I Am Dangerous: Crazy

I’m making my travel plans to return to Israel for two or three months.  And I’m taking my Psychiatric Service Dog, Noga, with me.

I could pay an extra sum for Noga to travel under my seat as a pet, as she only weighs just shy of 12 pounds.  That would save me a lot of grief and trouble.  However, having her in my lap pretty much guarantees that I will have a smooth trip unbothered by the extreme paranoia that tends to entrap me in places full of strangers.  And if I start to get tense, she will let me know by licking my face that it’s time to take a benzo before I get into Bad Trip Land.

One connecting U.S. airline wants a letter from my psychologist affirming that I am indeed crazy, and entitled to travel with my dog in my lap, for free.  Uh, that is, for no extra money.  I wrote them a strong letter alerting them to the fact that they are in gross violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (which states that it is illegal to ask a person with a disability to disclose any personal information including the nature of the disability), and they replied saying that transportation is exempt from that Act.  I intend to take this up with the Department of Justice, which made up the ADA and intends it to be universally conformed to, at least in the USA.

Then there is the form for the overseas carrier that my psychologist must fill out, to certify that I am not dangerous.  Sigh.  What’s really sad about this whole thing is that since the last awful mass shootings, “mentally ill” has taken on the undertone of “dangerous.”

We had that back in the bad old days of insane asylums, where people were locked up “for their own protection” (thus the term “asylum”), because people acting “weird” have always been alarming to the plodding and fortunate sane.  Of course, our best and brightest scientists, artists, writers, musicians–all of them have been a bit wacky, if not flagrantly mad.  Just give it a think for a moment, and you’ll see.

And that’s not even including today’s astonishing bumper crop of flat-out crazy actors, actresses, radio “personalities” and other exhibitionists extroverts, whose job it is to get into all sorts of embarrassing public “situations” and make us all cringe when their publicists blame it on their “bipolar.”  Bipolar, FOOT!  Public misbehavior is what it is, whether they happen to be bipolar or no.

So between the heinous shooters and the famous mis-behavors,  we who are truly sufferers of mental illness (and I DO mean sufferers) are stuck having to prove that a) we really are mentally ill and b) that does not mean that we are (God forbid) the next mass murderer.

The media has done us yet another grave injustice, by speculating that the recent mass murderers must be mentally ill, and that if so, the mental illness is what drove them to do what they did.  The overwhelming evidence that the mentally ill are much more likely to be preyed upon than to be the predators is completely ignored.  I have not even seen it mentioned in the media.  The mentally ill, and that means me and maybe you, may as well be Mr. Hyde as far as the public is concerned (even though 25% of the public has at one time or another suffered from a mental illness).

Just for fun, I am going to apply to one of the TSA’s Trusted Traveller programs, so I can get through security faster and without having to take off half of my garments just to get through the line.  (BTW they don’t do any of that crap in Israel, meaning doffing of shoes and whatnot.  You still have to take your laptop out.)  How many of you think I will get certified as a Trusted Traveller, seeing as I am a self-disclosed Crazy who travels with a Psychiatric Service Dog?

So.  So far, I am being: forced to disclose my diagnosis;

Required to carry special documentation of my need for my Service Dog;

And as usual, will probably be pulled aside for additional screening at the airport.  I shudder to think what they will do with Noga while I am in the Take-It-All-Off Scanner with the x-ray eyes.  Isn’t that great?  You just walk in and they strip you, for free, and you don’t even gotta take your clothes off.

Of course, if I had a “visible disability” like blindness, or balance problems, or even a non-visible disability like diabetes or deafness, I would not be required to provide extra documentation, because those are “legitimate” disabilities.  Everyone knows that.  But mental illness, now…..anyone could feign that, right, just to get their dog on the plane for free?  Oh yes.  I’m crazy, and I need my dog so that I….what was that I needed the dog for?  Oh yes, so I won’t go wacko and shoot the plane up.  That’s why.

Do you see why I’m feeling discriminated against?

