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.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Underlying Anxiety

Okay, I actually have been sleeping fine, but I relate to this picture of anxiety. I find myself with running throughts in my head like this. So, why else did I pick this picture? I've been reflecting on what happened yesterday in group.

This has been a majorly difficult year for me, and the last thing that I need is for people to be picking on me. I am definitely commited to working on myself and improving myself, but I don't think that I'm in a good place to be making drastic changing, which it seemed to me the group yesterday was advocating.

So then last night, I'm IMing my friend who is getting married next month, and I ask him what the attire is. He tells me that I should wear a cocktail dress. Then he starts to give me a hard time for not shaving my legs (a feminist political thing that I've done, or not done, since high school).

Well I don't have any cocktail dresses anymore. I do have this dress that I wore in KC and left there, but nothing really fits me anyway so well since I've lost a bunch of weight in the last year or so (gone down 2 sizes). And I never get dressed up anymore at all, especially for something not related to my professional life. And finding a way to pull off a dress with the hair on my legs quite frankly is difficult sometimes - because I don't want it to be obvious at the wedding.

So, I ran over to Macy's and tried on all of these traditonal, age appropriate looking dresses and didn't look so good in any of them, until I found this one (see picture). It looks so good on me because it highlights my best feature (yeah just guess) but downplays my German belly (yeah a lot of Germans have bellys). The guy from the shoe department looked at it and helped me pick out this swanky, elegant pair of knee high black boots to wear with it.

But, today, when I think about it - maybe this dress is too risque? Maybe it isn't appropriate for a wedding? I don't know. I asked my sister about it (rare for me to ask her for advice). And maybe I need to go return it, but it felt so good to look in the mirror and have a sexy image look back at me.

Also, I realize that part of why I think that excites me so much is that I'm going to the wedding with *A*, and he doesn't notice me physcially anymore at all. I mean, he never noticed things ever really - in high school he wouldn't notice if I was wearing a beautiful formal dress or sweats or if I gained or lost weight. Well, I know he doesn't notice this now either, but it excited me to feel noticable, like there is something here worth noticing. I know it is a problem to think like this. I need to just find the self-confidence within myself.

So what do you think: Should I return the dress?

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Monday, October 30, 2006

Perfectionism and the Pull to Succeed: Why Balance is Such a Struggle

This afternoon, I went to the third session of the grad student support group at the counseling center at school. I did most of the talking today, which I try to keep myself from doing, but everyone else is so quiet. Anyway, the topic became my struggle to find balance in my life and having to deal with pressure from my advisor and others in the department.

It actually kind of annoyed me that everyone all of a sudden claimed that they have all of this balance. But then when I pushed them on it, turns out that they work all the time, round the clock. One guy says to me, well I take breaks playing video games, as IF that is balance.

Here's where I got caught up on the way that I'm thinking about all of this: So, besides a weekend in San Francisco to visit a couple of friends coming in from Indiana for a weekend (where I'll be working on my thesis part of the time) AND going to a wedding the next weekend in Denver with *A*, there is no time for a proper vacation, not any time soon. And, I (and my friend Kathy!) desperately need some real time (like a couple of days at least) to just relax and not have to even think about my research or my job or my family. But, as things are now, it just isn't going to happen.

And, in order to get through all of my data, which my advisor wants me to do, will take me 2 weeks straight of work. That means I won't meet the deadline of getting a draft done of my thesis before I go to KC Dec. 11.

I'm under all of this pressure to work harder, to do things well, to present at more places, to put in more hours, to get things done faster...pressure from my advisor, pressure from my research team, pressure from other grad students. I know all of this pressure and stress has a BIG impact on my migraines and my other health problems. Basically, it makes me sick.

So what am I supposed to do? Do I stay on this path where I'm expected to work 80 hours/week? Is this path why I'm not in a relationship or any where near ready to have kids? Balancing everything seems impossible. Will I ever have the opportunity to go back to Israel and still be an academic? How much is my perfectionism a reflection of my drive to become someone not my parents?

Honestly, maybe I wonder if this group was good for me; it made me think a lot about things, but it also made me question things that I don't want to be questioning. I feel like they were kind of judgemental and didn't even really get to hear all of the complexities of my story - that I work so hard to keep the option open of getting at job at a university and because I really care passionatlely about the topics and the people that participate in my studies. I don't think that they really understood that my work really makes a difference and that it is different than just working in the corporate world. I don't know. I'm going to try to do some work tonight on my thesis because I spent all day working on my advisor's research/my job.

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Carnival Against Child Abuse

The October edition of the carnival against child abuse is up. You can find some interesting pieces there including my post "The Quest."


Sunday, October 29, 2006

Coming Out of the Closet: Worried About My Ex-Girlfriend

Okay, so many of you don't know this about me, but I'm bi-sexual. I've only dated one woman, J, and this was a couple of years ago, although we're still friends and there's still very much a connection between us. She is also bi and is seriously dating some guy.

Anyway, she is in Oaxaca doing research. Yesterday, I got an email from a professor in my department titled "Massacre in Oaxaca." It made me very nervous to say the least, so I called J's best friend to find out if everything's okay with J. And, it is. For now. But, things could very quickly erupt there, and I fear she's really in danger.

But, writing to J over email and thinking about something happening to her, I realize how much I really care for her. I wrote her this email about how much living through violent conflict has effected me, many friends, my just made me feel more passionate about how much I don't want anything to happen to her. Of course, I don't feel that I have the right to say too much because in the end, she's with this guy, and I could have stepped in and fought for her at any time, but I choose to let her work things out with him and be with him because she seems happy.

On a side note, I had dinner with *A* last night and then hung out at my neighbors' place until way too late. I really like them and want to become more friendly with them, although I think that I seriously overstayed my welcome. (I didn't realize how late it was!) We talked about the murder though, and that really elevated my anxiety level. Last night, I had a nightmare that I left the front door unlocked, and someone came inside to hurt me.

Anyway, I hope that the purple parrot and whichever other of my friends who read this but don't know that I'm bisexual don't think any differently about me. The purple parrot might find it especially interesting that the woman in her office (P) made uber homophobic remarks to me, which is why I felt wierd about explaining that I was going to the gay bar in Jerusalem because I felt comfortable there, not just stam, even though I know I could have just told you and you wouldn't have thought any differently about me.

