Tag Archives: Relationships

The In-Law Wars

“There is a cancer in you I need to cut out,” my Mother-In-Law, Gette, said to me after a particularly brutal day.  As always, she moved her pursed lips back and forth, like she was sucking a bottle. Kneeling beside her lounge chair, knees bruised from the pebbled cement below, I bit down my words, a supplicant wanting to supplicate.  I could only think that if I could placate her enough, swallow myself down deep within me, become a shell without substance, perhaps she would stop this current reign of terror.

Knowing what to do or say was tormenting me.  I didn’t want to have this woman in my home much less subjugate myself to her will. I had the spirit of independence within me. But with each pass of the Seasons, Gette and her husband, Dragos, would arrive in a whirlwind of condescension and fury.  They would stay for 3-6 weeks at a time.  For weeks before they came, I would panic.  When I finally tried to forbid the planned trip, my husband, Alex, replied, “You can leave if you don’t want to be near them.”

Gette would march in the front door, head directly to the kitchen, and start rearranging it to her liking.  She would send Dragos to the market for those items she felt were necessary.  From that moment on, I was forbidden in my own kitchen.

My spirited, wonderful children suddenly fell under the auspices of the Grandparents’ methods of parenting.  This was the supposed Romanian way of doing things.  All my disciplining was strictly monitored; should I do anything not to Gette’s liking, I was subject to discipline myself.  My husband not only abetted it, he did the same, way too many times.  It might be appropriate if I was in any way abusive, but I was not.  What I was, was anxious, frustrated, angry, desperate, unsupported and alone.

The house would revert to Romanian as the language of choice spoken by all adults except me.  The kids didn’t mind.  Their desires were met, their questions and comments answered.  But one time I asked a table of Romanians to please speak in English (when they all could) and my husband responded, “Shut Up!” in front of his extended family. My in-laws told me this was the language they were comfortable speaking although it had been 20 years since they defected, hey had held professional positions requiring English, and it was an English-speaking home.  When seated at the dinner table, I could sometimes understand they were talking about me to my husband in front of my face.

I was, and am, as American as you can be – blonde, blue eyed, previously divorced. . . in their mind lacking in character.  For many years I was a national management consultant, in Who’s Who in America for several years, and a published author, yet Dragos always told everyone I was a secretary.  Romanian women in their circle were doctors, lawyers or scientists.

There is so much talk about multi-generational and multi-lingual homes.  DACA is on everyone’s lips. Immigrants do have it hard.  Many times they come to the U.S. with little to no money, may have to go back to school to retake degreed professional exams for legitimacy in their careers, and may have to start with jobs well below their educational level.  They can be outcasts, will almost certainly face discrimination, and have to undergo huge cultural shifts that can seem to be never ending tsunami waves.

But what of the people who marry into these strong ethnic traditions?  I was terrorized by my in-laws and ex-husband.  Everything in my life was controlled.  Emotional, financial, familial and some physical abuse was rampant.  I loved my husband very much, but his mother had an untreated schizophrenic personality disorder and was given free reign to behave in whatever manner she chose.  She was a spoiled, at times vicious, callous woman in the manner she treated me.  And he followed in her footsteps, very much her favored and only child.

Yet she was a loving mother and grandmother, cloyingly, overwhelmingly so. The kids loved her even as they came to understand her disabilities. Dragos tried to placate me, saying she was a “Good Girl”, I should listen to her.  They only wanted what was best for me.  Other than pertinent information, Alex would refuse to talk to me during the time they were visiting and up to 2 months later.  And within weeks, it would be time for another visit.

One of those things to be changed was an attempt for me to eliminate contact with my family and friends, to which my Mother vehemently and frequently objected. There was a time I gave in and didn’t contact them for three months because my mother was violating boundaries calling Gette and Dragos and working to undermine our marriage from her end, just as strong minded and quite resentful of the situation.  Not a minute went by when I was not connected to them in my mind. My heartstrings were more deeply connected to them if I couldn’t speak with them. My mother even called their home to argue about these issues.  She would call me and berate Alex, sometimes with him standing right in front of me furiously telling me to hang up. Little wonder I was a nervous wreck.

