Tuesday, August 31, 2010

First cut is the deepest

Unfortunately, it's not the last cut. I still get hit with a tidal wave of sadness from time to time. Not sure how I'm keeping on my feet. Work is pretty darn excruciating. I can do the mindless stuff, but I really can't focus for very long on paperwork. Did manage to diagnose a client with dissociation as part of his PTSD, which apparently nobody ever else had. But I've got three discharge summaries to write up, and I can't.

So I've ventured back into online dating. I've decided that I'm going to send ONE message to men. If they don't respond -- that's it. This might be common knowledge to most of you, but I've been more persistent in the past. This is both undignified and ineffective. So now, it's one strike and they're out.

Back in September 2009, I connected with a guy, Sir Gallant. We exchanged phone numbers. But I don't think we ever spoke. He kind of dropped the ball. Whatever; I got enmeshed with JV and lost interest.

Fast-forward almost a year. Apparently I forgot I ever contacted him, because I sent him a little icebreaker:

Hi Sir Gallant, Let's Break the Ice.

My name is Ayelet and I am a 40 year old Traditional woman from New York. You can see my full profile by clicking the profile link at the bottom of this message.

Looking forward to chatting, Ayelet

Well, he is as gallant as his name. He responded:

So Ayelet with a beautiful smile such as yours, why are you still single?

I was smart enough not to say "Because you never called me last year!"

I'm very picky ;) I guess I didn't want to settle. I want to marry my passionate lover/best friend and confidant/partner in problem-solving. Not someone who thinks just like me, but who brings out the best in me.

Do I get to see YOUR beautiful smile? What's your password?

I have to be myself. I mean, I have to be nice, which isn't really my style and I'm working on it, but I need to be sassy. And apparently Sir Gallant likes sassy:

You should be picky; my password is 1233x

I guess cute girls get an extra sassy allowance. So I looked, and either it's a really good picture or he's actually cute.

Glad to say you pass muster with flying colors :) Next step?

He asked for my phone number and the best time to call. I gave it to him and told him to call tomorrow night -- tonight I work till 9 and I'll be exhausted when I get home.

Prospect #1. But wait -- there's more! Four more that I've exchanged at least one email with, and several that read my emails and looked at my profile but haven't written back. Not bad, considering I re-joined the site yesterday.

I would love to tell you all about the other four guys. I probably should, so TikunOlam can screen them for psychopathology. But... I'm exhausted. Living is just harder than usual these days. I'm amazed I got up, chose an interview outfit, and gave an interview that got me a second interview. Did I not mention I had a job interview? I'm not sure I'd take the job, for two reasons: they utilize lots of methadone and no acupuncture, and they would expect me to take a $10,000 pay cut.

I'm going on the follow-up interview. But I don't think I can take the salary they're offering. I don't have to leave this job immediately. I actually got a call from a headhunter, although I have to ascertain if the jobs she has are full-time with medical benefits that pay a decent wage.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Monday, August 30, 2010

THAT was my 1000th post?

Sucks that my 1000th post was such a downer. Even if it felt true at the time. Scheherazade had 1,001 tales. Let's make my 1001st post somewhat more worthy of her.

I'm feeling better. Not sure if it's the parafin pedicure I had tonight, the vast quantities of Nutella I've inhaled, or jumping back in the dating pool via Jwed. Sorta like Frumster, but for all Jews, not just the orthodox. I'm casting a wider net. If I was willing to make compromises for JV, I can compromise for others as well. I'm having fun enlisting my friends to co-write my new profile, and posting my sexiest, cutest photos. And starting some nice little email correspondences -- although, in the interest of full disclosure, getting a ton of rejections and complete ignores as well. Par for the course.

I also went out again with the Gorgeous Genius. Saturday night. I kept running into him on the subway, and he kept inviting me to go to dinner with him. Which I did, once, back in October or November 2009, and justified it as not a date because a) I didn't wear makeup and b) I didn't kiss him good night. (He tried, and his lips landed on the back of my head.) Just hugged him. But to let him buy me dinner more than once felt uncomfortably like cheating on JV.

When JV and I broke up, I thought, "No reason not to have dinner with GG now." So we did. Decent food (fish on a Saturday night is always kinda iffy), excellent conversation, smooth gelato with solid whipped cream afterward. It was an almost perfect evening... until he walked me home and fastened his lips on my face like a grouper inhaling a tuna.

