Posted by Ilana Angel
A friend of mine lost his mother last week. I went to sit Shiva and was truly touched by the loss. I cried for the pain I felt for my friend, and also for the loss of my own father. Losing a parent is crushing. My father has been gone for over 10 years and I still find myself calling him on occasion. When I hear the recording telling me his number is no longer in service, it still takes me a minute to understand. I miss him so much.
My father died from cancer, and while it was devastating to watch him suffer, the blessing was I got to spend time with him, knowing he was dying, and being able to leave no words unspoken. My father passed way with a true understanding of how much I loved him, respected him, and thought he was a wonderful human being. I miss him every single day and am blessed to see glimpses of him in both myself, and my son.
Ever since I became a mother I have had an irrational fear of death. I cannot bear the thought of leaving my child. I want to see the dreams he has for himself come true, as well as the dreams I have for him. I want to give him a standing ovation when he graduates from high school, kvell when he gets into his dream college, dance at his wedding, babysit his children, and grow old while I watch him grow old.
One of my irrational single mother fears is that my son will not ever understand how much I love him. By irrational, of course I mean I feel it in my heart, even though my mind knows it is silly. Should anything happen to me, there will be nobody to tell him. My family will help him know how much I love him of course, but they live far away and don't see our life up close. There has not been a real witness to my life as a mother as it has simply been him and me.
I have had a stressful week with work, family, relationships, and motherhood. Work is busy and there are not enough hours in the day. My family is far away and I am feeling the void that distance brings. My Englishman is a wonderful boyfriend, terrific father, and business owner, so with our busy and full lives, our time together is limited with both of us having teenagers at home. I want to be with him more, and I miss him.
My son is almost 17 and I can honestly say he has been a true pleasure to raise. There are challenges to be sure, but I am very lucky because he is a hard worker, with a strong moral compass, and a kind heart. He loves me in a profound way and we have a strong connection. He is dealing with an insane amount of homework, and trying to figure out what he wants to do with his life. Those pressures, along with regular teenage angst, are causing tension.
I found myself crying today for so many reasons. I have a spider bite on my right eye, which has caused it to swell shut. I yelled at my son over homework. It was my sister’s birthday and I was not there to hug her. My mother told me she misses my dad so much she can’t breathe. I was so tired last night that I stayed home instead of going to see the Englishman on one of the rare nights my son was sleeping out. It all came crashing down and I cried like a baby.
I am clearly wallowing in a bit of self-pity, which I think is perfectly fine and totally allowed on occasion. Sometimes life becomes overwhelming and you need to break down in order to build yourself up. My Englishman called whlle I was crying and I shared all my concerns with him through sobs. He listened, let me go on and on, then spoke to me in a kind and gentle tone, in his divine English accent, with words that dried my tears and brought me peace.
He told me I was a brilliant mother. He shared that in the time we have known each other, he has seen how I love my son and that while nothing is going to happen to me, I can rest assured that he will make sure my son understands how much I love him, and what being his mother has meant to me. He said he admired me as a woman and a mom. The Englishman is my boyfriend, friend, father, lawyer, therapist, lover, teacher, nurse, Rabbi, and financial advisor.
He is the man of my dreams and has become a witness to my life. Relationships are hard. Not only relationships we have with each other, but the relationship we have with ourselves. I am very critical of me, and don’t cut myself a lot of slack. It is a blessing the Englishman can share how he sees me. At the end of the day I must remember that if God leads me to it, he will lead me through it. I am not going anywhere, so I need to relax, and continue to keep the faith.
5.17.13 at 5:27 pm | I am never going on another coffee date.
5.14.13 at 4:36 pm | Love needs a kick in the ass.
5.11.13 at 12:44 pm | My Mom gets the day off because this one is on me.
5.9.13 at 4:10 pm | Love s certainly a game, but it does not need to. . .
5.7.13 at 7:41 pm | Some questions simply cannot be answered.
5.5.13 at 3:19 pm | The hardest lesson to learn is to be quiet and. . .
