on ownership

A while back I talked about having a difficult time with the experience of certain things because of the associations that they have for me.  A cigar is not just a cigar if you will.  Or rather, an avocado is not just an avocado.  Nor are olives olives, nor acoustic guitar music…well, you get the idea.  When you’ve made another person’s needs and wants the center of your universe for so long, a lot of material things end up taking on additional significance, as they can seem like the key to domestic tranquility.  At least that was my experience.  Maybe I was just looking for anything to be the key to domestic tranquility, as I certainly didn’t have it.

But I digress.  I was talking to my friend, Cherry, about this tendency to shy away from certain things: foods, books, etc., because they seemed to be too much infused with something from X.  She told me that after her last serious break-up, she couldn’t listen to music anymore, any music, not for a really long time.  We’re talking for years.  The reason?  In her words, her ex “owned” all the music.

Not literally of course.  Cherry’s ex did not have some kind of universal copyright to every song ever written, but, in Cherry’s mind (and partly due to some abuse issues in their relationship) Cherry did not allow herself access to something that could have been an amazing source of comfort for her.  Painful comfort, I’m sure, yet still a comfort.


During the six years I was with Mr. X (almost five years of marriage–our anniversary just passed by), he was my teacher.  I don’t mean to say this in a creepy way (though there was that element), but he taught me so very much about judaism.  One thing I will not fault him is his intelligence, and once he devoted it wholeheartedly to learning about judaism, well, he was like a runaway train.  Something I would say about X when we were together was that he either did things not at all, or 150%.  He did not “like” things, he would love them with his entire being–music, food…and judaism.

So, he knew a lot.  And when I was with him I learned and learned and learned and learned and learned.  To be honest, my motivation was often survival (though I could not see this at the time)–to keep his love and to be the super-jewess (which were part and parcel).  But still I learned and learned, and I just soaked it up.  I was a sponge.  Another thing I cannot fault him–he is a phenomenal teacher.  You know if I am saying something so positive about Mr. X, it is true.  He is one of the best teachers I have encountered.  And I had him all the time–at home, in the car, on vacation..  So, I learned a lot.  All the while in a pressure cooker, but all the while soaking up with my spongy brain every nuance I could grasp.


As I said:  Cherry’s ex did not have some kind of universal copyright to every song ever written, but, in Cherry’s mind (and partly due to some abuse issues in their relationship) Cherry did not allow herself access to something that could have been an amazing source of comfort for her. Painful comfort, I’m sure, yet still a comfort.

And my ex does not have some kind of universal copyright to every jewish thing ever, but, in my mind (and mostly due to some abuse issues in our relationship) I have not allowed myself access to something that could be an amazing source of comfort to me.  Painful comfort, I’m sure, yet still a comfort.

X had a teacher once, who, when asked permission for something taught in class to be used for teaching somewhere else, simply said, “It belongs to the jewish people.”  As in, it is not mine, I don’t own it, I won’t pretend to have any rights over what you have learned from me.

What X taught me (and I must admit, he did teach me), did not belong to him.  He did not own it.  He was just the conduit.  So I will no longer pretend that he has all the rights over what I learned from him.

He has taken enough.


9 responses to “on ownership

  1. There is a lot of comfort for you in Judaism. That’s one of the wonderful things about an ancient religion – there is something Jewish for every person and every situation. I’m glad you are taking this back; Jewish learning does, indeed, belong to the Jews. Mr. X doesn’t own it, and never, ever could.

  2. Yes, he has. I’m glad you are no longer willing to give to him. He doesn’t deserve it.

  3. Great post. You are so right on your point that Mr. X doesn’t own Judaism or the things he taught you about it. I’m glad you’re able to take back this bit of comfort for yourself.

  4. YAY I can comment! WordPress and my computer were having a lover’s quarrel and they wouldn’t work together! Now all is well and I can comment again ;o)

    Anyway, I’m glad you feel you have use of that knowledge and he no longer has that power over you. You are regaining your power a little more every day! How amazing is THAT?! VERY amazing!
    Nice work, hon!

  5. Good for you!

  6. Yes, associations are painful or pleasant depending on what they are bundled with. Certain scents, colours, even hair-dos get fixed with a certain person.

    Am glad that coming out such hell, you still recognize Mr. X for the good things he has taught you, and through all this you can still classify its impact and what importance to attach to everything past.

    Happy Recovery!

  7. I think it would be fantastic if you are able to put this idea to work.

    In my experience, especially music, it’s not that I felt that the offending person (be it a boyfriend, a friend, whatever) owned it, but that it just brought too much painful memories to the forefront of my mind, especially when I wouldn’t feel it otherwise.

    In music, it was the music we listened to, discussed, etc together, of course. But I also tend to listen to lyrics a lot and especially during a breakup, I could and would interwine our story with just about anything. So instead of just driving carefree down the road, I would be thrown back into the memories whereas if I didn’t listen to it, it simply wouldn’t be on my mind right then. So I chose not to listen to a lot of music until my heart was mine again. Or at least mended. It’s funny, I always gauged how healed I was by listening to one of the saddest love songs I had. Once I was able to just enjoy the song again and not cry, I was over “him”.

    I understand this is not what someone would want to do with something as important to some like religion, but it just made me want to share the similar feelings I had.

  8. Damn straight he has. Well said.

  9. What an important realization. I am so glad that you are not letting him take anything else from you, most particularly something as important as your faith and the comfort you receive from Judaism. Well said.

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