Posted in CPE, Life

Go Back to the Cave

Shabbat 33b

 For R. Judah, R. Jose, and R. Simeon were sitting, and Judah, a son of proselytes, was sitting near them. R. Judah commenced [the discussion] by observing, ‘How fine are the works of this people!They have made streets, they have built bridges, they have erected baths.’ R. Jose was silent. R. Simeon b. Yohai answered and said, ‘All that they made they made for themselves; they built market-places, to set harlots in them; baths, to rejuvenate themselves; bridges, to levy tolls for them.’ Now, Judah the son of proselytes went and related their talk, which reached the government. They decreed: Judah, who exalted [us], shall be exalted, Jose, who was silent, shall be exiled to Sepphoris; Simeon, who censured, let him be executed. He and his son went and hid themselves in the Beth Hamidrash, [and] his wife brought him bread and a mug of water and they dined. [But] when the decree became more severe he said to his son, Women are of unstable temperament: she may be put to the torture and expose us.’ So they went and hid in a cave. A miracle occurred and a carob-tree and a water well were created for them. They would strip their garments and sit up to their necks in sand. The whole day they studied; when it was time for prayers they robed, covered themselves, prayed, and then put off their garments again, so that they should not wear out. Thus they dwelt twelve years in the cave. Then Elijah came and stood at the entrance to the cave and exclaimed, Who will inform the son of Yohai that the emperor is dead and his decree annulled? So they emerged. Seeing a man ploughing and sowing, they exclaimed, ‘They forsake life eternal and engage in life temporal!’ Whatever they cast their eyes upon was immediately burnt up. Thereupon a Heavenly Echo came forth and cried out, ‘Have ye emerged to destroy My world: Return to your cave!’ So they returned and dwelt there twelve months, saying, ‘The punishment of the wicked in Gehenna is [limited to] twelve months.’ A Heavenly Echo then came forth and said, ‘Go forth from your cave!’ Thus.’; they issued: wherever R. Eleazar wounded, R. Simeon healed. Said he to him, ‘My son! You and I are sufficient for the world.’ On the eve of the Sabbath before sunset they saw an old man holding two bundles of myrtle and running at twilight. What are these for?’ they asked him. ‘They are in honour of the Sabbath,’ he replied. ‘But one should suffice you’? — One is for ‘Remember-‘ and one for ‘Observe.’ Said he to his son, ‘See how precious are the commandments to Israel.’ Thereat their minds were tranquilized.

I was told to go back to the cave.

My first response was “I’m not Rashbi (Rebbi Shimon bar Yochai). I don’t want to be him. I’m not ruining things. I don’t want to have to go back to calm down a bit.”

But then I was thinking – maybe I am Rashbi.

I ran away. I ran to a place that was different and hidden from the world I was part of. In some ways I think I felt like that world was trying to get me. But where I ran, the Jewish world was no longer there, or at least it wasn’t the Jewish community that I was part of. I found a place where I could just be, I did not have to prove the validity of my existence. I did not have to have arguments about why I could be doing what I am doing. I found a cave, where it felt like my community and school from before totally forgot about me, and let me just be.

And while in the cave, I was naked except for the sand, unless I was praying, just like Rashbi and his sons. While in class, many times I felt as if I was without clothing, there was nothing protecting me, just the sand that I was covered in for modesty reasons. But the nakedness was done to preserve my clothing, so that when I would go out  to be with patients and staff, I would be fully covered, dressed in a way that I felt comfortable. But then I would be called back, and it would be time to shed those clothing.

I want to leave the cave, but in leaving all I can feel is anger. I am so angry at the Jewish world right now. I am so angry at the Orthodox Jewish world right now. Reading Jewish news papers just makes my blood boil, so I don’t do it. I can’t bring myself to go to classes in shuls or centers, just the thought of it makes me mad and disgusted. I am angry that there isn’t more being done. I am angry that I feel outside something that is actually important to me. I am angry that people are praising people that I feel are causing a lot of harm. I am angry that the Jewish community is functioning in the way it is.

Yes, I find what is going on abhorrent and stupid. It just makes me angry and disgusted. I find it difficult to have conversations about what is going on in the Jewish community, all I want to do is show the bad stuff. I want to burn it not with my eyes, but with my voice. Even though I know that it is just what needs to be done, just like the plowing, I am not able to see that just yet. I can’t understand how people are finding joy, meaning or spirit in what is happening?

And then I was told to go back into the cave. This year in the cave, I was allowed to explore my anger. To feel  frustrated and hurt and sad and mad. But maybe I need another year so I can learn what good things there are and can be. To be able to find the softness and the joy and love that can come from Judaism. Maybe I need this time to find “how precious are the commandments to Israel” and find a way for my mind to feel tranquil.

Advertisements
Posted in Life, Overwhelmed

Be Careful What You Wish For

One who seeks to embark on a journey and wishes to know if he will return and come to his home or if he will not, let him go to a dark [daḥavara] house. If he sees the shadow of a shadow he shall know that he will return and come home. The Sages reject this: This omen is not a significant matter. Perhaps he will be disheartened if the omen fails to appear, and his fortune will suffer and it is this that causes him to fail. – Horayot 12a

For a while now, I have been wanting to find a home.  I have been wanting a place that wants me. I have been wanting a reason to settle down. I have been wanting some form of permanency. I said that I would be willing to move to where the job is, if the job is right, no matter where that might be.

