Making Friends With Your Pain …


Do What You Can! …


What I Learned From Running a Marathon.

Re: Title #3 – Let’s be clear. I did not run a marathon. I ran IN a marathon. What I mean is, I snuck into the last 2 kilometres to run with my son who was, in fact, running the entire 42. I did this insane thing simply because HE thought it was a good idea. HE thought it might be a nice challenge for his old ma. HE thought (and here’s where he got me) it would be just what HE needed for that final push. Mommy shuffling beside him.

I say shuffle on purpose because that is exactly how I (now) run. I don’t. I shuffle. It’s like walking but a little faster (not much, trust me). Lots of tiny steps getting me nowhere slowly.

I used to run. We called it jogging back in the day. I banged out 4K most days without so much as an “Ouch, my poor knees!” But that was a couple of decades ago. A few broken bones ago. And about 20 lbs. ago. I now just walk. At a decent clip. But I can assure you I have no desire to take flight.

I like walking.

I do not like running. I do not enjoy that first stretch where you are huffing and puffing (and dying) and waiting to get over that first hump (“It’s natural,” they say, they being the spandexed sprites who sprint along merrily). I do not like my knees giving out and I really do not like the ensuing back pain. Do. Not. Like.

And here’s what I have learned. If you really do not like doing something, chances are you will wind up NOT doing it. Crazy, right?

Which brings me to Title #2 (apparently I like to go backwards) – When there is a choice between doing something you hate and doing what you CAN, you should always choose the latter. You should always choose something over nothing. When it comes to physical fitness and aging well, you MUST do something. You absolutely must. But if you suddenly get the urge to run but you hate running (and it hates you back), just don’t. And if walking 4K is daunting, walk 1. Or a half. Around the block. Do what you can. Because if you do what you can every single day, you will be doing something, which is so much better than sitting on the sofa eating chips. So do SOMETHING. Stick with it and see what happens. If it’s just a few steps a day – Yay You!!  And if you suddenly find yourself longing to run a marathon, sit down on that damn couch and eat some Pringles. I can assure you the urge will pass.

Which leads me to Title #1 – who the hell wants to make friends with their pain? Most of us spend our entire lives avoiding pain at all costs. Whether emotional or physical, nobody wants to get schmucked. We avoid getting schmucked like the plague. We hide from schmuckery and when it shows it’s terrifying face we smack it down with denial, booze, drugs or sleep. Or even religion, anxiety and depression.

Poor Pain. Nobody wants to be his friend.

When my son ran his first marathon he trained like a demon, then drove across the country, caught a horrible cold and ran the damn thing anyway. He ran alone. And he told me that the “dark moments” – when he truly believed he could not take another step – were debilitating (emotionally and physically). All he could do was push on and hope. When his best friend joined him for the final 10K he said the relief was incredible. He was still struggling physically but the pure emotional relief of having a mate at his side was game-changing. He did it (sub 4 hours if you’re wondering) and we were all so proud.

For his second marathon he knew there would be a team by his side for the entire journey. Four of his mates were doing the relay (each running 10.5K) and he KNEW that support would be immeasurable.

In the month before the race, when I was “training” and so were they, he informed me that our complaints we all the same (sore knees, sore back). No matter that they are more than 3 decades younger than I am, the complaints were identical. And so my son (veteran marathoner that he is) says, “Make friends with your pain. Don’t cause injury to yourself but remind yourself that you can work through this discomfort. Pain is just telling you that you are evolving. Growing. Getting better. You can do this!”

Who the hell does he think he is – Richard Simmons?

(I can assure you, he has no idea who Richard Simmons is.)

But on race day I watched him run by me at around the 30K mark. He waved. He was smiling. He was killing it.

Shortly before the 41K mark, I joined him. I knew immediately there was a problem. These sub-4 runners were flying past me at speeds I’ve only experienced on motorcycles. AFTER over 40K! There was NO WAY I could do this. I would ruin his time and quite probably my own health … just in the trying. This was so out of my league I might as well have vied for the Nobel Prize in Astrophysics.

He smiled but he could barely speak. His mate high-fived me. And we ran.

Matey took off (he had upped his game to a half-marathon and was not about to be foiled by Sam’s tortoise aka momma) but my son insisted he would finish with me!

Oh my baby.

I spattered and spewed and started coughing and pretty much dying (their pace was nuts!) and I cried, “Please … go! Finish strong! Please … leave me here to die alone … in peace!”

Okay. It was not nearly that dramatic. I just said, “Go!”

And he did. He knew that, in these final metres, if he let up, his legs would seize. He knew he was putting in a stellar time. He looked at me with all the love his exhausted blue eyes could muster and yelled, “See you at the finish line momma!”

And then … taillights.

So … what did I do?

I stopped running. Are you crazy? I was about to vomit blood.

Not really, but I was pooped.

I kept walking as I watched intrepid marathoners boldly pass me as they approached that beautiful END. So many of them looked way worse than me (ya think?). All ages, all sexes, all colours and all speeds, they just kept flying (or staggering) past me.

I was in awe.

I also had no idea what I should do. Do I cut across the park and try to find the finish line? Do I call an Uber (oh, that sounded nice). Hop a bus or just keep strolling?

I started running again. I knew there was another kilometre or so (the course is actually almost 42.5) and I just started running it. At MY pace. The slow, steady old-lady shuffle that I had rehearsed for an entire month before that fateful day.

As I approached the finish the crowds grew in size and volume. There were signs (literally) of encouragement and praise. Folks hooting and hollering and offering waves and smiles. I kept running.

Then there was a hill. Are you kidding me? A HILL at the END of a marathon?

I kept running. I ran up that damn hill and kept going. I was slow. But I was still running.

And then the finish line was in site. The roar of the crowd was deafening. I was surrounded by other athletes. I was laughing my frigging head off because I knew I was the biggest imposter who ever lived! I’ll tell you, it was shameful and hilarious and exhausting, ALL at the same time.

And then I saw my son.

Just across the finish line, he was waiting, phone in hand, believing that his momma WOULD INDEED have finished the race on her own, she would indeed cross through that big red gate and he would be there smiling, proud, spent, emotional, yet arms outstretched, ready to get a photo.

