The Good Wife: A Study in Radical Non-Acceptance

Posted May 3, 2015 by paralaxvu
Categories: AA, Family, Feminism, Husbands and Wives, Men and Women, Self-Help, Sociology, Spirituality, Women

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The Serenity Prayer

God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
the courage to change the things I can;
and the wisdom to know the difference.

My knowledge of The Good Wife, as with my knowledge of the Mafia Wife (see my last post), comes from the eponymous TV series now enjoying widespread popularity as well as from those many long years of being a female–single, married, divorced, living-with, loved–and all of those attendant trials and tribulations.  (But joys, too.)

Radical Non-Acceptance is my second take on that relatively new sociological construct called Radical Acceptance.  Either can be used as a new-millennial term for The Serenity Prayer, the backbone and sometime back-breaker of Alcoholics Anonymous. However, in this version, the Good Wife has her husband’s infidelities flung at her publicly.

Unlike the Mafia Wife, who has accepted that things won’t change, the Good Wife accepts nothing. She may or may not have realized for a while that something was wrong. Good Husband may be very adept at leading two separate lives, and the only reason she finally discovers the Other Woman (or Women) is because some sneak from TMZ or another similarly trashy TV station/web site has sniffed out the story. She doesn’t find out about the Other Woman by complaining to other wives –either they’re also Good (and, by definition, as unknowing as she) or they’re blessed with a Faithful Husband.

Perhaps there is something at home that the Good Husband needs, something he isn’t getting from the Other Woman. Call it stability. Call it security. Hell, call it “home.” The Good Husband may be a big man out in the real world, but in truth he’s just a little boy. He needs to play. He wants things to stay young and pretty even as he knows he himself is growing old. He needs his home and his kids and his wife. All the rest is glitter.

The Good Wife realizes this. So, once she discovers her husband’s secret life, does she leave? She thinks about it, sure. She’s jealous and angry and sad. But leave? Hell, yes. With the tears and private rages, she has undergone a change. But even more, she realizes that she also needs stability and security and a real home where there’s a Real Man who will love her and be faithful to her. So the Good Wife sighs, but only once. Then quietly, slowly, and deliberately, she begins to plan her new life alone.

This is where the courage of The Serenity Prayer comes in. It will probably take her a while to get things ready, to decide where to go and how to get there, to save enough money. A good plan takes courage, patience, and time. She may want to leave immediately. She may not even want to be in the same room with him. But she bides her time, makes her plans, saves her money. And one day she will be ready to leave the House of Lies for a new life.

Some would say she is wrong to leave. Stupid to let the Other Woman win, to let the Good Husband get the spoils. But she knows that’s all it is–the spoils. I say she has chosen wisely. She doesn’t need to take him for everything he’s worth. Even though she may wish she knew a Mafia Wife whose Mafia Husband could take out her Good Husband, she takes the high road.

There are those of you who ask, but what about sex? Doesn’t that count for anything? And to those of you who ask, I say of course it does. To those who ask, I say there’s a great massaging vibrator you can buy on amazon.com. Beats the Good Husband every time. Hands down.

(Although known most widely in its abbreviated form, the entire Serenity Prayer reads as follows…)

God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
the courage to change the things I can;
and the wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.
Amen.

And to those of you who may or may not ask, I say the entire second half of the Serenity Prayer sucks. That part about “trusting that He will make things right if I surrender to His Will” was obviously written by a man. Probably a Good Husband. The first part, the one everyone knows whether they heard it in AA or not, was probably chosen by a woman. Probably a finally wise and serene Good Wife.

Stay tuned for the third installment in my Wives Tales, The Political Wife, coming to this blog soon.

The Mafia Wife: A Study in Radical Acceptance

Posted April 12, 2015 by paralaxvu
Categories: AA, Family, Men and Women, Self-Help, Small Town Life, Women

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Serenity Prayer

God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
the courage to change the things I can;
and the wisdom to know the difference.

