Saturday, September 11, 2010

A Week Before Rosh Hashana

It's been two months since I've written on this website. I think I'm winding down and will probably only write on occasion. I don't have another scan or test until January. For those of you who don't have the time to read this whole update, I've given titles to each part, so you can skip what doesn't interest you.

From S.Y. Agnon's book, "Days of Awe"
"It has been taught: Rabbi Eliezer says, In the month of Tishri the world was created, in Tishri the patriarchs were born, in Tishri the patriarchs died. On Rosh ha-Shanah Sarah, Rachel and Hannah were remembered on high and conceived, on Rosh ha-Shanah Joseph left prison, on Rosh ha-Shanah the bondage of our ancestors ceased in Egypt. In the month of Nisan they were redeemed, and in Tishri they will be redeemed in time to come. [Rosh ha-Shanah 10b-11a]"

Rosh Hashanah always has been a big day for me but ever since being diagnosed right after the holiday, two years ago now, it touches me even deeper. I've been listening to audio after audio from in my car for 3 months straight. It started during the weeks of not listening to music 3 weeks before Av. Learning and learning and learning about the Jewish holiday season and the energies that impact the world and our lives on those dates, year after year, new moon after new moon.

The new moon of Tishri starts sundown next Wednesday eve, along with the Rosh Ha Shanah service/holiday/days of awe.

My life has been full of challenges, one after another since before the 9th of Av. And I've been taking the month of Elul to think about what I need to change about myself that is related to these challenges. Elul is supposed to be a month of reviewing yourself and the past year to understand what you want to commit to on Rosh a new year's resolution...hoping that your return to your mission in life is enough for G-d to give you another year.

Since I don't follow a whole lot of Jewish Laws as far as all the prayers, koshrut, hametz, etc., etc., I've always thought that my resolution has to involve taking on one or another of these mitzvot for the coming year. This year though, I realize that the part of Jewish practice that comes easy to me is study and "heshbon hanefesh" or the work surrounding the betterment of one's character. These are probably the special mitzvot I was given the responsibility to excel in and if I concentrate on them, I feel less guilty about not doing all the rest. Part of my resolution this year is to accept that I'm human and definitely not perfect.

This year I'm really getting into studying more than I ever have - so keeping this up is one of my resolutions. The other one has to do with my character. We are supposed to look back over the past year at what we have done that has "missed the mark" and ask to be forgiven and make a commitment to redirecting our arrow/actions to hit closer to the "bulls eye". Every challenge I have had this past year and many years previously is a direct result of "missing the mark" by having the tendency to keep my truth to myself and not speaking up when I need to.

*It's a tendency to not want to make waves and not have anyone get mad at me.
*It's a tendency that always makes things worse between myself and others.
*It's a tendency that ruins my relationships and blocks my ability to really be there for others because I'm always sacrificing myself, even when others aren't asking for me to sacrifice.
*It's a tendency that causes me to not be able to be there for others, because I'm not there for myself.
*It's a tendency that makes me want to run away from people who I fear being honest with.
*It's a tendency that doesn't want any honest feedback from others because it hurts so badly to not be as perfect as I think I should be.
*It's an arrogant tendency that thinks I can be like Mother Theresa.
*It's a tendency that puts up a barrier between myself and others because I just am not totally present with myself and them.

I realize after writing all that that I'm being extreme here because being able to be totally present for someone else makes me good at the work that I do. But even there, my honesty can be lacking at times.

That's probably why I wrote this carepages when I first got diagnosed. It was a relief to be totally honest. And yet, even here I hold back some for fear of how I'll be understood... Sometimes when I don't get the response I want or get a response that I don't want, it pains me.

So that's something I want to grow out of. I want to feel more free to express my honest truth in all of my relationships without the fear of how I'll look or how people understand what I say.

That's what I'll be asking for help with this coming year and I'm asking to not have my lessons on this need to come through tragedy or calamity or severe illness. I never want to need that kind of correction ever again. 2 years ago my illness/correction was enough.

On a cheerful note (sorry I'm so serious lately), I feel completely comfortable in my new body. When I look at my chest in the mirror now, one and 1/2 years from surgery, I don't cringe or feel deformed. My new chest is feeling more like me again. I'm not as embarrassed for people to see me without my fake boobs and I'm totally fine with wearing them too. I'm not feeling fussed by them and keep them in my bra and hang up my bra every night instead of the extra work of taking them out and putting them in their cradles.

I'm finding ways to make my life easier and I truly love my family and my life right now.

P.S. We had a fantastic time in NYC and the best was seeing my relatives and having my kids get to know them. Jason went with my Uncle Barry to the hospital and his office - which was such a thrill for him, though maybe more of a thrill for me to have him get to know my uncle. (My uncle is kinda like House...and is as colorful as my mom.)

Seeing my dad with his siblings was also so meaningful to me and touched my heart. I felt so proud of my Pokras heritage and how much I love each and every one on that side of the family...they are really good people. My cousin Beth told me something I hadn't heard before: that I was her little cousin she was looking forward to seeing all the time...before we moved away when I was 2. Everyone was so sad when we moved away. We always went back east to see everybody but it's not the same as living close by and seeing people all the time, so I never really got close with my New Jersey family. Seeing them this visit though, helped me to feel really close despite the distance.

On the Grabelle side, everyone is such a kick and I'm completely enamored with them and felt their love for me. I also felt closer to everyone than I ever have due to my challenge and how everyone was so supportive through it. Family means so much to me.

Even Geoff's mother's sister and her husband came to see us at the Grabelle's which was so nice for us because they are family that my kids know and love and really wanted to see again. Plus Geoff's uncle Martin knows everybody and it was so fun to realize he went to the same high school as my mom and dad and worked next door to my mother's uncle, the lawyer - he even asked about his son by name, my mother's cousin. So Geoff's uncle knew the Grabelles in Newark so long ago.

NYC and the tourist stuff we did were nothing in comparison to seeing the family.... Then again, seeing Geoff's house he grew up in and eating such delicious pizza in Fort Lee was quite a topper.