Blindness or Self-Deceipt?

Yes, I was generally confused in late 1990’s and early 2000s’ and after Natalie’s misdiagnosis and near death, to my confusions the fear of losing my child, or children seeped into my already frail heart…

I had spent all nights and days by Natalie’s bed, in the Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia and for the first time in years I wasn’t earning enough to support most of the household. For years I hadn’t used my ATM card to withdraw money from our joint account, but that night I had to as we were out of food. I took out $50.00 and shopped without thinking of the terrible crime I had committed. I arrived home and gave Kevin the ATM receipt, as he, as a holder of an MBA in finance was the one in charge of our finances.

“You took money out of our account?” He screamed at me?”

I explained it was for food, and justified I couldn’t work and…

“I will close the account!” He declared, and so he did…

Since that time, I stopped using ATM cards, as they were reminding me of that awful, unexpected incident. It was only in 2010 when forced by our computerized world, I had no choice but to start using them again.

It was then that I realized we really needed regular therapy, but what I was not, or refused to see, was that it takes two to “tangle,” as they say. What I didn’t want to see was that Kevin had no desire to get things better.

One of our therapists tried to explain to me by using a story, which now I understand, but then,  even I understood it with my mind, I didn’t with my heart, and if the heart didn’t “get it”, no change occurred.

The therapist’s story said that he, the therapist went to a French-speaking country in Europe and asked in English to purchase a Swiss knife. The merchant asked him if he spoke French, as he didn’t understand English. The therapist repeated the request for a Swiss knife in English but using a French accent… and had to leave without a knife!

Kevin and I saw therapists together and separately and on and off he consented to medications. Those were the good times, when he was in a predictable mood, but while the medications helped, we knew it was therapy that would really help.  He wasn’t opposing me, and again, what I refused to see, was that it was about “me” not “him” even when he did go to seek help. He was doing it because of me and then hating me for it because… he didn’t really need help, he was doing it for me!

At some point, we saw a family therapist who also saw us separately.  She was a middle-aged woman and always ate during my sessions with her, giving me the impression that her focus was on her lunch, not on our conversation. That feeling was accented by the fact that she was always asking me only one question:

“…and what was it that attracted you to him when you first met him?”

I was explaining:

“He was handsome, well spoken…”

Next session, as she was taking her first bite from lunch, here came the same question again…

I was now justifying:

“…and he had never been married before and we both were in our early thirties, wanted a family.”

She kept asking the same un-nerving question over and over again and I ran out of reasons, the many reasons why I liked him, I loved him and I married him. I was determined to demonstrate to my therapist that the person I first met and fell in love with, and married was a different person from who he had become. I wanted to show her, the world, to myself above everything, that there were no signs that he would “change.”

Then, one day, as I was driving same boring road I did a hundred times, I thought to myself, “she will ask me again the damn, stupid question… what else to tell her, I am running out of reasons!”

I kept driving… and a thought popped in my had:

“What about all the signs I erased:

When I first visited his home and he told me he only cleaned every six months, if needed, I should have known to not expect help with our house hold  cleaning.

When I gave him a watch for his birthday, my savings of three months, and he told me he never wear watches, I should have known he wasn’t going to protect my “sensitivity.”

When I first came on a date upset from work and told him an emotionally charged story and he asked me where do we go for dinner, I should have known I didn’t have an empathetic listener, a friend.

And later, after we married, when the first credit card company called and asked for him, I didn’t ask why, perhaps I was afraid to ask…

When I first came home from a doctor’s visit and scared i asked him what he thought, and he said:”Go ask the doctor, why are you asking me?” and left the room while I was in tears. Yes, I should have known I was speaking Enghish with a French accent!

Oh, and our intimate relationship, which started so fiery, and then the kisses on the forehead, which stopped altogether after Natalie’s birth, and my desperate efforts to revive the romance. How stupid I felt that Christmas, when I gave him a whole box of sexy and sexually inciting oils, tapes, lingerie. My girlfriends assured me any man would go crazy for such a present, but he said “thank you,” and without opening the box placed it in the back of his closed, never to be seen again.

Yes, these were probably the signs the therapist wanted me to bring up to my conscious mind, but wouldn’t it have been a shorter journey to ask me what was it that I disliked?

