JewBu Quest: From Abuse to Happiness

JewBu: a Jew who practices forms of Buddhist meditation & spirituality. This blog documents my quest to 1) heal from sexual, verbal, and emotional abuse, 2) come to terms with losing Mom and Grandma to Alzheimers, 3) find balance, explore the spiritual, stay present. Bascially, I've experienced some pretty crappy shit in my life and want to find a way to move past it and find happiness.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

I'm Fucking Up

I just got a call from my advisor telling me that I made a really big mistake sending out this enormous email. I feel horrible. I think I'll have to tell them tomorrow that someone has to pick stuff up for me next week. I really can't work right now. Maybe I should take a leave of absence from school and move back to Kansas City. I just feel so overwhelmed, and I can't believe that I have to wake up tomorrow and go face my mistake with all of these people on the conference call, call this doctor my Dad's going to take my mom to and try to manipulate my mom actually getting medication, and then finalize stuff to go to KC.

My dad's best friend called me earlier today and said that I shouldn't be so hard on my dad because there's something really physical wrong with him. She insinuated that he thinks he's going to die and has been dropping hints about this to her. She also said that she thinks it will be super hard on my mom this transition, and agreed that it sounds like my dad is just giving up on her but that she'll call him and try to talk to him. I feel like everything is in my lap. I'm somehow trying to orchestrate my parents being tortured less.

My Dad: Hero or Monster?

So basically, all of my father's relatives and his friends describe him as having sacrificed himself the last couple of years taking care of my Alzheimer's ridden mom. My mom's family describes him as a monster who doesn't care about anything than himself and who has no heart. And, I guess maybe it is sort of both. I think I've been kind of in denial about how abusively he treats my mom because I've felt like there's nothing that I can do about it. I also WANT him to be a good guy because I need him to be; I want my dad to be a hero, not a monster.

I'll have to put up with my father at least until I can get my mom's room set up. But, after that, I have to start standing up for my mom, even if it means losing my relationship with my dad. I can't let her be treated this way, even if it means taking time away from my career. I'm not even able to really concentrate on my job as a research assistant and am behind with work there. I haven't even thought about my own research in months. I just accepted an offer to write an encyclopedia entry on sexual violence. It is a big step for my career. I just hope that I can actually get it done.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Movie: The Forgetting

This is a great documentary lent to me by the Alzheimer's Association. I'm going to take it to Kansas City and try to show it to my father.


Depression and Negative Coping Mechanisms

Well, so I picked up *A* last night, who was drunk and stranded downtown. We snuggled a bit and went for breakfast this morning. Then, he came with me to do some shopping for things for my mom, although I didn't find a lot. I have a lot of work to do, but I am honestly just really depressed right now. I can't believe what's going on. I can't believe that we're just throwing my mom in this place without knowing a lot about it and without Dad doing anything to help her adjust. He told someone there that he wouldn't even come visit her after he moves her in until the following Saturday. Then, he'll only come visit twice a week - Wednesdays and Saturdays - to take her out to dinner. I feel like my parents are getting a divorce, and Mom is being thrown aside now that she can't do anything for Dad anymore. How will I ever be able to trust anyone in a deep way after seeing my father betray my mom in this way?

Friday, April 28, 2006

Hunter Green

God, I wish that some of this could just go well. I spoke with my cousin, Judy, who freaked out at me a bit about what an asshole my father is. I think she's pissed because Dad talked to me about it before other people, and now I'm like a co-consipirator.

Dad calls and he's all well I only have a couple of days left, so I'll survive how hard it is to have my mother there. Grr. Then, I talk to the woman from the facility she's going to, and it turns out that my mom's new room is hunter green. Now, I have nothing wrong with the color; my car is a green color. But, my mom hates green. She hates it. Why would my dad put her in a green room? He hates green too. She in part hates it because she knows he hates it. It probably represents to her that she's being abandoned by my father. And now I bought all of this blue stuff and already washed it, and how will I make it all work? I'm thinking about maybe getting an accent rug or something, but at this point, everything has to be shipped and I don't even know what the room really looks like. It is just depressing that she'll be somewhere that is so not made for her. Everything in the room is this green color - the walls, the carpet, the shower curtain and bedding (which I'll bring her blue instead), but gross. None of the stuff of hers from home that I had planned on bringing over will match - not her favorite painting or her rug or anything.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Depressing: Preparing for the Move

I got a call from my dad this morning. He said he's made arrangements to move my Mom into the home next Wednesday, the day after I arrive to town. And granted, my flight doesn't land until 8pm. I tried to talk to him about getting her room ready, but he didn't want to hear it because he said he has too much paperwork to get through. So, I decided to just go out and get some stuff to make her room nice. I found info about the assisted living facility that my dad choose by looking it up on the internet. I then called them and spoke with someone for ideas. It turns out that while my dad told me that they furnish the rooms, that they actually give you the choice. And he chose to just take whatever they give him instead of looking for stuff that she'll like or taking stuff from the house.

The suitcase is already full just with the bedding, and I realize that I forgot a mattress pad. It won't fit in, but hopefully Dad will get over himself and can go out and get this and maybe a couple of other just basic things. He is so fucking military that now that he's got his plan, which doesn't take at all into account anything emotion or feeling, just tries to get the job done - which is getting her moved.

I'm in shock. I feel like I write that almost every day, but I can't believe that I'm rushing around here trying to find stuff for the room that she's going to live in. I'm worried about how she'll be when she walks in, and I feel like I'm the only one. I tried to get my sister to help me, but I can't even get her to send me a picture of her kids for me to blow up and make something nice for my mom's walls.

Anyway, my idea is to blow up two pics - one of my dog at the beach and the other of my neice and nephew. I'll get them framed really nicely and even if she can't recognize who is in the pictures, they'll look nice on her wall. And maybe sometimes she will remember and smile.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006


I saw this movie last night and really enjoyed it, in part because I love Sylvia Plath. Her poetry is so honest, strong, and powerful.


Dad's About to Decide on a Home

Dad called me and told me that he saw the last of the facilities in the county that are assisted living for people with Alzheimer's. He narrowed it down to two places - one that is six years old and super posh and another that is brand new that my mom seemed to like. I guess he took her today to places with him. She seemed to like one place, but at another place was a little upset. I'm just really scared about what's going to happen. I found the first place on the web, and it looks nice, but kinda hickish and with really old people. My mom is so young; she's only 61 years old. If she gets moved, the place may not let me come and see her while I'm in town because she'll be adjusting. I'm going to go work out in a minute because I just feel really shakey right now. Dad's going to ask Mom which place she liked better, and I guess let her decide tonight.

Conflicting Advice

I called the woman from the local Alzheimer's Association and she gave almost opposite advice of the KC Alzheimer's Assn. The really frustrating thing is that both tended to give me advice and really push on it that doesn't fit the situation. Both pushed that I need to get my mom medicated. Well how the hell am I supposed to do that? I feel like everyone keeps telling me what to do and pushing me to do more and more. Okay, and of course I'm over-simplifying, but I'm just frustrated.

I had lunch with this woman from the rape crisis center who heard my presentation last week. Turns out, she's actually leaving the center because of some of the issues that I brought up in my talk - that there is a sort of fear of authority, a need to do things by consensus which leads to certain things not getting done. Another staff member is leaving as well, so the turnover there is just out of control.

But anyway, she asked about my research, and what the fuck do I have to say? What am I doing today, she asked. Well, I don't know what the fuck I'm doing today. I'm going to survive and take things as they come and maybe do a little work for my research team. I feel like my life is spinning out of control and like I'm moving farther and farther away from the things that I want in life.

I really do appreciate my close friends like S and K who look out for me and check up on me.

