As a kid I used to worship Napoleon and Julius Caesar. Strange heroes but they were mine. I had read somewhere that Napoleon believed in burning bridges, in never looking back while working towards his goals. A quick search through Google does not find the quote I am referring to and now I wonder if I had misread a passage in a book years ago and lived my life by a philosophy that Napoleon did not endorse (not that it really matters...). A majority of my youth I spent making friends and dissolving friendships (burning bridges) in the quest for "true friends." As I've matured I've accepted that there are only a few true friends in the world (I have found them thank god, but I am always willing to add to my list) and the rest are people I can enjoy but I do not need to know them on the most intimate level of friendship.
Today I called someone I had burned bridges with almost 4 years ago. Our friendship ended because we were friends by proxy through my boyfriend at the time and I felt he would keep his friends and I would keep mine after the breakup. Sadly, people who I thought were my friends, proved to be on "his side" of the breakup and he kept both sets of friends. It hurt that his lies were more believable than my truth but I moved on and left the young Jewish community entirely. Recently I heard that someone from my past had information on a topic I was curious about so I reached out to this person on Facebook and they asked me to call them.
I was extremely hesitant to reach out, not knowing what kind of reaction this person would have. I had burned bridges with several of this person's friends (all due to this breakup) and lashon hora has a great way of getting around the Jewish community. My reputation was in tatters for a long time, lies are more fun to believe. I was pleasantly surprised by the warm response and called immediately to chat with this friend from long ago.
As we discussed the past I felt emotions rising up from my chest. I felt like someone who really knew the whole story would finally understand I wasn't the evil "gold digger" that my ex told anyone who would listen. I know it doesn't matter what other people think. I know that the masses are just the masses easily manipulated by a sensationalized story. I know that the truth isn't really interesting to most people. I know that the gossip of four years ago that wounded me so deeply does not matter to anyone else. The past is in the past. Whatever other corny sayings are out there urging people to forgot and live in the present - I get it. However, there is something wonderful about sharing my side of the story. I am not blameless in the breakup but I am also not the all consuming bad guy I was made out to be in his story.
Upon writing this blog I am ashamed at the whole situation. I didn't need to share my side of the story. It doesn't matter if the other person believes me or him or any of it. I am ashamed at my need to be accepted and loved by this person or any person. Not everyone has to like me. I continually need to remind myself that not everyone is going to like me, no matter how nice I am or how much I bend over backwards to make other people like me. It's my life long challenge that some days I conquer and others I am washed away by my need to be liked by everyone.
I have a list in my head of people who don't like me, like me a little, like me a lot and love me. One of my best friends tells me all the time the list is just in my head!!!! Most of the people who I think don't like me probably really don't care one way or the other about me. And the few people who hate me, well, who cares, you can't be liked by everyone. I think Facebook plays really well into this insecurity for me. I see people having parties I wasn't invited to, messaging each other and ignoring my posts - the huge world where you once could move to a different state and never see the people from your past has quickly disappeared. Due to some Facebook friends I have from my old high school in Chicago I am asked to Friend people from my past I'd rather not associate with. High school reunions are being undermined by the fluidity of the internet and the ease of Facebook stalking people from your past. The past refuses to stay in the past - it's constant and alive haunting me in my present. And when I say haunting, I mean the past continues to replay in my mind taking up valuable energy that could be used for other needs. The past, the stories that helped me become who I am today, continues to live in my mind. I haven't put them away and forgotten about them. I still think about my ex boyfriends and ex friends and wonder what happened or how I can prevent the same thing from happening again. Life is about learning from our mistakes and moving on.