Dina Leah is Alive and Well

Some of you may know that I am writing a book.  It’s a memoir that chronicles a seven-month period in my life, when I ran away from home and never went back.  It’s pretty gruesome in some places, and kind of wacky in others.  The title, so far, is A Runaway Life.  And since it’s already about 315 pages, I kind of doubt the title will change; but you never know.

I have another blog, Dina Leah: Story of a Teenage Runaway, which at first I had intended to be the canvas upon which I would paint this story, in serial form; but the book got out of hand and took on a life of its own and galloped away with me, so my poor Dina Leah blog has languished.  Oh right, I didn’t tell you that Dina Leah is the pseudonym I chose.

I’ve been trying to write this book for at least 30 years.  The problem has been that there is so much trauma oozing between its covers that every time I started to write I would break out in a cold PTSD sweat, and I’d put it away.  My hard drive is bulging with drafts and attempts at chapters.

Last NaNoWriMo I got the bright idea that I would give it a whirl using Third Person instead of First Person, or maybe alternate: just play with it, and see what came out.  So far, since November 1st 2012, about 95,000 words have come out.  Yikes!  I had no idea.  And as it now stands, I’m only five months into the seven month journey.  Gonna be a whole lotta editing goin’ on!   This isn’t War and Peace.  Well, it’s MY war and peace, but that’s a different story, so to speak.

If you don’t mind, please stop by Dina Leah and tell me what you think.  I’m really looking for honest feedback, the more specific the better.  Thanks!

I Am A Drug Addict

Let’s face it: I am a drug addict.  Every night, I take five kinds of drugs to put me to sleep and to keep me from having manic attacks the next day.  In the morning I take another pile of drugs in order to make it through the day without dying of suicide or the high blood pressure that results from rage or from the pure insanity that results from hormonal imbalances.

I crave these drugs, like any addict does.  I crave my night-time meds because, well, they put me to sleep, blotto, giving me respite from the continuous crashing pain.  And the daytime drugs: I take them to keep the ogre of depression away, and to deal with my “co-morbid conditions”: arthritis, high blood pressure, menopause, low Vitamin D, low Folic Acid.

I fear what would happen to me if I did not have these drugs.  This leads me to hoard stashes of the “important” ones: the ones that would certainly result in seizures if I didn’t take them: Lamectil, lorazepam, clonazepam, maybe Lithium.  And the others…Oh, the others could “merely” result in mood changes that could put me into the suicidal ultradian cycling that has wreaked such havoc in my life before.

Yes, I crave these drugs.  Especially at night, when I look forward to the forced oblivion of quasi-sleep the drugs provide.  And in the morning, even though I need twelve hours of sleep to sleep off the night drugs, I sometimes forget to take my morning drugs.  After a day or two, though, I start getting withdrawal symptoms: a kind of hollow feeling, a feeling of unreality, and of course depression, that mostly clears when I take my doses.

Freud craved cocaine.  I do too.  I’m told that an addict never really gets over the craving: you just learn to deal with it.  I don’t know what I’m going to do with this pile of drugs I’m addicted to now.  Each one has its role and responsibility for keeping some symptom in check.  Oh, if I could just have a continuous IV drip of cocaine, or even an unending pile of coca leaves and lime, how happy my brain would be, eh?

A Valuable Resource for Writers

I just had a marvelous and incredibly useful conversation with David Henry Sterry, of The Book Doctors.

At first I was skeptical: I mean, here’s a couple (David Sperry and Arielle Eckstrut) who make their living allegedly helping writers get their books published.  So what’s to be skeptical about that?  Oh yes.  I remember now: they charge money.  Now, there seems to be a bumper crop of people and organizations purporting to help you get your book published.  I myself subscribe to Writer’s Digest, which has been mildly to moderately helpful, at a certain price, and NaNoWriMo, which has been enormously helpful, is free.  Once in a blue moon they host a valuable webinar, which is where I became acquainted with The Book Doctors.  You can tell where my allegiance lies.