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Saturday, October 28, 2006

Shabbat Shalom

I keep trying to write comments on different people's blogs, but for some reason, they seem to disappear after I submit them.

Thanks to Sanchi for sending my Mom a package. I sent around Jewish New Year cards last month, sharing my mom's address and inviting sending her cards. She gets something in the mail now several times a week, and puts up the cards in her room. Her best friend at the facility is VERY jealous of Mom, and I think it makes Mom feel special. At the very least, it gives her a short activity.

I went on a second date last night with this guy who isn't Jewish. I normally don't date guys who aren't Jewish OR who are this nerdy, but I'm trying to be open. I really didn't want to be there at first, especially after I noticed this other guy that I went out with a couple of times sitting in the restaurant on a date with another woman. But, I made the best out of it and had a pretty good time. We had sushi for dinner (which my date clearly didn't know how to eat - he kept eating the shell of the edamame until I pointed out that he should just eat the pods probably).

Then, we went for a moonlit walk on the beach. He held me for awhile and then we very sweetly kissed. It was nice to be with someone so sweet and gentle and who appreciated me. I'm not quite sure what to make of this whole thing, but I'm going to keep taking it slow and see him again, but not too often. The guy's looking for a new house though, and he did make this comment after the beach kiss about how he wants the house to be flexible enough if he has other uses for it later (like a wife and kids) and asked me what a woman would want in a house. I told him that different women like different things and changed the conversation to one about the housing market in town.

Today, I am stuck inside for the most part because yesterday my advisor assigned me to "be with your data for the weekend." I desperately want to go out to breakfast with *A*, but I'm not going to call him. I'm seriously having a hard time concentrating though.

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Thursday, October 26, 2006

A Good Day

This morning, I caught up with work. Then, I went to workout and have lunch with *A* (his idea). He's actually getting bored/annoyed with some of his other friends and NOT just me. And, then I went to a coffee shop and worked up my methods section for my thesis based on notes that I've been compiling. It still needs work, but my thesis is starting to come along.

Tonight, I have the option of going to some grad event at school, or I could stay home and work. Tomorrow night (when *A* actually wants to do something with me), I've got a second date. I don't have plans for Saturday, but I don't mind so much because my Sunday is pretty full.

I hope that you enjoy yesterday's post, which is a poem I wrote a few years ago.

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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Traveling Home

From the window of an air conditioned, cushy bus
I see Santa Barbara beaches off of flower and palm tree lined streets
Kites, surgers, sea gulls, life guards, foggy far off islands
Green mountains, tree tile covered buildings on my right
- This is my home -
But my mind leads my body to Jerusalem
Through fear and insomnia
To search for answers amongst ancient stones
Anguished rides, sweat, tears, bruises, arguments between passengers
In my journey back home.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Shock and Denial: Still Not Giving Myself Permission to Have a Hard Time

Yesterday, in the support group, someone said, "It seems like you're having a hard week." I replied, "No, this week isn't too bad." I realize now that I've been kind of in denial about it. It is like I've decided that things are going to get better and that I'll get a lot done. But, it isn't just for me to decide. Things are rough now; they just are - the call with my aunt, the conference with Dad about Namenda for Mom, the call with Mom's cousin pushing me to take on Dad, the way that *A* is treating me and the pressure from my advisor - yeah, this has been a rough week. And that's okay, right? I mean, it isn't what I want, but it is okay. I have to be more gentle with myself and re-evaluate my expectations.

Here's what I'm struggling with though - how to balance my limitations with moving forward with work and my thesis, with pushing myself to connect with others and doing things that I enjoy and having down time, with taking care of things for Mom and Grandma and taking care of myself, with opening myself up again to new people and protecting myself from getting hurt again, with asking for help from others without pushing others away with how rough things are and how needy I am.

I have been taking it pretty easy today trying to get over the migraine. I'm paying close attention to what I'm eating. I went to see my acupunturist. I'm making the poor dog wait to go for her walk until the sun goes down (well hopefully, she'll wait) (bright light = bad for migraine). I'm making plans to go visit friends coming up North even though it'll mean taking a weekend off right before I take another weekend off to go a wedding. I realize now too that my belief that my peers are working around the clock is false; everyone's got limitations.

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Monday, October 23, 2006

Like Clockwork: Another Migraine

Well, two weeks must have passed because here is another migraine. I think its caused by hormones (today is the first day of that time of the month) and that I've been slowly bringing back in triggering foods like red wine, avacado, nuts, and cheese. I'm not sure if it had any effect but I also ate foods yesterday that were salty and also figs. One of the clearest effects: stress.

I called my aunt today who is leaving Kansas City for a couple of weeks until April. She said that she'll meet with hospice tomorrow and that the facility has Grandma's living will (but I don't know about the DNR. She said that she hopes Grandma dies peacefully in her sleep. I said something about how she'll likely next lose her ability to swallow, but its as if my aunt can't come to terms with this. I still fear that my aunt will have Grandma put on a feeding tube. My aunt also said that she's about done moving into Grandma's house and getting rid of Grandma's things (except there'll be some garage sale, yadayda). And she made some comment about how much money has been made from selling Grandma's things as if I could care at all about that.

I did go to the second meeting of the graduate student support group on my campus. I'm glad that I went but I feel somewhat like the odd ball out in that I seem to be having a much harder time than the others - some came because they're having some disagreements with their advisor or need to be more social with other - but no one is dealing with the kind of stuff I'm dealing with. Still, I think its a good thing for me to do. I'm just trying to be conscious of not hogging too much time and letting the group talk about whatever they want.

I took an Imitrex, which seems to be helping, although I have already had some mild chest pain. I guess I'm not working on my thesis today and just taking the night off.

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Sunday, October 22, 2006

The Difficulty of Breaking Routines

I'm having a hard time getting myself moving today, which I guess isn't surprising since it is Sunday. I just have so much work to do today, that I'm trying to do a couple of hours of work for my job, then do some work for my thesis, go to a lecture on campus, then to my writing group. I'm starting to gain perspective that this is a lot to expect of myself on a Sunday.

At the same time, when I think about what I'd rather be doing, I can't stop thinking that I'd like to go out for breakfast with *A*. We haven't done that since he moved out, but it used to be our weekend ritual, and I just really miss it.

