Self Compassion

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Learning to live again is serious and exhilarating.  I’ve recently stepped back from the precipice of self-annihilation and am now experiencing a newfound compassion for myself and appreciation for life.

Coached and coaxed by friends and therapists, I engaged in any activity that held even the most remote possibility of pleasure.  I  took jewelry making classes, boxing lessons, studied the Kabbalah, went faithfully to therapy and of course, experienced the joys of my body’s ability to stretch and exceed my perceived limits at the gym.  Naturally I was employed as soon as I embraced myself.  And for this I am deeply grateful.

However, I realized with horrifying clarity, how serious I was about suicide after I’d been employed.  I’ve survived the death’s of my parents, my sister, my beloved. and precious pets.  I’ve withstood severe emotional abuse, abandonment and physical exhaustion that almost took my life when my appendix burst.  Still I could not imagine withstanding losing my New York apartment.  My sense of security resides in the luxurious home that I’ve created on the Upper East side in close proximity to a group of dwindling but essential friends.  I could not embrace the exigencies that I felt were forcing me to flee New York in search of more economical accommodations.  Somewhere, deep within, I had accepted suicide as a rational and reasonable alternative.  Leaving my h0me, the last bastion of security and familiarity, was something that i could not bear. God heard me at the penultimate moment of my despair as I trudged through the last of my savings before ravaging my “retirement” fund – about one year’s worth – if you don’t count my co-op.  Salvation was granted at the moment that I’d accepted my mortality.  And for that, I am deeply and profoundly grateful.  Perhaps there is an ultimate plan, perhaps my existence has not been conducted in  profound vanity.  Maybe I’m still here for a reason.

I’ve now trained in two new jobs, though I feel that my nascent self-compassion will allow me to relinquish one of my three jobs and live with lesser means for the sake of my sanity and life balance.  I was profoundly grateful, at the end of my first week as a digital sales manager for a thriving website, when I was told that they were amazed at what I accomplished during my first week.  Yet the hunger to share my success with a significant other lingered and I was disappointed as the plans with my x devolved into a parry and thrust about whom had given more in the relationship and had I appreciated all that he’d done for me.  I felt that this was conveyed in a bullying fashion that forced me into a manipulated confession of lasting gratitude which did not allow me to express my true feelings. The best defensive is a good offensive.  I’ve never forgotten that.  As my friend informed me that he would not be able to spend the holidays or my birthday with me, I was coerced into receiving this information with grace and gratitude for what he had done.  And I am grateful.  Truly.  But the holidays are about family.  If, after 15 years, he doesn’t consider me family, I am recusing myself from the equation.  There is nothing left to be said, shared or debated.  I received this information with an unexpected sense of calm and proceeded to make some jewelry which gave me pleasure.  I chose life. I didn’t engage in self-destructive, self-effacing behavior.  I’ve spent birthdays and holidays alone.  But the reality is that I have friends who have asked to spend my birthday with me and I have sisters with whom I can spend the holidays.  And even had I none of those, I have myself.  And that is something wonderful – finally – at last – I can count myself as friend.

I’ve learned that when I let go, something comes in.  I gracefully extricated myself from the laborious debate with my x and responded to a man who’d been calling me for the past few hours.  I invited him to my apartment for a celebration – for I felt that I deserved that – and allowed myself the pleasure of reveling in his admiration.  We sipped wine and sank our teeth into freshly baked bread and cheese.  I felt appreciated and respected.  I allowed myself to accept my situation and to find gratitude in the midst of accumulated blessings.  Perhaps it is as simply difficult as I’ve heard.  Close one door and another opens.  But one has to be prepared to walk into the unknown before the unexpected can arise.  I had to face the void of non-existence before I could embrace my life.  There are mysteries and paradoxes and the simplicity and joy of being.  And for this, I am deeply grateful.

