Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Passive Aggressive--"Thank You Ashley Madison" excerpt

Tuesday, June 11

     Walked into the 7 a.m. meeting and found altered fliers with a big arrow pointing at my name and “Change in speakers. Please let your friends know!! Songbird will be our open speaker,” pasted over my book quotes. They were on every countertop and bulletin board in the club house.
      Tanya snatched a bunch of fliers off a table near the front door and made a face. “This is so passive aggressive,” she snarled. “This is so icky.”
     Tanya and I scooped them up and put them in my Tahoe.
     “These are really passive aggressive,” Tanya repeated. “Really shitty.”
     “Thank-you,” I said and hugged her.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Finesse Things--"Thank You Ashley Madison" excerpt

Monday, June 10

     “………..aaaarrrgghhh…..just saw this ……” Bling-Bling emailed.
     “Well it (sic) too late …on the Announcement (sic)….I waited until I talked with you and put out a bunch…..at 10 yesterday.
     “The flier only promoted YOU and it did not have a coupon or info on how to buy the book………    I am actually at my office and have apt …in a bit….I have several thoughts running through my mind.
     “#1 is that a lot of people have come to recovery because of your shared story………I would be glad to humble myself in front of the BIG group you will have and take responsibility for the……..PROMOTIONAL….announcement………    I don’t know what to else to say……..can we talk?”

     My phone rang and it was Bling-Bling. “You okayed the flier Saturday night so I put it out Sunday.”
     “No,” I said. “You put it out Saturday morning well before we spoke that night. And I didn’t okay it.”
     “I didn’t put it out until Sunday.”
     “You told me Saturday night that you’d put the fliers out that morning, made an announcement, and specifically left fliers for the weekend women’s meetings. I never okayed it.”
     “Well it’s too late now. I’ll make an announcement before you speak. I can finesse things. I’m great at that.”
     I pictured Bling-Bling with his thick pompador, gold chains swinging, arms flying, finessing things.
     “No,” I said. “You have time to find someone else.”
     “It’ll be fine Brenda. I will finesse this thing. Don’t worry about it.”
     “I’m giving you plenty of time to lineup someone else. I’m not speaking.”
     “I do a lot for the clubhouse,” Bling-Bling said. “I’ve taken on a lot of responsibility over there that takes away from my business. I don’t have time for this. Do you know the history of the Sunday meeting, why I took it over?”
     “So you know a lot of women had a problem with what was going on, and you’ve helped a lot of women. You will help a lot of women.”
     “I’m sorry you’re in this position, but you need to get someone else to speak.”
      Tanya called. “Those fliers were everywhere this morning. I think I got them all.” She started laughing. “There was a typo. Maybe I won’t tell you what it is. See if you spot it.”
     “Just tell me.”
     “Okay. I’ll read it. ‘Excerpt from Brenda Wilhelmson’s memoir, “Diary of an Alcoholic Housewife.” Hear the real story,’ and he spelled story wrong.”
     I groaned.
     “Yeah, there’s more. ‘Our own Brenda W. Bring a friend.’ Then there’s a picture of the cover of your book and underneath are all these quotes. I’m not sure how or why he chose them.”
     “Thanks for grabbing them.”
     “They’re really yucky. I’m saving them for you. They’re in my car. I’ll give them to you tomorrow.”
     “Can’t wait.”

     I went back to my email and saw Bling-Bling had sent another.

     “I understand your position—an d (sic) you are right….we did not talk until Sat..pm….and I did announce that Dave was our speaker 6/9  and Brenda was speaking 6/16…at the 8;30 (sic) am Sat….my home group. 
     “My apology….you had NOT given me permission to use an announcement!!”

     Or fliers.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Not Cool--"Thank You Ashley Madison" excerpt

Sunday, June 9

     “I've been feeling very uncomfortable about the fliers,” I emailed Bling-Bling. “Promoting me is not cool. I'm just another drunk and I don't want any promotion. I know you want to boost attendance, but promoting me isn't the way to do it. Can we take away the fliers?”

     Tanya called and I told her, “I think I’m going to send Bling-Bling another email telling him I’m not going to speak at his meeting. I don’t feel good about it.”
     “I think that’s the right thing,” Tanya said.
     “Are you going to the seven o’clock meeting tomorrow morning? Will you get rid of the fliers you see? I’d do it myself but I can’t make it.”
“I’ll get rid of them for you.”

“I'm sorry to do this,” I emailed Bling-Bling, “but I've given it a lot of thought and I believe it's best I step down from speaking. My book was published two years ago and during that time I've gone to great lengths to keep my book and recovery meetings separate. If people want to talk to me about my book after meetings, fine. I'm sorry if this puts you in a tight spot, but not speaking is the right thing to do.”

