Can we learn to love again?

He grabbed my arm and I froze.

As I was standing there, in the middle of an empty street, looking terrified at the traces of blood and dirt on my hands and dress, trying to remain calm, memories like flashlights were crossing through my mind. The reason I got myself into this…

It happen two months ago. Of course, I knew him and I knew he’s stalking me. Still, my main feeling wasn’t fear…This boy, a homeless 18-20 years old child, living on the streets, always dirty, always bruised, always talking to himself…no, I wasn’t afraid of him. It was (I’m ashamed to admit it) disgust what I was feeling inside.

That sunny morning I saw him again. He was following two school girls who were too caught in their talk and play to even notice him. I felt alarmed. Looking closer, I saw something shiny in his hand. My imagination decoded the object as a knife…So I decided to stop this right there. But, before I was able to say anything to the girls…

It just happen. And now, he was starring at me with blurry eyes and blood running down his cheeks.

Have I done well? Have I?

-We need to call an ambulance, you are hurt…

Have I? Have I done well? 

I was dialing the number, but his pleading voice made me stop for a second.

-Yes, you did well. You are a hero and a wonderful boy. And you did great!

As I was talking to the operator, he started to sing. I noticed he was smiling happily, in spite of the pain.

-I did well and the angel saw me! She did.

I was convinced he’s hallucinating, but I was determined to keep him awake.

-Where is the angel? Do you see your guardian angel?

He looked at me very confused.

-The angel. You. Yellow hair. Wings. Flowers.

-Flowers? Wings?

-Here…wings (he pointed at the necklace I was wearing). Flowers. You smell like flowers.

He started to moan in pain so I tried to stop him from talking. But there was no way…

-Johny (that’s how he calls himself) saw the girls. Then Johny saw the black car. The black car would have killed the girls. Johny pushed the girls away. The car was too close! Johny did well. The angel said  Johny did well.

I was searching for something to use, to stop the bleeding from his head. Nothing…Then I saw it in my purse. My perfume, a fragrance of roses and jasmine.

-Johny, do you want this? Is a perfume, it smells like flowers. It’s for you…

He seemed blocked. Then I saw the tears in his eyes.

-A gift for Johny. Perfume. Flowers. Johny will be an angel too.

-Yes, it is yours.

Then Johny will give you a gift. Here. This is the gift from Johny. 

He opened his fingers and I saw the shiny object. The one I defined as “a knife”. The big threat. It was the Miraculous Medal…

The ambulance arrived. Then the police. Johny was taken to the hospital. The next day he became an angel.

I went home and hugged my children. I cried a lot. But still not enough.

Why was I so quick on judging him? On seeing the bad, the evil, the danger, the disgust?

His blood was on my hands, literally. And on my conscience. I should have known, I should have stopped him from jumping in front of that car. I should have seen the angel in him.

To love each other…when did this became so difficult? Can we learn?

Can I learn? Will I ever…?

This western type of woman…

That I just don’t seem to be.

Strong, independent and self-sufficient. One who knows exactly what she wants and how to get it. One who’s not afraid to be alone. One who doesn’t need a man to feel complete…

Those were his words. Then, he looked at me smiling. He’s from a Middle East country, but that’s only a detail. Or, maybe, it’s my way to justify his need to create a stereotype about the “Occidental woman”. I looked away, not knowing how to answer without being defensive.

And you don’t fit the profile. That’s wonderful about you!

Is it?

Long time ago (14 years) I was taking one of my (too many 🙂 ) exams to become a psychologist. I was 23 back then, very in love with my fiance (our wedding was in a few weeks after that exam). I started to talk to a group of people, all around 35-40 years old. I was the “baby” and, once I told them about my wedding…let’s just say that they shared their experience and wisdom about marriage 🙂

There was a lady (she was 37, just like I am now) who told me something about “keeping the leash short”. I looked at her with big eyes (the rest of the group started to laugh seeing me so confused) so she explained better.

