Saturday, January 29, 2011

Nachman writes back

I guess it is long distance for a while. If the goal is find the right person for marriage, then it's worked out. I like your profile, and messaged you because of your stated willingness to relocate (I cannot, as my ex won't allow the children to move, it would be very hard on them, and I in the coursework-phase of my PhD program. I guess, it's phone calls and visits if we would determine that there is something there. However, I do understand your reluctance.

My reluctance is really twofold: his children are adolescents, and he lives in Detroit. While I'd be willing to relocate to Los Angeles, Boston, or several other cities, I:never really considered Detroit. Too far, too cold, too economically depressed. I just don't want to go there. Not sure how to answer him.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Is dating Detroit an option?

Got a message from a gentleman styling himself "Nachman Emet." I think that means he favors R. Nachman of Breslov. After my reading of "The Garden of Emuna" and disappointing meeting with the Breslover from Tsfat, I'm not a huge fan.

Subject: Shabbat Shalom, or by the time you receive this, Shavua Tov

Message: I guess I used to work with your folks after they got worse, became homeless, and finally started to work toward their recovery from the depths. I worked with an agency working with the homeless, developed 184 units of supportive housing for the homeless (transitional and permanent) most with a history of chronic substance abuse.

Now, I write grant proposals for a major hospital system, focusing on medical research, clinical care and capital projects. I'm also in a PhD program in Health Communication.

I, too, enjoy the ride, the traveling, as much as the arrival at wherever we're going. I've trained my children also to enjoy traveling, and we've done a lot of driving around the eastern half of the USA.

Shabbat Shalom. Sincerely, Nachman Emet

NE is 47 years old, divorced, and lives in Detroit. Which isn't very close to New York. SOS basically decided that commuting to New York from Cleveland was too much. So I'm not optimistic that a long-distance relationship with a divorced man is going to yield fruit.

But NE sounds intelligent and thoughtful. What else does he say about himself?

This is how I describe myself: Since the divorce, I have been working on myself to be a better person for my beshert.

My three children are blessings. G-B-G, ages 15-12-9.

At the risk of sounding corny, I am compassionate, considerate, intelligent, smart, absent-minded (or even clueless on occasion), interested, interesting, caring, loving, romantic, and I do appreciate the beauty H gave us in this world.

I grew up in Detroit in the 1970s, a tough time. I was the only Jew around, one of the few whites. I learned how to be alone without being lonely in my "fortress of solitude."

I play guitar, speak a bit of Hebrew and French, and love to travel. I work too hard and regret the time not at home. This has been changing.

I am studying for a PhD to change my career path to one not in (Philanthropic) sales, but into applied research and education that directly touches people.

I am looking for someone I to cherish, love, adore, with whom to become best friends, and with whom to continually grow a relationship. I also am looking for someone who would be in a mutual relationship with me, a real team member, with whom I can speak and discuss, who is not afraid to learn and from whom I can learn.

This is what I am looking for in a mate: She (or you) should be someone who is open minded enough to realize that I am too. I want you you to be able to follow my though train, and to lead me along yours. I want you to be open to experiences, and truly see opportunities where others see disaster.

Laugh, smile, bright eyes.

In a sense, a woman who sees the world either as "half-full" or even a full (half water, half air).

If he lived in New York or reasonably close, I'd be interested. Although two teenage stepchildren are a lot to shoulder. But is it realistic to date someone long distance who probably needs a long time to be sure about venturing into marriage for a second time? So I didn't write back with encouragement:

Shavua tov. Thank you for writing. Do you think long-distance relationships are a realistic option? I'm not sure I see how they can work.

Ironically, several divorced men I rejected on Frumster have since remarried, and a few are even Facebook friends. Not sure if I should see that as a sign that they weren't meant for me or evidence that less finicky women were happy to marry them.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Excluded by name

On Shabbat I had lunch with my friend Elisheva and five of her girlfriends. One topic of conversation was, "Who would date a 50-year-old?" Elisheva's friend Julie davens at Aish, and met an amazing single man there. Julie's dating someone, so she's not available to him, and she was looking for someone to date him.

Normally I'm really not interested in men that much older than I am. But I was swayed when she said that he was willing to date women close to his age as well as younger women -- and that he came from a nice family, had a stable job, and was very kind. So after I broke up with CY I got her email address from Elisheva and sent her a little self-description to send to him.

