Daily Archives: January 3, 2014

What is a Social Life?


I have been shy my entire life.  It was hard to make friends in school, but I did have a few.  I was at least likable for the most part, for those who took a chance on a strange quiet girl and got to really know me.  And I think I was a fairly good friend to have.  I was a good listener, didn’t backstab or gossip, and I genuinely cared about the people I hung out with. If nothing else, I provided a few laughs what with my silliness and ability to look at things in a unique way. I maintained friendships through college and even my early years as a mother.  I remained likable, though still quiet.  I was able to hide the parts of me that were less…sane.  

It became harder to keep and make friends as my mind started to unravel.  I lost a good portion of people I hung out with (mainly church friends) when I went through the whole “crazy spell” and divorce.  I lost most of the rest during my second marriage because that’s the lovely thing about abusers: they like to seclude their victims and make it impossible to reach out for help.  At this point, it wasn’t just friends I lost contact with.  It was most of my family as well.  

After all those storms, you would think I would feel a little calmer.  But I don’t.  You’d think I’d be busting at the seams to make social contact with others, but quite the contrary.  I find it harder than ever to talk to anyone, even my best friend that I have had since middle school.  She has always been a friend to me no matter what.  Even when I didn’t speak to her for two years (thanks to the abuser).  She was still willing to be my friend, despite my inability to be a friend back.  

She and I try to meet for lunch a few times a year.  This is difficult for me because a) I don’t drive anymore and b) I am very prone to panic attacks, especially in social situations.  For these reasons, the only way I can spend time with her is for my fiance to drive me there and then he stays with me to help me feel more comfortable in whatever restaurant we go to.  We go as early as the place opens, both for the fact that there is less of a crowd and my fiance works nights and consequently goes to bed pretty early in the day.  The meetings are brief, and I struggle to even make small talk.  It’s pretty dysfunctional, and I am grateful that my friend and my fiance continue to make the effort for my benefit. 

But it’s embarrassing, ya know.  And with other friends who ask to get together with me, I keep making excuses why I can’t.  Just so I don’t have to explain to them that the only way I can see them is to follow “the rules” to keep my panic at bay.  It’s not a normal set up, I know.  And I miss those days when I could just hop in the car and go see a friend.  Just the two of us (or with kids in tow) having a girls’ day out like real friends do.  I miss looking forward to these meetings instead of dreading them.  

I realize my anxiety and panic have grown into a matter of agoraphobia.  I avoid leaving the house as much as possible.  I will occasionally accompany my fiance to the grocery store or library, but I’m stuck like glue to his side the whole time, and that is still not a surefire way to avoid a panic attack.  I hate how much I have to depend on him, all while I am so very grateful that he puts up with me.  More than that, he encourages me but he’s respectful of my limits at the same time.  I know most people would not be this understanding.  I still feel bad for him.  I want to be “normal” for him.  And God forbid if something happened to him, I would have absolutely no one in this world that could do even part of what he does for me.  That’s really the only “unhealthy” part of our relationship, how much I depend on him and how much he acts like he doesn’t mind it.  
I am beginning to feel more and more stuck in this little hole I’ve burrowed myself into.  I am still making efforts to climb out, but I seem to be going further down instead.  I don’t even have a doctor or therapist to go to for help now.  Everything in life is becoming so terrifying, so suffocating, so disorienting. I’m not really sure how to get the help I need, but I know it’s urgent that I figure it out. If not for myself, then for my kids, my fiance.  For friends that would actually still like to see me in person rather than our whole measly relationship being based around timid emails.  

I have been shy my entire life, but I used to be braver.  I miss that spark of determination, that gumption of “have to” instead of just “should”. I miss who I was, and who I could have been without all these fears and limitations.  But I want to stop missing her and start being her again.  I must work a little harder at this, or die trying.  Which may actually happen, considering my panic attacks are pushing my blood pressure higher and higher.  

Sigh.  So stuck.  

Abracadabra, Please and Thank You!

I have always loved magic.  Not so much the kind where the guy with the skinny mustache saws the blonde in half; more the kind where the frumpy looking worm builds a house around herself and in total dark and privacy, somehow manages to turn into something as unlike what she was before as, say, a wrench is to an elephant.  That’s magic.

Everything’s magic, really.  I mean, look around you.  How did all this stuff get here?  OK, I know there’s a basic division between those who believe that everything was created by a Deity, and those who believe that everything somehow managed to get here randomly, and natural selection, and mixtures of all of the above.  OK.  It doesn’t matter.  The question remains: there is all this STUFF.  How did it get here?