I kept thinking about wanting to call him when I walked my dog this morning, but I finally decided to call Mom instead. She was in the dining room waiting for lunch (even though it was before 11:30). She sounded pretty good today:

Mom: Where are you?

Me: In California.

Mom: You go to school there, right?

Me: Yes (proud that she remembered/this is rare).

Mom: How are your classes? [I haven't taken a class for a year.]

Me: Fine. (I start to explain that I'll finish my thesis soon and get my master's.)

Mom seems to not be following what I'm saying and tells me that she'll get food soon so she doesn't want to talk. I tell her goodbye and hear her hand the phone over to another resident.

Resident (angry): That's not my phone. You have to give it to the other people.

Mom (trying to calm him but not quite understanding what she should do): Okay, I'll go give it to the other people.

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Saturday, October 21, 2006

Miracles: Dad Agrees to Namenda

Wow, am I amazed right now. I got a call from my sister who said that she wants to push Dad to get Mom on Namenda. She and I have been pushing this for awhile now, basically, we wrote Dad a letter together to push Dad to bring Mom to a neurologist. (This is about 10 years into the Alzheimer's Disease.) He begrudingly went and promised that he start her on medication, but after some time, just got really stubborn.

So my sister's idea was to conference call with Dad and just tell him that this is what we want and that we won't back down. He was refusing at first, but when it was clear that we wouldn't back down, he finally agreed to make an appointment for Mom on November 7 with the doctor who comes to Sunrise Assisted Living and ask him to prescribe Namenda.

My sister is going to go to the appointment to make sure that Dad follows through. I kind of don't actually believe that he'll follow through with it because I have that little faith in him. But, there is that possibility, which would be just so good for Mom.

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Friday, October 20, 2006

Conversation with Mom's Cousin

Mom's cousin is very concerned about things with Mom - why isn't she on medication, when will she finally get a medical examiniation, why did Dad cancel the occupational therapy. She kind of went off for a little while, which I completely understand: she's one of the nicest and most considerate people about everything but jeez. I really don't need to hear that. What can I do? Do you all know this about me - that my dad is somewhat neglectful of my mom in these ways?

She kinda pushed me like maybe I should go to the extreme of hiring and lawyer and suing Dad for custody of Mom. I just worry what he would do and that maybe he would abandon her, which would be horrible for her because she is completely dependent upon his visits. Plus, I know what taking that on would mean.

I told her that we definitely shouldn't push anything until Mom gets moved to the new facility in December. I suggested that at that point, we try to sit down with him as a group and negotiate with him, having a list of what we want. At that point, hopefully I'll be close to being done (at least with a good draft) of my thesis, and I can consider maybe going that route - if Dad is going to be like this, maybe there's no use trying to not push things with Dad and trying to salvage our relationship for the sake of Mom. Maybe the best thing to do for her would be to get custody, get her on medications and getting the care that she deserves.

What timing too - just as I am coming back to my PTSD symptoms, part of the reason that I have PTSD starts to bear its head - my father's abusiveness.

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Thursday, October 19, 2006

MEME - Blogging

Do you like the look and the contents of your blog?
The way my blog looks reminds me of the movie "I Heart Huckabees" with the darkness and the dots. It almost represents consciousness. I do wonder if it is hard to read sometimes. I love the contents of my blog; please, I've written it all! And I love all of the comments.

Does your family know about your blog?
No no no no. Will they ever? No.

Can you tell your friends about your blog? Do you consider it a private thing?
My blog is a very private thing. I have told some of my closest, oldest, and dearest friends about it. Some of them comment from time to time. I think that my friend Sanchi and I have become closer because of my blog. Others of my friends I have mentioned the blog to, but they never mention it to me, which is a bit odd; sometimes I wonder if they bother to read it. See more about all of this in an earlier post.

Do you just read the blogs of those who comment on your blog? Or do you try to discover new blogs?
I always look at the blogs of those who comment on my blog. I'm not necessarily the read a WHOLE blog kinda gal, but I like to read the recent stuff. I become pretty committed to checking the blogs of people who are supporting me. Sometimes, I also get the inclination to find blogs that deal with a new issue that I'm thinking about.

Did your blog positively affect your mind? Give an example.
My blog definitely positively affects my mind. It is very calming for me to blog, especially when I'm feeling particularly anxious or upset or confused; once I get it down here, I don't have to carry it with me anymore, so blogging helps me let things go. It also helps me process and stay on track. When I get comments, I feel supported, especially with a couple people who have posted lengthy comments to my blog on their own blogs...I really feel like I'm in dialogue.

What does the number of visitors to your blog mean? Do you use a traffic counter?
Please, the number of visitors to my blog = my self worth. No, I'm just kidding. But, I do have a traffic counter which can be found at the bottom of my blog. I currently get about 10-20 visitors per day according to a weekly email that the traffic counter spiely deal sends me.

Do you imagine what other bloggers look like?
Some other bloggers have pictures, so it isn't hard to imagine what they look like. Sometimes, it is strange for me to realize that there is a big age difference between me and some of the other caretaker bloggers, which makes sense since my mom has EOAD.

Do you think blogging has any real benefit?
Blogging has certainly helped me. I see that it helps others. So, of course!

Do you think that the blogsphere is a stand alone community separated from the real world?
I think that the blogsphere is a stand alone community that is connected to the real world, but still outside. I am connected to all of these other bloggers that I have never nor will ever meet. We live in different places in the world, and our paths would never otherwise cross.

Do some political blogs scare you? Do you avoid them?
They keep me up at night. No, why would they scare me? I tend to avoid those who blog without having much basis for their opinions. And, I tend to blog for personal reasons, not to keep up on politics. But, then again, the personal is political.

Do you think that criticizing your blog is useful?
I actually really do, especially if it is done in a nice way. My blog is a place for me to get feedback about my thoughts, and not everything that I think can be perfect. I learn from criticism.

Have you ever thought about what would happen to your blog if you died?

Which blogger has had the greatest impression on you?
Most recently, the bloggers tagged below.

Which blogger do you think is the most similar to you?
The purple parrot, who tagged me. She is my soul sister.

Name a song you want to listen to?
This is random, but okay. I guess "Seasons of Love" from the Rent soundtrack.