David and his partner Arielle Eckstrut, who is the “other half” of The Book Doctors, offer consultations at a fee of $90 per 15 minutes, $250 per hour, and claim that they are dedicated to:

“helping writers everywhere get their books published.”

Yeah, right.  Just like all the other bozos out there that trumpet the same thing, but uniformly don’t deliver.

Exactly how they came across my radar screen, I don’t remember.  I flipped through their website and said, sheesh, how could these people possibly be for real?  And $250 per hour?  That’s what I made being a real doctor.  They gotta be kidding.

So when NaNoWriMo featured them on a webinar , I tuned in to see what they had to say. They had a lot to say, and it was all good, practical, useful stuff.  And as a “value-added” feature, they offered a 15-minute consultation (a $90 value!) to webinar participants.  I signed up.

Then I went back to their website again, and using my super-hero x-ray vision, sucked up all the information it contained.  I even purchased their excellent book, The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published., which retails for $11.82 on Amazon.  Couldn’t hurt, I figured, and besides, if you buy the book you get a 15 minute consultation, FREE!  Wow, I was up to 30 minutes with them, for stuff I would have bought anyway, the webinar plus the book!  I went for it.

First of all, I gotta tell you–that book is priceless.  First I will tell you what it does NOT contain, and that is: Bullshit.  None. Of. It.  It is pure, concise, unadulterated useable information.  If you’re wondering how to really, really get your book published, this is the nuts-and-bolts go-to guide.

Now let me get to the fun part: the consultation itself.  I got to talk with David Sperry for a whole thirty minutes, because I had participated in the webinar plus bought the book.  As soon as I pitched him my novel/memoir, we discovered that we had common ground (see my Dina Leah blog), and that greatly facilitated the process of sorting out my book and answering critical questions.  The information and advice that he provided were 100% useful.  I feel that our short conversation will exponentially increase the probability of my book being published.  Like most aspiring authors, I feel that my book will change many lives.  I hope that mine will bring hope to people who are struggling with recovery from the awful traumas that haunt those of us who have been “scrabbling down in the streets” (thanks again, Joni Mitchell).

If you’re working on your book and wondering where to go next, I encourage you to first buy the book The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published and then beg, borrow, but don’t steal (that is a sin) the money for a consultation with The Book Doctors.  You won’t regret it.

Disclamer: this review of my experience with The Book Doctors is entirely mine and unsolicited.  The Book Doctors did not ask me to do it.

Why Do I Get So Angry?

It’s happened again.  Someone said something that pissed me off so badly that I never want to see him again.  Not that I’ve seen so much of him over the last seven or eight years.  It was someone who I dated years ago, and broke off amiably because, well, because we weren’t right for each other.

Now he shows up in my life again, suddenly, without invitation, and wants to strike up a relationship again.  All well and good: I’m open to new relationships now.

So we Skype for a few hours–he lives far away–and that was nice.  We talk about mutual passions passionately–nice too.  And then he drops the bomb.

You see, I am Jewish, and so is he.  He is much more Orthodox-ly observant than I am.  I’m basically, well, just a Jew.  I’m skeptical about a lot of the Orthodox beliefs and customs.  I used to be very, very Orthodox, and I kind of got over that.  A lot of it has to do with the second-class citizen status of Orthodox women.  Most Orthodox people, men and women alike, would object to that statement, saying that men and women respectively have different roles, and that both of those roles are necessary to make up the whole.  I agree with that, except that the roles that are relegated to women are mainly domestic.  That’s all I will say about that.

So this new hopeful is going along giving me tons of advice about Kabbalistic ways of healing PTSD.  It all looked great to me, except that it required the unrestricted use of a mikveh, which is a Jewish ritual bath.  Religious Jewish men use one nearly every day, for Jewish religious men’s reasons.  Jewish women are restricted to using a mikveh only once a month, after their menstrual period has ended; and sometimes before Yom Kippure, the Day of Atonement, as part of the purifying process of the day.

