Multiples Inside

How many people live inside of your brain?  How many mini-personalities reside there with the ability to impact your behavior in differing situations?

In my first foray into therapy at the age of 21, I discovered during hypnosis that there were five inside of me.  Four I recognized when they appeared and was able to identify them.  There was one that was a hidden little girl, full of pain, and fearful to expose herself in my personality.  No wonder I was not familiar with her.  The five have since melded into three, and I usually recognize what parts they play in my rather unorthodox life.

This may sound odd to many of you.  I’m not schizophrenic, and these are not individuals with differing names. I’ve seen “The Three Faces of Eve.”  Many times.  Fascinating story which I’m not sure I believe.  However, in my situation, these women inside of me likely came about to save my life during bad times, but the downside is they may have caused me more than a few bad times themselves. This is simply my way of looking at the different aspects of me- the parts who deal with different problems, people, and situations.

I am creative, responsible, determined, risk-taking, maternal, loyal, active, intellectual, demanding, difficult, angry, enthusiastic, disorganized, forgetful, goal-oriented, playful, and so much more.  Many of these characteristics are part of each of the three personalities that reside inside of my head.  Some more than others.

The first one is the little girl.  In the past couple of years, I have not allowed her much playful time.  She likes to take hikes, invite people over and to heck with the house, learn new games, paint, play with clay, get dirty, and generally behave like a 6-12 year old who  just wants to have fun.  I have neglected her terribly, and I plan to let her out more in 2010 – in fact, a lot.   I think she is a very important component to my life and makeup and I believe I will be a lot happier with her release.  I think she balances the responsible side greatly and helps me to feel that I am important.

The most out-there person is my responsible side.  She is the one who says I’m sorry a lot, makes sure that everyone is well taken care of, extends compassion to others, spends too much time working in the house, and likely causes the little girl to hide.  I think this person receives lots of feedback from others about how “good” she is, and that makes her want to dominate my world.  She cooks (quite well actually) and loves to make others feel at home.  What she also does is over-commit, and then resentment builds inside of  her.   She is often the angry person who feels taken advantage of – two sides of the same coin.  Then again, maybe it is the little girl who gets angry because she too has to spend the time cleaning the kitchen, folding clothes, making beds, making plans, etc., etc., etc.  Something to think about.

Finally, there is the professional woman.  This is the one I wear easily.  She can advise others, teach, write, and carry herself quite well.  When she walks into a room, she can take charge fairly quickly (sometimes too much so), and make others feel important and interesting.  She can be a lot of fun as well, but the downside of her is the alcohol.  She likes to drink and release her feelings (are there any?) of inhibition.  She doesn’t like for the maternal side to be in charge, because then she gets little attention.  And she likes attention.  What she doesn’t enjoy is being maternal.

I know may seem like an odd blog entry but  I think it is mostly about my 2010 resolutions.  Perhaps it will help you to think about the different people inside of you.  Which ones are helpful, which ones cause pain, which ones need more outlets to make you feel whole.  Maybe your little girl needs to come out and play more, too.

For that little girl, I’m going to concentrate on allowing her to come out and play more.  With regard to the maternal side, I will make myself think twice – 24 hours? – before I allow her to over commit.  She makes me nuts during Christmas.  I will seek more opportunities for the professional woman to excel.  I think that balances me much better, and perhaps will control the need for alcohol to calm me.  Here’s to a more rounded 2010.


Renaming Ex’s

What happens when couples divorce?  We, who had little to do with the marriage and possibly less to do with the divorce, get ex’s.  This is not important to me regarding my ex-husband – I don’t want any particular relationship with him.  I even hesitate to refer to him with the H word (husband) because he did so little that was h-like.  So no need to rename him unless someone can come up with a meaningless word.  Yeah, yeah, I continue to work on the forgiveness thing.

But now my son is divorcing.  The mother of my grandson will become my – what?  Ex-DIL?  I just don’t want that title.  She and will stay connected for life because I adore my grandson.  I will on occasion see her parents because they too adore their grandson.  She now lives closer to them than to me – I had him in closer proximity for almost 9 years.  I will reluctantly grant them their turn at closer physical geographic connections.