And now I have been offered it. The hospital I am working at offered me a second year residency.

On the one hand it is really great. I actually really like what I am doing there. I like the people there.

On the other hand, this has been a hard year still. I still don’t feel at home. I am growing more and more angry and distant from the Jewish community. I won’t be going back to Israel anytime soon.

But then again, it is a good job. And I know that I will learn a lot. And there is permanency to it (at least for the upcoming year). For the first time in three years, I’m not moving apartments AND moving countries AND starting a new job AND starting a new school. There is a change that the only thing that will be new is my role – that is crazy!

A friend asked me, well, if you do go back to Israel without a job, what would you want to do. And honestly, I have no idea.

But do I want to settle here in NY? Am I giving up on myself, that I don’t think I can create something if/when I go back to Israel? Am I just settling? Am I just scared to try something new again? What part of me am I losing by staying, but also what am I going to gain?

I wonder often, if I want to go back to Israel because I really feel like that is where I belong, or if it is because there were times that I was happy there and I haven’t really found something here yet. Or the thing I found, actually is the thing that scares me, because it is outside the world I thought I was part of.

I am questioning a lot – and I feel like I am questioning my soul and my identity. Each of these choices, I feel (and maybe I am thinking too much) makes me define who I am and defines who I am – and I guess I just don’t know who that is anymore nor who I want to be.

As one of my supervisors said to me the other day – you just need to be open. Allow yourself to be open – open to share, open to receive, open to new possibilities….

 

 

Posted in Life

Pesach with the Family & Realizations

So I had seder with my family for the first time since 2009 – and boy did I miss my friends. I had gotten used to the smell of the city when everything is burning, the oven cleaner, and hearing the hiss of the giant pots of water to kasher things. I got used to the feeling that the entire city is rushing and cleaning, and everything just feels different. I got used to cleaning my apartment and cooking. I got used to preparing for seder, being with my friends. Having only one seder. Having a seder that was full of laughter, talking, joking, Torah, and singing.

Instead, well I had my family. Which I guess is nice, and something I know I take for granted. I should be thankful that I am able to be with my siblings and parents. But being with them was just so boring. The first seder was just blah… there was almost no singing. Most people had not been to a seder before, so everything was read in English. There were no questions. My parents sat awkwardly on the side, my father just looking annoyed at things. My brother reading in a weird voice, only in Hebrew, even though no one else would understand him – he now talks in a weird Yeshivish way.

The second seder, was even less guests, but in some ways less  awkward. I think my parents resigned to the fact that the seder was not in their way – well, my dad did try to lead some of the stuff. I get how it is hard for him. This is the first seder in 30ish years that he is NOT leading, so it must be hard to give that up, to recognize that it is now in his children’s hands – as they are now old enough to do these things.

I took note during the second seder, that none of the women, besides for myself were singing or really participating. They were running to the kitchen to finish preparing. They were just staring off into space. They were falling asleep in their seats. What is it about liturgy that I still feel connected to? Why do I feel the need to sing and partake?

The afternoons of chag were really brutal though. My parents got to my brother early, and just sat in silence for two hours – everyone else was asleep. And then at lunch they had nothing to say AT ALL. I was very thankful that two of my friends were in from Israel, so I went to their house in the afternoon both days. It was very bittersweet. I was really happy to see them, as I haven’t seen them in about 2 years, and I like them a lot. I was really sad, because it made me miss them and all my other friends in Israel. It made me realize even more, that I really might not be going back, and what that means.

And then we drove back from MD to NY on Sunday night, because it was supposed to snow. During the drive I was thinking a lot about love and about my parents. The other day in supervision, the idea that I am not ok with people “joining” me came up. And yes, it is true, I don’t really trust it. I don’t want to feel confined. I don’t want to feel overwhelmed by the other person. Over chag, I was talking to my brother about our parents and love. And how they tend to take the thing we like and only talk about that, and get lots of stuff in relation to that, and kind of smother it, until, really we start to hate it and want to have nothing to do with it. And I know that I try really hard to keep them away from what I am doing – because if they know what is going on, they will just do too much. They will be so close that I can’t breath (a feeling I got a LOT over the weekend).

But then again, I know that they will be there no matter what. That if I need anything, they will be there as quickly as they can. They show their love with objects or with doing actions. So they are closer to my siblings, because they need things that my parents are able to provide – I don’t, and so they don’t really know what to do with me.

So there I was, sitting in the car with my dad, my mom, my brother and I (for I think probably the last time, at least with my brother not being married) driving in the dark in silence from MD to NY. There was something really nostalgic and nice about it, so much of my childhood was driving in the car somewhere. That even though I am 32, I’m still taking car rides with my parents. And if there is nothing else I am asking for, at least I am still asking for rides to places.

