We are not friends and that is ok.  

Hands down, Dave is a my Best Friend. Here we are at Dyrham Park National Trust Site, Gloucestershire, England
Hands down, Dave is a my Best Friend. Here we are at Dyrham Park National Trust Site, Gloucestershire, England

Please do not take it personally. First, and foremost, I LOVE people and my relationships with them. Through years of practice, I have also learned that friendship is not an exact science. Thankfully, I have awesome friends; friends who are cool with who I am (or are super awesome at pretending).  And because I am a huge sucker for connection, especially the connection that the word “friendship” or “best friend” implies, I take my role as friend very seriously (like in a for-real blood oath kind of way).  I sincerely believe (again, in like in a freakish, overachiever sort of way) that love, loyalty, honesty, transparency, responsibility, integrity and follow-through are friendship’s core values. And like some sort of super-earnest, albeit a little sarcastic, Joan-of-Arc (or just like a very devoted pet) I completely commit to my friends.  And in the interest of full disclosure, I also commit to those who insist I am their friend, even those who literally have no clue how to be a friend, like those “friends” who are only “friendly” when they need a favor. And of course I have also found myself sucked into the blackhole of friendship with the occasional narcissist, stridently co-dependent, gaslight-er, sociopath and life-bloodsucker.

Hey and most relationship are cool and balanced, right?  It does not take much for me to heed the charge or enable an imbalanced connection.  Whereas, when the plane is going down and I should be putting my oxygen mask on first, all you have to do is show me your tangled cord and in the name of “friendship,” I will suffocate. If it means you can breathe, I will lose consciousness. All the while ignoring the fact that had I actually put my mask on first we both would be breathing. My dysfunction is on me.  And believe me, the dysfunction goes deep and is probably baked right into my DNA. I love the rush of helping others — sometimes even conflating help (being used) with true and connection friendship. I get it. Feeling needed feels good. Feeling needed, or better, helping is a great avoidance technique.  

I really like my kids. And yes, I will go against so conventions and say that I am so glad they are my friends. This is Kyle & I at Levant Mine and Beam Engine National Trust Site, Trewellard, Cornwall, England
I really like my kids. And yes, I will go against so conventions and say that I am so glad they are my friends. This is Kyle & I at Levant Mine and Beam Engine National Trust Site, Trewellard, Penzance, England
I love these boys! Land's End, Cornwall, England
I love these boys! Land’s End, Cornwall, England

The other day I needed to put my oxygen mask on. I was trying to sleep. I should have been sleeping. I was very tired. My back hurt. I was exhausted and catching a cold. The night before I was up past 1AM and then up again at 6AM. I wanted to say goodbye to Kyle. He was leaving for his Varsity Cross Country team run. As luck would have it, Kyle left his cellphone on the kitchen counter. And so it began… Every nine minutes I heard the beep, beep, beep of his cell phone alarm. Because I could not figure out his password, the only thing I could do is hit snooze, which meant I was also up every nine minutes. It never occurred to me to bring his phone into my room, hide it outside, or guess the password (which I actually knew). I was supposed to go walking with my friend Rita shortly.  Because I trusted she would kind and empathetic, I knew she would be cool if I canceled. She was. In her text filled with a bunch of heart emojis she said,

“No problem. Let’s go Friday.”

My friend, Rita & I after we finished the SLC Half Marathon. (It was epic.)
My friend, Rita & I after we finished the SLC Half Marathon. (It was epic.)

Feeling relieved, I went back to sleep. Within minutes I heard my phone beep. I was mad at myself for not putting my phone on “do not disturb.” I felt the obligation to look. Someone did need me.  I felt compelled to “be a friend.” It was only going to be a few minutes, but those few minutes also meant I needed to get up, brush my teeth, brush my hair and locate what this person needed. It also meant that I was up. So, Instead of sleeping I said,

“Sure. Come on over.”

Me & Easy E. He puts up with me & is a super considerate human. Man, I love this kid! Snowdownia National Park, Wales
Me & Easy E. He puts up with me & is a super considerate human. Man, I love this kid! Snowdownia National Park, Wales

I do not think I am the only one who feels compelled to be a “good friend.” I do not think it is bad to help someone in need either. What I am truly suggesting is balance.

Culturally, I think women are taught to put everyone’s needs before their own, especially in the culture I was raised in. I think this baked-in, I-must-serve behavior complicates true, bonded friendship even further. Many people feel such an urge to please others, even their own friends, that they forget to take care of themselves, or to have boundaries, like I did that morning.  Sure, our commitments and obligations are distracting. Time is short. Oh yes, and then there is the whole part about having our “me” time versus our guilt about being a good friend, or at least being seen as a good friend.  What complicates the concept of friendship even more is that from my experience, we are all different. And because we are different, there is a no roadmap to perfect friendship.

My friends, Emily, Andi & I, Galilee Grill & Bakery, Lindon, Utah
My friends, Emily, Andi & I, Galilee Grill & Bakery, Lindon, Utah
Moe & I, Red Iguana, Salt Lake City, Utah
Moe & I, Red Iguana, Salt Lake City, Utah

Because I have made many wrong turns, I hope I can help you avoid the detour by offering you a few directions.  I will start with the idea that friendship is not a one-sided service project. Meaning, friends are not a box to check or a badge to earn, someone to possess or a crazy, co-dependent feedback loop. Friendship should definitely not be a status or hierarchical-based relationship. (You can save that relationship for your boss, as a super-fan, or when you move to North Korea.)

In contrast, I would suggest that friendship really is mutual affection. Meaning, we both get to equally dictate the terms of our relationship (high fives to that). Friendship is boundaries and support (even when either is uncomfortable). We do not have to text everyday, talk every week, or even see each other every year. And because we stand by each other’s side, when we are together, our friendship has integrity. We mean what we say. We apologize when we are wrong. We are honest, (even when truth adjusting would be way more comfortable). We are loyal (even when it is not cool). Mostly, we forgive.

It took me a long time to fully digest the concept that for me to be a good and committed friend I cannot possibly be friends with everyone. Ok. Wait. I will push back here to say that Facebook and Facebook friendship is not what I am referring too. So in the Facebook realm, yes, I believe you and Mark Zuckerberg can friend the entire world. In support of my friend-the-world claim, Dave often observes:

“You have a super liberal Facebook friend policy.”

“Yes. Yes I do. I love people.” I respond.

Me & Big Daddy at Levant Mine and Beam Engine, National Trust Site, Trewellard, Penzance , England
Me & Big Daddy at Levant Mine and Beam Engine, National Trust Site, Trewellard, Penzance, England

Alas, Dave is correct and also proves the fact that the people you acquaint with are not all friends. See, a few years ago, a high-profile-on-the-internet guy friended me. Obviously liberal-Facebook-friend-policy-me accepted his request, even though (once again), we had not met. Of course, like I suspect many people do, I checked out his Facebook page before I actually accepted his request. When I saw his friend total, the smart-ass in me was like,

“Seriously, you 4,999 personal friends? You mean to tell me you know every single one of these people — by name?”  And because I am bubbling with dry sarcasm, I continued my internal discussion and said, “How do you have time for all of those relationships [long pause] and your family [even longer pause] especially your wife?”

