Just Pensive

Miss Cay

August 22, 2013

I’m getting married in two weeks, if you can believe that. (I cannot.)

I was going to write about that. About how we’re getting married in Florida and I hope there’s not a hurricane and I’m sad because some people won’t be able to make it but excited for the people that are and I like my dress a lot and there will be a candy buffet but.

My best friend Alayna’s mom got sick a few weeks ago. She went to the doctor thinking she had pneumonia and was given a diagnosis of cancer which was…unexpected. And we thought she’d be alright until we realized she wouldn’t be and about a month after she went into the hospital, she passed away.

She was in her early 50’s.

And my sweet best friend no longer has a living mom.

That’s a crazy thing for my mind and heart to process, particularly as I’m immersed in planning a wedding and all that goes with it. It’s been such a haunting reminder as I dwell on little things like what to wear and what kind of flowers I want, the presence of my mother and the history of our relationship. That mother-daughter dynamic, still there like I’m a teenager, wanting her to go away and leave me alone, I’m all grown up and yet reaching for her hand and wishing she was there and needing her advice.

I have been concentrating on being a sounding board for Alayna, the strongest lady you could ever know who was brave about all of it and who took care of everyone around her and who has a little notebook of all the things she talked about with her mom in those last few final days.

I didn’t spend a lot of time with Miss Cay in person but because I knew Alayna so well, I felt like I saw her every day. (And she read my blog sometimes which always tickled me.) I knew the way she lived her life, joyful with a strong faith in God, surrounded by a strong tight knit community who adored her. When she faced death, she was at peace and full of love and she planned out her services and declared no crying and wanted no funeral but a potluck picnic in the park instead with happy singing of songs and balloons being released into the air for her.

So that’s what everyone did.

She died last Saturday afternoon and when I found out, I grabbed my phone and some headphones and I went out for a walk. It was a gorgeous New York City summer evening and I walked and walked until I was tired of walking and thinking and feeling and I sat on a bench by the water in my neighborhood looking at the sky.

The sun was getting ready to set hiding behind the clouds that hovered all over the skyline. I imagined Alayna’s mom up there, floating, singing a church hymn, snapping her fingers. And just as I was trying to decide which exact cloud Miss Cay was hanging out on, the sun burst through and shone so brightly I knew the answer.

She was everywhere.

Joblessness: On Things That Were Broken

January 10, 2012

I thought I would write a series of sorts on ten months of unemployment this past year. If you like it, that’s great. If you don’t, go away.

In February of 2011, I was laid off from my long-term temp job in finance. I was surprised but not exactly wrecked. My job up until that moment was ‘only’ a survival job to me, something that allowed me to audition and pursue an acting career while paying my bills. Aside from the people I worked with, most of whom I loved very very much, I wasn’t sad to go.

Or at least I thought.

What complicated the matter was that I lost my survival job, my stability, my schedule, and then I simultaneously began to question what I was doing artistically. I started to lose my drive creatively. I probably could have handled one or the other, but the combination of the two sort of pushed me over the edge of what I could reasonably handle. It was as if everything in my life was up in the air, not just what to do for work but what to do with my LIFE’S work.

Along with those two major stressors:

I had injured myself the previous October and well into January, I still couldn’t walk properly, nor did I have health care to seek out a professional’s help. In a bigger way, there were also some demons lurking around my heart last year, hurtful things of the past, confusion and anxiety and fears that I had successfully ignored for oh, I don’t know, a number of weeks years of my life. At the same time I was oh, I don’t know, QUESTIONING EVERY SINGLE LIFE CHOICE AND LIMPING AROUND IN A JOBLESS HAZE, I met the man I am now dating, who I am pretty sure is It for me, who I am pretty sure I love in a way that I have never loved before, world without end, amen.

And while that last piece is the sweetest piece, really, the only sweet piece (peace), it also seemed to ignite a frenzy in my mind, where all these factors came together and I felt very happy but also very lost.

A sample of my brain activity at this time at any given moment:

How would I spend my days?

How would I fill up my time with meaning?

How would I pay my bills?

How would I fix my bum knee and ankle?