Tag some people
Jerusalem Joe

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PTSD Looms Its Head

I met with my therapist today, who told me that she thinks that my feeling forced into situations (like with *A*, that I don't have other social options), while they may really represent my life now, they also are demonstrative of PTSD. I actually feel a little releaved about that. I'm past the depression and shock of losing my mom that I'm back to my same old PTSD shit. I know how to cope with PTSD, right? I'll have to pull out one of my PTSD workbooks and maybe change my approach a bit - to not force myself to be so connected to others (important for depression and loss, but for PTSD, don't want to force myself to do anything).

And, I had lunch with *A* who was nice enough to point out that when we go to a wedding in Denver together next month, that he has every intention of ignoring me while we're there. That's especially lovely considering that traveling to new places tends to trigger my PTSD.

I did get a workout in today, which I feel very good about. Right now, I'm at a coffee shop about to start some focused time on my thesis. Everything with work is a mess because of the way my team is not taking my work seriously. But, I'm grateful for this time at this fabulous grungy coffee shop filled with recovering alcoholics, students, and other random interesting people. Even though we won't interact, there is something about just being here that makes me feel connected.

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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

AUUGGHHHH, But I'm Still Trying

I was reading a recent post of Gail's and realizing that we're describing a similar feeling to very different situations. Like her, I realize that my disappointments are petty, but I'm still just kinda down and frustrated.

I'm pushing myself hard to get out there and do things with other people, to find balance, to heal. Tonight, I went to this demonstration at school, where hardly anyone paid any attention to me (granted the whole thing was majorly disorganized, but I felt invisible). Then, *A* had asked if I'd have dinner with him, but I forced myself somehow to go to this Hillel happy hour - at a place that didn't even HAVE a happy hour. So, I paid $13 for a margarita and a couple nachos (that I didn't want to eat but the other 2 wanted to order). Oh, not before I ran into *A* though, just to make me feel anxious. And, where was I? Oh yes, the conversation at the happy hour was horribly bad, the person who organized it just kept saying how she didn't care about grad students or organizing anything else despite my many ideas, and then my ex-boyfriend shows up with the new woman he's seeing.

My advisor pushed me again to give up on my research and take up hers instaed. My research team threw me way too much work that they want asap even though they have been messing up everything I've already done. My thesis work is going SO SO slow. And, I still have NO plans for Saturday night.

I just feel really overwhelmed and isolated.

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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Mom Called

The woman that I hired to come in and help take care of Mom called me today and put Mom on the phone. She told me that she got the card that I sent her.

Me: I wanted to let you know that I'm thinking about you.

Mom: I'm thinking about you too.

Me: And I miss you.

Mom: I miss you too.

Mom tells me that the caretaker brought her dog, which she enjoys.
She was very sweet on the phone, and I could tell that she knew who she was talking to. She sounded happy, and even though she started told me a story that I know isn't completely true (because she wanted to talk to me but didn't remember her story), it was comforting.

Me: So how do you feel today?

Mom: Better now. (This means that she was anxious when she was alone, but now that the caretaker is there, she feels okay.)

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What is the Quest?

I realize that I have not previously spelled out what my quest is, though I get at it a bit in the description of the blog on the left and in the early post "Hard Times". But, I can't succeed in my quest without clearly knowing its goal. So, here it is:

My Jewbu quest is about balance and happiness. The Jewish part of me is deeply rooted in tradition and history, in finding meaning and worth in honoring those before me and making the world a better place for those who will come after me. The Jewish part of me is neurotic and anxious. The Buddhist part of me wants to find happiness in the present moment (not the past or the future), to connect with life here and now. I want to balance these parts of myself.

I also need to balance the Israeli and the American parts, the connected to my family and the focused on my own well being parts, the overachiever with the laid back parts...all of these parts of myself which must live harmoniously together.

I very much think that part of finding happiness is going to be finding a partner, a real partner who will support me and for whom I won't have to give up parts of myself but will be able to grow with. I also need a community - a lot of different relationships and connections and friendships that is Jewish, queer, academic, meditation oriented, culture oriented, and about things that are real and important - nto just connections which are trival and about a bar or escaping from life.

Part of my quest is overcoming many negative and traumatic experiences and preparing for those to come (like the loss of Grandma and Mom). I don't want to get lost in the negative anymore, but I know that I can't deny it; I have to confront it, to face it with honesty, to look at all of the negative things in the world and not lose my grounding.

Thank you to all of my blog readers, supporters, and friends who help me on this quest.

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Monday, October 16, 2006

Campfire: Warning for Survivors

I just finished watching this Israeli movie. I thought I'd take some time off for myself. And then, halfway into the movie, there is this scene of child molestation which becomes a central theme throughout the rest of the movie, although not handled well, which probably happened a lot. Probably happens a lot. But still, not what I needed. Any other survivors of sexual violence may want to avoid the movie, even though it is otherwise a good movie.

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Sunday, October 15, 2006

Happiness: I Almost Forgot

Today, my neighbor who watches my dog said to me: You know, maybe it is actually really good that *A* has found a good guy friend here.

It made me think, maybe I am making too much of everything with him. At the same time, I feel like I deserve better then the way he's treating me.

But, that's not the point. The point is that I had a very nice day - book club, symphony (by myself), workout, writing group (that I just started). I realized that there is all of this life out there for me to live - all of these activities to do, places to go, people that I haven't met yet. I just have to keep pushing myself to go out and find them.

I had almost forgotten my quest - happiness. Last night, I listened to some DVD about Buddhist notions of consciousness, and I realized that I can choose between my attachment to *A* and experiencing happiness every day. Many of you readers have told me this, and to some degree I've understood, but now I really get it - I have to let go of my attachment to *A* - the pain, the joy, the history.

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Question for Caretakers: How does it affect your relationships?

Well, I realize that all of my kvetching about my relationship with *A* may not be so relevant to all of my caretaker readers. But, I realize what the connection is: For me, the situation with my mom and all of the other crisis have taken a toll on my relationships with others. I don't have as much energy to put into others like I used to because my energy gets focused onto my mom. Some friends seem sick of hearing about it. I can understand that it must be a hard thing to deal with.

So here's my question to my fellow careatakers: How has caretaking affected your relationships with others (other than the person you're taking care of)?

If you decide to answer this question on your own blog, please link to it in the comment section here.

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Dinner Last Night: Isn't It Clear?

