Monday, October 31, 2011

Ch-ch-ch-changes

If when you think about me, what is it that comes into your head?

Reformed rebel?  Regular Joe-anne?  Frum?  Not frum?  Faker?  Sincere?  Slut?

A high-born Dwarf once gave the following advice to the Bastard son of a nobleman (in a time when being a bastard was as low as you can go):

Dwarf: "Let me give you some advice bastard. Never forget what you are. The rest of the world will not. Wear it like armor, and it can never be used to hurt you."

Bastard: "What the hell do you know about being a bastard?"

Dwarf: "All dwarfs are bastards in their father's eyes."

My past.  If I wear it like armor, it can never be used to hurt me.  Run away from who I am?  Shit, I embrace who I am.  Who I am is everything to me.  My identity.  My whole purpose.

But what am I?  Reformed rebel? Regular Joe-anne? Frum? Not frum? Faker? Sincere? Slut?

I am all of these things and none of them.  These are labels.  They are words on a computer screen.  They are general ideas.  They are all parts of me but do not serve to define me.

Who am I?

I'm the one who fell off the derech early.  Who drank, drugged and slept her way through adolescence.  Who sank so low that her own parents threatened to disown her if she didn't turn her life around.

Maybe I don't write that too much anymore, maybe you have forgotten - but that's still a part of who I am.

A part.

As the aspiring rapper "B Rabbit" rapped at his enemy:

"Don't ever try to judge me dude,
you don't know what the fuck I've been through"

What do you think of me  - when you think about me at all?  When you read a post of mine that makes you laugh, or cry, or shake your head in disgust?  When you wonder about the choices I've made (or make still)?

Did you know that I've been keeping Shabbos for the last like 6 months? Totally and completely (no cheating in my room with the phone or computer).  Does that change how you think of me?

Did you know that I've been keeping kosher for almost as long?  Hell, maybe not your kosher.  Maybe I'll eat a salad in a non kosher restaurant, bugs and knife and olive oil and all.  But it's better than the grilled chicken salad I'd have ordered 6 months ago no?  Better than eating breakfast in diners no? Does that change how you think of me?

Do you know that I hate Apple?  I hate how they control what music you can put on your Ipod.  So when my Ipod broke I switched.  Now I use a Sony "Walkman".  Way retro right?  (or so I've been told by old people)  Does that change how you think of me?

I have a rule (learned from my father) - I treat everyone the same.  From the president of the company to the janitor (his examples) or from the shop owner to the lowly stock girl (my example), everyone should get the same courtesy.  Does that change how you think about me?

I have a piercing in my belly button.  How about that?

Or that I've contemplated "playing tennis" with my boyfriend before we tie the knot.  So much so that people were instructing me on going to the mikvah to prevent giant karmic stains on my soul.  I bet that changes how you think about me.

Or that I eventually decided against tennis.  How about THAT?

"All dwarves are bastards in their father's eyes."

And all rebels are bastards in their mother's eyes.

I know what it's likes to be judged.  I've been judged by the best.  I wear it.  Like armor. 

But it still hurts.

Judgement.  Her judgement.  People I don't know.  I expect it, I know it's coming (or there already) but it hurts the same.

Et tu? 

Why must others set the bar so damn high?  So I'll fail?  So I'll become so disparaged I'll give up?  I'm sorry if I disappoint.  I really am.  But I am not sure I can ever meet anyone else's expectations.  Sometimes I worry that I will fail to reach my own.  But it's very possible that the comfort zone I will eventually find won't meet your approval. 

And then you can think of me as a disappointment.

But.  Every single day I don't slide backwards is a victory. Every inch forward a battle won. Every single day I try and touch the bar (set lowly) and try to raise it a quarter of an inch higher. Slow progress. Nothing sexy.  Slow and steady wins the race.

My race - not yours.  My victories, not yours.

Judge me if you must.  I'm used to being judged.  I wear it like armor.

But don't forget that you don't know what the fuck I've been through.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Guess Who Is Coming to Brunch

Than you to all who emailed and asked about the brunch -or as I call it, the Brunch of Doom.

