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Archived Posts from "'GUEST COLUMNS'"

The beach in New Jersey

Pat Lamb on The Beach in New Jersey

With summer unofficially “rounding third base,” here’s today’s cartoon and commentary video from Pat Lamb – where he talks about – you betcha: The Beach.

He compares overweight Brazilian girls to the immigration problems, the lackluster surfing in Jersey, “Shark Week” and more…

Healthy marriages? Or are you just settling?

[Continuing the Your life back on track article series from Jessica Kasevich of JK Therapy...]

Are there really healthy marriages or do we all just settle?

By Jessica Kasevich

Are there really healthy marriages or do we all just settle JK Therapy Hoboken NJ

They had been dating for about two years. They met at a local friend’s Fourth of July backyard BBQ. They were the only ones whom the host did not know from work. Talk of programming and outsourcing left them on the sidelines truly positioned to seek comfort in the other.

The past two years seemed to fly by for Sally and Dave as they lived up their early twenties as a care free committed couple enjoying summers down the shore, winter weekends skiing and spontaneous trips to a warmer climate to break up the monotony of the cold NJ winters. They were always on the go and liked it that way. They had the same ideals on lifestyle, careers, how to manage money, family and friends. They had a great way of communicating; addressing whatever concerns they had immediately, finding a solution and moving on. This was the “easiest” relationship they both been in: no more drawn out fights that would last for days or even weeks, no more silent treatment, no more screaming matches, no more walking on egg shells, no more disrespect. They were in a healthy relationship and at peace in both of their lives.

The following fall they moved in together and began to receive daily invitations to spring weddings. When Sally and Matt met they discussed marriage and the fact that it was not in the near future for either of them. They wanted to enjoy the time they had together getting to know each other before they discussed marriage. They both eventually wanted to get married and have a family but felt they needed to make sure the other met their essential relationship and life needs for a lifelong time of happiness. They did not want to settle and eventually get tired of their needs not being met – and get divorced.

At dinner they discussed the wedding invitations. They were surprised at the couples who had decided to take the next step and get married.

James and Laura – “on again off again”

The first wedding was in April, James and Laura’s. They had broken up three times in the last two years and have been dating for a total of three years. The reason they broke up was to “explore other options.”

Would complacency eventually cause a divorce between the two as they would always be looking for someone who would better meet their needs?

Kyle and Samantha – “infidelity”

The next wedding was Kyle and Samantha’s in May. Every time he went out with the guys while Samantha was on a work trip he would come home with different women. Samantha had no idea that he had actually acted out, but had suspicions. Samantha stayed because she thought there is “more good than bad” in the relationship and that she would rather be with him than alone. Would Samantha ever grow to feel confident and comfortable living alone and eventually not want to manage the hurt that goes along with infidelity?

Kyle’s friends were surprised when he told them he was ring shopping as they never expected Mr. Playboy to “settle down.” Kyle had decided to take action as the pressure from his parents to marry Samantha “a good girl,” was too much for him to continue to handle.

Would Kyle finally meet a girl who was “good” but also who understood him, whom he felt a deep connection with and whom he respected?

Michael and Mary – “booze”

The Labor Day weekend invitation was for Michael and Mary’s wedding. Mary lost four jobs in a year because she showed up to work intoxicated. How many times would Michael emotionally and physically be able to bail Mary out of her difficult situation?

At what point would he realize that a unity like that is a two-way street and want to be in a fair, reciprocal relationship?

Scott and Katie – “baggage”

Then there was the final invitation of the wedding season for June: Scott and Katie. Scott was previously married. Scott is obligated to pay alimony and child support on a $300,000 income he no longer has due to tough economic times. He struggles to pay his bills and is not able to financially support his relationship with Katie. They always fight over Katie not feeling like she is his number one priority and the fact that she had to take on another job to support them has created resentment in the relationship.

Another contentious issue in their relationship is that Katie wants kids as she does not have any of her own. Scott cold not wrap his head around having another one as he has difficulty paying for the ones that he has and has refused to budge on this issue.

Will financial stress and not wanting the same family dynamics eventually come between them?

Settling because that’s the best you can do?

Infidelity, complacency, finances and difficulty handling a substance abuse problem, differences in what a couple wants in their family dynamics are all common reasons relationships struggle and why couples part ways or get divorced. Are these issues that you would like to work out before you get married? Do you want to take on these issues for the rest of your life and accept that “they are what they are?” Do you want to find a relationship that meets your needs? Do you even know what those needs are?

Healthy Marriages not settlingAre you letting fear of addressing these concerns dictate your actions?

