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, January 30, 2007

Extra, Extra: One Year Anniversary

A reporter knocked on my door last night to try to get me to go on camera to talk about the murders last year. I, of course, insisted on maintaining my privacy, but in being polite, a lot of stuff was brought up for me.

I called my neighbors to warn them about the reporter, and they insisted on coming over to get me and bring me over to their place. I was supposed to have been on campus with school friends, but it was nice to just feel safe near home and not have to go anywhere.

My neighbors met up with me again tonight, and we burned sage all around our places and the place of the neighbor that was murdered. And, I lit a yarzeit candle. It made me feel so much better to be dealing with this with others, and my neighbors are just such down to earth, sweet people; its just a nice change of pace.

I met with my pusher today aka my psychiatrist. We came up with a plan for me to go off of meds for sleeping, which will make me clean altogether. Its a six week plan, but I'm glad to be working on it. Of course, I'm having a hard time finding a pharmacy that carries the lowest dose of the meds, so I am running around in circles a bit, but Costco said they'll have it tomorrow after 2pm.

Update on the dating thing: I sent Jerry a text on Sunday: "Thinking of you and smiling." Several hours later, he sent something back like "Smiling back atcha." Then, he sent me an email yesterday, which I replied to too quickly. I brought up going out again. I haven't heard back yet. I'm trying to push myself to not obsess about any of this.

Update on Mom: I spoke with her twice today on the phone. I've been calling often. When I ask her how she's doing, she often says "busy." She tells me that she has lots to do and sighs that she's tired. I think this is a sign that she's not sleeping properly through the night.

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Sunday, January 28, 2007

And the Anxiety Appears

After I wrote last post, I've noticed this underlying anxiety that I'm feeling. I really like Jerry, and I'm frightened by that. I just SO could not take getting my heart broken right now. And, I'm sure this is what I do all the time to mess up relationships; get anxious about them and through my anxiety, set it up to fail. Dating is so hard; jeez!

I think that the path is to just sit with the anxiety and not do things to cover it up - like getting too physical too fast or getting too emotionally attached too fast. One of the hard things about this is that there aren't people here that I can really talk to about this sort of thing who would keep me on track. But, thanks to all you blogger readers who send comments. In the end though, it is my responsibility to keep myself on the path. I just have to think of it as a practice that I do daily and not get too wrapped up about what might happen in the future or pain from my past.

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The Date: Amazing Night

I haven't been blogging about Jerry much in fear of jinxing it. But, I'm feeling safer and more confident about the whole thing.

We spoke on the phone yesterday to finalize plans, and he offered to pick me up, which I declined, fearing that if he was over at my place alone that I'd push things physcially farther than I should. But, then later I called him and offered to pick him up. Turns out that he lives just around the corner from me.

We're still in that somewhat awkward phase that when we saw each other, there was a moment of - can I kiss you, what I am doing? We had dinner at this Italian place and talked and just gazed at each other. He makes me laugh often, which I really appreciate. Then we saw the movie "Night at the Museum" - which he suggested- but it was a nice change to go to a light hearted movie since I had suggested the "Painted Veil." He put his hand on my knee, and I kept waiting for him to inappropriately be moving his hand around, which I was releaved didn't happen. He just kept it there, solidly but gently.

Then, we went into a bookstore where he asked me if I'm looking for something monogamous and serious because that's what he wants. I was somewhat floored. I told him that I didn't want to talk about it there. We went back to his place, where his roommate was playing games on the tv. He made me chai tea in the kitchen and lit a fire in the fireplace. We sat in front of it, and I told him that I am looking for a real relationship, but explained what's going on with Mom and said that I'm committed to being there for her when she needs me.

We started kissing and kept talking, and I just felt so comfortable. Because both of his roommates at that point were in the living room, we didn't go too far. Although, I REALLY wanted to go farther. When I left around 11pm to take out my dog, he offered to follow me home. He told me to text him what I wanted, which was a nice way of leaving the option open but not pushing me. I texted him about 15 minutes later when the blood flow returned to my head that I didn't want to rush things.

I'm REALLY proud of myself for not letting things go farther physically, even though part of me really wanted to. I'm also proud because it was a decision based on taking care of myself - knowing that I should go to sleep at 11:30 and not knowing if it wouldn't make it harder to sleep with someone else there. It was hard all day, and even now a bit, not just to say screw it, let's just be physical with each other because we're clearly headed there anyway (i.e. I could call him right now and ask him to come over). But, I'm practicing letting things be undefined, flexible, and not getting intimate too quickly but building something slowly over time. This is not something that I usually do in these situations. Usually, I rush into it and then there's this intense relationship for a month which crashes and burns.

The question now is: what is the next step? How long does this going slow thing really take?

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Saturday, January 27, 2007

More Healing Steps

Yesterday, I got a massage again, and it was this amazing experience. All of a sudden, there is this huge shift this week, and my back is starting to feel different, better. The therapist noted that the muscles all used to be attached together, and now its the first time that she can easily feel the space between the muscle. I really feel like I'm all of sudden moving forward.

Last night, I went to guided meditation again at the Buddhist Center. I was the ONLY person who showed up, but I didn't mind because this just meant a more intimate setting. I did mind, however, when the leader told me that the meditation was going to be on death in order to try to put the fear of death into me so that I would appreciate my life more. She went on and on about how death can be a painful experience to go through and that I or someone that I love could die tomorrow. She kinda lectures at the beginning and participants aren't supposed to talk. But, finally, I stopped her and told her that I was NOT interested in doing that because I've got more than enough sense of death in my life and that my current path is to focus more on appreciating life. She kept trying to like argue with me about it, until finally she said, okay, we're running out of time, let's just meditation on sending people love.

I still felt really relaxed when I left there, but I don't think that I'm going back there anymore. They are very dogmatic, and some of the principles they preach don't seem to go along with the Buddhist books that I'm reading and connecting with. Maybe I'll try going back to shul again on Friday nights or maybe Hillel or something.

From the Buddhist Center, I went to my friends' place for game night. There were two other couples there that I didn't know, and I felt a little odd being the only single person, but it was a nice change from sitting at home or having to worry about how I'd spend the rest of Friday.