But I simply do not want to refer to her as my ex- DIL.  Nor as my son’s first wife – he may never marry again.  After my divorce, I still deeply cared for my ex-mother-in-law.  I hated calling her that, but what else is available?

We live in a world rife with divorce.  Relationships are hard, and from most viewpoints, are getting harder.  “Ex” can seem so cold, so dead-like,  if that isn’t what a person is to you really.  She won’t be an ex to me, even if she marries again and has four children.  I will dance at her wedding if that is her choice.  I will welcome her future children as greatly accepted in my family.

I once had this ludicrous idea that marriage should work the following way.  In our 20’s we marry someone in their 40’s.  They teach us about life and the world and we have a great time both intellectually and sexually.  In our 30’s we marry someone also in their 30’s because we are so close in life experience – everyone agrees to accept all the children and together we raise happy healthy world-aware kids.  In our 40’s, back to the 20’s thing.  And then in our 50’s, we end up with someone also in their 50’s (could be the same one from our 3rd decade), and that way we share world and experiences and needs.  Not far off from Plato’s idea of Nirvana, except it is.

I will continue to love my ex-DIL.  Maybe now, she can simply be my daughter.

Can I have no expectations when it comes to others?

“I compared notes with one of my friends who expects everything of the universe, and is disappointed when anything is less than the best.  And I found that I begin at the other extreme, expecting nothing, and am always full of thanks for moderate goods.”  Ralph Waldo Emerson (1801 – 1882).

Sometimes I read Emerson, and I wonder if he could possibly have meant all the high-minded quotations for which he is credited.  I can come up with a few that sound uplifting, and practice them for a few hours, then they are gone and the real me emerges.

There is, however, something interesting to me about the ability to expect nothing and see what comes my way.  It is something of a dichotomy to me, however.  I believe in expectations.  As an educator and a mother, I know that having expectations – high ones – for others can help make them want to reach further and try harder.  As long as there is recognition for accomplishment.  I also believe in having expectations for the universe/God which are akin to prayer/life.

But this is about expectations which I have concerning others toward me.  Let me try that again – this is about tabling expectations when it comes to others.  Allowing them to offer me what they can, and removing my own ideas of what it is I expect.  In relationships.  I’m working through grasping this idea so hang with me a moment.

I think something that has gotten me in trouble with relationships has been the idea that I expect a certain level of commitment, action, follow-through, honesty from my friends and family.  And employees and students.  And certainly there must be a level of expectation.  I think.  What I have used in the past is my own level of giving – what I give should be returned to me.  What I cannot know is if I am offering the same – am I giving back to “whoever” the same they are giving to me?    Just writing that makes me realize how unreasonable and crazy it sounds.  We can never give the same yet I don’t think that is what I am saying.

The question which I started with was is it possible to have no expectations?  And to allow others the freedom to be who they want or can be in a relationship?  Emerson stated that he could do it, and I imagine that the ability would offer more serenity in the person who can accomplish this lack of expectation.

Now my question is, how do I get there?

The Holocaust – Speaker Available (Southeast)

Speaker Available – The Holocaust


Lucy Beam Hoffman has a Masters in History from Clemson University, specializing in the Holocaust.  She attended the Holocaust Education Foundation’s 2-week summer seminar at Northwestern University in 2008, and she recently attended the World Federation of Jewish Children Holocaust Survivor’s annual conference in Boston in November 2009.  Currently, Lucy is teaching at the OLLI Foundation located at Furman University, “The Holocaust through Film.” 


1st Topic:  The Seeds of the Final Solution

The Final Solution evolved slowly in the eyes of the Nazis, but with the process of the Euthanasia program and later Operation Barbarossa, the industrialization of killing began. The Euthanasia program, in which Hitler murdered the mentally and physically incapacitated of Germany, created the possibility—and the people—who could and did kill the innocent with callousness and disregard. Operation Barbarossa was the beginning of Hitler’s plan to annihilate the Jews, Commissars, and political undesirables as the Special Police Battalions and the Einsatzgruppen swept up those left behind when the German army marched through the USSR. What began as a program of Jewish emigration became one of extermination.

