thefatjewess

my forays through love and other gastronomical stories

Shadows And Light — April 15, 2017

Shadows And Light

Recently  I made a video of myself reading one of my stories and frankly I was quite dismayed. I wasn’t sure who I was looking at, certainly this person on the video did not match up with the image I have of myself.

This was the first time that I had ever seen myself on video and frankly I was more than a little disturbed.  I did not like at all how I looked, or more specifically how I spoke. In still photography I look fine, because I can smile like everyone else, I’m just not able to smile with my teeth showing. On video however, I can see that when I speak I certainly do not speak as most people do.

I have Moebius Syndrome, or Moebius has me. Regardless of the how or by whom, having Moebius means that some muscles in my tongue do not function, forcing me to speak differently than the norm.

In my community which includes healers and therapists; there is a movement to look toward the light, believing that if you are in the vortex of positivity you will be rewarded with all the riches, healing and love that you have been longing for.

I have toyed with these concepts for a while and find them lacking. Here is why –

If I can’t make peace with my flawed mouth then I will have failed and the kingdom of heaven will then be permanently closed.

In my opinion however, this concept of praying away the shadow only forces the shadow deeper underground. I  am a perfectionist. I can never not be one, perfectionism is written in code into my DNA.

Now how can I make peace with not looking perfect?  I can’t. What I can do is this. I can finally make peace with never being normal and make peace with not looking nor sounding like Joni Mitchell (my heroine). Then paradoxically I can relax into me, because I just gave myself permission to love and accept my unyielding perfectionist self.

So I am loving the hater part of me instead of shaming the hater part of me into submission and into the shadows where she has lain waiting, always waiting to find another opportunity for self abasement.

Accepting the all of me just as I am: the good, the bad and the ugly. 

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Forgiveness — September 12, 2016

Forgiveness

 

Definition of Forgive

1: to give up resentment

2: to grant relief from payment

3: to cease to feel resentment

I have had such difficulty writing this piece. I wanted to give all of you something perfect and shiny and bright. I wanted to wrap up my story with silver ribbon and a blue box from Tiffany’s.

Instead you are getting my truth which is not wrapped with a bow but in yesterday’s newspaper, and I didn’t even use the cartoon section for the wrapping, but the obits.

The greatest sorrow of my life has been my relationship with my mother. My first days of life were spent in an incubator in the ICU department of the Royal Victoria Hospital in Montréal, where my mother abandoned me for a business trip with my father to Québec City –

” Why would I have stayed with you in the hospital? said my mother
The nurses were there!”

Late this summer when I told my mother I needed to stay with her for two months due to my untimely exit from the apartment I had shared with my now ex – partner Lorraine, her response was less than enthusiastic. I ignored her non response, and proceeded to annihilate what was left of my fantasy mother by asking her to come back with me to Toronto so that she could help me deal with the unpleasantness brought on by my exit from my aforementioned apartment.

“You know I’m not good with that stuff!” said my mom.
“Mommy!!! I need you!! I need you now!!!!” said desperate me

“I need you mommy!” was now looped through my brain and played non stop throughout my day, like an itchy ear worm.

I couldn’t stop myself. I understood intellectually that I did not win the good mother lottery prize but emotionally I was still just four years old, begging my mommy to come to my tea party. She never came and my Barbie’s had to drink their tea with just Ken and me for company.

In my desperation I called a psychic I saw advertised on my Facebook feed. Rachel told me I needed to forgive my mother before I can move forward. Really? This is what I paid five dollars for? ( It was a special offer.)

How do I forgive? According to the Miriam Webster – I need to stop feeling anger toward the person who wronged me.

I have tried repeatedly to do just that. I really have. I have gone to therapy for years with hopes that I could come to some type of peace with my mother. I have talked incessantly about my situation with Jodee, my long time therapist. I thought I was making slow but steady progress, but in Montréal all healing went to hell in a hand basket. I felt unhinged, as if I literally was coming apart. I was desperate for my mother to take my face in her hands and say –

” Don’t worry Katharine, I got you”

I so wanted my mother to create a safe space for me in Montréal, even though that had never happened on the thousand trips I had made to Montréal previously. I didn’t think I was asking for much, just a drawer to put my clothes in, and an acknowledgment that this was indeed a scary and difficult time for me.

