Nightmares of a Jewish Deli

7 Feb

I woke up at 5am today, drenched in sweat. So much water fell off of my body and my bed that I was actually cold, despite the heat being set to 73 degrees.

I woke up and realized I was having another Jewish Deli Nightmare. I know this sounds completely crazy, but it is most definitely true. Bizarre, but true.

In another life I worked as a waitress and manager of a very successful and amazing Jewish Deli. I don’t want to state the city or name of the successful and amazing Jewish Deli. In another life I was really skinny, irrational, wild, lots of fun with a fair amount of drama mixed in for good measure.

That was almost a decade ago. Sometimes it feels like it was an hour ago.

I spent the last weekend on another magical yoga retreat with my sister at Kripalu in Massachusetts. To say that it was amazing would be an understatement. I sat and watched 33 women and 1 man go through some phenomenal transformations, revelations, and life changing shifts.

I looked around the room on Sunday, as the last moments of the retreat were upon us, and I was inspired to get busy writing again. I really need to write is all I could think about. I really need to write about what I know, about what is true for me, about where I live in my heart. I kept thinking that if I was honest, really raw honest, that I could accomplish big things in my life. I could help other people accomplish big things in their lives.

The nightmares began upon returning home. It was my calling to write about something that still haunts me. It was my time to start writing from that place that I keep hidden and reserved for only me.

The Jewish Deli was more than just work for me, it was my family, it was my calling, it proved to the world that I was young but throughly capable of handling such a big job. I always knew, even as a young woman, that I could handle the biggest of jobs and that there was no task I couldn’t or wouldn’t take on. I was so proud of myself when I worked there, so proud of what that job represented to the world. I was something. I was respected. I was smart. I was capable.


Self fulfilling prophecy, I knew I would find a way to sabotage my position.

The staff at said successful and widely popular deli was like family. We were all so close, although I was told to stay away as the manager, of course I never listened. We were such a fun bunch. I was so fond of all the people I worked with. There was no division in the staff, the waiters and busboy and dishwashers and managers all partied together. We were a gang, a click, a force to be reckoned with.

There was one thing that separated me from the rest of the gang. I was the addict. I was the user. I was the unstable one. It hurt that the same people who used drugs with me found it so easy to throw me under the bus. It hurt that the same people who partied till the wee hours of the night were so easy to single me out as “bad” and “different from everybody else.

That played right into my insecurities, my worst fears. I never wanted to be disliked, wrong, or incompetent.

A fool I am not. I knew what all  my so-called friends said about me when I wasn’t around. I knew what was said when I turned my back. I have never said it out loud before, not publicly, it hurt really bad. It was an extremely low point in my life. I was sad and desperate with a broken heart.

The people I worked for were two of the most interesting and difficult people. They are both brilliant, creative, smart and dedicated business people. I admired them and feared them in the same breath. I knew they were on to me. The disappointment I felt towards myself as I let them down day after day grew too heavy to bear. It was like wearing head to toe full iron body armor. I couldn’t bear it anymore. At one point I gave up trying to hide. I had nowhere left to run.

I would watch from a distance as those who were my friends all laughed and had a great time, so pleasant to my face, but distant. I felt it. Every day that I went to work, which was almost everyday, I felt the sting. It was a massive paper cut across my heart, open and burning. It was as if they were pouring lemon juice right down the middle of this cut that refused to heal. I just wanted to be loved and liked in this world, for me it is always about that.

As the days grew closer for my departure from that job, that city, that life, I came to terms with a few things. I knew I had to forgive myself for who I was ‘at that time in my life’ and secondly I realized that some of those who chastised me had demons of their own to hide. As long as it was my demons on display theirs could stay hidden away in their giant walk in closets.

I got in my car and drove away that January day and I never went back again. I still have not returned to said deli or city. Almost a decade of still carrying the hurt of that time inside my body. I assumed when I moved away and became the woman I am now that I would be forgiven, that I would be seen for who I am, or at least accepted for who I am now. I assumed that distance and time would erase the past.


I am still that girl from 7 years ago to some of those people, those who poured the lemon juice in my paper cut. That is their idea of who I am, that is always going to be their idea of who I am. I will always be the skinny, irrational, fun spirited, wild and drama filled girl. I will always be an addict. I will always be the Rachel that I was at 25 or 26 or whenever it was they decided I would always be that girl.

The dreams come often. I dream that I am back at said deli and I walk in and nobody will talk to me. I bring my children with me and all the same people work there and I am still the same old Rachel, I just have kids now. I have that same stinging feeling, it is so strong that it wakes me up from my sleep.

How can I still be dealing with this? How can I still be having nightmares of a jewish deli?

I am working hard on forgiveness in my life now. Forgiving other people is easy, forgiving myself, not so much. There is where the work needs to happen.

I sit and think over and over about the idea of forgiving myself and what stops me. It finally hit me like a hammer on the head. I can’t forgive myself because I have spent my entire life asking for permission. Permission to take a step forward, permission to take a step back, and permission to forgive myself. I realized that if only those people would forgive me, then I could move on in my own forgiveness. If only those people would tell me that it’s okay, I am not bad, I am still meaningful in this world, if that would happen then I could FORGIVE myself.

