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.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Finding the Middle Road

I haven't been blogging as much, I've noticed. Part of the reason is that I realize that some issues that I want to blog about involve people who might read the blog, and it no longer feels like a safe space in that regard. But, another part of the reason is that my life has seemed to find this middle road, where there seems less of a need to blog. I have Jerry to talk to about the things that happen in my day to day. And I've got so much going on with school, that there's less time to be obsessing about my life or things with my family. Plus, with the way that they treat me, especially Dad lately, it puts me off getting sucked into their stuff, even if it does sometimes involve Mom.

Jerry borrowed my car and went out of town until tomorrow, so now I get to hibernate at home with my thesis and prepare for my defense on Thursday and clean up a little since I'm having friends over tomorrow for "lesbian movie night" and just catch up on everything since I was sick a lot of last week.

Emotionally, I'm struggling with two sets of issues - one revolving around a lack of self-esteem and self-love which makes me not trust others. I think that I attract people who also have these sorts of issues into my life, and that also when someone is there for me over time, I am often looking for the moment when they'll betray me and hurt me. This got reinforced recently with whatever with Kathy, my cousins, and my sister, but is especially a pattern because of the way things are with my father.

The second set of issues deals with when I do get hurt by those who I care about and/or love. It tends to feel like this big betrayal, and maybe I need to come to terms with the fact that part of loving someone is being hurt by them. Maybe this is the nature of human relationships. I know that from a Buddhist perspective, the problem is some how related to attachment. I know though that these two sets of issues are related - lack of self-esteem and the affect of being hurt by others.

Anyway, that's why I am kinda happy to have the day and night to myself.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Rapist Doll: Disgusting!

This really grosses me out. They're actually marketing this doll across the country and all over the internet. See the link for a posting by Bitch PhD about it. It is from a Quitin Tarintino movie character who commits rape in the movie.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Friend Nearly Dies in Childbirth

One of my best friends nearly died giving birth to her child. The baby is fine, but my friend started hemorraging and after several hours, had an emergency hysterectomy. Then, her blood was clotting everywhere but where needed, and there was a danger of stroke. She has lost a lot of blood. Thank god, today I finally got to speak with her, and she's doing much better. I'm probably going to Indiana to help out with the new baby - just not sure when to go - maybe this weekend or maybe not til next month.

The whole thing stressed me out so much that I woke up at 1am with a migraine. It didn't help that Jerry was kinda blowing me off last night - we had plans and then he kept saying he was busy and when I would call him seemed distracted and almost annoyed at me or something. I eventually asked him to come over to comfort me - and he said he wanted to do some work first and then only called me after 11pm (my bedtime). Grr. When I texted him though after getting a call from him this morning, he texted back "What can I do for you?"

Augh - clearly, my body just cannot handle a lot of stress.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Things Getting Better

So Jerry and I made up. Dad called, and things with us are a bit better. Supposedly he said to my sister, "you know, when [Karma] makes up her mind about something, its hard to talk to her." My sister said, "uh where'd she get that from? That sounds more like you." Makes me laugh.

I spoke with Mom today on the phone. She recognized me and was excited to hear from me. It seems like she's stabled out from her decline over the last month or so. I think maybe the seroquil might actually be helping her, so I'm going to let that whole thing go.

Its a busy time with getting stuff finalized with my thesis, taking my intensive theory class on Bourdieu, ta-ing for Intro to Women's Studies, working for my advisor on her research, and everything else I'm trying to keep up with. So, I'm sorry if I'm not following as closely others' blogs and that I'm not keeping up with the "Gratitude" blog. I'll get back to these things when I have more time.

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Sunday, April 15, 2007

Letter Back to My Dad

Dear Dad,

There are a few things that I would like to say in response to your later from 4-6-07. First, as you know, I have been given a copy of this report from Dr. Anderson previously. We’ve also discussed it many times, and I know that the report has been useful to you in other ways, i.e. when you need to prove Mom’s illness to someone – for financial reasons and probably also at Sunrise. Also, I want to remind you that Dr. Anderson prescribed the Namenda, which showed some significant help to Mom.

My point is that despite that it took you several hours to go to this doctor and that you had some frustrations, there were some GOOD things that came out of it. The point of going to the doctor isn’t that it’ll be easy and perfect, but to gain some knowledge and another opinion about a medical issue. My desire for Mom to see a geriatric psychiatrist, or someone who specializes in the sorts of issues that Mom is dealing with now, is to gain more information about what is going on AND to give Mom the benefit of significant evaluation of her mental health issues.