Note to all my readers: I know that I'm obsessing over my relationship with *A* in the long post below. I tried last night to not write about it and just sit here and cry and get it out a bit. But, I woke up with this really strongly on my mind. I hope that writing about it here will help me let go of it. But, if this doesn't interest you, don't read it.

So, *A* decided on an Italian restaurant that I had never been to before for dinner. He had mentioned the place to me before - that the portions are so big that you have to share. Seeing him was awkward and uncomfortable as well as releaving and familiar. We had to wait a long time before we could get a table, and then the restaurant was really loud, so it was difficult to talk.

*A* immediately said he was going to order something with shrimp (which I don't eat, a sign that he isn't going to share). He seems to be so uncomfortable doing anything with me that I didn't come out and ask about sharing, but I said that I'd order something I knew he likes and commented on how big the portions are.

I mentioned that after dinner, I'd probably go to a nearby coffee shop and work on my thesis. I half hoped that *A* would want to do something after dinner, and that dinner wasn't this awkward jesture he was making. But, halfway through dinner *A* gets a text message that he immediately reads. It was from this guy Jeff.

Jeff is *A*'s new best friend. *A* doesn't say it, but its clear. They do everything together, and practically since they met, *A* will move his schedule around to meet up with Jeff. I've encouraged the relationship, going to meet with *A* some nights after Jeff blew him off. But lately, I just feel hurt that *A* wants to spend all of his free time with Jeff and Jeff's friends, I'm not invited, and he only wants to see me if they're busy.

So when Jeff texted *A*, *A* said: I told him I was having DINNER with you.

Me: He probably wants to know when you'll meet up afterwards.

*A*: I told him I'd call him after we were finished. (As if he was noticing that was admiting that though we had both said that we didn't have plans, that he was going to do something with Jeff after dinner) We don't have plans though. (This is clearly not true.)

I could barely eat half of my dinner and go it boxed up. *A* got his boxed up and wanted to give it to me. (But I told him that I don't want shrimp in my house.) He said, I'm going out though and don't want to leave it in my car. I pointed out that I had also planned on going to the coffee shop.

Me: Or maybe I'll just go home. I do have a little something waiting for me at home?

*A* made a joke like I would go home and drink. (I really didn't appreciate this because last year, I had a drinking problem from sitting at home and drinking.) Me: No, I meant the dog. Well, I better let you go meet Jeff for a drink.

*A* (awkwardly) clearly just trying to cover his bases: Do you want to come with us?

Me: That's okay. I don't want to cramp your style.

*A* seemingly releaved and quickly dropping the issue, gives me a hug goodbye with a look on his face that indicates he can read that sad. He doesn't bother asking about it though and walks off towards the bar they always meet at.

*A* went to the bar Jeff Friday night and Saturday night, and is meeting him today to play a game and then go watch football. He told me that most nights he ends up at the bar for awhile. At the same time, he has the nerve to tell me that he hasn't been seeing me because he's busy.

Clearly, *A* isn't my best friend. He's an old friend, yes. But, he doesn't want to talk about anything in our history. He's generally too busy hanging out with other friends to see me. He clearly is a little tired of our friendship, and prefers the lighter company of these new friends who are guys and who he can just be a "guy" with. I can't call him up if I'm having a hard time. I can't expect that he'll be there for me. I can't talk to him about serious stuff. The hard thing is that all of these statements could be qualified with "anymore" because he really used to be my best friend in every sense of the word.

I have some things scheduled today which are going to be helpful - a book club meeting and then this writing group meeting (I'm putting it together to try and keep me focused). My neighbor gave me tickets to go to the symphony, and I even moved the writing group meeting around it. But, now I can't find ANYONE to go with me. I've asked probably 10-15 people (everyone I could possibly ask). Last night, I even sent out an email to people I haven't spoken to in a year. And I'm going to feel like an idiot at the writing group (which I shouldn't have moved probably) and to my neighbor if I don't go. I had hoped last night that as a fallback, *A* would agree to come with me, but he wants to go watch football. I was tempted to ask - can you tape the game and watch it later? And I totally get why he likes to watch it at the bar with his friends. But, it would have been nice if he would miss part of the game to do me the favor. Six months ago, he would have. It just makes me feel really down that I can't even find someone to sit with me for an hour for a free symphony concert. It honestly makes me feel a bit like a loser.

And I'm freaked out that I'm going to have to deal with this every weekend - not having any plans, the people who I used to do things with are going to not want me around, and it is really hard to meet people where I live. I really just don't need this right now. I really need to be able to completely focus on my work and getting my thesis done and be able to come up for air once in awhile and have easy ways to unwind with other people.

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Saturday, October 14, 2006

The Conversation

So, 3 hours after I called him and he was too busy to talk, *A* and I just got off the phone after having talked things out. Here's what happened: We had played phone tag a bit, although he didn't seem to be making an effort to get in touch with me. When we did get ahold of each other, he didn't have much to say.

Me: Did you get my email?

A: Yes.

Me: So?

A: Look we're not in a relationship. We haven't been in a relationship for 10 years. I'm not opening up old wounds, so if you're not over it, it is your problem.

Me: (Hurt) Okay, but where is this coming from? I thought we were talking about our friendship.

A: Well you said something about it in your email.

Me: Where?

A: I don't know....

I pushed him to talk to me in a less attacking and more sensitive way, but he said some hurtful things. He said something about feeling like we shouldn't have to talk about anything because we're not in a relationship. I said (and Kathy, you'll love this): Kathy is my friend, and when issues arise, we just talk about it with each other, we work things out, and then we move past it. (I brought up the example of mine and Kathy's friendship another time as well.)

Me: Look, I don't know what we should do. Maybe we shouldn't be best friends, just be regular friends. Maybe I don't need to take things between us so seriously.

A: You take everything too seriously.

Somehow, we got to a point in the conversation where he said why don't you work at taking our friendship less seriously and I'll work on taking it less seriously. And, we're having dinner tonight. He asked what I'm doing tomorrow for dinner, and I told him that I'm leading this study group. He's watching a Chief's game while I go to the symphony.

So, I brought up tonight and he said: I don't have plans.
Me: I don't have plans either.
A: Well, we could DINNER (as if to say, I won't hang out with you later in the evening, but I coudl stand to sit with you for an hour. I sware he said it in this way and I'm not just reading too much into it. I could almost guarantee that he's hoping that his other friends end up doing something.).

