Friday, October 3, 2014

Some where between Rosh Hashanah & Yom Kippur

Well Fuck.

Here I sit.
As usual, way too much floating around untethered in my mind.

I am sitting on the edge of Yom Kippur.  For those who don't know...for Jews...One of the holiest, if not the holiest day of the year.  The Shabbat of Shabbats.  It is our New Year and time to contemplate the previous year.  Time to contemplate our actions and inaction.  Time to attempt to atone for our transgressions against other humans and G-d.

Subsequently,  I am thinking heavily on my year since the last High Holy Days.  Upon reflection it has been a year of significant changes and events.

* I stopped working at Adams Ave Bicycles.
* I started working full time at Congregation Beth El (CBE).
* I committed myself to a new, healthy & loving relationship with Chris.
* I watched people who are like my siblings say good bye for the last time to their Mother (Ilya).
* I lost a woman (Ilya) who had been a good friend and a huge influence on my life.  Despite the fact that we had been estranged for many years, her death and witnessing the pain I saw in her children impacted me greater than I ever could have expected.
* I reconnected, after 4 years of intended distance, with my spiritual journey and my Jewish life.
* I discovered my previous boss (the Executive Director of CBE) had been embezzling.
* I reported the theft as soon as I felt I had proof to make that weighty accusation.
* Through a series of events, it was uncovered that Thurston has anxiety issues and a cognitive disconnect issue with writing and requires special accommodations at school.
* A terrible skeleton from my past finally came fully into the light and has ended up hurting people that I had wished to protect, but I knew that it was a folly on my part to think that kind of protection could even happen.  And really, was it them or was it me I was protecting?
* I went from working reasonable amount of hours (35-40) to working 50-60 hour work weeks.
* I started getting migraines again.
* I stopped riding my bike as much as I used to.
* I started cooking again in a way I haven't in a few years (everything from scratch-including canning and baking again)...In theory this never actually stopped but I also did not have the drive to do the extras...making my own spice rubs and canning things like pickled beets or making pate.
* Chris, Thurston and I all moved in together and migrated from Normal Heights to Hillcrest.
* I started in the last 2 months riding my bike more aggressively again.
* Thurston went away to Jewish camp and was gone for 15 days.  The longest we have ever been apart.
* I have had some issues with my brother that have deeply saddened me and caused me to have a period of estrangement from him.
* Lastly, despite all that I did, 2 1/2 weeks ago I got laid off by the Synagogue (CBE).  They decided to have a CPA firm do all accounting work.  I had no idea that my entire job would be farmed out.  I thought it was going to be modified for the sake of having formal checks and balances in place.  I was wrong.

Needless to say...It has been an eventful year that has had it's challenges.  A week before we moved was when I discovered and reported the theft at the Synagogue.  My anxiety and OCD returned to levels I haven't seen in a very long time.  This time I chose to try to work my way through it with out medications. I am also keenly aware of there being many moments of personal peace, joy, laughter and deep love in this last year.

All of these experiences have made me ask myself about a couple of bigger ideals or truths, if you will.

What is trust?
What is respect?

We use these words a great deal in a variety of situations.  We talk about respect at work.  Respect from our kids and families.  Respect from our partners.

We talk about trust in the exact same situations as I just mentioned.  Yet for each of these situations they have slightly varied meanings, implications and innuendo. Further, we regularly say that we deserve it, or even more, we demand it.

From what I can gather and try to communicate here, trust and respect absolutely are built into any relationship with other beings.  Our pets even come into play here.  It would seem to me that trust and respect go hand in hand.  If one piece falls into ruin or disrepair the other is in tow on the same downward descent.

We all seem to want/demand trust and respect.  However we rarely seem to give it based on that demand.  We all seem to have slightly different ideas of what trust and respect are and how they are demonstrated.  We all live with these different ideas, demanding them as if they are rights; destroying ourselves and each other if we feel that it is not given.  We seem to forget that trust and respect are EARNED.  Once earned, then if compromised, can be very challenging to earn back, if ever.