A Shattering Realization

Romance is not a commodity that is guaranteed.  Nor can it be coaxed, coached, courted, or commanded  It alights, unbidden, on the breasts of the unsuspecting.  And I suspect that I shall never experience it again.

I’ve been a busy girl recently.  And all of my dating busyness has left me longing to hang with my girlfriends, gay friends, guy friends, my cats- anyone and anything that is not connected to the picked-over assortment of humanity that has presented itself as a potential romantic source.

A love coach has been courting my services.  She told me that healers don’t charge enough for their services.  Her fees range from 5k to 25k.  I think that establishes her firmly in the realm of someone who has a healthy respect for their services. She was offering a pittance for the sales person who was taxed with the responsibility of separating women from their money – all for a good cause – the fulfillment of a soul mate that we hear so much about.  I’ve dwelled many years amongst the imperfections of this creation and have spoken to a lot of people.  I haven’t met many who were living with, met, or who had otherwise engaged with the elusive soul mate creature – which I fear – is as mystical and unrealistic as the infamous unicorn.

One’s libido does calm down as one ages.  And even as I admire my fabulous, toned self, brimming with charisma and charm, I have to admit that I have always possessed a highly cultivated sexual selection process which has devolved into one that barely registers the opposite sex.  There was a foreign man, years ago, that awakened my desires and longing for a partner.  We met amidst the beauty of a soft autumnal Amagansett night and I was foolish enough to feel – soul mate?  I even dated a narcissistic  prof recently who briefly inflamed my staggering sex drive.  And there’s the 32 year-old that calls, voice brimming with testosterone and desire to recount his attraction to me and plan a visit to New York so that we can explore our mutual admiration.

I had rather hoped that I’d be looking into the eyes of my beloved at this point in my life.  I’d take in the craggy lines around his brows and labial folds.  Each crevice and indentation would be a memory that we’d shared, despaired over or had rejoiced in.  I’d imagined that his eyes would simply say, “home”.  Instead, I look into stranger’s eyes, framed by faces that are much older than the ones “advertised” in their dating profiles.  Seriously, men wouldn’t let women get away with such outrageous lying.  One man posted a pic of a muscular, tanned hunk, with blonde hair.  I didn’t recognize the middle aged, dark-haired, man spreading at the bar as the same creature.

The man that I dated last night hadn’t even bothered to dye his hair.  His pic must have been circa the 1990’s when he’d possessed some vigor and vitality.  So different from the tired, gray haired, overweight man who sat in my lobby, where I almost turned about face and retreated to my apartment upon visual contact. However, I pride myself on treating all with dignity, even those who in fact, do not posses dignity.  He was an affable fellow who shared a lengthy story of a libido that had destroyed his life, later in the evening.  It seemed that is career as an international consultant had taken him to Asia where he met and subsequently disassembled his life for a 28 year-old fashion designer.  He unapologetically walked out on his family, including two children, career, and moved to Shanghai, or such, I can’t remember, I was thinking about getting into bed with my cats at that point.  The much younger woman, as in criminally, what were you thinking your lecherous fool, took all of his money and invested it in her failing business, ignored him and five years later he returned to America, depleted, financially dissolved and heart-broken.  He loves her still.  I ask you, why is this man dating?  Oh, and he lives in a small one-bedroom apartment somewhere near the Whitestone bridge, don’t ask me for directions, with his son, a jazz guitarist.  He explained that he’s helping his son.  I wonder if the son is not helping the prodigal dad.

Then there was the Israeli physicist who lives in my building and whose acquaintance I mad in the midst of the Hurricane Sandy madness.  He took my number and called in multiples of five, leaving but one message in ten.  We managed to have a salad together one evening.  Then it occurred to me that the physicist was calling and rambling about physics and Israel, way to seduce a lady, with the hopes that he’d bore me into submission and I’d just invite him up to my apartment to end his monologues on quantum mechanics.

