My body can’t unwind because it’s wound tight like a caged tiger Ready to pounce On me With hundreds of pounds of flesh Razor sharp nails digging in to my skin Just the thought of it causes balls of stress in my stomach Like yarn that won’t unravel Getting bigger and bigger as it is spun Wrapping itself around me until I too am caged Filled with rage But can’t move from this place My foot won’t leave the gas pedal As the object to my right reappears I think this is a test They can’t get the better of me I’ll show them Even if it kills me And I think it might this time As the adrenaline rushes through me My head spinning Can’t get the picture to stand still As I weave in and out of traffic like a mad woman I think, one day, this won’t end well. I’ll be on the news You’ll hear about me, My body strewn across the pavement Or worse, Ending a life because mine was too important to slow down for I pull over and wait for the tiger to calm down Wait for the adrenaline to subside Tell myself it’s okay to drive slow It’s okay to “let them win” I’m winning by driving safely They can’t get the better of me Tell the tiger to go to sleep You’re not under attack You can calm down now, And hope to God it believes me.
The geese turds crunch under my feet As I walk across the cool grass trying to avoid the live ones Catching the last of the sun’s rays Straight from work as the days get longer And spring begins to make an appearance again Tomorrow high of 60s Today still chilly But there’s something in the air I can smell it Sniff and breathe in the the scent Trying to identify it The familiar smell of earth coming back to life It smells like chilled earth, It hits me- It’s the smell of camp The crickets chirping in the still night air In places you cannot find them The cold air painful on the sinuses But soft on the nose And grass that feels cold to the touch The chill that you’re sure will never leave I feel weird on these nights A funny sense of something missing A yearning for something I know not what I long for Cannot fulfill But know it’s there I want to bottle up this smell and take it with me The first hints of spring When it dares to show its face again After the winter dread slips its lifeless fingers away
You appeared in my life as my mother was dying, sent me a hug while I sat with her in the hospital after a procedure. You slipped right into my life, so seamlessly. It was like you had always been there. And I thought you would be there forever.
We fought the night before my mother died. Up the whole night chatting. Like it was natural. And we’ve done this a thousand times. But the fight was whether or not this whole thing was real since we hadn’t met. IRL.
Well the next day my mother died. And you caught me as I fell. Encouraged me to eat. Told me what to do. And the whole week of mourning, you were a voice of comfort as I cried and cried and cried.
And then we met. And everything changed. I was very clear that I wanted a future. You said you did. But you never quite came through. You proved yourself time and time again to be a liar, somebody that says one thing but does another, your actions never quite aligning with the words you said.
And I pushed and I pushed. And I fought and I yelled and I screamed and I begged. And I pleaded. And all you did was give false reassurances that ‘don’t worry, it will happen’ and ‘don’t worry, we’re working towards it’, but there was nothing to work towards. Because it was all empty promises.
I tried to convince myself many times to leave. But there was something holding me there. Maybe the fear pushing me against the wall saying this was my only chance to be happy. The fear and the terror of what was to come when I was once again alone. But I convinced myself enough that I needed you like I needed air that I was unable to pry my fingers from your lying self and move on.
I convinced myself enough that I needed you like I needed air that I was unable to pry my fingers from your lying self and move on.
Well, it took a long time, a lot longer than I wanted it to. A lot longer than it should have.
But eventually I finally said the words. This is not working. We have to end this. This is over. And still, you said nothing. Until I pushed you to say some form of goodbye. And then I called you the next week because I thought this couldn’t be over. We did this a million times. And eventually we just came back together. So it couldn’t be the last.
And I cried on the phone, even though I was the one pushing you away. And we talked about getting together and talking things through. And having one nice day together.
And then you disappeared. And that hurt me a lot. But I’m not quite sure what I lost.
Because there was a part of me so invested in you. And you were so interwoven into my everyday life that I really could not imagine my life without you. And in the beginning, it was extremely hard. I couldn’t eat. I cried a lot. Probably more than I did when my mother died.
And then slowly things started to ebb. And it wasn’t as bad as it used to be. And the blackness started receding. The walls didn’t feel like they were closing in so much.
And my brother was a guiding beacon. Reassuring me that this is how it was supposed to be. That I was never meant to end up with you. And life would sort itself out if I let it. That I would be able to heal if I only got out of my own way.
And it was hard. But with a lot of work, I got through it.
Well, you’re not quite completely out of my system and there are some times when I still wonder what you’re doing out in the world without me. If you ever missed me. Why you never called me. How it disintegrated when it seemed so promising. And how will I ever meet somebody if what I thought was “it” wasn’t really “it”.
So as I renew the pieces of my life, and heal myself, and live a life that I am happy with- I’m not quite lonely. I’m not quite curious. I guess you would say it’s a kind of longing for something that I wanted so badly that you promised, or you told me that I would have with you. And I wanted to believe you. And I believed you- or I didn’t really believe you but I wanted to believe the words you said.
And it’s really hard that it just died and that was it. Without any goodbye, without any mourning of the relationship. But I don’t know if that would have helped. You might have just made things worse.
And even though once in a while I still think maybe I’ll call you. And then I convince myself it’s not a good idea. And even as I look forward with hope. That maybe one day I will meet somebody who will treat me a lot better than you did. Who will be the other half of my soul. Who will make me feel strong and not weak. Who will help me feel certain and not in fear. Someone I can have a secure attachment with and not anxiety that they’ll leave and not come back.
I would like to have my happily ever after. I would like to meet the man that makes me happy. I would like to believe that could happen for me.
It’s just really hard to believe. After so many years of just assuming it wouldn’t happen, and then having this fall to my lap. And then having it disappear. Sometimes I wonder what God has in store, why he does the things the way he does. Why put us through these things that will end up just causing us pain.
I don’t know why. I can’t even begin to tell you why. I can’t even come up with the reason for myself why.
And some people say you shouldn’t ask why because it’s not going to help you. And it’s just going to hurt you.
I don’t know. There was a part of you that I felt just knew me. And fit. You just fit. And then we didn’t.
It’s very upsetting to me that the enjoyable parts of it just had to end.
