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.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Big Discussion with Jerry Last Night

Last night, I got dressed up for a party with some girlfriends for the last episode of this season's L Word. I was looking pretty fabulous in my leather boots and had an emotional day dealing with issues discussed in the last post. Anyway, so I stopped by to Jerry's place.

Jerry put in this movie something like the Adventures of Super Dave or something. It was total stupid guy humor, and it was clear that I wasn't interested. The last of Jerry's roommates left the house, and so I made a pass at Jerry.

Jerry told me that he was tired and hadn't showered. With a little encouragement, Jerry finally said that he just wanted to shower first. So he leaves me sitting on the couch for like 15-20 minutes waiting for him. And then, the whole thing is just so awkward. It is like his whole attitude is that he'll just lay there, and I can do what I want to him. Anyway, there's not exactly a happy ending, and we end up talking about what happened and what we can do to improve the situation. (Discussion of COURSE brought up by me; he was just going to lay there silently.)

Now, this might be a little TMI, so feel free to skip ahead here, but Jerry started giving me all of these criticisms/negative feedback and sort of blamed the whole thing on me: I need to be more lubricated. I should give him more oral sex and when I do, he mentioned things that he doesn't want me to do (not any comments of, yeah I like this or that). Anyway, I am laying there a bit hurt and overwhelmed, so I say: And how about some positive feedback?

Jerry says: What, you don't want me to tell you what I like?
Me: OF COURSE, I just would like some positive comments with the negative.

We talked about what we're looking for sexually, and just said that we're looking for different things. Jerry also admitted that he didn't understand my perspective on sexuality - and it was so late and I had already tried to explain it - so I guess I have to work on better iterating my thoughts on this. It was a very awkward discussion which basically made me worried that we were breaking up or something. But, I guess things are good with us and that sex just isn't a big part of a relationship for Jerry.

This is very hard for me because I prescribe to rape culture theory and to the notion that the prevelance of rape in our society is connected to mainstream heteronormative sexuality based on traditional gender roles. Catherine McKinnon said that all heterosexual sex is rape. I believe that she meant that all heterosexual sex is built on gender roles of aggressor/taker/penatrator male and passive female. I have been able to reclaim my sexuality as a survivor by believing that I'm able to break out of this sytem of rape culture sexuality. BUT Jerry's not interested in any of this or understands it all. I'm going to give it another try, but this could seriously be the thing that ends us.

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Sunday, March 25, 2007

Missing Israel; Mom's Getting "Violent"

A friend of mine from Israel came to visit the last couple of days. We had a great time, although it was a whirlwind trip - she came in Thursday afternoon and left last night. Being with her made me REALLY think about Israel and when will I get to go back and when will I get to live there again. It also made me feel the loss of not doing my dissertation work on my Israel project. I also just really miss her now that she's gone and feel how much I miss my other Israel friends - Helen and Sara especially.

I just feel really disconnected from Israel. I think this is partially added to the fact that I'm dating someone not Jewish, who isn't connected to Israel.... Having my friend ask me about whether or not I would really marry someone not Jewish and what that would look like, it just kinda freaked me out. ESPECIALLY because Jerry insisted on not eating chicken with us Friday night when we made Shabbat dinner because he's apparently following some outdated Catholic rule (which the Pope even overturned!).

Okay, now add to this that she was also asking me about *A* who we hung out with a bit - and it was clear to her that there's still deep love between the two of us. We went to *A*'s hangout bar to buy him a drink for his birthday. And, I don't know, his friend who he hangs out with told me that he hasn't dated anyone. Its just hard that we don't fully have closurer there.

Then just to make me freak out more yesterday, Z phoned me by mistake and was kinda a jerk about it.

Plus, Mom's ALF told my dad that Mom has become "violent." She takes other people's drinks in the kitchen, and she was chasing another resident down the hall. My sister noted that who knows what that woman did to provoke Mom. Anyway, doesn't matter - Mom's clearly getting worse and developing the behavioral symptoms of Stage 6 Alzheimer's that we somehow naively thought we'd get away with not having to deal with. Now, this morning, my dad calls me to tell me that without his permission, they put her on Seroquel, an anti-psychotic that is commonly prescribed for people with later stage Alzheimer's.