If I don’t want to be an actor anymore, then what am I doing?

How much of a failure am I, actually?

If I have found the man I want to love forever, I feel somewhat ashamed because what must he think of me that I am unemployed and meandering through life without a purpose?

What could I possibly bring to our relationship? He is so much better than me.

Where is the balance in romance between leaning on someone for support and leaning on someone like a crutch?

When will I feel like a grown up?

Why are other people so grown up and I am barreling towards 30 so fast and what do I have to show for myself and I never thought a number mattered to me but I suppose it does and I have been pushing this down for so incredibly long that I am afraid to be older, to be alone, to wreck things, to be unimportant, to not be special, to have no one clap for me, to not be perfect, to not do everything right, I cannot do everything right, I just cannot hold it together anymore help help help.

And thus, I erupted like a volcano.

Not all at once, of course. Not in broad daylight in the middle of Park Avenue.

Mostly in private.

I bubbled over quite consistently in a brand new therapist’s office. Week after week, we scratched the surface until we hit something deeper and on and on it went. Sometimes I would show up and talk and think and leave feeling so much better. Mostly I would show up and cry for nearly all of my fifty minutes. And when it was over, I would walk down Central Park West crying harder. There was just so much inside that I hadn’t let out. So much inside I didn’t even know was there.

Physically, I was saved by a dancer’s clinic, a part of NYU Hospital. They granted me full financial aid to cover my injuries and so they x-rayed me and poked me and sent me to physical therapy to rehabilitate my knee and ankle joints.

And that’s what I remember most about the early days of my unemployment, in the late winter and spring of last year.

I was just very slowly starting to look at the things that had fallen apart because I didn’t have the option to look away anymore. I was stripped of a job and of direction and so many things came shrieking into the sunlight demanding that I take notice.

So I looked.

And it hurt.

But I started to talk.

And I started to stretch.

And bit by bit, every day, I tried to love myself as much as I loved everyone else around me.

I’m still working on it.

Things I Loved As A Child

December 15, 2011

A brand new box of crayons.

Putting on my choir robe and walking into mass, holding my music folder very carefully, straining to see which pew my dad was sitting in.

Staying home from school even though I was sick and even though I loved school. I never knew the afternoon could be so quiet, laying on my couch when all the other children were in the classroom. My mom’s hand was always so cool when she pressed it to my forehead to check for a fever. Then she would ask if I wanted a piece of buttered cinnamon-sugar toast. And I would say yes.

My California Raisins lunch box.

Roller skating in my neighbor Samantha’s unfinished basement. It was musty and dimly lit and we’d skate around and around being careful not to slam into the metal poles holding the house up. Her older sister had a mixtape that we listened to while we skated. It played “Mony Mony’, ‘Achey-Breaky Heart’ and ‘Kokomo’ on a loop. There must have been other songs but I can’t remember them.

Sitting in the backseat of my Uncle Vinnie’s 15 passenger van driving somewhere for summer vacation. I would cuddle up to my Pillow Person and play my Gameboy. Usually, Tom and I would make up songs and stories. Our favorite being one about our cousin Michael who worked at the Sunoco gas station. I’m sure we were delightful to have in the backseat for seven hours.

When we had spaghetti for dinner with a salad on the side on which I would dump half a bottle of Kraft Zesty Italian dressing.

When the weather turned cold in the fall and my mother would strip our beds and make them up again with flannel sheets. Mine were pink with characters from Beauty & the Beast. I remember falling asleep on those snowy nights all tucked in next to Belle.

The next morning when my dad would peek his head in and say ‘No school, snow day, go back to sleep’ and he would shovel the driveway and head to work because the school he taught at was always open.

Drawing houses made of chalk in the street in front of my house with my sister.

Staying up late with my older brother Paul, laying on our stomachs in my room listening to the radio, trying to fight the tired so we could stay up and hear them count the Top 10 songs of the week backwards. All I remember song-wise from this time is Toni Braxton’s “Another Sad Love Song”. She has a line that sings ‘Be it fast or slow, it doesn’t let go or shake me’ which I always thought was ‘The passports show, it doesn’t let go’ and for some reason this made perfect sense to me.

