During a Skype conversation between my best friend and I (he was in India and I was in the US) in September 2012, my best friend of 6 years told me "Katie, no matter what happens, I will love you forever." The second most heartbreaking phone call I've received in my adult life came just two months later when my other best friend called me on a Monday morning in mid November. "Katie, he's gone."
deaths of loved ones in my life (one of the most painful of my childhood
occurred when I was just 11 years old)....but none of them have been
quite as emotionally painful as the sudden, unexpected loss of my young,
kind, and loving best friend. One day while talking about the
difficulties of managing my grief/loss while still going to work and
trying to be a good therapist to my clients, an intern whom has been
doing clinical assessment training with me told me about this book.
Through the Dark Emotions" salved the emotional pain in my psyche like
nothing or no one else could during these last 6 months, for which I'm
incredibly grateful. Miriam Greenspan is not only a therapist whom
offers professional insights, she has been through her own personal
battles with grief and loss as well. Instead of perceiving it as a
hopeless negative, however, Greenspan seizes the pain as an opportunity
for potential growth. She encourages readers to look deeply within
themselves with compassion and curiosity, urging them to surrender to
the pain instead of resist it....because as painful as it feels to do
so, it is more fruitful to embrace it than let it fester into
destructive pain that leads to addiction and overall health dis-ease.
you're looking for a meaningful (possibly life changing)grief and loss
book that strays off the beaten path (ie, one that is not pop
psychology-ish), this is the one for you.
Thursday, May 23, 2013
Sunday, February 10, 2013
Such questions are asked by Alan Lightman in "Einstein's Dreams," an incredibly beautiful poetic novel that curiously and creatively explores the precious value of 'time' in our lives. A good friend of mine suggested this book to me years ago and I finally got around to reading it. I'm glad I did as it is by far the best fiction novel I've ever read. It touched me deeply on a mental, emotional, and spiritual level. It's resonated with me on such a visceral level that I'm having a difficult time articulating it into words.
Coincidentally enough, I started reading the book as 'time' became more present on my mind and in my life....though more from a negative standpoint. I've been feeling annoyed and pissed off at Time these last few months, particularly when it comes to time zones (don't even get me started on how challenging it is to coordinate talking on the phone with family and friends because of this pesky concept) and that feeling of constantly being busy yet not having enough Time to do all that I would like to do....or Time to 'just be.' Or the yearning to hit the 'rewind' button and relive those past episodes with the knowledge (from the future) that I will not see a particular person in a year's time because he will have died by then, thus savoring every moment with him. This excerpt from "Einstein's Dreams" resonates so true: "In a world without future, each parting of friends is a death. In a world without future, each loneliness is final. In a world without future, each laugh is the last laugh. In a world without future, beyond the present lies nothingness, and people cling to the present as if hanging from a cliff."
I cannot recommend this book enough. I'd even go so far as to say it should be required reading. The world might be a little brighter and joyful if people took these concepts to heart and somehow integrated it into living a meaningful and purposeful life....
Here's a teaser of my favorite excerpts:
"In a world where time is a sense, like sight or like taste, a sequence of episodes may be quick or may be slow, dim or intense, salty or sweet, causal or without cause, orderly or random, depending on the prior history of the viewer."
"Suppose that time is not a quantity but a quality, like the luminescence of the night above the trees just when a rising moon has touched the treeline. Time exists, but it cannot be measured."
"In a world where time cannot be measured, there are no clocks, no calendars, no definite appointments. Events are triggered by other events, not by time."
"In a world where time is a quality, events are recorded by the color of the sky, the tone of the boatman's call on the Aare, the feeling or happiness or fear when a person comes into a room. The birth of a baby, the patent of an invention, the meeting of two people are not fixed points in time, held down by hours and minutes. Instead, events glide through the space of imagination, materialized by a look, a desire. Likewise, the time between two events is long or short, depending on the background of contrasting events, the intensity of illumination, the degree of light and shadow, the view of the participants."
