Talking To Myself Upside Down

Im upside down

Im upside down (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tonight there is no one to talk to, no one who cares enough, who knows me well enough and understands my past pain.  Sure, there are people I could call but it’s not the same. I want someone to sit next to me on the couch like my old best friend, because she understands and knows the real me. She knows all the family dynamics as I know hers. Why does she insist on disappearing like she does? Why can’t I just forget her altogether? I’ve teetered on the edge for years now.

Today, I think back to when we were younger. Back in the old days when we were both single and desperately wanted to get married but independent, happy, working together. Going to the Village after work, seeing movies, drinking strong coffee, eating good street food. Coming home and talking for hours more. I remember talking to you while the mice ran over my feet in that scary store front apartment.

I was mugged one night, after being out late with you and the next night I asked if you would walk me home; you walked me home, my friend, without hesitation.You said you would do it every night, forever, until I was comfortable and I know you would have. I had asked my sister before you, she automatically said “no.”You were always there for me and I was there for you. I know your secrets, Denise, some your husband don’t know and you know mine. We had a special friendship. Remember when we were pregnant with our first kids in the swimming pool at my mom and dad’s? That has to be one of the happiest memories of my life.

Many, many years ago when you had your impacted wisdom teeth out, you actually let ME go with you and come back and you let me tuck you into bed and make you a milk shake. This for you, was utter trust and love. I’m sure you didn’t like having anyone help you. You let me and I felt honored and proud.

We are both mothers now, we each have two children, both not far apart in age. I thought for sure your second child would be a girl, how could it not be? I know a part of you is  probably emotionally damaged but I know I am your best friend and down deep you are mine. You make no effort and since its been so long I don’t expect it and I don’t even want to start another time to make an effort. It is too painful. I’ve told you this before, when we are together we sync so well back into best friends that it makes me miss you more when we part and I cry.

So, instead, I am talking to myself, upside down. I’ve tried so many times to connect with you, I’d probably see you more if you lived in France. You live an hour and a half away and your relatives live about 25 minutes from me. You will always be my best friend in my heart but it doesn’t mean I don’t miss what we had, when we were young. In spite of it all, I miss you, I love you, that will never change but even after all these years, it truly hurts. I wish it didn’t.

For Denise F.

 

Advertisements

Carry on Tuesday: When all is said and done

Let's Talk About Feelings

Let’s Talk About Feelings (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From Zoe’s Journal:

I need to find forgiveness in my heart. I know that’s the right thing to do; I just don’t know how to do it. How do you forgive people whose bond with you should be so natural, so instinctive? I don’t have the answers but I am trying to find them. I am trying to find them so that we can all live in peace. I think the psychologists call it “individuating;” when you separate from your parents and become your own person; believe me I don’t think my parents would call it the same thing.

I just want to protect myself from the past, I was strong enough now to be my own person and not take any of their old shit. I had figured out the dangerous mind games and I wanted no part of it. I had always been strong inside, my parents knew that about me, they were proud of that, until it seemed like I turned on them. I hadn’t; I just stopped putting up with all the bullshit. They couldn’t handle it. The more they tried to guilt me, the more I pushed back. They would immediately go to the speech where they were “all alone in the world” without their “only daughter.” I would be empathic but I would not cry and apologize and they missed that; they missed the part of me that they could hurt. Wound. Destroy. I don’t think any of it was intentional, well, of course some of it was. After they spewed a nasty string of malevolence they would not remember a word of what they said! How could they not remember what they had just said?  I was labeled “too sensitive.”

It took me a long time to understand the game they played, unwittingly, but I swore I would never fight with them again. Since they couldn’t express any feelings at the time they would hold something against me for weeks. Eventually, one day there would be a vitriolic, icy cold lecture of how I had changed. I would figure it out in time but it left me stunned, still hurt. However, I did not offer myself up as a sacrificial lamb; that was no longer my duty, those days were over.

When all was is said and done, what they really needed was attention, to feel wanted and needed and not dismissed. It was quite simple once I figured it out and I was more than willing to give it to both of them, on my terms. Once I did, they became nicer, happy for the attention and we seemed to get along better.