But I would like to end off with something more hopeful. My hope is that one day this will just feel like a gentle breeze passing by my face. It won’t feel like I’m being thrown around in a storm. And it will just have healed. And I’ll have healing from the inside out.
And I won’t think of you. Because you just don’t matter anymore. You have no importance to me. All the conversations we had, all the fights we had, all the nice times we had, and the intimacy and the nice things you said about me and encouragement you gave me- it won’t mean anything anymore. It won’t mean anything good and it won’t mean anything bad. It will just be nothing.
And that one day when I’m in a loving happy relationship with a man who loves me and a family that accepts me, and I know who I am because I went through a really hard journey to get there, it will mean so much more to me because I showed up, and I told someone who I am, and I demanded that they respect me.
And they listened. Because I also knew that if I met someone who didn’t respect me I would walk away. And I would not let myself get entrapped in something just because I wanted to be loved. And I will know what it feels like to be loved by myself. And I will know what feels like to be respected. And I’ll know what it feels like to be trusted and to trust somebody.
And eventually I’ll look back at this time as steps. And the steps were hard and painful. But the steps are what got me to where I am now, and the steps are what will get me to where I’m going. And the steps are going to continue to take me through life.
And I hope that I can always have some sort of direction. Whether it be from inside of me. Or from my mother. Or from the strength that she always said I have. Or from good friends and mentors.
And I’ll use that guidance, and that inner compass to find my way forward. And to find my path even when it’s murky. Even when it’s unclear.
But it will eventually take me to the person I am destined to be with. And it will take us both beyond that.
And I will live a life that I can be proud of. And although I may never know why I had to suffer, or maybe I’ll recognize that it did make me stronger. But I won’t have to associate my life with suffering anymore. I will be my past and not my future and not my present.
Well, I don’t need to say goodbye anymore. There is no one to say goodbye to. There is just a hello. To my future. And a welcome. And a please be respectful. And please tread lightly.
Please wipe your feet at the door, but enjoy your stay.
When one day I won’t be triggered by a name Or a word Phrase Song Anything really That will remind me of a person I’ve been trying to forget When the day will come That I won’t be fearful of my own mind Tripping me at every turn The sickening feeling of being made to repeat Something I wish never happened Grappling with my thoughts As they swirl in colors around me Emotions slamming me down Forcing me into a seat I want out of Saying, “watch this”, closing my eyes but still seeing it behind my eyelids Saying, “stop!” But my mind isn’t listening Doesn’t care Thinks it’s… Helping me?? When the day comes And I won’t try to destroy myself from the inside out When all I’ll feel waking up is peace A feeling that will stay with me throughout the day I’ll stumble but not fall My mind will sit peacefully I’ll watch the dots and dashes running across the screen Representing people and places That have no hold over me anymore And on that day Finally I’ll know what it’s like To be free.
When do we get to stop and mourn The death of a relationship Among all the hustle and bustle of life Need to go to sleep Need to get up Need to keep moving Driving down the highway with tears blurring vision And everything looking out of focus This is not the time But when, then Is the right time To say goodbye to something Someone A time in my life That was there And is now gone Simply disappeared Not The end of the line Or Here is where the road ends But Going one day And gone the next How do we carry on When our brains can’t comprehend what happened. When there’s so much shame and feelings of failure We don’t have enough to hold ourselves together All our sides spilling out and over Into the void left by this huge gaping absence We don’t know how to go on But we must How then How do we continue life When we can’t stop grieving?
She said I have a sparkle which is funny because I thought I was kind of dull. My heart thuds as I approach the lunchroom because these “girls” are 20 and I’m 30 and maybe they won’t want me to sit with them. Which is crazy because I’m so much smarter than them and have so much more life experience. But I’ve always felt kind of different. Like what do I talk about? When I told them I’m a copywriter and they thought that was cool but also had no idea what it was, I couldn’t really explain it because I also don’t really know. When I pretend that I can write so I can get a job doing writing and get paid for it- I’m pretending to them and to myself. Because there’s so much uncertainty there built from years and years of not knowing myself and letting other people tell me who I am.
I listen to the sales guys who go by names like “Steve”, and “Joe”, and “David”, and my boss who called himself Robert in the ad and I know there is no one here who’s named Steve, or Joe, or David, and certainly no one named Robert. But they lie and try to blend in as much as I do. It’s January 11 and I have a good laugh because one of the sales guys is still saying “Happy New Years” with the s at the end when everyone knows there’s no s in Happy New Year, but that’s what he has in his arsenal and that’s what he’s going to use to sound friendly and make a sale. So I don’t really know what the answer is on how to BE in the world and stand firm in who you are, especially if who you are changes every day.
I was someone different with every guy I dated because I assumed if I tried to be what they wanted, they would love me. They would stay. And it didn’t even work, I just wasted so much time being with crappy people who treated me badly and didn’t encourage me to be me. Now the scars are healing and the poison is leaving my body and I’m able to stand up and say, hey that wasn’t very good. That wasn’t a good way to live. There’s gotta be a better way! (And there is, Kevin!)
So here I am to say, that so many people will try to knock you down and you’ll have to try very hard to keep standing. And it may not be because they are selfish horribly inconsiderate people who don’t care about you at all and are just using you to help themselves. It may be because they just don’t know any better. And neither do you.
So the next time you feel bad about yourself or it seems like everyone else is thriving and doing well while your life is pretty bad, just remember there are many people out there whose lives are pretty shitty and they just hide it very well.
Also, your life really can turn around in a second.
I started a trial position this week as a copywriter. I was filled with nerves and self doubt when I started, knowing I had one week to impress them before they decided if they wanted to “keep” me or not. I reminded myself that if it didn’t work out for whatever reason it didn’t mean anything about me, just that the position wasn’t a good fit. When I started on Monday (can’t believe it was only yesterday), I was sure it was going to be hard, I would reveal myself as someone who didn’t belong there and certainly could not write creative copy, and everything negative I believed about myself would be proven true.
Well, the boss gave me a project, and I breezed through it. So he gave me something else, and I finished that quickly as well. He was clearly impressed. I thought, this isn’t so hard. Then he gave me something harder.