Now we come full circle to Yom Kippur.  What do I need to atone for?  In my mind, a great deal, as I am generally incredibly critical of myself.  I feel I have harmed others by letting my own fears control me.  I have let my fears own me enough to compromise my ability to trust others.  I want to say I am sorry for those fears and inadequacies, but my reality is that the fears still remain in me.  I am a work in progress, or as Ilya said...we are all onions with many layers we are peeling back to find another equally complex layer.

My awareness has happened. Now I do the work to conquer the fears.

So I shake off the doubt, clear my eyes and try to move forward in time and space.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Towel Time

I am sitting here on my patio, post shower in a towel.  I guess it was warmish today, but right now I just don't want clothes and this is as close to nude outside I will get.  But with my hair up and nothing on my shoulders and neck, the slight, easily lost breeze is swirling around my neck and head, bringing some relief to my thought dominated brain.  No ice cream in house.  No whiskey in house. No wine in house. No vodka in house either.  I guess that is good.  I just spent the last hour and half ordering my bathroom and bedroom a bit.  Doing that helps to create order in my mind.  Then as a wonderful friend said...Nicole...take a cool shower.  Wash the week off of you.  It will help.  She is right that ritual does have power to me.  However....I need to probably shower for a week to get rid of the last six months worth of thought build up.

I have not sat down and written anything of substance or reflection in months.  The thoughts are piling up.  There are so many ideas I want to write about but I have spent my time, mostly working.  Then, of what is left, by my choice, taking care of many I love.  I have no regrets about being there for those I love.  Phrase labor of love comes to mind.  Yet in this I have chosen (yes it has in reality been a choice) to sacrifice the few things that feed me.  The things that make me feel healthy, mentally and physically.  I am now paying that price.  My ocd has flared up again and I have had far to many physical ailments of recent that are forcing me down into short states of inactivity so I can recharge on a very basic level.  Work has been the main culprit to this personal derailment.

I have many separate pieces I wanted to write about for months...

1. Family challenges and changes.  How that can make you question the core of who you are.  How family is so real. So human.  So flawed and yet so loved.  How it can break your heart to see parents in crisis and at a loss to know how to help adult children.  How family members become adults yet we still all operate from this unconscious state of still being children with each other.

2. Thoughts on the concept of Respect.  What exactly does respect mean?

3. Thoughts on the concept of Trust.  What exactly does trust mean? We throw these words around a great deal but have any of us spent the time defining them for ourselves?

4. Thoughts on world events.  How my skeptical, elusive, burgeoning, infantile belief in the idea of hope is struggling to stay alive.  How I have this deep sense of disappointment in people near and far.  

5. Work. My fucked up relationship with work.  Work at the synagogue and work as a whole.

6. My relationship.  The ups and downs of actually being in a loving partnership.  Learning to find my voice. Challenging myself to be a better person and keep growing and being honest.

7. My son. Oh man. my son.  Thurston.  Thurston leaves on Wednesday for away camp for 15 days. I am elated and terrified all at the same time.  Think I might write at this moment about him.  

Thurston is growing at a tremendous rate.  He is tall (4'8") and handsome.  Loving, funny and thoughtful.  He is going into third grade which is blowing my mind.  He is leaving next week for the grand adventure of Jewish Camp for 15 days.  I am so excited for him.  I am emotionally going back and forth.  Most of my life surrounds making sure that he has the solid environment to be able to grow and learn about life.  We have never been apart from each other for more than 5 days and that has only happened once. I keep going from incredibly excited to having to hide my tears as I feel like I might already be missing him.  I refuse to put my known insecurities on him when this is the type of thing that people talk about shaping them as a adults and times they long to have again.  I feel good about this experience for him and I love the community, feel confident of the camp and the people who work there.  If it weren't for the fact that I work in the Jewish Community and know some of these people, it would be probably even harder, so I feel grateful and lucky to have this sort of tie that can bring me comfort.