Eventually you will have to face your fears of questioning do I stay and try to overcome these challenges, “do I go or do I settle and learn to live with the situation at hand and find piece with it?”

Sally and Dave finished dessert in silence with the thoughts of each of their friend’s relationships lingering over them. How had they seemed to find a peaceful relationship with the other one, one that met their needs and that they truly valued?

They each used the turbulent relationships in the past to learn what they wanted and did not want in their current relationships – by only allowing those people in their lives that met their standards: loving, respectful, equal, responsible, fun and funny.

Don’t we all deserve this?

Do you stay Married for your Children?

[Continuing the Your life back on track article series from Jessica Kasevich of JK Therapy...]

Do you stay Married for your Children?

By Jessica Kasevich

Lilly slowly walked up the stairs and reached into the front pocket of her backpack for the house keys. She could hear the fighting between her parents from the landing of the stairs and thought “Will they ever stop?” She then became mad at herself for not staying longer at the playground with the rest of the kids. As she placed the key in the door she slowly turned the knob trying not to make any noise that would aware them of her presence. The staircase was a couple of feet to the left of the entrance. She knew it took five long steps for her to make it to the base of the stairs to begin her incline to her room, where she could put her head phones on and read about far off countries, escaping from the home she lived in. As the door opened she saw her father’s briefcase on the hardwood floor and his black shinny shoes. Lilly wondered, “Why is he home so early?” For the past six months she heard him come home around 9:30 pm when she had just dozed off to sleep. His entry would alarm her and she would have to try to fall back asleep with the fear that they would begin fighting at any moment.

do you stay married for your children

“Did I do something wrong?”

It has been a difficult day at school. She was told that morning when she came to school to stay behind while the other children went to recess. She had been arriving early to get out of the house as soon as she could. She would clean the dry boards for her teacher before school while her teacher prepared her lessons. She enjoyed the company of her teacher, as she spent most of her time alone when she was at home. She told her mother that the drama club had a production coming up and she needed to practice her lines with the other students before school so as to be allowed to go to school early. Today her teacher left her alone in the room while she cleaned the boards because she had a meeting with another teacher about the upcoming class trip to England and France. Lilly hated that she had to wait until recess to talk to her. All she could think of was…

“Did I do something wrong?” If I did something wrong this will make my parents even more upset and get divorced? I hope she doesn’t tell them that I did something wrong. I hope I can convince Ms. Adams to keep this between her and I. I am such a bad kid. I tried to do everything perfectly lately because I do not want to make them more upset and have them fight even more. They will decide to get divorced because of me. Maybe I have to try harder. Maybe if they see that I am really trying to be perfect they will stay together. Oh no.”

Lilly could not concentrate on her time tables that morning as she was too nervous about the talks she was going to have. She usually finished math before anyone in the class but today she was mixing up numbers. During bathroom break she went into the stall and threw up from nerves.

Finally 11:00am came. All her classmates left for recess. Lilly waited anxiously for Ms. Adams to start speaking. She thought, “OK I am ready for whatever she has to say.” Ms. Adams started off by telling Lilly what a bright and pleasant child she is. Lilly’s heart began to beat faster as she was waiting for the bad news to come. She knew that people always start off with good news and ended up with bad. And then it finally came. “Lilly I am a worried about you. Lately you seem rather sad. You never talk about any fun times you have with your friends or family like you use to. Is everything ok?” Lilly had no idea what to tell her. She wanted to scream and cry and tell her that the two people she loved most in the world were not getting along and that she was so sad to see her mother cry every night because she was angry at her father.

She never saw her father anymore because he always had to stay late at work. She could not remember the last time he took her to one of her soccer games. They shared the same passion for the sport as he played college soccer and always encouraged her to do the best she could. She didn’t know if he was aware she was the top scorer so far this season. She thought “Why doesn’t he care about my soccer anymore or me?” She wanted to tell Ms. Adams this but also did not want her parents to look like they were bad people. She loved them more than anyone. She replied to Ms. Adams by saying, “Everything is ok. I am a little sad because my grandfather is sick.” Ms. Adams told her, “It is normal to feel sad about someone you love being sick. If you want to talk about this I am here for you. “Lilly thanked her and immediately left for what little time was left of recess. Lilly hated to lie but knew that she could not tell anyone about what was really going on because she had to be strong for her family.

