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“Now Is Not The Time” (or, Adrienne Maloof In An Idiot)

The dream always started the same.  I was running from something or someone and needed help desperately.  I jumped fences, hid behind trees and looked for a house where I could find someone to help me- from what, I’m not sure.


There was always a variation on the dream.  One time I found a little cottage where I entered to use the phone to call for help.  I tried to dial but my fingers keep misdialing.  Other times I would pick up the phone to call for help only to have it turn into a mushroom or some acid-induced-type hallucination.


Recurring dreams are messages from your angels.  It’s one of the best ways they know how to tell you that something is drastically wrong in your life.  The good thing is that once you figure out what the dream is about, you will cease to have them.


When I was in my early twenties, I had a recurring dream about being eaten by a whale.  Again, there were many variations- I would be crossing a bridge that collapsed into the ocean and the whale would come eat me.  Other times I would be on a boat that sank before the whale came.  After about eight years I figured out what the whale represented and I never had that dream again.


Now here in my dream I was alone and scared in my house.  I couldn’t see who or what was trying to hurt me.  I walked into the laundry room to find the back door wide open and knew that my predator was inside the house and then I panicked.  That’s when the chase began.  I would run sometimes looking for places to hide and other times looking for help.   When I hid, I knew I was never safe and eventually would be found so I would start running again.  When I went for help, nobody was home to come to my rescue and when I tried calling on the phone for help, nobody was there.


In real life, I was very much in danger.  I slept each night next to someone I knew was capable and willing to hurt me.  Before the twins were born, Kevin knew I would leave him if he ever touched me in a hurtful way.  But I still had the recurring dreams.  Now I realize they were warnings that I figured out too late.


Because of Connor, Kevin knew I wouldn’t leave now.  He knew that taking care of the kids, especially Connor in his medically fragile state, was the only thing I cared about- and he used that vulnerability against me.


One time on Thanksgiving after 24 hours of cooking, entertaining and cleaning up after 35 of our closest relatives, I went to bed exhausted.  Kevin came to bed drunk as he typically does on Thanksgiving.  I made the mistake of accidentally waking him up when I got up to take care of a crying baby Brooke.  When I came back to bed Kevin began beating me so terribly and with such rage that at one point I thought I wouldn’t live to see morning.  But there was restraint there on his part- he never hit my face.  He choked me, hit my sides and grabbed my arm so hard while yelling that he was going to “tear my fucking arm off”.  He probably said, “I’m going to fucking kill you” about twenty times during the “altercation”.  At one point I decided to stop fighting back and relaxed my body thinking he would back off which enraged him more and he became more violent.


During the beating there were intermissions of him stopping to catch his breath.  While he laid there for a few minutes trying to manage his labored breathing, I ran down the hall to my oldest daughter’s vacant room.  She was staying at the hotel with my mom.  Further down the hall in our guest room, my aunt Nikki slept with her sleep apnea mask sounding like Darth Vador.  It took many years for me to answer my own question of why I didn’t go wake her up that night to ask her to go call for help or why I didn’t run for the phone myself.


Just like the phone that melted into a mushroom in my dream when I tried to call for help, or the constant misdialing of “911”, real life brought as much difficulty trying to reach out for help.  See, to most people (all who have never personally faced this dilemma), if you’re in an abusive relationship, it’s very “black and white”.  For some, their answer is that you simply leave the relationship, and at all costs- there are no other alternatives.  If you don’t leave, to them you’re either lying or there’s something wrong with you.


In an August, 2012 Oprah interviewed singing sensation, Rihanna, who had this to say about being in an abusive relationship and not telling her friends and family:  “The reason why a lot of women choose not to let their family and friends know that they’re in an abusive relationship is because once you tell your mother and once you tell your friend, that’s all they remember.”



Why Adrienne Maloof Is a Fucking Idiot


Don’t judge me, but sometimes I watch Bravo’s The Real Housewives.  I can’t really explain what exactly it is about the show I enjoy, but I do know that I try to watch while I’m doing my cardio workout on the elliptical machine as the only way I can justify to myself watching that kind of mindless television.


This past season’s Real Housewives of Beverly Hills gave stage to a very dark, but real issue with one of its stars, Taylor, whose husband was physically abusive to her.  Taylor reached out to her co-stars, including Adrienne Maloof only to be judged and doubted.  I watched Taylor’s distress and her cries for help from show to show along with the skepticism and poor treatment she received from her “friends”.  I felt her pain all along the way.


For Adrienne Maloof, mega-wealthy co-owner of Palms Casino in Las Vegas, hundreds of millions of dollars can buy you many options and a lot of protection in the face of an abusive spouse.  Taylor, on the other hand, didn’t have the luxury of not having to worry about how she would take care of her daughter or where she would be safe while undergoing a terrifying divorce.


Ms. Maloof all but outright called Taylor a liar about being abused because, after all, if a woman is in an abusive relationship she could just call her bodyguards and attorneys and switch mansions during the divorce process.