Perhaps not, then she would have given me the answers, and the challenge of therapy is to guide the patient to give her or his own answers, so they would remember them and really agree with them. But this wisdom I aquired much later in life… 

As they say, we were given two ears and one mouth for a reason, and now I know what I didn’t then, that it is easier to talk and very difficult to listen, ask few questions and give no advice…

But then, driving to therapy, as I realized the “signs” were always there and I either chose to ignore them or just were not smart enough to see them at all

I called the therapist and canceled my appointment. I was angry, I felt it was taking too long, I needed someone to tell me what to do, but deep inside I knew the answer was within me and I feared it. No one was going to tell me what to do and I had to make decisions and take risks alone, without the coushion of blaming another if my future turned out wrong!

I remembered our little dog, Boo, who when born was smaller than a can of Coca Cola. I had to buy him a very small water dish, as the regular dish was so big, he almost drowned in it. Boo drank from the small bowl for a few months, as he grew. The time came when I thought he was ready for the big bowl, and I replaced the small with the larger. He approached it, sniffed and went away in fear. He was thirsty and came back again, he smelled the larger bowl of water still did not drink. I put water on my finger and he leaked it, then slowly I moved the finger in the large bowel and Boo drank at last, convinced he was just leaking my finger, but he was drinking at last, without knowing of his accomplishment. Boo had my finger to guide him to change, but no one was going to dip themselves in trouble for me…just show me the big bowl from a distance.

 I stopped therapy…for a while

I wasn’t ready for the large bowl yet!

Why I Didn’t Post in Two Weeks -Intermission II

Since this blog as well as mean so much to my life right now (being the only positive activities I can engage in), I thought I owed a short explanation to the almost 1,300 who viewed the blog, and almost 270 who follow the poetry blog.

After my last post on God, Spirituality and Confusion, as if God had heard me and wanted to confirm my doubts, I received a call from my daughter, Eva, who studies medicine at Harvard, that she needed emergency surgery. Needless to say, as if I needed more proof to be confused,… I was taken by my good neighbors to the first available AmTrack and traveled all night.

I arrived in Boston just in time for her surgery Friday morning and beside the nerve racking pressure and the small inconveniences (that is by comparison, as each of the small inconveniences may seem huge to others), I felt comfortable leaving Eva alone on Tuesday night, when, again, I traveled overnight back to Harrisburg.

I arrived home and have since been so tired, sick and tired that it is hard to recover and write, as each of the entries require the reading of many journals, research and remembering the past which I experienced,, or tried to forget.

My blood pressure had been so high, and I was unable to control it with medications and baby aspirin (a MUST) that I was just about to go to ER when we got a tornado warning and my house looked like a sieve, the rain was pouring in the kitchen, bathroom and other places in the house…I thought, no point to drive to ER in the mist of a tornado warning, afterall perhaps I was finally shown a “sign,” and what would have been the point?

I stayed put and waited for fate to manifest… ? 

Other than being soaked, exhausted and in the mist of a house which clearly needs repairs, and with my blood pressure still up, nothing happened. Watching the news, I became worried for those less fortunate than me (yes, there are such people, unfortunately) who didn’t make it, who got stuck in their cars, who died during tornados… and I cried for them.

This morning, just like in real life, the Sun is out, all is peaceful and the storms of last night are gone!

My hope is that some day, hopefully soon, our lives, my girls and mine, and many other lives in japordy at the present, will mimic nature and we will be again peaceful, sometime… soon.

Later today I will resume posting in chronological order.. This was an “intermission,” as life continues at a speed my blog doesn’t seem to be able to catch up with… for now.

have a blessed Easter and Holiday, those who celebrate and a good life in general, all of you.




PS. No, I don’t anymore, in case someone wondered, and yes, there is a story behind that decision too, and it is meaningful… to me. Isn’t this what counts?

Religion, Spirituality and Personal Confusion

By then, in early 2000’s,  when I looked at all the years I had spent in my new country and all the events  and I realized that what I thought in 1981 was the “most dramatic” part of my life, I had to admit I was wrong. The  memory of the intern from the publishing house who rejected the first attempt to a memoir on grounds that “so many bad things cannot happen to one person,” seemed humorous, or plain ridiculous. In many ways, I was glad the memoir wasn’t published because it was only one life, when in reality I had the opportunity to experience two lives, equaly filled with events which for many were from the world of fantesy.

This is a rather long justification as to why my relationship with God, the Higher Power, the something we all seek to give meaning to our life, has been rocky at times.