Sometimes, the things people say are irrelevant, I guess you need to go deeper and see what they are feeling. Not everyone wears their heart on their sleeve like I do. As I have said before, words don’t count, actions do. Since we were talking about forgiveness  there is another very important person I need to forgive.  Me. I need to forgive myself for all the grudges I have held, for all the hurt I have carried, for the blame I have caused and for all the tears I have shed. I was just a child, an abandoned child. I know I will never forget but I need to forgive myself and let go of the pain because true forgiveness really means setting our souls free, the greatest gift you can give yourself. At least that’s what I’ve heard.

Family Matters

daughter & dad

daughter & dad (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When my neighbor, Lisa, a young woman with two children, told her father, on the phone, that she didn’t WANT him to pick her up for her CAT scan, I felt an unexpected lump in my throat. My father would have done the same thing. Oh G-d, how I miss that. After a few minutes Lisa  decided to let him pick her up and I was glad, “let him do this for you, it will make him happy” I said.  I quickly entered my house with tears stinging my eyes.

I expect the holiday season as a frame for us to mourn family members and friends who have died.  I was not prepared for this. This was unexpected and it hit me harder because I didn’t see it coming. Isn’t that always the case? I prepare myself for the holidays from November through January but it’s always what you don’t expect to happen that throws you off-balance and hurts the most.

When my father was alive and healthy, years ago, nothing would have stopped him from helping his two daughters, at any time, day or night.  Lisa’s situation brought those old memories back, piercing my heart, draining it. I remembered the time I was terrified of the sounds of the mice running in my walls and a couple that ran over my toes in my studio apartment and he picked me up to “take me home.” Or the one time in college when I had no idea about money and bounced a check (I did what?) and he resolved it and explained it to me. My dad made everything better; he was always on my side. I pray I said “Thank you” I pray I said, “I love you Dad.” I hope I did.

My father died on New Year’s Eve, ten year’s ago, my whole family is aware of that date.  I was not at all prepared for the random comment with my neighbor and it struck me so deeply. How lucky she was to be so young, to have young kids and young parents. I was looking back in time; this was me twenty years ago, this was me before we moved to New York, with two healthy parents and two young children.

You have no idea how fast time flies by. I didn’t know either. It flashes by so unexpectedly, the toddler whose hand you were holding to cross the street is in his second year of college; the baby girl you longed for after him is in her first year of college, far away. Two children, two completely different personalities; the mystery of motherhood finally solved for me.

“What did you do to make my sister and me so different?” I would ask my mother over and over again. It didn’t make sense. The same parents, the same setting, the same upbringing, what happened? We were so different, I needed to know. My mother would laugh and say “Nothing” and I didn’t believe her; I felt like she was holding out on a secret. That was, until I had two children, 21 months apart, completely different from one another and I knew, my mom had been right all along. We did nothing differently, they came out of the womb their own person. What they did have in common were that both were separate, perfect, miracles and yes, (hear that kids?) we love them exactly the same.

I’m Stepping Back, Alicia (Fiction)

Deutsch: Ein Straßenverkehrsunfall in Kopenhag...

Dear Alicia,

Oh no, not again, you did not just pull that smirk on your face again. I told you Alicia, I would not put up with it anymore and I mean it. I have brought you up like one of my own and you have just crossed the line. I will give you your space, I will not smother you with kisses or even try to gently hug you when I feel the winds of icy coldness come wafting from you. I know better. Am I disappointed? Sometimes. Heck, yes.  Apparently, that has to be my problem, not yours. I can deal with that but I am not going to be hurt any longer. If anyone has to toughen up, it’s me. You’re too tough. Sometimes I wonder what your dearly departed parents would think? I know I did my best.

You have enough armor up around you that you won’t let any emotions get to you; you are going to miss a great deal of life, girl. I mean that sincerely, with my heart. You are young but growing up will be hard for you if you don’t open yourself up to learn from the lessons in life, learn to give, to feel, to be sensitive to others. You need to feel for other people and not just for yourself. I hope you will able to learn that one day. I tried to teach it to you and failed, Life will have to teach you the hard way. I just hope it’s not too late for you to learn and I fear it may be.