Oh dear…you have to remember that you are the boss. You make the rules. And if he doesn’t obey, you simply punish him. No sex till he does what you say! That’s how my marriage works.

I was…stunned so I said something like “but that’s so unfair…I can’t do this to him…to us” so they just laughed harder. And, to make it complete, I even stumbled and fell on my way out.

Years later, once she became a counselor, she divorced. But that’s only a coincidence (right?).

Now…returning to my friend and his stereotypes…I already had a speech in my mind about the danger of judging and generalizing and about our tendency to see our values above others…But it wasn’t the case. That wouldn’t have changed anything. So I just spoke from my heart.

I told him that love is a dance. It’s about being in harmony with your partner. About synchronizing the steps even if, sometimes, you need to take a step back…This dance, this love it’s what gives us a feeling of “being complete”.

I reminded him that no one “controls” the rhythm of the dance and no one can dance alone if we’re talking about a love song.

Then, I opened my heart, telling him about that lonely moment when you’re there, on the dance floor…but he got tired. So you’re learning to be strong, even when you miss his arms around you. You learn to be independent, to walk away, to smile in the rain.

He invited me to dance and I politely said no…

He understood.

This western type of woman…me…is still dancing in her heart. And she’s still in love.

 

 

A little bit of hell

Expectations are my worst enemy.

I shouldn’t be writing right now. I feel heartbroken, sad…and writing is like opening a wound. Painful. Anyway, I just wanted to share something…

My grandmother called me today. She’s 83, still very energetic, dynamic, optimistic. I always admire this vivacity of hers and I always tell her. Today I found myself saying to her “please don’t ever change…” She smiled (I could feel her smile, even if she was on the phone).

You know, life is painful. Sadness, sorrows, pains, hurts..you name it…it’s all there! In every single day of our lives. But if you focus on the bad things, when will you ever live? So, just enjoy life as it is. Because, no matter how hurtful, every day is a miracle.” 

Yes, every day is a miracle. But the day when he walks on by, leaving me crying…

That day, today, just broke my heart.

And no…I can’t make it whole again, not this time…

Do you know what it feels like?

I’m just a few hours away from wearing a mask…

So…in the name of authenticity and honesty, I’m going to find a nice, cozy place, here, in the blogosphere, and tell you all the crazy thoughts running through my mind. Because today…I’m still 36! But tomorrow, oh tomorrow…lucky me…I’m turning 37!

Why, oh, why…can’t I be 36 another year? I don’t like 37. When I was a child, 37 sounded like…ancient. It still does…a little. But let’s be serious for a moment, because I mentioned something about a mask. And of course, there’s a story.

I created “the mask” around 10 years ago when I noticed that the people I love feel very disturbed if I act like myself in two occasions: Christmas and my birthday. (Myself meaning: a little self-irony, a bit of sarcasm, wanting to spend my birthday on the top of the highest mountain or…on the beach enjoying the biggest tiramisu ever, dreaming of a Christmas in a little village with tones of snow and no relatives at all…and so on). So I created a sort of emotional mask.

Other wise, it will be like…

What mountain, dear? You mean you want to be alone? Oh, that’s soooo sad…

What beach, sweetie? Can’t you see it’s raining outside, like every year on your birthday? (oh, yes, the sky knows it too!)

What tiramisu, darling? It contains alcohol and the children will be frustrated because they are not allowed…isn’t it nicer if you bake your famous strawberry cake? Don’t be selfish on your birthday…

A little village? Far away? No relatives? Just you, your husband and the kids you said? Ohhh, how you’re breaking our hearts…

And, of course…Don’t be sad on your birthday, mommy…

and…Are you upset with us?

and…Why are you so sarcastic…we’re all trying to make YOU happy!

Ughhhh…

So,(since I have my mask)  instead of those written above, it will be like:

Walking gracefully wearing a nice dress, high heels and a wild orchid perfume…

Smiling sweetly, saying “Age is just a number!”…

Expressing gratitude for every (un)necessary condescend remark…

Pretending to be happy, filled with joy and love.