In the interview he mentioned, when I asked directly if he felt I was a good fit for the position, that he saw potential in my writing samples but he didn’t see the creative out of the box thinking he was looking for. That felt like a letdown. You’re good, just not good enough. I feel like I’m falling short. I have skills but I’m not that creative. How do I break out of this box?
Today, I overheard snippets of conversation. It sounded like he already made the decision to keep me on and the week hasn’t even ended. That’s a good sign, right? But with my keen ears I also heard that I’m not as creative as X, who I’m assuming is the copywriter before me that they won’t be working with anymore. Again, I felt bad about myself. I’m always trying to convince myself that I have worth and value and that I CAN make it as a professional writer, and here’s someone saying clearly that I’m not creative.
He called me into his office. Instead of telling me that he’s hiring me full time, he started talking about the 6,000 products that needed product descriptions. I just rolled with it and told him “I’ll have it done by Friday”, and he had a good laugh.
Just as I was about to leave I decided to ask him. “And what do we do if it turns out I’m not that creative?” He seemed to realize that I may have overheard him and brushed it off by saying, “Don’t worry about it right now, you’re doing great.”
I think I’ve never been more terrified of failure than this job. I really really want to do well. If I don’t, it will just prove my fears that I’m not good enough.
What do I do? Just keep trying to be creative and maybe it’ll come?
November 22, 2018. Thanksgiving. The 14th day of Kislev. Which one do we celebrate, commemorate her life? Is it a celebration, or a remembrance? Are we remembering her life, or the circumstances of her death? It’s so hard to sort through all of this. I have so much, and nothing to say.
I think about her every day like I think about food. It’s always right there. My hunger won’t let me forget, my brain remembers that part of me that is missing. How would my life be different if she were here? How do I find a sense of safety and security again?
Someone told me, no matter how old you are- you never feel safe again after losing a parent. There’s a measure of security that is missing. I have the added bonus of no longer having a family home to live in, go back to or even store stuff in. The rug was yanked out from under me, or as I like to think about it- I was dropped out of a plane with no parachute, only there is no plane, and I’m plummeting to the ground with no one and nothing to catch me.
This day holds so much pain for me. Not just my mother’s death, but recovering from a breakup with a guy who entered my life right before my mother died. I thought he came to rescue me, save me. But I don’t need saving. I’m very strong. I’m just very sad right now. It’s hard when everything is all wrapped up into one. I miss my mother terribly but I miss this guy too. I miss the feeling of security each relationship gave me, both of which I have no more.
My sadness feels like physical pain, punching from the inside out. My body crumples under the pain and I express “ow”. I want it to stop, but I know it needs to come out. My life has been filled with so much pain that I’ve kept inside for so long. It’s time to feel the pain, and let it go.
I wrote this poem a short while ago. It expresses so much pain.
Today I’m asking for a little strength.
I can’t believe it’s been
They say the first 6 months are the hardest I spent tremendous amounts of time crying Sometimes it would come on suddenly Like a wave, wash over me And never end. My mind brought me back to that day over and over again, Wanting to stay with you Wanting to die so I could see you again. They say the first year is the hardest I marked time by how far away we were moving from you Trying to hold it tightly in my hand Like sand You slipped away Until I could not see the shore anymore And still your voice replayed in my head. I tried to talk to you You never answered I tried to feel you And sometimes heard your call in the wind chimes. They say the first 2 years are the hardest I can’t believe it’s been I can’t believe it’ll be 2 years since they took you away Those memories, that day almost gone from my mind, locked away In a place Where it can’t hurt me I wonder if I would fall apart if I opened it If I let go trying to make everything be okay. But then, you always said I was the strongest. Is this strength, or is it me trying to forget? They say the first 5 years are the hardest… I can’t believe it’ll be I can’t fathom the idea of 3 years hence from now 3 more years of not hugging you Smelling you Loving you I see now why they say to take it day by day Because the thought of 5 years without you… The waves drown me with their pounding force And the gale wind Blows my breath away I can’t go on I don’t want to go on Without you. Oh Mommy I know you didn’t want to leave But now it feels like life is just too hard to hold on to. And how can I do it without your support? I can’t believe it’ll be 50, 60, 70 years A lifetime Without you in it. So I keep it locked away Only to be taken out on special occasions Those times I want to feel pain Or remind myself that you’re really gone As if I could forget. But I do. When the wind blows the leaves through the trees and it feels like they are talking to me When the sun shines down so brightly and my new summery top flutters in the soft breeze When I get absorbed in a really good book I forget. I’m happy. I’m enjoying life. And I think I’m sure You would have wanted it that way. But Ma, I haven’t forgotten you Can’t Forget you Won’t let myself Forget. I miss you. I love you. I wish I could see you again Instead of the cold stone facing me As my tears drop down Leaving dark spatter marks behind I can’t believe it’s been Almost 2 years Since I last felt your warmth. ❤️❤️❤️
She keeps bringing me back to a memory that I don’t want to remember, trying to get me to experience it all over again, and honestly, at this point I hate my therapist. I actually hate her.
When I call her annoying she takes it as flattery, a compliment. She says if she’s annoying she’s doing her job.
The memory freezes me in a time where I felt powerless. When she makes me bring it up I feel like kicking her. I struggle and fight and tell her no, she’s doing it all wrong, I’m not going to do this any more, and she has a doctorate and what’s wrong with her and why can’t she change her tactics if she sees it’s not working.
And she says, but it is working, and I wish you could see just how much your thought process has changed since we started this.
She said it’s like trying to squeeze out a splinter and we’re so close. But it’s hurting me. And I don’t want to experience the pain anymore.
But there’s something about what she said that stops me. We’re so close.
Is that possible? Can there be an end in sight?
I’ve been going to therapy for years trying to cure myself of something I couldn’t even describe with words.
It’s a big bad wolf inside of me, it’s my mind lying to me, playing tricks on me, trying to hurt me. Just when I think I feel okay, it snatches me back into the sadness and the fear and the anxiety.
The feeling that I’m not good enough and I’ll never be, that I can’t, I can’t do anything or be anything and my world will never feel right and it’ll always just be bad and that’s just the way it is.
She’s offered me a way out, a way that’ll help me live a life without all the baggage and the fear and the pain. Only, her way is through the pain. And I just can’t face it.