So we entered a discussion regarding the prohibition on women’s free use of the mikveh, which has to do with the rabbinical courts’ rulings that allowing women to immerse in the mikveh at any time would lead to promiscuity, since a woman who has immersed is now in a pure state for sexual relations.  I know, it’s complicated.  So he sends me all these articles that support women’s free access to the mikveh.

That’s where the trouble started.  I pointed out that one of the articles came from a Conservative rabbi (there are three main branches of Judaism:  Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform, and none of them agree with each other), which would make it more lenient than the Orthodox opinions.

He wrote me back saying that Rabbi so-and-so says that Conservative and Reform Jews are heretics, and he doesn’t associate with them.

That pulled my chain really, really bad.  I flared up like gasoline on a campfire.  You can argue all the theory you want, but don’t call other Jews heretics.  That’s like damning them to Hell, even though we don’t believe in Hell.  It’s completely erasing them as valid human beings.

So he realizes what he’s done, begs me not to throw the baby out with the bathwater, backpeddles, and does everything he can think of to get himself out of the tight place he’s stuck his own *ss in.  I won’t have it.  What’s said is said, and I have no obligation to suck it up, because we really don’t have any kind of relationship yet.

Sometimes I wish I didn’t have such a tendency to get angry when I feel that someone has been wronged–even myself.  I think it would be nice to just coast along, unaffected by the words and actions of others.  I’ve tried, believe me I’ve tried all kinds of ways to stay unattached.  It doesn’t work.

I think it’s all the anger that I didn’t allow myself to feel when I was “scramblin’ down in the streets” (Joni Mitchell) and couldn’t afford to get angry, and during the times that my mother’s wrath kept my mouth firmly closed, lest I get it slapped.

Depression Comix Reblog: Coke Whore, to me

This is exactly how I used to feel after waking up next to a stranger, in my coke-whore days. It took about two years of coke addiction to figure out that since I couldn’t afford the stuff, I would sleep with the dealer (or anybody else who would turn me on to a few lines) in order to get it “for free.” Problem was, the stuff completely made my depression go away….until I came down, and then I felt like the girl in this comic. Finally I figured out that I was actually prostituting myself in order to get the drug that only temporarily made me feel better, and when it wore off made me feel dirty, slutty, and suicidal–and I quit cold turkey, because I couldn’t stand being enslaved to a drug habit that required prostitution to maintain. Thanks again to Clay for bringing back this memory of the “bad old days” that needs some processing.

Depression Comix

image

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Don’t Do What I Did

Warning: Trip Trigger.  You might get stoned reading this, or just confused….this is a story of my confusion.

Yup, I did it.  Did what I have taken meticulous precautions not to do for the last two-and-a-half years, since I’ve been taking the heavy meds.  The fail-safe system failed, because I simply paid no attention to it, and I did it, and it blew my day away.

I took my night-time meds in the morning.

Night-time meds: Ativan, Clonapine, Zolpidem, Seroquel, Lithium.  I took all that, by accident, in the morning.  And not just any morning:  it was the morning of the day I closed on the lease of the most adorable tiny apartment in the most amazing neighborhood in Jerusalem.  Yep.  That morning.  The morning before I got on a plane for a 14-hour flight back to the States.  That morning.

Nighttime Knockout Pills

Nighttime Knockout Pills

I didn’t realize what I had done until the effects started coming on.  At first I was puzzled and thought I might be coming down with something.  I  had the whirly-heads: perhaps an inner-ear infection, my rational brain reasoned.  Then my vision started going double.  Not a good sign.  And finally the side effect I dread every night when I have to get up to go to the bathroom:  the floor seems to move and roll around, so that I never know where my body is in space.  Since I had never had this happen in broad daylight, I had not noticed that when I try to walk anywhere in this condition, I weave and stumble like a drunk.  That’s when I realized what had happened.

