Thursday, March 31, 2011

Wots..Uh The Deal

"heaven sent the promised land
looks alright from where I stand
'cause I'm the man
on the outside looking in
waiting on the first step
show where the key is kept
point me down the right line
because it's time

to let me in from the cold
turn my lead into gold
'cause there's chill wind
blowing in my soul
and I think I'm growing old
"

(R. Waters D. Gilmour)
A few readers have asked me "where I am holding" in life, regarding religion etc.  Below is an attempt to explain:

Ani Ma'amin.

I believe. 

Let's start out with that premise.  I believe.  I believe the world was created by a creator - a God. My own introspection and thought process has led me to believe that this was probably the Jewish god.  Most other religions are too far fetched to be the truth that I believe.

I also believe the creator is a busy guy.  Much too busy to be spending his/her time on the day to day machinations of the ants he created. 

Ani Ma'amin.  I believe.  I believe that the true religion, whether it be Judaism or otherwise, has been watered down by man.  Even the most brilliant of men is still a man.  Not a god nor god's son  - rather, they are god's creations.  Creations that are imperfect.  That have emotion - anger, jealousy to name two.  And their learnings - which often become part of the package of religion (you might know the term Da'as Torah) are therefore subject to their imperfections.  And, much like a game of telephone, these teachings and laws become more disjointed over time.  And, like clay, they get molded to fit what it wanted of them.  And then they are fed through the cookie-cutter so everyone can be the same.

Ani Ma'amin.  I believe.  I believe that wearing a skirt doesn't make you a better person.  Especially if that skirt is so tight your ass is visible to the world.  I believe a child should be talked to, not talked at.  I believe that not only  shouldn't we throw the non-cookie cutter models out -  we should in fact CELEBRATE them. 

Ani Ma'amin.  I believe.  I believe that I am on my own. I have parents who love me but cannot accept me for being different.  I have siblings who long to accept me for whoIi am but are too terrified of the repercussions.  I have peers who will not talk to me for fear of being contaminated by my "apikorsus".  I have non-religious/Jewish friends who cannot understand why I give a shit.

I believe that outwardly I am two different people.  When I am home I wear skirts even if they are shorter than Mommy wants or if I don't cover my elbows.  I eat Kosher when I am among people who know my family. I follow Shabbos when I'm home.  When I am not home - I do non of these things (except I still don't cover the elbows).

But it's important to know (though I'm not sure WHY) that I eat treif not as an act of rebellion -  or not follow the shabbos to show people I can - but rather because Ani Lo Ma'amin - I simply do not believe these acts are wrong for me.  "I'm the man on the outside looking in".  That's a quote - I'm not a man.  I have low regard from frum women who refuse to wear skirts because it's a statement for them.  I don't do these things to make statements - Lord knows I used to - I do it because I see nothing wrong with the way I live my life now.

But what am I?  I have been trying to figure that out for two years.  Ever since my heart was broken in two and my self esteem destroyed by a guy who said I wasn't good enough for anything other than a good fuck and some intellectual conversation (see previous post) and I suffered a complete breakdown of my existence.

A good therapist and a lot of thinking later - Ani Ma'amin - I believe.  I believe I am a quality perosn with alot to offer this world.  I don't know EXACTLY who I am yet, or what I have to offer  - but I know what I am not - a worthless person.  I feel good about myself.

And Ani ma'amin that it will get better.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Careful With That Ax Eugene

When i was sixteen years old, the guy I was seeing (i.e. having sex with) decided to dump me by smacking me in the face, pushing me to the floor and repeatedly kicking me until I begged him to stop. Luckily I was wearing long skirts and sleeves to please my world because I had bruises everywhere for 2 weeks after.  His name was Brian.

Fast forward to when i was 18.  I was seeing an older guy, frum but really cool.  He was in real estate .  He once took me as his date to the office Christmas party, bought me a fancy strapless dress and shoes, the whole nine.  He liked that I was presentable and able to walk in the non jewish world. 

The fact that I let him fuck me helped too.

I was serious about him.  He was a great guy.  He was frum (which I was only outwardly but..) he was funny, had a good job. etc. Even though i was really young, I thought maybe just maybe, a he could be the one. 

I told him so.  His response?  he could never be with a girl like me - I wasn't frum.  how could he bring me home to his parents?  Apparently it was ok to fuck me but not have a serious relationship with me.

His words that night hurt me more than Brian's physical abuse ever could.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Stay

In ninth grade I became good friends with a girl named Tova.  Tova was a hard nosed, tough-ass chick who didn't really care what others thought about her. She had a real mind of her own.  Possibly born out of the Leukemia she was discovered with when she was 8 years old.  Luckily (or unluckily) she has a form of Leukemia which is less strong than others but its recurring - in other words it's more curable but it comes back.

