Sunday, May 29, 2016

Memorial Day: Why It Really Matters

by Miriam B. Medina
Then at least let's give him homage,
At the ending of his days." (Author Unknown)

Unfortunately, today, too many people look at Memorial Day as a recreational day, simply another day away from school or a paid day off of work. Military families and families of millions of veterans, on the other hand, have always been subjected to the pain and suffering of seeing their brothers, husbands or children go off to war, beginning with the American Revolution up until today's actions in the Middle East, through the devastating Civil war, into World War I and II, and during the Vietnam and Korean Wars. To them, Memorial Day is a day to reflect on their loss and suffering, and to honor those that have served to protect America's interests.

Saying goodbye to a loved one you might at no time see again is the most devastating feeling a family member may perpetually have, because they just never really know if that person is coming back. Their heart skips a beat every time that the doorbell rings while their loved one is abroad, performing the greatest duty they will perpetually perform as they defend justice and the pursuit of liberty. At home, though, their loved ones dread the moment they open that door, as the pulse quickens and horrible thoughts of a message of imminent loss haunts them. They fear answering the phone. They dread reading their mail. Life itself becomes a seemingly endless, helpless wait for news, hopefully good news, but potentially news of the worst possible kind.

For some people, the lucky ones, they only have to endure the fear of losing a loved one in battle for a few years, but that in and of itself can have long-lasting, life altering ramifications. The fear causes great stress, making families walk on eggshells for entire tours of duty, as children go without their mother or father for long periods of time. For far too many, the news and the ramifications are worse. They lose a loved one to war, or their loved one is seriously injured, maimed, or psychologically damaged as they defend our nation and its interests.

Let's not forget the veterans themselves and the sacrifices that they have made. We only need to turn on the news to see the hardships they face, the daily dangers they live with, and the horrors that they endure. Veterans are and have been our protectors, our defenders, and often at great cost, even for the survivors of war. War itself is hell, as the famous saying goes, and these many, wonderful men and women have entered hell willingly for centuries to protect the America that they love, and to build a future for all Americans.

In almost any case you can think of, on Memorial Day, these veterans who protect us from dangers abroad, and who have protected us from dangers for hundreds of years, deserve our respect and our remembrance, and yet Memorial Day has turned into a cook out when you open up the pool for the summer.

"Traditional observance of Memorial day has diminished over the years. Many Americans nowadays have forgotten the meaning and traditions of Memorial Day. At many cemeteries, the graves of the fallen are increasingly ignored, neglected. Most people no longer remember the proper flag etiquette for the day."

In days past, great parades were thrown in honor of these wonderful veterans. Cities and townships gave speeches and held Memorial galas. In Israel, to this day, to celebrate their Memorial Day, their television lists the names of all the dead that they have lost to war, and that simple process takes most of the day. Perhaps we don't need to go to quite that extreme to honor the veterans who have served to protect us, but still, our ambivalence towards the true meaning behind Memorial Day is a bit much.

It's high time that we do remember the American veterans that have made Memorial day and those many cook outs and days off that the Holiday now symbolizes possible. This year, we should try to visit a war memorial, the grave of a veteran, or at least stop in a moment of silence reserved for the many who have sacrificed their lives to protect and provide the wonderful lives and opportunities that we have available to us today. This year, we should also honor and remember the many sacrifices of the families of all veterans and war heroes, because if you think about it, they sacrificed quite a bit for all of us Americans themselves.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Fizz of Bliss Has Gone Flat

by Miriam B. Medina

This feeling has been experienced by individuals that have gone through a period of physical and emotional abandonment from their partners during or after a relationship. As to what extent a person would agree or disagree or settle with this 'why me' statement depends on his or her ongoing assessment of causes, effects and viable solution methods to the problem at hand.

I would like to share my insights on this type of attitude in regards to relationships.

Whether the relationship is between a married couple, lovers or friends, there always seems to be a sub-conscious fear of the possibility of being abandoned. This abandonment not only refers to the physical aspect, but emotionally as well... Emotional abandonment can be explained as the removal of feelings and emotional support.

Looking back at a previous relationship, you wonder how did something that was so incredible, something that started out so beautifully turn out so badly after time. What happened. And if this has happened more than once to you, as it does to most people, in marches the 'why me' mentality, taking over your tattered psyche, taking command and beating your numb feelings into shape so you can function, teaching you to blame instead of to learn, heal and fix.

Originally, during the "honeymoon" period of a relationship, there is a tendency to put one's best foot forward, going to a great extent to conceal the flaws in one's personality and to avoid any anomalous behavior. Sentiments and feelings of sweetness, understanding, affection, caring and compassion are frankly shared, as the couples go through their initial phases of bedazzled bliss, oblivious to each other's negative qualities.