Lying on the carpet in her office with headphones on my ears letting my mind wander doing “processing” and not sure I’m doing it right, but somehow, little by little, things become clearer. Puzzle pieces shift. I sense movement and it’s going in the right direction.
After years of this, it’s finally starting to sizzle. I may get out of this alive.
But the pain is really real and the tears are hard to feel. It hurts and I’ve tried so hard to minimize the pain it seems almost counterproductive to let it in now.
I’m fighting it so hard and I wish I could get out of my own way and just stop fighting. Stop struggling and just let it heal.
I can’t. But I’m trying, day by day, session by session. I’m really trying to have the life that I want.
It’s just hard to imagine leaving the pain and fear and anger behind, like a coat I’m reluctant to part with. A coat that’s kept me warm and protected for so long, one that’s familiar and comforting.
But, one that I may no longer need, no longer essential for my survival. And what will life look like on the other side?
I cry in the dressing room As the sales lady stands outside Calling me “doll”, and “sweety” I don’t know why I’m crying Gratitude, for these nice people Who make a horrible experience a little better When my clothes come off and the shame of my body confronts me in the mirror When I buy dresses on Amazon just to have something to wear But don’t care what I look like Because it’s all trying to hide a body That I’ve never felt comfortable in. I watch my face in the mirror crumble Remembering so many times In so many dressing rooms Excited to find something that looked good on me. It’s happy And sad And so deeply vulnerable I remember eagerly going home with my purchases Excited about my finds Excited to show them to my mother Who oohed and ahed But no one awaits me at home now I have no job to go to To show off my new look I have no one to admire me Even as I decide it’s okay to look good In this body This body Did nothing wrong And deserves no shame Or hiding. I cry I cry For the pain my body has felt It’s enough The pain of never belonging Never quite good enough. I want to touch it, Soothe it Whisper to it You are enough. You are beautiful. You Yes you In the mirror I’m proud of you. I’m so proud of you for all the pain you’ve been through And staying whole. What’s the point, It says. Why bother When no one sees me anyway. And I tell it, I tell my body I see you. I see you as you are. You’ve tried so hard over the years To change To become what other people defined as beautiful But to me You have always been beautiful. It’s okay now You can stop fighting. You can get excited about new things And renew the spark that has almost died Almost. Take my hand We’ll do it together. You’re not alone anymore. I see you. Now let the world see you too.
Such is the human experience Some people sit out here Under Autumn’s first chill With a blanket or sweater wrapped around them And enjoy the delicious crisp air And the smell of cold coming in They’re in love with this time of year Of spiced lattes and pumpkins on the horizon. While others, like me Are scared to walk out the door into the cold Sad to see Summer waving goodbye And numb at the thought of Winter coming. Dread starts to set in The Jewish New Year a few days away And the cold nipping at my unclothed toes. Change, for some, exhilarating And others Terrifying. We are, all of us, human With different experiences And different emotions. When Summer feels so fleeting You can barely hold its hand And Winter makes you want to hibernate Spring and Fall barely making an appearance I wrap myself in a sweater And confront the cold It’s 60 tonight, and dipping. This time, Winter, I won’t let you take me. I won’t let your frost drag me down into fear and icy dread Of my skin wrapped in layers And the dark that comes on suddenly, And stretches on endlessly. I’ll find a way to conquer you With sunshine in my mind Even as your icy talons reach out And grab hold.
Sometimes, you wake up in the morning and you feel happy, before your brain gets a chance to slam into you and say, “Remember, your mother died? Remember that guy you just broke up with?” And just like that, you’re back in the sadness.
And sometimes, you can be in a fog all day and feeling sad and like there’s nothing right with the world, and then you’ll get a text message or watch a funny video or hear an uplifting song, and you’ll laugh, and feel happy, and for a little while you were able to break out of the sadness.
I’m not going to tell you that it gets better, because sometimes, that’s a lie. Sometimes, your mom dies when you are 28 years old and you realize you’ll have to live the rest of your life without her. Sometimes, you break up with a guy you’ve been dating for almost 2 years, whom you thought you would marry, and you can’t imagine ever meeting anyone new.
Sometimes, it just really sucks and everything makes you cry.
It’s like walking into a house, into a room with no floor, and you find yourself falling and there’s nothing you can do about it, and you fall and you fall and you fall.
And they say that it will get better, and maybe it feels better, little pockets of time here and there, but you can’t imagine being happy all the time because your default mode is sadness, and that’s all you know.
Your therapist asks you why you’ve been listening to voice-notes from the guy you broke up with, and you can’t quite answer that question, because even though he didn’t respect you and lied to you all the time, you still want him in your life, and then you wonder why you can’t respect and value yourself more and actually believe that you deserve better.
It’s like a landslide, it’s like a literal landslide that comes suddenly on a hike and you have no idea where you’re going because you can’t see the path markers anymore and you think you might be lost in the mountains and you might have to make camp here but you finished your 16 oz bottle of water even though the sign said ‘Do not go beyond this point unless you are prepared with at least 2 liters of water’, but you didn’t listen because you are never quite prepared, and if you followed that rule you’d never go anywhere. So you keep going and going thinking, I must be going in the right direction, and then you see a sign that says, Caution: Steep slope. And boy is it steep, and rocky and full of dirt. So you walk sideways and slip on the rocks and have your heart yanked out of your chest over and over again, and just when you think you’ve gotten to the bottom, haha no you haven’t because there’s another steep slope waiting for you.
Every time the rocks slide out from under you, you get scared and wonder if this is it, this is when you’ll fall, and then you do fall, only its not so bad except that it leaves you with an angry purple bruise that you wear like a badge of honor.
You’re sliding down the rock slope trying to go slowly but slipping on the dirt and gravel and you don’t know where you’re going because you don’t see a path but you figure that if you just get down to the bottom you might know where to go and you’re really good at enduring things in the hopes that something better might come along.
Then you hear a really loud noise like maybe you’re near traffic or maybe someone’s mowing the grass nearby which doesn’t make sense because you’re in the mountains and then you see it- a yellow truck/bus with seats inside right down the hill and you’re really confused and not quite sure what’s happening, and you think you better get out of the way but the driver waits patiently for you so you keep going down down down hoping not to fall again and he smiles and waits.
