June 20, 2010

The Myth of the Perfect Parent

Last night I couldn’t sleep, it was one a.m and I felt anxious. I knew it wasn’t the affects of the caramel macchiato that I had earlier that evening, as I laid there on the couch I wrestled with this feeling of anxiety. I knew instantly what it was about …..Father’s Day.

I tried to recall past Fathers days with my father, and just remembering his lack of acknowledgement when it came to the homemade cards or little trinkets that we bought for him. “It’s just another day” he’d say and go hide out in his garage. Seclusion away from us seemed to make him happy.

How do I acknowledge and give thanks to a man that ……well to put it bluntly, had a hand in screwing me up. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wished to have the parents my sister has, a week doesn’t go by that they don’t call her….the last time I heard from my father was earlier this year when he asked me why I wanted to invite my uncles to my wedding and that they would only come out to California to play golf…..I didn’t even hear from him when my wedding was cancelled. as a child they were my sisters biggest cheerleader, they cheered her on at her soccer tournaments, never missed a dance recital, her grades were always on display and of course I got to hear “Jolene why can’t you just be like your sister?”. In their eyes she can’t do anything wrong. She never felt the back of a hand for talking out of line, she never felt the leather from a belt hitting her rear, she never was insulted by her father, and I don’t even think she ever heard the phrase “you’re grounded”.

“Jolene you have to stop expecting them to change, they were never parents to you. They were nothing but toxic to your upbringing. You will never have your sisters’ parents, yes they are technically your parents but they never acted like a father and mother should, they abandoned you and you sat on the side lines through the last 30 years watching your sister enjoy the life you wanted………which was loving parents” these were words spoken from Maria, my counselor over 6 months ago.

As the house was silent, I wrote a letter to the father that I always dreamed of wanting…..in a way it’s the father that my sister had the pleasure of growing up with , and then I wrote a letter to my father, which will never be given because he doesn’t see that he’s ever done anything wrong. ………………..by writing these letters I was only hoping to release myself from the anxiety of today.

Happy Fathers Day

Dad ever since I can remember you never hesitated to slay the evil monsters from under my bed or scare away the boogeyman hiding in my closet. You played along during tea times and never once made it seem that you’d rather be lounging on the couch enjoying a good sci-fi movie or football game.

During those days that I would stay late at Dawns and I needed to come home, you heard the scared little girl on the other end to please meet her outside; because walking home late at night down our street was somewhat spooky, and as soon as I walked down her driveway there you were standing on the other side of the street waiting for your 6 year old daughter to guide her home safely.

Thank you for encouraging me to do better in school and never once made me feel worthless when I brought home a report card smothered in C’s.

You understood my tears when my heart was broken and made me realize that this too shall pass, and that the boy just didn’t see the trueness of me and that one day there will be a guy who will never want to break my heart.

Thank you for never taking sides when it came to Andrea and me, by that you taught me fairness. You taught us right from wrong and allowed us to express ourselves even if it made you roll your eyes.

You instilled in me that the world is my playground and anything is possible and for that I thank you for all that I have accomplished in my life.

I never doubted the love of my father or missed one of your cuddly hugs, because you never let a day go by that I left the house without you telling me or showing me in one way or another that you loved me.

Thank you especially for protecting me from moms’ manipulations and mind games.

Dad, as an adult I’ve learned so much from you. I’ve learned to be a supportive, loving, giving mother, friend, daughter, and sister.

*******************

Dear Jack,

This is the day that kids spend quality time with their dad, making memories. Dads will be opening up handmade cards, a new Worlds Best Dad shirt, and a new tie to wear to work on Monday proudly. Well Dad we won’t be doing any of that this year. The father’s day I remember are ones that were faked with emotion.

dad, I don’t understand:

Why was it so hard for you to tell me you loved me?

Why can I recall all the times I got hit with the belt, spanked or slapped but can’t remember receiving a loving hug from you.

Why did you take me fishing believing we were having a father/daughter day but only to be told to be quiet, because if I talked I’d scare the fishes away. Oh and thanks for telling me that was a big fat lie, because I looked like a total fool telling the guy I was dating to be quiet while we were fishing. He didn’t understand why I kept getting irritated with him for talking, until I told him that he was the reason why we weren’t catching anything because he was scaring the fishes with his talking. I seriously knew as the words were coming out of my mouth that it was all a lie, that my father never wanted to have a father/daughter day because if he had, he wouldn’t have cared if I talked about barbies, or what Dawn and I did or what happened on the smurfs that morning.

Why did you act like it was such a bother to come to my room when I had nightmares or if I was scared of the monsters under my bed? Why couldn’t you just be my protector, you were the cities protector when you were driving that black and white around town. I was just a little girl wanting her daddy.

Why did you make me feel that nothing was ever good enough?