Interestingly I have found getting married and having a child has reset my world. All of a sudden I am accepted and loved because I am a mother. The past doesn't matter and I am approached by others with a new perspective - I am now Sadie's mom, not merely Esther. I like this fact and I think it's true. Motherhood changed me. I have learned how to live beyond my own needs and to do what needs to be done to keep my daughter content. Life is no longer about drama, boyfriends, dating or partying. My life now revolves around raising my daughter, giving her good values, taking care of my family and having play dates with other moms with kids. Some of the people who were not my friends in the past continue to not be my friends - and that's okay. Old drama and politics can run deep. I am also to blame. I don't go out of my way to rekindle old friendships or to pretend to forgive people all in the name of politics. I have a hard time forgiving a friend for forsaking me just because several years have gone by - sometimes the wounds run too deep.
However, upon writing this blog, I am realizing maybe it's time to forgive and move beyond the past. Perhaps by being kind there can be a truce. Yes, those people hurt me, but what's the point of holding on to grudges forever? It doesn't get me anywhere and it only creates conflict in my life that I don't need. Is it possible to live in a conflict free world? I don't know but I am willing to give it a try.
When I moved to California from Illinois I noticed that I did not fit in with my peers. I didn't speak the vernacular and I was too uptight. I vowed to work on that and to become more "California." Well, ten years later, I have come to the conclusion that my language skills are deteriorating. My writing is sub-par. I need work. I have forgotten how to use big words. The very fact that in my mind they are "fancy" words highlights my problem.
If I wasn't a mother (God forbid) I would enroll myself in a PhD program - either for literature or writing. I am fully aware that I can not balance school and motherhood at this current moment. Nor am I interested in having Sadie watched by other people so I can attend school. My solution is I will be creating my own academic challenges. Currently I am reading Walden by Henry David Thoreau. My ability to understand language dissimilar from 2011 vernacular is so dismal that I need to read each sentence quietly out loud to even know what I am reading. Years of reading literature for fun has taught me how to speed-read without retaining much of the information offered on the page.
I am fascinated with how difficult it is to focus in this day and age. When I was growing up AIM was a distraction but I didn't have a smart phone and an ipad singing to me every time someone comments on my Facebook page or I receive an email. The distraction is insane. I can barely focus. Between Sadie and the electronics I cannot stay on task. This is also eye opening in terms of my children and the type of boundaries they will have regarding their electronics. I am thinking the cell phone, laptop, ipad, mp3 player and computer will all be on lockdown during homework hours...
As for myself, ideally I would like to have set times I check my email/Facebook and the rest of the time I can focus on my goals and task list. It's amazing how many distractions we have in this culture that deter us from attaining success. Free time that used to be a time for creativity and reflection is now sucked up by mindless entertainment found online.
I am loving Walden. The language is complex and time consuming and the concepts are philosophical and timeless. I would like to introduce a quote from the book and discuss it in detail.
"Public opinion is a weak tyrant compared with our own private opinion. What a man thinks of himself, that is which determines, or rather indicates, his fate."
That quote speaks to me directly. Growing up I looked to my parents to tell me who I was going to be as an adult. As a young adult I looked to teachers, friends, and enemies to forecast my future. I searched for clues in astrological sites. I wrote letters to the Rebbe for clues. I soul searched with everyone I knew begging for pointers regarding my life. I worried about what my enemies thought. I spent so much time searching for the answer I didn't do anything. My early 20's came and went without any great triumphs. I tried to get into law school because my parents said I would make an excellent lawyer. Two LSATs later, with two unsatisfying scores, and three years of tying to get into law school, my parents were the only people who believed I would make a good lawyer. I'm 27 now and I stay at home with my child. For the first time in my life I am keeping my weight down without throwing up, starving myself or hating myself. On days that I indulge I don't take myself down.
Motherhood, interestingly enough, brought about a sense of satisfaction. Sadie, my daughter, adores me. She does not judge me for having a bad gpa in college or not getting into law school or having no career. She loves me because I am good to her. I know I am a good mother. I know I am pretty. I know that eating too much one day or even one week will not destroy my good health and slimmer physique. My fate is finally starting to come together as I release my grip on it. Once I have stopped trying to make my future happen, my future is unfolding. My writing career is taking off as I have found my voice again and will begin submitting pieces in hope of starting a career as a writer. I am a good wife and a great mother. I am a good friend. I am becoming closer to God without even realizing that was important to me. I am satisfied with myself and I am finally happy. Moreover, by finding satisfaction with myself I am inadvertently destroying the power my enemies had over me. By being positive and kind to myself I am creating the fate I wanted and didn't know how to get. No, I will never be the next Julius Caesar, but a girl can dream.
