Childhood, Courage, dating, grief, Joy, living abroad, Mental Health, Musings

Love Addiction-Love Avoidants Part 2

“I am feeling lonely.” He said.

“Is it hard for you to be alone?” I ask.

“Yeah.” He says.

“It’s okay to be lonely. I am alone with no family near, few true friends…but its only a moment in my otherwise noisy people filled life. I have to be alone right now to come to terms with myself. That’s one of the big emotional reasons why I have been in Morocco. I am lonely every freaking day but it’s good for me.”

“Sorry for being honest ;/” He said.

“Don’t be sorry.” I said. “I think it’s harder to be in touch with ourselves sometimes in the noise of our careers and the fast pace lifestyle of the city. We like the city because the white noise blurs out the pain of disliking our own company. To be alone is painful.”

“My new girl came back from abroad.” He said.  “I don’t know what we are doing. I don’t know what I want to do about her.”

“Can I ask you something?” I asked.

“Sure.” He said politely.

“You are talking about this girl you are dating but didn’t you just break up with your ex. You seem to have been in love with her. Why did you break up?” I asked.

“She wanted marriage and kids. So I broke up with her.” He said.

“I didn’t get a phone line for 6 years because I had to sign a contract. I have a fear of commitment.” I said. “But isn’t that normally where it goes when you love someone?”

“I don’t want to get married.” He said. “My friends say Tel Aviv really fucked me up. They are all getting married. I don’t want to be told what to do and who I can see. I want to have total freedom. My childhood friend is getting married and she’s not able to sleep at my place anymore because her fiance is jealous.” He said in an annoyed voice.

“Why aren’t you happy for her?” I asked. “It’s not like she is in prison.”

“Yes she is.Why can’t it be the same as it was?” He said defensively like a little kid that didn’t want to grow up.

“She isn’t sleeping in your bed not because she doesn’t love you but she expects her man to do the same for her out of love and respect.” I assumed this was the case.

He was silent so I tried to explain.

“It’s a bit like growing up.” I said.  “She’s happy to do it for him. Things don’t stay the same forever. Give her your blessing and encourage her to go with all her heart into her new life.”

There was more silence.

I didn’t know where he went inside himself.

He struck me as a delicate soul. A walking piece of art. A beauty.  To see him just eating hummus in front of me was such a joy. I didn’t want to trigger him or hurt him. I felt that kind of “normalcy” of marriage with a woman seemed out of reach for him and the change to adult rules and expectations so unnerving for him. Although we had little in common in every sense, I understood what it felt like to not fit into “normal” and to feel like marriage and normative institutions can’t include and won’t contain you.

I finally chimed in to break the silence. “Hey maybe marriage isn’t for you. Maybe women aren’t for you. Everyone has their own time.”

“You think I a gay?” He asked as if he had gotten it said to him so many times.

“I don’t know only you do but how long are you normally alone after a break up?” I asked.

“I don’t want to say.” He said.

“Why?” I ask.

“Because I know where you are going with this.” He said.

You can’t force someone to hear what they already know but aren’t courageous enough yet to do anything about. He knew what I was going to say.

“It’s not the women that matter, they can be a revolving door of anything, but the space needs filling. Who– is less important. You “Look” for love but seek it out only with unhealthy people to be sure it can’t work. If you bond and start to love them, you leave first.”

Healthy is probably too quiet and sweet to recognize after awhile.

So when my Israeli therapist asked what I was doing in my life.

“I am trying to be alone.” I said.

She smiled asking why.

I remembered him and remembered myself. We circle our tails in love. We want and we don’t want. We are afraid and too bold. We make no sense.

I tried to explain, “A lover that I respect shares my pursuits and loves me would be amazing but I am not going to force it. Maybe it never will be a reality for me and that’s okay too. But I am not there yet. I see people as symbols, I judge, I fight, I am chasing my tail. I just want to be as alone as I can possibly be and this isn’t easy for me.”

“You are a very smart girl.” She said it like a mother would. I smiled like a baby.

 

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Casablanca, family, Israel, Life, living abroad, Morocco, Travel, Uncategorized

Falling In Love With an Israeli Coffee Can

I shared breakfast with my Israeli neighbor across the street from me in Casablanca who has become like a sister. We both have daughters the same age and are alone in this country without our families. She is a striking woman who is direct and straightforward just like I adore women to be. Over the last week her entire Moroccan-Israeli family came to visit from Tel Aviv and as a good Jewish family would, they tried to set me up with the single son of the family who worked for the foreign service and as a diplomat. The whole family reminded me why I love Israelis and Moroccans more than anything else in this world.

When we entered her kitchen today to make some breakfast I saw her can of coffee on the counter and my heart instantly burst out from my chest the way it does when you see a memento from home after living in a foreign country for years without any word from family or friends. Those who have lived abroad for years know what I mean when all it takes is a little item from home to bring back all those feelings of love linked to your friends and family and all those intimate times.