Why did you always compare me to Andrea? It was really unfair to hear “why can’t your grades be like your sister’”. Dad, maybe because when I was in high school she was in grade school.

Why did you insist on calling me names or putting me down for my weight? Being called bubble butt was humiliating, and being told as an adult to move to the front of the boat because I was weighing the back of the boat down was so hurtful. Your constant doubt, the name calling, the put downs have done more damage than you think.

Your anger scared me and when I had the courage to stand up to you to say my peace or tell my side, it never mattered you already formed your opinion…...it was my fault, I was guilty….end of story. Is this what they taught you in the academy?

Why wasn’t I ever allowed to have a voice? My thoughts, ideas, opinions were never good enough. I was never good enough.

Did it ever occur to you that you could have been a father to me as well as to my sister? Did it ever occur to you that I may have needed you too? Does it ever occur to you that I may need my father NOW?

When your comments about my failed relationships and what did i do wrong this time reach my ear, don't you realize that you and mom played a HUGE role in that? the lack of love, the lack of emotion, the lack of feeling safe, the lack of just BEING there in my childhood has affected my relationships?


The reality of all this is at times I’m still that little girl just wanting her father to slay those evil monsters that continue to show their face, but now the only person who can come to that little girls rescue is ME.

June 16, 2010

Couples Therapy --Part Deux

Our first session went alright, it was your typical get to know you, what do you think is wrong in this relationship kind of session. I can only explain yesterday’s session in one word, exhausting.
She started asking about our week and asked if anything happened after our last session. I gave her the cliff note version of our weekend in Santa Barbara and the incident in the bar in which stemmed into our conversation about “The Guy” and his friendly flirting ways. “Please explain friendly flirting” the therapist asked. Seriously I have no patience for this mumbo jumbo. I wanted to say “a flirt times 10”, but I knew she wanted a deeper definition. So I told her that a friendly flirt to me is one who is overly nice, overly seeking the attention of the opposite sex, will drop what he’s doing at a drop of a dime to help someone(woman) in need, flirts with his eyes and smile, overly attentive, will express his desires and life philosophy to a total stranger just to get validation that he’s a good person. Well, of course she sits there examining her legal pad and says “so your definition describes me”. Ohhhh great! she’s going to validate his behavior because she doesn’t see that what he is doing is disrespectful, which undoubtedly is the case. She throws out “so this woman comes up to you guys, and just directs her attention to him, they mirror each other because they are out going and friendly and this bothers you…do you not want him to have female friends?” , screw you lady, that’s NOT what I’m saying. I told her calmly that it doesn’t bother me that he has female friends, up until he got fired he conversed with his female co-workers all the time, it’s the ones that he keeps secret is what I have a problem with.
After a few minutes of therapist babble, and moments of dissecting “the guy” and hearing excuses for his “friendly flirting” and the need to help women when it’s us he needs to help. I told them both flat out that I’m tired of the excuses for his actions or lack of smarts when it comes to boundaries, I’m tired of him not being accountable for his everyday life, work schedule, money etc . Then she looks at me and says “who does he remind you of?, ohhhh great I’m about to be dissected. I looked at him and then back to her and shrugged my shoulders. Seriously I didn’t want to go there, I had a long day and I didn’t want my brain to be her sandbox to play in, but of course I opened up and said “the men in my past”, “which man in particular, Jolene”…… “my father” ohh no what did I just do, and of course here comes the scalpel!
Here’s the thing, I’ve already worked through this with my own counselor and I didn’t want to go here with her, but she kept slicing away….so with her legal pad ready and scalpel in hand I began, but she only got the cliff note version. I told her that my father was always full of excuses, he was hardly a man of his word. “did he cheat on your mother?”… “I wouldn’t be surprised” I replied, I went on to say that he was a cop and he was always out with his buddies or kept late at work (or so he said), or on a sports team of some sort but when he HAD to take me along to these games I saw him do his own style of “friendly flirting” with the women on the team, especially one blonde. I wasn’t na├»ve, I knew he was playing with fire. I remember nights being tossed in the car on the search for my father or sitting in the back seat watching my mom watch him through a window at the bar. Of course he had excuses , but it stemmed further than that, I was for the first 6 years of my life his little girl then once my sister came around someone took my seat on my dads lap and I heard excuse after excuse why he couldn’t be there for me. “so he sort of abandoned you once your sister came along? He wasn’t the man you thought he was, was he?” . and she got a big fat NO. The counselor was under the impression that my parents were divorced, and I quickly corrected her and told her that they are still together and reside in Wisconsin, granted their relationship may be based on lies and heartless emotion they still portray a picture of husband and wife. My mom is the controlling manipulator and my dad has now drawn up the white flag and has become her puppet. It’s sad really. I finished up by saying that I have no relationship with my parents, that after many visits to my counselor I am no longer expecting them to turn into the parents my sister had the pleasure to have in her life, that I have to think of them as deceased……and that’s how I cope, their games can’t hurt me any longer.
As she drew up her scalpel she said that the men in my life are never what they seem. I’ve been searching all my life for a man to hold strong to his word, to bring safety into my life and to stop with excuses but it continues in a vicious circle. She tells me that I never had good role models to mirror a healthy relationship therefore I find myself constantly in dysfunctional ones. Great!!!!! “The Guy” interjects and begins to talk about his fear of me leaving him, because he’s lost so many that he has loved, he tells her about losing his brother at a young age and how with that he was never able to work through his emotions which now turn into anger. He shares with her how he’ll ask me a question about us or what was the best part of this past weekend and the answer he got wasn’t to his liking. With a stern voice the therapist looks at him and says “YOU’RE SETTING YOURSELF UP!” , she continues to ask him what he would have done if I said I had a horrible weekend. He said he would feel hurt. I told her that he constantly needs validation and it’s exhausting. “do you love me”, “do I make you happy?”, “what can I do to make you happy?” , “do you still find me attractive?”.
I told you it was exhausting, didn’t I ? the rest of the session was your typical he said, she said visit. She spoke about “Divine Interruptions” which God throws down at us to prevent us from something bad, she heard Joel Olsteen speak about this and it actually made a lot of sense. She basically stated that our cancellation of our wedding was a divine interruption and if we would have gotten married we would have now been headed to divorce court. She looks down at her legal pad and turns her glance to me and said “Jolene while you were speaking you said ….when I WAS in love with him….are you not in love with him now?”.
Where’s the hidden stenographer and please have her tell me when I said that? quickly I try and recall when I said that I wasn’t in love with him as they both wait for an answer. I then told her that I am not sure anymore, so much as gone on, and he’s not the man that he made himself out to be. As she started to wrap up the session, he interrupted and said that he had one last thing to say and it was to me. He started to tell me how much he loves me and how much I mean to him….he told me that he will do everything in his power to make things right. The whole time he was reciting what he has told me over and over again I sat there thinking “you have to be kidding me? Tears, emotion is he trying to score points with the therapist”. When he was done, there was silence and I know they were expecting me to reply, but HOW?? The silence was awkward and I wasn’t going to break it, I seriously had a few montages going through my head….one of which I laughed out loud and said ARE YOU KIDDING ME!! And it didn’t end well. So I waited until she said “so what do you have to say Jolene”, and I looked at her and said “honestly, he says this ALL the time and until I see action behind those words it doesn’t mean much”. She looked at him and said “ok, so you know what she wants…..she wants you to be a man of your word, she wants a safe place”