You pointed out that you were at Dr. Anderson’s office for 3 hours. Since that time, you have spent more time for yourself in medical doctors’ offices than you have taking Mom to them. How long have you spent getting treatments for yourself? My point is not that you shouldn’t be getting treatments, but to remind you that Mom can no longer take her self and that unless you give someone else permission, she can not get there without you.

In regards to anti-depressants, I will tell you that although when they were misdiagnosed for me, I had some negative reactions to them, I was on the anti-depressant lexapro last year for several months after you told me that you were moving Mom into a home. I was dealing with a lot of depressed emotions then, and while when I returned home and could focus on what I was feeling and have time to process it, the lexapro really helped me make it through that time. Notably, I experienced no side effects to the medication.

Still, we are not talking about putting Mom on an anti-depressant at this time, so I’m not sure how that discussion is even relevant. I am encouraging having a specialist look more indepthly at Mom’s mental health issues and have the person consider treating her with anti-anxiety medication (i.e. Xanax) instead of anti-psychotic medication (Seraquil) since her problem appears to be one of anxiety, and she is not showing psychotic symptoms from what Mary Ann and Nancy explained to me.

Also, I do NOT appreciate that letter about inter-marriage. I am not sure what your point was in sending it to me. I have only been dating Jerry for three months, and the last thing that I need is pressure to not marry him when we’ve only just started dating ESPECIALLY when you would actually really like this guy a whole heck of a lot more than any other guy I’ve been dating. (Showing affinity for Alex 10 years after we dated doesn’t count.)

We’re all going through a rough time, and we need to be supportive of one another.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Jerry Called Me a JAP

Its been a busy couple of days. I've managed to start taking better care of myself though and brought myself to acupunture and got a massage yesterday. I'm also working hard on sleeping better and communicating with Jerry about birth control issues. We had a great night last night - he drove me up to the hills to watch the sunset and drink this really amazing beer. Then, we went to a new sushi restaurant, and he came over where we both fell asleep in each other's arms on the couch.

Today, he asked me to come with him to his beer club meeting. I said that I'd work out first, and then come by - as the club was meeting near my gym this month. In the car ride over there, Jerry called me a Jewish American Princess. I don't even know what we were talking about beforehand; I was just so shocked by it. At first I was just going to let the comment slide right off as if he hadn't said it. But, it just kept ringing in my head. I told him that to call someone that is offensive, and he said that he didn't realize. He apologized, but then told me that he didn't understand why I was "brooding" over the whole thing and if it really bothers me "why don't we just break up?"

I was really hurt and shocked. I called *A* who had told me before that he was going to be going out near my house and asked him if he'd give me a ride home. I left Jerry a text message that I'd be doing that....Jerry was supposed to make me dinner tonight, and then we were going to go to a party. But I haven't heard from him at all. I even called him at 6:30 - an hour and a half ago, but only got his machine.

I'm not quite sure what to think about the whole thing. It tends to take me a day or so to figure these things out - which is why I just wanted some time and space from Jerry. Although, if Jerry thinks it is okay to say sexist, mysogynistic, anti-Semetic things to me, and he's not going to try to understand where I'm coming from - maybe its time to end this.

I have to be honest that I REALLY don't want to do that. I really care about Jerry, and honestly these last 3 months - this is the longest relationship that I've had in a long time. And I've felt really comfortable and taken care of and connected and why is it that these things tend to happen so out of the blue? One minute you're happy and in what seems like this great relationship, and the next minute, you're being insulted and ignored and then months of your life just sort of disappear....

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Letter from My Father

Dear [Karma],
Enclosed is a copy of the report on your mother from the neurologist. [That was two years ago - my sister and I begged him to take her.] It took me 6 weeks to get an appointment. I got there at 10:30 am for an 11am appointment and saw the doctor at 11:30am. We left there at 1:30.

The neurologist recommended Zoloft which is an SSRI. Another brand is Prozac. You were given the same medication from a pscyhiatrist a few years ago [note: more like 15 years ago]. After you checked it out you told me that if you took or continued taking this it would kill you!

Also enclosed came from the synagogue newsletter.


- - -
So, the "enclosed" is a LONG letter that some father wrote to his kids who were dating non-Jews telling them basically that they had to break up and marry someone Jewish.

I am really upset about this and not sure how to respond to my father.

