Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Your Next Vacation Can Save Lives

Love to travel?

A lovely woman by the name of Ellen Schultz has asked me to let you know that you can travel and raise money to help save the lives of women and children in the United States and in Africa. Book your next vacation through Ellen's new website: http://teawoman.globaltravel.com, and she'll donate a percentage of her commission to two charities.

Half of her proceeds will go to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation; the other half will benefit an African AIDS charity. She's still researching worthy AIDS charities and welcomes your suggestions (send 'em to EllenNewYork@aol.com).

Help her raise funds by doing something you might already do: Book a cruise, a tour, a flight, or buy travel insurance.

It won't cost you a penny extra, and you'll rack up excellent karma.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Rest in Peace, Ellen Marie

My mother died in her sleep, surrounded by my father, my siblings, and me, shortly after midnight on Saturday, August 20. Here's the eulogy my brother-in-law read for me at her funeral:

Ellen Marie Cummins Hernon was born on Friday, August 14th 1936. According to the plaque I had in my childhood bedroom, Friday’s child is loving and giving. That describes my mother. It’s not a good idea to make a person out to be a saint when writing her eulogy, but my mother definitely qualified as a good soul. No, she was an excellent soul. That’s not to say that she didn’t have faults, but we can talk about them later.

My mother liked people. I can’t remember a single instance when she was rude to anybody. Our kitchen in Flushing often overflowed with people of various ages, drinking instant coffee. Most of the time they were friends of mine, my sisters and brother, but they came to see our mother as much as they came to see us. Once I came home to find Mom and my brother, who was about 12 at the time, playing board games with a boy I’d known in high school but hadn’t seen in years.

My mother treasured her own friendships and enjoyed a close one with her sister, Maureen. When we were children, my mother would rattle off tales from her days at Ladycliff College until we could recite them in our sleep. The years she spent in Highland Falls were the happiest of her young life, and she made important friends there. Later on, geography and circumstances prevented her from seeing them as often as she’d like, but she continued to talk of them as if they’d just left the room.

After college, Mom became a teacher but cut short her career to raise her children. She returned to teaching many years later and made new friends who brought her great happiness. After she retired and moved to Manhattan, she became involved in the parish council of this church, which allowed her to enjoy the company of new and interesting people. Living in Manhattan also allowed Mom to meet her beloved friend and college roommate, Juliann Gill, for lunch every chance she could.

My mother’s great love was my father. One of my father’s favorite memories is of my mother walking up the aisle—all by herself—to meet him at the altar at their wedding. He had never seen a bride walk herself up the aisle before then, or since. With typical understatement, he said, “She pulled it off.”

While we were growing up, my mother had a habit of giving my father his breakfast, and then watching him walk to the bus stop from the dining room window until he was a speck in the distance. While waiting for her to scramble my egg, I found this behavior highly annoying. “Why do you do that?” I finally asked her. “Because anything could happen,” she answered. “There could be an accident, and I might never see him again.”

So, she loved in a big way, and that love extended to social causes. She was a proponent of fair trade and a passionate supporter of Amnesty International. Shortly before her illness, she marched in a peace rally in Washington. She held Native Americans in the highest regard and contributed to their causes.

Now, as I said, the woman did have a fault or two: You could always count on her to be late, for instance, which got me into trouble with teachers whenever she offered to drive me to school instead of letting me walk. She was notorious for showing up at church just behind the bride or the casket.

And, although she fiercely believed that all people were created equal, she never could understand why a person who had the benefit of a Second Grade education would use double negatives. She was forever correcting our English. And while most people would consider her highly intelligent, she could be a terrific space cadet. Lost in thought, she’d drive past exits. She’d occasionally forget to pick up one of her children. She could sit down to a meal she’d cooked and chew it for ten minutes before it dawned on her that she’d forgotten to include some important ingredient; for instance, the meat.