“See you guys in 2 weeks and leave all that went on here today …..HERE, don’t bring it home”.


Easier said than done

June 15, 2010

From Catholic school bullies,magooa, barbie sex .....to now....Childhood Friends

Spending a couple hours sailing around the Santa Barbara harbor was so  enjoyable, granted I could have done without feeling queasy but looking out onto the ocean, watching the sunset over the mountains, visiting with my oldest and dearest friend,Dawn and reminiscing about our childhoods; trumped any sea sickness I was feeling.

We grew up together in the same neighborhood and met when we were 5 years old. I remember the first time I met her, I was heading over to Heidi’s house (another little neighborhood girl) when I saw this blonde little girl hanging with her in front of her garage. So I walked on over and said hello, we all three played for a little while and then we realized that 3 was a crowd so Dawn and I took off to her house, and thirty-one years later we are still the dearest of friends. We never tire of the stories from our childhood, we still crack up like it just happened.

From our days bullying the neighborhood kids to admit that they love God, hey we went to catholic school and got bullied by nuns….at least we didn’t beat up anyone, well there was an incident with a roller skate, but no one got hurt. I’m really surprised either of us made it into Hollywood or Broadway with our insane desire to come up with plays and dance routines that we would perform during the holidays for the whole neighborhood to see, but the only one in attendance ended up to be our family members and the occasional neighbor that we bribed into coming, our shows also had their very own commercials, my fav would be the “Hefty Hefty Hefty Wimpy Wimpy Wimpy” 1 minute act.

Besides our desire to entertain, we were also inventors …… of magooa. It was a concoction of Jean na te bath oil, baby powder, shampoo and whatever else we found under her bathroom sink. We wanted to make our very own cement but after 6 months of our creation hiding out in the very back of her bathroom sink it was just this gooey grey matter.

I’m really surprised how free we were, we road our bikes and big wheels everywhere, and being as little as we were I’m a bit confused as to why our parents didn’t really care that we would ride up to San Fernando Blvd to get some ice cream. Didn’t they even worry that we could be snatched up at any time and taken to Mexico? “one less mouth to feed” they would probably say to themselves.

