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.