Many questionnairs asked along the years my religion and for a while I wrote: Presbyterian, but lately, I decided to state the truth: Confused!

Unlike most of my friends who grew up in either a Catholic, Orthodox or Protestant Church, I grew up in an atheistic home where the disbelief in God was so powerful, my mother came out of a coma to re-state her believe that there was no God. Her reasoning was very simple, if there were one how come there was so much suffering in the world, how come she, my mother had the life she did?

At the time, I didn’t know, neither did I care about the differences between the various churches, how was the Catholic Church different from the Protestant Churches for instance. Fate had it that kevin’s family was Presbyterian, therefore protestant, and it was when we married that I learned the basic differences between Catholicism and the Protestants. I certainly liked the concept that we have a direct connection to God, that we didn’t need a Priest to confess our sins and that we were saved by Faith alone, not by our deeds.  This is a very incomplete, basic explanation why I became Presbyterian and for many years very active in the church. I was an Elder, and when the church I belonged to searched for a new Minister, I was the Secretary of the team in charge of looking for our new Minister. Hours of work, meetings every week for almost a year and we finally presented to our Congregation what we believed was the right person to lead us.  He was a man of God, who knew the Scriptures, who was married and had two daughters, both with special needs.  After about a year, slowly, I started to doubt my judgement that he was the right person to lead our church and my suspicions became reality when it became public knowledge that he was divorcing his wife to marry another Presbyerian Minister, a woman who in turn was deserting her children and husband to marry him, our leader, the one we trusted to lead us in worship. To make the situation more dramatic, the wife he was divorcing had breast cancer, which reminded me of my own mother’s sufferings.

How did I feel about this? Betrayed, with poor judgement, since I was part of the team who recommended him to become our Minister. I felt that the church was the business of God, but it could have been any business. I felt that there were professions which required a vocation, such as being a doctor or a minister or a psychologist. Professions in which one was entrusted to guide others’s lives and how could I trust someone who betrayed his own family to “guide my moral behavior?”

I stopped going to church, because in my mind the church was the business of God, not the soul of God and it was the soul that I was seeking, and my steps were guided towards spirituality. I didn’t need to go to a church Sunday mornings and sing hymns and put a check on a plate to have a relationship with God. Instead, I could serve food at a homeless shelter, organize support groups for the needy and generally live a morally “clean” life.

I could walk the trails of Green Valley and watch the foaming cascades and listen to the songs of the birds and be thankful for the beauty of nature and still feel God in my life.

In my desperate searches for the right path to the Source, Truth, God, I signed up for a workshop entitled “The Flower of Life.”  Several of my friends particpated , all seekers of a spiritual path.

There were about ten participants and the core of the workshop, which was led by a trained facilitator, was to teach us how to master the “Merkaba Meditation.” Mer originates in 18th century Egypt and refers to light, more precisely two counter rotating fields, which are activated when the person was performing certain breathing patterns. Ka meant the spirit of the person  and Ba was the interpretation of reality … or something to that effect

While I do not recall the specifics and the steps of learning the ” Merkaba meditation, I do remember that there were 17-breath types which along with certainmudras (hand positions) were to bring happiness and peace of mind to those who learned how to perform these rituals correctly.

But that was not all, the student needed to understand the correct geometric structures around our own bodies… and to make a long story shorter, as the workshop progressed I was getting more and more alarmed.  In the second day, one of our friends, had a dream and bailed out leaving a famous tai chi teacher from New York, and myself to continue on the road to self-discovery. The tai Chi teacher, a thin, pale woman wearing a white turban which accentuated her paleness became alarmed, as I did, when the workshop required an experiential exercise.

In this exercise, the participants took turns lying down while the other participants were touching her body chanting the sound of the universe, “Om,” which is an emptying sound. After a while, the chanting chang

changed to Aleluia, which was a sound of “receiving a new spirit,” or at least this was my understanding of what was happening.

My turn came, and as I laid on my back, every fiber in my body felt stiff and opposing the “empting process”

My thoughts were racing, trying to figure out if my “soul” was about to be stolen when suddenly, my friend’s dog jumped on my chest and started to bark and growl! Yes! Always trust the instincts of animals and children. They have the innocence and senses we, living lives of sophistication, had lost!