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I grabbed the can smiling as it brought back memories of home and love in kitchens across Israel. I smiled lovingly at it, not having done anything like this in the last five years in Morocco to anything because Morocco is home. My friend must have seen my expression and said, “You can take it. I bring enough back home every time I go. Go ahead take it.”

I held onto it as I remembered fragmented happy memories of holding a coffee cup as the sun poured onto me laying naked in bed or sitting in a t-shirt in the kitchen, either taking it from the hands of someone who loved me or making it myself in silence before anyone woke, across from smiles and over great conversations and horrible fights.

That little red can with bright letters in Hebrew announced something I didn’t know before this morning, which is that I have a new home now even if Morocco has been home. This homesickness made me realize that home has shifted and I don’t know how or when this happened but this morning I missed my home and my loved ones there desperately through this coffee can that I held in my hands.

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Anxiety, dating, death, Essay, family, Fear, Loss, love, marriage, Memoir, Personal, Random, reflections, relationships, Shame, Stories, Thoughts, Vulnerability

As all break ups are painful this was not an exception, but pain is subjective, I thought to myself. Every break up seems to be the worst there ever was, but they all become part of a storyline and lesson plan that eventually don’t invoke pain the way they did or could before.

I notice with a smug sense of pride that I am unaffected by past resentment even if it took many years because time does in fact heal some wounds. It’s the same smugness I have when meeting up with my ex and his girlfriend. I gloat and I feel a sense of pride that I have “moved on”. I can even imagine their happy lives fulfilled without me, and it makes me feel a superiority that I am no longer attached. My facade of being untouchable crumbles as I realize that I may have gotten over him but not everyone entirely.

I feel a creeping truth in the form of a pain in my chest. I assume it’s my pride pinching me and it’s quietly taking up residence in me secretly beneath the surface.

I shut down the computer and lay in bed turning all the lights off but I don’t fall asleep. I ask myself why there remains that pinching feeling on my chest and where it usually goes to hide itself? It is a resident that I did not know occupied any space and I want to know where it normally lives so that I can evict it. It etches more into my senses as I ask more questions.

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This feeling surfaces once every few years or so when I am finally lying alone at night and it comes to fill the space in bed next to me which has kept me filling that space in bed with someone to avoid this moment.

It feels like a small wave building up as the feeling that is sitting on my chest reaches down to whisper in my ear what I now hear loudly in my head:

You don’t want me but I am here. You are afraid because you can’t control or change me but I am The End and one day after everyone and everything else around you is gone I will be here because I am the only thing that is certain. You will end one day and you can’t keep your daughter or your family or any beloved.

My jaw tightens as I lie on the flat of my back now listening to the clock tick loudly down the hallway in the silence of my sleeping city. I swallow the lump in my throat and squeeze my eyes letting gravity push my tears into the curves of my ear drums.

I never knew I was afraid of death but this now explains why so many exes have taken to call me irresponsible as I give planning the future or tomorrow the finger.

I had no idea I linked dying to the idea of love even as I have clung to love to spare me from death as if it were it’s only remedy and cure.

It’s a jumbled mess in my head but I realized last night that I seem to also see the state of marriage as death, I see loving another as the death of the ego, and the end of love as just one smelly rotting corpse where you disappear.

Love is scary because even after finding the one you want to live and die with,  “What will happen after we die?” I once asked my ex. “What will happen to you? How will I find you again?” He had no answers. You can’t keep it forever no matter if he or she is the love of your life.

I am sure fear of death is why people buy and collect more than they can ever use and why my mother hoards junk into her small room and why I have avoided sitting Shiva this week with the family I love.

Fear of the all mighty End is also probably why many people stay longer in dying relationships and seek narratives of resurrection and return.

We avoid that phrase “The End”…that marks the last shot of every good movie and everyone who has ever entered us and made us believe in eternity.

I don’t want to admit that death is a part of life and that we all will evaporate in a flash. I will disappear from my daughter as my father did from me. We will all break up from each other and this break up will be bruising even though we had all our lives together to prepare for it.

How liberating it must be to have no notion of ones morality and ones limits and death.

If I had no fear of the End, I probably would not try to control everything. There would be no anxiety because there would be no consciousness of the limitations.

My daughter is roughly the same age I was when I had to acknowledge death so I tell my girl that there is nothing sad in death (although I lie) and I tell her there is nothing to be afraid of (which is true) because life and energy can never be created or destroyed, only transformed. That is the only fact that has always comforted me because I know that for her sake she must not fear dying because if we fear death, we can’t ever really live.

