Surmising the distance between us

A lot has happened since my last entry. It’s too much to write all at once. In this paragraph, I want to focus on the now, not on the has-beens. It’s slowly turning dark outside on a peaceful Sunday afternoon. There are no demands on me from anyone, and nothing is asking for my time. It’s just me and my mind, spending time together today. I managed to get up before noon. I’m so glad of that. I spent the whole day editing a video project for one of my classes. The final product came out excellent, and I feel accomplished. I have had two cups of coffee, half a cup of tea, and now I’m drinking a glass of the vino blanco that was leftover from last night’s gathering of new friends at my home, which I didn’t attend. My roommate make a lot of quinoa and I may help her eat it.

My henna tattoo, by the way, is doing great. It’s still there but slowly fading. I think it will last another week. I’ve managed to keep it concealed under long sleeve shirts at work, and then I wear a t-shirt at home so I can enjoy seeing the art on my arm. My hair smells like fresh rain. I finally washed it. As has been the case for almost a year now, I find it difficult getting in the shower. I surmised with my aunt on the phone a while back it was because of the last place I lived where I had to share the bathroom with three other people. That was disgusting and frustrating at times, and annoying. I had no way to express my discontent other than turning the frustration inward and affecting my own well-being by not showering very often. Now that I have my own bathroom, it’s rather nice. Again, I hadn’t showered in three or four days; I lost count. When you don’t remember when you showered last, that’s the time to step under the running water again.

Yesterday I made a new friend. He’s 83 and speaks fluent Italian. He grew up in an Italian neighbourhood in Brooklyn, New York and was born during the depression. Poverty was rampant. He was the eldest child and realized from an early age that education was going to be his only way out of poverty. His younger siblings dropped out of high school before getting their diplomas. He joined the armed forces for the Korean war. When he got out he was able to continue his education because of the GI Bill. He was the first person to graduate with a master’s in art in his university, as it was a new program. Art became his career and he taught as a professor for over 30 years. He married early, had kids, and admits to not having been a good parent. He left before his kids turned 18 and has no contact with his daughters. He speaks with his son who lives in Texas. His art has been shown at galleries, and the walls of his home are full of his painting, caricatures, lithographs.

The assignment for my final project in my psychology class called “ageing, death, and dying” was to interview a person over the age of 65. We were given five pages of ideas for questions to ask. I did it all ad lib. I brought my tripod but didn’t need it as my hand was steady enough. I got some really juicy material. It was all bare honesty and sincere. That’s because the friend who introduced us was there also, and we bonded over our aptitude for languages of other cultures. I got a lot of juicy material and spent at least three hours editing the footage down to my set limit of 15 minutes maximum. I have watched the video over and over again. I am proud of it, and I believe that it portrays this individual accurately.

I am on my second glass of white wine. I nullified the bottle. The gym hasn’t seen my presence for ages and I have no inclination. Half of my thoughts and and my emotional self are looking forward to the work week ahead. The other half is not. I haven’t seen my therapist in over a week and I feel the absence of his physical presence. Work gives me purpose. School gives me structure and fills my passion and occasionally warrants some much-needed creativity, pulling out the cobwebs in my brain. Work is very busy, and at times overwhelming, yet I am constantly making connections over the phone with other people, even if it is to “sell” our product from a customer care perspective. We provide financial advice. It’s not what I want to be doing for the rest of my career. I do need to change careers, and that move is going to be a mountain to cross. In fact, Italians often say about something that was very challenging, “E’ stato la mia croce”, which translates roughly to: “This is the cross that I had to bare.”

Last week was very challenging. I heard from my divorce lawyer. She heard from my ex husband’s lawyer. Something from the divorce still needs to be settled. I thought we had crossed that bridge three years ago! I thought I was stronger, and I am, but two minutes on the phone with his attorney had me bawling in the confines of a private office during work hours for over an hour. I couldn’t concentrate on work. I called my attorney in tears, and asked her to handle the situation from here. Now I have to wait two months to hear the outcome of the situation. Luckily that afternoon my mum was available and after we talked I felt a little bit better. She is a good mom.

This event brought up a lot of traumatic memories for me from the relationship which I have since left behind in my past. It still continues to affect me today, below the surface. There are still emotional scars which have been left behind and are healing. I will always have those scars, but the key is to learn from them and be able to let go to make room for the present and the future.

I am not able to concentrate on my writing. I keep taking breaks between paragraphs which have lasted five to twenty minutes long. I am simultaneously texting and eating and drinking wine and contemplating if I feel ready to take on the burden of getting my dried laundry out of the machine.