Watching my little brother Jem learn to walk, his diaper making his little pajama-clad butt look hilarious and all of us laughing so hard as we clapped and cheered.

Getting our Christmas portrait taken at Sears every year. My mother made us all wear various Christmas-embellished ornaments and I have no recollection of feeling anything but excitement because I felt so, so pretty. Plus afterwards we got to go out to eat at a chain restaurant next to the mall.

When my sister and I would whisper ‘Are you awake?’ laying in bed. And then continue to talk until we both drifted to sleep.

When my dad would tell us made up stories about two brothers named Harry and George and the ridiculous antics they would get involved in.

Sleigh riding down the front hill.

My mom helping me take off my snowy boots.

Wrapping my red fingers around a mug of hot chocolate that was waiting for me at the kitchen table.

The love that was given to me every single day by my family.

In so many wonderful amazing ways.

And now as a grown up, sometimes I am so thrilled that I am able to repay even the tiniest bit of it.

I guess I just loved them.

I still do. So much my heart hurts.

That’s all.

Sitting Shiva

June 29, 2011

Two weeks ago, a strange and sad e-mail forward popped up in my inbox from my friend Nancy. Nancy is a friend of mine from my philosophy class and I’ve known her for about four years. She is completely insane in the best possible way – an artist, always dressed in some colorful crazy ensemble, always ready and eager to share a revelation with the class.

The Saturday before Father’s Day, Nancy’s brother Keith, an experienced recreational pilot, took off from an airport in Westchester with his wife, 14 year old daughter and and one of his daughter’s young friends in tow. The details are still fuzzy and the investigation is ongoing but for some reason, Keith radio-ed shortly after takeoff, saying he had to come back, that something was wrong and shortly after that, the small plane missed the runway, flipped over several times and crashed in the woods, everything ablaze in an instant.

And Nancy’s family as she knew it, was gone.

My mother told me that when I was a very tiny baby, the neighbor across the street suddenly dropped dead. Out of nowhere. A short while after the funeral, my mom got the feeling that she should stop by and see how the poor neighbor’s husband was faring but she felt uneasy. What would she say to him? Would he be mad at her for showing up? Would it be intruding? She didn’t know anything about how it felt to lose a wife.

But being my mother, she went anyway and took me with her. When the widower opened the door, his face contorted in pain and then relief.

“Oh, Rita,” he said, ushering her inside. “I was just sitting here by myself, thinking I might die of loneliness. And then you rang my doorbell.”

She kept him company and he held me and marveled over my little self (I’m assuming I was charming and perfect) and they talked and laughed and cried and spent time together.

“You show up,” my mother told me, a little lost in the memory. “It’s awkward and uncomfortable but you just. show. up.”

When I heard that there was going to be an informal shiva at Nancy’s parents’ house this past weekend, I took my mother’s advice. I drove to Westchester with a few friends from philosophy class. And together, we just showed up.

I grew up on Long Island and therefore it must shock you but I confess: I had never before been to a shiva, formal or informal. (Or a bar/bat mitzvah. My town was rather WASP-y, I suppose, for Long Island. Weird, right?) My experience with death was limited to mostly Catholic ceremonies. Open casket wakes and We Will Rise Again and On Eagle’s Wings, funerals with incense and from dust to dust and a priest always saying that the deceased went to a better place to be with Jesus which always rather annoyed me because at the moment, anyway, everyone was kind of thinking that they would rather the dead person come back to earth and be with them instead.

But, I suppose, that could be comforting for some people.

I was relieved to find out that the informal shiva was pretty much like going back to someone’s house after a Catholic funeral. There’s tons of food and people stop by and there’s that horrible moment when you hug a family member and you just sort of say automatically, “Hi! How are you?” and then you want to punch yourself in the stomach because HOW DO YOU THINK THEY ARE? PROBS NOT VERY GOOD, AMIRITE? OH MY GOD LAURA, SHUT UP SHUT UP.

But.

Shiva, wake, funeral, all of it. It’s all the same. It’s grief. And it’s laughing while crying. And it’s human.

