Posted by: Bracha Goldstein | August 28, 2014

Memories of a Disenchanted Past – 9

I really don’t care.

They are silent for a moment.

Of COURSE you care!  She’s your best friend!

She shakes her head.

But I don’t care…really.

Wait a minute…how can you NOT care?  She’s angry.  She is distancing herself from you.  She feels like you are moving on and leaving her behind.  You HAVE to care!

I don’t.  She can dig a hole and live in it.  I’m not joining her in that damn dark place to fight her.  If she wants to keep living that life…I’m done.  I really don’t care.

The group is quiet.  There isn’t’ much left to say.

The therapist looks into her eyes and sees…he sees the truth…cold and uncaring.

So you’re a bitch, he says.  And that’s that.

Group is over so no one calls her back when she walks out.

Because she is saying the truth.

And she can’t understand why the truth isn’t always right.

She learned uncompromising truth from her father.

She learned lots of things from him.

How to have an idea and run with it…how to express her thoughts in points…how to learn new things and apply them immediately…how truth can change…how not to apologize…how to speak with a clear decisiveness that leaves no room for discussion…how to go all the way until the way ends and then switch to another way…how to drip venom into neutral words…how to not care…

Her genetic makeup tortures her.

Because she should care.

Because she’s not like him.

She is kind and considerate.  She always knows what people need.   She can be incredibly soothing.  She is a healer.  She is perceptive.  People open up to her on the street.  She sits in the corner and they come, one by one, and tell her their secrets and she always knows what to say.  She fixes broken people.  She mends tortured souls.  She is caring…so damn caring…and yet…

She really doesn’t care.

And she won’t care…until her father shows her how.

Posted by: Bracha Goldstein | July 29, 2014

Brave

They are so frigging brave.

She never wants to go to school when she knows there will be a siren.  Yom HaShoa…Yom Hazikaron…and the days when it’s a drill.

Why do we have to practice?

So we’ll know what to do…in case it’s real one day.

She cries and we tell her to be brave and she comes home and says she clung to her teacher and covered her ears and that next time she’s not going to school.

The first time…we grab her and her brother out of bed.  We are on autopilot.  We don’t even remember how we know what to do.  We put them on the bed in the secure room and we shut the door and the window and we see that she’s sitting up and she’s sort of confused.

Did you know?

We look at each other…we choose truth because there is no lie to explain this…

No…we didn’t know.

So it’s real?

Yes…it’s real sweetie.

Oh.

She lays down and pulls the cover up under her chin.  We make the beds in the room and they sleep there.  They sleep there every night now.

We go to a carnival.  We have fun…we try to be normal…we smile and laugh and play…

We are on the way out when the sirens wail.  We turn around and run into the building…down the stairs…on the floor…it’s ok..it’s ok…it’s ok…

Hey guys…you ok?

My voice is not mine…it is calm and cool but it is not mine.

She whimpers for a minute…then she smiles.

I’m ok.

He grins.

I’m ok.

I am not.

It is night…they have already been tucked in.  We run in and close the door…and the window.

He jumps up and starts dancing on the bed.

Get down…get down…we have to stay down.

He laughs.

Everyone is in our room.

It’s so normal.

It is so damn normal.

She asks what we should do if there’s a siren on our way back from our long walk…we walked for half an hour…played at a park for a bit…walked back…and only when she sees our building from the path does she voice her concern…

We’re outside…where should we hide if there’s a siren?

We tell her.  The bushes…next to the wall…we have to lie down and cover our heads.

She nods and clutches my hand a little bit tighter.  And we keep walking.

He is in the kiddie pool on the porch.  I grab him and a towel at the same time and try to pretend it is ok.  We close the door and the window and we sit with the man who was working on our air conditioner and had been about to leave.  He babbles about the siren and the war and the soldiers.  I smile and hold him close…my clothes absorbing the water I pulled him from…and when it is over and we call his father…he tells him it was scary and then builds an Iron Dome out of clics.