Another cast mate, Camille Grammar, called out Taylor’s confessions of abuse while on camera and couldn’t understand why that would put Taylor in harm’s way.  Taylor came to Camille and confessed the abuse in confidence but clearly was not ready or strong enough to leave her husband at that time.  By Camille airing (literally) the confession on television she put Taylor in a very dangerous situation.  Camille still doesn’t understand that, as I’m sure many people don’t.  But I do understand it… all too well.


While trying to explain my own dilemma to a “friend” once, she responded that I needed to go to a “battered woman’s shelter”.  To me, this was the most ridiculously ignorant thing that anyone has ever said to me because this is the question someone in my shoes is always asking themselves- would life be easier for my children or more difficult for them if I left?


To explain a black eye one time, I confided in my friend Charlotte about how I got it.  To everyone else I told a story about how Connor and I were playing and he accidentally kicked me in the eye.  Charlotte never spoke to me again.


Adding to my dilemma was the fact that I was truly scared of Kevin.  I was not only scared of him physically, but I knew that an intense legal battle was something I had not the energy or time for while taking care of a boy that doctors were not sure would live to see the next day.  And a divorce with Kevin would not be an easy process because he had spent much on expensive attorneys to make sure of this.  Additionally, his brother who is also his business partner set up their assets to transfer into his name in the event of a divorce.  I simply did not have the strength to fight this battle at the time.


Another time I had to tell someone about my situation for reasons other than needing help.  He outright called me a liar on the phone and said that if I was telling the truth I would have left Kevin already.


Now Is Not the Time


I heard Kevin coming down the hall towards my daughter’s room as I slid off the bed and slowly climbed under it to hide.  I remember thinking that if he found me, the fact I was hiding would make him so mad that he would actually end up killing me.  Fortunately, he didn’t find me.  And after I was sure he passed out, I climbed into her bed at 2:00 a.m. and went to sleep myself.


The next morning I woke up to a slightly more sober Kevin standing at my bedside.  “You owe me a written apology”, he said to me with a menacing glare before walking slowly out of the room.  I could feel the rage building inside me.  Just then I clearly heard a voice inside me say, “wait.”  Because of Connor, I knew now was not the time to fight back, but that my time would come one day.


Not so many years later, I can now reflect and write about this time in my life.  The truth is, that if I had it all to do over again, knowing now what I didn’t have the strength or time to realize then, I probably would have left Kevin.


At least the dreams are over now.  I’ve seen my predator’s face and reconciled the fact that nobody will ever be at the other end of that phone to receive my call for help.  My help had to come from within.


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Because of Connor- Take I

I knew at any moment the surgeon would emerge from the NICU and deliver the news.  I couldn’t bear the stark reality that his words may begin with, “I’m sorry”.  Connor was too fragile to even move to an operating room to perform the surgery, so the hospital evacuated the NICU floor of visitors and nurses.   And with dozens of infants lying unaware in cribs and incubators just feet away, they performed emergency surgery.

I sat in the waiting room clinging to Connor’s baby blanket and crying like I had never cried before.  Crying this way was foreign to me.   I’m always the stoic and emotionless one who could never cry at funerals.  I learned growing up that showing emotion was “silly” and “ridiculous”.  And isn’t it dreadfully coincidental how we grow up and partner with someone who holds those same unspoken beliefs we learned as a child?  Without conscious reason I married a man who deems any display of emotion a serious character flaw.  I’ve often compared him to one of those Australian Dingos who devour the weak members of the pack.

Because of Connor I was crying- sobbing really.  And not just the garden-variety of crying and sobbing, because of Connor  I was crying like Elizabeth Gilbert describes in her book Eat, Pray, Love as “double-pumping it”.

At two weeks of age, there was only a fifty percent chance that Connor would live to see the next hour without me ever having the chance to hold him in this lifetime.

Just weeks earlier on the night of Connor’s birth I was told that he had only a 10% chance of living through the night.  So 50% is a 40% increase.  Applying that same number to any other situation may be viewed as a vast improvement.  If I was spewing off these percentages to a PR firm talking about the effectiveness of a recent marketing campaign and ROI, it would be a good thing- I can just see the graph now with arrow pointing steadily upward.  But when “10%” and “50%” are applied to a human life it’s just not the same, especially when it’s the person most precious to you.

Just last night I had the dream.  But it wasn’t a dream.  I heard the scream in my ear as I lay in bed.

For the past 13 days Connor lay in the NICU, hooked up to oxygen and monitors and appeared to be gradually improving.  The neonatal doctor explained that Connor’s lungs were full of mucous-like fluid that needed to clear with the help of diuretic medications combined with Connor’s “willingness to fight”.

What that neonatal doctor did not know- but should have- was that Connor’s lungs were full of blood, not mucous.  For two weeks this doctor was letting Connor drown in his own blood with an open PDA, while telling us it was “up to Connor” to fight through it.

I spent days in the hospital NICU next to Connor’s bed not being able to hold him and nights at home with his healthy twin sister Cassidy.

The wee early morning hour of sleep- about 4a.m.-  is what I call my “angel hour”.  It’s when the veil between heaven and my life here on earth seems to briefly lift and I see and hear things that I know are not dreams.