Looking for a New Group

Well, I dragged my tuchus last night to the loss/grieving support group, and I have to say that I don't think its the place for me, and I don't want to go back. After everything that's happened this week, I didn't even get to acknowledge it in the group. It is the third week, and we went around and had people who hadn't spoken before say why they're coming to the group. People just went on and on, and the leader didn't have much to say other than a little validation. When we're halfway through, and this couple starts talking about how they didn't get to adopt the girl that they wanted to, I got up to go to the bathroom.

Just outside the room were these two people who normally come to the group. They both have some serious disabilities - are in wheelchairs, don't have full use of their arms, struggle talking, etc. So, the woman stops me and asks me if I'll feed her this cake that she just purchased and if I'll give her my telephone number. I tell her that I'm on my way to the bathroom. She follows me and waits outside the bathroom. When I come out, she asks me to get her sodas. I do this, with money that I find in her bag, and then I say let's go back to her boyfriend who is waiting for us. I say that I'm going to go back into the group and ask if they want me to hold the door open for them. The guy says that the group leader will get mad if they come in late. Me: Well I'll ask her in between people sharing.

So I go inside and the same couple are still talking about this adoption stuff. From inside, everyone in the room can hear the two outside talking. I have to focus on trying to get the leader's attention to get permission for them to come inside, and I'm realizing that I'm not going to get to say anything tonight. I'm tempted to just get up and leave because it is draining to hear everyone's stories, and I'm annoyed that I can't have 5 minutes to just say hey, I won't be here next week because I have to go help put my mom in a home and say goodbye to my grandmother and it'll be hard. And I've been gearing up all day to give myself some space in this group to just cry and be emotional about it.

I really need to find another group. It can't be the only grief group in town. So I looked up some places last night and will make some calls this morning.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Shock: Alzheimer's and Offensive Family Friends

I finally got it together to call back my dad's best friend (who contacted me to tell me that my dad isn't doing so hot) and her answering machine was so freakin offensive. It said something like "We're out at the movies seeing Brokeback Mountain II staring Hillary Clinton and Angelina Jolie."
I almost couldn't leave a message. I didn't say anything on her machine about the message, but I think that I should when she calls.

Anyway, I'm in such shock from everything that's going on that I'm having a hard time getting anything done. I still am struggling to work, and now I sort of have lost my focus also on healing. I feel like I have to just gear up for the trip and am just on survival mode. I notice that I'm not writing as much on the blog, and I think the above is a big part of that. My therapist says that I need to not assume that people don't want to hear about this stuff, to say to my friends that I'll lean on you as much as I need but you can tell me when its getting to be too much so that I leave that decision in your hands, and that I have to not completely close down. I somehow have to keep processing things and talking about them, even if it is online on the blog.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Reaching Out: I Hope My Parents Appreciate Me

So, I got a phone call from my uncle back. My dad hasn't told him anything. He puts his wife on the phone - a woman who the last time that I spoke to her, she made me cry and totally freak out and she tried to talk me out of going to Israel to do my research. But, I talk her into sending out my uncle, so that after Mom is put into a home that Dad can play a bit with his brother. She said just to let her know when its going to happen and two weeks later, she'll put my uncle on a plane to see my dad. She said my uncle doesn't want to go because he thinks it will be depressing, but that it doesn't matter because she's in charge.

And then she starts asking me why I haven't been up to visit them, saying she thinks it is because my dog can't stay there. Well, hello obnoxious woman: I have only seen you all of I think three times in my life. You don't seem to care about me, and you aren't very nice. Not shocking that I don't want to see you, and it has nothing to do with my dog!

Sunday, April 23, 2006

The Toll on the Caregiver

I just got home, and there's a message on the machine from my Dad's best friend concerned about my Dad. I just don't know what I'm supposed to do. I am losing my grandmother and my parents. I guess I need to go to see them pretty quick.

I called my cousin who is in their town and close with my mom, and I feel like she's trying to get someone else to step up. But she'll go over there this week and check on my parents. I left a message for my Dad's brother and for my sister. I tried to even call *A*. I feel so alone in this, and I feel like its all happening so fast, and I have to try to save my parents, but it feels hopeless.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Dad Wants To Put Mom in a Home

My dad called me yesterday, not realizing that I'm at a conference out of town, to tell me that he's thinking about putting my mom in a home because she's really starting to go downhill, and its too much for him. He said that he's really been stressing out and there's nowhere for him to relax and his resting pulse is 120. He doesn't want me to tell my sister, but I called her to let her know that at least mom isn't doing so well and asked her not to tell Dad that I told her. I'm thinking about trying to go for a visit out there soon to help get him the right help and make sure Mom doesn't end up somewhere bad. It is pretty overwhelming and a little devastating. I'm worried that I could lose them both and my grandmother very soon.

My presentation is tomorrow, and I'm not too stressed about it, in part because I don't think that there will be many people there. I'm taking it easy tonight - we're ordering in Thai food and I'll practice my presentation and watch a movie.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

That Makes Me Feel a Little Better

Last new year's, I went up to this retreat center. One of the people that I met there lives in LA, and he's going to pick me up at the hotel and we'll go have dinner tomorrow night.

But, then I go upstairs and work a bit more and the anxiety comes right back. I'll just have a drink or two and do the stress eraser and try to wait this out. Grr. I'm so sick of having to struggle so much with this. This is supposed to be fun, and the stress level isn't that high. I know that I should be gentle with myself, but I'm just having a hard time.

Freaking Out

I was doing fine, but everything that I have to do before I leave just keeps creeping up on me. I am still not ready to go yet. And I have to leave in the morning. I was holding it together trucking through all of the work, and then someone came over to help me and left before she did everything I thought she was going to do and at the same time this guy, N, shows up with his partner and interupts so he can borrow something. My PTSD books were out right in front of them, and I was so pissed that they were so inconsiderate about just showing up to get something from me. So then, I was feeling anxious and diabetic haven't eaten and its late feeling. So, I called *A* and asked him to have dinner with me somewhere on the beach. BUT he just blew me off.

So, then I just feel like my emotions are overwhelming me. I feel overwhelmed with what I have to get done tonight, and I want to just focus on the plan of taking care of myself but nothing is getting done I'm just sitting here freaking out because I feel so anxious.

I just don't feel up to having to pretend like I'm moving forward with my career as planned and put on this happy face when I'm really struggling. I feel really alone out here. I just wanted to go out to dinner for the end of Passover, and I there isn't one person to go with. Everything is just such a struggle. Earlier today, I felt like this could be a real transition into the next stage of healing, but now, I just want to sit on the couch and comfort myself until the anxiety goes away.

Memories and Disappearance of Memories

I went last night to a support group for adults whose parents have Alzheimer's through the Alzheimer's Association. We watched this documentary made about a Jewish queer woman whose mother has Alzheimer's, and then had a very short discussion about it and what we're going through. There were only 3 of us there and the moderator, but that's okay. The mother in the movie sounded so much like my grandmother with Alzheimer's, but in her good stage.

One woman in the group kinda soaked up most of the time, and then the leader was encouraging the guy to participate, so I kinda felt left out. But, afterwards, the woman and I ended up standing outside for two hours talking. She could have stayed even longer, and I had to think for awhile about how to end the conversation and get my tired tuchus home. But, it did feel really good to be able to talk about all of this and have someone who could relate.

One thing I learned is that people with dementia go backwards in age. The leader told me that my mom is probably at a 3-4 year old level. My grandmother has the brain functioning of a baby. Also, memories fade by proximity in time - to the younger a memory, the more likely it is to fade. It made me think a lot about how dementia has affected Tante, Grandma and my mom. Tante had memories first of the Holocaust, and then later just thoughts of her mother. Grandma can recongize her sister, but not her children or grandchildren.

Another thing I learned is that people with Alzheimer's lose the ability to think about things, but are able to feel things and pick up on what others are feeling. So, when someone is anxious or sad around them, they'll feel that way too. But, if you look at them with love, they will feel loved. The big lesson of the evening was to not take it all so seriously. If the person messes up with things or can't remember, that's okay. If my mom talks to me as if I am her mother, well then I should engage her with that instead of trying to correct her.