However, once the novelty and excitement of those fleeting ecstatic moments' passes and one is caught up in daily routine and responsibilities of life, reality begins to sink in for the partner. Instead of seeing the wonderful idiosyncrasies of their mate, a person becomes painfully disillusioned by his or her imperfections. The once embraced rosy picturesque dream of "Happily Ever After" is no longer possible, and that partner's disenchantment becomes unbearable. He or she sees the disentanglement of the relationship as it slowly unravels, from the honeymoon period happiness to years of misery, emotional damage and suffering.

In my opinion, the most crucial factor to consider in a relationship is communication, but it's not the only one. The way we relate to others can either contribute to ruining or to intensifying the partnership. I will only mention a few factors that I believe may largely affect the relationship that can help make it turn sour.

A) Lack of Communication

This is where one partner is reserved in expressing his or her emotional needs and becomes bored with the relationship or just plain stops listening. Sometimes one partner may have high expectations in the relationship, assuming that they will be met, which puts the other person in a compromising position off the bat because he or she doesn't know what to say or how to meet those expectations since they were never made known to him or her during the course of the beginning of the relationship. So in effect, the man or woman is stressed out from the unknown imposed demands and eventually withdraws his or her own emotional support, leaving the other quite disappointed.
Then we have the person who is narcissistic; the one who believes that the world revolves only around him or her, and since the matter at hand doesn't concern him or her, he or she becomes oblivious to his mate's wants and needs. Eventually silence and the withdrawal of emotional support creates an invisible wall between both partners, making it difficult to have a close, intimate relationship. The longer this emotional abandonment lasts, the greater are the damaging effects which chip away at the individual's feelings of self-worth, thus adding to that person's insecurities.

B) Communicative Verbal Abuse and Violence

This is where the "Honeymoon Bliss" relationship turns into a "Fatal Attraction". Negative communication is expressed through physical, emotional and verbal abuse, given with intent to rule, until the other person feels helpless and yields. The partner, by attacking the self-worth and independence of his or her mate through criticism, belittlement, embarrassment, mind games, ridicule and interrogation, maintains a sense of righteousness and strict control. This allows him or her to continue to bully the other in a harmful way, as if the other partner deserves the abuse. The victim becomes the partner's possession, to be done with as he or she pleases. Communicative violence plays a pivotal role in the destruction of a relationship. The pattern of attack may begin with emotional and verbal abuse, but often escalates from mental pushing and shoving to an absolute, powerful expression of physical strength. For those that have the good fortune to live, battered and bruised, emotionally scarred, they undergo a shocking and disturbing future. Most victims are reluctant to speak out as they suffer their eternal shame, feeling helpless, humiliated and desperate, isolated and alone, they maintain their suffering in silence. Often, they turn to alcohol, drugs or self-mutilation, and may even contemplate suicide.

This behavior affects a person's self-worth. And what is "Self-worth?" This is the value that one assigns to oneself. It's also one's favorable opinion of oneself that is not contingent on financial assets, academic achievements, status quo or physical attractiveness. It's a moral compass point you use to navigate your life, and once it's knocked askew, it's hard to find your emotional bearings and to regain confidence in what you are doing and where you are going. It makes it hard to navigate your daily life, and it's scary. Everyone is certainly worthy. It is a remarkable gift that we are born with that can't be taken from us but can be overlooked every so often. A harmful relationship can make anyone feel that this is not true.

There is a difference between self-esteem and self-worth. Self-esteem fluctuates depending on what is happening to you at the time. If you are successful or content, you feel great, proudly walking around with your chest pumped out, but if you have failed, then you feel terrible, walking around with a bowed head and droopy shoulders. In order to love others, we must accept our value and love ourselves. It doesn't matter what we may have accomplished in life, and it doesn't matter what others think of us, we should above all love ourselves unconditionally.

Therefore, everything that happens to us through our own emotions, actions and thoughts are of considerable importance in playing a role in the growth and development of a relationship. In plain words, we are entirely responsible for whatever we think, say and do. We can choose to be happy or desire to be miserable. And by ignoring this, we can make ourselves incapable of love, and incapable of making our partner happy.