The “ritual” was over and we sat all in a circle and the Facilitator asked each of us what did we experience during the exercise when we were the subjects. My turn was coming and as the facilitator invited me to speak, a voice came from within me, but it wasn’t mine, and I heard it say:” I felt that Jesus Christ will always protect me, no matter what!”  The voice stopped, I felt light and peaceful. The workshop ended and the Tai Chi teacher and I, now feeling close because of our joint experiences, told the friend who bailed out because of the dream that we weren’t comfortable, would he know someone, a healer perhaps, someone to “purify” our souls, to assure us that we were okay.

He took us to a friend of his, a young Asian man who, we were assured had a lot of wisdom and might be able to help us.

We sat down and told him the story: This happened, and that happened, and this ritual and that ritual, and the 17 patterns of breathing and the geometrical shapes… I was speaking, she was adding more to my story, we were frantically trying to convey the story and the more we spoke the more we knew the young man didn’t get it!

After about half an hour of continuous explanations, the tai we told him the bottom line was that we were concerned about our souls. Frankly, I knew I had mine because of the dog who jumped on me during the ritual and with her bark scared away any possible soul thieves.

“What  do you think? Can you help us?” the tai chi teacher asked.

The young man looked concerned. He was clearly in deep thought. He looked at us and we looked at him for something which seemed an eternity and he spoke at last:

“Always take the streight path! Winding path, no good!

That being said, he stood up and gently showed us to the door…

… and that is how I am still confused…

There are times when I love God, what I imagine as God, and it is not an old man with a grey beard, and there are times when I am angry because I do not understand why so many hardships had been given to us, and I ask the Power to please consider stopping giving us so many trials, as we have learned the lessons, thank you!

However, whichever feelings I have, it’s a good thing because it means  MY God and I have a relationship, and no relationship is perfect, but at least ours is real!

How It Feels When Your Throat Is Slit, Literally!

In the twelve years of my work as a massage therapist one of the most common questions was: “How expensive is it to get a massage?”

At the beginning of my career I shied away from a direct answer, being one of those who believed her work wasn’t really valuable and I wasn’t really deserving to live comfortably, no matter the quality of my work or how hard I worked or how many thousands I spent to train.

But, as years went by, I learned to answer the question with a question:

“Would you be giving or receiving the massage? Because it’s a huge difference. When you pay for it you think $60.00 is a lot, but when you give the massage and apply yourself physically and emotionally to the healing of your client, $60.00 barely covers the effort.”

Along the same lines, when someone has surgery,  the perspective is very different depending on whether the person is the subject of the surgery or a spectator, someone who has heard it was really a piece of cake!

The phone call from my doctor’s office was to inform me that I needed to see a surgeon because the calcium in my blood was too high. That meant the small glands on top of my thyroid gland were not doing their job and the calcium, instead of going to my bones was going into my blood stream causing not only premature osteoporosis, a disease of the bones most women experience after menopause, but because of the high calcium in the blood I was in danger of heart problems and other terrifying health conditions.

I was back at the University of Pennsylvania, but a different department.  Tests confirmed one of the miniscule four parathyroid glands whose job was to control the calcium wasn’t doing its job!  I immediately thought I was surely not thinking positive enough for this to happen to me, it was all my fault, as I probably didn’t “believe” on a very deep level” I was healthy, deserving of happiness and a comfortable life!”  Then I filled in the family history and little by little recalled thyroid and parathyroids problems ran in my father’s family, so perhaps genetics played some role? May be?

Regardless of who or what was at fault I needed surgery.

“It’s routine, it’s easy! I will just make an incision right here in your throat and take out the gland which gives you the problems, and let’s hope you will recover without any complications.”

It sounded so easy and by now I had confidence in surgeons, anesthesia and my own capacity to recover from hardships.  However, the process of healing was going to take weeks and I needed to take time off from work. Circumstances beyond my control were going to interfere with my New Year’s goal of increasing my annual income to a point of comfort.

The night before the surgery I took a long, lonely walk through one of my favorite parks.  Spring smelled the same everywhere, of hope and desires, of coming to life again after the cold and the darkness of winter.