And then there was the issue of trying to stay awake.  Actually, since what I was experiencing was all the side effects that I normally don’t notice because I have been drugged to sleep by a combination of all that plus a shot or two of hard liquor (yes I know, don’t waste your breath), I found it hard to actually relax enough to fall asleep.  And yet I wasn’t quite awake, either.

I admit that I often forget to take my morning meds, which is not a good thing since my Lamictal is in there.  But I never forget my bedtime meds, because they are the means by which I sleep.  At all.  Ever.

So I checked my med box, and as well as I could make out through my double vision, it looked suspiciously like the little compartment for tonight’s bedtime dose was empty.  Shit.  Now what am I going to do?

Med Box

Roll with it.  What else is there to do about it?  Suck it up.  Live through it.  Fuck, what am I going to do about the lease and the landlord?  Can’t put that off, because just to make things even more fun, I am leaving the country at midnight tonight.  Shit.  Double shit.  Good thing my OCD demanded that I pack yesterday, so at least I didn’t have that to obsess about in this deplorable condition.

You know, this is the only time I can remember being glad I did so much acid as a youngster.  It trained me to “maintain.”  I don’t know if that term is still in service, but I’ll explain anyway, in case it isn’t.  To “maintain” means to act normal even when you’re tripping your ass off, the walls are melting in psychedelic flashing colors, and the floor has become like one of those funhouse rollercoaster tipping floors, which by the way is how the floors started feeling about mid-day.  Add to that trying to navigate the uneven cobblestone streets of Jerusalem, and the crooked ancient stone steps, and the gaping holes that appear without warning due to the recent construction boom, and you can bet I wished I had  a pair of crutches, or at least a walking stick to keep from stumbling from one side of the narrow alleys to the other, like a green sailor without sea legs on a rolling deck.  Oy gevalt.

The landlord called and wanted to meet in a place called Givat Shaul, which would have been two bus rides away from where I was staying.  I don’t recall what I said to him.  I think I just said “Ee efshar,” which means in Hebrew, “that is not possible.”  Then he suggested somewhere else, which I also nixed.   He finally got the idea that I wanted him to come to my place, and since he wanted to sign a lease, he consented.  I have mastered the  concept that if someone wants something from you that involves money, it is a good time to maximize your negotiating power.

By the time he showed up at my place with the lease in hand, I was feeling miserably sick.  We filled out the form and then had a sudden moment of joint panic when we realized that we each needed a copy of the lease, and we only had one.  He would go and get another form, he said, and we would fill it out again from scratch.  My head was pounding and I wasn’t sure if I could get through another lease form without throwing up.  No need, I said; the friend with whom I am staying has a copier.  He answers one of his three cell phones.  Most Israelis have at least two: one for business, one for friends and family.  I guess he has more than one business, or more than one family, or something.  None of my business.

Gotta go, he says.  You make a copy of the lease, and I’ll meet you at the Betzalel stairs at about three. (You don’t really need to know what the Betzalel stairs are, except that they are made of wavy, slippery Jerusalem limestone and require navigating several narrow alleys to arrive at them.)  OK, I say merrily, happy to have him out of my space for a while. Maybe I can take a nap and wake up feeling peachy.

No dice: lying down just increases my nausea quotient.  I grab the oil of peppermint bottle and stick my nose deeply into it.  My stomach quiets a bit.  Exhale.

I totter over to the copier with the lease.  At least I can get this simple task done.  Fuck, out of toner.  Shit.

Good thing I still remember where that copy shop is, in the Binyan Clal, which is a great big building full of random shops, locksmiths, seedy restaurants and a pool hall, about five blocks away.  The sun is blazing.  It has to be a hundred out there, at least.  Where’s my big floppy hat?  Oh god, please don’t tell me it’s anywhere where I might have to bend down to get it.  I’ll puke for sure.  Oh there it is, on that chair.  Sigh of relief.

Desperately wishing not to be apprehended as a potential terror suspect by Israeli police for acting weird, I adopt the strategy of  hanging onto the walls of the stone buildings as I navigate to the Binyan Clal. That’s pretty normal, isn’t it?  I got across Agrippas Street without being run over by a passing bus. Small victory, but still.

