Sometimes, I Cry Alone in the Night

My previous post touched on the journey my family has been on together. Although we are currently on the same page, my husband and I took different paths and followed forks in the road that sometimes seemed like they would never meet. After the birth of our son, I felt so disconnected from Judaism and lost in my marriage. I felt like I was constantly putting on a show and I was so tired. In the end, it turned out that I had mono. We chalked it up to that and continued on our separate paths until years later when we suddenly bumped into each other again. At the time, I wrote a more cryptic blog post. Looking back, I can still feel that loneliness. I want to share my experience for anyone who is standing opposite someone they love and trying not to break them with their need to be honest. You may feel alone right now, and you may be alone, but there are so many of us alone in the night. When we cry, we cry together.

***

I am trying not to hurt him.

It is hard to focus on the content of the words I am forming when he is looking into my eyes with an intensity I have not seen since my eyes met his over the lifeless bundle of cloth that held our firstborn.

It is sorrow.

He is looking at me in sorrow.

I swallow and lower my gaze.

“I’m not sure I believe,” I mumble.

He doesn’t ask me to repeat it. He’s known this for some time now, he just thought it was something I could live with.

I did live with it for a long time. I theorized that if it was all true, I did a great job and if it wasn’t I didn’t hurt anyone. I was fine with the path he wanted. I was fine with the direction that meant I could have family and friends and feel part of the familiar. I was fine with it until I started hurting and then I wasn’t fine with it.

So I tell him.

We are fighting about it now. We are at each other’s core and we are clashing so hard. I am banging on his soul and he is looking away, refusing to see himself reflected in my pain.

I turn inwards. I write because I cannot speak.

Love is not a game for losers…losers make hearts bleed and blister…losers never get it right…

Hearts can get broken… they can shatter… wilt…they can cease to beat…

Dying cries of murdered love…whispered accusations…wordless shame…

Nothing can bring back the sparks that set the fire ablaze…nothing can extinguish the rage…nothing can make this cold fire warm again…

Red-eyed woman…curled on the floor…her heart ripped open…leaking hopes and dreams…soaking her…draining her…sucking the life out of her…

Devil’s laughter rings loud and strong…mocking…mimicking her acts of love…knowing her to be nothing more than an actor giving up on the lead role…an understudy…

She can’t go on…she can’t move…she must give in…to the overwhelming sadness…of the realization that she does not know who this woman is…or what she wants…

He cannot be the man of her dreams…never sweep her off her feet…he will never hear her heart beat full…of love…of life…

His mind stumbles over what is true…and what is perceived…by her…by him…by others…

He wants to understand…he cannot…he will not…

Love is not a game for losers…losers make hearts bleed and blister…losers never get it right…

I am also postpartum and sick so we aren’t going to take me seriously until one day, he tells me he isn’t sure he believes.

Dry eyes

My grandmother ran out of Poland towards Russia with only the summer clothes she was wearing and spent the next five years seeking warmth in a world that had frozen over.

I was raised on her story, as well as all the stories of my generation’s grandparents. We were their proof that it had been worth it and we were reminded of that as often as possible.

Black and white images of striped prisoners dominated my youth and I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that my life was a living testimony to six million corpses.

I devoured memoirs and drew black and white sketches of emaciated Jews melting in pools of blood. My drawings hung on the walls as trophies, as though they meant we had won.

I knew what gas chambers were before I had ever watched a Disney movie. I scoffed at Socialism before I learned about Democracy. I could recognize Hitler and Stalin and swastikas before I ever saw a picture of JFK. I wasn’t brought up in the shadow of the Holocaust, I was brought up in the tangible fear and hope and pain and joy of a generation who went through something they either couldn’t stop talking about or never mentioned at all.

I didn’t think death and destruction could faze me; I was basically a survivor.

Almost 11 months ago, my ninety-something-year-old grandmother walked across the green grass leading up to the hole they were lowering my 17-year-old sister into. She stood as tall as possible for a 4 foot-something woman and looked straight ahead. “Dayeinu,” she stated. She remained stoic and unmoving throughout the week, solid as a rock. When someone told my father that we don’t ask questions; we just cry, she marched over and made another statement. “We ask questions,” she said, “we don’t cry.”