None of the In-laws were behaving appropriately.  One of the main reasons I left the marriage was the knowledge one day I would be taking care of Gette in our home.  I knew her disease would worsen and as they didn’t believe in therapy or medications, there was no hope for the suppression of symptoms.  She would remain the arrogant, controlling woman she was then even as she talked to her spirits.

There were other factors which led to the demise of our marriage but the In-Law Wars were the primary issue.  Had we not been subjected to these pressures, we might still be together. Alex might be more temperate in his need to control me.  We might have enjoyed more limited visits.  But then the “might have been’s” are merely suppositions without merit or reality. Suffice to say I have permanent PTSD from those years which has manifested in restraints to enact on dating or relationships now. And I cherish my freedom.

Caught in a Web

Caught in a web
of her choosing
she stands alone –
an allusive enigma
apart from the rest –
friend to most
lover to none

Coquettish teasing
in provocative glances
stream from her eyes –
hips betraying the desire
for passion in their sway
while manner reserved.
She speaks words
of kindness for each one
who crosses her path

Therein lies the reality.
For though each word
is meant –
that underlying need
tugging at her breast
speaks of emotions
far stronger than others
are willing to seek.

So alone she blends
with many
but leaves once again
to return an empty vessel
to the cocooning warmth
of a lonely bed –
sheets becoming
imaginary lovers
caressing her skin.

Until his return

Wearing his shirt
holding his fragrance
unique unto him alone
close to me
so that many miles
might not seem so far.
Sheets changed
night before he left
so his essence
and each night
until he returns
I can hold pillows
and dream of a closeness
physical boundaries
don’t permit.
His stamp in dreams –
the sweet savoring
of those precious moments
only lovers share –
as I linger
in fantasies of love
until his return.

Love is . . .

Love isn’t the brassy blare of a band, marching down the avenue on July 4th’s celebration. Oh, to be sure – that is part of it – loud jangles, crash of cymbals, heartbeat of drums. But love has many faces, some apparent, some quite deceptive.

Love is the gentle stirrings evoked by a walk after a thunderstorm’s power, smelling the earth, watching lightening flitter over the New York skyline, curled up on a rock, and telling each other of your pasts, and peoples – speaking in reverence and caring tones.

Love is the sharp pain of betrayal and the shooting stabs of hurt inflicted upon sensitive, fragile egos that make one near in anger and rage – defending yourself at risk of rejection – yet believing, nonetheless, first in your own sense of worth.  Being able to say “fuck you” to the one you love.

Love is the despair and confusion and insecurity brought forth in opening yourself up to another person.  Of being aware of his frailties and still wanting him more than ever – because of those faults not in spite of them. Of seeing the flaws yet not running away.  Of opening yourself , baring your soul when trust is just a mirage, still to become real from knowing your love, facing it and not walking away, and of having to tell that other person that love is there – whether or not he chooses to respond in kind.  Of wanting so much to hear the words “I Love You”, yet not pressing but allowing them to come of their on accord at a time of his choosing – if at all.

Love is passion and the exploration of a body found wildly exciting – seeking those hidden sources of pleasure, being sexually vulnerable.  And love is those quiet ripples that float through your body as you see the one you love or think of him during the course of your day.  Love is giving and taking- together or apart – the stillness of soul touching – the fire of lust, the knowledge that this is something different than any before or any after, but that a part of you, larger than ever before, rests in the hands of another, and you are content, or largely so, to have it that way.  Love is a gift from God to be savored, enjoyed revered, for each moment it is a part of you.

Love is encouraging the strengths in the other, urging him to grow and explore facets of himself.  Being a source of strength rather than drowning him in your need.  Love is knowing the relationship may end yet moving forward in self-determination, with trust and belief gathering your courage about you, a mantle of strength in the storm of emotion.  Love is knowing that love may change in form and substance, devolving into a well of despair, fragmenting, feathering away into a manifestation of a different making – yet Love still.  Love is holding still the trembling of the soul.