Tomorrow, I'm going out of town for a conference where I have another big talk. I have to sleep in a hotel for the first time since the murders happened, and I'm a bit worried about how I'll sleep and if I'll be up for all of the schmoozing and whatever. I'm tired from another morning of waking up several times and I have a lot of work to do for my research team and haven't even looked at what I'm supposedly presenting on or anything. So there is lot's to do. I'll likely not have internet access at the hotel, so I won't be posting this weekend. But, I'll be back Sunday night.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006


I had a dream last night that I spaced out and couldn't get to the meeting that (in reality) was scheduled for this morning. It woke me up. Then, every hour later I woke up worried that I had to get to the meeting. I kept telling myself that is okay and that I have plenty of time BUT I just couldn't sleep right after that. Now, I'm super tired.

Last night at the support group thing I started going to last week for people experiencing loss, well the boyfriend of my murdered neighbor showed up. It creeped me out to the point of wanting to leave the group. My neighbors have warned me about this guy. They say that there's something creepy about him and not to trust him. One woman in the group was very sweet though and after the group came over and hugged me. She told me to take care of myself.

Then, after the support group is this class on self-esteem led by the same leader. She says that people experiencing loss often suffer from a drop in self esteem, so I stay for the class. Well, this guy sits next to me and is super flirting with me the whole time in a really obnoxious way. He saw me eating mazto and peanut butter, asked me what it was, and when I told him, he asked, is that something Jewish? I laughed. Anyway, it made me feel so uncomfortable that I left during the break. Ah, my life has too many creepy guys in it!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

My Presentation

Well, a whoping 7 people showed up to my presentation today. I did okay on the presentation, although I worry that some thought it was too theoretical and hence boring. But, a friend of mine who attended asked me to turn it into a short article that he'll encourage to be published in a magazine that he is a reviewer for. So, I guess it wasn't that bad.

Monday, April 17, 2006

A Thousand Acres

Wow, this movie was not what I expected. If you haven't watched it and for some reason you really want to, stop reading. Otherwise, its about incest and emotional abuse, and a girl could use a warning before seeing that. I'm still going to fall asleep fine tonight, but geez, that was a curveball. I think it is insensitve for movies to throw that in without regard for survivors.


A asked if I wanted him to come with me to watch the sunset.
I told him only if we can actually talk.
He told me that silence is golden.

Silence is golden
but not between friends
not by force.

Being silenced is black
especially between friends.

Breaking silence is freedom
especially when feeling

Breaking silence is beautiful
like an ocean sunset
with your best friend.


I managed to drag my tuchus to the beach to watch the sunset. It was so beautiful and calming and magical and just perfect. I can't believe that this happens every day, and I always miss it. I feel quieter now. I came home and lit candles and had a hot shower and just feel great. My heart is still beating hard and fast like always, but I do feel like I've experienced a side of the world that I had forgotten about.

Breaking Silence

There is something magical in people just talking about these taboo silenced topics like rape and alzheimer's. Ani Difranco sings about overcoming rape and poverty in the album I've linked to here "Out of Range". The song is "Letter to a John." Like Tori, Ani bravely sing about rape in a way that is painful to hear, but then very hopeful because they break silence. Here is an image of Ani marching for Women's Rights. There is something comforting to me about looking at these images of powerful women.


Alzheimer's Association

I just came back from meeting with someone from my local chapter of the Alzheimer's Association. The woman gave me some materials to look at and encouraged me to get my dad some support. I don't know if this is true, but she told me that 60% of caregivers die before the person that they're taking care of (although clearly this must be influenced by the age of many caregivers) but anyway, she said that I better get him some support. She said that my mom's pacing around the house is a sign that she is under-stimulated. She also encouraged me to go to a monthly support group that they sponsor for adult children of people with Alzheimer's. I think I'll go, and try to get my dad tapped into the organization where he lives.


Goldie Hawn: BuJew and Christian

Here's an article that my friend, Sanchi, sent me on Goldie Hawn. I didn't realize that she explores Buddhist practice or how much her daughter looks like her.


Sunday, April 16, 2006

Shock: I Hate Men

So, I'm going along okay with my day and am about to walk the dog when I get a call from *A* asking me to go hiking with him at the most beautiful and romantic place in town. I decide to go because I love hiking and I figure he is going to talk to me. BUT, the whole time the only thing that he said to me was the occassional chit chat. Most of the time we were just silent, and I watched as other couples had great conversations on the way up and down the mountain. I couldn't believe that he was just trying to pretend like Friday didn't happen.

And now, I should be going to a potluck Pesach dinner at a friend's house, which I know will be good for me to be socializing and connecting with others, but I really don't want to go. I just feel like sitting here and eating and drinking and crying. For 15 years, I've been in love with *A*, and there's still no communication. Why the hell am I doing this to myself? I must get some distance from him and definitely get over him. But, it is such a hard thing to do even when I'm not overwhelmed by PTSD and whatever else. I just feel like I'm in shock. I can't believe that he treats me like this. Afterwards, my dog was a mess from rolling around in mud, and he didn't offer to help me bathe her nor invite me to have dinner with him. He then follows me back to the area where we both live and then drives past our places, waving. He's in the car probably thinking about how great it is that he isn't telling me where he's going and it is just fucking ridiculous and I'm sick of it!

Am I really going to go schmooze? I feel ridiculous. I have this cake ready to go to the dinner. But how can I face people like this?

Tori Amos: One of Many Role Models

This is a letter that Tori Amos wrote to let people know about RAINN (Rape, Abuse, Incest, National Network) that I found on another blog. I wasn't able to validate it. But, I like the letter and think it can be a resource.

Dear Friends,

For the past two years, I've sung "Me and a Gun" at every concert as a way of healing the place inside myself that has been hurt, enraged, and numbed by violence. For many years, I shut down that place inside myself that needed to rage, cry, ask questions, and basically just express herself. I made a conscious choice when I put "Me and a Gun" on the record not to stay a victim anymore. You see, I was still a victim in my own mind from an experience that had happened a long time ago: I was torturing myself. Passion, joy, and love were not things I felt I could have or deserved anymore. I've been encouraged by wise ones, who taught me how to develop inner tools where I can understand these scared places in my being.

It took me many years to make the decision to deal with this, but a bitter woman was what I was becoming and when I was young I always saw myself as a passionate woman. I would say, "Well, she's dead." And the wise ones said, "It's your choice, Tori, if you want to bring her back to life, you can. She's only been sleeping -- alone, in a very dark corner. It's your choice and there is help out there."

I received a letter from a 13-year-old girl in Paris whose stepfather has been molesting her for years. She wrote: "If I had known a phone number which would have been able to help me, I certainly would have dialed it." So we can't go on being blind and dumb: You don't have to put the message with the help phone number out now.

Maybe you'll never do it, because of different reasons. You won't be to blame for it. But, I want you to never forget that every day someone loses their dignity.

Healing takes courage and we all have courage, even if we have to dig a little to find it!

Love and support,


A Little Help From My Friends

Thanks K for calling me just now. Our conversation made me realize that I am in a pattern with *A* where I want a single relationship to make me whole again, which clearly it can't. The path is to become whole (as much as possible) on my own and to focus on many connections to many people.

I wrote this poem several years ago, which I think displays my pattern:


for protection
in one
to overlook
my open wounds
numbing them
with a band-aid
of happiness
he takes off
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
So the focus of this poem is on how I don't have control over when the band-aid comes off, and that when it does, I am not yet healed. However, what it also illustrates is that I'm looking for this one person to "numb" my pain INSTEAD of just confronting my pain and taking responsibility for healing myself.