"In this world, time is a visible dimension. Just as one may looks off in the distance and see houses, trees, mountain peaks that are landmarks in space, so one may look out in another direction and see births, marriages, deaths that are signposts in time, stretching off dimly in the far future. And just as one may choose whether to stay in one place or run to another, so one may choose his motion along the axis of time. Some people fear traveling far from a comfortable moment. They remain close to one temporal location, barely crawling past a familiar occasion. Others gallop recklessly into the future, without preparation for the rapid sequence of passing events."
What have you done/what are you doing/what would you like to do with this powerful and beautiful Time?
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
I met my future boyfriend on October 23, 2012 and the best most loving friend I've ever had in my 35 years on this planet died November 19, 2012. As you may imagine, this turned my world completely upside down. I thought, "What the hell, universe? How could you open such an exciting door of possibility at the same time you took away the one person who often knew me and loved me better than I knew and loved myself?" This made absolutely no sense and totally fucked with my head, more so my heart. I felt angry. I felt confused. I felt guilty for focusing so much on this new man in my life and more so for being happy in his presence when I *should* have been in mourning 24/7 after Rajiv's death (or so that critical side of me told myself).
Two months later and it still feels weird, though I'm not going through extreme emotions anymore. Now I just find myself thinking of my life experiences and memories in terms of two significant time periods: "Before Dragos" and "After Rajiv." In order to understand the significance of these time periods, I must explain why I see my life via these 'sliding doors.'
Door #1, "Before Dragos" (there was Rajiv)
Anyone who knows me well knows that I have relationship issues (or lack thereof would be more apropos). One would think that most 35 year old women have had a plethora of significant other relationships, including even being married by that age. Not me.There have been men I briefly dated, exciting crushes that fizzled out/went nowhere, and developing feelings for male friends. All of them had two things in common: emotional unavailability and no prospect for long term potential.
Though I met my best friend Rajiv a year or two prior to approaching my 30's, he knew my terrible romantic history all too well. Not only did he know my history well, he had this almost magical power of predicting my romantic future (for good or bad) when I'd give him a snapshot of my experiences with a particular guy I was feeling unsure about at the time during our six and a half years of friendship. He was almost always right, my magic 8 ball best friend. "Outlook not so good." "Most likely." "Don't count on it."
While I usually felt clueless when it came to men romantically, Rajiv grounded me and brought me back to reality. His perspective always helped me in some way, even when he said something I didn't want to hear. In some strange way too, I feel like I got 'practice' to completely be myself with a man....open, honest, and intimately knowing one other (minus the romance/sex aspect). He didn't know it, but he was "preparing" me for an emotional intimacy I would soon also share with Dragos.
Here's where the sliding doors emerge.
Door #2 "After Rajiv" (Taking risks without my magic 8 ball)
It's now been 3 months since Dragos and I started dating, 3 weeks now into the 'in a relationship' stage. Rajiv died before I even had a chance to tell him about Dragos. The first man with whom I'm truly embarking on a new and exciting relationship (and chapter in my life) and the man whom loved me so completely unconditionally for the good, bad, ugly and everything in between....these two will never meet, will never know each other, will never know me through the eyes of the other. I will never get to share with Rajiv all the exciting "firsts" I have experienced or will experience with Dragos....or the various thoughts and feelings I have as the relationship progresses. I'll never have my magic 8 ball to give me the thumbs up or thumbs down on this man, though sometimes in my mind (when I'm spending time with Dragos) I picture Rajiv smiling at me or laughing with me.
Dragos will never know what a gift Rajiv gave me....that of feeling worthy of a caring, intimate relationship and capable of going beyond my comfort zone despite how scary it feels because the rewards far outweigh the perceived costs. Dragos will also never know how little things he says or does at times remind me of Rajiv in a funny or comforting way.
These sliding doors that initially gave me an existential crisis now give me an abundance of opportunities....that of love, meaning, growth, and most especially the confidence to become my own magic 8 ball.
Love you always and forever, Rajiv. "It is decidedly so."
Saturday, January 5, 2013
How does one get stuck in the friend zone exactly? At what point does a flirtatious or magnetic attraction become friendship and nothing more? Has the friend zone phenomenon always existed or is our current society responsible for its more frequent rate of prevalence? How much of it has to do with more ambiguous and liberal interactions between two people? Is the friend zone more likely to occur between two people of the opposite sex or is it a phenomenon just as prevalent in the gay community? And what (if any) is the connection between the friend zone and its evil twin 'friends with benefits?'
