Sunday, April 26, 2015

Sixteen years ago this month, everything changed

A few months ago, the father of two of my closest friends passed away after a battle with cancer. 

Numerous times throughout his illness and since his death, they both told me things along the lines as, "I don't know how you got through this when you were a kid" or "I'm sorry if I'm making you relive things."

I had the same two thoughts every time they would say that.

-Of course I got through that when I was a kid! Maybe it's easier when you're a kid and you don't have any adult responsibilities. I didn't have a job or bills. I had a mother to take care of me and (mostly, except for that horrible Chemistry teacher who sent home an interim report that I was doing badly the week after my dad died--will never forget that one!), teachers who understood that, no shock, my grades nosedived because I often went off into my own little world and couldn't focus. 

-What's the point of going through something like that if I'm NOT able to help my friends who are facing the same thing?

But, most of all, you HAVE no other choice but to get through it. 

What exactly is the other option?

Getting through it, however, is HARD. 

I knew how much it changed me and that I could trace most of my issues back to what I went through my junior year of high school. I always feel weird this time of year. Spring is when things come to life, but when I was 16, that spring was about death, and those feelings seem to come back each year.

I have gone to my share of therapy over the years and the loss of my father constantly come up. A therapist I saw on and off for years also lost her dad as a teenager, and I found that made things a perfect match. Once I got upset and asked her, "Why does everything always have to go back to that?" 

The therapist responded with, "Of course it does. I don't think you understand what a traumatic thing you went through."

But I did know, though, I just wanted to heal. I wanted those bruises to go away. 

Maybe, in another universe, there's a version of me who didn't go through this, and maybe that girl is so much more confident, and braver, and maybe she doesn't have crippling abandonment issues. Strangely, I found myself connecting with Khloe Kardashian when I watched the Bruce Jenner interview. It looks like she's having the worst time with things, because she is the one with the really bad abandonment issues, and she freaks out when people leave or change. I definitely freak out (internally and sometimes externally) when people leave or change. And I know why. 

I recently analyzed a certain friendship of mine. I constantly am going to this friend with my problems, and I realized that I often blow these issues completely out of proportion. It's almost like I feel like as long as I am enough of a mess, I'll be able to go to that friend for guidance and he'll always feel needed and won't go away. I know these are my issues and they come from an important man leaving me forever when I was that young and I wish I didn't have them.

My aunt was telling somebody who had never met my father about him--that he was brilliant and hilarious with his own type of humor. This outsider responded with, "Then that's where Diana gets it from." 

The person who said these words has, in the past, criticized me on a number of things, and has come right out and told me that he does not view me as a success in any way because I am yet to make money from writing. Money, he thinks, is what makes you important. This person has been in the audiences of my plays, and has seen firsthand people react really well to them. I can make people laugh. But that doesn't matter, he thinks, because I don't get paid for it. Isn't that a sad way to feel?

It's strange that such a meaningful compliment would come from a person who has, in the past, made me feel like a failure. He compared me to my father in terms of brilliance and my humor and I don't think my father would have ever made me feel like a failure--he would have realized that making an audience laugh was one of the greatest achievements in the world. 

With that unintentional compliment from an unlikely member of the peanut gallery, I realized I'm perhaps more confident than I thought I was, because I CAN acknowledge I'm really clever and funny, and I know a big reason WHY I am--because my father was, and that's the best possible way to remember him every single second.

I think the most painful part of such a traumatic loss is when you realize that the person is no longer a part of your daily life, but a memory--but knowing I have gotten the best parts of my father ensures he will never be just a memory.

My father's grave says "You left us a legacy of laughter." I know he'd want us to be laughing every day, even in April. Especially in April.

Friday, March 13, 2015

On a train home tonight...

...a little girl was standing right next to me. She was with a large group of people (I'm assuming a family of tourists.)

One of the women she was with said, "Maya, when the train stops next, you have to move and sit down and give the people around you more space."

I was pretty much the only person standing near the kid, so I said, "Oh, she's fine!"

The mom looked at Maya and said, "Wow, you just met a really nice person!"

Maya then looked up at me and said, "Someday is TODAY."

That was the most profound thing I had heard all day.

I had just gotten off the phone regarding something I have been waiting for to happen and have been thinking about a lot.

We're always looking ahead at "someday."

But someday has to be a day like any others first, doesn't it?

Maya then said to me, "Your hair looks BEAUTIFUL."

(Maya's awesome.)

I told her that her hair was beautiful, too, and she gave me a full description of how her mom did her complicated wraparound braid.

(She's lucky she can pull that off. I just look like a young girl fleeing war-torn Poland when I try.)

Only in New York.

Monday, February 16, 2015

It's okay if, one day, somebody you love totally crushes you, and you keep on loving them.

Last year, somebody who has always been very important to me and somebody I believed I was also very important to, did something that truly hurt me, and I wondered for a while if I was supposed to cut that person out of my life...for good, forever, never speak again, "you don't deserve me", etc. etc. etc.

I was so crushed by this person's behavior, I couldn't imagine things ever being the same with them, and figured I had to shun them completely.

And I realized I really didn't want to do that.

This wasn't a romantic relationship, and it feels like that would have been easier to do so had it been one. It's easier to accept a hurtful betrayal from a romantic interest instead of a good friend.

Instead, this was somebody I truly always shared a pure, unadulterated friendship with, and that's what made it so painful. This person wasn't supposed to hurt me, and they did, and seemed totally oblivious to the fact that they did. Did the fact that they had no idea that they hurt me so much make it okay, or was it even worse?