Do. What. You. Can.

I can assure you that getting out of your own personal comfort zone will always be … uncomfortable. Maybe even painful.

Sam told me that for this, his second marathon, he allowed his pain to show up but he did NOT allow it to consume him. He knew he would get through it. He knew it wouldn’t beat him. So he made friends with his pain. “Sure, run with me if you must,” he said, “But you will not be with me forever. I will get through this with my friends and my mother and my own determination. Pain – you are not the boss of me! I can handle you and be better for it.”

I believe with all my heart this goes for all pain. It s such a natural part of the human experience. So there is no need to hide from it, pretend it doesn’t exist or numb it with whatever toxin you can find.

Make friends. Allow Pain to coexist. For a while. Until you are ready to run again.

Do what you can. Always push a little harder but even when you can’t, do what you can.

No need to run a marathon.

Unless of course, you want to.

My son now wants me to train for 5K which he has promised to run with me. The whole damn thing.

Obviously I have raised a monster.

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“If You Avoid The Conflict to Keep The Peace, You Start a War Inside Yourself … or … Why Liz and Glennon Are NOT Super-Heroes … ”

I’m not sure who exactly said those words (not about Liz and Glennon, and it wasn’t me) but I sure as hell know I have lived it.

Have you?

How many of us have gone to unimaginable lengths to allow someone else – our partner, our boss, our parents, even our children – to be comfortable while we ourselves exist in harrowing discomfort, trying with all our might NOT to upset the status quo?

For me, this was a life I lived for many years. Actually, it was two lives. Because for many years I lived one life in public and one life in private. Sometimes the “private” was just in my head but all the same, it was the fantasy life that appealed to me and my honest inner self. Not the outward life I was play-acting for my husband, family and friends.

It began in the early days of my relationship with my ex-husband. He had taken me to an old friend’s wedding, where I knew no one, and then promptly left me languishing in a giant ballroom while he got dragged off by an old “friend,” ostensibly to “meet up with the old gang!” Why I was not invited on the expedition is beyond me (I have my suspicions, old friend, dearest) but what was intolerable to me was the fact that my boyfriend did not seem to have a problem leaving me behind. In a room full of strangers!

Naturally, I brought this to his attention when he returned and we ended up in the hotel lobby bar, “discussing” the matter. I was none too pleased.

Ultimately he looked at me with a glare that only the truly smug can muster and spewed, “I don’t need this shit!”

Holy fuck!

He didn’t need my shit. That means he didn’t need me. And if he didn’t need me he would leave me. Not only in a hotel ballroom but forever. And I would be alone. Again. He was above my shit. Beyond my shit. Too good for my shit. It didn’t matter that his actions were disgraceful, he did not need my shit!

So I apologized. Probably groveled. Maybe offered up an extra-special time in bed. Whatever I did, it kept our relationship alive (if that’s what you call it) and set us on a course to an even larger explosion many years down the road. Because the rules had been established. The winner had been declared! Henceforth Vickie would be a good girl and not pester her man with her petty insecurities and emotions. Cause you know why … he did not need my shit!

And thus the war began. Not between him and me. Between me and me. The war in me erupted quietly and then as months and years went by that war seeped out of me, in ways not exactly pride-inducing. That is not to say I didn’t continue to try, on occasion, to show my true colours, in all their disgustingly messy glory, to my husband. I recall screaming one night, “I just want to throw this fucking marriage against the wall and see what sticks! Like goddamn spaghetti!”

His response was to walk out of the kitchen. He did not return for a few hours at which time Good-Girl-Vickie had politely returned. She apologized for causing a ruckus. She went to bed contritely. Because she KNEW he did not need this shit. And she was not ready (yet) to give up on the (fake) life she had constructed. Because it must be her fault, right? She was loud and demanding (when she wasn’t busy being good) and turns out nobody needed that shit.

But eventually the war won. Because even the Hundred Year War HAD to end. Eventually I got tired of living a life that was neither authentic nor battle-free. Because that’s the thing – when you avoid conflict to keep the peace, you begin the war within yourself. And the war within me was killing me just as violently as a fellow human stabbing me with a bayonet. My blood was spilling onto my child and my friends and my whole damn life. I truly believed that if I just sucked it up the entire fucking world would benefit! They all loved me in my marriage. Me in my rightful place in the world. Me living the dream with a man who was obviously comfortable in our manufactured détente. What I did not realize (until it was far too late to respond civilly) was that I would never win the war inside of me as long as I was sacrificing ME to some greater good (or good-girl). I had to go … to go rescue me … from me.

Fun, right? Especially when there is a fellow Warrior waiting in the wings. Yep … that always makes surrender taste so much sweeter.

Which brings me to Liz and Glennon.

I love fabulous female writers and spiritual activists (or whatever you want to call them) who live their lives boldly (after, of course, living them bold-less) because they have seen the light and no longer give a shit if somebody doesn’t need their shit because they know what their shit is and their shit is valuable and righteous and hard-won and they have FOUGHT and STRIVED to be shit-free (if there is such a thing) because golly, girls, we all need to be REAL!

I agree.

What I see now with both of these fabulous (yet not fearless) women is they did NOT embark on their perilous journeys of authenticity WITHOUT someone to go to. WITHOUT another warrior waiting in the wings. WITHOUT a Plan B already in place. Sure, their futures were wrought with uncertainty and (in Liz’s case) guaranteed sorrow (her new beloved was terminal). But they had a NEW someone who gave a shit.

And that is huge. Having someone who gives a shit can definitely diminish the war in your soul.

Unlike Liz and Glennon though, my person (Warrior) who gave a shit, didn’t really … not for very long anyway … and in fairly short order I found myself alone, fighting the world solo and unguarded.

You know what? It was hard but it was worth it. It was worth it because I was only fighting the world. I was not fighting a fake reality and I was not fighting a war within my own soul.

I can handle the world.

A few nights ago I asked my beloved to engage in an exercise. A “couples’ exercise” that I thought would be enlightening (and useful). He stared at me with the most painful deer-in-headlights look and said “Vickie, I just can’t do this stuff. I am so sorry but I can’t!”