This morning during my angel hour I saw Connor briefly and he was struggling like as if he had fallen into water and was drowning.  Then I heard him scream “MOMMY” so clearly as if his mouth were right next to my ear.  I woke with a startle.  Something was wrong.

The telephone rang.   It was a new neonatal doctor.  Hospitals schedule doctors to work in the NICU for only two-week stretches at a time.  Thankfully, this new neonatal doctor took the floor at Sunrise Hospital NICU that morning, and when he can upon Connor while making his rounds, he took one look at my son and knew immediately.  He knew that Connor had an open PDA flooding his lungs with blood and was just hours from gasping for his last breath of air before drowning in his own blood at the hands of his colleague.

I pulled myself together and ran out of the house in a matter of minutes.  As I drove to the hospital I looked all around me and realized that life everywhere else was going on as normal- men and women on their way to work, children on their way to school and the guy on the corner here waiting for the bus.  When the man waiting for the bus looked back at me (probably because I was staring in dazed amazement), I burst into tears.  I could barely drive.  How many days in my life did I pull out of Starbucks on  my way to the office with thoughts of morning conference calls and lunch meetings all awhile someone else was wondering how life could go on in the face of their despair.

With no time to waste and every minute critical- I sat in the NICU looking into the kind blue eyes of the heart surgeon as he slowly and compassionately laid out every detail for me.  What normally would be a fairly simple surgery- the closing of an artery that sometimes doesn’t close after birth- was complicated by the fact it had now almost completely filled Connor’s lungs with blood.  Further complicating it was the fact that Connor was now back on a high-frequency oscillating ventilator rapidly pumping his body with oxygen.  Connor wouldn’t be able to survive even 10 seconds off of this type of ventilator.  So the pumping action made it like playing the game “Operation” while it sits on top of a lawnmower engine.

The surgeon took my hand and gently squeezed it while explaining this all to me.  I could tell that he saw the deep despair in my eyes as he delivered his prognosis and I realized there was a 50% chance that he may emerge from this very room in an hour and tell me that he did everything he could.

This would be the second of a total of three times Connor almost left me.


More from “Because of Connor” here.

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Where Do Broken Hearts Go?

A few years before Connor was born I went to see a psychic doctor.  Say or think what you will about the idea of someone being able to diagnose or treat you through metaphysical means, but the idea of a “psychic doctor” seems all too normal to me.  First of all, this doctor has always been 100% right, not only with me but with friends and relatives too.

Once, my friend Noelle was having stomach problems (tell story)

God gives special gifts to special people.  Some people have been given the gift of a singing talent or beauty, while others have been given extraordinary intelligence.  So why is it so difficult for many to believe that God may have given someone the gift of spiritual healing?

This doctor is a chiropractor by trade and doesn’t advertise or openly talk about the fact he’s using psychic abilities to diagnose you.  I was with him for almost a half hour during our visit while he performed his healing, and near the end after telling me which vitamins I was deficient in and what foods to avoid and so on, and after clearing a “psychic attack” placed upon me by another woman, he said, “you have the clearest broken heart that I’ve ever seen, and I can help a little but can’t totally heal it.”  I didn’t ask much more about the broken heart or how long ago I got it because I already knew.

Just a few weeks before my wedding day with Kevin is when it happened.  I had never felt more perfect heavenly love in all my life.  In fact, before then I always thought that love was something that came and went and was different for each person and knew that there were many types of love.  For the first time, though, I felt “perfect” love.  The reason I describe it as “perfect” is for many reasons.  First, I knew I would always feel this type of love for this person.  I also knew that if the universe ever gave me a chance to spend my life with him, I would never waste a second being angry at him, no matter what he said or did.

When I met him was also the first time my heart was broken.  And once a heart is broke I don’t think it can ever be repaired.

Years later, because of Connor, I  felt this perfect love again- when I held him in my arms for the first time.  In fact, one day when Connor was just a baby I was napping and had a vivid dream that Connor and I were waltzing- although it was, in fact, not a dream.  And as we floated across the floor, a thousand colors of lights floated and danced in the air around us and I felt the most euphoric uplifting happiness that I knew was not achievable in this dimension here on earth.  Then suddenly, the music stopped and Connor began to shrivel up in my arms and turn green.  I turned around to a blender sitting on a counter that appeared behind me and immediately got to work making a tonic or smoothie that I knew would cure him.  In my dream, as in life here, I felt that I had all the power through my tenacity, confidence and hard work that would heal him.

Then I woke up. I could still feel just a hint of that euphoria and knew that soon I would forget the feeling altogether- being here on earth for even a minute makes one forget.  But I immediately wondered why it was that I only felt that type of euphoria once before in this life, and only for a brief moment.  What was the connection between these two people who would never meet?

Well, at least now I know the answer to the age-old question of “where do broken hearts go?”  The truth is they don’t go anywhere.  They stay with you forever.  And it’s okay, because anyone who has ever experienced perfect love in their life knows that the broken heart is well worth it.

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