Help for the helpless
Nothing has changed. Nothing. I lost my job and thought that something would change.
Thank God I had unemployment for these past months. I don't know what I would have done.
Now, however, I don't know what I WILL do! No money is coming in my door, Kristine. I am still current on my rent, but I don't know how I will pay it in October. No money. Not a penny.
I've never been here before. I've always paid my own way. I need help. Please tell me how to put one foot in front of the other. Honest to God, Kristine. I don't know what to do. I'm frozen. I can't stop crying. I'm writing this and blubbering into my lap. I need help.
I've tried to talk to my friends about all this, but no one takes me seriously. The best I can get from anyone is this; "I'm so glad I'm not you. I don't know how you do it."
I don't know either. I don't know if I can keep this up. Help me.
Dear Margaret -
I'm taking you seriously because I believe you. I believe you're "blubbering" and out of control. I believe your fear. I believe your paralysis. Margaret - I believe everything you wrote.
You didn't tell me, however, where you live or if you're facing any medical emergencies. Your language signals depression; and who wouldn't be depressed? Your message also indicates anxiety. The two flow together; depression breeds anxiety which thrives on depression.
You didn't tell me if you have access to any kind of medical facilities or help. If you do, I recommend strongly that you see someone and have an evaluation. Your suffering will not end, but it will be managed a bit better if you have some support from a physician.
Margaret - please believe me when I tell you this: all will be well. I mean it. All will be well.
You may think I'm being flippant. I am not.
If you want a job, a job will emerge. I promise you this. It might not be comparable to the job you lost, but if you want to work, you will.
The economy is in slow, slow recovery. Your are caught-up in something larger than you, Margaret. Nonetheless, there are things you can do to recover your equilibrium.
Keep in mind; I am a pastor. I am not a therapist, nor am I a medical professional.
Last - Remember - you're going to get through this. You're going to be fine. Keep the faith, and fight the good fight. Write me again and let me know how you're doing.
Thanks so much for being there. I'm so confused.
Last week I learned the my boyfriend is having a sexual relationship with his friend. A boy.
I've known both of them for a most of their lives. We sent to kindergarten together.
I love my boyfriend, and I love his friend too - but I don't love that the two of them love each other.
Not that there's anything WRONG with that.
Can you help me? My boyfriend asked me to marry him two week ago. He doesn't know I know what I know
You know what I mean?
Can you help me? Thanks so much.
I do know. I know more than you know I know.
Here's what you do. First - you make it clear to both "boys" that you know what you know.
Then, you make it clearer than clear to your boyfriend - that no, you will not marry him.
Give this whole thing time, little Twisted.
I promise all of this will be easier to take when you rest in it a while.
No one intends to do this kind of hard. You are, all three of you, going to live a long, long time. Let this period of your life be a pleasant time to remember.
My wife wants to adopt another child
Before I write another word, let me write these four; I love my wife.
Ione is a wonderful person. I love her for many reasons, but most of all because she has such a good heart.
When I met her, I came home and told my mom I finally found a girl I could love unconditionally.
From the start, Ione has been a better person than I am. When we were first married she brought home stray dogs and kittens. At one time we had three cats, four dogs and a room in the garage where she nursed broken wings and baby squirrels. Most of the neighborhood kids hung out at our apartment because Ione is so kind.
When we graduated and moved into our first house, Ione found out she couldn't have children. She didn't seem to care - my mothe says if Ione were forty years younger, she would be a hippie, like my mom was when she was young. Ione said she didn't need to give birth to be a real mother. She didn't want to go the technological route and get pregnant.
It was okay with her, she said, for us to adopt. I thought that was terrific. I love kids too.
Our first child is from Columbia. Dan is a terrific boy, and is doing well in the Minneapolis public schools. Our second is (they tell us) Dan's biological sister, although I doubt it. Carla is significantly slower than Dan - but still the light of our lives.
I'm delighted with our family. I don't make a lot of money - Ione gets to stay home and take care of our children, however - and I'm proud to support her.
Lately, Ione has expressed a desire to adopt yet another child.
Kristine - we can't afford another child. Ione stays home, she doesn't have a job. In this economy, the whole idea makes me crazy.
She's such a good person, Kristine. She's a better person than I will ever be. I love her so much.
How can I make my generous wife happy?
Not Good Enough
Dear Not Good Enough.
Let's get one thing clear - you're plenty good in my book:
But please. Oh, please. . . . its clear to me that you are falling short of the fatal rules of a happy marriage.
Everyone knows there are only two.
The first; your partner is always right.
The second - except when your partner wants a child and you do not.
If a woman wants something too expensive - or something that has a heartbeat - a single "no" must fell her.
No one should bring a child (or a ridiculous piece of jewelry) into the world (or the house) unless that child (or diamond ring) is loved and wanted.
It's clear to me that you love your family - - and it's clear to me that Ione wants to do good somewhere - - and thinks the only place she can do that is in her home.