I sat down on a bench and breathed in the smell of burned wood and fresh earth which reminded me of my youth, of the Carpathian Mountains, of my dear friends back in Romania. I lifted my eyes to the skies and the stars were so many, the Full Moon so bright, they seem to press on my eyes, on my chest and especially on my throat that needed healing.  I am born under the sign of the Moon, an emotional “moody” woman, and in those moments of solitude, the Moon, my Moon, was a Princess, and I was sure when men walked on it and took samples, She probably didn’t like it, as in my mind, She was alive and feeling!  Just like the Moon which ruled my mind, I knew I was going to hate having my throat slid, a part of me taken away, even if it was slowly killing me!

I walked home slowly and couldn’t sleep all night. The following day I checked in the hospital and the surgery went as schedule, without complications.

When I woke up my head felt as if barely holding on to my body. There was a drain coming out of it, and bandages everywhere. I knew there was a small incision, yet, I felt that if I moved my head would walk away from my body and that in fact I could lose my head at any time!

Friends came to visit and assured me I looked “wonderful,” given the fact that I just had major surgery!  They brought me scarfs of various colors and patterns and jewelry to go around my neck and mask the scars once the bandages were off…

My daughters, now teenagers, understood the seriousness of the situation and helped around the house. They actually did all the work. Kevin was in Heaven.  He wasn’t calling them “my daughters,” as he usually did. Suddenly they were “ours” Sometimes, if they cooked dinner, they were “his daughters,” doing womanly work, what women were supposed to do: cook, clean, obey the rules, not question or rebel against what they were told.

The bandages came off, the pain and the feeling of decapitation stayed with me for longer than I would have ever expected. I definitely couldn’t afford loosing my head! I kept looking at the incision which was not that small. It looked red and deep and long and ugly.  The scarfs  came in hand, but even their light touch on my skin felt uncomfortable, and again I had to think of how different it felt when you were the one experiencing a hardship and pain, versus talking about it or learning about how it should feel like.

There is a Romanian proverb, which to the best of my ability translates, “Our skin is closer to us than our shirts.”  I cannot find a better way to express the truth that a personal experience is more powerful than any description or knowledge about it and only those who went through exactly the same problems have the right to say: “I know how you feel about it.”

New Year’s Resolutions

The theory, which I buy, behind making New Year’s resolutions, or setting goals, is that how are you going to get there if you don’t know where  you are you going?  In other words, one must have goals! What did I want, wander through the woods on possible dead-end paths, or know the path to the top, or wherever I wanted to get, perhaps a lake or a meadow, or simply under a tree.

Statistics are not showing that new year’s resolutions are very successful, and as I recall the number one resolution, loosing weight is dropped by 50% of the people by the end of February.   Please don’t quote me on this statistic, the point I am trying to make is simply that a majority of people don’t keep their New Year Resolutions, and I am one of them. Yes, her’s justifying, belonging, so I won’t feel bad about myself!

In 2002 I still believed in New Year’s Resolution and on January 1 of every year I’d sit my two daughters at the kitchen table with plenty of colorful paper, creyons and other artsy materials to make it “fun” working on their goals for the following year.  Kevin didn’t believe in goals, so he never participated in this project. I believed it was teaching the children good habits and because what one did spoke louder than what they said, just as when I poured down the drain a gallon of vodka and never drank again, to give my children an example that  since addictions ran in both our families, life was possible without substances, on January 1 of every year I sat down with them and wrote down and colored my own Resolutions.

Here’s what I wrote on January 1, 2002, followed by what really happened:

1. Give up coffee!

Reality: I still drink coffee, and because research showed it was not that bad for us, I don’t even feel guilty. I do limit coffee to a cup in the morning.

2.Exercise at least half-an hour a day!

Reality: I exercised even more than half-an hour a day for years, but then pain prohibited me from continuing. It is however an excellent goal which I will put again on my next year’s list!

3. Be clear about my needs…

Now, the problem with this goal was that I was unclear about being clear… so I can’t even remember what was exactly that I meant.  I had so many needs, which was I talking about?

4. Organize support groups!

Reality: A few years later, my daughters declared I was addicted to support groups. Not only did I organize them but I participated in so many groups that i could say wholeheartedly that yes, this is one resolution I kept and still do.

5. Increase my income to at least $4,500 a month!

Oh… by year-end!

Reality: Life happened and in future posts I will “explain” why this goal was not met.

6. Continue to love my children and pets…

Reality: Why was this even a goal? As if I was ever planning to stop loving them, as if this was a choice!

I could affirm now, after all these years that this goal, which was not a goal is being met every day and it will continue to be until the day I die.