Well, you don’t. For example, I saw this same dude recently at a Cross Country meet. I literally ran into him. By his long, perplexed stare, I assumed he thought he knew me. His wife looked similarly bewildered.  Dave was half way across the race course, so alone, I said “Hello.”

He paused and stared at me for a really long time. That is when I impatiently thought (because I needed to find Kyle & Eli),

“Wait for it. Wait for it.”

“Hi Barb.” He said.

Ok. I am kidding.  In truth he said, “Hi Beth,” as I began to lift my hand to give him a high five. Realizing he was not going to make the connection, I quickly & nervously brushed my hand into my hair as if I meant to do that.

Alas, even though he remembered my name, the uncomfortable moment would not end. As I answered, his wife, in sort of a stunned and freaked out way quickly asked,

“well, how do you know him?”

And that is when I gave her the name of one our mutual real-life friends.  I know they are real friends because tagged pictures of them spending time together always roll through my Facebook feed. His wife seemed to relax, which was good.

Easy E, Pre-Region Cross Country Meet, Cottonwood Complex, Salt Lake City, Utah
Easy E, Pre-Region Cross Country Meet, Cottonwood Complex, Salt Lake City, Utah
Kyle a t the Pre-Region Cross Country Meet, Cottonwood Complex, Salt Lake City, Utah
Kyle a t the Pre-Region Cross Country Meet, Cottonwood Complex, Salt Lake City, Utah

Here is the deal. This dude (bless his heart), despite having met me in person a dozen times since we became Facebook friends, never knows my name. When he stumbles with any sort of recognition, I wonder if he thinks I am a super-fan or a stalker.  And because he is the one who friended me, his incongruous reaction always fascinates me.  Obviously we are not friends. We are barely acquaintances.

Doug, Dave & Easy E, Buffalo Bayou Walk, Houston, Texas, January, 2017
Doug, Dave & Easy E, Buffalo Bayou Walk, Houston, Texas, January, 2017
Dave & Ryan Raddon, SLC, Utah
Dave & Ryan Raddon, SLC, Utah

His incongruous reaction, like many others, got me thinking. Has Facebook eviscerated the connection of real friendship? Do we know some people way more than we should? And is there any real-life correlation between Facebook friend totals, real world relationships and imbalanced obligation?  I do not know. I think we all Facebook friend differently. Nevertheless, I do belive Facebook and social media are influencing how we friend. Just last week, because a woman who friended me seemed so cool and is a friend of a friend, I accepted her friend request.  And guess what? She is cool. And yes, you read that correctly. I accepted the friend request of someone I have never met, or at least do not remember meeting. I know I am not the only one. And because she now owns the title of my friend, should I give her the same friend benefits? Am I obligated to wake up for her when I should be sleeping?  I was friended by my friend Letti after knowing her for twenty minutes (and I really like her in real life). (Fun Fact:  twenty minutes was the same amount of time I knew my friend Mike’s brother before making out with him.) Moving way beyond my fun fact, I also have friends who I have met once (in person), only to become really great friends via Facebook. Doug Vandiford, we are talking to you. On the other hand, Dave Facebook friends only those he really really knows. In contrast to my interaction, Dave actually knew Doug Vandiford way back when they were in the BYU dorms together (with Ryan Raddon (DJ Kaskade namedrop). And guess what? These three dudes are still real life friends. Ok. I would also argue that there are many sides to non-discriminatory Facebook friend requests (which have absolutely nothing to do with the concept of friendship I began with).  That is why I would suggest is that bonded friendship goes well beyond today’s Facebook friendship friending rituals, and that the mutual affection of friendship actually takes effort. I would also suggest that having only a handful of friends is a very good thing.  Considering the effort it takes to be a friend, I would like to offer that we may only have healthy space for a handful of friends. Meaning, that the other 4,988 relationships may fall into the category of acquaintance. (I think that is ok, by the way.)

Me & Big Daddy, Venice Beach, California
Me & Big Daddy, Venice Beach, California

Think of it this way.  An acquaintance can be an ally without all the strings or obligations.  I would also argue that if you put most people into the acquaintance category, your disappointment will decrease, your awkward moments at your boys’ cross country meet will not feel like rejection, and that your expectations of reciprocity may soften. And if you see relationships through the acquaintance lens I would argue that your relationships with these people may actually be healthier, more fun, and more fulfilling (or even an serendipitous networking opportunity).  I would to think about it this way: An acquaintance is a friend without the loyalty and expectation. Do I care if an acquaintance blows off dinner plans? Do I care if an acquaintance makes up a lame ass excuse for not including me? Do I care if an acquaintance tells everyone I am high maintenance (dude, I have food allergies, get over it). Do I mind if an acquaintance tells everyone I  have social anxiety, or that I am too religious, or that I am not religious enough? Nope. Do I care if an acquaintance needs a favor, even though I have not heard from them in years? No. I am happy to help — always (even when I would rather be sleeping).

Our feet, Venice Beach, California
Our feet, Venice Beach, California

Bottom line: I say learn from me.  Figure out how you want to friend, and then trust it — (as long as you are not being a tool and are being transparent).

Tagged : / / /

CrazyUS 4.0: Exposing My Vulnerability

Kyle, Eli & Dave, Sugarhouse Park, Salt Lake City, Utah, August, 2006
Kyle, Eli & Dave, Sugarhouse Park, Salt Lake City, Utah, August, 2006

A little over ten years ago I blogged daily.  With an an average of 20,000 daily readers, I was on my way to becoming a well known public voice.  I loved it. In truth, I have always written. Sometimes my writing is sloppy and less polished and other times extensively edited. Regardless, I need to get my words out — always. I journaled as a young girl.  I spent hours talking and processing and eventually pouring those thoughts onto the page. In high school, I sought out creative writing classes.

“Write out the garbage.”  My teacher, Roman Borgerding, would say, and followed with, “then you will find the beauty.”