He did not say “I don’t need this shit.” He did not go for a long walk. He acknowledged that the problem was his and he begged (silently) that I acknowledge that too and still let him off the hook.

So I did.

There is no war raging in my breast. I do not feel slighted and betrayed. I have come to learn that humans are fragile and strong and scared and brave and authentic and sometimes … in need of understanding. I have also come to learn that sacrificing my own truthfulness for someone else’s comfort will not end well. And so a few night ago I responded, “Okay. My truthfulness, longing for YOUR truthfulness, is still here. But I accept that your wheelhouse is not cooperating. Maybe we’ll try another time.”

I said this NOT because I need his shit. I said this NOT because he did not offer shit. He offered truth and vulnerability AND he acknowledged that my request had merit yet still scared the shit out of him.

That shit I can handle.

I have no Plan B. Plan A has, for many years, been solid in my soul. If you don’t need my shit, I will not wither so that you can thrive. If you’re not sure what to do with my shit … I am more than willing to walk that path by your side.

There is no war.

And peace is an ongoing process.

That shit I understand.

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The Most Fucks I Have Ever Written in One Blog or … When It Really Is Time To Let Go …

It is one of the hardest damn things in life. It may well be THE hardest damn thing in life.

Letting go.

Think about it. From our first, best, favourite toy to the security of our momma’s apron strings, from that great high-school love we thought would never end to an unacceptable marriage that actually did, from anything we become addicted to (booze, drugs, sex, Netflix) to a beloved pet to whom we must bid farewell, from an aged parent lost to the circle of life to an unexpected death that blindsides us … letting go is the inevitable adventure no one wants to undertake. Letting go is a messy, often lengthy and sometimes distasteful journey that can seem impossible to start, much less finish.

But letting go we must.

Over and over and over again, we must let go.

I will not bore you here with flowery analogies of trees and leaves and snow and tulips. Blah blah and then more fucking blah.

Letting go of something real and true and valuable and beloved is fucking hard! Letting go of something stinky and putrid and soul-destroying and unhealthy is also hard. Really hard if it was something (or someone) who brought immense pleasure to your life, no matter how destructive. Letting go to the natural and expected cycle of existence is hard, even when you fully compute and accept the natural and expected cycle of existence.

But you wanna know what is REALLY really hard?

Choosing to let go.

Choosing to let go is really, really hard.

Because you could also choose to hang on. You could choose to keep trying. You could choose to be a martyr, or a saint, or patience-personified or even dumb as a fucking rock. You could choose any of the above and keep hanging on to whatever it is you THINK you should maybe, perhaps, sooner-rather-than-later let go of because whatever it is (or he/she is) is probably gonna kill you but goddammit you won’t let go because YOU are not a quitter and you won’t give up or give in or … put yourself first.

Put yourself first.

Well, you selfish twat. How dare you?

How dare you think about yourself when there are millions (literally) of people you could think of first and, if you factor in all your loved ones (and pets) who have left you or died and who you continue to grieve for loudly and endlessly, well, we can at the very least add a few more hundred to the list.

YOU can choose to keep hanging on and not letting go until the end of time, all under the guise of nobility. No, not nobility – noble-ness. Selflessness. Magnanimity. I don’t even know what the right word is. The word for someone who believes that by ignoring and/or diminishing their own needs and wants and RIGHT to LIVE a HAPPY LIFE, they are a better person.

It’s like a hair shirt. (Look it up if you’re drawing a blank.) Punishing yourself for sins you never committed because the truth is you don’t actually believe you deserve anything.

Letting go makes you the bad guy. And God knows nobody wants to be the bad guy. Especially not those people described in the previous paragraph. Those folks have made a career out of being the GOOD GUY. And even if it kills them they are not letting go of that moniker anytime soon.

I know what it feels like to be the BAD GUY and I’ll tell you it is not fun.

You know what is even less fun?

NOT letting go to something that is suffocating you. Something that you have tried to amend and alter and renegotiate and even forgive and that damn thing still wants to kill you. That damn thing (or person) still wants you to believe that it is YOUR fault that everything is fucked up. YOUR fault. So you hang on yet again hoping and praying and pleading with The Universe that YOU can fix this problem because it is YOUR fault after all.

Fuck the fuck off.

I am done. I am done with accepting a guilty verdict from a jury of uninformed idiots.

And so now, my life’s great mandate is to learn how to LET GO. Learn how to let go when hanging on just might drown me. That’s right … the branch is there, offering me a chance at redemption and if I hang on I might get it but the reality is that if I keep hanging on to that spindly, lopsided branch … it will probably break anyway and I will probably be swept away by a roaring current and I will probably die at the bottom of a murky, corpse-filled river.

With no one to blame but myself.

Which brings me to my point.

(Really, Vickie … you actually have one?)

Letting go is hard.

Letting go BY CHOICE is harder.

Letting go of something you believed was SO solid you believed it was unbreakable for all time …

THAT is the hardest.

I have given up on many relationships in my life. I have tried (and not succeeded) to give up on most of them with love. Even when that was impossible, I tried to walk away with quiet. Without drama. With acceptance. I have heard the expression “hold space for someone” and I have done that too … and guess what – it worked! I held space without judgement and my friend returned.

I have also learned that sometimes you absolutely must close the door. You can love someone and also know that you will love them better when they are not in your orbit. You can wish them love and wish that they stay away. You can remember all the love you shared and also acknowledge that there will be no future love to anticipate. Or count on. When something … anything … happens that destroys the trust you placed in that relationship and you KNOW there is nothing magical, like say – unicorns, that will reestablish that trust, you are ALLOWED to say FARE WELL.

And mean it.

Fare well. Have a great life. Go with God! Be happy!

Just not on my deck.

Several months ago I asked my ex-husband why it was so difficult for him to love me. You know, as the mother of his child, as a person who still cares deeply, as someone even his new love likes more than he does. After almost 20 years of divorce, why was it so fucking hard for him to love me?

His reply:

“I just want an uncomplicated life.”

Fuck me.

But I get it. Uncomplicated can mean many things. But I think that in this application what it really means is this: You broke my trust and hurt me in a way I cannot to this day fathom. I will never trust you again and it is therefore impossible for me to love you in an “expressed” form. I must let YOU go so that I can put the pain you caused behind me and go forward with hope and conviction … and faith that I am deserving of something far stronger and much more unbreakable than what you gave me.