This weekend, I am planning on being at my parent’s house (it is too much to prepare for chag, and I actually have no dishes to cook with, and no one to invite). I am not really excited for it, I am actually quite nervous. It will be me, my parents, my brother and his fiance – in the two bedroom apartment, for two days. It will be something, I’m sure.


I had a few realizations earlier today:

  1. I haven’t had a song in my head in weeks.
  2. I haven’t felt like I had any energy to feel anything – which has lead me not to write for a few weeks or even to draw or anything like that.
  3. I’m really undecided about the future, and I really need to start deciding thing. And thinking about anything for the future (even a few weeks from now) makes me really nervous and overwhelmed.

 

Posted in Dating, Quotes

It’s Not You: 27 (Wrong) Reasons You’re Single

Over the weekend I read “It’s Not You: 27 (Wrong) Reasons You’re Single” by Sara Eckel. And throughout the entire book, all I could think was “YES, YES, YES…This is what happened to me too!!” I want to tell everyone who is dating, who is searching, and all those who are trying to set people up – they should all read this book! Everyone should learn ways to not internalize the stupid things that people say. I mean, more importantly, one should learn not to say stupid things – but being that we can only control ourselves, I figured I would start with not internalizing.

It didn’t try to tell me to be happy with being single. It didn’t try to tell me that I am perfect. It didn’t try to tell me that if I would change just this one thing, THEN, I would be able to find the man of my dreams.

It was so true. Yes, there are some great things that can happen when one isn’t tied down in a relationship. I recognize that I have been able to travel the world because I didn’t have a husband. Yes, I am still able to go out at night, because I don’t have children at home. Yes, I have learned to be my own support because, sometimes there is no one to come home to, and I still need to get through the bad day and get onto the next. Yes, I have been able to make my own name, please know me for me. Yes,  I am a strong, independent, intelligent woman. But at the same time – I’m also sad and lonely. I want to have a partner. I want to have someone to come home to. I want to snuggle with someone. It hurts when my father calls me to tell me that a random person from shul, many years younger than me, just had a child- and I’m barely getting a date. I do internalize the idea that because I am not getting asked out that there is something wrong with me, that I am not loveable. I crave that connection. I do look around me, and it seems like everyone else is able to find partnership so easily, so there must be something wrong with me.

And so being single and 32, with a very boring dating life (not because I am not trying) has both it’s ups and downs. And this was the first book, that I have read, that really showed that. (So go out and read it!!!)

So here are my 27 reflections on her chapters.