This was his response:

Sounds like a nice woman. However, need to put on hold for now. This may sound odd, but there's a custom, at least in the Ashkenaz world, for a man not to marry a woman with his mother's name. (I also think a woman is not advised to marry a man with her father's name.) Ayelet is my Mom's Hebrew name and this issue came up once before a few years ago with another woman, and a rabbi I spoke to discouraged pursuing it. I think he just got back from Israel, so maybe I'll ask him again what he thinks in the next week or two. Thanks for thinking of me:)

I shouldn't be relieved, but I sort of am. I didn't really want to go out with a 50-year-old. I can't imagine I'd find him attractive.

In other news: I had another job interview yesterday. In addition to inadequate pay and what sounds like an overwhelming workload, they do not provide LCSW supervision. For now I'm saying no. But filling out the interminable job application made me realize that I've been fired or laid off from my last three paying jobs. I have to remember to put down all of my internships next time, because those I left on blameless terms. Forget my work life before grad school.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Monday, January 24, 2011

Still here, still looking for pretty much everything ;)

Not in the mood to blog today, but a lot is happening in my life, so I might as well keep you apprised. Otherwise I'll just have to write more later to keep you up to date.

CY and I are done. After I got laid off, I sent him an email letting him know that I'd been laid off but was okay. He responded, "I am very sorry to hear that." And that was it. No phone call, no asking if there was anything he could do. No communication until he had to reschedule our Sunday afternoon date for Saturday night, felafel at Soom Soom and the movie "Black Swan."

It was awkward. He seemed uncomfortable, and conversation was labored. As he was driving me home, I asked if he had a good time. He claimed he did. I didn't. I didn't tell him that, but I asked if he wanted to go out again. He asked if he could think about it, which to me meant he wanted to say no but was too polite. So I did it for him. Emailed him right after the date, as he used to email me at the start of our dalliance.

So that's over. I'm relieved but a little sad. I was working too hard to overlook too much. We're very different. I think the main reasons I liked him were his age, his physical appearance, and his infallible kindness. Kindness is huge, but it's not enough.

Today I had a job interview at a for-profit substance abuse treatment facility. The interviewer seemed very nice, but I don't want to run 6-8 groups per week and see individual clients only once a month. I'll email him tomorrow and tell him so. I had a similar interview at a similar agency last November, and then at my social work mentoring meeting met someone who worked there briefly. It was not a good experience for her. So I'm going with my instincts.

At least I survived the "Why are you looking for a new job?" (which is what he led with) and then got through the rest of the interview well. I think. Good practice, I suppose.

I got a call today from a woman who runs two adolescent dual diagnosis treatment programs for the Jewish Board of Family and Children's Services. I told her honestly that I don't want to work with young adults. Hope she sends my resume back to HR so maybe I can work with some of the parents. And I got a call last week from an agency that is about an hour from my apartment. I don't think I can tolerate that long a commute, so I declined an interview.

Tomorrow afternoon I'm going back to downtown Brooklyn. I had some black leather ankle boots (what I was originally looking for when Miriam and I went shopping Sunday before last) delivered to the office before I was fired. A co-worker who likes me is going to hand them off to me. I probably shouldn't keep the boots, but they're cute and comfortable (I tried them on in another color) and I don't think I should punish myself these days. I'm getting unemployment, and I have savings. That night I'm having dinner with a friend. Wednesday afternoon I'm having lunch with my friend Boaz, then going to a lecture about Jews in Shakespearean England Wednesday evening.

Thursday I should be meeting with a mental health advocacy grande dame -- Jean Arnold of the National Stigma Clearinghouse -- then going to a job fair (at some point I need to print out some resumes on good paper at a local copy shop). Need to color my hair sometime before then. Hope it doesn't turn out too dark.

So I'm keeping busy. Sending out resumes all the time, of course. Contacting former classmates and co-workers and friends in my field and related fields. Ran into a childhood friend on Shabbat -- we live 10 blocks apart but have never run into each other on the West Side. For some reason I thought he was in Brooklyn. His wife works for an employee assistance program; I emailed him to ask if I could contact her, he said it was fine, and she's given me some excellent leads. I plan to offer them some free babysitting; they have a one-year-old.

No idea why I don't feel like sharing more. Usually I'm an open book. I'm not depressed; I just don't feel like writing. I also need new gloves, but don't feel like shopping. Which I suppose is a good thing.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Friday, January 21, 2011

Fred took it well

Fair enough. Only at first you said it was an issue of money. Had you said it was not for you, I would not have gone further.

I get you were fired. I too have been underemployed. I also get how you have been about it, which is fine, but to me, seemed to lack power.