Part of my struggle with this is that I don't completely have faith that it is possible to fully heal. I feel like these wounds will always be here (even though I know this is false logic and a part of PTSD).

So anyway, thanks K for being such a good friend. I'm going to try to work on presentation for Tuesday.

How Do I Respond?

I'm really still blown away and hurt by *A*, my supposed best friend. Deciding to be the bigger man, I called him last night. He said that he was renting a movie, and otherwise basically had nothing to say. I said that I was sorry if Friday I was snappish. He didn't say anything. I even asked him, what do you not have anything to say? And he said yes. What am I supposed to do with this?

I'm not even going to see him, I guess, for two weeks because next weekend I'm going to a conference, and during the week, he never feels like doing anything after work and now things are just crap between us, and I'm not sure how I should respond. I feel like just closing up and realizing once again that *A* is not capable of a real relationship, that he refuses to communicate, and that sometimes, he just won't be there for me and won't give me explanations. And, he really doesn't want a real relationship. He wants easy relationships that require little and give much.

Well fuck that. So I'm in a time where I'm kinda needy. I hate that many of my relationships tend to be ruined when I need more then I get AND I recognize that I can be really needy at times. But, *A* is the only support that I where I live. Losing that is a really big set back.

I guess maybe the only thing to do is to try to put whatever aside with him and figure out if there are other people out here that I can connect with in little ways. And I have to let go of missing him and be hurt by him and my dream that he and I could end up together.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

My Advisor Rocks!

I almost forgot - my advisor was so amazing tonight. First of all, she's the only reason that I got invited to this seder - and I could sense that the hosts weren't entirely excited about it. Secondly, she picked me up and took me home, introduced me around to everyone, and would spontaneously start talking about my research and how excited she was about it. I feel so much support from her. I really see her as a mother figure in my life and really grateful for having her in my life.

The Most Amazing Seder Ever

I just came back from seder, and despite that I was nervous about going, it was the most amazing time. It was a lesbian/Jewish feminist seder that has been going on with the same women for the last 21 years, and despite that many of them only see each other on Pesach, there was an energy of family and community. It was very warm and inviting and healing to be there. In the middle, everyone spoke about what we as individuals can do to change the world, and I was inspired by everyone's story and faith in the ability to do positive things in the world. It wasn't just faith either; many of these women HAVE done incredible things and changed the world for the better. And it wasn't easy for them either. It was so powerful to see these role models of happy, radical feminist women. It was also powerful to see how possible it is to build a community, and the power of bringing together people that you relate to and have things in common with AND to see that people build families outside of their biological families. So maybe I can build a family for myself, eventually, and can let go of a lot of the crap that I have to put up with from my own family. Anyway, I feel great even though I ate way too much and *A* hasn't even bothered to try to talk to me. Gotta go snuggle with the dog and get into pajamas.

Bee Season

Bee Season is the essence of a BuJew movie. The message of the movie is: "we can fix what's been broken" = tikkun olam = we live in a world of broken shards, but the shards can be gathered and the shards put together. Everyone is on a quest to connect with the divine and find redemption, to be whole.

Plan for the Day

Okay, so last night sucked. And waking up without *A* sucked. But, I've got to get over it and figure out how to make the most of my day. I really need to work on this presentation that I'm giving on Tuesday. Then, at 4:45pm I'm expected to be at one of my advisors' house for a seder. I really don't know if I am up for going, but it is too late to back out. It was a really big deal to get an invitation. And my my main advisor/mentor is going to be there, which gives me comfort, but she's leaving super early, which means I'll be stuck there on my own. I think I'm mostly nervous because I don't know what to expect, and I feel like I have to put aside all of my anxiety somehow to get through the thing. I certainly can't talk about it there. I'll have to act "normal"/like everything's just hunky dory fabulous. So, I'm just going to do this today. Maybe before I go to the seder, I'll go work out. I've been working out seriously almost every day. My muscles are actually a bit sore. But, it eats away the anxiety, and I get to feel the endorphins. The stresseraser thing isn't working as well because when I'm really upset, I can't get my breath to be relaxed, so it just points out to me that I'm freaking out bascially. There is so much pressure on this week. I have a presentation at school on Tuesday and a completely different one at a conference next Sunday. Part of me doesn't feel up to it. Dr. S says that I have to use positive thinking. Instead of thinking about all of the things that can go wrong, I have to focus on it going well, imagining it going well like a track star would imagine winning a race. I think its a good idea; I'm just having a hard time actually doing it.

Friday, April 14, 2006

*A* is Blowing Me Off!!!

I can't believe it. I just got a call from *A*, and he is blowing me off to go out with a couple of guys from work. I'm fighting off flipping out. I just ate a big thing of McD's fries and humos and had a glass of wine, but I still feel it coming on. I look forward to my Friday nights all week because of my time with *A*, I even talked about it in therapy today....this is my celebration of the evening and it staves of the anxiety. Well what the fuck?!?!?! He didn't even reschedule for tomorrow night, and next week I'm out of town. He seemed worried about me when I didn't answer the phone originally because I was working out, but almost like he's worried how I'll respond and he doesn't even miss our Friday night/Saturday mornings like I do. This is the second time that this has happened, but the last time he ended up coming by anyway. I just feel like this is the one thing in the world that I can count on. BUT, clearly I can't count on it. Now, the one thing I can count on is anxiety. This sucks. I felt so good after working out, and this just took that all away. Its so last minute too, it is really incosiderate of *A* to just blow me off so last minute. I had just worked myself up too to not eating compusively at night or drinking too much but fuck all that. I just want to get through tonight.

From Nighttime to Early Evening: Changing Triggers

Wow, I can't believe I didn't figure this out earlier. Dr. S was asking me about nighttime being a trigger. I pointed out that it starts now pretty early. When the sun goes down, I start to get anxious. I explained to her that I was raped while I was asleep, which is why nighttime has been a trigger for so long. BUT I completely forgot that the murders happened in the early evening and my neighbor's body was found in the early evening the next day. So, of course that is why the early evening is a trigger for me now. Both of those nights, I was just about to relax when these things happened. And so right when I'm about to relax in the early evening is when I get anxiety now, and sleeping is less of an issue. Of course. It seems so obvious. Maybe I should re-evaluate then taking a pill to help me sleep, get off of that, and put more attention on this new trigger of early evening.

Reading List

I just got some books today that I offer as resources to anyone else struggling with PTSD:

Trauma and Recovery by Judith Herman
The Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Sourcebook by Dr. Glenn Schiraldi
Growing Beyond Survival by Elizabeth Vermilyea.

Searching for Celebration

So, I met with my therapist (Dr. S) again today. She suggested that I try to find ways to turn evenings into celebrations, after I explained how basically every night, I get a lot of anxiety. The idea of it made my cry a little bit: Is there a way to do this? It seems impossible. So, this is one of my tasks for the next week. Her idea: Go to the beach and watch the sunset.

I'm still amazed at how much anxiety comes up just around figuring out what to do with myself. I am resistant to doing the things that I need to do or that I should do. I have a hard time giving myself permission to just do superflicious things. It seems like the path to healing is about finding ways to get through the day with minimal anxiety, seeking joy, and somehow managing to get the things done that need to get done (or at least should get done). Am I rambling?

Thank god for Fridays, but here's how struggle is going to take place tonight. Tonight, I can either: 1) go to Hillel for services and free Passover dinner, 2) go to school for group meditation with other students, 3) go to a coffee shop and read "Middlesex", or 4) stay at home and watch a movie/tv. These seem like easy, nice choices. But, I can tell you how each one has negative consequences and don't feel comfortable choosing any of them. Oy. Can I make one of them be a celebration tonight?

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Anxiety: My Father's Voice in My Head

I had to meet with my research team today, and it went well, but I am starting to feel the anxiety when I'm around them too - although much less. There's something about working on trying to make the world a better place that actually makes me feel better, especially when I'm not having to confront all of the crap in the world.