Us, Laird Park, Salt Lake City, Utah, July 30, 2006
Us, Laird Park, Salt Lake City, Utah, July 30, 2006

In college I majored in English, where deconstructing and analyzing poetry and prose was my jam. In fact, I found that I am oddly great at deconstructing poetry.  Seriously. I was a little shocked as well. And when I went back to college years later, I eagerly and painfully embraced literary critical theory. At first I thought deconstructing Jane Austen, Ngugi Wa Thiong’o, or Elizabeth Barrett Browning was an extremely self-indulgent endeavor. How can literature change the world? I wondered. Of course my assessment was wrong. Because I am stubborn, it took me a minute to correlate that Jane Austen wrote a template for understanding social class, which I would argue we all try to navigate and make sense of. Ngugi Wa Thiong’o addresses language in how it affects culture, even making some cultures go extinct. Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s poem, “The Runaway Slave Girl at Pilgrim’s Point,”  the concept of sacrifice, articulating what a mother will do to protect their child. The more I read, wrote, analyzed and deconstructed, the more I saw myself in their words. It was exhilarating and painful. Nevertheless, because I am addicted to the human narrative, I did my senior seminar in memoir writing, which I thought would lead me into perhaps writing a self-indulgent memoir. Nope. Instead, I connected. And through connection, I learned that good stories happen when people allow themselves to be vulnerable. In Joan Didion’s “The Year of Magical Thinking” it was her ability to connect and to show courage when her only daughter died. Her vulnerability was beautiful. Those were the words I wanted to write. She gave me a template for making the uncomfortable beautiful, relatable and clear. Further, then I learned to break down these personal stories and push back with my own. It was invigorating.

Me on the North Shore of Oahu, January, 2014 right before I started classes back at BYU
Me on the North Shore of Oahu, January, 2014 right before I started classes back at BYU (that’s another awesome story)

Tonight I found one of the first papers I wrote when I returned to school a few years after I took CrazyUs.com offline. The paper is on Ted Hughes’s poem, “Daffodils,” a response to his wife Sylvia Plath’s suicide. Here is first paragraph of my paper:

“As I considered the compilation, “Birthday Letters,” which was released in October, 1998, months before Ted Hughes’ death. As I read the poem, I was also distracted by the noise, and found it easy to get lost in the salacious biographical details of Ted Hughes’ and Sylvia Plath’s life. Instead of doing a close reading of the poem, “Daffodils,” I found it hard not to psychoanalyze the doomed couple, which admittedly made the poet’s literary voice challenging to hear. Whether it is Hughes’ own confused and complicated internal voice creating the noise, or the fascinating biographical details, I would move beyond the critics and argue that a solid literary voice exists, and because the voice is a messy grey, not a solid black and white, it is no less real. I will show that these very details when embraced enable a concrete, informed, and close textual reading of Hughes’ complicated love poem, “Daffodils.’”

Me doing college in 2014, Salt Lake City, Utah
Me doing college in 2014, Salt Lake City, Utah
Me on BYU Campus with one of my favorite college buddies, the beautiful, Maddie, Provo, Utah
Me on BYU Campus with one of my favorite college buddies, the beautiful, Maddie, Provo, Utah

Yes. Messy and grey. That is one-hundred million percent me. You know what is funny? It never occurred to me at the time that going to back to school and writing all those papers was in fact a search for my own voice. In fact the title of my paper is,

“Ted Hughes, “Daffodils:” Is the Poet’s Voice Lost in The Noise?”  

And I would argue that the title of my life could be the same: “Beth Rodgers Adams, “CrazyUs.com:” Is the Blogger’s Voice in Lost in The Noise?”

Um and the answer is, “Yes.”

And since August, 2006 (and really since way before that), I have been trying to be a tree instead of the wind. That being said, do not underestimate the power of the wind. 

Us driving through Kalamata, Greece, March, 2016
Us driving through Kalamata, Greece, March, 2016

So here it is: Back in 2006, Dave and I were also in the throes of parenting two extremely entertaining and active little boys. Whether it was telling the world how a two and and a half year old Eli could not go to bed until he told us a joke first, or how a three and a half year old Kyle found a screwdriver and unlocked our bedroom door while yes, Dave and I were having mommy and daddy time [wink, wink]. Children are excellent at giving their parents plenty of material, and Kyle and Eli were no different. And really, whatever the story was, in the early to mid 2000s, I could not wait to tell my internet friends about my new highs and lows, including, but not limited to adventure, heartbreak or hilarious crisis. I love human connections and sharing my life experience online was another most valued outlet.

On an emotional level, I loved seeing my words reflected back through the very personal and insightful experiences others were willing to share. Our online conversations lifted me through the day. The online communities we were creating were a natural progression of in-person relationships. And I was experiencing these connections from my kitchen table. Looking back, those relationships and online communities grew faster than the speed of sound travels. We, the early blog adopters, were navigating and creating a new language and space of our own. It was crazy, terrifying, uncertain and exhilarating.

Kyle behind the 15th & 15th Einstein Bagels, Salt Lake City, Utah, March, 2005
Kyle behind the 15th & 15th Einstein Bagels, Salt Lake City, Utah, March, 2005
Easy E, Maryland, June, 2005
Easy E, Maryland, June, 2005

Because the word, “blog,” was still in beta in our collective consciousness, when people asked what I did for a living, I would unsteadily answer,

“I am a writer.”

When they pushed further, I would say,

“I have a blog,” which would inevitably be followed by their long eye roll and my self doubt.

I would try to authorize my space by sharing my credentials such as how Dave and I met in our high tech internet careers. I would always follow with the fact that and even had a blog for our wedding. And,

“We were married in 1998. Crazy!”

Me and Big Daddy, Scotland, July, 2016
Me and Big Daddy, Kellie Castle & Garden, Fife, Scotland, July, 2016

In August 2006, I took my blog down. I went completely dark and walked away from a space I worked very hard to stand in.  

There is no other reason than this: I took my blog down because I was afraid.

Kyle & I, The Main Square in Liechtenstein, April, 2017
Kyle & I, The Main Square in Liechtenstein, April, 2017

It took me a long time to see that I did not feel worthy of that space. I did not feel like I earned it. I felt shame. I felt less than. I believed I was unworthy. It took me an even longer time to see that I was not allowing myself to be vulnerable. Sure, I had no problem sharing my stories online. I could talk about other moms and how much they suck. With great and specific detail, I could talk about the bad and sad things that were happening around me. What I could not do is be vulnerable. Simply put, I was terrified committing to the uncomfortable and of standing in my truth. As a result, I felt shame. As a result, I will never know what could have happened. Most of my friends who blogged at the time did make some money and did find careers that were birthed via their blogs. Me, well, I was afraid and I walked away.

Forgiveness and healing took me really far. Standing in my own space was a great push. Ultimately, I truly believe vulnerability is the piece I was missing. I am ten years late, but I am here and I am standing. I am willing to invest and I am committed to sitting in this space, even when it is less than awesome, or no one is here. I reject the wind and will be the tree. I will even try to throw in some courage, authenticity, but mostly I really miss connecting in a space I helped create, and for that, I am sorry.

I am sorry I ran away.