So whenever something seems to be bothering you with respect to your partner or the relationship, discuss it until it is favorably resolved. When you make known your emotional wants and needs to your partner, try to avoid whining and self-pitying drama, because this method doesn't improve the situation at hand. Be straightforward in your communication by explaining calmly and rationally what you feel and how you are distressed or outraged by the way the relationship seems to be going. On the other hand, you need to be responsive to your partner's feelings. Perhaps there will be some truths about yourself that you might not want to hear. If you sincerely wish for the relationship to survive, then accept your share of the blame and don't place it only on your mate because it's convenient for you. It's important to know each other's style of communicating so that there are no misunderstandings, which, therefore, will ultimately strengthen the ongoing relationship.

If communicating directly with your partner doesn't get you anywhere, then you may need professional help to assist you when addressing the issues at hand. This will allow you to achieve a better level of mutual understanding and communication between the both of you. One should seek treatment that focuses on the emotions, which will help reduce relationship related stress and psychological symptoms. When a person believes in their worthlessness, then they put themselves in a state of feeling helpless and are afraid.. By openly talking about the pain, hurt and emotions that have been buried deep inside, you are taking a step toward emotional healing and self-worth improvement. The process of evaluation and dealing with emotions will help you achieve that level of forgiveness of self, and will ultimately lead to forgiveness toward the partner who has hurt you. Therapy, anger management groups, and support groups, and most of all, if you are a believer, a trust in God can help alleviate chronic anger, instilling hope for a better future. Hope is a divine gift from God. As the injured party comes to terms with himself or herself and is released from negative and painful feelings, the injured partner begins to grow emotionally stronger.

Whatever pain and suffering that you may have experienced in the past belongs to the past. If it continues to exist now, it is because you keep inflicting it upon yourself repeatedly, refusing to let go of the memory. As long as you go on thinking wrongly about yourself and about life, the same difficulties will continue to harass you. The more the injured party focuses on his or her negative emotions, rehashing all past hurts, pain and feelings, especially when trust is shattered, the more likely it is to turn into an obsession, disturbing that person's sleep and daily activities, causing adverse health conditions as well, and may cause serious problems with how they interact with people. We all know that there are things in a relationship that can be changed, but there are other things that the injured person is unable to forgive.

When it comes to having a partner who takes advantage of communicative verbal abuse and violence, which may end in tragedy, there can't be anything good eventually coming from that relationship. If your partner does not want to admit that he or she has serious issues and needs professional help in this situation, then I strongly urge, for safety, that you disassociate yourself from the relationship, because things will get worse. If you remain in the relationship because you think you can change your abusive partner into a better human being, forget about it. It doesn't matter how many apologies, I love you's and crocodile tears they may shed, it's all an act. If you believe in this fairy tale, then you are placing your life at risk The abuser will not do anything to change, or see themselves being at fault unless they truly make efforts to do so. The abuser doesn't like this to happen because it relinquishes his or her control, which the individual needs to thrive on. It gives the abuser absolute pleasure to see you squirm. So wake up and smell the coffee, because this is as good as it will ever get. Trust me, I should know because, at one time, I was a silent victim for years, one who suffered emotional, psychological and physical abuse at the hands of my alcoholic husband. He was my fatal attraction. It was fear that kept me in that situation, and fear that finally got me out of it. Believe me, you are not alone. Contact the Domestic Violence shelter in your area, and get them involved, they know what to do and how to get you safely away from circumstances you are in.

If you are in a relationship that is worth saving, and if both of you are willing to work at it with a genuine enthusiasm and strong commitment, then I say good luck and best of success to you.
Nonetheless, if after all efforts have been made and love is actually lost between both partners, prepare yourself emotionally and mentally for the possibility that the relationship cannot be saved and move on with your life.

So if, you're discontented with the world you have created for yourself, then start thinking and acting in a positive way about yourself, your relationships, and all that concerns you. In doing this, you will create a new mold from which to create a new series of events that will be more to your liking and will help you in the pursuit of happiness. Amazingly, in the process, one might even meet and fall in love with someone who will help you to become more fulfilled and more deeply loved. The main challenge is overcoming the feeling that we are "at the mercy of Fate" as the saying goes, "Que sera sera...what will be will be". This feeling clouds any possibilities for a better future. We can offset this concept by establishing an effective frame of mind. Self-direction is what motivates us to pick up the pieces and start again. "In order, for you to achieve whatever you set out to do, you must believe in whatever you want to obtain, accept its feasibility and confidently expect it to be realized." These truths can be applied to every area of your life, whether they be your health, home, career, or relationships. By maintaining a positive mental attitude, you will enhance your thoughts and your imagination. Allowing you to see beyond your needs, circumstances, or conditions that surround you. This will eventually allow you to turn anxiety into courage and confidence, regard to calmness, and despair to faith and hope.

Some things just weren't very good to begin with, and we need to learn from each challenge and move on.