  1. You Have Issues
    • Yes! How many times have I been told to read books or to talk to someone or the general comment of “You’re not going to find anyone until you get right with yourself”. Really? Are you going to tell me that every person in a relationship is 100% with themselves and was the day they met their significant other.  And, yes – I do read the books. And I have spoken to a therapist. And I do try to do cool and different things. I try to explore and learn and grow. But, y’know it doesn’t always do anything. As Sara writes “I had a lot of fun, made many friends, traveled to foreign countries – the whole happy-single-woman shebang. But my love life, when it existed at all, was a random assortment of tepid dates, weird make-out sessions, and two-month what-the-hell-was-thats.  Meanwhile, people all around me fell in love like there was nothing to it. They moved in together, got married, had babies – often without the benefit of a single yoga class! I didn’t get it. was the one reading all the books. was the one confronting my issues.” (pg. 4-5)
    • This is not to say that I am perfect or I don’t have my issues – of course I do. But at the same time, I do see myself as a fairly successful, independent adult woman.
    • “What if your only “issue” is the belief that you have them and that they’re keeping you from a relationship? What if you stopped defining yourself as someone who is afraid of intimacy or attracted to the wrong kind of man? What if you instead saw yourself as a flawed but basically lovable human being? What if the only reason you’re alone is you just haven’t met your partner yet?” (pg. 7)
  2. You Have Low Self-Esteem
    • Really?! Well, yes, there are times where my self esteem is low. And as she write, self esteem (as opposed to self compassion) many times is actually based on another person. So if you are constantly being showed that you “aren’t good enough…pretty enough…enough”, then no matter how many pep talks you are getting, it’s not really going to change anything. I have actually said this to close friends of mine – usually who are straight women – and said, yes, I do think that I am pretty, smart, interesting, etc , but it kinda means nothing when it’s not coming from those who I am desiring to attract. Women and old people can tell me these things till they turn blue, but at the end end of the day, I do want it to be a guy in my relative age bracket, who I am not repulsed by – so I can actually feel like there is truth.
    • This is not to say that I don’t have self-esteem. In my professional life (and I do get noticed for these things) I am actually really good at stuff. I am praised and acknowledged for my intellect, my compassion, my creativity – and so it feels great. When I start a new job or a new project, I do need to gather it in from my own being – but soon, there are new logs to the fire that help it burn. When it comes to relationships for myself, it is just my own pep talk after my own pep talk – and it makes me question if maybe, there is just something wrong with me, and I am trying to talk myself up to something that is false.
    • She write that self compassion is about seeing these things, noticing them, but then still finding love and compassion for yourself. “Instead of assigning blame, you simply take a moment and acknowledge the painful disappointment you’re feeling. You don’t try to talk yourself out of feeling bad – since feeling bad is a completly natural response to rejection. Instead, you channel that good friend: ‘Wow, I’m so sorry you’re going through this. I know it must be hard and confusing. I wish there was more I could do to make you feel better, but you know this feeling will pass. We all get rejected sometimes. No matter what happened with this guy, you deserve a great relationship.’ With self compassion, you don’t need to bolster yourself up or tear anyone else down. You don’t have to waste energy on the pep talk because you already know you’re just fine, regardless of what this or that dude thinks.” (pg. 14)
  3. You’re Too Negative
    • “Most of us have done the thought experiment where you’re instructed not to think of pink elephants, and then of course discover that trying to banish anything from your mind makes it more prevalent – trying not to think of pink elephants wildly ratchets up your awareness of pink elephants. This is why instructions to “think positively” don’t work. ‘A person who has resolved to ‘think positive’ must constantly scan his or her mind for negative thoughts – there’s no other way the mind could ever gauge its success at the operation – yet that scanning will draw attention to the presence of negative thought,’ wrote Burkeman.” (pg. 18)
    • In addition, sometimes there is what to be negative about. Again, if I am not seeing results no matter what I am doing, it is really hard to become positive again, and again…
  4. You’re Too Liberated
    • Really? And yes, I have heard this one. The fact that I want a job or that I am successful at what I do, makes it seem like I don’t want a man in my life. Or that people make the assumption (yup, they don’t even talk to me about it) that I am just too busy to date. Right now for example, I am a hospital chaplain. When people see me they say “oh wow, you are so busy”. NO I’M NOT – my job, most days of the week are just 9-5. Ok, I have class sometimes, but usually, I don’t bring work home with me. That means from 5pm through the next day, I am free!
    • Also, if I am not working (and yes there were times I had more than one job), who the heck is going to pay my bills? My parents aren’t. So yes, I do need to work, and sometimes more than one job, but so I can live. Single people have expenses too.
  5. You’re Too Inimidating
    • OH MY GOD, YES!! I hear this one ALL the time. I really don’t get it. There was a time that I would never ask for help for anything, and I have learned to do that. I have learned to reach out, when I need it. I have learned to let others in. But I WILL NOT play dumb or needy, just to play. That is stupid. If anyone has a problem with that, really, I don’t want to date you, because honestly, I don’t know how long I would be able to pull it off. I am not able to have a needy alter ego nor do I think I should need to have one. I pray that whoever my partner is, they will not be intimidated by me, and I will not feel like I need to dumb myself down just to appease their ego, I hope that we would be able to work together and fill in the places that need to be filled in for one another.
  6. You’re Too Desperate
    • Right, you are either not trying enough or you are trying too hard. Where is the that middle ground?!
    • “Marriage and family are eternally celebrated as one of the most important and cherished parts of life – for those who have it. But the single woman who says, ‘Yes, I’d like that too,’ is immediately dismissed as silly and sad. The fact that you want love is taken as evidence that you’re not ready for it.” (pg. 35)
    • Yes, there is a “shidduch crisis” and all the married people can talk about how people need to get married. Every so often there are articles about single women standing up in front of the shul begging people to think of her, and that is how she finds a match. But that woman is seen as sad and pathetic – she is begging in front of the entire congregation. I’m fairly certain that woman asked her friends and her friend’s friends to the think of her. She probably went on some of the websites, went to the Shabbat dinners, speed dating, singles events – you name it. It was done in an act of desperation, because only then will she be heard. But no one really wants to hear that I am single and looking for someone. If I say it, it sounds sad. They start to feel bad for me. They start to tell me that there is so much more in life than a husband. But yet there is a sidduch crisis, but I shouldn’t want it too much.
  7. You Need to Be Happy Alone
    • “…women from across the county wrote me confessing their secret shame: Although they told friends and family they loved their solo life, in truth they were lonely. It’s curious: People talk openly about their alcoholism, depression, eating disorders, and sex addictions. But who besides widows of long and happy marriages admits to being lonely? It’s the ultimate shame.” (pg. 42)
    • Being alone hurts. It is hard to see everyone else together. Yes, I am capable of doing things on my own, and many times I have a great time. But at the same time, it would be so nice to have someone else there. Someone that will go to a weird Irish thing, and at least you have someone to laugh with when it is an event for small children. Someone to sit and have Shabbat dinner with when you can’t find an invitation or people to invite. Someone to wipe away your tears. Someone to sit with you at a dinner party, just so you are not the odd one out. Yes, I can do all these things on my own, I am totally capable, but it doesn’t make it any less lonely.
  8. You’re Too Picky
    • Another topic I have written about. Sara writes that when we are vague we are told we “don’t know what we are looking for” and then if we give them the list, then we are “too picky”. So true. I also think that I deserve to be attracted to someone. If I find him gross to look at or I am just bored for the entire time I am sitting with him or he just doesn’t seem right – I should be allowed to say no. Remember, I am not supposed to be desperate…
  9. You’re Too Available
    • Again with the double standard. You are supposed to not be too busy, but you are also not supposed to be too free. Wanting to love someone, being willing to date, being willing to actually (maybe) fall in love – well, you can’t show that you are “too” into it, that is also scary.
  10. You Don’t Know How to Play the Game
    • This one might be true, I don’t know how to play the game – but I don’t want to play a game. I want to go on a date. I want to be honest and clear with the person. I shouldn’t have to think if texting him when I want to, will sound “weird”. I don’t want to be kept guessing if he wants to go out again or not. It isn’t fun.
  11. You Need to Grow Up