I took you in as an infant after your mom and dad were killed in the car crash; you never knew them. To us, you were like our own little girl growing up in our family just as your mom and dad wanted. Of course we told you the truth and we kept your mom, my sister, and my brother in-law alive to show you what good people they were. It was an accident, Alicia, it wasn’t our fault.

Be the person you want to be, I will not hold you back.  I will accept you and love you but I will no longer be treated with disrespect and utter annoyance. I am still the mother that raised you and there is a certain amount of decorum that needs to be maintained. I am trying not to care as much, it isn’t hard to do if I can stay on top of things and not take things too personally.

We are opposites, I know. One person brimming over with emotion, the other barricaded inside. It doesn’t mean that there is no love between us because there is a lot of love. Hopefully you will see that clearly, maybe one day you will act nicer to me, to your dad and brothers and sisters too.

I will always love you and I will always be here for you. You know that. Please remember dear girl, that I lost my sister, my best friend and I miss her dearly. You should know that all your mom and I wanted for you is your happiness. Parents are human beings, we all have flaws,we are not perfect. Parenting doesn’t come with an instruction manual, we do the best we can, we don’t have all the answers but we try our hardest.

I love you, Alicia but I need to love myself too.

I will always be here if you need me.

Love, Aunt, Janis

Losing Touch with Old Friends

Friends

Image by carlosluz via Flickr

To Me, A Friend Is A Friend.

I am the type of person that WANTS TO KEEP in touch with old friends but I have been hurt by others who think geography and proximity are the only reasons to maintain a friendship. I had a “friend” named “Becky” when our children were two years old and best friends. Our family decided to move to be closer to my aging parents and our good friendship withered away, no, actually it slammed shut. When I asked her what happened, because we had been so close, she told me face to face that the reason she didn’t keep in touch with me was “You know, out of sight, out of mind.” I was crushed at the time, but this was fifteen years ago.

I also remember my three year old daughter wanting to talk to your daughter and when I called for her you told me that “Little Ruthie” as we called her, was watching television and did not want to come to the phone. Wow. If that had been my daughter I would have taught her not to be rude and to come to the phone and say hello and then go back to television watching. It’s called manners. Like mother, like daughter??!! You can hurt me all you want, I can take it even though I don’t like it….but hurt my child? Unforgivable.

I have realized since then that many people are like that and I have even prepared myself for it. I wish I was one of those people who could drop a friend at the mere mention of a move, it hurts less to be like that. But, no, I am still the one trying to keep up a friendship, even if you don’t speak often, for the friendship that was; I think there is merit in that. As I get older though, my expectations have been greatly lowered and while it is not my style, I do understand that many people act this way. I’m just trying not to be one of them.

Powered by Plinky

The Start Of Good-Bye

In two weeks my son will graduate from High School and head to his summer job, after that he will be going to college. This is harder than I thought it would be. It’s also brand new and I’ve never been too good with change.

Simple yet elegant prom corsage

I literally want to sink my head into my folded arms on my cheerful, flowery bedspread and cry. I want to cry loud and hard enough to erase the pain of change and sadness, new beginnings and endings. I want to cry for all the graduating seniors that will say good-bye in two weeks to their life-long friends, their girlfriends, their boyfriends, their parents, siblings, dogs, pets. I want to cry for me, I want to break down in unwavering sobs because it feels like I am losing my son to the future and I know that things will never be the same. Already, the “Seniors” have changed you can see it on their faces. Next year, my baby, my daughter will graduate High School as well.