Turns out they’re doing construction on this path, and you ask him where the trail is and he points to the left and says ‘I’ve seen people keep going that way’ and you say thank you and he smiles and waves as you watch this giant yellow truck go up the mountain you just slipped down.
And there’s the white path that you were looking for and you experience such relief but there is no one around to share it with, and you sit alone in the quiet forest and wonder why no one is around to share your accomplishment with, and you know that that’s how life is, so much of it you have to go alone.
You get down to the bottom of the mountain and see nature walkers, people that came for a stroll not a hike and have no idea the ordeal you just went through. It boggles your mind that you just experienced a heart-stopping moment and no one knows about it.
It’s a very lonely feeling, going through it alone. But I text my brother to commemorate the moment and he congratulates me on not getting hurt and on trying a new experience that I didn’t expect, and then I remind him of the giant angry purple bruise on my thigh.
When I go hiking I usually set out not quite knowing where it’s going to take me, and there’s definitely a beauty in that. I know I will find my way home, even when I’m scared. I don’t think I’m going to get lost. But there are still moments when it’s unsettling, when I wonder why I have to go through scary experiences and why I can’t just have a settled happy-go-lucky existence.
What I’ve learned is, sometimes life will be scary. Many times, you’ll be sad and you’ll cry. You’ll feel alone, even when you aren’t alone. And you’ll wish and pray to G-d or the Universe or whoever you talk to, that your situation changes and things get better. And maybe they will, little by little. You have to look out for them. It’s hard. Things don’t get ‘better’ right away. But maybe, step by step, inch by inch, over a year you’ll have moved half a block, and sometimes, as my therapist says, half a block is just enough to get you on the train, which will then take you to your destination. So maybe, even if you think you’re not moving, you’re actually getting a lot closer to where you need to go.
And sometimes, all you need is a friendly construction worker to point you in the right direction.
I don’t have a ‘the night before’ story, because I didn’t know it was going to end. That was the hardest part, having the doctors just keep saying, ‘we don’t know how long she has, so let’s keep pushing.’
I don’t have the perfect ending. I don’t think death really allows for that.
The night before…
I kissed her on the top of her head. I told her I love her.
The night before…
She was in so much pain. I helped her get up the stairs. I was annoyed at her for dismissing me and then needing my help again.
The night before…
We were fighting over how best to care for her and she yelled at everyone to leave because she couldn’t stand the fighting. So we left.
The night before…
I left her sitting on the floor in her room because she told me I don’t have to stay with her and she couldn’t get on the bed.
There is so much pain in feeling like I didn’t do everything I could for my mother, who was dying.
If I knew, what would I have done the night before?
Spent more time with her, sat with her in her pain? She barely knew what was going on.
Instead of texting all night and having a stupid fight with a new guy I was dating, would I have gone into her room to see how she was doing? See if she needed anything?
I didn’t know. Death comes knocking at your door and you’re not ready. You’ll never be ready.
When death comes a’knockin and you say wait a minute, no I’m not ready for this, I’m not ready for you to take her, please just let her stay a little longer, please let me sing to her and hold her head and stroke her back and hold her hand and let her know she’s not alone…..
Instead of leaving her to die alone on her bedroom floor.
It hurts so much.
I lay on the floor crying as they worked on her, knowing they wouldn’t bring her back. I kicked my feet and stood outside in the cold and was mad, really really mad that I didn’t help her in time, that I couldn’t save her.
The anger has since gone away, and in it a place of comfort has opened up. That she died when and how she was supposed to, and it wasn’t my job to stop it or change it.
I recognize how helpless and in pain I felt, and how little in control I really was.
We try so hard in life to control everything we can, and even things we can’t. Until we see how futile it is.
Let go and let it happen. It will wash over you and the pain will leave and in its place will be the memories.
Beautiful memories of a beautiful mother who died way too soon.
I can’t find the path. They said it would be here but I don’t see it. So I scramble up a hill covered in plants and brush that looks like no human had ever climbed it. I navigate my way around protruding branches and over rocks while keeping my eye on the map and making sure I’m veering in the right direction.
Eventually, I come to a marked path. I continue on, drenched in sweat and panting. It’s been under an hour.
I keep checking my map to see how much progress I’ve made, and it seems small in comparison to the whole trail. Well, I’ll keep going because I hear it has great views.
Then I check again. And I realize what I thought would be a quick hike is actually a trail that takes over 4 hours total. It’s after 6 pm and there’s no way I can make it to the top and back before it gets dark.
I disappointingly decide to stop and turn around. But first, I try to find the view.
I see glimpses of the water through the trees, but not enough, just a hint to let you know it’s there.
So I sit on a comfy rock that looks like it’s made for lounging, and I eat my snack and breathe in the silence.
It’s beautifully quiet here.
After awhile I gather my strength to go back down.
I decide to give the view one last try, and go to a different spot and suddenly- it’s there. The water, gentle waves moving, yachts floating, it’s all spread out before me. I have a feeling this spot was prepared for me since the beginning of time.
I take in the view and marvel at how I got to see a great view after all, even though I didn’t make it to the top of the trail.
I revel in the silence. I am in awe of the fact that at this moment, I’m the only human being here. I hear birds chirping and see deer coming through and squirrels hopping about. But I’m the only person here.
I inhale the silence without moving, letting my body be as still as the forest around me. I belong here. I was meant to be here. This place has been waiting for me for so long.
After awhile, I take the marked trail back down and as I’m going and going I feel like it’s been longer than the way up. When I get down to the bottom, I understand why. There was a trail there all along- just a little farther away than I realized. In fact, when I was scrambling to find my way in the beginning, there was a marked trail the whole time, right beside me. I was just unaware of it.
That’s life. Sometimes we try and we try and then we see that all along, there was a path. There was a plan. We just couldn’t see it then.
It’s right there in the title. Closure. When one door ‘closes’, another one opens.
When I was little I remember being scared going to sleep by myself, and going to my parents’ room to try to convince them to let me sleep in their room. They wouldn’t open the door and told me to go back to bed.
So I had no choice but to learn to self-soothe.
Sometimes when things in life don’t go as planned, such as a relationship ending when you thought you would marry the person, or a job that you really want not working out, you have to reassess and come up with a new plan.