Fuck me.

He has let go.

I am now doing the same thing. Not with him (tethered for all time I am to him, and happily so) and not with my (romantic) beloved (we are still trying) but with someone who has been an insanely (and I use that word on purpose) close friend since … forever.

I am letting her go. I am letting her go for all time (no holding space here), understanding that the hurt she has inflicted on me and her lack of reflection or accountability on that hurt is, in a word, unfixable. I will never trust again.


I can (and will) forgive. I will wish no harm. I will pray for peace and harmony and I will love until eternity.

But I will let go.

I will close the door and lock it and toss the key to the winds. Lovingly. With gratitude for all the years of love we shared. With hope that her life will move forward in love. With acceptance that what we were will never again … be.

In some ways, I swear, this is worse than a death. Because THIS is a CHOICE. A choice I have made (and will continue to make) with tears streaming down my snotty face, over and over and over again. A choice to save my own sanity. To save my own soul and my own ability to love. A choice to move forward with hope and conviction … and faith that I am deserving of something far stronger and much more unbreakable than what she gave me.

Fuck me.

Not really.

I am at peace. Letting go is really hard.

Do it anyway.

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The Five Key Ingredients to a Successful Romantic Relationship …

What might they be, I pondered. And more importantly, if you knew what they were and you and your beloved could agree on them, would that give your relationship a higher chance of flourishing?

I must admit, I do love lists. Especially as I get older. You want to get something done? Write a list and then start checking off those suckers. Get it done item by item! Go Team!

So what could be the optimal list for love? Amorous love.

Naturally I went to my panel (Facebook).  What came back was this: Attraction. Love. Tolerance. Forgiveness. Appreciation. Cooperation. Trust. Respect. Friendship. Intimacy. Transparency. Accountability. Compatibility. Connection. Honesty. Humour. Financial independence and the ability to compromise.

Wow. That’s a lot of list. But yes, thought I … those are all good. I mean, I’m not really sure about the “financial independence” one if that means independence from each other. Pretty sure my parents had all their finances intertwined. But what do I know? Maybe keeping your loot to yourself is a prudent way to go? Certainly it’s the safest way if you think you might break up down the road. Not sure that planning for your relationship to fail will aid its success but hey, look at all those prenups! I decided to google “how many marriages with a prenup end in divorce”?

I could not find an answer.

Anyhoo … back to my query.

Let’s just accept that any long-term romantic relationship requires attraction and love. Otherwise we’re talking friendship. For these purposes we can remove those from the equation.

But what about the rest?

An abundance of words and those words have many definitions. Mine could be significantly different from yours. Or my partner’s. So how can I make this more succinct?

I have decided to begin with “I need … “

Pretty self-centred, right, bey hey, it is my blog. And it turns out that just maybe, what I need is exactly what YOU were saying. Just in full sentences.

  1. I need to be seen.

If you read my recent blog about what leads a person to infidelity, you will already know that to me, being SEEN is huge. My dog loves me. My son loves me. I need my  lover to SEE me. To see and acknowledge the unique and singular entity that I am and to then create a relationship with that person. This requires an enormous amount of empathy. We must truly try to walk a mile in our mate’s shoes to know their journey and appreciate the blisters on their figurative feet. We must try to see their struggles and read their roadmap long before they do because that is our job as PARTNER. We must listen and learn and look and learn some more, because the “seeing” never ends. When seeing ends, complacency begins. And when complacency begins … (go read that other blog).

  • I need to feel safe.

This is where words like trust, honesty, transparency, accountability and even respect come into play. Because in order to feel safe all of the above must constantly be in action. All of the above. How can any relationship flourish without trust? If you don’t believe that your lover is honest, how can you trust? If transparency is not 100%, how can you trust that your lover is honest? If your partner is not accountable for any and all acts that leave you suspect, how can you ever feel at ease? And if one person needs  the other to respect THEM (but mostly respect their privacy) is there truly any respect at all? Doesn’t respect in a romantic relationship come down to respecting the union above the individuals?

When we are children, we trust that our parents will keep us safe. When we are adults more of that duty becomes self-imposed. The absolute luxury of someone ELSE allowing you to feel safe (physically and emotionally) cannot be overstated. This is the true richness of a strong romantic bond. I know safety doesn’t sound romantic. But it is.

  • I need to feel desired.

Oh yeah … here we have the largest distinction between friendship and romance. It’s not enough that you see me and make me feel safe. I have several girlfriends who achieve that regularly. My romantic partner must desire me. Not only must he desire me, he must show that desire, speak that desire and act on that desire. Because if he doesn’t, guess what? I feel like we’re buddies. The magnificent, mystical  spiritual bridge between friendship and romance is DESIRE.

I do understand that many couples, as they age and their relationship settles, relegate desire to a long ago back-burner, flickering rarely if ever and tucked away like an aging photo album covered in dust. But I will tell you a tiny story about my ex-husband’s grandparents. They both lived into their 90s and, one night when we joined them for dinner, I saw him playfully pat her behind. With a wink. And she giggled. Like a teenager.

This is blessed intimacy at its pinnacle. Connection spanning decades. Hell, doing what you can with what you got! THIS is desire. The desire to show your beloved that you do indeed desire them, as a sensual, sexual, physical, carnal, libidinous, wanton consort.

In other words … you’re not just chums.

  • I need to feel aligned.

“Love is not gazing adoringly into each other’s eyes. It is looking forward in the same direction.”

Many years ago I read a quote on a card that went something like that. Oh man, I thought it was brilliant! And it is. Not whole, but clever.

Love is gazing adoringly into each other’s eyes and THEN looking forward in the same direction.

You gotta have both (see #3). If not, you’re just pals planning a front-porch-rocking-chair future (and yes, I do have a few of those).

Still … being aligned as we face all of our tomorrows is paramount. It involves tolerance, compatibility, cooperation and the ability to compromise. Doing it together must be the prize. And IF you’re already counting your separate pennies in a separate bank account just in case your existence may one day separate from your beloved, or IF you feel your right to privacy supersedes the relationship’s requirement for transparency, or IF your partner no longer turns your crank  … I’m gonna guess you are not aligned.

