Sometimes You Have to Save Yourself Before Saving Someone Else

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I have had some family problems recently and it has been taking its emotional toll on the family and myself. The issue has been with my younger brother. He has been experiencing some hard emotional problems lately. I really don’t want to go into detail to what kind of problem specifically he has but it is something that can be quite debilitating. The real problem is that he refuses to seek help or therapy for his problems.

My brother is a very special person-especially stubborn sometimes. Siblings are like that sometimes. He always has and probably always will be. Ever since we were kids, he was the type of person that wanted to do thing his way or not do them at all. I remember one time when we were playing in the park on a sunny day when we were kids. My brother found a snake by the river that was sunbathing on a rock. I immediately freaked out and yelled at him to run away but of course, he did not listen. You can probably guess what happened. The snake turned around and bit him. We all had to make a beeline to the hospital in order to treat the bite. Luckily, the snake was the non-venomous type and he only needed a stitch or two to close the wound. It would be great to tell you that he learned his lesson, but there were several instances where his stubbornness got in the way yet again.

My family is notorious for being stubborn and sometimes they don’t always think ahead. I have to say that I am a little on the same page but maybe don’t want to admit it. My brother is especially stubborn. This is probably why my family is so annoyed with him right now. The problem he has is something that I know intimately. I was able to reach out to one of my old therapists and she has agreed to take him on. Of course, my brother is especially keen to tell us his excuses for not going. He told us that the therapist was too far away and he simply didn’t have time. Please keep in mind that this is the same person who said only a week ago that he was miserable and in a lot of pain. Needless to say, we were all a little exasperated with him.

My brother is doing better now but this served as a lesson to me that you can only do so much for someone. You can yell and scream until you are blue in the face, but sometimes the person doesn’t want to hear you. You have to be willing to accept that that’s okay too. It may hurt and claw at you heart but it’s the truth.  We all have instances where we really wanted to convince someone of something and have failed. It is best sometimes to save yourself simply for the fact that you can put yourself in a place to help someone else. This is the lesson that I have been trying to learn lately.

 

Photo by Psych Central

 

 


A Perspective on Life

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I got a reminder this week about how precious life is and how little time we have on this planet. I got some bad news recently about a family friend. He has been getting very sick lately and had had multiple brain hemorrhages and the doctors suspect he may also have cancer. His health has been deteriorating for a while and he has attended multiple hospitals in order to get treatment for his illness. His family has been by his side helping him through the ordeal but it has been costing them thousands upon thousands of dollars. As a result, they are considering selling their house in order to pay the expenses.

Finding out the News

My mother called me to tell me the news of the family. I was pretty shocked when she told me. This was a family who always seemed to have everything in the palm of their hands. The family friend (the father) had a very high-paying job that afforded them an ample lifestyle. As a result, the mother never had to work and the children were able to have the finer things in life. They weren’t wealthy by any means but they were more than comfortable. My mother (who had to work) was always a bit of envious of their lifestyle. They always had nice things and it was clear that money was not much of an issue.

When I heard the news, I got a bit teary. I couldn’t believe some thing like this had happened to such a nice man. He is a well-respected figure in the community, and I’ve never heard of anyone say a negative word about any of his family. It just made me think of how little time we have on this earth. It reminded me of the importance of each day and how our health is one of our greatest assets. Without it, life would be very difficult or even unable to exist. It is amazing to think how something like chronic illness can affect us.

Thinking of Life

I have been kind of on a thinking streak since I heard the news.  I have been thinking about how we are all subject to life’s obstacles no matter what financial position we are in. Some of us may have ridden high for many years only to have something like ill health come and bring it all down. Some of us may have had tough upbringings and are still able to accomplish great things when older. The point is we never know what’s around the corner and sometimes the best-laid plans can go haywire. Like my family friend, he had worked hard to build a strong foundation for his family, but sometimes things change.

I am writing to tell you to make every moment count. Spend time with loved ones and be thankful for the time you have with them. Life is here one moment and gone the next. Taking the time to savor it is important and necessary to truly appreciate life.

Take Care,

Natalie

Photo by Komar

 


What’s a sister to do?

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Dear Diary,

My sister and I have a complicated relationship.  We don’t talk very often because we are two completely different people.  If we weren’t sisters and didn’t bump into each other at my Mom or Dad’s house once or twice a year, I don’t think that we would ever talk to each other.