Admittedly, my knowledge of the Mafia comes from movies like The Godfather and Goodfellas  (Okay, maybe a little from Married to the Mob and–although not strictly a Mafia movie–Scarface.  What can I say, I love Michelle Pfeiffer) as well as TV’s The Sopranos, along with a few “real stories” on the History Channel and what I could glean from the trials and tribulations of John Gotti.  However, my knowledge of wives comes from almost 70 years of being a female–single, married, divorced, living-with, loved–and all of those attendant trials and tribulations.  Joys, too.

        “Radical Acceptance” (RA) is a new concept for me, one about which I wouldn’t have known had it not been for a friend.  So I goodsearched it (let others google; each time I use Goodsearch instead, a penny goes to my chosen charity).  Radical Acceptance, Dear Reader, so you won’t have to use either G-string to find it, is just a new-millennial term for The Serenity Prayer, the backbone and sometime back-breaker of Alcoholics Anonymous.

       Radical Acceptance,  Alcoholics Anonymous, Marianne Williamson, Deepak Chopra, Scott Peck, Khalil Gibran, the Bible, The Qur’an, the Seth Material, Carlos Castaneda, and even–be still my beating high-heeled heart–Oprah, are all about the same thing–self-help (although AAers, I’m sure, would dispute that; they need a God, a doorknob, something other than themselves to get through life).

     So how does the Mafia Wife fit in here?  Consider:  A pretty young Italian woman grows up and falls in love with the neighborhood tough.  He’s handsome, he dresses impeccably, he drives a big shiny car, and he always has money to spend on her.  What’s not to love?  He proposes, they marry, he sets her up in a big house, and they have kids.  She shops at the best stores and owns at least one fur.  Every Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and Mother’s Day he plies her with kisses and jewels. He’s always there for the important times and he usually comes home every night unless his “business” demands his presence elsewhere.  It takes a while, sometimes a long while, because those jewels and furs and cars and houses and kids use up a lot of her time, but finally she realizes something is wrong.  There are more business meetings and fewer kisses.  She complains to some of the other wives.  They laugh.  She has finally discovered the secret of the Mafia Husband:  The Mafia Girlfriend.  Perhaps one, perhaps more.  The wives tell her about the other kind of business meetings that he has, and the apartment he rents in the next town; they all know about it because their husbands have done the same.

     Once the Mafia Wife discovers her husband’s secret life, does she leave?  She thinks about it, sure.  She’s jealous and angry and sad.  But leave?  After the tears and private rages, she decides there’s no reason, really, to leave.  Why should she?  She has a beautiful house, a big shiny car, lots of jewels and furs.  Her kids are well cared for.  And, he comes home most nights.  Finally, after many tears and much conversation with the other wives, she realizes there’s something at home that he needs, something he isn’t getting from the girlfriend.  Call it stability.  Call it security.  Hell, call it “home.”  The Mafia Husband may be a big man out in the real world, but in truth he’s just a little boy.  He needs to play.  He wants things to stay young and pretty even as he knows he himself is growing old.  He needs his home and his kids and his wife.  All the rest is glitter.  So the Mafia Wife sighs, perhaps more than once, then chooses the Mafia Life.  His life.  Her life.  Stability.  Security.  Home.

     Some would say she is wrong to stay.  Stupid to play second fiddle.  She should get rid of him,  take him for everything he’s worth.  I say she has chosen wisely.  Aside from the fact that, should he discover her plan he might just decide to get rid of her first, and in a more permanent way (we are talking about the Mafia, after all ), she has everything she needs for a good life.  At least for now.  To those of you who ask, but what about sex?  Doesn’t that count for anything?  Of course it does.  And to those of you who ask, I say there’s a great massaging vibrator you can buy on amazon.com.  Beats the Mafia Husband every time.  Hands down.

(Although known most widely in its abbreviated form, the entire Serenity Prayer reads as follows…)

God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
the courage to change the things I can;
and the wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.
Amen.