Planning. It is the key to envisioning your future and creating what you want in life.
Sometimes, the option that you really want is no longer an option, and in order to close that chapter and move on, without getting ‘closure’ from a person who cannot give it to you, it helps to realize that you can find closure within yourself. By understanding what went wrong, and also realizing that you cannot see the full picture and there may be even better things yet to come, better than you ever hoped for.
It’s not easy to come up with a new plan when the one you wanted unexpectedly didn’t work out. But maybe it is just what you need to move forward in life and get to where you really need and want to go.
Sometimes, it seems that God has shut all the doors in our faces, until we realize that He was guiding us to the perfect door all along.
There’s a moment when I face the man standing at the door holding a cheesecake and a beautiful flower arrangement and I look at his eyes and he knows. He knows that we’re orphans. That’s why he’s here.
But is that something to be ashamed of?
It’s nice that they think of us around the holiday times, and even though we’re adults it’s still nice to feel the embrace of someone thinking of us, of sending us love and care, the love that my mother couldn’t send.
It’s hard. Time passes and I wonder what it’ll be like opening that door in a year from now. 5 years. A cheesecake and flowers will never bring my mother back, and maybe my heart will always do that little flip because I know who they are and I know why they’re here and I wish they didn’t come. I wish they never had to. I wish my loud crazy annoying family was all back together again, fighting and yelling and screaming and cursing, trying to decide what to make for the Shavuos menu.
It’s funny how we write the future when we have know idea how it would actually be written. I couldn’t tell you how life would be if my mother were alive, I could only tell you what I imagine, because my imagination is all I have right now.
The flowers are beautiful and the lactose intolerant me will get to have my cheesecake and enjoy the nice surprise book they included and my heart feels a little warmer at the thought of other people having us on their mind. Someone sponsored it and someone volunteered to deliver it and someone, somewhere said, Leslie can’t be there for them so we will. We have to make sure that this Yom Tov those children know, that they’re not alone.
And despite the fact that I’m an adult, that I don’t “need” such gifts, that I’m sure there’s someone out there who needs it more than me, that I’m uncomfortable being helped by someone, that it feels weird to accept this, despite all that- I really am touched by this gesture, and it helps to feel that we’re not forgotten.
“It’s my birthday tomorrow,” I tell my grandmother, hoping she can hear me. “What number is this?” she asks. “30!” I say loudly. “That’s a good number,” comes her warm reply. “Why?” I ask her. “Because it’s your birthday!” Simple as that. It’s a good number because it’s your birthday.
I’m always apprehensive when it comes to my birthday. Every year a new number. The passing of time makes me feel unsettled, but this year the number 30 really got me thinking. On the one hand, 30! (screaming). It’s a new decade, a new era. The end of my twenties. The birthday you’re supposed to have crossed a bunch of stuff off your buck list, have the perfect job, guy, family. I have almost none of that.
And on the other hand, it’s just a number. Just another year.
When I first started therapy in my early twenties, I pined to get married. (I also thought I was seriously messed up and there was no hope for me.)
One of the first things I told the therapist was that I so badly wanted to get married (and then went on to list all the things that were wrong with me and why in fact marriage was never going to happen). The therapist, a very old woman who sometimes appeared to fall asleep during session, tried to discourage me saying marriage doesn’t fix anything and it wasn’t all roses.
I’ve heard this many times over the years from married people on the “other side”, and I get so sick of people telling me this. Good or not, I should be able to discover it for myself without people cautioning me. I should get to have the experiences too, and have the desire to get married without people feeling the need to tamp it down and extinguish it.
When I was younger I thought, if I’m not married by the time I’m 30, I’ll surely die. Fast forward about 10 years. Almost 30, and still not married (gasp!). I watched most of my friends, pretty much everyone I know and every guy I ever dated pass me by and get married while I’m still stuck here. And while I’m not by any means really “stuck” in life, that’s how it feels.
And what have I done in the meantime? Because if you’re living life just waiting to get married, you’re not really living- merely existing, hibernating, waiting out your time.
In the past 10 years, I:
Went to college Got a degree (which I haven’t really used) Traveled the world (somewhat) Experienced a cult (sort of) Changed many therapists Did some hikes Lost some weight Gained a bunch more weight Change jobs a bunch of times Did not realize my dream of being a published writer Did not get thin Have not broken up with my lifelong struggle of emotional eating Dated many guys Made some new friends Lost some friends Watched a lot of TV shows Slept a lot Moved to Florida Moved back to NY Took a few road trips
The thing that really bothers me the most is seeing everybody around me who seems so happy. When I look on Instagram, I see couples recently married who seem so much in love and so excited to start this journey together. I get really jealous even though I know I shouldn’t, even though I know that’s probably in the cards for me sometime in the future, but it really hurts me that I don’t get to have it now.
It makes me feel like I’ve done something wrong in my life, like somehow I took a wrong turn somewhere and can’t seem to find my way back. How is it that everybody else seemed to figure that out while I’m still stuck here struggling?
I read a book where a woman wanted a baby so badly and wasn’t able to have any of her own. Here’s an excerpt:
” . . . Madeline slowed when she passed women pushing strollers, how she smiled at the babies in those strollers, whether they were cheerful or fretful or sleeping, how she smiled and said hello to the women, asked how they were, commented on the weather, even though—Mia could see it—there was a deep hunger in her eyes. She rushed to open doors for these women . . . holding the door open until woman and child were well into the bodega or the café or the bakery before letting it swing slowly shut after them with a wistful, almost mournful look.”
The feelings well up inside of me unexpectedly as I eat my lunch, the taste of tears garnishing my food.
I never knew it had a name, but “longing” fits the feeling pretty nicely.
It’s the longing that I identify with. It’s like a rabbit hole that I start going down, salivating at pictures of brides in beautiful gowns, lacy veils, staring into the eyes of their beloveds, and I, having never gotten the privilege of experiencing that, stare with envy.
It’s not the dress or the party or the wedding that I want. It’s the guy. The relationship. Being settled, having a friend at my side, having someone I can rely on. Having a partner.
