Thursday, June 28, 2007


My mother’s photo is home.

Thank you.

Not that the person who had it will ever read this, because I know she won’t.

I was emailing with a friend this morning, and we were describing the “crazy” people in our lives. Well, for each of us, it was about one really crazy person. Someone who dug in, took hold and pulled us under.

Sirens, I wrote.

According to Greek mythology, Sirens were part human, part bird and lived on a rocky island. They sang songs so beautiful that sailors passing by couldn't resist getting closer to them. Following the sound of music, the sailors jumped in the water or crashed their boats on the rocks trying to get closer.

It always ended in disaster.

Perfect image.

It’s unfair to call my siren “crazy.” It is simply all she knows how to do. A mesmerizing tale of woe, sadness and tragedy doesn’t pull at everyone. Some people stuff wax in their ears, like Odysseus’s sailors.

I did not. I dove in to get closer.

It is my fault. I knew better. I knew from past experience and went back to the same rocky shore to listen again. I believed it would be different.

My friend and I went back and forth about what it would take to keep from going back. In the end, she wrote, you have to surround yourself with healthy people. Otherwise, you’ll just get lost again.

I have a group of great friends. All of them warned me about the siren. They all took me aside and said, Be careful.

Then, en mass, a group of them gathered around me one weekend last summer and slapped me silly. Actually, they cooked, cleaned, stroked, talked, listened and lined me up, sans Jeanine one afternoon and said, Enough. They called me on what was bordering on seriously abusive all the way around. I was doing serious harm to my wife and to my family.

My siren had already moved on to the next ship on the horizon. I was drowning.

I learned some powerful lessons from the experience. I know I cannot go near that rocky island ever again. Not in a week, not in a year, not ever. I know the songs that tug at me and when I first start to hear them, I must run away.

Sometimes, I wrote my friend, you don’t know they’re crazy until you get close.

And once you’re that close you get burned, she wrote back.

That’s where that healthy circle of friends comes back into the picture. I learned my friends who love me don’t engulf me. They hold me sometimes, and sometimes I hold them.

Well, Walter and I do manage to talk every five minutes but that doesn’t count. He never draws me to the rocks. He is my rock.

And I am his.

I learned it is my responsibility to create balanced relationships. I cannot promise the world to someone who desperately needs the world.

I learned I couldn’t save someone who does not want to save herself.

I learned other people have the choice to give- or to not give. No amount of pleading will make any difference.

I learned I have the right to say no. And if someone threatens to leave because I say no? I am being drawn to the rocks.

Mostly? I learned how amazing my friends are.

The picture is going to go near the scary clown. It will remind me of what I’ve learned.

It will remind me of a beautiful siren.

And the need to say far away.


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