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, December 27, 2008

What I Want in a Partner

I think that this is an Imago exercise. In order to move forward and to choose someone who doesn't fit into my usual pattern, I think that it will be useful to identify the core things that I'm looking for in a life partner. So here goes.
  1. Someone who treats me well.
  2. Someone who values communication.
  3. Someone intelligent, sensitive, and caring.
  4. A mensch.
  5. Someone who gets me.
  6. Someone honest, trust-worthy, loyal, responsible, and open to a long term relationship.
  7. Someone who values love and relationships.
  8. Someone who will allow me to be my own person.

The following are things that I want, but I don't need.
  1. A feminist
  2. A Jew
  3. An Israeli
  4. Someone spiritual
  5. Someone funny who makes me laugh
  6. An activist
  7. Someone with whom I can exchange massages at the end of the week
  8. Someone who will get along with my family and friends
  9. Someone creative and passionate

Here are things that are deal breakers:
  1. Someone controlling
  2. Verbal or emotional abuse
  3. Someone looking to dominate me and/or put me into a role of what they think a woman should be instead of creating a partnership based on who we are.
If any of my readers are single, then I challenge you to create your own list. The interesting thing for me about this list is realizing that of my core list, none of my past relationships actually fit what appears to be a pretty simple list (the first one). I think that I get caught up in the things that I want (but don't need) in a partner. I also realize that many of the things on my first list are very broad categories and that no one is sensitive about everything, all the time.

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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

I Pick Partners Who Don't Treat Me Right

Last night, I hung out (separately) with my old and dear friend Paul and his family and then with my friend Merissa. Apparently, Merissa told me that she and Paul had a conversation recently about me. They decided that the people I date don't treat me right. Paul said that he thinks that *A* never treated me right (and he was there from when we first started dating when I was 15!).

There was something very epiphany-ish about hearing it though so broadly from people who know me so well. I do fall for people who treat me poorly. There is one exception that I can think of off hand, this rabbinic student that I dated in Israel who treated me VERY well. But I broke it off with him because I didn't have the same kind of feelings for him that he had for me. I think its a sign.

It is interesting also because it is a way in which I am like my mom. She taught me to love those who hurt me and to ignore those who don't. I tend not to see myself as like my mom -- I think of my sister as taking after Mom, and I have moved past these issues of my parents. But apparently, I'm like Mom too. And there are a lot of ways I want to be like my mother; this isn't one of them.

Imago theory, which I've discussed previously, would say that I need to work on this issue myself before partnering OR find a partner who tends to treat the one they love not well BUT is interested in working past that. I'm going to start with working on me. I think that this is going to mean starting with friendships and make sure that I make friendships with people who are good to me and then appreciate those friendships. It means not being co-dependent with anyone. And it means learning better to ask for what I want and surround myself with people who give me what I need.

All of this also means that Z is DEFINITELY not the right guy for me. I see that more clearly now....hopefully, I can actually let him go in my heart now.

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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

It's Raining in Kansas City

Sitting at my computer
Looking out at the rain falling on the barren trees
The streets are cold and quiet
My heart is hot and fidgety.

Anxious thoughts afloat as my focus fights
Between my work, my dying mother, and my unrequited love
Waves of karma sweep through the room
As I sit hungover from passion and grief.

The rain freezes to the ground endangering my freedom
And battering the American flag hung across the way
But I will not sit here hostage to weather and anxiety
More slowly and cautiously, I will continue on my way.


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Arriving in Kansas City

I made it to my Dad's house yesterday early afternoon, and its been a bit of an emotional entry already.

The plan had originally been to drive Z back to his home in Chicago, but somewhat last minute, we decided to have him fly back from Omaha while I drive down from there to KC. This saved the two of us an entire day of driving and saved me a 9 hour drive by myself back to Kansas City. But deciding to cut the trip short felt a little like something else - it felt like a decision that Z and I aren't entering into a romantic relationship and so convenience is more important than a couple of extra days together. Of course, it logically makes a LOT of sense, especially considering that Kansas City is about to experience an ice storm.

Z and I had a little more conversation about us before trip ended, each time initiated by me. I tried to convey to him that I wasn't looking for what would happen in the future, but was trying to focus on how we approached the time together that we had. I don't know if he fully got that, but while he did open himself up a little more, I felt him still emotionally closed off to me.