And now, I don't know how to sit through dinner with him and pretend like everything's great and like this didn't happen and not feeling like an idiot about his "we haven't been in a relationship for 10 years what's your problem" comment.

Let me really just get into it here. Here's what happened 10 years ago: I made Aliya (moved to Israel) and was raped the first night that I was there. I responded it to badly and went into denial and had a serious of bad relationships in a very typical survivor pattern. But, *A* was still my best friend at the time (and until I left the country was my boyfriend), and so I told him about everything except that I was raped. *A* was really hurt by my behavior and that I wasn't considerate of him at the time.

Later, I realized what had happened and wanted to make things better between us. I have been asking for a second chance for like 5 years or so. And I've been begging *A* for forgiveness. I felt for awhile that the rape ate away at our relationship and that the rape and my mistakes were really the cause for why we're not together. I don't want that on my head. For awhile, I thought the only way to let go of it was to get his forgiveness and a second chance and to get the influence of the rape out of my life. Now, I realize that I can't count on *A* to let go; I have to let go. But, now you understand why all of this is just SO SO loaded for me.

To some degree, I've moved passed it and forgiven myself. But, when he said "we haven't been together for 10 years..." it just really hit that scar. Yes, we haven't been together since I made Aliya and was raped and handled it badly. To some degree, both *A* and I (I think) are very much wounded by that happening. And, he never gave us the opportunity to heal together, and because of that, to some degree, I may never fully heal from this. But, I promise to try (to heal, that is, I give up on ever getting back together with A or on ever really getting his forgiveness).

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The Waiting Game

So, here's the scoop: Last night, I got that oh so lovely email from *A* that he clearly sent after work before going to the bar. It came an hour before my date. It really hurt me, and I somewhat stupidly immediately emailed him back. As if I thought that he was really engaging with me in conversation in this email, when he easily could have called me instead of emailing me OR could have made plans to talk to me face to face.

I wish that I would have saved the email that I wrote to him to show you, but you probably get the idea the kinds of things that I said. I tried to explain where I'm coming from. I, of course, was crying hwen I read his email and wrote back. And then, I picked myself up and went on my date.

My date was very sweet, but very much a nerd. Not the sexy dorky type nerdiness, but a seriously all out nerd. I'm glad that I went and might even call him again to go out (if he doesn't call me), but I didn't feel chemistry between us. I hate dating. This is probably the kind of guy that I should go for - he's nice, he's smart, he's stable, he'd treat me well. And I gave it a good shot at first, but after a while I felt like I just wanted to go home. (Well, it lasted 3 hours.)

And then while I had planned originally to go to a lecture today with a Buddhist mediation group, so when I asked *A* before if he wanted to do something this weekend, and he suggested lunch on Saturday, we didn't make plans. BUT he never bothered to email me back, and I thought maybe better to talk in person, so I called him. He was brief and aloow when he told me that he was making breakfast and that he'd call me back. THAT WAS ONE HOUR AGO!

I just feel really hurt right now...and the kinda shock that one feels after being smacked across the face without warning. I REALLY need to go sit at a coffee shop and work on my thesis. I just feel really disappointed that I have NO one to do anything with tonight, that I don't have anyone to go with me to the symphony tomorrow with these free tickets that my neighbor gave me. It makes me feel lonely...although especially grateful for my blog supporters. Mostly, I think that I'm afraid of what's going to happen with *A*.

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Friday, October 13, 2006

*A*'s Email

This is what he wrote to me today:

"You know what I found insulting? The way you wrote to me on Tuesday. I think it is bullshit that you ask me "if I have surgery will you take care of me?" First of all don't you know that if you need help I'm there for you? Secondly, I don't appreciate the vagueness of the request. You tell me it is minor surgery (that sounds like easy no big deal) but you are asking me to commit to taking care of you. I have no idea what that entails. You know I'll help you if you need help, but what is taking care of you supposed to mean? I really felt like you were just trying to get a blind yes to whatever out of me.
I feel like your pissed at me because I'm living on the other side of town. I feel like your pissed at me because I have friends and I make plans. And most of all I feel like you pissed at me because I'm content having a friendship. With there being so much of this bicker"

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My Therapist Thinks...

Okay, so don't get me wrong, my therapist very much does NOT just tell me what to do with my life. But, it is very clear that she thinks that my relationship with *A* is trouble. But, then again, if you've been reading much of my blog, you've probably figured out that for yourself.

She suggested that the only way to go with him is to just accept him for who is and his limitations AND accept our relationship as having these limitations: he won't be consistent, he won't always be there for me, he will push boundaries, he will do a dance of distancing/pursuing. So, I can either just be happy with this or move on, accordint to my therapist.

This is so hard. Do I really have to just accept that our relationship/friendship/whatever will be unhealthy and that he'll be completely unwilling to work on it OR do I just let go and move on with my life. The thing is that I love him, that I need his friendship, and that I want him in my life.

I'm pretty heartbroken about this, but I'm going to try to take it in stride. I'm still going on my date tonight, and I'm going to try to be open to this new guy. I'm going to try to keep branching out to meet new people and create new friendships. And, as much as it breaks my heart, I'm going to try to let go of things with *A* as much as possible, and take advantage of this time when he's being a jerk and can't be bothered to see or even talk to me.

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Unconditional Love and Schmucks

It has really been hitting me recently that when my mom and grandmother die, there won't be anyone in the world who unconditionally loves me on a deep level. Now, I have a couple of friends who love me and some family who in their own way love me. And I am grateful for this. But, I'm talking about have your back no matter what, will take care of you when you get sick, no matter what you say or do will be supporting you and wishing you well, no question that they'll be in your life 5 years from now. With the rest of my family, their love is quite conditional, and they've honestly made this clear.

I had been comforted knowing that I have this long and deep friendship with *A* who had said before that we're family. But, he has been completely blowing me off since he moved out. And when I point this out or when I asked for help when I wasn't feeling well a couple of days ago, he is completely aloof. I feel so abandoned by him and disappointed.

