Skip to content

The Summer That Wasn’t

I got dumped.

Most of you probably don’t even know that I was seeing someone, but I was, and I got dumped.

I was lied to, misled, used, and dumped.  Back in June.

It hurt.  A lot. It still does.

I had felt a connection and a compatibility that I had never felt before.  It was fast, and it was intense, and it felt deep and meaningful, even though it was very, very brief.  He claimed that he felt the same (that was a lie).  I worked tirelessly to ensure that he was feeling comfortable and good about our time together.  I was treading lightly around making plans for the future because I wanted to respect his boundaries and his time – he told me that he wanted to keep seeing me as long as he could (that was a lie).  I was careful about telling him that I wanted him to meet my friends, and I was hesitant to invite him to events where we’d be in public as a “couple.” He said that he wanted to meet my friends and be with me in public (that was a lie).  I tried to guard our time together, and when an opportunity arose to see each other outside of our planned dates, I offered to make adjustments to our schedule so that we weren’t spending too much time together – he told me that he didn’t want that… he wanted to spend as much time with me as possible (that was a lie).  I was open about my feelings and told him all of the great things I thought about him.  He claimed to feel the same way about me (that was a lie).  I tried to keep our interactions light and fun and I apologized when the conversations got deep and personal.  He said that he loved the deep conversations, because all he wanted was to connect with me (that wasn’t a lie in the moment, but in retrospect, that was a lie). I felt heard and respected and cared for and admired.  I felt as if the person I had been waiting for my entire life had finally shown up.  I bought it all – hook, line, and sinker.  It felt good to be wanted.  It felt good to connect with someone.  It felt good to relate to someone on so many levels.  It felt good to be happy.  I thought that I finally got to be happy.  It felt awful to learn that it wasn’t true.

It sent me spiraling down into what I can honestly say was the worst summer of my adult life.  This was the first time in literal years (like, more than 5?) that I had genuine feelings for someone, and the first time ever when I felt like “real” love might actually be possible for me.  That thing that everyone else gets to feel was finally within my reach.  I wasn’t in love, but it felt like I could get there easily, and so when it was taken away I couldn’t cope.  Things were dark, my depression reared its ugly head in a way that I haven’t seen in many years.  There were days when I couldn’t get out of bed.  I had to quit one of my jobs because I couldn’t function at the level that I needed.  I cried.  A lot.  Every day.  Multiple times each day.  I wrote and I mourned and I tried to reach out to friends and I went back to therapy.  I tried keeping it in.  I tried letting it out.  I considered medication.  I tried energy clearing.  I tried meditation.  I lost most of my summer because of my inability to understand and synthesize his messages and my feelings.  I didn’t understand how something so good could just… stop. It reaffirmed for me all of the crappy things that I already think about myself – not good enough, not important enough, not worthy of good things….deserving only of disappointment and desertion.  I’m not a person who gets to have honesty and integrity in my life.  I’m not a person who gets to give and receive love in the way that I really want.  I’m not a person who gets to be happy.   I came to learn that much of it was a lie.  I came to learn that the lies were what prolonged my pain.  I came to learn that I am a person who believes lies.

One of the lies was “You’re wonderful, but I’m just not ready.”  Which, of course, kept me on the hook, hoping that once he was “ready” he would come back to me.  (Turns out he WAS ready… just not for me.  He was in love with his best friend, but couldn’t admit it… so tried, and failed, to settle for me instead… he still hasn’t been completely honest about that part).  Had I known the truth I wouldn’t have tried so hard to keep him in my life.  Had I known the truth I might have avoided some of the darkness… but I didn’t know the truth, and I, stupidly, kept hope alive.  I held on to the hope that I was worthy of his admiration and friendship.  I held on to the hope that I wasn’t as completely disposable as he made me feel.

But it was never about me.  I was disposable to him.  I was useless to him.  He never said those things – he said quite the opposite, but his behaviours told me otherwise… and I believed him.  I don’t think that the lies were malicious – he was likely lying to himself as well – but the lies were big.