5.14.13 at 4:36 pm | Love needs a kick in the ass. (491)
5.11.13 at 12:44 pm | My Mom gets the day off because this one is on me. (368)
5.17.13 at 5:27 pm | I am never going on another coffee date. (296)
October 14, 2012 | 9:08 pm
Posted by Ilana Angel
After 7 months of dating, and a slow and steady stroll to love, the Englishman is taking my son and me to England to meet his family for two weeks in December. By slow and steady, of course I mean that I have loved him since our first date, but it took me months to allow myself to not only enjoy it, but label it. I am still nervous and scared that I am going to be hurt by love, but I can now say, with no hesitation, that I am in love.
I am my true self with this man. I have no fear of judgment and that is a freedom that every woman should feel. When I am sarcastic he laughs at me, when I am moody he tolerates me, when I am uncertain he assures me, when I am crazy he embraces me, and when I am nervous that something bad will happen because I am not sure that I am deserving of a true love, he loves me enough to make me believe that my days of heartache are over.
When I am in sweatpants and my hair is in a ponytail, he tells me I look beautiful. When we are busy with work and cannot speak, he texts me to say he misses me. When I blog about him, sharing our relationship with people I feel connected to, but are complete strangers to him, he tells me he is proud of my work. When my last relationship ended I was certain I would never love anyone again.
I am a mother, daughter, sister, friend, girlfriend, ex-wife, employee, employer, lover, woman, coward, and superhero. I am all of these things every single day, and finding a balance is hard. I don’t know that I would have made it to this place in my romantic life were it not for this blog and those who read it. I don’t like to ask for help, but luckily for me, you never waited for me to ask, you simply offered your kindness to a stranger.
The truth is that I don’t think of you as strangers at all. Some of you are actually guardian angels to me. You have taken this journey with me, and when I stumbled you picked me up. When I was ready to dump the Englishman because I was scared, you gave me light to find my way. When I wanted to walk away before I got hurt, even though there was no indication hurt was coming, you kicked me in the butt and told me to stop.
To the women who have been broken and managed to find love again, you encouraged me by sharing your own stories of hope and survival. To the women who gave up on love and now regret they didn’t allow themselves to love again, you shared your cautionary tales and told me to learn from your mistakes. You have all been brave and I am forever grateful. Each time my Englishman tells me he loves me, I thank God for all of you.
When I hug my child, I hang on for a second longer because I think of all the mothers who have lost children. When I hug my Englishman, I hang on for a second longer for every single woman who is searching for love. When I meet the Englishman’s father, I will hang on a second longer for all the hugs I wish I could give my beloved father. When I hug the Englishman’s mother, I will hang on a second longer as I pray that she really likes me.
I have had my heart broken by love, and even worse, my spirit broken by men who where unkind. I have cried more than I laughed, and now I feel that my Prince Charming has come. Finally. It’s about time too because I was one cat away from being beyond help. I am going to England and I cannot wait. I have not been to London in 14 years, and the last time I was there it was for business and a quick trip with no time for sightseeing or shopping.
I am going to see London this time through the eyes of a man who loves it so much. It is his home and I can’t wait. I’m also getting to experience my son’s first trip to Europe and that is beyond exciting. I am also going to Manchester, which is where my father grew up, for the first time. I will see his family, be in the city he loved so much, and I will get to share it all with my son. My dad watches over me and I know he is excited about the trip.
I am excited to sit in the kitchen of the Englishman’s mother and hear stories of him as a child. I want to cook a lovely meal for his dad and younger brother, and I want to play with his nephews and have a cup of tea with his other brother and sister-in-law. I want to experience his family in a way that will give me memories for a lifetime. I have not met them, but I love them all already, and my heart is full when I think about our trip.
I am 46 years old and I believe I have found my beshert. Every road travelled, both happy and sad, has led me to this man and I am blessed. His taking me home to meet his parents is a romantic gesture on the grandest scale, and I am happy to share it with you. By share it, of course I mean I am taking you all with me. You are my friends, my teachers, my inspirations, and one of the strongest reasons that I am able to keep the faith.
October 7, 2012 | 1:10 pm
Posted by Ilana Angel
Sex changes for women as we get older. We go from no experience and thinking all sex is good, to having enough experiences to be able to tell the difference between good and bad sex. We want meaningful sex, but discover that not only does meaningful not necessarily mean good, sometimes not meaningful sex can be mind blowing. I believe sex helps us define who we are as women.