It is never going to happen. They are never going to do that. I am never going to get that reassurance that I crave.

Pretty earth shattering to finally get the bottom of those jewish deli nightmares. Pretty scary to admit out loud the reason that they still haunt me. Pretty breathtaking to finally realize that it is time I stop asking for permission in my life.

What else is on hold in my life, because I am waiting for the OK from somebody out in the world? Where else am I playing it safe or small because I need somebody else to take my hand and lead the way?

I looked around this weekend at Kripalu, at the faces of people who have lived through things I couldn’t imagine surviving and realized it was time to stop waiting. I don’t want to wait until, I am diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, or a loved one dies, or I lose it all, before I realize the only one leading the way in my life is me.

Where in your life are you holding back while you wait for somebody to tell you it’s okay?

I would love to hear all of your answers.

What will people think? What will people say? What will I look like to the world?

It was laid out right in front of me. My worst fears come to haunt me and I was staring at them as if I was staring down the barrel of a sawed off double barrel shotgun.

14 Responses to “Nightmares of a Jewish Deli”

  1. JenPastiloff February 7, 2013 at 6:25 pm #

    Reblogged this on The Manifest-Station and commented:
    The title alone is a #win

  2. Jo Ellen Corcoran February 7, 2013 at 6:47 pm #

    hi Rachie… As I explore and gather info I know I’m me.. the me, right now, in this moment.. I am the only one I ask permission from.. but it also is very important to receive validation from my homeys.. I’ve felt so so weak lately. I don’t like to feel weak. So, right now I give myself permission to be weak…. Going forward with the strength within the weakness.. What I want is a peaceful spirit always ready to give myself and others permission.. Love You soo much.. Jo ellen

    • rachyrachp February 7, 2013 at 6:49 pm #

      I love that. I love the idea of giving yourself permission to be weak right now. I get that. I get that to my very core. I love and adore you so much. Can’t wait to see you in Ojai!

  3. authenticalive February 7, 2013 at 7:00 pm #

    oh my gosh… just got a good piece to add to my comment.. My Auntie (98 years) went to the Heavens on Jan.13th.. I cared for her and she lived with us for years.. Until the day she passed I “ran things by her”.. I guess a way of asking permission.. You’ve spurred me to see how totally different my daily life is… I’m having to grow up and take responsibility for giving myself permission.. Auntie and Uncle were the two loved ones that I felt loved me unconditionally… I’m so lonesome.

    • rachyrachp February 7, 2013 at 7:02 pm #

      My heart hurts that you are lonesome. I will be your friend 😉 That is a really tough feeling. The best advice I can give, is to find people who live their lives like you do. As my sister would say, “find your tribe.” It won’t be so lonesome there. I am always here if you need a chat. Reach out privately.

  4. JenniferK February 7, 2013 at 7:03 pm #

    I have been waiting for 22 years for someone to tell me it’s ok to get out of a miserable marriage. Sometimes we can never be truly ready for what is staring us in the face. It only becomes obvious after the fact, when we beat ourselves up for not getting rid of it sooner. You are greatly admired for the courage you’ve shown in your transformation to the Rachel here and now. Wishing you peace.

    • rachyrachp February 7, 2013 at 7:05 pm #

      22 years is way too long. I hope you are all done waiting 😉

  5. barbarapotter February 7, 2013 at 7:22 pm #

    So beautiful and revealing. The growth is immense and you are powerful. Love

  6. jamesvincentknowles February 7, 2013 at 7:22 pm #


    As I learn to love myself more & more, I also give myself permission to give up needing or wanting permission from others because I am much better able to feel in my heart what I need to nurture my own & others spiritual growth.

    As I do so, I am better able to feel good about what matters most in life & what doesn’t. And I find decisions I make this way, as Jo Ellen says, are comfortable when done in present time.

    And yes, the goodness in life is amplified in & with connection to others who encourage one another’s spiritual growth.

    Haha… Thank you for helping me by sharing your own journey to self-love!

    • rachyrachp February 7, 2013 at 7:24 pm #

      I am pretty sure that 35 years of asking is long enough for me. I am stepping boldly into looking inward instead of outward for what I need. Kind of a scary road, but one that has been calling my name for years. You get it!

  7. CleanCalmConditioned February 8, 2013 at 8:00 am #

    Dear Rachel, I loved seeing that a new post had come into my inbox. Keep writing! To answer your question, in every movement I have made I have always had to seek the approval of my father. Recently I was thinking about taking a job, but it was something that my dad had always advised against. Every once in a while I would bring it up again, and he would tell me it wasn’t in my best interests, that I would not like it, and other reasons that portrayed him telling me what I want. On the last time I brought it up, he said to me something along the lines of, “You know you are pretty hung up on that so if you want it, go for it!” All of a sudden, I did not want it anymore. It was like I needed his permission just to simply make up my own mind. This is imprisoning and I am working to free it now, like you. A joy meeting you, your kids are blessed to have a mother who cares so much, it aches. xo Mandy

    • rachyrachp February 8, 2013 at 8:43 am #

      Such a joy meeting you. You have reignited a spark in me:)

  8. Michelle Goldblum February 8, 2013 at 12:47 pm #

    love this. and love you.


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