Afterwards, I went to the department office and saw lots of peers. It made me feel anxious, and I just wanted to get the hell out of there. I saw one woman that I used to be friendly with, and I just couldn't even speak to her (granted there's a big story there, but still).

I am having a hard time thinking about plans for the day. This morning, I started feeling anxious trying to figure out a schedule. Would I come back to walk the dog? Should I bring clothes to work out? These shouldn't be big questions, but they make me anxious. There's a talk at school on sexism and war that looks really good, but should I go? Will that make me more anxious or will I be able to enjoy it?

I think that part of the underlaying reason for feeling anxious is the verbal abuse that I endured for years from my father. I think my unconscious hears his disapproving voice and all of the things that could go wrong. I can tell you the possible negative outcomes of even the smallest move. I don't want my brain to work like this anymore.

I have taken big, brave risks in my life in attempt to steer clear of my family and their conservativism. But, really bad things have happened when I've made these risks and gone against my father. When I went to a college he didn't approve of, I got sick. When I moved to Israel, I was raped. When I bought my own place, my neighbor was murdered by the woman I bought the place from. Each time, my father warned me that bad things would happen if I didn't listen to him, and they did. Now, of course, I can see that this doesn't mean that he is right. BUT some part of me deep down has lost my faith to go against my father and make my own choices.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Seder Made My Skin Crawl

Okay, so Passover is my favorite holiday, but being a single gal can make the holiday suck. Luckily, one other friend of mine was dorky enough not to be invited to a seder. He tried to host one actually, but hardly anyone could be there so he cancelled it. I went to Hillel, and I'm grateful that its there, but I don't enjoy being one of the only non-undergraduates, especially with the vibe of the school, which is very snotty rich kids.

The beginning of the seder was nice. There is a new woman rabbi at Hillel, and she started by having us write down questions (which she answered during the four questions) and something that we want to get rid of (our own personal hametz). She burned the pieces of paper with the latter. It was almost meaningful. But it went on FOREVER, and there wasn't much to talk about and the food sucked and I just couldn't wait to get the fuck out of there.

Now it's 10:40 p.m. and I'm at home even though people are probably still at Hillel, and I feel a little panic attack coming on from having been out late and not gone through my normal sleep ritual stuff and I have to get up tomorrow and go to work (for my research team). Grrrr. That's PTSD - ups and downs...everyday...up...then down....

Such a Better Therapist

Wow, I met with the new therapist (Dr. S) again today, and I think she is so much better for me than Dr. W. She was very positive and validating, not just what I'm going through, but also pointing out where I'm doing a good job and helping me see how to keep up with it. She encourages me to see the tools that I have to cope with things instead of critiquing the way that I do things. I actually felt empowered leaving there instead of overwhelmed (like I did after seeing Dr. W). The task at hand is to take care of myself.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

A Better Day

Well, earlier in the day, I was about to write a post about how hard I was having it. And then, things got a whole lot better. Someone came over to help me clean out a closet, and it felt really good to actually accomplish something, even though it was a pretty long and difficult task. I worked out for the second day in a row by doing some stupid exercise video. But, there isn't anywhere else for me to go right now - can't go to school, getting run around from athletic clubs, yadda yadda. But, I'm trying to do the things that I need to do to get better.

I went to a support group for people experiencing loss. It felt really good to be in an environment where we could all just talk about this stuff, and I wasn't the worst one off. Its maybe bad that I need others to be on the low level that I'm at so that I don't feel alone, but it made me feel less alone. I felt so good that I got convinced to stay for the next "class" that the leader was leading - which was a self-esteem class. I feel really connected to my mom tonight and even though there's still anxiety, I just feel better about it. I feel like I'll get better and that makes the anxiety less. I feel less alone and that makes the anxiety less.

I know that it is hard on my friends to have me going through such a tough time, and I appreciate everyone's support. I will get better. I am getting better. (It is just a slow, long, hard ass process.)

Monday, April 10, 2006

Another Assertive Move

So, I met with Dr. W one last time. I think that it went well, and I'm glad that I did it. We talked about how clearly my relationship with her is somewhat mirroring my relationship with my father (how very Freudian). At the end, we talked about school, and she was about to give me advice, but stopped herself. She said she hopes my next therapist doesn't get into the same cycle because she sees my really struggling and well basically admitted that she thinks that she sees the way out of it or that she wants to just tell me how to get out of it. I think the point (or the lesson for me) is that there are no easy answers. It is all about the process. So even though maybe she might have insight onto what is the best step to take right now, I have to have faith in my own ability to make decisions for myself. I don't need someone to tell me what to do, I have to have faith that I can do this. I need to be surrounded by people who think that I can get through this.

The ironic thing about my fees not being paid by the department staff is that I can't get on to drop my classes. I'm kind of stuck because of it, which I think is what I almost need. I don't have any of the reading done, and I don't think I'll even attempt to do any more of it. I'll just miss the class tomorrow and move on. Oy.

It is so good that I'm switching therapists. When I told Dr. W that I need to balance working through my issues with managing my symptoms, she just flat out said that this isn't her style. It is kind of appauling considering that this is the most important thing when working with someone with PTSD. If I would have stayed with her, she would want to go into talking about why and how our relationship mirrors that with my dad, and clearly thinking about stuff with my dad would just make me feel more overwhelmed and make my symptoms worse.

God, I am so pissed off right now. I just called Spectrum to arrange to go work out. I can't work out at school because my fees haven't been paid, so I thought it an opportunity to go join a gym somewhere else and *A* said he'd join with me, so we can get discounts. Well, yesterday, the Spectrum guy told me I could come in and check the place out any time and work out. *A* asked me to do this so he can look into whether or not he can get us a better deal. Well, the guy today tells me that he'll charge me $10 to come work out now because it is their "prime hours". I could hardly even respond because I've been dressed to work out all day and am starting to feel anxiety come on and wanted to go burn it off, and now this asshole is being pissy and petty with me. I should just go and pay it, but it is ridiculous and a rip off and I don't want to be taken advantage of. I wish this didn't have to be so fucking hard.

Letter to My Therapist

I'm switching therapists, and the old one wants to meet today for one last time. I'm preparing some thoughts of what I want to say to her. Here they are:

Dear Dr. W:

I've been meeting with you for about two years, and I am grateful for all of the time and effort that you have put into helping me. However, as you know, I think that it is important for me to stop our sessions.

You have helped me to recognize many areas in life where I need to work on improvement and that it is necessary to allow myself to feel every emotion that arises inside myself. You have also passed on to me an interest in Buddhist practice.

With PTSD, it is vital that I find a therapudic space where I feel safe. I no longer feel that with you. I think that there is significant counter-transference and that it is common for issues to arise in our session that reflect your issues. You often give me advice, which is counter-productive because even if it is good advice, it makes me feel forced and resistant, and sometimes the advice does not take into account important considerations about me. Sessions with you often leave me feeling overwhelmed, disempowered, and helpless. You often say negative things about positive steps that I take (especially when they don't reflect your advice). On numerous occassions, we have debated decisions that I have made, where your opinion was clear. This led me to have anxiety about following through with my decisions.

I know that everything you have said has been with good intentions.

Did Something Assertive, Yea!

So, after numerous emails that weren't responded to, I finally called the staff person in my department responsible for getting my fees paid. She freaked out at me a couple of weeks ago for not doing my time sheets the way she wanted them, so I've been trying to avoid her. I finally called her, and she said that she'd get it taken care of and that they are supposed to get paid and that it is her fault. I feel better now!

Complex PTSD

I have been wondering recently about why my symptoms are so bad. I found this web page that describes Complex PTSD, which I think is what I suffer from.