As a child, I did not enjoy Halloween, as dressing up in costume made me anxious. I lived with parents that put on masks every day when they went outside our home. Just like the parents who caution their children to use their inside voices during school and synagogue; my parents used their inside face with me, and their outside face with others. The mask they showed to others was so radically different than the one they showed to me at home, that I am still disturbed by masks of any kind, knowing what danger can lurk beneath.

I tried this time, I really tried to make believe that I could calm this frightened fragmented inner child of mine, but I, like my mother before me, threw baby Katharine out to the wolves. I could not console her and I let her rage at being abandoned take me over.

I so wanted my mother to come to my rescue, just this once.

I kept on repeating:

” Mom, you can redeem yourself for all the damage that you have done before, all I ask is that you create a safe place here for me to rest and recoup until my new apartment becomes available in November.”

And each time I begged and each time I pleaded, I lost a little bit of my soul and a lot of my dignity but I could not help myself, so desperate was I to be seen. To make matters worse, as a retired psychotherapist, I understood intellectually that my mother was not ever going to give me what I needed, and in fact took pleasure in seeing her former jappy princess daughter reduced to sleeping on her not so comfy couch, but I was not able to make my brain meet my heart.

Weeks passed in this way, and then my birthday happened, or didn’t happen, to be more accurate.

I had spent the weekend before my birthday celebrating with my close friend Marcus and his family. Before meeting Marcus I had an idea of what familial love should feel like, but did not have a body memory to go with it. Thanks to Marcus and his family, I have experienced love as a felt sense. To celebrate my birthday, they surprised me with a weekend at the splendid Hovey Manor, located in the Eastern Townships.

When I came back I made the mistake of sharing my joy with my mother. If any of you here tonight are familiar with the reality TV show Survivor, whenever the winner of a reward challenge gloats about her reward, the people left behind become angry. I came home so happy, I forget my own rule about keeping my joy contained so as not to risk my mother’s wrath.

Too late.

Now I was to be punished, and since the punishment level was in line with my joy, the punishment was extreme. My mother decided to banish me from her kingdom which meant that my birthday would not be acknowledged.

No birthday cake. No birthday card.

” But I’m sixty, Mommy!! See me! Celebrate me!”

And my shame at my bottomless need to be seen by her, obfuscated my otherwise sound judgment.

And still.. and still.

I’m now back in Toronto, safely ensconced in my new cozy apartment. Every morning before I get out of bed, and every night before I go to sleep, this agnostic Jew prays to the Divine Mother and my Guardian Angels and anyone else I can think of, saying my prayers out loud because I don’t want to take any chances on any unseen helpers not hearing my forgiveness plea.

“I release you mother, and the hold you have on my heart. I am going to do my best to stop blaming you for not being the mother I so desperately wanted, and to try my best to live a life unencumbered by my old friends shame and blame. Please dear Mother God send me your love and healing and if you’re feeling really generous, please send me my Beloved. I am ready to receive her now!”

Hopefully these prayers will help me this month when Chanukah comes around, so that when I light my Chanukah candles sans Maman, I can take comfort in knowing that like the Maccabees before me, I have won the battle even though I have lost the war.

“And I think to myself, what a wonderful world” — September 25, 2017
“And I think to myself, what a wonderful world” —

“And I think to myself, what a wonderful world”

Today was a wonderful day at Hanlon’s Point🌴,  where clothing is optional. Lucille and I met a lovely couple who shared their umbrellas along with delicious ham and cheese sandwiches. We swam in the warm water, we played ball, and everyone was impressed with Lucille’s fearlessness.
As we were walking back from the beach, I lost one of my insoles. As I began to trace my steps I encountered a comely gray haired man. (Picture a naked Sean Connery.) I asked him if he had seen a lone sole on the beach and he replied in the affirmative. Lucille and I traipsed after him and shortly thereafter my sole was found. I thanked him profusely and he said “When you tell this story, make sure you tell everyone I’m a saver of soles.” And he is, and I have.

Happy New Year — September 20, 2017

Happy New Year

Today is the beginning of the Jewish New Year. It is our tradition to deliver apples and honey to friends and family, symbols of a sweet and healthy year.