Today, I'm going to spend the day working on my thesis. Its raining outside, so that might actually help by limiting distractions. Then, I've got a date again with Jerry, which I am REALLY looking forward to. Z still hasn't contacted me again, which I think is a sign that he's not interested in anything more than a fling. I wish that he would have just been more open about what he wanted instead of getting my hopes up. If I don't hear from him by next week, I think that I may call, tell him my email address, and set the boundary of no flings - if he wants something more that I'm open to that but not to mess around with me. And, I'm going to go to my date with Jerry without feeling like there's something holding me least not this.

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Friday, January 26, 2007

So What Is a JewBu Anyway?

I found this Wikipedia entry on Jewish Buddhists, which I think may be a good resource.

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Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Phone Call From Z

So Z calls me and says that he paid $8 to some service to get my Dad's number in order to try to get back in touch with me: "I'm stalking you now." He also told me that he googled me in trying to find me and has been reading about things I've been doing. My mouth hit the floor. He asked me how spontaneous I am and what I'm doing this weekend and then invited me to come stay with him in Michigan this weekend.

Me: "as in two days from now."

Z: "No, tomorrow."

I don't quite know what to make of the whole thing. He admitted to having been in MY town somewhat recently and in being in Kansas City the beginning of December when I was there when Grandma died. (Well, I didn't tell him that part.) It seems strange to me that all of a sudden after months and months and months, now he wants to see me. I'm worried that he just wants a fling, but kinda hoping that maybe he's really been thinking about me as I've been thinking about him.

But now he has my email and phone number, I guess the ball is in his court.

Here's the hard parts: 1) Not getting too excited or ahead of myself with any of this. But, I mean come ON this is Z! Jeez, I've had a thing for this guy for over 10 years AND he's Israeli and spriritual in a Jewish way AND an academic. 2) Not messing things up with the guy that I'm starting to date here because I do #1.

I called my therapist (which I need to stop doing), who suggested that I've mentioned that I get hung up in the past by leaving my own needs out of the picture and by getting too far ahead of myself. So, the practice, let me repeat it again, is to remain calm, not get ahead of myself aka remain in the present moment, and not let go of myself or my priorities

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Relax As It Is

I'm reading this book "When Things Fall Apart" by Pema Chodron, in part because of a push by Joe to start thinking more, in particular on this blog, about the Bu part of my Jewbu Quest.

Here's a quote from the book that really struck a cord with me:

"When things fall apart and we're on the verge of we know not what, the test for each of us is to stay on that brink and not concretize (11)."

I think one of my problems in the past has been a desire to quickly concretize and figure out what happened and what it means for my future. In the process of analyzing the future and the past effects, I don't just sit in the moment and feel. And, this is the goal, I think, to just sit with whatever comes and feel whatever emotions come, and then let them go. Nothing is permanent. Everything is temporary. And pain is inevitable. So the only thing to do is just feel it, but don't get lost it in, and then let it go. I have to find some way to feel the pain, and then by recognizing that it is temporary, find some way to move my focus to the things in the world that bring me happiness and joy.

Sounds blissful right? Okay, it worked for me for about half a day, and then I get a message from my dad that Z called him looking for me. [If you don't remember the story of Z, you can catch up here, here, here, and here.] But, don't bother looking back, here's the scoop. I finally start dating a guy here that doesn't fit the image of who I'm looking for (isn't Jewish, isn't radical Leftist, isn't Israeli, not spiritual) but who I have a great time with and who makes me laugh. And, I'm finally feeling a bit more grounded the last couple of days. And, now here comes this guy that I've idealized for over 10 years and who does fit that image of the ideal mate, and all of a sudden I feel ungrounded and anxious again.

So what's the lesson? What's the path? I think what I need to do is to not fight the anxiety, but to recognize that whatever place I'm in right now is temporary, and whether or not I actually talk to Z and something between us happens, I need to focus on each moment AND FINISHING MY THESIS SO I CAN FINALLY get my MA. Grr, did you notice that I'm struggling with that. Anyway, I can still enjoy a date Saturday and not let myself get lost in thinking too much about Z. Okay, glad I got that out. Now back to thesis writing.

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

A Vent and an Update

Augh! I'm so frustrated with *A*. And yes, I do realize that for some reason all of my emotions are super intense recently. But, I spoke about with my therapist how I struggle with having really close relationships with people because I always learned from my family not to trust and that even they, the closest people to me, would eventually hurt me.

Anyway, so I had planned my acupunture appointment around a good time to meet *A* for lunch. He can only go at 1pm. And, then all of a sudden today, he gets a call from Jeff, his close friend who had been blowing him off in a Kathy/my cousins sort of way. So, I told him to go ahead and meet with Jeff instead since I know *A* really wants to resolve that. But then he got all cranky with me about how he needs to get his mail and maybe he'll stop by tonight. But, tonight I have friends come over to watch the Gilmore Girls - its like the only night that doesn't work for me all week. And then he says something about well he needs his mail and he's going to get post office box. His annoyed tone just really got on my nerves because I'm doing him a favor by collecting his mail here. Usually, I go downtown to give it to him - either by meeting him for lunch or something. And he's the one who has been too busy constantly to see me, mostly watching sports at the bar.

Anyway, I just had to get that out. I had a really nice date last night, but I feel somewhat nervous about the whole thing because I feel so incapable of having a relationship. And now, after my therapist talked to me about how maybe my problem is choosing the wrong people to get close to, I'm nervous that I'm connecting with the wrong guy already. Although, when I'm with him, I'm generally fine and can let that go.

I wasted all this time this morning on the phone with my bank because I can't get their software to work. I didn't get any work done yesterday. GRRRRR. Good thing that I'm going to acupunture now. That always makes me feel better.

I did get to talk to Mom on the phone briefly. My sister says that she remembers my name more than hers. Mom always asks me when she can see me, and it breaks my heart. She's starting to struggle a bit making sentences.

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Monday, January 22, 2007

What I Felt When Grandma Died and My Family Dissolved

No one taught us what to do in such moments
Stuck in mud at the side of the river
We just looked at each other
Wondering what to do
Just push away
I suggested
Push away

As we did the kayak flipped over
Into the cold water shock gush down
Feeling up and up and kayak stuck on top
Feeling around to the side and up


Floating down the river
Can’t reach the kayak
Can’t reach my friend
Grab branch and pray.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

So Confused: The Word From My Cousins

I asked my sister yesterday if she would call my cousins and find out what their story is. She said that she'd nap and call them and then call me back. Today, I finally let myself call her to find what the skinny is.

Here's what she said basically: My cousin answered and said that his wife got some dramatic email from me, and they can't be bothered to reply because they're busy.