What gets me is I see you as powerful and big and capable of great things, and the reports I see are about a trip shopping. It’s nice, but it lacks passion. Maybe I am just a drama queen and want to see people playing on bigger stages. With you, I have no doubt you can. I invited you to do the Forum because I have seen people explode out of it. That is what I see for you. You might get there anyway, and we all get to the same place in the end anyway, but Landmark offers a set of tools that makes living a life you love and that inspires you and others a lot more accessible right now.

I guess this should teach me not to beat around the bush but to be honest.

I do think I'm capable of great things -- but I need to refocus and heal from this experience. That's why I'm relaxing and pampering myself as much as I can afford to. My next job will be much better, and so will I. I do appreciate your concern and support.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

A truly awful offer

A friend of mine wrote to me after learning I was terminated.

I have been meaning to contact you about this anyway, but was further inspired when I saw that you are between jobs. I think we have had a conversation about the Landmark Forum in the distant past; now I am renewing the invite.

I took the course fifteen years ago and it continues to be relevant and have a profound impact on my life: my work, my relationships, my marriage, my business, you name it. My recommendation is that you pick something (actually the registration form will ask you for three things) you want to have a breakthrough in and do the course. My brother-in-law will be in next weekend's course (though it might be full already), and my sister and mother are in the course on February 25.

I know it's a royal pain walking back and forth from 33rd street in the snow on Shabbat, and it doesn't have a very Shabbat feel, but it's worth it, and you have new boots.

Register and then call me to let me know that you did, 203-xxx-xxxx (Connecticut number; rings through in Israel). All my best (and this is really the best), Forum Fred

The Landmark Forum is a personal self-improvement cult, rather like Scientology. There are a number of criticisms I've read about it, including Inside the Landmark Forum and several postings from the Rick A. Ross Institute, an archive of information about destructive cults and controversial groups and movements. A similar program in Australia was said to lead to one woman's suicide.

I had no intention of submitting myself to their methods. Their website states, in part:

While it is ultimately your choice, OUR ADVISORS STRONGLY RECOMMEND THAT YOU SHOULD NOT PARTICIPATE in the Program if you:
(a) have a personal or family history of bi-polar affective disorder (manic-depressive disorder), schizophrenia, acute or chronic depression or other psychotic disorder, whether or not you or they are being or have ever been treated or hospitalized;
(b) are taking, have taken or been prescribed to take within the previous twelve months anti-anxiety drugs (such as Librium, Ativan, Klonapin, Xanax, Dormicum or others); anti-depressants (such as Elavil, Prozac, Zoloft, Celexa, Cipram, Prothiaden or others); anti-psychotics (such as Thorazine, Haldol, Stelazine, Risperdal, Zyprexa, Dogmatil or others); any medication to treat bi-polar disorders (such as Lithium, Gabapentin or Depakote); any drugs or medicines, whether prescription or non-prescription, intended to treat or affect mental processes or mood or to treat a chemical imbalance; or anabolic steroids;
(c) have an unresolved history of drug or steroid abuse;
(d) are or have in the past year been depressed and/or considered or had ideas of suicide, self-harm or harm to another;
(e) are currently in therapy and your therapist sees a health reason why you should not participate in the Program; or
(f) are uncertain about your physical, mental or emotional ability to participate in the Program.

I wasn't going to tell Fred why I didn't think I was right for the program, so I merely responded:

Thanks for thinking of me, but I can't afford this right now. Best, Ayelet

That didn't deter Fred:

Okay, I spoke to [my wife] and we have a solution. We'll pay now, and you pay us back when you have a job.

I was still not interested. I didn't write back right away because I was trying to think of a polite way to demur. He didn't wait for a response:

I didn’t have time to write everything I wanted to yesterday, but you can’t afford not to. At the risk of pissing you off, I am going to be straight with you as I see it.

I find your Facebook postings unbearable. The last week of self-pity, and your wonderful self-pity cheerleading crowd have certainly taken it over the top. You are powerful and intelligent and can be a force for great things to happen in this world, and you pleasure us with your most recent shopping excursions and episodes of self-pampering. You can go on as you are going, but it seems a terrible waste of a human being.

My offer stands open. You can go on as you are, and there is nothing wrong with that, or you can actually live into your greatness, which I submit you are barely present to. All my love and a Shabbat Shalom, Fred

I just wanted to unfriend and block him. But I decided to try to be civil.