    • Right… so what does this mean? Does it mean that I need to know how to call handy people to fix broken things? Pay my taxes? Fill out governmental forms? But appliances? Have a job? Be financially independent?Cook? Clean? Do the grocery shopping?  I mean if that is the case, then how the hell am I not “grown up”? It’s not like I have someone else in my life that is doing all these things for me. Am I still going out at night? Well, yes, because I can. I take care of my responsibilities, and so I am able to go out at night, go to a bar, go dancing. I’m not staying up at all hours of the night, because, well I’m just tired, but that doesn’t mean I need to just stay at home and knit.
  12. You’re Too Selfish
    • Who do you think takes on extra shifts? Or is expected to go to an event? According to this book, it is actually single people that volunteer most often. It is also single people that go out most often – ie. helping the economy. Do I need to take care of myself, alone? Sure. Does that make me selfish? I really hope not (I mean, if I don’t who will…) But because I don’t have kids, I will go over to a friends house when they are sick and bring them what they need; or watch my friend’s kids so they can rest or go out; or make phone calls checking up on people.
  13. You Need to Put it Out In the Universe
    • While obviously not being too desperate…
  14. You Need an Action Plan
    • “…the classic Buddhist definition of suffering: craving something you can’t have…. You’re looking outside of yourself for happiness. You’re not okay with the present reality. The path out of suffering is to accept things as they are and to allow whatever pain those circumstances cause you – loneliness, frustration, even self-loathing – to simply be there without judging them. When you start to see these feelings as simple sensations, sensations that will pass, you realize they’re manageable. It’s the thoughts around them that get us in trouble: What am I doing in this place where no one looks old enough to drive? Where did I go wrong? That’s the salt that we invariably put in the wound.” (pg. 86)
    • Sara continues to write that you just have to do the things you are doing, and do them without shame or disgust. So swipe away, go on lots of coffee dates, go have fun dancing. If somethings happens great. If something doesn’t happen also great. Just notice the feelings, accept them, and go on (yes, that is totally easier said than done, I am SO not there yet).
  15. You’re Too Fabulous to Settle Down
    • People don’t want to hear that I am sad and lonely. They want to hear the cool adventures that I get to go on. They want to live vicariously though me – how awesome it is that I can just pick up and go somewhere. They don’t want to hear about how hard it is to find friends. Or that going into public spaces scare me, and I just have to suck it up and pray for the best, because the other option is to stay home alone. Dating on TV looks like fun…dating in real life- eh. And just because I am single doesn’t mean I have a disposable income, if anything it means I have less – whatever I make is all that there is. Nothing else. And I think about that too, the money thing. When I look at singles events in NY (at least in the Jewish community) they each cost at least $36, but usually more. As a single person we are just expected to spend lots of money, but where do they think all this money is coming from…
  16. You’re Too Sad
    • Well, from what I am learning, sad is an emotion. And well, as a human, there are times I am sad. There are times that being alone makes me feel sad. There are times that seeing the world the way it is makes me feel sad. But again, there are times that I am happy and excited and angry and overwhelmed. Mostly because I am human…
  17. You Are the Constant
    • Well, you are the one that keeps on not being asked out, so obviously there must be something wrong with you. “Gradually, you paste together all these snapshots and start to create a story. Depending on your mood, the story can be good or bad. There’s the one about how brae and independent you are, how unlike some wimps you could mention you refuse to settle – go you! Except that you want to find someone and, truth be told, actually hate being alone, so then the story becomes about why you’re repulsive to prospective partners. Even if you don’t diagnose yourself with any of the aforementioned pathologies, it’s the story of something lacking. Other people must have that special something, some secret skill, some dog whistle that makes a substantial portion of the dating pool perk up their ears to her siren song.” (pg. 102).
    • Yea, it sucks. Yes, I am the first to say that there is something wrong with me. But then again – that then leads to sadness and desperation. And no one wants to hear that.
  18. You Have to Keep Trying
    • Sometimes I feel like I do give up. And then there are times that I feel like I am doing everything. I’m on different sites. I am going to all the singles events. I tell people I want to be set up. I say yes to EVERYONE, no matter if I find them interesting/attractive or not. I go to non singles events, just to have fun. I become fun, I’m not just sitting at home reading or watching TV…but then still nothing…
    • “This isn’t about giving up. It’s about lightening up. By all means, continue to make your life as rich and interesting as possible. Learn to speak Mandarin, become a Big Sister, take that solo trip to Peru. But do them for their own sake, not as a means of polishing your life resume or reassuring yourself or the world of your worthiness. You’re already worthy. There’s nothing to prove.” (pg. 110) [Now, how do I etch that into my heart…]
  19. You’re Stuck
    • Ruminating is bad…ie. over thinking is bad…ie. the think I do the most often. And honestly, I know that. Honestly, that is why I write. I try to get it out of my head, hoping that it won’t take over my being. Hoping that if I write it, I will work it out. Hoping that sharing, I will find someone, somewhere who will just make me feel heard, and help me not judge myself.
  20. You Should Have Married That Guy
    • Of course there are people from my past that I think about, well what if we dated or I just stayed in the relationship. In my head, it might seem like a bad idea that we ever broke up. But every time I have thought this and then seen the guy again, I am reminded why it would never have worked out. I did make the right choice. I did not settle just to have a man by my side. My intuition is not totally off.
  21. You Don’t Really Want a Relationship
    • Because obviously relationships are a goal, and if you do x and y, then z will follow….haha. I do want a relationship, but relationships have two people. I need to find someone who wants to be in a relationship with ME, and the real me, not some fake me that I put out thinking that I will attract more people that way.
  22. You Need Practice
    • Dating is not what allows you to learn how to live with the person – living with the person does. Or living with roommates does. I know what it means to share a living space. And split the bills. And be considerate to others. And handle rejection. And hold myself when I have a bad day. Ok, so maybe I need to get used to having someone there all the time. Or get used to touch and touching. Or living with a man. But all the basics, that I know how to do pretty well.
  23. You’re Too Old
    • Well, yes, if you say one can marry old. Will my age effect the way I can receive and give love? I really hope not. Will age effect my ability to have children? Quite possibly. And yes, I do think about it. But I can’t really imagine having a child alone and I don’t have the money to freeze my eggs. And so it is just something that I am going to have to deal with. That there is a reality that I might never have children. But I don’t think that marriage is just about baby making.
  24. You Don’t Know Love
    • Yup, those who were closer to marriage (or even married before) know love more than me. They had the thing that is at the end of the tunnel, and so if someone was able to love them once then they should be able to find love again. It is a proven fact. The love that I might show (and receive) to my friends, my family, my coworkers, somehow that is fake.
  25. You Suck
    • It is really easy to be angry and mean to others when you are angry and sad and jealous. The mean things just come out so easily, because maybe if they feel bad I won’t feel as bad. But usually that is wrong. I know usually for myself, I just feel guilty after (yay more negative emotions). It isn’t easy to show love to everyone at all times. But I agree with Sara, that we should try – it will make the world a much better place.
  26. You Need to Figure out “Why”
    • “No one ever asks ‘Why are you married?’ even though the question is just as valid as ‘Why are you single?’ After all, people marry for many reasons other than pure love – fear of being alone, a desire for biological children, economic security, social status, health insurance.” (pg. 158)
    • I hate this question. I usually answer in a joking way, just to make it light. But really I want to say, I HAVE NO IDEA, F#($ You! DON’T YOU THINK IF I KNEW THEN I’D DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. But instead, I smile and joke…
  27. You’ll Spend the Rest of Your Life Alone
    • And that is my greatest fear.
    • “One of the most challenging things about being a single childless adult is that time seems more fluid and undelineated – months, years, and even decades can bleed into one another. There is less a sense of a road with distinct mileage markers – it’s more wide-open field. In this untethered state, it’s easy to feel as if you might float away if you don’t at least get some two-hundred-dollar frying pans in the cupboard.” (pg. 165)
    • This is also the most true chapter. I need to just live my life for right now. There might not be a time that I am married. If I want professional success I need to do that. If I want to live somewhere I need to go do that too. I don’t (and never have wanted) to just sit around waiting, putting my life on hold, for something that might or might not happen. It doesn’t make me happy to be single. It doesn’t make me feel less sad, hurt, or alone. But at the least, there are parts of my life that do bring me great joy. I know that I have accomplished quite a bit, and I am proud of those accomplishments. And I hope to be able to continue to accomplish and to grow (and to find a partner).
Posted in Life