Sex is empowering, but also crippling. It can make us feel feminine, and also give us balls. It can make us cry in a good way, and bad way. Sex can give us faith, and crush our spirit. Sex is a way to find love, or end love. Sex is best, in my opinion, when it is monogamous. It shapes a love affair and romance. I do not believe sex should be a goal. Sadly, I’m learning for a lot of women, it is.
I recently met a woman who told me she was not interested in a relationship, just wanted to have sex with a man who would treat her with kindness and buy her gifts. She is 41, broken from a divorce, and so untrusting of love that sex is her new fairytale. She wants to feel like a woman, while erasing all the feelings that come with being a woman. Many women want this new fairytale.
Have men hurt women so often that getting laid is now enough? Is putting a Band-Aid on a gaping wound going to make it better? Are woman scared to fall in love because the loss of it is so painful? Is having a purely sexual relationship the away to go? Can women even have sex without emotion? Not only emotion for the person they are with, but the emotion that comes with being a woman?
If you have a sexual realtionship with a man, and he takes you out and buys you things, won't feelings come? Will the hopeful heart that lies buried in every broken woman's heart not shine through? I like to think that as long as I have faith I will find my way to love without having to shut down the hopeful side of my battered and occassionally bitter heart. Faith in myself and God.
Sex is an important part of a relationship and fairytales are elusive. Sex is a great part of being a grown up, and personally I would not be in a relationship that did not include sex. I want to feel desired and also want to feel the power that comes with desiring my partner. Can we have it all? Do we need to label relationships as sexual? We assume couples are having sex, but maybe not.
Maybe people are having arrangements rather than relationships. Women are approaching sex with broken hearts, rather than hopeful hearts. Is the fear of being hurt enough to make us undervalue ourselves? How quickly one stops judging a whore when she realizes she has become one herself. It is disappointing that I define this sexual view as that of a whore.
Being free to have sex without involving your heart does not make you a whore. It does not even make you a slut. All it does is make you a woman with a different view. We all see love and sex differently. I see them as one, but I may be the minority. I have been single for more time than I have been in relationships, yet my hopeful heart still shapes the view I have of sex and love.
I want an old fashioned fairytale. I want to be with a man who fulfills me emotionally, intellectually, and sexually. Not only do I want it, but I deserve it. \We all deserve it. Even if you may not want it, you still deserve it. The question is not whether I can find a fairytale, but rather how long it will last when it is found. Time and luck will tell, but I will help by keeping the faith.
October 2, 2012 | 6:26 pm
Posted by Ilana Angel
Why is it that when you are single you cannot find a decent guy to date, but when you are in a relationship, men are not only everywhere, but they are interested in you? I have been dating the Englishman for almost 7 months and I have never had so many men ask me out. Very strange.
When I was out running errands yesterday, a man asked me if we knew each other. He looked a little familiar, but I think it was probably from a fantasy of mine, not because we knew each other. He was a very handsome man with an easy smile and curly grey hair. For a minute I fluttered.
We chatted for a couple of minutes while he tried to figure out how we new each other. By figure out of course I mean his ploy to keep a conversation going was both pathetic and admirable. He finally gave up on the charade and asked me if he could take me out for dinner sometime.
I thanked him for the invitation and told him I was dating someone. He blushed a little and said it was to be expected, which made me laugh. Once the pressure of asking me out was gone, we had an interesting conversation about how hard it was to date when you are older.
He is 54, divorced with grown kids, and has been on his own for just over a year. He has absolutely no game, but his attractiveness certainly helps him out. His ex-wife just remarried and he is feeling vulnerable, like a bit of a loser, and unsure why he is having such a hard time.
He told me that when he was married, women hit on him all the time, but since being single women don’t seem to be that into him. Our bodies give out a signal when we are available that is clearly some kind of a repellant, and we smell delicious when we are in a relationship.
I can remember dating men who made me want to vomit, and men who actually did vomit, and thinking I was going to die alone in line at the animal shelter getting another cat. There are a lot of freaks out there but there are also decent and kind people.