Fred, I appreciate your concern. However, after reviewing the LF website, I am quite certain it is not for me. I think I'm actually doing pretty well for having been fired a few days ago and enduring several previous difficult months with difficult people. If you find my Facebook postings unbearable, please don't read them.

My best to your wife and the boys.

I hope that ends it.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Trying to maintain morale

I'm feeling ashamed about losing my job, again, because I couldn't control my behavior, again. I hope this mindfulness-based therapy has some effect. Friends have been coming out of the woodwork to offer support and asking me to send my résumé. I know unemployment won't be contested. Still, it's terrifying to think about COBRA payments plus rent plus groceries.

I've gotten through this before. At the worst, I can borrow from my tax-deferred annuity. I won't be homeless, I won't starve. And I honestly wasn't looking forward to going back to the original work site. But I'm still ashamed that I'm 40 years old and I can't control myself.

I also think my relationship with CY has jumped the shark. He's not nearly as attentive between dates as he used to be, instead of stepping up to support me after my layoff. His social awkwardness is also starting to make me wonder if he, as NJG has suggested, is "on the spectrum." As in the autism spectrum.

What made me think of him as a viable marriage candidate? Because he was kind and attracted to me. That's obviously not enough.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


I've been terminated. Fortunately, my therapist can see me tomorrow. I've filed online for unemployment (I've been told they won't contest it) and downloaded the COBRA forms, which I need to print out and submit by 3/19/11.

I'm still numb.

What meant the most to me was the anger, shock, and dismay that some of my co-workers displayed. They don't think I'm a volatile screwup, and that means a lot to me. One of them even asked for my resume immediately and has a number of contacts he'll send it to.

I might not be blogging much in the days to come, but I promise not to do anything to hurt myself.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

A friend's advice. Should I take it?

I'm less and less comfortable talking about the ins and outs of my relationship with CY. Especially the physical stuff, since I've learned he has a lot less experience than I do. I'm not entirely surprised, but it makes me kind of uncomfortable. Doesn't seem to bother him. I told him I would let him set the pace of what we do, which is fine, but I also find myself telling him what I like or what to do at the stage we're at.

This is kind of a pattern. He's not smooth, so he's not good at anticipating what I want and giving it to me. But I'll give him credit -- if I ask for what I want, he will give it to me.

Last night we met up with friends at a pizza place to play Connect Four. I got there before he did and had something to eat. When he got there he didn't eat anything -- had a big lunch that day, apparently. But he didn't offer to get me anything. I know I shouldn't let this bother me, it's stupid, and if I had asked him, he probably would have gotten me a drink or something. But I wanted him to ask.

After the gaming we walked back to my apartment to hang out. I was craving chocolate.

"I want cookies," I said. "Should we get some cookies?"

"Sure!" said CY. We went to the grocery store. I picked them out. He paid. Then we went to my apartment and got busy. So we didn't actually have any of the cookies. I said he should take them home, but he told me to keep them for later. They were good, too -- chewy chocolate-chocolate-chip from Pepperidge Farms.

Today I got an email from a FB friend, Yoav:

He's not going to marry you. Stop wasting your time with him.

Yoav has given me good advice in the past, so I didn't want to discount what he said entirely.

How do you know?

I asked.

Cause it's not going to happen. Or to make you happy, the odds are very seriously stacked against it. You want to get married.

My own gloss, based on nothing: He's socially awkward, so he's happy to be getting some but doesn't intend to marry you unless he's so awkward that he has no idea what he's doing. And if that's the case you don't want to marry him. He has more time than you. If you want to get married and have kids find someone else.

I wonder if Yoav is right. Am I trying too hard to make this work? Is CY just not a realistic candidate? Am I wasting my time?
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Kara-ego boost

"I think the DJ has a crush on you, Ayelet," said ET as I sat down after my third number. (First was "Goodbye Earl" by the Dixie Chicks; second "Bitch" by Meredith Brooks; third "Telephone" by Lady Gaga; last "Como la Flor" by Selena.)

"Does he touch your hand when he hands you the mic and takes it after your song?" I asked.

"Nope," said ET.

"Does he touch yours, Miriam?" I asked her.

"No, he doesn't," she said.

"Then he might have a crush on me," I said. "I can't believe he played all my songs that fast." Shortly he announced my fourth and final performance of the evening, and then I left. A disappointment to my young friend Baby, whom I ran into on the subway platform; she'd wanted to watch me perform. Baby persuaded me not to go home but to go back to the bar with her and her friend Carlos, which I did. I told her about the handsy DJ.