Here on FB, in lieu of apples and honey, I wish all my Hebey friends and friends of Hebe’s love, happiness, laughter, joy, health,financial freedom and lastly, but most importantly – mazel. Mazel is the Yiddish word for luck. My wish for every person that reads this particular status report of mine, much good luck for the coming year.

I respect Oprah Winfrey, but take umbrage with her position on luck. Oprah doesn’t believe in it, believing her work ethic has brought her to where she is today. I know many people who have worked hard, just like Oprah, but the opportunities that have been delivered to Oprah, just haven’t materialized for them. I believe Ms. O’s oppurtunties came to fruition through a combination of hard work and good luck. In my opinion, Oprah has had shitload full of good luck. So I wish all of you little shits, a shitload full of good fortune to begin this New Year in style.🍎🍯💩

Pride Goeth….. — August 18, 2017

Pride Goeth…..

When I first moved in to my teeny tiny apartment my tub was not painted properly, there were nicks and splits and the paint was all bubbly.
Management called in these two lovely men who spent hours repairing my tub.
They were so proud to give me this beautiful shiny new bathtub and I was happy that they cared so much about their work, and happy to have a sparkling bathtub redo.

But….of course this story comes with a but… but, there was one small problem with my new sparkly shiny tub, there was no traction. It was now super shiny but it was also now super slippery. I kept telling myself I needed to get a rubber bathmat but I didn’t like the idea of my bum sitting on the uncomfortable rubber. I take multiple baths a day and through the night as sleep often eludes me and the warm water offers comfort, and comfort did not include rubber bath mats.

The tub was particularly precarious when I would put conditioner on my hair, and with my wild beast mane of hair, that happened at least once a day.

What I would need to do to get out of the shower safely was to get down on my hands and knees and grab the rim of the toilet seat and hold on as I carefully hoisted myself out.

Yesterday something went awry. I think I got caught in my shower curtain and somehow slid and fell backwards into the tub, hitting my shoulder in the process.

As I gingerly made my way out of the tub I stood in my bathroom for a moment, just letting the enormity of what could have happened sink in.

This fall could have had ended very differently, and who would have known if I fell and had hit my head? My dog Lucille of course, and I’d like to think her barking would have alerted someone, but Lucille leans toward the loud every day, so I’m not certain anyone would have been concerned until it was way too late.

I took myself to the hospital to have my shoulder examined. I thought it was just badly bruised but didn’t want to take a chance that I was wrong and needed the assurance of the professionals.

This was the first time in a hospital that waiting for hours didn’t bother me. Yes I was in pain, but I WAS ALIVE!!!

I was eventually seen and diagnosed with just a bruised shoulder as I had initially surmised, and sent home with a prescription for pain meds which I promptly threw out as I am more terrified of feeling out of it than I am of pain.

On my way home I stopped at my local dollar store and bought this burgundy bath mat which I am presently sitting on in my bathtub, shoulder doused with arnica cream, writing this note to all of you. See More

I Am Here, Right Where I Belong. — August 15, 2017

I Am Here, Right Where I Belong.

I have worked so hard to get myself here. Where is here? Here is where I am. I don’t mean to sound like a Buddhist koan, but I’m feeling rather Zen- like lately. 

It’s not just about losing the extra twenty pounds I’ve carried around like armour, and the dissolution of 46 years of an often debilitating eating disorder; more important is that I am changing the way I react to life.

I have been swimming daily, taking my little barkalicious puppy to the park, often for hours at a time. I am constantly checking in to see what my body needs as opposed to wants, and most importantly, I hold myself emotionally responsible for creating my best possible life.

This is not the life I had imagined as a child when I would come home for lunch every day from school and watch The Hollywood Squares and imagine the day when I too would become famous.

I would hold the ketchup bottle as a mic and rehearse my Oscar acceptance speech. I had a special shout out to Gordon and Cheryl, two kids from my grade school who were making my life a special kind of hell. “Look at me now, losers! I’m a star!”

I wasn’t sure exactly how I would achieve this acting accolade but I had my priorities straight from the start – from my perspective, it was all about payback.

Fortunately for the viewing public, my acting career never got off the ground, and instead became a therapist; but payback or restitution never really left the forefront of my mind.

I could help others but never myself as I was perpetually stuck in revenge mode.

