October 26, 2010

when is 'enough is enough'?

Your heart’s been broken more times than you can count. . . by the same person. They’ve lied to you, cheated on you, not been there when you needed them, and yet, you’re still with them. You know you should have left a long time ago but something deep-down, something that you don’t understand keeps you where you are. Is it the fear of being alone? Is it the fear of never finding love again? What keeps you rooted in a relationship that’s dead—one sided—going nowhere? When is ‘enough is enough’?

Enough is enough came for me a few times in my life, but if I had to pinpoint the most significant time it was when I left my husband. Back then, I was a young girl, na├»ve to the world and short on cash. My husband was a classic case of momma’s boy gone wild. He went out with his friends, partied like a frat-bro, and the best part; he hardly worked. Yet I stayed with him for ten years, always threatening him with divorce—always trying to scare him into caring. It didn’t work. He came and went as he pleased, ignoring all my threats and scoffing at my ultimatums. Nothing mattered.
While it was happening, I comforted myself with the belief that when I got that raise, I’d go. I told myself that when I’d find someone else, I’d leave. Yet, ten years later, I was still there. So what pushed me over the edge to finally saying, I had enough?

After ten years of being in a one-sided, loveless marriage, my day in court came, literally. He was in the middle of a big lawsuit; one where he was awarded a large sum of money. I’ll never forget that day. As we walked into our apartment across from Kings Plaza, in Brooklyn, we plopped ourselves down at the kitchen table and just stared at each other. Two people with nothing in common, were both wondering what’s next. And then it happened. He said the most frightening words that I had ever heard. He said, I think it’s time for you to get pregnant.
Ten years of living with a selfish, non-caring, party animal had taught me one thing: babies will never be a part of our marital equation. And it was my mantra. There wasn’t any way that I was going to have a baby; especially with a person who had hurt me the way he had hurt me. There was no way that I was going to be bogged down with a kid. He had pushed me over the edge. Yes, enough was enough. I was out the door.

Sometimes, it can be just a few words that will finally push you over the edge; that will make you jump off your chair and say adios amigo. Sometimes, it happens when you’ve hit rock bottom; when you’re finally able to admit that his infidelities are too much to bear; that his selfishness can no longer be tolerated; that you’re better off being by yourself because being with him is like being alone anyway. Enough is enough is when you know, and can openly admit, that it simply will not work. You understand that you can’t change him or the situation. You’ve done your best—given it your all—now you’re done. Depleted. Empty. You throw the key to the apartment on the table and walk out.

Have you ever reached that point, where you wake up one morning realizing that you can’t do it—you just can’t stay . . . that enough is enough?

October 22, 2010


Something very scary happened to me the other day, and I feel that it definitely deserves mentioning. While adventuring through the town of East Hampton, New York, I heard a loud, “Val? Val deFrancis?”

I swiveled my head in ten directions and then I spotted a friend whom I hadn’t seen in years, who had gotten married and moved away. As we hurried toward each other, laughing and screaming like a bunch of valley girls, two really, really, I mean really, hot guys walk past us. With one eye on them and the other on my friend, we embraced and jumpd up and down as we jibbered our hellos.

“Oh my God, it’s been forever. How the hell are you?” she says.

“I’m doing great,” I say, “and you? Gosh, I cannot believe that I’m seeing you here. Are you alone? Where’s the hub?”

“No, I’m with my twin boys.”

A could actually feel my eyes stretching beyond their normal limits. “You had twins? And you never called to tell me?”

“I know, I know. I’m so bad. What can I say? Life just got in the way. Forgive me?”

“Yeah, I forgive you," I teased, "because it did the same for me. So, where are your boys? Is Josh watching them?” Josh is her husband.

She waves her hand at me and laughs. “No, silly. There over by Babette’s. I’ll call them over.”

I turn to see where she’s looking, and I turn back. “Where?” I’m expecting to see two little boys with their nanny or grandmother or something.

“Right there”, she says, pointing her finger. “I’ll call them over. Cody? John?”