I really want Mom to see a specialized geriatric pscyhiatrist, but Dad says that he doesn't want to bother with it. He's kinda throwing in the towel on being able to do anything with this. So, what's going to happen. I'm going to try on my own to find one through the Alzheimer's Association and see if the dr. will take my Mom's case either by going to her facility or not having to see my Mom or something. I don't know. All I know is, again this falls onto my lap.

And I'm just really sad to have this happen to my mom. I'm sad to not have plans to go to Israel and to feel so distant from my Israel research. I miss my Israel friends.

Last night, I couldn't fall asleep next to Jerry, and ended up coming downstairs to cry a bit while trying to hide it from him. Today, I am noticing that I'm just bitchy to be around, and sent him away, telling him that I need to just sit and cry a little to get it out of my system. He was sweet and gave me a big hug and asked if there was anything that would cheer me up. Honestly, I think that I just need to let myself feel sad and freaked out a little bit.

I'm a little scared about my upcoming trip next week to Oakland by myself. I got an offer to share a room with my ex-girlfriend, which I know would be a bad idea and Jerry's clearly not comfortable with, but it would mean that I wouldn't have to be alone and would save LOTS of money on hotel. But, I'll probably just stay by myself, but it just makes me nervous. And, I don't know how I'll face my Mom with her so much worse.

I'm sure tomorrow, I'll feel a lot better. I'm just hitting this place of deep sadness that I'm going to honor and let myself feel.

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Monday, March 19, 2007

Family, Frustrations, Friends, and Good Times

This morning, I received a phone call from my advisor asking me to step in and try to do some emergency work for our project. An hour later after I'm right in the middle of finishing up, there's an email to me saying that she's giving the project to some one else on our team. Anyway, I've just wasted my time, and I'm annoyed that they did that over email instead of the other guy just calling me - which my advisor still says she wants me to talk to him. I already left him a message. Anyway, whine whine. Okay, I'm done.

Yesterday, dad called me to let me know that he thinks Mom is constipated again and is going to have her medication upped from a stool softner to a stool softener with a laxative. Also, he can't be bothered to bring Mom the danactive yogurt that I would get for Mom to help regulate her and told me that even when he was bringing it, he would bring NOT her favorite flavor because he could get the other easier. He kept saying, "Well the laxative will do the trick. That's what worked for [our aunt who my dad was caretaking for years ago]." I wanted to scream at him that Mom is not our aunt. I was trying to be understanding of his situation of having plenty to take care of with Mom anyway, but it just frustrates me that he wouldn't be willing to just talk about other possibilities - especially since he's so normally anti-anything mainstream medicine, and now he won't even consider anything BUT that. Like how about we get her on a fiber suplement and keep up the yogurt and push the ALF to feed her food that she digests better.

Today, I spoke with my sister about it, who claimed that she had off loaded the buying of the yogurt on to Dad because money is so tight for them right now because my Dad won't give them any money and they're not working. I'm so not getting into the middle of this fight between my sister and my Dad, but I pointed out to my sister that the yogurt isn't very expensive. I told her if that's really the issue, then I'll send her a check for $20 every month so that Mom can get her yogurt. Ridiculous! My sister, of course, declined - its not the money that she's thinking about now but this dance that she is doing with my father.

On a funny note though, my sister complained that my father told both my sister and her husband that he wishes that his daughter married doctors.
Me: But Dad hates doctors.
Sister: Well not medical doctors, but someone with a PhD.

So, this is a direct reference to Jerry! My dad told my sister that he likes my boyfriend better than her husband I guess. It is WAY obnoxious of my father. But, it cracks me up because my father has liked NO ONE that I've ever dated before, he's never even met Jerry, I'm not married or anywhere near it which Dad used to make a big deal about, and my sister is the one following the path Dad set out for us while I'm the one doing my own thing. I think that it also demonstrates some respect for me working on my PhD.

So how are things going with Jerry? Pretty good, I'd say. I still find myself at moments feeling insecure and thinking that maybe he doesn't really like me. Then, I try to step back and breathe a bit and pull away my sense of self from his affection. Anyway, things are going well. He keeps me pretty busy because I see him almost every day - either we meet up for dinner or to just hang out at the end of the day.