Of course there was another lost puppy whose wife died and who’d made a career of playing the sympathy card. I met him for the first time, after several long conversations, at the Metro North station on 125th street.  He’d trained into Manhattan with a twenty dollar bill and parked himself on my couch.  After hours of talking and boredom that bordered on paralysis, we went to the cheapest Chinese restaurant that I knew of and ate dinner.  He submitted his plea then that he couldn’t face the commute back to his friend’s apartment where he’d been living for one year and asked if he could crash on my couch. Horrors, one and all.  I’ll spare you the tale of the Harvard graduated engineer with fewer social skills than my cats, who was adamant that I view his before and after pictures on Facebook.  For some reason it was critical that I see  the proof of his body with an additional 60 pounds.  What did he want, some Facebook commendation?

Oh but I must add the 65 year old- way too old, yuck, psychologist, who grabbed my hand at the entrance to my building and placed it over his erection.  What buddy, you didn’t want to waste a Viagra?  I mean is this really what is circulating masked as available men?

As I back away from the financial abyss with God’s help, more rants on that later, I actually thought that it was time that I consider spending what remains of my years on earth with a witty, intelligent, soulful, and sexy-to-me, mate.  I get why men date younger women.  Who wouldn’t choose the passion and enthusiasm that youth offers rather than the gray haired disillusion that has presented itself at my doorstep?  Seriously, if you’re putting yourself out there, put yourself together first.  Don’t be crashing with your son, brother, Zen monk or other.  Have the decency to have put the past in the past and don’t expect sympathy votes for the last lady love that sucked you dry and spit you out.  I have my own horror stories to tell.

I had rather hoped that life would offer more than this monotony of loneliness where the deepest empathy and touch that I experience is with my cats.  I’m more involved in my hobbies and interests.  I no longer have to call my gal pal and ask her to coax me from my apartment as I had just a few months ago.  So overcome with depression and fear, I couldn’t find a reason to exit my apartment, or to live for that matter.  I’m much better now, but is this seriously all that there is?  Something, a la the brilliant Jack Nicholson movie, has to give.  So I thought that I’d never receive another job offer.  I just have to have another shot at love, don’t I?

Even Nosferatu has stopped calling or has been trapped in the depths of the Disney bubble, as he called it.  I’m not lighting any candles over here in his absence.  It’s just, you know, with another holiday approaching, without my mom, without a partner, I feel somehow cheated.  I believe that life is about love and connections.  I believe that we are here to learn to love, giving and receiving, at least that, I feel, is my lesson.  Boy, have I failed or what?  Does this place me at the back of the karmic line?  Will I reincarnate as a bat or something?

And finally, is romance just an urban myth?   Perhaps it’s all some hoax to keep the world populated.  What do you think?

Opera Rock Girl – Finds Her Rhythm

If you’re unavailable, I want to hear from you.  Naturally you won’t be inclined to communicate through text, video, Skype or any other of the reigning technical wonders, because you’re indisposed due to an emotional inability to connect; run from relationships like an elderly person from shingles; or have been trapped, since the 80’s, near the inner circle of thought. But I will wait for you, because I know that you won’t call.  I’m safe.  See, it’s simple.

My recent obsession is with a fictional character, Stacee Jaxx, the tormented Rock Star in the film version of Adam Shankman’s musical, Rock of Ages.  His complicated and brooding nature makes me wonder if there isn’t a compelling, deep man pulsing with passion and sensuality who is looking for me too.  Of course, he’d need to jump from the convolutions of an alleged fictional reality and materialize.  But could I stand that?

Stacee, played by Tom Cruise, (I know, I know,) but he simply sizzles in the role and is all about an unabashedly contoured chest and rolling hips that I’d like to roll into my bed. But he’s tortured.  Now that’s something that I understand.  He’s trapped by his talent and the illusions of fame.  His true desire – to communicate so deeply that his music will make people want to live – has ben obfuscated by his demons.  Anyway, one of his lines catapulted me into a nostalgia for the girl who sang opera with the full fury of her soul.