Then the day came where I became too ill to work. I was diagnosed with Moebius Syndrome, a condition with multiple symptoms, one of them Chronic Fatigue. I could not work anymore and moved in with my partner Marian, who reluctantly offered her home up to me. .

Of course I was grateful, but her unwillingness to share her life and her body with me was extremely triggering and I found myself acting out in ways that mimicked my Borderline Personality mother. Part of me was utterly ashamed by my behaviour, but my actions felt automatic, and felt bigger than I could consciously control.

Marian was then let go from her job, and our relationship went from bad to worse. I tried so hard to be kind to her, but her declining mental health was terrifying for me to witness and I felt trapped by my own reactions. I tried to find somewhere else to live, but I had no where to go, no family to take me in, and no money of my own to sustain me. I should have tried harder to appreciate what I did have, an apartment that I was allowed to live in gratis; instead my lifetime feelings of restitution became my downfall.

Last August when I was visiting friends in Montréal, Marian called the police and told them I had tried to kill her, and was afraid for her life. This gave her the opportunity to oust me from her apartment and her life, in one fell swoop.

There was never any attempt on her life,  but I did throw a glass of water in her face. I remain totally ashamed of my behaviour, but all I could think about in that split second was retribution for her cruel comment the moment before, and all the years of gaslighting and torment that preceded.

Now officially homeless, I had to scramble to find a place to live. I sold my Rolex watch,  then had enough money for one year’s rent, and found a teeny tiny apartment to live.

I had always been afraid to live alone, telling anyone who would listen that I was not a living alone kind of gal.  All that has changed.  I have been so grateful to have this year to heal and review my life. I could see that being constantly resentful with what life was offering up to me was undermining my peace of mind, and had destroyed my relationship not only with Marian, but with all whom I encountered.

I joined a wonderful support group for women who suffer from eating disorders. They have provided comfort and concrete ideas for me to move from resentment to emotional freedom.

I am not certain what will happen to me when this year is up. I am on the wait list for subsidised housing in a small hamlet outside of Toronto, but that will take up to three years to come to fruition as they have torn down the existing structure and are building a new one.

I do know that whatever happens, I will great my life with gratefulness.

 

You are loved — August 7, 2017

You are loved

Good Afternoon my WordPress friends!
May the wings of the Shekhina, the divine feminine, enfold and protect you, reminding you of the great whole of which you are a precious part. May gratitude for life expand your heart and extend to every corner of your world. May any and all resentments dissolve and forgiveness take root in your heart like a healing balm. May you rest in the knowing that you are loved.

Mother no more — August 3, 2017

Mother no more

 After a lifetime of gaslighting and verbal abuse from my mother, I have decided to stop speaking to her. If this proves too hard and I break down and engage, I will forgive my needy child self and try again.

This is the hardest thing I have ever done, and I have done many hard things. My mother has been my obsession and my greatest wound. She is my pusher and I am her addict. I  tell myself that I’ll have just this one more hit, then I’ll stop; but I feel powerless to stop, my need for her poison bigger than my need for self- preservation.

  All I ever wanted in this life was to be seen by her. Really seen and acknowledged and taken in.  I get it now. I get it in my body, where it counts the most. She can not ever and will not ever be the mother I have longed for. No one can understand this obsession unless they themselves have experienced the same.

I feel a little embarrassed talking about this here, worried that people will judge. Sixty years old and still obsessed with getting her mother to love her? My rationale for sharing is my hope that this blog will reach at least one person with a similar mother, who will then feel understood. 

For today, I am free. Still raw, still trying to integrate what I know in my body to sync up with the story I have told myself in my mind, the fairytale where the princess (me) wakes up to find that her mother was captured by an evil queen and only my being perfect would free her from the spell. I’ve tried to be perfect but I was never perfect enough to break that damn spell. My mother of her own volition chose to act unkindly. No evil queen needed.

Today I must say “Mother, no more stomping with your dirty black pointed boots on my just cleaned yellow tiled floor, good bye, haste la vista,  please close my door on your way out’ .

I Know For Sure I Don’t Know — July 25, 2017

I Know For Sure I Don’t Know

Twenty five years ago I was lying prone on my black and white tiled bathroom floor trying to comfort my six month old daughter Victoria, who was lying and crying on top of me. We were both cranky and exhausted from another in a series of sleepless nights.