Ran-Tong Save & Rescue Elephant Center, Chiang Mai, Thailand, June, 2016
Ran-Tong Save & Rescue Elephant Center, Chiang Mai, Thailand, June, 2016



Remember how we picked the daffodils?
Nobody else remembers, but I remember.
Your daughter came with her armfuls, eager and happy,
Helping the harvest. She has forgotten.
She cannot even remember you. And we sold them.
It sounds like sacrilege, but we sold them.
Were we so poor? Old Stoneman, the grocer,
Boss-eyed, his blood-pressure purpling to beetroot
(It was his last chance,
He would die in the same great freeze as you) ,
He persuaded us. Every Spring
He always bought them, sevenpence a dozen,
‘A custom of the house’.

Besides, we still weren’t sure we wanted to own
Anything. Mainly we were hungry
To convert everything to profit.
Still nomads-still strangers
To our whole possession. The daffodils
Were incidental gilding of the deeds,
Treasure trove. They simply came,
And they kept on coming.
As if not from the sod but falling from heaven.
Our lives were still a raid on our own good luck.
We knew we’d live forever. We had not learned
What a fleeting glance of the everlasting
Daffodils are. Never identified
The nuptial flight of the rarest epherma-
Our own days!
We thought they were a windfall.
Never guessed they were a last blessing.
So we sold them. We worked at selling them
As if employed on somebody else’s
Flower-farm. You bent at it
In the rain of that April-your last April.
We bent there together, among the soft shrieks
Of their jostled stems, the wet shocks shaken
Of their girlish dance-frocks-
Fresh-opened dragonflies, wet and flimsy,
Opened too early.

We piled their frailty lights on a carpenter’s bench,
Distributed leaves among the dozens-
Buckling blade-leaves, limber, groping for air, zinc-silvered-
Propped their raw butts in bucket water,
Their oval, meaty butts,
And sold them, sevenpence a bunch-

Wind-wounds, spasms from the dark earth,
With their odourless metals,
A flamy purification of the deep grave’s stony cold
As if ice had a breath-

We sold them, to wither.
The crop thickened faster than we could thin it.
Finally, we were overwhelmed
And we lost our wedding-present scissors.

Every March since they have lifted again
Out of the same bulbs, the same
Baby-cries from the thaw,
Ballerinas too early for music, shiverers
In the draughty wings of the year.
On that same groundswell of memory, fluttering
They return to forget you stooping there
Behind the rainy curtains of a dark April,
Snipping their stems.

But somewhere your scissors remember. Wherever they are.
Here somewhere, blades wide open,
April by April
Sinking deeper
Through the sod-an anchor, a cross of rust.

The poem is to Sylvia, about cutting and selling flowers in spring with their daughter, who no longer remembers her mother. The collection broke a 35 year silence on Hughes’ part. It is a response to Wordsworth’s daffodils as well – the kinds of memories the flowers conjure here are less those of solace than treasured, fragile moments. The scissors form a beautiful image of violence and vulnerability.”

Trust Me

CrazyUs.com Travels
Us, Citadel of Besançon, Besançon, France


A friend recently suggested I listen to Brené Brown’s talk entitled, “The Anatomy of Trust.” I was like,

“Who is Brené Brown? And why do you always refer to her?”

Apparently I am nearly the last people on Earth who has not heard of or listened to Brené Brown, or at least, I am the last of the subset of those who listen of those who watch Oprah, listen to the Ted Radio hour, and/or read transcendent personal essays, such as the ones found in The Atlantic Monthly.  In truth, I was listening to another podcast recently (Amanda Palmer on Design Matters) when Amanda Palmer, formerly of the cabaret-punk duo, “The Dresden Dolls,” quoted Brené Brown. I figured if cabaret-punk can coexist with Dallas mom, then well, I can listen to Brené Brown.

CrazyUs.com Travels
Me and the boys, Liberty Park Salt Lake City, Utah

So, between avoiding my online French class and booking summer travel I decided it was time. Immediately Brené encoded the definition of trust into a most awesome mnemonic device. Yes, awesome, because I still remember the word: BRAVING. I will not break it down for you now. I suggest you listen to her entire podcast.  Right now I want to focus on the “v” in her memory acronym.  No. The “v” is not referring to a 1980’s alien invasion reboot, or to lady parts. The “v” in BRAVING refers to the trust concept of a Vault, which by Brené Brown’s definition means: “what I share with you, you will hold in confidence. And what you share with me, I will hold in confidence.”  Feeling confident with my ability to keep confidences, I almost missed the next crucial advice Brené gave, which is the idea that we are not trustworthy when we participate in salacious behavior. Meaning that “in our relationship I need to see that you acknowledge confidentiality and I need to do the same.” Nevertheless, in an attempt to “hotwire connections,” simply put, we gossip.

Easy E and Me, tonight, Salt Lake City, Utah
Easy E and Me, tonight, Salt Lake City, Utah

As a result, instead of healthy, trusting connections, Brené Brown suggests that “our closeness is built on hating the same people.” She calls this, “Common Enemy Intimacy.”  Ouch! I get it. How many times am I silent, ultimately complicit, as I listen to the rumors. My excuse: I want to feel a part, especially when it comes to the other moms. Why can’t I be brave?

With thoughts simmering, I finished the twenty-four minute podcast (of course I took notes). And I continue to simmer. I am trying to process the concept that an aspect of trust is our ability to keep our mouths shut, or better, “not sharing something that is not mine to share.”  As I think, I want  push further and suggest that Common Enemy Intimacy is a pervasive societal condition. For instance, socially we reject those who do not act like us. Religiously we fear those who do not believe like us. Politically we hate those who do not think like us. Deep breath. I am not going to talk politics or religion. I am going to speak to the social component, specifically regarding parenting as it relates to my relationships with other moms. And here is my conundrum:  How do I quickly engage you without betraying trust? I need help.

First, I could totally rationalize.  I agree.  Gossip does hotwire a connection. Sure, telling you about a bitchy mom may build closeness with you, but at what cost? I would even argue that talking about someone else in an attempt to heal is a form of gossip. In defense of healing, my story includes other people and my opinions of them. I know if you understood the details you would gain greater perspective. As a result, I am sure my full disclosure would allow for better advice. At what cost? What about trust? Where is the line? Is it worth breaking someone’s trust? Ah! What do I do?