I am lucky to have my attorney. I can barely afford her now, but she is much more affordable than say, my ex’s attorney, who is top-notch and works for a large corporation and charges the most for the best service. Mine is on my side, and I trust her completely. I’m glad I found her. I’m glad I did not get pregnant when we tried, because then I would have to be dealing with constant custody evaluations, like a friend of mine, and I would be in tens of thousands of dollars of debt. I don’t know how I would handle that one. My friend is exasperated. She makes a decent income; she is a psychiatrist and has three jobs, working for a clinic, the jails, and in her private practise, along with trying to advance her career further. She said, they (meaning her lawyers) just keep charging her credit card, and it is unending.

Luckily and unluckily, since I filed for bankruptcy due to medical bills last year, my maximum credit card allowance is only a few thousand, down from ten thousand. That’s a step down, but now my goal is to build my credit worthiness. That’s a worthy cause, no? And I have eight to ten more years before I will adopt or have children. By then I want to be in a career that enables me to pay for my child’s education, travel, and a nice home. I don’t mind being a single parent, if it comes down to that. I know I can do it, and it will be the best thing I have ever done. Everything I am doing in my life right now is preparing me for parenthood. Thank God I am completely abstinent, as I have been for the last few years. Being on birth control messes with my natural cycle, makes it artificial, changes my body chemistry, and I don’t like being on it if I don’t have to. Four years of celibacy so far, which I am extremely proud of and grateful for. I no longer put myself in dangerous, precarious situations, which I used to do. Of all the sexual abuse, rape, prostitution, human trafficking that I experienced for six years, I am lucky to not have any sexually transmitted disease. It never occurred to me at the time. And that lifestyle was certainly not my choice, although, without conscious awareness, I allowed it to happen, until I finally left, and at the same time, leaving that life behind me. When I become a psychologist, I want to work with sexual abuse victims in order to help them the way my psychotherapist has helped me. I want to be their ally, their strength, their rock, while at the same time finding some time for myself in the balance.

Another break. Wine and texting with my aunt who is slightly mentally retarded and lives with my grandfather still. She is over 50 and will never have the capacity to pay for her living expenses. Last year she didn’t make enough to have to pay taxes. My grandfather is living off of his pension and when he dies, my rich aunt and uncle are not willing to put in for my disabled aunt. That means it’s up to the eldest sibling, my mom, to pay for her care and for the property taxes on the house, which is under a trust. I know more about this because of the career that I am in. Apparently a trust is a good idea if you’re over $150,000 in net worth. I won’t have to worry about that for many years. I’m thinking of chipping in to pay for my disabled aunt to live comfortably, once I have finished school and am making more of an income. I will also be overloaded with student loans, which is not uncommon for people these days.

God, I hope I can make it into grad school in the next two years. It is a lofty goal, but one which I am worthy of and capable of. “Sono capace”; I am capable.

I worry about what I’m going to wear often. Sometimes that’s a deterrent from getting up on the weekends. I would rather stay in my pajamas, which is what I did for most of today. I don’t own a lot of clothes, a lot don’t fit any more because I’ve gained some healthy weight, and most clothes I own are for business casual, but not for tromping “traipsing” (German) around on the weekends. I don’t feel comfortable in my clothes, or in my skin, which is what it comes down to,  which makes me think I need to go clothes shopping. But there are only so many clothing items that a person can find at Ross, a discount clothing store.

Okay. That was a record break between paragraphs. I stopped typing for an hour. I got my laundry out of the dryer, folded it, put it away, had a long talk with my roommate, microwaved my now-disgusting old tea which I subsequently tossed down the drain, and spent time thinking and sobering up. I’m not concentrating well tonight. I spent all of my concentration energy on the video compilation that I made earlier in the day. Which, by the way, turned out awesome!

With this, I will end my entry. I’m having a hard time saying goodbye, but it has been hours since I started this, and the gusto I had first gathered is rather stale now. It’s bed time. I should probably spend ten minutes in stretching poses before I go to bed. Even if I don’t work out, I should at least stretch. And I should take away the word “should” from my vocabulary and “stop shoulding on myself” (as we say in cognitive therapy). I have to be okay with sitting in my own mind, and being alone with myself. We come into this world alone and we exit (die) of this world alone. I have heard it said often enough. I like silence, the tapping of the computer keys as I type, the faint murmur of noises coming from beyond these four walls. I am coming to a certain understanding with myself: that life doesn’t have to be “on the edge” and horrible or exasperating or scary, or even difficult. It can be challenging, and from those challenges I can learn and adapt. I have gained the ability to do that once again. During these years, for the first time since I was 19 years old, I can know what freedom tastes like and I can sit there and enjoy it. I am free of my past and I choose to leave it behind me. I choose to look forward and to the now. Darkness comes and goes but the light within me always prevails. I sound ominously optimistic! Tomorrow is Monday again, and I’ll just have to see what the week has in store for me.