At one point I escaped the crowds and went upstairs to the room with the candle where we watched my sister die. I took out her paints and brushes and covered one of the canvases she never got to use in the colors of my pain. The release was more powerful than a thousand tears. I brought it down to share with my family and someone said, “show Bubby.” I sat down at her feet and held up the painting. She stared at it and patted my hand. “Bubby, I can’t share any other way,” I said. I wanted her to know that my eyes dry up when it hurts, but the words caught in my throat. “I know,” she said, “I see you crying.”

My grandmother survived more than the Holocaust. She survived immigration, she survived the loss of her mother, she survived the loss of her son, she survived the loss of her husband and she just survived the loss of her granddaughter. Dayeinu.

For two years I held my breath as I waited for my sister to die. Then she died and I stopped breathing. For almost a year I have built up a tolerance to air filling my lungs. I can learn to live.

The siren blared yesterday and rang in my head all day. I wanted to think of the lives lost…I really tried…but I have carried their memories in my essence since the day I was born and yesterday I suddenly felt like I wanted to break away.

I turned on the TV and the images of my youth jumped out at me on every channel. Nothing made my soul churn, it was like flipping through a worn out photo album and knowing each picture before getting to the next page.

Without warning, images of Syrian children flew across the room at me and slammed against my chest.

I thought of a child running for the border with just the clothes on her back towards a future she could never be certain of. I thought of her grandchildren, raised on her losses. I thought of her eyes drying up.

The ringing of the siren subsided. I took a deep breath and I reached for those paints and brushes.

My grandmother’s story was told. It is time to tell the ones that are screaming out at us from behind our screens.

Source: Dry eyes

Flutters

The sun is setting.  It is time.

I strike the match.  I light the flame.

I cry.

I need to light the other candles now.  The ones to bring in Shabbat. And pray for my family; my husband and my children…all my children…

So I strike another match.

I light one…two…three…four candles.

Four candles to represent my family…

Plus the one on the counter…the one that will burn all night…and all day…to represent the child we buried…

Five candles.

I set the table…one…two…three…four plates…and look over at the candle again.

We take our seats.

We eat.

We talk.

We look at the candle.

We tuck the kids in…one…two…beautiful, healthy children…and the candle still burns…

We slip under our covers.

He falls asleep.

And I start to feel…those flutters…

I stare at the ceiling.  I try not to go there, but my hands are already resting on my stomach, pressing down to find the flutters, to release them, and I am trying not to imagine, but the images are too powerful, and they flood my mind.

I am cutting through my body…

digging…

hands soaked with the blood of my child…

and I am desperate to find the beating heart I feel within me…

and hold it…

and protect it…

but no matter how much I dig…

how much I search…

I cannot find it…

and all I can do…

is lay here…

in a pool of pain…

and feel…

fluttering…

deep inside me…

where I cannot reach.

Later, I tell my husband, cautiously because I don’t think this is normal…

..how I have been feeling our child move inside me…

for eight years…

every single night…

and he reminds me…

how people can feel a limb that’s been amputated…

and I suddenly have the words to describe the phantom flutters of my phantom child…

and I cry…

and cry…

and cry.

Forgiveness

The tears won’t stop.

They fall…without my permission…as I try to understand why my mind isn’t letting me process this.

It’s just a damn apology, I tell myself.  Accept it.  Just take it and let it all go.

But something is holding me back.

I call my husband…

I tell him through sobs…and he gets it.

I know, he says…I know exactly what you mean…

We talk a bit…about forgiveness…about apologies…about getting hurt.

And I acknowledge my pattern.

When someone apologizes to me, I freeze.

I don’t know what to say…

Because deep down…even though logic tells me I did nothing wrong to deserve the pain…I am still that little girl who thought it was all her fault…who thought she was to blame for everything that happened to her…

So I look for something to make it mine…to make this wrong something that was coming to me…and I usually find something little…a reaction…a retort…the way I handled the pain…something that makes me say – SEE!  You ARE in the wrong here…you SHOULD be punished!

I need to work on this…to be able to accept an apology given sincerely and forgive wholeheartedly…to put someone at ease and let them know that they are forgiven.