The Sabbath is almost here, so I don’t have time right this minute to tell you about how Kabbalah explains the Big Bang.  Don’t worry–I will, after we’ve learned together a little more and gathered a few handy vocabulary items.  For now, let’s just make the assumption that energy is matter and vice versa, and we shall see.

But getting back to Magic: isn’t that supposed to be forbidden?  ”Thou shalt not suffer a sorceress to live,” and all that?

It depends.  In fact, it all goes back to Creation.

I’m talking about ABRA-CA-DABRA, please and thank you!

In Hebrew, one of the important words for “to make” or “to create” has the root-form B-R-A  (Hebrew words are formed out of three-letter roots).

As in, “Bereisheet BARA Elo-him et ha’shamayim ve’et ha’aretz.”   “In the beginning, G-d created (BARA) the heavens and the earth.”

Do you see that three letter root in aBRA ca daBRA?  Oh my goodness.  The “a” prefix means “I will.”  The “ca” means “as.”  And what about the last word–dabra?  It has the BRA in it, and it also has “da,” but in this case it’s not a prefix–it’s a whole new word.  Actually, it’s a word-within-a-word.

The word for “speak” in Hebrew is DABER.  Pronounced “dah-BEAR.”

Now we have to get back to creation.  If you look at any of the ten utterances of creation (actually you will see only nine, since one is hidden), they begin, “And the LORD said.…,” and so it was.  And the way it came into being was because G-d said it.  The world was spoken into being.  This teaches us that speech is very powerful, clearly.  If worlds can be created through speech, then we had better take it very seriously.

ABRA-CA-DABRA.  I shall create as I speak.

By now you should be thinking, wait a minute–this is nothing for some joker in a top hat and skinny mustache to be messing around with.  And you’re right!  But no worries–that guy probably doesn’t possess the immense spiritual development that would make him potentially dangerous in the Abracadabra department.

But Avraham did.  That first Avraham, the one we talked about in Jewish Geneology.  That Avraham was so close to G-d that it is said by our sages that he was actually capable of being a partner with G-d in creating new people.  Yes, I know this is freaky.  Stay with me.

There is a hint about that in the Scripture itself, in Genesis 12:5: “Avram took his wife Sarai and Lot, his brother’s son….and all the souls they had made in Haran.”  The Kabbalists hint that “…all the souls that they had made in Haran” were actually real people, created anew in the flesh!  Others say no, this is a figurative term for all the people that Avram and Sarai had turned on to the fact that idol worship is foolish, and so they were “as if” newly created beings.

However…there is a book called “Sefer Yetzirah,” or the “Book of Creation,” which I happen to have staring at me from my bookshelf right now.  It was translated and annotated by a great scholar, Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, who passed away a number of years ago at the age of 39.  The book contains virtually all the secrets of life, from the way the universe is constructed, to the secrets of time, months, and seasons, and especially, the secrets of speech and its power to create.

The Sefer Yetzirah is said to have been authored by Avraham himself, and passed down through the ages as a memorized code.  Sometime during the last few centuries B.C., a wise person wrote down the code in super-coded form, not even a page in length, because s/he knew that rough times were coming and a lot of people were going to be killed, and even worse, the traditions of our learning were likely to be broken.

Sure enough, that is just what happened.  And luckily for us, the heirs of the tiny coded Sefer Yetzirah started writing more and more of it down, because they could see the writing on the wall, as far as the incipient scattering of our people.  But the book, even though more of it was on parchment, was still shrouded with layer upon layer of encodement.

It is said that the Maharal of Prague used the Sefer Yetzirah to create his famous Golem, a man-like creature made from clay and brought to life via the secrets of the Sefer and the Four Letter Ineffable Name of G-d (Y-H-V-H).

So what can we learn from Abracadabra?  To me, it means: be careful what comes out of my mouth, because speech is an agent of creation.  We can build our child or our partner or ourselves up, make them feel good about themselves, inspire them to do good and think good, by means of our speech.   On the other hand, we can tear them down with cruel words.

Some say that when we speak we are creating angels: good angels when we talk good, and bad angels when we talk bad.  That is to say, when we are speaking kindly we are releasing good energy into the universe, and conversely, the opposite.

It really does matter what we say–and how we say it!  Abracadabra, please and thank you!  Shabbat Shalom!