"You should totally hit that," said Baby.

"Yeah, I'll give him a note saying 'meet me in the bathroom after your shift,'" I joked.

"Do it!" she cried.

"I'm dating someone," I said, "and my last boyfriend had pretty specific feelings about me making out with other people at karaoke."

"What happens at karaoke stays at karaoke," opined Carlos. "Where's the guy you're dating?"

"At the chiropractor," I said. "I was annoyed at first, but now I think I'm having more fun without him. Earlier, this really young guy -- he looks about 16 -- was totally flirting with me. Trying to, at least. He saw me dancing while ET was singing and said, 'You can take the girl off the dance floor but you can't take the dance floor out of the girl!' But he didn't tell me his name, and I didn't introduce myself, so the conversation kind of petered out."

"Cute line," said Carlos. "Which one is he?"

"The one getting up to sing 'A Boy Named Sue,'" I said.

"He looks like a hobbit," said Carlos.

"Great," I said. "I'm irresistible to teenage hobbits."

"And hot DJs!" said Baby.

Apparently. The DJ took the mic to sing "I Feel Good."

"Dance with him!" shrieked Baby. I tried, but he seemed to dance with everyone except me. More proof of his ardor, according to Baby, so I decided to mess with him a little. Right before I left I handed him a note:

If you had danced with me during your number, I would have given you my number -- Ayelet

I also messed with the hobbit. After he sang "W-O-L-D," a Harry Chapin song I was unfamiliar with, I went up to him.

"That was amazing," I purred, touching his arm. "I love Harry Chapin, but I never heard that song. I'm so glad you sang it!" Stammering, he asked me which other Chapin songs I like. We had a little moment. But still he didn't tell me his name, and I wasn't really interested in taking it to another level -- although I knew I could have, if I'd given him just a little more encouragement. Then I left to go to the subway and was brought back to the bar by Baby.

I was a little worried that two late nights in a row would affect my mood, but so far I feel okay. I woke up at my usual early hour, though. Still need to use the light box and run a few errands before going to work on the 1-9 shift.

Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Monday, January 10, 2011

No karaoke tonight for CY

Tonight is another fabulous ET karaoke party. I was hoping CY and I could grab dinner and then go together. Unfortunately, as he emailed me at 6:13 a.m.:

I am sorry but I can't go to the event tonight. I have to see my chiropractor instead. I hurt my left pectoralis muscle. Can we take a rain check?

That's probably a valid excuse. I wrote back:

Ouch. Feel better. How about Saturday night?

Then I started feeling like I didn't want to wait that long, so -- and this is probably very against The Rules -- I sent another message:

I could probably also leave work at 7 on Wednesday night.

Usually I'm doing an assessment at that time, but not this week. Didn't matter:

Saturday night and Wednesday night I have plans. How about Thursday night?

That's my mindfulness therapy night, so I don't want to cancel -- I'm pretty sure I need it. It ends at 8, which is a little late to start a date. (I wasn't trying to make this line rhyme.)

Thursday night I'm busy. How about Sunday?

I guess both of us will have to wait. I'm a little miffed that he has plans for Saturday night, but I probably have no right to be.

Sunday could work. How about Sunday afternoon?

Miriam and I are supposed to go boot shopping on Sunday, but that won't take all day. When does he want the fun to commence? I asked, and he responded:

How about 1?

I don't want to rush back from shopping. Even though it's just boots, which aren't as tedious to put on and take off, I'd rather make leisured decisions.

How about 3? I'm going boot shopping with Miriam in the morning. What do you want to do?

He wrote back that "3 sounds good" but didn't stipulate what we'd be doing. I could have left it at that, but I was curious, so I persisted and asked him again. Probably also against The Rules.

I need to think about it.

Let's respond playfully.

well, you have all week to think -- surprise me! ;) cya Sunday @ 3, hope your pec feels better soon

He's not much for the playful. Very concrete.

It is just my left side.

Can I loosen him up a little?

I will go easy on your left side next time we hang out ;) Your right side, however, should be ready for anything.

I sent that, and then began to worry how he might interpret it. (I do that a lot -- hit send and then regret it.)

I hope CY sees it as lighthearted banter, not a promise to "go all the way." (Since I've been using "second base/third base" terminology, "going all the way" seems like the appropriate euphemism.) It's been about a month, and while I'm greatly enjoying making out and holding hands with CY, I don't want to rush things. I feel like I should tell him about my diagnosis before I have sex with him, and I'm not ready to tell him about my diagnosis. Unfortunately, there are no Rules for when to disclose a chronic illness.

