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"She spilled a glass of wine on his pants"

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Post by LornaDoone Sun 04 May 2014, 02:41

I found this New York Times article very interesting.   I like what she says at the end. I think too often women are expecting a man to heal them or take them away from what they may perceive to be dreary, drab lives.

And this "if you think it the universe will provide it" mentality is a bit much IMO. I think it takes conscience action to get what you want. Clarifying for yourself what you really do want is important but until you take action nothing is going to just come to you.

Healing Sought (Bring Your Own Magic)

May 1, 2014

At 42 I had never loved someone who loved me back. Recovering (still) from childhood sexual abuse by a neighbor, I couldn’t transcend romantic failure.

One night my friend Lourdes, a child psychologist who moonlighted as a yoga teacher, invited me over to fix my love life. After dinner, while drinking mint tea, she said, “You just have to visualize the exact man you want.”

Although this seemed very woo-woo, I closed my eyes. Immediately I saw Peter, a brooding soul who also had been abused as a child. Throughout my 20s I’d had a relationship with him — if you can call hot, sporadic sex with an emotionally unavailable guy a relationship.

It had been years since I had seen him. So I was shocked to find him lingering in my brain: Being in love with him was a secret I had kept even from myself. All the more shameful was my buried-yet-unequivocal conviction that Peter was the only man who could mend me. On some subterranean level, I believed if we could only be together, his abuse and my abuse would cancel each other out in some mysterious arithmetic of healing.

I had never confessed this to anyone. But suddenly it came pouring out of me. Lourdes, with black goddess curls cascading down her shoulders (my own brunette frizz worked more horizontally), said I should listen to my inner wisdom.

“Now that you know who you want,” she said, “the universe will bring him to you.”

Like Lourdes, I had been wielding crystals since the ’80s. Colorful chakra books and CDs on synchronicity were part of my world. But as the child of an Auschwitz survivor, I saw flaws in New Age positions claiming that thoughts alone could determine destiny. This mind-set blamed people like my grandparents for their own murders. Better to hold on to skepticism, I reasoned, despite my tarot-loving tendencies.

Then again, maybe Lourdes had it right. No stranger to loneliness, hadn’t she manifested (her terminology) a handsome husband at age 40? The guy was clearly a catch, even if he was from the opposite end of the political spectrum.

At home that night I picked up a journal I had received as a gift. On the first page I wrote: “Peter will come and find me.” Then I sat in a meditation pose pushing away these facts: 1) I’d had no contact with Peter in 11 years. 2) He had no idea where I lived now. 3) Last I heard, he was married and living thousands of miles away.

I had no intention of interfering with his marriage. Mostly, I pictured Peter and me having a conversation in which I confessed my therapy-resistant brokenness and he, more than anyone, understood. Then we would exchange childhood war stories.

I believed this interaction would somehow fix my foundation. At the same time, I found the idea ludicrous.

But when I looked for Peter on Google a few days later, I saw that he was coming to my city to perform a one-night-only, one-person play about his abuse. I was floored. And I was free. I usually taught on Monday nights, but I had that evening off for spring break. Coincidence?

The night of the performance I sat in the dark theater, sweating, as Peter spilled his trauma onto the stage. His father had been a madman, and Peter spoke eloquently about how this had damaged him. I identified with the powerlessness and self-hatred he detailed. His courage inspired me. After the play, as well-wishers dissipated, I stepped forward to congratulate him.

There was no wife to be seen.

We met for lunch the next day, and I told him everything: craving him, visualizing him, being unable to heal. When I was done, Peter told me he was divorced, tired of living in his hometown, and he, too, had been in love with me all those years ago.

The next thing I remember we were naked. In the weeks that followed Peter and I emailed frequently. I couldn’t believe it: I was having a relationship with a man I adored. And he was reciprocating.

No longer a tepid believer, I became a zealot.

“You can have whatever you wish for,” I declared at a dinner party.

“Nonsense!” my lawyer friend shouted.

My friends circled me as accusations flew involving Darfur and pancreatic cancer. They said I was blaming afflicted individuals for their own misfortune. And wasn’t I implying they could just wish these things away? “When they die, it’s their own fault, right?” one friend said.

Of course I saw their point, yet wild faith now enveloped me like a silk robe that might actually have been polyester. I didn’t care what the material was; it kept out the cold. Sort of.

I didn’t want to see it at first, but a pattern had developed with Peter. If I emailed him, he wrote right back. If I didn’t write, he didn’t, either — that is, until I couldn’t stand it anymore and wrote him again.

Finally, the first week of May, two months after our reunion, I went to see him for the weekend. He seemed happy about my plan to visit, but once I got there, though he was kind, he kept picking fights. It was as if his ex-wife was standing just behind my right shoulder, and he was playing out ugly scenes with her.

When I left on Sunday, I still had hope, reasoning that he was just grieving his marriage. A few days later he emailed: “This is not a good time for us.”

I felt humiliated and unmoored.

Feeling betrayed by Peter, Lourdes and my own doped-up religiosity, I poured my pain into my own one-person play. Mine was about losing my mother 10 years earlier. To research her life, I traveled to Poland and Germany, where I wandered concentration camps, Nazi ghettos and the sites of death marches.