“I’m searching for the perfect sound, the perfect song, that will make you want to live forever.”

Usually I don’t want to live for the next five minutes.  But I know how it feels to be rocked with so much desire, the need to communicate my inner being, to lay bare the breasts of my soul, that I want to live forever, and take you with me.  Where is the man who could say something like that? Say something that pierces and reassembles my soul?  That’s what I’ve sought.  I sought it in opera where the characters’ passions were so outsized, so trembling with the ferocity of their emotions, that I felt at home there.  I felt immortal each time a phrase pulsed through my body.  It was a benediction and a blessing that some of the world’s most captivating music could, for moments, vibrate through my flesh and blood and convey all that I felt.

Imagine the joy that I felt when I sang Mon Coeur S’ouvre ta voix, from Samson and Delilah.  Literally, my heart opens at the sound of your voice.  When have you last felt that way about anyone?  I’m not talking about mothers and their babies, here. I’m very attuned to the sound of the human voice.  I know how the lead character in Jerry Maguire felt when she said, “you had me at hello.”  So when I speak to a man who emits a squeaking coloratura sound, all bets are off, even if he’s wrapped in a bod of sin.  Note: he isn’t.

Stacee Jaxx’s vulnerability was even more tempting than his body and diamond studded jock strap.  The character was so ludicrous that he seemed real, and inhabited, for a night, my imagination, ignited my  desire.  Maybe it was his confidence, that bought me to the knees of my passions.  Maybe it’s the performer in me who just wanted to follow the path of my desire to speak so intimately to an audience that I could, for a moment, change their lives.  Maybe it wasn’t Jaxx that I yearned for, but the unfulfilled version of myself that lived in me, and still does.

“I only know that summer sang in me, a little while, that in me sings no more.”

“I’m a cowboy, on a steel horse I ride.  I’m wanted – dead or alive.”  That’s how Jaxx reveals himself to the woman who has caught his attention, focused with deadly precision.

Is it some inherent character flaw that I can relate to something so propelled by passion that it’s comical?  Yet that’s where I live, scouring the milky way for the extraordinary.  Mediocrity terrifies me even as it rules our world and governs our nations.

I’m a bubble girl, running around without the protection of her bubble.  Too sensitive for this world and the banal sentiments that reign, I find myself without a protective coating.  I’m really a performer at heart. I wanted to convey through music, the one truth, that could make you want to live.  For a moment, an eternal epiphany that let you know that you weren’t alone in the world.  Music does that for me.  I honor all great performers, rock, opera.  I honor their honesty and discipline.  And nothing, in my opinion, brings you closer to God or immortality, than music.

And maybe as I wait at the violet hour before Hurricane Sandy crashes into New York, I realize that I’ve always been drawn to men like Jaxx.  Those whom I’ve loved have had epic talents, insecurities and demons in hot pursuit. But when they were in the midst of creating, their confidence rivaled the gods, which is why they probably were burned alive.

I suppose we all fall in love with versions of ourselves. And even as I’m drawn to the Jaxx character, I know that that character lives in me.  She’s been bludgeoned by the mundane and unrelenting homogeneity that governs our lives, but she lives still.  Looking for love in all of the wrong places, that where I’ve been.  Maybe I didn’t want to find love at all, but needed to find my voice, or let my voice sing in the world.  The world has silenced my voice, temporarily, but I hope that I will be able to resurrect her.

That is the essence of the arts, they enable us to remember, even briefly, who we are.  They hold a magical mirror to our soul where we can briefly see ourselves illuminated in all of our imperfect glory.  If art doesn’t move you, it’s not art.  And on some level, we all want to move someone,  We want to know that for a moment, however briefly, that someone has heard us, that someone has recognized us and has borne witness to our journey.

