Category Archives: Dysfunction Junction

My name is Rachel…and…

I’ve been hiding.

The truth is, things are going so great here.

D. has a drug problem.


He has had scoliosis for years, and coupled with enabling parents, poor medical insurance, and a major case of denial, he is now also a big opiad addict.

I know what you are thinking.  Why did you marry him?  I really don’t want to get into it all right now, mostly because I have been beating myself up for days.  Weeks.  Months.

The shit hit the fan on Passover, when we missed our first night’s Seder because he was getting more pills.

I brought up rehab, and he seemed okay with it.  Of course, he also didn’t think I was serious.

We went and visited yesterday, and I made a boundry that said he had to go by Friday am, and he had to detox here at the rehab.  I made his parents aware.  They agreed.  They cut his credit cards, weren’t going to give him a place to stay, etc etc.

His father is on the way here right now to take him.  To the other detox place, that I do not support.  No one cares what I say, and even though 1) I am the wife and 2) I am funding rehab, my boundaries are totally null and void in everyone’s eyes.

When they leave tomorrow, I am changing the locks and the garage door code.

If and when D shows up at rehab, I will be supportive.

Until then, I am in a really shitty place.  (And yes, my mom is still sick.  And I turned 30 last week.  I try so hard to be positive, but it’s like Gd is challenging me.  I am going to keep fighting.  I don’t want to let this beat me.)

I need a hug.


Rhymes with Look Schmields

Sorry I have been MIA.  I may or may not have gotten laid off (I did) and I was finishing up a paralegal course…yay for yet another job!  (Someday…gotta get the certificate first!)

Yesterday, however, I read something that inspired me to post again.  (Insert here…if I knew how).

I used to live in Los Angeles.  I lived in Brentwood, the fancy part of town, where people pretend that they care about the earth and can walk everywhere, because all of the ridiculously expensive boutiques are all close to each other…but in real life they drive big SUVs.  Anyways, I frequented a bagel shop that also had a lot of stars there.  It was little and unassuming, and it wasn’t a big deal.  It wasn’t like I talked to anyone, but occasionally you would start to become familiar faces to them, and they would smile at you everytime they saw you.

Anyway, a few years ago, right after that whole crazy Tom Cr.uise and Matt La.uer interview happened, I remember thinking, “I wish that I could call Look Schields (name different to protect the famous) and thank her for speaking out”.  She basically stood up and said that being depressed and being on medicine isn’t a big deal, and that Tom had no business in attaching an even bigger stigma to it.

A few weeks later, I walked into the busy  bagel shop, and the cutest little girl said, “You can sit with us!” I smiled and said, “No, I’ll just wait for someone else to get up”. She persisted and her mother said, “You better sit, she is pretty insistant!”  It was then that I realized, um, I was talking to Look Schmield’s little girl.

I sat down, and complemented the little girl on her tutu (which, apparently, she refused to leave the house without.  “When I was your age, I wanted a dog so badly that I would eat only underneath the table and crawled on all fours for three months straight,” I told her.  Look smiled and said, “Sometimes I want to eat underneath the table, too.”

Encourage by her comment, I felt like I could say what I wanted.  Very carefully, I thanked her for speaking out.  I told her that when Tom made those statements, the first thing that came to my mind was, “Let him come to my house for a week, I’ll go off of my meds.  Let him look anyone in the eyes and say that depression is easily curable by diet and Xenu and whatever else he preaches…”  She was so sweet and flattered.  I was so careful not to overstep any boundries, but it was so important to me to make sure she knew that it MEANT SOMETHING.  Her using her voice, when so many use it to speak on something that they don’t understand, to say, “Hey.  Depression is real, and it hurts…and it takes courage to get help, and to fight.”

Living in LA I had a lot of bizarre, wonderful things happen.  It is where I met D.  And it’s also where I got to say thank you to someone who helped to free me, even just a bit, from the ties that bound me to feeling like I was weak.  Because I am not.

A Handbook For My Future Mother-in-Law

Because I grew up with a dad who had NO boundaries, I have a really bad habit.

