Monday, April 25, 2011

The Trouble with My and Mine - Part 2

My man, My woman, My husband, My wife. Proclamations of ownership are scary because people are not possessions even though we often times think in those terms. My and Mine - two small words that cause BIG drama.

We mistakenly believe that when get intimately involved with people and/or marry them, that they come with a bill of sales stamped paid in full. We think we own them. But the truth is we do not. We cannot claim ownership over another human being; we can only acknowledge the relationship that we share. And we have to be true to ourselves in that acknowledgment. People have been hurt and killed because of their desire to own the actions of another because we think He or She is Mine.
The tragic story of Rhoni Reuter, the girlfriend of former Bears Shaun Gayle who was pregnant with his child and was killed by Marni Yang,a woman who thought that Sayers was Hers and she didn't want to share. So, she eliminated her coompetition.

When we're invloved with someone, and we find that they're spreading themselves around, there are only two things we can do: accept it or not accept it. We can't act like dogs and start pissing around the hydrant to mark our territory. I can't count how many times I've watched this drama unfold with ugly consequences and it never stops the partner from stepping out.

People are who they are. Dating or marrying them doesn't change that. If the person wasn't monogamus when you were dating, he or she is not going to miracously change during marriage. The question you have to ask is Am I going to stay or move on? People do not belong to us. We cannot control their actions, only our response to it.

I want to date and be in a relationship, but I don't want to be claimed like a possession: the man who says I'm His woman; the man who says that he can't live without me, or the man who thinks if he can't have me no one else can. I've always said don't love me to death; love me to life.

Every relationship has its challenges, but if we need to shift our personal pronoun paradigm so we can make our relationships work.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Trouble with My and Mine

The tragedy of Lashanda Armstrong clings to me like rain-drenched clothes on a blistery day; no matter what I do I can't shake the chill that it gives me when I think about it. Lasahanda along with three of children 5,2 and 11 months of age drowned. The 10-year old managed to roll down the window and escape. We shake our heads and wonder how could a mother drive her minivan carrying her four children into an icy body of water?

It seems like an unspeakable horror to intentionally harm children, but I'm beginning to wonder how many of us have a little of Lashanda in us because for far too many of us, people are possessions--things we think we own like our homes, our cars etc. We're quick to claim my and mine reminding me of the self-indulgent immature nature of a child who becomes obsessed with something she thinks is hers.

Back in the day, we chuckled at the absurdity of our parents words: "I brought you into this world and I'll take you out," because we never thought that our parents would actually kill us. And maybe back then our parents spoke out of frustration and/or fear, but today with our country's economic instability and people's stress levels at all-time highs, there are far too many parents that take these words to heart.

The Lashanda Armstrong case is not an isolated news story. There seems to be a disturbing trend of parents killing children before killing themselves,and in the case of married couples killing their spouses as well. Lashanda had been arguing with the three younger children's father on that fated day. Why didn't she leave the children with Their father?

Even in death the problems of My and Mine continued when the children's father, Jean Pierre decided against Lashanda's family wishes to bury His children with Their mother. Tension was thick as the relatives of Lashanda felt that were not welcome at the children's funeral.

So, often in custody battles that I've witnessed I often hear parents argue about MY children who belong to ME because they are MINE. There's no longer a thought of what WE should do in the best interest of OUR children. Even when they're not fighting, parents are possessive, and it's not healthy.

The words of Khalil Gibran captures the essence of parenthood.And if parents take these words to heart, there will be no room for My and Mine.


And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said, 'Speak to us of Children.'

And he said:

Your children are not your children.

They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.

They come through you but not from you,

And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts.

For they have their own thoughts.

You may house their bodies but not their souls,

For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.

For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.

The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.

Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;

For even as he loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Hierarchy of Love

The movie, I Will Follow is as much a meditation on loving as it is on grieving. We follow Maye as she packs up her recently deceased aunt’s house and prepares to leave and return her own life. A cast of characters pass through and help her to reconcile her aunt’s death and begin life anew.

The aunt, Amanda, an eccentric character and professional drum player who dreamed of playing in a rock band, succumbed to breast cancer. The two had a close, loving relationship that demonstrates the complexity of how we love. As a na├»ve little girl, I thought love was love, but I grew up to learn that even in loving there is a hierarchy. The greatest love is reserved for mothers, then fathers as evidenced by how much more attention we give to Mother’s Day than we do to Father’s Day. After all, it is mothers who bring us into the world and we should love them the most, right?

After parents then it’s siblings and after that we have to figure out who’s next on the tier for our affection. In the extended family there are grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces nephews and in-laws. Figuring out where everyone fits is tricky. The hierarchy changes when we marry and have children and so we shift and shuffle the ways in which we love and oftentimes things get complicated like they did for Maye when we break rank.

We meet Fran, Amanda’s daughter and the tension between the cousins is immediate. Aunt and niece had the kind of relationship that should have belonged to the mother and daughter, but didn't. Amanda and Maye's relationship went against the hierarchy and Fran resented Maye for that. At one point, Fran asks Maye if she has ever thought that the very qualities that she loved about Amanda didn’t make her the best mother. Fran also demands that Maye give her all of Amanda’s things because they belong to Fran and her children because she’s the daughter. The movie never reveals what happened between mother and daughter nor does it ever tell us anything about Maye’s mother.

Love isn’t the same for everyone; it can complicate, create confusion or cause pain when someone loves out of order. So,I wonder about our capacity to love. Is it limitless and boundless, or are there known but unspoken restrictions? How do we love? Do we do it differently depending on the family pecking order? What happens when relationships change? Or order isn’t followed?

Mae is single with no children. Fran is married with three children. So, did Fran’s sense of obligation to her immediate family prevent her from being there for her mother? Mae loved her aunt so much that she left her boyfriend and moved to another state to be with her aunt. During a phone conversation, Maye asks him why wasn’t he there for her and he said that he couldn’t just pack up his life and move away like she did.

Like Maye, I am also single and childless and I wonder what this means for me on the hierarchy of love. What do I do if my hierachy is missing a tier or two?