Turns out dating is not about luck or fate, as much as it is about smell. We can give off a smell of contentment or desperation, so we need to be careful. I am in love and giving off a smell of happiness, which men are attracted to that. Happiness smells better than bitterness.
I was alone for a long time and having found someone whose company I enjoy is really wonderful. When a man hits on me now it makes me proud and happy. Proud that I smell like happiness not desperation, and happy that I don’t need to play the dating game any longer.
To be clear, even though I am in a serious and committed relationship with the Englishman, it is still a game. I am navigating the choppy waters of love and it is hard, but there is comfort in knowing who I am dealing with. When you date someone new, there is a lot of unknown.
I know exactly what I am dealing with in my relationship because there are no surprises or skeletons at this point. Important to note that last sentence is complete crap. There are no guarantees in any relationship but time is making us stronger, and our fear weaker.
The only thing that matters is that I am in love and I stink of happiness. I believe we have the power to change the scent we give off, and so I hope those who are alone and looking are able to make themselves stink, so they find love. Think positive, and keep the faith.
September 29, 2012 | 12:54 pm
Posted by Ilana Angel
While I’m not sure how it is that bagels became part of Jewish culture, they are our thing. Everyone associates bagels and shmear with American Jewish cuisine. I love a good bagel and am partial to boiled bagels from Montreal, but also enjoy a sesame from Western Bagel here in Los Angeles. It is comfort food and has marked all milestones, family events, and Sunday brunches throughout my life. Bagels are quintessentially Jewish.
As a Jew I take offense to people ruining the bagel. Personally, I think blueberries and chocolate do not belong in a bagel, and if I were to search the Torah, I might find that it is actually forbidden. When my son was young I would put a frozen bagel in his crib, and when he woke up it would be defrosted and he would gnaw on it. It gave me an extra 15 minutes of sleep, which was a blessing. My delicious son loves a delicious bagel.
I may love a bagel, but I can assure you, I am never going to have one injected into my skin, and certainly not ever on my face. National Geographic’s Taboo television show is featuring a story on the latest “beauty” craze in Japan, the “Bagel Head”. Really. People are injecting saline into their foreheads, shaping it into a bagel, and then walking around like it is the ultimate in fashion. These people are cray cray.
The entire process takes about 2 hours, and only lasts between 16-24 hours. Once the body absorbs the saline you have had pumped into your face, it’ is gone. Really? People are sitting with an IV drip of saline going into their faces for two hours to come out looking like a moron? I don’t understand the extreme body modification movement, but unlike Mitt Romney, I believe people should be able to do whatever they want to their bodies. That said, this is stupid.
This is not cool, not attractive, cannot possibly be safe, and I just don’t get it. If I saw someone on the street with this modification I would not need to stare because now I know what it is, but it would take all my strength not to offer them lox and shmear. At the end of the day I guess Jews and are just so cool that even our food is coveted. I won’t be sporting a bagel head anytime soon, but I’m off to grab a bagel, and I’m keeping the faith.
September 27, 2012 | 11:37 am
Posted by Ilana Angel
The high holidays this year marked my first Jewish holiday experience with the Englishman. It was a little stressful for me because I have a clear view of who I am in terms of my faith, but how he rolled though the festivities was unknown to me. He is Jewish of course, but were our levels of Judaism going to mesh through the most important days of our faith?
Religion is a tricky subject, and even though I only date Jewish men, it has still proven to be somewhat complicated throughout my romantic history. I have dated men who thought I was not Jewish enough, and others who felt I was simply too religious. I always thought it would be easier if I was with a Jew, but it turns out that is not always how it works.
My last boyfriend could recite Torah and I thought it was the sexiest thing in the world. My boyfriend before that would listen to me read Torah, and it was the sexiest thing in the world. The Englishman cannot recite Torah, does not want to listen to me reading Torah, and he is the sexiest thing in the world. We are very different Jews, and it is okay.
As I sat in temple on Yom Kippur with the Englishman, his youngest daughter, and my son, I felt Jewish enough. In the past I have strived to be more Jewish, or dumbed it down to be less Jewish, but with the Englishman, I am simply Jewish. I don’t need to explain myself, I just need to be myself. He does not judge how I practice my faith, he just let’s me be.