Here’s one of my favorite stories: When my brother was young, he developed an affinity for black light posters, the glow-in-the-dark wall hangings that proclaimed the greatness of rock bands like Led Zeppelin and The Who.

There was only one place in town where you could buy them, and that was at the head shop on Main Street. Now, the other women of our parish had mounted a campaign against this purveyor of pot-smoking paraphernalia, but that didn’t trouble our mother a bit. She and my brother set off for the head shop. A few days later, I was in a record store when a guy I went to grammar school with tapped me on the shoulder. “Terry Hernon!” he said. “I just ran into your mother in Jolly Joint!”

My mother could be howlingly funny. She had an absurd sense of humor. Very often, while setting out the tuna fish on a Friday night, she would burst into hooting laughter because something comical popped into her consciousness. But she was also wise. She liked to encourage us by saying, “It’s not where you start, it’s where you finish.” When we were tempted to do something wrong, she’d say, “Maybe nobody else will know, but you’ll know.” She insisted that the surest way to make yourself unpopular was to complain about your ailments. She died as she lived, never complaining, usually smiling, always with more concern for the other person than for herself.

Of course she was special to me; she was my mother. But I like to believe she was special to all who knew her. She wouldn’t want us to feel sorry for her, though. She would hate for anybody to be unhappy on her account. As much as we’ll miss her, this passage from Anam Cara by the Irish philosopher, John O’Donohue, offers hope:

“We do not need to grieve for the dead. Why should we grieve for them? They are now in a place where there is no more shadow, darkness, loneliness, isolation, or pain. They are home. They are with God from whom they came. They have returned to the nest of their identity within the great circle of God. God is the greatest circle of all, the largest embrace in the universe, which holds visible and invisible, temporal and eternal, as one.”

I like to think of my mother drinking coffee with the invisible, the people she loved who left the earth before she did, her mother, the aunts who helped raise her, the father who died when she was just 11 years old, the sister and brother who died before she was even born. I like to think of her having a big laugh and too much dessert for her own good with her friend, Maureen Holmes.

This is what comforts me. I hope it brings you comfort, too.

Thank you.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

She's No Slut!

Dear Terry,

When is the right time to have sex with a guy, without setting yourself up to be called a slut and turning the relationship around to be all about sex? Because unfortunately this always happens to me. It kills my self-esteem!

-Baffled



Dear Baffled-

Why do you get to be the slut? Um, the guy you're with is doing the same thing you're doing; why is it wrong for you and right for him?

But to answer your question: If you're really interested in a guy, it's best not to have sex with him for a good while, until you're sure the relationship is about you and him and not about your bodies. If you have sex too soon, everything goes awry. Often, you'll find yourself obsessing about a guy you really aren't that crazy about.

Develop a friendship first. Go to movies, have dinner together, climb the Empire State Building together if you want, but don't sleep with the guy. Don't assume that you owe him anything because he's graced you with his presence on three separate occasions.

Back to my disdain for the double standard (the woman ending up with the slut label, while the guy saunters off happily in search of the next mattress): It doesn't take into account the fact that women like sex. It's all about punishing her for giving into some guy when she's really giving into her own desires.

So you have desires, and you're entitled to them. He has desires, too. But his are not more important than yours. If you end up in bed together too soon, the relationship may end before it really started, but you are no more a slut than he.

As far as your self-esteem goes, don't wrap it up in some guy. If you think sleeping with him will jeopardize the way you feel about yourself, don't do it. Treating others as they would treat you is the best way to go through life, but make sure others treat you as you would treat them.

Would you sleep with a guy and then run around and tell everybody he's a total slut? Of course you wouldn't. So, don't waste another minute on anyone you suspect would do it to you.

To your happily ever after,

Terry

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Guy Wants Commitment

Hi, Terry-

I recently read your article on how to get over breakups (or being dumped) and thought perhaps you could give me some quick advice because your article was so good. I'm desperate! I have been seeing a girl for 3 years, and we lived together the past two. I am almost 23, and she is 22. Four weeks ago, we moved out. Now we live about 40 minutes away from each other, due to my changing schools and her getting a job. Looking back, I definitely see all the warning signs of something wrong while we lived together. She was often distant from me, etc.