You are along for a ride. Not invested. Not looking forward. Together. You are looking inward. Toward #1.

  • I need to feel attuned.

Attuned. In harmony. Heard. It’s like being SEEN … only with audio.

This one is all about communication, the #1 stalwart of ALL relationships. It involves EVERYTHING we have already discussed plus … humour. Oh good golly, there absolutely MUST be a sense of fun in a romantic relationship (because Holy Shit, it sure was FUN when it started!) to keep it on track. We must find a way to attune ourselves to daily merriment but more importantly daily, weekly and monthly attunement.

We must tune in to our partner’s frequency. Gage what’s going on … and why. Decide how and when we can help and how and when we should just lay back.

Perhaps for some couples this seems simple. For others – notsomuch. For many it is damn hard work.

For me I believe it is THE most important. It is very much a two-way street, with zigs and zags, detours and even roadblocks. Through all of it we must be willing to reset. And then attune.

So … there you have it. My overwrought, overthunk, over-anguished easy-to-follow guide to romantic bliss. Hey – why buy a self-help book when you have me?

In closing I will say this: I envy those of you who find romantic love/relationship easy. Simple. Automatic. The truth is none of you is reading this blog because you’re too damn busy being happy.

For the rest of us … well … I have no gospel truths. Just a few hard-won revelations. And if they help but one ……………………………………………….

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You can’t keep getting mad at people for sucking the life out of you if you keep giving them the straw …

I like to collect inspiring memes. Little quotes (either attributed or anonymous) that speak to me. Sometimes they languish unseen in my meme file for months and then suddenly pop up again quite unexpectedly, usually at the time they are most necessary.

This is one such quote (allegedly from a site called

“You can’t keep getting mad at people for sucking the life out of you if you keep giving them the straw.”


It’s that pesky accountability thing again, right? That thing where even though you are certain someone else is at fault, it is you yourself not only allowing that fault to transpire but facilitating it to boot.

I find myself, at this moment, guilty as charged. Apparently I am not very good at setting boundaries. Or implementing them (once set). Especially when it comes to my friends. I am blessed to have many close chums and I feel incredibly lucky to have them in my life. So, if someone needs me and then needs me again and then needs me and keeps needing me until their need for me becomes pretty much the largest focus of my life, I allow it to happen. I mean seriously, when someone is in need THAT desperately, how can you turn them away? How can you ask them to need you less? How can you demanded that they stop forcing that need upon you so intensely you feel like you might explode when you know that THEY are on the verge of imploding and you just might be the only barrier between annihilation and salvation?

Now … take a breath and go back and read what I just wrote. Do you see how imperious that sounds? How arrogant? How self-important? Without ME they will perish?


I’m not saying impossible and I do understand there are times when someone truly is quite literally at the end of their rope and YES OF COURSE that is when we NEED to be there.

But here is what I have recently learned (the hard way): some people, when given an inch, will in fact take a mile and then another. They will interrupt your life at any time for any reason, they will continue to demand your attention even when you (passively) choose not to give it and then they will continue to clamour for your time and energy until you are exhausted. And then, when they finally realize they have darn near killed you, they will take their needy attentions elsewhere, leaving you to wonder what YOU did wrong.

I think we all want to believe that friendships are symbiotic and we can all hope they will be – for the most part. But nothing is ever 50-50 and the best we can achieve is 60-40 going BOTH WAYS; sometimes this and sometimes that, depending on who needs what when.

These are the friendships I crave. And nurture.

I can even handle 80-20 … for a time. Just not indefinitely.

My grown son sometimes needs me a lot. I can easily become the sponge for his (figurative) tears until the weight of that sopping responsibility seems crushing. But then he sorts himself out, moves on and needs me very little. Back and forth we go.

That’s okay. Because I am his MOTHER!! He was born to this role and I signed up for it whole-heartedly. It’s not always easy but it is always my job and my joy.

This is not the case with my friends. We CHOSE each other. Yes, we signed up for friendship and devotion and solidarity and affinity. We did not sign up for self-destruction. You do not get to destroy my health – mental, emotional or physical – because of YOUR need. You are a grownup. At some point, please, be like my son, sort yourself out and move on.

And if I have far too often offered you the straw … mea culpa. Maybe I need to be needed a little more than I thought?

But if I offered you that straw time and time again and you even unknowingly sucked the life out of me, we both have a problem.

I am on the path to remedying mine. I will no longer be available to help you remedy yours. The doctor has become sicker than the patient.

This is not to say that our friendship is done. It is only to say that the relationship WE have created in recent years MUST change.

Which brings me to another meme (anonymous) that just landed in my orbit:

“A part of healing is also understanding how YOU were toxic.”

“Toxic” is a pretty heavy word. I will choose instead …


I am a fully accountable friend. As we all should be.

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What Leads a Person to Infidelity?

Sounds like a simple question, right?

Maybe they have no morals.

Maybe they don’t think they’ll get caught.

Maybe they’re bored.

Maybe they think they deserve more.

Maybe they are weak and easily led to temptation.

Maybe they never learned that commandment.

Maybe they don’t believe in commandments (or God.)

Maybe they don’t believe in vows. 

Maybe they’re just really horny.

I don’t know. Probably many of the above come into play but, in light of the new podcast Thomas Wade and I are launching in a few weeks (Screwing Around with Thomas and Vickie – where the ONLY topic is sex!), I have been contemplating this question as the theme for our first episode. Because Tom and I have both experienced infidelity. The giving and the getting. And I have come to realize that the WHY isn’t really a simple question at all.

That said, I do believe the world is filled with narcissistic horndogs (of both sexes) who are simply seeking the thrill of the chase and the exhilaration of conquest. That spicy something on the side to put a spring in your step when that old boring married sex ain’t doing it for you anymore.

Yeah, they are out there.

But what about the person of reasonable moral fortitude (please note I said reasonable, not perfect) who is lost? Feeling abandoned or rejected? Neglected? Unseen? Does that person have the right to seek solace elsewhere?


Well, some of you might clamour “no.” You’d say “work on the marriage” or “open up a dialogue” or “go to counselling” or something like that. You’d insist there is no excuse to break that sacred vow.

