It’s Okay

I deeply envy those who still have their mother’s wisdom to consult, their mother’s hand to hold and her number to call. There is no consolation for the devastating void I have felt every single day of my life for the past 1,430 days. There is nothing and no one that will ever fill it – it is simply something one must learn to live with and that will never be okay.

I have recently begun reiterating that last line to myself after listening to a plethora of interviews with one of my favorite authors, Cheryl Strayed. She said that in reference to the loss of her own mother and it has since stuck with me because I think in the days following the overwhelming loss of a loved one we’re constantly looking for ways to “make it okay” or waiting for it to at least “feel okay” when the reality is that it will never be okay and that is okay.

Not only do I envy, I feel angered at times – mostly when I witness young people taking their parents for granted or speaking as if they have all of the time in the world – this immature sense of invincibility. I recognize it because I used to be this way. We all think we’re going to live the “typical,” “normal” life where our parents will die when we’re in our fifties, at least. Unfortunately, one cannot teach experience or cast the agonizing pain he/she feels upon naïve beings, if only for a brief moment.

Yesterday evening, I had an interesting conversation with my eighty-five-year-old grandmother, my mama’s mother, about death. I asked her if death became easier to accept the more loss she experienced throughout her years. She replied that she believes that it does. We both agreed that if we are to look upon life with such endearment then we must learn to do the same with death because without life, there would be no such thing.

We agreed experience forces one’s perspective to change and influences one’s thoughts. I told her how I think about death on a daily basis whereas when I was, say twenty-two, I did not think of death quite as often. It was a lovely, candid conversation to have with someone who has an extra five and a half decades on me, who has lost three children, her husband, several siblings, and her own parents.

Focusing on one’s immortality can positively impact self-awareness, promote consciousness and produce immense amounts of anxiety. Daily, I face the pros and cons of this reality I was catapulted into four years ago. With self-awareness comes the ability to check myself when feeling envy – I am able to be genuinely happy for those who can consult their mother’s wisdom, hold her hand and hear her voice at the click of a button on their phone. The anxiety can become overwhelming at times though I am working intensely hard to manage it through therapy, through writing and other outlets.

I feel as if I am a sponge, soaking up all the experience I can handle until being squeezed dry and sharing with the world all that I have learned, hopefully inspiring and consoling others. I am on a constant self-improvement and growth regimen and my words are only a minute, but intentionally momentous piece of this journey. And, this is okay.

Choices, Change, History and Tomorrow

Today marks exactly two year years since I decided to end my marriage and I’ve been so preoccupied with the joy that it is my only surviving grandparents’ 85th birthday that I didn’t remember this other significant date until just now as I type this.

Many would look upon such a day with sorrow and possibly some regret but I look upon this day as one of the best decisions I have ever made for myself – a difficult one, no less. As I retrospect on our life together, I do not for one second intend to play a victim as that time has long passed. When I dig a little deeper, I realize that if it weren’t for this decision, I have no clue where I might be today – desperately unhappy is the only certainty. Although, I can’t imagine my life getting much darker than it already was with David, I am sure that it was possible which is the whole reason we make choices toward change, right?

Making decisions to change an aspect of our lives that we find mundane, boring, unfulfilling, whatever it may be is difficult! Change is terrifying but if we don’t take that step or those steps to change whatever it is that is not serving our soul then we will remain in a perpetual cycle of displeasure and that’s an understatement. We have no one to point fingers at except ourselves if we do not work toward changing the part or parts of our lives that are unsatisfactory.

This past Sunday, I had the extreme honor of witnessing a ninety-one-year-old holocaust survivor deliver an inspiring speech on his extraordinary life during a visit to Los Angeles’ Museum of Tolerance.

Mr. William Harvey wasn’t even the scheduled speaker for that time slot. He happened to be visiting the museum just to say hello when the scheduled speaker could not make it due to illness. His compassionate response when asked if he could fill in: “I couldn’t let the public down.” Again, I hear you Universe.

This is the type of person our youth should be idolizing. This man is hero material,” I thought to myself. At the young age of twenty-two, Mr. Harvey was liberated from Buchenwald concentration camp weighing a mere seventy-two pounds. His harrowing tale sincerely altered my perspective on life.

He spoke of his mother and how hard she worked raising six children, as the motivation behind his will not to give up during his imprisonment. In so many of his ideals, his values and his morals, I heard an echo of myself while gaining immense encouragement from his anecdotes of extreme struggle and heart wrenching survival.

This is a man with incredible experience, courage and tenacity – a man who was given a choice between remaining a victim or making something of the life that he fortunately still had unlike so many of his loved ones. He chooses to live in such a way that he looks forward to every single day that he awakens for it’s an opportunity to do something good in the world, to give back to someone else.

In no way am I comparing my struggles to his – I am simply drawing the valuable perspective that I gained. How could I possibly justify not manifesting the changes that I see necessary to fit my desires and accomplish my goals, to better my character and further my self-awareness? I left the museum that day wondering how any of us could justify remaining in a complacent state of being, of merely existing and not living! It’s as if we have forgotten history or perhaps, some of us are just turning a blind eye because we fear the change is far greater than any we could manifest alone. If only each of us could understand that true, necessary change begins with a single human being. I think the moment we all start waking up looking forward to each day with the knowledge and power to do something good is the moment that change will be enacted.

But what will that take?

Thank You, Mr. Harvey, for dedicating your time, your energy and for giving back to humanity and to your community. This world needs more individuals like you.

