The Truth About Love

January 1, 2011 by  
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heart on the beach

I was married at age twenty to a man who was eleven years my senior.  When I married the man, I was a recent Brazilian arrival doing a lot of drugs and hanging out with all the wrong people.  I thought getting married would settle me down and straight, but instead marked the beginning of the worst period of my life.  The man was intelligent and creative but he was also possessive, manipulative and had an ego that didn’t allow any other human to occupy the same space as his.  Within the first year the intelligent man showed himself as delusional and abusive.   It took me a long time to understand the man’s bravado was a cover up for deep seeded insecurity which he was ready to go to any lengths to hide.  Three years into the marriage, and I no longer knew if what I thought and felt was real or not.  Only my fantasies – where I took refuge- remained mine.  In them I dreamed of being rescued and of living the love story I so much craved.  But back in the real world my husband was busy spraying beer all over me and undermining any attempt I made to stand on my own two legs.

One day, as I stood on the edge of a subway platform, I thought I could make it all stop if I took one step forward.  Now I’m a survivor and that kind of thinking just scared the hell out of me, so I summoned all the courage I had, and sought out help.

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How To Create You Own Love Story

September 25, 2010 by  
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Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” – Rumi

I’m finishing a book “Paint It Black” by my friend Janet Fitch, who is also the writer of “White Oleander”.  The book tells the story of the aftermath of a young woman, Josie Tyrell, whose boyfriend, Michael Farraday commits suicide.  We never “meet” Michael alive.  Our knowledge of him is through Josie’s memories of the world they shared. And it is this world I want to discuss.

Janet Fitch describes in details the love-making, dreams and fantasies Josie and Michael shared.  The time they gave to one another and their excitement in discovering things together.  In the fantasy world they created they experienced trips, meetings and situations without ever leaving their small house in Echo Park, Los Angeles.

We also learn Michael was the type of person who saw the beauty in everything and stopped the world to appreciate.

As I read their story, I am reminded of how much we short change ourselves when it comes to love.

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Learning To Give Ourselves A Hand

September 22, 2010 by  
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I am not a sports fan.  Actually the only thing I watch is the World Cup every four years. .  I know the Broncos is a football team but I’ve never seen Kenny McKinley play. But I do know depression and mental illness.

Kenny McKinley committed suicide this past Monday (9/20/10) at age 23.  His death makes us stop and wonder how a young man with a promising career would find himself in such a dark place that the only way out for him was suicide.

One of the things that make it hard to treat mental illness is its uniqueness.  You can take two people and put them through the same situations and the results will be completely different.  That’s because we see, feel and process experience through our own set of inherited and acquired tools.  Depression and mental illness are the results of “distorted” ways of seeing things or short-circuits/malfunction of the brain.

I’m not a doctor so I’ll move away from discussing medical reasons for depression and mental illness.  What I want to talk about is how sometimes we add to our suffering by the way we see ourselves.

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Never Give Up On Your Life

July 24, 2010 by  
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I was telling my dad this morning about Marc Abrams, the “walking doctor” of Silver Lake (http://theloveprojectinc.com/?p=3751) who committed suicide.  My dad who is going to be 87 years old in November said: “That’s really sad, to throw away life, the most precious gift we have.”

I thought back to when my late husband was very sick and I felt trapped.  I couldn’t imagine him going on suffering as he was for much longer and I couldn’t imagine living without him.  We loved each other in a way we had never experienced before and our lives were completely intertwined.  What would happen to me when he was no longer around?  How could I exist if he didn’t?

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Reminder: Do Not Judge

July 23, 2010 by  
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In my neighborhood of Silver Lake, California, until Wednesday (7/21/2010) lived a doctor Marc Abrams who was known as the “Walking Man”.

Marc was a famous fixture in my neighborhood of eclectic people.  He walked 20-30 miles a day as well as swam for hours on a daily basis.  Until last year he practice medicine and once upon a time he had been my late husband’s doctor.

Marc walked with a purpose and if you had a burning medical question rather than get on the phone and wait for a return call, you just needed to drive around until finding him and then get out of the car and walk with him.  He gave you all the time in the world as long as you kept up with him.

No one would ever think Marc would commit suicide.  Of course the entire neighborhood knew something had to be off but no one thought Marc would stop walking by his own accord.

Reading about his suicide again made me think none of us know what truly goes on each other’s heart and how each one of us processes information.  Every day I remind myself to be less judgmental and more accepting as who knows what battles have been waged that have allowed any of us  to be standing here?