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Monday, April 09, 2007

An Easter Egg Hunt

So, yesterday Jerry and I drove down to meet his parents and brother at the Easter celebration at some fancy schmancy house of a friend of the family. It took us over 2 hours to get there. His family was somewhat coldish. I think it might be because they've met a lot of girlfriends over the years. Jerry said that I'm the first in about a year or so or something....clearly there are lots. His brother was being very formally host-like (it was his friend hosting the party).

The whole thing was wierdish because its Passover right, and here's the whole dinner of ham and bread and stuff with bread in it and lots of dairy, which I can't eat because the Jews tend to be lactose I'm feeling very out of place. The only conversation I can seem to get going is - so you're a Jew and you have funny eating habits.

We're not sitting down to eat until 4pm (even though we were to arrive at 12:30 and I hadn't eaten since breakfast). So, I end up getting a little dizzy and light headed, especially since I had a mimosa.

After we eat, several people ask me if I want dessert - which of course I can't eat because its a bunch of cakes and pies, not kosher for Passover. We are forced inside while the hostest prepares for the Easter egg hunt, which I'm told that we ALL have to participant in. I'm mortified - I just gave my sister a hard time for taking her kids to an Easter egg hunt. This is where I draw the line - I'll come meet everyone and not have a lot to eat BUT I WILL NOT hunt for Easter eggs.

So, I probably not so calmly ask Jerry for the keys to the car so I can get my phone and make a call, which I say is to my aunt who were going to stop by and see later, although I call Sanchi because I hope to be able to have a long conversation outside and be able to miss the "festivities."

Jerry's mom was sweet and walked us out and hugged me twice and said she hopes to see me again. But, his Dad was watching tv in a back room and could hardly be found. Honestly, this is not the family welcome that I'm used to. Jewish families tend to LOVE me.

I can't decide if I was over-reacting to the Easter egg hunt or if I should just be completely open with Jerry that there's no way that I feel comfortable participating in anything remotely Christian. That's just me. (Note: I would be much more comfortable with Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, etc.) If we ever have kids, I don't think that I'd want them to do that either. I'm Jewish and any future off-spring also Jewish. But Jerry is a great guy and made such an effort to try to help me fit in and we have a great time together, so do I need to be more open minded about the whole shtick?

Sidenote: My aunt gave me a hard time about my Dad and not going to this summer's family reunion. Why did Dad have to put Mom in a home? Why can't I take my Mom to D.C. by myself for the reunion? Augh! Drove me freakin crazy. And of course, she looks much like and talks JUST like my grandmother which was kinda sad to see.

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Saturday, April 07, 2007

Time To Deal With the Emotions

Augh. I just dragged myself out of bed after a good 10 minute cry. Oakland and Kansas City were great, but they were also draining as hell, and the whole time I had to be focused on getting through and getting done whatever was needed and moving on. So, now's my time to deal with the emotions and let myself process it all.

I've actually be wanting to write in the blog for awhile, but haven't found the time. Thanks to all of my readers for sticking through with me through this scantily posting time. Today, I'm completely exhausted, and there's still lots to do, but I need to just get this all down.

Mom's so clearly a lot worse than the last time I saw her in early January. Sometimes she doesn't recognize me anymore. The night of first seder, she went up to my sister and said, "Do you know me? You look really familiar." Then later, I told her to sit down next to her husband, and she looks at him and says, "I like you. I'd like to get you know you better." My dad awkwardly laughed and said, "well, we've been married for 37 years!" I think we're all having a hard time with it. The thing is though, I know that this night where she was uber confused, she had received seroquil in the morning. I think that this anti-pscyhotic medication that she gets prn now really messes with her. It also makes her just completely exhausted.

I really want her to be switched to an anti-anxiety. I had the nurses at my mom's facility confirm that it seems that my mom is suffering from anxiety and is NOT violent. Here's how this thing all happened apparently: a resident was running away from Mom and apparently she will raise her voice to other residents and sometimes stand too close to them and give them dirty looks or something. So, someone at the ALF called the resident doctor, who was out of town, so his aide prescribed the seroquil for my Mom prn. She got it 4 times in the first 11 days that it was prescribed.