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Photo by David Miller; http://www.jewishjournal.com/survivor/article/survivor_william_harvey

Conversations with My Dead Mother (Pt. 2)

Dear Mama,

It has been a week of ups and downs – So much to celebrate but my damn anxiety really inhibits the celebration. I wonder if you had anxiety? I don’t recall you having anxiety or maybe that was one of the “evils of the world” that you tried very hard to keep from me, like dad’s drug addiction. I still marvel at how you were able to keep that one a secret for fifteen years. Normally, this would have angered me but I think I was old enough to understand that you did it out of pure and intense love for your children. I thank you for that.

I filed the final judgment paperwork for my divorce today at the courthouse, ma. Ya know, I thought I’d just go down there, turn in the paperwork and not feel much different. If I felt anything, maybe just a bit of relief because I accomplished an errand but no, I felt tremendous weight lifted. I think having no expectations was what made it feel so damned good. I wish you were here – you would have been the first person I called. You’re with me all the time, though, right?

I can’t wait to receive the mail informing me of my official divorce date. It is a date in the near future that I greatly look forward to and I have every intention on celebrating in a very big way. I’m fortunate to have some friends and my boyfriend that will be right there with me, toasting to my freedom as well.

Today, though, I came to the conclusion that there are some people who simply have no interest in my life yet I continue to exert my energy with interest in theirs. I shouldn’t say I came to the conclusion because this has been on my mind for quite some time but rather, I was able to arrange it in my thoughts in a way that is plain and simple to understand. I think, sometimes, I confuse things easily or I begin with the self-doubt but really it’s just a matter of no longer giving a part of myself to others who have no interest in giving me a part of him or herself.

And then, as if the Universe was speaking directly to me and I believe it was, one of my dearest friends (Meg, you know Meg!) posts this on her Facebook wall:

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Or trust the vibes you don’t get, I suppose!

I think that’s about all for now, mama. I love you more than words could ever convey.

Love,

Linds

Snail Mail

This evening, I received a single piece of mail in my mailbox – a piece of mail I have been waiting to receive for a little over three months. After eight weeks, I gave up any anticipation of receiving this piece of mail but, finally, I have received this piece of mail from the Los Angeles superior court stating their approval of our request to enter what is known as default.

I’ll spare you the legal jargon and get right to the point – this means my divorce case is entering the final judgment period which after all of the fiery hoops I feel as if I’ve been jumping through, this will hopefully lean toward the smoother, uphill slope. This also means that my nightly consumption of wine is of the celebratory variety.

Last week, David text me a nasty response to a text message I had initially sent him asking for more information regarding his court visit. In a nutshell, he stated that he didn’t know what had motivated me to “begin cooperating” all of a sudden and doesn’t really care but that he doesn’t like hearing from me probably just as much as I don’t like hearing from him.

I chuckle a little every time I think of his message simply because of how undeserved and inaccurate his statements were. Cooperating isn’t even an appropriate term to use given the fact that the reason I wasn’t moving forward was simply due to financial hardship and financial hardship alone. He knew this – I informed him and I have the text messages to prove it. In fact, about a year ago, he even sent a text message claiming his understanding and patience with my situation.

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I guess his patience ran out. Well, he could have filed default a long time ago without my “cooperation” so what is it they say these days? Sorry, not sorry.

And as far as hearing from each other, I assure you, dear readers, no one dislikes hearing from the other more than I dislike hearing from David but I know that I won’t stop hearing from him until this divorce is final so until then, I’ll just have to suck it up.  All business mindset – that’s how I get through it. That, and reminding myself that his main purpose in my life was to serve as a grand distraction from the tragedy that began to unfold in 2010 after my mama was diagnosed with stage four metastatic lung cancer. Though it makes complete sense, it’s unfortunate that such a tragedy required sending someone into my life that I would grow to hate more than anyone I have ever hated.

Cheers to today’s snail mail! *as I raise my wine glass to my lips*

Self Inflicted Misery

I have mistakenly discovered that writing is a sickness of the self-inflicted variety – not a virus but a disease. An earnest writer, one with candor and humility must drive a dagger through her heart, allowing the darkened, profuse blood to spill out, never cowering under a band-aide, never permitting sutures to make her whole again.

She must lick her wounds willingly, knowing that each and every lockbox of stored, past memories will be forever opened with a single master key amidst the dagger’s path. The key – damaged, unable to lock anything away again. The writer must trudge forward with the open wound that inevitably carries with it an unavoidable illness – an illness so lethal, it will one day kill her. And she’ll die – glad that she let it.

Some of the greats have described this is in other, more concise words…

Hemingway – “There’s nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

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Steinbeck – “In utter loneliness a writer tries to explain the inexplicable.”

Bukowski – “He asked, “What makes a man a writer?” “Well,” I said, “it’s simple. You either get it down on paper, or jump off a bridge.”

Misery, I tell you. Complete and utter misery. The indescribable though palpable passion to write is the acceptance of one’s downright madness, embracing it like your closest kin. Vulnerability becomes a consistent way of being.

And when you’re not writing, that, too, is absolute misery. There is no escape. I chose to tell my truth and there is no going back.

Someone once ignorantly said to me when I informed her of my planned return to the west coast from New York, “I can’t help but think that you’re trying to run from your problems.”

At the time, I probably scoffed, shook my head and ensured this person that this wasn’t so. I didn’t feel the need to explain because the truth is, my problems, in fact, most people’s problems are not problems that can be ran away from. If the solution to my problems were as simple as a cross-country move, I probably would have made that move a lot sooner.

Alas, my biggest problem then and my biggest problem now are learning how to live in a world where my mother doesn’t exist –  A world where I cannot pick up the phone and hear her voice on the other end, a world where she is nowhere to be seen or heard. There are no solutions and there are no cross-country moves that will ever make this okay so I will just write. I won’t run and I won’t hide – I will simply just write – About that – About life, love, and my experiences. I will sit at my computer or my notepad and I will bleed.