That’s the mask…So, in my last moments of freedom, let me just scream from the top of my lungs Nooooo…don’t take me there!!! I don’t want my 37 birthday partyyyy!!! I want back, back to 36…or better…26…or better…No, 16 was awful! And I want my beach! Or my mountain! Or…at least…a little village…can I, can I???

OK, forget the mask! Who needs it anyway? I’m smiling now and it’s nothing bitter in my smile. I already have the greatest gifts anyone can ask for: my children, the love of my husband, a home. Thank you, God, for giving me another birthday!

And, dear Mister TIME…I know we had our disagreements but…could you stop for a second? To say the magic word, to enjoy the magic feeling. LOVE.

Okay, Mister TIME, I’m ready! Let me be 37!

 

 

Love will heal our hearts

I decided that love is beautiful…

I smiled at her, remembering the tears, the long sleepless nights, the dark thoughts. She had that light in her eyes…I took her hand. “I think that’s a wise decision”. She laughed.

And you know, I didn’t wanted to see. It was there, all this time! I mean, how silly was I…to imagine that true love must hurt, other wise is not true. But it wasn’t the hurt or the pain what I was longing for…it was passion. 

I nodded. Passion? Or love?

Is it a matter of choice? Like love is pure and passion is impure? No…I wont fall in this trap again! There is more than black or white…much more! I used to think like that, like there’s only one right choice…remember where it led me this kind of thinking?

Her eyes are bright from the tears. She shows me the marks on her hands.

See? See how stupid I was? Permanent scars…Anyway, that was long ago…

I gently touched her trembling hands. “It was long ago, but it still hurts.”

No! I’m happy! I’m in love…I don’t feel guilty this time…Damn…it hurts! Why? I want a love that wont ever hurt. Happy tears, only happy tears.

She wipes away her tears, forcing herself to smile.

She’s braver than she knows. More beautiful than she sees herself.

She’s an imaginary character, but “she” can be any one of us. Or, maybe, a little voice inside our minds, telling us how “it should” or “it shouldn’t” be love. Accompanied by guilt, pressure and fears. What’s beyond them? Who are we when all the lights are fading into the darkness?

May it be love in our souls…so that our hearts could heal.

Notice me, take my hand…

There is a special kind of innocence, one that survives through the years, creating that magic light in our eyes. This morning, while I was watching my little girl running and playing through the fresh green grass, I found myself smiling and dreaming away, chasing rainbows and counting my blessings.

And I thought I’d tell you you a story…

There was, long time ago, a little girl with golden hair, sweet, intelligent and sensitive like any other child. She always dreamed of a birthday party, with children, music, cake and gifts.

It was her 6’th birthday, so her parents organized a party for her. They invited all the children from the neighborhood, selected her favorite music, made her a big cake…and the little girl was so happy, so joyful, clapping hands and dancing in anticipation…

So when the magic day finally arrived, she wore her most beautiful dress, with big pink flowers on it and a wonderful pink ribbon in her hair. Her guests brought her big, colorful gifts, things she only had in her dreams. The music begun…

She was so fascinated by those big boxes filled with toys, so amazed by her new dresses and dolls, wanting to arrange them, to touch them, to smell them…

The children started to dance and play. She wanted to dance with them but, as she came closer, she heard them speaking. And she understood…Children’s honesty can be so brutal, so cruel sometimes…There was another party and they were eager to go there. This one was too childish, too girly, too dull.

No one noticed that she’s missing at her own party. So no one went looking for her. She found a place, the same place where, a little while ago, she was hugging her new dolls and touching the ribbons from her gift boxes…

She stood there, crying, asking herself when and who’s going to search for her. Would they cut the cake without her? It can’t be…

Someone found her after all. Someone asked her why is she crying and she just cried harder. She didn’t wanted her parents to know because she felt guilty. So she just wiped away her tears, smiled and went back to her party. The cake was her favorite and she found so much comfort seeing her mommy proud and happy because the party was such a success! She even told her parents that this is the happiest day in her life!