CY hasn't responded, but that probably just means he got busy at work. I will assume the best unless he cancels on me. I'm probably not allowed to make out with a 20something tonight, although we haven't discussed exclusivity.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Ayelet gets a life

Had a very relaxing Shabbat, during which I did nothing. CY and I had plans to go to a movie Saturday night. He drove in, so I didn't have much time to prepare and had to face him without makeup. He didn't seem to mind. We wanted to see "Black Swan" but it was sold out, so we saw "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" instead. It wasn't bad.

We got the tickets more than an hour before the movie -- earlier shows were all sold out. So we went to Starbucks to kill some time. I have to say, CY was a gentleman. He asked me what I wanted (grande hot chocolate), then ordered it for me. And ordered himself a "perfect oatmeal." I was a little surprised. I hadn't thought he would have ordered something cooked. I didn't disapprove, of course. If anything, I was glad to see him order that.

We had a chance to talk. Things are usually quiet and awkward for us at first, and then we sort of warm up and get more comfortable. We talked about work. His seems to be going pretty well, which is good. CY apparently used his judo this week to throw a co-worker he was horsing around with, which strained his shoulder a little.

After the movie started, I slid my hand over to his, and he took it from there. Unlike last week, when he kept a safe distance from me, CY was very affectionate; I felt like a teenager, making out in a movie theater. Unfortunately, the armrest hits me in a very awkward spot, so eventually I had to sit up and watch the movie. We went back to my apartment and kissed some more. He tried to steal third base, but I reminded him we're taking things slow, which he accepted.

Monday night is another of ET's karaoke events. I think we're going to meet up before for dinner (at my suggestion, but he seems agreeable) and then go to the bar together.

This morning I woke up early, took out the garbage, and did a big grocery shopping. I should go to the farmer's market to get some orchard apples but I'm feeling lazy. Tonight I'm seeing "Next to Normal" with Miriam and Aviva. Should be fun.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Friday, January 07, 2011

Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) and my new poem

I wrote another poem a few weeks back, which I would like to share with you. I was walking around feeling completely aroused and frustrated because CY seemed to be pulling a disappearing act after our museum date and make-out session.

CY: Over before it began (December 20, 2010).

My breasts are nectar-plump ripe fruit,
My skin alert, electric.
My passions rage, thoughts don’t compute,
My mouth alive, cathectic.

My fingers tremble, reach to taste
Your shoulder, warm and firm.
Your cheek is rough against my face,
And leaves the sweetest burn.

From months of winter I awoke,
And savored fresh desire.
Yet silence is all you invoke,
No hope of love inspired.

CY subsequently reappeared, and we went to the Museum of Natural History, but there was no touching involved. Which doesn't mean it was a bad date, just rather chaste.

The next day I posted a status update that I attended a clinical social work mentoring group, which was very interesting but didn't make me want to become a psychoanalyst. CY commented, I responded, and we had a little conversation:

CY: Awesome. Was it today?
A: Yes. I just got home.
CY: What was it like? Tell me about it.
A: We talked about licensing requirements, private practice, and organizations that offer training in group therapy. There is one guy who is still a student, one woman who graduated last July, and the rest all have a lot of experience. So it's a good balance. I'm going to try to keep going, the group meets once a month.
CY: That is awesome. Good for you.
A: Thanks :) How was your evening? What did you do?
CY: I had to work late. I am not doing much just trying to go to sleep.
A: Sorry you had to work late. Hope you sleep well tonight :)
CY: Thank you. By the way, what types of things do you like to do on Saturday night?  I am starting to plan our date.
A: how about a movie?
CY: Sounds good. Can we talk before or after? I want an opportunity to converse with you.

That sounded a little formal. Talking on the phone with CY is painful because of his stammer. But I felt weird planning a date in public like that. So he called, and while discussing which movies we'd like to see... he suggested we watch a DVD at my place.

Ordinarily I would have been so there. But I don't have a DVD player. And for us to watch a movie together on my computer would be very crowded; I'd probably have to sit on his lap the whole time. It left me wondering how he wants to pace things. What he wants to happen between us. It could just be that movies in Manhattan are way overpriced and he's trying to contain costs, but coming back to my apartment to talk after the movie makes me think -- hope -- he wants to make a move.