 It came back when she was 14.  And just like when she was 8, she beat it again.  She met a guy through a Jewish cancer survivor program.  His name was "John".  John and Tova became really close-  he was a mentor/so much more to her.  Tova watched John suffer through a second bout of his disease and die. 

It hit Tova like 2 tons of bricks.  But Tova is a tough-ass bitch.  She got through cancer twice and the loss of the only personn she ever loved (let's say she had MAJOR parent issues).   So she got past John's death too.
She has had a very tough life - but her position is that she tough enough to handle everything thrown at her.

Except, maybe, the news that she had it again. Time number three. And this time it feels different.  She talks differently.  She acts differently.  She sounds....defeated.  it's not "I'm going to beat this" it's "the cancer will either kill me or it won't". 

She seems at peace.  but I'm terrified.  I'm afraid she's going to die this time. 

I want her to stay.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Remember A Day

"Remember a day before today
A day when you were young.
Free to play along with time
Evening never comes.


Why can't we play today?
Why can't we stay that way?

Why can't we reach the sun?
Why can't we blow the years away?
Blow away
Blow away
Remember
Remember
"
 - (Roger Waters/ Syd Barret)

In the summer following 10th grade, we rented a cabin on a lake somewhere in the Catskills for a week.

At first I was so miserable, I thought I was going to die.  I was apart from my little cabal of misfits, apart from the pot I thought I needed to be happy and apart from the physical contact that seemed to make guys so into me.  I was surly and argumentative - in other words I was being Cymbaline.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the lake.

 One day I went to sit on the dock which led into the lake and contemplate the awful fates that had led me to this place - so damn quiet, so damn green.  It was towards the end of the day, maybe an hour before sunset, when the insects fly low over the water.  These tiny fish, hundreds of them, came leaping out of the water - eating the insects and leaving tiny concentric ripples in the otherwise placid lake.  To this day, it is one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen.  I guess all of my emotions kinda came rushing up  - my pent up frustration and anger - because I started to cry. 

My kid sister - maybe she was 5 at the time - came strolling out onto the dock and sat next to me - looking at me cry then looking out at the lake - and she put her head on my shoulder.  And we sat like that for, I dunno, maybe five minutes, maybe an hour.  I honestly couldn't tell you. 

What I can tell you is after we went back to the house and I ate dinner with my family.  A dinner with real conversation and, get this, laughter.  I remember my mom looking at me in amazement - wondering what had gotten into her little black sheep.

It remains one of the four or five best days of my entire life.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Shine On You Crazy Diamond

WARNING:  THIS POST CONTAINS A CERTAIN LEVEL OF GRAPHIC MATERIAL - PLEASE BE WARNED.

Ninth grade found me in a very frum, all girls school where I was surrounded by, in my then opinion, "uniformed robots who are all trained to think the same way".  It was, in short, a total disaster - my grades were great in English studies and a disaster in "Lemudei Kodesh".   I didn't even question, I no longer cared.  In short - I was so miserable as a person that I kept to myself and began a destructive path of destruction.

 I began a process of intentional rebellion (there's that word again - rebellion) that had me hanging out with boys, intentionally sinning and smoking.  In the summer after 9th grade, hanging out with boys became being "sexually active" and smoking became weed.  My parents were almost completely in the dark - what with dad working all the time and mom pretending I didn't exist as she focused on the white sheep in the family.

I begged my parent to switch me to a more modern orthodox school, hoping that being with more "modern" kids would be the answer for me.  They, of course, were horrified by the suggestion.  Even though dad lived in the real world during the week, his home was a bastion of religiosity.  And even though mom thinks wearing really tight clothes in public is ok so long as the skirt (almost) covers the knees and those damn sexy elbows are covered, our family is the epitome of "yeshivish judaism".  A modern orthodox school would be, in their eyes, akin to sending me to public school.

When the school told my parents there were going to throw me out because of my behavior (and the fact that I was almost religiously cutting class by February), my parents cut a deal (and a check) - Cymbaline can stay until June but she switches out for 10th grade.

Happiness at the news, however, was short lived.  I fell back into my bad patterns by the end of 9th grade, spent the summer bumming around, discovering weed and letting boys coerce me into making them happy. It's really amazing how many different forms low self esteem can take - most people associate it with body image, but in my case it was a product of being so...ungrounded - of feeling so alone in the world.  At least the boys and the other "bad girls" accepted me.  If I had to let myself get felt up or give a handjob to "belong", it didn't seem so bad at the time.  Especially since it felt pretty damn good to be doing whatever I wanted anyway.  Teens aren't exactly known for their ability to make good choices.  Or smart ones.