But YOU are not that pitiful soul drowning in a sea of confusion. Wanting to do the right thing and trying to hang on but then suddenly finding yourself drawn into an inexplicably enticing liaison. That seemingly innocent invitation that comes out of nowhere and leads you – against your will, goddamnit – astray.

We all know there is “love” and then there is “in love.” And many times, as the years race by, we find ourselves aging, more and more in touch with our mortality, frightened by the reflection in our mirror and desperately seeking “in love.” Desperately seeking that glorious feeling of reckless abandon that comes with new infatuation and unbridled passion.

Reckless. Abandon.

That reckless abandon that can, in an instant, compel you to abandon the love that you have so un-recklessly built up over months and years.

But that’s where infidelity comes in. Because you don’t always abandon. You don’t just up and leave and chase that new dream. Nope. You play both sides. You teeter-totter. You cheat and keep cheating because you want to have that big fucking cake and you want to eat it and keep eating it in secret, all to yourself, with icing dripping down your face, all the while never gaining a single pound. You actually believe it could happen. You believe you can gorge on salacious sweets indefinitely (or until you’re sick, whichever comes first) with no repercussions whatsoever.

But that’s impossible, right?

We all know that if you eat too much and don’t get exercise you will pay. We all know that if you drink too much booze or smoke too much anything you will pay. We all know that if we lie to our friends or our employer we will pay. We all know that for every action there is a re-action … or consequence.

And yet, with infidelity we are SO desperate for SOMETHING … we take an incalculable risk.


When I cheated on my husband I truly had no idea why. I was continually looking and searching and questing and then suddenly I just thought I had found my soulmate. You know, I made a bit of a boo-boo getting married and then magically Prince Charming showed up and it was my God-given right to be happy and soul-mated and blah blah blah. Oh yes, I was singing that song at the top of my lungs like a diva at a football game.

But NO.

None of that was true. I just decided to make it true to excuse my behaviour.

The real truth was this: I was desperately seeking … intimacy.

Let me repeat that. INTIMACY.

Not better sex or different sex or more frequent sex or fireworks or clandestine thrills or something new.

I wanted intimacy.

I was desperately seeking that emotional communion that truly makes us feel seen. That special connection that allows our heart to soar and our bodies to give freely – with abandon – because we know so deeply that we are seen and we are loved anyway.

That is correct. We are SEEN, with all our aging imperfections and insecure foibles and screwed-up self-doubts and we still feel so SEEN and ACCEPTED and LOVED anyway we give our bodies and our imaginations and our best sexual intentions with so much faith and love because we KNOW the connection is there. It is there for us at all times. At any time. Whenever we are in need, we are seen.

This is why I cheated. I am not saying there is ever an excuse to cheat. If you’re feeling seen elsewhere, please … go there post haste! Before you cheat.

The problem is we don’t always understand. We don’t get it. We do not understand that the gasoline fueling the engine is igniting the flames. If we only understood and could then communicate EVERYTHING to our partners we could possibly start a different blaze. One that does not involve outside wood.

That was a horrible analogy, right?

It’s far too easy to stake some moral high-ground and label every infidel as a bonafide scoundrel deserving of disdain and condemnation. My Facebook jury could not wait to bellow “Sexaholics, Satan (yes, someone mentioned that old devil), ethics, mental illness, selfishness and low self-esteem!”

Just make sure that before you start bellowing, YOU make sure that your beloved feels SEEN. Rediscover that intimacy or if you must, build it from scratch. I am not suggesting cheaters be offered carte blanche. I am simply saying there isn’t always a black and a white. Some people will suffer in silence, some people will try to fix the problem and some people will jump on the Infidelity Highway because it’s slick and fast and damn it feels good to drive a Ferrari.

Many years after my marriage dissolved and many years after I realized that emotional intimacy had been the issue all along, it occurred to me (better late than never, right?) that I really did not have to cheat. What I could have done is address the issue, seek help, insist that my husband do the same and work, work, work harder. And then, if after all that there was still no resolution, well then I could have ridden off into the sunset with Prince Charming.


If you’re wondering what leads a person to infidelity I gently suggest you look within. What gaping hole in your own soul might compel you to seek sexual solace elsewhere?

If it’s just that you’re bored, restless and want more, well then I gently suggest that you go fuck yourself.

But if you are aching to be SEEN, I recommend figuring that out. Figuring out your aches and your desires and your emptiness and your NEEDS and then explaining them to your partner.

There is NO excuse to cheat. But there are very good reasons to leave.

Choose wisely.

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Talking Relationsh!t with Thomas and Vickie

I haven’t been blogging much lately, for a few reasons.

  1. I guess I’m Covid-weary like everyone else.
  2. I’ve been podcasting these winesoakedramblings (available on Spotify and everywhere else if you care to listen).
  3. And this is THE BIG ONE – today (January 10, 2022) I just launched a brand new podcast (conversation) with my dear old friend Thomas Wade.

Talking Relationsh!t with Thomas and Vickie is LIVE! And here’s a wee bit of background:

Thomas Wade – Award-winning, Juno-nominated singer/songwriter and author of “Singing In My Sleep” (a nuts and bolts guide to healing our lives with the power of the mind). Thomas has truly lived a “country song” and come out the other side with wisdom, awareness and humour.


Vickie van Dyke – Award-winning broadcaster, blogger and author of the hilarious and poignant memoir “Confessions of a Potty-Mouthed Chef: How To Cheat, Eat and Be Happy”. Vickie has lived her own country song and hopefully learned a thing or two along the way.

Together – conversations about anything and everything to do with relationship. Vickie and Thomas have done it all … sex, drugs, rock and roll, marriage, kids, divorce, friendship, therapy, vulnerability and passion. No topic is off limits on this weekly podcast.

Our first podcast is all about SEX: Middle-aged sex. Waning and/or differing sexual appetites. Body image. Imagination. Adult playtime. Communication. And how to make a longtime monogamous relationship sizzle. And if that is not enough, our 2nd podcast will be about SEX: Duty sex, oral sex, no sex, too much sex and loving sex.

We hope you’ll find a moment to tune in to our 30 minute chats and questions and comments are most welcome!

