Tag Archives: love

What to Wear for Valentine’s Day (Mother and Daughter!)

Happy Valentine's Day1

My sweet mother and I saw these adorable “love” shirts by I.N.C. at Macy’s yesterday, and we decided to buy them for each other and wear them at the same time! They have a little bit of “bling” (my mother always told me a little bit goes a long way!) including teeny-tiny crystal hearts on the bottom right side. And there’s a surprise on the back! My mother has always been my biggest cheerleader! She is inspiring, optimistic, and has always considered herself a very lucky person. (I inherited her optimism, and for that I am eternally grateful!)  My mother and father have been married and have loved each other 58 years (and counting!) and they raised my siblings and me to be kind and caring; to have a strong work ethic and that family comes first.  For all of this and more, this year my Valentine is my mother! (Plus, isn’t she so cute??!)

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February 4, 2012 · 12:00 pm

Disable Enabling Relationships

I’m talking to my friend Brad the other day, and he’s telling me how he just broke up with his partner of eight years. I asked him why. He said his partner hadn’t had a real job in about five years; that he didn’t look for work anymore and he didn’t pay rent or even half of the bills. He did take care of the lawn, but that left at least 39 working hours left in the week. The boyfriend (well, ex-boyfriend) was also good at hanging artwork, which, as my friend looked around the newly bared walls, will be sorely missed. I asked my friend how long he had wanted to break up with his partner before he actually did. He told me six years. That’s right. They were together eight years – two of them happy ones. 

Now, many of you might be saying, “Wow! What took you so long?” Me, I totally understand. Like Neil Sedaka sang in the 70s, “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do.”

I was married for 13 years. My husband and I were in therapy for 14 years. I thought about breaking up for 10 years. I had Brad beat by a longshot.

Still, Brad seemed relieved and hopeful about the future; glad to be moving on with his life. In fact, he was heading to Mexico for a four-day work/pleasure retreat. Just one small thing. His ex had called a few hours before, crying hysterically. The house that he was renting had just been sold! (In this market, no less.) The ex-boyfriend thought he’d have this place to live in for at least six months – until he could get on his feet and get a job and a place of his own. (Why he thought he could do this in six months when he had not been able to do this in six years when he was Brad’s partner is beyond me, but I don’t make up the facts, ladies and gentlemen, I just make mocking comments about them.)

So naturally (please note sarcasm) Brad told his ex that since he would be away for the weekend, he could stay at “the old house.”  The old house being the one that took Brad a solid month to extricate his boyfriend from in the first place. In fact, the ex has only been gone just over a week. Brad finally got him to take his clothes and personal items JUST TWO DAYS AGO, and while the artwork was down, it was still leaning against the walls. So now Brad has invited his ex back to “the old house” for a weekend? Call me crazy, but I could see the writing on the wall, and it spelled E-N-A-B-L-E-R.  

The only way I so readily recognized this ailment is that, along with the title of being Queen of Denial, I am also a world-class enabler. Shit, my friend taking just six years to break up has me beat by half.  (Check out Skirt Blogger “Suzq” http://skirt.com/user/8530for more real life from enablers)!

So I gently (well, maybe passionately would be a better word) suggest to Brad that maybe inviting his ex back to “the old house” is not such a good idea. Maybe he will never leave again, I say. Maybe it would be better to take a tough-love stance. Brad is horrified. “I can’t just let him live on the streets!” he says. “I have to do the right thing!”

This is classic co-dependent language. I should know; I’m fluent in it. I tell Brad, “Well, actually, yes, you can let him live on the street or figure out a way not to. Did you ever think that not helping him this time would be the very best way to help him?” 

What I didn’t say is that not helping doesn’t feel as good; as all saviors know, savoring a good deed is what keeps us enablers enabling. Unfortunately, it’s unhealthy for both the savee and the saver.

The addicting thing about our (the enabler) side of the co-dependent equation is that we get to feel HELPFUL. GOOD. POWERFUL.  Our dependents’ inabilities feed our abilities. That’s why when a person who needs saving hooks up with a person who likes to save, it feels like magic. Really. It feels like love and soul-mates and forever. But it’s not. The magic fades. Because inevitably someone grows up – let’s say it’s the savior. If the savee continues needing to be saved, it gets old. You eventually want the person to get a job or pay the rent or stand up for themselves or stop drinking or whatever. And they don’t. And they get mad. Because you are changing the deal. You are refusing to enable. How dare you. 

And one more thing: it is hard to have an intimate relationship with Mother Teresa. Or Jesus. Or any savior or mother (or father) figure, for that matter. So, super-saver, all that power we feel? It adds to the fizzling of the relationship, too. 

I tell all this to my friend Brad, but I have to do it fast, because his ex is literally on his way to the house as Brad is heading to the airport for his trip. Brad nods. He thinks. He really gets it and he’s suddenly hyper-bummed that I didn’t have this conversation with him a few hours ago, before he agreed to the return of the roommate.

But he promises me he’ll do better next time. He says he’ll call from Mexico and make sure his ex is out of the house (again) before his return on Sunday. He’s strong. He’s invincible.  He has a plan:

“I’ll get him an apartment somewhere … I’ll co-sign the lease … I’ll give him a few months’ rent… then he won’t be on the streets AND he won’t be here! He’ll have to start paying his own rent and for that he’ll need a job and this will be great!”