Sunday, April 09, 2006


Well, so I thought to treat myself and not push myself too hard to work when it was hard, and I took my dog and her boyfriend and his owner over to this park near the ocean to go for a walk and be outside. Half way through to the cliffs, we got stuck in this wet, swampy marsh left over from all the rain that there's been in the last couple of weeks. It was ridiculous: the dogs were wet and muddy, my clothes are full of mud, and my feet were even wet. We turned around and tried to have a sense of humor about it.

The owner though commented though on how this is just typical of how things are for me. She asked me: "Do you need help living your life?" She said things just keep going wrong for me. And they do.

I came home and felt another panic attack coming on. This is so difficult. Thanks to my friend, K, for helping me realize that I need to drop my classes and just take some time to focus on getting better. It sucks though because of bureaucratic errors, my tution hasn't been paid, and I can't even touch my schedule or get in to work out at the gym. I guess I'll go tomorrow and join a gym somewhere else.

The Highs

So, dinner last night was fabulous. I found myself a little anxious, especially when we went bowling. The place was loud, crowded, and dark with flashing lights. Luckily, A wanted to go walk around outside while we waited the hour and a half that it took until it was our turn to get a lane.
's back was bothering him, so he didn't bowl well. I, on the other hand, was doing really well. So the last frame, we joked that if I got 3 strikes in a row that I could beat him. I normally can't get one strike, so I got A to begrudgingly bet me that he'd give me a kiss if I can do it. So, I somehow did!

Right outside the alley, he told me that it was payback time and pecked me on the lips. It was sweet. We came back to my place, and he spent the night. As always, I slept great with him here. And, I feel great this morning. I'm not sure if I should keep this feeling of feeling great and just do my research team's work and then read the novel for my book club OR if I should push myself to do reading due for next Tuesday for one of the classes that I am registered to take. Maybe I should drop the classes and just focus on my research team and getting better and when I seek doing my own research, then do it, but otherwise let go of the pressure. Part of me really wants to be able to take these classes though because academically it would be good for me.

Looking through my email, I feel hurt that a friend in my department is completely blowing me off. She is someone in my cohort who I've been close with for three years now. When she needs me, she'll call me once or twice every day to get feedback and validation. BUT, she is totally not there for me through this hard time. She almost never calls, doesn't even return my phone calls, and today sent me an email that she's going to miss my big talk in a week. I understand why she won't be there - her mom will be in town - but just the way that she wrote it, not inviting me over like she had said she would to meet her mom and have some of her mom's famous cooking. I don't know. I know I'm being ridiculous, but I just feel like she doesn't real care about me and only wants to have me around when she needs me for whatever purposes she needs me for. I think it mostly hurts because I need to talk to her about this decision of whether or not to attempt to take classes.

Back to something positive though, I've been noticing that as I let go of my stubbornness and yekkeness (need to have everything done in the way that I'm accustomed), my relationship with A is stronger and stronger. Now that some of the pressure and time crunch is off with school work and finances, I see that I kind of have this pattern of needing things to be done my way, needing people to fit into my life as it is AS OPPOSED to being able to see what might work best for a relationship. For example, I bought a raffle ticket to win a new home. I daydream with A that if I win, that we'll move in there together. When he first moved to town, we tried living in my place together, which is so clearly too small for 2 people. I was stubborn about not being willing to move because this is the first place that I've ever owned, I have a good deal here (with interest rates and prices having gone up a lot), and wanting some sort of serious commitment before taking a big step like even considering selling to move. And, we couldn't live together here, and he moved out. BUT when I let go of however I felt about moving, all of a sudden, now it is theoretically possible that we could live together, and I really think that it could work. If we ever have a relationship again and we get to the point of wanting to live together, I'll have to move. Thinking from the point of the relationship instead of just myself is suprisingly a new thing for me. I think its something that I could use encouragement on from my friends. I think that I have the tendency to look for people to validate me in my own needs, to not have to think about relationship needs on any plane in any way equal to my own. I think this has been hard for me because in general, I just don't get my needs met. Okay, I could keep rambling on, but I think that it'll be useful now to do my research team's work, make a plan for the day, and see what I can get done. It is such a beautiful day outside today; I would love to just be outside and just be.

Saturday, April 08, 2006


I went to go workout at school, and wow it is amazing how much better I feel. Exercising aerobically really eats up the anxiety. I should really go everyday and consider joining a gym somewhere other than school - where I often have to wait for equipment and there are tons of anorexic undergrads.

Sign My Guest Book

My friend Sanchi (thanks) suggests that I request that those who are reading this blog to sign the guest book. You don't have to use your real names.

I was just thinking - the guest list is a little inconspicuous - if you want people to sign it perhaps you could make a small comment in your next post just to bring it to their attention. I too would be interested in who all is reading my life story.
Sincerely, S.



Wow, a Jewish grad student friend of mine (M) has been trying to get ahold of me to invite me over to a second night seder. It turns out that the first night seder that I had originally got invited to was cancelled because someone else is hosting one (S) - someone who I happen to be pretty friendly with but who didn't bother to invite me. So, even though I put all this effort into organizing a Jewish community for myself including organizing a havurah which S was a member of - I've been dissed and now am stuck at Hillel for first night seder when most of my friends will be at a really nice home seder.

I need to figure out what to do with my plans for this quarter. I have to decide if I'm up for taking these two classes that I'm registered for or drop them immediately. BUT, I'm totally stuck in this decision. I want to try to take them, but there's the pressure of having to keep up, which I'm just not capable of doing right now. The more pressure on me to work, the less that I can get done. It is just the way that it is right now, I guess. But, I know that isolating myself and ignoring it doesn't help either. I'm not sure what to do. I'm tempted to call classmates for advice, but I'm worried about them judging me and gossiping about me to others.

Today, I feel like it is a struggle just to be outside or do anything other than sit on the couch and cry and watch tv and snuggle with my dog. I'm meeting my best friend to go out tonight for his birthday and have to pull myself together before then.

Roller coaster

It is said that PTSD is like rollercoaster, and I feel it. I woke up this morning feeling wonderful and happy with my best friend and my dog to snuggle with. Then, we walked to my friend's place so he could change his clothes, and I had to wait outside. I started feeling my blood sugar drop, and my tuchus get cold on the rock I was sitting on. I thought I'd catch up on some calls, but the only person that I got ahold of was my grandmother's caretaker. She told me that my grandmother is doing about the same (not well), that dying of Alzheimer's is a terrible thing, saddness grief how's my mother oy. Anyway, I started feeling crappy after this. I called my friend to ask him again if I could sit inside his place to check my email instead of be outside, but he didn't answer his phone. I felt myself break apart, and I've felt this way for the rest of the day. It sucks, I need to work. I realize that I didn't get school work done at all yesterday with the exception of the couple of pages that I read while I worked out. I have like 100 pages left to go for Tuesday. And I have to decide what I'm doing with these classes. If Grandma would just die already, I could plan to take the time off and be with my family and whatever. But, things don't work out so well planned. I don't know if I should try to just pick myself up again or try and get work done. I'm so sick of this fucking PTSD. I want it to go away. I'm tempted to go back to the psychiatrist and ask for some sort of pill to take away this roller coaster, but I know that, I really just have to let myself feel all of this, just experience, and keep moving forward.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Breaking Silence: Hollywood Survivors Coming Forward

I think that survivors such as Terri Hatchet coming forward are going to have a very big impact. Bravo!