At the airport in Omaha, I was surprised when he drove to the terminal instead of to park, so I just dropped him off. We did our goodbyes in the cold Nebraska weather. He was very casual and asked me to call him when I get in to Kansas City. He gave me a quick kiss on the mouth, and then I stopped him and told him this:

"Z, you are a unique man: strong but not aggressive, intelligent but open to other's ideas, independent enough to be able to partner without losing yourself. You make me feel empowered and weak at the knees. You make me smile and laugh. I think that we have a unique connection created over short, random, intense interactions we've had over the last 15 years. I think we have a lot in common and want the same kind of life. But I'm an independent woman just coming into her success and have no desire to chase after someone whose heart is not open to me. While I think that there might be something here between us, I don't know. If one day you decide that you want to explore what's there, give me a call."

Z said, "I'll give you a call anyway."

And then he gave me another short kiss on the mouth and left.

During the drive to Kansas City, I thought a lot about what all of this means. Through the help of my friend Tonya, I realize that just like Miranda was told in Sex & the City, he's just not that into me. And that may be for a number of reasons including issues he has about commitment and fear of being vulnerable with someone who lives in another part of the country. But in the end, I know that it doesn't matter; he's just not that into me. I know this in my head, but in my heart I still feel hurt, sad, disappointed, and a longing for more.

I do have one more brief story to share about this and then I'll leave the story of Z behind: So he and I had been sleeping together, and one night I approached him for sex, but he was too tired and went to sleep. So, I got up and started practicing yoga, trying to take my feelings of frustration and my lack of will power around my sex drive, and ground myself in my practice. Throughout the trip, I thought about practicing non-grasping and tried to think of the travel as meditiation, using an article that I found in Shamballa Sun by Thik Nan Hahn (am I spelling anything right here?) about staying in and enjoying the present moment.

Okay, so I arrived in Kansas City, and there's a car blocking my entrance to my dad's garage. I call my dad to see what's up - because its really cold and snowy out, and I want to unpack my car. He tells me that his assistant is there, and I should just park in a different part of the driveway (that by the way is covered in snow). I am SO happy to see my dog. And then I look on the wall and see that there's a picture of me and Larry (my last boyfriend) on the wall. I take down the picture and rip it up. Dad says, "that's your wall, so if you wanted a new picture there, you'll have to put it up yourself." His assistant notes that she told him to take that down. I feel hurt that my dad is so inconseridate of my feelings and feel emotional looking at this very special moment between me and Larry that I had forgotten about.

When I go to "my room" to unpack, I notice what I've left in the room and what I thought might be there but is missing. I notice that there's a novel, obviously previously read by my mother, on the bookshelf - the same novel that I'm reading right now. I find myself looking around thinking about what I want to take with me when I leave, what my dad will let me take of his and Mom's stuff, and remembering that I'm here to end this process of living here and taking care of my parents. This trip, I will take my things, and next time I come back will be when my mother dies. Then I won't come back much anymore. I am reclaiming my life, so that I can after all of this, start to focus on building a real life for myself and getting on with living it. Also, I want to shed all of this trauma of my family.

I'm thinking about this as my dad comes upstairs into my room. My dog jumps on the bed, and I lay down to pet her. Dad says, "you're belly's showing." I notice my shirt has moved up to uncover my stomach and move the shirt down. "You've got a buldge there. Not like me. See, I'm think." He then lifts his shirt to show me his stomach. I'm appaulled. First of all, I work out 5x/week these days and am in excellent shape. Second, I'm feeling bad already about being rejected by Z and now my dad is telling me that I'm fat. Third, I've driven for so long to get out here and that's what he wants to focus on.

I went to my sister's house to play with her kids, and that was fantastic. I hadn't told the kids of my change of plans, so I just came up and rang the door bell. When the answered the door, the kids yelled "Dodah!" (Aunt, in Hebrew), jumped up and down, and embraced me. We played and played until I was exhausted, and it was time for them to go to bed.

On the car ride home, I thought about the fact that I have a good life, and that while it would be nice to have a partner, I don't need one. I have an amazing niece and nephew, great friends, and if I want to take in a foster kid or adopt a kid next year or the year after once I get a job, that I can do that without a partner.

When I got home, I called Z, as he had asked, to let him know that I got in okay. He told me that his flight had been delayed in Omaha for an hour and that he got in later than me. I felt sad that we hadn't spent that time together. Z was very quick on the phone, and the conversation didn't last very long, despite the fact that I had waited to call him until I'd have time to really talk. When we hung up, I felt the sadness and disappointment all over again.

I called my friend Tonya, who was nice enough to let me kvetch about it for quite some time. I think that the process of letting go of Z AGAIN will be a long one, and that I have to remember that its just a process. Feelings will arise, I will let myself feel them, then I'll let them pass. I will try not to fight or judge the process.

Today, I am going to meet my sister and nephew at his school to hear some Hanukah songs. Then, we'll go out to lunch and then over to my mom's. I'm really grateful to get to go with them the first time that I see Mom this trip. I know that it will be emotional.