I spoke with the doctor who said that he would review it, but that didn't happen until I had left Kansas City. Dad told me two nights ago that when he spoke with the doctor, he was told that Mom won't be switched (I think Dad doesn't want her switched either). But here were the reasons:
  1. Anti-antiety medications are addictive. (Well, who cares because Mom has a fatal illness! And if they are prescribed delicately, this can be avoided.)
  2. Anti-anxiety medications have to be given all the time and can't be given prn. (I know this is completely false.)
  3. Anti-anxiety medications make you sleepy. (Well this is ironic since that's our problem with the seroquil, and if they didn't prescribe too high of a dose and of the right medication, that wouldn't be a problem.)
  4. The seroquil solves the problem with Mom, so why try something else. (Well, the seroquil makes her really out of it, but I think that it also worsens her confusion.)
Dad also said that he refuses to take Mom to a geriatric pscyhiatrist. He told me that all of this is his decision, not mine, and I've only been there a couple of days, so I don't deserve any say anyway. He was really rude on the phone, and I was really hurt. Also, I'm so disappointed.

I feel like this issue isn't just a medical one, but probably also related to the care that Mom receives. There are often no programs going on for residents of Mom's floor, and I imagine that the problems are developing when they're left unsupervised (which I saw a couple of times). I spoke with someone from the Alzheimer's Association, who was nice enough to even offer to come out and do a formal evaulation of Mom BUT I'd have to get Dad to sign a release, which of course, he's not going to do.

I feel so completely helpless. I wanted to call the facility on some of the things that I saw, but I knew that only being there a few days, no one would take me seriously, especially when Dad seems perfectly happy with how things are. I don't want to cause trouble. I just wish that there was some way to make things better for Mom. And while generally, I believe that people should trust and support the caregivers, Dad completely admitted to me that he's overwhelmed and kinda given up on Mom. Whatever the facility does, that's what'll happen. He thinks everything is kind of out of his hands at this point. And I think that this is a really dangerous thing for Mom, because the facility knows that they can ignore her issues as Dad does.

I don't mean to be too hard on my Dad - he does do a lot for my Mom. Its hard that other family members just completely dog the way that Dad does caregiving, and Mom's cousin even suggested as I was leaving that I sue Dad for custody over Mom. I don't want to fight with him - I just wish that we could work some of these things out as a family and try to keep what's best for Mom at the top of our priority. I also need to have permission to be at school and living my life here and now have that thrown in my face.

The whole trip was such ups and downs - I gave great presentations at the conference and had fun hanging out in San Francisco with a classmate, but I had bad experiences with the hotel, but I complained to the Hilton corp and got $100 taken off my bill. I had the best time playing with my niece and nephew who are starting to really connect with me, but I'm sort of fighting with my Dad and my brother in law was giving me a hard time constantly. I got to see Mom and do things for her like tuck her into bed, but it was so hard to see her doing so poorly.

Somehow tomorrow, I'm supposed to drive hours to see Jerry's family at some friend of his brother's Easter party, and I really just don't want to go right now, although part of me feels like I should to be a good girlfriend and am honored that he's ready for me to meet his family. I just want to be in bed and cry. Cry over what's happening with Mom. Cry over the family dynamics. Cry over the fears and grief that I've had to deal with this past week.

All the while, I'm having to jump into this next quarter of school and lots of work to do. I really just want to burrow up at home for awhile and not have anywhere to be or anyone to talk to. There's a silent meditation today at someone's house that I'm regretfully missing - maybe I should go up there even though its late??

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Monday, April 02, 2007

Visiting Kansas City

I arrived in Kansas City yesterday at noon after finishing whatever with the conference in Oakland. It has been a whirlwind.

I wasn't happy with what I saw at Mom's ALF last night. Some guy told me that I have to move back to town, but otherwise Mom and I were generally ignored. I asked later the only staff person that I could find said that she was the only one on staff for the floor, so they put everyone to bed early before other people last.

I'm listening now to this interview that I found that I conducted of my Mom about 10 years ago. It was a part of my undergraduate degree. Jerry helped me get the interview onto a digital format so that I can play it for Mom. I'm just now realizing though that I have to go and pick out any bad memories she has on here. But, I want to play it for her and hope that it'll trigger some memories - I mean it is HER voice telling HER stories. Jerry was sweet to do this for me my last night at home.

It is great to see my niece and nephew and parents and we're all getting along okay, even though my brother in law is still as always a schmuck. Last night, after I commented on my sister's plans to take my niece and nephew to an easter egg hunt, my brother in law told me not to comment because they're not religious people yadada. So, I said, so then you're fine with me dating a Christian. Bro in law: No that's not okay. Look, WE know who WE are.

Anyway, lots of random thoughts in this post. I'm still jet lagged and tired from all of the traveling and have just tons and tons to do. Just wanted to quickly update.

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