Here's what I think: That is such bs! It has been two weeks since I sent the first email (only sent one followup). And my cousin still lied to me on the phone about putting the kids to bed and then blowing me off. I am so confused. Either, they misread my email and took it the wrong way and are annoyed. Or, they really are cutting me out of their lives, but they don't want to make a fuss about it with any other family members, so they just said this to my sister to blow off the subject. Or, they just REALLY don't care enough about me to send an email saying "we're okay, but we're busy" or talk to me on phone.

Either way, I'm still confused...more so maybe even than before.

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Good Neighbors

My neighbors had me over for dinner last night, and then we watched a movie I had netflixed "World Trade Center." I didn't talk at all about family stuff or my problems. It was exactly what the therapist suggested I try - a more superficial interaction. And actually, I was quite comforted by it, especially since it saved me from having to cook and from having to watch that movie alone. I felt somewhat vulnerable last night and having that interaction just made me feel okay again.

I feel like if I put all of my energy into coping with all of this, that I can do okay. The problem is that I have to work and finish my thesis, and the more expectations on me and focus that gets taken away from healing, the more I struggle. Then again, I don't want to scapegoat my work. Part of me knows that I just gotta get my thesis done already. I'm trying to find balance in moving forward with my work, but not pushing myself too hard.

Today, I'm lucky to have structure for this. Today is queer study group, dinner, L-Word, go out to a club night. There are a couple of people there that I know well, some recent acquaintances, and some that I don't really know. But, I think it'll be good to be out and hopefully the energy of everyone else working will give me some focus.

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Saturday, January 20, 2007

Feeling Lonely

Dad called told me that he's going over to my sister's to make hamburgers. Mom isn't coming because my nephew is sick. This is the second week that they're doing it without Mom, as last week the weather was so bad. I imagine how lonely she would feel if she knew that they were all together without her. And I miss being there too and playing with my niece and just being all together.

I left a message for my neighbors to come over and watch a movie tonight if they want. I could also go to the symphony and get a cheap last minute ticket. I think I'll just stay home though. I'm having a hard time concentrating on work though. I keep thinking about the laundry and what I'll have for lunch. (My fridge is pretty barren.) I called *A* to see if he wants to get brunch, but he's going to work out instead and then to watch basketball. I was hoping he'd say something about dinner because at that point, I was feeling too desperate. He gets his mail delivered here, and he got a bunch of stuff that I know he's been waiting for. I feel like I'm a burden to him more than someone he wants to see and hang out with or even be there through this hard time.

I feel really lonely right now. I do have friends here that I'll hang out with tomorrow, and I have some great friends like Sanchi who live in other places. But, right now, I just feel really alone with all of this grief, pain, and piles of work to do. I find myself longing for a hug and someone to tell me that this is all going to be okay.

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Doing a Little Better

What a freakin hellish week this has been! But, I'm doing a little better. In part, honestly, because a part of me has just shut down. I think that I just cut myself off from my feelings and am now letting them come back little by little. This is a really hard thing to have to do on my own, so I'm trying to make use of whatever space that I can find to deal with it, and to still push myself to go out and connect with others and not have this be a barrier to that.

I've gotten a little work done, but I'm having to really push myself. And, I'm making mistakes left and right. I made a huge mistake in October that's coming out. I called my therapist, and she suggested that I just quit the job. That kinda annoyed me because it reflects that she doesn't see how much I have invested there and the kinds of opportunities (including to complete my degree and do it from Kansas City) that it might be offering me. I think she's been a bit off for a couple of days, and I'm not sure how to approach talking about it with her because I've got so much stuff to talk about in our sessions and try to deal with as is. Plus, clearly I'm off these days so who am I to talk?

I had tried to make plans for the weekend, but nothing seemed to work out so far. Last night, I could have had a date, although I wouldn't have been up for it, and had intended to go to friends' who had told me they were going to host a game night. They called me Friday and told me that they were going to hold off for another week or so. So, I went to this Buddhist center for some guided meditation. It was a little too ideological for me, with a big emphasis that night on how we're better than animals and we have to work hard to not reincarnate into one. But, I just let that part go and focused on the parts that I connected to. The most helpful part of it was when we were told to focus on breathing out everything that's stressing us out, picturing it as black smoke that would dissipate quickly. Then, we imagine breathing in white light that would fill our bodies.

I tried to wish for happiness for my aunt and to have compassion for her. It was difficult, but somewhat healing. I cried a little bit, but I think it will be good to get rid of this anger and bad feelings.

Tonight, I had thought the date would be, but he could only do Friday apparently, so I guess that I'm going to be home alone. But, maybe that's good because I really need some time to just sit with my feelings and let myself cry.

Just to make things more interesting and random, this morning I woke up to a horrid stench of skunk. When I opened the doors to outside, I didn't notice the smell outside. So, I started to worry that the skunk was in my attic. I started calling around, but couldn't get anyone to answer the phone. Then, an hour later a woman from animal control knocks on my door and tells me to put my dog on the patio. She looks around as I tell her the story, and she says that probably the skunk just got in a fight with a cat on the roof and sprayed near the vent. However, if the smell comes back, then the skunk is in the attic, but I'm probably okay.

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Thursday, January 18, 2007

Basic BEST

My acupuncturist taught me to do the following process, which she said is a basic form of something called "BEST." She suggested doing it anytime I notice my chi shorting out, including when I feel overwhelmed with emotion or are getting a migraine.

Start with imagining my aunt (or whatever else is stressing me out, if that's the issue). Then I should put a finger on each of my temples, looking for a tender spot. Then, press firmly and hold my breath for as long as I can. Keep holding until it stops hurting, even if several breaths are needed. Then, move the fingers to the back of one side of the head and the top of the other one - and then switch. Then, do it again with fingers on the inside of the eyebrows, or just below, next to the nose. It is hard to describe this, but highly recommended.

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Overwhelming Feelings and Reaching Out for Help

I really freaked out last night about the whole thing with my cousins. After I wrote the post, I noticed that I didn't talk much about my feelings, just the facts of the situation. I later became flooded with overwhelming feelings of frustration, sadness, abandonment, shock, confusion, and grief for the loss of my family relations. My sister and I spoke for awhile on the phone, and I was grateful that I had her to talk to, even though our relationship is so rocky. I missed being able to call Kathy. My emotions are especially intense because I'm PMSing. I know that but it doesn't necessarily make it easier.