We are very different in terms of our faith. In fact, we could not be further apart in terms of our relationships with religion and God, but at the core of who we are, we are Jewish. For the first time in all of my romantic relationship life, being Jewish is enough. I was trying to figure out what it all means and in the end I think this is what love is.
I over think my relationship. I love him and know he loves me, but I wonder if love is enough. There are things in our relationship that are not perfect, but is that not true of all relationships? One could argue the things I think are not perfect are being blown out of proportion in order for me to sabotage it all. Or perhaps, it is just a real relationship.
It gives me tremendous comfort to have reached this place of enlightenment at services. The Rabbi asked us to turn to someone in temple and tell them about someone that had passed away and was important to us, in order to keep their memory alive. I started to cry and turned to my son to share how much my Dad loved him, and how proud he would be of all he is doing.
We had a lovely moment remembering my dad. I then turned to my Englishman and heard him speak of his beloved step-mom Sheila to his little girl. He then turned to me and told me that Sheila and my Dad were watching over us and probably had a hand in our finding each other. I felt true love for this man, and knew my Dad would have loved him too.
My father was an Englishman, and these two men share the same sense of humor. I find I lean on my Englishman in the same way I used to lean on my father. He is a calm voice of reason and I know he has my back and will always protect me. Not only me, but my son also. They are very close and it is something special. They love each other.
We are building a life together and it is scary, weird, uncomfortable, exciting, and lovely. I often try to define what kind of Jew I am, but he makes me feel Jewish enough. By Jewish enough, of course I mean simply Jewish. Our faith is the same and how we worship, while not exactly the same, is Jewish. Could this be what it is to find your Beshert?
If I can be the woman I am in front of God, in front of him, is that a soul mate? If I can worship without fear of judgment or criticism, is that love? If I can feel safe in my faith and open to seeing a different view, does that make God happy? I had a wonderful holiday and I learned a lot. It turns out being Jewish enough is the easiest way to keep the faith.
September 24, 2012 | 10:56 pm
Posted by Ilana Angel
Tuesday evening marks the beginning of Yom Kippur. It is a Day of Atonement and the holiest of all days for the Jewish religion. Since many of my readers are not Jewish, and have written to ask what the holiday means, I thought I would take this opportunity to share the importance of Yom Kippur in terms of both my religion, and my personal faith.
On a religious level, the holiday is about atonement. Jews observe the day with a 25 hour fast, along with prayer. We spend most of the day in temple. This day marks the end of the Jewish High Holidays. It is the most observed of all the Jewish holidays and even the most secular of Jews will find themselves in temple.
Yom Kippur is the 10th day of the month of Tishrei. In our tradition, God inscribes our fate for the coming year into the Book of Life on the Jewish New Year of Rosh Hashana, then seals the book with our fate on Yom Kippur. The time between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur is when we try to make amends and seek forgiveness.
It is not only about asking for God for forgiveness, but atoning for anything wrong we have done against another human being. We spend the day praying for forgiveness, confessing our guilt, and talking to God about all of it. Our hope is that when the sun sets to end the day, God has forgiven us. It is a special day and always very emotional for me.
In terms of my personal faith, I speak to God every single day, but Yom Kippur is special. Its not that he listens differently on this day, but more about our prayers being louder. When every Jew prays on the same day, I imagine it is a wonderful chorus for God. I envision him listening to all of us together and feeling from us what I feel from him.
I have a relationship with God that has taken me my whole life to build. I turn to God in moments of joy, sorrow, peace, and turmoil. God has listened, which has allowed me to listen in turn. I am my closest to God when I pay attention to my breathing and don’t analyze choices. It is through God that I am able to trust myself, and choose joy over fear.
I have a list of things to discuss with God. Some are deep, some are silly, some need to be lifted, and others will ease his worry for me. God has always been by my side. Even when I did not see him, he was there. When he spoke and I did not listen, he stayed. He allowed me to hear my own voice, find my way to love, be a good mother, and find peace.