When Community Makes You Feel Lonely

I am (thank God) a healthy 32 year old. I am able to walk out of my house. I am able to go to shul. I am able to cook. I am able to travel. I have a job. I have a place to live. I am living in a city with lots of young Jewish people.

Yet, I feel so separate from the community right now. For Purim this year, I did not receive any mishloach manot. I was not invited to any seduot, and was thankful to my colleague who was also in work and we decided to have a nice lunch together. Going to shul on Shabbat hurts my heart. I know that I will go, and there won’t be people to talk to.

The hardest part right now is actually that I don’t feel like I can share this with other people. I feel like when I do, people get defensive. They tell me that I am just sad and I need to do something to change that. They tell me about all of these things that are apparently going on, but there was no way for me to know about it. And when I find out about them, there is a part of me that wants to go, and there is a part of me that is terrified about going, because I am afraid that once again, I will be in a place and no one will talk to me – why should this experience be any difference than anything else.

It is a horrible double edge sword. I feel sad and lonely because I don’t feel like I have a place or that anyone wants to be with me or that I don’t belong…but then I am probably perceived as sad and lonely, so why would anyone want to have me with them. So then what is there to do?

There is something beautiful about how the Jewish holidays are so community centered. In my opinion there is nothing like walking into a place of worship and feeling part of what is going on. Or sitting around a Shabbat table, just being.