So now, even though the majority of it was written last evening on the patio in a towel, listening to the same 5 songs over ( I said my ocd has sadly ramped back up a bit) is now Saturday morning with a kid to feed, errands to run and all the usual Saturday shenanigans).  So I say adieu for the moment.  Hopefully in the upcoming couple of weeks I will be able to find time to write again and feed my soul a bit.

Friday, May 16, 2014

thoughts on my behavior

Nobody likes it when a criticism comes from someone important in their lives.  At least I haven't found someone who does.  When it is me, I want to justify, rationalize.  At least that is the race of initial thoughts that run rampant in my mind in those first moments.  Then I tell myself to stop and listen, try to focus and hear what that person is saying.  Not to say that I always agree, but I do feel that I need to try as hard as I can to hear what the person has to say in full and understand it before I react.  It is hard.  My self esteem is growing and getting better but still lives in these moments in a defensive mode.  I understand that defense and denial really get me no where.  Criticism is hard.  In its purest form it asks me to examine myself and essentially my words & actions.   

In trying to process recent criticism, I have to, in all honesty, check my ego.  I am talking about ego and not narcissism.  It has come to my attention that at times I can talk down to people, like they are small children.  That I can keep pushing and asking the same question time and again in different ways.  

I have been thinking on these issues.  Trying to figure out why this is happening.  I do not intend to behave in this way, and the repetitive questions I do not realize I am even doing.  I have decided that perhaps it is my ego that created the first issue-talking down and the second issue comes from insecurity.

The ego part:  somewhere it got programmed in me that I am some how responsible for the actions of those closest to me.  I mean, how more egotistical can that be?  I need to become more conscious of this.  Try in the moment when somebody does something I, basically, don't agree with, or makes me uncomfortable....I need to check myself.  I am only responsible for my own words and actions, no one else's.  They are entitled to their words and actions.  I do have options to deal with those situations without having to resort to talking down to somebody.  Talking down to somebody to try to control the situation is rude.  This behavior on my part is no longer acceptable.  Especially now that I have been made aware that I do this.  I don't know exactly what will happen when I find myself in an uncomfortable situation, but I will do my damnedest to keep myself in check and remember that their words/actions are not mine to own or control.

As to my insecurities...I can only work on them on a day to day basis.  Some days are better than others.  Again, I am going to attempt to be more conscious of what comes out of my mouth.  All of this is a process.  It may require me to be quieter.  Take more time to think my responses through.  I am going to try to do that, instead of react; not just to the situation but my fears that may or may not be founded.

Anyways...some heavy days of thinking.  Hope that I can follow through on the behavioral changes.  I respect those I love most to treat them in this manner.

Friday, April 25, 2014

My Hands

I sit here and I look at my hands.
these hands that had held my belly thru pregnancy.
my hands that have held heads while drunk and pucking.
my hands that have held bodies on heroin.
my hands that have cooked meals that nourish those in need.
my hands that make gifts i give those i love most.
my hands that pet my kitties.
my hands that seem so large.
my hands that are so mannish.
my hands that have done so fucking much.
more than my brain can claim in a constructive manner.
my hands that cook dinner for those i love on so many nights over these years.
my hands.....
i hope that i relish the wrinkles
i hope that i relish the accomplishments always my hands seem to accomplish that my brain no matter how bright, creative or brilliant do not produce in physical manifestation.
my hands have a life of their own.
i hope they get to go to heaven.

Monday, April 21, 2014

this morning.

a good song. the smell of chris' neck. feeling his hand on my leg. moxie asleep in the crook of my arm. hearing chris breathing and the usual and occasional twitch. the feeling of impending summer.  sleeping without a blanket. the anticipation of spending the day with the person who means so much to me. the anticipation of being out in the sun. the anticipation of laughing. the anticipation of hearing him tell me he loves me. thinking about making enchiladas with my left over roast chicken. realizing that i almost never get to wake this slowly and recognizing the happiness in my heart and life.  realization that i have been choosing happiness over distress lately. nice to see how i am working towards that goal and making progress. 

ok. now to wake chris up and stop anticipating.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014


Getting close to a month of not being on Facebook.

