ONLY AS SICK AS WE ARE SECRET

ed54db0481b9c9836e19388d8ce6f3d0Anyone who has grown up in a traditional community knows that one is strongly urged to never speak about the skeletons rattling around in both individual and community closets. As for me, I was so open with strangers right from the get go that my conformist mother would warn me to hush. “Your big mouth will get you into trouble,” she’d say sternly. “There’s no need to tell everyone how you think or feel. If you continue like this, no one will marry you.” I would snigger, thrilled at the thought that this innate habit of frank communication would repel prospective partners who didn’t appreciate honesty. Life had thrown enough chains on me already—why on earth would I want one more?

My mother was wrong. My wildness drew people to me. But I had seen too much already to be dazzled by the usual courtship rituals and already horrified by what I saw happen to women who were outspoken and bold—the patriarchy crushed them, and the matriarchy colluded in this, for often it was mothers-and sisters-in-law who did their worst to make sure that any new woman who entered the fold was made to suffer dire consequences if she dared to rebel. Yes, I knew quite well that if I fell into that age-old trap of marrying into the community, driven by the twin needs of security and approval, sooner or later I would be in for 50 shades of hell. This is how I viewed the scenario anyway and it led me to marry out of my community and move to Manhattan; now that marriage did not survive either, because we were driven by different value systems—in simple terms, he loved money more than honesty  and for me honesty always came first— but that is a story for another day. Continue reading

A Goddess Mandala: Kali, Aghori & Unconditional Love #1/6

image-1During my post-divorce years in Manhattan, I grew close to a band of unusual women ranging in age from their 20s to their 50s. Some were freelancers or regulars at the posh corporate law firm for which I then worked; others I’d bumped into at some cheese-and-wine affair that trendy Manhattanites throw in order to compensate for a crazy work-week; still others I’d encountered through the 12-Step program, whose meetings I attended in order to eradicate the insidious smoking habit slowly but surely draining my life force.

Going to AA to deal with a smoking addiction, you demand incredulously? But AA’s for folks with alcoholic dependency, ain’t it? True, AA was originally designed for the alcoholic, and yet liberal Manhattanites were open to a wider definition of addiction. In those often dark and stuffy spaces where addicts and alcoholics of all ages and backgrounds converged in order to keep each other sober, I found myself welcomed, sponsored and loved—until—as the popular saying goes—I was able to let go of my crutches and begin to love my unique self. Continue reading