New Traditions, AKA How to Navigate Tricky Relationships by Keeping Your Hands Busy

For the first time ever, my sister, mother, and I decided to do something Christmassy. 

Those of you who follow this blog closely know what an unusual thing it is for my family to do something usual, and what is more usual than sending out Christmas cards?

It’s been a rough couple of years for the ladies in my family. My sister and I battled in court for conservatorship over my mother to help effectively manage her schizophrenia. There have been lots of legal battles and hospital visits and yelling and police and yelling at police (it’s a whole story) and predictably, that has taken a toll.

But for the last twelve months, in an impossibly crazy, pandemic-y world, things have not been so crazy in our little world. Mom is safe, my sister and I have worked out a smooth schedule, and an eerie calm has settled over us. 

So when my sister called me the other day and asked if I wanted to get together to write out  Christmas cards this year, I accepted. It was such a normal thing to do.

Normal for other people, at least.

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White but Not Privileged: How to Understand What Is Going On Right Now

I had an unusual upbringing. My parents were both mentally ill, homeless, and addicted to drugs. My siblings and I slept in a three drawer dresser (one drawer for each of us) in the back of a van my parents drove up and down the country. When my dad got too violent, maybe taking a knife to my mother, maybe tying her up and striking her, we would stay in a women’s shelter or a homeless shelter. Not for too long, though, because there was a constant need to outrun Social Services and the police.

The psychotic, dangerous road trips would always end with my father in jail, my mother in a mental institution, and my siblings and me in group homes or foster homes. These bastions had their own drawbacks, namely physical, sexual, and verbal abuse, but they were a short reprieve from hunger and homelessness.

Notably, I lived in a condemned house in Detroit in a neighborhood called 7 Mile in the 1990s. I have greeted a box of government cheese with tears of relief.

I have accepted that I would die from exposure to the elements, hunger, or violence more times than I can count, not fully understanding to this day how I am still alive. I have spent nights in homeless shelters, days on the streets, slept on snow-covered city benches and in abandoned buildings, feared for my life, and prayed to die instead of living another day in undignified hardship.

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I got this completely random text message from my sister as I was writing this post.

There is not a person on this planet that could call my life easy so believe me when I say:

if I can understand white privilege, so can you.

Continue reading “White but Not Privileged: How to Understand What Is Going On Right Now”

My Marriage is Easy?

I’ve been waiting for it to happen: that time in my marriage when I start to understand what everyone is talking about. The time when I start to nod along in agreement to people saying marriage is “hard work,” that it’s not “easy.” My ten year anniversary has come and gone and despite health problems, cross-country relocations, financial hardships, and family emergencies, the only thing that hasn’t been hard work has been my relationship.

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My marriage, however, has been the cause of three break ups… seriously. My brother-in-law’s girlfriend wrote me on Facebook one day saying that watching my husband and I in our daily interactions gave her horrible proof of the way a relationship “could” be, and she couldn’t continue to settle knowing it was a possibility. One of my very good friends said she just assumed all marriages were like hers and seeing mine filled her with so much sadness for herself that she kicked her husband out of the house.

It’s bewildering. It’s not as though my husband and I are Gomez and Morticia, shamelessly making out at funerals, family reunions, and the DMV.

The Addams Family M Fangirl Challenge GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

On the weekdays he kisses me goodbye on his way to work, we exchange some loving words mixed with reminders of daily responsibilities. “You are so gorgeous baby, I miss your face. Also, could you pick up some scotch tape if you go out today?”

He comes home, we prepare a meal together while drinking a glass of wine or a Manhattan, eat, watch a little television, go for a walk. Maybe we catch a yoga class, or meet up with some friends. Repeat.

I asked my husband the other day, “So, like… is this supposed to get super hard at some point?” “Eh, I think we’re out of the woods,” he said.

So after 11 years of smooth sailing, this is the best advice I can offer:

Continue reading “My Marriage is Easy?”