I am a fluctuating emotional mess, happy, sad, crying, excited and miserable.  It is after prom and before graduation; it is the time in-between. The Pre-Prom party was at my son’s girlfriend’s lovely home. For me, it was like a Hollywood set, the girls with their glowing, shiny faces and beaming smiles, the sun streaming down on the back lawn highlighting their hair. Girls in long dresses of all colors: fuchsia, beige, royal blue, gold, gorgeous girls, each one of them, with the light in their eyes dancing, their faces sparkling. Their wrists adorned by delicate  wrist corsages awkwardly put on by their dates. I have known some of these girls since they were four. The young men in their tuxedos, stand tall and proud, handsome and mature. It felt like the tuxedo added years of wisdom and maturity to them.They stood brave and beaming, handsome and charming, strong and proud, very proud. Each one had a boutonniere shakily attached by nervous girls with manicured fingers.  My son posed willingly with the three best friends he has grown up with, solid friends, forever friends. He posed with his girlfriend, he posed with his family. This was a boy who refused pictures taken of him since he was nine.

These were not boys and girls anymore, here stood young men and young women going off very soon, to follow their dreams. Even though as parents we try to be prepared for the good-byes, it still hurts us. Like pieces of our heart literally being chipped off never to be repaired exactly like it was before. Our hearts still work but differently. With the young men and women’s new-found freedom, so too, comes pain. As a parent, not being able to prevent that pain is horrible yet I know, being a good parent means just that, letting them go solve their own problems, make their own mistakes.

As a mom, I am on an emotional roller coaster. Am I grieving beforehand like I usually do? Merely picturing graduation makes me wince. When my son actually leaves for college, I hope I will be just fine but anticipation is truly my downfall. I look at the photos I took of Pre-Prom over and over as if I will learn something new each time. Yet, every time I see the photos I see the same thing, utter, unblemished joy and happiness. As a parent, I wish that these things would continue but I know in a mere two weeks a lot of that joy will become heartache. It doesn’t seem fair does it? That is what growing up is all about, I’m afraid, there are always trade-offs.

These youngsters have precious little time to say good-bye to all their friends, girlfriends, boyfriends, best friends. I don’t envy their losses but I am happy for their new adventures. Tonight, on a dark and windy evening, I dread my own loss. My son is one of the nicest people I know, he is moving on and I will miss him. I love this boy of mine and in addition, I truly like him. Follow your dreams, first-born, the world will be a better place with you in it. That, I know, for certain. We will always be here for you, will always love you and support you unconditionally, when you are ready to leave, place that in your heart forever.

Paging “Mr. L” (Repost with Addendum)

kew gardens queens

Image by silatix via Flickr

I had a friend on my blog who once lived in the same town that I grew up in at different times. We both lived in Kew Gardens, Queens.  He would read my blog fairly consistently and would always comment with his classic signature “Mr. L.” even though I knew his first name was Abe. When I wrote about our old neighborhood, he loved it. I wrote a few posts on the now dissolved oldkewgardens.com about what it was like growing up in that sweet town and that is where we first met. He contacted me after that and we stayed in touch.

He hasn’t been on in a long time and I’m beginning to get worried about him. He was last living in California, I believe, and was contemplating whether he wanted to continue living there or not. Mr. L. to me, was like my substitute dad or uncle, since my dad passed away ten years ago. We used to kid around a lot and talk about our favorite gourmet delicatessen, The Homestead. I still dream about their Polish rye bread, sour and chewy and their faux Sachertorte cake made with many layers of raspberry jam between layers of creamy, sweet, chocolate cake. When I lived at home, every birthday cake was this particular cake inscribed with “Happy Birthday.” A real Sachertorte from Austria is drier and has layers of apricot jam but this was sweeter, this was MY cake.

When Mr. L talked about his deceased wife it was with such emotion, always, he still missed her so very much. From what he told me he absolutely adored her. In every “conversation” he would bring up his wife and talk a little about her; those little things that really make up a great marriage, sharing breakfast, the same bed, holding hands.

I know this blog post isn’t going to win any awards, nor will it attract a lot of people but that’s fine. I know Mr. L had adult children but I don’t remember where they live. So, if anyone knows him (and yes, I do know his full name) please let me know. I know I am overly emotional and sensitive, that’s a big part of who I am but I care about him and hope he is alright. I don’t want to lose Mr. L if I don’t have to. Mr. L. please come back and say hello.

ADDENDUM 10/19 2011. I HEARD FROM MR. L TODAY!!!!!!!!!!