Remember those two hot guys that I mentioned earlier? Well they’re walking across the street and heading directly toward us. They’re now in front of me. “Val, these are my boys. This is Cody and this is John.”

Okay. This is where I have to stop. Did you ever have something so embarrassing happen that you knew your embarrassment was giving you away? I could feel my face getting really red, as though they could read my mind. These guys were so hot that warning signs should have been tattooed on their foreheads.

“Hey,” they both say in perfect unison. They’re twins, remember?

“Hey, nice to meet you,” I try to say casually.

Then one of them gets a thought. “Hey, Mom, isn’t she the one who was in those pictures you showed us a few weeks ago?”

My eyes shoot a beam of WTF into her face. “Pictures? Which ones, Donna?”

He answers for her. “She took out pictures from when you guys used to go clubbin’. Man, you used to wear your hair really high. How’dja get it to stay up like that?” His gorgeous twin laughs.

“Let’s just say that Tresemme stayed in business because of me . . . and her.” I use my head to point to his mother.

“Tresemme?” he asks, totally clueless.

Donna and I just rolled our eyes.

After exchanging a few more words, we exchange cell numbers and went on our not-so-merry ways.

Okay. I explained this to you because this little episode had an impact on me. Later that night, after coming out of a restaurant, I get the urge to call Donna. She answers the phone all bubbly. I suppose she knew it was me; caller ID. “What are you doing now?” she wails into the phone.

“Nothing, that’s why I’m calling you. Feel like company?”

“Yes, yes! Come over. I’ll make drinks and we can look at pictures and . . . ,"

The rest is history. After leaving Donna’s that night, I did a lot of thinking. And when Vallie thinks too much, it’s not good. I want to know one thing. When the hell did I get old? When did it happen? I used to be young, adorable, and so freakin’ cool. Did I fall asleep under a tree for a century?

Looking at Donna’s pictures, and seeing how high I wore my hair, and how freaky I used to dress, brought back so many great memories. Where did those days go? Back in my day, the song 1999, by Prince, was numero uno on the charts, and my friends and I used to say to each other, “Shit, could you imagine the year 1999? What the hell would it be like?”
And now it’s pushing into 2011! Good grief? But here’s the thing. I don’t feel old. I don’t look old. I don’t dress old. I don’t think old . . . or do I?

How do you know you’re getting, let’s say . . . mature?

1) When you hear thumping rap music coming from the car next to you and you close your window because you find it totally annoying.

2) When you fall asleep during Grey’s Anatomy, and it just started.

3) When you keep referring to your younger years as ‘back in the day’.

4) When you really dig hearing an oldie come on the radio and you crank it up.

5) When you incorporate prunes and apples and wheat germ into your diet to keep ‘regular’.

6) When you wear a hat, a scarf, boots, and a long quilted down coat and it’s only 50 degrees outside.

7) When you watch someone twenty years younger than you make the same mistake that you’ve already made a hundred times and knew they had to learn it on their own.

8) When the trip to the dentist requires taking full mouth impressions.

9) When you’re told it’s almost time for a colonoscopy.

Guys, when did I get old? Or, is it that I’m just getting better? Oh, and one more thing, Sunsweet Pitted Prunes really do work. Just sayin’.

October 11, 2010

The Top 5 Reasons Why People Lie

Okay. So why the list? I think it’s been on my mind lately; not because I’m a liar and I have a need to purge my guilt, but because I’ve been studying people’s actions and came upon these conclusions. We all have lied at some point in our lives, and I can only assume that most of us will continue to do so—for whatever reasons. But why?
After sitting on the beach this weekend, staring into the silvery light of the Atlantic Ocean, with the clouds blending slowly, and the peace of my own mind comforting me, I had a thought. Thoughts that come upon us while in deep reflection, usually surface for a reason;  maybe to help with inner conflict or maybe to help someone else. So, without further ado, here’s my list of reasons for why people lie. See if you fit one or all of these descriptions. I know I have . . . at various times in my life.