In short, it was neither the worst 2 hours of my life, yet it was quite far from the best.

David showed up early, was dressed appropriately and acted like an all-star.  I'm extremely proud of him.  He was a real trooper.  He shmoozed up my dad, talking about his family (including telling over the story of how his grandfather came after the Holocaust - which always goes over really well).  They also talked business a bit.  Dad smiled a few times and seemed to genuinely not dis-like him.

Mother was, well she was Mother.  At first she did everything but handcuff him to the chair, shine a light in his face, and ask him where he was last Wednesday at 8:30 pm.  The highlight was when she asked him, with a smirk, what he was learning.  Jesus Christ.  Eventually though, she ran out of gas, stopped asking dumb questions, and even offered to make him coffee.

As for me?  Well, between the sweating and the stammering, I was a full blown mess.  I felt like a poorly trained lawyer trying to keep a prosecutor off my client.  I was so worried about what she might say or do that i could barely concentrate on anything else.

And then it was over and I all but pulled him out of the house as he graciously got out his thank yous.

Now the Brunch of Doom is over and things will go back to "normal".

And tomorrow, or the next day, she will drop a comment (or ten) enumerating all of the things wrong with him.

Can't hardly wait!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

And Behold, Out of Left Field, an Unexpected Twist

Let me set the scene for you:
 It’s about 11:30 last night.  I’m exhausted.  I’ve been suffering with severe cramps (TMI??  Well I have to set the scene no?).  I’m showered and in bed.  It’s finally time …


To close my eyes…


And drift off to…

When there comes a tap tap tapping at my door (quothe the raven, nevermore).

 Now as a general rule, no one except my brother ever comes to my room.  And he doesn’t tap, he kinda bangs.  So it’s not my brother. 

 I drag my extremely tired ass out of bed.  It’s my dad.  He asks if I have a few minutes.

 So off we go, down to his study/office/library.  That’s where he talks to people.  It’s the nicest room in the house (in my humble opinion) - all paneled wood, leather chairs and a gorgeous desk.  The walls are lined with books, mostly sefarim, but not only. (Many an important Jewish person has sat in this office, though you’d never know it.)

 I’m sitting across from him, wondering what important issue he needs my sage advice on, when:

“So tell me about this boy you are seeing.” 

 If a person can turn multiple shades of red, I’m sure that I did (the office has no mirrors, perhaps for this very reason).  I start stammering out an answer when I catch sight of his face.  The way his eyes crinkle at the corners when he smiles.  The way they are crinkling now.  I let out a breath.

“I love him,” I simply say.  He nods his head.  He waits patiently for me to continue.  I talk more.  I tell him about David, about how he’s been there for me forever.  About how he treats me.  The way we get on with each other. The fun we have together.  How he makes me laugh.  How he makes me happy when I’m down. His family.  Everything.  Occasionally he stops me to ask a question or clarify something (mostly having to do with his family), but for the most part he lets me talk.

And the whole time, I’m sitting there feeling really….good.  Like, I’m having an important conversation with a parental unit!  About the guy I love!  And I don’t have to defend myself or yell or fight.  Not how I’d imagined this conversation in my head.

He says something.  “What?” I ask.

“I said, we’d like to meet him.”

Meet him?”  Despite the shower I just took, I can feel the sweat starting to leak.

“Yes.”


We?”  More sweat.  Looks like another shower in the cards for me.

 “Yes, we.”

“Mommy wants to meet him?” I ask.  My mother?”

He sighs.  “Cymbaline, do you think that this boy David is going to be a permanent part of your life?”

“I hope so.”

“So we want to meet him.”

Ok Cym.  Think.  All you need to do is agree and then be vague about a time and eventually it’ll blow over. “Ok, sure.  We can figure out a time and….”

“How about Sunday?” he asks.

This Sunday?”

He’s in full smile mode now.   “Yes, this Sunday.  We can have a nice brunch.  You know how your mother loves to entertain.”

I start stammering again, trying to think of a good excuse.  But I look in his face.  There isn’t going to be an excuse.  We are having brunch with David on Sunday. 