Kyle & I, Salt Lake City, Utah
Kyle & I, Salt Lake City, Utah

Here is a thought. I would like to push further on the concept of trust.  In what we share with others, I would like to consider a line of thought, which is that women (in general) are culturally taught to accommodate.  As a result, I would suggest that our society does not enable us to ground ourselves in our own space or our own stories. Because we are taught to tether to our relationships to an exterior world, we become dependent on the opinions of others. And as accommodators, I would argue that gossip is a natural form of this exterior connection (intimacy). Sure, I could also have an entire conversation regarding the idea that patriarchy and how women treat one another is because they feel the only power they have is within their own gender and that creates inequitable trust, but I won’t, at least not right now. Ultimately, women who try to break the societal cycle and who are “grounded” in their own narrative can actually be viewed as self-absorbed or narcissistic. Because we do not want to appear self-centered or self-absorbed, the accommodating feedback loop persists. That is why I push back. I may not like or condone gossip. In fact I pretty much hate gossip in all its mean-girl forms. Nevertheless, I have compassion for the women who do.  And maybe it is because women who gossip are not trying to break trust. Perhaps they gossip because they are not comfortable standing in their own space, or they do not feel they can. (By the way, self trust is half of the equation:  You “can’t ask people to give you something you don’t think you are worthy of receiving.”) In the end, we become more of the wind and less of the tree. And as the wind, it is not about trust, it becomes about fitting in and holding on.


Us, Alsace Region, Riquewihr, France
Us, Alsace Region, Riquewihr, France

Alas, all this exposition simply to ask,

“How do I stand in my space and tell my story while holding everyone’s trust, including my own?”


Learn From Me: Go Easy on Yourself

Me and Big Daddy, Kellie Castle, Scotland, United Kingdom, July, 2016
Me and Big Daddy, Kellie Castle, Scotland, United Kingdom, July, 2016

My first and probably most important words do not come from me. See, recently I watched the documentary, “Amy,” about the life of Amy Winehouse.  I loved it. It was sad and of course I loved how the filmmaker captured her vulnerability. It was fascinating to see video of her before hair extensions, stylists and insane paparazzi. She was flawed (like many of us are).  And even with extravagant vacations, fancy eyebrow tweezing and tons of money Amy remained broken. Like the rest of us, she was trying to get along in this crazy world. The world knows about her insane relationship with alcohol and drugs. Come on, she was filmed smoking crack and filmed incoherent while trying to perform. I am sure she struggled with depression (obviously and I, again, like so many, do too). She died very young and honestly, there is a part of me that wonders if her death is what she needed to find relief.

Near the end of the documentary Amy Winehouse had an opportunity to sing with Tony Bennett. Mr. Bennett had handpicked artists to sing with him for his “Duets” album.  Amy was one of them. I loved how they sang together. I love how beautiful she sounded and how transparent her nerves were. I loved what Mr. Bennett said: “The very best artists always get the most nervous.” It kind of makes sense.

After Amy Winehouse died, Tony Bennett was interviewed about her death.  Picture this. Tony Bennett was walking down the street wearing his smoky-tinted-glasses. In his slightly incoherent-jazzy-voice way he said the following:

“Life is about learning to live.”

Kyle and Eli, Sugarhouse Park, August, 2006
Kyle and Eli, Sugarhouse Park, Salt Lake City, Utah, August, 2006
Eli Sugarhouse Park, Salt Lake City, Utah, August, 2016
Eli Sugarhouse Park, Salt Lake City, Utah, August, 2016. Running the Highland Cross Country Invitational.
Kyle and Eli, Sugarhouse Park, Salt Lake City, Utah, August, 2006
Kyle and Eli, Sugarhouse Park, Salt Lake City, Utah, August, 2006
Kyle, Sugarhouse Park, Salt Lake City, Utah, August, 2016. Running the highland Cross Country Invitational.
Kyle, Sugarhouse Park, Salt Lake City, Utah, August, 2016. Running the Highland Cross Country Invitational.


As Dave and I walked down a new street the other night, I told him what Tony Bennett said.

“It is profound. It is true.” I added, “And it is about learning to forgive ourselves and those around us.”

People. Life really does go by in the blink of an eye. Opportunities will pass if you are not in the space to grab them. Do not beat yourself up. Move forward and find something else. Mostly, do not be afraid to stand in what you want or what you believe. Remember, you cannot control every aspect of your environment. It is simply not possible. I promise when you mean it least you will upset people most. It is just how the universe operates. PLEASE do not let the possibility that you may hurt someone’s feelings keep you from doing what is best for you. Get your shit together, let go and forgive. The end.

Kyle, Eli, and I, Park City, Utah, July, 2006
Kyle, Eli, and I, Park City, Utah, July, 2006

…Ok. So maybe there is a little more.

Exactly ten years ago I was a semi-well known blogger. Upon reflection, blogging (writing for an audience) is one of my great joys. At the time I struggled owning this. Can I blame the fact that I never have felt deserving of my space? Sure. Can I adjust a childhood memory to validate my doubt? Of course I can. Did I step aside so my brother and sister could have the special art classes and be in the high school musicals (without me invading their space)? Yes. I did that too. When I was asked to step aside, my child brain said,

“Beth, you are not worthy.”

As a result, when push comes to shove, when say a college art professor challenges me about “my gift,” I will always freak out. And I will most definitely step aside. Why? It is simple. I cannot believe someone is actually telling me I am good enough. I could never see that people believed in me. I never let the words penetrate, “Beth, you are talented.” Talent was for my brother and my sister. I am certain my parents did not mean for me view life this way. It is just how kids see things. It is how I saw things. I get it. I have also made the same missteps with my own boys.

When it came to my blog, CrazyUs.com, I was also filled with self-doubt and freaked out. I could not comprehend that I deserved a space. I know. It sounds silly. Silly or not. I told you that I was good at self-sabotage. I am an expert at aligning myself with doubters, dieters and critical people. I rationalize warning signs and ignore red flags. So when I had a readership of 20,0000  – 30,000 unique visitors a day, I could not comprehend how awesome my web traffic was. In that early stage of blogging, I had no idea how well I was doing. In fairness, I do not think most of us did. Nevertheless, CrazyUs.com became my thing. It was not a job. It was my passion. It was my therapy, my touchstone and my way to connect. I wrote every day and my words came from my mouth. I did not lie. I did not adjust my stories. My words were my reality. And because I did not know how to believe in myself, I really had no idea about the possibility staring me in the face.

As the words posted each day, I gained notice. I was recognized as Beth from CrazyUs all over the place. It was totally weird and also very cool. I was stopped at airports, the grocery store and church. I was sought out for what I had to say and it felt really nice. Soon I was branching out. I wrote a piece for a magazine and was considering other writing opportunities and sponsorships. When it was suggested I write a book, I actually considered the possibility.

Bottom line is this: I could not see what was in front of me. In spite of all of the opportunity and notice, I had no idea how completely special this moment was. Instead, I doubted and chose to listen to other voices.

Ultimately, instead of cutting myself slack for not being the perfect human, I let my life spin out. I freaked out. I shut my blog down. I ignored a very special and gifted opportunity.  I ignored my voice. I ran away from the healing I was offering through my own experience. Then I moved away.

