Who Am I Now?

I’ve spent 30 years figuring out who I am. The last three years I committed my life to becoming a part of a partnership that involved the wants and needs of someone else. I still like that idea, but the person I had promised I would be is not the person I still want to be. I want to be myself and fit into someone else’s life without having to smash myself into a box.

But, I don’t really know who I am. At the core, I’m still the same: I’m still a cheerleader. I’m still a daughter. I’m still a friend. I’m still Jewish. I’m still a woman. I’m still a teacher. I’m still a 311 fan.

There are questions that arise though. What kind of a Jew am I? Whose friend am I? What type of woman? Why don’t I fit in my cheerleading uniform?

And even more loudly, What am I going to do here? Where am I going? Who do I want to be with? Who do I want to be?

Is it fair to say that there is a part of me that wants to relax a little on the religious Jewish behavior, and focus a little more on community instead? I can light Shabbat candles, but go back to eating cheeseburgers. I don’t have to set foot in an Orthodox synagogue if I don’t want to. I don’t have to do anything, I guess, that I don’t want to. I know that, but what don’t I want to do? Is abandoning everything I knew in Israel even possible? I haven’t eaten a cheeseburger! I haven’t eaten calamari! I can’t bring myself to it, even though I joke about it.

I don’t want to feel tied down. That doesn’t mean I don’t want to be in a relationship again, one day, or be married again, one day. Marriage shouldn’t tie you down or back you into a corner. But, that’s my experience of it.

I don’t want to become a bitter, cynical, jaded woman. I want to have hope and faith and still believe in true love. I want to believe that it’s out there for me. I want to be seen as funny, but graceful. I care much more now, than ever before, about having a little grace. I don’t need to get the last snarky word in, even if it’s screaming in my head to get out. I want to be respected. I want people to look at me and think, “I want to be like her.” I don’t feel like I’m doing that very well right now.

Who am I? Who am I? Who am I?

I’ve never been this conflicted before, never before felt so unable to answer the question.

This is not where the story ends. This is not where the story begins. I am so much more than just what is happening now and I want it all to come out.

You Want to Know What Doesn’t Hurt Me

iTunes playlist: In a Sentimental Mood by John Coltrane and Duke Ellington.

I’m quietly succumbing to this idea: we simply can’t control everything though we want to.

I was talking with a friend last night and he warned me about the ups and downs of a break-up and how it will come in waves. I’ve experienced them already. The difference for me, now, is that when moments of sadness overcome me: I let them. I let them wash over me. I cry a little. I give myself five minutes. I tell myself this is what I’ve chosen, this is the way life is, I have to accept it. There are some things which happen that we can’t control and not everything is a reflection of who we are. Somehow taking responsibility for what I did and accepting that I will have to accept the way others feel about me or what I’ve done because those are their feelings and I can’t control them makes me feel better. It releases a lot of anxiety and pressure I put on myself to control everything.

The iTunes playlist switches to “Not as We” by Alanis Morisette.

When I was 13 and her Jagged Little Pill album came out, I felt like every single song applied to me. I’m not really sure who I was thinking about when I belted “You Oughta Know” into my hairbrush, but I remember passion coming from my tiny teenage lungs as I cracked out the notes.

It’s a little different now. It’s pretty clear to me how I relate to this song and I doubt I’ll ever forget why:

“Day One, start over again. Step One, I’m barely making sense.”

“Now I’m faking it, til I’m pseudo making it. From scratch begin again, but this time I decide and not as we.”

I don’t feel like I’m always just calling in my life, but there are moments, there are definitely moments when I find myself looking around, not wondering: “What have I done?” but, more “How did I get here?” Sometimes the pit in my stomach feels very heavy and I feel lonely. Sometimes I feel so light and free and unburdened that I have to find something concrete to hold onto. Sometimes I feel terrified that I’ll never make anything out of my life, that I’ll never find the thing, or the person, that really lights me up.

The iTunes playlist switches to “If You Were Here” a cover by the Cary Brothers.

“If you were here, I could deceive you. If you were here, you would believe. Would you suspect my emotion wandering? I do not want a part of this anymore.”

When I was still married, I would listen to this song and it would hurt, because I felt like I was being deceitful, and instead of acknowledging the truth earlier, I tried to deceive myself by convincing myself that I was in love, that I could be in love, when I wasn’t and couldn’t. I miss that feeling of being in love. I see my happily married friends and I think, “That is what I wanted! That is what I want!” I hope my guideposts will be clearer next time. I don’t want to identify with this song anymore.

“The rain water drips through the cracks in the ceiling. I now have to spend my time on repair. And just like the rain, I’ll be always falling. Only to rise and fall again.”

So I’m spending a little time on repairing myself, but I’m just not sure how broken I am. Shouldn’t I be more broken? Am I broken enough? And because I don’t feel broken all the time, not even most of the time, I worry that I’m covering up the pain. I hope that writing about it is the catharsis that is healing me and being open and up front with everyone is the reason I’m not feeling broken.

You want to know what doesn’t hurt me? I do too. I’m tired of wasting so much time being sad and depressed, but I’m afraid of burying it so deep that one day it will well up and overwhelm me. I just get up every day, try to figure it out and then pursue whatever doesn’t hurt me. Sometimes, though, I subject myself to it a little bit, just to remember that I have something that merits feeling.

Thanks, and Do I Have To?

I’m struggling with something.

I’ve been given something that I need, but it’s not exactly what I want.

I’m struggling with being grateful.

I have what I need and so many others don’t.

But, what I have isn’t shaped the right way. It doesn’t fit me just right. It takes a little sacrifice on my part to accept it.

I think it takes too much. I feel unwilling to try to find out.

I feel like I’ve sacrificed enough and I want what I want, how I want it.

I hear how selfish that sounds. I hear how ungrateful that sounds. I hear myself thinking, “I don’t want to feel this way.”

And I acknowledge that I do not have the power to choose to feel differently, no matter how much I read about giving ourselves the power to choose to be happy. My heart is just too big and over powers my brain.

I want to have a happy heart. I deserve a happy heart. I’m the only one stopping myself from having one.

The world does not control my happiness, but my switch to happy heart is very heavy and I have trouble managing it alone.

I will challenge myself. Grateful or not, I’m accepting what I have been given, or rather what I have earned, but don’t really want. I will put 100% into it, because only then will I be able to understand if it was a gift or not. Only then, can I discover if it is what I need.

I recognize that I fear committing to something that doesn’t guarantee happiness. I worry how this will affect me in the future. I trust that I will relearn how to commit wholeheartedly again.

I will begin by starting here: this moment. I am grateful for my family and friends, but then again, I always have been. They are a guiding force, a beacon in the darkness. I was utterly lost without them near. I do not want to be that alone again.

I simply could not bear it.

This moment, I am grateful for my basic needs being met: I am fed, I am clothed, I am housed. So many cannot say the same.

I am grateful that I know where my next paycheck is coming from.

I am grateful that every once in awhile I can, once again, indulge in a bit of excess.

I am grateful for the freedom to choose my future.

I am grateful for the opportunity to change.

I am grateful for the chance to be happy again.