After passing through security, just like at the airport (we have to do this when entering any public building),  I got to the copy shop.  A sweet lady copied my lease for me, for two shekels (about fifty cents).  I wove my way back to my friend’s apartment and waited for the call from the landlord, which came none too soon.  I wanted to get this overwith.

The landlord called at three exactly: American time.  If I had been an Israeli it wound have been four or five, but I’m American and he wanted to get this deal closed, and collect his checks.  This was duly accomplished, along with an agonizing half-hour of small talk, obligatory when doing business.

After being released from that exhausting ritual, I wove my way home from the Betzalel Stairs (remember them?) and had a blessed half-hour to myself, before Simha the tree surgeon, who doubles as a real estate agent, showed up wanting his commission for having found me the apartment.

Did I have cash, he wanted to know?  No, I didn’t.  Well, why don’t you go to the Caspomat (ATM) and get some right now, he says amiably.  Because I don’t feel like it, is why.  I’ll write you a check.  No, don’t do that!  I’ll have to pay taxes on it.

I got out of patience and roared, “HONEST BUSINESS PEOPLE PAY THEIR TAXES!!!”  He roared something back; I don’t remember what.  He got a check.  Don’t let the door hit you in the ass, I thought, as my head swam and I fell into the nearest chair.

Evening came and it started to be time to go to the airport.  I wondered what the night flight would be like.  Certainly this shit must wear off at some point.  Is this the reason my brain has stopped working in general?  These awful meds that I take every night?  Could be. But they also keep me from killing myself.  That’s the trade-off, I guess.

The flight came off without incident, thank God.  I took a couple of Ativan just so I wouldn’t have a seizure from skipping my night-time meds, the ones I had taken in the daytime and was damned if I would take them back-to-back, and managed to sleep fitfully through the 14 hour flight.

Moral:  Be really, really vigilant about which meds you’re taking when, unless you want a really, really bad day.

Lessons from the Mental Hospital

Wow…..wow….wow…..please watch this. It totally turned my head around.

Pride in Madness

Damn this TEDx Talk’s relevancy!

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Spam inside your sweat

I’m laughing fit to bust.  On the inside, because I rarely laugh on the outside.  But no matter.

Yeah, yeah, I know it’s a cliche to publish your spam.  But this one is such a doozy I have to share it with you.  It originates from Korea:

 

Magnificent website. Lots of useful information right here. I’m sending it to several buddies ans additionally sharing in delicious. And of course, thanks inside your sweat!

 

Have a wonderful weekend, all, and I hope everyone receives all kinds of blessing inside their sweat!

Holy moley, back to the Holy Land again!

So yes, I have been back and forth a lot this year.  Israel is my home.  There is no where else in this world that I feel at home.  I felt at home there the moment I stepped off the plane on my first visit in 2005.  I returned in 2006 to study in a women’s seminary, and in 2007 I made Aliyah: I moved to Israel.

When I settled there, I knew that at some point I would be obligated to return to America to help my parents, who are now 88 and 86, respectively.  That point came in the terrible winter of 2010-2011, when their remote mountain home was completely surrounded by ice, and my father had begun to fall frequently, and my mother was freaking out.  I had already flown in from Israel three times to “put out fires,” and the fourth time my mother called begging for help I packed up my house and was back in the U.S. in three weeks.

They really did need me then.  My father was in the early stages of dementia, and was struggling to maintain what was left of himself.   He refused to use any assistive devices, not even a cane.  He was constantly falling asleep at the dining table and sometimes falling off his chair.  One time I had to extract him from under the table, where he had slid down and was tangled among the table legs with his arms pinned under him.

Then finally he fell and broke his wrist badly and got a concussion to boot, and was in the hospital for a couple of days.  While he was there, I had his bed brought down from upstairs and made the living room into a bedroom.   When he had recovered enough to understand speech, my mother and I forbade him ever to use the spiral staircase again.  He was incensed and called us his jailers, which he does to this day, but better jailers than to have some disaster on the steel spiral staircase that reminds me of a submarine.