The World Just Changes A Little Bit

Burning match (cerilla ardiendo)

Image by John C. Shaw via Flickr

I just received news from my sister that her friend Allison passed away last night. I knew Allison but had only met her once or twice. She was a very warm and charming woman who was my sister’s neighbor. She leaves behind her husband and a daughter, the age of my nephew, Jon, 21. She died of breast cancer.

I have a friend that lives around the corner who is also dying of cancer. She too had breast cancer and then brain cancer. We don’t ask questions, they are a very private family. No matter what her condition is she tries to attend, her children’s basketball games or important events. She doesn’t care about being seen in a wheelchair or weighing barely 90 pounds or the fact that her mouth dragged down and over to the side, why should she? She is one of the best moms I have ever met. She will be with her three children as long as a single breath is left in her body.

Two years ago, when she was still able to walk, unassisted, my neighbor and I would each run to our windows to keep track of her. If we saw her walking alone, one of us would crush our feet into sneakers and pretend that we had walked too, and join her to keep her company. She wouldn’t ask for help, but we knew that we couldn’t let our friend walk unsteadily alone. She refused to use a cane; but she was happy for the company; we were happy to see her.

If we made “extra” food for our families, we would simply drop platters of freshly roasted chicken, baked ziti and meatballs at her door with a loaf of warm french bread or a tray of fudge brownies. When she could only drink liquids my new specialties became soup; peach soup in the summer, chicken soup in the fall. They never asked for meals but they always welcomed it. We would call before we brought a meal over and ask if it was a convenient time; sometimes we left it on the wooden bench near the door. We never saw our friend on these visits; we didn’t have to.

My best friend from high school, Paula, had breast cancer and finally now, after about 6 or more hospitalizations, a double mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiation, infections and reconstructive surgery, she is trying to heal. It has been a long road for her. Another friend, Margie, with thyroid cancer, said she doesn’t think about celebrating her five-year anniversary of being cancer free; her oncologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering said that “once you have cancer, you are never cancer free.” I don’t want to believe that but it is sobering.

I am sorry for my friends, I worry in advance for all the important women in my life. I am grateful for every healthy minute of our lives, and I understand how fragile and unpredictable life is. I am incredibly grateful. The world changes a bit, doesn’t it, when another person dies, when a soul leaves the body. It’s like a candle or a match, one after another, forcibly being blown out while it is still burning bright. It seems that their lives are extinguished way too early, too violently and too harshly. Snuffed, taken away, burnt, dead. “I knew she was going to die” my sister said sadly to me” but somehow it isn’t the same until it really happens.”

Dedicated to all cancer survivors and those we lost who live on in our hearts.

What The Heck is Blu-Ray Anyway?

There are certain concepts in life that I do not get nor will I ever. Daylight Savings Time is one of them, how can you really lose or gain an hour? We all know there are 24 hours in a day. It just doesn’t make sense. Yes, I know all about the farmers and the school buses but it’s the elimination or addition of the hour that I do not comprehend, and shouldn’t there be a two-day adjustment period? There is for me, I require it.

There are thousands of new products that come out every year (and I happen to be the person that loves to look at them and try them) but I don’t like to be forced into it!! Sometimes there are products that come and go which is understandable. Why do the new products each year have to replace the old products that we already have? It’s practically black mail. Sure, we went through vinyl, and 8 tracks, we went through cassettes and then, CD’s DVD’s and now Blue-Ray. I honestly don’t know what Blu-Ray is. Why can’t there be a universal adaptor so we wouldn’t have to shell out big bucks every time we wanted to see little Sally’s first steps or our wedding video, play a Beatle’s album, or wait, hear it (and see it) on a new phone/Android/Blackberry. I’m all for the simple stuff; I may sound like Andy Rooney but to me, things are getting too complicated and it just isn’t fair.

Sometimes, products just…disappear. What about slips? I thought slips were a staple like bras and underwear, apparently they are not. About three years ago I went to a department store and asked a woman where the slips were. “Slips” she asked “What’s a slip?”  I believe we have a generation that has no idea what a slip is/was or what it is/was used for.  I was embarrassed enough but when she asked another salesperson, in a loud voice, “what a slip was” they both looked at me as if I had dropped down from an orange alien ship that was decorated with purple pom-poms. “Sorry, Lady”we never heard of slips and we don’t have any. They looked at each other and rolled their eyes at the same exact moment.