Some days I charge through life as a lion, and others I watch through the eyes of a lamb. Life is a blessing and you meeting me here to read what is happening in my life matters to me. I love that you are all going along the path with me. I learn from you and appreciate when you share your views with me. We are all in this together.
I hope we are all inscribed in the Book of Life and have a year of health and happiness. I believe that if God leads you to it, he will lead you through it, and so I hope your path is an easy one. Thank you all for reading. Have an easy fast and I will see you back here on Wednesday night. I’m off to atone, pray, fast, and keep the faith.
September 12, 2012 | 9:10 pm
Posted by Ilana Angel
A couple of weeks ago I strained my back. I took a yoga class and turned in a way that I don’t think my body is meant to go. I felt it happen and it has been bothering me ever since. I’ve taken pills, gotten a shot, and had acupuncture. Everything is working, but sadly only temporarily. I probably need to go to a chiropractor, but they make me nervous.
I am trying to work through it and hope it is simple a muscle strain. I’m not a doctor but I’m guessing that because I was stuck on the floor this morning for 45 minutes, unable to move, it may not be a muscle strain. I am going to get it checked out and am hoping it’s nothing serious. By hoping, of course I mean that I went online and am convinced it is fatal.
Searching the Internet to research your aches and pains is not a good thing. If you Google symptoms, you will quickly learn you are dying and need to prepare your will because the end is near. If you have a headache, the computer will tell you it’s a brain tumor. If you have a stomachache, the computer will tell you it’s an ulcer. No good can come of this.
I made the mistake of looking up my back issues and within five minutes I was crying. While I am sure I do not have a rare form of cancer, or a spider bite has left baby spider eggs on my spine, for a minute I thought it could be true. Instead of continuing with what the Internet promises will be death by the end of the week, I’ve decided to count my blessings.
With the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks this week, I am reminded that life is unpredictable and my obligation is to find joy not prepare for doom. I have met a man who has shown me kindness in a way that has altered my worldview. My Englishman loves me in a way that gives me tremendous peace, and also scares me in a way that I find comforting.
Those of you who have been reading my blog since the beginning, know I have had my fair share of bad dates and have been searching for love for a very long time. By bad dates of course I mean I have dated human garbage. Actual human garbage people are wondering amongst us. Some dates left me certain I would die alone with 18 cats.
When you look for love and don’t find it, you think that perhaps you never will. When you are hurt by what you think is love, you question whether or not you are able to recognize love at all. When searching for love, you tell yourself what you think it is, and then when it is not what you thought it was, you assume you will never find it. Searching for love is exhausting.
I believe I have found love with the Englishman. Beyond my love for him, I love his daughters, and how he loves my son. I am not sure what I am doing, which is both sad and funny. Thank God he has chosen to love me and be supportive while I figure it all out. To be clear, I am not figuring out if it’s love, but rather figuring out how I got so lucky to find it now.
If you are a single parent you know there is added pressure. Am I bringing someone safe into the life of my child? My son wants me to be happy, so I wonder if he is telling me he likes someone just because I do. In the end my son is the great love of my life and so when I date, I am dating for the both of us, and the Englishman has won us over.
Last night my son told me that he loved me. He walked into the living room, hugged me, and said he loved me. He then went into his room and I waited for him to come back and ask me for money. He never did. I went into his room eventually and asked if everything was okay. He told me the day, September 11, reminded him to be grateful for his life.
We talked about the tragedy of 11 years ago and it was powerful. I ended up pulling him away from his homework and we went out for some yogurt. We got caught up on school and work, and got to talking about the Englishman. He told me that he loved him and was so happy he was in our lives. It was not about my boyfriend, as much as it was about our new family.
I am happy and blessed to have such a remarkable son, and grateful to have met a wonderful man with such amazing children. I don’t know what the future holds, but I do know that I believe in love because of my son, and I see what love is when my Englishman looks at me. No matter where the road takes us, the view will have been worth the trip.
September 11 is a day for reflection for me. I think about all that was lost, but also of blessings. I pray for the souls lost and feel an obligation to live my best life in their honor. I am reminded that I must always listen to my breathing, see color, feel joy, release fear, accept love, and pray with purpose. Life is a miracle and we all matter. I am keeping the faith.