I knew my daughter was suffering, but her constant wailing was wearing me down. I was trying my hardest to stay present for her, though the temptation to abandon felt overwhelming. I knew that if I checked out now, I would be repeating the cycle of leaving that began with my grandmother Gertie, who had been left motherless when her father took her and her brother to Canada, leaving their mother Ruchel behind in Poland.

That morning on my cold bathroom floor I made a promise to Victoria. I promised I would never abandon her. Chances were astronomically high that I would fail, but I would get back on course as soon as I could, no matter that I came into this world directionally challenged.

I wanted to stay present for my daughter. I needed to address my myriad mental health issues, but didn’t know were to start. I held my crying baby in one hand, and in the other looked in the Yellow Pages for a psychotherapist. I stopped at the B’s and phoned Dr. Bloom. I was hoping he might be simpatico to a fellow neurotic Hebe. I dialed his number and my journey began.

I have been addicted to so many things – food, cigarettes, shoplifting and creating stories that would inflate my life. Though I have successfully recovered from all of the above, I have not however been able to heal one very peculiar addiction: my desire to find and keep a good and true name for myself.

This name obsession has been my personal kryptonite. This story begins in the summer of 2007. My friend and mentor Jean came over to my home one hot summer morning and proclaimed “My name is now Alexandra, Jean is dead.” I was initially shocked by her decision, then I understood. Jean had just turned 50 and was feeling invisible in the way that many beautiful woman do when they reach middle age. What better way to reinvent herself than by changing her name, killing overlooked Jean then resurrecting as the alluring Alex. I immediately hopped on the name changing band wagon, destination unknown.

My issue with my name started in third grade. My mother named me Rhona Marylin after Rona Barrett the gossip columnist, and the actress Marilyn Monroe. Why she decided to add an H to Rona, and to invert the I and Y of Marilyn remains unclear. My mother never completed high school, I can only assume that proper spelling was not high on her list of priorities. The addition of the H afforded my classmates a reason to torment; calling me Ra-Hona, making me hate my name and by proxy my mother, even more.

When Jean suggested I too change my name, I agreed immediately. I thought for months about what name would best resonate with my unadulterated soul. I looked through baby name books and magazines until one day I came across the magazine Mirabella, which featured the actress Anjelica Huston on their cover.

I felt intuitively Anjelica was the name I had been searching for. I opened the magazine and began to read. Anjelica’s mother was from Spain, and every night before bed, she would whisper to Anjelica “Good night, my Anjel.”  This was my heart’s desire. I wanted with every fibre in my being to have a mother who whispered those four words. I had been waiting my entire life for my own mother’s love, waiting for her to show up, waiting for her to shower me with gentleness.

I just knew that when I changed my name to Anjelica, the magic of Anjelica would call forth someone who loved me enough to whisper “I love you my Anjel”. Perhaps not in with a Spanish accent, and never from my own mother’s lips, but the name Anjelica would become a talisman, bringing forth all measure of good fortune into my life.

I was flying once a month into New York to study Reiki. I was so impressed/infatuated with my teacher Deidre that I culled together a group of women to study with her in Toronto. I couldn’t wait to share my new name news with Deidre. I picked her up at the airport, rushing through the obligatory pleasantries. “I’m changing my name to Anjelica!” I told her excitedly. “Anjelica?” she exclaimed “That is a stupid name. You should change your name to Kimberley!”  I then did the only thing I could do, I jettisoned Anjelica as my sacrificial offering.

Eventually I landed on the name Cassandra, but just as the thrill of Cassandra was wearing thin, I happened upon the movie ‘The English Patient’ with the actress Kristin Scott Thomas playing Katharine Clifton. Katharine was beautiful, British and contained. Three things I was not and most desperately wanted to be. I spent the following year studying numerology in order to procure a perfectly balanced name. I decided on Katharine Angelina, then applied successfully for a legal name change.

 Katharine Angelina translates numerically to a number six vibration, the six representing safety, home and family. What more could I possibly want? More than that obviously, since I’m obsessing still.  I just can’t make a name stick, it slips off of me like gum on Teflon.

I understand that a new name cannot bring me a good mother, nor can any name help me to feel safe. Changing my name is akin to painting my bedroom a different colour. The colour might be different but the room stays the same.