Doom’s Blank Door

Posted May 23, 2014 by paralaxvu
Categories: Memoir

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Ennui

Tea leaves thwart those who court catastrophe,
designing futures where nothing will occur:
cross the gypsy’s palm and yawning she
will still predict no perils left to conquer.
Jeopardy is jejune now: naïve knight
finds ogres out-of-date and dragons unheard
of, while blasé princesses indict
tilts at terror as downright absurd.

The beast in Jamesian grove will never jump,
compelling hero’s dull career to crisis;
and when insouciant angels play God’s trump,
while bored arena crowds for once look eager,
hoping toward havoc, neither pleas nor prizes
shall coax from doom’s blank door lady or tiger.

–Sylvia Plath

It was time for her thrice-yearly visit with the psych.  At her last visit, she had managed to convince him she was getting better on a smaller dose of long-acting venlafaxine and wanted to go even lower, so he rx’d a dosage that was half as strong and not long-acting.  What she’s noticed since then, after a few episodes of vertigo, is that she’s back to biting her fingernails bloody.  For a long while on the antidepressants, she bit them but not down to the quick.  Now, it’s the quick and the blood.

She thinks her biggest problem is apathy, but she doesn’t know if it’s worse than before or if she’s just focusing on it more.  Her sense of humor is still intact, she still loves a good comic, good acting, good book, good food.  If you call her on the phone, she’ll have an interesting conversation with you, laugh, argue politics, talk about the last weird movie she saw on cable.

But every morning she awakens and lies in bed not really wanting to get up.  (What for?)  She’s forced herself into the habit of having a cup of coffee on the back patio while she sits in the sun and watches the Pacific (they say sunlight helps depression).  She will usually eat something because otherwise her stomach will begin to growl and/or she’ll get lightheaded (and they say breakfast is the most important meal of the day).  For the rest of the day, she sits on the couch and watches reruns of Bones or plays solitaire on her new smart phone.  She can do that for hours.  The bed remains unmade, the kitchen haphazardly cleaned.

She thinks a lot about why she doesn’t believe in God yet does believe in “something.”  She thinks about all the famous people whom she’s grown up knowing who are now dying and how in a few years no one will remember them, and even if they do, so what?  They’re gone.  She thinks about what she’s contributed to the world and realizes it’s next to nothing, but so what? She knows things weren’t so bad when she worked full- or even part-time, but there’s nothing to work on any more.  She certainly can’t get herself to do any of the arts or crafts she used to be at least slightly interested in.

She managed to believe she was an alcoholic and didn’t drink for 25 years and didn’t miss it.  She never went through withdrawal or even thought much about drinking.  She started again in 2009 but has only ever had a few drinks a week, if that much, since then.  She doesn’t care if she has a drink or not.  Sometimes a beer with pizza or spaghetti or Mexican food is nice, but not necessary.  She finally came to realize that the only reason she joined AA was to get her then-husband to stop drinking by showing him how easy it was, and the only reason she stayed was for the hugs.  How pathetic is that?

Most days, she gets up late and stays up late.  She has to make sure she’s really tired so she doesn’t stay awake thinking too much, too long.  When she awakens in the morning, she doesn’t want to get up, but she doesn’t want to lie in bed either, because all she does is think about all of the above.

Lately, she’s been wondering if Dexedrine or Desoxyn would help because of the way she felt snorting meth–not crazy agitated, just able to move, to act “normal.”  But the possible bad side effects scare her, which is why she gave it up.  She doesn’t want to be on antidepressants or antipsychotics anymore because she doesn’t like their side effects and doesn’t want to need them, but she doesn’t like the way she feels–or doesn’t feel–without anything.  She doesn’t think about suicide, except to cross it off her list because, hey, tomorrow may be better.

She thinks “hopeless” might a good descriptive for how she feels, but that seems to be too fraught with meaning.  “Apathy” would be a better word, she thinks.  Or “ennui.”  Sylvia Plath’s poem sort of says it all, except that she doesn’t want anyone to compare her with Plath and think she wants to stuff her head in an oven.  She doesn’t.  Because, as Little Orphan Annie once sang, “The sun’ll come out tomorrow.”  Right?