I couldn't breathe; I think his lips were blocking my nostrils. Yeech. I'd forgotten what an awful kisser he was, or he'd gotten dramatically worse. Welcome back to dating, Ayelet.

We're supposed to go out again Thursday night. How do I tell him he kisses like a predatory fish?
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Now it really feels like my life is over

I'm 40, childless, and single. I don't own my own home, I can't afford to have a baby. My health sucks. Every few years another major injury or crisis.

I give myself 10 more years, at most. Nobody can ask more of me. 
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Friday, August 27, 2010

And just like that... it's over

JV talked to his parents last night. You remember them -- the ones who thought my illness was an insurmountable obstacle. He came over and told me that he realized on Tuesday that he loves me but he doesn't want to get married. Yeah, sure, whatever.

I guess I can reopen the blog, because I don't have to worry about JV's custodial situation. Or anything else to do with him. He's coming over on Sunday to bring the clothing and other stuff I left at his house. And that will be the end of that.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Monday, August 23, 2010

Dreaming about Dr. Ayelet

Last night I dreamed I was afraid to go to work. To the hospital. Where I was a doctor. Because I didn't know anything about being a doctor, and I was afraid to admit that.

I was afraid to face my boss, who, now that I'm awake, reminds me of a doctor I went to in 1995. I missed the start of my shift at 5 p.m. I was ashamed to call in sick, and felt more and more embarrassed the later it got. I couldn't remember anything from medical school. I knew I couldn't call myself a doctor. Then I realized I couldn't remember when I went to med school. Or why I went to social work school after getting my M.D.

I think I had this dream because I feel like I've forgotten how to be a therapist, if I ever knew how in the first place. My caseload is still pretty light, so I've got a lot of empty time on my hands. Instead of reading all the books about being a therapist that I bought and put on my office bookshelf, I don't really do anything. And when clients come in, I feel slightly panicked. What do I say to them? What do I do?

I'm muddling through. A lot of reflective listening, which I was always good at in grad school. Trying to remember that I don't have to fix anyone, I mainly have to listen and help them realize what's in their best interest by helping them verbalize it.

I think part of the panic stems from our decision to go for couples counseling. I sent out a few queries to the professional lists I belong to, got a ton of responses from psychologists and social workers, and left a bunch of voicemails before actually reaching one social worker on the phone. Who happens to have Sunday appointment hours, so we're seeing her this weekend.

I don't think Charlie Brown would have said, "Happiness is two kinds of therapy." I'm in individual therapy with Dr. R, and about to start couples counseling with someone else. What kind of pathetic therapist needs two therapists to manage her life?

And I think I resent having to go to couples therapy. Because I want JV to love me and accept me unconditionally, and right now he doesn't. He's too scared I might get sick again.

And I think I resent him for this recent hospitalization -- as if it's his fault I was trying to do too much and got overwhelmed. I feel like he wasn't supportive enough in the way I wanted him to be, and I cracked under the resultant strain. As bad as my life was between hospitalizations, at least I didn't need to be hospitalized. Until we got back together.

It was September 29, 2009 when he told me that a part of him had never stopped loving me, but what he read on my blog terrified him. He begged me not to kiss him, and I didn't listen, and we got back together. We're going for counseling exactly 11 months after that kiss. And our one-year anniversary will hit on Shemini Atzeret.

I've never dated anyone for an entire year. Does that make this relationship a success even if we don't get married, and I end up alone again and older?
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Sunday, August 15, 2010

For what it's worth, JV's week was pretty miserable too

JV had a rough week at work. And this week won't be much better: his kids are at his parents' time share in northern NJ, so JV will be commuting back and forth from the time share to work, which takes a good hour. But they'll be back for the weekend, and I'll be back with them, so this week won't really be much different for me.

The kids were disappointed I wasn't coming to the time share.

"Why don't you get vacation at your job?" asked M1.

"I do," I said. "Remember? I went to Chicago a few weeks ago."

"Why'd you have to go to Chicago?" asked M2.

I didn't tell him I asked myself that question a few times... "Because my whole family was there. It was a lot of fun. But because I just went on vacation and because the chagim are coming up, I can't take off more time."