Nancy couldn’t believe we had driven up to Westchester and she shrieked when she saw us, inviting us out onto the back porch to sit. She babbled a mile a minute about how she was doing and all the irritating logistical stuff she was dealing with like the media and the detectives and trying to find out her brother’s dentist because who knows their brother’s dentist?!

We all listened and nodded and were like, yeah me neither! why would I know that!? And then it would hit me that she was talking about the dentist because there were no other remains left to identify her family members’ bodies.

Everything but teeth burned.

“At least my niece had braces,” Nancy said brightly. “She was easy!”

I met Nancy’s parents who are 85 years old and who have been married since they were eighteen. They were completely charming, welcoming, funny and heartbreaking all at once. The reality of their situation would sink in every so often and suddenly, their faces would darken. What I loved about them so much was how honest they were about it. They weren’t trying to pretend. When they had something to say, they said it. When they felt something, they let you know.

Nancy’s mother sat with me and my boyfriend for a long time. She was mostly irritated that no one was letting her do anything.

“I love to iron!” she protested. “No one would let me iron!”

“They want to take care of you,” I said gently.

“But I love to iron!”

She told us stories of how she met Nancy’s dad. How he walked in the room and it was love at first sight. She watched Nancy greeting her friends and remarked, “Isn’t she so nice? Nancy is SUCH a nice girl.”

We all agreed.

At one point, she turned to my boyfriend and apologized.

“I’m sorry I’m talking so much,” she said. “It’s just…I’m dying on the inside.”

And with that comment, I died a little on the inside too.

I wanted to wrap her up in my arms and take all of that sadness away. Instead I rubbed her shoulders and held her hand and listened while she spoke, asked her questions about her life. A remarkable, strong woman with so much to say.

“You’re so cute!” Nancy playfully said to her mother giving her arm a squeeze.

“You’re cuter!” Nancy’s mom replied.

She continued: “I have two cute kids!”

And then she paused as the room went silent.

“Well,” she said thoughtfully. “Now I have just one.”

I felt like I held my breath for hours after that.

Later she was talking about how her husband was inside talking to her sister.

“He hates my sister,” she said.

“Oh,” said me and my boyfriend.

“But I tell him! I tell him, my sister is a good person! She’s 88 years old and she drives me when he can’t drive me. So, he’s not allowed to hate my sister.”

“Oh,” we said again.

“Also,” she said, pinching my boyfriend on the cheek. “If he says he hates my sister? Well, then he doesn’t get his goodies.”

She winked and walked off toward the living room.

My boyfriend and I were silent.

“Was that just a sexual reference?” I asked.

“She pinched my cheek and winked,” said my boyfriend, flabbergasted. “AND THEY ARE 85 YEARS OLD?!”

“I guess you’re never too old to get your goodies,” I reasoned.

And then I just couldn’t contain my laughter anymore.

I hadn’t planned on staying the afternoon but the hours went by and I really couldn’t imagine being anywhere else. We all just sat together on a porch, on a sunny June afternoon, passing around plates of food, looking at pictures. It struck me that from the outside it might seem like any other summer Saturday. A gathering of friends, just spending time together. But then I would get a glimpse of the photo collage, Nancy’s young niece. Her brother in front of his plane. His wife.

It would then occur to me that those people in the pictures were no longer living and breathing, as I was. That I was meeting their family because they died. It was probably a tiny ounce of what Nancy will feel in the months to come. Reminders that will pop up out of nowhere, strong and full of force, that her life is changed forever.

Sometime around 6 or so, we finally took off back to the city.

“I cried when you walked in the door,” said Nancy. And I hugged her closer than I ever have before.

That afternoon reiterated to me the value in my very wise mother’s advice.

You just show up. You do. Because it’s about connection. And support. And though you might not know what to say and though people might be crying or making jokes about their goodies, you just go. Because it’s the right thing to do.

I saw that so clearly this past weekend.

“What do you feel like?” asked my boyfriend after we had returned to the city. He was referring to making plans for the rest of the evening.

“I feel like crying,” I said.

“Ohhh, I see. Would you like to be alone?” he asked me.