Not So Pretty in Peach (NSPIP) 4–or Thereabouts

Posted April 23, 2014 by paralaxvu
Categories: Depression, Health, Memoir

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

That title is way too long, and I keep getting it wrong anyway, so from now on posts about this particular topic will be named NSPIP and, hopefully, the correct continuation.  And, unless something really different happens, these posts are going to be just snippets to inform you about how I’m doing.  So don’t expect anything creative here.   And I’ve disabled the “like” button.  You can still comment if you want but there’s no need to “like” a fact.

Today will be the fourth in a row that I didn’t feel dizzy upon awakening.  It’s nice to be able to roll over and not feel like I’m going to fall on the floor even though I’m in the middle of the bed.  And, now that I think of it, I’ve been up for two-and-a-half hours, having completely forgotten to take my morning half-tab, and have had no zaps, ghosts, or dizzy spells.

That’s it.  No dizzy spells, no zaps, no ghosts.  No news is good news, eh?

 

 

Where Is Peter Walsh When You Need Him?

Posted April 6, 2014 by paralaxvu
Categories: Hobbies, Home Decorating, Humor, Lists, Memoir, Small Town Life

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

It’s 2:30 a.m. and I can’t sleep. Earlier in the evening, R asked me if I was ready to give up living in one place in order to buy an RV and see the world. I said sure. Then he asked me if I was ready to give up all my “stuff” in order to fit me and him and the two dogs in the RV.  Ever since then, I’ve been going from one stuff to another, asking myself, “OK, can I let go of this?” *sigh*

There are at least 50 amazing miniature houses and castles I collected in the 90s when they were worth anywhere from $29 to $225.  Now the going rate on the secondary market is $throw-it-away to $25.  I didn’t buy them initially because I thought they would make a good investment, I just thought they were well made and, well, cute.  But I’ve enjoyed them for a couple of decades now, and it’s time to let them go, right? *sigh*

Then there are the baskets.  The tops of all my kitchen cabinets are adorned with picnic baskets and bread baskets and Indian baskets and pie baskets and Easter baskets and home-made baskets and lobster-trap baskets and …  You see where this is going.  Some of the picnic baskets have sets of dishes and cutlery and glasses and cups and napkins and …  You see where this is going.  There are leather handles and handles with feathers and handles entwined with leaves and no handles at all and… You see where this is going.  *sigh*

I was “into” rubber stamping some 20 years ago.  The stamps and embossing powders and colored pens and papers and card-making tools have followed me from Brea to Anaheim to Orange to San Diego to Chula Vista and back to San Diego, then to Mount Laguna and to three different places in Baja. I may have used one stamp, without the embossing powder, in all that time.  But each stamp is a miniature work of art.  *sigh*

We won’t even talk about the books.

Shall I tell you about my dolls and stuffed animals?  There are dolls from my childhood and dolls my brother got me when he was in the Navy.  Bonnie Braids.  Ginny and her many outfits.  A Toni doll.  Dolls my sister made me.   Teddy bears my sister made me, one with costumes to wear on holidays through the year.  Bunnies my sister made me–beautiful, elaborately dressed rabbits in satin and ribbons, larger-than-life rabbits in felt and crochet.  A velvet cat.  A cow couple in Western dress.  *sigh*

A wall cabinet full of tiny chotchkes.  Train sets.  A rock collection.  A shell collection.  The zillion Christmas decorations of which I’ve spoken in earlier posts.  Tubs of decorations for Easter, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Halloween, the Fourth of July.  *sigh*

Did I mention the books?

Or the CDs?  The DVDs?  The music cassettes and the movies on VHS which I don’t even have the means to play, for God’s sake?

Sure, I could probably take pictures of everything and sell them on eBay or Craigslist, but that would mean taking pictures of everything and wrapping them and mailing them.  Which would mean… Letting. Them. Go. *sigh*

I am not a hoarder.  My entire house is tastefully decorated with the stuff I’ve collected.  Except for the stuff I’ve collected that is in tubs because there isn’t enough room in my entire house to display it all.