Check out #1 – The One About Vickie’s Naked Picnic … and I’ll be back soon!

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Is There Anything Better Than Feeling Grateful?

I recently enjoyed a brief text exchange with an old friend, wherein I proclaimed how grateful I was for her significance in my life. She replied, “There is precious little that’s better than feeling grateful.”

It’s true, right. A grateful heart is a positive heart. Feeling gratitude (instead of, say, resentment or bitterness) lightens the soul. Living IN gratitude every day brings the minutiae of our trials and tribulations into clear perspective. It’s pretty simple math when you think about it – the more we are thankful for (and yes, I am talking about the small stuff), the less we are inclined to play victim, host pity-parties or succumb to negativity.

But then it hit me. It hit me that there IS something infinitely more satisfying (at least for me) than feeling grateful. Expressing gratefulness … now that is the bomb! When you say thank you OUT LOUD, to someone (anyone) in particular, about something specific that impacted you personally, well, it’s like giving them a gold star on their report card! It is no longer just a thought or a feeling or some other ethereal mist floating in the ether. Gratitude expressed becomes a tangible commodity. One you can offer endlessly knowing the recipient will receive endlessly. I mean seriously, has anybody in the history of creation ever said “thank you” too much?

Which makes me wonder why so many of us have difficulty telling our truths. Our personal truths about what exactly it is we are grateful for. Or for whom we are grateful. Or even why we are grateful. Why the hell are we not scattering appreciativeness all over the place?

Yes, we do the expected. We buy cards to say thank you and we send thank you texts and emails and we offer praise for dinners cooked, gifts given and compliments offered. I am talking about the “unexpected” thank you. The one where the server does an extra special job and not only do you tip heartily, you write a little note on the bill. The one where a teacher goes above and beyond for your child so you send her flowers. The one where you read a book that impacts you profoundly so you seek out the author to tender praise and appreciation. The one where you tell everyone in your life how important they are to you even when you think they must already know that. Yeah … that one.

I have been very fortunate in my radio career. Over the years I have received more than one “thank you” from a listener, happy to report that I impact her day positively. That I made him laugh. That the entire family loves the station. One man once stated, “You must get this all the time.”

Never enough, my friend. Never enough.

Because there can never be too much gratitude. There can, however, often be way too much unexpressed gratitude. My suggestion is this: don’t let that happen. If you feel thankful, offer thanks. Offer it again and again and again and again. I can assure you, ain’t nobody out there gonna ask you to stop. We all desire appreciation. Affirmation. Recognition, credit and praise. Sure, go on, be super-duper humble and say, “No, I do not!”

Uh-huh. I do not believe you.

Voltaire said, “Appreciation is a wonderful thing. It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.”

Might as well appreciate out loud, right?

I am grateful that my friend gratefully acknowledged my gratefulness as a good thing. Actually, I am grateful that she acknowledged gratefulness in general as a good thing. Because it is.

I, however, will henceforth choose to offer up my thanksgiving in a more specific and individual manner. Why? Because I know what it feels like to get that gold star. And I want to offer that acknowledgment  to as many people as possible. One at a time.

Thank you.

For reading.

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The Song That Taught Me All About Empathy …

I am a word girl. I love words and their power. Their beauty. Their significance. Their singular ability to express emotions, feelings, fears and delights. To me, words are like individual sparkling jewels, which, when strung together can create the most dazzling bracelet.  But there are words that cause even me great consternation. And “empathy” is one of them. 

So I checked in with the always erudite

Empathy: the psychological identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another.

Also: The imaginative ascribing to an object, as a natural object or work of art, feelings or attitudes present in oneself.

Sure. Thanks.

I asked my friends to weigh in.

“Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes.”  Yes, it is always a good idea to walk a mile in another persons’ boots. To try to understand their motives and reactions and decisions. A good idea but not always the easiest task.

My pal E has decided she would like to have an affair. Her hubby doesn’t do it for her (or to her) anymore and, even though she has no inclination to leave the marriage, she does long to set a fire or two between the sheets. She asks me to understand. To acknowledge. To give her my green light. To empathize with her plight.

Well okay, yeah, I get it. Middle-aged sex can get ho-hum, hum-drum and let’s face it, infrequent. Who wouldn’t want to reignite the passions of youth?

But can I empathize with E? Can I identify with her pain and then psychologically understand it as if it was my own?

Nope. I can sympathize with her and I can even attempt to comprehend but I cannot walk that mile in her shoes because they do not fit me. I cannot make those shoes fit me. Far too painful.

Another friend offers that empathy is “Knowing that even when you’re struggling, you can still spare a second to recognize when another person is in need of the same help you could’ve used.”

That is really lovely. And we should all aspire to such altruism. But is it empathy?

I return to dear old E. I know she is struggling. If her hubby would just show up in the boudoir with a little more enthusiasm she would most likely never contemplate adultery. I too have been in relationships where the desire for carnal acquaintance was painfully lopsided. And again I say, I sympathize with her plight. But do I empathize?

“Empathy is meeting everything and everyone with love!”

I love this concept of “meeting everyone with love” (and will probably write a blog about it one day) because it speaks to non-judgementalism, sensitivity and compassion. I also believe we can be non-judgmental, sensitive and compassionate and still not have a flipping clue what someone else is enduring. We can sympathize. We just can’t empathize.

“Listening with your soul, not just your ears.”

Yes. Beautiful and poetic. And this also goes to the above: listening without judgment. Without advice or discrimination or guile. Listening ONLY to hear, absorb and then love. No matter what you actually THINK.

Fuck, that is hard to do.

“Understanding, feeling and even absorbing others’ challenges and sharing them so their burden is not as heavy.”

Another resounding YES!

But absorbing someone else’s challenge? Sucking it out of them so that they are lighter and YOU are now weighted with the pain? Also really fucking hard. I recall many years ago I told a “secret” to a trusted friend. This secret had been damn near killing me and the act of unburdening it to her lifted its weight considerably. I was SO grateful for her empathy.

She, in turn, immediately told her husband. She had promised me it was ours and ours alone but she immediately told her husband.