One of the lies was “I really value you and want to keep you in my life” so we tried to be friends.  It didn’t work (duh) – but it did push back the final end-date of the whole situation (for me, not for him.  He got over it the next day), so that was fun.  Extra months of anguish.  Extra months of chasing.  It was horrible.  I worked VERY hard to create a friendship.  I worked VERY hard to show him that he matters to me and that I want him in my life… he claimed to appreciate it, but he didn’t reciprocate the effort.  Had he tried to meet me halfway and create a real friendship, I would have been able to give up some of the hope of a relationship and accept that friendship was all it was going to be… but there wasn’t any friendship there at all.  He said that he hopes his new relationship won’t impact our friendship… it won’t… you can’t impact something that doesn’t exist.  I wanted it to exist… but I was wrong.  He’s not going to show up at my door and beg my forgiveness and friendship, no matter how many times I’ve fantasized that he would.  He apologized for hurting me – “I’m sorry for hurting you.”  That’s all I’m going to get.

I’ve been trying and trying to figure out the meaning – what’s the lesson I’m supposed to learn here?  If everything happens for a reason, then what’s my big takeaway?  Maybe the lesson was about opening my heart and how wonderful that felt… but the result of opening my heart was WAY more pain than I had bargained for, so it’s hard to believe that I was supposed to learn that.  Maybe the lesson is that I really do want a relationship, no matter how much I say that I don’t (but.. duh… we all knew that).  Maybe the lesson is not to trust anyone, no matter how much they present as honest and trustworthy… but that’s a horrible lesson, and one that I really don’t want to learn.  I was open and vulnerable and expressive in a way that I had never been before – so maybe the lesson is that I need to be more boundaried and protective of my heart… and that’s… sad.

Maybe there is no bigger lesson.  Maybe all of the “whys” are much simpler.  Why did he lie? Because he’s a liar.  Why did he lead me on?  Because his ego liked knowing that he could.  Why does he get to run off and be happy when I’m left with nothing? Because that’s just how things are.  This was their story, not mine. I was just the guest star in the sitcom – the one who is the last girl that the guy dates before he realizes who he really wants.  The tool that helps the main characters finally get together… we never do find out what happens to those guest stars after they leave the show. I wonder how sad and angry they are (Think Karen in the Jim and Pam story, or Reagan in the Nick and Jess story).  Maybe that’s the lesson – crappy things happen… and pain happens… and people disappoint you… and trust can be broken…and other people can benefit from your disappointments… and that’s just life.

I still get pangs when I think of him… not pangs of love, but pangs of hurt, pangs of embarrassment, pangs of rage, pangs of disgust.  I’m mortified by my own behaviour, and furious about his.  Thoughts of him make me want to scream, and the thought of the two of them together makes me violently cringe. (She didn’t exactly behave well, either… trying to befriend me when she and he were starting to get together… it was bizarre, to say the least).  The thought of seeing him, of seeing them makes my skin prickle.  I wish I was better than that, but I’m not.  I wish that I could just be happy for them – they found each other and that’s great… but I’m not happy for them.  I’m revolted by them.  I want to stay as far away from both of them as humanly possible, although I know that our paths are going to cross again sometime soon… a thought that makes me very uncomfortable.  I wish I was more mature… I guess I’m not.

I wake up every day with anger. I don’t know why I’m THIS angry – it’s been months and I should be over it, yet I was SO wrong and SO let down, and I’ve lost SO much respect for someone who I really admired… and really enjoyed admiring.  That’s one of the hardest things.  Beyond my own disappointment in losing what I thought I had and could continue to have, I hate how much his character has changed in my eyes. I thought so highly of him, and it felt so good to be with someone who I truly respected, but now I think he’s vile.  I think he has no integrity.  I think he’s a coward.  I think I’ll change my mind eventually, but I can’t muster up the positives just yet.  I know that I’m making too big of a deal of such a brief encounter… I know that I’ve wasted too much time and energy on a person (now two people) who haven’t even given me a second thought.

I know, I know… I dodged a bullet.  That’s what the people who care about me are supposed to say. I’m just usually much better at seeing the bullets long before I need to duck.  And I know – better to have wasted a summer than a year or more.  I get it – he was never really mine to begin with.  I understand that the lack of bravery and integrity and honesty was going to catch up to us at some point anyway, so good thing it ended when it did.  I know, I know, I know… but knowing and feeling are two very different things.  My head understands, and my heart is beginning to mend, but my gut… my deepest emotional core, is livid.  At him.  At her.  At myself.  At life.  Nothing about this is fair (yes, I know that nothing about anything is fair).  I got my hopes up, I opened my heart, and I have nothing but a lost summer to show for it.