One Girls Fear of Death and Love

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Blog, blogging, Childhood, children, Courage, Essay, grief, Hurt, Life, Memoir, nostalgia, Personal, Philosophy, Photo, rape, reflections, sexuality, slavery

Daily Prompt: Release Me

Freedom is a strange concept.

Most of the time if asked: “What is freedom?”

It would be answered as if an obvious notion: the ability to do and say and act as one wants and pleases exactly how and when one likes.

If this were entirely true then the freest people on earth would be Lindsay Lohan and the entire celebrity culture of the West.

I question freedom because for the poor, or for the working mother or for the young person who can’t afford to travel freely because of debt or job obligations or lack of money this definition of freedom as physical mobility leaves a lot of disenfranchised from the concept of freedom.

For those who live with the threat of violence or retribution for speaking out openly about their opinions or about their sexual orientation or political beliefs, then living in the frame of “public” would leave most of us outside of the West also outside this concept of freedom.

What is freedom then for those of us who can’t define ourselves as free by these standards?

This is a question I ask myself often as I asked myself often as a child because I was raised in an environment where physical mobility was limited, expression of opinion was impossible, and we lived for others and not for ourselves.

If I, like many others, am not able to travel, or unable to express myself on the street or on TV or in any public way, then what is freedom to me? If I as a woman can be violated as I have been violated, if I can be repressed as I have been repressed, if I, like millions of others today have lived or are living as slaves as I have lived as a slave without choice, without option, without worth except for what I can do or give…then what is freedom? If everything outside of me can be attacked or taken away…what is freedom?

My freedom was and is still silent resistance of thought in the face of violence where ever it finds me. However even more than my resistance to anyone or existence counter to anything is the definition of my freedom as my interior life beyond who I am physically and what I have. My interior is mine and in its quiet is also my freedom. My feelings in my sexuality are also my freedom despite a history of violence. My choice to love inside my soul has been my freedom. My prayers with closed eyes and clenched fists or open hands are also a part of my freedom. My mind reaching beyond itself is freedom. Keeping secrets have also been freedom for me. My eternally loud smile is my freedom as my tears falling unexpectedly while hearing others tell their secret stories is also my freedom. Emotion is freedom for me. Feeling is freedom. Living is freedom.

I am one of the lucky ones that can move where I wish these days but this does not define my freedom. Public display of life does not make me free even if I  express myself in many public ways, I know that I live in a country where many things are limited, journalist are jailed and teenagers go to prison for kissing in a photo posted on Facebook. I live in a world that is deeply limited and repressive to women (because of danger lurking behind every corner and lack of faith in us as a people) and by that default also limiting to the possibilities of man as well, but I still feel free because I redefined what freedom is to me even if tomorrow my hands can be tied and my body dominated or my movements blocked but as I learned early in childhood, no matter what is placed in front of me, I am free with my quiet infinite spirit.

Medina walking away

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/10/20/daily-prompt-free/

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dating, Life, Lifestyle, living abroad, Loss, love, marriage, Morocco, Musings, relationships

A Few Signs Your Neighbors Are Separated

My neighbors include a young man, his son, their nanny and the woman of the house.

In the four years I have lived in this Casablanca apartment I have seen the wife less then 5 times. She never appeared at first so I thought for almost a year that the nanny was in fact the woman of the house because I saw her each and every day (and much more than I would have liked). My daughter even thought the nanny was the mother and wife of the house and I decided not to correct her because then I would have to explain why we never saw the son’s mother with her kid, not even on off days or the weekends. My daughter would have asked me some questions I would feel uncomfortable answering while remaining neutral or free of judgement.

In the last few months there were signs that life had started to change next door. Loud parties and music echoed out of the house at all hours of the day and night. I didn’t think much of it but my daughter of course did. True to her Moroccan roots my daughter asked why there were parties taking place which I of course considered to be their private business. That didn’t stop her from asking the father (in his late 20s) when he once exited his apartment at the same as us, “Why is there so much loud music all the time?” He smiled and was gracious in his usual fashion but I was mortified and answered for him to my daughter that dads were also allowed to have fun too. I excused us and didn’t think much about it again.

I didn’t even notice that I had all together stopped seeing the nanny. Months after I still just chalked it up to extremely good luck at timing my anti-social behavior and thought perhaps they took the nanny on an extended vacation minus the father.

I credit myself at both respecting my neighbors private life and being a complete failure at paying attention to small details. It took months before I realized that I had all together stopped seeing the neighbors son until one day on a weekend I spotted him outside with his dad. He had grown up so much I was startled and realized that it had been many months since I last saw him or his nanny or his mother.

I finally added up all the signs. No nanny. No son at home except once on the weekend. A new man living in the house with the father. Parties until late and during the day. I realized my neighbors had separated and I had been completely unaware for nearly 6 months.