“That’s okay,” I said, the tears already starting to fall.

He wrapped his arms around me while my heart broke for Nancy and her family. For inexplicable horrors, for accidents, for the world which seemed so sad and hard.

All we really have to do in this life is serve each other. We can only offer what we have and it’s a continuous circle, we take care of someone and then someone takes care of us.

And when life seems really confounding and broken and stricken with grief, you just show up.

You just do.

Dear Laura

October 22, 2010

You have a cold today, a sore throat, the sniffles and I know that you hate that pimple that keeps threatening to take over your forehead but sweetheart, no one can see it but you. Dab on a little concealer and away you go. I know you don’t want to publish this post because it feels self-indulgent but come on now, you need this. Let’s forget what everyone else thinks and just keep typing.

I think it’s funny to watch your mind work sometimes. You went to the dentist yesterday and stared at the x-rays of all your little teeth and you crossed your fingers like a little girl, praying for no cavities. Not because you hate the drill or the novacaine but because more than anything, you like a perfect score. A+. And you take it so personally when you fail. Even the Dental Hygiene Test. Oh dude, you gotta let that shit go.

feet

When you were a little girl, you dreamed that by age 27.5, you would be married to a lovely young man. Someone tall, like your dad. And you’d have lots of babies, at least two before age 30. You dreamed of being a teacher sometimes though I think you dreamed less of actually teaching and more about color coding your lesson plans with those glitter crayons you used to like so much. I believe your exact dream at the age of 8 or so was “Glitter crayons & play with my babies”. Not a bad life, chick. But not exactly the one you’ve got.

When you were 22, you sat in waiting rooms full of girls at $200/week dinner theatre auditions, waiting all day to sing 16 bars of a song that no one paid attention to. You listened to the other girls talk, listened to how old they were, 27…28…29. Dear God! you thought. You will never be 27 or 28 or 29 still sitting in that audition room, no career in sight. Living with ROOMMATES. How incredibly lame! By your late 20’s, you will have some modicum of success! You will be financially secure! You will have MADE IT!

Oh my. How funny it is to be 22, yeah?

wigged

That’s okay, though.

That’s how you’re supposed to be at 22.

You look around at 22 year olds now and you smile and you remember and you realize that you are now that Old Person still auditioning and not really getting where you want to get and you live with roommates and it doesn’t seem pathetic at all. It seems wonderful because they are your family and your apartment feels like home.

astoria

troy2

There are many ways to live a life, you know. There are those people who marry young and who have stable, responsible jobs. There is nothing wrong with these people so don’t make it about which choice is better. At the same time, I know that you are often painfully aware that these people that clock in at 9 am with their coffees and clock out at 5 with their briefcases are considered normal. Dear sweet Laura, no one is really normal. And comparing gets you nowhere. Let it go, darling. You are fine.

la

Your world is not the world you pictured when you were younger. You have no husband and no babies and no house on a cul-de-sac with a front porch and a pool in the backyard. You’ve startled yourself by growing into a person who wants different things, who prioritizes in a way you didn’t expect, who continually surprises even herself by her thirst for knowledge and her push to grow and how she insists on filling up her world with goodness and riches and beauty.

pontevecch

coldbrew

beans

Just yesterday, while walking in SoHo, you noticed bunches of autumn leaves on the sidewalk and without much thought, you skipped through them, kicking them up into the air, just to watch them fly. An old man sitting on a stoop caught you and smiled. You laughed together. Every day is full of opportunities to connect. Don’t forget.

You no longer think love holds the answers nor do you depend on it for happiness. You’d rather be alone than with someone who makes you miserable. You understand that people make promises and leave anyway, that you are replaceable, that there are no guarantees. And while that might seem terribly negative and depressing, you instead find it liberating. You recognize that it also means you are free to love who you love, even if it winds up being a mistake. You throw yourself into it and even though you often walk away battered and bruised, you take something away from it. 

You no longer look for perfection. You know it doesn’t exist. You are on the lookout for men who make you laugh, for men who make you think, for gentle souls. You are wary of anyone who tries to control you, who puts you on a pedestal, who doesn’t let you be yourself. And whether it ends well or doesn’t, you accept that every man and every experience contains a valuable lesson. Also, a guy who owns four cats is a dealbreaker. It’s just too many cats.