Anyway. Last night I went for my first MBCT therapy session. It might be short-term or I might keep going. It was such a relief to be able to talk about why my behavior has been getting me in trouble, and how I need to better manage my illness so I don't call so much negative attention to myself. He also made me feel better about needing therapy even though I'm a therapist myself. "Most therapists are very open to seeking therapy, because they know it helps," he said.

At first I thought he was a little too cheery and chirpy. But he's a good listener, and comes very highly recommended. I told him I'm being transferred as of 2/2/11, and he suggested we start with a series of 4 sessions. Which might be enough or might not.

My first assignment was to eat my breakfast more mindfully. Normally when I eat alone I gulp down my food while on the computer, not paying attention to what or how I'm eating. He told me to become aware of my physical sensations, my emotions, and my thoughts. Not to judge them as right or wrong, just to be aware of them.

So this morning I microwaved some old-fashioned oatmeal, made some instant vanilla coffee, and didn't turn on the computer. I focused on the chewy rough texture of the oatmeal, the heat and mild sweetness of the coffee with milk. I noticed that my shoulders are again in knots, and my neck and back are stiff. I found myself thinking about clients who haven't come in for a while and how concerned I am about them, I haven't been able to tell them I'm being transferred, I'm worried about going back to where I started because I didn't get along with everyone there and --

This is why I like to eat in front of the computer. I don't like being alone with my thoughts. This is why I do Sudoku obsessively on the subway. Maybe mindfulness will teach me to cope without ruminating.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Monday, January 03, 2011

My Shabbos d'var Torah

Forgot to share with you my special d'var Torah. Aviva said that in honor of her birthday, she had wanted to prepare a d'var Torah to share with us at dinner. However, she had to prepare chicken, salad, and a bunch of other things, so she wasn't able to study this week's Torah reading and come up with a relevant and timely message.

I had read bangitout's "Torah on One Foot" for parshat Vaera:

Moses: Let us go

Pharaoh: Nope

PLAGUE begins

Pharaoh: Yup

PLAGUE goes away

Pharaoh: Nope

Repeat 10 times

So I stepped up and used that as a jumping-off point. "You know," I said, "I've dated a lot of men who were like Pharoah."

"They wanted to enslave you?" asked Aviva.

"No," I said. "They didn't know what they wanted. They pursued me, then I showed interest and they retreated. If I backed off, then they pursued again. And it's understandable -- it's human nature. People always want what they don't have, and when they get it, they don't always like it as much as they thought they would. It definitely applies to dating."

The women at the table agreed with me. The sole male (husband of one of the women) preserved a judicious silence. I shared the d'var Torah at the girls-only lunch the next day -- it went over big -- and with CY Saturday night. He was amused.

"But this week's parsha only covers the first four plagues," he corrected me.

"So I can use it next Shabbos as well," I said. "Rock on." CY still wanted to go out with me on Sunday, so I think it was a useful way of getting my point across. And he did email me this morning to wish me a great day -- apparently he's learned that I don't like to see a week go by without any communication from him.

But again: how weird is it that we both love dangerous fish? We actually spent some time arguing about which fish was cooler.

"Piranhas can adapt to any environment," said CY, "and they'll wipe out the entire ecosystem."

"They can survive in salt water?" I asked. He thought so; I looked it up later and apparently that's not true. "Well, bull sharks can, too."

"Who do you think would win in a fight between piranha and shark?" CY asked.

"If it's a single piranha, the shark," I said. "The fish can't eat its way out of the shark once it's been swallowed. But a shoal of piranha would probably devour a shark." Interestingly, CY was very taken with the cookie-cutter shark we saw in the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life at the museum. It takes bites out of larger fish and animals.

The question is, do I tell him that piranhas can't live in salt water? I don't want to come across as a know-it-all. While we were in the museum, he sometimes made an effort to tell me things he knew, or thought he knew, about the exhibits. Sometimes I didn't agree with him, and I found it mildly annoying. I know I do the exact same thing. I would have been impressed if he was always right.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Happy New Year

I had a good weekend. My friend Aviva made Friday night dinner to celebrate her birthday. I gave her 2 pairs of earrings from my personal collection, since I didn't have the energy to shop this week, and she loved them. (Her roommate loved them too, and was angling to borrow them before Aviva wore them. I have excellent taste.)

My friend Miriam made a Shabbat lunch that was also very nice. Girls only, so it was fun and serious at the same time. We talked about one girl's divorce, another's dating situation. I spoke to Shalva about my relationship with Ivan the Terrible, how he and his family couldn't handle my medical issue. (Didn't get too specific about the issue.) She was very sympathetic.