Recently, I told her I wasn't getting what I wanted out of the relationship because it seemed like a lot of the time I was the only one into it. I said I needed to know what her deal was. She has been at an intense 6-week training course, which has been a sleep-over thing with intensive 16-hour days for her new job(teaching). She has been even more distant, but I have kept telling myself how busy she is. That was her excuse for a while too. So I gave her the scoop on my feelings and left the ball in her court. Last Sunday, she said she needed time to think things over. She called it a "break". This "break" is essentially a breakup, but she said she wants to leave the possibility of us getting back together open. I told her this was unreasonable, as my feeling for her are still strong.

Nevertheless, I agreed to the "break" and am now wondering if I should call and demand an answer. It has been 5 days and its driving me nuts. She has just finished her 6-week course so now she has "time to think", but I wonder if this is even really necessary as it seems she has already made up her mind. I need time to heal because I need to have a clear head before school starts up again. So my question is this: Should I call and demand an answer so I can move on? Or should I wait in hopes that maybe she still wants to be with me? This "break" has a deadline of August 20th (school starts) agreed to by both of us. Help me! Should I call sooner or give her time?

-In Limbo Land Man


Hello, In Limbo-

Thanks for the nice comment about my article.

Now, about this girl...

Since you've very smartly put the ball in her court, you should definitely leave it there. It's possible that she's overwhelmed with her studies, or then she may feel that it's time to end the relationship.

Whatever it is, it'll do no good to call her up and ask her if she's made up her mind. But I also don't think you should wait around, hoping that she'll come back to you. Since you're on a break, why not use the time to do the things you couldn't while you were living with this girl? See the friends she hated, see the movies she didn't like, and so on. Fill your time with things and people you enjoy. If her face pops into your head, banish it. If someone brings up her name, say "She's fine," and change the subject.

Look at it this way: Say you're the one in the relationship who's been distant, needs time to think, and so on. What would be your reaction if she called you or insisted on an answer? Would you like that, or would it make you feel less attracted to her?

So, stay away. Let the girl come to her own conclusions. Let her wonder what you're up to.

Now, if she doesn't get ever back to you, or gives you the answer you dread, it's going to hurt, for sure. In time, you will definitely get over it (yeah, I know you don't believe me, but if you're willing you can get over almost anything).

If she decides to say goodbye, you must avoid turning her into "the one who got away." It helps to remember what you didn't like about her and remind yourself whenever you're tempted to fantasize about how great things were. The benefit of this scenario is that you'll free yourself to meet a girl who's mad about you and gives you the love and attention you need.

Now, on the other hand, absence may clarify things for this girl in another way. Maybe it will dawn on her what she's missing (because you haven't called her), and she'll make a firm and happy decision to get back together with you.

The only way to find out is to let her come to you. If she doesn't, she's done you a favor. (One thing I really admire about you is your ability to say what you feel. You didn't play games with the girl, just told her straight out you weren't getting what you need from the relationship.) You deserve a girl who's crazy about you and never lets you forget it.

Terry

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Cheating Bastard's Girlfriend Writes Again

(Note: Read August 1st's post to get up to speed on this one.)

Terry-

This all sounds good, and I do have a lot to think about, but it is hard when he has started back on the kick that he cannot live without me. I feel like a yo-yo.

-A.



Well, A-

You're not a yo-yo, so don't allow yourself to be treated like one. It's time to make a decision. Are you in or are you out? If you're out, then stop taking this guy's calls and emails. Make a clean break.

As for his saying he can't live without you, how very romantic! But he's still breathing, isn't he?

You're in pain, so take care of yourself. Only you can end the torture.