Since August 2006, blogs blew up. Meryl Streep was in a movie that paralleled the life of a food blogger. Female bloggers were traveling to Africa and kicking it with Michelle Obama. Every blogger found ways to make money, to get free stuff and to give that free stuff away. The closest I came to reengaging was a job offer I received in 2009. I was asked to participate with the development of a now very successful blog conference. I declined.

In the end, I quit blogging for various reasons. I quit as an attempt to spare my mom her continually hurt feelings. I also told myself I was quitting in an attempt to save friendships. Ten years is a great training ground. Because my mom is my mom, and we are tied by our love and DNA, we healed, let go and forgave. (I hope) my mom sees I need to do what I need to do. I see that it is completely unfair to expect her no-strings blessings. The friends I broke up with over blogging, well, that was a fascinating experience. It took me a very long time to process that if it was not blogging, something else would have unsettled these people.  It also took me slightly less time to see that I do not have the power to fix a friendship or fix a person.  Yes. I am human. I still struggle with concept that some relationships will never reconcile. I still hope that my dad and I will high five each other one day. Dreams are fulfilled in Lifetime movies. My dreams are being filled by living my life. As such, I honestly believe we can find a way to healing. [Again] Yes, I will always struggle with the concept that we each see the world through our own lens. Meaning, people will see me the way they choose and there is absolutely nothing I can do to change their perspective.

Interestingly enough in ten years, the pendulum also balanced itself. There are still blogs, but not the crazy explosion. Instead there are the Influencers.  What I chose was healing over fame and success. I do not think I am noble. And because I was afraid, I missed my own comet. I have had to forgive myself several times over. Nevertheless, since I stepped away from blogging in August, 2006, my life as a blogger has never ever been the same.

I only wish that ten year ago that I had a supportive voices in my head like the ones I have now.  I wish I had a Tony-Bennett voice (yes, all jazzy-voiced and all) on repeat saying:

“Hey Beth.  Go easy on yourself. Life, well, life is about learning to live.”  

Us, Park City, Utah, August, 2006
Words imbedded into the foundation of our house, Park City, Utah, August, 2006

Two grocery stores in Kalamata, Greece reminded me that I am human

Me, Mystras, Greece
Me Today. Mystras, Greece

Let’s be clear. I am awkward, semi-confident, overly analytical, underachieving, and overly tired. At home and abroad, I will not be able to offer you a proud parenting moment or a fancy yoga pose — (of course I would do Upward Facing Dog. It sounds cool and a bit self-involved). In real life my only yoga move is me shimmying into my yoga pants. Well, not really yoga pants. More travel pants by a well known and popular yoga pant maker. I own two pair of LuluLemon pants. One is black and the other is grey. They are three years old (at least), are my go-to travel pant, and I have been wearing the grey ones for the past three days. (I wore the black ones for five last week). As I type, I can see that the right thigh section of my grey pant leg is stained with something. I think it is lotion from this morning.

Why I mention yoga, and the lack thereof, is that I would like to offer me. And in the spirit of my current travel, I can say that my life is not a Greek tragedy or drama. I am not a victim. My life does not suck. Mostly,  I am human. I have good days and I have bad moments. I am flawed. I am not glamorous. Right now I have a terrible case of allergic dermatitis. It started on my ankles and moved up my calves. The itching is driving me insane and is intent on ruining our trip. Consequently, I am existing in a slight haze due to a steady stream of little pink Benadryl tablets and cortisone cream. Earlier Eli was annoyed with me. I have no idea why. His response,

“Mom, do your ankles itch?”
“I wasn’t thinking about them until you asked. You asked to bug me, didn’t you?”
He smirks, “Yep.”

Dave and I, Mystras, Greece
Dave and I, Mystras, Greece

As far as me the human goes, I am not a size zero. I do not have big or even, even-sized boobs. I do not wake before the boys for say spinning class or a twelve mile run. I have wrinkles, bags under my eyes and a gap in my teeth.

As far as world-travel goes, I am horrible with new languages. For instance, the French often look completely glazed over (and dumbfounded) when I try to speak their language, always refusing to answer me, despite the fact that I studied French for several years. Then those same awesome French people look around, wait, and act like,

“Were you talking to me?”
If I am lucky they speak to me in English.

Carrefour, Kalamata, Greece
Carrefour, Kalamata, Greece

I also get scared when I travel. This time my fear crept in at the Greek grocery stores. Oddly, the Santorini tourist grocery stores were fine. It’s the everyday-Greek grocery. They are completely freaking me out. Each time I walk into a Greek Carrefour grocery store, for instance, I panic. I am not kidding. As I walk through the minimally filled produce section of seemingly rationed out orange, bananas, and bags off white rice tied with red ribbons, I feel like I have stepped back into my elementary school lessons about the Soviet Union. In the back of my head I hear Sting singing, “Believe me when I say to you, I hope the Russians love their children too…” The Berlin wall still stands, and food is not the snack-y, interesting wonderment of say the Chocodile or Gummy Smurf candy of today. Instead, all items at the Greek Carrefour are bleak, plainly labeled and utilitarian. Aisles upon aisles are covered in the same brands. We actually saw an entire aisle filled simply with canned milk. There is canned milk in all sizes for kids, babies and adults. Tonight, Dave and the boys wanted to stop at the Carrefour for the one treat they knew was there – this kind of caramel custard that we always buy in Europe. We stopped, parked the car and my heart began to pound. Dave was halfway into the store when I realized Kyle was still in the car. I looked at Dave and urged,

“Please wait. I need you to wait.”

He waited. Kyle protested and took extra long tying his shoes. I could hear Dave’s foot tap along with my racing heart.

Eventually, Kyle got whatever he needed out of the trunk. I grabbed the last vestige of the life I knew out of my pocket (three gummy bears). I plopped them into my mouth and chomped them right up. Ceremoniously I put the gummy bear wrapper into the trashcan outside. I looked at the door and we walked in.

Carrefour, Kalamata, Greece
Carrefour, Kalamata, Greece

As Dave and the boys gleefully examined the grocery store, my throat tightened, my vision narrowed, and I felt the cans of uniformly canned grocery store product closing in on me. I couldn’t shake it.

The same thing happened yesterday at the Carrefour down the way. Ask Dave. In fact we chose this Carrefour because Dave thought it might be “less Soviet.” As we stood in the even larger Carrefour yesterday, Dave cheerfully tried to engage me.

“Look Beth, The mayonnaise is by Heinz and the ketchup is by Hellmann’s. It’s a parallel universe. I have to take a picture.”

He did and promptly posted it to Facebook.
All I could say was, “Dude, hurry.”

Carrefour, Kalamata, Greece
Carrefour, Kalamata, Greece

Today I was prepared. I would ignore my freaky anxiety-based-grocery-store claustrophobia. Nope. As soon as I stepped in, it grabbed me from behind. It was a crazy drink the boys wanted.