It’s a new year, a time to refresh and start anew.  That helps, a little.  I’d love it if he was out of my head entirely, but he’s not.  He’s still there.  He shows up in the most unpleasant and unwelcome ways.  The anger still persists, although, thankfully, most of the depression has lifted.  I’ve now been angry for more than 3 times longer than we were actually together… and that fact feels ludicrously insane to me… but it’s real.  Part of me still wishes that he would show up for me, but I know that he won’t.  A big part of me wishes that we had never dated at all… but I do wish that we had made a genuine friendship instead of dating.  That would have been nice.  Then I could have just been his friend, been happy for him finding his love, and enjoyed having a good, supportive, caring, intelligent friend… but that’s not even close to what really was.  I’m not sad to be alone or anxious about meeting someone else – all good things in good time.  I’m just angry… and only time will fix that.

Advertisements

Risky Business

Wow.  It’s been… a summer.  I don’t think that calling it a “roller coaster” does it justice.  There have been some really painful lows, and some extremely exuberant highs (thanks, GUCI 60th Anniversary Reunion!)  I know that summer is not over yet, but as the new year (school and Jewish) approaches, it feels like a good time to reflect a little on what I’ve learned.  This was a summer that was ruled by emotions, and as someone who is fairly uncomfortable with with her own feelings I admit that I did and said some things fueled by emotion that I’m pretty embarrassed about… but I also found myself doing and saying some things that I’m pretty proud of.  I made big decisions, I stood up for myself, I walked away from some situations, and dove headfirst into others.

As I began to process everything that’s gone on this summer, I came to realize something about myself that I hadn’t been aware of until now – I am a risk-taker.  I never thought of myself as such because I’m not a thrill-seeker – I’ve never attached a bungee-chord to my ankles, or jumped out of an airplane (although, I probably would under the right circumstances), but I do take risks.  For most of my adult life I have found myself taking the stance of “what’s the worst that can happen?” (which also happens to be the 5th chapter in my “book.” Funny how that works).  I like to weigh the pros and cons of most situations and I have found that, in most cases, the potential positives heavily outweigh any possible negatives.  I proudly take (partial) responsibility for a few successful relationships (not my own!) because when a friend asked me if they should go on a date with their now-partner, my answer was “why not?  what’s the worst that can happen?”  I really believe in giving things and people a chance. I think that I’ve always had this risk-taking ideology, but I’ve noticed, this summer in particular, that I’ve started acting on it even more.

Let’s be perfectly clear; I’m not talking about stupid, childish risks – like how I used to walk through Central Park alone at night – that’s just reckless.  I’m talking about risks that involve going against the norm, standing in my truth, and being willing to take the consequences.  In the past when someone would place blame on me I would just take the blame and stew over it later.  Now, I’ve started to stand up for myself.  In the past when people have behaved poorly towards me I have kept silent and allowed the anger and hurt to eat at me.  Now, I’ve started to have those difficult conversations and tell people how their actions have impacted me.  In the past, I was too afraid to ask people for what I wanted, and now I have begun to express my needs, and even though other people don’t always come through, at least I know that that’s on THEM and not on me for keeping silent.  It feels good to be brave – to enter into a situation nervous and scared, but also honest and straightforward.

Not every risk I have taken has worked out – that’s just the nature of the beast.  I look at some friends who have played their lives on the safer side and I recognize that they all have things that I don’t – steady income, partnerships, families, safety, security – and I am admittedly very jealous.  I think back to some choices that I’ve made and wonder which step, which risk was the wrong one…where did bravery lead me astray?  Maybe it wasn’t bravery, but rather foolishness… but when I think of the alternatives to the risks that I took, I know that I wouldn’t have been happy if I had stayed in that city, or at that job, or in that relationship.  I  haven’t always been brave – I’ve spent a lot of my life compromising my values and bending on what I want… which is probably why I don’t have everything that I want…but… I’m tired of compromising and losing out because I’m too afraid to stand up for what I believe in… I want to continue to learn how to be brave.

To me, being brave is not about being fearless.  I am afraid ALL THE TIME.  In fact, I think that my burgeoning bravery is fueled by fear – if I wasn’t afraid, I probably wouldn’t take any action at all.  Fear is good.  Fear is healthy.  Fear is just a signal that you’re onto something (good or bad) – everything worth doing is a little bit scary, right?  What matters is how we respond to that fear.  The older I get, the more willing I am to lean into the fear and use it to propel me forward rather than keep me frozen in place.