 Ah, my friend Brad is brilliant. He’s hopeful. He’s delusional.

And I should know. Delusional is step two in the co-dependent-anonymous program (I think I’ll call it CoAnon). After four years, I myself am only on step six or so.  I’d be further along, but I’ve had to stop a few times so I could help some other folks climb up the 12 steps.  

I might have to go back to step one…

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Justin Bieber Made Me One Less Lonely Girl

Justin Bieber & jan Smith

Justin Bieber with Mama J, his vocal coach and voice of reason in Never Say Never

Justin Bieber Made Me One Less Lonely Girl

Every woman needs to see the new Justin Bieber movie, Never Say Never.

Why?

In the words of two 14-year-old Biebettes who momentarily pause in their Bieber-shrieking to talk to the cameras, “He’s such an inspiration … he gives us hope.”

And perhaps no one needs the Bieber-brand of hope more than the recently or chronically divorced. That’s because Justin Bieber reminds us what it’s like to love, be loved and feel love.  And from the moment he appears onscreen until the moment he fades from the 3D spotlight, you’re feeling it.

Now, before the Atlanta screening of Never Say Never, I wouldn’t have recognized a Justin Bieber song if it kissed me on the lips. No, not even Baby.

Today I can’t get those addictive beats out of my head.  I’m tapping along singing “U smile, I smile” while I’m making dinner, folding laundry and driving around with my 15-year-old son, much to his embarrassment.

 I don’t care. Like those BFFs in the movie, I got a shot of hope.

You say you didn’t realize Justin Bieber is all about love? Heck, even the bling on his iconic hoodie is a sparkling heart. The point is, he wears it on his sleeve, ladies. Seriously, Justin Bieber and his fans even have their own sign-language. Do this: form the letter “C” with your right hand. Now form the letter “C” with your left hand. Put your fingertips together and drop your thumbs slightly… it makes a heart, right?  Now imagine that heart as a massive, crystal-covered metal chair — the size of a small batting cage – flying over an audience at Madison Square Garden, filmed in 3D, girls screaming at the singing sensation who is sitting inside. That’s how Justin Bieber kicks off his Never Say Never concert: singing about love from the hugest heart you’ve ever seen.

And suddenly, when he yells to the crowd, “There are always going to be people who say it will never happen … but don’t stop believing!” you think he’s talking directly to you, telling you to keep believing in yourself… keep believing in love.

The Justin Bieber movie understands the way love makes us feel. Take the moment Justin picks a young, hysterical girl from the audience to be “the one.” He pulls her up on stage and sits her down in a high-top stool so he can sing to her, One Less Lonely Girl, and the girl is shakin’ in her flip-flops. She is absolutely FREAKING OUT and I am crying and laughing and hyperventilating right along with her. I feel my heartbeat hammering, and then he shoots her a smile that will make you remember the first time your first crush smiled at you…

And suddenly I have become the oldest Biebette in the world. 

You may wonder why I, who was previously immune to Bieber Fever, was at the movie screening in the first place. My friend, Jan Smith, invited me. You may have heard of Jan – she’s the national vocal coach known to hundreds of recording artists like Usher, Rob Thomas, India.Arie, and Justin Bieber as Mama J. She’s also the movie’s voice of reason, displaying a protective tough-love that you’d want your child to have on the road if your child was the biggest teen sensation since Michael fronted the Jackson 5. (In an ironic side note, Jan introduced me to my ex-husband 20 years ago, and that relationship and its dissolution taught me more about love than I’d ever known.)

So there I am, my heart coming alive in a theater seat amidst the fervor of Bieber Fever.  I know it sounds crazy and corny.  But that’s when it hit me: Never Say Never can help us through the challenge of our divorce, if we’re just willing to believe. Because stripped down to its essentials — without the music and dance moves and lights and costume changes — this is a movie that reminds you to never give up on yourself. Never give up on hope. And never give up on love.

That’s what this movie is about, set to a killer hip-pop soundtrack.

I watched as young girls frantically proclaimed their love for Justin. One plump little 10-year-old stared straight into the camera and predicted she would be his wife someday — and she was dead serious. Still other girls sobbed simply at the sight of Justin on stage, tears streaming down their faces as they sang every word of every song in his concert.

And for all of us single parents raising children in this age of you-can-be-a-reality-TV-star-even-if-you-have-no-talent, this is a movie about a rising star’s hard work, long hours and determination, blended with optimism, support and faith.  Kind of like a marriage.  And a lot like the next step we are all taking, because post-divorce, we are learning to hope again; to define the dreams we want and declare what we are not willing to take anymore. We are beginning to trust others and respect ourselves. And we are striving to love again – our lives, ourselves, and maybe someday, another partner.

So as you watch Never Say Never … taking in the home movie clips, the on-the-road family, the leaps of faith, let yourself remember that unrestrained, youthful exuberance … the feeling of loving love and believing that yes, it could happen to you.

You can make it happen again, if and when you’re ready.

Never Say Never.

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