My suggestion - - get your entire, beautiful family involved in a volunteer project. Right now the flooding in Minnesota and Iowa has caused a great deal of damage. NECHAMA - Jewish Response to Disaster is organizing teams of volunteers to go to different communities and help in the post-flooding clean-up.
You don't have to be Jewish to go along. NECHAMA is a great group - you'll meet wonderful new friends and Ione will get a chance to feel terrific about her good work.
I betcha anything Ione will change her mind about this baby business. If she doesn't, see if you can't change her mind with a fabulous piece of jewelry.
And write again. We'll talk.
Good luck, and congratulations on your wonderful family and loving home.
Should I leave and never come back?
I am a 42-year-old alcoholic and drug addict.
I have been in active addiction for my entire adult life. I have been actually making an honest effort to quit for two years(not continuously, of course, because I never make it more than a few months without using). I went to a 90-day inpatient treatment center two years ago and participated diligently in an AA homegroup after treatment for 18 months. I've also tried individual counselling.
My wife of 17 years is a saint. After my most recent relapse(I cringe to even use the word "relapse" because I've never been able to stay sober long enough to really have a relapse), she insisted on a six-month separation.
She still allows me to be a part of our three children's daily lives(as long as I appear to be sober).
I've been sleeping in my car because we don't have enough combined income to support two households. I have a job, and I deposit 80% of every paycheck into my wife's account.
I'm stuck: I see no available treatment options that offer any real chance of successs, and I'm still paying off the $20000 bill from the last treatment center. I'm beginning to wonder if the kindest thing I could do for my friends and loved ones is to leave and never come back. At least I could spare them front-row seats at the miseryfest that is surely coming.
The damage done to my wife is beyond repair, so my primary concern is the children. If I can't stay sober for more than a few months at a time, are they better off with me in their lives, or should I let them go and hope my wife finds a better man to raise them?
Call me -
Your wife doesn't need a "better man." She does need, however, a break.
That's why she is taking six months away from you, and has arranged for you to keep in constant touch with your children.
I'm impressed with the fact that you are still earning money during this difficult time - and that you give your family most of it. What impresses me also is that, even with only twenty percent of your income, you still have income to pay down your medical expenses -
Benjamin, Benjamin, Benjamin - - - you must know by now that, by sleeping in your car, you have indeed hit the bottom. Your addiction is successfully taking away your life.
In your letter to me, you ask if it is wise (or okay) to hand it over without a fight.
If your darling wife is willing to give you this six-month opportunity, grab it. Take hold, Ben. Get clean, sober, and stay that way for these six months.
If that means living out of your car - so be it.
If that means only visits with the kids, and demonstrations of your best behavior - yes! Do it!
Ben- - You're not "stuck." You need, however, a hero.
Be one. Be a hero for yourself and your children.
Stop the former life. Begin a new life.
Every religious tradition talks about death before resurrection; failing before succeeding. You say you've been a addict all your life. I doubt that.
This all began somewhere - - and now that you carry this disease, you alone must manage it. You alone can end the pain it causes everyone else.
Don't give in - don't back off - don't hand your life over to your addiction.
Fight the good fight. Be thankful for this chance. Grab it - make it worth your sacrifice and the suffering of your children and partner.
Let me know how things progress -
When the truth hurts. . .
I'd like to think that I am a balanced, healthy thinker.
I majored in philosophy and world religions in college, and learned how to respect the other side of the argument - even though I vehemently disagreed.
Politically, I am liberal to the core. And while I don't hate conservatism necessarily, I have developed some disgust toward Republicans now a days.
My depression started when I check the New York Times Best Seller list on December 1st.
Sarah Palin's book is #1.
Glenn Beck's book is #4
Mike Huckabee is #5
So I wonder, who is buying these?
The books I intend to give as Christmas gifts are not doing well at all. Ted Kennedy's (RIP) book is #11, and David Plouffe's (President Obama's campaign manager) is 16.
Can you help me understand this?
Call me -
I feel your pain.
I cannot, however, explain the causes of it, nor can I wish or write them away.
If we look back throughout history, we find that the masses were (and still are) appeased by the simple things; straight-forward, no-nonsense, easy answers to complex and intricate problems.
When Hitler was on the rise, Mein Kampf was on every shelf. When Lindberg spoke in favor of isolationism prior to World War II, he was hailed a prophet.
If we let our brains and good sense be directed by popular opinion and action, our nation would be a collective of reality-television-watching fools, plugged into I-Pods and abdicating all responsibility. All we would care about is the next celebrity on Dancing with the Stars.
Hmmmmm.... wait a minute.... I might be ON to something here. Could it be we are all ready lost?
I choose to not believe this is so.
You, of course, get to make your own choices, Confused. My hope is that you will be one of the bright, shining stars in the universe - a voice in the cosmos that calls out the big questions that deserve serious investigation.