Lately I have playing with variations of Rhona:  Rhône – Rowland – Rhonwen. Perhaps I can rest here, close to my beginnings with just a slight upgrade.

 

this is the place where i rest — July 7, 2017

this is the place where i rest

this is the place where i rest

learning how

to stop

binging

obsessing

freefalling

has been a challenge

for me

beginning with

my arrival, where

no body was

there to soften

my fall, so I

fell

into food

and boys

and then

girls

always looking for comfort

always looking

for faster and faster

ways to

stop feeding

my pain

waiting on

the tracks

for the

one train

with faulty brakes

to break me

into ten million

little pieces,

finally feeling

no thing

at all.

 

i knew

that marrying this man

was a sin

against myself

but i

so desperate for a

tribe of little

me’s and

my family’s praise

failed to hear

my timorous

voice that said

“no no no.”

 

this time around

i will let myself

fall

only when

when i trust

myself enough

to know

that i can

safely release

into her

embrace.

 

saying yes

to the kindness

and no

to the harshness

breathing in

breathing out

embracing myself

over and over

and

over again.

 

k.a.l.

Father’s Day — June 18, 2017

Father’s Day

My Dad loved me, the only person in my entire extended family who did.
Love is a verb, therefore action is necessary to activate the love. Remeber the game Twister? Remember the floor board that came with the game? There was a plastic mat with large different coloured circles on them. I imagine my Dad standing on a large red circle. This circle represented the love he felt for me.
Unfortunately he couldn’t make it over to the green circle which is where he would have activated his love, because he got stuck on the yellow circle in the middle. That yellow circle represented all his baggage. He had a trio of matching pieces from Samsonite, one holding shame, one holding rage and the last holding his emasculated power.
I have often imagined what my life would have looked like had my Dad been able to have unpacked those three pieces of luggage, and had been free to be his organic unemcumbered self.
I am working daily to unpack my own set of LV bags, but that darn zipper is stuck in the bag that holds my unlovablitity. I’m walking over to Canadian Tire to get some WD-40 as soon as I finish this piece, so that I might be able to feel what my Dad never felt; a sense, a knowing that I am deserving of love, just because I exist in this world.
We did find interesectionality in humour. We both shared a fondness for long convoluted stories with great punch lines. This is my favourite joke and I send it out and up to my Dad, wherever he now resides. Happy Father’s Day, Dad.
Here is the joke:
A woman went to the only hairdresser in town to get her hair styled for a vacation trip to Rome with her husband. She mentioned the trip to the hairdresser, who was of Italian descent. “Rome? Why you go there? He responded.” It’s crowded and dirty. Full of tourists. So, how are you getting there?”
“We’re flying US Airways,” was the reply. “We got a great rate!”
“US Airways!” exclaimed the hairdresser. “Too bad. That’s the worst airline. Always late. You should have asked me first. I’m always flying to Italy. So where are you staying in Rome?”
“We’ll be at this little place over on the Tiber River called Teste.”
“Oh, I know that place. Everybody thinks it’s going to be something special and exclusive, but it’s really a dump.” You should not stay in Rome, and you should not visit the touristy things there.”
“But we want to see the Vatican and maybe get to see the Pope!” Exclaimed the woman
“You and and thousands of other people. He’ll look the size of an ant. Watch out you don’t get your pocket picked in the crowd.” Said the hairdresser
A month later, the woman comes back to the beauty parlor. The hairdresser asked her about her trip to Rome. “It was wonderful,” explained the woman “not only were we on time in one of US Airways brand new planes, but the tourist class was overbooked, so they put us in first class. And the hotel was great! They too were overbooked, so they apologized and gave us a suite for the price of a room!” “Well” muttered the hairdresser “I’m happy for your good luck, but I was right it was a waste of time to try to see the Pope, wasn’t it?”
“Actually, we had a wonderful experience at the Vatican, too. A Swiss Guard tapped my husband on the shoulder, and explained that the Pope likes to meet visitors, and if we’d like to step into anteroom of his quarters and wait, we would get a brief audience with the Pope. We did and five minutes later, the Pope walked through the door and blessed us! He even talked to us a little.”
“Oh, really! What’d he say?”
He said, “Who fucked up your hair?”
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