I am embarrassed to admit this but last night after a full dinner, I decided to take the pile of presents for my cousins off my dresser. I had them since Thanksgiving, when I got sick, and had thought we'd be shortly rescheduling meeting. There were some books for the kids including a book about mermaids, which the daughter really likes. And, there was a big box of Godiva chocolates, which I knew my cousin would really love. I opened it and found that the chocolates had all melted and then re-formed, making this disgusting looking blobs. Even though chocolate can trigger migraines, I ate whatever was salvagable out of the box. Then, I made myself a screwdriver, and then I ate an entire box of Kraft maccaroni and cheese (which I had to go the store to get). Cheese can also trigger migraines and is horrible for my stomach with the digestive problems I've been having from the stress. But, I didn't care. I thought about how when my sister and I were little and didn't want to eat something, she'd tell us it tasted like macaroni and cheese to get us to eat it. And, I desperately wanted to feel the food coma of relief.

This morning, I had therapy and then acuptunture. I think that my therapist was off a bit today; she just struggled with following everbody's names and the story. But, she invited me to call and check in. My acuputurist though was amazing. I told her what's going on, and she we talked about it with the needles in, which she said would help my system deal with the intense emotions. She normalized what I'm feeling and suggested thinking about it as a lesson in how not to treat people. She even offered me to call her anytime I need someone to let me vent. Next week, she's having me bring in a picture of my aunt, so that I can train my body not to shut down when I think about her.

But, here's the most recent: I got a package today from UPS. Inside are two books that I lent to Kathy months ago: "The Emotionally Abused Woman: Overcoming Destructive Patterns and Reclaiming Yourself" and The Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Sourcebook." There's no name or note. The return address is a UPS Store near her friend Shawn's house (who she blew me off with on New Year's). I'm not quite sure what to think about this, but I'm put back into a PTSD shock response mode. I don't know if I'll be able to use these books and not think about her. Maybe I'll give them away with the books I got for my cousin....

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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Cousins Cutting Me Out of Their Lives

Well, I still haven't heard from my cousins, who I emalied last week to check in. I had a long conversation with my sister, as we went over her meeting with the bank about Grandma's estate and the breakdown of things within our family. She told me that she had a big argument with my aunt yesterday, who hung up on her after my sister challenged her on some things.

My sister suggested that I just call my cousins instead of worrying so much about how things are. SO, I did. The wife, who has been my great friend for years, answered and sounded extremely awkward and then asked if she can talk this weekend because she has to put the kids to bed. Now, its only 7pm, and I know that the kids don't go to bed until 8pm. Clearly she's stalling because she doesn't want to talk to me. I just can't believe it.

It seems so retiscent of what happened with Kathy: all of a sudden, this close relationship is just completely gone without any conversation or explanation. They've meant so much to me, and I just don't understand what my cousins have against me all of a sudden. My sister thinks that he was just talking to us to get information for his mom (my aunt), but I have a hard time seeing him in such a negative light.

They've meant so much to me that several years ago, I tried to donate my kidney to my cousin. While that didn't work out (part of the family clash), I've always had it in the back of my mind to keep my health up so that I can be ready to donate my kidney to him at which point the cadaver kidney that he got a couple of years ago is rejected by his body. I have a great fear of surgery and even used to pass out when I got blood taken, but I care so much about them that I would do it for HIM. And they can't even do me the favor of telling me in some fashion - be it email, letter, or phone call - that they don't want to talk to me and why? My realtionship with them felt so important to because it was my only way of connecting with his side of the family, which feels like honoring my grandparents, who did so much to create these connections.

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Ten Things That Define My Style (MEME)

Melanie from "Happy Thoughts" tagged me to describe ten things that define my style. Here goes:

  1. Openness, honest, truth: I seek the truth, and I try to be open and honest in everything that I do. Part of what has been freaking me out lately is that I haven't known the truth about some of the people in my life and/or our relationships.
  2. Hard work and dedication: Whatever I do, I give it everything that I've got...sometimes to a fault. I tend to work myself until I'm sick.
  3. Loyalty: I tend to take a long time when building new relationships, but the ones that I get close with, I stick with.
  4. Jerusalemite: I am very connected to the city of Jerusalem, and my style reflects this.
  5. The path less taken: I tend to do things differently than I see those around me doing them. Even if I end up on a path that takes longer or that leads me in different directions, I try to follow my heart and my deep desires.
  6. JewBu: You'll find a lot of Judaica at my home. But, you'll also see a Hindu god that Sanchi gave me. And some laughing Buddahs that she gave me also. You'll see Jewish books and Buddhist books and a meditation cushion.
  7. A lot of black: You'll find a lot of black in my wardrobe and in my life. I certainly don't seek out darkness, but especially this last year has thrown a lot at me.
  8. History: I like to be surrounded by items with history and to be grounded myself in my past. Right now, I'm wearing a sweater that belonged to my grandmother.
  9. Frizzy: And I'm not just talking about my hair. I tend to live a very stressed out life, something that as I continue with the JewBu Quest, I try to lessen.
  10. Casual: I'm not fond of formal events, clothing, or relationships. I prefer being comfortable and being able to talk about everything.

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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Daze, Desires, and a Date

I went this morning to meet with someone from Hospice about getting into one of their support groups. I had been a bit nervous because when I called months ago, I was told to wait until my grandmother dies, and I was nervous that they would say that its not enough of a loss or something. But, it felt good to be able to just talk openly about the grief issues and not have to worry about being positive...I could just be as I am. The next meeting is tomorrow during a conference call for work, so I'll wait until February.

I'm finding myself really tempted to call Kathy. I know that I shouldn't, but I just want to understand what happened. I'm worried that maybe I did something wrong or I'm in a negative pattern, and I wish that she would just tell me.

I also haven't heard from my cousins who live an hour North of me. I sent an email last week checking in and to plan our next visit. I fear that now that Grandma's passed and my aunt has bad mouthed me that they don't want anything more to do with me.

I had a first date or a pre-date last night, and I think that it went well, but we didn't make definite plans. I think I'll email him tomorrow. I'm so bad at dating!

I'm still having a VERY hard time getting work done. I did manage to finish coding one transcript yesterday, but I am SO far behind. I'm also SO close. My heart just isn't here anymore. I'm thinking more and more about going back to Kansas City to be with Mom, even though I fear that I'd get way too emeshed in my family dynamics and I would miss my home here. I even went online to search graduate programs in the area, even looking into switching to counseling pscyhology. I don't even know what I want to do. I just know that I want to spend as much time with possible with my Mom.

