Saturday, November 7, 2009

After Greenwich

Holy Cannoli Batwoman! I do have a minor cavity that needs to be taken care of. Still I submit that to not have had a cavity in over 10 years is OK. So I have one now.

I took the train to the Barnes & Noble on 86th & Lex and bought for the price of the expensive desk calendar two appointment books. One is a Tuscany diary and the other satisfies the decorator in me because it has colorful patterns. I keep the Tuscany one at home and the design one at work.

The Bruni in the City column I wrote for the next issue of New York City Voices is titled "The Dating Game" and has my Top 10 Tips for a First Date. In it I clarified my position on The Face Test. It has to do with whether you feel any chemistry with the other person. I do not covet a boy toy or someone with conventional good looks. I prefer a guy who is intelligent and kind and has a sense of humor. This is what I value: not whether he has chiseled cheekbones or an Armani physique.

My own beauty is an accident of genes: my mother was an attractive young woman and my father was a good-looking young man and they carried that down. My brother looks like he could be a fashion model.

I'm going to buy the Isaac Mizrahi book How To Have Style. I will also buy a cork board to create an inspiration board. The expression "If you believe it, you can achieve it" rings true here. To have a visual of what your new life looks and feels like is the first step in getting there.

Where could I buy a cork board? Staples? I'll go online and search their website.

The first step is letting go.

I decided to donate my purple leather Coach key chain to Sal's. I've had it for close to 10 years. Now I use the green strap key chain I bought in Greenwich. The Coach one I bought when I first began working as a librarian. I coveted the keys I was given because I could open and close the doors. Somebody else could use that key chain now to hold the keys to her own freedom. It was an impromptu decision to get the new green strap.

With great hope-and no regret about the past-I begin my new life. You have to let go in order to move on. A friend says my life is now complete because I have met someone. I will not go there now. You can read about it in my Bruni in the City column for New York City Voices.

This much is true: the past is over and done with as soon as it's gone. Today is the only day that matters. Take risks and you will gain confidence. "Do the thing you think you cannot do." I will take Eleanor Roosevelt up on this. Every morning when we wake up our life is a blank slate to write in as we choose. We can choose to go beyond our comfort zone. We can dare.

Five years ago I took a risk: I dared to enter into a relationship with a friend of mine. He coveted being normal as the Holy Grail. Dr. Altman told me I must have been relieved when the guy broke up with me because dating him was stressful. I lost a friendship. Girls: after you break up with someone do not try to remain friends. It's over. There can be no friendship.

So you take a risk and you will find you are stronger than all that. You must be courageous. You cannot live your life on 33 RPM in an iPod world. Go with the times. Leave the era before the era leaves you.

I realized today that if my brother died responding to the World Trade Center attacks my life would have been over. He is alive today because his fire squad responded later in the day. This is proof that God gives us only what we can handle. I would have been shattered.

True: it does not help when you are with someone who does not let you express yourself or be who you are. I wrote about this in a comment at the Connection. In the fall before I had the breakdown I wrote in my journal "The root of my psychosis is that I was not allowed to be who I wanted to be." How prophetic. You see. Now. How joining the radio station was the defining moment of my life.

The ex-boyfriend told me once:that he was "almost normal now." Then he went off his meds. There is no normal. Only what's right for you.

In my new life:

I am certain that I am OK just as I am.

I am confident that I am on the right road.

I am able to change people's lives for the better.

No: I do not regret a moment lived.

I would rather have loved and lost than not taken the risk.

Yes: I'm convinced I was better off even though it was stressful. Life goes on. Eleanor Roosevelt said something else that was true: "A woman is like a tea bag. You do not know how strong she is until she gets in hot water."

You see: I could not be involved with someone who was not humble. The ex-boyfriend was also a Tiger, the mortal enemy of little ol' Snake me. The new guy is a Rat-and the Rat-Snake combo is rated three out of four stars for its "alluring fascination." He is also a Sagittarius so I wonder about that because I'm a Taurus. My father is a Sagittarius and so is D.-who is one of my two best friends.

I am a changed person. The schizophrenia changed me. It made me a more compassionate person. I could not judge someone unless I walked a mile in his or her moccasins.

When I turned 40 I convinced myself I wanted to be married. That was a long-ago dream. It was when the ex-boyfriend appeared on the scene. I sat in Dr. Altman's office crying because I was 40 and hadn't met my life partner. He told me I was just like any single woman in the City looking for love.

After Greenwich: I am ready to begin again.

The cognitive therapist told me: "It just happened. You had no control over it." And so I go with that. Only I remembered exactly when it started: September 11, 2004 when I was riding the S44 bus to the Staten Island Ferry.

Exactly five years later-on September 11, 2009-I sat in the office of the director of the cognitive therapy practice telling him what brought me there. A coincidence? I wonder.

The anniversary of 9/11 will resonate in me forever because it is the only time I ever dealt in "What if?" I did not ask what would have happened if I didn't get sick. Nor did I ever tell myself "If only I didn't get sick." I'm a realist: I deal in the real. Yet always I know I'm lucky that my brother didn't die because that is the biggest If: He could have died. What if he died?

Exactly one month before the meltdown on the S44 bus I risked disclosure in a global way: I was the featured reader at the Cornelia Street Cafe event and read the breakdown scene from my memoir and the positive ending of the book.

Disclosure changes everything. I was on the bus a month later going to the Ferry to Manhattan to attend the IAWA event again. You may ask why I do this. You may ask why I'm open and honest. After you disclose the dynamic changes. You wonder what people think. A friend tells me I'm lucky because people have only responded positively so far.

Even today she said: "You turned a terrible thing into a good thing."

I do this because in offering you my life I want to show you there is hope. My optimism is not an empty slogan.

Today I am coming to terms with the truth: I cannot change what happened on the bus. I cannot go back and reverse my decision to disclose. I cannot be other than who I am: a woman whose life was changed forever on September 25, 1987.

God Bless You.

I hope you find some joy and happiness in reading this blog.

Keep the faith.

I believe that love will prevail in a world overrun with hate.

So I urge you to join the world.

Do the thing you think you cannot do.




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