I also have a LOT of work to do -- I have to write an entire dissertation chapter, create my syllabus for next quarter, and if time, start creating lesson plans. I also have to connect with my friends here, go buy some food before the ice storm hits, start an exercise schedule.....

It feels good though to write this all and get it out of my mind and onto the internet. It feels good because I don't have to keep holding these thoughts, they're out there in the world. And it feels good because I know that there are some very supportive people out there who will read it. That reminds me that I'm cared about and that there's meaning in the process even in the fact that I'm learning, growing, and I'm able to give an honest portrayal of what this experience is like. [And by the way, Gail, I'm a little worried about you. Are you blogging somewhere about your experinece losing your Mom?]

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Sunday, December 14, 2008

Z Doesn't Think About Me That Way

I sit here writing this blog on the floor of a hotel room on my way to Kansas City. Z is watching some History Channel show on some shroud that people think might have belonged to Jesus. It's 11:40, and he wants to wake up super early to drive for a very long time tomorrow so that he can get home in time for some lecture on the 17th that he's supposed to give, that I don't think that I knew about. Maybe I did. Everything is such a haze from the last few months.

Spending time with Z has been incredible - we've had a great time, and I really appreciate that he's been driving with me. Actually, he's been doing all of the driving so I've had a very easy time. From the first night, we've been "sleeping" together. I had the conversation with him before it happened and thought that we were on the same page, but apparently I was reading into some of what he said and what he didn't say (because honestly he didn't say a lot that first night). I thought that this was the beginning of us considering the possibility of a relationship.

But, I've felt a lot of distance from him - metaphorically of course, mostly we're inches away from each other in the car! So tonight, after he told me a couple of stories of married people who are very unhappy and shouldn't be together and that maybe long term relationships don't work and that he's not looking for a relationship - I stopped and asked him, "so what are you doing with me then?" He said that he doesn't think about me in that way right now.

So, I'm feeling very hurt and rejected. I told him that I don't think that we should continue sleeping with each other like this because to sleep with a friend is okay if you have the boundaries that it is only a friendship and nothing more, but I want something more, so to continue sleeping with him would be to play with my heart. And, I told him, I deserve better than that.

He's said very little through the whole process and it feels like if I bring up anything about "us" that its inappropriate/he's unresponsive. I just asked a bit ago if his feeling about not being open to the possibility of a relationship with me is about him and not knowing me that well OR if its something about me. He said, "I don't know what you want from me. We've been together now a day and a half." I thought for a minute and told him that when I look at him, I want to kiss him, and not because I just want to kiss someone and he's there. And I want him to feel the same way about me. He didn't respond.

Augh! This is so hard. We've got several days ahead. I may not be able to publish your comments, but I will very likely be checking my email briefly once a day at the end of the day, my faithful and supportive readers. Why is it that the people who are so perfect for me are so emotionally unavailable? I think that there is a lot of material here for therapy after my trip. And there is a lot going on that is about Z and has nothing to do with me. But, I am very disappointed that there isn't the space to explore something more. This man makes me laugh, he makes me think, he makes me smile, he makes me feel like I'm seen. And its ironic that I say that last thing because I'm sitting here on the floor of the hotel as Z now turns off the tv and goes to sleep; I'm starting to tear up, and I'm trying to be quiet about it so as to not let him know because there's not space here for me to cry. There's no space here for me to feel hurt. And that's being seen. It certainly isn't being loved -- but maybe I expect too much from people too soon???

Tomorrow, the adventure continues.....

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Honesty Award: 10 Honest Things

April gave me honesty award for which I am grateful. Honesty is at the core of my blog. And it forces me to sit down and write. I've been running around for some time now - traveling, trying to finish my dissertation, and working as a researcher. I leave on Friday by the way to visit my family, and I have people to drive both ways with me.

So here are some honest things about me:

  1. I was recently quoted in an article about my dog's role in my healing from rape. It was published on this website.
  2. Despite that I'm completely lactose intolerant, I can't stop eating dairy products. They're SO yummy.
  3. I think of my friends as more like family; I'm closer to more of them than my family.
  4. I never completely live up to my quest -- its hard to keep the balance and intentionality there when I've got so much on my plate.
  5. I need my dog snuggled up on my leg to be able to fall asleep at night.
  6. I haven't been able to sleep for some time now without a small about of Ativan.
  7. I've been managing my anxiety by working out 5x/week. [And I look amazing because of it.]
  8. I SPOIL myself - massages, acupuncture, therapy, hospice grief counselor, pedicures, and chiropractor.
  9. I am a recovering perfectionist. Sometimes not so recovering.
  10. As much as I will attempt to remain grounded, I have very strong feelings for *Z* and hope that he feels the same way about me.

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