A terrible thought pops into my head.  “Here’s the thing.”  I’m trying to be diplomatic.  “Mommy can be a little…critical? sometimes and…”

“Your mother will be on her best behavior.  I promise.”

My father’s promise is gold.  “Ok then.”

“Ok.  Let’s call it for like 11:30.  I have a breakfast Sunday morning for a Tzedakah which I have to attend.”  He pats his non-existent stomach.  “I promise I will save some room for the bagels.”  There’s a twinkle in his eyes.

And just like that the meeting is over.

I text David.  He's in for brunch with the 'rents.  I have officially lost 13 pounds of water weight.

Now I’m back in my room.  All hopes of a good night’s sleep are suddenly done.

David.  In my house.  Eating brunch with my mother.

David vs. Goliath.

Sigh.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Thoughts on a Milestone - AKA Happy Hundred - CORRECTION MADE

I can still remember the Evil Thoughts in my head:

"Hey Cymbaline, we hear you started a blog," they say, barely suppressing their giggles.

Me, playing it cool.  "Yup, that's right."

"What's it about?" snigger snigger.

"It's kinda like an online journal, to help me with my thoughts and feelings."  Feeling the sweat break out on my temple.

Derisive laughter now.  "Who the hell would want to read THAT?"

"No one, I suspect."  Nothing like brutal honesty.

"How many posts have you written so far?"  Snigger snigger snigger.

"Uh, 2." 

Howls of laughter.

Then Evil Thoughts all took bets on how many posts I'd write before I gave up.  The consensus was between 10 and 20. 

I laid my own bet on 12.

********************************************************************

Well here we are, dear reader. 

At post 100.

*******************************************************************

Write a journal, my therapist suggested.  A journal to pen your thoughts and feelings.  Record them and then look at them from time to time to get a grasp, a snapshot, of what you were thinking in a moment in time.  These pictures will be windows to your soul, he said.

I chose a blog.  Why?  Perhaps because it's a journal, but one with the possibility of an outsider looking in on those self-same thoughts and emotions.  That keeps you honest.  Keeps you from being lazy.  Did I think anyone would actually read them?  No.  (I still find it hard to believe people do.)  Did it matter?  No.  This blog was back then, and still is today, about me and for me.  You all are an added bonus (more on you later, dear reader).

I try to read the earlier posts.  It's very painful.  Not that I am shy about my past or because it embarrass me.  But rather because the process of laying yourself open for the world to see is painful.  No two ways about it.  I was a disaster - a twenty-car pileup - and I wrote every detail out for the rubberneckers to see.

My past.  My rebellion.  My rock bottom.  All live and in Technicolor.  With THX surround sound. 

But he was right.  My therapist, I mean.  (He usually is).  A truthful journal is a window to your soul.  To your psyche.  It is like building a mountain of yourself, climbing that mountain and then getting a panoramic view of all the things that got you to where you are (as well as the road to where you are going).  Of every rock you had to climb over (or through) to get to the peak.

I'm building myself back up from the ground.  From the gutter.  Piece by piece.  Link by link.  Step by step.  Stone by stone (you choose your own metaphor). 

Proof, you say?  Ok how about this:

Look at me at post number 2 - I'm in school (doing well), I'm partly aimless, the boy I love doesn't seem to see me as anything other than a friend and I may want to go to law school.  I have no affiliation with religion, though I do strongly identify with being a Jew.  Oh, and while my head is on, it's not quite on straight.

Fast forward eight months - I'm in school (doing well), I have a job and I have the man of my dreams.  I know what I want to do with myself and it's not law school.  I'm still not observant in any way, but I'm no longer opposed to orthodoxy (and no, dear cynical reader, it's not just because it's easier for David and me if I am).  And while my head still may not be on straight, at least it's more tightly screwed on.

(And yes, I am intentionally ignoring the fact that my "tennis" drought has lasted approximately as long as my blog has.)

Is that all because of this blog?  Of course not.  But I have learned so much from this process.  From the writing. 

From you.

You, dear reader.  You were the piece I didn't anticipate but now treasure.  Your comments.  Your emails.  Your g-chats.  All of it.