You can’t make this shit up – Return of Nosferatu and other Rants

May I just say that the boomer market is a flat line. i’d like to announce to the brilliant marketers trying to monetize Gen Boomer, that a generation who prides itself on youth, is not, doesn’t want to, and will not ingest niche media for the “boomer market”.  They are reading mass media. I am consulting for a network of boomer sites.  The twelve year-old media planners are not interested.  I learned this yet again after driving to a late afternoon mid-town meeting at a high profile media agency.  I paid a small ransom for the privilege of parking my car for an hour and returned home in less than sanguine mood.

Nosferatu wanted to treat me to an evening that would relieve my stress.  I haven’t been deluged by offers, poems or other overtures, and Nosferatu is lonely – I accepted his offer.  I wondered what he had in mind though I wasn’t exactly “dressing” for the date. Nos met me in my lobby and we cabbed it downtown to where I’d just been.  Our destination, the top of the Empire State Building.  You’d have to meet me to know how much I detest crowds, standing in cue, and pandering to touristic sensibilities. I’d rather have stuck hot pokers in my eye and have shaved my head.  I plastered a tolerant smile on my face and trudged through the lines trying to dislodge Nosferatu’s guiding hand at my elbow and back.  I gracelessly flew past the photographer who wanted to memorialize our experience and stepped into the gale force winds on the 86th floor.I’m not bragging but I have spectacular city and river views from my apartment.  I didn’t need to slog through crowds, shuffle on high-heeled shod feet, and brave pneumonia for the privilege.  Nos confessed that he’d hoped it would encourage me to cuddle with him.  Am I seriously this cursed?

Finally we descended to terra firma and head for dinner.  He had a place in mind and I was still determined to conduct myself with civility.  After a 10 block walk in 30 degree weather I lost it.  Apparently his dining choice was some deli with a salad bar, that he couldn’t locate.( he just moved to New York recently – single women rejoice.) Thankfully, I’m not a violent person and don’t carry an assault weapon.  I ducked into the nearest subway and said that I was going home.

Nos followed me and witnessed my altercation with a nine-foot African American who shoved me several feet as I boarded the shuttle.  A fury of expletives were unleashed, mine.  Nos sat next to me and held me steady against the train’s halting rhythm.  The thought of a morphine laced cappuccino was very appealing.  I struggled with my inner bitch and politely suggested that we could “dine” at an all night diner.  As we trudged another 7 blocks, in the cold, Nos told me that he wanted me to join him in his small business venture selling Disney pins on e-bay.  We could travel to Florida two weeks a month and collect Disney pins from theme parks and sell them online.  Now I have a garage in my building and would have cheerfully asphyxiated myself at that point, but the garage is too large and I would have only succeeded in enraging the attendants.  That would have implied a higher holiday bonus, I suspect.

Luckily my nephew texted me and joined us.  My blood pressure had regulated to merely dangerous levels and his presence soothed me.  Nos is just looking for friendship, though he did suggest some physical distraction, to which I responded with gritted teeth.  I calmed down enough to discuss  Nosferatu’s failed marriages with empathy and compassion.  I opened a space for friendship. The boundaries are set there.

Sometimes I want to throttle the God of my understanding and say “really?”  Note to women:  Don’t allow a man that you don’t know well, plan a date.  Get the information.  Buy into the plan or nix it.  My idea of a stress relieving date is a helicopter ride over Manhattan; dinner at Le Vieux Bistro across from the Notre Dame Cathedral and a stroll through Ile St. Louis. Let’s kiss in the dawn on a deserted beach beneath a sky that looks like a jewelers display.  I’ve done that and highly recommend this with the right person.  Or, if I’m into you, come to my apartment, set about 20 candles aflame and let’s rearrange the 15 or so down pillows on my bed.  That would have relieved my stress. So until you’re ready to enter my life, I’ll just be blogging and soothing my inner bitch with the thought of you.

Yours truly,