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Monday, January 15, 2007

Taking the Path of Least Resistence: Baby Steps Instead of Leaps

I'm trying to not force myself to do things so much and to be able to reconnect with my gut. So, instead of dealing with the whole "Notebook" issue, I just went over to some friends' place to watch the "L Word." *A* ended up getting dropped off over at my place after going bowling and drinking, so he spent the night, and we had breakfast. But, I have come to terms better now that what we have is a friendship. In part, I feel this way because I'm pretty convinced that he's gay.

But anyway, today, I'm trying to force myself to get into my thesis work, but this is somewhat unsuccessful. I know that getting the thesis done is the key to having options about moving forward with my life including being able to spend some time with Mom again.

I'm trying to work on the task that the therapist from Kansas City left me with, to connect with more people but on more superficial levels. I tend to get too dependent and emeshed with a small group of people. She pointed out that healthy people have connections with people on mulitple levels of depth, and that task is to work on just getting out there more and connecting with more people.

Tonight I have a first date with someone that I met last year on but never bothered meeting because I was traveling so much. We're just meeting for a drink at the bar around the corner. My friend, Merissa, might come up to town to visit later this week. I'm proud of myself for not isolating myself. Now, if I could only concentrate on getting my work done!

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Sunday, January 14, 2007


Last night, I saw the movie "Volver" with a classmate, which I really enjoyed. The movie deals with death, incest, family relations, and inheritence in a very interersting way that is at times humorous. I highly recommend it. The incest is dealth with in such a way that I didn't find it triggering, but instead somewhat empowering.

Watching the movie increased this feeling that I've been having, which is that I just want to be with my mom for as long as possible. I don't care anymore about my career, although I know that at some point I will again. I just want to be with my mom.

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Saturday, January 13, 2007

Cease to Struggle and Think of Celebration Instead

I'm reading "We Are The Ones We Have Been Waiting For" by Alice Walker, and I want to share this quote.

"Know the river has its destination." Its supposed to be a Hopi saying. I think it means that if I can accept what's happening, then I focus on celebrating the moments instead of struggling against the current.

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Riding the Rollercoaster

My emotions have just been all over the place the last few days. I'll feel great and laugh and a few minutes later start crying. I have no energy at all to work and am having trouble concentrating. I am clearly in the midst of some serious grief work compounded by PTSD.

I'm really struggling with the image of the last time that I saw Grandma. She struggled so much with the disease, and it stole her dignity, which was something highly precious to her. I feel so guilty and helpless that I couldn't do anything to stop it from happening. And, I so desperately don't want it to happen to Mom.

Mom doesn't have a bladder infection after all, but the urine test did show a high blood cell count, which I think means that something is going on. I called Dad back with the suggestion to get her some cranberry. I am having a hard time letting go of all of these little details with Mom and switching gears back to my life here. Part of me really doesn't want to switch gears, and I'm thinking increasingly about moving back to Kansas City for awhile to be able to spend more time with her and help out taking care of her.

Tomorrow night is the Alzheimer's Association showing of "The Notebook." I told *A* that he doesn't have to come with, as there are games on that he wants to watch and the seats are really uncomfortable at the theatre, and we don't have aisle seats. Now, I'm not quite sure what to do with it though: Should I go alone? Should I not go at all? Who could I get to go with me? The whole thing hits this very vulnerable spot - a movie about Alzheimer's and a romantic friendship. Plus, I've just had Kathy tell me that I expect too much of friends, which hits my low self-esteem, so now I wary of asking for things from friends. Anyway, now I've made too much of a deal of it with *A*, and I've brought up all of these issues that I don't want to deal with.

Things aren't all bad and complicated with me though. I had a nice time last night at services with this couple that I know from school. My home is starting to come back together. I connected with my neighbors last night, who hinted that they might be willing to watch my dog next time I leave town. Tonight, I have plans to go to a movie with a friend from school and then maybe to hang out at a coffee shop. Yesterday, I had lunch with *A*, acupunture, and a massage.

I guess my point is, I'm feeling like Mom says she's feeling: "I've got my ups and downs."

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Thursday, January 11, 2007

...But Still Scarred: Feeling Lost and Jittery

I woke up this morning around 6:30am or something with a PTSD response after hearing a loud truck drive by. I jerked awake and couldn't fall back asleep. I think its related to the anniversary yesterday. So, now I'm tired and my stomach is majorly upset (which it has been for weeks).

My therapist normalized my feeling lost and out of it - with things with my family, Kathy, etc., so many things are not what they seem and can't be fully trusted. I'm questioning everything now. Do I really want to be in grad school? Do I want a career in academia? Do I want to go back to Kansas City and focus on Mom? Do I want to take time to ground myself or jump back into my work? I don't even trust myself to know what I want. I even drove to therapy today without my wallet, which has not only my ID but also my insurance (since the new card got forwarded to KC, I just stuck it in my wallet).

I feel like I'm trying to just take things as they come. My therapist pointed out that I'm in a PTSD response mode. I don't have foundational things to lean on and am on survival mode. She's pushing me to not force myself to do things (like work, school) and instead to make choices about what I want. The hard thing is that I there's so much to do; I'm so behind since I took last month off. I know that I just need to get this stupid thesis done. I know that I need to find ways to be able to bring myself back to being in the moment, back to my quest, back to taking care of myself. Its just hard to find the balance of getting work done, personal healing, connecting to other people and (re)building a life for myself here, and wanting to be there for my family.

I desperately don't want to work at all today. I don't even know what I want to do. Tonight, for example, I could go to: 1) a rally against troop surge in Iraq, 2) a program for women at shul about Kabbalah, 3) a support group at the Alzheimer's Association. I feel like I should stay home and work, but I more want to just stay home and veg. These aren't big decisions, but my indecisiveness reflects my mental space.

Update on Mom: Dad says she has a bladder infection. The ALF noticed the problem and took a test. They're ordering antibiotics. But, it makes me worry that they're not helping her with bathroom issues as they should. Dad says the nurse is concerned that the staff aren't pushing enough fluids.