Those who treat me like their daughter, their friend, their Blogger acquaintance.  My sometimes therapists and secret keepers.  My occasional debate partners and sometimes flirtologists.  The ones who took time to send me carefully crafted, 20,000 word essays on the pros and cons of law school.  And the weirdo's among you who even ask me for advice (at your own risk!!!).  You all know what role(s) you fill (and if you don't, just ask).

If this blog is any good (and that's a big IF) it's because of you.  Because I know you are watching.  Because I don't want to let you down.  Because your ideas inspire me.  Your criticisms make me better.  Your ideas and your comments all give the blog a flavor that it would not otherwise have.

But that's just a blog.  Words on paper (or, in this case cyberspace).  And that's all nice and helpful to me.  But it's only part of the story.

It's you, dear reader.

I am better for having spoken to so many of you.  The advice you have given, the humor you've shared.  The sanity you have bestowed.  I won't name you.  This isn't an Oscar speech.  But you know who you are.  (And if you have a doubt if you are on this list, then you probably are.) 

You have all become a part of my life (as corny as it sounds). 

And true, maybe not quite "real" life.  Maybe we don't have coffee (mmm coffee) or hang out in restaurants chewing the fat - but that doesn't mean my life has been any less positively effected by you all.

 I need to keep a seperation.  If anyone ever connected me to this blog, I'd be forced to shut it down.  To delete it.  To disappear and never return.  And I'd be sad if that were to happen.

So yes, I keep walls up.  Most of you don't know my real name - where I live.  But it's not personal, it's a choice I make because I'd hate to have to lose all of you.

*****************************************************************************

So here we are, dear reader.  We made it to post 100!  Evil Thoughts left town in a huff and I'm out the ten bucks I laid down on 12 posts.  But I think I'm better off for it.

Will I get to 200?  I strongly doubt it.  I'm not sure I have that much more to say.  And I'm hoping that my story gets very boring (and she graduated college, got a job, David proposed and they lived happily ever after with their 2.6 kids, their minivan and a well maintained Tudor-style home with a white picket fence).

But I hope you stick around with me to see.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Family

Blood is thicker than water.

"Mother" is the name of God on the lips of little children.

Family is always there for each other.

You can pick your friends but you are bound to your family.

There must always be a Stark in Winterfell.

Family certainly means alot of different things to different people.  But the general gist of it is that the ties created by blood are different, usually better, than the ties formed in any other manner.  Soldiers who fight together are "brothers".  La casa nostra is "the family".  It's a bond which cannot easily be separated.

I had the opportunity to spend three days with David and his family over the first days of Succos.  For me it was a chance to view a family unit quite different than my own, but also similar in many striking ways. 

I was also stuck with how accepted I was into this unit.  From the minute I got there his mom put me right to work in the kitchen, treating me not as a guest but as a member of the unit.  I got on pretty well with his siblings (except his older sister but she doesn't seem to really like too many people in general).  His younger sister LOVES me (quite a bit different than in my family where my younger sibs barely speak to me). 

This post was supposed to be a much greater detailed look at his family.  But that's not really the point as far as I can tell.  The funny thing is, as nice as everyone was, it still felt weird.  It's not my family.  At least not now.  Maybe one day....

Monday, October 10, 2011

Dear Old Dad

The last two years I have carefully reconstructed a shattered existence which took  a lifetime to fall apart. 

I say "I" quite loosely.  I is a team (although there is no I in team).  There was me, my therapist, my friends.  Brick by mental brick I tried to come up from the absolute bottom of the barrel - building a life, striving towards a goal - specifically, me as a functional person in society.  A person with a family, kids, a job.  Heck, a white picket fence would be nice too.

My healing structure is built upon certain foundation stones - like all structures are.  They are the basis for everything.  Letting the past go, looking towards the future.  Clinging to the ones who love and support you and letting the others hold no power over you.  (There are a bunch more blocks I'm not mentioning now because my personal "12-step" program isn't important.)

My "recovery" has also been built upon a simply point - after you strip away MY personal wrongdoings (of which there is much - I take alot of the blame for what happened) and outside forces (such as an educational system that failed me, drugs and alcohol), alot of "guilt" falls upon my mother.