Did they think I was a crazy person? Sure, they were young enough to be my daughters but hadn’t their mothers ever worn a slip? Sigh, probably not. I felt like I should have been wheeled out of the store breathing oxygen, that is, if they still use wheel chairs and oxygen. Here’s hoping……

Ferris Bueller ROCKS!

Carly Simon wrote a song called “My Older Sister” the first line being: “She rides in the front seat, she’s my older sister..she knows her power over me.” That has been the anthem of my life but it took me years not only to appreciate that I have an older sister but to embrace it. I am the 53-year-old “baby” of the family and I have an older sister who is 59.  For siblings, that’s a HUGE difference in age, it’s like we were born two separate, only, children.

When I was born she had no use for me and especially as she got older, I was just in the way. A nagging little sister who wanted someone to play with her. When we sang together she sang vocals, and I sang back-up.  Always. I became the little sister to one of her friends, who loved me and played with me. “I wish Mickey was my sister” was said by me more than a few times. She didn’t seem to care. To this day, I am closer to Mickey (Michal) than she is, that bond never broke.

When my sister and I were growing up our parents referred to us as night and day, sun and moon. There are no two siblings that were more different than us. Even our appearances are completely different, I have a very pale complexion (known in the family as cream cheese) and she is robust and ruddy, as if she is sunburned all year round, white vs red.  The only thing that we have in common is our voice, we sound exactly alike on the phone and often used to fool people  by pretending to be each other. When my sister was bored talking to one of her friends she would ask me to take over and I would,  them being none the wiser. We still laugh about it. We could always fool our father, that was easy, but taking mom down was much tougher; I think in all the years we tried she only fell for it once or twice. She prides herself on that.

That which separated us before, brings us together now, with humor. When my sister loves a certain Dr. and swears up and down that I will love him, I will go but sure enough I will see him and hate him. I did that two months ago, I hated his cold, brusque demeanor, his rapid (and painful) examination, the smirk on his face.  After her exuberant description, when he walked into the room I thought it was another Dr. that had just borrowed his white coat. That’s how strongly I felt against him; this is my sister’s favorite Dr;. she looks forward to seeing him. Different people, different siblings.

Restaurants are tricky too, the Asian -Fusion place I adore, she thinks is only mediocre, if that. We do agree on the delicious tuna sandwiches at the Thornwood Diner and the sandwiches at Lange’s Deli.  The book I have loved, the tv show I hated, all opposite opinions. It’s so unpredictable that it is indeed predictable. It’s the bond of opposites.

Movies were the first thing that showed us how different we really were; that truly separated us. When I saw the movie “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” I called her excitedly and told her it was the best movie I had ever seen. It was witty and sharp, cute and funny; to this day I love that movie. She saw the movie and called the next day asking if I was “on drugs and questioning my sanity?”  She absolutely HATED the movie, every second of it; she may have even walked out. Game on.

What used to divide us, now brings us closer together. Now she calls me plum and I call her sugar; she calls me Ferris and I call her Bueller. For years before we went to bed we would say good-night to each other through the fake wall divider and say: “Goodnight  peanut butter, Goodnight tuna. Goodnight shrimp, goodnight applesauce. The Waltons had nothing on us! It was a vast improvement of our early names for each other which were “stupid” and “ugly.” And, when all was said and done and we tried to settle into sleep, I would inevitably ask “what time is it?” and she would always fall for it and tell me and then we continued to laugh.

If WE could find a middle ground, anyone can. After many years, two extremely different people,  have somehow settled on this newly paved path of love, understanding, friendship and respect. Our mother always said “the most important thing is that you have each other” and it is true. We are each others piece of history, without which we would be very much alone. If we were dark vs light before, we’ve arrived at a long overdue acceptance, a mixture of colors, bright red, muted yellows, lilac and florescent green; bold and subtle, and very, very warm.

dedicated to my sister, Emma.