I set boundaries and enforce random rules left and right.

For instance, the first job I ever had was at a big Jewish non-profit.  I was 22.  I became good friends with a guy who rented space  in the office, who was about 10 years my senior. He happened to be best friends with my boss, and because of that, they would include me on their lunches.  Sometimes, their lunches would run over an hour.  I would sit anxiously, looking at my watch, hinting that it was time to return.  My boss finally had to tell me, “I’m the boss.  If you are late, I will let me know”.  Even so, I felt like I should be back in the office.  Why?  Because it was a rule.

My mother-in-law to be is a really nice person.  However, like all of us, she is flawed.  Her flaw?  She is the most passive aggressive person that I have EVER met.  And those people?  Don’t get boundaries.

I get it.  She is the child of 2 Holocaust survivors.  Before the war, they both had other spouses and children, all of whom perished in the camps.  They found each other, fell in love, and moved out of Germany (obviously, after the war.  They didn’t just leave Auschwitz hand in hand).  Miraculously, MIL’s mother got pregnant after surviving 11 camps.  Seriously, a miracle.  And she was pregnant with twins.

At childbirth, one baby died.  The survivor?  My MIL.  So she was immediately the miracle child, and her only goal in life is to be needed and loved.  She was the only one who spoke English when her family left for America, and she would have to translate for her folks.  She was so needed, and I’m sure that that became a habit.  She needs to be needed.

I wish I could say the following to her:

I can’t handle it.  I am the opposite of what you want in a daughter in law.  Because of my mom’s depression and lupus, I learned to do a lot of things for myself.  And I built a LOT of walls, to protect me from the idea that my mom might die and I would be stuck with a father who only saw me as a dollar sign.  I am not saying my way is the right way, but it is who I am.  Sorry.  I actually like being able to make my own plane reservations, doctor appointments, and car maintenance appointments.   It is nice of you to offer, but I am almost 30 and live in a different state.  So I can do these things for myself.  And, for D.

I might ask for your help with something, like how to make a brisket, but that doesn’t mean that I need you to send me 3 different Jewish cookbooks as a result. (True story).  I might compliment your purse, but it doesn’t mean I want you to give it to me.  You can call me and tell me (out of the blue) 15 stories about your other son’s wedding and put together a list of 400 things to remember that won’t effect my life in the smallest, but I am not going to institute your policies.

I already love you.  You gave birth to and raised the man of my dreams.  But at some point, I am going to need you to back off.  Please do not cry everytime I state my opinion because it doesn’t make me feel bad.  It annoys me.  For instance, when you cried because I am not having the parents stand underneath the chuppah, I told you it was because I didn’t want my father to stand there, but I also didn’t think it was appropriate to hurt his feelings.  You then said, “I hope something happens to your dad so he doesn’t come to the wedding and I can stand underneath the chuppah”.  When I confronted you on this hateful comment, you cried again and said I misunderstood the comment.  I don’t think so.  I think, actually, that you misunderstood the concept.  I have a life, and now your son is going to be my husband.  We are going to live our lives, and raise children (Gd willing) and make mistakes and laugh and cry and learn.  You can’t change our path because you want things to be different, or to go your way.  Life isn’t like that. You can’t protect us from everything.  But you can love us.

I know it must be hard that your son is grown-up and now turns to someone else to make decisions with.  But your neediness is really making it hard for me.  I have tried to involve you more in things that I can’t even fathom your need to be a part of, but your constant push for more and more access to the privacy in my life and in me and D’s relationship is making it hard for me to even hear your voice.  I want to have a good relationship with you, please just let me!