I found myself defending this friendship to other people. They found it hard to believe I would even want to be friends with this person. I  kept on repeating the same answer--that I wasn't defending their behavior, but I also wasn't going to defend myself for sticking by them, that this was somebody I had shown love and loyalty to for a very long time, and I wasn't going to take it away now when they likely needed it the most.

A few weeks ago, I found closure in this situation. It wasn't closure that involved detaching from this person, but closure in accepting that it was okay that I didn't want to to detach. I realized that I had to forgive this person, even if they didn't quite know that I had been so angry and hurt, and that there was an unspoken understanding that we'd always in each other's lives and didn't owe anybody else an explanation.

There's a novel called The Object of My Affection by Stephen McCauley. I've seen the movie a million times, partially because of my hero, Wendy Wassertein's, fantastic adaptation of a screenplay.

The novel ends with the pair of friends on a ride at Coney Island.

The ride starts and the narrator says that, "We must have stayed on that thing for twenty minutes, spinning in circles, getting tossed into the air, thrown against each other in the corner of the slick seat by some centrifugal force as inevitable as death and much stronger than love."

I remembered that passage when I was coming to terms with my situation and reread it, and related to it very much. It suddenly made so much sense.

Sometimes there ARE just things that keep us cemented together and nobody else is supposed to understand it, and that's okay.

I realized this person is supposed to be in my life, and will always be in my life, no matter what, because that's how it's supposed to be.

I'm not being a pushover by forgiving this person, and I also am not going to let this person hurt me again, either...but I know they're supposed to be there.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

I had a moment on my walk to work recently...

I was walking to work and saw a little girl in my old school uniform from when I went to Catholic school on Bleecker street.
She had the little sweater on with the school name on it.
I said, "I went to grammar school there!" and then the woman who she was with (I am assuming she was her nanny from Russia or somewhere near it) just starts going on and on out of NOWHERE to the little girl in her heavy accent: "You see? She was once just a little girl like you going to the same school! And now look at her! She is this beautiful woman conquering the world because she followed her dreams! And one day, you'll see a little girl wearing your old uniform and you'll tell her you were once a little girl like her going to the same school! And then you went on to do so many great things, because this is America and you can do anything!"
And then after we parted ways, I almost just burst into tears because it was so sweet and completely random to get an indirect pep talk from a total stranger who doesn't know anything about me.
Sometimes you just really really need something like that to happen.
I'm very hard on myself, and have had people in my life who are also very hard on me...and then a total stranger who doesn't know me says I am conquering the world!
The Universe always knows exactly what it is doing.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Jewel had a good song for such a situation like this...

So please be careful with me, I'm sensitive
And I'd like to stay that way.
I am so sensitive.
However, in being so sensitive, I am also very sensitive and empathetic to other people's feelings.
It goes both ways.
This is who I am!
I'm extremely hurt at somebody that I really care about right now (and that I thought cared about me) and I am resisting the urge to write a very upset email.
It won't do any good...those kind of emails never do any good. I have also tried that trick where you write a letter and rip it out. I have never found that to be helpful at all.
But right now, I am hurt and I want that person to know how very much they have hurt me.
I am also realizing that this person will likely not care at all if I tell them off.
A few years ago, somebody I was close to was horribly betrayed by their spouse. Somebody said to me that I must have felt stupid, considering I was always so nice to the spouse. (I'm nice to everybody.)
My immediate response was...why would I EVER feel stupid about being NICE to a person?
I would, however, look back and regret not being nice to somebody.
I still stand by that.
I can look back and think of all the intentionally hurtful things I have done in my life. I can't think of many times when I have actually done anything to hurt somebody.
I can turn off my light every night and know I was usually my nicest and most often did the right thing, and I'd rather be like me than like one of those people that can somehow manage going through life blissfully unaware that they have hurt someone.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

A Ripple Effect...

I make the fact that I attend a weekly "positive thinking" class no secret at all.

It's rubbed off on me...a lot.

We often talk about changing your vibration, thus changing the vibrations of everybody around you and, in turn, hello, changing the world.

The other morning, I got onto the elevator in my office building. There's only one elevator and it's a slow elevator. (The building has built in mouthwash dispensers in the bathrooms, but really slow elevators that break down a lot. Welcome to New York.)

I'm always early for work and usually alone in my trip to the sixth floor every morning. I saw a lady walking into our building right after I stepped into the elevator, and I held the door open--all of 20 seconds (if that!) for her to get there. If I didn't, she'd have to wait for the next one.

That could be months.

She gave me a puzzled look and said, "...were you WAITING for ME?"

"Yes, I was."

She said, "You are SO NICE. That was so nice. I think I'm going to have a lucky day now."

Okay, I'm a sensitive one. That almost made me cry a bit.

A part of me was upset. Is the general population THAT rude that they can't be bothered to hold an elevator for somebody?

But I mostly thought this encounter was wonderful and I hope that lady had the luckiest and happiest day she'd had in her life.

I walked down the hall to my office feeling like it was going to be my lucky day as well.

It was really easy--why don't we all do things like that all the time?

Diana Rissetto

Friday, January 31, 2014

The other morning,in the street...

I overheard one older woman say to another that ANYBODY who works in New York City clearly makes six figures (or close to it).

I have had numerous jobs in New York City, and I have never made anywhere near that.

I told these two ladies that (since, of course, I have my lifelong knack of talking to total strangers in the street.)

One of these nice older ladies tousled my hair (because when you have a ton of long, curly hair, people feel the need to do that to you without asking) and said:

"But you're really pretty! So it's okay that you don't!"

I'm not sure if she was advocating prostitution, marrying well or pursuing reality television.

But, I feel a lot better now.

Because I don't need money.

Because I'm really pretty.

Diana Rissetto