Love is the bringing into the world two children to bless this union. Children precious, deserving of all that is good.  Physical manifestations of love and passion.  Children who bear witness of good and ill. Who bear the scars of devastation.

Love is the torture of knowing your love was always far greater than his. Of sustaining emotional scars, physical bondage, inquisitions, blasphemies, of running and hiding to escape his wrath. Of finally, running away, knowing not to do so would mean your death, be it emotional or physical.

Love is the PTSD moments after the Fall. Twenty years later.  The choosing aloneness rather than taking the risk of opening yourself up again.  Of the nightmares that continue, again and again, of what it turned out to be.  Of the ending, cruel, painful, devastating in consequences not just for the two of you, but for the children brought forth from the union of those souls.  Of the never ending trauma that follows in your wake, curling in sadness and despair deep within.

Intertwined

Twins under the skin,
we blend and merge
only to separate, redefine,
and begin again.
Clones in many ways
yet strangers when glimpsing
sides not seen before within
our own beings –
high intensity  and gentle understanding
mark our progress
into this strange dimension
of loving communion –
an affirmation of ourselves
through the eyes of each other;
registering new strengths
and frightening weaknesses
through continual interweaving
of complexity and analysis.
When final comprehension
begins to dawn,
the picture changes,
as new sides emerge
and twins begin combat
with equal strength –
only to flair again
into fiery, playful passion
and a quiet linking of souls
in an osmosis of emotion –
ebbing and flowing –
attraction and repulsion
by that seen within
and viewed in each other,
companions in a duet of desire.

Emergence

Each day with you seems a reprieve
or a rare gift given to wonder and delight
Anger may flare, wills clash,
passion builds to a roaring crescendo,
yet for every hurt lie a hundred gentle memories
of softly lit eyes and hands caressing
in tender ecstasy either pliant or powerful.

I seek your presence as a thirsty soul
searches for water among arid plains –
and feel at home with tempestuous moods
or quiet perusals –
content in that special brand
of soul touching.

 

Combatting Bipolar Disease on a daily basis

Do you know that old time hymn “I’ve got the Joy, Joy, Joy, Joy Down in my Heart . . . I’ve got the Peace of God, Peace of God Down in my Heart”? Well for me, and I suspect, most BiPolar people, that just doesn’t track. The cynic, and the disease, tug me away from those feelings.

For me, a wellspring of sadness and despair coat my linings, much like that Pepto Bismol commercial. Anxiety flavors the mix. My heart is treacly coated with the stuff. I can be laughing, giggling, joyful even, and still can touch that pain and despair, still feel the anxiety. There isn’t any distraction from it. Even with a stable medication regimen, anxiety pervades my consciousness and dreams. I am haunted by Depression.

Amnesty International’s latest annual report speaks to a paradigm shift worldwide into Depression and Despair writes Mark Kerstan on May 27, 2017. I suspect much of that is normal despair, not the kind of thing BiPolars’ experience, but still, it’s a frightening fact.

Moreover, we need to continually monitor our frustration and anger levels as they are two heads on the same coin. Our emotions can escalate and drop at alarming rates and anger is a seductive release from the pent-up pain we carry within.

Coping strategies that work for some, may not work for others. Know them, read up on the latest research and articles, but ultimately you may need to pick and choose among them to find out what works best for you. Millions globally find much relief in Mindfulness Meditation and even though I practiced it for a year, I just can’t slow down the chatter my mind offers up. I have found reading and writing work for me. So does housework. Repetitive activities comfort others – coloring, sewing, cooking. Music therapy is wonderful. Some swear by Affirmations – put a poster of them up on your wall for you to tap into.

I do try to observe negative coping strategies and reduce or eliminate them. Some practices simply serve to agitate me further. I look for something that works better. For instance, when the sorrow and anxiety grow too uncomfortable, I look for someone I trust to unburden myself upon. It sounds crappy, using someone like that, but I try to respect their decision to not listen when they choose or need to. If they accept that role, unburden away, get that pain out of you.