A difference of opinion

Last week we had to talk because we were coordinating birthday gifts for our parents – it’s a busy and very expensive time of the year.  My sister mentioned that she was headed over to my Dad’s house for a dinner to celebrate her 30th birthday, and I couldn’t help but think about that awful, violent night that I spent at my Dad’s house for my 30th birthday when his girlfriend got drunk and physically attacked me.

I wished my sister a happy birthday and said “I hope that no one gets punched in the face by the psycho step witch.” Without hesitation or even a condolence my sister scolded me for calling my Dad’s girlfriend psycho, but the truth is that’s exactly what she is…a drunken, violent psycho who likes to hit people when they don’t agree with her.

But really a difference in personalities

Ever since that violent night almost three years ago when my entire family fell farther apart than we already were, my sister has never acknowledged what happened to me.  She was not in the room when my Dad’s girlfriend broke out into an unspeakable rage and started hitting my Dad and then came towards me, therefore I don’t think that she should have an opinion on the matter.  However, just like everything else in life my younger sister always has an opinion…whether is warranted or not.  To make matters even worse she is not open to hear any other opinions.

After my Dad threw me out of his house for standing up to his psycho girlfriend, my sister came over and injected herself into the mix.  She stayed with my Dad and listened to his crazy girlfriend talk about how awful I am and how much I hate her.  UM HELLO YOU PSYCHO – OF COURSE I HATE YOU! WHY WOULDN’T I? I mean seriously does anyone really blame me for not agreeing with my Dad’s choice of a companion?

I didn’t expect my sister to stand up for me because we are not close.  But as a sister I would like some form of support or at least an acknowledgement of what happened to me that night, how awful it actually was and how my life as I know it will never be the same.  Is that too much to ask?

Not the angel in the family

Well apparently that is too much to ask from my younger sister.  Not only has she never acknowledged the fact that I was physically attacked by my Dad’s girlfriend and then abandoned by my Dad for standing up for myself, but my sister was more than happy to sweep into the family as the new prodigal child of our family.

One of the major issues that I have with my sister is that she is such a super bitch as a person, but she is a really great child.  She attends every family gathering and goes home for every holiday, whereas I choose to live my own life and take advantage of long weekends for travelling. This makes me the bitch child and my sister the family angel – and that’s just always how it’s been.

So what am I to do – Do I ignore the personal and emotional issues and try to salvage a superficial relationship with my younger sister or do I just save myself the stress of trying to force a relationship that has never been there?

Love Always,

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Good bye but not gone forever

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Dear Kevin,

It’s been five years since you were suddenly taken out of my life and every time I think about you it’s like my heart breaks all over again.  I will never forget the mass of emotions that ran through my body and mind when I received a phone call from your Mom telling me that you were no longer with us.  I know that you are in a better place and I know that the horrible disease left you in pain, but for completely selfish reasons I wish that you were still here.

Gone way too soon

After only seven years of friendship I was not ready to say good bye.  When our time together was coming to an end I wish that I could have said farewell in person.  I will never forgive myself for not visiting you in the hospital a day sooner because if I did we would have had the chance to say our good byes in person.

I pulled up to the funeral home not knowing what to expect from the service, not knowing what to say to your parents and not knowing how I would feel about seeing you.  I walked in to a room full of flowers and it was very nice to see all of your family and meet your parents for the first time. I was happy to see you without a hospital gown because it was as if you were no longer sick, but then I realized that this was the very last time that I would ever see you.

Our last day together

There was something very comforting about seeing you lay peacefully at rest and I immediately starting talking to you and updating you on my life as if we were having our routine French toast at Sunday brunch.  I left you a letter apologizing for my absence during your illness and I reassured you that I will never forget you.

Kevin, you were a really good friend to me.  It’s so weird because I didn’t tell you this when you were here and now that you are gone I can’t tell you enough.  I just want you to know I think about you all the time and five years later your name still brings tears to my eyes.  I can only hope that you are happy and that you are making friends in your next life, I just hope that you don’t forget the lifelong friends that you made while you were here.

I miss you.

Love Always,

Photo by mcsanc

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I am thankful for my best friend

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Dear Diary,

Last week I took a trip home for the first time in six months and to my surprise I actually had a great time. Since my family broke up almost three years ago because of my Dad’s violent alcoholic girlfriend I always have anxiety about going home. I get anxious because I associate my hometown with all of the bad memories that come along with that unforgettable night in October 2010.  Since then I have never looked forward to going home, but last week was a pleasant surprise.