     I felt better the moment I sent it.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Bling-Bling--"Thank You Ashley Madison" excerpt

     Tom and I got ready to drive into the city for the Printer’s Row Literary Festival where I’d post pictures and interviews from the Kabbalah Center’s bookstall on social media. As we were leaving, Serena texted and asked me to swing by a recovery meeting to okay fliers that Tony Bling-Bling printed promoting me as a speaker at one of his upcoming meetings. Uncomfortable about the fliers, I told her I couldn’t and asked Serena to get Bling-Bling to email me a copy of them. When Tom and I got home from the festival, Bling-Bling called saying he couldn’t email me the fliers.
     “I’ll meet you at a meeting tomorrow and look at them,” I told him. “What do they say?”
     “I copied the cover of your book, put some quotes on it, and said you were speaking. They’re out on the counter. I hung some up and left some for the women’s meetings.”
     “You distributed them already?”
     “Yeah, they’re out. We need to get attendance up at that Sunday meeting.”
     “You should have shown me first,” I said angrily and hung up.
     I didn’t want Bling Bling promoting my book at recovery meetings. People don’t showcase their endeavors there. It wasn’t cool. Playboy Pete started that meeting years ago and used to deliver what amounted to a comedy act before presenting each week’s speaker. He’d drawn large crowds and the collection baskets brimmed with much-needed money. But Playboy Pete was recently asked to step down because he offended women with his dicey jokes and sexual innuendos. Bling-Bling had taken it over and attendance had dropped. Bling-Bling’s ego took a hit, and now he’s put me in a bad spot.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Messed Up--"Thank You Ashley Madison" excerpt

Thursday, June 6

     I refinanced my house. Yippee! I own my house—me and the bank. I left the bank feeling elated, relieved, but by the time I got home, sadness had moved in. Sadness about what could have been—a happy family living in that house. I want to love someone. I want to be loved. But you never really know another person, do you? It’s hard enough to know yourself. I’m far too messed up to be in a relationship now. I’m so messed up.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Smoke--"Thank You Ashley Madison" excerpt

Tuesday, June 4

     I woke up feeling sad. Sad because I’m craving sex to feel desirable and loved—and it’s not a good indicator of either. Ever since my marriage blew up, it’s been full on.
     I got up and pulled weeds in the master gardener demo garden. It felt good to be outside, in the sunshine, volunteering. I taught yoga. I took Tom to his guitar lesson. While I waited for Tom, I bummed a smoke off of a guitar teacher because I’d just thrown away the pack of cigarettes I bought. I don’t want to start smoking again. But that cigarette was damn good.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Soulmate--"Thank You Ashley Madison" excerpt

Monday, June 3

     Yosef explained a window in time Kabbalists say is supercharged with soulmate-finding power. It begins at sundown tonight and ends at sundown tomorrow. He’d emailed details before we spoke.

     “Who needs dating websites, secret love potions, and marriage counselors when you’ve got a kabbalist who is the chariot for soulmate energy?
     “Known as the ‘soulmate’ kabbalist, Yonatan Ben Uziel swore before he passed away that whoever will connect to his consciousness, gain affinity, and ask for his help will get his/her soulmate/soulmate energy in that year. The day that Yonatan Ben Uziel left the physical world takes place this year on Monday night June 3
rd until Tuesday June 4th  at sunset.
     “Yonatan Ben Uziel never got married, thinking instead that he’s (sic) married to the spiritual studies, and only shortly before he passed away he realized that you cannot do the 100% spiritual work without a partner, and therefore committed to be the chariot for that energy. It is said about him that his energy was so powerful, that if a bird would fly above his head at the time he studies or shares (sic) Kabbalah, the bird would spontaneously combust…
     “Asking for his support on that day can give us the energy we need for a complete unification, offering balanced cosmic support that is perfect for discovering soulmates and strengthening relationships.
     “In order to awaken this power and bring the harmony and love into YOUR life, I wanted to share with you this email along with my invitation for you to use the tools below:
     -       Scan from the Zohar – the portion of Lech-Lecha, volume 3 in the English Zohar, verses 346- 356, and the portion of Terumah, volume 11, verses 86-805, sending this Light to people whom you know need that energy.
     -       Meditate on the name #28 from the 72 Names of God to draw more soulmate energy (the picture attached is the place of burial of Rav Yonatan Ben Uziel. This place is the gate to connect to that energy.) 
     -       Think (and I invite you to act on it as well) how can you bring more Light and Kabbalah to someone else (the energy of Soulmates comes to you every time you think out of yourself). There is someone out there (that you might already know - and love) that needs this Light through the Zohar, the Living Kabbalah System, and other tools that can be for you the key to unlock your soulmate energy/bring more soulmate energy to your current relationship through caring and sharing, while you are the only channel for that person to connect.
     -       In addition, this is a very powerful day for actions of sharing, to draw down the energy of soulmates.  If you’d like to know more about it as well as doing a meditation along with the action of sharing, email or call me so we can schedule a time.