2nd Topic:  The Holocaust through Film

Film is a major component of our understanding of history. How have films about the Holocaust changed over time, and how have these films changed our understanding of the Holocaust? Films such as The Diary of Anne Frank in 1959 hardly touched on the Jewish catastrophe while eliminating much that was Jewish in the film, while Schindler’s List in 1993 graphically displayed the tragic outcome for the Jews. Other films, such as Holocaust (the TV movie), were homogenized to the experience but opened up the German youth consciousness for what had happened in their country. With a discerning eye, one can gain a greater knowledge of the Holocaust through film studies.

3rd Topic:  The Holocaust – In the Beginning

The years 1933-1939 must be studied to enable an understanding of what came later. The Final Solution, implemented in late 1940-1941, was slowly realized through these early years. Hitler’s appointment as Chancellor in January 1933 paved the way for the Nazis to continue on their path of human destruction, but the economic woes of Germany are an important clue as to what later became state policy. What happened to allow a cultured but devastated society to willingly take part in one of the most heinous events of the 20th Century? What are the many scholarly viewpoints regarding the German consciousness, and how do these conflicts with or support the evolution of the Nazi’s Final Solution?

4th Topic:  Irene Nemirovsky – A One Woman Play

Irene Nemirovsky was an important French writer in the 1920s and 1930s. First, however, she was a Ukrainian Jew, who immigrated to France with her family following the Bolshevik state takeover and the subsequent Jewish pogroms of 1917. Later re-establishing their family in Paris, Irene’s father again became a successful banker while Irene embraced her Frenchness. She married another Jewish emigrant and started a family. Nemirovsky became a successful writer but was heavily criticized as an anti-Semite because of stereotyping Jewish characters in her writing. Unfortunately, she never became a French citizen, and, though her writing was compared to Tolstoy, it could not save her. She was arrested in July 1942 and died in Auschwitz six weeks later. This one-woman show offers Beam-Hoffman as Nemirovsky to the audience, allowing them to decide on her guilt or innocence.

Memories of Christmases Past

We are all influenced by where and how we grew up.  I often hear people comment that children are resilient.  Yes, they are, but ask any neurotic or depressed adult what caused their difficulties, and they will likely trace it back to childhood trauma.  (That was a short editorial.)

Some of the first Christmases I remember were at my grandparents home in rural North Carolina.  We had a house that was adjoined to a country store – carrying everything from eggs to sacks of flour to cans of sardines.  Ahh, and the drink machines in the front – the kind that you open the lid and reach down to get the coldest RC or grape cola you can feel.  Every night, we had to refill the drink machines.  Lots of people drank cokes in those days.

As the weather got colder, my grandmother would prepare hot dog chili to sell along with the hot dogs.  This only happened when the temp dropped significantly.  I would get off of the school bus, take a whiff, and fairly float in to the store on the fragrance of that magnificent chili.  I doubt if I ate a hot dog everyday.  I may have had a scoop of chili.  I think it was just the aroma of “home” that made it so enticing.

Actual Christmases weren’t that great.  My grandparents were of the Depression era, and my father was simply depressed.  Usually, as I recall, my brother and sister managed to talk my father into opening the few gifts we had on Christmas Eve, which meant that any excitement about Christmas Day was then quashed.  I have never allowed a “Christmas Eve” gift to be opened.  My ongoing fear that the day after will be disappointing.

For the first few years when my siblings and I came to live with our grandparents, the only Christmas tree stood outside the door – a live Christmas bush that my grandmother covered with large colored lights.  I do wish I had pictures of that.  We later coerced her into a tree in the living room.  I think she liked it once she got used to it.

Those beginnings created a melancholy Christmas connection for me.  I have striven to overcome that, sometimes successfully, sometimes not.  For many years, the amount of gifts (read – the money I spent) helped me to battle those feelings.  In other words, I filled the holes inside of me with dollars spent on my loved ones.  Not a particularly long-lasting cure.  This year, I’m not doing that.  Not only is it a down year economically, it simply doesn’t make sense to us to buy each other things we don’t need, and to basically exchange money that I spent on you for money you spent on me.  I will now have to be careful about my own health as I tiptoe through the emotional land mines that can hide to remind me of past Christmases that no longer exist.  New traditions and focuses are what is needed in my life.

