Thursday, May 20, 2010

July 1st - "Henrietta Lacks" Book Discussion Here!

Be there or be square. July 1st. Our book is "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" by Rebecca Skloot. It's a compelling one. So much so that Oprah and "True Blood" creator Alan Ball are doing an HBO film project based on it. Hooray!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Our First Counseling Session

The long-awaited marriage counseling appointment finally came & went. And wow. We really put it off for far too long.

Our therapist, Dr. R, surprised and impressed me on many levels - I guess I wasn't expecting much from a professional working here in Podunkville. His tone was a great fit for us. When I read on his CV that he also does "Pastoral Counseling," I asked him if he would have any problem working with an atheist like me, and he said no problem at all. He mentioned that he is a mentee of Dr. John Gottman's, whose work I really believe in- and that sealed the deal for me.

What can I say about the hour-long session? DH and I both cried multiple times. My DH has an issue with me that he finally figured out is not really about me, but is about deep-seated family-of-origin pain. Basically, his anger that I am not a better housekeeper has nothing to do with the dirty dishes in the sink, which is what I knew deep down all along. That was validating for me (and for the record, our house is quite clean thank you very fucking much). I didn't say much this time. I had trouble finding the right words for what I was feeling. And I wanted DH to keep talking. I knew I needed to think about these things a lot more. Afterwards, we went for a walk in the park and I suddenly got really angry with DH as I started really thinking about all of the stuff I have been putting under the rug. I need to learn to express my anger in a healthier way. My issue (I think) is that I am good at making things seem like everything is ok when actually DH's moods are killing me inside - just like my dad handles my effed up, emotionally-abusive mom!

I just love dysfunctional family legacies, don't you?

We will definitely be coming back to see Dr. R, and hopefully in time we can come up with some strategies so we don't scar our poor babies for life, end up in divorce court, or worse yet, end up remarrying the exact same effed up pattern-having spouse. Hooray!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

When Bad Things Happen to Ok-ish People

I try not to be a hater. I think a lot of shitty people just lack awareness about how their behavior affects others.

I've probably talked before about the one woman I really can't stand here in Podunkville. DH and I affectionately (privately) call her Skeletor, because she looks, well, skeletal. More on that later. Skeletor is the wife of one of DH's business partners, who I call Bill Clinton, because he is one of those guys who just oozes sleaze - I don't know how else to describe it. He has never done anything inappropriate in front of me, but trust me, the name works.

Anyway, Skeletor and Bill Clinton moved here 5 years before us, and actually helped convince us to move here. Skeletor warned me that she had been unhappy here initially, because she had a hard time finding a best friend, and she missed the shopping opportunities of a bigger city. She is only 2 years older than me, and her youngest child is only 22 months older than DS, and actually when we first met I thought she was ok. So, given her history here, I assumed she would get that a new person like myself might appreciate the occasional phone call or invitation to play at the park, or even just some friendly advice about things to do here with kids, when we first moved here almost 2 years ago. Nope. I was always the one who had to call and eventually I stopped trying. She never lifted a finger to help me fit in. Familiarity turned to contempt. Luckily, DH's older partners' wives took me under their wings, and did all the things a well-adjusted person would do to welcome folks to their new lives in the middle of nowhere.

Small town life really shows you a person's true character - that is, if you believe the gossip. And there was and is plenty to go around about Skeletor. Things like "OMG, Becky, Skeletor hangs around with this one woman who is like her only friend, who dresses like a total slut, she has breast implants," etc, plus the ones I've personally witnessed where she says things that make other people feel bad like "the high school play was horrible" to the kid with the lead role's mother. Oddly, Bill Clinton is a very well-liked guy, but a few people have seen how he really is. DH is one who has seen Bill Clinton's true colors, and has had to explain to me the concept of "guy code" as the reason why Skeletor needs to continue not knowing certain things about her husband's extracurricular activities. But the whole town knows. Yeah, life here is like high school.

Then Skeletor went and joined my shitty book club a few months back - the one that I am in the middle of quitting, to beat that poor dead horse yet again. It was awkward because once she realized I had been invited to be a member by some of her own friends she had never introduced me to (and who had been trying to keep her out sadly enough) somehow that raised my esteem in her eyes. And she started calling and asking me to do things, way out of left field. By that point DH had decided that any friendship between me and Skeletor would just inherently be a bad thing given all of the carnal knowledge I had of Bill Clinton's deceit, so he said to me "Hush, I never tell you what to do, right? Well I'm telling you now so you'd better hear me: don't be friends with Skeletor!!!" So I didn't - and it was easy because clearly I never got along with her anyway.