I track my year by the Jewish holidays. Every month or so, knowing what I will be celebrating or commemorating. And almost all our holidays call people together. For prayer. For food. For dancing. For just being with one another.

Lately, I have been thinking about what happens when one does not have a community. What does it mean to have to celebrate Purim, but one can’t think of anyone to give mishloach manot to? I know it’s not a mitzvah to receive mishloach manot, but how much does it hurt when one doesn’t receive any? Or that they don’t have anyone to invite (or have anyone that will invite them) to a seuda?

What does Shabbat look like, when you don’t have people to have Shabbat meals with? Is it really then supposed to be 25 hours of social isolation?

Or Peasach seder, what about all the people out there that don’t have family or friends or who are home bound? The thought of doing a seder alone, just breaks my heart…

Judaism is about being with the community, and there are so many people that aren’t there and are sitting alone. They might be home bound because they are ill or elderly. They might be stuck in the middle of nowhere because of work or a family obligation. They might just not be able to find their place, because the community that is around them, doesn’t work or isn’t welcoming or doesn’t think about it.

I don’t know what the answer is right now, but I do know that something needs to be done.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Life

Inside/Outside/UpsideDown

Happy Post Purim!

Well this was a week. If Purim is supposed to be nehafoch hu…well, it certainly has my head spinning…

Tuesday really shook me (here is a letter to my teacher about my feelings from the day if you want to catch up). It made me question, well, everything (meaning my place/belonging in the Orthodox community and the Jewish community at large) I don’t have any answers, all I do know is that I had to move on.

Wednesday, I went to work. Honestly, I was still in a daze, and not really sure what to do, other than I had a job to do, and that was something that could be done. My supervisor responded which brought even more tears to my eyes. And the other supervisor wrote me a beautiful email. I was both touched and embarrassed, but mostly it felt nice to know that there were people there for me in this really crazy time, that I am apparently going through.

Well, Wednesday night was Purim! I was both looking forward to it and dreading it. But I have been trying to find the positive side of things. Being too angry or sad has become too much, and it is not worth that energy right now. I didn’t really know where to go to shul, and some friends told me about this minyan happening – and it was a minyan that I have liked the other times I have gone, so I figured I would go there. But then an hour before going, my friends were all changing their minds or didn’t sign up so they weren’t going. I was going to be left to my own devices. So I went.

I felt so alone. I missed my community so much. I missed having a davening that had people of all ages and martial statuses. I have never been to a megilla reading with over 200 people that had NO children.  I was again standing in a sea of people feeling like I didn’t belong or have anyone to talk to. Maybe I was more sensitive to it than usual because of everything that happened on Tuesday, but it was so blatant. I was trying to find air to breath – and so I left.

I left to go to a party with my old school. Now this was also a very big deal for me, as I have no been part of anything with them for 6 months. No one has checked in with me. No one has asked how my job is going. The administration doesn’t even get where I working correct. But my friend G convinced me to attend. If Tuesday wasn’t a shock enough, after talking about how I feel on the outside of my community and school, on Wednesday morning I had a personal email from the Rosh Yeshiva inviting me to the party – but this is the second email I have received from him (the first was to see if I was free to pack boxes). But I went.

I was scared. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I have both a longing and anger towards the school, which is a very mixed feeling. I got to the door of the party and heard beautiful singing. I stopped, willing myself not to cry and tried to slow my breath. I was scared to walk in by myself. I was scared of what I would see. I was scared that I would both be welcomed with open arms and that I would be shunned. My friend was supposed to text me when she was on her way over, so that we could go together, and of course she didn’t – so I had to brave the entrance alone. I walked in, and they started singing and were surprised I showed up (they sang for everyone who walked in). It was mostly nice. It was good to be back in the world of making fun of Torah and just living, without explaining. But it was also hurtful. The jokes were too close to home – dealing with the OU or the place of women or the shock of finding out that people want to know if someone is going to “fool around” before marriage and that goes on a shidduch resume.

It felt weird to be told by people that they were wondering what I was doing and how I was doing or that they wanted to hang out. I played nice, but what I wanted to say was, well, why the hell haven’t you emailed, called, send a message via facebook – I don’t know.

So I had a step back in that world. Part of me feels even more separate, but I am trying to hold on (maybe that is also wrong). So I joined a group picture…I participated in the group costume (well, actually I came up with the idea)…I will start getting the newsletter. I am not sure if this is going to be good for me or not, but again at least I am trying.

Thursday I went to work. I was planning on this because I didn’t really have any other plans (honestly, I was not invited to a single seuda and I didn’t even get any mishloach manot this year- although one person says he has for me). And I am so happy that I did.

I actually had a really great Purim. I was happy and I had fun. I wore my Wonder Woman t-shirt with a blazer (y’know so it is business appropriate), and did my normal job. I just felt great. It was fun to talk to people all day, people wanting to know why I was dressed up or people who I had no clue were Jewish wishing me a happy Purim. The hospital I’m in, is on the East Side, it is known for being serious and somber, and it was just a lot of fun to let loose a bit – and honestly, everyone I interacted with, seemed to love it. I had seuda with the rabbi – we ordered food, she made sure to buy Purim plates and we ate together. It was really everything I wanted from Purim: to be happy, to make others happy, to connect with people, and to not feel like I don’t belong – and I really got that all.