Home will always be a part of us – no matter how far away we run from it

I moved away from my small hometown as soon as I graduated from high school because I wanted bigger and better things out of life.  I wanted to live in a big city and take advantage of all the things that big cities have to offer.  For the past 12 years I always thought that I was bigger and better than my little hometown but the truth is that no matter how far away I move, my hometown will always be a part of me.

I had a fun time visiting with my family, I spent some time with my Dad and thankfully the evil step witch (aka my Dad’s girlfriend) was nowhere in sight. Of course the relationship with my Dad will never be the same because I will never forgive him for not having my best interest at heart, but it was nice to have a conversation with him that didn’t end in a fight about his alcoholic girlfriend.

I spent a lot of time with my best friend and it was just like being in high school all over again.  I have known her since we were in grade school and I don’t tell her this often enough (or ever) but I really do miss her.  She is a great friend, she has always been there for me and despite our geographic locations we have remained friends for more than 20 years.

Have you called your best friend today?

I have made new friends in my new city but the relationship with friends that you make later on in life will never have the same bond that we have with friends from our childhood. My friend and I grew up together and it’s nice to know that I can talk to her about anything without judgement.

I can talk to her about that awful night three years ago because she was there.  That night when my Dad’s girlfriend turned violent was so awful and no one can really understand it unless they were there. I definitely wish that night never happened, but I am glad that my best friend was there by my side. She was my saviour through the whole thing and she has been my supportive rock ever since.

My best friend and I grew up together and it’s comforting to know that even now, despite our distance, we are still close. At 32 years old we are experiencing the same struggles in life as young adults, we are asking ourselves the same questions about where we fit in the world and we are both excited to see what the future holds.

In life we don’t need a lot of friends, but we always need one best friend. Yolanda, I had a great time hanging out last week. I want to thank you for listening and I thank you for all of the advice.  You truly are a wonderful friend.

Love Always,

 

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How to spend the holidays alone and still have fun

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Good morning loves.  If you are like me then you far away from your family and you most likely spent Easter weekend alone.  Some people may be depressed or sad if they can’t be around their family during the holidays, but not me.

Since the breakup of my family almost three years ago my obligation to go home during the holidays is non-existent.  So I guess I should say that I don’t want to go home during the holidays, not that I can’t make it home.  Let me tell you that it’s very relieving not to have the pressure of trying to see all of my family and friends in such a short period of time over the weekend.  I never thought that I would say this but I actually like spending time alone during the holidays.

If you can’t afford to go home for the holidays or if you don’t want to, I am here to tell you that you can enjoy being alone, you just need to find something fun to do.

Fun activities that you can do alone:

- Go on a road trip.  A long weekend is the perfect time to take a getaway.  Find a city that you want to visit within driving distance, hop in your car and get on the road.  Exploring a new city on your own can be a great adventure; you get to do what you want, when you want. I love travelling alone.

- Go for a walk.  Yesterday afternoon I spent two hours walking around my neighbourhood.  None of the stores were open, but I had a great time getting outside and breathing in some fresh air.  It was a great way to spend an afternoon and I enjoyed being outside in the brisk spring air.  Afterwards I came home and jumped into a warm bubble bath with the newest issue of SELF Magazine.  What a lovely Sunday afternoon!

- Find a new restaurant or store.  If you have been waiting and wanting to eat a new restaurant or shop at a new store then now is the perfect time to try it out.  If you find yourself alone on a weekend with nothing to do then why not try something new?

- Have a movie marathon.  I can’t think of a better way to spend a day than in bed with a long lost TV series on DVD.  This weekend I started watching season 1 of the original Beverly Hills 90210, ah the good old days aka the 90s. I always wanted to be Brenda Walsh when I was a teenager, now I look back and think OMG I can’t believe that I dressed in those clothes and wore my hair in a scrunchie. What is your favourite thing about the 90s? I think mine is the music.

- Workout hard core.  There is no better way to relieve stress and clear your head than with a hard core workout. Take a class, go for a walk and get out of your comfort zone. I really want to try soul cycle, but I can’t find a studio near my apartment in Montreal.

What did you do for fun Easter weekend?

Love Always,

Photo by praktyczny

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New Jersey Housewife Feels Attacked

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Today on Anderson Live Anderson Cooper invited Teresa Giudice from the reality TV show “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” to discuss the painful, yet entertaining, relationship with her family. The Giudice family feud has been making headlines in gossip magazines such as In Touch, People Magazine, Us Weekly, and Life and Style for many months as Teresa Giudice expresses an extreme dislike for her sister-in-law Melissa Gorga and fellow Real Housewives cast members Caroline Manzo and Jacqueline Laurita through the tabloid media.