Another weekend and I'm not sure if I even have anything to do with myself other than work. Well, I do have a date tonight, a blind date at that. And, my book club is meeting is Sunday, and tomorrow I may go to a lecture on Karma (seriously, not me, but Karma Karma). But, *A* doesn't have time for me, and the next person who I thought I was closest with doesn't have time for me. They just say to me - well I have other plans, without inviting me along or finding a different time.

Plus, on top of this, my job stuff is out of control. Turns out that I misunderstood a big part of the project and now I have to work double time to try to fix it, and everyone is mad at me. I'm trying to take the blame and just get help fixing it, but honestly, some of this is really not my fault: our tech person completely misrepresented things to me, and I have been pushing them for months now to put stuff into stone, and now that it is way too late and everything's a mess, now they're finally working some of this out. Still, somehow, I'm supposed to make all of these different people with opposing needs happy. I am so tempted to quit.

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Thursday, October 12, 2006

Those With Faith

Jerusalem Joe has posted a response to the question that I posed in a previous post: “Is this really it? If I want a heterosexual, romantic relationship, then I have to be treated badly with the hopes that I can eventually "train" the guy?Here's my question to you, all of my fabulous blog readers out there: Are you (or have you ever been) in a relationship that didn't follow this? Give a girl a better model!”

He presents an interesting theory called Imago about issues that people have which cause them to fail at relationships and how to overcome these issues with a partner. How lucky to have someone put so much thought into answering my innermost questions!

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Wednesday, October 11, 2006

More Baby Steps, More Hurdles

The baby steps: I'm keeping up with therapy, but I notice some resistance on my part to really get in touch with my grief and sense of loss and pain about my mother. I'm keeping up with work and plugging away ever so slowly at my thesis. I have a date on Friday night, and I haven't had a lot of contact with *A* this week (in part because he's blowing me off, but also I'm not responding to it). Also, I had lunch with an old acquiantance today. Also, I met with the psychiatrist who told me that the medication probably stopped working because the depression has cleared up, and I don't need an anti-depressant anymore.

The hurdles: I'm still struggling to find time for everything. I'm still way behind in all of my work, not working out as much as I want, not doing the Stresseraser as much as I'm supposed to inorder to long term lower my anxiety level.

And, okay, this is really embarrassing, but I'll tell you in my spirit of being completely honest. I passed about a teaspoon or so blood last night in my stool. I went to student health, who had me meet with a nurse and told me that it is just hemroids. Its probably caused by the chronic digestive problems that I've suffered from influenced by stress. Stress is really taking a toll on my body. If this doesn't start to heal up, I may have to have minor surgery.

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Tuesday, October 10, 2006


Last night, I dragged myself out to a lecture by a woman who has dedicated herself to helping other women. I had met this woman about 10 years ago at a conference in D.C., and it really impresses me how much she has managed to accomplish in that time.

I thought that I would multi-task and do some reading for my thesis, but they turned the lights down really low. Still, I'm glad that I went.

On the way back to my car though, I man said something creepily to me from inside this dark corner. I couldn't make out what he said, but it really just gave me the heebies and the jeebies. I ran a bit until I was a safe distance away.

Then, I went to work out. Even though it was already 9:30pm by this point, it felt really good.

This morning, I met with someone about getting into a loss/grief support group at school, and then had a meeting for my job. Talking to the intake person, I realized how far I've come this year, how hard that I've fought to keep my head above water, and how many skills I have to take care of myself. Actually, I could tell that she was impressed that I do the cognitive behavioral therapy, the Stresseraser, and that I get the importance of taking care of myself.

In general, I feel so much better now that I'm off the Wellbutrin. But, everything just feels like a whirlwind - that I'm one place, then another; that I feel one thing, then another; that I'm rushing through all of these tasks for work and my thesis....

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Monday, October 09, 2006

Thank You

Mom's nurse just called me so I could talk to Mom a bit. She sounded really good today, remembering all sorts of things. Then, all of a sudden she said, "I want to thank you for everything you've done for me. I can't wait to see you when you get back."

I just broke into tears a bit. She's so sweet. And, it felt really good to be acknowledged.

She's putting my mom to bed too early though, and it is really hard to talk to her about stuff because she just wants to get off the phone, and I know that I'm not there, so I don't want to be criticising.

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Getting Off Medication

Well, I can't get ahold of my psychiatrist, and I'm not happy about this. I can't even get in for an appointment with her until Oct. 17.

I started feeling better yesterday around 5pm, and it has lasted until today, although I do still feel this underlying anxiety a bit. (I should do the Stresseraser a bit after I finish writing this post.)

So, I decided to stop taking the Wellbutrin SR. I read online though that stopping cold turkey can cause a seizure. I called my pharmacist who told me that I can't cut them in half, but recommended that I take one tomorrow and one three days from now and then stop. The problem is that they still stay in my system for about 8 hours only strongly, so I hate having to do this to myself. And, if I could get a prescription for the other type of this medication (I think its XL or something) then I could cut it in half and take it every day.

What I read online suggested keeping detailed notes about symptoms as you go off this medication, so for the next couple of days, I'll be doing that here.

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Sunday, October 08, 2006

Signs of Serious Depression

I think that I may have fallen into a serious clinical depression. Well, after my neighbor was murdered, I fell back into a bought of PTSD. And then, after my grandmother fell into the end stages of Alzheimers and dad told me that Mom had declined really abruptly and steeply and that he wanted to put her in a home, the PTSD was overshadowed by depression.

I see both a psychologist for therapy and a pschiatrist to get medication. I had just gotten off all medications that I had been taking for PTSD in early January, but quickly went back on something (Restoril) to help me sleep after the murder. And then, after the depression hit with all of the horrible news of the decline of Mom and Grandma, I've been taking a low dose of an anti-depressant.

And that really helped. But lately (and especially since I've been back home), I really have this anxiety and depression going on all the time. It is exhasterbated by the fact that I have a very poor social network here. And I know that going out and staying connected to people is really vital, but I'm at the point where the anxiety and depression are limiting my ability to do this. I know it doesn't help that most of my friends here can't be bothered with me BUT in the end, I have to pull myself out of this and take responsibility for myself.

I'm thinking about adjusting my medication, but there are so many bad side effects to these sorts of things that I'm a bit afraid of it. I worry that maybe the anti-depressant that I'm on is not working so well anymore and might even be making things worse. (I take Wellbrutrin which can cause anxiety.)