All the Beautiful People

I was born hating how I looked.  I don’t know why.  Maybe it was because it was the 80’s, and everyone was crazy anyways. I had freckles, and was chubby, and when I was 4 I cut my head open so I had a scar right on the back of my head so my hair kind of puffed up over it…oh, how I hated that cowlick!  I would spend HOURS with gel trying to get it to stay down.  My dad weighed at least 300 pounds from the time I was born, (he is now in the 600s) and his family had a cute way of saying to me “Don’t let people call you fat.  You are pleasantly plump, just like your dad”.  Who in the HELL would say that to a kid?  I mean, seriously?  My mom, on the other hand, was on every single diet you could think of.  She brought her own salad dressing with her everywhere, and if you look at the span of family pictures, it is hard to pick her out because she never looks the same…thin, not-thin, brunette, blonde, just trying to find the right look to make her feel “pretty”.

When I was six, I was eating a bag of doritos when my grandma (who I loved so much, and just didn’t have tact) said, “Don’t eat those, do you want to be fat like your dad?”  That was enough for me.  I made a connection: no Doritos, no fat.  So, did that mean no food, no fat?  That is when the weird cycle of binging, purging, and starving started for me.  By the time I was 10, I was 120 pounds.  It was horrific.  I remember walking in a restaurant and seeing a really fat, ugly chick.  She was hiding behind her hair and Sally Jesse Raphael glasses.  I thought to myself, at least I am prettier than her.  I realized it was a mirror.  It was a terrible moment in my life.  Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Atkins…I did okay, but when the weight would start to come off, insecurity would set in.  In college, I finally hit my goal weight, but had a realization one day when my leader said “Now that you are at your goal weight, maintenaince is going to be a life-long struggle”.  I was shocked.  Who was I if I wasn’t a life-long Weight Watcher?  I then made a conscious decison to become anorexic.  This might sound stupid, but that is exactly what it was.  Basically, if I wasn’t the girl who was too fat, I was going to be the girl who was too skinny.  That way, I still didn’t have other things to worry about.

My life is much different now.  I did the whole eating disorder clinic thing, and my body rebelled.  I am now at my highest weight ever, and when I walk down that aisle in a few weeks, I won’t be a size 4.  But recently, I have realized something that is making a difference in how I am thinking.  All of my friends talk the same “fat talk”.  But yet, they are all gorgeous.  Seriously.  Some are bigger than others, but that doesn’t make them any less stunning.  The same measuring stick that I hate for measuring me all of my life is the same one that I need to break over my knee and throw away.  When D. sees me for the first time in the dress, I know he will think I look good because I will be smiling with a face full of love (and, lets face it, tears) and most likely, thighs full of french bread.   But that isn’t going to stop him from loving me.  So I want and I need to relax a little, because the constant need to stare at my old size 4 jeans in the closet is getting a little weird.  The excercise I get from running up the stairs to confirm that they still don’t fit, however, is probably still okay.

My Love Don’t Cost a Thing

Yesterday, a blogger who I look up to a lot posted something about her father to which I could relate deeply.  I am not ready to write something that profound yet, but a lot of issues relating to my dad have come up lately that I can’t ignore.   My relationship with my father was always intertwined with his sense of entitlement and his use of money as love.  It has left me catering to him in an unhealthy way my entire life, and has also put my financial stability on the line because I equated loving people with giving them things.  I had to grow up too fast, and I have always resented him for that, but as my life is moving onto the next phase, I am going to be grateful to him for showing me what is really important in life.  (Thanks GG, btw, for your help in somewhat clarifying these emotions, even if you didn’t know you were helping!)

As I have hinted, my childhood had no stability.  Neither did the finances in my home.  My first word was “Tar-get”.  People usually laugh, saying, “Oh, what a little shopper you were!”  The truth was, we didn’t have enough money to run the air conditioning during the day, so my mom would take me to the mall when my dad was at work, and push me up and down the mall corridors, pointing out the names of the store.  (Not to give away where I grew up, but another hint about me: the biggest stores were Target and JC Penny.  Big towns? Not so much).  One day, I beat her to the punch and said the name before she could.

I think that kids learn more about your relationship with money from your actions rather than what you teach them with your words.  For instance, when I was five or so, we lived in a tiny tiny two bedroom house with me and my 2 siblings sharing a room.    However, my dad “found” the money to go to fat camp.  Yes, fat camp.  But as kids, we didn’t realize that that was strange.  Fat camp was a necessity.  Even if it meant that things like jump-starting our ancient car every morning had to become part of the routine.