I have to admit that The Real Housewives of New Jersey is one of my guilty pleasures; I enjoy watching the glamorous lives of New Jersey’s elite unfold on reality TV while they brawl with each other like cage fighters. And honestly who doesn’t love a reality TV show where tables get flipped over at private dinner parties? However, after the hair extensions have been pulled out and the dishes have been broken at the end of the day these women are supposed to be family.

I am no stranger to a family brawl; this October marks the two year anniversary of the step witch’s (aka my dad’s white trash girlfriend) violent behaviour that tore my family apart.  I wish that my family situation was different, but unfortunately my relationship with my dad and my younger sister will never be the same after that now infamous and unforgettable night in October 2012. Even though it may be entertaining to watch family fights break out on reality TV, I don’t wish real life drama, turmoil, or violence on any family. It is amazing how one mistake in one night or one sentence in a rage of anger can truly change a family forever.

Teresa Giudice told Anderson Cooper that she felt verbally and emotionally attacked by fellow cast members Caroline Manzo and Jacqueline Laurita because of their harsh words towards Teresa’s attention and spotlight in the media.  As a loyal fan of The Real Housewives of New Jersey I can say that Teresa Giudice has changed over the show’s four seasons, but in Teresa’s defense people change over time, it’s called the evolution of mankind.  Maybe fellow cast members of The Real Housewives of New Jersey are jealous of Teresa Giudice and her newfound fame (she has a series of cookbooks and she was on The Celebrity Apprentice), but that is absolutely not a reason to verbally attack her.

Anderson Cooper feels that Teresa Giudice and the cast members of The Real Housewives of New Jersey can’t make a right with two wrongs.  At this point it doesn’t matter who said what about other cast members and it doesn’t matter who was not invited on vacation, all that matters is that they are family and they should be able to work out their family feud. Or should they?

I hate it when I explain to people why I no longer have a close relationship with my dad and they tell me that I should automatically forgive my dad and forget the step witch’s violent behaviour because my dad is family.  Just because someone is family doesn’t give them the right to act or say whatever they want and assume that everything will automatically be forgiven.  If anything, family should always think twice before they act or speak because they probably don’t want to say or do something that will harm another family member.

Love Always,

Photo from Anderson Cooper

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Waking Up From a Bad Dream

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Me with my younger sister Tara Marie

Last night I woke up in the middle of the night in a panicked sweat. I had a very bad dream about my younger sister Tara Marie and afterwards I couldn’t fall back asleep.  My sister Tara Marie and I haven’t been close since my family’s breakup almost two years ago. Actually that is not even true, Tara Marie and I have never really been very close, but over the last two years we have definitely drifted even further apart.

There are probably a number of reasons why my sister Tara Marie and I are not close which include my jealously towards her, the fact that I was a really awful older sister when we were growing up (I’m actually still not a great older sister) as well as the fact that we lived in separate households when my parents got divorced.  However just because we aren’t close doesn’t mean that I don’t care about her, it also doesn’t mean that I want anything bad to happen to her; it just means that sometimes it’s easier for two people to be apart than it is for them to be together.

When I woke up from my bad dream I immediately wanted to call my sister and then I realized that I don’t even have her phone number. I am sure that this is not normal, but unfortunately this is just how it is. Since I don’t have Tara Marie’s phone number I decided to write her an email to check in with her, make sure that everything was ok, and be assured that my bad dream was really just a dream.

I wanted to send Tara Marie an email and write all of the things that I cannot say, I wanted to tell my sister that I miss her every single day, I wanted to tell her that I wish we had a different childhood, I also wanted to tell her that I wish that we had a different relationship now that we are both adults, but I didn’t.  Too much time has gone by and so many things have not been said over the years that I am not even sure if our relationship can be repaired.

I don’t want to live with regrets, but how can I fix a relationship with my sister that has practically taken a lifetime to ruin?

Love Always,

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What I Learned From Saturday Night

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Photo: Fun times at Wood 35

From Left to Right: Aliya, Me and Tricia.

Saturday night I went out to a club for the first time in many years for a bachelorette party.  My good friend Tricia (remember Tricia?) is getting married in two weeks and we went out to celebrate her last few days as a single young woman.  I had a really good time with Tricia, but after 3 hours out on the town I was ready to go home, put on my pajamas and get into bed.  Going clubbing at 31 years old is definitely a totally different experience than it was at 21 years old.