I can recall one time in my life when I was called a coward.  He was right – I did a very cowardly thing.  I ended a year-long relationship in an email.  It wasn’t brave, and it wasn’t kind.  In my defense, I hadn’t heard from him in a week, despite my daily attempts to call and text him, but still.  It was terrible.  Of all of the nasty insults that he hurled at me after I broke it off, “coward” was the one that stung the most…probably because it was the only one that rang true.  I can be a huge coward and I often wish that I was bolder.  There are a lot of things that I want to do in my life that I’m just too scared to try – conversations that I want to be able to have, values that I want to be able to stand up for.  Risks whose outcome are just too scary to face… but I’ll get there.  I want to be stronger.  I want to be braver.  In fact, I see this blog post as a huge act of cowardice… there are a small handful of people in my life who I want to grab by the collar, shake, and shout at “take a risk!  Be brave! Show up!” but instead of saying it to them directly, I’m hiding behind this public post.  I won’t tag them or share it with them individually.  Maybe they will read it and get the hint, although probably not.  I wish I was brave enough to just say it… but I’m not.  Not yet at least.

Here’s the problem with being brave – it’s EXHAUSTING…physically and emotionally draining, and can be very lonely – especially when it feels like no one else is stepping up to the risk.  I need other risk-takers in my life… I need someone who’s going to show up at my door and tell me that I’m worth the risk.  I admire my colleagues who are brave enough to be vulnerable and human in front of their congregants.  I admire people who are brave enough to pick up and move their whole families in search of a more balanced, healthy life.  I admire my friends who are brave enough to reach out to me to check in when they know that I’m struggling and won’t exactly be the most fun person to talk to.  I admire people who show up, stand in their truth, hold their integrity, and take risks.  I admire people who are willing to risk their comfort by letting their walls down and being open and vulnerable.  I admire people who feel the fear and do it anyway, knowing that something wonderful could be waiting for them on the other side of that fear.  I need more people like that in my life, and they can be hard to find.  I hope that the more I am able to be like that, the more people like that will start to show up in my life… like attracts like, right?

So how do I wrap up this long, rambling post?  I guess with a request – as the various new years approach I ask all of you to consider where in your life you can be a little bit more brave.  Who or what in your life is worth the risk?  Show up for people, stand in your truth, ask for what you want, feel the fear and do it anyway… and tell me how it goes.  Even if you don’t get everything that you want, take note of how it feels to be brave – I’d love to know how it impacts you.  I can use the inspiration.

I have some big risks that I plan on taking over the next few months – none that I’m quite ready to share yet, but will when the time is right.  I am frightened, but hey… what’s the worst that can happen?

 

Seeking Miracles

Not too long ago, someone whose opinion I truly value reminded me that if I am passionate about something I should just do it – even if it is so niche that absolutely no one else will be interested in it (my words, not theirs!).  It doesn’t matter if anyone else likes it, if it speaks to my soul then I should do it.

And so, I am excited to announce the launch of my new website A Course in Jewish Miracles

It is, in brief, a combining of our Jewish liturgy and the lessons from A Course in Miracles (explained in greater detail on the site!)

I purchased the domain 3 years ago, wrote my Home Page and About Me page, created a Facebook business page, and then just stopped.  I didn’t think that anyone would be interested in the content, and I especially didn’t think that I was up to the challenge.  But I haven’t stopped thinking about it, and I like to think that something that doesn’t leave my mind, especially after a long stretch of time, is something worth revisiting.  I’m still nervous and still not sure that I’m up to the challenge, but it speaks to my soul and so I’m going to try.  My first post is up now, ready for whatever comes next.

I’d love for you to navigate over there and see what it’s all about – maybe you’ll help to prove me wrong and show me that other people are interested in my crazy ideas.  And even if you’re not – I love the idea of having an ongoing writing project, and that’s good enough for me.

I am profoundly sad that the person who encouraged me to do this isn’t a part of my life any more.  They needed to follow their own path, and I will miss their love, their care, and their foolish support of my absurd views on life.   At least now I have this project to pour my heart into.