She wonders if a siren sounds in middle of dinner…whether we should take our food.

He says he’ll be in the army when he’s a big boy and he’ll go in a tank.  He makes tanks out of chairs and boxes and brooms…and he shoots the bad guys and tells his sister he’ll make sure not to die.

They hide their disappointment when I say we can’t go to the beach.

It’s ok…it’s because there are no bomb shelters near the water…right?

No…but there are missiles floating in the water.

And I don’t want to be on a bus…or a train…or out in the open…because I am afraid.

But they were born in this land…and so they have breathed in her air…they have dug her earth up with their hands…they have covered their toes with her white sand…they have splashed in the waves of her blue sea…they have felt her sun warm their bodies…the clouds cover her sky and bring them bountiful rain…they have eaten her fruits…and have grown roots firmly in her soil.

So of course they are brave.

They are so frigging brave.

Posted by: Bracha Goldstein | July 22, 2014

Don’t.

Don’t…
Don’t tell me to stay safe…
not to read the news…not to check each siren…not to think about it…not to worry…
Don’t tell me not to be afraid.
Don’t.

Because it is my prerogative to be afraid.
Because it is my country under attack.
Because it is my children I am scooping up into my arms as I run…run…run.

I cannot stay safe.
I cannot make sure a missile doesn’t rain down on my head.
I cannot rely on the incredible Iron Dome to keep me alive.

I will not rely on miracles…I do not know if I believe in them.
I will not stop my life and hide…but I will be paranoid and afraid.
I will not lie to my children…I will answer their questions openly.

I do not stand with Israel…I crouch with her…
In shelters…in stairways…on the side of the road…in trenches…in ditches…
In war.

So I say…
Stay strong…stay low…and push forward.
Be afraid…be brave…and protect this land.
And don’t…
Don’t’ ever give in.

Posted by: Bracha Goldstein | July 3, 2014

Tears

 

The words are piling up behind my eyes…

pushing past resistant eyelids…

spilling…

letter by letter…

down my cheeks…

where I angrily brush them aside.

I don’t want to write…

I don’t want to feel in text…

I don’t want to say the things my heart is dictating.

So I rub…

I destroy the words that must never be spoken…

the dreams…

the hopes…

the why….

the how…

the deafening shriek filling my mind…

the absolutely gut-wrenching pain I have no right to believe is mine.

I want to say…

that I cannot say…

anything at all.

 

Posted by: Bracha Goldstein | June 26, 2014

Arise

I wanted to write about it…

My problems.

My silly issue with our apartment and our need to move…

and the stress and the anxiety and the fear we’d never find another place and the panic that we can’t cover the costs and the frustration that this is just going to be the story of our lives year after year after year

But then there were the boys.

And their mothers.

Three strong women.

Broken men standing beside them.

Lives forever changed.

And my silly little issue seems like a blessing.

Because I’m in this together with my husband…and my two healthy children.

So, dear beautiful women with your heads held high,

I rise up and I stand.

In solidarity I stand – my broken pieces connecting to your broken pieces…

A mosaic of pain and suffering…

Heartache and heartbreak…

Colorful stories merging with the black and grey…

And we are lost…

and we must be found…

so our collage can fill the world with light…

and right the wrongs…

and fight the dark…

and illuminate the way…

for our boys to come home.

Posted by: Bracha Goldstein | May 27, 2014

Dear Spouses,

 

Dear, dear spouses…

of victims…

of survivors…

of the broken people…

Thank you.

Thank you for not letting us push you away.

Thank you for seeing past the desperate facade we thought was infallible.

Thank you for understanding that not everyone wants to be touched…or can be touched…and adjusting your needs accordingly.

Thank you for remembering not to ask about it.

Thank you for listening to all of it and accepting it…

even though you wanted to kill someone…

even though you wanted to let anger take over and justice prevail.