We had a great weekend. We went shopping for soccer cleats and groceries. They liked the food we cooked, and they played together more or less nicely. Except when I suggested JV take them outside to play ball yesterday, since the weather was so beautiful. M1 ran to play Pokemon cards with the neighbor's son, so JV and M2 played catch.

"Ayelet! Watch me!" shouted M2 every time I looked away. I watched. "Molodyets!" I shouted -- Russian for "good job" or something like that. Apparently you can't add the word "very" to modify it. Which is a shame, because "very" is another of the few Russian words I know.

Sunday morning JV was busy packing upstairs. M1 was in the kids' room across from JV's room; M2 came downstairs into the living room, where I was on the computer.

"My dad told me something," M2 said coyly.

"What did he tell you?" I asked.

"Something about you two," he insinuated.

"What about us?" Was JV discussing us getting married with him just now?

M2 grinned and ducked his head coquettishly. "That you might get married."

"We might," I said, mentally scratching my head. Why would JV raise the issue with M2 if JV is having doubts?

"I think it's a good idea," M2 said, "but M1 doesn't. But it doesn't matter, because he's outvoted. Also, I told him I'd give him $32 if he lets you get married."

Wow. "You don't need to give him money," I said. "I think eventually he'll think it's a good idea. It'll be just like things are now, but I won't have to travel as much. And we'll make sure you guys have time alone with your dad, because you need that."

"Where will you sleep?" asked M2.

"With your dad," I said. He frowned. "Don't worry," I added, "we'll get a bigger bed, with room for everyone."

"My dad says he's in love with you," said M2.

"That's good, because I'm in love with him," I said. "That's why people get married."

"Not my mom," said M2.

"Really?" I asked.

"She says she never loved my dad, she just wanted kids, so that's why she married him," said M2 blithely. "And he never loved her."

Nice, Mara. "I don't think that's true," I said. "He told me he loved her when they got married."

"But he doesn't love her anymore," said M2. "That's why they got divorced."

"Yes," I said.

"Why can't you come on vacation with us?" asked M2. He often changes the subject abruptly, usually back to a question that in his mind remains unresolved. JV came downstairs and we went into the kitchen, where I relayed the conversation to him.

"Did you talk about us getting married with him today?" I asked.

"No," said JV; "he came up with that on his own."

"At least he's in favor of it," I said.

JV and the kids drove me home. M2 reassured me several times that he was in favor of the wedding, was looking forward to dressing up in a nice suit and tie, and heartily approved of my plan to buy them a wii when we get engaged. M1 wasn't quite as vocal in his approval, but he wasn't vocal in disapproval.

I guess we just have to wait for JV to be ready -- or not. How would he explain us breaking up to the kids? Would they miss me after I was gone?

I hope those questions remain rhetorical.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Or maybe it's just karma

JV wept bitterly and brokenly when I broke up with him, 20 years ago. Pleaded with me. Told me again and again how much he loved me. Begged me not to leave him, and to come back.

I would give anything for him to love me that much again. But I guess you only get one shot at that kind of love, and I fouled out.

Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Shouldn't have tempted fate

I shouldn't have told anyone we were getting married. I shouldn't have joined The Knot. I shouldn't have chosen a bridesmaid dress. I shouldn't have visited reception venues. I shouldn't have tried on wedding dresses. I shouldn't have gone house-hunting.

I guess I'll have to keep borrowing other people's babies. And I wonder how long before I can think that without crying.

One of my group clients tonight told me he saw me on my way into work and thought I looked like I didn't want to go to work that day. Well, yeah, pretty much every day since they demoted me. I thought I could stand it since I'd be moving to New Jersey relatively soon. Now that hope is also dashed. Who knows how long I'll have to keep this job? I know, I know, tons of people hate their jobs. Why should I expect to like mine?

He thought I looked angry. I wasn't angry. I was trying to accept the idea of never having a baby while holding back my tears. Successfully, for what it's worth, if I looked angry and not devastated.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Monday, August 09, 2010

Joey says "Take what you can get"

IMed with my psychiatrist friend Joey.
A: I don't think JV is going to marry me
J: yeah? did he say that?
A: he says 80% of the time he wants to, and 20% of the time he's in a blind panic at the thought -- because of my illness, and because he's scared of another failed marriage... I don't know what to do, or if I can do anything at all
J: I think he'll marry you; you need to be patient, and waiting may make kids unrealistic

Gulp.