Yesterday at work, there was a problem with my computer. No email. Took all day and evening to fix the issue.  I was thinking as I was going over the issue with our IT Facebook, no email...only phone and text.

 It didn't freak me out.

Last night around 10pm, I was taking my usual night time shower and I had a moment to revisit this lack of accessibility I have at the moment.  It is by choice.  I don't have to limit my availability to people.  Yet, I like it.  There has been a frenetic quality in my life that is diminishing over the last couple of weeks.

I thought I would miss so much without that public forum.  I probably am missing some things, but I am not missing is seeing people's constant struggle with life in our modern world.  Nobody really wanted to see mine, and in all honesty, I don't want the minute to minute update of someone's shitty day, week, or life.  As I see it, we are all struggling in some fashion with some aspect of our life.  That is LIFE.  However, I would much rather meet up with a friend, listen intently to their struggle and hold their hand.  Somehow that seems so much more real than the shitty quips most of us (at least whom I am friends with) are good at. I have decided I would rather meet with somebody for 2 hours over coffee/tea and hear about their challenges and successes than the removed 20 seconds here and there for a year.  I suppose I am choosing the tangible even if less frequent over the constant removed update.

The focus on the real, the personal is far more satisfying to me.  I recently have felt the need to remove myself from the greater world in a small way, feed myself mentally and emotionally, and protect myself and the people closest to me (aka my little family of Thurston and Chris).  My time and focus seem to have resurfaced in leaving the chaos of intense social media. I am thinking in longer strings rather than in 10 words or less.  Allowing myself to delve into the more complex, as it were.

After a week of no Facebook, I felt like I was on vacation.  As if I had retreated to the mountains and was living a bit of solitude.  The waking dream that I have all too often.  The solitude of quiet.  I am in this moment re-living a treasured memory of being at Ilya's home Il Paradisio and the sun was just setting.  We are in her little kitchen cooking, laughing, talking.  The house smelled of garlic and herbs mostly lemon balm and the scent of pungent pine seeping though all the pores of that sweet house.  The last of the day's sunlight streaming through the old wavy glass of those windows.  All the issues of the day were gone.  It was just us, dinner cooking, kitties wandering under our feet.  Then the quiet of sitting in the living room listening very possibly to Mozart and drinking a Pimm's cup.  In those moments after an afternoon of laying on those healing rocks in the sun, I found myself (in my memory) completely present in that moment.  The small joys and pleasures of daily life.  The beauty that surrounds those actions and friendship.

I have found those moments again.  Chris sits and keeps me company in our new home while cooking dinner....different music playing...of late mostly Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros Radio station on my Pandora. Sharing a glass of wine talking about our day with the smell of garlic and onions heavy in the air.  Kitties laying on the floor belly up with a smile on their most wicked faces.  We talk of the past. We talk of the now.  We just talk.  Sometimes though we are quiet listening to music and the sounds of the old Victorian we now inhabit.  I find it easy to be present.  To cherish the moment within it, rather than thinking and checking on what everybody else is thinking, feeling or doing.

Again tapped into a space of solitude even with a full life around me.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

disintigrating skeletons

I think most of us at some time or another carry the burden of the so called skeleton in our closet.  I certainly have.  There were two sides to that coin.  One side had been revealed the other remained hidden.  I cannot speak to other people's processing or how they have felt about their skeletons.  I personally carried a great deal of shame and remorse.  This post, however, is not about the creation of that skeleton but it's final death throws of existence in my life.  Watching this skeleton become revealed has been painful.  Painful in a different way from the initial discovery of the one side of the coin.  For me, that was the more relevant closet that got opened.  It was the creation of a new life for me.  One that was committed to owning my life, my happiness and my future.  The flip side of that coin really is the final fallout.