7. Stop accepting crumbs for fear I won’t get the whole cake!

Reality: Just as in the case of “be clear about my needs,” 

I don’t remember what these lovely metaphors meant…

The crumbs stood for???? and what was the cake???

I failed to keep this goal for reason of ambiguity!

8. Continue to keep a journal but write every day, not just once in a while!

Reality:  As I write these stories I am reading my journals and if I didn’t keep journals I would not remember what happened so many years ago. While I failed to write daily, I wrote about all the major events of our lives. I didn’t know at the time that committing a thought on paper takes it from the frontal lobe of your brain and it places it in the back, in a different part, in your memory.  This is a good thing because now those thoughts are not obsessive anymore.  The process is more complicated than this simple explanation I gave, but the bottom line is, it is good to journal, so this remained an ongoing “resolution” throughout my life.

Another resolution of 2002 was to determine where my days went, as I had the feeling of wasting time, and yet I was constantly doing something, but when asked: “What did you do today?” I couldn’t express anything and having been raised in a world where if I didn’t do I didn’t exist, I had a constant feeling of guilt.

For this reason, the last goal of 2002 was to write down for a while all I did in the course of one day.

Here’s a typical day from 2002:

I woke up at 6:00 A.M. Took the dogs out, fed them and made coffee.

6:30 A.M. I woke up the girls gently since all books told me it could  result in long-lasting trauma if I did it abruptly. I could vouch for it, since back in Romania, my mother was blasting the Romanian National hymn which played on the radio every morning, and to this day I hate hymns!

6:45 A.M Feed the girls.

7:15 A.M Drive them to school. Those yellow buses… I didn’t trust them! We didn’t have yellow buses in Romania and I was not going to let my kids ride on some yellow bus. No matter how busy I was, I always drove my kids to school and they never took a yellow bus… No, I lied. Once they went to a sports event on a yellow bus and the yellow bus they were on caught fire, just to demonstrate I was right to be afraid of yellow buses!

8:00 A.M. Go to the office and work until 3:00 PM

3:15 PM Pick up the girls, take them home and speak with them in the car about their day at school. Again, I was following the instruction of a wise author whose name I don’t remember, or was it an experienced mom, that the best time to speak to your children is while you drive and speak with them casually and have no eye contact, which might scare them. Of course I wasn’t supposed to have any negative reactions to whatever they were telling me happened in school that day. That, I must admit was hard, as in my heart I disagreed with everything!

3:30 PM Arrive home. Feed the children and allow them 30 minutes of TV while I took the dogs out and fed them.

4:00 PM  Wash all dishes and start begging the girls to turn off TV and start doing their homework, as I always wanted to see them do their homework before I left again for work, around 5:00 PM.

Assuming I was successful, which I was most times, around 5:00 PM I’d leave for work again.

Kevin, when he worked outside the house would come home around 6:00 PM but most times he was on the third floor, in the office, working on those “deals”.

9:30 P.M. Arrive home exhausted, take dogs out and tuck the girls in bed. Read each a book and put on the self-esteem building tapes I had purchased as a result of participating in a parenting support group.

10:00 PM Read a book if I was still able,

11:00 PM Watch the news.

11:30 PM Go to sleep and have insomnia!

Variations were: clean closets, clean house, do laundry, volunteer for various school activities and church..

That’s what I would call routine and my friend, Cassandra, told me “boring is good,” and at the time I didn’t believe her, but looking back at the boring and knowing what I know now, I agree wholeheartedly. Yes, boring was good!

Then, one day, the doctor’s office called. The nurse told me my blood work didn’t look right and my doctor wanted to repeat the blood tests and that I needed to see an endocrinologist…

Boring went out the window again!

The Movies in Our Heads

After several years of psychotherapy, some individual and some as a couple, I began to observe and discover my patterns and the “movies” playing in my own head.

After years of therapy I understood at last that no therapist or other person was going to fix me or tell me what to do and that essentially I had to take the responsibility for my own actions and eventual changes in my life. Most importantly, that the movie I played in my mind was crucial to whatever decision I was going to make, if any. It took me a very long time to admit that NO choice was a choice!

A story which was presented as a joke when I was an adolescent, back in Romania, started to come to my mind more and more often, almost obsessively. Why? Why was I suddenly remembering this story/joke? Was it a lesson I was supposed to learn and apply to my present situation?