I have been treating myself on Friday afternoons to a massage. My back gives me so many problems that first I go to the chiropractor, whose office is just across the street, and then this woman comes to my place and gives me a massage. She is a MFT student who gives me a discount. Today's session was really powerful. We identified that the pain in my back centers around the back of my heart. It is like this area in my back is trying to protect my heart, protect me against vulnerabilities, to be stiff so that the rest of the body can relax. I'm sure this isn't make sense, but as I tried to relax in that area, the rest of my body stiffened up. As I would relax the rest of my body, that area in my back behind my heart would stiffen up. It was frustrating to be receiving a massage but to have my body be fighting relaxing. I have this strong defense up, my body is in terror mode, and just doesn't feel safe. I could mentally picture that I'm safe and this is a relaxing experience, but my body refused to allow it - it fought these things. The therapist told me to "have a conversation with my heart." It sounded silly when she said it, but when I thought about it, I really felt it. The therapist told me to ask my heart how it is doing. When I did, I sensed it responded with an angry yell that it is broken and tired. I was getting this massage and crying a bit and just feeling how unsafe I feel deep down, how there is this battle going on inside of me between a part that wants desperately to heal and another part that doesn't feel safe healing because my heart will just be broken again as crappy things will inevitably continue happening. I'm going to just stay in tonight and put together this new day planner that I got - a Franklin Covey day planner that is also a purse, very cool. It was a treat to myself. Tonight, I will enjoy it, watch Queer as Folk from Netflix, and relax knowing that in a couple of hours, I will get an IM from my best friend asking me to pick up his drunk tuchus and we'll play with my dog and snuggle and I'll sleep fabulously well and he'll sleep like crap. BUT, tomorrow, we'll get breakfast. All the while, I'll get to feel safe and taken care of and connected/not alone. Shabbat shalom.


Thursday, April 06, 2006


My headache went from bad to worse. The pain was so bad that I passed out a couple of times on the couch, only to wake up to Karma crying at me, apparently a bit concerned. Thank god I have a chiropractor appointment tomorrow, but the headaches are worse now that I've been seeing him. Maybe I need to find someone new even though it probably won't be covered through insurance.

My first night seder plans fell through and now apparently, I have no where to be. I guess that I'll go the Hillel, but it is a bit depressing.

I spoke with one of my professors today about my handicap regarding working, and I'm regretting it a bit. She just blabbed on for a couple of minutes about shit she's been through and then said she had to go to another meeting. I bet she'll tell people too. I've had a long ass day, with the exception of a productive meeting with my research team and a nice talk with my advisor. My advisor is the one that suggested that I fess up with the profs of the classes I'm taking. She said that she would do it for me, so I said I'd do it myself. I'm really hating this. Maybe I shouldn't bother taking these classes. I hope I sleep okay tonight. Its not even 10pm, and I am ready for sleep right now!

Big Decisions and a Headache

Yesterday, I met with my advisor, finally, who wanted an update of my progress with my MA. I had been blowing off meeting with her since the shooting because I didn't want to admit to her that I wasn't get work done. Well, yesterday, I finally had to admit it. I was worried about how she would respond and was prepared to try to talk up how much I would get done this quarter.

But, she was fabulous. She told me not to worry, that trying to push through getting work done isn't working and I shouldn't do it anymore. She told me that I don't have anything to prove to her, that she's already impressed with me as a sociologist, and the important thing is to get better. She said that I have a number of options of how to proceed, and that basically whatever I want is fine. She said that I'm on a good path and that this stuff is just details and to focus on the big picture.

I was embarrassed when I started crying a bit in her office. I could feel the tears welling up. I was so sure that she would say that I have to get my work done and to hurry and catch up. She was so supportive and just said all the right things, that I could feel the tears wanting to come out. I tried to keep them in, I mean, I want my advisor to see my as a professional, but they came out.

In the midst, my advisor's other research assistant and my ex twice knocked on the door and came into to try to talk with my advisor. What a scene the whole thing was! My advisor is a very busy woman, so she only had 45 minutes to meet with me, even with blowing off these other two people. Afterwards, I went to a networking meeting for graduate students interested in the study of race. There was free lunch and I had to be on campus, but I should have skipped it. I have too much on my mind. Then, I went to my office to give students from last quarter their papers back. Then, I had class.

Who do I end up sitting next to again but my ex. The class is about people finalizing a written project that they are working on. I didn't realize that we'll have to have something finished by the end of the quarter. Maybe I should drop the class, even though it seems like a good environment and it is a class that I should take. I don't know.

I went from there to work out. It was ridiculously crowded with undergrads, and there is a 20 minute time limit on the machines, which when it is crowded, I feel the need to follow this rule. Then, I ran home, showered, ate, and got to the local hospital where I was required to go for human relations training for the rape crisis center, where I theoretically volunteer, but am on a leave. I really didn't want to go there, burnt the hell out of my tounge to finish eating to get there in time, and had to take 1/2 a xanax to be able to sit through the 2 hour panel.

I felt so anxious and crappy when I got home that I had a glass of wine and ate until I was in a food coma. Then, I passed out on the couch at like 10pm. I slept like hell last night, having been sleeping already on the couch, didn't bother going through my normal routine and having worn the hell out of my body. Now, I have a migrane coming on and my stomach is super upset. I have an appointment in 40 minutes with this new therapist.

I feel like I have all of these really big, important decisions to make, and they're really overwhelming me. Should I commit to this new therapist today or follow recommendations of others instead of the person who seemed interesting to me online? What should I say to my advisor? What should I do with myself this quarter?

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

First Day of School

Today was the first day that I've had a class to go to (that I'm taking) since December or maybe even November. Even though it is a class that I've sort of been looking forward to taking, I dreaded going. Graduate classes can be pretty intense, and this one is somewhat focused around discussing research that we're working on OR in my case, research that I have hardly done anything with for the last couple of months. It looks like I'm going to be one of the last people in my cohort already to get my MA IF I manage to catch up on my schedule. I'm meeting with my advisor tomorrow, which I'm pretty nervous about. What am I supposed to tell her? Will she look down on me for having personal problems? I don't want to let her down.

I had a hard time sitting through my class today. I just felt anxious and noticed myself figeting, which is especially bad with this professor because she is always a little insecurely watching all of her students' reactions. A classmate, who was my good friend before blew me off the night of the shooting, who was very close with our classmate who died last week, was also in the class. He was really not looking good, and the professor even pointed it out, asking him if he wanted to leave. He looked like he was having pot withdrawl symptoms, and it was sad to watch. I told him that I'll take him out for sushi because I'm worried about him, but honestly he doesn't seem like someone who is going to be a real friend.

A couple of my classmates were talking me into taking the class, and one walked me off campus to pick up the reader for the class. It took us a good 15-20 minutes to walk there IN THE RAIN. Then we waited for 10 minutes or so in line IN THE RAIN. Then, when it was my turn, the cashier told me that they won't have the reader ready until THURSDAY. I so don't want to take this class. I know that it would be good for me professionally if I can do it BUT I just don't know if I'm up for it. I don't want to have to talk about my research that much, especially with that many people when one of them is my archnemesis.

Yeah, I bet you didn't think I would have one of those but I do. She is in my cohort, and we used to be friendly. But then, two summers ago, she convinced me to go with her to Vegas and stay with her friend. It was a nightmare. The place was full of high school boys who were drinking and smoking pot. The place hadn't been cleaned in at least a year. I didn't feel safe sleeping there. There weren't even sheets to sleep on.

And then, one night we went out with some of her friends to a bar. I think that someone slipped something in my drink. All I know is that one minute I was fine; the next, I woke up many hours later on a couch back at her friend's house with some wierd shirt on, and I threw up for like 12 hours straight. She ended up leaving me there alone, without my purse, without my car, and telling the only other person in town that I knew that I was fine and not to try to see me. Anyway, I hate that bitch.

And so, she is in this class where I'm supposed to be opening myself up in some sort of vulnerable way PLUS it isn't like the rest of the grad students in my department aren't pretty judgmental and gossipy, so I just don't want to be there.

BUT on the other hand, the topic really interests me, and the class is an opportunity to get some real work done on my research and get feedback from the chair of the department - who openly said that she could get our stuff published that we write for the class.

I hate that I don't have anyone to talk to about this. My old therapist is out of town and I don't even know if I want to see her anymore. My friend in the department just got back into town and isn't feeling well. I am still playing phone tag with new therapists just trying to figure out who I'll go to. So, I am kind of on my own to figure this out. Oy.