The past two-and-a-half years, since I’ve been here, have been tempestuous and productive all at once.  If you are a regular reader, you will know that I have had issues with PTSD caused by my abusive mother, who has not changed any since I left home at 16.  So staying here has been a challenge, to say the least.

A few weeks ago I couldn’t take it anymore.  I had developed high blood pressure.  I was constantly filled with rage.  Suicidal fantasies filled my days and nights.  Not just THAT I wanted to kill myself: developing more and better and more sophisticated methods, so that I wouldn’t be found.  Oy.

I knew I had to get out of here, get back to the Holy Land for a few weeks, breathe the air in Jerusalem that is filled with holiness, even if it’s also sometimes filled with dust.  So I booked a flight for a three week respite, announced my plans to the P’s, and took off.

Do you know, I have so many friends in the Holy Land that in three weeks I could not even visit two-thirds of them?  My family is there, my family of choice, the loves of my life.  I got to see some of my patients, who have become dear friends.  Two of them have had children while I was gone.  Actually, more than two–no, three–no, four–and three of those have had TWO children while I was gone!  I went around smooching babies.  I had coffee and Israeli breakfast (oh, Israeli breakfast!  I could do a whole post on Israeli breakfast.  Maybe I will.) with a lady so pregnant that she could hardly reach the table.  She has since given birth to a girl, MAZAL TOV, even more mazal tov since she already has four little boys.

I stayed with my adopted brother. We took bus trips to exotic places and had extraordinary meals and adventures.  And we made Shabbos together and drank strong Israeli port wine (20% alcohol!) and solved all the problems of the world.

I spent one Shabbos with my adoptive family, my rabbi and his wonderful wife (my adopted sister) and their adult children and grandchildren.  We sang and learned Torah together and laughed and cried and I felt bathed in love.

And then it was time to leave.

I freaked out.  I ran to the rabbi upstairs.  He is an expert in Jewish Law, and qualified to judge cases.  He is also an expert therapist.  Two hours with him, and I knew what I had to do: I had to save myself by being in the Land with my real family.  So I scuttled about and **voila** found a tiny apartment, just right for my needs, and signed a one-year lease.  That night I flew back to the States.

I had already told my parents that I planned to return to Israel for the High Holidays plus the month preceding them.  My custom is to devote that month, Elul, to intense Torah learning, in preparation for the Days of Awe: the ten days between Rosh Ha’Shanah, the Jewish New Year, and Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.  There is much spiritual work to be done, if one is to get the most out of those intense and heavy days.

But as soon as the plane hit the tarmac on my return from this three week trip, my heart sank into my shoes.  I just feel terrible here.  I belong in Israel.  I belong TO Israel, and she belongs to me.  We are lovers.  I am my lover, and my lover is me.  I did not know what I would do, how I would be able to survive the–what, six weeks?–of what remained of the summer, because I knew that after the next trip, I would be back here for the winter, and who knows how much longer?

I tried to put a good face on it, and smile, and I don’t think it worked, because yesterday my parents told me, in a kind way, that they know I am not happy here, and they know I am very happy there, and they want me to be happy, so they want me to return to the Holy Land.

This is bitter-sweet for me.  Part of me is elated that they have released me.  Part of me feels like I am failing them.  Both the rabbi in Jerusalem and my therapist here tell me that this is guilt, and guilt is in no way productive, and it is entirely optional.  I plan to get over that guilt, because this place is killing me.  The rabbi in Jerusalem reminded me that we are not permitted to harm ourselves in any way, and even I have said that very thing on this very blog.

My ticket is at the end of July, with an early October return.  I might extend that through November so that I can spend Chanukah in Jerusalem, that amazing festival of light and enlightenment.  And then we will see, we will see what the light brings in.

My Channukiyah (menorah) in Jerusalem

My Channukiyah (menorah) in Jerusalem