I don’t blame her. The matrimonial bond is and should be sacred. But THIS is exactly why empathy is so hard. Empathy demands that we place someone else’s needs/feelings/pain ABOVE our own. And that is damn hard work because we are most definitely hardwired to avoid pain.

What we are “wired” to do is solve problems. And as it turns out, empathy has absolutely nothing to do with solving problems.

I took a life-coaching course several years ago ( and “empathy” was one of the first BIG concepts we discussed. Because you cannot coach without it. You can advise and counsel and bully and even inspire but you cannot coach.

One of my coach-buddies was a yoga instructor from the west coast. He was fit and buff and entirely Birkenstock. He had to practice coaching on me and I had to come up with a “problem” that was realistic and coachable.

“I want to lose 10 lbs.” I said. (It was true.)

We spent an hour going up and down the hows, whys, whens and whatevers of me losing 10 lbs and not being able to do it. I could feel his frustration growing and I chose to feed it with even more obstinance (apparently I am good at that). He finally just lost it completely and bellowed, “Vickie, for God’s sake just eat less and work out more! This is NOT rocket science!”

But it was. And is. Coaching is rocket science. Because it is not enough to TELL your client what to do. It is your job as a coach to empathize with WHY your client hasn’t already done it. You know, without you. It is your job to crawl inside your client’s guts and get so entrenched in their muck and slime, to become so intimate with their failure and frustration, to know their fear and their hope with such intimacy you can now plan that elusive roadmap to salvation. WITH them.

“Understanding and relating to another’s struggle through experience, or similar experience. Sympathy is rooted in compassion, albeit without experiential knowledge; empathy is rooted in the compassion driven by bonding with another because you have traveled a similar path.”

And that, dear reader, is the golden ticket. If we have never felt despair we cannot empathize with despair. If we have never been melancholy we cannot empathize with melancholy. If we have never known abject wretchedness, we cannot empathize with abject wretchedness.

I learned empathy via music.

You see, a long time ago I left my husband for another man. And of course, this other man had a wife. And soon thereafter, I heard a song by Lara Fabian called “Broken Vow.” And when I heard the lyrics of that song I wept and wept and could not stop weeping. Not because of the painful mess I had created but because it was HER voice singing that song. Not Lara’s. My lover’s wife’s.

Tell me her name
I want to know
The way she looks
And where you go
I need to see her face
I need to understand
Why you and I came to an end

Tell me again
I want to hear
Who broke my faith in all these years
Who lays with you at night
When I’m here all alone
Remembering when I was your own

That was the absolute moment I knew I understood empathy.

I knew I was feeling empathy.

I knew I was living empathy.

Because that song was not about me. Trust me, there were, at that time, a lot of songs about me and I listened to them all interminably. Sniveling, pouting and feeling sorry for myself.

But “Broken Vow” was about HER. Not even about her. It WAS her. Her pain. Her rejection. Her voice. And I heard it loud and clear.

In all the years since, I have never removed that song from my library. When it comes up on shuffle, I crank it loud and absorb every word. It used to torture me relentlessly. No more. Now it makes me wistful. A little sad. But also somehow grateful. Because I now know that I do know empathy.  And not only do I know it, I can sing along with it.

So I guess that is my personal definition: “Empathy is when you can sing someone else’s lyrics as if they are your own.”

Thank you, Lara.

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Hey Vickie, Why Don’t You Just Blog Off?

We’re all really tired. Like, bone-fatigue tired. Mental-exhaustion tired. We are tired of isolation, tired of loneliness, tired of staying home and tired of being tired. I understand that, for so many people, just finding enough juice to get through the day is a battle. Sure the days are now longer and the sun is warmer and that helps, but the truth is we are all still tired. And in Ontario (where I live), we are all still locked down. For at least another three weeks.

I’m sure that for as many of us who reside on this planet, there is an equal number of methods utilized to endure this pandemic. Some have hibernated, some have broken rules, some have offered help, some have drunk a bit too much wine (who me?) and some have used this time to get creative.

Probably the last two are, in fact, me. I have written and published a book and blogged more than ever. Apparently I just have a lot to say.

However, in recent weeks I have noticed that response to my blog (especially on Facebook) has diminished. Interest in my book has … evaporated. I was somewhat perplexed so I reached out to an elderly and wise friend and asked … “Why? I know I’m no celebrity and I know these are just my thoughts but why isn’t anyone responding anymore. They used to?”

(Yes, it was a tiny pity-party, probably fueled by too much wine.)

EWF (elderly, wise friend) responded, “We’re all tired, Vic. We’re tired of being told what to do. What not to do. What to think. How to act. Where to go and where to not go. Who to see. Who not to see. We are tired of not getting hugged and not communing with our loved ones. And we are all really damn tired of being told HOW we should feel.”

“What has that got to do with my blog?” I replied, ever the astute and clever wench that I am.

EWF laughed. Loudly.

“That’s what your blogs are about, baby,” he chuckled through the phone. “Your blogs tell us how to think. Feel. Respond. Operate. That’s exactly what you write. And it’s great … usually. And it makes us think. But we’re tired, remember? We don’t want to think anymore. Not about that stuff, anyway.”


Good point.

I have decided to blog off for awhile. Give y’all a chance to live without my (endless) counsel.

However … (uh oh) … I will still be creating. You know, just in case you miss me.

My new Wine Soaked Ramblings podcast is now available on Anchor and Spotify or wherever you cast your pods. There are a bunch up already and a lot more (from the archives) are coming.

My book “Confessions of a Potty-Mouthed Chef: How to Cheat, Eat and Be Happy” is also being podcast – chapter by chapter. It’s a “chewy” (I’ve never done anything the simple way) memoir with easy-peasy cheating recipes. The podcast is also on Anchor and Spotify and all of the actual recipes (it’s difficult to “tell” a recipe) will be posted on my Potty-Mouthed Chef Facebook page. It’s all FREE.—Prologue-e10mebk

I see the light at the end of the tunnel. For a while there I couldn’t even see the tunnel so I’m hoping you are feeling the same. Wear your mask. Get a vax. Care for others. Live in gratitude.

And if you’re bored, please do join me in my new podcasting venture. I’m sure I will be back here with fresh ideas … soon enough. In the meantime, my dulcet tones await. I am a radio gal, after all …

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