When It’s Time to Walk Away

It was spring of 2011.  I had just gone through a crushing break-up, I was recently ordained, I was having a very hard time securing my first job, I was packing up my life in New York, moving to Chicago, apartment hunting, and starting my career.  The word “whirlwind” barely begins to describe those few months.  My mind was in a million places, and my heart was only beginning to mend, and then he came along.  He was charming, funny, self-deprecating, intelligent, and claimed to really really like me.  It moved quickly – very quickly… he told me that he loved me in the first week, and wanted me to meet his kids (he was divorced) after 2.  There were many, many red flags, but I chose to ignore them because support, stability, and (what masqueraded as) love when I was in a new city, at a new job, with no friends or family around was very appealing to me.  The emotional abuse started gently, little statements here and there to stop me from making new friends or having a life outside of him. He was the master of the guilt trip.  He commented on my clothes, my personal habits, my work life, my family relationships, my friendships and so on.  It escalated gradually, until we were having these huge, all-out fights which were, of course, “all my fault” and “simply a reaction to his fear of losing me.”  He convinced me that I was the problem, to the point that I sought out a therapist to help me with the issues he assured me that I had.  He insisted on knowing every detail of my world, down to what I talked to my best friend about when we texted each other to say hi, and he thought that he had a right to know the specifics of what I discussed with my therapist.  He was manipulative, controlling, narcissistic, and brought out a side of me that was ugly and explosive.  It took me almost a year to end things with him – although I tried many times before that, and, of course, we ended up back together almost a year later.  It lasted about 9 months that time, and only ended because I moved overseas.  The abuse didn’t end after I left – there were phone calls and emails and so many text messages (ain’t modern technology great?!?) cursing me out for leaving him,  and blaming me for every problem he had. I can’t say that everything was his fault – I certainly said and felt some regrettable things, and I definitely wasn’t equipped to handle everything that he had thrown my way.  I hate a lot of who I was and how I behaved when I was with him.  Needless to say, no matter how many times I asked that communication cease, it kept coming.  Sometimes in a trickle, and sometimes in a flood.  Sometimes I answered, and sometimes I didn’t – it didn’t seem to matter.  When I didn’t answer he would get angry and spew more venom at me, and when I did answer, it just encouraged him to keep going.  There were parts of it that were addictive for me as well.  Even though I knew that it wasn’t real love, and that it really wasn’t ME he was obsessed with – rather the power and control that he had – there were still parts of me that felt validated and special that he seemed to need me so much.  I knew that it was wrong, but I didn’t always stay strong enough to stop it.

The written communication continued on and off for a couple of years, until the summer of 2016.  I went back to Chicago.  He knew that I was in town.  He tried to find out where I was to come visit me.  I felt strong enough to handle seeing him, but he didn’t show up, and then he sent me a text message that woke me up at 4 am even though he knew that I had a long drive ahead of me that day.  I also received a Facebook message from another ex of his who told me some of the lies that he had told her about me.  It was enough.  His poison had seeped into too many parts of my life, and I had to put a stop to it.  I knew, from experience, that asking him to stop would only encourage him to be in touch more, and so I decided that all I could do was end it, in no uncertain terms, inside myself.  I didn’t really know how until I was sitting at evening services at camp and we all rose for the mourner’s kaddish, and something within me knew that I was saying kaddish for him, for us, and for everything that he left with me.  Later that night, alone in my room, I had the chance to think and process, and this poem/prayer just came pouring out:

I Said Kaddish For You

I said Kaddish for you, even though you are very much alive.

I said Kaddish for you not because I wish for you to die, but because I wish for that part of my life to finally pass away.

We will not speak again, and when you do meet your end, hopefully for your sake at a ripe old age, I won’t know about it, and so tonight I said Kaddish for you.

I said Kaddish for you, but I said it for me, too. I bear no ill will towards you, nor do I wish you any harm. I pray that we are both lifted up, that our spirits are raised higher towards The Source. Please God, let our souls be pure enough that we may truly be able to praise Your name. This is why I said Kaddish for you.

I said Kaddish for you, because you are gone.… Because I need you to be gone. You, I, we need some peace, and so I said Kaddish for you.

I said Kaddish for you and for all that could have been, for who I used to be before I met you. I mourn the loss of my open heart, and I grieve over the years of brokenness.

Oseh shalom bimromav – may the One who makes peace up on high, show us how to make peace down here below.  May we have our pieces put back together, and may we, may I, find myself again

Amen

 

He might see this, and that’s ok.  Every couple of months his name pops up somewhere and I have to block him from yet another social media site, but it doesn’t really bother me… because I’ve done my mourning, and have finally, completely, walked away.