Thank you for knowing that you just had to embrace it.

Thank you for sleeping on the floor when the bed became a trap.

Thank you for letting irrational behaviors slide…

because they made sense…because you got it.

Thank you for never attempting to relate to it.

Thank you for teaching us that we can be loved despite…

in spite…

because.

Thank you for always, always standing by…

through panic…

anxiety…

fear…

shame…

confusion…

delusion…

and hope.

Thank you for waiting for us to come to you.

Thank you for knowing when we were ready.

Thank you for knowing when we just weren’t there.

Thank you for agreeing to take part in a holy matrimony we believed we could never deserve.

Thank you so very much…dear, dear spouses…

for loving people…who sometimes doubt the love they are in.

We are grateful for your patience.

We are overwhelmed by your strength.

And we believe in the salvation you offered when you looked into our eyes…

and showed us who we were.

 

Posted by: Bracha Goldstein | May 5, 2014

SILENCE!!!!

 

HEY!  Tzfira!

He yells it across the crowded store and everything goes quiet.

Almost.

Beep…beep…beep.

One cashier is still working.

The quiet gets to her and she looks up in surprise.

Slowly, she stands and lowers her head.

Two women continue their conversation.

Hearing English during these moments of silence is making me cringe and I try to focus.

The bread machine goes on as a man in a long black jacket slices his loaf of bread, oblivious…or maybe not.

I try to remember.  I try to stand at attention and feel.  I try to imagine the pain and sorrow this country manages to live through every second of every day…but all I can think of is that they have no damn respect!

I just want to shake them and scream and flail my arms out as I let that burning desire to wish all that excruciating pain on each and every one of those people, who can’t even stand still for two minutes and show a little respect, pour out of the carefully scripted mantra I hold…

The idea of love and mutual understanding…of debating softly and disagreeing amiably….of living with people who think and feel differently…of never, ever, wishing anyone harm no matter how they act.

But I can’t.

I can’t respect them.

I can say it’s because they don’t respect me.

I can say it’s because they don’t let me live my life peacefully.

I can say many things.

But really…it’s because they can’t give two fucking minutes of their time to shutting up and letting me mourn.

So damn you stupid people in the grocery store…damn you.

 

Posted by: Bracha Goldstein | April 27, 2014

Do I Ever Cross Your Mind?

It’s been over a month since I last wrote.  There was a post writing itself out in my head…but I didn’t have the heart to let it out.

I don’t know who reads this blog.  I don’t know who really cares what I write or how I write it…but sometimes I get the feeling that no matter how I say it, I am misunderstood by the one or two people in my life whose opinion of me actually matters.

So I haven’t written about this thing.

But I’ve been thinking it.

And now I have to veil it a little.

And hope you can take it for what it is and not write it off as my over-the-top emotional personality you think I have.

I’ve wondered….if I ever cross your mind…just because…and when I do…is it because you miss me…or love me…or think I matter.

And I wonder…why you can’t talk to me.

Why I make you feel so uncomfortable.

Why I have to even wonder about this at all.

I know I was stupid…and immature…and gave you hell…but I never hurt you the way you constantly hurt me…

I never stopped loving you.

I never stopped thinking of you.

And I would never dismiss you the way you dismiss me…the way you dismiss anything that touches a place in your heart that might actually make you vulnerable.

But guess what?

I can’t go anywhere.

So you’re going to have to learn…who I am…what I am…why I am…

And understand…that most of it…is because of you.

Posted by: Bracha Goldstein | March 13, 2014

Defrosting

Let it go, let it go

Can’t hold it back anymore

Let it go, let it go

Turn away and slam the door

I don’t care

What they’re going to say

Let the storm rage on…

 

“It just make me not want to be religious anymore,” I said.

She couldn’t handle it.

So she had him call to clarify the things I was confused about.

He explained how he was just as confused.

And somehow that made it all much clearer.