Again (this is from Tuesday’s class), it is strange, beautiful and hurtful that the place I find myself feeling the most comfortable , loved, supported, and belonging is someplace outside my community….

Here is what I posted on Facebook:

Sometimes a really small change, makes everything seem completely different – which changes how we feel, what we see, and even how and who we interact with. Today, I went to the hospital as usual. What wasn’t usual is that I went dressed as Wonder Woman (don’t worry, it was work appropriate, I made sure to wear a blazer ). I walked around as if I was dressed normally, doing my regular chaplain stuff. Apparently word spread in the hospital, as I went to a floor and one of the staff members came over to me, and told me that she heard that a chaplain was walking around dressed as wonder woman.
I got home much later than usual today and am pretty exhausted, but I am happy. I had a really great day. I helped to hand out mishloach manot to every room in the children’s units. I read megilla with a patient on the psychiatric unit. I went around with our megilla reading volunteers to some of the patients who were unable to leave their room. I had a delicious seuda with another one of the rabbis. And really, just by walking around I was able to make people smile, laugh, become a bit curious and look around where they are, and start talking to people (both strangers and loved ones). May we all be able to find curiosity in the small changes we notice, and may those continue to bring us connectivity and joy.
Happy Purim!!! 😁🤡🎉

 

Posted in CPE

Disorientation: A Letter to My Supervisor

My head was still spinning on the train ride. The conclusion of class, is not something that I haven’t thought of before – but it was the first time it was said in serious manner. For months now, I have been joking about needing to leave the Orthodox community (and also the Jewish community), because usually that is where I have found a place for myself. It has been the place that I found people I like and are friendly. It is a place that I have felt the most respected and pushed to grow. It is a place that I don’t need to dumb myself down. But to have this as a serious conversation, and maybe make it into a reality is terrifying. 

There are huge repercussions if I really do act on it. Like if I start going to any  egal place (although I am not really sure that is where I belong either), I could lose my smicha.  If I marry someone not Jewish I will lose my family and my smicha.(Not that this will happen, but what if it did…) I don’t even really know what it would look like to not be connected in some way to the Orthodox world – I have always had at least a foot in the door (or usually it was just a foot).

The answer can’t be to leave…. Because where I am leaving to? (Which then goes back to being alone and without community or belonging- although I guess I would belong to the group that has left) Or has all my pushing and fighting been for nothing? Who would I be without that connection?

I know that I have taken myself out of certain things – like if I really wanted to be teaching I would be…but I haven’t really had a desire to push for that. I have been enjoying the just being, for a change. Over Limmud I saw a former teacher (who is also an Orthodox Rabba and now friendish) of mine, and I told her that I am not really part of the Jewish community anymore, and she was shocked and sad, and asked what she can do to help me – and I told her honestly, I don’t know, nor am I sure that I want in. She said that it was sad to lose my Torah… Sha asked me also where I go to shul, and was surprised that I go to the JC instead of DN. I don’t really like DN because it is very shticky and has lots of singing, but just last Shabbat I was thinking while in shul that maybe I don’t go there because that is the world that I feel like I don’t belong in, even though I feel like I should. At least when I am in the JC, I know that they don’t accept what I do, but I can just be (I am thinking about this now, because L said something about constant rejection – if I am in a place I know won’t accept me, then there is no rejection possibilities).

Is the reason that I haven’t found my place because I am always in the wrong place? In some ways that really doesn’t make sense, and in others, I guess the Jewish communities that I have felt the most connected to, were also the misfit communities or the communities off the beaten path.I guess, I for once want to be on the path…but maybe that path was never meant to be with the Jewish community (that feels very strange to write that).

I do think that there is a bit of the island of misfits as chaplains, I agree with that. Having spoken to many of the chaplains, I know that most of us are inside/outside of community. D spoke about it today too, that because of J, he was willing/able to push himself to go outside his community and follow his heart. And I know that most of the chaplains (at least in the hospital) have a partner of sorts – and I know this from rabbinical school, there is something drastically different of being “outside”, when there is someone that makes you feel part of something or is pushing you or could be there for you when it feel like no one else is(it is also a criticism I have for a lot of the “inspirational” books I was reading – even Brene Brown wrote about going and being “alone” and on the “outside”, but what gave her strength is that she had her husband at home). And I think that there is something scarier to be a misfit and join the outsiders, while alone – because (at least for me) there is a fear that I am too much of a misfit or my choices make me too much of a misfit, and that is what makes me be alone. [Although, I am not really sure if there is anything to do about this..]

I think I am more disoriented and unsure now than I was before we started (definitely before I shared). I did not think that this is where the conversation was going to go today, honestly I thought it would be more about me sharing in group.

So now what? (Both practically – what are my goals now? But I guess also existentially…)

Happy Purim (yes, I guess disorientation is a form of v’nehafoch hu…not really liking it so much).