A few weeks ago I made a recommendation to a friend regarding a doctor. Okay, the word doctor is used loosely in this context. He is an Osteopath, in his own words: "Doctors of Osteopathy (D.O.s) receive the same basic training as medical doctors (M.D.s), but they also learn manipulation therapies (hands-on adjustments of muscles, bones, and ligaments) and use these in addition to more conventional medical treatments." I can't agree or disagree whether they have the same basic training as M.D.s or what that means; however, he came highly recommended so I did not hesitate to pass on the recommendation.
Two weeks later my friend approached me and the look on her face was priceless. Her expression was a mixture of shock and denial. Immediately I realized this was a review of the Osteopath I had recommended to her.
"Esther," she began, her voice rising several decibels and her eyebrows bleeding into her forehead, "this guy was a quack. A TOTAL CRAZY. He is nuts. Completely nutty."
Instinctively I moved away. My eyes darted nervously looking for an exit route, my palms became sweaty, guilt started to diffuse throughout my body. The guilt part is normal and happens throughout the day. I don't think I have ever gone a day without guilt - my father did a great job of installing guilt into my bones. I was in trouble. It was an exciting kind of trouble where I was not sure how bad and how deep that situation had become. It was all going to be a surprise. So I did what any normal person would do, I stepped in closer to hear the scoop.
"It was crazy. My friend wanted to leave immediately. The guy had crosses everywhere! EVERYWHERE! Fine, we're not into that but that's okay. A healer is a healer, I was willing to give it a chance. But, it was just nuts. He closed his eyes and did this head shaking thing," she then proceeded close her eyes, hum, shake her head and place her hands side by side with the palms facing the floor. I, in my quest to come off not looking like a quack sponsor, piped in, "oh, energy work, sure, that's normal stuff. It's energy healing."
"Well, yes," she responded, "but then he just spent the whole time talking to us about nutrition and food and he didn't fix the problem. He also repeated we needed to come again. Again? AGAIN? How could he even think we could come again. And did I mention the crosses everywhere? Even on the ceiling there were crosses. It was too much. And nothing was resolved. He didn't even really care about the issue or address the issue while we there."
At this point I wasn't sure what to do. On many levels the situation was hilarious. I sent my extremely religious Jewish friend to a very religious Christian healer. Her and her friend spent $45 on being lectured what to eat. They were not one step closer to dealing with their situation. I may have inadvertently turned them off from trying alternative methods of healing. So I did the only thing I could, I laughed. The situation was too ridiculous. Out of respect for my friend I am not even writing all the details of the situation but this was like a bad Jewish sitcom.
Thankfully she absolved me of any blame. However, it led me to think that it wouldn't hurt to think twice, three times, a hundred times before recommending a doctor to anyone. Or, maybe, my new rule should be I can't recommend someone unless I've also used them. And more importantly, does this rule need to be enforced in all areas of my life? Does, in some weird way, repeating someone's recommendation fall into speaking lashon hora (the old gossipy gossip)? Is it gossip to repeat someone's opinion to another person, even if I am not naming the source?
WHAT IS THE MEANING TO LIFE????
Okay, this may or may not be the best way to end this blog but that's all I have for today.
I cried today. A lot. I went to Logan's work this morning to pick out our new health insurance for 2012. As a woman who gave birth by cesarean the first time, it is very important for me to choose the right insurance for my next birth. A majority of doctors do not support VBACs (vaginal birth after cesarean). After attending several ICAN (International Ceserean Awareness Network) meetings and following their posts on Facebook, I had a list of doctors I knew would support my decision to give birth vaginally. I came prepared. We were going to switch to a PPO and I was going to get the birth of my choice.