I've discussed my mother here ad nauseum.  So much so that if she ever got wind of this blog, I'd probably lose my place in her house once and for all.  I won't bore you again.  It's irrelevant.  It is what it is and nothing can change it.

My father is another story.  This is for you dad.

Dad:

I've always given you a free ride.  I've always put you above the war between me and her.  It's never been about you.  You are the gallant man - a man so accomplished yet so under the radar - that if people realized what you do you'd be celebrated as a true pillar of the community (the fact that you refuse to be, and have never been, honored by ANY organization is quite an affront to your wife who would like nothing better than to wear a thousand dollar gown and be showered with high praise).  And I am fiercely proud of this fact, don't get me wrong.

Your work too - so many successes.  One after another.  So many business deals - so much money.  Tireless in what you do.  Out at the crack of dawn to daven and learn, work all day and then community and charity work all night.

Perfect.

Almost perfect.

One tiny little thing missing.

Me.  Yea, and the rest of us too.  My sisters and brothers.  Yes, eldest is fine and older brother too.  It started to go downhill with me but it didn't end there.  Look at younger brother.  Look hows he's changed.  He's so quiet and serious now.  There's no joy in him.  And youngest - she's WITHDRAWN.

I know that all the things you do - they are done for the right reasons.  Your good at business.  Your altruistic.

But I know your one mistake.  Marrying her.  I know you regret it and I know you spend all your time being away from her.  It's easier than dealing with her.  I get that.

But you are compounding your mistake.  It's not only her you haven't been there for.  It's me.  Since i was little.  When I needed you most.  Did you really need to be away for that business deal?  Or that one?  Or THAT one?  Did those charities all mean more than your own kids?  Really? 

My new life is built on blocks.  One block is that I have certain people in my life I can rely upon.  At least to some degree. What if my building block is false Dad?  What if you are more to blame than I've blamed you for?  What if I've given you a free pass you don't deserve?  My carefully built life can come crumbling down without the foundations holding it up.

This has been in my head the last 36 hours.  Turning round and round.  You, Dad.  You have been in my head. 

What do I do about you?  Blame you for not being there?  Absolve you for the greater good?  Ignore it and keep moving forward?

Or none of the above.  How about this.

I forgive you Dad.  I forgive you because I love you.  I love you because I understand you and I understand no one is perfect.  I understand imperfectioni better than most.  I know that in your own way you have been trying.  That if I confronted you on this....

You are my father.  I know that you want what's best for me.  Maybe you don't quite understand how much I needed you.  Maybe you understand it better now.  Maybe not.  It doesn't matter.  I can't hate you.  I don't want to.  You are a building block, a foundation stone.  You are one of my faiths in humanity.  In most ways, I want to be like you one day.

One day, Daddy, I hope you are proud of me.  I hope that I can give you some sense of pride.  I hope my accomplishments make you proud.  I hope to come to your house for a holiday with my family and that you can love your grandchildren and their mother without a sense of shame, of something lost.

But until that time - you will still be my (usually not around) father and i will be your imperfect daughter.

Works for you?

Thoughts on a Yom Kippur Experience

So I did it.  I made it.  I passed through the fire.

I fasted, I went to shul.  For a 25 hour period, I was a god fearing Jew.  Here on some thoughts on the experience:

 - Non Leather Shoes.  Dammit.  I had forgotten that one.  I didn't bring anything to Tova and ended up borrowing her younger sister's old crappy canvas sneakers.  Bad times.  Poor start to the holiest day of the Jewish calendar.

 - Coffee headaches.  At about 3:00 I got mine. 

"I have a terrible headache," I tell Tova.

"Yea, cause you drink so much coffee.  You have caffeine withdrawl.  You're supposed to stop drinking it a few days before a fast."

"Why didn't you tell me this?" I ask indignantly.  After all, Tova is the closest thing to a spiritual guide I have.

"What am I, your personal assistant?  You think your coffee addiction is ANYWHERE on my list of priorities?  I have cancer.  Take an Advil suppository."

Um, Ew.

Anyway, note to self - next year, stop drinking coffee 2 days in advance.