     “This is a powerful window,” Yosef explained. “At sunset, light a candle and let it burn for twenty-four hours. Candles connect the physical with the spiritual. They draw positive energy into life. Mention the name of the rav when you light it and look at pictures of his burial site. You will transcend to this place. Meditate and fly there after you light the candle.
     “Write down, refine, and understand your desire for a soulmate, who that person is. You should complete each other’s journeys in this lifetime. You want someone with whom you can grow spiritually, greater, shine on each other and others. You want something really meaningful with a lot of energy to fulfill you, him, and others. Write it down. This is what I want. Be exact, accurate, and very focused on what you want. The sooner you do it, the better. When you write down something, you manifest it from the upper to lower realm.
     “Scan the special sections of the Zohar for half an hour to an hour during this twenty-four hour period. Scanning is more powerful after midnight, between one and four a.m. Set your alarm and wake up. Wash your hands and face and sit down, not in bed. Go next to the candle and scan the Zohar there. Make it a special moment.
     “Meditate on the number twenty-eight name of God. Don’t be done with this after the twenty-four hours is up. Invest a lot of time and energy doing this until you find the guy. Use it again and again.
     “A special tool for blessing and sustenance is charity. Charity is the number one tool that can give you a totally new movie. You should give something that is beyond what you have—illogical giving—and it should be done with a lot of happiness and love. If you can give charity during this twenty-four hour period, you will get a huge benefit.
     “When I get into something, I’m all in,” Yosef continued. “When I started studying Kabbalah, I took out my savings, sold my car, and gave it all to the Zohar Project through the Kabbalah Center. The place you give should be where you expect to get transformations in your life. There is a specific meditation to do when you give charity. It’s the most powerful tool of all. The meditation is done with a teacher. Let me know if you want to do this.
     “Keep using your tools. Heighten your desire. Work with a lot of restriction. Restriction, restriction, restriction. Restrict your tendencies to want to receive for the self alone. Work with the light. ‘If this person is good for me, make the connection stronger. If he’s not, take him away.’ The right person should feel perfect on every dimension: physical, spiritual, and emotional.”
     So, the Kabbalah Center wants me to give it an amount of money that’s uncomfortable to give. I’m uncomfortable alright. I began looking at pictures of the rav’s gravesite, placed a large candle on my bedroom dresser, pulled the recommended Zohar volume off my bookshelf, put everything in place for sunset, and left to meet Kari for dinner.
     Kari and I’ve know each other for years through recovery, but neither of us showed an interest in hanging out with each other. I was surprised when she invited me to dinner and curiously accepted. I walked into the steakhouse and, minutes later, Kari swished in on stiletto heels and halted in front of me.
     “Come for a ride with me,” she said coquettishly. “We’ll come right back. I have to drop my son at an eighth-grade graduation party and we’re late.”
     I followed her out. Kari’s son was sitting in the front seat.
     “Get in back,” Kari told him. “This is Brenda.”
     Her son and I said hello and he got in the backseat. One minute later, Kari pulled in front of a restaurant doors down from the steakhouse. It made no sense that she didn’t drop him off first. Maybe she wanted me to see her new BMW?
     On our minute-long drive back I said, “I was surprised you invited me to dinner. What’s up?”
     “You published a book,” she said. “I haven’t read your book, sorry, but I want to pick your brain because I’m interested in helping two of my friends co-write and publish a book. Dinner is on me.”
     We were seated. I ordered salmon and black bean soup. Kari ordered the same.
     “I’m a very smart business woman,” Kari purred, lowering her head and fixing me with kittenish eyes. “My ex had the technical end, but I had all the business savvy. He made software and I made it big. So I can make this book big, but I don’t know anything about publishing.”
     “You want to self publish?” I asked.
     Kari nodded.
     “Hazelden published ‘Diary of an Alcoholic Housewife.’ I didn’t self publish.”
     “Oh,” Kari said, taken aback.
     “I can direct you to self-publishing vehicles. You know it’s a hard way to make a buck, right?”
     “Oh, this book is going to be big,” Kari said, looking at me seductively. “Two sexy southern society friends of mine married and divorced the same man. Everyone’s going to want to interview them.”
     “Have you read their book? Is it good?”
     “They haven’t actually written it. They keep talking about it and arguing about it. But they have a great story. They don’t need to write well. An editor will pull it together for them.”
     “Good luck with that,” I laughed. “If you want to self publish, you’re going to have to hire someone to rewrite it, edit it, design it, lay it out in e-book and print formats, promote it. I can give you recommendations once you have something to work with.”
     Kari nodded distractedly.
     “Have you and Kat patched things up?” I asked.
     Kari stopped speaking to Kat a year ago. Kat accused her of slutty behavior, a drug and alcohol relapse, and had gossiped these judgements to others. I knew about it because Kat called me frantically talking in circles attempting to justify her actions. Recently, Kat said she and Kari were friends again.
     “I see her here and there,” Kari said flatly.
     I told Kari how things went when Kat was at my house.
     “Kat’s just crazy,” Kari said. “She’s had run-ins with everyone. Being with Kat is like hearing the doorbell ring, opening the door, and getting punched in the face.” Kari and I laughed hard.
     “Kat has helped me see things I wouldn’t have otherwise seen,” I said. “I’ve purposely consulted her wanting her blunt unpolished viewpoints. But she’s a know-it-all. And I don’t like how she gossips and psychoanalyzes people.”
     “Like we’re doing now?” Kari asked.
     “No, I’m not speculating on her motives, judging them, thinking I’ve got her nailed inside and out, like she does with me, my ex, my friends. She talked about Kent, made horrible judgements about him.”
     Kari curled up in the booth, tucked her chin to her chest, and batted her eyes at me. “Kent has said some things to me. He’s gone to strip clubs. I don’t know if you consider that cheating on your wife or not, but believe me, the comments he’s made, the way he looks at me, if I gave him the green light, he’d sleep with me. Any guy would. They’re all the same. I’ve tested it.” Kari tilted her head toward the bar. “You and I could walk into that bar and get any guy to leave with us. I’ve done it just to see.”
     I stared at Kari.
     “Being divorced isn’t fun Brenda,” Kari said. “I’ve been at it for seven years. It’s depressing and lonely. You find someone, think there’s something there, but after six to eight months it falls apart. That’s the timeline. I’m not going to date anyone exclusively anymore, take myself off the market. It’s a waste.”
     I drove home feeling depressed. The sun had set half an hour ago and I’d missed the precise time I was supposed to light the soulmate candle and meditate. I went upstairs to my bedroom, lit the candle, beckoned the rav, meditated on his gravesite pictures, and asked him to connect Angie, Jody, Sharon, Lila, Golf Guy, Paul, and me to our soulmates. I want Golf Guy removed. Then I sat down and made a list of what I want in a man.