I wish I could tell you 10th grade was culture shock followed by me fitting in with my new modern orthodox classmates.  Haha - then I wouldn't have this wonderful blog then, would I?  Turns out, these teachers didn't have the answers either.  And the fact that I was asking the questions made everyone nervous.  And girls are clique-y everywhere - and no one really wanted to be hangin' with the ex-frummie. 

But I have a nice personality - I cut through the stereotypes and I made friends.  I wasn't a social outcast - but everyone still treated me differently.  Alot of it was my fault - I was ALWAYS questioning aspects of religion - and the truth is no one really wants to hear that.  When you are a 15 year old girl struggling with your body and your acne and the face you haven't quite grown into yet, you don't really want to deal with people questioning your belief system.  I really can't blame 'em.

So I continued to do well in English and passably in hebrew.  I continued my "secret life".  My parents tried to send me away to a frummie sleepaway camp but I went into hysterics until they dropped it.  I took a job at a day camp the summer after 10th grade, sleepwalked through the day, and then hung out with my "other" crowd in the afternoons and nights.  I smoked pot, got more sexually active and basically just floated along on the river letting the current pull me along.

By the time I hit eleventh grade the train was off the rails.  I turned my frustration into a crusade against Judaism - I talked about hating god and everything attached to it. I smoked pot on shabbos, took out my anger on myself in general (the drugs the sex the anti-social behavior).  I was a person who fit in no worlds.  I did still play the part on the outside  - either for my parents or simply because i was too chickenshit to be that open in my rebellion.

My relationship with my parents was a never ending cycle of pleas for me to just tow the line followed by awful fights where awful things were said.  After one particularly terrible verbal brawl - I left the house and "punished" my parents by getting drunk and having sex with a guy in the back seat of his car.  Boy did THAT show 'em.

By the time i was i 12th grade the train off the rails had become a train wreck.  I was so depressed that i was a zombie half the time.  One night my dad comes into my room and tells me i need to start seeing someone or they were going to throw me out of the house.  I refused.  And they threw me out of the house. 

And so began the road from "downward spiral" to "self discovery".

But let's leave that for the next post.

Name Change

Sorry about the (already) name change.  This just fits me better.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Who ARE You Cymbaline?

Once upon a time, in your typical tri-state area large orthodox community (NOT Brooklyn) a girl was born.  Maybe it was her Zodiac sign, maybe it was mommy's milk - whatever the reason - this young lass, let us call her Cymbaline, could never seem to quite follow the mold.

From a young age she questioned everything.  There were plenty of answers, though lord knows most of em didn't make much in the way of sense.  So she kept asking.  Eventually the Morah's became annoyed.  "Cymbaline", they asked, "why can't you be more like the other (Stepford) children and just accept the fact that not everything NEEDS an answer.? That's what Emunah is you dumbass." 

Ok, no one called her a dumbass, at least not to her face, but no one really wanted to explain anything to this precocious (annoying?) child.  Not her teachers, not her parents.  Everyone told her to simply believe and the answers would come by themselves.

Poor Cymbaline - well liked in school, always did well - had friends-  but never fit in to the elementary school that was significantly "frummer" than she felt inside.

 Grades 1-8 were very tough years for our heroine.  She felt a deep depression inside.  No one really wanted to talk about it and certainly no one understood what was so bad.  She did well, she lived in a nice house - there was always money for everything she wanted - but none of it really made a difference.  Her Mom whispered to her grandmother that she was, quite simply, an unhappy child.  Dad tried, but the nature of his work left him.....unavailable too much of the time.  Her brothers and sisters, for the most part, towed the company line and therefore didn't have much to do with her. 

Outcast at home, she turned to her friends in 7th and 8th grade  - but these girls were HORRIFIED by her questions.  Though they loved hearing her stories about the boys, Cymbaline was the rebellious one that they liked to look at through the glass bars at the zoo,  not the ones they brought home Shabbos afternoon or to work on school projects. Eventually she became more and more isolated, as girls started worrying about things like high school acceptance, Seminary and (seriously???) shudduchim.

That of course, made Cymbaline lonely and even more depressed.  She had too much inner strength to contemplate an end of any sort - but she was becoming less and less a believer of the world she was living in.  Which, in turn, led to an endless number of fights with her mother.

Next Up - the High School Years.

A Begining

So here it begins.

Upon the advice of a MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONAL (aka my therapist) I was instructed to find an outlet to express myself.  I've recently discovered the blogosphere - read a blog or two - commented on some - heck even got into a couple of verbal jousting matches.  It made me realize something - Hell, I can do this.  I may, perhaps, even be good at it.  I'll leave that to the reader (though it's quite possible I will be the only reader, in which case the reader has already decided I'm good at this - just kidding).

So where does one begin when writing their story?  At the beginning of course.  And so I shall - next time dear reader.  I know, what a tease - but I DO have a lot of stuff to do today. 

So until next time...this was....a Beginning.

C.