When I get caught up in the money game for Christmas, I think about the town of Grinchville.  That wasn’t the name, but it was the cartoon Grinch (not Carrey) and what happened after the gifts were stolen.  The whole town came out calmly and held hangs and sang.  “Wah hoo, wah hoo, yada yada, wah hoo wah hoo Christmas Day.”  Eyes serenely closed, rocking slowly side to side, with no care for what had been stolen, just the simple enjoyment and appreciation of each other.  The gifts are extraneous; love is the gift.  That’s what I truly want.  To hold hands with the ones I love and sing songs of merriment and joy.  To make the relationships the real meaning of Christmas.  To love each other more than money can ever replace.

If I could just throw in the aroma of that hot dog chili.

Pileated Woodpecker – The Couple

Pileated Woodpecker, F.C. Hennessey, Birds of Canada, P.A. Taverner, 1934

In December 2006, I graduated from college.  Cum Laude.  Age – 52.  Awesome.  And that’s not a word I use lightly.  On the day of my graduation, as I walked out my front door to drive to this incredible event, there were two pileated woodpeckers in my front yard.  Massive birds with beautiful scarlet red feathers on their heads.  Two together, as in committed.  I stood there looking at them knowing this was a gift.  Knowing that they had been sent to make me understand the miracle which I was experiencing.  It was a grey December day with all leaves long fallen on the side of a mountain – where my house is.  I cried as I realized why they had come, and how much that meant to my day.

Yesterday, at the beginning of a grey December day, I walked out of my front door, burdened and saddened by a difficult issue within my family.  There they were, the two stunning woodpeckers, working hard on the trees in my yard, staccato-ing loudly as they searched for food.  They stayed for twenty minutes as I gazed up at them.  And realized, again, I am not alone in this journey.  I don’t have to carry the burden alone.

There are miracles around me everyday if I’ll just take time to see them.  If I’ll just take time to appreciate them.  I am very grateful for the gift, and I’ll do my best to remember.

Bodily responses

2009 has been a very challenging year.  In my world of non-political correctness, that basically means that this year has sucked.   There have been some great moments and wonderful accomplishments, but if I am to make of list of pros and cons, the cons are going to win.  By a landslide.

My body has decided to rebel.  I discovered last week to my great chagrin that I’m extremely backed up.  I think that tells you exactly what I mean. This problem has long been my nemesis, but now apparently, the Joker has joined the Riddler, and now the joke’s on me.  I am on daily extreme amounts of Miralax, and the rumbling can be heard from quite a difference.  This is not pleasant for me nor the listener.  When I confessed to my doctor to abusing assistance when it comes to this problem, he was not pleased.  Given a choice to “go” with help, or not “to go”, I chose help.

This tells me a lot.  My body is not going to tolerate the internalization of problems much longer.  I must find healthier ways of dealing with life.  I pride myself on being an optimistic realist – read “cynic” – but that may have to change.  My gratitude list may need to become a daily habit.  The choices of others may really have to be their choices, and the occasional hostile reaction from parties that are no longer connected to my family may become something that I do not allow myself to react to.   Did you get that?  I’m being purposely obtuse to protect me, but having gone through a wrenching family breakup – that of my son and DIL – I am being careful not to name names. And, no, I’m not talking about the my DIL.  I’m sure it is normal for her family and sister to be resentful and spiteful and a complete Bi… – well, you get my drift.  I got my feelings hurt.  Badly.

The purpose of this entry was to help me to realize that my health is more important to me than the choices of others.  At least, I must make that purposeful decision.  This year, 2010, I must learn to relax my body instead of responding in destructive health issues to myself.  I think I will begin my 1,000 mile walk earlier than January 1.  Meditation will be good.  Yoga is a must.

So be it.  This has been my year to learn that I have no control over my children, or the lives and choices of others.  I am truly trying to learn that.  My colon and I must be friends.