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

I'm Not Broken

Well, the anxiety did get a bit intense today, but I let myself feel it and tried to do nice things for myself, and I got through it. As night came, I had a faucet of tears, which turns out are more now about Mom and Grandma than about PTSD. I read this book about grief and cried until I felt done. Then, I put on "Five Pennies" starring my favorites Danny Kaye and Louie Armstrong and poured myself a conac that I bought for myself today at Trader Joe's and snuggled with my dog. Despite all of the pressure and stresses in my life, I am moving past the events of 10 years ago.

p.s. I tried to call Mom tonight to tell her goodnight, but the care manager told me that Mom was asleep, even though I called 20 minutes before her earliest bedtime (we gave them an hour range).

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10 Year Anniversary

Ten years ago today, I moved to Israel. That first night, I was raped by my friend, Dan Seltzer, at his parents' home while I slept. For years, this date has tormented me. I would spend days, weeks, or even months before it going through the details of what happened trying to figure out some way to stop it.

Last year was the first year that I managed to reclaim the anniversary. I went to Esalen for a workshop over New Year's and had a brilliantly magical affair and relaxed. I've worried though that due to the traumas of the past year, that the annivesary would once again hit me hard. But, so far so good. I do feel a bit of underlying anxiety, which I'm going to try to manage with my Stresser and by taking it easy today, still working but at an easy pace. I have SO much work to do that it could be overwhelming, but I'm just going to keep my focus today on trying to get through the day in the healthiest way possible. I'm having a hard time concentrating on my work (job work I mean), and I haven't even dealved into getting back into thesis work.

It is especially hard for me this year that Kathy's friendship is suddenly gone. She was someone that I would really lean on in times like this. I don't feel like there's anyone here (other than my therapist) that I can really talk to about this stuff here, and so I'm going to spend the night at home. Part of me wants to ask *A* to come over tonight and maybe even spend the night, but more of me wants to not ask too much of our friendship. *A* brought dinner over last night and on Sunday will accompany me to "The Notebook" being presented by the Alzheimer's Association.

Part of me wants to go out and do something tonight as if this is just a regular night. But, I think its probably important for me to recognize what's happened and what I'm going through, and to honor this, to give myself time to feel the sadness, grief, and anguish.

I am glad that I'm back at home to have some space to deal with tonight. But, I miss my neice and nephew, my dad, and especially my Mom. Part of me wants to, after I finish the stupid thesis, just move back to Kansas City for awhile and spend as much time as possible with my family. Another part of me loves California and the distance from the unhealthy dynanmics of my family. I'm certainly not going to decide anything tonight; I'm just going to give space for all of the things I'm feeling.

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Tuesday, January 09, 2007


On the way to the airport yesterday, Dad thanked me for helping out so much. He told me that he knows that hearing about the family sqwabbles over money upsets me, but he can't talk to Mom about it anymore, and since he doesn't feel comfortable talking about this stuff with my sister, I'm the only one he can talk to. Its so strange that Dad and I have become so close since we have such a rockey past.

I called my sister at the airport, and we had an open conversation trying to figure out how much time we have with Mom by comparing what happened with Grandma. We agreed that Namenda has slowed things down, but we still likely don't have more than a few years, max. But, there's no way to really know, and it could be even faster than that.

It was hard to leave Mom. I tucked her into bed Sunday night, and things were a mess at the place. But, I called the supervisory staff Monday before leaving town and touched base with them. They're in the midst of hiring a lot more people and still getting the kinks out. Normally, when I tuck Mom in I say "I love you. Sweet dreams. I'll see you tomorrow." Mom would respond "I love you. See you tomorrow." That night, she said "thanks for being there for me."

I have been trying to stop the urget to contact Kathy, but last night waiting for my luggage, I couldn't help but text her something along the lines of "Is that really it? After 4+ years of friendship?" She emailed me later that night telling me that I expect too much out of our friendship and insinuating that she doesn't want to talk to me anymore. Even though that I know that she's responding this way to many people in her life and this probably isn't about me, it still really hurts.

I was so happy to come home that when I walked in the door, I cried a little. Finally, I'm back in my own space with my own things, and everything's here to make me comfortable instead of me being around to take care of my family at Dad's house of remnants of their life a sagging bed....I've been pretty out of it though. Its hard to adjust back and forth. Luckily, I have an appointment with my therapist this afternoon and maybe I'll work out afterwards. Even though I REALLY need to get on finishing my thesis hard core soon, things are pretty flexible today, and I'm trying to ease into life here.

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Saturday, January 06, 2007

Finding the Easy Path: Cancelled My Date

I have been freaking out about my date tonight. First, she wanted to pick me up (at my Dad's house), and I didn't want to make a big deal about my father not knowing that I'm out, but I also started fretting about her giving off signals that we're on a date and my father freaking out.

Also, she wanted to pick me up at 10:30pm. I negotiated 10pm, but this still would mean me seriously vearing off of my sleep schedule. She sounded wierded out when I said that I don't normally go out late. She said: "well during the week...." I used to be overly open about not being able to sleep well because of having been raped when I was sleeping, but now I'm trying to not talk about that during early dating stages. But sleep for me is a major issue: I want to try soon to get off the medication I take to sleep, I practice cognitive behavioral therapy to help me sleep, its hard to sleep in at Dad's because he's up early, changes in sleep patterns triggers migraines, and it affects my overall health. For years, falling asleep was horribly triggering, and I've suffered from insomnia since the rape but which when I try hard, I can manage well.

I spoke with the issue with my therapist today, which meant coming out. She suggested that I take a step back and try to view the issue from the bigger picture and try to make the situation easier for myself. She said that dealing with coming out to my dad right now is too much, and suggested that dating is a process of dealing with some of my issues - control/lack of control over my life, figuring out what I want out of life, family stuff, etc. So, I don't need to fret about doing it perfectly now; I should try to make it easy on myself while still allowing myself to grow.

I spent the day with Mom and my sister and her family, and I'm exhausted. I got back shortly after 7pm, and just don't even have the energy to shower. Plus, if I went downtown, I would be stuck there until pretty late since I'm a good 30+ minutes away. And around here, there certainly aren't any gay bars. And tomorrow is my last day here - I need to pack, spend more time with Mom, and gear up for next quarter.

Anyway, I called the date and cancelled, claiming that I have a massive migraine and need to take an Imitrex and pass out (which was true two days ago). I feel massively lame. This isn't the first time that sleep issues have interfered with dating. I also know that the dad issue is seriously affecting me dating women - because I fear what he would think, and it just makes the whole thing seem not worth it. I don't like how this went at all. But, I am recognizing my limitations and that this month has been horrendous, so I'm going to give myself permission to take the easy road.