My conference is coming up, and I'm still nervous about it. My ex-girlfriend offered for me to stay in a room with her and a few others, but I think its a bad idea, and it sounds like only SHE would want me there but that I'd be crowding the room. Anyway, I'm going to stick to being on my own. I joked with Jerry about what a bad idea it would be. I think that I need to sit down and have a talk with her at some point about how I really want to give this thing with Jerry a shot and that means that I can't pursue anything with her and don't even feel comfortable flirting.

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Sunday, March 11, 2007

This Week's Update

Wow, I really haven't been blogging as much as I used to. I do very much keep up with everyone's responses, which I greatly appreciate. And I'm trying to keep up with some of your blogs. I'm just really busy these days and not feeling as much of a need to write as much - I think because there's so many good things happening.

I'm supposed to host a prospective grad student to my department tonight, and her train is running about an hour late. I had planned to go hiking with Jerry, then pick up the prospy, get take out Chinese (on the department) and head on over to my friends' place for the L-Word. Jerry made plans to pick me up at 3pm, but when I called him at 3:15, seemed spacey about the whole thing. We rushed through hike because the first place we went was covered with brush and ended up not getting a lot of exercise so that we could get back in time for me to get to the train station in time.

Anyway, a lot of worry and effort to plan things only to have them fall apart. It hits a bit of a nerve with me - because I have a tendency to feel out of control with things and over planning helps me feel more in control EXCEPT in cases like this where nothing quite works. Also, now I'm going to have to miss the L-Word (grr). I think that I could have made things work out a bit more if I had more hutzpah, but I have a hard time asking for things, especially when things fall apart a bit and I lose my confidence.

All in all though, its been a pretty nice week. I am stressing a bit about the amount of revision work that I have to do to my thesis. Also, tomorrow night this writing group that I organize is supposed to look at something that I want to turn into an article, and I'm feeling very unprepared.

Time is kinda flying by. I'm feeling a bit nervous again about going to this upcoming conference by myself. But, I'm excited to go home to KC and see my Mom. It was her birthday on Friday. I sent flowers and Jewish pastries she likes from a NY Jewish bakery. She sent me a nice card in return. When I told her how old she was, she got really upset about it. So, when I spoke a later time with Mom and my sister, when Mom asked how old she was, my sister told her "39." Mom still didn't like that, so I said that my sister was kidding and really she's "29". Mom seemed to like that a lot better. Of course, both my sister and I are in our early 30s, so you figure that one out.

Yesterday, I took Jerry to my department barbeque and felt more comfortable there with his accompaniment. Then, we went to see Yo Yo Ma in concert, which was amazing; Jerry's friend got us in for free somehow. Next, we headed to his beer brewing club, had some Thai food, and watched Borat. Jerry spent the night for a first time in a long time, and I really liked that. I'm finally sleeping well with someone else in the bed - - although by the end of the night, by 15 lb dog had shoved Jerry's legs over to my side of the bed, so I didn't have a lot of room.

I'm working to keep my focus on the positive things and on making the most out of every moment. I'm noticing how rigid I am about certain things - when and what I eat, when I sleep - and I'm trying to not get as grochy when things can't go exactly the way that I am used to them going. And at the same time, balance this with paying attention to my needs and not getting subsumed in taking care of others.

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Monday, March 05, 2007

Tried to Contact Kathy

I sent Kathy a card, and then called left her a message - just telling her that I miss her. Anyway, here's her response:

I got your card, and your voicemail.  Listen, I don't want you to feel
bad and I am sorry to know that my actions have hurt your feelings.
However, I have some pretty bad memories of the end of our friendship.
The nutshell of it is that I don't want to be friends right now, and I
can imagine we could go back and forth on this issue all day - but I
ended up feeling like you were very demanding and really hard on me about
a few things. It felt ultimately exhausting and I felt backed into a

I know this email is not what you wanted to read. I'm asking you to
stop contacting me, and try to respect that our friendship became
something much more stressful than I anticipated, and that I simply don't want
to try to resolve things, even though there were many good things about
knowing you, and I know that you are a special person that is working
to make this world a better place.
- - - -
I wrote her back telling her that I'm not even sure what she means about the end of our friendship, but that I'll not contact her again. I'm pretty disappointed.