A Literal Trip Down Memory Lane

OK. I’ll admit it. I’ve been feeling pretty sorry for myself lately. Things were going rather well for a while and I really believed that my life was turning around…but… I’ve sent out at least a dozen job applications and have been granted exactly zero interviews, the dude that I like doesn’t like me (I believe we’ve heard this one before), I have a lingering injury that has prevented me from being as active as I would like (which of course is exacerbating my body anxieties), and I’ve had to cut out some foods from my diet (again) because I was having some unpleasant reactions, so I’m cranky and hungry.   When it rains, it pours…right??

I completely understand that things aren’t that bad. I have a place to live, a great family, awesome friends, and the little work that I do have, I love. I had an amazing experience last week as faculty at Camp George and, for the most part, I’m able to maintain a positive outlook.  For the most part.

Tomorrow, I’m leaving for a few weeks on a bit of a nostalgic tour of the Midwest. I’m going to be visiting people and places that carry with them a lot of memories and emotions for me (more on the trip in future posts), and I’m a little nervous. Excited, yes… But also nervous.  I’m nervous that the emotions and memories that are brought back will only serve to add to my current feelings of uselessness. I’m nervous that I won’t be able to snap out of this funk and have a good time.  I’m nervous that the people I see will be disappointed in me and where I am now in my life.  I’m nervous that this little foray into my past is going to make me question some of the decisions that I’ve made.

I have a feeling though, that I’m placing way too much importance on this trip. It should be a fun, exciting three weeks. Solo roadtrips are a great opportunity for some self-reflection and self-discovery, but they’re also an opportunity to just  let loose, rock out to some music on the radio, and take my mind off of what’s bothering me right now. That’s what I’m going to try to do. I know that I’m not very good at ignoring  what’s going on in my head, but I hope that the few days of driving and the many days of seeing people that I love and miss will be just the boost that I need.  And heck, I get to spend two weeks at the summer camp where I truly discovered who I am, and give back to them by volunteering my time. What could possibly be bad about that?

So yeah, I’m a little down. I’m a little trepidatious. But what’s the expression? Fear is just a sign of great things about to come?   Let’s go with that…I can work with that.

Wishing you light and love…and adventures

 

 

 

Matters of the Heart

I recently found out that I was born with a teeny tiny heart defect. Now, before I go any further, let me just assure all of you out there that I am fine.  Really really fine. In fact, we only discovered this heart condition because I was undergoing tests for something else that turned out to be benign. The condition that I have is potentially dangerous in other people, but I have such a mild form of it  that  my cardiologist is confident that I do not need any kind of treatment. I have no symptoms, and I am at a very low risk of any kind of issues.   There are a couple of medications that we now know that I can’t take, and if I ever feel faint or like my heart is racing I need to go to the emergency room, but honestly  everything is absolutely fine.

The condition is called Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome (WPW). The simplest way to explain it is that when the upper chamber of the heart sends a signal    to the lower chamber telling it that it’s time to beat, the signal passes through one electrical pathway. People with WPW were born with two electrical pathways. Anyone who’s interested in what  this means, or wants to know more specifics about it is welcome to look it up – there are plenty of articles online, but the basic idea is that I have extra heart beats.  The only danger comes in the event of tachycardia, but again I am at a very low risk.

The only inconvenience of this whole thing, is that I now wear a medicalert bracelet.  I mean, I like jewellery and all, but this isn’t exactly  at the top of my list of stylish accessories.  Before I received the bracelet, I hadn’t really thought about the diagnosis at all.  Physically, there’s nothing to think about,  and yet now, multiple times a day…pretty much anytime I use my right hand… there is a reminder that there’s something not-quite-right with my heart. I’m not scared, I’m not worried, I’m just aware.

This constant awareness has me thinking a little bit more about my heart.  Not the physical one that has a few too many beats, but the metaphorical  heart inside my chest…the supposed centre and source of love within me.  The place where we claim that our feelings come from, the place that holds our joy and our pain.  I’m not one that really thinks about my heart that much. I prefer to live in my head, and I tend to separate myself  from what’s going on in my heart… At least I try to, with varying levels of success.  Heart stuff, emotional stuff, scares me. It  seems irrational and impossible to control, which makes me very uncomfortable.  I’ve always tried to ignore what was going on in my heart, which, as I’m sure you can all guess,  usually ends up backfiring. Instead of feeling things in the moment, I ignore my feelings  for as long as I can, until they eventually build up so big that they blowup and I fall apart.  Not the healthiest  practice, I know.   The problem is that no matter how many times I go through the cycle of pushing my feelings away until they explode all over the place, I never seem to learn. I still feel safer  ignoring my feelings in the moment, and I seem to forget that they’re just going to come back some other time.

until now.