But she never played with her new toys…

She never wore her new dresses…

She never wanted another birthday party.

The story has a happy end because she grew up to be a dreamer. She never stopped believing in this special kind of innocence that lasts through years. And today…

…today she took off her high heels and went running and playing with her little girl through the fresh green grass. It smelled like spring.

It felt like hope.

Just let it rain down over me

It’s freezing cold outside and the cruel wind reminds me of winter. What I feel is a bitter-sweet nostalgia. I promised myself that I wont slip back again into that black hole of depression, but I wont deny that this emotion becomes more intense with every day…

I miss…no, I only wish I could go back in time and just take one moment to enjoy…

The feeling of having so many paths to uncover…

Knowing that it’s absolutely alright to make mistakes…and to try again and again…

Dreaming of my Prince Charming and a love that’s going to last centuries…

Being childlike and childish sometimes…

And it’s true, I had so many chances. I had my paths and I walked proudly through light and shadows, making choices that weren’t always the right ones. It didn’t matter. My choices, my mistakes, my lessons of life. I held my head high and walked on.

And I have built a family based on love, respect and commitment , just like I promised. It took me some time to understand that my Prince Charming is only a man, with qualities and faults. A normal guy…oh, how I blamed him for not being my fairy-tale prince. How I almost destroyed our home, the only castle I’ll ever have…How I searched for princes and fairy tales in all the wrong places.

How I hated myself after. 

But he was (still) there, with his arms wide open for me. It wasn’t a fairy-tale romance, it was real life. Normality…and I love him for giving it to me.

I always want what I cannot have. This morning, in this freezing cold rain, I wanted an ever-lasting spring. Butterflies that wont die after only one day. Sparks that wont turn into ashes. To rush into the arms of a gentle storm.

Now I wish it would rain down on me. So the water from the sky would wash away this feeling…

Restless heart, why can’t you find peace?

 

 

Smile into the fear

I saw her again today. Twenty years…but those eyes are unforgettable. The eyes of a predator lurking for a prey. Small eyes, slippery like oil, with the color of dark green water. She looked tired and sad and, normally, I would go to her to say hi…because I know how a smile and a good word can change someone’s day in better. Still, the same old feeling…So, here’s the story.

Z. was my mother’s best friend, so she used to spend a lot of time in our home. her stories were always about guys and how they’re all so inferior and she can’t find a normal decent one…I didn’t quite understood, but my mother seemed to care about her.

I was six when my parents took me to a swimming pool where I was supposed to learn how to swim. The swimming instructor was Z., well, unofficially, but my parents trusted her. I remember standing at the edge of the swimming pool, holding hands in a perfect line: me, Z. and two other girls. Then it happen. The moment when she took my hand in her, I had a cold sensation. And a vision: dark water.

I knew right then that I wont jump. I knew I’ll have the strength to stand, even when an adult and two other children were pulling me into the water. So I did stand. Was it fear? Was it something deeper?

Ten years later, Z. became “a healer”. A spiritual healer. It sounds strange, but in a post-communist society, people were naive enough (and curious enough) to follow and accept the things that seemed beyond normality. My family did, at least.

So, back then, it wasn’t so strange to accept that our home needs a “purifying process”. Still, when Z. started to pronounce her incantations, the same cold sensation made me aware that the “purifying” ritual has nothing pure in it. So I stepped out and told her that what she’s doing has nothing to do with God and our faith. I never told her (or anyone else) about the vision I had. Dark eyes. That’s what I saw in my mind…

I rushed to my room, trying to escape the unsettling feeling. She followed me.

-You’re always so afraid, aren’t you? Look at you, you’re trembling? That’s exactly why we need to continue…

-NO!

-Well, then I’ll leave. But…just know…these fears of yours come from the evil. What will you do with them? Without my help…

I slammed the door and she never came back. At least, not in my presence.

Tears of frustration were running down my cheeks. What will I do with my fears. Back then I didn’t knew what to say. Now, twenty years later, I guess I have my answer.