At one point I told him how I felt.

I told him how hard it is for me.

How every time I do something I don’t fully understand, I have to choose to believe that it’s right.

How I need to accept the yoke of God every single day for the burden it is…because it’s a burden for me.

How, when I see thousands of people screaming together about the God I think I recognize and the Torah I assume is the one and only there is, I am tempted to throw the yoke off because I will never be validated for my struggles.

He listened.

He sighed.

He heard.

Then he had to hang up.

“I love you,” he said.

I burst into tears.

“I could have used this 15 years ago,” I sobbed as I put down the phone.

“It all could have been so different!”

I cried and I cried…

Because my father taught me how to question but forgot to tell me he was still looking for the answers…

Because I thought there must be something I was missing if everyone else seemed to be happy just accepting things…

Because there was an entire world that was collapsing into itself and no one else thought to care…

Because I wanted so badly to connect to the religion and the culture I was born into but just couldn’t…

Because I felt so isolated in my quest to find God…

And also…

Because they should have sent me to that school that wasn’t religious enough for my family…

Because they should have shown me grey in a black and white universe…

Because I didn’t have to fight it so fiercely when there was another, legitimate way…

Because I didn’t mean to hurt them by rejecting what I thought was their belief…

Because all I ever wanted was to be as satisfied with life and religion the way I thought they were…

My father is the most brilliant man I know.

He has never stopped learning and changing and growing.

And I am watching him muddle through things I can’t navigate…and it doesn’t seem to shake his belief.

So for today…I will stay strong.

I will stick to my code…the one he taught me…and I will follow the law I believe in.

Because no one has the right to take that away from me.

 

It’s funny how some distance

Makes everything seem small

And the fear that once controlled me

Can’t get to me at all

Let it go!

Posted by: Bracha Goldstein | February 27, 2014

Final Scream

Sometimes I just can’t keep quiet.

When there are signs everywhere I look telling me that it’s no longer political but personal, I feel compelled to speak out.

I don’t need an argument.

I don’t need to hear your side anymore.

I don’t even need to tell you mine.

I just need to scream for a few minutes.

So as I inhale deeply and ready myself for a tantrum, I’d like you to remember a few things.

I have already been disenchanted.  I have already fought.  I have already been cast away.  I have already decided that I no longer want to listen.

I thought I could live with you with a quaint fence between us.  We could grow a rose garden alongside it and paint it yellow.  We could stand on either side and smile at each other and exchange a recipe or talk about the weather.

But then I started seeing the grass on your side.

It wasn’t greener.

It was brown.

And ugly.

And covered in filth.

And you refused to smile.

You refused to legitimize my right to have another sort of yard.

You demanded that I break down the fence and embrace your version of green even while you built a wall of judgment twice as thick as the fence I was trying to mend.

So when I scream it’s because I have just a little more anger and resentment to get out of the way so that I can move on without you.

I AM DONE WITH YOU!!! FINISHED, FINISHED, FINISHED!

I have grown distant from you.

I have grown to hate what you stand for.

I have grown to feel sickened by your version of Torah and Mitzvot.

I have grown to be embarrassed by the way you look, the way you act and the way you speak.

I have grown to realize that your hold on me is from an unhealthy indoctrination I once tried to shrug off only to learn to accept it as my roots and try to embrace it out of necessity because I was so damn scared that without you I would be nothing.

But I am not nothing.

Without you, I am something special.

Without you, I am worthy.

Without you, I am independent.

Without you, I am capable.

Without you, I am responsible.

Without you, I am fallible.

Without you, I am human.

Without you, I am a child of a God who could never tell me to be like you because, unlike you, He loves me for who He made me to be and, unlike you, He lets me figure things out for myself because He knows that the brain and the heart He gave me are immensely useful in my never-ending quest to find Him.

So have your million man march – because my kind of belief will always allow you to express yours – but leave me the hell out of it. 

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