Keep your mind clear, your heart open - - and the New York Times best sellers won't get you down.
My wife is stealing from me.
Dear Pastor Kristine:
I've not been able to stop thinking of what you said at the wedding in Hudson last month. Your comments about clarity, truth and the importance of transparency hit hard.
My wife has been stealing money from me. I learned this the hard way. My checking account went into deficit about a week ago, and when I tried to balance everything, nothing made sense.
After working the numbers for hours on end, I finally asked my wife if she knew what might have happened to the money. She lied to me.
So, I went back to the books again.
I discovered a series of checks that I never wrote.
When I asked her if she knew anything about the checks, she confessed.
Kristine, she used the money to buy things I earlier told her we didn't need.
New dishes, sheets for the children's beds. Without my permission she even bought electric blankets. She's been complaining for years that the kids are too cold in the winter. I keep the thermostat at 50 degrees at night.
Kristine, I am furious about this. When I learned that she lied to me, I tried to get my hands on her, but she ran too fast. She actually locked herself in the bathroom to keep clear of me.
Now that I look back on it, it is probably a good thing. If I caught her, I don't know what I would have done.
I don't know what to do about this. The total damage is a little over $1100; money I thought I had for a fishing vacation I planned for this summer.
Now, no one goes anywhere.
To make matters worse, she is insisting I go into counseling over all this. Me. As if I'm the crazy one.
Can you help?
Sign me -
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
YOU'RE confused? What about me?
Your letter blew me out of the room!
I have half a mind to ask for your identity so I could come to your house and slap some sense into you.
I mean, help me here, Curious. You're angry because your wife shopped for dishes and linens? So angry, you chase her through the house, trying to physically punish her? Really?
Your wife spent the family money and you call that stealing. Mr. Curious, your lovely bride didn't rob from the grocery money to buy herself a full-tilt-boogie mink. She didn't spend the money on booze or cheap men. She bought her family dishes, her children warm blankets. Isn't that correct?
So let's establish some common understanding, Curious. Most men don't punish their women for buying household goods. Where I live, no woman who spends what her husband earns is called a thief.
A woman who spends the family money does what women do - shops and provides for those who depend upon her.
So, no - - last time I checked there's nothing wrong with a wife buying necessities for her family. And hey, Curious - it is okay for her to do so using the family money.
Nothing wrong with that. Something terribly wrong in your house, however. Your wife chose to not tell you about her spending. That's wrong.
So, Mr. Confused, here's the heart of your family problem. Why didn't your wife feel she could tell you she bought the dishes and the blankets?
Did you ask her why she didn't feel comfortable telling you? Or did you not ask her because you know why she didn't tell you?
Isn't it true she didn't tell you because you terrify her? Because she knows you. She knows that once you heard she bought blankets and dishes, you would "chase her" through the house, trying to get your hands on her.
Your wife is afraid of you. You frighten her.
Curious - your problem is not a wife who "steals." Your problem is a marriage where one person terrorizes the other.
Does it bother you that your first response to the crisis in your family was anger over losing your fishing vacation and then rage at the woman you are supposed to love and cherish?
And what's with your need to keep the thermostat at 50 degrees in your home, Confused? You're raising vulnerable children, no? In a home with a temperature so low, grown men and women would develop pneumonia?
What's wrong with you?
The mystery in all of this is indeed, your wife. Why does she stay with you? Why does she put up with your nonsense?
Not only is she tolerating your neanderthal, arrogant and pig-headed approach to family, she recommended you to counseling. The woman is a saint, Confused.
And let me be sure I got this right - - you and your spouse attended the Hudson wedding, and while you heard me speak about honesty in marriage, your thoughts turned to what? To your violence in the home? To your power-trippy freak-out over the household budget? No. Instead of listening to the sermon and considering your own behavior, you wrote me to report your wife as a thief.
Honey - here's my advice. Get yourself to that counselor yesterday. Tell him you want to talk about how you're handling the things you love.
When you get to his office, be honest with him about the things your value most. Open your wallet - show him your money. Put it on the table where you can keep your eye on it.
Talk to him about how you love your money. Tell him how you count it every night, watch that no one else in your house has access to it. Tell him how you control your cash, keep it close to you, trust no one to handle it as well as you handle it.
Tell him too, about how you have tried (without success) to control your wife by not giving her any of your money. Tell him that when she spends your money, you call it stealing.
Tell him everything - tell him how you created a home environment where your children are cold at night; so cold your wife has to sneak to buy them electric blankets. Tell him you ran through the house chasing her when you leaned that she purchased blankets to keep your babies warm at night.
Tell him about the fear you instill in your wife and the love affair you have with your bank balance.
Start there and work your way up.
Mr. Confused, don't look to your wife to blame for the mess of your sad, unfortunate family. Shake out your pockets. Look at your cash. And then, look in the mirror.
Shame on you.
Presbyterian pastor, broadcast commentator, playwright and great friend.