I asked her if I can call her the next time that I come to town, and she said of course, and that she isn't at all mad, which I hope is true. I hate not being able to be the person that I'd like to be - who can just go out on a normal date. But, I also realize now that I can't force this sort of thing on myself. I have to take a slower and easier road. I still have a goal of going out more and connecting more with others and dating, but I need to find ways to do it on my own terms and to be forgiving of my limitations. I'm going to watch a DVD of a lecture with the Dali Lama, have a drink, maybe start packing, and not feel bad that I put spending time with my family above the date.

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Friday, January 05, 2007

Question for Caretakers: Traveling With Alzheimer's

Here's another question for all the caretakers out there, and feel free to link to any relevant postings you have on this issue: I'm looking for information and stories about traveling with someone with Alzheimer's, specifically someone in later stages of the disease. There's a lot of talk about trying to take Mom to her family reunion (on her mother's side) and/or to Florida to the condo that she'll inherit from her Mom (something she used to do yearly). I'm worried about the work of traveling with her and that a different environment will worsen symptoms of the disease. I'm curious for those of you who have done it, what has worked and what have been some of your mistakes? Thanks to everyone who replies :)

Thursday, January 04, 2007

More Migraines and Anxiety

I went to bed last night developing a migraine. Clearly, there's too much anxiety in my life right now. I think I'm going to drop at least one of my classes, so that I don't have to hit the ground running as much when I return home.

Here's what's driving my anxiety right now: My dad and sister are still going on and on about Grandma's estate and my aunt's behavior. I was supposed to meet for lunch with my friend who works at the bank and manages my grandmother's estate, but had to cancel because of the migraine. She still wants to talk to me about this. I'm having dinner at her house tomorrow night. Her husband, my lawyer, called me up today encouraging me to sue my father because he's going to use his power of attorney to have the money that Mom will inherit from her mother to go to him. I reiterated to my friend that I'm not suing my family. But, I'm a bit uncomfortable now with both of them, especially since she's been messing a bit with my dad and sister, I think unintentionally. Its clear though, at least, that she's been pushing to meet with me and my sister more than with my cousins because she's setting us up to potentially challenge Dad's rights over my mother's share of the money. Gross! I really want no part of any of it BUT I'm hoping that by having this dinner where we don't talk about it all that we can retrack our friendship. Am I being naive?

My date for Saturday wants to pick me up (will she hint to my father something about it being a date and blow that I'm not out to him) at the house at 10:30pm. I negotiated 10pm, but this messes with my cognative behavioral sleep schedule that has me asleep at 11pm. We're going to the lesbian bar downtown, and it will be difficult for me to get home without her....but its a half hour drive down there, so its clearly going to be a later night than I need. I hate having this sleep issue; it almost always messes with dating. So what am I supposed to do? If I mess with my sleep schedule, I can make myself sick and throw it off altogether, although I guess that I'm flying in a few days to a different time zone so it'll get messed up already. This is just a longer term issue than just Saturday night. Its an issue of how to have a social life and keep the sleep schedule.

I just hope that by getting this out tonight on my blog, I can go sleep off the migraine tonight and wake up feeling better tomorrow. I scheduled a massage for Mom, which I'm hoping I can get my father to pay for on a regular basis, but the massage therapist wants me there the first time to help get Mom on the table and to be around if needed. I'm going to get sandwichs for Mom, me, and Mom's cousin and maybe my sister and her gang (they just got back into town tonight). Mom's really excited. Then, Saturday, I'm going to pick Mom up and take her to my sister's house, where I've arranged for my father to make us all his specialty, hamburgers. I'm trying to pack in doing nice things for her before I leave again. Leaving her with no scheduled return is another big piece of my anxiety....

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Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Boundaries and Types of Relationships: Lessons From Therapy

I met with my therapist in Kansas City today. (I know that its a bit wierd to have two therapists in two different cities, but I've spent more time here than there this year, so it made sense to go back to see the therapist that I used to work with when I lived here.) Anyway, she pointed out a couple of things of note that I'd like to record here so that I can go back and think about in the future. And feel free, my readers, to remind me of this later.

First, she pointed out that I have a tendency to spend more time and energy on relationships which are problematic and/or with people who have issues instead of on ones which are fun at the time and which give to me at a particular moment. She said that this is a pattern that I should think about.

Secondly, she noted that there are four types of relationships: public, social, private, and intimate. It is important to start relationships on the more superficial levels, but she noted that I have a tendency to push people into more private or intimate spaces too early. She suggested that I put more energy into public and social relationships, even though I feel less comfortable in those spaces. And, as I get to know people, I can decide whether or not it is appropriate to move into more or less intimate spaces. I think that I have a tendency to be too rigid about where a person fits - if I have a superficial relationship with someone, I want it to stay superficial and if it is intimiate, I want it to stay intimiate, BUT relationships are fluid.

Even though it feels counterintuitive, I should be spending more time and energy on more superficial/public relationships, so that I can get to know people more slowly and gradually and practice these boundaries of what is talked about, how often meet, and how much to depend on someone. By doing this, hopefully, I can create more connections with people and become less dependent on those few that I let into the more intimiate spheres. Part of my problem, I think is that I become much too dependent upon those in my intimate spheres, and the people that I let in there end up not being the right people, which is somewhat related to my low self-esteem. I feel less comfortable with healthier people because I worry about what I can offer; whereas people with more issues tend to make me feel more comfortable because I can offer something.

I don't know if any of this makes sense to anyone else, but I certainly have somethings to work on: having more fun and taking things less seriously, being more fluid about levels of intimacy, and putting myself in more spaces to have public/superficial relationships.

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Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Interview With Mom

Inspired by the podcasts of Gail, I decided to record an interview with Mom. I based the interview off of questions that I found here, although I wasn't able to complete it because Mom got tired. To get to the interview, click here.

Some things of note: My mom uses my real name once or twice in this interview, so if you listen to it, please don't start referring to me on the blog by my given name - use Karma. I figure that those of you who bother listening through the whole thing can be privy to the details of my life, but I don't want them listed on the blog, where they can be found through searches. Also, Mom tends to confuse the name of her husband and her father.

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Monday, January 01, 2007

What the Hell Happened With Kathy?

Okay, I had originally said that I wouldn't talk about it on my blog because I know that she has the address, but I haven't heard from Kathy since last night and she's deleted me as her friend on, and I don't have anyone to talk about this. I want to try to figure out here what happened with our friendship.