Now it made sense why my neighbor was coming to my defense whenever possible and even fighting on my behalf with the housing staff which was unexpected and unusual. His door was open late into the night when he would try to strike up conversations and there were those few extra seconds at the end of every ‘good morning’ or ‘good evening’ as if a longer exchange was welcome and waiting. I kept our exchanges short because conversations with married men can be read as infidelity here. I had missed all the clues that he was now single and was trying to say “Whatzzz UP!!! Party time! Want to join us next door?”

I wondered how I could have missed something so obvious happening next door to me. Partly I realized it is due to the classy nature of the family. Their separation didn’t include yelling or fighting or loud stressful violent encounters with the furniture or their partners. I had gotten used to this style of separation after living here all these years and it made me happy to know that there can be civilized separations.

Now I glance over at his apartment and pose the question to myself: if he offers would I accept an invitation to join him at home one night…I remembered my wild days post separation when I ran through people like kleenex and although it was fun it was also a necessary messy stage I am not willing to repeat. So it’s probably a no but never say never until you walk through those doors.

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Uncategorized

Archiving Life

I have been keeping journals ever since I was 13 years old, the same year I read my first book.

I started writing essays on the books I read and when I finally entered school at age 14 I discovered that what I did for fun was what they asked us to do for school work. “Cool!” I thought.

I didn’t understand the usefulness of my journals at the time, but like photos, they help me remember my history that I sometimes willfully forget.

I flip through the pages of the 50 plus journals filling the boxes in my closet. Filled to brim are my thoughts, rants, manifestos, poetry, art and mementos. I can’t compare the child I was as 13 to the child I am today but there is something delightful to read through my thoughts as a young adolescent without any crushes on boys in my pages but instead a list of names with strong meanings for future daughters. I wanted their names to mean “bold” “brave” “warrior” “strong” everything I was taught not to be.

If I flip through my journals from college that is when the idea of romantic love is introduced with my first crush on a girl. I speak of falling in love and describe my beloved ones in glowing terms until the end of the books where I discover that I am thoroughly disappointed that they are not the goddesses I imagined but humans. That script of unrealistic idealization of love ending always in angry disappointment repeats itself with men much later again post college like a tired script I already know the ending to. I don’t think I have yet updated that script so I return the books to their boxes and turn to my photographs. I have a love affair with photos on par with words.

As I organized my photos last night I thought to myself…I know we are supposed to be beautiful in our youth but I think I have gotten better looking with age. I can see in photos that I have gotten less insecure and in fact happier in my life despite the fact that we often romanticize the past .

In my childhood pictures I am always performing. In my teenage years I was angry and hiding my body behind clothes, pulling my hair back and trying to be as unattractive as possible. In college, I ridiculously pose for every picture and struggle against losing myself in my strange concept of love.

In Morocco all my photos are of everyone else until after the arrival of my daughter when there is hardly any photos of anyone but her.  I could barely find a photo of myself. I have only photos of her and her father which makes me smile. For me, it’s love to take someone’s photo. The fact that I couldn’t find myself there made me happy that I was erased by something more relevant.

When there was the occasional photo of me I seem beyond happiness to be with my child despite seeing in some other pictures myself visibly struggling to make peace with what was happening after the camera snapped the photo which was an intense fight to find money and find emotional strength to handle the violent domestic situation I was trying to hide from friends and family.

The last photos with her father, myself and her in our home was on her first birthday. I knew those photos would be the last of us together as a couple so I waited the extra few weeks before my great escape. I wanted to stay until after her birthday to show her those happy photos in my one last make-believe moment of unity.

The photos of me and her father disappear, there are just photos of my daughter getting older and more beautiful until about last year. Without warning I find an explosion of photos of me. Me at home, me sleeping, me laughing, me talking, I am not posing, I am not stressed, I am expressing joy and living life and being my daughters mom and someone’s love and a crazy artist.

I am surprised to find all these photos and it takes me a moment to understand why or how there are so many photos of me in off guard moments. They are sometimes blurry and sometimes too clear and exposed to post anywhere. They came from phone cameras and computer cameras taken by me for another and from another of me. I am amazed at the photos candor and their dynamic range of the portrait of my life. There are photos of everything, every part of me in their crude way.

It hits me that for the first time someone who loved me went out of their way to document me in the same way I document others. I realized that he seamlessly coached me out from behind the camera to be natural in front of it. There are hardly any posed pictures, I am just present and in such an honest way.

The entire year is filled with natural images and for the first time I see myself. Through his lens I am without makeup, without cover or posturing and I still…beautiful and alive.

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It was a discovery.

I was loved and I am loved still and I see that in the photos.

It’s a blessing and a gift.

My daughter started documenting life and has amazing pictures that I save for her exhibit one day.

The language of love speaks to me through images and it spreads and passes hands from to another and this to that generation.

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