I will use them wisely. And always follow my inner voice. And my faith.

It’s bringing me to my knees…

I’ll use my imagination now…let’s pretend that no one is reading this. So I can talk about the dark side. Depression. Masked depression. My dark side.

Easter was beautiful as always, with family by my side. It was amazing to see those sparks of joy in my girls eyes in the Easter’s morning. I felt enlightened, loved, embraced. Then, everything collapsed.

It started 4 years ago. Or could it be 5? I can’t even remember, but it feels like I’m struggling with these clouds since…forever. Negative thoughts, a deep feeling of loneliness (which I’m still feeling) and something new. A new thought, a new inner voice that tells me that no one needs me. And it’s illogical and dramatic at the same time.

In the outside, everything is normal. I smile, I talk to people, I make myself pretty every morning before going to work, I play with my children, I clean the house, I cook…no one would even imagine…And, all this time, I’m fighting an unseen enemy.

I keep repeating, like a mantra, that I need to be strong for the girls. They don’t have to carry this burden. Not for me, not with me. I keep repeating that they need me. And it helps…for a while.

At the end of a day like this, I cry. And I pray. I feel God closer in moments like this. The next day I wake up with an easy heart. But darkness feels so close…

And yesterday someone asked for my help. She was feeling helpless and lonely, so I did my best to help her understand and re-discover the light. A light that was always in her soul, she just forgot it’s there. She was smiling at the end of the session and, as she walked out of the door, she turned around and told me that she admires me so much…

Because she sees peace of heart in my eyes. And in my smile…there is no trace of sadness or anger. And, just being around me, her own burden becomes lighter.

I thanked her and told her that, what she sees in me is just a reflection of the light in her own heart and an expression of her inner beauty.

The feeling of being brought to my knees. And it’s okay…strangely, when my knees are touching the ground, I can see the sky closer.

Crucified, rejected and alone

Why is it so difficult to follow the heart’s chosen path? Many years ago, a friend of mine made a choice. A beautiful choice and I admired her with all my heart. We were both in high school, attending the religion classes. Every class begun with prayers and our teacher used to ask us if we need a special prayer, for us or for someone close to us.

And it was always the same story, we needed God’s help for our exams, or, maybe, if someone had a conflict, we were praying for those persons to find a common ground and peace in their heart.

That morning we were bored and tired. We didn’t wanted to pray for anything or anyone. But there was something in Maria’s eyes. Tears? She was always so strong, the type of child that easily becomes a leader. And now…Her voice was trembling.

Maria was 17 when she felt the calling. A restless feeling, like missing someone or something. She tried to ignore this feeling. She tried to learn better, to date a boy from her class, to be a “normal” teenager. She tried to hide it, even from herself. But every time she was kneeling in front of that old cross she felt like home. And His love seemed to be the only answer she was searching for.

A child of God, born in an atheistic family…

She told us about her parent’s reaction. It’s hard to describe the anger, the disappointment, the harsh words…the threats and the offenses. From being ungrateful to being psychotic…from going to a psychiatrist to “fix” her to going to court to sue the school, the religion teacher, maybe even God. From taking away her cell to throwing her out of the house…

Back then I couldn’t possible imagine where is she taking her strength from. And, even if I hugged her and tried to comfort her, I felt she’s making a mistake. My faith was so weak…

Ten years later, sitting on a bench in front of a small white church, Sister Maria told me that she forgave them. Her congregation became her family. At 27, only the strands of white hair and the fine lines around her eyes, reminded me of the years when she went trough hell.

She had a warm smile when she talked about her parents. And a special light in her eyes when she talked about the moment when she discovered that she’s meant to be a nun.

“They asked me if I lost my mind. I told them that I discovered love…They said I’m throwing my life away…I said I’m saving my soul. Then they yelled at me…they asked what kind of love is this? I didn’t know what to say, I was only 17, how could I possibly explain…So I just looked up to the sky, begging from help. The words came so unexpected, so clearly and I just knew…

I love Him because He loved me first