I also have been looking into support groups and classes around town that might connect with people. I try making plans with others. But, I just feel so incredibly stuck right now.

I called my therapist yesterday, and she thinks that now that I'm away from my family, all of the things that I've been not dealing with in my life in order to be able to focus on my mom, well they're all now surfacing and wanting attention.

But, I just need to focus right now on getting my thesis out because I'm so far behind and by December, I need to be able to focus again on Mom. Today, I need to completely wipe my laptop's hard drive and start over again, it is causing me so many problems (and no, I don't exactly know what I'm doing there). *A* had made plans to have breakfast with me, but that isn't going to happen because he's going to play disk golf. Carly's ignoring me altogether. I do have plans to go out tonight, but it is later than when I'd like to go (10pm on Sunday), and I honestly just don't feel like it.

All of this shows me that I really need to get some help. I've got signs of serious depression.

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Friday, October 06, 2006

The Pain of Moving On (Kvetching)

There was a commercial on tv tonight for pilsbury cinnamon rolls, and it made my cry a little bit. My mom used to wake us up to these, and my sister and I would run out of bed to get some warm cinnamon rolls to start our day. I miss Mom so much.

Ah men. *A* didn't call me, didn't respond to my text messages; he's completely blowing me off. This is the first Friday night in a very long time that I've been in town that has ended with us cuddling and falling asleep next to each other, and then going out the next morning for breakfast. It just breaks my heart a little bit. But, on a cute upside note, my dog came over to me at the computer in my pjs and is licking my leg. She's telling me its time for bed....Oh, and as I write this, he does send me a text message "miss u 2".

And then this morning though, I text him "want to go hiking today?" and he replies "can't today." He doesn't say why. He doesn't say how about tomorrow. He doesn't say let's do something later. I feel really blown off. Not only by him, but also by my other friends here. I mean I've been back for two weeks, and with a couple of exceptions, no one invites me out. And when I try to make plans with people, they often tell me that they have other plans and don't invite me along (like today).

I did completely get spoiled when I was in KC by my friend Kathy and a couple of other really good friends that I have. I know that I just need to put in the work to create those relationships here, but it is really hard in the short run.

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Appreciating Caregivers

This is a part of a message that my mom's cousin left for me on my cell phone after visiting my mom: "...when we got there [Mom's room] she showed me the book that you made for her and the puzzle. You are really really a treasure. You are so good to [Mom] and I love you for that, for taking such good care of her." "You've done such a nice job all summer long." This made me feel really good.

For information on photo puzzles made especially for people with Alzheimer's, click here. For information on making a memory book, click here. Caregiving is so much easier when people recognize your work. If you know someone who is a caregiver, take the time to acknowledge their efforts today!

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Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Hard to Say Goodbye

*A* moved the rest of his stuff out tonight. I could feel myself getting really mad at him, and then I realized that I'm not really mad at him, I'm just upset that he's moving out. I know that he was always only supposed to be here temporarily and that I'm supposed to be moving on with my life and letting go of any hope of being in a real relationship with him.

But it is so hard. He is really my only means of support here (other than services I receive - massage, acupunture, therapy). And I've loved him for 17 years. It is SO difficult to connect with people in my town; I started looking around for grief support groups and meditation classes, which will be both good for me and a way to connect with people without the pressure of grad school competitiveness.

Things don't seem to be going so well with the woman that I hired to take care of Mom in the evenings. Dad called me to tell me that she was over there one morning with some kid that she was babysitting. And my sister called me to tell me once that she wasn't over there when she was supposed to be one evening. And then Monday night, she wasn't there either. It is hard being so far away from Mom.

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Upgrade: Warning May Be Bugs

I made the mistake of upgrading to Blogger Beta. There are a lot of bugs that I've already noticed. I apologize if you notice them as well.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

More Perspective From Reading an Old Journal

Looking back at these entries that I wrote summer 2005, it seems really clear to me the track that I've been on: I took a lot of emotional risks without really valueing my own needs. And I got my heart broken by an Israeli man named Omer who got really serious about me really fast and then freaked himself out by how fast it was going. And here's the theme that I see playing out over and over again: I put others needs above my own. I NEED to start putting more value on my needs. This sounds really stupid and basic, but for some reason, I haven't been getting it. I honestly don't know if I CAN do it. It's going to be baby steps.

So here's my request for all of my regular readers: If you notice me following this pattern, please point it out to me. Thanks :)

Monday, October 02, 2006

Some Perspective and Gratitude

Gail at "The Mom and Me Journals" was generous enough to post some thoughts and comments about my blog. She's got a great blog; I learn a lot there - about caregiving, about blogging and carnivals, about honoring your relationship with your mother, and not losing yourself in the process.

So much time has passed since I started this blog that it is easy to lose sight of where I've been even in the last few months: my ups and downs with my dad and my best friend *A*; how much support I've gotten from my friends Kathy, Sanchi, and my fellow bloggers; the extremes of what my mom's facility is supposed to be and the reality of what it is; and the amount of time and thought that I've really invested this year into making my mom's life as comfortable as possible. Thanks Gail. Reading this on Yom Kippur too, when I'm trying to evaluate where I am in life and what I want to work on in the coming year, well the timing is perfect.


Sunday, October 01, 2006

A Panic Attack and the Day of Atonement

I had a panic attack yesterday because of what happened with my dad the day before and *A* moving out and having to go to a department party where the conversation would be: "how's your mom? how's your thesis?" Like I need that. I did the stresseraser and made myself go though. It was a hellish day though - I almost hit someone, started going the wrong way down a one way street, walked the wrong direction to the party WITH someone noticing. But, I did it. I don't want the fear of these things to become bigger than the actual things. Make sense?

*A* moved his stuff out, and I feel like its a break-up; its wierd. I'm going to bring by some things he left and some Thai or Chinese take-out for dinner. Then, I'm going to services at Hillel, where I can continue last night's conversation "how's your mom? how's your thesis?" PLUS I am going alone, so there's always the issue of having someone to sit next to. And an ex of mine is going to be there with his new girlfriend, which will be even more awkward. *A* is going to the bar instead.

I hate having things bad with my dad on Yom Kippur. I feel like connecting with people is going to be TONS harder than I expected here. (I got spoiled by my friend Kathy in Kansas City!) But, I'm going to try to stay focused on my goals and take it babystep at a time.