Carrefour, Kalamata, Greece
Carrefour, Kalamata, Greece

“Dad, Dad. It’s called Gr8 Cola. We have to get it!”

I wanted to forget the Gr8 Cola. I wanted to run. All I could see where the green cans of cola next to the Gr8 Cola. While I was transfixed on the regular cola in the plain green cans, Dave happily responded,

“Of course! You always have to try the crazy interesting drinks!”
Instead of encouraging the adventure (like I always do — I actually love foreign grocery stores), I followed with,
“Can’t you hurry? Seriously. Hurry.”

Dave (figuratively) swatted me away. Then I was like,

“dude, remember my anxiety is crazy today.”

He gave me a hug right there in the desolate grocery store as I tried to catch my breath. Seconds later Eli was all,

“Dad, it’s chocolate milk in a can. Please. Kyle is getting a can of regular milk. Can I get Chocolate milk in a can?”

I wish it were the fact that my son wanted canned chocolate milk that made me do it. It wasn’t. It was my strange fear that made me say what I said next:

“Eli, you don’t need that.”

And it was then when I realized I was acting a little crazy. I took another swig of air, backpedaled, swallowed hard, and encouraged him to get that “awesome can of chocolate milk.”

Carrefour, Kalamata, Greece
Carrefour, Kalamata, Greece

He did. We paid for our food and we all made it out alive.

Ok. I told you that story because that is what happened. Of course, I wish I could be different. I wish all my travel stories were filled with inspirational tales about my compassionate spouse, my responsible children, myself and our perfect family. Alas, we are not a veneer. We are human! I am not perfect. Dave is not perfect. My children are not perfect. I suffer from random, unexpected bouts of anxiety (like, ahem, the Carrefour experience). Jet lag is something I will never concur or understand. I am always afraid to fly. Ask Dave and the kids. Their hands are bruised from me squeezing them. Every single time we travel, I freak out about something. I have nightmares about losing the boys in a crowded city. I always think we are going to lose our passports. Sure, I have reason. We do lose (leave) things. Today, the nice guy at the little restaurant high up in the mountains ran out to give us Dave’s credit card (not the first time this has happened, by the way). The kid’s favorite (not really) is when we were flying to Italy last year. Over the airplane loudspeaker the flight attendant announced,

“has anyone lost a woman’s size medium greenish-brown colored coat?”

The announcement was immediately interrupted by the collective eye rolls and followed with their in unison, firm, whisper-yells,

“um, Mom. That’s your coat. Who else has a greenish-brown size medium jacket? [insert smug shoulder shrug here] come on, greenish-brown?”

They were correct. I left my (greenish-brown) jacket at the gate. And yes, Dave and I are in some sort of weird competition to see who can lose the most outerwear on vacation. I think Dave is winning. Further, when it comes to my travel expertise, I must tell you that yes, Dave and I fight (a lot) when we travel. I make hotel reservations for the wrong day (which I just did and it cannot be fixed). We point fingers. We misunderstand. We think we are compromising when we aren’t. We miss flights. But most of all, we actually LOVE to travel and LOVE traveling as a family. It’s not super dramatic. It is life. We are not victims and no one is out to make our life suck. Stuff just happens. Grocery stores just freak some people out.
We are thrifty, frugal, shop at grocery stores on the road (most I enjoy), and travel the most affordable way possible. Basically, what I am trying to say is that if a crazy person such as myself can travel all the time, so can you. Or better, if a crazy person like me can follow her dreams (in spite of weird grocery store anxiety and such), so can you.

Dave and I, Mystras, Greece
Dave and I, Mystras, Greece

Ultimately, my point is this (and maybe this should have been at the beginning where a thesis goes): I think a lot about the world and the images that are put out there. I know I often feel like I cannot compete. I am not fit enough. I do not fit in enough. I am awkward. I nervous cry, or better, I announce that I am going to cry and then I don’t. I am so not cool. I am not a Foodie. I am “real” [wink wink] allergic to wheat and I love food. I am a lot A.D.D. and am interested in everything (of course). Basically, I do not fit into a box. Consequently, I wonder if there is a way to fight the cleverly crafted, magazine-styled, Facebook-induced, craft-blog enabled veneer? Is there a way to follow your dreams, feel worthwhile and still be you? I think so. How I am trying to make it so is by presenting myself as I am. If I am lucky, maybe someone else out there can see that real humans follow their dreams too.

— Because dudes, there is enough to go around — always!



  • We drove over the mountains to Mystras, Greece. We highly, highly recommend visiting.

Please Love Me, The Syndrome

Dave and I at my sister, Brenda's wedding, October, 1999.
Dave and I at my sister, Brenda’s wedding, October, 1999. (I was 8 months pregnant.)

Note: I am not a psychiatrist, nor do I play one on tv. Keep in mind that my dad is a psychologist. Enjoy.

I am stealing that phrase from Dr. Gabor Maté. After posting about being “all in” yesterday, my friend nailed it and suggested I watch his Youtube Video titled, “When The Body Says No: Mind/Body Unity and the Stress-Disease Connection.”  Seeing as how I have the attention span of a fly, in bits and pieces I have been watching Dr Maté’s talk since then. The concept of the Please-Love-Me syndrome is sticking with me most.  The Please Love Me Syndrome is apparently an adaptive result of say some sort of stressor, like a rage-ful dad (his words). Consequently, because we want to please our (rageful) parent and because we crave their love, we learn to adapt, inevitably hiding our authentic selves. To a child this literally translate to the following coping mechanism:

“I will do whatever it takes for you to love me, or better, I will suppress who I am so you will love me and attach.”

My adult translation: “At all costs, I will take your shit.”

Pushing his please-love-me theory further, Dr. Maté suggests that when we repress our authentic self, we also stress our physical selves out, which he asserts leads to disease. Again my translation is the following: So to gain your asshole — that is to say, rage-ful — dad’s acceptance (love)  we learn to suppress who we are, and then we get sick. Eventually all that adaptive, stress-based self-suppression makes us sick. Weird I had a lot of stomach aches as a child. I have indigestion just thinking about my past. And now I have Celiac disease. Does correlation equal causation? Hmmmm. Obviously the correlation here is that we suppress ourselves because we fear making our mean dad mad (fear rejection). Eventually our adaptive please-love-me behavior becomes so reflexive that it transfers to our other relationships and literally becomes who we are. I am living proof.