Bad marriages can destroy children in many ways

Two months later Lilly’s grades began to drop. She would go to the bathroom at school and cry two or three times a day. She did not remember the last time she saw anyone in her family happy. Her stomach was always in knots and she had no appetite. Her mother would send her to school with a lunch that Lilly would throw out so her mother would think she ate it. She no longer was the leading scorer on her soccer team. The sport she loved so much became dreadful to go to as she had no energy and could not focus on the drills. All she wanted to do was to escape to her room with her headphone after school and sleep. She had lost about 10 pounds in the past month and had no idea until her coach mentioned his concern. He had told her that she needed to see her doctor before she could return to practice and that a doctor’s note was necessary to continue with the team clearing her physically. She did not want to ask her mother to bring her to the doctor. She had a hard enough time asking her mother for anything as she spent most of her time sleeping.

At the doctor’s Lilly sat in the waiting room with all the bright toys the little children were playing with. She watched the younger children and thought, “It must be nice to be so little and not know about your parents problems.” Her mother sat there with her eyes closed, slouched down waiting for the nurse to call them in.

The doctor’s visit was quick. The doctor examined Lilly and then made her wait in the waiting room while he spoke with her mother. Lilly did not know what they discussed but she knew it was not good when her mother came out her eyes were red from crying. She grabbed Lilly, hugged her like she had never done before and told her she was so sorry. She could not stop crying. The next week her mother brought her to Carly’s office. Lilly loved it there. She drew pictures, played board games and talked about school and her parents. She started having more energy and wanting to play soccer again about two weeks after she started seeing Carly for therapy. When this happened Lilly noticed that she stopped hearing her parents fight. She knew that her dad still came home late but he always made the effort to bring her to her soccer games. This made Lilly so happy. Her dad had told Lilly that week that he was looking at an apartment in the city and was excited to have her come over a couple of times a week for a sleepover. Her mom had more energy and stopped crying all day. She started taking yoga and decided she would finish the photography class she had started a year ago. Lilly saw that her parents were happy again and began to be happier herself. With all these positive changes Lilly stopped going to Carly’s every week and began to see her once every two.

Questions you are probably asking yourself…

Studies show that children who grow up in homes where there is constant marital conflict are at a higher risk for developing depression, anxiety and ADHD so…. Is it better to stay together or separate? Is there a way to still live together with your spouse while showing your children a happy environment? Children want their parents to be happy. If their parents are not happy can they be happy. How do you create happiness for yourself when you are struggling in your marriage? Isn’t that a key lesson to teach your children, that the most important thing they will have to strive for is their own happiness? How can they know what happiness is if they do not see it from their most important role models, their parents? All of these questions arise when parents are having a difficult time in their marriage. They are not easily answered and take much thought and many times are revisiting in order to truly come to an answer that works best for you and your family.

Malaysia Flight 370: “Where’s Waldo?”

Pat Lamb on Malaysia Flight 370 – like a “Where’s Waldo” farce!

Here’s today’s cartoon and commentary video from Pat Lamb.

He ponders the “coverage” of the “missing” Malaysian Flight 370, amongst other things.

You have alcoholic parents?

[Continuing the Your life back on track article series from Jessica Kasevich of JK Therapy...]

When Does Helping an Alcoholic Parent Become Self-Destructive?

By Jessica Kasevich

He sat in the waiting room of the hospital picking at his nails while the midnight news began. He was glad the volume on the television was slightly louder than it needed to be, as he did not want to sit in silence alone with his thoughts. The question of “should I call my brother” seemed to persist. He feared looking like a fool as he was the only one left in the family who believed that his father could change for the better. He had made this call so many times before and each time no one had faith in his father’s ability to stop drinking. He realized that to his brother and family, this looked like the typical “Boy Who Cried Wolf” story that they all have heard for the past twenty-two years. He felt alone. No one understood why he continued to try to pick up the pieces for his father each time he fell: losing jobs, being arrested for public intoxication or urination, trying to find lawyers who would take on his case for minimal pay, fielding phone calls from angry family members who he had stolen from to buy alcohol or who he had verbally abused in a rage of drunkenness.

When does helping an alcoholic parent become self-destructive JK Therapy Hoboken NJ

Will it ever be any different?

This time Tommy convinced himself that rehab would be different and that his father would stop drinking. How could he not, as he was told yesterday that his liver enzymes showed that he would lose function of his liver in a year or two if he continued . Tommy thought, “if this doesn’t wake him up nothing I can do for him will make a difference and he will eventually drink himself to death.” He realized that he had sacrificed his own life for his father who was not putting his own first. Tommy had to, like all the other friends and family realize that the only life he had control over was his own and he had to start living it!

Tommy was an accountant. He liked the predictability and honesty of numbers as they could never fool him. He became an accountant when he was 23. His success rose when he met Vanessa through one of his clients. She gave him the encouragement he lacked from his father and built a successful business. He referred to her “as the love of his life, his rock.” She showed him that life could be beautiful even if he came from a home where he watched his father drink himself to sleep every night, where he was in fear every morning of finding his father unresponsive. She made him see that he had his own life to live and that he was not responsible for his father’s poor choices. She gave him a reason to have his own life outside of caring for his father, a life with her, with friends and deserved success.