How MINDFUL are you? The Mindfulness Quiz

How MINDFUL are you? The Mindfulness Quiz

Took this MINDFULNESS quiz and the results that stood out for me were:

Also, you struggle to focus your awareness on the situation at hand; instead, you’re preoccupied with the past or worried about the future. This may make you feel less open and inquisitive toward new experiences and can prevent you from feeling in-the-moment.”

This is so true! I am always thinking about tomorrow or yesterday. It takes so much out of my to pretend-predict what is to come…

I think I my need to practice mindfulness a little more..

My therapist told me this already…I need to listen to her more..


Countdown – Last Chance to Win the Name the Blog Contest

Just one day left for the Name the Blog Contest. The winner will not only receive an Amazon $10 ecard, they’ll get the honor of telling their friends and family that they are the one who re-named my blog. Could that person be you? Once again here are the rules: The name of the blog … Continue reading »

As I Was Cleaning Out a Bag Yesterday

As I was cleaning out one of my messenger bags to go get some groceries yesterday, I ran a across an old and very battered copy of my marriage license. I have never seen a piece of paper that represented so much hope and so much pain and failure.  It is like getting an ‘F” […]

I Hate Morning

I do not have my armor on in the morning, and am highly susceptible to emotions and memories sneaking up on me. And  they hurt.Filed under: Morning Tagged: Armor, Hurt Not Awake, Pain

Affirmations and Resolutions

Now that 2013 has wound to a close, people are making resolutions to change habits, diets, exercise patterns, the works. It’s as common for resolutions to be made as for the ball to come down at 11:59 every December 31st. People are also making declarations of living for themselves, making positive changes, etc. I suppose I’m one of those people. 2013 was not a great year, but not the worst. It was the year I was finally diagnosed with bipolar after years of suffering and it was a year marked by mistreating myself. So I guess my resolution or affirmation is to continue to take better care of myself. 

I vow to make 2014 a more positive year. Both in my life, and in the blogosphere. I’ve been too caught up in appearances and stats and knowing the right people, losing sight of the fact that I started my blog to be an outlet and aid to myself and others. My diagnosis has brought up a desire to learn more about the disorder, to really own it before it owns me. I’m reaching out to the blogosphere, both for help in dealing with the disorder on my own, but also so others can learn and grow as well. In focusing more on becoming a voice of bipolar, I’m also becoming more of an advocate for myself in the process. 2014 for me will be a year of focusing on myself and my wellness and helping others.

One of my resolutions is to reduce negativity, mostly towards myself. Being good to myself means I’m able to be better to others. I also resolve to put myself before others, which sounds insanely selfish, but seeing as I’ve never done that in all 30+ years of my life, it needs to be done. Making sure my self care is a priority will have a positive impact on all aspects of my life. At my job, I take care of other people all day every day. I need to reverse that as soon as I walk out of the hospital. My first goal of 2014 is to get my self care in order. I have an appointment with both my psychiatrist and my regular doctor, so a self care plan will be hammered out shortly. Once that’s in order, it is time to help heal others as I heal myself. I’m reaching out to other bloggers, other bipolar writers and trying to bring more understanding to the subject of bipolar. 

My final resolution is to love myself, unconditionally and without question. This is where the resolution becomes an affirmation as I plan to focus on what I love about myself rather than what I don’t love daily. I will remind myself daily that I’m worthy of so much more. It’s time to be kind to myself and see how it ripples through all my relationships.

What goals or resolutions do you have for 2014 beyond the typical “get fit” “lose weight” resolutions? Please share in the comments or email me at [email protected]!

Filed under: Uncategorized Tagged: affirmations, bipolar, change, positivity, resolutions

Unemployed…again.

I lost my job today and I’m semi upset about it.

I’m upset because I have to find another job, and that’s hard because there are no jobs.

I’m upset because I can’t find a decent job until the marijuana has disappeared from my system, which takes a month.

I’m upset because I’m about to go on meds, and I didn’t want to find a job until I was settled into that.

I’m upset because losing a job is always stressful and upsetting.

I don’t want to do the whole WOE IS ME thing, but damn damn damn damn.

Damn.


Biblical Surgery; or, The First Jewish Doctor

I want you to know that the “Jewish Doctor” part is pure tongue-in-cheek.   G-d is not Jewish.  He’s for everyone!