Unfortunately, I have no answers to these questions (sorry dear readers...I'm notorious for asking more questions than providing answers or solutions). I'm curious to hear what others think about this topic though.
I wonder if we're greedy when it comes to dating, courtship (does that even exist in the 21st century?!), sex, and monogamy vs. "keeping my options open." Or perhaps we become overwhelmed and paralyzed by too many choices. Then there's also the definition of friendship, one fraught with too many gray areas.....which at times can include too little patience for sexual tension and not enough for platonic endurance.
It can be easier to get stuck in the friend zone if you are interested in Person A, but there's also Person B, C, and D that you may be curious about or attracted to for a whole different host of reasons. You may not know what you want exactly or perhaps you're not confident enough. Or you're afraid to risk revealing the feelings you do have because you don't want it to take away from the strong friendship already in tact. Maybe you're not direct with communicating your thoughts, feelings, or agenda.
If you truly want to explore a more than friends relationship, either you or the other person has to speak up. It is wrong to assume that just because you're stuck in the friend zone (from your own perspective) that the other person wants to be in the friend zone with you. If neither person brings it up, both are to blame. You then must decide to either accept and appreciate the friendship without exploring that Pandora's Box...or the next time around when you find yourself in a similar predicament with another individual: Take a chance at being direct, even if it means falling flat on your face. You may get some scratches and bruises after the fall, but at least you'll pick yourself up off the ground knowing exactly where you stand: zone-free.
Thursday, December 20, 2012
These are questions I've been pondering since I watched the Martin Scorsese movie "Casino" last night. Throughout the movie, I noticed and found it funny that characters repeatedly (and emphatically) made comments about needing to be able to trust one of the other characters....funny because it's a movie that centers around the mob and there's major underlying deception going on among multiple characters. As much as they can hold their own in certain situations, the ultimate downfall is that the characters chose to trust when it wasn't in their best interest to do so. And the price for trust? Loss of money, loss of mental sanity, loss of love, loss of friendship, loss of life. With so much at stake, why do they trust? Why do any of us trust?
Perhaps trust is to relationships what faith is to religion....belief in something "higher" or better despite the unknown lurking in the shadows. A yearning for connection on an intimate level (whether with a friend, lover, or spouse) overpowers the risk it takes to trust and the consequences that may unfold as a result of that trust. Could it be that we would rather see the humanity in each other than be jaded and completely closed off? Maybe there's hope for humanity after all. Or so I trust.
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
I could write something very deep and serious about you here, but in many ways you were very much a private person to the outside world, choosing to share that private side with only a select few. Honoring you and celebrating your life isn't about a eulogy of meaningless facts or even sappy sentimentality. No, when I think of how I want to remember you it's in the mundane and unique details that are "you," the weird, random, and funny shit I will always carry with me just as much as the qualities about you I most admired and cherished. So here goes.
I always loved how you'd get passionately angry like a mama bear and throw around the best of foul language when someone (especially someone you cared about) was being screwed over or hurt in some way. That kind of loyalty is hard to come by and always made me laugh a little inside.
I will never forget when you were dogsitting years ago for a guy you didn't like...you didn't have kind words for him but told him "I wish Doolie (the dog) the best." I laugh every time I think of that, just as I laugh every time I think of the night you showed me a very cheesy porn scene with the woman who propositioned a man for a sexual conquest because "Would you be so kind as to.....? I don't want to be a rookie for my husband."
Your distinct and infectious laugh as you'd clap your hands excitedly, usually followed by "Oh my god, that's hilarious!" How your dance moves got crazier the more alcohol you drank, especially the time we had a dance party in your living room one night and your knees hurt so bad the next day because you were busting out dance moves all over the hardwood floor.
Your love of Mexican food, especially avocados and Garcia's margaritas. You always got Eddie and I in trouble with insisting on ordering that 2nd pitcher we most certainly did NOT need. There was something magical in those Garcia's margaritas, an elixir of sorts that brought out all the best conversational worlds of wit, weirdness, silliness, waxing philosophical, and even sweetly sentimental. I will always think of you when I drink a margarita, especially from Garcia's.