A: I know... how long do you think I should wait? I guess it's more important to get married than to try to have a baby

Is it?

J: I think you should stay together long term; he is good for you
A: he might not want to stay with me... he doesn't need me as much as I need him... and what if I tell him, I'll wait as long as you need, and he breaks up with me in 5 years, still unwed?
J: then you have had 5 years of love and you will be better for it

In other words, "Take what you can get."

A: I can't enjoy it if I feel like I'm on the edge of a precipice the whole time.
J: but you're not... unless you are in a hurry to get married

Ya think?

A: I guess I am
J: he's in a different place than you -- he has kids, was married
A: I know... he doesn't need to have more right now
J: I think he's worth you changing the goals
A: I should stay with him short term even if it means I'll never have children

Abandon all hope, ye who date JV

J: I don't think that you can make decisions like that... you don't have a husband waiting in the wings to marry, and it might be hard to have kids anyway. You are in love with him and he with you... I would not give that up; you are way happier with him than without him

He had to go deal with an actual patient, so I didn't get to express how much I hate commuting between my office in Brooklyn, my apartment in Manhattan, and New Jersey. Or how badly I've wanted to have a baby, and I don't know how to get over that longing.

But maybe he's right. Maybe I should stay with JV for as long as he'll have me, on his terms. Maybe it's better than nothing.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

That was quick

Hey, Ayelet: It's good to hear from you. Good luck with your beau. I hope work and life are going well, too.

It has been a while since we've spoken. We're doing well, and just celebrated Chani's first birthday. The year has flown by so fast!

Talk to you soon, Eldad

Oy. I can't bear to rain on that cheery parade... I guess I'll wait and see how things play out with JV. But I can't give him much more time. It feels like my heart is breaking in slow motion.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Butterflies

Still have a light-ish workload, especially when clients don't attend their appointments. Not sure if that's good or bad. Since last night I've had a web of anxious butterflies fluttering inside me. But while yesterday I was constantly on the verge of tears, today I'm happier. Not sure why. I have the sinking feeling that this relationship, like all its precedents, is ending. And yesterday that made me want to die. But not today.

Maybe because of a strange email I got from, of all people, my ex-friend Shimona:
Hi Ayelet, I am just e-mailing to let you know that Eldad contacted me b/c he has someone he'd like to set you up with. He told me a bit about the guy and why he thought of you for this guy and asked if you were dating anyone. I told him I thought you might be, but I wasn't sure. I thought you might want to contact him directly if you're interested in hearing more about this opportunity. Best of luck either way.

This was strange because Eldad is a FB friend of mine, so he should be able to contact me directly -- and to see that I'm dating someone. I guess he hasn't heard that Shimona and I did a Paris Hilton/Nicole Richie.

Thank you for letting me know. Right now I am in a relationship, but I suppose if that does not work out I would be open to meeting someone else. I will email Eldad. Hope you are well.

I was in despair all the way home from the restaurant yesterday (we were celebrating JV's aunt's 80th birthday and one of the courses was SNAILS, covered with mozzarella, mussels on the side). I thought, "If I lose JV, who else is there for me?"

Hearing from Shimona must have given me some hope. But it shouldn't. Because I've been set up with a ton of guys, and none of them ever amounted to anything.

Still, I couldn't keep from writing him:

Hi Eldad, hope you and yours are well. Shimona told me that you had someone in mind for me. I am currently dating someone, but if that does not work out I would be open to meeting someone else. Thank you for thinking of me!

Part of me thinks I should go out with this guy while JV is on vacation with his kids and parents next week. Too soon?
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Saturday, August 07, 2010

A dream where I didn't exist

This afternoon, after lunch had settled, JV and I lay down together for a nap, chatting before we dozed off. Maybe chatting is the wrong word; it was a very serious conversation, even though we were sleepy. We started talking about the last house we looked at; he wants to let the market fall even more before he makes an offer, sometime in October or so.

"When would you move?" I asked.

"Couple months after that," he said.