At the meeting I found out that our PPO had crazy high deductibles.
These were the numbers I was faced with:
PPO Providers Deductible: $750/member; $2,250/family
Non-PPO Providers: $1,500/member; $4,500/family
PPO Providers ANNUAL OUT OF POCKET Maximums: $4,000/member; $8,000/family
Non-PPO Providers ANNUAL OUT OF POCKET Maximums: $8,000/member; $16,000/family
These fees do not include Copay, non-covered expenses, procedures that cost more than the insurance want to cover, etc. Essentially, getting PPO was writing a blank check. It seemed crazy to me. Logan immediately said it was way too expensive to get PPO and I agreed with him. We had no idea what kind of money we would need to shell out to cover our medical expenses. I jokingly asked what happened to Obama-Care and the insurance agent smiled and pointed at a box where it was written that Preventive Care Services "physical exams, preventative screenings, immunizations, health education, intervention services and HIV services" had no Copay and were free. Unless, of course, my provider was non-PPO, then we would have to pay for 40% of the services. That was Obama-Care.
As I listened to her explain the PPO option I saw us becoming poor and bankrupt by medical bills that were insurmountable. I realized PPO might not be the option for us. I began to list the names of doctors that were VBAC friendly... she checked each one in a book listing all HMO/PPO providers, they all accepted PPO but not HMO. We ended up settling for HMO with Scripps. I knew my friend had two VBACs with Kaiser so I told Logan I was going to go home and see how much it would cost to have me have a separate insurance. I walked out of the conference room and burst into tears. All of my dreams of having a VBAC felt like they were disappearing. I couldn't help it. I started to sob with disappointment. I really wanted to have the birth of my choice. I didn't want nurses pushing me around or a doctor who bullied me into doing what she wanted. After two years I was ready to get pregnant and have my baby the way I wanted to and that dream was being denied because of money.
I got into my car and continued to cry, Logan sat next to me and tried to comfort me. He even mentioned maybe we would get on the PPO and deal with the money question later. He was ready to do anything to take away the pain I was feeling. I let him kiss me on the cheek and then watched him walk away to his next meeting. I knew I didn't have a right to demand his attention for the next hour but I needed to feel supported and loved. I drove to my parents' house and greeted my sisters. Their smiles and their youth were a welcome distraction from the reality I faced. After eating too much chocolate, I decided to get on the computer and do my research. My two wonderful sisters babysat Sadie and I started making phone calls. I went down my list and called each doctor's office to confirm what type of insurance they accepted. Everyone chirped at me that they accepted PPO no problem. Sure, no problem. Who the hell can afford PPO though?
The only doctor whose office didn't answer the phone was Dr. Cap. I left a message on his answering machine and didn't expect a reply. An hour later my cellphone rang and it was Dr. Cap's office. Yes, they did take PPO. Yes, that was their preferred insurance. But, if you do have HMO, they can work out a cash deal. Even paying Dr. Cap out of pocket was a better deal than subscribing to the PPO. Other than having HMO, the other prerequisite was I had to be with Scripps.
As I spoke to his secretary my heart leaped with joy. I was going to get my VBAC after all. I was going to have a VBAC friendly doctor and I was already enrolled with the correct group! I was spared the feeling of defeat I suffered through the morning. When I said goodbye I called Logan and told him the good news. I started to cry with relief. I was going to have the birth of my dreams. And if, God forbid, I still need a cesarean with the next labor, I hope I will find comfort and peace knowing I did everything in my power to birth vaginally.
Meet the Blogger!
I'm a mom. A writer. A lover of good fantasy. A proponent of nursing when possible. A birth advocate. I am absolutely horrible at keeping my house clean or the dishes washed or the laundry done. I strongly believe in women having a positive birth. When we start to respect women's rights to birth the way they want, we can start to treat women as equal people in this world.
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