Trip Post 1: Intention

[Originally written on 5/10/16 between 5:00PM and 12:50AM EST]

I am sitting here in this airport and a mixture of emotions are sitting in my stomach and my throat. They’re all blending together, becoming indiscernible in their shapes and colors. This will be the first time in a decade that I will be going back to my old home. I’m filled with excitement but it’s diluted by anxiousness.

Since booking my tickets to this trip about a month ago, I’ve come to realize that I see my old self in Israel as a completely different person than the person that I am today. Of course, my self today is built on top of the deep foundation of my self back then.. but in my mind, there is a stark  break between the two —a concrete break in my timeline.

I believe this is because when moved to the US at the age of 15, I knew that going back will take time, and that I left a lot behind, many people I love and loved. And now that I think about it, a big part of me still feels like my family has let my grandparents down. They risked their lives, and left everything behind in order to come to Israel, a new country, so their families will be free  in a land that is their own. Then my parents immigrated to the US for those exact same reasons yet left family 5000 miles away.

And so, instead of keeping up with the sadness of distance, the frustration of disconnect, and the shame of this supposed letdown, I just broke away. On top of that there was also the challenge of figuring out the US —moving presented my with all sort of questions about my identity and personality that were extremely difficult to overcome. So, I took a plunge into the deep end of the pool, head first. I fully embraced my American experience, immersed myself in red white and blue, and blended in quickly and quietly. I  I didn’t want to think about the past, but rather focus on where I was and where I was going.. I created a new me, because living as my old self in a new country was just too painful.

I did not think that in this very moment I would be flying at 560 miles an hour back to my homeland, and my brain and heart are still trying to process all that this means. With that, however, I know that I want to make this a meaningful trip. I don’t want to get caught up in insignificant details, I want to embrace this opportunity and set myself the intention to connect with my heritage, my culture, my family, my self. I hope that reconnecting with all these elements will help me become a more complete, authentic person.

Right now, over the Atlantic the sky is black and perhaps it’s the lack of light pollution or the fact that there is no ground under me, the stars seem shine so bright in a way I have never witnessed. Their coalescing brings out shimmers of white, baby blues, and gold into the lush blackness. Soon, daylight will rise and I will meet the sun again. The same sun I left in the US will comet to greet me in Israel, reminding me that it’s time to get reacquainted.

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Quicksand 

What hurts me these days is not only the post break up pain.. This gnawing pain in the pit of my stomach reminding me of how messed up things became and how I let myself do what I did, how it led to so much pain, and how I still care about you. It makes me cry on night drives, and random moments during the most mundane tasks. But that’s not only it. 
What hurts me more these days are my incompetences, my weaknesses, my self doubt. What you constantly reminded me is getting to me on a deep level. I’m trying to grow past it but they always pop up when I least expect them. I say to myself cutting words, crippling thoughts of fear and self loathing, setting myself in the deep muck of self sustained quicksand. I am set to drown in it. 
I look in the mirror and finally accepts parts of myself, but soon the imperfections are more noticeable.. The blemishes glare at me, teasing me, stomping on my psyche. Unattractive, undesirable, lucky to paid attention to — these words echo in my mind sending me to darkness. Who would want that? Who would dare want someone like me?
Career? No. 

School? No. 

Money? No. 

Friends? Not anywhere near me. 
Worthless? Yes. 

Responsible for your pain?Absolutely. Lost? Beyond belief.
Or at least that’s what I’ve made to feel. 
And I’m finally moving, attempting to break these chains and shackles you told me to put on myself. I’m tired of dragging them around. I’m tired of feeling this way. There’s no way out except keeping on moving forward. 

PAIN

PAIN in all caps, because I need to feel it instead of avoiding it, instead of putting it away so it eats my up inside.

I have not let myself fully realize what I have gotten myself into. Everything is full of grayness, and my mind is so cloudy and numb that I can’t even begin to process what’s going on in there. Every thought is criticized, every step overly calculated to the point where I just can’t take it. I think that’s why I haven’t written anything in months.

Do you know what it’s like to question your every move, every thought, and every word?… not because you’re questioning it for yourself, but because someone else is.. constantly with their breath on your neck.

It makes me sick. It makes me sick that I can’t stop this vicious cycle.

I can’t sleep because.. because… I don’t even know how to finish that sentence.

I’ve never had such difficult time figuring out what I’m feeling, and what it’s making me do. I’m really trying to organize my thoughts but they tumble down like Jenga tower.

If I put it in writing, I have to face it –This relationship somewhat destroyed me. It slowly chipped away at my self confidence, diminished my self worth, faded my color. I now think a million times before I text you, before I answer your question. I lay low and stay uncontroversial because this way it’s safe. I never say no, I taylor my speech to your mood, and I never give out my opinion. Instead I try to predict what your opinion is.

This way, I won’t have to feel the brunt of your fury, your biting words. I won’t have to sit through your demeaning, endless lectures counting down the seconds until they end.. until I can try to go to sleep. This way, I won’t be shamed for my intelligence or my abilities. I won’t be reminded of my incompetencies.

And then you come to your senses and say you’re sorry for how it all came out. You say that you don’t mean to be mean, but it’s because you care so much, just because you… you love me..?

This word is tainted in your mouth and I have no clue what it means anymore in our context. It’s anything but the love that I know from other people.

It’s a fucking classic textbook example. And I fell for it.

