The End of Hope. The End of Trying.

by Loolwa Khazzoom • May 22, 2016 • Family Secrets

The End of Hope, the End of Trying

This past fall and winter, the neighbor to the east of me behaved in ways that traumatized me and put my life in danger. About six weeks ago, he did it again, although a much milder – yet still potent – version of the same behavior. I realized that, despite having moved six times in the past six years, and despite being in a head space where I really wanted to settle down, I needed to get the fuck out of here – away from his venomous, sociopathic energy.

I wasn’t sure if my landlady would allow me to go month-to-month, so that I could stay until I could figure out my next move, and I had to prepare myself for what I would do if she said no to that possibility. That’s when I first entertained the notion that I would put my belongings into storage and – with no astronomical rent or utilities to pay – travel the world.

The idea terrified me, which in turn mystified me. What had happened to me? Where had my wanderlust, boldness, and spontaneity gone?

I realized that eight intense years of caregiving for my mom, through multiple life threatening emergencies, while also healing from my own back-to-back medical emergencies – not the least of which was cancer – while also launching two companies in the span of one year, working my ass off to get from the verge of homelessness (compliments of said medical emergencies) to a six digit income, had left me not only exhausted but also in a habitualized rut of discipline. I was focused on two things, working and healing, to the exclusion of all else.

I had lost myself in the process.

My landlady said yes to the month to month option (with a technical twist that worked for both of us), but I still wondered about the possibility of traveling. It seemed remote, undoable, somehow forbidden. And yet everyone I ran the idea by encouraged me to do it. (Kudos to me for surrounding myself with awesome people.) “If your heart is calling you,” a wise friend said, “heed the calling.”

The thing is, my heart was not calling me. I felt compelled to just keep doing the same thing day in and day out, staying put. And yet, I knew that was not my essence. It was one of those times when I knew in my brain, not my heart, that I might need to dive off the proverbial cliff – in a leap of faith that I would sprout wings or that an eagle would swoop down and fly me safely to freedom.

I tried on the idea for size and momentarily decided I would do it. “When you made that decision,” a friend reflected back, “your whole face came alive.” Indeed, over the past few weeks, as I entertained the notion of globe trotting, I not only felt terror of the unknown but also started increasingly filling up my body with my own energy – standing taller, feeling freer, and dancing and ululating on the streets (not giving a fuck what people would think), as in days of yore.

My heart still hadn’t quite caught up, but I could tell that the whole travel thing was fitting me well.

Only yesterday did I start to put a plan into action. I was thrilled that it was actually happening. Suddenly, yesterday, it felt real. I shifted from terror to excitement. I could not wait to be footloose and fancy free. I felt complete faith in myself, to find ways to travel safely and comfortably, and to heal through my travels.

See, while traveling in and of itself can be healing, it also can pose challenges to my healing: I need a quiet place to sleep, a firm yet soft bed, and somewhere nearby to get organic vegan food and juice (without the ubiquitous kale or spinach, which I cannot consume raw). I know how to do that when I stay at places like the Marriott and rent a car, which I can afford here and there, but how do I do that for an extended period of travel?

I also need to figure out what to do about my massive amounts of exclusive supplements, as well as my organic and natural body products. Do I travel with a heavy suitcase, which adds challenges to my mobility but leaves me secure in the knowledge that I have what I need? Do I pay exorbitant fees for international shipping? Do I say fuck it and risk getting off my supplements for a couple of months, with the idea that the psycho-spiritual healing from travel might replace the need for physical healing from herbs?

Long story short, yesterday I reached a place where I was back in my just-do-it mode, trusting myself to figure out, on the fly, all the particulars involved. I was ready to have an adventure. It was a life-altering turning point. I was manifesting my soul again, as in days of yore.

I called to share my excitement with my mom. She didn’t seem excited. Her response was, “Mm-hmm.” When I asked about that non-response response, she indicated that I am highly competent and always bound to figure things out, so there is no impetus for getting excited. It’s “just normal.”

A whole lot is wrong with that reply. People walk through life like automatons, taking for granted the glorious sunshine, the beautiful flowers, the soothing rain. Are they any less glorious because they appear every day? I do not take these things for granted. I holler, “thank you!” to Gd/dess, with my head tilted toward the sky, quite regularly. I hug trees, smell flowers, and absorb in wonder the daily beauty that surrounds me. In fact, said sociopathic neighbor has taken issue with my expression of joy, referring to my ululating, “woo-hoo!”s, and “thank-you”s as my “constant screaming from the front porch.” People who are dead cannot stand the presence of Life.

Are our steadfast relationships any less valuable because they are steadfast? To me, that makes them even more valuable. I regularly tell my loved ones that I love them, and I make a point of sharing my appreciations of them. I even go up to managers from time to time, telling them what I love about their companies or sharing a particularly nice thing that an employee did. They often wait for the other shoe to drop, so accustomed are they to getting negative feedback but not positive feedback, and yet there is no other shoe.

I walk in gratitude and celebration. And I find that many people see something wrong with me for being so excited about Life and so openly expressive of that excitement. Past the age of 10, unbridled joy – at least that without the aid of substances like alcohol or drugs – is considered “weird,” “crazy,” and so forth. It is my opinion that this distorted thinking is the root cause of many ills of our society.