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Saturday, March 03, 2007

Thanks to All My Blog Supporters Who Have Made This a Great Year

I'm just noticing that its been a whole year that I've had this blog; I started March 2006. What a trip it has been! And I've had over 5000 hits and am getting many comments to posts. All in all, I think that blogging has been really good for me.

Last night, I was feeling anxious, so I just stopped everything and went to work out. I saw *A* and dropped off my mail on the way to the gym, since he works around the corner, and checked out the bookstore there. I'm getting a book on travel to the Oakland area and will stress about what to do while there for my conference after looking at the book. Merissa can't go with me, and I'm still tempted to like just make it work for Jerry by offering to buy his plane ticket and figuring out all the details. But, if I'm going to buy his ticket, I might as well consider just getting a nicer hotel room in a place where I feel safer and trying to find a way to do this on my own.

I wasn't sure what to do last night with myself. I saw that the Vagina Monologues were being performed at school and emailed some classmates, but no one was interested in going. Jerry had some dinner with his department recruits. Anyway, Jerry ended up meeting me for the show, which was great, and he liked it. I was amazed, especially because I just had a conversation with Sanchi about how her husband wasn't so thrilled about going. Jerry did notice that there weren't many men there, but he seemed to have a good time.

He also told me that he mentioned to his classmates that he's dating a Jewish feminist, aka me. And I feel good that we're settling into a relationship. He asked me to come by his department barbeque this afternoon - a big step in that its an acknowledgement to all of his peers that I'm his girlfriend. I also took him to meet my neighbor who has a dog that is my dog's boyfriend. I've known them since I moved out here, and that was kinda a step too.

Also, I was accepted to teach my OWN class this summer. Its a month and a half - the Sociology of Art and Literature - not my area, but I think that I can make it into a fun class. I'm very excited and was grateful yesterday to have something to focus my work time on.

And, I spoke with Mom today. She asked where I am and what I'm doing. I told her: "I'm going to school." Mom: "Ah right you're in college." Me: "I'm about to get my master's degree. And then I'm going to go to work on my get my doctorate....and then you'll have a daughter who is a dr." Mom said: "Wow, that's so wonderful. I'm really proud of you." I was talking to Mom while walking my dog, but that didn't stop me from crying a bit. What Mom said to me was the only lucid thing that she really got out in the conversation. She was looking forward to lunch at my sister's place when my dad would make hamburgers. She wrongly thought it was tomorrow, but she's still remembering a bit.

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Thursday, March 01, 2007

Panicky About Upcoming Travel

I'm presenting at this conference the end of the month, which I've known about for awhile and been asking peers if they're looking for roommates, but just kinda been in denial about. I got panicky about the conference last year too. Traveling by myself and especially staying at a hotel by myself can trigger PTSD symptoms for me, especially if I'm not familiar with where I'm going and/or there isn't anyone looking out for me during the travels.

I asked Jerry if he wants to go with me, but he's got a class that he can't miss, so that's a no go.

A peer that I barely know set me up with someone to possibily room with, but the idea of that freaks me out maybe even more than just staying by myself. But getting a hotel room for three nights by myself seems ridiculously expensive. I don't even know what I'm going to do there by myself - I know a couple people who might be going, but I certainly don't have anyone to hang out with. I need to tap into that independent, explorer part of myself.

I got so nervous about it today, looking at hotel rooms, that I decided to just take some time off from everything and did some gardening. That was like two hours ago. I want to try to take the pressure off and think about how to make the trip fun, but thinking about it just makes me kinda shaky. Augh! Stupid PTSD.

Okay, here's what might be fun to do in Oakland/San Franciso:
1. Friday night I can go to services at the Jewbu schul.
2. I really like the Haight area - although I don't know if it'll really be fun alone.
3. I can probably find some other Jewbu/meditation things to check out.
4. Maybe I could get my friend Merissa to come up with me?

Part of the reason why this is such a big deal also is that I'll probably drive, which means driving right by my cousins who aren't speaking to me. Normally on such a drive, I would stop by and see them and be encouraged to spend a night. But, now I'll have to just drive right by, and the thought of this makes me very sad.

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