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"When he was able to find the better part of himself, to fix things between us, he was happy . Why would he give that up?"  

"Maybe you pushed him too hard."  

"We were making progress!"  

"He's had 42 years to get stuck in his ways."  

"But being happy has to feel better than being miserable."  

"I hated smoking. The taste was disgusting; it burned my throat and gave me a stomach ache; the smell in my hair and clothes made me sick. When I wasn't smoking, I felt a million times better, but I kept doing it."  

"That's such a stupid way to be. I believed in him! I encouraged and supported him."  

"Maybe that makes him uncomfortable. He's probably used to being ignored."  

"I'm supposed to let him ruin our relationship so he can
feel crappy?"  

"You have to let him do it his way. Believe me, I know. I do the same thing."  

"But I'm right! It's not something I read in Oprah , either. I see how he is with me."  

"I'm right too. And it is from Oprah, and Dr. Phil, and what I've read, and what I've tried, and what I've seen, but it doesn't matter. I tell them – 'You think you know a better way, go ahead. Oh look, it didn't turn out the way you thought. You're not smarter than I am.'"  

"You say that to Addy?"  

"No, I say it to the kids. I think it sometimes though."  

"Scott is smarter than I am."  

"Addy's smarter than I am. We're right but they won't listen to us."  

"I can see things so clearly. It's frustrating!"  

"You can't give advice unless you are asked for it."  

"I feel like I have an obligation to help people. Maybe what I say will make the difference."  

"The piece that clicks?"  

"Yeah!"  

"No! You just push people away."  

"He told me he wanted my advice. Every time he tried to cancel our plans or break up with me, I wouldn't let him, and he was always so thankful."  

"You should have let him leave."  

"I'm always forcing people to do what I think is right."  

"It's our family curse."  

"I do it over and over and ruin everything."  

"You've had 40 years to get stuck in your ways."  

"Now I've pushed him so far, he'll never call again."  

"I think he will."  

"But what if he doesn't?"  

"Then he's an asshole, and you don't want to date him anyway."  

"Maybe I should apologize—"  

"No. Give him space. Let him decide."  

"You should study psychology. You're pretty good at this."  

"I'd get too mad at the people who didn't listen to me."  

I break up with Scott and bond with my sister. The people in my life orbit me in concentric circles, sticking like magnets when the pull is strong and dropping off when the force is low. In the split second of imbalance, before comfort connects and the cycle starts again, I take a tiny step forward.



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