The truth is – I do forgive.  I just have a hard time saying it…because I’ve been holding forgiveness in for so long…since I was that guilt-ridden little girl…since I realized why I had to forgive…and I wish…so badly…that it would be asked of me…so that I can finally let go and say…with all my heart…

I forgive you.

If you see this…please know…I forgive you.

I forgive you.

When Conflict Strikes Its Weary Head

So this guy walks up to another guy at a bus stop.

Guy at the bus stop is on his way to a rehearsal for some sort of theater group…he’s creative and fun that way.

And this guy likes to let loose because he lives in the heart of a conflict and it’s good to live life fully when you never know what the guy who walks up to you at a bus stop might do.

Well, anyway, this guy walks up to this guy at a bus stop.

He’s only been a free man for a bit.  He should be living his life and maybe joining a theater group because he also lives in the heart of a conflict and it’s good to live life fully when you just never know what’s next.

But this guy has a problem because he believes in a code that tells him that if his relative is accused of something it’s up to him to prove the family still has honor.

So he walks up to this guy at a bus stop.

And he stabs him enough times in the abdomen to make sure he will die.

Then he steals his gun, which the guy who is dying at his feet has in order to live his life fully in that tiny place at the heart of a conflict with a bit less fear, and shoots at a bunch of young soldiers, gets himself moderately wounded and arrested.

So the guy is going to live for a little while in a prison where he’ll get an education, food and political promotion and most likely will be traded for something intangible like a good will gesture and his family will have their bloody honor back and all will end well for a guy who stabbed another guy at a bus stop where he was waiting to be picked up for rehearsals.

Evyatar Borovsky was laid to rest along with his full life and dreams of theater while his wife and five children wept and my land twisted and turned and a fire raged on and on in the heart of all this conflict and no one in the entire world said a word about the man who just wanted to live.

So I’m telling you the story about the guy who dared to walk up to another guy who’s name was Evyatar and who had a wife and five children and family and friends who loved him and a life that was full and vibrant and loving and who had to die at the feet of a guy who didn’t give two shits about the life of the man he stabbed at a bus stop in a little place that’s the heart of a conflict that killed a man for daring to live.

Evyatar Borovsky

Dying To Forget

Sometimes, late at night when I should be asleep, I remember.

I remember how I used to be…when things were bad…when I was a bad little girl…

And I wonder…if I could talk to her…what would I say?

I should say…the things I was taught to say to her…

I’m so sorry you’re hurting.

It’s not your fault.

You are not bad.

This is going to be over soon.

You will get better.

It will get better…

But I feel…like saying…

Kill yourself…now.

Because it won’t get better.

Because in twenty years from now you will sit with this memory, because everything in your life reminds you about some part of it, and you will think about how it can never go away and you will want to die.

So die now.

Avoid one thousand future deaths…

One thousand future hurts…

One thousand future lies…

And never remember this.

Broken

The anthem for the broken people is part song, part chant, part silence.

It has no rhythm. No rhyme. No pattern.

It has highs and lows and in-betweens.

Sometimes, it’s one, clear thought.

Most times, it’s a long rambling journey like the one they told you once you would have to take until you would find the end, past the twists and turns and drops hiding around thorn bushes and smooth rocks, under blue skies streaked with the blood red of your childhood and the blackness of your youth, and into the future of either victory or death, although you never know which one you want to be your end, so you keep going around and around on this rambling road until you can’t take it anymore and have to choose something so that you can go somewhere else and leave the anthem of the broken people lying on the ground with the shattered pieces of the shadow you used to be put together by a hope you once dreamed, only to realize that there was a piece missing and there is a hole where you should be.

When the silence starts to choke the little bits of life left, a haunting hum floats through the air.

The anthem gathers speed and adds the drums to its rising sound as it hits notes only broken people hear.

They gather together, all the broken people, and raise their silent voices as they try to break the world so that it will know how they feel.

Only, the world, already broken, has been singing this song, chanting the words for millions of years.

The anthem has nowhere left to go.

Dying down, it travels back inside the holes of the broken people and widens them so that next time, maybe, there will be more broken people to share the broken tune of a broken anthem with a broken world filled with the holes broken people made.

Shhhh.

Can you hear it?