Empathy

I’ll be honest, I’m still a bit rattled by some of the reactions to the vlog, “What to Say.” What got me were the comments that basically went like this, “Hey, former rich lady, quit your crying a lot of people have it worse than you.” The line that really got me was, “I don’t feel sorry for you.”

I have exposed myself more than I had EVER planned to when I started on this blogger path. I think I was a tad naive about the boundaries here. Since there aren’t many. I really only wanted to do amusing videos and help moms feel less isolated. But one can’t always find the humor in life. And after many months of saying nothing, I did decided to reveal on Cool Mom arguably the most traumatic thing that ever happened to me. And NOT just me, but my stepchildren, my husband, some of their relatives, and my own children. As all moms know, it’s one thing to have something happen to you, but when something affects your kids, it hurts much more.

On Momversation, there was recently a discussion about Jon & Kate Plus 8. Some have criticized the parents for exposing their kids to the TV glare, that everyone will have seen their divorce unfold on TV. Well, at least in LA, it was quickly known that my husband was invested through a feeder fun with Bernie Madoff. So, my children will grow up with their friends knowing more details of our personal financial life than most ever share. My stepchildren have had people come up to them, “Sorry about what happened to your family.” etc. And yes, that pisses me off. I’m sorry that will be a part of their personal biography. But as I often tell myself, one can’t control others actions, one can only control how one RESPONDS. So, that is why I thought, well, let’s try to find the silver lining here.  And I don’t mean the obvious, “Hey we have our health.” But all the people who are going through financial turmoil can reach out to each other and not feel alone, not feel isolated. Again, isolation is a theme here.

The other aspect of the comments that irked me was after having our money stolen and having to lie to my daughter about why we are moving was to have people say, “You don’t have it that bad.” Or in a sense what at least one person said, “I never had that kind of money to lose, so shut your yap.”

In 2001, my friend Nina and I were robbed at gunpoint. The man said, “If you scream, I will kill you.” We gave them what we had and they let us go. We called the police immediately. They arrived and never did catch the guys. But as we stood there shaking, one of the police officers said, “You are lucky they didn’t rape you.” I sort of feel that was what was being said to me again, right here on this site.

When a friend has a parent die of a heart attack, do you say, “Well, my dad lingered in a cancer ward for months; be glad you never had to see you dad whither and die like I saw mine.” No, that wouldn’t be kind. You will have 1) taken the opportunity for your friend to express their grief and 2) made it all about yourself.

But one might say… “I’m so sorry for your loss, at least he went peacefully and wasn’t in pain for long.”

It’s very slight the change in speaking one has to make to say “the right thing.”

At the same party where I said to a stranger, “Well, we lost money with Madoff” who then abruptly replied, “I know.” (slap) Another person handled it more artfully. She knew I had moved out of the ‘hood and asked where we were (indicating she already knew why). She started telling me about how badly some of her families investments have gone recently. I put my hand on her shoulder and said, “It’s very nice of you to share this with me,” knowing she still had her big, pretty house and all. She said, “Well, that’s why I shared it. I didn’t want you to feel it’s only you.”

That’s why I speak about what happened to me. And if you don’t like me or don’t like that Yes, I do mind having to sell my house, lose my retirement, to have the money my husband earned after building a successful business where he worked long hours and stood on his feet for years being stolen from him, then GET LOST. My setbacks, my challenges are mine. If they aren’t good enough for some, well, too bad. I have way too many other things to worry about. My son needed me to nurse him today, my daughter needed me to hear her feelings about her day, I needed to prepare for my TV job the following day. Not to mention I needed to give my husband some love and figure out when I could visit my dad in assisted living. Instead, I was preoccupied by the critical remarks I had read. Sorting this all out.

Please don’t leave me a nasty comment about this. The old axiom if you don’t have something nice to say… then just move on. Go to another blogger. I’m too raw about this issue. I’m trying to hard to move forward and not look in the rear view mirror. I had hoped to to create a forum of sorts for everyone to share stories about what they are going through. This is an unprecedented time in most of our lives.

“Please my friends be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting their own hard battle.”  Plato

Shout Out to My Blogger Pals

Most of my friends have a physical presence. Then there are those that are virtual friends, like many of you who come to Cool Mom or whom I follow on Twitter. Then there are a few who straddle this divide. Bloggers who are friends. Honestly, only one has been made physically manifest before me. Rebecca Woolf Girl’s Gone Child. She is a fellow Momversationer, and we found we lived VERY close to each other. She’s about a quarter of my age, but except for having tattoos where I am terrified of them, we are very sympatico as mothers and people.

I give her a lot of credit for coming to the party I had in January to celebrate the impending birth of my son. She didn’t know a soul.. .well, there was one other person she knew. But she showed up with a gift. Bless her heart. Sometimes I can’t handle going out by myself… so much energy. She didn’t know at the time I was partly throwing the party have a big party while I had a BIG house. Months later, we ran into each other with our babies, and I told her all. Crying (as I am prone to do when nursing) and talking about losing my retirement and home. She is so dear, warm, and positive. Can’t believe how young she is. Very grounded. At her age, I think I was having some kind of affair I would never want my children to know about.

It’s a funny club, mom blogging. It’s kind of like being on a low production scale reality show that you have more control over. We get to do the editing. No slow-motion burns to represent conflict. It’s sort of art. I think if moms who went berserk years ago could have had a safe place to talk about concerns and disappointments, they might not have gone mad.

Another mom blogger who lives too far to meet, but we have had a penpal friendship, is crabmommy. Sometimes I don’t know how these friendships start, but I really like her writing and she recently wrote me a very heartfelt email after I did my Madoff week. The last line of her email brought tears to my eyes. It had her sassy quality and full of heart.

“And luckily although a shitload was taken from you, there’s an awful lot they didn’t get!”

I really loved that. And of course, though I’ve seen the dark side of humanity with Madoff, et al., I have been on the end of the light side as well.  So many dear people.

Mommy Need a Drink?

While the French and Italian mom’s to be are sipping their wine we are are forced to go to club soda. They do think we are over thinking this this no drinking thing. Amanda of mommymandy.com wrote about Margarita Mom Mocktails. So cute. Is that not the best baby shower gift for your fun girlfriend who is knocked up or what? Also nice for the 12 stepper friend. I am a big believer in driver drinks. Just cause your sober doesn’t mean you don’t want a fun fruity taste.

First Margaritas of the Season!
Creative Commons License photo credit: OctopusHat

Amanda’s site is part of Mommies United. Not an English soccer group, but a fun website with some of the cutest graphics going. And they are giving away a cupcake carrier! Check it out.