"So then when would we get married?" I asked. Trying to keep my voice casual with my heart in my throat.

"January?" he said. That, I thought, was promising.

"And when would we get engaged?" I asked hopefully.

He frowned. "Early September?"

I frowned. "Why? What else needs to get done?"

"Well, we have to get you a ring...." he began.

"No, we don't!" I said. "Well, eventually. But we can get engaged without one."

He was still hesitant. I asked why, and he told me. He's not sure when he'll feel ready to get engaged. Because he still has concerns.

"About the illness?" I asked. "Yes," he said. The word landed like a blow.

I feel helpless. And doomed. If being with me for almost a year hasn't shown him that I am strong and resilient -- and a fabulous cook and even more fabulous lover and stellar stepmother and daughter-in-law -- what will? What will ever make him feel certain that we should be together? And if he, who has loved me for almost 20 years, has reservations because of my illness, who else in the world would love and want me?

We fell asleep. And I dreamed I was in my sister's house, but not really, because nobody would tell me what was going on. She had a ton of guests over, adults and children, but nobody noticed me. Nobody spoke to me, told me the plan or schedule. I asked what was happening; no one responded. I might as well have been invisible.

My little studio apartment is newly painted. New sinks in the kitchen and bathroom. Maybe I need to settle back in there. Maybe I'm not going anywhere. And if he does decide he doesn't want to marry me, where can I go? I can't go back to the West Side community. Certainly can't go to Brooklyn. I don't know where I'll go, what I'll do. I don't know how I'll survive another abandonment. I don't know if I can rebuild my life again, on my own. I don't know how I"ll do it.

I almost wish he'd put me out of my misery already. "Set me free, why don't you baby... 'Cause you don't really love me, you just keep me hangin' on..."

I asked if he wanted me to leave; he said no. I just don't know what's going to happen. But if this relationship isn't going to end in marriage, I'm better out of it sooner rather than later.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Back to work... and therapy

Day 2 of my inglorious return to work. My colleagues were happy to see me, and it turns out that my clients haven't all been referred out because... there is a new psychiatrist. He will be at our site one day every other week and the other site on the same rotation.

So there is a dual diagnosis recovery program... I'm just no longer coordinating it.

I am trying to feel humbled rather than humiliated. And maybe it was unrealistic to have one person at one site try to run a program at both sites. Maybe it was an impossible venture, and I was essentially set up to fail.

But I didn't respond well to the stress and frustration I encountered. As Dr. R pointed out in our first weekly session today, "You have a very strong sense of justice, and when you feel you have been treated unfairly, you become very rigid." Which leads to unnecessary conflict. In the workplace, you have to pick your battles, and getting exercised over people's failure to follow policies gets you nowhere but down.

"You win the battle," Dr. R said, "but you lose the war."

"During my first supervision session back in the office," I told him, "my supervisor was pointing out all these things I did wrong, mistakes in paperwork and stuff like that. I didn't try to defend myself -- I just acknowledged."

"That was probably a smart thing," he said. So I need to cope with unfairness -- and others' sins and peccadilloes -- more productively. I might also try to talk to some of the co-workers I trust to see if they have any feedback concerning how I handled things.

Clearly I'm not management or supervisory material. Which is fine; I never envisioned myself as such. Except my cousin Yonina just took a new job... and she'll be managing people. It was a little hard to be really happy for her on vacation, when she's accomplished so much more in her career than I have. Then again, she's not disabled. "Compare and despair," as any 12-stepper will advise you.

I'm not sure if my supervisor knows I was out due to a nervous breakdown. She's being very nice to me, but she's hard to read. I had to tell HR about the reason for my disability, but they're not counting it as such in my timesheet -- they marked it as vacation time and sick time and comp time utilized. I'm a little annoyed about this -- I applied for short-term disability precisely because I didn't want to zero out my sick time and vacation time. But everyone's being really nice, so I guess I'll let it go.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Monday, August 02, 2010

Slightly humiliated

Right before I left, I was told that the agency would no longer have a dual diagnosis program with a regular psychiatrist on site. Now it appears that there will be a psychiatrist on site -- one week at our location, one week at the other Brooklyn location. I just won't be coordinating his schedule, or anything else. I screwed up.

Trying not to feel too humiliated by this turn of events.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"