I watched a bizarre film called “The Lobster”, of a genre considered absurdist comedy, and it was so weird it left my mind reeling and the thought of, what the f— did I just watch.
The gist of it is, a dystopian society where people must have partners, and being single is not allowed. Anyone who loses a partner by death or infidelity, must report to a place called “The Hotel”, where they mingle with other singles and have 45 days to partner with someone who is like them. They have to find someone who shares a similar characteristic, such as a limp, a chronic nose bleed, a lisp, etc. After they partner, they are watched closely for a month to see if they mate well or if they are not suitable, and if they lied (because relationships cannot be built on a lie), the punishment is very bad.
Of course, if they don’t find a suitable partner after 45 days, they get turned into an animal (of their choosing). The protagonist in the film decided that if he failed, he would be turned into a lobster (hence the name of the film.)
It’s a British film (those British) and extremely bizarre, so don’t bother watching it. But the point that I’m trying to illustrate is that in society there is so much pressure to do whatever it takes to be in a relationship, that so many people fall into and out of relationships so quickly.
Yes I want to get married, but I would rather date a million people until I find someone with whom I can live with and get along with, rather than just jumping at the first proposal I receive.
But I do want it. Not because everyone else has it, not that I have to defend my reasons. But because I, being of independent and sound mind, would like to be in a loving and committed relationship and get married.
In Judaism, men (not women, and don’t ask me why) have an obligation, a commandment from the Torah to search for a wife. To leave his parent’s house and cling to his spouse. He is instructed to look for a wife like someone looks for a lost object. The interpretation is, just as someone who loses something valuable searches frantically and extensively to find it, so should have such energy when looking for a spouse.
We are also told that we have to “do our part”, whatever that may be, and leave the rest up to G-d.
If you believe that soulmates are two souls split at birth who live their lives trying to find their way back to each other, then I’ve been living 30 years without my other half, and it’s painful.
I feel like a plane hovering above the earth, not being given clearance to land. How long can one circle in the air without feeling exhausted, deadened, forgotten?
How long is one meant to search before they simply give up?
It is hard. It is really hard. Sometimes my life feels aimless. Sometimes I wonder what I’m even doing it for, any of it. My job is not fulfilling. I don’t have a family to take care of. I feel like I have no purpose. I’m not saying that if I had a husband and kids I would suddenly feel fulfilled, but it feels as if I completed one chapter of my life and and am waiting to begin the next one, but something is stopping me. I’m not able to move forward. And it’s extremely unsettling.
I know something about codependency. I’ve been in relationships before where I basically expected and demanded of my partner to take care of me. I understand, have understood and keep working on it in therapy, that coming from a family where I didn’t exactly feel taken care of, where the rules were never quite clear, neither the roles, I very often felt out of sorts and nothing made sense, my world was full of chaos, and I also experienced emotional neglect, it’s likely I grew into an adult who looks to romantic relationships to cure me of my childhood “ailments”, so to speak. Someone who can guide me and tell me what to do and take care of me when I can’t or don’t want to take care of myself.
Now, throughout my adult life I’ve established that I most certainly can take care of myself, as if I was trying to prove it to someone. Myself, someone else. I don’t know who. But it’s hard trying to be so independent that I can’t ask for help, and it’s hard feeling so lost without the person who I have come to rely on.
So, neither loneliness nor codependency being very good options, I have opted to look for a partner who is also a friend, a supporter, a cheer leader, a calmness to my storm, a steadiness to my chaos, a solid foundation upon which I can rest and begin, or continue to, build my life.
I am not in the market for any more unhealthy relationships, but as the sun sets and I begin my thirties, I would like it to be known that the position of friend, lover, partner, soulmate and spouse- is still available.
My 30th birthday is coming up in 2 weeks. I decided to try and write something every day before then.
I ache to put my arms around you and make you mine, But I’m afraid that illusion will disappear in my dreams Like the startling sight of the full moon’s light illuminating my window shades, Here now but gone in the morning. Nose to nose we stand, Looking into each other’s eyes I’m the girl who sings I’m the one with the jeans who takes pictures I’m you. I’m everyone. Your hands in mine. That vision so far away I’m not even sure I’m allowed to want it The wanting is what kills me. The wanting is what will save me When the time comes.
I blog to connect. With whom, I don’t know. Maybe someone reading this will find something meaningful in it. Maybe I’ll have made a difference. Maybe I’ll feel like I existed.
Coronavirus has not stopped people from getting married. Backyard weddings, driveway weddings, it’s all happening. I’m sure it’s not what people expected. But life goes on.
A couple got engaged and then got married a week later. Surprising, in normal times. But in these times, I imagine the agony of being engaged to someone for a long time and not knowing when you’ll be able to get married. This way, at least they can start a home together, a life. Without delay.
I cried when I watched a video of a wedding taking place in a school gym, and people came in dancing and wearing gloves. Yes, we do what we must but rejoicing does not have to stop.
I think this is hard on everyone in many ways. For people who already feel isolated and lonely, this is crushing. I know how it feels.
But I try to think of the good things happening. People are getting engaged over video chat. Babies are being born. Birthdays are being celebrated.
And yes, weddings are happening. I’m sure looking back the pictures and the memories of these weddings will hold a surreal bizarre ring to them. But then these two people get to be together in a time when so many people are apart.
I woke up and the better part of winter was over. I woke up and my father’s things were gone. I woke up like this. I woke up and things were a little bit better. I woke up when the sun was just coming up. I woke up when the day had long since past. I woke up to an empty house. I woke up on the morning of my best friend’s wedding. I woke up and made breakfast. The bathroom is a great place to cry. So is the car. And the supermarket. And the gym. Everyone on the road is my enemy. I have no friends. Some days I’m scared of my own aggressiveness. Some days I’m afraid of my own passiveness. I worry people will trample all over me. I fight back before anyone else has even started. A few years ago I bought a sun lamp to fight depression. Now I just take antidepressants. They’re helping. I wake up and I’m not depressed. I don’t forget to take my medicine. I wake up and check my messages. I want to be connected to the world. I wake up and wonder what my purpose is. I wake up thinking, today’s the day my favorite show airs. I wake up and go back to sleep. I wake up and bask in the sunlight streaming through my window. I wake up and most of the time my life doesn’t come crushing down on top of me. Most of the time I can breathe just fine. Some of the time I even feel happy I woke up.