Fasting.  Fasting sucks.  It makes you hungry.  And I'm not so big to begin with so it was really tough.  By the end my head was pounding (see above), I was totally dehydrated and weak.  Can't wait for next year!!

Family.  It must be nice to celebrate holidays with people you love.  Up 'till now, I haven't really ever done that mostly because I've had no feelings for the holidays and also because my family situation makes for rough times at home. 

Eating a meal before and after the fast with Tova was nice, but her sitch with her mom isn't all that much beter than mine is. 

(On that note, I'll be spending the first days of Succos at David's house with his family. To be honest, I'm super excited.  They've been incredibly nice to me and I look forward to the warmth.)

Thank you Artscroll.  Couldn't have done it without you.  I once watched a move called The Full Monty.  It takes place in Ireland.  The point - It took me half an hour until I was able to understand a word anyone was saying.  I had to ease myself into their nutty Irish accents. 

I had the same experience with the services.  I had no idea what was going on half the time, so I spent it reading the Artscroll forwards and commentary.  It's pretty interesting stuff.  (I especially liked the Unesane Tokef story.)

Oh and if you haven't seen it, you should watch the Full Monty.  It's really funny.

The Upshot.  I ended up going to shul Friday night, YK morning and back for the end after the break (plus a little delay).  I found the davening to be long, confusing and occassionally nice.  I understand why fasting helps put a person in the right frame of mind.  I saw people who seemd very sincere pray very ferverently.  I saw a girl crying as she beat her chest. 

I wanted to cry too

Not for my "sins", but for my lost childhood.  For the fact that while perhaps I can be "forgiven" my my part in its destruction, I can never get it back.  And while I've long ago come to accept that, sometimes it still hurts.

So instead of praying and crying, I asked.

I asked for Tova's recovery.

I asked that David and I stay good.

I asked that my family should all be ok.  That my brother should find a girl and settle down before he decides living at home is too much bloody fun.

That my two younger sibings be spared my mother's emotional abuse.

I asked that I should continue to grow, both emotionally and as a person.  That I should find what I'm looking for, even if I don't quite know what that is yet.

After it was over, I ate, went home, packed a bag and went to the City.  David and I stayed up 'till about 3:00 am, talking.  We played a game where we switched "sides"; me defending the position that God is actively participating in our lives and him taking the "Cymbaline" position.

After, as I was about to go to sleep, he told me that there's no way I don't belive in an active god.  That my spirited defense was too convincing to be anything other than heartfelt.

I drifted off to sleep still unclear of what it all meant.

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Big Day

So tomorrow I am for the first time going to voluntarily fast for 25 straight hours.  I am going to go to shul and pray as much as I can.  I am going to try very hard to feel what it is exactly the day is all about.

I have no idea how to prepare to fast, or if I'm even capable of fasting for 25 hours.

I have no idea what is acceptable dress code for shul.

But I guess these are the insignificant details of the whole thing anyway.  I guess the point of the trappings is to make the day itself "meaningful" - whatever that means.

The funny thing is, taking stock of what I am, where I am in life and where I want to be is at least a weekly occurrence in my life as it is.  I know this taking stock is supposed to be different.  It's all about the religious advances (and DECLINES) a person has made.  But I'm not sure what that means in my case.  I am Jewish - proudly so.  I think true Judaism, in its purest form, is probably a good moral and ethical way to live.

But is anyone listening up there anymore?  Is it all just a pipe dream?  A white rabbit that people blindly follow?

I sincerely hope that isn't so.  I want to believe there's more to all of this than smoke and mirrors - both because it's better for my relationship and also because otherwise everything is so...empty.

So tomorrow is the big day.  Perhaps, starving and thirsty, I'll even gain something from it.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Pax Sleepana

The world was created with many wonders.  Oceans, tides pulled by the moon.  Mountain ranges, forests, jungles, beaches (along with frozen lemon-flavored beverages of course). 

Knee high leather boots.

If ever asked to prove the existence of a creator, I always point to one thing...you.  Look in the mirror, what do you see? Literally millions (billions) or moving pieces all working as one to make you a person.  If you believe that's coincidence or chance, you are delusional.