Man is harder than iron, stronger than stone and more fragile than a rose.  ~Turkish Proverb

RIP Marc.

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A New York Times Article

October 24, 2009 by  
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A friend of mine recently sent me the below article printed in the New York Times a few months ago.  I’m posting this article here because I found the struggle of this young woman brave and touching.  We all have our demons, acknowledging and facing them is the first step to our own freedom.


July 26, 2009
Columbia

In Pursuit of Happiness

By CARONAE HOWELL

I’m the kind of woman who spends entire days thinking of nothing but birds: woodcocks, goldfinches, kingfishers. I look for loons everywhere I go. Sometimes I find herons in Central Park and they are mysteries. There is one thing in this world that I envy: the hollowness of bird bones. In the three milliseconds of liftoff, a bird separates itself from its problems. The sky is the freest part of the world.

I have always been depressed, and I have always wanted to fly — not to emulate Superman or to travel faster. I want to fly because of the elation. In my dreams I am a butterfly or a fairy or a honeybee. Depression, for me, is when you want to be a bird, but can’t.

There is a specific moment in which I became a woman. It was February — always the worst month with its aching light and its slip-induced bruises. I had been trying to fall asleep for at least four hours. At 3 a.m., I found myself sobbing and shaking and confused, sitting on my metal dorm bed in the bird-with-a-­broken-wing position. I dug my fingernails into my forearms, leaving shell-shaped trenches behind. I have the kind of skin that refuses to heal, just stays eternally raw and mottled.

It was five weeks into my fourth semester. In late January, a freshman hanged himself in my old dorm. I found myself asking, really, how hard is it to suddenly find yourself perched on a sink, rope around your beautiful neck, ready to fly? How hard?

My dad drove through four states to pick me up the next week. On the way home I had tea and ice cream. He asked me if I remembered the time he took too many of his antidepressants. I did not. Nor did I remember my uncle’s suicide (gun to the cerebrum) or my sister’s delicately sliced arms and hips. These were things I had only been told.

The space between my skull and my irises hurts sometimes — hurts like the shatter of a tiny bird that has fallen midflight. And so it was that sour February night that I took the delicate step into the adult world: realizing that I was too depressed to stay at college was realizing I had not only lost my flock; I had fallen from the air entirely.

Michigan has many birds. My favorite might be the wood duck, with its banded neck and flat little wings. When I watch birds take off, I hold my breath. They always make it to the sky.

Every Monday morning at 9 I see my therapist, mug of green tea and honey close at hand. I take new pills now. I have a routine: oatmeal in the morning, Wednesday nights with my father. I tell my therapist about Toni Morrison’s “Song of Solomon.” Who isn’t searching for their people?

I arrange my thoughts. (No, I have never been in love and I am, in fact, afraid of men; I panic in Times Square; I grow attached to almost everyone I meet.)

I have feathers and questions.

I moved to New York City for college in 2007. School did not grow me into an adult, nor did voting for the first time or doing my own banking. These things were not confrontations. How did I arrive at the place where I could look at my disease and say, “Yes, you are here, but I will not let you take the joy out of looking for birds”? I like to think it was New York, or my newfound discipline, but it was a more internal revolution. I acknowledged my traumas: I was not crazy, just damaged. I was molting.

Columbia gave me many new things: a copy of the “Iliad” with a note saying the first six books should be read before orientation, a job in the oral history office, a sense of time management. But without my sanity — without joy — these things had little value. I knew nothing until I knew I was hardly living. Hobbes and Locke and all the philosophers in the world could not matter when each day was insurmountable and burning. In my year and a half at Columbia, I began to learn how to love myself.

I tell my therapist about my earliest memories and the bizarre geography of my family. I’m anxious and I have no self-esteem. But I am mending. Fifteen lost credits is a small price to pay for happiness. Perhaps I am learning how to fly. My bones may not be hollow, and joy will never come easily, but the beauty is in the struggle. The birds are everywhere.

Caronae Howell, Columbia, class of 2011, history major

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Right to Die

June 9, 2009 by  
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I was doing some web research when I came across an article on CNN.com about a British couple who traveled to Switzerland to die together at an assisted suicide clinic.  The woman, who was 70, had fought cancer since 1992 and her husband who was 80 had terminal cancer.

Phyllis Bowrnan executive director of Right to Life, which opposes euthanasia, said their case was sad. “I think it’s very sad, particularly as they could have gone together into a hospice. A hospice with cancer — there is not uncontrollable pain. I think that with the euthanasia lobby, they feed on despair and they encourage despair rather than hope” he said.

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