Yes, besides all our crazy little sideshows and adventures to the ice cream shop, we were your normal little girls. We played school, grocery store, barbies……Ohhh and our Barbies had sex A LOT……. Ken was one lucky bastard let me tell you. You wouldn’t think we knew much about sex or even the word at such a young age ( I would have to say 7,8 ish), but we were introduced to the sighting of Hustler when torn pages lined the fences of our neighborhood and ALL the kids were running out to see what the commotion was. “Porn…what’s that?” we said, and of course there it was a mustached man having his way with a very bushy woman, to our amazement we were told that ALL dads have them. “Not our dads, they aren’t gross”… and there we went out to prove them wrong and searched our parents room and bathroom………………. And yep they were right, our dads were in possession of 70’s porn.

Although our lives have taken many different roads we still remain close friends, and will continue to add on to the memories through out the next 40 years or until the big A hits us and we can't remember a darn thing!!

June 08, 2010

Couples Therapy??? seriously...... urgh

Couples therapy ………..seriously?

We’ve tried this twice before with my therapist and it never ended well. I don’t know who he thought he was fooling sitting there spouting out his life philosophy and how he just wants the best for us, his version of his “side” of the story seriously was as holey as swiss cheese.  While I sat there biting my tongue, fuming, and rolling my eyes which of course was caught by my counselor……who had to state the obvious “Jolene why are you  rolling your eyes”.  “because he’s just telling you what he thinks you want to hear and he’s NOT telling the full story” is what I wanted to say ….but it came out a bit different than that, I think the word “he's not telling the truth” was tossed out along with a few other  choice words.

This would be our first visit to couples therapy since the cancellation of the wedding, so this is going to be just as fun as going to the gynecologist for a yearly pap. These sessions never end well and they just continue way into the night. Last night after our pre counseling fight he stated that there shouldn’t be any finger pointing, to which I replied that the first time I hear some story about how we were meant to be and his philosophy behind his life, and making himself out to be the “after”  of years of therapy poster child….. I’m out of there. 

I’m not sure what topic will be the main event. We could talk in length about his anger vs. my temper when pushed to its limits, there’s the all time favorite his sons vs. his lack of follow through, trust or lack there of would be fun to discuss. We definitely need to learn the correct way to play fair,granted with a little help from Amy I’ve learned a fair fighting tool especially when he gets to his boiling point. “Speak calmly but stern,and tell him that you will not be spoken to in that tone”, and keep saying it until he realizes that he shouldn’t be talking to you that way. Seems like a good idea…right, but when I put it into place last night I was told pretty much where to go and that he could talk to me anyway that he would like.

So by 4pm my stomach will start churning, by 4:30 I’ll be wishing for a bathroom, and by 5pm I’ll be thrown into the ring and by 6pm I will becancelling our weekend trip to Montecito.



June 02, 2010

The skeleton that's hanging in my closet

It’s still there wrapped in plastic behind the mirrored doors that I dread going into. Just a constant reminder of the wedding that never was and will never be. I know that I need to get rid of my wedding dress, there’s no need for it to be the actual skeleton in the closet, haunting me with “what could have been” It needs to go. I’ve tried selling it on EBAY, but of course there were no takers and if you think about it who would want to wear someone else’s dress that never quite made it to the alter?

Although I have only one regret about canceling the wedding, which would be allowing myself to get so consumed with it. I never wanted a big wedding I told him a small intimate wedding of 50 people over looking the ocean. What it turned out to be was close to 100 people in an ex bar with a garden staged neatly in the back. I got pulled into the fantasy that ultimately gave way to reality.

The reality of which was a relationship that was doomed for failure, and knowing that getting married while there were so many loose ends, tangled messes, and a lot of just well….bullshit wouldn’t be the smartest idea. 3 weeks was all that was left until the big day but there was no way we could fix all that needed to be mended in time, there wasn’t a big enough band aid to patch up the wounds or turn the red flags to a dull white. I knew what was at stake when I made the decision to cancel the wedding, but a marriage should never start on rocky ground.

So behind the tears and anger I faced the fact that it wasn’t going to happen and placed those calls to the “need to knows”, threw away things that represented the big day, picked up my dress and did everything I could to try and not loose myself in all this mess.

I found myself alone in my room with the dress and the amazingly beautiful At Tiffany shoes. I knew I had to do it, I needed to know if all the hard work at the gym, the tasteless meals that I was consuming had paid off. I needed to feel the dress on me. So the masochist that I am, I put the dress on and slide the shoes on my feet. Yes, the dress fit perfectly…..the dieting, the working out paid off, but the girl staring back at me in the mirror looked mentally beaten and eyes dark and puffy from crying.

I stood in front of that mirror for a good while, staring……..reflecting back not only on this past year, but at my past relationships and broken engagements. As tears began to fall I slowly took the dress off and placed it away in it’s coffin.

I know that I made the right decision to cancel the wedding but what now……..where does one go from here?