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, January 28, 2008

Good Times, Friend Dies

So last night I met on old friend at one of my favorite bars for a drink. He's leaving town, and it was nice to have time to catch up. It was funny though, he asked me: "So why is it that all of your friends are either Jewish or lesbians?"

Then, I went over to a friend's place where a group of us meet every Sunday to watch the "L Word." Even though I got there late, they waited for me. We were laughing and commenting on the show. After it ended, we sat around and talked and played the Wi that someone just bought.

Until we got the call. A friend of ours died Sunday night. She had been not feeling well for months now. I didn't know this because we weren't that close, but apparently she was having very low blood sugar and lots of other symptoms. The doctors either would tell her that there wasn't anything wrong or send her away. She often ended up in urgent care, and the doctors there wouldn't pay too much attention to her. The bills from that added up until she owed so much that the hospital didn't want to treat her anymore. She struggled to find any medical care.

She went to her parents' home to try to get better. Last week, she finally got a diagnosis: Addison's Disease. And then, she just died.

We were all in shock. I stayed around until 12:30 am comforting my friends and trying to process. I'm VERY ANGRY that my friend died this very preventable death because doctors tend not to take women seriously and because we don't have affordable health care in this country. I'm sad to see my friends in pain. And, I'm thinking about how hard it is to lose my Mom.

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

When Death Approaches, You Think About Death

As Mom's death approaches, its making us all think about death. My sister and her husband are finally getting around to putting together a will. After some discussion, they've going to leave me their kids. Its a big thing because we've all not been getting a long for some time. They admitted that they've talked about giving the kids to my brother in law's sister who lives in LA (but hardly sees the kids and my sis really doesn't like) or friends, but they've decided that no one has a better connection with the kids than me.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Permission to Heal Poem

My therapist gave me this poem. I think its a very JewBu message and that you might also be struggling with these issues. So here it is:

"Wild Geese"
by Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
on the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting --
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

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Saturday, January 19, 2008

Body Says: Take Better Care of Me

Well, after working myself to the bone to be prepared for class and writing this last minute paper for my research team (because this other paper fell through...long story), my body said to me: "Girl, you better start taking care of me." I started getting congested, tired, achey, super cold. So, after I finished my paper on Thursday, I've been at home resting, trying to heal. Last night, I developed a migraine.

I go through these cycles of pushing myself too hard and then either getting sick or getting a migraine or both. I think its a message from my body to take better care of myself, like a slap in the tuchus to get better balance in my life.

My homework from therapy this week is to think about the people in my life who are good for me. See, I tend to be attracted to people who aren't good for me, who will take me for granted, not see my needs as valid, not be good at communication....I do this because of a pattern that I developed as child. As much as I try to deny it, I am like my mother in this way: I try to take care of others and get connected to those who will take and take from me without seeing my needs as valid. People who do meet my needs, I don't notice because I've been trained that only those who abuse me really love me.

So, let's notice the people who have been meeting my needs this week.
  1. My friend Alena stopped by my agriculturist's and picked up Chinese herbs for me.
  2. NJG called and offered to run to the store for me or drop by movies.
  3. My neighbor returned my humidifier and kept me company.
  4. My acupuncturist got herbs ready for me and gave me a box of herbs for colds (which I think she's giving me for free). She's going to let me pay for the former next time I come in.
  5. This woman sitting in on my class pulled up a video that she wants us to watch in class.
  6. My friend Nicole is hosting an L-word party at her house, and I'm invited.
  7. My team is making me first author on our paper.
  8. Many of my blog readers have given me supportive comments, even though I've been off line.
I think that my task for the near future is to learn how to ask for what I want, to notice those who give me what I need, and to keep learning how to take care of myself. Oh, and by the way, I finally get that I'm not ready to date until I can figure all of this out.

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Happy Anniversary

Exactly 11 years ago, I moved to Israel. Read here for the rest of the story. I came home today and ended up curled up on the couch. I felt bad about it for a bit, and then remembered what day it is and decided to be a little easy on myself.

Its been a rough week. I spoke with Steph that I don't want to see anymore because she hit on my friend's girlfriend. She asked if she apologized to my friend and made it okay, if that would change things. So, she went on to send some weird rambly, horribly spelled email where she recited everything that she knows about me. And then she didn't even send it to my friend, just to me.

And as she's also sending me like 10 text messages, my father calls me to "get my opinion." Then he goes on to tell me that there's some money set aside from my grandparents' that he can't touch, but he's planned on having that money taxed (even though it could be exempted) - and so we'll only get half. Then, he sort of tried to trade me not having the money taxed for having some sort of generation skipping trust be set up so that money doesn't go to my sister and I at all but is saved for our descendants. He went off on how he doesn't trust my sister. And then he admitted that he plans on taking the last bit of money left for us by my grandmother. The whole thing freaked me out. He said - soon everything will be final and nothing will be able to be changed; we have to act fast if we're going to do anything. I told him that I don't want Mom's will changed and that he's got enough to worry about taking care of Mom.