The story was that Ion, a man driving on a highway, had a flat tire but had no jack in his trunk to fix the flat.

He searched the horizon and far away, on a hill, he saw a small white house in the middle of nowhere.

I have no choice, Ion thought, I have to walk to that house and ask the owner to loan me a jack so I could fix the flat!

He started to walk but as he walked he started to imagine what was going to happen once he arrived at the house…

…what kind of person would even live in such a lonely place? Ion thought.  I will knock at the door and an old, short, bold man with thick glasses will open the door. A loner! He’d be suspicious of any strangers coming to his house.

“I had a flat tire,” I’d tell him, making sure to point at my car far away on the highway.  “I have no jack and can’t fix it, so I am begging you to loan me a jack. I will pay you for using it and will return it immediately!”

“I don’t trust you! How would I know you have a flat? I can’t see it from here!”

“I’ll leave a big deposit, the cost of the jack!.””

“Money ! I have no need for money, I’d need  my jack.”

“Sorry, my answer is NO!” The old man concluded in Ion’s imaginary conversation.

Ion continued to walk playing in his mind  over and over again, the potential conversation between himself and the owner of the white house on the hill.

By the time he reached the house, Ion was red-faced and out of breath.

He knocked at the door… no answer. He knocked harder and at last the door opened slowly and a short, older man, with thick glasses, exactly as Ion imagined him as he walked to the house, appeared in the doorway:

“How could I help you,” The old man said and smiled.

Ion, stared at him angrily and replied:

“You know what? If you don’t trust me with your jack, so be it! You are a bad, bad person!” Without further discussion, Ion turned around and walked back to the highway to stand by his broken car and wait for potential help.

Yes, the movies we play in our heads…so many times they are so loud, we are so sure of our truth that what happens in reality doesn’t matter.  The only reality is our perception!

What was my favorite movie playing in my head? I knew by now there were several but what was it that I constantly played in my head that prevented me from taking the steps I needed to change my life?

Was it fear of rejection like Ion in my story? Who doesn’t have it? What makes some ignore it, and what makes some, me included, stop them in their tracks because of the fear of failing at something so important it would kill the spirit if I failed.

Patterns… what was it that both my marriages had in common…

I was driving from a therapy session, in which again, the therapist asked me a lot of open-ended questions and I was supposed to give my own answers. Only I could give my answers…

There was no resemblance between Cristian and Kevin, the two men I married.

Cristian was an extrovert, a charmer, a womanizer who was doing well no matter the environment. He was liked by all, especially by women and yes, as painful as that was, I had to admit, he was not faithful in our 14 years of togetherness. How did that make me feel ? Humiliated, not good enough, sad, disoriented…

Kevin, on the other hand, was an introvert, he never cheated on me with other women, he prefered to work alone on “deals” which unfortunately never closed. He never betrayed me with other women but at the same time our physical closeness was zero. I had to beg for a kiss, a touch… a sign of love. I was ignored. And how did that made me feel? Sad, rejected, not good enough!

Bingo! The common thread in my intimate relationships was NOT the  type of men I chose but the message they gave me: NOT GOOD ENOUGH!

Cristian was demonstrating I wasn’t good enough my sleeping with other women. Kevin, by withdrawing himself emotionally and sexually. In both relationships the message was the same but the tools of accomplishing the devastation of my self-esteem were different!

It was the message I was familiar with, my zone of comfort and I remembered so well the beatings my father gave me as a child, the names he called me when I failed to quickly understand a math question.  I was definitely, as my father said over and over again, an “Idiot!”  Of course if my own father thought I was not good enough why would any man think differently?  That was the message I knew, the only one and subconsciously I sought to hear it over and over again coming in different packaging!

Yes, now I knew, the  “star” movie I played over and over  in my head was, I wasn’t good enough and worse, I sought confirmation of it with all my might, because it was so familiar and the fear of something I didn’t know paralyzed me, even if perhaps that was what I needed!

Oh, I was eager to tell my therapist of my crucial discovery, but on second thought… now what?

The road to self-discovery  was going through a thick forest with too many paths going nowhere, too many dead-ends, too many hopes ending in disappointments. Definitely, reaching too many fake peaks to only look up and discover you were still at the bottom of the mountain, the beginning of the journey, and the real peak was somewhere hidden in the clouds. I could not even imagine it!