Now I have a silver chain on my wrist. Now I have a reminder that I will never take off.  It’s been so bizarre to be diagnosed with something that hasn’t caused any symptoms at all. It’s been incredibly strange knowing that I’ve had this thing my whole life  and we never knew about it, and that had I not gone in for something completely unrelated we may have never known about it. It’s been terribly odd to have  an official “syndrome” that has virtually no impact on my physical health. I’ve been wondering why  it even matters that we found out about it – nothing about me or my regular medical care has changed.  Why did I need to know about this at all?  Yes, I’m sure that you can all see where I’m going with this.  Maybe, just maybe, having this bracelet on my wrist will be the thing that finally reminds me to take care of my heart.  Maybe the fact that I can’t stop fiddling with it, or that it never feels like it fits quite as well as it should, is so that I won’t forget that it’s there. Maybe the little metal disc proclaiming to the world that I am a person who could potentially need emergency medical care is actually softly reminding me that the real care I need can only come from myself. Maybe my “new bling” (as I’ve been enjoying calling it)  will finally teach me to be gentle with my own heart.  I’d like to think that there was a point to getting this diagnosis at all, and maybe that point is to teach me to stop fearing my feelings and to embrace them as an unavoidable and integral part of the human experience.

I’ve always been afraid that I’m too sensitive. I have always worried that being too sensitive makes me unlikable. But maybe a heart that beats more often than everyone else’s is a heart that requires more care.  I don’t think that it’s going to be easy…I KNOW that it’s not going to be easy, but it’s time.  My jewelry says so.

Wishing you all light and love

Leah

You know those times when you get a random, long-distance phone call from a friend who usually texts?  You know how you don’t answer the phone right away because you know it’s something bad and you’re driving and just have a feeling that you probably shouldn’t be behind the wheel?  You know how you just get this feeling that you know exactly what that person is calling about, but it’s just too awful, and so you push those thoughts aside and refuse to acknowledge them, for fear of being right?  You know how you hear the news, the news that you somehow already knew, but don’t believe it could really be true, and so can’t process what’s being said?  You know how the pain just rips through your chest, and you feel like you can’t breathe, and you want to scream, but you don’t, because screaming would make it real?

I’m angry, Leah.  I’m so angry.  You fought so damn hard.  Your friends and your family fought hard beside you.  It was work.  It was work pushing through all of the darkness…but you did it.  You did it and we got to watch you come out the other side.  I’m angry that you don’t get to do everything that we talked about a couple of weeks ago – everything that was going to propel your life into even higher strata of happiness and fulfillment.  I’m angry that you don’t get to watch her grow up.  I’m angry that you don’t get to share his love.  I’m angry that you don’t get to live the life that you worked so hard to create.

I’m hurting too, Leah.  I’m hurting for your family whose lives are now torn apart.  I’m hurting for your community who need to find a way to replace you, while knowing that you are irreplaceable.  I’m hurting for your sister who is now missing her North Star, her guiding light.  I’m hurting for your mother, who has to bear the burden of burying her child.  I’m hurting for your classmates, your colleagues, your friends, who are all trying to figure out how to process all of this.  I’m also hurting for me (I know you’d be proud of me for admitting that).  I’m hurting for the role that you played in my past, but more importantly for the role that you should be playing in my future.

None of this makes any sense.

I’m not ready to eulogize you, Leah. I’m so grateful to those who have, and profoundly envious of the people who have been able to beautifully and eloquently express their grief.  I guess that’s one of those weird things about knowing so many clergy members – we know how to put into words the things that people really need to hear.  But Leah,  I’m not ready to share my memories, not ready to tell people about all of your wonderful qualities.  I’m not ready to laugh about your silly idiosyncrasies.  I’m not ready to pass along the wisdom that you left behind.  It’s not time yet.  I will – you know I will… And I’ll try to not embarrass you too much.

Right now though… No.  Right now you are still here.  I can’t say goodbye just yet.  Right now you are too real, too vibrant, too present in my mind.  You’re not gone yet.  I know that you will be soon.  I hate that you will be soon, but I know it.  Then I will reflect.  Then I will remember.  Right now I will keep talking to you.  Right now I will tell you that you’re still wearing too much glitter… And right now I’ll hear you tell me that I’m not wearing enough.