I feel so stupid for letting this happen. So angry with myself for letting these moments slide– New York City, Raleigh, Delaware.. birthday, dinner, bar. I give out my forgiveness as if it was worthless.. as if it didn’t cost anything. “Here, on my dime, endless free passes.” But now I learned it cost my the hefty price of dignity.

I want to cry so badly but nothing comes out. Instead, after you’ve insulted me in front of my friend, I lie in bed and my body is so hot. My body is burning so that it feels like an intense fever, and I’m almost shaking. But there are never tears. The tears are the knots in my stomach, the empty expression of my face, the tennis ball in my throat. And they never leave. I never leave.

I’m trying so hard to make myself hate you, to not care about your feelings, or at least care about mine a little bit more. But it’s not working.

I’m trying my hardest. I will get there.

Leaving is hard, but the alternative is so much worse.

Breathe

The other day, at a certain random moment, I took a deeper breath than usual. It felt different, it hurt a little bit in the middle and bottom of my torso, it was unfamiliar. It hit me that I haven’t been breathing.. well, at least haven’t been breathing deeply recentlly. Instead, it’s mostly been these rather quick breaths that you take and only make their way to the shallowest places of lungs and throats, giving you just enough oxygen — justenough. That deep breath was different. It was one of those deep breaths that you take when you are suddenly relieved, those cleansing breaths that reach down into your lungs and fill your body with fresh air, a deep breath that inflate your chest with positivity.

About a week and a half ago, looking for advice and guidance in my rather confused state of mind, I spoke to my cousin about life and my relationship. She’s all into new age medicine, and countless times, I’ve heard her say to  listen to your liver or pancreas. I don’t see harm in believing in that.. after all, you’re just listening to you body. How bad can that be? And so, I asked her about my throat that’s been bothering me. It was as if she quickly looked up throat issues in the index of her brain library, and came up with an answer. “Your throat hurts when you don’t say what you want or need to say,” she told me as if she was reading it from a manual of some sorts. “Rather, you keep it all down, and it’s your body telling you to just let it out; to just let it go”.

And I think I’ve started doing that –breathing and speaking. And in return, I woke up on Saturday with my throat in actual pain and my voice half gone. I think that now that I’m finally not holding it all in, the fresh air that I breath brings up the thoughts and negativity, that festered at the bottom of my lungs and at the back of my throat. And it hurts to process them all again.. more than the first time around when I shoved them down and locked them away. It hurts, but I know that if I just breathe deeply through then it will all be ok.

Gratitude 2.0

I failed. Last year, actually just under a year ago, I set myself on a 30 day gratitude challenge: write one thing every single day for thirty days straight about something for which I was grateful. I was excited about it, and thought that it would be a great idea. Alas, all I did was write one line on the first day of the challenge and then left it alone. I can’t recall why though.. I couldn’t have been that busy back then.

So, I want to try it again. Yet this time, I wish to focus on the most mundane. I can easily write about being grateful for family, and friends, and experiences, but I’d like to focus on what we truly take for granted and from which we can derive simple joys –just one good thing that happened in my day or that I found a moment of pleasure and happiness in. I also want to make this more meaningful than just checking this task off from my daily list. Rather, I would put thought and effort into this and write at least a short paragraph to give it more meditative qualities.

Thank you.

The Book

I started re-reading Eat, Pray, Love.

As I saw the book cover on the grey and black screen of my Kindle, I knew I had to read it again. Feel free to make fun of me following the footsteps of a thirty-six year old, post-divorce woman, but that book is a sort of a spiritual guide for me. Scratch that.. it’s a guide to self.

I first read the book in the summer of 2010 –my summer of change (I just threw up a little bit in my mouth typing that). I bought it originally for my mom on Mother’s Day, and she put it aside until she was in the mood for reading.. she always does that. So a couple of months later, in the middle of summer, I needed something to read and the book lay there basking in the glow of afternoon sun in mid-July. I stared at it and it taunted me back.. “this is totally a ‘women’s book”‘. but you know you wanna read.”

When I first picked it up, impeccably new yet covered with a fuzzy layer of dust, I had no idea that this book would actually change many things about me. Prior to that summer and the couple of years that ensued, I was an entirely different person. I was bitter, cynical, and very much disconnected from myself.. and it drove happiness away from me.

I don’t know how to explain the process of change –it was partly instantaneous and partly long. But at the core of it was figuring out who you are; find yourself and find happiness. And for a long time I did. I did things that made me happy and made me feel so in-tuned with myself –mind, body, and soul. There is just no other way to describe it. It’s when everything aligns and everything fits. It’s a hard balance to keep, but it’s not impossible.

The book was brought to me yet again in a time of need, or at least that’s the way I see it. I have been feeling less myself lately, and it has to do with many aspects of my life –job, living situation, mental state, fitness. And my question is if it’s all because of my relationship. I am fully aware that I am the type of person who gives his all in relationships.. I’ve done it once before and it didn’t work. I give so much of myself to make the other person happy, but that’s not what I get in return. I told myself that it would be different this time, but now I find that it wasn’t. At this moment, many parts of my life are not originally mine.. which leads me to another set of questions: am I living in somebody else’s life? And I wonder if I can find that balance again, the balance that the book helped me seek and achieve. Can I find it while I am with another person? Or do I need to find it individually? Whatever the case may be, I need to love myself first, and put my own happiness at a priority –maybe then I’ll figure it out.