This confrontation with brutality gave me a strange relief. I finally felt grounded in the real world, where there was no correlation between what a person desired and what the universe offered. When I returned to the United States, I spent a year on my play. I gave up dating. At bookstores I avoided any aisle that featured dead ancestors, angels or the I Ching.

But one day, while putting final touches on my dramatic piece, I began listening to an interview I had conducted with my mother while still in college. It contained her entire war story. I had recently found the old TDK cassette and had it digitized.

All of a sudden there was an anecdote I had forgotten. In the last months of the war, my mother lay dying of typhus on the stone floor of a concentration camp, surrounded by corpses. In a stroke of luck, there was a small window where she could see a bit of sky. She thought that if she looked out the window every day, imagining she could fly, the typhus wouldn’t take her. It didn’t.

I decided magical thinking was encoded into my DNA. It was who I was.

Under a tangle of socks I found the journal I had used to bring forth Peter. If I wanted love, why wouldn’t I do everything in my power to make it happen? Nothing short of this commitment made any sense.

Turning to a fresh page, I wrote: “I will be in a serious relationship very soon.”

A few weeks later, after a slew of dates (I was taking the practical route, too), I went to lunch with Kurt, a man who was neither dark nor brooding. He was from Indiana.

In that bright French bistro, Kurt talked about a childhood filled with the usual cuts and bruises, but he was not the least bit abused. I liked his carefully combed hair, boyish grin and earnest blue eyes. But could he help heal me? Partners of abuse survivors can’t avoid taking on this healing role; the residue of sexual violation shows up the minute one of us is touched.

Despite my doubts, I became animated in his company. My hand gestures grew huge until, during a burst of enthusiasm, I spilled my glass of red wine all over Kurt’s light khakis. Time paused: I was certain this stranger would unveil something unsavory. I held my breath, anticipating a flash of rage or a casual infliction of harm.

Instead, Kurt threw his head back and laughed.

“I’m so glad you did that,” he said with a toothy smile. “It’s something I usually do.”

Safety felt odd, but as Kurt walked me home, he took my hand. His meaty palm made me calm.

When we arrived at my building, to my surprise, Kurt kissed me, passionately, in broad daylight. I kissed him back. Three years later, on a snowy December day, we were married.

Had I conjured Peter from my past to get him out of my system so I could find true love? I can’t say for sure.

I can say this: I didn’t need a broken man to repair me. I needed a whole man who believed in repair.

Laura Zam is a writer and performer working on a memoir about healing from sexual abuse.

A version of this article appears in print on May 4, 2014, on page ST6 of the New York edition with the headline: Healing Sought (Bring Your Own Magic)

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Post by Nicky80 Sun 04 May 2014, 13:07

Great article. And it is very true the last bit about "whole man"

Also in the article is written:

“Now that you know who you want,” she said, “the universe will bring him to you.”

That reminds me of the book "The Secret". Did you ever read it? The book tells you when you KNOW what you want and THINK of it all the time the universe will bring it to you. Very positive book. Love that one  Very Happy 
Casamigos with Mr Clooney

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Post by LornaDoone Sun 04 May 2014, 14:49

yes I read the Secret. The problem is that I don't believe it.

I think you can dream all day long about something. But if you don't act on what you want then no amount of dreaming is going to bring it to you.


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Post by Katiedot Sun 04 May 2014, 14:59

I'm 50:50 on this (I haven't read the book).

While it's very true that just sitting and dreaming of something isn't going to make it happen, you do need to have an idea of what you want in life in order to accomplish it.  

I remember years ago when I was learning to drive, my driving instructor told me to always focus a long way ahead on the road because humans have a tendency to steer towards whatever they're looking at.  And so in life.  If you spend your life thinking how miserable you are, you will unconsciously keep steering yourself towards misery.  But yes, you do have to get up off your ass.

In the woman's example above, she had probably met plenty of men who would have been ideal for her, but she wasn't ready for them and so didn't notice them, ending up in unsatisfactory relationships.  Only once she decided she was ready for a real relationship did she start noticing men.  Sure, she misfired with the guy from her past but she eventually did find the right man for her.  

That had nothing to do with mystic forces of the universe if you ask me, but everything to do with a woman steering her life in a direction she wanted to go.

I always feel a little bit hmmmm about this whole 'the universe will deliver' philosophy because taken literally it implies that people deserve and even bring down on themselves the bad things that happen to them. That clearly isn't true (to me, anyway). On the other hand, I've had too many times in my own life when I've thought about wanting something and lo and behold, it happens. Of course, a rational person would also want to know how many times I've thought about wanting something happen and it didn't, but human nature being what it is, I couldn't tell you.

Last edited by Katiedot on Sun 04 May 2014, 15:03; edited 1 time in total

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Post by LornaDoone Sun 04 May 2014, 15:02

Said much better thanks Katie. Agree with you.

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Post by Joanna Sun 04 May 2014, 15:06

Yes a very good article. Thanks Lorna for sharing it. 

I must agree that two people who've had damaged childhoods of whatever type are often attracted 
to each other.
But that can't be a healthy combination for a long term relationship, but a friendship maybe.

Having a "well balanced/grounded" person for a partner can help the "damaged" person heal over time.

I believe it's impossible to "heal oneself" by oneself, 
but the influence of or even the chemistry shared
with an empathic partner, who's not been abused in childhood, can be very beneficial.

Obviously I'm speaking generally and we all know there are exceptions to every generalisation !
George Clooney fan forever!

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