So where was I?  Oh yea, world full of wonders.  One of those wonders - a good night's sleep.  It gives the mind rest, helps the body recover, it's a treasure trove of bodily goodness.

So, when the ability to sleep fails you, what happens?  Well, at first you are simply tired.  Then you start feeling dehydrated.  Then you start feeling sick.  eventually you start to feel like you are going insane.  Well, I shouldn't say "you".  This is what happens to me.

And this is what I've been going through for the past week - where all in I was working on about 14 hours of sleep spread out over 4 nights.  Or otherwise known as Bad Times.  It's gotten so bad that yesterday afternoon i was chatting with some of y'all and acting like a blithering idiot (I know, I know, that's not really that uncommon).

So after consulting the problem with my significant other, he suggested something which has been known to work in the past.  And I did.  And, for the most part, it worked.  I got about 7 hours last night, not quite uninterrupted, but close enough.


So I proclaim to you - Pax Sleepana!  Long live sleep - may you continue to shine your grace upon all the children of the world.  May you bless me with as many hours as I need on a more continuous basis.

Somehow, I know this is not to be, but I'm working on a more permanent solution....

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Shaken

I wasn't feeling so well in school today so I skipped out of a class a bit early and went home.  Was feeling extra miserable in the car - almost like I was going to pass out. I managed to get home in one piece, then I fell into bed and tried to sleep - something I haven't had much of for a while. 

I woke up a short while ago screaming from a nightmare (which, thank god I don't remember) and my brother there trying to get me awake.  He looked as scared as I felt.

I am so shaken.....

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

An Open Letter To My Vices (Past and Present)

This is the time of year that Jews take stock of their lives. As I am Jewish, I thought I would take part in this ancient custom. 

Dear Vices:

When I was trying to straighten out my life, I would lay awake at night thinking of all of you, counting you all off in my head like Arya Stark - The Tickler, Polliver, Raff the Sweetling, Prince Joffrey, Queen Cersei, The Hound, The Mountain.....(yes I'm well aware none of you know what I'm talking about)

So I have a few words for the lot of you.  Come and hear my messages to you:

Drugs:  I do not hate you, don't worry.  I used you as much as you used me.  I used you to escape and to dull the pain of my life.

I used you so I wouldn't feel.  I escaped my life with you as my guide. 

But when I no longer wanted to run away, I dropped you quicker than a man drops a hot pot.  In fact, at that point in my life, you were the single greatest achievement of my life.  Dropping you with not a single fall back.  While maybe it's not something I brag about with my friends, I'm sure you know very well how hard it was to ignore you those first few weeks/months. 

I'm sorry to say, while I don't mean to hurt your feelings, now I don't even miss you at all.

Alcohol:  Our relationship is more complicated.  I used you too.  Not for escape, like my ol' pal Druggie, but for courage.  I needed you to commit all those terrible acts, to help me push past my silly inhibitions and do Bad Things.

Now you and I have a solid truce.  I don't abuse you, but I'm not against a nice cold (light) beer or the occasional martini (what can I say, I LOVE the taste of vodka soaked olives - sue me).  You are proof that I can do things in moderation.  Even my therapist agrees with this point.

Rebellion:  Oh yes, I count you a vice.  I count you and I am ashamed by what I did in your name.  You are heartless and cruel.  I wish I could say you tricked me, but that's not the case at all.  I rebelled because I was alone and unloved and a little bit wicked myself.  I rebelled to punish my mother and my teachers and everyone else.  But that's the cruel jape no?  All I was doing was punishing myself.

So yes, rebellion, well played.  I think back upon you and I flush with shame every time.

Sex:  No, not the act itself which I have no problems with.  Rather the way I used it, the things I did.  The way I used myself the way I did.  Again, I am embarrassed and shamed. 

The individual acts float through my mind - they point and laugh at me.  "Look at you, miss perfect," they say, "we know what you really are.  We know what you did.  Would you like us to remind you?"  Um, no.  But they do anyway, in gross detail.  Every act, every abuse, until I beg for them to stop.