I have had five years to process my actions.  Five years to learn how to look at myself in the mirror again without self loathing.  Ultimately, to figure out who indeed I am, what I believe in, and what is most important to me in my brief existence. It has been and continues to be an amazing journey full of anxiety, fear, challenge and discovery of more personal strength than I ever realized I possessed.

In the last couple of days I have had a great deal of anger vented at me, even though I was only a symptom, not the disease.  That anger has made me scared and even a bit paranoid.  Yet at the same time some really powerful thoughts have come my way.

I have realized how far I have come in the last five years.  Regardless of whether or not anybody else sees it.  In fact it really does not matter if others see it.  It is mine and only mine.  As Charlie said to me is about sitting with yourself. Coming to a space of loving kindness of sorts...not just for myself but for others as well.  As Eastern as this is, it lives deep in the Judaism I practice as well.

For the time being, I have stepped away from Facebook.  I have deleted my account. Time to make a break.  I have fully realized that now I am embarked on a new part, nay cycle of my life.  All signs have pointed to the massive end of a pivotal cycle for me.  A cycle of pain and rediscovery.  I am grateful to have made  it through this period.  I see others that my life has touched (in a painful way the last few days) and remember the loss, disorientation and deep sadness that once had a brutal grip on my psyche.

I know that I am not immune to those cycles and I hope I have the continued strength to weather them the next time they circle around.  I have learned so much in the last couple of days.  It has been overwhelming.  It has reinforced for me to continue to learn to be able to say what I want, what I need from a relationship.  Learning that I truly value experiences with other humans and physical life around me more than the material.  I am indeed, in many ways, a hopeless romantic.  I have solidified that my relationship MUST be one of deep, intense friendship and can never stray from that.  I never just want to be a roommate or ships passing in the night because we have forgotten how to connect or too consumed with the rudimentary of daily life.  I want to be with the person who, with me, wants and can make the rudimentary of life delicate, beautiful and meaningful even in its quiet simplicity.

Thank you Chris and Rabbi for helping me focus on seeing a silver lining when a lapse of judgement, mistake,  misdeed from my life five years ago has presented itself in one last pirouette to ultimately be disintegrated into ash in the full light of real life.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Angry and a little mentally lost.

I am sitting here in my office.  I have been working since I got here, other than a couple of minutes on Facebook to make sure I didn't miss any birthdays, which in the end I did. grrrr.....

I am trying to find focus but all I find myself doing is going back to all the crap going on in my life and just being really angry.  With that said, although there are times I can be quick to anger,but I am not always.  We as women generally have been told that to be angry and express it means we are just a bitch, and to be disregarded and even more...not lady like to show anger.  When that fails to control our anger, it is amazing to me how many people, men and women will tell you in the face of your anger how really "you just need to refocus your energy and stop being ungrateful for all the good that is in your life." I cannot tell you how many times I see that as a response to so many people who are trying to express and process through their anger.  I guess that too makes me angry.  

Anger, in my opinion, does have a function, if you can recognize and process through it.  Then you can be truly grateful rather than just giving lip service of gratitude to those around you.  The most insidious anger is the anger that I direct at myself.  It is the most painful, most challenging to work through.  Maybe if I get some of these down in writing, I can figure out the way to process through the anger and actually become the change I want to be.