Ask yourself, Do I want to be in control? Is that what is making me squirrely? Antsy unrest, obsessive thinking, and nervous irritability are symptoms of Bipolar depression or mania, with possibly a co-existing anxiety disorder. Everything feels hopeless. The mountain is too hard to climb and I’ve run out of power bars and water. Or my body is too handicapped to even begin the walk, even on a flat surface I am limited. For me, its a sure reason for anxiety and depression. I hate my limitations. Fear builds because I see the never endingness of my life situation.

And don’t even get me started on Money, maintaining friendships, or dreamed of escaping, having sustainable, or any, social life. Seeing and being all those things I dreamed of escaping – sands through the hourglass – fear builds. Just the daily stress of life can prove too anxiety producing.

What it boils down to is relatively simple. Find coping strategies that work for you. Keep seeing a therapist. Talk to others about your feelings, keep on the right medication regimen for yourself. Practice Humility – give up the need to be in control. “Let Go and Let God”. Radical acceptance – forcing yourself to see things as they really are (although I sometimes prefer living in my fantasy world), and not as they should be, is a trending treatment. Pray – turn your burdens to a Higher Power. When I do that I experience a measure of peace for a while – and then have to start all over again.

Even with all the helpfulness available to us, we BiPolars have to realize that we have a Disease that is not going to magically disappear. There will be good times and bad. We just need to find our way through the morass and use the tools that work for us.

Palliative Care

Hospice – Palliative Care
slowwww ddownnn
No routine
Eat however much
whenever mood strikes
even though mood is a misnomer

No more struggling
to make walk.
Showers out
sponge baths in bed in
Hospital beds
Wheelchairs
Pureed foods
Lifts if necessary

Trips are gone,
body too fragile
mind largely gone
pay attention to face –
grimaces? Stop, ease off
smiles, try more activity

For caregiver, its harder
if you have been with patient
a long time
two people needed
when one sufficed before
for moving patient from one place
to another or
simply to change clothes in bed
Taking are of person
is challenging – at best.
new, different skills are needed.

Putting away items
not needed anymore
in a few months time,
she will pass into great beyond.
Little time left –
starting goodbyes
in minute gestures,
tears filling heart,
sadness lining body cavities

A magnificent woman,
broke glass ceiling
in world of Finance
now beginning new work
breaking glass ceiling
to Heaven . . .

The volume of a voice

Sometimes I feel like a voice in the wilderness – not connecting or being heard. I’m not a screamer by nature so it’s more like “ah, hello, is anyone out there? can you hear me?” in soft whispers. I want to connect but I’m too often the scratching noise at the end of an old phonograph album. White noise with a mild irritation perhaps, but something that needs to be changed.

I wonder what to write about. What matters to others? Do I have something to say more than trite, banal quips? I fancy myself a writer . . . oh, I know I’ll never be Proust or Dumas. Not even Berry or Silva, or even some self-published, harried someone rushing from libraries to bookstores to get their agreement to let me read my writings or display my book. {mostly because I can’t afford it and maybe not have the guts – those copies would be gathering dust in boxes in my apartment} I’m more like a church mouse hiding in the organ pipes, head clanging away when the songs are played. I hide.

Today I mentioned to someone that I have maybe 40 or 50 followers – wait for it – 74!!! Okay, I know that’s not a lot by a lot of standards but considering not one or my friends or family read my site, it’s not bad. I worry about that. I write about some deeply personal things and have come under the forbidding glare of a relative’s eye when they read a paper draft of something or other.

So I’m not sure how to grow my site by conventional methods. Do I start a new Facebook page and link it? One I don’t give my family address to? And how does Twitter work? Perhaps that can stay out of the family focus.

I publish in a couple of newsletters, one being my church. Poem after poem went into it for a while and my sister never commented on them, even when reading it while sitting right next to me. When I asked her why she said, “What do you want me to say? I don’t go in for that kind of thing”. My kids don’t like my stuff either. And the worst part is, I let their comments and non-comments affect me. Shut me down a little more.

So please – be the voice who responds to my whisper. Give me your thoughts about growing my site while remaining anonymous to those near to me while remaining completely accessible to those far from me. Be honest with your feed back. Feel free to shout your answers, or whisper, I’ll be listening.