We had an amazing friendship for the last four years until about a month or so ago. I mean really amazing; she was one of my best friends and had been very supportive during the back and forth time. I know that she's been going through a hard time, so I've let it go that I we haven't been speaking much. I was more than a little disappointed when she didn't show up at Grandma's funeral or shiva until I gave her a hard time - and then she showed up at shiva long enough to tell me that she was busy and that if I wanted support that I should go find the bartender that I've had a fling with.

Then I didn't hear much from her until around the day before she left town around Christmas. I was sick, but she was trying to insist to come over - even though the doctor had told me that I was very contagious and shouldn't be around anyone who hasn't had a flu shot. She's been like this for awhile - wanting to do things for me that drain her and then resenting me. And I've been trying to tip toe around it, trying to figure out which things are those draining her and avoiding those and figuring out on my own what might be more mutually benefitical. But, nothings been working.

I only saw her twice since then - once was last night and the other time was the night that she got back into town last week. She wouldn't give any suggestions where we should have dinner, and it was clear that she wasn't happy where we went. We had talked about meeting up since then, but she only seemed interested if we'd work together (and I honestly haven't been working since I've been here, which I've tried to explain to her) or if my friend Ken was involved. Ken would tell both of us things that the other one had said, and I think created some anomosity between Kathy and me. I don't even know what happened, but I'm not sure what was said between them; only that they did speak about me several times including her telling him that I've been through a rough time and to be gentle with me or something like this. I don't even know. All I know though that is it seems that my friendship with him is apparently fucked up too.

See, here is a mistake that I can pinpoint: Last summer, I suggested that Kathy consider a fling with my friend and ex-lover Ken. I didn't realize it, but she started chatting him up over myspace. She has only been interested in the last week in meeting up when Ken might be around - when I tell her that he's not available, then she's busy; if he is around, then she insistent that we hang out. But, meeting up never happened. Last Saturday night, she had dinner with her friend Shawn, so I met up with Ken and some other friends. Kathy said that she was having dinner at 6pm, and I suggested that she call me afterwards if she wanted to meet up. She didn't call until 9:30pm, and then called 3 times - like every 15 minutes. We were in the middle of a board game, Rummy Q, so finally someone not in a corner gets up to get my phone and Kathy freaks out at me, even as I try to explain that I can't really talk right then. I get Ken to take me home so that I can call her in private, and then she like doesn't want to talk anymore.

Last night, we had plans to go out, and she had the nerve to come to dinner and then lie to my face that she was going home for a nap, when in reality, she went over to her friend Shawn's place. I think that she intended from there to spend New Year's with him, but still arranged to have me pick her up. I left my Mom's early to do so, only to hear at that point "I'm tired and I don't want to go out." She didn't bother to call me to let me know her change of plans so that I could spend more time with my mom. She didn't say, can we all hang out at someone's place and do something low key, she just blew me off. I was in shock. When I got to Merissa's place, I asked her and her mom to give me some privacy to call Kathy and find out what was happening. Kathy like was annoyed that I was saying anything at all and acted like I was completely off base. When I told her that I feel like she doesn't care about me, she gave me some example of caring about me months ago - I know that she cared about me months ago; I just feel like she hasn't cared much for the last monthish.

She seemed to just want to get off the phone. I haven't heard from her since. I think that the best thing is probably just not to talk to her for awhille, butI just don't understand what the hell happened. And now I've lost my best friend, and I'm heartbroken. I don't understand how she could lie to me, consistently blow me off, and get annoyed with me whenever I tried to bring up anything real going on.

Part of me is afraid to publish this because maybe she'll read it and just get more angry with me, but I feel like this is my space to deal with these sorts of things, and I need to start coming to terms with what's happened because clearly she's not interested in resolving things - broken is the way that our friendship will remain. And after everything that I've lost in 2006 and a four year close friendship, I just can't believe that she would treat me like this.

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New Year's Resolutions

April_optimist created some very positive, very do-able New Year's resolutions that I'd like to come back and look at again from time to time. I especially like how she talks about working every day to appreciate life. This sort of thing comes so easy to my Mom; I think I need practice - focusing on the positive, loving and accepting myself.

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Happy New Year!

Well, my life continues to be a whirlwind, or at least feel like it. I've been trying to be kind to myself and give myself lots of time with friends and to rest. Saturday night, I had dinner with some friends, and then we just hung out and drank and played games.

Last night, I had dinner with my parents and Kathy, hung out at Mom's, and then went out with my friend Merissa (Kathy was supposed to come but bailed out). We went to a party that a friend of hers got us invited to downtown. We were the ONLY women at the party (with the brief exception of a 50 year oldish lesbian couple), but it was a lot of fun. Everyone was very laid back, warm, and welcoming. Afterwards, we went over to this drag bar, Missy B's, which was super packed. Despite the fact that I had an argument with Kathy for the last two nights which is unresolved and very painful, I managed to have a really good time. For a couple of hours, I could relate to nice people in a way that didn't involve my thesis, my work, or my family. I also kissed someone at midnight and have a date for this Saturday. It made me feel like a normal person again instead of this tragic case.

I'm now officially into my last week in Kansas City. I have friends to meet up with, work to catch up on, my thesis to work on, my mom to take care of, my dad still kvetching about my aunt. It is still not an easy time by any means, but in the spirit of being kind to myself, when things got wirey with Kathy and another friend Ken (long story which I don't want to get into since Kathy reads the blog), I just let myself lay down for a couple of hours and part because I was so shocked by everything that's going on in my life.

I feel a little bit releaved about having 2006 behind me. It was a year filled with trouble and strife - the death of my grandmother, the quick decline of my mother, moving my mother into an ALF, the murder of my neighbor, and some serious let downs by people that I thought were good friends. This is the first new year's in a long time where I'm not sure what to expect from the coming year.

But, I have learned a thing or two though about how to approach the year. I expect that there will be more rough times ahead, so I know that I have to take things one step at a time and be diligent about remaining kind to myself and taking care of myself. I need to reach out to other people more, but in a more careful way, ensuring boundaries and that I don't get too emeshed with other people too quickly. I know that my priorities are shifting, and that while I still want to work on my career, I want to do it in a more balanced way. I want more space for relationships with other people (friendship and romantic) and for enjoying life. I also know that I need to create space for just acknowledging what I'm going through, so that I can move out of denial and shock and into feeling the pain of what I've been through, so that I can heal.

Thank you to everyone whose been reading my blog and expressing support over the past year.

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