For years you would absentmindedly and accidentally address me as Eddie or Eddie as Katie, then catch yourself. "Hey Eddie....I mean, Katie." And though I can't remember any at the moment, there were the Rajiv quotes....things you'd say that were unintentionally funny, perhaps because the way you unknowingly worded things and they only sounded funny to Eddie and I because we're not from your country.
Then there was the time we almost got kicked out of the casino on our Michigan trip, not only because we were taking pictures inside but because for whatever reason you gave security the impression that you looked suspicious or a potential "threat" with your man bag and they briefly put out an APB on you.We were the youngest people in that senior citizen-ish casino. They had probably never encountered a stylishly dressed 30something year old with a man bag before that cold December night.
Far more mundane but no less memorable....listening to music in the Lakeview apartment (Peaches!) and trying on a bunch of your old silly Halloween wigs, watching indie movies together and talking about/analyzing them afterwards, eating Thai food at your favorite Thai place at the top of the Bloomingdale's building on Michigan Ave, you bluntly and honestly telling me at times things I didn't want to hear but always helped me in the end, your comments over the years about "the girls" or our occasional "TMI" stories.
Of course, I will always cherish your softer and kinder side....but it is your playfulness, quirkiness, laugh, and sense of humor that will provide me endless laughter and smiles for the rest of my life, far surpassing any tears I am now shedding right now in this time of raw emotional grief. I love you, my weird and sweet best friend in this world. You better be greeting me on the other side with a margarita when it's my time.
Thursday, November 15, 2012
We fidget, we resist, we avoid ourselves and each other, we escape into machines and addictions. The humanity that can be found in connecting is fading in the dwindling creative process that takes place when people interact and relate in organic ways....face to face, heart to heart, verbal conversations, eye contact, touch, body language, expression of visceral uncensored emotion, vulnerability (being emotionally "naked," open, honest, and transparent with nothing to hide behind/from).
I could be in the minority that finds these experiences few and far between, but I highly doubt it. Having recently experienced a significant number of these experiences more than the usual (ie, rare), I got to thinking how much different I feel with them vs. without them. Connected. Alive. Joyful. Hopeful. Seen, wanted, desired, understood, known. Real experiences evoke real emotion. Virtual is an illusion that numbs and leaves one extremely wanting. It's no wonder why we as an American society are more depressed, disconnected, empty, unhealthy (physically and emotionally), and overly medicated now more than ever. But it doesn't have to be that way.
It will likely feel very uncomfortable to relax and completely surrender to your physical environment when you've been tethered to the ease of virtual living for so long. But you will feel alive. Earlier this week I had one (of many) such moments. I've recently discovered a new interest and appreciation for relaxation yoga and meditation, something that never struck my fancy until I was at my wit's end with a painful rib injury that left me desperate to try just about anything to heal that much quicker. Sadly, this was my only motivation for going. I'm oddly grateful for that injury though because it gave me the priceless gift of yoga. It's done wonders for my soul. I'm able to relax and let go completely, which speaks volumes since I can rarely turn myself completely to "off" mode. Since I've been practicing this yoga once a week, it's becoming a little more natural and likely I can do so when I'm not in the class.
Then there's meditation. I've never been one to meditate. I never thought I could do it the "right" way, even thought it to be boring, futile, and even a little pretentious. The other night, however, proved me wrong. Within minutes of being asked to think about and visualize those in my life who have been my greatest teachers, mentors, and loving supporters....my eyes (which were shut) filled with tears as I found myself surprisingly overcome with emotion, triggered by memories of people dear to my heart. I was filled with such joy to be reminded of this love and gratitude that could have gone unnoticed otherwise.
As I have been challenging myself, I challenge you to seek out opportunities to live in the organic....that which kindles intimacy and self-discovery, sparks genuine self-expression.
Real is slow, organic, random, messy, risky, at times even ecstacy. A puzzle to be put together. Layers of an onion to be peeled. A gift to be unwrapped and savored.