List of crap I am angry about:

1. I am angry that after a month I am still living with a ridiculous amount of unpacked boxes.
2. I am angry that the unpacked boxes bothers me to my core. That is creates anxiety that at this time I can barely control. Giving me this feeling that I can do nothing else until my home is in order. Nothing else.  Classic compulsion from my OCD. Thanks OCD. Thanks a lot (yes sarcasm).
3. I am angry that my old boss "allegedly" embezzled money.
4. I am angry that I was the one that found it.
5. I am angry that he lied to me about so many things.
6. I am angry that I did not catch it sooner.
7. I am angry that because of his selfish behavior and lies, I probably spent 6 months of financial struggle that never really needed to happen.
8. I am pissed that I put my last $5 in my gas tank this morning and it will only get me to and from work today.
9. I am pissed that I don't know how I am going to get my sorry ass to work the rest of the week.
10. I am pissed that I have gained weight back that I worked really hard to lose in the last year and half.
11. I am pissed that I haven't ridden my bike like I like to or want to.
12. I am pissed that those excuses for not taking care of myself and my mental health have been so easy to say and fall back on, like they were 3 years ago.
13. I am pissed that I really don't like what I do for a living and what I would like to do really has no viable chance in hell to financially support myself and Thurston.
14. I am pissed that I am not content just as I am. Life would be easier if I could find that.
15. I am pissed that going through stuff and deciding to get rid of it stresses me out beyond belief.  So much so it overrides positive forward motion that have happened because others have given of their time to help me. In turn making me feel intensely ungrateful.
16. I am angry that I cannot figure out how to get the kind of education that my son needs and deserves;.
17. I am angry that I cannot help Chris more with all that he struggles with, especially since he tries so hard to give so much to me.
18. I am angry that I am not in some elusive place I feel that I should be at.
19. I am angry that I feel like my emotional needs are greater than what I should ask of Chris.  In turn making me want to go to that place I have been trying to leave. That place where I trust no one/ask no one for help or support.  It makes me angry that that place still feels like a bullshit comfort zone.

I am over it. I just want to stand at sunset cliffs and scream until I have no voice left. I want to turn to every person I come in contact with and scream at them to leave me and my fucked up mind alone. Just go the fuck away.

Then I see the picture of my friend holding his brand new incredible, beautiful baby boy (and him with a look of profound love/joy), and I just want to cry.  There is so much beauty and love.  I just can't seem to tap into it today.  I hope tomorrow or even an hour from now I can find my way to that space.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Checking Out

My anxiety seems to be manifesting differently these days.  Maybe it is due to when I was on medication and behavior modification then, or maybe the year of intensive therapy I did not too long ago , or maybe it is simply age.  My anxiety now reveals itself as migraines and then simply checking out (along with the usual lack of emotional filters).  It is like I am not living in my body.  Like I am really really high, but not in a good relaxed way.  The way where you have little control.  More like I am going to black out at any point and suddenly.  2 days ago I was at work, had been having a massive anxiety attack since I tried to get up at 6am,  and yet was still trying to function (aka go to work).  By 1 in the afternoon I was working on an excel worksheet and literally found myself "coming to" from a completely black visual.  It scared the fuck out of me.  I left work. I texted Chris saying I was scared to wait any longer to drive, had to go home and please make sure I made it home (which I did). It felt like a massive migraine was coming, but every time this pain started, I seemed to just "check out." Fortunately, the rest of the time I was at home and in bed.  I recognize that at some point the black turned into me just falling asleep, but there were many times it didn't.  I also got freaked out as my eyelids would not blink in unison together.  I am sure that must be a sign of something strange.  I was and remain scared.  I do have a doctor appointment coming up.  I am going to tell her of this, and see what she says.  The amount of stress/anxiety for the last 2 1/2 weeks has been extraordinary.  I do not believe I have felt this level of anxiety since Ilya passed in October.

I am struggling to keep my anxiety in check.  I did not work yesterday due to this issue, and by the end of the day felt more like myself.  Today I started feeling mild anxiety, but it has increased since being here at work.  I am starting to feel that sensation of "checking out" come back.  I went outside in the sunlight and focused on my breathing and reminding myself that what is most precious to me is indeed safe.  That I need not feel this intense feeling of fear as I know everything to generally be ok.  I really hope this passes soon. I know I have lots of wonderful things happening in my life.  I don't want to be "checked out" for them.