Money was a currency that was used to show love and.  One of my strongest memories of my childhood is that of me discovering the Cabbage Patch Doll that I wanted SO BADLY in the attic.  My birthday was about 2 weeks away.  I squealed with delight, but my mother looked heartbroken.  “You daddy worked so hard to buy that, it was almost $25.  Can you forget that you saw it, so that when he sees you open it, he can be excited too?”  Even at 5 years minus 2 weeks, I knew that $25 was a TON of money.  So everyday, I climbed up the stairs and played with the box.  And when a business trip meant that he was gone for my birthday and I had to wait 11 days (yes, I still remember this…it was a CABBAGE PATCH DOLL), I waited.  My daddy spent $25 on ME!  Funny thing is, I don’t remember his reaction of watching me.  But I do remember how special I felt, waiting so that I could be so excited, so that he knew I was impressed, that he would spend money like that on his beloved daughter.

Fast forward a few years, and we inherited a LOT of money.  We moved to the big city, bought a huge house, and all that changed was that dad no longer had to show restraint in anything he did.  He had money, which he thought translated into the power to spend, lie, cheat and steal. My folks  got a divorce.  Because the money came from her side of the family, he asked for money in exchange for custody.  (I am not kidding).  He wanted, however, sole medical custody.  That way, he could control what shrinks we went to when we were devastated over the loss of our father.  You see, we were Jewish.  And, where we were living, although he left town, he was afraid that word would get out that he was a schmuck.  So if he could just make sure we went to anonymous, non-Jewish doctors, no one would hear about it.  He didn’t really see us that often, but would send us random, extravagant presents that had nothing to do with our lives.  For instance, he once had an Amish family create an entire wardrobe for each one of us.  I can’t imagine how much that cost, when you consider a quilt is $2000.  But since he hadn’t seen us in about a year, he had no idea how big we were. But in a twisted way, it was a sign he was still thinking about us.

His money has run out, and he hasn’t worked in years.   He paid nothing for our cars, our bar/bat mitzvahs, our educations…I know that money doesn’t equal love, but since he wasn’t around to see us grow up, and he didn’t even help us get to where we are going, I am having a hard time seeing how that is love.   He never tried to make ammends verbally, but when he calls, he does have a way of pretending that everything is normal and we are besties.

Recently I had a big decision to make.  Who is going to walk me down the aisle?  If it were to be my dad, it would be me, catering to his needs.  His need to play “everything is okay.”  But I can’t do that.  I called him, and let him know that D and I would like for him to give a speech.  He answered, “Of course, but I will walk you down the aisle, too”.  “We would like you to speak,” I said, trying to employ what I learned about being a “yes” counselor at camp.  “Sure, but I am going to walk you down the aisle.  I have been to tons of weddings, the dad always walks the bride down the aisle”. I bit my tongue, and held back the comment that was DYING to come out.  “I have been to TONS of weddings too, Dad…and never has the father gotten to walk down the aisle with the daughter that he abandoned in order to get a fortune of money that wasn’t his to begin with”.

30 years of abandonment and just plain SH*T boiled up inside of me.  “Look, Abba.  You can 1) give a speech.  2) Not give a speeech.  But at no time are you walking me down the aisle.  GET IT?”  He was really quiet.  “What if I walked you down with your mother?”

At almost any other time in my life, I would of said yes.  But if love were currency, he has never given me a dime.  And my mom has made me richer than Bill Gates, Oprah, and that Trump guy.  I just couldn’t let him.  My mom, after everything, was the one who parented me.  She was there when everyone else walked out.  She knows my friend’s names, every single job I’ve ever had (that is a lot), my celebrity crushes, what foods I hate, what medicines I am allergic too…everything.  My mom has been a part of everything I do.  Even when I didn’t want her there, she pushed her way in.  Because she loved me.

The richest I have ever felt was later than night, when I asked her what song she wanted to dance to for the first “Mother/Daughter” dance at my wedding.