This is what I learned about myself on Saturday night:

1. I am definitely getting old.  I know that as each day passes by we are all getting older, but this doesn’t mean that we have to feel old.  Saturday night as I was out in my cocktail dress and black patent leather high heels I definitely felt old.   Tricia and I are in our early thirties and I think it’s safe to say that we were two of the oldest women in the club on Saturday night.  You know you are getting old when you are coming home at the end of your night and the younger girls in your building are on their way out to start their night.

2. I am extremely impatient.  I always like to keep busy and therefore I don’t like waiting because I feel that it is a huge waste of time. I have always known that I am extremely impatient when it comes to time, but on Saturday night I realized that I am also extremely impatient when it comes to people.  Actually intolerant might be a better word to describe my dislike towards my fellow club-goers.  I am not sure who told women that they could dance on a speaker, wear a short skirt and not wear any underwear, but it’s definitely not ok. I have a very low tolerance for drunken twenty year olds. I also have a very low tolerance for high heels and the pain they bring to my feet. When I was 21 I lived in high heels and now I can’t even tolerate the pain they bring for more than a few hours. Maybe it’s because I am not single anymore and I don’t feel the need to impress anyone, or maybe it is becuase as I get older my tolerance for pain gets lower.

3. I am glad that I am not single.  I know that sometimes I complain about my relationship but I also know that I am very lucky to have my boyfriend.  As I looked around the club on Saturday night and I saw all of the men who were dressed alike in their dark wash blue jeans, their tight fitting v-neck t-shirts, and their ever trendy fedora hats I thought to myself…I am very glad that I am not single.  If those are the men that single ladies have to choose from they may find themselves single for a very long time.  I could personally never date a man who wears more hair gel than me, whose jeans are tighter than mine, or who stares at himself in the bathroom mirror more times than I do.

4. I don’t depend on other people for my own happiness. When I was 21 years old I would have been very offended if I was at a club and throughout the night a guy didn’t offer to buy me a drink or give me his phone number. However, now as a 31 year old I am extremely annoyed when men approach me in a club.  I am actually offended that they think I am the kind of woman who exchanges a drink for sex. I now know that life is what we make it and only we (with the help of our good friends) can make our own happiness; my personal happiness doesn’t depend on a stranger, his phone number, or his drinks.

Love Always,

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Am I Just a Negative Person?

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Dear Diary,

Have you ever been asked a question and automatically gave a negative answer when you should have been focusing on the positive? This happened to me twice last week and it made me start to think…why am I so negative?

I know that no one likes a negative person, but sometimes it’s just easier to dwell on the negative aspects of our lives rather than focusing on the positive things (although I don’t really know why).

Someone recently asked me how things are going in my relationship and someone else asked me if the relationship with my father was starting to get better.  Whenever someone asks us if things are getting better, it means that we have been complaining about something in the past.

My answer to the first person was I absolutely love my boyfriend and we aren’t fighting anymore. The same problems still exist in our relationship, but now we just don’t talk about them. The major problem in our relationship is that I want more out of lives and he is completely happy with how things currently are. My boyfriend still doesn’t want to move to another city and I still do.  After reflecting on my answer I started to wonder, should I just have said that things are going really well between me and my boyfriend (because they are) or was I just trying to focus on the negative?

In regards to my father I will absolutely never forget what happened on that night last October when the Evil Step Witch (aka his girlfriend) violently attacked me, but I am no longer mad at my father.  After the recent passing of my boyfriend’s father I quickly realized that I am never again going to bring up the events of that night.  We can never change the events of the past, so there is really no point in dwelling on the negative. However, I need my father to understand that I don’t like his girlfriend as a person and I never will because she is very selfish and extremely controlling.

The step witch knows that I don’t like her but we should be able to co-exist in my father’s life.  I now know that if my father had to choose between the two of us he would choose her over me and I am not willing to live my life without my father.  I know that the relationship with my father will never be the same because we can’t change the past, but I do have the power to control how our relationship will be in the future. With the recent passing of my boyfriend’s father I know that I am fortunate to still have my father in my life because some people don’t even have a relationship with their father to complain about.

I know that making an effort to get along with my father’s girlfriend would make his life a lot easier, but according to my judgemental younger sister pretending to be nice to someone when you actually hate them is just being a hypocrite.  I think that pretending to be nice to the step witch means that I am trying to keep the peace in my family for my father’s mental and emotional sake, but my younger sister disagrees.  Do I have the right to dwell on this negative situation or am I just being a completely negative person?

Love Always,

Photo by Inti