Terry

Monday, August 01, 2005

She Continues to Attract Cheating Bastards

Dear Terry-

I have basically had it with men. I have been married and divorced twice. I met the man I thought loved me when he started working with me in 2002. He was a married doctor doing his residency in our office. We slowly became better friends during his second year of residency. When I found out that my second husband cheated on me, he was the one there who helped me get through it.

Even though we both knew it was wrong, we became intimately involved. We continued to have a relationship for the rest of his stay here. Then when it was time for him to graduate and move to another state. We made a promise that we would still make it work. (His new office is only an hour away).

During his first week there, we still talked often. He asked me to let him live with his children for four more years. That would be when his contract was up, and he could move wherever he wanted; basically, he would have to move to wherever his wife wanted after he left her so that he could still have a relationship with his children. In four years we would be married and supposedly live happily ever after.

On July 1, 2005 we spent another wonderful night together and told each other how much we loved each other. Then on July 12, 2005 he left for a family vacation. During this time I rarely spoke to him. When he finally called me on July 17, 2005 he informed me that he was still on vacation and he missed me. We argued a little due to the fact that he wasn't honest about his venture, and that I was all alone while he was having fun.

Well, once he was at home the emails started again and I once again thought that everything would be ok, but little did I know that the emails would eventually only come once maybe twice a day. Finally, I made a break for it and offered him the easy way out. I told him that I thought that his feelings for me had changed and that he didn't want me anymore; that is when he gave me this story about his children and how we couldn't be together permanently. He closed with "I love you and I know that I don't tell you enough. I can't imagine my life without you in it." Being the fed up person that I am, I replied "I know what I have to do now"...meaning it was time for me to move on.

The problem is that I honestly love this man. He was my best friend who helped me to overcome so many obstacles. I haven't heard anything from him since our latest argument, and I am starting to feel like he never loved me at all, and I was delusional for thinking that he did. I have been on your site, and I have read and re-read every one of your steps to getting over this person, but I don't know what to do. I feel like a fool. This man promised me everything, but all that he gave me was a broken heart. Please help me.


-A.

Hello, A-

Your break-up is virtually seconds old. There is no way at this tender stage for you to be completely over this man. The good news is that you can definitely get over him, but you must be patient. Give yourself time, treat yourself well, and every time you're tempted to relive a happy memory you shared with him, stop yourself. Make a habit of banishing him from your mind, and eventually, he'll stop popping in.

Keep yourself busy. Indulge in unabashed escapism and see a movie you've been dying to see-- by yourself. See all the movies you want by yourself! If you don't want to be seen going to a theater on your own (I enjoy it, actually), go to a Saturday matinee (couples tend to hit pre- and after-dinner showings). Treat yourself exquisitely. Buy yourself flowers. Sleep late. Enjoy lovely meals and other luxuries; just avoid going into debt.

If this doesn't sound good to you, picture this scenario instead: The guy in question decides he wants to be with you. You'll get married and spend the rest of your lives together. Everything will be just as you dreamed.

Or will it? The guy cheated on his wife to be with you. That makes him, like your former husband, a cheater. If you were to marry this man, you would be looking over your shoulder for the rest of your life. You'll be afraid to go to the Ladies' Room for fear that he'll be chatting up another woman while you're in there. And what will he be doing at work? Solving another woman's problems over the water cooler?

For some reason, you've attracted at least two cheaters. And, worse, you were attracted to them. Why? Only you can answer these questions. The world is full of fun, monogamous, cute guys, and you deserve a joyous, peaceful, lasting relationship with one of them.

My best advice is to stay the course and let Dr. Feelgood go. You've been married twice, so perhaps it's time for you to give yourself some space and really get to know yourself and enjoy your life. You don't need a man. You need yourself. Once you get to the point where you love yourself too much to waste time with somebody else's cheating husband, you'll start attracting better men. Best of all, you'll be attracted to them, too.

You'll run into this guy on the street five years from now and wonder what the hell you were thinking.

To your happily ever after,

Terry