I'm going to be okay this year. Its all just making me feel tired and lethargic and unfocused. But tomorrow I'm getting a massage and have therapy and tonight I'm skyping with a good friend. So, I know I'm not alone in this and that this time will pass. I have to just let myself feel the feelings, and then let them float away.

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Sunday, January 06, 2008

More Family Strife

So, my sister went down to Florida to go to my grandmother's condo for one last time before it gets sold by Dad. Sis and I fought with Dad a bit after he got rid of a bunch of her stuff without telling us. Dad said it would be okay if when my sis was there that she'd take some things and send some to me.

My sister sent me a couple of sentimental things that were left including a couple of items that I bought them in Israel. I really appreciate having things of my family members who have passed because I think that it brings a bit of their energy into my home space. When I look around my home, I see many things that belonged to one of my grandparents (who have all passed away), and it comforts me.

Anyway, so sis was told that she would have to not be at the condo for several days because Dad's best friend would be staying there. My sister was annoyed because money is very tight for her, but took her kids to Orlando for that time. When she returned, the place had been emptied out. She heard from the security guard that Dad's friend had two large vans/trucks that they filled up.

I had suggested to her that she take this painting that I knew meant a lot to her and hide it somewhere out of the condo. She took it to my aunt's condo which is in the same building.

Dad called me today pretty early and left me a message. I was worried that something was wrong with Mom. But, Dad just wanted to know what sis had sent me. I told him, and then he told me that he only asked because he wants to know where that painting is. It is worth a lot of money, and he had promised his best friend that she could have it. If sis doesn't know where it is, he may call the cops and file a report with insurance to get the money for it.

I tried to explain to him that I don't think that we should be focusing on arguing with each other over money and material things, but instead focus on Mom. I told him these are our grandparents' things and that, like when other relatives passed, the family should have "first dibs" on their things before they're given away to someone else. Dad told me that whatever is in the condo isn't my grandparents' anymore, they're his things.

I then called my sister to warn her that Dad might call the cops. She was appalled, and said that she can't believe that after his angry behavior to Mom's Mom all these years, he has the nerve to be so disrespectful to her things.

I'm frustrated because my family is acting so dysfunctional towards each other, and Dad is so clearly more focused on keeping money away from my sister and I instead of focusing on how to be supportive to us OR at least keep focused on Mom. I'm tired of all of this fighting and strife.

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Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Things Fall Apart, I Build New Things

A lot of things in my life are falling apart. See the last post about one relationship. The woman that I've been seeing at home, well my friend told me that this new girl had hit on her girlfriend in front of HER in a very inappropriate and rude way. Then, things with Cory...well, we had a conversation tonight because I've gotten this sense that he's not that into me but that he sleeps with me just to be sleeping with someone. Picture it: we're sitting at a bar, and he basically confirms all of my suspicions. Its all been about having someone to sleep with, and he's been too hurt in the past to open up to me in any real way, even as friends. So, I told him that I couldn't go home tonight and have any self respect. He was very sweet and wanted to apologize if he's hurt me at all, but I told him he should leave. When he did, I couldn't help but hold back the tears.

And here's the story with Mom: She hasn't responded to me at all the whole time I've been here. She can't really talk even in complete sentences. And then today she started choking. She wasn't eating or drinking. She just choked on her saliva or something. I think its a very bad sign that she's losing control of her swallowing muscles. I called up her hospice nurse, who hadn't heard anything about it and said that she'll come check on her tomorrow and have some tests done.

Certain things in life have to fall apart - Mom is going to die. I need independence from my father. It never would've worked out with Cory (he wants a completely different life than me and is a bit conservative and very politically apathetic). Its sad and scary to have things fall apart.

What I have to focus on is how to not fear too much losing things, to allow myself to feel the feelings that arise from all of this, AND THEN to shift focus onto the things that I want to build in my life and baby step by baby step move towards that. It was interesting as I tried to explain this sort of thing to Cory, Cory kept saying that he is trying to avoid the pain of his life and doesn't want to have to be real because that would only cause him more pain. What I think I need to do though is to face my pain. I have to be grateful for the things that my pain will teach me and the ways in which it'll help me grow.

This may sound very healthy and strong, but let me tell you, I'm VERY afraid. I'm afraid of not having anyone to have sex with. I'm afraid of my mom dying a horrible death. I'm afraid of not having a relationship with my father and of not having any family. I'm afraid of what the future holds. BUT, I'm going to try to face these fears and move past them.

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