I appreciate your openness to new things and your way of tackling things precisely because they frighten you. I appreciate the way you’re working on relinquishing your need for control. I like the way you do a silly dance when you’re excited to see someone. I think your ability to French braid your own hair is impressive.

frenchbraid

You’ve had a rough couple weeks, kid. There have been people mistreating you, pushing boundaries and acting inappropriately. Men in positions of power who think they can talk to you however they like. Who think, because you are a young attractive woman, that you should be made to feel small and insecure so that they can feel big and masculine. I am so proud of you for standing up for yourself this week. You have shocked me with your grace and calm ability to handle those situations. And yes, I am sorry those situations existed in the first place. And that it happened more than once.

You cannot control others. Only yourself. And as scary as it was, you did the right thing. You are learning to be powerful and learning what you will and won’t put up with. That is a very important lesson and one that will serve you in the future. Don’t gloss over it and pretend it was no big deal: it was. And you rocked.

Laura, icky situations aside, most of all, I want you to know that it’s alright. Your life as you know it is as exactly as it should be. You are not a wife or a mother or a homeowner. You don’t have a lot in your savings account and my God, you live in freaking Queens.

ntrain

But, you, my dear, are rich. Rich in the things that matter the most. Your family, your friends, your mischievous way of kicking up leaves, your glee at turning up the music loud and having a dance party in the living room. You bake kick ass cookies and you can scrub a bathtub until it sparkles. You like Prosecco and you can hold plank pose for 60 seconds. Best of all, you love to laugh and you indulge this love every day, over and over again.

tomme

troy

alayna

washer

You are not behind.

You are not lost.

Nor are you ever truly alone.

You are an explorer.

A discoverer.

Every day you grow.

Every day you stand up straight.

You move forward in the way that only you can.

So just, keep doing it. Stop worrying about where you’ll end up and where others are ending up and know that as those around you pair off and move away or give up and settle down, they are entitled to their own happiness. And you are entitled to yours.

Keep dancing, lady.

Nobody twirls quite like you do.

Love,
Yourself

twirl

Thursday Night, 2 Am

June 18, 2010

The hardest part is the nighttime.

I wake up at 2 am, left leg pulsating, mouth dry. The house is silent except for the muted vibrations from the hospital bed here in the living room. The front lights are on over the stoop outside causing patches of brightness to peek in the windows and leave patterns on the wooden floor. Darkness has comfortably settled everywhere else.

I’m hit with the familiar pangs of loneliness. I don’t want to wake anyone else up, not after all they do for me every day. I feel temporarily comforted by the fact that they’re all upstairs, safely tucked in bed, not far away. And then I feel sad all over again because a flight of steps might as well be a million miles.

I think of my wife, sleeping in our bed alone. I think of how long it’s been since I slept beside her. I wonder if she still keeps to the left side even though I’m not there to take up the other half. I wonder if she’s sprawled across the whole thing, hogging sheets and pillows and the thought of it makes me smile.

I make it through the day okay. It seems there’s always someone around to distract me and when I sit at the kitchen table eating breakfast with my coffee and the newspaper, I can almost forget that I’m sitting in a wheelchair. But then it’s time to get dressed and my wife washes my hair in the sink and wipes me down with a warm washcloth and it’s clear to me once again that nothing is normal anymore.

And when the pain strikes as it always seems to, the circumstances of my reality smash over me like a wave and I helplessly go under. I’m ashamed to hear the sounds that escape my throat, not those of an adult man but of a wounded animal. My howls and my yelps and the tears that spring to my eyes. If I could swallow them back down, I would but so often I have no choice. I yell and everyone comes running which is the only good thing about it.

It seems like enough, no matter what the pain level, just to have them close by. The firmness in my wife’s voice when she tells me it hasn’t been a bad day, just a bad moment, just a temporary hiccup. One daughter coaxing small pills out of a bottle, the other rubbing my shoulder. I think of what the doctor told me, that some people in my position can’t handle the pain and choose to be sedated for eight weeks at a time. It struck me as insane when I heard it but now it sounds incredibly reasonable.