That said, if you look into Genesis 2:7-8, you will see an amazing thing:

“And the LORD GOD formed the man, dust from the earth;

Va’yi-PACH beh’ah-PAV nish-MAT chayYIM va’ya-HEE ha’aDAM le’NEFESH chay-YAH

And He breathed into his mouth the Spirit of Life and the Man became a Living Being.”

I’ve transliterated the Hebrew here, because if you read it through a couple of times you will see that it has the actual rhythm of breathing!

What are we seeing here?

“And He breathed into his mouth the Spirit of Life…”

The very first CPR!  Divine CPR!  The Breath of Life!

In fact, in Hebrew, the word for soul is neSHAmah, and the word for breath is neshiMAH!  It is the breath that keeps us alive, and it is the Divine Breath that gives life to the First Human.

Not that the world wasn’t populated with tons of living beings already.  This Divine CPR happened on the Sixth Day of Creation, after everything else was ready and in place for the final touch: Man.

But whoops, there was something missing!  In Gen. 13:18 G-d notices that the Man is lonely: every other creature has a mate, but not Adam.  (Adam is one of the Hebrew words for “man” or “person”.)  So G-d says, “It’s not good for the Man to be alone; I will make him a helper against him.”

Huh?  Helper against him?  What is that supposed to mean?

There are multiple ways to interpret this phrase.  Marriage, as we know, is very complex.  At best, the partners have each other’s backs: they are holding each other up, leaning on each other: they are against each other, giving support.

On another level, they challenge each other, ideally bringing out the best in each other, like good sparring partners.  They are not out to hurt each other, but to energize one another.  Have you ever had a partner who gave in to everything you pushed for, who buckled under adversity?  Yech.  I want a partner who is able to push back when I push, not to shove me away, but to challenge me to grow as a person.  This is a helper against me.

So the very next thing G-d does, in verse 19, is to bring all the birds and beasts to Adam, and ask him to give them all names.  Now, we Hebrews believe that names have very special powers: the name is the essence.  So when parents name a baby, they are temporarily imbued with Divine Insight, to know the child’s soul and intuit the child’s real name.

So it says in the verse, “And the LORD GOD formed from the earth every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens, and He brought them to the Man to see what he [the Man] would call them; and what ever the Man called each living creature, that was its name.”

Now, the Jewish Bible has four levels of interpretation: 1)literal, 2)giving a hint that something is hidden there, 3) explication, 4)hidden knowledge.  And for each level, there are miles and miles of commentaries.  I am going to skim over two layers of commentary here, exploring what this business of naming might be about.

The juxtaposition of G-d musing over the idea of giving Adam a mate, with having Adam name all the creatures, is a hint that in order to name something, Adam had to know that creature intimately.  But wait!  Doesn’t intimate knowledge….knowledge in the Biblical sense, as in “Adam knew his wife and she conceived”….could it be that…..?  Some Kabbalistic sources say yes!  Adam was looking for his mate, as is supported by verse 20, “…he gave names to all the beasts, and the birds of the heavens, and all the creatures of the fields, but for the Man he didn’t find his helper against him.”

So some sources say that Adam “tried out” every creature in the literal sense, but did not find his mate among them.

But there is a higher (and more palatable) interpretation of the expression “to know intimately.”  It is that in order to really know someone, you have to be so empathetic that you actually come to know their inner soul.  In fact, it’s as if you are that person, for a time.  You’re really “walking in their shoes.”  And that, says the Zohar, which is the core text of all Kabbalistic knowledge, is what Adam was really doing.  He was melding souls with every creature so that he could intimately know its essence, in order to know what its true name should be.

Now, having been one with all the creatures of the earth (kind of like a Vulcan mind-meld), and not finding his own mate, G-d had another solution, in verse 21-22: “And the LORD GOD cast a tar-DEH-mah** (deep sleep) over the Man and he slept, and He took one of his ribs, and he closed the flesh where it had been. And the LORD GOD built the Woman out of the rib that He took from the Man, and brought her to the Man.  And the Man said, This One is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh.”

The first surgery.  

What’s going on here?  If G-d is all-powerful, etc, etc, why couldn’t He just create a First Woman for the First Man?  Why did He have to take a chunk out of the Man?  And why on Earth did He put the Man under general anesthesia first, when He could have just **whack** taken out the rib and closed the wound and that was that?

Did G-d just want to be the Primordial Anesthesiologist?  He already knew CPR, so why not?

Stay tuned…..

**The word “tardemah” is still in use in modern Hebrew.  It means “anesthesia,” of course!