     —A man I love deeply who loves me deeply.
     —A man I bond with on a soul level.
     —A man who expands me, makes me better, and I do that for him.
     —A man who deepens my spiritual connection and I deepen his.
     —A man I light up around who lights up around me.
     —A man I sexually desire who sexually desires me.
     —A man who is full of joy and light.
     —A partner who will spread great amounts of light, joy, and fulfillment with me.
     —A man I laugh with.
     —A man who is faithful, honest, loyal, and trustworthy.
     —A man who would never purposely hurt me.
     —A man who is handsome.
     —A man who is financially wealthy. (Feeling shame here but don’t want to.)
     —A man who is humble, kind, compassionate, empathetic.
     —A man who is smart, savvy, wise.
     —A man I respect.
     —A man who loves God.
     —A man who will help me complete what I’m here to do, and I do that for him.
     —A man who is genuine, real, authentic.
     —A man who is a partner, an equal.
     —A man God picks for me.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Maybe--"Thank You Ashley Madison" excerpt

Sunday, June 2

     Sonia gave me the artwork I'd had her frame at breakfast.
     “How are things with Golf Guy?” she asked.
     “Eh. He gave me a couple of golf lessons. I took him to dinner to thank him. He kissed me in the parking lot and texted later that he liked kissing me. He asked if I wanted to see him again, I said yes, and nothing since. He sends texts like, ‘How was your day?’ That’s about it. I feel strung along, toyed with.”
     Sonia nodded grimly. “You don’t need any of that. Those golf pros are notorious. After everything you’ve been through, stay away from that Brenda.”
     “On the other hand, he’s been a perfect gentleman. He kissed in a nice way. No dirty innuendos. I don’t know. He’s done nothing. But that’s the problem, he’s done nothing.”
      “Well then, say maybe. I’ve learned maybe is a really good word. You don’t have to decide or make up your mind about anything. You can just leave it hang and say maybe.”