Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Reconnect, Repair, Renew

Rosh Hashanah literally means "the head of the year".  In Jewish tradition, Rosh Hashanah marks the completion of the creation of the world and is looked upon as a time to begin anew, to forgive and to be forgiven.  It is now 5773 according to the Jewish calendar which follows the lunar calendar(our regular calendar follows the solar cycle) and even if you do not believe that the world has only existed for 5773 years, this is a time for great self-evaluation and contemplation.  It is a time of gratitude for God and a time of deep introspection and study.  It is a time for celebration and a time to ask for forgiveness(from God, from ourselves, from others).  It is a time of prayer and a time of Tzedakah(charity).  It is the time when it is said that God opens up the book of life in order to determine who shall live and who shall die. It is a time when we are expected to repent, to return to God, and to return to our highest selves.  It is a time for second chances(or third, or fourth, or even ninety-ninth) as long as we take responsibility for our own actions.  It is not a time for feeling guilty about our past indiscretions but rather a time to right our own wrongs.  And as daunting as all of this might seem, it is really a gift because when done correctly, the days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur(the ten days known as "The days of Awe") may not only be spiritually cleansing but also emotionally healing for ourselves and for others, as well.

As I sit here contemplating the year that has been, the "me" that has been, the "we" that has been over the course of the past year, it feels a little bit odd if not somewhat mis-placed because this Rosh Hashanah somehow snuck up on me.  I can definitely blame this on so many things.  The fact that I turned 50 this past summer, the fact that our youngest Angel Daughter turned eighteen and graduated from high school, that our oldest turned twenty-five, the fact that our devoted and beloved rabbi(our rabbi for well-over twenty plus years) passed away, the fact that it has been unusually and repressively hot and humid for the past two months making it feel as if no time has passed at all.  And yet, here it is.  Here I am.
As I watched a train passing below our home on the tracks that skirt the shoreline of the coast on the evening of the first day of the new year, I thought about how quickly things, life-cycle events, days, weeks, years can pass before we even realize that they are upon us.
There are times when we do not even feel the changes as they happen, and then suddenly, here they are, right in front of our eyes as if they magically appeared out of nowhere, blazingly obvious in both sight and sound but leaving us feeling somewhat dumbfounded by their unexpected arrival.
And yet, we knew that they were coming.  Barrelling down the tracks like a well-timed train, slowing down for nothing.

As I consider the things that I must do in order to become a better person, I intend on using the next week or so to look within and to dig as deeply as my courage will allow in order to come to terms with the things that will make me a finer human being.  What can I do to make the lives of those who I love and care about just a little bit better each day?  Are my actions aligned with my core values on a daily basis?  Are there things that I could work on in order to become a more productive and positive individual?  It is said that on Rosh Hashanah, the world goes back to the moment of creation and begins anew.  I like to believe that we all have that chance, too.

May I take this moment to ask for forgiveness of anyone whom I may have hurt overtly or unintentionally over the course of this past year.  May I find forgiveness in my heart for those who have hurt me, either intentionally or without knowing, and may I find a way to leave any hurt behind.  May I do better, be kinder and love harder than I ever have before.  May I always remember to show gratitude for God and for all of the wonderful people that He has so graciously surrounded me with.

L'shanah tovah to everyone.  Happy new year.  May God inscribe and seal you and all of the people who you love in The Book of Life for another good and sweet year.  And may it be a good one for all of you...From my lips to God's ears.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Thawing Out

I am good.  I have not melted, nor imploded, nor run off to some exotic island in the South Pacific where life is absolutely perfect and there are handsome, young, sun-kissed natives fulfilling my every frivolous desire.  And although for the past three or so weeks, I have spent most of my time in what I call my "mom cave"(our air-conditioned bedroom which has been the only tolerable space in our home because people in San Clemente do not believe in installing central air) yesterday and today have been much nicer days with much less heat and humidity.  Yes friends, global warming has finally made its way to the west coast which means that no place is safe from the clutches of intolerable heat anymore.  We are all doomed to a life filled with cases of deodorant, indoor activities and whining.  Build a bunker that has air conditioning and stock it with lots of canned goods.

As I sit here thinking about where the summer has gone and how I am actually very glad that it is almost gone, I am also a bit sad about how quickly the time just whizzes by.  My girls are no longer children.  Our pets are getting older, especially my beloved dog Becca who is now living with kidney failure at the age of nearly fourteen.  My parents are both in their seventies.  I just turned 50.  Life happens whether we decide to participate in it or not and quite honestly, for the past four years since my brother died, I have felt as if time stood frozen solid in too many aspects.  The clock kept ticking but I somehow became ensconced in the shock and the pain and the grief of losing someone who was such an important presence in my life since the time that I was four years old.  And then, so many people betrayed many people.  People who I truly believed cared about me and loved me.  And the bite from those betrayals, the bone-crushing throb that occurs after the jaws clamp down on an unsuspecting heart, it can come up at times when I am least expecting it.  A word, a smell, a story, a picture and my heart begins aching again...thumping, thumping, thumping.  Betrayal is one of the few things in life that we cannot do anything to prevent.  We go into relationships trusting that others are not going to use those relationships to bring pain and sadness into our lives.  It happens, though.  And along with the death of my brother, my only sibling, these people turned on me as if I was somehow to blame for the loss or as if I was only the sister, which somehow meant that the loss should have been less for me? My mother, my "step-father", my "step-brother" Marc, his wife Sheri, their son my "nephew" Eric and his now wife, Rachel.  And almost worst of all in such a deeply hurtful way that makes me feel nothing but sorrow when I think of what my brother must have had to live with, my sister-in-law Allyson.  Naming names and taking numbers now but I am not exactly sure why I have reached this point at this particular time.  I suppose all things come with time.

I am at a point in my life in which I want to heal.  I am craving healing.  My brother would want me to.  My husband and my daughters and my father want me to.  My friends want me to.  My therapist who is really just a friend who I pay by the hour, wants me to.  And although I am not really sure where to begin, this unrelenting heat that we have been experiencing is beginning to thaw my soul.  I am taking small steps towards reaching out to the world again.  Small, little baby steps toward not believing that anyone I allow in will someday betray me.  I know that that is not true, that people will inevitably betray me, I just need to begin to believe it again.  The wound runs so terribly deep.  I have to remind myself that the individuals who thought little of betraying me were individuals who were presented into my life by other people.  My mother's marital family of choice, not mine.  My brother's wife of choice, never mine.  I accepted these people as my own.  I did not have to.  I could have kept a polite distance.  They became my childrens' people, too.  Maybe that is part of what hurts so much.  Hurt me, but stay away from my children.  I must always remember that they were someone else's people.  So, as another autumn comes into view, I am thinking about what is next.  I am actually calling the people who say, "Give me a call, sometime!", and I am opening myself up to the possibilities.  I am feeling restless which I think might be a very good sign.  I am no longer comfortable just cocooning into a place that feels safe, a place where they cannot hurt me.  I want my heart to thaw.

If you are still reading at this point and you do not think that I am seriously broken, thank you.  Would you mind saying a prayer, or, if you are not the praying type, sending a bit of good energy out into the Universe for me?  And I will do the same for you because when it comes down to it, we are all really just souls journeying through this world in order to find our way to love.  It is as simple as that.

I am good.  Truly, I am.
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