The highlight of my day though was walking into the Women's Center on campus where I'm giving a talk later this quarter on my research (on the States, not the stuff on Israel). Well, they all looked at me when I came in like I was some famous person. And the director of the center was there and showed me that in her hands she had a flier with a big ass picture of me. She showed it to me for approval. It was very strange. I backed away slowly until I was outside and nameless once more. (Well, although walking off campus, I was in an area with a lot of undergrads and saw several of my ex-students. There is something really re-affirming knowing that I've had some sort of influence on so many young people.)

Monday, April 03, 2006

I Cannot Face My Pain in the Same Familiar Way Again

Okay, so I didn't get any work done in the afternoon, but I'm feeling great. It is like some of my pain just peeled away today. I connected with some of my classmates, and even though they're in shock about the unexpected death of our classmate, it made me feel better to have other people going through something similar to me.

I was reading in the local newspaper the other day about a local man who served in the military in Iraq and has PTSD, but copes with it by surfing. He said it is a no muss, no fuss way of keeping himself from being isolated from others.

It made me think about how I can try to break my isolation. So, when I went to workout, I chatted a bit with this guy from my meditation club at school. He's a Persian electrical engineering student, who I thought was creepily hitting on me and has wierded me out in the past. Tonight, he told me that he's queer. So instead of a creepy guy hitting on me, he's just a sweet queer guy looking for a pal. I appreciated that. And when I came home and showered, I appreciated the shower more than I have in so long. It just felt great.

I also got onto and started a book club. I had wanted to do this for a long time, but didn't think that I knew people to do it with. I just felt like I had no control over it. So, today, I just went through a bunch of my friends and came up with a list of over 10 to invite. If 5 show up, I'll be happy. And I went out to an independent bookstore and bought the book, even though its raining outside. I saw that there wasn't anything on TV, and I don't have anything from Netflix, and so I thought about what I could do to entertain myself. It felt great. I got a mint infused soy tea latte, sat down in the cumfy chair, and then the Indigo Girl's Closer to Fine song played as I sat and read and sipped my tea. It was perfect.

I'm on this roller coaster of ups and downs, but I am quite appreciative of the ups. And I realize that connecting with others and changing patterns is key to moving past the PTSD.


Well, I actually got some work done this morning - it was for my research team and not on my own project, but its a start. Now it's 1:00pm, and I've got time to work on my own stuff. I hope I can do just a little bit. I'll go work out afterwards to let go of some of the anxiety that it will build up. Even writing about doing that work makes me space out. Oy.

I am waiting to hear about a referall to a new therapist. I met with a social worker from my insurance last Thursday who said that he would call or email me about a referral but I haven't heard from him. And some friends from Israel just contacted me to use my American credit card, and I understand why they need it, but it makes me feel used to have them use me just for this when I haven't really heard much from them, and they almost entirely blew me off last summer when I was there. I am having a hard time trusting people. Writing this made me realize that I need to contact a couple of people from my department - who I just did - to give my condolences and just be supportive. I'm glad that I finally got around to doing this, for days I've thought about it, but not felt up for it. It is hard to un-isolate myself. It feels dangerous and vulnerable.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Best Laid Plans

So, I woke up today a bit depressed. I feel despair all around me, and I don't see an escape route. I thought about maybe going to see my cousins up North, but decided to stay here because I really need to get some work done for my research team/my research assistant job. I never got any of that done. Instead, I did laundry, worked out, walked my dog, went to the grocery store. The day just slipped away from me. I feel depressed and anxious. I bought a bottle of Pope Valley Merlot, which is really nice and was only $6 and am just going to stay home and drink it and watch Orlando off of Netflix and The West Wing on TV. I invited my best friend to come over and join me, but he said he likes to be alone on Sunday and just wants to hang out at home. I feel lonely. There was an article in the paper today about PTSD and about how the worst thing is to get isolated. I have definitely isolated myself. I think that my therapist actually encouraged this with stories of "The Rain Maker" (in Africa, a guy who just sits in his tent until the rain comes - like I should just sit here and wait until the healing happens) and by her reinforcing that I don't have anyone here other than A (my best friend), which really isn't true. Getting through this is going to be such a long and painful process. I wish that there was some magic pill to make it all go away, so that I could just go about living a normal, happy life.

Image from Artist Camelia Toma

I like this image. The woman is vulnerable and open. She is surrounded in light and is light herself, yet her face seems to be turning away, perhaps from fear or shame. I also like the bold use of color.


Saturday, April 01, 2006

Angels in America

I told my best friend how my sister told me that she thinks that we both are likely to get Alzheimer's and better do whatever we can to try to prevent it. He responded by explaining how his grandfather (that I didn't know) also had Alzheimer's, so he (my best friend) and I can grow old together, forgetting each other. It was just a quick comment to make me not be sad, but it hit at something really deep for me.

One of my biggest fears is that I'll end up dying alone, tortured by dementia and suffering. Tonight, I watched the first half of Angels in America. One of the characters has to do just this. Another character, a Jewish queer, runs away from this character, runs away from death. I felt like I was identifying with both characters. By not living in my hometown, am I trying to run away from death? I don't have to see my mom or my grandmother. I am not there as their minds slowly break down. But, this lonely process of death seems to loom over me. It waits for me. I sit in my home, and I'm slowly dying too.

I really need to let go of all of this and figure out again what it will mean to live. One of the characters from the film has a mental break and escapes into a world that she creates. I feel like maybe I'm struggling with something similar. I think that my therapist had almost encouraged this by criticising the steps that I'm taking outside the world and trying to give me advice (that really didn't fit me). But, I can't get stuck in blaming her. I have to find my way off of her (metaphorical) couch and my couch. I have to find a way back on my feet.

I went to yoga today for one of the first times in a really long time (with the exception of a free class two weeks ago), and it felt really good, but it was also really hard. When I would really relax into a pose, I could feel something deep within me shake. I still have this terror shaking deep inside of me. I found myself trying to cover it up a bit because of embarassment of what others in the class would think. This wasn't the usual, well I've pushed myself too hard sort of shake. I noticed it most in this pose called frog pose, where you sort of stick your tuchus up in the air and bend over. There is something very sexual and vulnerable about it. It just made me shake in terror. This terror, I think, is the core of my PTSD. I feel it slowly leave sometimes when I get a massage or really relax, in these sort of electrical currents that go out of my legs.

I am feeling very overwhelmed, but also very hopeful. I think that Alex may end up spending his life with me. We may end up happy. I may be able to do some really amazing work. My home may be just what I need. I may end up with good relationships with my family. I have some wonderful friends. I can somehow get through this (even though just writing this statemetn is difficult).

My Classmate is Missing, Presumed Drowned

So, A ended up calling me to pick him up last night. Same routine. Before we fell asleep, I told him (and I'm not sure if he quite remembers because he was half drunk and asleep) but that I know that I want to be with him, and that I know that he has stuff to figure out for himself, but that I'll wait for him.

Today, we had breakfast on the harbor and futzed around. I just got home and read my email. It seems that one of my classmates went home for Spring Break, got drunk, and fell into the ocean. He's missing now, but the search for him has been called off. I'm in a bit of shock.

I didn't know the guy THAT well, but we have a lot of mutual friends, and I've hung out with him a couple of times. He always seemed like a good guy, and he was very, very young - - just 22, the paper said, just out of undergrad, into grad school, with a great career ahead of him. It is very tragic.

It also makes me think about a re-occuring thought that I've had, which is how my department would respond if I got killed while in Israel. Most of my department might be described as anti-Israel, some quite strongly so. I know it is a morbid thought. We're such a big department, and everyone is competitive and gossipy. It makes me wonder. My poor classmate. I can't believe that this happened.