Now I feel bad. Because it has finally come out that Skeletor's family including Bill Clinton just did a full-blown intervention on her and sent her to an in-patient program to help her through her exercise anorexia, which she has apparently been grappling with for ages. So I guess mom was right: be nice to everyone, you don't know what they're going through. And when you live in a small town, never take the gossip bait.

I really don't know where I was going with this post. It has just been on my mind as I think about why we are where we are and what that all means. What do you think?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Unfriendable in this Land

Yesterday, after watching "Lost," DH and I were lamenting the fact that we have very few "couple friends" here in Podunkville. (Marriage counseling begins on the 17th - maybe we'll meet a nice couple in the waiting room...). While it seems like there is no shortage of kids for DS to play with at the park, and the moms of those kids for me to chat with, somehow that next, more elusive level of friendship - the "hey, let's get our spouses together, get sitters for the kids, and go out for a double dinner date next Saturday" - that has been a lot harder to find.

We're wondering why. We have a couple of theories. We are not outdoorsy enough to attract the liberals who live here, and we're not religious enough to mesh with everyone else. So we need to find the in-between-ers like us who maybe do outdoorsy things like hiking but not all the time and not to crazy extremes like base jumping, and who maybe respect religion but are closet atheists who don't hate certain groups, thinking everyone who doesn't agree with us is going to have a hot time in the afterlife.

So we have plenty of superficial "friends" here (as in people who don't know the real us), but few close friends. We decided we'd like that to change. So we started taking stock of our friendships to try to figure out what we need to be doing to meet that goal. (Gah, reading that again, I know how cheesy and oddly obvious this sounds...)

There are 3 other couples with kids with whom we are part of an official "Dinner Group," where we rotate houses, and every 6 weeks or so, we all help cook a big dinner, while we leave the kids with sitters. One of the couples is even newer to the area than we are, so they've been open to our invitations and even though their kids are 4 and 7 years older than ours, they do really seem like a good fit with us. The other 2 couples are great, but they are a lot more outdoorsy than we are and their hobbies don't really mesh with ours very well - the only commonality really is a love of good food and left-liberal leaning conversation. Which hasn't been enough to inspire get-togethers with them beyond the Dinner Group meetings.

It seems like the only people open to new friends like us are the people who, like us, have recently moved here. Everyone else seems pretty settled into their lives and friendships. Is it like that everywhere?

I've also been spending my time poorly as far as making close friends goes - as you know from my previous post, I've been wasting away in a shitty book club that has 23 members. I haven't really clicked with anyone there. The truth is I haven't spent time with any of the book club women 1-on-1 in the year and a half I've been a member. They haven't asked me and vice versa. That's shorthand for "I have no real friends there." It was a good way to meet people early on, but now I'm looking for a new place to fish. Not sure how my slowly-fade-away-over-time-style exit is going to play out.

DH recently joined a male book club which meets like every 3 months, and is full of triathlon-mountain-biking-teleskiing dudes who don't really watch sports on TV, nor do fantasy teams like DH does, and thus have little on the surface stuff in common with DH - but we'll see if he forms any connections there. He just might.

Some friendships we thought for sure would happen just never did - like remember that mom & son I blogged about over a month ago who I met at the food court and thought we'd definitely start seeing? She totally has not responded to any of my (2) emails, or to the one phone call I placed. I'm pretty shocked, because when we first met it seemed like she was more into it than me. Maybe she got hit by a bus, to borrow that misguided dating analogy.

I've mentioned my friend Stitch before, and her husband, Cowboy. Stitch is like the only woman here who knows the real me, and she lives even further off into the country than we do, so we have to really plan to see each other. DH is really not into Cowboy, but he thinks he is a nice guy, and so that has made it hard to do couple stuff with them, and I know Stitch wants to, which is awkward and sucky.

I've rambled enough. If any of you are really good at making friends, or really bad at making friends, and think you know why, I'd love to hear about it.

UPDATE: Poor DH's male book club meeting the other night totally made him feel like shit. First of all, the book SUCKED out loud. (It's old & out of print for a reason.) These Ironman-crazy-outdoors dudes decided they would all do a 2 mile run straight up a fucking mountain... and DH was left in the dust. He said he felt like he was the fat kid in high school gym class all over again (and DH is in great shape I might add). And they didn't even read the shitty book, but DH did! And they had no idea who Betty White was, and why she was going to be hosting Saturday Night Live. So he is going to quit. These really aren't bad guys, it's just that he had nothing in common with this group who does Ironman races, and were raised that way, and know zero about pop culture or sports. I feel so bad for him because I know he had high hopes, and feels like a loser.