But then I stopped abusing myself.  I stopped giving myself away.  I learned that a man's desire does not equal his affection and certainly not his love and acceptance.

No, sex, I did not abandon you.  My current (NINE MONTH!!!) dry spell isn't repentance.  It's not an attempt to purify myself or revert back to purity  Rather, it's a resolve to make sure my current relationship is as successful as can possibly be.

Miscellaneous Bad Things:  I'm going to catch-all you into one category because, truthfully, you are unworthy.  The whole lot of you.  I don't even have words for you - except these:  Good Riddance To Bad Rubbish.  Blah.

So there we have it vices.  You had your good times with me for sure.  Lord knows.  But I'm trying.  I'm working.  Not towards perfection - oh no.  I'm not that silly.  I'll settle for plain old....regular.

So now, at night when I lay awake in Arya-ness, counting my list of evils - my list is at least a whole lot shorter.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Hypotheticals - They Happen Every Day

Was g-chating with Am-Inspiration this Am (hahahahaha) and she asked me an interesting "hypothetical" along the lines of :

If you were married and had kids and something changed in you, would you live a lie in order to "protect" your family?  Would you share the change knowing it will produce a tremendous amount of hurt, pain and confusion?  Or would you shoulder the burden, keep doing what you are doing, and be unhappy.

 I'd argue each situation is different- there are certainly times where a person SHOULD indeed keep it to themselves and live the lie - especially if they sharing the "secret" will not help - only cause additional pain without resolution.  Each case may call for a different answer.

Of course, none many of you will remember that I've written about this very same scenario as it relates to me - my continuing fear that David will reject me because of my lack of faith in Judaism.

Interestingly enough, responses to my own dilemma ran the gamut - there was, "you are over thinking, it will be ok" all the way to "well duh, you are an apikores, of course you can't be with David!!" (meant, of course, in the nicest possible way).

Honestly, regarding my situation specifically, I don't worry about it anymore - for starters, it doesn't help, but more importantly...

I AM CHANGING.

I am not the same person as I was 2 months ago  - heck, I am not even the same person I was 2 weeks ago.  I can no longer be so worried about who I am in a specific moment in time.  because that moment will keep moving and then I will be someone slightly different.

I am growing.  I change.  I am learning things about myself every day. I can't worry about something that might happen to the preset day me in the future (if you follow) because there will be no present day me in the future.  I'll be some (hopefully) better version of my current myself.

Confusing - I know - but I know I can't get myself caught up in my daily nits and picks and expect to stay sane. 

I have to keep moving forward.

Pushing Through

Three day holiday   =  ALOT of eating.  Good lord.  I've been to the gym three times already (Sat night, Sunday and this morning) to try and counteract all the food I've shoved.

It's a weird time of year.  Routines are all out the window.  People are on edge (understandibly).  There's a million things to be done and not much time to do it.

Yesterday morning my father and older brother put up the Succah.  Normally, my father tells me, we wait till after Yom Kippur but the way the calendar falls out, he didn't want to take any chances with bad weather.

Usually Succah building is a three person job in the Cymbaline family.  But my younger brother is in Israel this year and wasn't around to pitch in (not that he was that much of a help anyway from what I've observed).  So I decided to avail my services.

We have one of those Easy-Lock succahs.  And yep, they are pretty easy.  So we were done pretty quickly.  But, admittedly, it felt kinda good to do my part in a family activity.  The men seemed to appreciate the help (though as it was a fast day, there was no celebratory meal in a local coffee place like when we did Selichos last week).

I went to my boyfriend's house yesterday afternoon but he seemed pretty distracted too (probably by football, which, from what I gather, did not go particularly well for his [and now my] team last night).  So I got home from there feeling all out of sorts too.

Maybe it's just the time of year.  Lots of holidays, lots of preparations (both mental and physical), lots of Jewish causes looking for your time, your service or your money.  I see the pamphlets flooding our mail, pick up the auto-dialer recorded phone calls.

I barely slept last night.  Nothing new for me.  I think everyone else's anxiety is starting to get to me.  Maybe it's my own anxiety getting to me.

Nothing to be done.  Just need to push through.