Happy Valentine’s day, the day my parents got married. 40 years ago today. 40 years is a long time. Only, they won’t be celebrating their 40th because my mother is in heaven and my father is engaged to another woman.
Can I blame him? For wanting to remarry and not be alone? No. It’s just so hard looking at a picture of my parents together and knowing that will no longer be the image, now there will be someone else taking my mother’s place.
Like the photographer says, now you leave the frame and someone else steps in.
It’s hard for me because I like stability. I like continuance. I want to be able to say, look my parents made it, maybe I too can have a long happy marriage. 40 years, wow.
And it’s not like they got divorced. It ended because one party unfortunately is no longer with us.
My vision of my future is blurry. I can’t look to my parents’ as an example. I don’t know if I’ll ever be ok looking at a picture of my father with someone else next to him. It feels wrong. It’s confusing. It’s painful.
Now not only did I lose my mother, it feels like I’m losing my parents too.
Nobody is waiting for me at home. Nobody cares that we arrived.
It was this sad feeling that hit me when me and my sister were on our way back from the airport after a very short visit to Florida (Sun! Water! Yay!) for my mom’s best friend’s milestone birthday party. (Getting more beautiful with age :*)
My father doesn’t care, my sister said bitterly. He’s too busy with his lady friend. (He got engaged recently.) Well, I don’t think that’s quite true, but it does still hurt.
I texted my brother to tell him we were on the way home. He didn’t seem to care much.
My mother was always the worrier, the wait-up-at-homer, the one we called to say hi, I’m well, I’m here or there, I’m alive. Without her, it really feels like I could disappear and no one could care less.
We celebrated my mom’s yartzeit (anniversary of death) last week. It does not feel like a year, and yet it feels like billions of years have past. It feels like she’s at the end of a really long tunnel and I’m never going to reach her.
We visited the grave site. It was freakin cold. My toes were numb. We said some prayers. I wrote her a letter. I’d like to think she can hear me.
I took a selfie with her headstone. I didn’t think she would object. (Or couldn’t.)
This post-death life is really hard. I just go on living and experiencing life on my own, like nothing happened? With this big silent absent hole in my life, with the sadness just a memory away?
I don’t know. I really don’t know. Life feels so unmanagable and unfigureoutable.
My father asked me tonight who in my family had the hardest time after my mother’s death. Like it’s a competition. He asked because someone at work wanted to know. Someone who is curious.
I said I don’t know. It really isn’t a competition. Everyone will mourn in their own way in their own time. There’s no one way to do grief. No time limit on grieving.
But it has been particularly hard for me. Mostly because I was one of her caretakers towards the end of her life. I really miss that. I really miss pushing her down the hall to appointments. I really miss entering future appointments into my calendar. Keeping track of her schedule. Feeling needed. Feeling important.
After she died, during Shiva I looked at my calendar and there was a follow up appointment for an MRI scheduled for two months in the future. I deleted the entry. No need for that.
I had to call the equipment rental company to have them pick up her oxygen equipment. When they asked the reason why, I simply said, she died.
This year has been hard on me in many ways but a lot of it has to do with my mind coming to terms with this lack in my life. It feels like an imbalance. Like something in the house is completely off. There’s this silence that nothing seems to be able to fill.
I listen to her voicemails and it’s not the same. I try to make sense of life before she got sick, and after. A lot of it doesn’t make sense and maybe never will.
It’s disorienting. I have no idea what it’s like to lose a limb, thank G-d. And I never imagined I would know what it’s like to lose a parent. But now that I do, maybe I have some sense of what it’s like to lose a part of your body. I imagine it’s an ache for awhile, like a small child losing their favorite blanket. But in that case, maybe the ache goes away. Eventually the child forgets. The longing grows less.
In this case, it has dulled over time, this feeling of missing and of lacking. But it’s still there. There’s still a part of me that will always feel incomplete.
It’s hard because I didn’t actually know she was going to die. It wasn’t neat and tidy like you see in the movies, where the doctor says the patient has very little time left and the family gathers at their bedside to say goodbye. In this case, the doctor said “hang in there”. I don’t know if he really didn’t know she was going to die, or he really didn’t want to tell us. Either way, it happened very suddenly. One moment she was there, albeit not entirely functioning, and then she was just gone. No more.
It’s hard because I think of all the years left she could have lived, all the experiences she could have had.
I have a flashback from driving with her on a road trip, late at night. I’m half asleep in the passenger seat. She’s driving. We enter a highway. She accelerates really fast on the entrance ramp. I get annoyed. Be gentle with my car. She says that’s the only way she’ll get on.
Another time in the car, I flip through the stations and start enjoying a pop song, which turns out to be Christian rock. I turn it off, laughing. We both get a kick out of that.
This year has been hard because my mind is befuddled. It’s hard to comprehend that it has almost been a year since she died. I can’t stop the passing of time. I can’t stop anything at all. The farther along we go, the last of the “firsts” we pass. Last year Yom Kippur I opted to stay home instead of going to shul, and spent time talking to her.
I listen to her voicemails now and I have to shut it off. I simply can’t listen anymore.
It’s hard because I can’t comprehend not having this person in my life who was there since my birth. I just don’t know how to get past this missing. The loss that will never really go away.
That day was a flood of emotions; it was also a complete shut down. My body refused to do what it was supposed to. I left the house only because other people left first, and I figured why should I stay here alone. I went to Kohl’s to do returns. I was returning skirts she would never get to wear. Irrational, but it had to be done. I cried on line. The cashier never bothered to ask if I was okay.
I went to Rockland kosher to get sushi, the only easy thing I thought I could put in my body. I cried.
I went to CVS to pick up my medicine. I cried.
There’s not enough tissues in the world that can contain the tears of losing my mother.
The funny thing is, I want to talk to my mother about all of this. When I was sad or having a hard time, I would call home and my mother would reassure me. Sometimes there was nothing she could really say. But she tried.
I honestly don’t know where to go from here. Should I go over the details again and again? Should I put it out of my mind? What’s the right way to move forward?
How can I make sense of my mother’s life and her death? How can I help keep her memory alive?