Saturday night I went to a party run by the same organization that held the Chanuka party where CY and I met. He was there when I got there, and we talked for a while. Miriam and her visitor Gittel wanted to go to another party in Monsey, so the three of us started to head up there, but then got a call from another friend who said the Monsey party was loud and boring. So we went to the other friend's apartment in Passaic, got pizza and watched reruns of "How I Met Your Mother."

On the way to Monsey (and then Passaic), we drove past so many reminders of Ivan the Terrible, who lives in Teaneck. I alternated between shutting my eyes and looking, masochistically. The place where we went to buy cleats for the kids. The Cheesecake Factory where we got cheesecake to celebrate my birthday. Familiar stores, gas stations, landmarks. Fortunately, we took another route back to the city from Passaic.

I got home at 3 a.m. But managed to get up, shower, dress, and go on a date with CY to the American Museum of Natural History. Which... I don't feel like blogging about. I posted about it on my Facebook page; I don't feel like going over it here again. But I will share with you one email CY sent me this morning:

I had a really nice time with you last night. You looked amazing. See you at 12.

I was happy to read that. At the museum I said, "By the way, thanks for saying I looked amazing last night." He replied, "Well, you did!" What I didn't say was, "I'm glad you had a really nice time despite all the long gaps in our conversation." Apparently sometimes he's more chatty than other times. And thinks I'm beautiful. And wants to go out again.

Interestingly, we're both into dangerous fish. He's fascinated by piranhas; I'm mesmerized by sharks.

Before Shabbat I saw two alternative/complementary medical practitioners. One was a chiropractor who is also a "kinesiologist." I'm not sure if that's more than a fancy word for "quack," but what he said about my body was consistent with the injuries I've suffered over the years. Of course, he also has a line of supplements and stuff he sells along with the treatment, which I am resolved not to buy. I'll see him again on Wednesday and decide if I think he's going to help me.

I also went to a very well regarded acupuncturist, Autumn Bear. She did a major treatment on my shoulder and back, involving -- in addition to acupuncture -- techniques called gua sha (aka "coining" or "spooning") and "cupping." I was familiar with gua sha because a very hot young acupuncturist coached me to do it to him after I slept with him. (He's 13 years younger than I am and incredibly hot, so I regarded sleeping with him as something of a coup, even though it wasn't as spectacular an experience as I thought it would be.)

Anyway, both the gua sha and cupping left enormous purple contusions all over my shoulders and upper back. I looked like I'd been run over by a bulldozer, and I was pretty sore for the rest of the day on Friday and most of the day on Saturday. Today I'm feeling better, but still not 100% sure I believe Autumn is the right practitioner for me.

She did say that my heart was dumping chi into my small intestine, which is supposed to be a voiding organ but in my case was blocked. She knew this because my upper arms were very tender to the touch, and because when she placed a tiny needle in my left pinky, I hollered like a Latino soccer announcer. I've never injured my left pinky, and the needles she uses are very sharp -- they slide in like a hot knife slicing through butter.

What she said was consistent with how I feel. The love I have or had for Ivan the Terrible and his children is stuck in me. Especially for the children -- right now I'm not feeling too loving toward that pusillanimous mama's boy. But I miss the kids terribly. Maybe it's affecting my back. I know the work stress of the past few months has been aggravating my shoulders.

Anyway, I'm taking steps toward addressing my physical infirmities. Also, on Monday I'm going to a mentoring/support group for new and experienced clinical social workers. It will hopefully be a place where I can get feedback on how to manage my career so I don't end up fired or quitting. And on Thursday I'm seeing a mindfulness-based cognitive therapist to learn better ways to manage my depression, anger, and frustration.

That means the next time I can see CY is Saturday night. Which I told him when he called to apologize for not talking much on the date. He's going to think of ideas for what we can do, and we'll talk later in the week to solidify plans. Sunday night I'm seeing "Next to Normal" with Miriam and Aviva.

So far it's been a busy year, and this week will be very busy as well. But I'm off tomorrow, so it will get a nice slow start. And I forgot to mention: I'm being transferred back to our other agency Brooklyn site. As of February 3. I think this will be a good thing -- I like most of the counselors at the other site, and I certainly can't stand a few where I am now. I will miss the counselors I like, and I'll have to leave my clients behind -- termination will be hard. But it's a new start for me and for the dual diagnosis program. So maybe 2011 will be better than 2010.

Then again, I hoped 2010 would be better than 2009....
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"