Desperate to help, and becoming destructive

Alcoholic parents taking back controlWhen she passed away unexpectedly he threw himself back into the role of caring for his father. He begged every liquor store owner within a 20 mile radius of Hoboken not to sell his father alcohol. He told all the neighbors not to bring him liquor when his father asked them to. He pleaded with his father’s primary doctor to give him a prescription that would help him stop drinking. He tried to persuade so many of his father’s employers to take him back. He cashed in a substantial portion of his 401K to pay for lawyers, tickets, surcharges and whatever legal fees needed to be paid to keep him off probation and out of the legal systems.

He had gone to every family meeting held at every rehab facility he had ever been to show his support. Now all Tommy could think of was: “What were all of his efforts for if his father would not stop drinking to save his own life?” He had no friends. His business was in serious trouble. He gave up on his dreams of having a wife and family. He started taking Xanax every day to calm his nerves from the daily phone calls he received when his father was in trouble. He was constantly on heightened alert preparing to have to settle some problem his father was in, never feeling relaxed. He had constant thoughts of finding his father dead . All of this made it difficult to sleep, take care of himself and live a successful and happy life.

Tommy began to think that enough was enough and that he had to start living for himself.

Why do we try to help our parents with their addiction? We do this because we care and love them but when is “helping,” self-destructive? Helping is too destructive when our own physical and mental health is being compromised. You can regain the control you once had over your life or begin to have it if you only put your oxygen mask on before theirs.

Why not take control back over your life?

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The First Christmas

[Continuing the Your life back on track article series from Jessica Kasevich of JK Therapy...]

The First Christmas After She Passed

By Jessica Kasevich

It was the first Christmas since she passed away. She died in November, a month and a half earlier. I always hated November ever since I could remember: cold, dark, barren, the hope for a surprise spring day gone with the October leaves. She had been sick for so long fighting one of the rarest forms of Cancer. “Why did God give her cancer?” “Why would He do this to her, to us?” “Maybe he never existed. If he did why would he want anyone to be in pain?” “Why?”

The First Christmas Hoboken NJ Jessica Kasevich holiday loss

Knowing the end is near is painful

The day before she went into the hospital is one of the most vivid memories I have. That day we were both home for the weekend. I wanted to take her to the country to pick pumpkins, drink apple cider and see the beauty of fall, the bright reds and oranges of the New England leaves. She grabbed my hand and told me to walk with her. She said, “I want to take in all of the wonderful memories I have had in this home, because I know I will not be coming back.”

I wanted to scream with rage when I heard those words. I wanted to scream at the cancer and at her. I wanted to tell her not to talk such nonsense, that she would be home again, just a quick checkup at the doctors and then home, home to us, home to her family, home!

I walked through the house with her. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done. I fought the denial I had that she was truly dying and gave her the experience she needed.

Moms bedroom The First Christmas after a loss in Hoboken NJThe last room she shared with me was her bedroom.

We sat on the edge of her creaky bed like we always did when we had our “serious talks,” bullies, boys, the “birds and the bees…” She then leaned over and reached for her jewelry box which was placed in the center of her rich mahogany bureau. It was her mother’s bureau. She took such wonderful care of it, weekly polishing it to preserve its natural sheen. She said she felt closer to her mother after she shined it every week. For the first time I began to understand what she meant. Her fragile hands grabbed the sides of the jewelry box and placed it on the floral bedspread. I could see the black and blue lesions on her forearm from the cancer.

She picked up each piece of jewelry, held it in her hands, stared at it for a couple of seconds in silence as if she was saying goodbye and then told me what each piece meant to her, who had given it to her and for what occasion. I did not want to hear what she was saying.

I wanted to be anywhere else then there. “Be strong, be strong,” is all I could say to myself. “Give her what she needs,” so I did.

She made me promise to keep all of the jewelry in the family. I shook my head with tears streaming down my face. I tried so hard not to cry. I did not want to make her feel bad about dying and about how I was having a difficult time handling it. The parent child roles were becoming reversed as I had to be stronger for her instead of her for me. I could not imagine what it must be like to accept your own mortality questioning, “Will my life continue?” “Is there really an afterlife?” I thought how could she be so strong? She was calm, collective and it seemed like she had accepted her death. She smiled with each memory she shared with me. The next day she went to the hospital. She was there for a month and a half.

She was right; mother knew she was never going to come home?

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