Reason One  A friend, relative, or co-worker asks you how they look, and you don’t have the heart to hurt their feelings. Now, if I can say something here. Not wanting to hurt a person’s feelings is an admirable quality. It is. That means that you have a heart. But what if this person asks you a question because they value and treasure your opinion? Sticky, right? Well, here’s what I’ve begun doing several years ago when I made the decision that lying went against my beliefs. I decided to be tactful in telling the truth. There’s a way to handle telling a person the truth without being cruel. Of course, the person may still get offended, but hey, you can’t live your life tiptoeing around everyone’s fragile ego, right? If a person wants your honest opinion, then by golly, you have to give it to them. Just use some tact when doing so. Here’s an example:
Sally says to her best friend, “I just love this red skirt. Does it make my ass look too big?”
Now, you know damn well that the skirt looks horrendous on Sally. Not only does it make her ass look fat, it makes her ass look like the surface of the moon. So how do you handle telling her the truth? Maybe you could say something like this: “I love the skirt, but you know, I don’t think it does your figure any justice. Red isn’t the color that makes you shine. How about black? You look great in black.”
I know it’s skirting the truth, but you answered her, didn’t you? I don’t think she’d really want to hear how fat her ass is. Of course, if she looks you dead in the eye and says, “I don’t believe you. Tell me the truth, you’re my best friend,” well, you have to tell her, but you can do it carefully. You can say, “Well, maybe the skirt is a little too tight?” and then wince.

Reason Two You’re invited to a party, an affair, or some kind of gathering and you don’t feel like going. There could be many reasons for not wanting to go. Now, here’s where it gets iffy. If you know the person very well and you still don’t want to go, then you should offer the reason. But if your reason for not wanting to go is because you find this person, and her friends, boring, then what do you say? Do you say you have other plans? Do you call at the last minute and say that your aunt suddenly died? What do you do? I’ve found that asking the person if I could let them know, works out well. When they ask me why, I simply tell them that I’m not big on parties and that I would like to give it thought. It’s the truth and it shows the inviter that I’m being sincere. It’s better than calling five minutes before the gathering and saying that Rover ate the tires on my car.

Reason Three  You see someone whom you’re attracted to . . . and you’re either married or in a relationship. You’re so attracted to them that you begin the flirting game. Before you know it, you’re making a date with this person. You begin sneaking around and lying to your significant other. But why are you doing this? And why the lies? By lying in a situation like this, it says one or several things: that you want your cake and eat it too; you want to see if there’s anything better and if there is, you’re going to drop the bomb on your significant other; you’re afraid of telling your partner the truth for fear that they’ll leave you and then get a lawyer. There’s many reasons for lying when you’re in a situation like this, but the main reason is fear. But fear of what, is what you have to ask yourself?

Reason Four  People have low self-esteem and want to impress others. Now this is up-there in the lying chain. Let’s be honest. How many times have you felt the need to exaggerate, just a little, your life’s journey to others? You get in a group of successful people and suddenly you feel like a failure. So when asked about your profession, instead of telling them that you’re a shoe salesman in Macy’s, you say that you’re the manager in the entire men’s department. Um, just a widdle, iddy, biddy lie, eh? But seriously, I think we’ve all done this OR we may have avoided answering the question all together . . . WHICH may be better than lying. Then again, what’s wrong with saying the truth? What happens to our egos when we come face-to-face with humiliation? Think about it.

Reason Five  We’re afraid of someone’s reaction—to ANYTHING. I think this is the granddaddy of the list. If you’re lying about everything, then it’s time for the couch. Seriously.  I’ll elaborate on this.
The premise behind lying, about anything, is fear. There isn’t any other reason. The fear of another person’s reaction is what drives people to lie. The fear of the consequences for their actions makes them lie. It’s always fear that causes a person to say an untruth. Don’t let yourself believe anything else. When you lie to someone, it’s because telling them the truth will either get you in trouble or get you in jail OR you’ll have someone mad at you or you’ll have something taken away from you. Lying is the biggest symptom of fear and the worst part about it is that we lie to cover up for our insecurities. Think about that one and ask yourself, why do I lie?