Back to the interaction with my mom: What particularly stood out for me was the fact that when I was a child, my parents would jump for joy if my sister came home with a B-, whereas they would give me nothing more than a nonchalant “uh-huh” when I came home with straight A’s. I spent my life being effectively punished for being smart and naturally talented – to the extent that when I was six years old, my mother pulled me aside and said, “Can’t you do a little less well, so that [your sister] doesn’t feel so bad?” Not long after that incident, when I drew a picture of my dad and showed my mom with pride, because I did a damn good job, my mother responded, “Oh, now you’re an artist too? Can’t you leave anything for [your sister]?”

I didn’t pick up a paintbrush, pencil, or marker again. I told everyone I was a terrible artist. I also spent the rest of my childhood never allowing myself to come in first place, because I would be taking that spot from someone else. I self-sabotaged throughout my studies, flunking on tests and otherwise behaving in ways that made everything more difficult for myself.

I had the distinct sense that I was not allowed to breathe, because I would be taking someone else’s air. To this day, I will not check off the organ donation box on my driver’s license, because I am afraid that this deep-seated childhood training will cause me to subconsciously get into a fatal accident (Gd forbid), so that someone else can have my body.

When I was in high school, I passionately wanted to be the class historian. I didn’t know anything about affirmations at the time – this was the 1980s, before the whole Louise Hay craze had hit. But I instinctively created index cards with one affirmation after another, which I read over and over again, including right before I competed for the speaking gig. And for the first time since I was a little child, I came in first place.

In the years since, I worked tirelessly on recognizing myself as worthy of being who I am and taking up my space – despite society colluding with my mom, in the sense that I was deemed “too” smart, “too” strong, “too” loud, and so forth, for a woman. I manifested my greatest Being, to hell with what anyone else had to say about it, and despite the great cost at which being authentic often came. I also picked up a paintbrush again in my early 20s, discovering that I am in fact a naturally gifted artist, and going so far as to publish two of my paintings.

My mom knows this. She knows that putting me in competition with and selling me out to my sister created one of the core wounds of my life. And yet, her response to me was not to hear my heart, not to connect the dots between her dismissal and betrayal of me as a child and her inability to share in the excitement of my pending trip. Instead, it was to justify her behavior when I was a little girl: “[Your sister] struggled to get those grades,” my mom started saying.

I knew where she was going with her line of thinking: Because I was naturally smart and talented, she saw no reason in the world to recognize, support, or encourage my accomplishments as a child. Instead, she ignored, devalued, or made contemptuous remarks about what I had achieved. Despite being my mother, she lacked the inclination or interest to share in my joy or otherwise celebrate my Being.

And she was doing it again.

“Oh, now you’re going to justify it?” I replied, cutting her off and hanging up the phone. I felt kicked in the stomach. I doubled over and cried, a heap in the corner of the couch. I spent the next three and a half hours crying on and off. I had a weird dream and did not sleep well, and I woke up after about five hours, tired and crying again.

Things have been tough for me recently, on a number of levels. Among other things, I have been completely burnt out – thus the importance of this pending trip. One day, about six weeks ago, I was feeling particularly down. Among other things, I was feeling very alone in the world. I called my mom for support. I shared that I felt I was failing her, because I could barely manage my own life, let alone take care of her. Her response was to start yelling at me about how I was trying to turn her into me – which is the opposite of true and would require a blog post of its own to discuss. The long and short of it is that after that interaction, I gave up trying to help her.

Then last week, we finally talked about that interaction. I shared with her that she has the habit of explaining herself, justifying herself, defending herself, or out and out getting into combat mode when I share my feelings about something, instead of hearing and responding to my heart, from a place of compassion. After sharing my feelings about this matter, in detail so that she would understand, my mom told me that I expect her to do things on my timeline, the way I would do them (also not true), instead of letting her do things her own way, and that she had just been trying to communicate that. In effect, my mom did exactly what I was talking about – explaining herself instead of hearing my heart.

From the age of 16, when I took both my parents to therapy, I have devoted much of my life to healing my past relationship with my mom and creating a healthy and harmonious dynamic for the present and future. Last night, I felt completely deflated: Unbelievably, we were right back to where we had started, 30 years ago, with my mother patently unable to see me, honor me, or celebrate me. Given that I have nearly lost my mom numerous times, I felt the added distress that she might die, with those being her final words to me – which I imagine could cut me for years to come.

I don’t know what is my mom, what is her cocktail of mental health issues, and what is perhaps deterioration from age. All I know is that last night, I was left with the feeling that I just cannot do this anymore. The end of hope. The end of trying.


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About Loolwa

Loolwa KhazzoomLoolwa Khazzoom has worked with leading media outlets, including The New York Times, CNN, Rolling Stone, and ABC News. In addition, she has published two books and has lectured at prestigious venues including Barnard Center for Research on Women, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, and Harvard University. Loolwa is passionate about health, music, dance, multiculturalism, and Judaism.

Holistic Media, Marketing, PR

Loolwa Khazzoom is a a public relations manager specializing in holistic media, holistic marketing, holistic public relations, and holistic promotions. Her services include branding and messaging development, image and communications management, website content development and optimization, social media management, traditional media campaign management, book development, and in-house writing and editing.

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