I sway and I cry as my leg seizes up, a thousand burning fires running up and down, an imaginary knife in my knee, twisting deep into the bone. It pierces over and over again until finally, I feel a slight coolness as the Valium takes over. I can feel it moving, undulating down the leg from my hip. I breathe deeply, completely exhausted from the trauma. I never realized you could feel so much. I never realized you could hurt so badly.

And yet now, in the middle of the night, the pain seems far away. I’m restless but I’m alright and it’s the emotions that exhaust me. The scary places my mind goes to – what if I hadn’t gotten to the hospital when I did? What if this never ends? What if I spend the rest of my life on this hospital bed in my living room?

I never felt old until now. I never felt so knocked down and so broken. Remarkable for a man whose life has never been easy. Has been downright hard. And yet here I am, at my lowest point. Crippled and needy, despairing and humiliated. I can’t even get to the bathroom on my own. A grown adult male who needs help to pee.

The house is quiet. I glance at my watch in the dark, listen to its tiny ticks. My swollen toes poke out from under the sheets, my thigh muscles ache, itching to be used. I can make out the outline of the piano in the darkness, I hum a little bit of a song.

In a few hours, the sun will rise. My wife will scramble some eggs, my daughter will administer some antibiotics. I’ll have my coffee and the newspaper. I’ll be distracted and surrounded by the people that I love. I will almost forget what has happened to me.

But right now, the night seems so long. And the house seems so empty. My mind wanders, my leg throbs and my heart aches, so overcome am I by this new version of myself. A version I wish I never knew.

On Going Down The Well

June 7, 2010

Something has been healed in my heart.

It wasn’t something I tried to make happen. Actually, quite the opposite. Every time I thought about allowing the shift to take place, my ego tried to slam on the brakes. It tried to put up walls and it kicked and screamed until my stomach was physically aching from the struggle.

My ego is used to being in charge and therefore is very strong. It’s used to being fed and it’s used to me paying attention to it. It doesn’t seem to like being ignored and it doesn’t like it when I don’t listen to it. It’s not a fan of this New Me, the me who actually finds the ego hilarious most of the time. The me who simply observes the ego working itself into a frenzy and then dismisses it with a wave of her hand.

“Oh, that is pretty funny that you’re getting upset about that…”

“Oh, ego! You are so cute when you blame other people for your problems!”

“OH HA HA EGO! You who constantly thinks it’s about YOU!”

There were a lot of painful moments for me this week. Moments when I got that bee sting in my stomach, you know? Moments that made me say “ow” and made me cry and made my ego throw temper tantrums. My ego wanted to re-enact all these painful moments in my head. It wanted to have imaginary conversations with people, envisioning what it would be like to hurt these people who hurt me. It wanted to send scathing e-mails and it wanted to write passive-aggressive blog posts. It wanted to do anything but sit still.

And so I sat still.

I sat very still.

And I went down a well, a very deep well that I thought would never end. I tried to find the source of the hurt and the reason for the shame. I knew that the only way to heal was to go to the place I didn’t want to go. All the way down. My ego protested initially and its voice was loud and clear.

THIS ISN’T GOING TO WORK, YOU KNOW.

NOTHING IS GOING TO COME OF THIS.

YOU ARE WASTING YOUR TIME.

But I sat, silently, on my bed. Breathing deeply. And I waited. I called to mind all the things my ego did not want to think about. I gently guided my thoughts where I needed them to go. After a few minutes of this, this brave exploring of a very dark cave, my ego roared. It erupted with such intensity that there were physical reactions.

I let it roar.

I let it cry.

I let it out.

I hit the bottom of the well and I was still breathing. It was the loneliest I had ever been, the most scared, the most hurt. But I was still breathing.

I was unaware of time passing, of my environment, of everything but my wounds and my scars, some of them from so very long ago. One by one, I acknowledged them. I said, Hello. I remember you. You don’t need to be here anymore.