Minneapolis, MN: My sister, Brenda's, wedding, October, 1999
Minneapolis, MN: My sister, Brenda’s, wedding, October, 1999

Consequently, as I search for meaning and search for Beth, Dr. Maté’s words resonate. The need to please has literally informed everything. For instance, I have a knack for being attracted to smart, creative,  funny, dynamic, super intense, unpredictable, and oh, very cruel, self-obsessed humans (all characteristics I would use to describe my dad). Often I am lucky and I find friends (and spouses) who share most of the traits (minus the douchebag ones).  At times I have wondered if my please-love-me behavior has morphed into some sort of crazy addiction. Meaning, I get a buzz off of your approval as much as your disapproval. In fact your disapproval only makes me try harder. Further, when I do attract a rageful beast, my please-love-me behavior becomes all-consuming, often spinning out of control. I never get it. Rageful beasts are never satisfied and simply feed off of rejecting all the please-love-me fools caught in their net.

Pushing the mean dad analogy further, I found it interesting that Dr. Maté used a rageful dad as an example. I kind of get it. Do we all have mean dads? No. In fact, Dave is the opposite of mean. He is kind, invested, esteem-promoting and knows his boys. Sadly, in contrast to Dave, my dad was anything but esteem-promoting. What I remember about my dad, which is not much, is that he always seemed disappointed, more specifically, disappointed in me. When it was my weekend to go to his house (yes, my parents were divorced), I never saw my dad. My brother had my dad’s attention, and I was pawned off to my stepmother, his second wife, and yes, they are divorced now too. When I was not with my stepmom, I spent my time far away in the basement where I was asked to remain.  Ergo, (because I have been dying to use this transitional word), in my dad’s basement, I slept, watched television and entertained myself. I always loved when my brother came downstairs. Eventually I stopped going to my dad’s. It would make sense (at least to me) that my brother would continue his weekend visits. He did. My brother also tells me that things were not much better for him. I do not disagree.

My awesome sister, Brenda, and I at her wedding, October, 1999, Minneapolis, MN.
My awesome sister, Brenda, and I at her wedding, October, 1999, Minneapolis, MN. (Yes. I am super duper pregnant in this photo. My sister is gorgeous!)

My relationship with my dad came down to the following conversation he had with my mom. I think it was a gift.  My dad firmly stated that he only wanted my three children, and that I was unwanted. Yes, I heard him say these words. Remember land lines?  Well, I was on one phone while my mom was on the other. My guess is my dad had no clue I was listening. I was. My mom had no idea he would say what he did. I know her heart dropped when she heard him say,

“I don’t want Beth.”

I know she wanted to grab the phone away from my ear. I was in another part of the house. Instead, I continued to quietly listen.

Here it is. I am the youngest child. I could never figure out my dad’s beef with me. In truth, I know his beef was with my mom. With her not present, I became the puppy he could kick. I always felt his rejection. I still feel his rejection. It is cruel and it is abrupt. The only way I could survive him (the beast) is if I let go and shut the door. I did. Ok. Sure, it took me several years to get the clue that my dad did not want me. Again I think it was a phone call. He called my therapist at the time a “shrink,” and since my dad was, ironically, in the mental health profession himself, his choice of that particular condescending term was deliberate. And as Eli most humorously conveys,

“Hey mom, condescending means ‘to talk down to.’”

My dad talked down to me and I was done. I did what I do to most beasts. I scream. I short-circuit. I swear and then I hang up, lock myself in my room, or go for a very long walk. And if we are really being truthful and I am, please know that  I will always, always hope for the beast’s  approval, LOVE, forgiveness, acceptance, and (for what I don’t know, but I still want it). For now, I have  learned to live without it.

My dad is now seventy-five. My last memory of seeing him in the flesh was nearly seventeen years ago and after the phone call when I hung up on him. He flew to Minnesota (so did I) for my sister Brenda’s wedding. I was approximately eight months pregnant with Kyle, and at the point where I should not be flying. I flew anyway.

After the ceremony, my dad walked over to me. He and I said very few words to each other, yet I felt joyous, as if we were long lost friends. As he spoke, he placed his hand on my large, pregnant belly. I stood there and his hand remained, firmly on my stomach. I was consumed with his hand placement and wondered,

“Will he like who I have turned out to be?”

In that moment, I adapted.

Duality is interesting. In a flash I also saw how his behavior as my parent had informed all of my decisions as an adult.  I knew I did not want to be him, but I really wanted him to like and accept me. I found his hand repellant, wanted it off of my belly and away from my unborn son, yet I felt elated while I basked in his approving touch. Because I did not feel comfortable asking him to take it off, his hand remained. Standing there I felt forced to think about us. I thought about him as a father. I was not him. I am not him. In those seconds it was clear. I knew I wanted to be different. I wanted to be a part of my child’s life. I also felt proud and peaceful. I take my marriage seriously. I did not marry because it was the next step in a religious expectation. Instead I married someone I liked, loved and felt really good about marrying (I love Dave). I resolved to have kids when I wanted to have them. I resolved to not blame my kids, but to take responsibility as the parent. I resolved to  be patient and remember that I am the teacher. I resolved to take responsibility and I resolved to apologize when I screw up. And when I had Kyle and Eli, I resolved never ever to reject them. I never will. Those boys are my heart and soul. Each day with them serves as a reminder of what my dad has missed – his choice, not mine.

He took his hand away and we have not spoken since.

Dave and baby Kyle, Salt Lake City, Utah early 2000.
Dave and baby Kyle, Salt Lake City, Utah early 2000.

Kyle and I at my friend, Melanie’s wedding, Atlanta, Georgia, May, 2000

As I wind this post down I keep thinking,

“If only all my problems, including my please-love-me affliction, were because of my bad relationship with my father. If only…”

Unfortunately life is not that simple. I get that. So for me being “all in” also means facing all of me.  Here is how I picture myself. I am mummy wrapped in layers (years-worth) of gauze. Now I think my life’s journey is about ripping off that gauze. Honestly, I am a little overwhelmed. I am wrapped in so much gauze that I look like a big, fluffy mummy.  I am certain (because I already have) that as I peel away that I will find scars, pain, scabs, blood and unhealed wounds. Most days I would much rather remain a fluffy, protected, gauze-y creature (fence-bound). I also know that my desperate please-love-me behavior wants to remain hidden. Yet when I muster the courage, I must admit that gauze removing rocks. It is always those times when I start to unwrap when I am reminded of the love and support and strength that envelops my world!

Eli and I, Banff National Park, Canada, July 2004
Eli and I, Banff National Park, Canada, July 2004
The boys and I, Banff National Park, Canada, July 2004
The boys and I, Banff National Park, Canada, July 2004

And all exposed I feel grateful. I am grateful I get to be Kyle and Eli’s mom. And I am grateful I have a partner who does not freak out if I tell you we had a fight. I am also grateful Dave supports my quest, or maybe he simply prefers human Beths to gauze-wrapped mummies.

Kyle and I at the Oregon Coast Summer 2003
Kyle and I at the Oregon Coast Summer 2004

PS. The best part of being a wife and a mom is that I get to be a part of Dave, Kyle and Eli’s amazing journey. I would not trade this gift for anything.