And what’s so great about buying an RV and seeing the world, anyway, huh?  *sigh*

 

P.S.  Any reasonable suggestions would be gratefully accepted.  Perhaps not implemented, but accepted nonetheless.

Not So Pretty in Peach, Continuation 2

Posted April 2, 2014 by paralaxvu
Categories: Depression, Health, Memoir

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The vertigo came back again yesterday morning and stayed with me all day.  Not really enough to cause immobility, just enough to make me slightly discombobulated and a little sick to my stomach.  Still didn’t tell R because he would worry too much.

I did send an email to my MD, though, who answered pretty quickly and said to just ride it through, it was exactly what I thought and would go away.  He also advised me not to lower my dosage any more until the vertigo was gone.   Hey, Doc–you can bet I’m not lowering my dosage for several months, at least.  With R in Asia soon, I’ll be alone with the two schnauzers.  Although they provide company, they aren’t big enough, even side-by-side, to help hold me up if I stumble.

I find I have an imagination that must be kept at bay when the panic starts to set in.  This is why I’ve learned deep breathing.  While meditation would probably be better, I’ve never been able to do that.  Minutes of mindfulness are all I can attain, but these help to calm the spirit.

This morning, I awoke with the hope that the dizziness had gone–which it had, so I’m more peaceful today.  After checking CNN for any real news of flight 370 and finding Wolf in a round-table discussion with three experts who were answering tweets–I kid you not!–I put on the coffee and came to my laptop.  Now I’m going out onto the patio with my cuppa to watch the mourning doves fly against a backdrop of the Pacific Ocean, wisps of clouds in the blue sky, and a gentle breeze.

Not So Pretty in Peach, Continuation 1

Posted March 28, 2014 by paralaxvu
Categories: Depression, Health, Memoir

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Warning:  This is not one of my better-written posts.  If I took the time to make it so, I wouldn’t have written it.

Well, R has to go back to Asia sooner than we thought so I’ve decided to hold at 1/2 tab a.m. and 1/2 tab p.m.  Have had only two migraines and nothing lately until the last few days.  For three days in a row, I wake up and turn my eyes to the side and suddenly the room spins.  I close my eyes quickly and the spinning goes away, not to return.  It’s a bit scary, because I don’t want anything to happen while R is out of the country.  I’m not telling him because I don’t want him to worry while he’s gone, or–worse yet–not go because of this.  Had I known what would happen if I ever tried to stop taking this medication, I might have declined.  But of course, that’s easy to say on the back end of the story, isn’t it?

Depression is a funny thing, at least mine is.  I can go to Facebook and joke around and share lots of things, many of them funny.  I can read other folks’ WordPress blogs and laugh and even reply to them.  I can interact with R and J easily, even wittily at times.  Yet I stay in bed ten, 11, even 12 hours in the morning because, hey, what’s the reason for getting up?  I can carry on long conversations in my head about what’s happening with me but can’t write about it or talk about it.  I spend most days watching Bones and NCIS reruns.

I used to picture depressed people as being sad and alone all the time.  That’s not me.  In fact, I would venture to say that most people would never know I was depressed.  What’s that all about?  One thing I do really laugh at–those Abilify commercials–you know, the antidepressant that is supposed to help your other antidepressant?  Hey, if one isn’t working, just add another.  And stay hooked on meds even longer.

“They” say I should go out and exercise because exercise has been proven to help get one out of depression.  Great idea, if I could get un-depressed enough to force myself to exercise.  These days, the only thing I’ve been able to force myself to do that’s good for me is take my cup of coffee out on the patio and soak up the sun for 15-20 minutes.  So, now that I’ve tapered myself off almost all of my meds, am I going right back to where I was in the beginning?  Or is this just part of the side effects of going off the meds?

The funny thing is, I seem to have inherited my mother’s outlook on life, because the little angel on my shoulder always keeps whispering, “Things will get better, if not tomorrow then the day after.”

Yep, there’s always hope.


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