I whispered soothing love songs to the things that hurt. I forgave myself for the things I was ashamed of and embarrassed about. I allowed people to come to mind and I had conversations with them. Not angry conversations, not tirades, just loving words. I was gentle with them and with myself. I told them everything I ever wanted to say, I cried and I laughed and if someone or something was particularly painful, I stayed engaged until it wasn’t anymore. Ultimately, I let them fly.

By the time it was over, my ego was silent. There were no thoughts running through my mind at all, no judgments, no pain. In a startlingly clear space, I fell into meditation and it was the easiest it had ever been, probably because I had drained everything else out of me.

I opened my eyes to find that an hour had passed.

I took note of how whole I felt.

Of how quiet and simple and beautiful my life was in that moment.

I know that it’s inevitable for pain to come back, I know that scars can still prick and burn but I also know that healing took place. And most of all, that I needed it to take place. That I have been carrying around so much hurt, so many bags of emotional crap and…well, I needed to put those bags down.

Enough is enough, right?

I felt that shift, me moving closer to my truer Self, the Real Me, the one who knows the ego is just an ego. It’s not meant to be listened to or indulged. I don’t have to be the girl who goes to others to fix her problems, I don’t have to be the girl who isn’t okay being alone. I can choose who I want to be.

I want to be strong.

I want to be free.

This weekend?

I was.

freedom

Some Thoughts On Dealing With Loss

April 13, 2010

I got nothin’ for you guys today.

But I stumbled on a fantastic article about dealing with loss from a website that I am pretty much obsessed with.

I figure we’ve all experienced loss or we all will someday. So hopefully this will be useful to you at some point. It is very applicable for me right now and when I read it, I felt comforted.

Warm tea. Concrete step. Old movie. Sad heart. Leaky pen. Crumbly soap. Scratchy towel. Sore shoulder. Dog-eared book.

I am here.

And maybe this whole life work-process-thing of meeting myself where I am, with all my stuff and all my hurt, is — at least in part — why I’m here.

Learning that things change. Learning how they change. Rewriting patterns. Deconstruction and new creation. Taking things apart and rebuilding.

Taking everything apart. Finding the essence. Building beautiful new things from the pieces.

Read all of it here.

Cheer Up Charlie

March 23, 2010

Hey, you guys. I’m having a blue Tuesday. Care to try to cheer me up? Comments welcome. Back tomorrow.happytimes

Double Take

February 5, 2010

I have a program for my blog that tracks the people that read it. I can’t tell specifics, sometimes just the states people live in or how they found my blog, what terms they Googled to get here. I was really into doing this early on because I was fascinated with who read my blog. Now, I sometimes forget to check my stats for weeks at a time. Since my readership is fairly small, it just doesn’t make much sense to me. I generally know who reads and who doesn’t.

I’ve learned over time that the stat counter can be way off in terms of geography. IP Addresses aren’t always accurately located and the program will sometimes tell me that my roommate, who works in Manhattan, works in Arizona because…well. I don’t know why, exactly. But my point is: it’s not an exact science unless of course a comment is made and I can sync up the IP Address definitively. Awhile back, I wasn’t so in tune with the fact that the stat counter could be inaccurate so I would label the IP Address by location, sometimes just guessing at who it was if they were a regular reader.

Apparently, I labeled Father Donald’s IP address back when he used to comment, back when I assumed that the PLANO, TEXAS blog reader was him.

I recently logged onto stat counter for the first time in a long time and nearly jumped out of my skin when I noticed a few instances of FATHER DONALD reading my blog earlier this week.

Naturally, that was an inaccurate guess on my part. As obviously, that Plano, Texas reader is not Father Donald.

Because he isn’t alive anymore.

And I completely remembered, all over again, that he wasn’t here. And he wasn’t going to comment anytime soon.

I wanted to laugh because it was such an absurd feeling, that maybe Father Don was logging onto the blog from heaven, checking on what was new.

But then I didn’t feel like laughing because I felt like crying and I felt sadness and heaviness for the transiency of people and things. And I sat there as still as could be, aching, knowing that everything is temporary and nothing stays forever but oh how sometimes, I wish it could.

cloudheart

photo by zitkay