fun of her here. Probably. I think. Maybe.

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When I’m wrong, I don’t mind admitting it. I reported some news here back in February that, turns out, was in error. I really don’t want to send you all out into the world with misinformation. So here’s the real poop news:

ORLANDO, Fla. – Former astronaut Lisa Nowak didn’t wear diapers during her 950-mile road trip to confront a romantic rival, her lawyer said Friday, disputing one of the more bizarre details to emerge from the NASA love triangle.

“The biggest lie in this preposterous tale that has been told is that my client drove from Houston, Texas, to Orlando, Florida, nonstop, wearing a diaper,” Donald Lykkebak said after filing motions to suppress evidence in Nowak’s criminal case. “That is an absolute fabrication.”

The tidbit that Nowak wore diapers during her trip was written in the police report filed after Nowak’s arrest in February.

“I then asked Mrs. Nowak why she had baby diapers,” according to the charging affidavit written by Officer William “Chris” Becton. “Mrs. Nowak said that she didn’t want to stop and use the restroom, so she used the diapers to collect her urine.”

There were toddler-size diapers in her car when she was arrested, but they were several years old, Lykkebak said. Nowak and her family had used them when Houston was evacuated in 2005 during Hurricane Rita, he said.

The diaper detail became fodder for late-night TV comics and talk radio and even inspired an episode of the NBC show “Law & Order.”

“It jeopardizes our ability to have a fair trial when the accused is the butt of jokes,” Lykkebak said.

Well, yea. Especially when the accused is the wet butt of jokes.

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I rarely get into anything controversial here. And I try to live and let live; if you want to act like a jackass, go for it. If you think I am a jackass, you are entitled to that opinion, and I’m quite sure you’re not alone. Recent events in the media make it very difficult for me to bite my tongue (which is really saying something, because WTF makes it hard for me not to bite my tongue, some days).

We’ve seen the celebrity mugshots in recent years, where someone is arrested for drunk/drugged driving. They apologize, they go to rehab, they are forgiven, they get back to work and we give them tons more money. That’s how we do it here in the U.S. of A. And I have no real problem with that. It’s not good to drive while under the influence, of course, but if you do, it’s a good thing that you get caught. And exposed. Apologies (giving the benefit of the doubt here, that they are sincere apologies) are good; rehab is often a good thing; I am all in favor of forgiveness. If you have a gift, some artistic or athletic talent, then it is a good thing to get yourself together and go back to sharing your gift; and if people are willing to pay you for getting back to work, that’s all good. These are not the people with whom I have a problem.

Addiction is that strange animal, that disease/choice combo over which some people have very little power. Until they learn to take that power. I have compassion for these people. Sure, there are those who can afford to run in and out of rehab because their publicists tell them it will look better for them if they go in. But I’m not talking about that now; still trying to give these folks the benefit of the doubt.

No, the ones I have a problem with are the people who demonstrate their hatefulness, their complete lack of suitability for living and working in mainstream America, or more importantly to me, what I WISH were their complete lack of eligibility for continuing to collect enormous sums of money from the American public. I don’t care how gifted you are. If behind the gift, you are toxic, I want you to be quiet. I don’t wish you any harm, but I wish you’d go somewhere and quietly attend to your soul, for a very, very long time. And I wish people of conscience would stop paying you big bucks. I don’t care how talented you are. There are people as talented as you, who put out less poison than you do. They can do your job. I don’t care what TV show you’re on, or what team you play(ed) for. To your mama, you are irreplaceable. To most other folks, you’re not.

This is part rant/vent, but it is an equal part an attempt to understand this phenomenon, and why we, the American public, the American media, are handling these situations in the way that we are. I haven’t yet been specific. I’m talking about cases like (these are the most recent examples) Isaiah Washington and Tim Hardaway, with their anti-gay venom. And I’m writing about it partly to vent, but even moreso, to get some other perspectives on it, because the events that follow such outbursts, and the way in which we respond to them, bewilder and frustrate me.

Isaiah Washington is an actor on Grey’s Anatomy (which I’ve never seen, so I neither love nor hate his work). He referred to another actor on that show, a gay man, as a “faggot.” He denied it, then apologized for it. Then he announced that he was going to rehab. I have never seen where he is addicted to alcohol, drugs, sex, gambling, food . . . no addictions that I’ve heard about, and I did search a bit. I’m a therapist. I’m not certified in addictions, so I don’t deal with them except peripherally. So I don’t know a LOT about rehab. Question: “To what kind of rehab do you admit yourself, to get treatment for being a hateful person?” I’ve never heard of such a program. Not that it would be a bad idea. Just never heard of it. I think it was Jay Leno who joked that at such a rehab they make Washington watch Rosie O’Donnell and Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. Maybe so. You might say that it’s not so much a rehab as it is a psychiatric hospital. OK. Since when is being an ass a psychiatric diagnosis? Or could it be that “he has checked himself into a rehab” is the contemporary euphemism for “He knows he screwed up, but he has grown accustomed to being really rich, so he’s going away for a while with the expectation that he’ll come back and all will be well and he can stay really rich.”

Hate (and the lack of self-regulation that causes some people to share it so freely) is not a medical disease, like a chemical addiction is. It’s not. What comes out of your mouth is purely a matter of choice. A willful decision that you make.

Then this week we have former NBA player Tim Hardaway. He was commenting on a book that was just released by another former NBA player, John Amaechi, who is gay. Well, he probably wasn’t commenting on the book, because I’m quite sure he hasn’t read any the book; he was commenting on gay players in the NBA. And he had a lot to say. Not just about gay players in the NBA, but gay human beings in the world:
…”Well, you know, I hate gay people. I let it be known I don’t like gay people. I don’t like to be around gay people. I’m homophobic. It shouldn’t be in the world, in the United States, I don’t like it.”
And after he got off the radio, where he was sharing this wisdom, he was informed that he would be banned from an upcoming All-Star game, as a consequence of his sharing.

So what did he do? He issued an apology. I didn’t see or hear it. I’m not even attempting to be objective here. I heard his initial harangue. There is no version of “I’m sorry” that is going to have any meaning, within days or hours of saying the things that he said. Here’s my question (one of them, about these things): Do we want someone who feels this way to be honest about it, or do we want them to hide it? I’m not sure we’re clear on this. If such a public person is honest about their feelings, then the ball is in our court, so to speak, on how we handle it. Do we still pay them? Will we still watch the TV shows that they’re on? Still buy tickets to the games in which they play? It seems to me that we will. But some of us must feel at least a little uncomfortable with that; so that may mean that we want a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on hatefulness. So we are not required to wrestle with the morality of our response.

Please note, I’m not talking about people having an opinion, expressing an opinion, religious, philosophical or otherwise, on homosexuality, or any other topic. I have no problem with respectful disagreement about any issue. I’m talking about people promoting hatred.

I know some would argue that such people are “just” actors, athletes, whatever they are, and we should accept their “work” and disregard their personal actions. But I think, rightly or wrongly, they’re more than “just” the practitioners of their vocations. They have a louder voice than others do. What they put out adds to the collective voice of our society. I want them to be quiet. We, as consumers of their products, could quiet them. So far, we don’t. We haven’t.

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